Gravitational waves detected for the first time

It has been announced that scientists have detected gravitational waves for the first time, after a long and arduous search that rivaled the search for the Higgs boson in the difficulty involved even though it did not match it in costs. The announcement came in the form of a paper published yesterday in the journal Physical Review Letters, based on results obtained on September 14, 2015. You can read the paper here.
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How long do things take to decompose?

In a moment of idle curiosity, I wondered what would happen if for some reason, human beings suddenly became extinct. Not a cheery thought but I was curious about how long it would be before all traces of our existence disappeared so that a new future intelligent species or maybe extra-terrestrial visitors to Earth would see no trace that intelligent life had ever existed because all the artifacts we created had simply decomposed away. It seems hard to imagine since humans have covered the Earth with our creations but surely all things must pass at some time?
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The people who can’t sleep

I had a distant uncle who said that he suffered from chronic insomnia. When I asked him once what he did all night, he said that he just lay in bed and let his thoughts wander and dozed off from time to time for very short periods. But this did not seem to cause him to be irritable or absent-minded or show any of the symptoms that the rest of us may display on those occasions when we have not slept well. He was as fully functional as anyone else.
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The lead in Flint’s water and the corruption of science

In the story about the high levels of lead in the Flint, MI water supply, the scientists who first produced the measurements that indicated that there was a serious problem were from Virginia Tech University. I was intrigued by the fact that people so far away had to be called in to reveal this problem but did not follow up on why this was so.
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Why do people take an instant dislike to Ted Cruz?

Because it saves time, according to one former Bush administration official. But joking aside, it is quite extraordinary how so many people, including colleagues and acquaintances going all the way back to his college days, describe him as a totally unlikable person. Not only do they feel that way, they are all coming out of the woodwork to say so openly.
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Driving a Model T Ford

The Model T Ford car, produced from 1908 to 1927, is a legend in car history becoming the first to be popular in the mass market. A little fact that I had not been aware of is that the car got its name from a series of models that began with Model A and worked its way through the alphabet until they got to T when they had a winner. Not every letter corresponded to a production model since many were just prototypes.
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The US Senate inches slowly towards accepting climate change reality

The US Senate which boasts, despite all the evidence, that it is the world’s greatest deliberative body, voted 50-49 for cloture on an amendment that stated that “climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it”. Since the cloture rules require 60 votes, the amendment did not pass. All the Democrats voted in favor of it except minority leader Harry Reid, probably for tactical reasons. Five Republicans voted in favor of Schatz’s amendment.
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The problem of bullying in the internet age

The desire to wield power over other people and to get enjoyment from doing so are unpleasant traits. While the structure of complex modern society requires hierarchies that have people in positions in authority over others, the exercise of power often extends well beyond the demands of one’s job and some people seem to actually enjoy having others be submissive to them and belittling and humiliating them.
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