You can only hope to contain this weeks smattering of the best and worst that the news has to offer.
This week’s a strange one, with more good news, or at least fun news, than bad to write about. I’ll get back to giving equal time to the horrific and the tragic next week, I promise. But for right now, on to the winners!
Anandita Dutta Tamuly of India proved herself to be among the most hardcore of professional eaters, setting a (as yet officially unconfirmed) world’s record for pepper consumption. The 26 year old consumed 51 insanely hot ghost peppers, which wreck the curve for hotness at more than one million Scoville units, in two minutes this week. If confirmed, this will render the current world record for pepper consumption, eight jalapenos (weighing in at a paltry 4500 Scoville units each) in one minute utterly pathetic by comparison. Tamuly provided the coup de grace for her record setting case of indigestion by rubbing handfuls of the pepper seeds into her eyes before a crowd of adoring spectators. Because she could.
Staying in southeast Asia, the next winner is the Irawaddy dolphin. A population of almost 6,000 of the threatened dolphins was found this week in Bangladesh, marking the largest population of the animals ever discovered. This population dwarfs the 100 or so specimen populations in which the animals are usually found throughout the coastal waters, brackish bays and mangrove swamps of Southeast Asia.
Deep space researchers and extraterrestrial life enthusiasts got exciting news this week when the Kepler spacecraft ejected it’s dust cover (that’s what NASA calls a lens cap when it costs millions of dollars and gets fired into space) and began it’s mission in earnest. Kepler will spend the next three and a half years using the most powerful camera in the known universe to capture cosmic snapshots of space in hopes of finding and photographing new planets in Goldilocks Zones throughout the galaxy. Check out a couple words on the project from SETI co-founder Edna DeVore at Beyond the Cradle.
And US ground troops are winners this week too, as Lockheed Martin releases it’s HULC exoskeleton. The device, powered by lithium ion batteries, can operate for up to 4 days at a stretch, helping soldiers carry loads of up to 200 pounds at 10 mph on foot. The load lightening HULC could also help wounded soldiers get evacuated form battlefields more quickly, which is great news for soldiers and their families, and did not look to Bruce Banner’s alter ego for a namesake, which is a lie if I ever heard one.
The weeks biggest loser has got to be now former British counter-terrorism expert Bob Quick, who resigned this week after a series of raids on suspects in a bombing plot had to be rushed forward when Quick got out of his car with classified documents related to the case clearly visible to reporters on the scene. A quick note to anyone carrying top secret documents – the part marked Top Secret should be inside, I don’t know, the folder you’re also clearly holding. Just a thought.
Just slightly less bad off than quick is the US power grid, which has been breached by Chinese and Russian hackers, who may well have left behind malware that could shut down portions of the power grid at the push of a button, leaving the United States vulnerable to a massive invasion by legions of communists. I’m not saying you want to start practicing your guerrilla warfare and wilderness survival skills right now… but it couldn’t hurt. And don’t forget to practice shouting “Wolverines!” at the top of your voice. It boosts morale, you know!