She discovered how to split the atom but was denied a Nobel Prize

She discovered how to split the atom but was denied a Nobel Prize

From Katie Hafner and Ashraya Gupta for Scientific American: "Meitner's realization drew upon recent work that Niels Bohr and other scientists had been doing on the structure of the atom. They proposed a liquid-drop model of the nucleus, where subatomic particles were held together by strong nuclear forces. Meitner realized that the nucleus was not indivisible after all. She seemed open to this insight in a way that other scientists weren't– even Bohr himself. Together, Meitner and her nephew, Otto Robert Frisch, wrote and submitted a paper to the journal Nature. That paper was the first to use the term fission for the splitting apart of the nucleus. But because of the Nazi regime, her name is stripped off of every publication they ever submitted, ever published."

Chasing "Black Caesar," southern Florida’s notorious pirate

The Legend of Black Caesar still haunts the Florida Keys

From Karuna Eberl for Atlas Obscura: "The first time maritime archaeologist Joshua Marano stood at the mouth of Caesar Creek, something smelled fishy. Overlooking a snaking waterway of tangled emerald mangroves and silver-flanked snapper stood a lone interpretive sign. It featured a drawing of a courageous Black man wearing a tricornered hat and looking wistfully toward the horizon. Marano had heard about the pirate Black Caesar: an African chieftain shanghai’d into pirate life, or perhaps an escaped slave. Either way, the stories claimed that he plied the waters of southeastern Florida’s Biscayne Bay. He would lie in wait by careening his ship on its side, to conceal its mast below the mangroves of Caesar Creek. The rope looped through an iron ring fixed in a limestone boulder now known as Caesar’s Rock. When a vulnerable vessel came into view, he would chop the rope, set sail, and begin pursuit."

Editor's note: If you like this newsletter, I'd be honoured if you would help me publish it by contributing whatever you can via my Patreon. Thanks!

Philosopher Jeremy Bentham's body is on display at University College in London

From Alex Corey for Londonist: "Jeremy Bentham was a philosopher and political radical, who formulated the theory of utilitarianism. In his will, Bentham requested that his body be preserved and fashioned into what he called an "auto-icon", a task which was carried out by surgeon Thomas Southwood Smith. His body was given to the university in 1850, 18 years after his death. For decades, Bentham's body was on display in a corridor of the Wilkins Building at UCL, housed inside a wooden cabinet. The head is made of wax, but the rest of his real skeleton lurks beneath his clothes. While the skeletal remains and wax head of Bentham remain in the Student Centre, his actual head remains out of public view elsewhere at UCL. The head was once stolen in a prank by students from the rival King's College, and has ever since been kept under lock and key."

Mysterious ‘skin-like’ golden orb found on ocean floor off Alaska coast

Scientists find 'golden orb' on ocean floor: What is it?

From Hannah Devlin for The Guardian: "A mysterious golden orb that may be an egg laid by an unknown sea creature has been discovered on the ocean floor off the Pacific coast of Alaska. The smooth object with an intriguing hole at the centre was found at a depth of about two miles by a remote-controlled submarine explorer. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US, which made the discovery, suggest it could be a hatched egg or a marine sponge. Researchers are conducting tests and a DNA analysis to work out what the shiny object – which feels like “skin tissue” according to NOAA – is. A remotely operated arm was deployed to touch the egg, which was found to have a delicate skin-like texture. It was then suctioned up a tube for testing."

In Norway, if something happens that is crazy or wild, they say it's "totally Texas"

Texas boom town offers slower pace of life in the not so wild West

From Vanessa Barford for the BBC: "To most of the world, Texas is known as a big state in southern America. But to Norwegians, it is also a word that frequently crops up in everyday conversation - often in the phrase "Der var helt texas!" [That was very completely/totally texas!]. The word is slang for "crazy" or "wild" and is used to refer to a chaotic atmosphere. It became part of the language when Norwegians started watching cowboy movies and reading Western literature, according to Daniel Gusfre Ims, the head of the advisory service at the Language Council of Norway. "The genre was extremely popular in Norway, and a lot of it featured Texas, so the word became a symbol of something lawless and without control," he says. Nowadays, the word is widespread all over Norway. It's frequently used in the phrase "helt texas" [completely crazy], which has appeared in Norwegian newspapers 50 times this year, he says."

A mischievous samurai describes his life in 19th-century Japan

Rare Color Photos Showcase Japan's Last Samurai - InsideHook

From Open Culture: "The samurai class first took shape in Japan more than 800 years ago, and it captures the imagination still today. Up until at least the seventeenth century, their life and work seems to have been relatively prestigious and well-compensated. By Katsu Kokichi’s day, however, the way of the samurai wasn’t what it used to be. Born in 1802, Katsu lived through the first half of the century in which the samurai as we know it would go extinct, rendered unsupportable by evolving military technology. He ran away from home, once at thirteen, making his way as a beggar on the great trunk road between Edo and Kyoto, and again at twenty, posing as the emissary of a feudal lord. He eventually married and had children but never obtained official preferment and was forced to supplement a meager stipend by dealing in swords, selling protection to shopkeepers, and generally using his muscle and wits.”

Playing fetch with a Beluga whale

Via Nature is Amazing on Twitter