By Kevin Hazzard for The Atavist: "Today the role is clearly defined: A paramedic is certified to practice advanced emergency medical care outside a hospital setting. They’re the people who shock hearts back into beating, insert breathing tubes into tracheas, and deliver pharmaceuticals intravenously whenever and wherever a patient is in need. Until the mid-1960s, however, the field of emergency medical services, or EMS, didn’t formally exist. Training was minimal; there were no regulations to abide by. Emergency care was mostly a transportation industry, focused on getting patients to hospitals, and it was dominated by two groups: funeral homes and police departments. Then came the medics of Freedom House, who formally hit the streets in July 1968, a few months after the riots that erupted in the wake of King’s assassination."
Tardigrades are basically indestructable and scientists finally figured out why
From Meghan Bartels for Scientific American: "Tiny tardigrades have three claims to fame: their charmingly pudgy appearance, delightful common names (water bear and moss piglet) and stunning resilience in the face of threats ranging from the vacuum of space to temperatures near absolute zero. Now scientists have identified a key mechanism contributing to tardigrades’ resilience—a molecular switch of sorts that triggers a hardy dormant state of being. The researchers hope that the new work, published on January 17 in the journal PLOS ONE, will encourage further exploration of the microscopic creatures’ ability to withstand extreme conditions."
You can own one of these $1.5-million Porsches but you shouldn't drive it
From Bradley Brownell for Jalopnik: "Porsche’s iconic twenty-year-old V10 screamer supercar Carrera GT has been lying dormant for nearly a year, and owners are starting to get antsy. In April of 2023 Porsche issued a recall affecting 489 examples of the 1300 Carrera GTs built in 2004 and 2005 for potential catastrophic suspension failure. Shortly thereafter the recall was expanded to all Carrera GTs with a recommendation that all owners stop using them indefinitely. A source who wishes to remain unnamed has confirmed that Porsche does not currently have parts available or any ETA of repairs. So you can buy a Carrera GT for around $1.5 million, but you definitely can’t use it."
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This forgotten nautical disaster killed more passengers than the Titanic
From Susan Stranahan for the Smithsonian: "At 7:18 a.m. on July 24, 1915, the crew of the Great Lakes excursion steamer Eastland prepared for that morning's journey and hauled in its gangplank, forcing a tardy passenger to leap aboard from the wharf along the Chicago River. As the Eastland filled with passengers between 7:10 and 7:15 a.m., it began to list to port, away from the wharf. At 7:23, it listed even further to port. Water poured through the open gangways into the engine room. The crew there, realizing what was about to happen, scrambled up a ladder to the main deck. The most deadly shipwreck in Great Lakes history—a calamity that would take more passenger lives than the sinking of the Titanic or the Lusitania—was under way."
A father and son died on the same day 14 years apart while building the Hoover Dam
From Henry Brean for the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "Even after 81 years, stubborn myths still cling to the colossal construction effort that built Hoover Dam. Despite what you may have heard, no workers are entombed in the concrete structure. The hardhat was not invented there. But the most incredible story about the project is absolutely true. On Dec. 20, 1921, a crew surveying locations for the dam got caught in a flash flood, and a man named John Gregory Tierney was lost forever in the raging Colorado River. Then on Dec. 20, 1935, 14 years later to the day, the job site suffered its last fatal accident, when a worker fell to his death from one of the two intake towers on the Arizona side of Black Canyon. That man was Patrick William Tierney, J.G. Tierney’s only son."
This little-known scientist played a key role in breaking German codes in World War II
From Wikipedia: "Thomas Harold Flowers was an English engineer with the British General Post Office. During World War II, Flowers designed and built Colossus, the world's first programmable electronic computer, to help decipher encrypted German messages. Flowers' first contact with wartime codebreaking came in February 1941 when his director was asked for help by Alan Turing, who was working at Bletchley Park, the government codebreaking establishment. Turing was impressed with Flowers's work, and introduced him to Max Newman who was leading the effort to automate part of the cryptanalysis of the Lorenz cipher."
A hidden fairy castle suddenly emerges from a featureless log
Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, but I also get some from other newsletters that I rely on as "serendipty engines," such as The Morning News from Rosecrans Baldwin and Andrew Womack, Dan Lewis's Now I Know, Robert Cottrell and Caroline Crampton's The Browser, Clive Thompson's Linkfest, Noah Brier and Colin Nagy's Why Is This Interesting, Maria Popova's The Marginalian, Sheehan Quirke AKA The Cultural Tutor, the Smithsonian magazine, and JSTOR Daily. If you come across something interesting that you think should be included here, please feel free to email me.