From Lars Chittka for Scientific American: "Researchers have shown that bees and some other insects are capable of intelligent behavior that no one thought possible when I was a student. Bees, for example, can count, grasp concepts of sameness and difference, learn complex tasks by observing others, and know their own individual body dimensions, a capacity associated with consciousness in humans. They also appear to experience both pleasure and pain. In other words, it now looks like at least some species of insects—and maybe all of them—are sentient. These discoveries raise fascinating questions about the origins of complex cognition. They also have far-reaching ethical implications for how we should treat insects in the laboratory and in the wild."
The song everyone associates with Top Gun was written for a different movie
From Colin Nagy for Why Is This Interesting: "I re-watched Top Gun on a flight recently with some pretty good headphones. For the first time, I paid close attention to the anthemic theme song that kicks off the credits. It has been embedded into every American brain from the time of first exposure, and reinforced recently with the second film, Maverick, where it was also used. Turns out the track wasn’t originally composed for Top Gun — it was originally composed for a dream sequence in the Chevy Chase movie Fletch. The story goes that while composer Harold Faltermeyer was working on the theme, it was overheard by Billy Idol, who was recording in the studio next door. “That’s great - you should use it for Top Gun,” Idol exclaimed."
He walked every block in New York City, a distance of almost 6,000 miles
By William Helmreich for Literary Hub: "I ended up walking about 6,000 miles, the distance between New York City and Los Angeles and back to New York (4,998 miles), and then from New York City to St. Louis. I covered almost every block in Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, including seldom-traversed industrial sections of the city. At the end of each walk I wrote down the number of miles I had traveled, as measured by my Omron pedometer. I averaged about 32 miles a week over four years, starting with Little Neck, Queens, in June 2008 and ending with Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in June 2012. This came to a grand total of 6,048 miles, an average of 1,512 miles a year, 126 miles a month, or 120,960 city blocks (twenty blocks equals one mile). I wore out nine pairs of San Antonio Shoes (SAS), the most comfortable and durable shoes I’d ever owned. And all of the outer boroughs turned out to be much more interesting."
Fourteen days across the Atlantic, perched on a ship’s rudder
From Joel Gunter for the BBC: "A little after midnight on 27 June, Roman Ebimene Friday gathered up the food he had been collecting for a few months and set out in the dark for the large commercial port in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. Earlier that day, Friday had spotted a 620-foot (190m) tanker docked at the port and decided that it would be the ship to deliver him to Europe. Friday was aiming for the tanker's rudder - the only accessible point on its massive hull for a person who isn't supposed to be aboard. There was no way to bridge the gap from the dock to the rudder, other than convince a fisherman to ferry him across. The fisherman sidled up to the rudder and Friday, 35, pulled himself up, hauling his food bag behind him on a rope. As he steadied himself he saw, to his surprise, three faces in the dark. He was the last of four men who had the same idea."
The Smithsonian's 'Bone Doctor' scavenged thousands of body parts
From Nicole Dungca, Claire Healy and Andrew Ba Tran for the Washington Post: "Word spread among the Alutiiq children in Larsen Bay, Alaska: An anthropologist from Washington, D.C., would pay them 10 cents to find him human bones. Ales Hrdlicka, a Smithsonian anthropologist, repeatedly traveled to this small community on Kodiak Island in the 1930s to exhume Indigenous graves. In what amounted to industrial-scale pillaging, he and a small team disinterred the remains of about 1,000 people and shipped them back to the Smithsonian’s U.S. National Museum, the precursor to the National Museum of Natural History. “He’s thought of, kind of like, as a ghoul,” said April Laktonen Counceller, whose Alutiiq grandfather grew up in Larsen Bay and told her stories about Hrdlicka’s excavations and the offer to pay dimes for skeletal remains."
How a backyard shed became the top-rated restaurant in London
From Dan Lewis at Now I Know: "In the fall of 2017, a journalist named Oobah Butler opened a literal backyard restaurant, which he dubbed “The Shed at Dulwich” after the garden shed in his backyard in Dulwich, London. Like most other websites, it had a website and a menu; the website, which you can access here, describes the restaurant as “An appointment-only restaurant located in South London, The Shed has been operating privately for years. In 2017, it decided to open its doors. As of November that year, it was TripAdvisor’s top-rated restaurant in London.” And that last part is totally true. The rest, though, is a lie — as was everything else about the restaurant."
The Royal Portugese Cabinet of Reading
From The Cultural Tutor on Twitter