Beethoven's hair may reveal clues about his deafness

Beethoven's hair may reveal clues about his deafness

From the New York Times: "Why did Beethoven go deaf? A cottage industry of fans and experts has debated various theories. Was it Paget’s disease of bone, which in the skull can affect hearing? Did irritable bowel syndrome cause his gastrointestinal problems? Or might he have had syphilis, pancreatitis, diabetes or renal papillary necrosis, a kidney disease? After 200 years, a discovery of toxic substances in locks of the composer’s hair may finally solve the mystery. This particular story began a few years ago, when researchers realized that DNA analysis had advanced enough to justify an examination of hair said to have been clipped from Beethoven’s head by fans as he lay dying."

A chunk of trash from the International Space Station hit a house in Florida

This cylindrical object, a few inches in size, fell through the roof of Alejandro Otero's home in Florida last month.

From Ars Technica: "Something from the heavens came crashing through the roof of Alejandro Otero's home, and it seems likely that the nearly 2-pound object came from the International Space Station. Otero said it tore through the roof and both floors of his house in Naples, Florida. Otero wasn't home at the time, but his son was. A Nest home security camera captured the sound of the crash at 2:34 pm local time on March 8. That's a close match for the time that US Space Command recorded the reentry of a piece of space debris from the space station, depleted batteries from the ISS, attached to a cargo pallet that was originally supposed to come back to Earth in a controlled manner."

These prototype smart contact lenses are powered by your tears

The 10 Best Contact Lenses Sites in 2020 | Sitejabber Consumer Reviews

From the IEEE Spectrum: "The potential use cases for smart contacts are compelling and varied. Pop a lens on your eye and monitor health metrics like glucose levels; receive targeted drug delivery for ocular diseases; experience augmented reality and read news updates. But the eye is a challenge for electronics design: With one of the highest nerve densities of any human tissue, the cornea is 300 to 600 times as sensitive as our skin. Researchers have developed small, flexible chips, but power sources have proved more difficult. Now, a team from the University of Utah says they’ve developed an all-in-one hybrid energy-generation unit specifically designed for eye-based tech, powered by tears."

Editor's note: If you like this newsletter, please share it with someone else. And if you really like it, perhaps you could subscribe, or contribute something via my Patreon. Thanks for being a reader!

Recovering the dead from Mount Everest is both expensive and dangerous

From Outside: "Every few years, groups of climbers embark on missions to remove bodies from Mount Everest and other peaks above 8,000 meters. These expeditions are arduous and sometimes deadly. This year, the Nepali Army is sending a crew of 12 recovery specialists up Mount Everest to bring down five bodies located high on the peak. No one knows for sure just how many corpses remain on Mount Everest, but a 2015 study by the BBC placed the estimate at more than 200. The highest concentration of bodies lie between Camp IV at 26,600 feet and the summit. Karki estimates the price tag for the 2024 mission to be between $75,000 and $80,000 per body recovered."

Why do we call it Wi-Fi? It's a made-up phrase that means nothing

The Wi-Fi Alliance is expanding into the 6 GHz spectrum with Wi-Fi 6E ...

From Gizmodo: "Have you ever thought about where the term Wi-Fi comes from? Most people would logically assume it’s a shortened version of some highly technical description for the tech that allowed computers to access the internet wirelessly. But those people would be wrong. The term Wi-Fi isn’t an abbreviated version of wireless fidelity, as many people believe. Wi-Fi is a pun on Hi-Fi, which was coined in the 1950s by audio equipment manufacturers as a shortened version of “high fidelity.” But there’s no such thing as wireless fidelity. The term was created by the marketing firm Interbrand, which also came up with Prozac and the computer company Compaq."

The secret history of the Gibson Guitar factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan

From Atlas Obscura: "The classic Gibson guitar might bring to mind its current Nashville home, the guitar’s roots are actually in the Michigan city of Kalamazoo. Built in 1917, the Gibson Factory there created some of the most iconic guitars ever made. But beyond the instruments, the factory was also home to the “Kalamazoo Gals,” a group of over 200 women who kept the guitar manufacturer going during World War II. With the men gone, the factory began hiring women to make munitions. In fact, between 1942 and 1946, it hired more women than any other guitar-turned-munitions manufacturer. But secretly, these women weren’t just making bullets. They were making guitars."

This container ship doesn't look that big until you see the people

Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, but I also get some from other newsletters that I rely on as "serendipity engines," such as The Morning News from Rosecrans Baldwin and Andrew Womack, Jodi Ettenberg's Curious About Everything, 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 at mathew @ mathewingram dot com