Why did the US never adopt the metric system? Pirates
In the late 1700s small cylinders (called “graves” but later renamed kilograms) were made that represented the mass of one cubic decimeter of water at 4°C as closely as science allowed. Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to France enquiring about adopting the new system, and France answered by sending a French scientist, and a one-kilogram copper weight on a voyage to the States. Sadly, for Dombey and the crew, they were never to make it across the Atlantic. The vessel was captured by pirates, and the entire crew were imprisoned in Montserrat. The kilogram weight never made it to the United States.
The man who walked around the UK
Christian Lewis set out to walk the entire coastline of the UK in August of 2017. Then, he was living in Swansea and was too afraid even to answer his front door. “It really was as if there was a Russian spy at the door… It was ridiculous. I’d hide behind the cupboards,” he says. A former paratrooper, Lewis had struggled on his return to “civvy street”, trudging from one cash-in-hand job to another, his mental health spiralling, while also being a single parent to his daughter, Caitlin. “I fell behind on bills, debts, God knows what else… I didn’t want to leave the house.” It was Caitlin’s decision to leave home, aged 16, which Lewis says triggered his desire to take a drastic step to try and change his life.
Scientists discover new form of ice which could exist on ‘ice moons’
Scientists have discovered a new form of ice that may shed light on how we think about water. The ice is amorphous, meaning its molecules are in a disorganised form rather than neatly ordered as in ordinary, crystalline ice. The newly-named MDA (medium-density amorphous ice) more closely resembles liquid water than any other forms of ice and could help given scientists a better understand of H2O. Researchers at University College London and the University of Cambridge made the unexpected discovery during “one of those Friday afternoon experiments where you just do it and see what happens”.
Artificial intelligence uncovers lost work by Spanish literary giant
Spain’s National Library announced that researchers had stumbled upon and verified a previously unknown play by the wildly prolific dramatist, poet, sailor and priest Lope de Vega, which is believed to date back to a few years before his death in 1635. In 2017, two researchers embarked on a project that uses AI analysis to determine the authorship of Golden Age plays, many of which are anonymous or misattributed. More than 1,300 plays were digitally transcribed using a platform trained to identify and understand 3m words. The work by Lope was catalogued as an anonymous work, but the software came to a different conclusion.
A Paris photographer's descent into the catacombs in the 1800's
In 1900, at the age of 80, pioneering photographer Félix Nadar published his memoir, and wrote about visiting the Paris catacombs: "Between the huge, roughly squared pillars of stone all the bones are collected, mostly since 1785, from abandoned cemeteries, ancient churches, and the excavations which, under the Second Empire, have turned a large part of the Parisian soil upside down. From the time of the Caesars and the Norman invasions until the last bourgeois and peasants were extracted from Vaugirard cemetery in 1861, all those who lived and died in Paris sleep here, lowly multitudes and acclaimed great men, canonized saints and criminals executed in Place de Grève."
Italy rules in favour of children who do not want to see their grandparents
Italy’s top court has ruled that children are under no obligation to see their grandparents if they do not wish to do so. The ruling from the supreme court of cassation relates to an appeal by the parents of two children against the decision of a lower court which had forced the youngsters to spend time with their paternal grandparents. The years-long case was triggered by the grandparents and a paternal uncle, who took action at the juvenile court in Milan, complaining that they were unable to meet the children “due to the obstacles established by the parents”, with whom they were embroiled in a family conflict.