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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Jul 9, 2017 8:42 am 
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KELT-9b Is A Gas Giant Planet So Hot, It Rivals Our Sun

What's the difference between a star and a planet? It's not that stars are made of gas and planets are made of rock: Jupiter is gaseous, after all. It's not that stars are big and planets are small: neutron stars can be as small as your average city. Stars are at least hotter than planets, right? Well, not if the gas giant KELT-9b has anything to say about it.

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Kelt 9b (the smaller one)

On a list of the universe's most extreme objects, KELT-9b is a real contender. It's nearly three times the size of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, but half as dense. It orbits so close to its home star that it's tidally locked—meaning one side always faces its sun—and its "day" side blazes at more than 4,300º C (7,800º F). That not only makes it the hottest gas giant ever found, but makes it rival the heat of our own sun (5,500º C isn't far off). In fact, it's actually hotter than some stars: red dwarfs can be as cool as 2,300º C.

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Tidally-locked “Hot Jupiter”

That searing heat means that its atmosphere is completely devoid of those life-giving molecules we know, like water and carbon dioxide. Instead, the atmosphere is full of free-floating metal atoms. It's so hot that astronomers suspect it may be evaporating into space. "[Its sun] KELT-9 radiates so much ultraviolet radiation that it may completely evaporate the planet. Or, if gas giant planets like KELT-9b possess solid rocky cores as some theories suggest, the planet may be boiled down to a barren rock, like Mercury," said Vanderbilt University astronomy professor Keivan Stassun.

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Evaporating?

If KELT-9b is one of the most extreme things in the universe, the telescope that discovered it may be the most unassuming. That telescope is called KELT, for Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (if you think that's a funny name, you should see the other names astronomers give telescopes). As the name suggests it's, well, extremely little. Your average astronomy-grade telescope will run you millions of dollars, whereas KELT—built from mostly off-the-shelf hardware—costs less than $75,000 to build.

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Kelt North

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Kelt South

But that doesn't mean it's any less useful. There are actually two KELT telescopes, one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere, which lets them work together to cover the entire sky over the course of a year. While other larger and more powerful telescopes stare at tiny sections of the sky at very high resolution, KELT examines millions of stars over wide regions of the sky at low resolution. That means they can check out brighter stars than higher-resolution telescopes could, and thereby more easily discover the telltale dim that occurs when an exoplanet passes in front of its star, known as a "transit." That's how the KELT team discovered KELT-9b, and it's how they've discovered many other exoplanets in the past.

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Transit

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Jul 10, 2017 8:42 am 
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Carl Friedrich Gauss

What were you up to at 5 years old? If your name is Carl Friedrich Gauss, you're weren't doing something sensible for a toddler, like watching Sesame Street. Oh, no—you were managing your father's accounts. After all, that's the natural progression once you've first corrected an error in his payroll at age 3. I'm not joking here. Gauss is one of history's most influential mathematicians, and if you don't know about him, pull up a chair and get comfy.

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Carl Friedrich Gauss

Gauss wowed his teachers with skills like amazingly quick calculations and critiques of Euclid's geometry (by the ripe old age of 12, mind you). As a teenager attending the prestigious University of Göttingen, The Story of Mathematics explains that "Gauss discovered (or independently rediscovered) several important theorems." For instance, at 15, he was "the first to find any kind of a pattern in the occurrence of prime numbers"—a feat that had puzzled mathematicians for centuries. He did this by graphing the incidence of primes as the numbers increased and noticing that as the numbers increased by 10, "the probability of prime numbers occurring reduced by a factor of about 2."

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If that wasn't a big enough accomplishment for one person, the prodigy made several other remarkable contributions to mathematics—specifically in his favorite area, number theory. Gauss has been quoted to say: "Mathematics is the queen of the sciences, and the theory of numbers is the queen of mathematics." He was the first to popularize the practice of interpreting complex numbers graphically, and he proved the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra at age 22. According to The Story of Mathematics, "the theorem states that every non-constant single-variable polynomial over the complex numbers has at least one root."

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By age 24, you might be working at your first "real" job. Gauss, on the other hand, published a book that would eventually become regarded as one of the most influential books in mathematics, ever: Disquisitiones Arithmeticae—no big deal. You might also be familiar with the Gaussian distribution, the Gaussian function and the Gaussian error curve...all terms in probability and statistics that were named after him (duh).

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Gaussian Distribution

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Jul 11, 2017 8:49 am 
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Caño Cristales Looks Like Something Out Of The Movie 'Avatar'

If you're bored with the same old rivers, head to Colombia where you can see something that looks like the end result of a collaboration between James Cameron, Timothy Leary and a box full of melted crayons.

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Travel east of the Andes and you'll find Los Llanos, a massive portion open grasslands. It's home to Caño Cristales, a river often called the "Liquid Rainbow." The jaw-dropping collision of colors is caused by macarenia clavigera, aquatic plants unique to the body of water that shine brightly through the surface in various colors. The 62-mile stretch of water is as gorgeous as it is delicate.

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Macarenia clavigera turn various colors depending on their depth and the amount of light they're getting. If you visit between September and November, you'll encounter reds, blues, yellows, oranges, and more. The plants cover most of the riverbed, so there's color at every turn.

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This river is the only place in the world where this life can grow. The plants are delicate, and require extremely specific conditions to survive. They're are so fragile, they can be hurt even by light touches.

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Macarenia clavigera in situ

The seasonal color change and the fragile ecosystem reminds me of a similar wonder, this one on the other side of the planet: the Red Beach of Panjin, China. (I posted on this just the other day.)

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Panjin, China – Red Beach

It wasn't long ago when you couldn't visit Caño Cristales safely, as the region was controlled by guerilla soldiers. These days, a good portion has been regained by the Colombian military, so you are actually able to visit. Still, the region is highly protected because it was so blatantly damaged when visiting was unregulated. Only seven visitors are allowed at a time, with a maximum of 200 people per day. And don't pack your bug spray or sunscreen because they would harm the ecosystem. But if you can make it there, I expect to see a significant increase in your Instagram activity.

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Post Posted: Jul 12, 2017 8:51 am 
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What Really Happened To Amelia Earhart?

Amelia Earhart's 1937 disappearance is a mystery for the ages. Before you start yelling "Bermuda Triangle!," feast your eyes on a photo surfaced in July 2017 that may tell a new story. And if the photo doesn't convince you, maybe the coconut crab theory will.

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Earhart (sitting), Noonan (standing)

Earhart broke the record for highest altitude achieved by a woman, and became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. But let's get to the real juicy stuff. In July of 1937, while attempting the longest-ever round-the-world flight, she and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared.

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Noonan and Earhart

Did they crash? Were they marooned? Did they literally disappear off the face of the Earth into the enigmatic Bermuda Triangle?

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Almost exactly 80 years after the disappearance, new evidence popped up providing speculators with another theory (not a new theory, mind you). In July 2017, History (as in “History Channel”) surfaced an old photo from the U.S. National Archives dug up by retired federal agent Les Kinney that appears to depict (a blurry) Earhart and Noonan. It supposedly shows Earhart sitting with her back to the camera and Noonan standing on a dock in Jaluit, an atoll in the Marshall Islands.

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If this photo is the real deal, it would suggest Earhart and Noonan survived their crash and were detained at the then-Japanese Island. Shawn Henry, a former F.B.I. executive assistant director who had been working with History to investigate the photo for about a year, told the New York Times "it's beyond a reasonable doubt" that the photo is legit.

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Shawn Henry

Ric Gillespie, author of Finding Amelia and executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), is on the flip side of that argument, telling the BBC, "This photograph has people convinced. I'm astounded by this. I mean, my God! Look at this photograph... Let's use our heads for a moment. It's undated. They think it's from 1937. Okay. If it's from July 1, 1937 then it can't be Amelia, because she hadn't taken off yet. If it's from 1935 or 1938 it can't be her... This photograph has to have been taken within a very narrow window — within a couple of days of when she disappeared." He also points out the fact that there are no uniformed officers in the photo. They're in Japanese custody? Nah.

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If you're more of a Gillespie than a Henry, maybe another theory will suit you. Certainly one of the most colorful ideas suggests that Earhart crashed into the Marshall Islands and was eaten by comically large coconut crabs. You know these creatures as the crabs that literally eat kittens.

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TIGHAR researchers believe that her body was largely
consumed by the site's numerous hermit and coconut crabs,
leaving only 13 bones.


Or just play it straight and go with the official U.S. position on the matter: Earhart and Noonan ran out of fuel on the way to Howland Island and crashed in the Pacific Ocean. If you're leaning more on the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery's (TIGHAR) side, you may think Earhart and Noonan landed on Nikumaroro Island when they couldn't find Howland. Hardcore conspiracy theorists may say Earhart was a spy, and her craft was shot or forced down during a mission to gather intelligence about the Japanese in the Marshall Islands.

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Take your pick.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Jul 13, 2017 8:45 am 
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Austria's Grüner See Has A Park That's Underwater All Summer

If you visit Austria's Grüner See during fall, you might stroll over a picturesque bridge and take a seat at a park bench to listen to the birds sing in the trees. If you visit in summer, however, those same activities would require scuba gear. From late spring through early summer, the park is fully submerged underwater.

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Located in Styria, Austria, Grüner See—Green Lake, in English—is surrounded by the Hochschwab Mountains, which are famously snow-covered for much of the year. In the late summer, fall, and winter, the lake is around 21,500 square feet and surrounded by your standard park furnishings, perfect for hikers to rest and take in the surrounding area.

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But when the snow begins to melt at the start of spring and into July, the lake slowly grows larger. Its surface area doubles to more than 4,000 square meters (43,000 square feet). Its depths climb from 1 meter (3 feet) to 12 meters (39 feet) at its deepest. The benches, the pathways, the bridges, and many surrounding trees are underwater, but small crabs and a few species of trout then have more room to breathe. With all this framed by the panoramic views of the Hochschwab Mountains, Grüner See becomes a breathtaking natural spectacle. It isn't named "Green Lake" for nothing: the surface really does have a striking green hue, thanks to the grass and foliage submerged underneath.

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If you're there to hike, Grüner See is an essential stop on the trails. However, because of its relatively newfound popularity, the local parks department has made all watersports illegal—that includes scuba diving, one of its most alluring tourism pulls. Swimming, fishing, boating, fetch-playing with your water-loving dog, and other water activities have been prohibited as well.

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But the prohibition is for good reason: with all that sediment-stirring traffic, the green color might be lost and corrosion might gradually change the landscape. Better to not risk it than to open the gates simply because we want to see underneath its surface during the height of the melting season. For now, we'll have to live vicariously through the internet's wealth of videos, and maybe the tides will turn for scuba enthusiasts someday.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Jul 13, 2017 4:24 pm 
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Having been stationed in Austria while in the US Army, I can attest to the beauty of this wonderful country. We had to pack up and leave in late 1955 due to the formalization of the Peace Treaty with Austria. It wasn't possible for US soldiers to see Gruner See as it wasn't in the American Zone of occupation, but there were other, equally magnificent sights available to us.


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Post Posted: Jul 14, 2017 8:41 am 
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Cabinguy wrote:
Having been stationed in Austria while in the US Army, I can attest to the beauty of this wonderful country. We had to pack up and leave in late 1955 due to the formalization of the Peace Treaty with Austria. It wasn't possible for US soldiers to see Gruner See as it wasn't in the American Zone of occupation, but there were other, equally magnificent sights available to us.



While I was stationed in Germany in the late '60s, I traveled to Austria three or four times. Had I known then of the Green Sea, I would have made it a point to see it. My loss, I guess. :shocked:

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Post Posted: Jul 14, 2017 8:47 am 
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If We Find Aliens, This Is The Protocol For Announcing It To The World

What if we come across aliens somewhere in the universe? Do we shake hands? Run? Set phasers to stun?

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I’m not sure how the first encounter will go down, but the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Institute has a detailed plan for how to announce news of an extraterrestrial discovery.

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The search for aliens is not new, and finding alien life isn't totally unthinkable. Mathematically, the likelihood that alien life exists is overwhelming (Fermi paradox, anyone?).

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A function of the IAA SETI Permanent Committee is to establish protocols to be followed by SETI (search for extraterrestrial life) scientists in the detection, analysis, verification, announcement, and response to signals from extraterrestrial intelligence. In 1989, the IAA adopted the Declaration of Principles Concerning Activities Following the Detection of Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which was revised in 2010. It's mainly referred to as The First Protocol today.

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You can read The First Protocol on the SETI Institute site, but I broke down the nine-item list in more easily digestible terms here:

1. If you think you've received a signal from aliens, double check. Like, quadruple check. The most plausible explanation for whatever you've discovered has got to be extraterrestrial intelligence. If it's not, go back to the drawing board.

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2. So you think it's aliens, huh? Pump the brakes. Only tell your fellow researchers and observers so they can independently confirm what you think you've found.

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3. Wow, congrats, it really is aliens! Tell more researchers and scientists, specifically through the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams of the International Astronomical Union. Surely you have them on speed dial. The IAA has a lengthy list of some other international institutions you should give the scoop to now.

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4. Here we go. TELL. EVERYONE. Do it promptly. But why the heck would anyone want to wait?!

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5. Time to show the receipts. Make sure all of your data is available to the international scientific community through publications, meetings, conferences, etc. FaceTime scientists on the other side of the globe to show them your happy tears.

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6. Lock it down. Permanently record and store your evidence to the greatest extent possible. This is your legacy, for goodness sake, back it up!

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7. If your evidence of alien detection is in the form of electromagnetic signals, you're going to need to talk to some people at the International Telecommunication Union to protect it.

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8. Hold up, you're trying to send a message back to the aliens?! That's how intergalactic armageddon gets started! There's a whole different conversation that needs to happen before we dive into that.

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9. The SETI Committee of the IAA will keep an eye on your discovery for the rest of time. Don't go tryin' anything funny on us, aliens.

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Post Posted: Jul 15, 2017 8:45 am 
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Neurologist Santiago Ramón y Cajal Kept A Dream Journal To Spite Sigmund Freud

Have you ever worked with somebody who just rubbed you the wrong way? You'd never say anything about it in person, but everything they do just ticks you off. Maybe it's their sense of humor, or the way they blow their nose, or their habit of evangelizing fad diets to any and all in earshot. You're not alone.

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Sigmund Freud

In the early 20th century, Dr. Santiago Ramón y Cajal (AKA "the father of neuroscience") was losing it over this obnoxious guy Sigmund — as in, Sigmund Freud. Although the fathers of their respective fields enjoyed a reasonably cordial working relationship, Cajal was so riled up by Freud's theories that he secretly devoted the last 16 years of his life to disproving them.

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So what was Santiago's beef with Sigmund? It all came down to dreams. In the early 1900s, Freud's theory that dreams were an expression of repressed desires was all the rage. But to Cajal, that sort of semi-mythical description was practically heresy. After all, Cajal was the man who discovered the neuron, and predicted the existence of synapses. To him, dreams had to have an essentially anatomical explanation—the idea that they arose from such unquantifiable concepts as emotions and desires simply would not stand.

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As Cajal once wrote in a letter to a friend, "Except in extremely rare cases it is impossible to verify the doctrine of the surly and somewhat egotistical Viennese author, who has always seemed more preoccupied with founding a sensational theory than with the desire to austerely serve the cause of scientific theory." In other words, Freud's theory was all pudding, no proof.

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That's why Cajal started keeping a dream journal of his own. The idea was that his dreams wouldn't be able to be connected to any desires. Instead, Cajal suspected, they'd map on to experiences from his recent or distant past, confirming his own theory that dreams were caused by the random firing of neurons as they reprocessed the dreamer's waking life. Though he never saw fit to publish his findings before his death in 1934, Cajal's dream journal today serves as a strangely intimate portrait of a scientist who was known for being analytical even to a fault.

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One of Cajal's recurring dreams was similar to one you've probably had as well. "I attend a diplomatic soiree and as I am leaving my pants fall down." In the margins he scrawled this casually sarcastic note—"Is it desire?" But other dreams did seem to have their basis in his emotional state. One of his daughters died at six years old, lending a special resonance to a nightmare he had 30 years later of drowning in the ocean with a young girl in his arms. At other times, the reader can almost feel Cajal's sputtering anger. In a Sisyphean dream about proofreading a text that keeps changing, he demands each inconsistency be explained. What desire is reflected by the dream's setting in Jaca? Why was the book published by Pueyo's Press? He curtly throws down the gauntlet: "This cannot be explained
by Freud."

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Drowning

As it turns out, history has landed on Cajal's side. Freudian psychology is largely discredited and most modern professionals prefer the analytical, quantifiable model based on anatomy. So it's maybe a bit more than a little ironic that Freud would be the first name that comes to mind when most people think of the field. We have a feeling that the grudge would still be burning if the two were still alive today. The question is, would Cajal be dreaming of Freud's comeuppance?

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Post Posted: Jul 16, 2017 8:43 am 
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This Traditional Deep Sea Canoe Went Around The World Without Even A Compass

Picture yourself on the open ocean. Beneath your feet, a 62-foot catamaran-style canoe. Above your head, the stars that guide your way. And all around you, nothing but water, all the way to the horizon. "I am Moana!" you sing/scream, getting dirty looks from all your sailing companions. Welcome to Hōkūleʻa, the replica Polynesian vessel that proved ancient craft could circumnavigate the globe.

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Depending on how you look at it, the story of Hōkūleʻa either started in 1976 or more than 2,000 years ago. That's about the time that ancient Polynesians perfected their navigation methods and began settling islands all across the Pacific. Developed before compasses, sextants, and GPS systems, the technique known as wayfinding relies only on an intimate knowledge of the natural world, from the positions of the sun and stars to animal behavior to oceanic wind patterns. And yet, it works.

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Without the benefit of any modern technology, Hōkūleʻa and her sister ship Hikianalia have successfully completed nearly a dozen voyages since the first craft was built. Many of these filled in the bounds of the Polynesian triangle, the massive area framed by Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island that Polynesians colonized in ancient times. But the most recent trip had even greater aspirations.

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The Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage left port in May of 2014 and wouldn't return for more than three years. It sailed first to Tahiti (Hōkūleʻa's second home) and then on a worldwide tour with stops including Australia, Cuba, and New York City. Hōkūleʻa crossed the Pacific Ocean for the first time in her history, though the journey from South Africa to Brazil was also her longest.

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Crew members endured nearly two months exposed to the elements, but survived using nothing but the traditions of their ancestors. After cruising all the way up to Nova Scotia, the ship went back south, passed through the Panama Canal, and returned home to a heroes' welcome on June 20, 2017.

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Crewmembers in Nova Scotia

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Crossing the Panama Canal

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Homecoming

Back when Hōkūleʻa was only a dream, the biggest challenge to embarking on such a voyage was recovering the ancient wayfinding methods. Enter Pius Mau Piailug. One of the last remaining master navigators in the world, Mau hailed from the Micronesian island of Satawal, where his grandfather began training him in the art almost as soon as he was old enough to walk. Fearing that the methods would be lost in the modern world, Mau agreed to train the first crew of Hōkūleʻa, and navigate with them on their maiden voyage to Tahiti. Without him, the practice of Polynesian wayfinding might have been lost forever. In 2006, the Hawaiian navigation society Na Kalai Waa thanked him with a 56-foot deep sea canoe for his village. Mau passed away in 2010, but his legacy continues with every instrument-free voyage.

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Mau in 2007

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Mau teaching navigation

Other modern Pacific Islander icons have their stories tied up in Hōkūleʻa's as well. Most notably, the legendary surfer Eddie Aikau was lost at sea when he sacrificed himself to save the capsized second voyage (the rest of the crew was successfully rescued). Dangerous though her voyages might be, the vessel has never wanted for crewmembers — the worldwide voyage turned no fewer than 4,000 applicants away. It's not hard to see why. Hōkūleʻa represents a living, breathing, salt-soaked connection to at least 2,000 years of history. That's the stuff heroes are made of.

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The late Eddie Aikau

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The Grandpa Gang Is A Successful Group Of Senior Citizen Thieves

Grandfathers: Maybe one of the least intimidating demographics out there. Yet on Easter weekend of 2015, a group of them pulled off what was the largest burglary in British history. This unlikely squad of conniving thieves responsible for stealing millions of dollars worth of valuables was dubbed the Grandpa Gang.

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The Grandpa Gang

The gang of men, who ranged in age from 42 to 76, spent three years planning an epic raid. Here's how it went down, according to Reuters: "The gang broke into the vault of [London's] Hatton Garden Safety Deposit building during the long Easter holiday weekend last year. They entered an elevator shaft and climbed down to the vault where they used heavy equipment to drill through a thick concrete wall. Initially thwarted, they returned the following day and ransacked 73 deposit boxes, stealing jewels, gold and cash worth 14 million pounds ($20 million)." As of January 2016, only about a third of that loot had been recovered.

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Brain Reader, a 76-year-old man at the time of the theft, used his senior citizen pass for free bus fare to get to the scene of the crime. Who would have assumed it was a sweet old man at the center of a massive burglary? Don't let that cute grandaddy charm cloud your judgement. "We can't escape the fact that these people are callous, career criminals," Detective Superintendent Craig Turner told Reuters. "They had a long history of criminal activity behind them." In January 2015, three members of the gang were found guilty.

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Brian Reader

Chances are, you probably don't have $20 million lying around your home for thieves to bust in and snag. But that's not to say you shouldn't worry about a potential home invasion and/or robbery. Steps you can take to prevent home theft include the following: get to know your neighbors, leave a radio on when you're away, keep windows and doors locked at all times, install motion sensors, keep valuables out of the master bedroom… and, of course…

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In Depth

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Post Posted: Jul 18, 2017 8:54 am 
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How Hitler Almost Invaded Switzerland

Switzerland emerged from World War II unconquered but not untarnished. Switzerland did survive as a free, democratic state in a Europe prostrate under the Nazi jackboot. But the Swiss also emerged under a cloud of collaboration with the Third Reich.

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Handling gold looted by the Nazis in return for minerals that kept the German war machine running, or keeping billions in assets belonging to Holocaust victims, is hardly something for the Swiss to yodel about. Yet it is equally unfair to brand the Swiss as Nazi puppets.

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In fact, Nazi Germany almost invaded Switzerland. “Switzerland possessed the most disgusting and miserable people and political system,” Hitler complained to Mussolini in June 1941.

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After the defeat of France in the summer of 1940, which left the Third Reich the undisputed ruler of western Europe, the German military devised a plan to conquer Switzerland. Operation Tannenbaum called for German troops to invade from France, Germany and Austria, while the Italians invaded from the south. “Concentrated surprise penetration from Lake Geneva to Lake Constance toward the center of the country with strong and fast outer wings,” stated the plan. “We must force the quick subjugation of Switzerland by using extremely superior forces.”

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The Axis would have faced formidable opposition. As with Sweden, Swiss neutrality was an armed neutrality (in the fifteenth century, Swiss mercenaries were the most feared in Europe). All Swiss men were liable for conscription and all were issued with rifles that they kept at home in case of mobilization. For a nation of just four million people, the Swiss could have mustered an army as large as 850,000 strong. Largely mountainous Switzerland, where German tanks would have been useless, would have been a tough nut for blitzkrieg to crack.

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Swiss Army members

That porcupine image has also been a bastion of Swiss public relations. Indeed, after World War II, the Swiss claimed that the only thing keeping Hitler from invading was their nation-in-arms. That seems scarcely credible. Nazi Germany had defeated France—reputed to have the finest army in Europe—in just six weeks. Switzerland would have confronted Germany with what was essentially a popular militia, lacking tanks, artillery and aircraft. While Switzerland has many mountains, the most populous and industrially productive part of the nation is on flat terrain that would have been quickly overrun. While the Swiss had built fortifications, they naturally concentrated them on the border with Germany and Austria, rather than with France. That left their defenses outflanked when the Germans occupied France.

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Swiss factory on flat ground

Perhaps if Germany had invaded in 1944, the Swiss could have counted on outside help from Allied troops and aircraft. But there was no chance of that happening in 1940-41. Had Germany invaded Switzerland between the conquest of France in July 1940 and the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Switzerland would have been alone. The Soviet Union had signed a nonaggression pact with Germany, and was shipping resources to the Third Reich. The only nations fighting Hitler were Britain and its Commonwealth, which were too weak to offer more than token support to a country isolated in the middle of Europe.

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A country surrounded

True, the Swiss can argue that the thought of conquering their nation-in-arms deterred the Germans. Yet Yugoslavia was a mountainous nation populated by extremely fierce people, and the Germans still chose to conquer it in April 1941.

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Zagreb

So why didn’t Nazi Germany invade Switzerland? One reason might be that Hitler considered the Swiss to be sort of German (though that didn’t stop him from grabbing Austria). A more likely reason was the invasion of Russia, though the Germans still mustered the resources to invade the Balkans in the spring of 1941. Or perhaps Switzerland was too useful as a middleman between Nazi Germany and the global economy.

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Either way, Switzerland almost became another one of Hitler’s conquests.

In Depth

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