TIME Science

2 New Holes Mysteriously Appear in Siberia

A view of a large crater on the Yamal Peninsula on July 16, 2014.
A view of a large crater on the Yamal Peninsula on July 16, 2014. Itar Tass—Corbis

More holes are discovered in Siberia, leaving scientist puzzled

Two new mysterious holes have appeared in the Siberian permafrost, the Siberian Times reports—just two weeks after the first crater appeared in the northern Yamal peninsula.

The second hole, some 15 meters wide, was found a few hundred kilometers away from the first, also in the Yamal peninsula. Like the first, the second hole has piles of dirt surrounding the perimeter, indicating an excavation or explosion. However, scientists have yet to confirm what’s causing the strange phenomena. Some believe they’re a result of meteorite impacts, while others look towards natural gas explosions under earth’s surface.

 

Mikhail Lapsui, a deputy of the regional parliament, inspected the second hole, reports the Siberian Times, while also gathering information from locals.

“According to local residents, the hole formed on 27 September 2013,” Lapsui told the Times. “Observers give several versions. According to the first, initially at the place was smoking, and then there was a bright flash. In the second version, a celestial body fell there.”

Reindeer herders stumbled upon the third crater alongside a pasture trail in the Taymyr peninsula to the east of Yamal. Scientists estimate that hole to be 60 to 100 meters deep with a diameter of 4 meters.

The two new holes will undergo investigations. The first hole—70 meters deep—revealed an ice-covered lake at the bottom.

[Siberian Times]

TIME United Arab Emirates

Dubai’s Kids Now Worth Their Weight (Loss) in Gold

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Stack of Gold Bars Getty Images

"Your Child in Gold" program will award two grams of gold for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) a child manages to shed over two months

Dubai has devised a rather unorthodox plan to incentivize its citizens to lose weight: Shed pounds, and we’ll give you some gold. And if you’re a child — we’ll give you double.

Participants will be awarded one gram of gold, worth just under $42, for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) in weight lost. But if a family has a child over 2 but under 14 years of age, then they will receive 2g for every kilo lost. Only two children can participate per family, and the minimum weight loss is 2kg to be eligible.

Last year the program focused principally on Dubai’s adult population, and it paid out $762,340 in gold, Quartz reports.

The Dubai Municipality launched the “Your Child in Gold” initiative during Ramadan. The website for the competition gives weight loss advice: “Ramadan is the most appropriate season to launch such initiatives as it reminds us about many health benefits of reducing weight and encourages us to take strong steps to change our bad lifestyles.”

Last week, the Kahleej Times reported 341 children had officially weighed in to participate in the 2-month program.

Quartz cited a 2012 BMC Public Health Journal study which found that the UAE is the sixth most obese nation in the world.

TIME Art

This Furniture Looks, Feels and Smells Like It’s Made Out of Human Skin

Red chair
Getty Images

Strangely, not part of the Buffalo Bill Home Collection

A set of furniture designed by Gigi Barker looks a lot like what Hannibal Lecter might use to decorate his family room.

The British designer and founder of design studio 9191 has crafted a material that has the look, feel and — thanks to the addition of after shave to the mix – smell of human flesh. Barker used the pheromone-impregnated silicone base to craft a collection of chairs and footstools, which were modeled after the Rubenesque folds of a man’s stomach. No word on whether you need to moisturize the chairs with lotion to help them keep their luster.

While the chair may make your skin crawl, Barker isn’t just trying to creep out her audience. She believes that the unique material lets people form a physical connection to the piece and allows them the opportunity to examine their relationship to their own skin and other people’s. Plus, the material reacts to bodies and according to Barker, speaking to Wired UK, matches a human’s body temperature, which is “perfect for soothing a crying baby”.

If the concept doesn’t scare you, the price tag might – the combined cost of the chair and stool is over $4,000 (£2,380). That said, Barker’s show at Central Saint Martin’s sold out last month, according to Wired UK, and she’s already in talks with retailers.

MORE: Sweden’s ‘Hannibal Lecter’ is Set Free

MORE: Ikea’s Chinese Stores Invite Customers to Take a Snooze

TIME Sports

Losing Korean Baseball Team Replaces Fans With Cheering Robots

And so it begins...

+ READ ARTICLE

Korea’s Hanwha Eagles do not have a good record. The baseball team has wracked up 400 losses over the last five years, according to the BBC. But just because a team has a losing record, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve big cheers — just ask any New York Knicks fan!

To make sure that the Eagles stadium is filled with the roar of the crowd and that team morale stays high, the Eagles are taking a page from The Future and adding cheering, chanting robots to their stadium seats.

Hanwha’s robot fans will work as stand-ins for human fans who can’t attend a game. Remote fans will be able to control some of the robots’ movements — presumably certain hand gestures in the direction of umpires — and can even upload an image of their face to be shown on the machine’s screen. The robots will also let fans watch the game from afar, giving more fans the opportunity to join in the action and cheer on their team.

“It’s a pretty neat idea,” Hanwha Eagles pitcher and former Minnesota Twin Andrew Albers says in the video the team released to explain the presence of robots in their stands. “It gets the crowd into it and really helps them get involved.”

If robots cheer at the robot World Cup or the Femme Bot battles, can act as mules and write the Torah, how long until they decide they don’t need humans at all? Oh wait, they still need someone to battle in Connect Four.

MORE: Congress Gets Banned from Editing Wikipedia

MORE: Attaching a GoPro Camera to a Car Wheel Creates a Weird, Futuristic Kaleidoscope

TIME Panda Sex

Richard Nixon Asked a Reporter to Watch Panda Sex

A new book details the former president’s keen interest making sure his new pandas got busy

+ READ ARTICLE

When former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai gave the United States two pandas in 1972, the result, as captured in a pun-perfect turn of phrase by first lady Pat Nixon, was “panda-monium,” report the authors of the new book The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972.

And that panda-monium–something which we here at TIME, progenitors of our very own replacement panda-cam, know all about–has continued, once more proving that we are but one nation, under panda.

But the very first panda lover of all of us–the prototypical panda pursuer, the panda panderer to rule them all–was none other than bowling enthusiast and nearly two-term President Richard M. Nixon.

Nixon’s interest in his new Chinese pandas, Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing, was such that he was touchingly concerned with their sex lives.

Here’s Nixon’s exchange with Washington Star foreign editor Crosby Noyes, courtesy of The Washington Post.

Nixon: The problem, however, with pandas is that they don’t know how to mate. The only way they learn how is to watch other pandas mate. You see?

Noyes: [laughs]

Nixon: And, so they’re keeping them there a little while—these are younger ones—

Noyes: I see.

Nixon: —to sort of learn, you know, how it’s done.

Noyes: Sure, learn the ropes—

Nixon: Now, if they don’t learn it, they’ll get over here and nothing will happen, so I just thought you should just have your best reporter out there to see whether these pandas—

You get the picture.

In exchange for the pandas, the U.S. gave China two musk oxen, which are neat enough, sure, but it’s pretty clear who got the better end of that deal.

TIME Books

The Gang From Always Sunny Has Written a Self-Help Book

FX Season Premiere Screenings For "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" And "The League"
Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic / Getty Images

Because they're totally the kind of people who should be giving you advice

Dennis, Dee, Mac, Frank and Charlie from Always Sunny have already taught us plenty of things: how to sing a cappella, how to excel at the game of Flip Cup, and how not to act on a first date, for example. Since they’re so good at teaching people how to live their lives, they’ve written a self-help book, which will be released in January. (It’s available for pre-order on Amazon now.)

The book is called It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The 7 Secrets of Awakening the Highly Effective Four-Hour Giant, Today. Based on the description, it’s actually a bit hard to tell if it’s really a self-help book, or if it’s simply a book outlining the story of the gang writing a self-help book:

The Gang may have finally found their golden ticket. Left alone to close down Paddy’s Pub one night, Charlie Kelly inadvertently scored himself, and his friends, the opportunity of a lifetime—a book deal with a real publishing company, real advance money, and a real(ly confused) editor. While his actual ability to read and write remains unclear, Charlie sealed the deal with some off-the-cuff commentary on bird law and the nuances of killing rats (and maybe with the help of some glue fumes in the basement with an unstable editor on a bender). While The Gang is stunned by the news, and the legally binding, irrevocable contract left on the bar, they are also ready to rise to the task and become millionaires—and of course, help Charlie actually write the book.

But further details suggest that the book will indeed include some real advice:

In their own inimitable voices, Charlie, Mac, Dennis, Sweet Dee, and Frank weigh in on important topics like Relationships, Financial Success and Career, Fashion and Personal Grooming, Health and Diet, and Survival Skills, providing insane advice, tips, tricks, and recipes (Rum Ham anyone?) as only they can.

We already knew they were crab people — now we also know they’re book people.

TIME NextDraft

How Social Media Makes Us Feel Less Alone and Other Fascinating News on the Web

July 28, 2014

nextdraft_newsfeed_v2

1. Just Look at Yourself

Work, email, social media, a never-ending to-do list, too many commitments, too much on the schedule — you’re crazy busy. But are you this busy because it’s just the nature of life in our increasingly digital, device-driven society? Or is it — as a series of recent studies suggest — because you’ll do just about anything to avoid introspection? “In 11 experiments involving more than 700 people, the majority of participants reported that they found it unpleasant to be alone in a room with their thoughts for just 6 to 15 minutes.” (Can an Introspection App be far behind?) Louis C.K. often touches upon this need to be busy: “Sometimes when things clear away and you’re not watching anything and you’re in your car and you start going, oh no, here it comes, that I’m alone, and it starts to visit on you, just this sadness. And that’s why we text and drive. People are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for a second because it’s so hard.”

2. Outbreak

Over the weekend, the Ebola virus spread to a fourth African country. Nearly 700 people have died during the outbreak.

+ NYT: Fear of Ebola breeds a terror of physicians.

+ Quartz: Why Ebola reaching Nigeria’s largest city is a whole new level of scary.

3. Critical Condition

“In the name of humanity, the violence must stop.” So said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who described Gaza as a place that is in “critical condition.” In Gaza, a hospital was hit with explosives that killed ten and injured many more. Hamas claimed the hospital was hit by Israeli airstrikes, while the IDF said the Israeli military has no role in the hospital damage, “and attributed the explosions to failed rocket launches from Gaza militants.”

+ “Death to the Jews.” The Daily Beast reports on the Isis black flags that are flying in Europe.

+ “The truth is, we are all living in Israel. It’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet.” Here’s a controversial but very interesting essay from Sam Harris: Why I don’t criticize Israel.

+ Here’s a stat that Israelis should watch: “Among Americans under 30, 29% say Israel is most responsible for the current violence compared with 21% who blame Hamas.” Here’s more from Pew on how Americans view the current Middle East crisis.

+ Even allies are arguing: From AP: US Fuming over Israeli Criticism of Kerry.

4. Face the Face

“Richard Norris was 22 when he shot himself in the face. This was back in 1997. He doesn’t remember how or why it happened, but his mom, who was three feet away, said it was an accident. She remembers pieces of Richard’s face showering her body. This was in the living room. The gunshot had blown off his nose, cheekbones, lips, tongue, teeth, jaw, and chin, leaving just his wide brown eyes and a swirl of nameless twisted flesh. The miracle that would come to define Richard’s life begins with these tragic details.” GQ’s Jeanne Marie Laskas on The New Face of Richard Norris. What’s it like to live with an entirely new face? Not nearly as easy as it looks.

5. There Goes the Neighborhood

Zillow has acquired Trulia, one of its key competitors, for $3.5 billion. In addition to making it even easier for your friends and colleagues to know exactly how much you paid for your house, will this mega-merger finally change the antiquated way we go about buying and selling real estate?

+ Dollar Tree acquired Family Dollar for 9.2 billion dollars. That seems like a perfect excuse to listen to Aloe Blacc sing a live, orchestral version of I Need a Dollar.

+ Arthur S. Demoulas gained control of Market Basket from his cousin Arthur T. Demoulas, who he then fired (It’s a longstanding family thing). But the employees and managers didn’t want to work for Arthur S, and now the customers are joining the fight to bring back Arthur T. From The Boston Globe, here’s the latest on the state of Market Basket.

6. Stream Interpretation

Ken Florance “dropped out of school and, in between Grateful Dead concerts and acid trips, made a pilgrimage to the Oregon home of Ken Kesey.” In other words, he has the perfect resume to be the dude who is responsible for making sure that Netflix keeps the video streaming.

+ Will you finally be able to get HBO without paying for cable? It could be coming to a screen near you. (Though, compared to Netflix, it might be priced like Valyrian Steel.)

+ Putting lipstick on a gig: For just slightly more than the fee Netflix charges you to access shows, movies, and a lot of award-winning original content, you can subscribe to the new Sarah Palin Channel, and “go beyond the sound bites and cut through the media’s politically correct filter.” It’s worth keeping an eye on this effort. It’s backed by industry veterans and is part of a larger migration of content from TV to the Internet.

7. Leggo My Logo

“Today, on the cusp of its 40th year, the symbol borne of necessity … at Portland State is one of the most recognizable in the world — so much so that it can stand alone.” OregonLive’s Allan Brettman looks back at a chance meeting and thirty-five bucks that led to one of world’s most recognizable logos. Hint: Just do it.

8. Cuckoo for Coconuts

It began as a street fight between two guys, and now coconut water is at the center of a swirling $400 million war for shelf space. Coconut water is also the leading cause of “Why the hell am I drinking this?”

+ To us, these market shifts may seem like silly fads. But to major corporations, these trends are big business. From Time: 10 things Americans suddenly stopped buying. (Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing gluten.)

9. Time Warp

“But, but…here is the thing. In terms of the internet, nothing has happened yet. The internet is still at the beginning of its beginning. If we could climb into a time machine and journey 30 years into the future, and from that vantage look back to today, we’d realize that most of the greatest products running the lives of citizens in 2044 were not invented until after 2014.” Kevin Kelly in Medium: You are not late. Unless your over 30. Then you’re late as hell.

10. The Bottom of the News

“In Connecticut pickles must bounce to officially be considered pickles.” Wired has put together a list of some of the most ridiculous laws in America.

+ Welcome to the front lines of the Times Square superhero crackdown.

+ McSweeney’s: The first annual conference on how to tell Samantha I really like her.

nextdraft

TIME Dating

OkCupid Relaunches OkTrends: A Beloved Blog That Tracks Online Daters’ Fascinating Habits

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OkCupid relaunched OkTrends after 3 years off Getty Images

After a three-year hiatus

In 2009, OkCupid gave the people of the Internet a beautiful gift. No, not eternal love. A peek into the its massive treasure trove of user data — exposing everything from strange overshares (How much do Twitter users masturbate?) to serious issues (How does race impact the messages you receive?).

The observations and statistics were catalogued in the blog OkTrends, written by OKC co-founder Christian Rudder, which started accumulating some 1 million unique views per post. But in April 2011, the web favorite went dormant, leaving its fans questioning, what’s REAL “stuff white people like” today?

Until now. Monday marked the relaunch of OkTrends.

“We always said we were going to relaunch the blog,” Rudder says. “I put it on pause because I was working on a book… but with that being finished and about to come out, it was time to restart.”

All hail.

Since the OkTrends lull occurred two months after Match.com bought OkCupid, Rudder says some people floated conspiracy theories that Match shut it down. “They absolutely did not,” he says. “In fact they were sad we had to take time off from it.”

But with his book Dataclysm: Who We Are set for a September release, Rudder says he’s back and ready to write a new OkTrends post once every four weeks.

This month’s post proudly declared “We Experiment on Human Beings!” — appropriate given the collective freakout over Facebook’s June emotional manipulation study — and chronicles times the dating network used its users as guinea pigs. For example, OkCupid once told people with a 30% compatibility rating that they were a 90% match, just to see what happened.

Even though Rudder says OkCupid only gets an estimated 1,000 people to sign up after a post goes live, “the effect is more simmering than that.”

For example, if a woman reads an OkTrend piece when she’s in a relationship, she might remember a particularly insightful post several months later when she’s single again and sign up for the service.

“It was more of a long game for us,” Rudder says. “It’s like a billboard in Times Square for Coke. I don’t think people walk past it and are like, ‘I’ve gotta go get a Coke right now.’ It just puts it in their mind and then, when they’re thirsty, they go get a Coke.”

 

TIME Internet

Facebook Isn’t the Only Website Running Experiments on Human Beings

Online Dating
Getty Images

OKCupid proudly cops to the trend

It was the Facebook study heard ’round the world. In June, the social network revealed that it had briefly tweaked its algorithm for a lucky (or unlucky) 698,003 users to make them feel happier (or sadder) based on what they see on their Newsfeed. The reaction to human experimentation—creepy emotional manipulation! mind control!—came out so strong, that Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) asked the FTC to investigate.

Christian Rudder, the co-founder of dating site OKCupid, was shocked by the internet’s shock. “It’s just a fact of life online,” he says. “There’s no website that doesn’t run experiments online.”

And so, Rudder posted OKTrends’ first blog post in three years Monday to announce to the world, “We experiment on human beings!”

Rudder relaunched the site with the revelation that “OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing,” which is why it uses human guinea pigs. And to be honest, “If you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site.”

For example, OkCupid decided to run an experiment in which it told people who were bad matches (30%) that they actually had a compatibility score of 90%. And the result was that they were far more likely to exchange four messages — aka an actual “conversation” — with a bad match they thought was good than with a bad match they knew was subpar.

OkTrends

Luckily, OKC investigated further and found that all online daters aren’t just sheep. Matches were far more likely to have conversations with people they were actually matches with as opposed to people they were told they were good matches with.

OkTrends

Other experiments can be found in the OkTrends blog post.

Rudder argues that some online experiments can lead to offline life changes, like when Facebook tests out a new layout on a small percent of users to see if it’s more effective. “My wife’s Facebook was ordered differently than mine,” he says. “You know, I’m not saying that we are now totally different people, but she saw some news that I didn’t see and she reacted to it and whatever.”

Or the changes can be bigger, Rudder says. “On OkCupid, when we make a change, even a mundane one, that changes who people talk to, who they flirt with, who they go on dates with, and I’m sure in some cases who they get married to.”

At the end of the day, Rudder thinks, “If you like Facebook or think that Reddit is a good thing or OKCupid is a good thing, then almost by definition experiments can be good. That’s the only way you get from Facemash, which Mark Zuckerberg made in his dorm room, to Facebook.”

TIME nation

Police Say Toddler Raced Home to Watch Cartoons After Crashing Jeep into House

This photo provided by the Myrtle Creek Police Department shows a Jeep that authorities say a toddler crashed into an home in Myrtle Creek, Oregon. Myrtle Creek Police Department – AP

The three-year-old was not injured

An Oregon toddler crashed a Jeep into a neighbor’s house and then went home to watch cartoons on Tuesday, July 22, according to police, CNN reports.

The Myrtle Creek Police Department has said the three-year-old boy managed to climb into the vehicle with the keys and knock it out of gear. KPTV reports that witnesses saw the car roll down the street and through an intersection before crashing into a neighbor’s house. A police officer found the boy sitting on the couch in his home watching cartoons on TV, Myrtle Creek Police officer Kevin Taggart told CNN.

The damage to the house is reportedly minor, and the child was not injured. ABC News reports that police cited the toddler’s mother Brennan Pennington for the lack of supervision.

 

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