Confessions Of A Man Who Was Almost A Mass Murderer

"When a gunman killed 13 in Binghamton, N.Y., last week, reactions ranged from sorrow to fear, anger, and—self-recognition? Mansfield Frazier explains the time, 40 years ago, when he nearly went postal.

Each of the recent mass murders—14 dead in Binghamton, N.Y.; 10 in Samson, Ala.; four police officers dead in Oakland, Calif.; six left dead in an apparent murder-suicide in Santa Clara, Calif.; and eight dead in a North Carolina nursing home—brings memories of my own period of madness flooding back to me. Over 40 years ago, I quite literally came within one day of becoming a mass murderer. Fate, fortuitously, intervened to avert the tragedy, and I am forever, eternally, grateful.

Can my telling of my tale prevent maybe at least one future tragedy? While I would like to think so, I’m just not sure. However, I am sure that the spate of recent shootings are symptomatic of a deeper malaise in America, and, tragically, I suspect there are going to be many more mass shootings to come. After all, we’re a nation that loves—nay, idolizes—guns. More than one model of handgun has been named 'The Equalizer.'

And equalization—of power—is, I think, is what drives many individuals to 'go postal.' For quite some time, I’ve been totally amazed that more people don’t go off the deep end every day and start spraying gunfire in crowded places, particularly workplaces..."

*Photos via DailyMail

What We Didn't Know Last Year

More From The BBC's Things We Didn't Know Last Year...

6. Carrots used to be purple.

14. Brain tumours can be diagnosed by a handshake.

17. For the first time in US history, more than one in every 100 American adults is behind bars.

18. 23% of plastic bags used in the UK are from Tesco.

22. Toasters are banned in Cuba.

25. Lions were kept in the Tower of London in the 14th century.

26. Up to one quarter of the sand on shorelines can be composed of plastic particles

33. A severed finger tip can grow back naturally.

45. Pigs can suffer from mysophobia, a fear of dirt.

50. The Royal Family costs the equivalent of 66p per person in the UK.

53. Pears sink while apples float.

70. You can dive from 35ft into 12in of water - and only suffer bruising (with a lot of training).

72. Portraits of famous people often look like the painter instead.

*Photo Via 101Cookbooks

Scientists Make Blackest Material Ever

"Scientists have fashioned what may be the blackest material in the universe: a sheet of carbon nanotubes that captures nearly every last photon of every wavelength of light.

The substance absorbs between 97 percent and 99 percent of wavelengths that can be directly measured or extrapolated. It's the closest that scientists have yet come to a black body, a theorized state of perfect absorption whose closest analogue is believed to be the opening of a deep hole.

The material, described Monday by Japanese nanotechnologists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is made from a flat array of vertically-aligned, single-walled carbon nanotubes. Photons that aren't immediately absorbed by a single nanotube deflect off and are absorbed by its neighbors..."

Snatch Wars

*Contains Strong Language

New Cosmic Map Reveals Colossal Structures

"Enormous cosmic voids and giant concentrations of matter have been observed in a new galaxy survey, one of the biggest completed so far. One of the voids is so large that it is difficult to explain where it came from.

Called the Six Degree Field Galaxy Survey (6dFGS), the project scanned 41% of the sky, measuring positions and distances for 110,000 galaxies within 2 billion light years of Earth.

No previous survey has covered as much of the sky at such a distance. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), which is based in the northern hemisphere, has probed about twice as far but covers only 23% of the sky....

...Scientists are still analysing the new map, but a few features stand out immediately. The biggest concentration of matter seen by the survey is a previously known giant pileup of galaxies called the Shapley supercluster, which lies about 600 million light years from Earth.

The survey also found some enormous voids – regions of space that are relatively empty, including one that is about 3.5 billion light years across....

...In fact the newly found void is so large that it is difficult to fit into our present understanding of the universe on the largest scales. Computer simulations show that gravity causes galaxies and galaxy clusters to get closer together over time, with voids growing between the clusters.

But the finite time available since the big bang makes it difficult to explain a void as large as the one found in this survey (other researchers, however, say galaxy maps already hint at the existence of such large-scale structures)...."

Inmate's Final Meals On Texas Death Row

"...Two 16 oz. ribeyes, one lb. turkey breast (sliced thin), twelve strips of bacon, two large hamburgers with mayo, onion, and lettuce, two large baked potatoes with butter, sour cream, cheese, and chives, four slices of cheese or one-half pound of grated cheddar cheese, chef salad with blue cheese dressing, two ears of corn on the cob, one pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and four vanilla Cokes or Mr. Pibb..."

Helium Balloon Photography

"Spanish students manage to take amazing pictures of earth from space using just a helium balloon and a cheap nikon camera.."

Robot Scientist Makes Discoveries Without Human Help

"A robot scientist that can generate its own hypotheses and run experiments to test them has made its first real scientific discoveries.

Dubbed Adam, the robot is the handiwork of researchers at Aberystwyth University and the University of Cambridge in the UK. All by itself it discovered new functions for a number of genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, aka brewer's yeast...

...Adam, which actually consists of a small roomful of lab equipment, has four personal computers that act as a brain, and possesses robot arms, cameras, liquid handlers, incubators and other equipment. The team gave the robot a freezer containing a library of thousands of mutant strains of yeast with individual genes deleted. It was also equipped with a database containing information about yeast genes, enzymes, and metabolism, and a supply of hundreds of metabolites...."

Carbon Nanotube Muscles, Strong As Diamond, Flexible As Rubber

"...Turn to the laboratory of Ray Baughman, who has created a next-generation muscle from carbon nanotubes.

Baughman and his colleagues have produced a formulation that's stronger than steel, as light as air and more flexible than rubber — a truly 21st century muscle. It could be used to make artificial limbs, "smart" skins, shape-changing structures, ultra-strong robots and — in the immediate future — highly-efficient solar cells.

'We can generate about 30 times the force per unit area of natural muscle,' said Baughman, director of the NanoTech Institute at the University of Texas at Dallas...."

Experts Say The Human Lifespan Will Reach A Thousand Years

"Cambridge University geneticist Aubrey de Grey has famously stated, “The first person to live to be 1,000 years old is certainly alive today …whether they realize it or not, barring accidents and suicide, most people now 40 years or younger can expect to live for centuries.”

Perhaps de Gray is way too optimistic, but plenty of others have joined the search for a virtual fountain of youth. In fact, a growing number of scientists, doctors, geneticists and nanotech experts—many with impeccable academic credentials—are insisting that there is no hard reason why ageing can’t be dramatically slowed or prevented altogether. Not only is it theoretically possible, they argue, but a scientifically achievable goal that can and should be reached in time to benefit those alive today..."

*Photo via emeagwali

A Story From The Moon

"...I guess the discovery that really baffled me started the first night en route to the moon beyond the Van Allen Belts. We closed the windows and turned out the lights and Mike Collins had the headset on to listen to Houston and Neil [Armstrong] and I were under the couch. All of a sudden I saw a flash, and then another flash. And before I could move my eye to see what it was, it was gone. And then maybe a streak. And I kept seeing these, until I decided I wanted to go to sleep.

So when we had one day left coming back and I said to the other two guys, “You guys see anything funny last night, like some flashes of light, or something? Mike, did you see anything?”

“No, I didn’t see anything.”


“Oh, yeah. Yeah, I saw about a hundred of them.”

Well, it was obviously inside the spacecraft [because the windows were closed]. So we came back and reported that afterward. And to get to the bottom of if, the next flight was briefed. And they went up there. And they could see the flashes with their eyes shut.

Which meant that high Z particles were penetrating the spacecraft, your helmet, everything else -- and impacting the retina of your eye. And it’s an example of the kind of particles that are out there en route to human travel to Mars and so forth that we need to keep track of. And when they hit your brain, you just lost a cell of two of memory. So I guess that was one of the most unusual things we saw."

*Photo via asymptotia

Volunteers Spend Three Months Locked In Metal Container

"What would you be prepared to do for money? For $6,500 (£4,500) a month, to be precise?

How about the following: locking yourself inside a small metal container for three months without any communication with the outside world, with electronic monitors attached to various parts of your body and with frozen baby food and cereal bars for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

To add to the fun you'll have five companions who will do everything possible to stop you trying to escape before the three months are up.

Meanwhile, from a control room outside, a team of scientists will monitor your every move checking for any signs that you are starting to crack up.

And banish all hope of finding solace through alcohol or tobacco. Both are strictly forbidden..."

*Photo via DailyMail