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...."