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Black Holes

Learn about Black Holes
Open link on youtube.com

The general theory of relativity predicts the existence of wormholes, hypothetical structures allowing time travel via the curvature of spacetime. Massive objects bend spacetime with their gravitational pull; with a large enough object, the so-called fabric of spacetime could bend enough to connect two distinct spacetime regions. Watch as pop scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic Chuck Nice explore this wild idea in this entertaining video.

Open link on youtube.com

Could the universe actually be a hologram projected from a two-dimensional surface? The idea strikes us as absurd, but the math behind it has helped simplify many long-standing physics problems, including the black hole information paradox which asks how a universe in equilibrium can allow for matter-crushing black holes. Explore the ideas behind this mind-bending hypothesis with this complex, fascinating video lecture.

Open link on quantamagazine.org

Physical singularities are infinitely dense points with zero volume, and theoretically they shouldn't exist outside of a black hole. One that did would be referred to as a naked singularity, infinitely dense but without a black hole's event horizon concealing the singularity within. Observation of such a thing would be revelatory for physicists. Learn the debates around this frustrating and fascinating concept.

Ancient Egypt

Learn about Ancient Egypt

Smithsonian Institution

Whose face is on the Sphinx?

Open link on si.edu

Egypt's ancient marvel, the 66-foot tall, 4,500-year-old Great Sphinx, is believed to stand as a guard to the great Giza pyramids—or tombs—of pharaohs Khafre and Khufu. Archaeologists have long debated which of the two leaders' face is on the great monument, the father (Khufu) or the son (Khafre). Explore the arguments for one or the other with this short video.

Open link on news.artnet.com

The 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt revealed new secrets about the civilization to a fascinated world, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Harry Burton captured the discovery in 2,800 black-and-white glass negatives. Nearly a century later, a selection of the images were colorized by experts to show the excavation's original color. Peruse the historical images here.

Open link on egyptianmuseum.org

The major historical sites of ancient Egypt are spread out over 1,000 miles of the Nile River, from the Mediterranean Sea to modern-day Sudan, and constructed over three millennia. With this interactive map, you can quickly grasp when and where every major monument was built, from the Great Pyramid in the Nile river delta to the Greek temple of Isis near contemporary Aswan.

Alzheimer's

Learn about Alzheimer's
Open link on alz.org

The brain has three main parts—the cerebrum, brain stem, and cerebellum—each combining to control the entirety of the body’s operations. Alzheimer’s progressively deteriorates the circuitry in these structures, resulting in what we see as the symptoms of the disease. This rich visual guide illustrates the difference between a healthy brain and one afflicted by Alzheimer’s.

Open link on ted.com

A human deprived of sleep for a single night will see an immediate increase in amyloid beta proteins, the molecule behind plaques seen in Alzheimer’s. New studies reveal high-quality sleep is critical in preventing the buildup of the sticky protein that appears to play a role in the development and progression of the neurological disease.

Photo of two people talking with text overlay that reads, "Longing for Yesterday."
Open link on vimeo.com

This nine-minute short film attempts to answer the loaded question of what it feels like to fade into dementia, a degenerative neurological disease that causes memory, motor, and cognition issues. The focus of the Dutch film is Jos, a married father who previously worked in hospitality. It follows him as he sinks deeper into his dementia "during what feels like a single day. Or is it years?"

Business & Finance Spotlight

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Open link on bitcoinmagazine.com

Sometime around around 2008, a person known as Satoshi Nakamoto began working on the underlying bitcoin code and blockchain. Widely credited as inventing the currency, Nakamoto abruptly disappeared from the digital world—no one has confirmed his identity, or whether he was even a single individual. Take a look inside the turbulent days of bitcoin development after Nakamoto stepped back into the shadows.

Open link on tuitiontracker.org

The Hechinger Report

Play the Game of College

In this news game about college affordability, play the role of a student as you navigate your way through college as debt-free as possible. This simulator lets you select different income levels, high school experience, race and ethnicity, and more. How does meeting with a counselor alter your trajectory? Should you emphasize extracurriculars or test scores? Take your own journey here.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell
Open link on money.usnews.com

Sixteen men and women have held the office of Fed chair since 1913 with varying results. From the Fed’s first leader Charles Hamlin to Jerome Powell, see how stocks fared for each chair within distinct macroeconomic conditions in a ranked list followed by a guide to the highlights of their terms.

Inflation

Learn about Inflation
Open link on ft.com

Pulled together by staff at the Financial Times, this tracker provides a visual narrative of inflation rates, central bank policies, consumer price breakouts, and more from nations across the globe. Data provided shines a light on how countries have tackled economic challenges as the world emerged from the pandemic, along with some future projections of expected interest rate changes.

Open link on in2013dollars.com

In the pre-modern US, the purchasing power of currency remained roughly the same from the mid-17th century to the Great Depression. From the early 20th century to now, inflation has risen by about 1,700%, resulting in a hockey stick-like curve in the relative value of a dollar. This inflation calculator lets you compare the value of dollars from any two years over the past four centuries.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Check the current Consumer Price Index

Open link on bls.gov

While the concept of inflation refers to changing prices, how is that measured across a broad and complex economy? The Consumer Price Index is a metric that attempts to capture price changes felt by consumers by averaging over a basket of about 80,000 items, each weighted to reflect the impact of changes on households. This page from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides updated CPI info, along with a breakdown of all subitems.

401(k)

Learn about 401(k)
A bar graph showing average 401(k) contributions over five years.
Open link on hicapitalize.com

The average American contributed nearly $6,000 to a 401(k) account in 2023, an increase over the previous year and roughly 8% of their total income. Check out these and more numbers on America’s 401(k) saving habits with this survey across different financial companies’ plans to give a representative glimpse at retirement saving today.

Screen grab of the retirement savings calculator.
Open link on nerdwallet.com

When it comes to saving for retirement, they say the earlier you start, the better. So how do you figure out how much to contribute? This simple calculator takes your age, income, planned contributions, and expected retirement needs into account to give you a portrait of how your financial condition will look when it comes time to start withdrawals. Figure out your number here.

The speaker of the video smiling next to the words "The Best 401K Advice"
Open link on youtube.com

There’s a lot of standard advice around how or whether to use a 401(k) as part of your retirement plans, but it can be mired in disclaimers and legalese. Come prepared to your financial advisor or accountant by watching this informative take on how to properly use a 401(k), from consolidating plans to some of the most common errors.

Health & Medicine Spotlight

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Open link on health.harvard.edu

Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, an umbrella term that refers to a collection of symptoms, including memory loss, cognitive impairment, behavior changes, and more. Broadly caused by the death of brain cells, the disease generally (but not always) emerges in older age, strikes women more often (two-thirds of cases), and currently has no cure.

Photo of a person rubbing their face.
Open link on quantamagazine.org

Fruit flies genetically engineered to be awake for as long as they live tend to live half as long as their well-rested brethren. Analysis shows these modified flies suffer from a buildup of DNA-destroying reactive oxygen species in their guts. When enabled to sleep or provided with antioxidants that neutralize the electron-thieving molecules, the sleepless flies live as long as their counterparts, suggesting sleep loss accumulates in the gut.

Digital art of two-toned pill with sad and happy face on either end sits below text that reads, "How do antidepressants work?"
Open link on youtube.com

Many antidepressants approach the mental health condition from the chemical imbalance theory, which proposes that symptoms are caused by an insufficient amount of monoamines or neurotransmitters. Correcting this "imbalance" meant increasing the availability of those monoamines, typically serotonin, which influences mood and sleep. This led to the development of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. This five-minute video explains how the science of antidepressants still isn't fully understood.

Opioids

Learn about Opioids
Staged photo of two syringes on flat surface.
Open link on youtube.com

Once in the body, opioids bind to naturally occurring opioid receptors typically used by endorphins to temper pain. They trigger the release of dopamine, a desire-related hormone, and decrease noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter involved in heart and breathing rate regulation, meaning high doses can slow these processes to dangerous levels. As the body adjusts, it decreases opioid receptors and increases noradrenaline sensitivity, relying on continued opioid use to maintain homeostasis.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

How does Narcan work?

Digital art of a human brain covered by a handful of small dots.
Open link on youtube.com

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is an opioid-overdose reversal medication that typically begins working within a few minutes. Opioid use typically causes users to experience pain relief, euphoria, relaxation, and slowed breathing, sometimes to the point of suffocation. Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, attaches to opioid receptors without activating them, forcing opioid molecules out of their respective receptors and allowing users' breathing rates to normalize.

Digital art of CBC logo for program titled "On Drugs" that shows the program's name in speech bubbles over waves of color.
Open link on cbc.ca

Religious or medical use of opium derived from the poppy plant has stretched across Europe and Asia since at least 1,200 BCE. By the 16th century, humanity had come to see opium as more than medicine: it was a marketable product. This perspective also defines today's relationship with opioids, highly addictive painkillers at the heart of the deadly and ongoing epidemic planted by pharmaceutical companies.

Dreams

Learn about Dreams
Photo of a winged child sleeping on clouds.
Open link on quantamagazine.org

Scientists are still trying to figure that out. It's difficult to measure and study dreams as scientists can only study the private, subjective experiences secondhand, a complication also known to pain researchers. What scientists do know is that dreams are creations of the brain during sleep that can involve time, space, emotions, and social interactions and range in experience from immersive to abstract.

National Geographic

Do animals dream?

Photo of a red panda sleeping in a tree.
Open link on nationalgeographic.com

Sleeping cats that had part of their pons—part of the brainstem seemingly involved in REM sleep and sleep paralysis—removed engaged in behaviors as if they were awake. Studies on sleeping rats, fish, and finches show their brains fired as if performing actions from waking life. Spiders and insects also have REM-like sleep. Whether these findings indicate animals dream depends on one's definition of dreaming.

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Interpret your dream like an ancient Babylonian

Open link on penn.museum

Ancient Babylonia was a hub for oracular studies. Dreams were seen as nightly dispatches from lower world or chthonic deities, and practices including astrology, omen reading, and liver divination attained wide-reaching influence. Few surviving records of oneiromancy—interpreting dreams as revelations of future events—have been found. This article details an ages-old Babylonian tablet, in "almost perfect" condition, filled with nearly 90 omens and their interpretations.

Explore Fresh Resources

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1440 Daily Digest

401(k) plans, explained

Curious about how the 401 (k) started? 1440's got your breakdown on how Ted Benna, a rural benefits consultant, proposed a reinterpretation of a small tweak to the Internal Revenue Code in 1980, leading to a fundamental transformation of how American workers plan for retirement. Watch our three-minute explainer on the foundational retirement vehicle here.

Open link on stownpodcast.org

From the team behind "Serial," investigative journalist Brian Reed goes back to his hometown of Woodstock, Alabama, to probe an alleged murder. The hit series was downloaded a record 10 million times in four days, wrapping seven mini-stories in each episode into a twisting narrative with an ultimately suspenseful and surprise ending.

Open link on thisdayinwinehistory.com

This Day in Wine History

A history of Rome and wine

Wine and winemaking were an integral part of everyday Roman life, used medicinally and for religious rites, as well as for pleasure. It also contributed to the expansion of the Roman empire as wine and grapes were traded throughout the Mediterranean and Roman winemaking practices spread as the empire grew. Without Rome, wine may never have grown into what it became, and vice versa.

Konstantin Baum leaning over a qvevri of grapes.
Open link on youtube.com

What do we know about early viticulture? The earliest evidence of winemaking is from the country of Georgia more than 8,000 years ago, when people began fermenting grapes in clay vessels called qvevri (pronounced kway-vree). Join Master of Wine Konstantin Baum for a video diving into the origins of winemaking in the country of Georgia, exploring how Georgia’s unique mix of climates and cultures made it the perfect place for wine to flourish.

Open link on triad-city-beat.com

Grumpy Cat. Distracted Boyfriend. Exploding Brain. Memes have become one of the most immediate ways to communicate—and the 50 most popular ones can be found just about anywhere on the internet. Sources came from Tumblr, Twitter, Know Your Meme, and other online pop culture resources and publications, and examined memes from the early 2000s to 2019.

Open link on youtube.com

Since the dawn of pain, creatures have long sought ways to mitigate the evolutionary warning signal. One of nature's most effective painkillers is opium, a highly addictive, milky latex extracted from poppy plants—the basis of one of the most prescribed class of modern drugs. Want to learn more about opioids? 1440's got your breakdown of how the drug works.

Open link on youtube.com

Launched by NASA in 2021, images from the 14,000-pound Webb have transformed theories of star formation, black holes, and more—while revealing jaw-dropping shots of the cosmos and inspiring a new generation of space fans. Curious about NASA's James Webb Space Telescope? 1440's got your breakdown of how it works.

Open link on youtube.com

Aging has always been inevitable but fasting, epigenetic reprogramming, and parabiosis are just some of the scientific techniques that seem to help people stay young. By studying centenarians, how memory works, and even the humble roundworm, might the Peter Pan dream eventually become reality? Learn how scientists are looking for the genetic basis to not just live a long life, but a healthy one.

Open link on peterattiamd.com

As scientific advances continue to extend the average human lifespan, many are now turning their attention towards extending ‘healthspan.’ Healthspan refers to the number of years that one is active and disease-free. The ultimate goal would be to extend one’s healthspan to match that of one’s lifespan, necessitating a shift in focus towards the pursuit of healthy aging. This article explores the two concepts as well as the critical importance of maintaining activity levels as we age.

Open link on apnews.com

All the coverage of research into promising (but often unproven) medical treatments involving stem cells has created conditions that allow some people to engage in activities that regulators describe as scams. As this news article explains, attorneys general in at least seven states have taken legal action against businesses that promised (costly) stem cell treatments but allegedly engaged in fraud.

Open link on youtube.com

In April 2017, Netflix reached 100 million subscribers worldwide—a figure that had hit 260 million worldwide by 2024. With 50 million in the US alone, it has revolutionized the way people consume entertainment. Newsweek takes a look into the history of the company and how they became the dominant force in entertainment.

Open link on youtube.com

How often would you say you struggle to stay or fall asleep? If it's more than three times per week (and has been going on for at least one month), then you might have one of the most common sleep disorders: insomnia. Curious about how the disorder works? 1440's got your breakdown here.

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