Why it matters: Many human-made objects remain in space even after their useful service life is over. That debris can pose a danger to functional satellites and manned spacecraft. When the debris collide, they break into additional pieces that add to the clutter. The European Space Agency is taking a small step to combat the problem by agreeing to fund the first space mission to remove an item of debris from orbit. It won't take place until 2025, though.
Why it matters: In a world inundated with fake news, it's easy to cast blame on others for spreading misinformation. This study at The Ohio State University gives credence to notion that we create our own "alternative facts" to align with our biases. In this instance, the researchers showed that people misremember accurate statistics, such as the number of Mexican immigrants in the United States, which actually decreased between 2007 and 2014.
Why it matters: That's right. Jacksonville, Fla., had a chance in the early 1900s to be the home of the movie industry. Jacksonville had produced some early comedies, but in 1917, many studios closed shop after it became clear that residents weren't ready for the city to be a movie town. World War I, an influenza outbreak and mismanagement of companies in the area didn't help. It's interesting to think what movies, and popular culture as a whole, would be like today had Jacksonville been the epicenter of the movie industry.
Why it matters: This week, 34-year-old Sanna Marin will be sworn in as Finland's prime minister, making her the youngest person in the world to actively hold that title. She will take over a coalition government with five women in top spots, four of whom are under 35. Marin has publicly downplayed the importance of her age and gender in her victory, perhaps because younger women have historically been active in the country's politics. But you have to think her ascension will inspire many others around the world.
Why it matters: This year, for the first time, I decided to forgo store-bought holiday cards and order some personalized photo ones from Shutterfly, along with a few from my sister's Etsy store. I've sent almost all of them out, and even though they were more expensive, I think they were worth the money. I enjoy getting cards as well as sending them -- I even have a few I received last Christmas hanging by my desk at home -- so I was happy to find out that today is Christmas Card Day. If you haven't sent yours out yet, maybe that will inspire you to get moving. -- Cathy
Why it matters: Perhaps you've heard of the internet of things, in which objects are connected with information via the internet. Researchers in Switzerland and Israel are close to taking that concept to the next level with the "DNA of things," which entails turning nearly any object into a data storage unit. To demonstrate this potential, the researchers 3D-printed a plastic rabbit. The plastic contains DNA molecules that have the printing instructions encoded.
Why it matters: Remember in 2015, when Steve Harvey mistakenly announced that Miss Colombia was that year's Miss Universe? Well, it appears history repeated itself yesterday, when Harvey announced the wrong winner of the costume contest during Miss Universe 2019. It apparently wasn't his fault this time, but the poor guy might want to consider a different gig.
Why it matters: With more Americans caring about "wellness" and experimenting with the "sober curious" lifestyle, 2019 may go down as a turning point for drinking culture in the US. For marketers, this is important, as many of the old assumptions about who drinks what and why are fading.
The giant Pacific octopus has sparked fear and awe from Seattleites for more than a century, first as the object of sea hunters, then as a wrestling attraction in the 1950s and '60s. Today, the octopus is both a cultural symbol and an object of scientific study and fascination.