Why it matters: The team at the European Space Agency put together a 3D animation of the possible landing site for the European-Russian ExoMars rover. The site is an eroded crater located in Oxia Planum, a plain located in the northern hemisphere of Mars. The rover, which is named Rosalind Franklin, is scheduled to touch down on the red planet in 2021.
Why it matters: This study is an eye-opener for anyone who cares about how we educate our children. Researchers found that students who stayed in elementary school for grades 6 and 7 performed better on math and reading tests than students who moved on to middle school for those grades. The results suggest students might be better off if middle schools were eliminated; with students staying in elementary school through grade 7 and then moving on to a high school for grade 8. What do you think?
Why it matters: Daimler, the legendary owner of brands like Mercedes-Benz, said it will focus all its R&D on electric engines and no longer work on new internal combustion engines. Daimler is also putting a lot of effort into autonomous trucks, so it might not be long before that big rig you see on the freeway is driverless AND electric.
Why it matters: Obviously, people have different ideas about what constitutes good and bad music. However, are the people making those judgments equipped with the same ability to distinguish between different registers of the same musical notes. It turns out people accustomed to listening to Western music, which is arranges notes in organized octaves, are more capable of perceiving a difference between registers, like a high C or a middle C, than people who haven't been exposed to Western music. There are numerous insights in this article about the nature versus nurture aspects of humans and sound.
Why it matters: With unemployment at relatively low rates, companies are having to come up with creative ways to compete for talent. Ben & Jerry's gives employees three pints of free ice cream every day. Pinterest will pay for female employees to freeze their eggs if they want to delay starting a family. But perhaps GrantTree has the most appealing job perk -- employees determine their own salary.
Why it matters: My wife, my daughter, my mom, my mother-in-law, my sister, my niece, my neighbor and two of my aunts would all kill me if I didn't include this. So here you go "Downton Abbey" fans ... your wait for the movie is over.
Why it matters: I remember the first time I rode in the much-hyped PT Cruiser. I thought I was climbing into an SUV, but once I was inside it felt more like a VW Beetle. It was weird.
Chrysler stopped making the PT Cruiser and some people have even deemed it the ugliest car ever made. But that hasn't stopped the PT Cruiser from enjoying a bit of a renaissance -- at demolition derbies.
Why it matters: This discussion of Eddie Murphy's classic cop flick will probably make you want to go back and watch it from an entirely new perspective. The film was made when Eddie Murphy was a huge star, but some of the plot lines usually afforded to stars of that caliber are missing in "Beverly Hills Cop." Why didn't the movie include a romantic sub-plot? Was the culture of the 1980s not yet ready for an interracial romance? Or was the entire movie based on the lengths Axel Foley would go to avenge the one person he truly loved?
Why it matters: Back in April, WYWW featured a story about Hugh Donovan. Hugh began this year by embarking on a mission to drive through all 3,142 counties, or county-equivalents, in the United States. Hugh's goal was to complete his journey in one calendar year, so I figured I'd check on his progress in December to see if he was going to succeed. Well ... Hugh is done.
At the end of August, Hugh completed his mission when he pulled into Clermont County in Ohio. You can see some of the highlights from Hugh's trip on is "Operation: 3142" Facebook page. Shortly after finishing his trip, Hugh was off to the UK ... where he is "collecting" more counties.
Why it matters: To say "The West Wing" maintains a devoted following long after it went off the air would be an understatement. The show remains popular on Netflix and even spawned a podcast called "The West Wing Weekly" that has been popular for a few years.
This piece takes an interesting look at what drives the show's seemingly ever-lasting popularity. Is it the snappy writing? Or is there deeper yearning by the show's fans that it somehow encapsulates how their ideal West Wing would function? I suspect it is a bit of both. Even people who don't like the show should tip their hat to just how clairvoyant some of the writing was. One of my all-time favorite lines is this line from Rob Lowe's character Sam Seaborn on the topic of privacy:
"It's not just about abortion, it's about the next 20 years. In the '20s and '30s it was the role of government. '50s and '60s it was civil rights. The next two decades are going to be privacy. I'm talking about the Internet. I'm talking about cell phones. I'm talking about health records and who's gay and who's not. And moreover, in a country born on the will to be free, what could be more fundamental than this?"
Considering the news these days, that line has aged incredibly well. However, since that episode was broadcast on November 24, 1999, those "two decades" are just about up. Maybe Sam should have said privacy would be a hot topic forever?