90 Miles From Tyranny : 10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (10/6/18)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (10/6/18)

With another week in the history books, it is time, yet again, to look back at some of the quirkier stories that made the news over the past few days. If you would also like to catch up on the serious happenings of the world, click here.

It’s been a busy week for space enthusiasts. First, there was talk of exomoons and new dwarf planets, and here, you can find out about the Death Comet and how to buy dirt from Mars. We also have two curious tales about people who unknowingly possessed large fortunes. Staying in the financial realm, we also look at the most expensive whisky in the world and the Robin Hood banker.

10  How To Buy Martian Dirt

If you ever wanted to purchase Martian soil, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is selling a substitute for $20 per kilogram plus shipping.[1]

A team of UCF astrophysicists developed a standardized method for creating simulants of Martian dirt. This kind of resource is vital for research into conditions on Mars, particularly concerning growing food in Martian soil.

The mixing method can mimic soil from various cosmic objects such as planets, satellites, or asteroids, assuming you have the right recipe. At the moment, the team is working on an accurate simulant of Moon dirt.

The technique was presented in a paper published in the journal Icarus. Therefore, people could use it to create their own Martian soil at home, if they want, although it will probably be more accurate if they order it from UCF. The team says they already have 30 pending orders, including one for half a ton of dirt for the Kennedy Space Center.

9  Re-Evaluating The Maya

Back in February, scientists from Tulane University used lidar (light detection and ranging) technology to penetrate the thick jungles of Northern Guatemala. They announced the discovery of thousands of ancient Mayan structures stretching over dozens of previously unknown cities. Now, those researchers finished a comprehensive report of their findings and published it in Science.

Scientists uncovered 61,480 structures. Of the 2,100 square kilometers (810 mi2) mapped in the survey, 362 square kilometers (140 mi2) consisted of terraces and modified agricultural terrain, 952 square kilometers (367 mi2) were farmland, and 106 square kilometers (41 mi2) consisted of causeways which connected urban centers to each other and to defensive earthworks.[2]

Past thinking suggested that the Mayan civilization in Northern Guatemala mostly consisted of small city-states loosely connected to each other. The latest findings demand a complete re-evaluation of the subject. It appears the area was home to a thriving society which consisted of large cities that supported anywhere between seven and 11 million people during the Mayan Late Classic Period from AD 650 to 800.

8  The FBI Agent And The House Of Doom

An FBI agent was injured after being shot from a booby-trapped wheelchair on a property in Oregon.

On September 7, several law enforcement officers were called to the home of 66-year-old Gregory Rodvelt (pictured above) in the small town of Williams. They were there at the request of the real estate lawyer tasked with selling the place after Rodvelt was forced to forfeit the property.

It seems that Rodvelt placed several traps before leaving. He was charged with assault for injuring the agent, and court documents described the event as a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Perhaps most telling was a circular hot tub which was turned on its side and rigged to roll over anyone who triggered a tripwire.[3] Also inside were spike strips and the wheelchair that injured the FBI agent.

The makeshift trap consisted of a wheelchair fitted with shotgun ammo and other items that caused an explosion when a person stepped on a fishing line. An X-ray found a shotgun pellet in the officer’s leg.

Although Rodvelt has been in jail in Arizona since April 2017, he was released this August for a few weeks to prepare for the property forfeiture. Presumably, that is when he rigged all the traps.
  

7  A Drink With A Hefty Price Tag
Photo credit: PA

A bottle of Macallan scotch set a new record for most expensive whisky in the world after it sold at auction for £848,000.

The bottle was a Macallan Valerio Adami 1926, an exceedingly rare batch of which only 12 bottles were produced.[4] It was sold at the Bonhams Whisky Sale in Edinburgh, although the identity of the buyer has not been disclosed.

The whisky was distilled in 1926. It then sat in a vat for 60 years before being bottled. Macallan then commissioned pop artists Valerio Adami and Peter Blake to design custom labels for 12 bottles each.

The previous record for most expensive whisky was set earlier this year at another Bonhams auction in Hong Kong—also for a bottle of Macallan Valerio Adami 1926. At the moment, we are unsure how many of these rare vintages still remain. At least one is known to have been opened and drunk, while another is believed to have been destroyed in an earthquake in Japan seven years ago.



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