Our Galaxy’s Supermassive Black Hole Has Pooped Out a Big Bright Flare

❝ The supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way, Sagittarius A*, is relatively quiet. It’s not an active nucleus, spewing light and heat into the space around it; most of the time, the black hole’s activity is low key, with minimal fluctuations in its brightness.

Most of the time. Recently, astronomers caught it going absolutely bananas, suddenly growing 75 times brighter before subsiding back to normal levels. That’s the brightest we’ve ever seen Sgr A* in near-infrared wavelengths…

❝ “I was pretty surprised at first and then very excited,” astronomer Tuan Do of the University of California Los Angeles told ScienceAlert.

“The black hole was so bright I at first mistook it for the star S0-2, because I had never seen Sgr A* that bright. Over the next few frames, though, it was clear the source was variable and had to be the black hole. I knew almost right away there was probably something interesting going on with the black hole.”

The explosions in the video up top from DOCTOR STRANGELOVE are little pinpricks compared to the energy from interaction with a black hole. Luckily, not a neighborhood happenstance.

If you wondered who started the rumor about Coke being a healthy snack?


It wasn’t this mythical dude…

If a column in honor of heart health suggests a can of Coke as a snack, you might want to read the fine print.

The world’s biggest beverage maker, which struggles with declining soda consumption in the U.S., is working with fitness and nutrition experts who suggest its cola as a healthy treat. In February, for instance, several wrote online pieces for American Heart Month, with each including a mini-can of Coke or small soda as a snack idea.

The mentions – which appeared on nutrition blogs and other sites including those of major newspapers – show the many ways food companies work behind the scenes to cast their products in a positive light, often with the help of third parties who are seen as trusted authorities…

For Coca-Cola Co., the public relations strategy with health experts in February focused on the theme of “Heart Health & Black History Month.” The effort yielded a radio segment and multiple online pieces.

One post refers to a “refreshing beverage option such as a mini can of Coca-Cola.” Another suggests “portion-controlled versions of your favorites, like Coca-Cola mini cans, packs of almonds or pre-portioned desserts for a meal.”

The focus on the smaller cans isn’t surprising. Sugary drinks have come under fire for fueling obesity rates and related ills, and the last time Coke’s annual U.S. soda volume increased was in 2002, according to the industry tracker Beverage Digest. More recently, the company is pushing its mini-cans as a guilt-free way to enjoy cola. The cans also fetch higher prices on a per ounce basis, so even if people are drinking less soda, Coke says it can grow sales.

Most of the pieces suggesting mini-Cokes say in the bios that the author is a “consultant” for food companies, including Coca-Cola. Some add that the ideas expressed are their own. One column is marked at the bottom as a “sponsored article,” which is an ad designed to look like a regular story. It ran on more than 1,000 sites, including those of major news outlets around the country. The other posts were not marked as sponsored content, but follow a similar format…

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a professional group for dietitians, says in its code of ethics that practitioners promote and endorse products “only in a manner that is not false and misleading.” A spokesman for the academy did not respond when asked if the posts on mini-Cokes meet those guidelines.

I don’t expect corporations deriving profits from selling deadly crap masquerading as food – to admit their products are deadly crap masquerading as food. And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised they can find a number of greedy fools willing to prostitute their professional credentials to pimp their products.

I think it would be closer to ethical if [1] they didn’t get away with deliberate lies, publishing bought-and-paid-for consultants to pretend there is value to their products – and [2] it might be useful in a time and place like the 21st Century in the United States – if mass media attempted something approaching truth-telling in the adverts they’re paid to distribute.

I can hardly think of crap less likely to be a useful snack than a can of Coke.

Wearable tech, Japanese style: Smart bra unlocks for true love

In one of the more absurd examples of wearable technology we’ve seen lately, a Japanese firm has created a high-tech bra called the True Love Tester that literally snaps open only when it senses that the woman is in love.

Lingerie maker Ravijour developed the bra as part of a campaign to celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary. Featuring embedded sensors and a high-tech clasp, the True Love Tester bra connects to a smartphone app via Bluetooth. Sensors monitor the woman’s heart rate and the app analyzes the received data to figure out whether the woman is in the grip of true love.

The designers point out that the type of excitement a woman feels when she’s in love is distinguishable from other types of excitement. Presumably that spares the wearer from her bra dropping off at the sight of her favorite snack…

The bra’s makers do seem to take measuring true love quite seriously, though. There’s a graph in the promotional video that plots the woman’s heart rate alongside shopping, jogging, watching horror movies, flirting, getting a surprise gift and eating spicy food. The bra’s clasp comes undone automatically, but only when the “true love rate” exceeds a particular value…

Seems only fair and reasonable to make a companion piece. Say, a zipper for men’s jeans.

Just a bite can be satisfying enough for a snack

If you’re giving in to cravings for chocolate or other snacks, think smaller, take a bite and wait. A new Cornell study finds that eating smaller portions of commonly craved foods will satisfy a person just as well as a larger portion of the same food would.

“This research supports the notion that eating for pleasure — hedonic hunger — is driven more by the availability of foods instead of the food already eaten,” said Brian Wansink…a co-author of the study, “Just a bite: Considerably smaller snack portions satisfy delayed hunger and craving…”

The study found that portion size has a direct impact on calorie intake — and portion size did not have a direct impact on the level of satisfaction in the person eating the snack. The researchers came to these conclusions after giving one group of 104 adults regular-size portions of the same snack — either chocolate, apple pie or potato chips — and offering another group just a couple of small bites of the same snacks.

Those who ate large portions consumed 77 percent more calories than those who ate a few bites. Although they ate substantially more calories, their hunger decreased the same amount as those eating small portions. For both groups, cravings significantly decreased 15 minutes after eating, and they were equally satisfied.

“So, how much chocolate would you need to eat to be satisfied? Less than half as much as you think,” Wansink said. “If you want to control your weight, here’s the secret: Take a bite and wait. After 15 minutes all you’ll remember — in your head and in your stomach — is that you had a tasty snack.”

Every year I continue a never-ending battle with portion control. Happily, I mostly seem to be winning. At least my weight has declined each of the past 8 years.

My evening chocolate snack is only 47 grams – with damned little sugar. But, other impulsive snacks can be larger – and higher in calories. I’ll start experimenting with this. The whole day.

Goldilocks burglar breaks into homes, has a snack and a snooze!

Police believe they are close to catching a burglar nicknamed Goldilocks who breaks into homes, eats the owners food and then takes a nap in their beds.

Essex Police have been encouraged by the public response since they launched an appeal for information about blond-haired Jesse Dobinson, 19, who has gone missing.

He was still at large on Friday.

Detective Inspector Simon Anslow, who has also released a photograph of Dobinson, said: We called him Goldilocks as we believe he has not only eaten his victims food, but also slept in their beds…He added: It is distressing for the victim to come home and find their food has been eaten and that someone has been in their personal space.

Within a few days, police claim he twice broke into a house in Wickford, Essex, helped himself to food, had a brief sleep and then stole electrical goods.

He is then said to have returned a third time and, on being disturbed, shot his victim in the chest with a BB gun.

The unemployed teenager from South Woodham Ferrers is also wanted in connection with a knifepoint robbery in the same town…

Dobinson is described as slim, clean-shaven, 5ft 3in tall and with short, straight hair.

Time to act like a bear.