From Fish Bladder Beer to Hurricane Hacks: This Week's Curios

Every day of the year, CEO Justin Kitch writes a quirky fact, known as the Daily Curio, intended to tickle the brains of lifelong learners everywhere. This is a weekly digest.

Last week's Curios covered why fish bladders are in your Guinness beer, tropical islands made of parrotfish poop, and the debate over "geohacking" hurricanes.

Curio #881 | Hacking hurricanes
Climate change isn't just warming the planet. It's almost certainly causing more frequent and intense hurricanes, thanks to warmer oceans. Some scientists are worried deadly storms could get very bad very soon. Possibly presenting a greater threat to human survival than the longer term effects of climate change, like rising sea levels. So these same scientists have been kicking around "geohacks" that could reduce hurricane frequency. One such "geohack" idea is to... keep reading.

Curio #880 | That white sand beach is made of parrotfish poop
The Maldives is an archipelago of over one thousand coral reef islands in the Indian Ocean. Covered with pure white sand and surrounded by clear blue water, it's considered one of the most beautiful places in the world. But the existence of the islands is owed entirely to parrotfish poop. The islands in the Maldives are known as reef islands, meaning they have been built up from... keep reading.

Curio #879 | A new living, breathing... fabric
Your next performance jacket could be alive. A new "smart" fabric called BioLogic contains living bacteria. This allows the clothing to react to conditions in the real world, and help regulate temperature during a workout, for example. Developed in a Lab at MIT, BioLogic is essentially bio-skin. Our skin naturally sheds excessive heat via sweat to cool down our bodies. But traditional clothing hampers this process. Researchers, in conjunction with clothing designers from New Balance, have developed clothing based on BioLogic that...keep reading.

Curio #878 | Getting fish bladders out of your beer
Is your beer vegan? If it's a Guinness, the answer is no. Ireland's famous chocolate brown stout has been made the same way for the last 256 years. Unfortunately, for vegetarians and others who don't like animal parts in their beer, this means it includes fish bladders. The ingredient is technically called isinglass, and it is made of dried fish swim bladders. It's an integral part of the filtration process for Guinness, but let's back up.... keep reading.

Curio #877 | Want to avoid disease? Hug more.
If you failed to get a flu shot this year, you should cuddle up. New research suggests that you can inoculate yourself from common diseases with hugs. It seems counterintuitive, especially since germs are easily spread through physical contact. But researchers from Carnegie Mellon are convinced a new study shows hugs and other forms of social support actually prevent illness. They exposed 400 random individuals to a... keep reading.

Curio #876 | Polar bear census not available
How many polar bears live in the Arctic? It turns out getting an accurate count is much more difficult than you might think. First, there's the problem of their fur. Polar bear fur isn't actually white, it's made of tiny hollow, transparent tubes. It appears white when it's reflecting light--also why snow looks white--but from the air they almost completely blend in with the ground. Infrared night-vision goggles, which detect thermal... keep reading.

Curio #875 | Why the world needs "thirsty" concrete
As weather patterns shift around the world due to global warming, more areas are experiencing extreme conditions. Dry periods are longer and hotter, followed by wetter, warmer and more extreme precipitation events. This has increased flooding, especially in urban areas with mostly man-made, non-porous surfaces. Many city planning experts think the answer to this new flood risk is "thirsty" concrete. A UK based company named Tarmac has created... keep reading.

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