@rat

How do I get off this ride?

A legend of extraterrestrial life and death continues to draw visitors to the supposed gravesite of a Martian pilot.

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), the non-profit that owns Wikipedia and other volunteer-written websites, is about to reach its 10-year goal of creating a $100 million endowment five years earlier than it planned. Its total funds, which have risen by about $200 million over the past five years, now stand at around $300 million. Its revenue has risen every year. In just the first nine months of its current financial year, it has raked in $142 million in donations according to an internal document—and already obliterated its previous annual record.

This news may surprise donors and users around the world who have seen Wikipedia fundraising banners displayed at various times during the past year—including, for the first time, in India. Presently shown to readers in pandemic-ridden Latin America, these banners have created a widespread impression that the WMF must be struggling to keep Wikipedia up-and-running, with tearful-sounding messages like: “This Thursday Wikipedia really needs you. This is the 10th appeal we’ve shown you. 98% of our readers don’t give; they look the other way … We ask you, humbly, don’t scroll away.”

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The Arctic Ocean has been getting warmer since the beginning of the 20th century – decades earlier than records suggest – due to warmer water flowing into the delicate polar ecosystem from the Atlantic Ocean.

When we started research for our documentary “Nazi Gold,” we knew that the emotionally-charged issue of Holocaust survivors’ claims against Swiss banks was triggering a re-examination of Switzerland’s relations with Nazi Germany. New accounts of witnesses and survivors, and information from recently declassified documents in the United States and Switzerland, contradicted the previously-accepted historical record. From Switzerland’s close trade and banking relations with Berlin, to its controversial and tragic refugee policy, to certain officials’ post-war support for Nazis in their escape to South America, wartime Switzerland appears to many observers to have been less than neutral in World War II.

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We are generally very good at forgetting. We are, furthermore, bad at objectively assessing what we do remember. Literature about the cagots of France is tremendously scarce. In my search for material, I found one article by a Master’s student at King’s College London, some articles from the turn of the century, a few pages in a book by Graham Robb, and a piece by Elizabeth Gaskell. In French there is more, obviously, but the topic is still largely forgotten. It is strange that such an interesting piece of history remains more or less unknown. It is good to remember that whatever civilisation we have is not as old as might be thought, nor as pervasive.

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One of the oldest myths impressed into the minds of modern people is the image of the wild, virgin forest. The twisted, gnarled and dense trees, complete with ancient ferns, silent deer and patches of sunlight through gaps in the canopy.

Researchers in South Africa are racing to track the concerning rise of a new variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The variant harbours a large number of mutations found in other variants, including Delta, and it seems to be spreading quickly across South Africa.

A top priority is to track the variant more closely as it spreads: it was first identified in Botswana this month and has turned up in travellers to Hong Kong from South Africa. Scientists are also trying to understand the variant’s properties, such as whether it can evade immune responses triggered by vaccines and whether it causes more or less severe disease than other variants do.

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Martin Gardner—one of history’s most prolific maths popularisers—frequently examined the connection between mathematics and magic, commonly looking at tricks using standard playing cards. He often discussed ‘self-working’ illusions that function in a strictly mechanical way, without any reliance on sleight of hand, card counting, pre-arrangement, marking, or key-carding of the deck. One of the more interesting specimens in this genre is a matching trick called the magic separation.