The pollen detective

Could an obscure brand of science help solve Mellory Manning’s murder?

“The medical examiner found small scratches on Mellory’s body that indicated contact with prickly vegetation. Analysis of plant material on her clothing suggested that she had come into contact with an area dense with weedy grasses. And the fact that the exit wounds on Mellory’s back were small and similar meant that the knife used to kill her likely hit against a hard surface.”

David Wolman | Matter

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Escape or die

The desperate choices faced by the crew of a ship captured by Somali pirates

“The Albedo was weighed down with cargo, leaving its main deck close to the water. The pirates retrieved a long ladder with hooks on one end, hung it over the deck wall, and climbed it easily, without any shocks from the electric wire…The first pirate to reach the barbed wire pulled back for a moment, then charged through it, the metal cutting into his flesh. “I did not imagine people like these living in this world,” Kumar said.”

James Verini | The New Yorker

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Her Majesty’s jihadists

Why do young British Muslims go to fight in Syria?

“His major complaint — which echoed the complaints of many of the foreigners who had come to these battlefields — was that of boredom…Ifthekar, whose father owned a takeout restaurant, had traveled to Syria, at considerable risk, to be drafted as a chef. Then, in December 2013, seven months after he arrived, Ifthekar was finally sent into battle in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor. He was killed almost immediately.”

Mary Anne Weaver | The New York Times Magazine

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The Kombai

Oliver Steeds on living in the trees with the Kombai tribe of Papua New Guinea

“In 1961, 23-year-old Michael Rockefeller went missing in the same region. Only this year, tribal chiefs have confirmed he was killed and eaten in revenge for the murder of five Asmat men by a Dutchman overseeing the colony. A few hundred miles inland, it was only 35 years ago when a Dutch missionary made ‘first contact’ with the Kombai.”

Oliver Steeds | Avaunt Magazine

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How Israel hid its secret nuclear weapons program

Newly declassified documents show how Israel blocked US efforts to uncover its reactor

“The Americans were truly surprised by the audacity of the Israeli nuclear project. Soon after Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion came to power in 1955, he launched a secret initiative to determine whether, and how, Israel could build a nuclear infrastructure to support a national program aimed at producing nuclear explosives.”

Avner Cohen and William Burr | Politico Magazine

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Thunder gone under

The story of the world’s longest maritime chase

“Turning off their GPS transponders, they attempted to get the drop on a group of toothfish poachers they call “the Bandit 6.” The Bob Barker was the first to arrive and located the Thunder in the remote Banzare Bank a week before Christmas. The vessel cut loose 25 km of gillnets and attempted to flee, steering first into pack ice, then directly into bad weather, but the Sea Shepherd ship kept up the chase.”

Jonathon Gatehouse and Amanda Shendruk | Maclean’s

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A family in peril

Lou Reed’s sister sets the record straight about his childhood

“During Lou’s teenage years, it became obvious that he was becoming increasingly anxious, avoidant and resistant to most socializing, unless it was on his terms. In social situations he withdrew, locking himself in his room, refusing to meet people. At times, he would hide under his desk. Panic attacks and social phobias beset him.”

Merrill Reed Weiner | Cuepoint

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The making of Dr. Oz

How America’s most famous doctor turned away from science

“I talked to many other doctors from across America with patients who have been touched by the Oz effect. Again and again, they used phrases like “snake-oil salesman” and “quack” to refer to him. They worried about their patients. Rather than heaping him with praise as Oz’s New York colleagues or fans did, they said he is a menace to public health, that he takes advantage of people and confuses medical issues.”

Julia Belluz | Vox

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The man who killed John Wilkes Booth

On the self-castrated hatmaker who was John Wilkes Booth’s Jack Ruby

“Corbett, you see, wasn’t the kind of soldier who followed orders easily, unless they came from God. He was a fervent Christian, and his faith had seen him through four years of battle, not to mention a punishing stint in one of the harshest Civil War prisons. He was ready for the fight to end.”

Bill Jensen | Washingtonian

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The girl who would live forever

How a two-year-old girl became the youngest person ever to be cryopreserved

“It involves moving the patient onto an ice bed, coating her in freezing materials, artificially restarting the heart with a “heart-lung-resuscitator,” administering over a dozen different medications, draining the blood and replacing it with medical grade antifreeze, opening the chest cavity to attach the major blood vessels to a machine that flushes out all remaining blood…”

Brian Merchant | Motherboard

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