The all-time batting record is now held by a Black man

From the NYT: “It has been an article of faith for nearly a century, as if chiseled onto a tablet by Abner Doubleday himself: The leading hitter in major league history is, and always will be, Tyrus Raymond Cobb. But history evolves. We know that Doubleday did not, in fact, invent baseball. And as of Wednesday, Josh Gibson will replace Cobb as the leading hitter in the official records of the game. At .372, Gibson’s career batting average eclipses Cobb’s by six points. Major League Baseball announced the results of a newly integrated statistical database covering records from Negro Leagues that operated from 1920 to 1948. The formal acceptance of the data comes three-and-a-half years after MLB officially recognized the Negro Leagues in December 2020.”

From Knowable: “There’s a reason fashion designers look to animal prints for inspiration. Creatures have evolved a dizzying array of patterns: stripes, spots, diamonds, chevrons, hexagons and even mazelike designs. Some, like peacocks, want to be seen, to attract a mate or scare off a rival or predator. Others, like tigers or female ducks, need to blend in, either to sneak up on prey or to avoid becoming lunch themselves. Some patterns arise simply or randomly, but others develop via complex, precise interactions of pattern-generating systems. More than 70 years ago, mathematician Alan Turing proposed a mechanism that explained how patterns could emerge from bland uniformity. Scientists are still using his model to gain a deeper understanding of animal markings.”

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A 477-mile-long lightning bolt that covered three states has set a new record

Image: Lightning

From NBC News: “A bolt of lightning that stretched nearly 500 miles across three U.S. states has set a world record for longest flash. The single flash extended 477.2 miles across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi in April 2020, the World Meteorological Organization said Monday. The previous record was 440.6 miles, set in 2018 in Brazil. Also in 2020, a single lightning flash over Uruguay and northern Argentina lasted 17.1 seconds, nipping the old time record of 16.7 seconds. Normally lightning doesn’t stretch farther than 10 miles and lasts less than a second, said Arizona State University’s Randall Cerveny, who is the chief of records confirmation for the meteorological organization. Both were cloud-to-cloud, several thousand feet above the ground, so no one was in danger.”

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Benjamin Bolger has 14 advanced degrees from more than a dozen universities

From the New York Times: “Benjamin Bolger has been to Harvard and Stanford and Yale. He has been to Columbia and Dartmouth and Oxford, and Cambridge, Brandeis and Brown. Over all, Bolger has 14 advanced degrees, plus an associate’s and a bachelor’s. Some of Bolger’s degrees took many years to complete, such as a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Others have required rather less commitment: low-residency M.F.A.s from Ashland University and the University of Tampa, for example. Some produced microscopically specific research, like Bolger’s Harvard dissertation, while others have been more of a grab bag, such as a 2004 master’s from Dartmouth, for which Bolger studied Iranian sociology and the poetry of Robert Frost. He has degrees in international development, creative nonfiction and education. He is currently working, remotely, toward a master’s in writing for performance from Cambridge.”

She was the first female prisoner of war in Vietnam and was never found

From Military Times: “In the dense jungle terrain in Darlac Province, near the provincial capital of Ban Me Thuot, South Vietnam, American doctor Eleanor Ardel Vietti had found her calling to heal. Yet that same calling led her to become America’s first female prisoner of war in Vietnam. To this day, Vietti remains the only American woman POW whose fate remains unknown. Called to service, Vietti, alongside the Christian and Missionary Alliance and tribal nurses, worked to treat those afflicted with leprosy within South Vietnam’s largest ethnic minority, the Montagnards — a French phrase for “mountain people.” The night of May 20, 1962, was one of the last nights Vietti was ever seen alive. That evening 12 armed guerrilla fighters descended on the colony, and Vietti and the other two captives were bound and taken away. With no ransom demands ever made, it remains unclear why the three prisoners were taken.”

A skull with cut marks indicates that ancient Egyptians tried to treat cancer 4,000 years ago

From Live Science: “In a new study, researchers analyzed a human skull from the University of Cambridge’s Duckworth Collection dating to between 2686 and 2345 B.C. The skull contained evidence of a large primary tumor, as well as more than 30 smaller, metastatic lesions. The researchers discovered that these lesions were surrounded by cut marks, possibly made using a sharp object such as a metal instrument. This suggests that ancient Egyptians attempted to conduct surgery to treat the patient, who is believed to have been a man in his early 30s, the researchers said. Until now, the oldest-known description of cancer came from around 1600 B.C. The text chronicled several breast tumors but underlined that there was “no treatment” for them. The new findings may shift our conception of when modern medicine began, the authors said.”

Drone melts while getting up-close video of a volcano erupting

Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, but I also get some from other newsletters that I rely on as “serendipity engines,” such as The Morning News from Rosecrans Baldwin and Andrew Womack, Jodi Ettenberg’s Curious About Everything, Dan Lewis’s Now I Know, Robert Cottrell and Caroline Crampton’s The Browser, Clive Thompson’s Linkfest, Noah Brier and Colin Nagy’s Why Is This Interesting, Maria Popova’s The Marginalian, Sheehan Quirke AKA The Cultural Tutor, the Smithsonian magazine, and JSTOR Daily. If you come across something interesting that you think should be included here, please feel free to email me at mathew @ mathewingram dot com

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