Cyanide, deadly nightshade and pesticides have disturbingly similar symptoms to the toxin that took a powerful character’s life, writes Rachel Nuwer. Warning: this post is laced with potent spoilers.
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Novelist Gabriel García Márquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude "established him as a giant of 20th-century literature," died today at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.
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Stephen Crohn lost a boyfriend and many friends to AIDS before realizing that there must be something different about him that kept him from contracting HIV. He eventually became one of the key patients that helped scientists discover the delta32 mutation
— a very rare genetic anomaly that makes a person immune (as far as we know) to HIV. Crohn died on August 23rd
. His family has said the death was a suicide. — Maggie
Chris McCandless was the hiker and simple living advocate who died from starvation in Denali National Park in 1992. His story was later made into a book and movie called Into the Wild
. But there's always been something a little weird about McCandless' death. How did a guy dedicated to back-to-the-land knowledge and safe foraging end up starving to death? At The New Yorker, writer Jon Krakauer explains how the mystery of McCandless' death was finally solved. The evidence points to a secret of food chemistry with ties to Nazi death camps. — Maggie
A good candidate for the dumbest murderer you'll read about this year
! She reported him missing, only to "find" the body herself in a million-acre national park: "It was a place he wanted to see before he died." [BBC] — Rob
Back in early August, I had the pleasure of interviewing John Mainstone, the man who has taken care of the Pitch Drop Experiment at Australia's University of Queensland since 1961. The experiment has been running since 1927, when Professor Thomas Parnell set out to show his students that coal-tar pitch can behave as both a solid and a liquid. Despite being hard enough to break with a hammer, the pitch also drips ... sliding very, very slowly down the neck of a funnel into a beaker.
In Mainstone's years as custodian, the drops have dripped five times. He never got a chance to watch any of them, either in person, or on video. The first falling drop he ever saw came this earlier this summer, when a different pitch drop experiment in Ireland managed to catch the event on camera.
Mainstone's pitch is predicted to drop later this fall, but he won't be around to see it. Last week, I received an email from his daughter Julia, confirming that Mainstone had died of a stroke on August 23rd. He was 78. You didn't have to talk to Mainstone for very long to get a sense of the passion he had for the pitch drop project. I'm glad I got a chance to speak with him before he died and, in a couple of weeks, we'll be running a feature story here at BoingBoing based, in part, on those interviews.
In the meantime, the Pitch Drop Experiment has a new custodian, Andrew White, a physics professor and former student of Mainstone.
Between 1980 and 2000, a complicated war raged in Peru, pitting the country’s government against at least two political guerilla organizations, and forcing average people to band together into armed self-defense committees.
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Serial killer and self-professed "satanist" Richard Ramirez is dead at 53
, reports the California Department of Corrections. — Rob
Number 10 — a Yellowstone Park elk famous for fighting with other elk, grade-school volleyball nets, and R.V.s
— has died. Estimated to have been between 15 and 18 years old, he apparently lost a battle with a vehicle. — Maggie
Who is Harry Stamps? Excellent question. He was the dean of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, but, as his excellently written and tear-inducing obituary
explains, he was also "a ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler" who held the secrets of the world's greatest BLT sandwich and went to his deathbed despising Daylight Savings Time (aka The Devil's Time). A man after my own heart. — Maggie
An inquest found mice responsible for burns found on a dead 55-year-old woman in England
, but was unable to determine the exact cause of death. Though the rodents nibbled through cabling and started a fire, Linda Wyatt suffered no smoke inhalation and may therefore have already succumbed to other ailments. [Court News UK] — Rob
Information designer Jess Bachman created Wikipedia Remembers 2012, an interactive feature about the top 100 public figures who died in 2012 as ranked by the number of words in their Wikipedia entries. There are probably more accurate ways to measure the value of a person's life, but hey, that's a matter for another debate. Jess explains:
I think its a great way to explore and remember the lesser known heroes and is an interesting measure of ones life. Phyllis Diller and Michael Clarke Duncan were 101 and 102 so they didn't make the list, while others like #4, Tale Ognenovski is a lessor known Macedonian clarinetist, but for some reason has a incredibly documented wiki page! So many interesting people here.
Check it out
It should be noted that I did remove notorious people and those who were solely involved in news events, so there is some editorial by me here. The number one person was actually Treyvon Martin, and there were plenty of serial killers, terrorists, and other folk I didn't think were worth remembering.
John Silva died last month at the age of 92. You are probably most familiar with his work as the inventor of the "News Chopper"
— putting local TV crews in the air above parades and disasters in a helicopter. If that sounds like a pretty small achievement, consider the technical work behind it. Silva had to basically invent a streamlined, slimmed down television studio, taking the weight of necessary equipment from 2000 pounds to 368 pounds. On the maiden voyage, he actually climbed out onto the exterior of the helicopter, while it was in flight, in order to trouble-shoot his creation. (Via Deborah Potter) — Maggie