Mosh pits and science. Doctor saves a toddler in the sky. Ronald Reagan and his Alzheimer period [r/TodayiLearned, Episode #24]


TIL Researchers at Cornell analyzing Youtube videos of heavy metal concerts found that mosh pits model the behavior of gas particles in equilibrium.

Human collective behavior can vary from calm to panicked depending on social context. Using videos publicly available online, we study the highly energized collective motion of attendees at heavy metal concerts. We find these extreme social gatherings generate similarly extreme behaviors: a disordered gaslike state called a mosh pit and an ordered vortex-like state called a circle pit. Both phenomena are reproduced in flocking simulations demonstrating that human collective behavior is consistent with the predictions of simplified models.


TIL that a doctor on an Air Canada flight jerry-rigged a device to help a toddler breath who was having an asthma attack. Dr. Khurshid Guru, director of Robotic Surgery at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, created a nebulizer using a water bottle, a cup, oxygen, and an adult inhaler.

A New York doctor became a hero in the skies recently when he turned into a medical MacGyver by creating a device that helped an asthmatic toddler struggling to breathe during a transatlantic flight.

Dr. Khurshid Guru, director of Robotic Surgery at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, told ABC News he was aboard a transatlantic Air Canada flight from Spain to the U.S. on Sept. 18 when he was notified of a toddler in trouble.

Guru said he found the 2-year-old boy crying and short of breath and his parents said they accidentally packed his asthma medication in checked luggage.

“The child had developed a cold,” Guru said. “We were three or four hours into the flight. I think the cold and popping of the ears and crying. … He got worse.”

To create the nebulizer, the surgeon cut up a water bottle and added oxygen to one end and the adult inhaler through a small hole in the bottle. That way the oxygen and medication could be delivered through the bottle’s opening directly to the child.

After the very unusual treatment, the child’s oxygen level was around 94 or 95 percent, Guru said. “When I was landing, I checked the child and he was playing with the mom,” he said.

Guru said he wanted to share the story as a reminder to parents of asthmatic children to always keep their vital medication nearby.


TIL that later in life a stricken Ronald Reagan would rake leaves from his pool for hours, not realizing they were being replenished by his Secret Service agents

Chase Morsey never tired of his weekend routine with his friend Ronald Reagan – a Saturday lunch with fellow duffers at the Los Angeles Country Club, followed by nine holes of golf. Jokes were welcome, politics was not. But in the early 1990s, Morsey and others in the loosely organized foursome began to notice a change in their most celebrated player.

Reagan, a storehouse of wit, “would start to tell us a joke, he would get halfway through it and just couldn’t finish it,” Morsey recalled. “I used to say he was slipping a little.”

The Great Communicator spent the last decade of his life almost completely sheltered from the public, quietly waging a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

By the time he died Saturday at 93, Reagan had not been seen in public since the late 1990s. He hadn’t recognized his own children in years.

his biographer Edmund Morris reported Reagan was still strong enough to rake leaves from the family pool, but even that basic household chore had become tinged with sadness.

“He will rake leaves for hours, not realizing that they are being surreptitiously replenished by his Secret Service men,” Morris wrote.

In a March 2001 interview with CNN’s Larry King, Nancy Reagan said she no longer allowed visitors to see her husband – and even she could no longer reach him.

“I think Ronnie would want people to remember him as he was,” she said, explaining his seclusion.


TIL That the next blue moon, a second full moon of a month, will occur on Halloween night of next year.

March of 2018 may be remembered for its nor’easter tally. (Three and counting.) But this snowy, soggy month is also going to provide us with our last blue moon of the year.

And next year, too.

According to the most accepted definition of “blue moon” — two full moons that occur during the same month — our next one won’t be making an appearance until Oct. 31, 2020.

Yes, Halloween night!

(If you’re planning a party for that evening, you might want to think about a blue theme: blue costumes, blue tortilla chips, blue plastic eyeballs floating in the punch bowl…)

Our first full moon occurred on March 2. That one was also called the Full Worm Moon because it occurs at the time that birds return in search of worms. (You can thank the Old Farmers Almanac for that squiggly-wiggly term.) It is also the last full moon of winter.