Inverse Daily: The Internet Is Going Wild Over 30-50 Feral Hogs

The internet is going hog wild over 30-50 feral hogs, the roving menace that one man has blamed for terrorizing his children.

What’s good, Inverse Daily fam? While I’m here paying my respects to the late, great Toni Morrison, let’s get you caught up on today’s news.

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INVERSE QUOTE OF THE DAY

“These murders are about politics, about economics, about power and control.”

— Environmental justice researcher Mary Silva Menton, Ph.D., on the rising number of deaths of environmental activists around the world.

Sleep, Interrupted

It’s hard enough to sleep in the internet age with all this blue light and Twitter-induced anxiety keeping us up at night. Some of us turn to substances like nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol to deal with the fallout, all of which act differently on the body, for better or for worse. I almost didn’t believe Emma Betuel when she told me that only two of them have negative effects on our sleep. Bet you won’t guess which ones.

Of the three, only alcohol and nicotine seem to interfere with sleep, according to a new study. That means caffeine, the enemy of sleep, may not be as bad as we thought. In a sample of 785 people, caffeine consumed within four hours of bed had no effects on sleep continuity over the course of the night, while alcohol and nicotine were associated with stronger impacts. That said, you know better than anyone if you’ll be regretting that mid-afternoon espresso when the clock strikes 3 a.m.

Find out how these three substances affect the body differently.

The more you know:

Hog-tied

On Monday, Twitter user Willie McNabb responded to a tweet about the need for assault weapons in a mass shooting-stricken America with an absurd note: “Legit question for rural Americans - How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?” The “30-50 feral hogs” meme, now a viral internet phenomenon, was born.

Reactions to the tweet involved poking fun at the idea that feral hogs might actually be a threat to American safety. But as Peter Hess reports, they actually are. As scientists argue in a particularly well-timed story released yesterday, feral hogs are as great a threat to livestock and agriculture as traditional carnivores like lions, tigers, and wolves, and it’s about time policymakers started paying attention. As for McNabb’s insinuation that assault weapons may help with the problem? Feral hogs, it seems, are too smart for that.

Find out why guns won’t help kill hogs within 3-5 minutes.

The more you know:

Up and Away

Researchers are hard at work both figuring out how to reduce carbon emissions and relieving ground traffic. One efficient solution would be to switch to electric flying vehicles. The problem is, all-electric jets would require big, super-dense batteries, and we simply don’t have those yet. A smaller electric vehicle, however, wouldn’t be so demanding.

It’s looking like small, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) crafts, which don’t require a runway, will have a much easier time switching to electric power than jets, Mike Brown tells me. This week, the Japanese electronics firm NEC unveiled its latest: a 330-pound, battery-powered flying machine. The cute, whirring prototype, which sounds a little like a lawnmower, is paving the way for more zero-emissions flying cars like it.

Check out the technology that’s already caught Uber’s eye.

The more you know:

Sunday Scaries

Beat the “Sunday Scaries” with soothing science and relatable advice to get your mind & body ready for the week ahead.

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What’s In a Name?

More and more, the practice of using gender-neutral pronouns like “they” or “them” to refer to people who prefer not to be gendered male or female is becoming more widely adopted. But the practice has its critics, and they’re very vocal. The controversial Canadian academic Jordan Peterson, for one, famously railed against the practice as part of his larger campaign against “political correctness.” But as new research shows, the effect of using gender-neutral pronouns is far greater than simply not offending certain people.

In 2015, Sweden formally adopted a gender-neutral pronoun, hen, to complement hon (“she”) and han (“he”). Research on people living in Sweden now is revealing that the use of the gender-neutral pronoun is linked to a shift in attitude from a traditional view that privileges males to a perspective that is more favorable to women and LGBTQ people. The words we use have the power to change our thoughts — in this case, for the better.

Learn more about how words can change your thoughts.

The more you know:

Sun Burned

China is the world’s largest user of photovoltaic solar energy, having reached 130 gigawatts of installed capacity at the end of last year. That figure is projected to reach a staggering 400 gigawatts by 2030 and cover 10 percent of the country’s energy needs — an impressive goal in the fight against climate change — but only if it can dust off one particularly dirty problem.

The whole point of solar energy is to reduce reliance on carbon-emitting energy sources, but, unfortunately, the damage has already been done. Air pollution in the form of black carbon and sulfur dioxide is hampering the ability of China’s panels to soak up the sun by blocking rays of light. The haze is so bad that the potential solar output from the 1960s to 2015 fell by about 13 percent.

Discover how fossil fuels are still eclipsing solar power.

The more you know:

Today’s Good Thing

Because life on this planet is only going to get better if we try to make it better, each day I’ll be presenting One Good Thing humans are doing to create positive change.

Today, that’s San Francisco International Airport, which is officially banning plastic water bottles on August 20. Some travelers are disgruntled about now having to pack an extra item, but if we’re serious about reducing plastic waste, it’s probably for the best we all start getting used to carrying reusable containers anyway.

Meanwhile …

  • Here’s every confirmed Rick and Morty Season 4 guest star.
  • There’s a science-backed method for keeping seagulls away from your food.
  • Musk Reads: Starship’s reveal date approaches; hyperloop teams pave the way to maximum speeds; and The Boring Company comes to China.
  • Star Wars leaks may reveal the Emperor’s terrifying new ship in Episode IX.

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Thanks for reading, gang! Yesterday’s question about police violence seemed to have ruffled some feathers. Let’s remember that we’re here to have reasoned and constructive conversations about science, so please leave anger at the door.

Thoughts on the use of gender-neutral pronouns? Let me know at yasmin@inverse.com.

You could be a big pig too,

— Yasmin