Inverse Daily

One animated classic is perfect pandemic viewing

Early on, Miyazaki explored the value of science.

It sounds almost impossible today. A completely free encyclopedia online, no ads or subscriptions, that anyone can edit? And yet that's exactly what Wikipedia is, and has been since it launched on this day in 2001.

The story of Wikipedia begins with Jimmy Wales, who was born in Alabama and moved to Chicago by the 1990s. Intrigued by the quickly booming world of the internet, Wales built out Bomis.com, which aimed to help people find erotic photographs online. Although it fizzled out, it gave Wales enough money to explore another idea he was considering: an online encyclopedia.

Through an online mailing list, Wales eventually met Larry Sanger, a grad student in Ohio who was also curious about the idea. Together, the two created Nupedia in January 2000, a free encyclopedia which would solicit articles from volunteers and then have them reviewed by experts in the field. Each Nupedia article would require seven levels of editing, which made for accuracy but was also slow going. By the end of 2000, only 12 articles had been published.

Looking to speed up this editing process, a friend told Sanger about Ward Cunningham's WikiWikiWeb, a website for software developers that allowed them to edit on the site itself. The two decided to bring the concept to editors for Nupedia, but within days it quickly dwarfed the original concept.

Our question of the week: Winter is rough. We're huge video game nerds at Inverse, but sometimes the screens are too much, even for us. We're wondering if you have any favorite low-tech games, from pen-and-paper to board games to cards. Tell us your rainy day secrets!

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for January 15, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

Fight! — Scientists say all men have "selfish sperm"

Competition is everywhere we look in society — people trying to get better jobs, advantages for their children, or even risking breaking the law to get a coronavirus vaccine. Competition is also rife at the biological level. Evolution is, after all, a competitive sport, one that humans have so far been pretty good at winning.

Humans also compete with each other. Like all animals, we are biologically driven to try to pass our genetic material on to the next generation, and for the males of the species, that means succeeding at mating and producing offspring, aka having kids. For men, this means passing their DNA down via sperm cells.

Scientists thought they had a pretty good handle on how this worked. But according to a new study published January 14 in Science, sperm are actually far more selfish than previously thought.

The finding left scientists "frankly shocked"

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Countdown — Blue Origin steps toward human spaceflight with stunning launch video

Liftoff! Blue Origin successfully launched the 14th New Shepard mission Thursday, sending its crew capsule into space and taking the biggest step yet toward making human spaceflight a reality for the company.

The mission, which launched at 11:17 a.m. Central time from Blue Origin's West Texas site, launched the firm's latest crew capsule design, fitted with an array of upgrades designed to make flights more comfortable.

Its sole occupant, a dummy dubbed "Mannequin Skywalker," sat in one of the capsule's six seats.

What's next in the new space race?

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Semantics — To predict Covid-19 mutations, scientists discover one fifth grade tactic is surprisingly useful

Dissecting a sentence's grammar is a hobby typically reserved for elementary school teachers or that pedantic English major you met in college, but a team of scientists from MIT is interested in whether these same linguistic methods can actually tell us something about emerging Covid-19 mutations.

In a new paper, published Thursday in the journal Science, a team of computer scientists and biological engineers report striking parallels between how we parse sentences for grammar and syntax and how virus proteins morph and "escape" the body's immune system.

By creating a machine learning algorithm based on this idea, the team was able to predict potential mutations on the horizon for different viruses, including HIV and SARS-CoV-2.

How language can fight Covid

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Coming soon ...

Next Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, celebrating the birthday of one of America's greatest heroes. While obviously known for his work on civil rights, it's often forgotten that King was a living, breathing person in an era of unprecedented change on any number of fronts. King would comment not just on civil rights, but also on mankind's technical progress. Coming soon on Inverse, a look at Dr. King's thoughts on space travel.

2 Hot 2 Handle — NASA data reveals the truth about Covid-19's effect on climate change

The year 2020 witnessed the highest global temperatures ever, tying with the year 2016 for the warmest year on record, according to data collected by NASA satellites.

The latest data is a continuation of a warming trend in global temperatures mainly driven by an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, NASA experts announced during a teleconference held on Thursday.

Despite a decrease in air pollution levels this year, the new data reveals it would require a lot more than a few months of limited human activity as a result of a global pandemic to slow down the frightening trend of rising temperatures.

Why Covid couldn't break a trend

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Revisiting a classic — This underrated Studio Ghibli movie is the perfect pandemic film

Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki is rightly regarded as the world's greatest living animator. His cinematic techniques hold influence over the most iconic cinema of our time, like Star Wars, and have won him — and Studio Ghibli — many loyal fans.

But it was not always so. In the early 1980s, Miyazaki was just emerging as a filmmaker and struggling to gain recognition despite the successful 1979 release of his directorial debut, The Castle of Cagliostro.

Today, these early moments of Miyazaki's career seem distant, but one film in particular serves to remind us why Miyazaki holds such sway over cinema's power to influence culture — and it's streaming now on HBO Max.

Where the legend got his start

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That's it for the Daily! If you're looking for more, check out our recommendation for a retro sci-fi classic on Disney+.

Thank you for reading! Follow me on Twitter if you want, where I tweet too much.

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