Inverse Daily

Science has your back on 2021 resolutions

You really can make next year better than this one. Seriously.

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Back to back birthdays on Inverse Daily, but this is pretty astonishing. Yesterday was Grace Hopper's birthday, and today, in 1815, Lord Byron and and Lady Byron would give birth to a daughter named Augusta Ada, who would later in life take on, through marriage, the full name Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace. Today we know her as Ada Lovelace.

Raised by her mother who favored mathematics in hopes of pushing away the influence of her father, a famous poet who went insane, Ada was 17 years old when she attended a salon hosted by Charles Babbage. Babbage showed the party a calculating machine he was working on, the Difference Engine. Instantly awed by the potential of the machine, she kept a close eye on his progress and the two began a correspondence.

Nine years later, in 1842, Ada was hired to translate an Italian article on Babbage's next machine, the Analytical Engine. More than just translating, Ada added a "Notes by the Translator" section three times the length of the original article. In these notes, Ada advocated strongly for the Analytical Engine, explaining how it was more than just a calculator. She laid out a series of steps that showed how the Analytical Engine could, when fully built, predict a number pattern. These steps, many argue, make her the world's first computer programmer. Regardless of firsts, her place in computer and world history is secure.

As the year ends, we're expanding our question of the week to the rest of December. In one sentence, what's your prediction for 2021? Shoot us an email at and we'll be publishing our favorites at the beginning of the new year.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for December 10, 2020. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

Watery craters — NASA approves a new trip to the Moon

In October, NASA announced it had the best evidence yet that there is water on the Moon, and that it is far more abundant than the space agency had initially thought.

As a follow-up to the discovery, NASA this week approved a new mission to the Moon to map its water and help scientists better understand the lunar water cycle, increasing the possibility that humans may one day permanently reside on or near Earth's lone natural satellite.

The hunt for Moon water is on →

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C'mon, get — How you measure happiness depends on where you live

Happiness governs much of human behavior. But while it's a pervasive collective value, there's no universal definition of happiness shared across cultures. Happiness means different things to different people.

In fact, evidence suggests in Western countries, people associate happiness with independence, freedom, and, often, thrilling experiences. It's conceived as a "personal achievement" linked to hard work and self-esteem. Americans specifically, and typically, want to feel peppy emotions like excitement and cheerfulness.

Meanwhile, studies indicate in Eastern cultures, happiness often hinges on interdependence — the relationships and social connectedness that give life meaning and purpose.

In a new study — spanning over 15,000 people in 63 countries — researchers discovered how people measure happiness also varies from culture to culture. Different questions, the study suggests, must be asked to gauge happiness accurately in Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and Western countries.

"The Western-centered viewpoint is not the only viewpoint."

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Imbalance — Humanity has reached a new, terrifying tipping point, study finds

We often speak of tipping points when it comes to global warming. Here's what happens if we exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, 2 degrees ... you get the picture.

But there is another critical tipping point. One which illustrates humanity's enormous impact on our planet using precise metrics, down to the gigaton: the mass of human-made material on Earth.

Researchers have been collecting data on the mass of human-made materials on Earth for a little more than a century. By comparing how this mass stacks up to the natural biomass, a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature reveals a potentially deadly environmental imbalance.

How much does everything we made weigh?

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Coming soon ...

2020 has been one of the worst years in living memory, so it might be nice to end the year with a little out-of-this-world beauty. Coming soon on Inverse, we tell you how to get the best views of the upcoming Geminids meteor show, which should offer some of the best chances to see shooting stars all year.

Murder hornets — Honey bees use animal feces as a defense against hornet attacks

Murder hornets have become the internet's most feared insect in 2020, and for good reason. They can grow up to 2 inches long, and reports have come out about them brutally decapitating bees and wiping out their colonies in a matter of hours.

These deadly giant hornets hail from Asia, but a small number have recently made their way to British Columbia and Washington state, prompting concerns that they could wipe out local bee colonies and terrify humans in these areas who fear the hornet's painful sting.

But new research published in the journal PLOS ONE finds that the Asian honey bee (A. cerana) has devised a surprising, smelly solution to deter the fearsome Asian giant hornet (V. soror): poop.

Yes, that's right. Poop. →

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Countdown — World's largest study on New Year's resolutions reveals 1 tip for thriving in 2021

New Year's resolutions are lodged in our collective psyche as a step toward a better year. Annually, our tired habits and routines come into focus, and so do our annual vows. Meditate every morning. Hit the gym. Quit smoking. Stop bickering with your partner.

By February, nearly half of people's resolutions go out the window. Only 19 percent of people keep their resolutions at least two years after making them.

New research reveals how to avoid the typical drop-off and design a New Year's resolution that actually sticks.

Science will get you through 2021

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And that's all for Inverse Daily! If you need more, make sure to check out our recommendation for a post-apocalyptic movie leaving streaming that's simply beyond anything you've ever seen.

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