Almost a century after banning absinthe, the French government will re-legalize the famous alcoholic drink. Known as "the green fairy" to its many aficionados, the emerald-colored liquor was hugely popular with artists in the late 19th century, especially in Paris. The temperance movement, though, campaigned heavily against absinthe, claiming that absinthe made its drinkers hallucinate and even go insane. Thanks to the temperance movement's political strength, absinthe was banned in many countries in the early 1900s.
Earlier this afternoon, NASA postponed the launch of the space shuttle Endeavor, citing problems with heaters in the auxiliary power unit. The shuttle launch has been closely followed in the news, both because recovering congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is seeing off her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, and because this mission is the second-to-last in the shuttle program's history, and for the foreseeable future of the American space program.
For years, about 150 Americans acquired leprosy annually, but doctors had no idea where about one-third of the cases came from. (Two-thirds were acquired overseas.) In a bizarre twist (bizarre, at least, for those of us who do not follow current events in leprosy), today in the New England Journal of Medicine American and Swiss researchers concluded that these leprosy cases, most occurring in Texas and Louisiana, were transferred from wild armadillos. (Researchers say mere contact with an armadillo is unlikely to transfer the disease.
Did you know Donald Trump is considering running for President? You did? Darn, I was hoping to surprise you. Well, The Donald is making the lives of Politico editors and cable news producers everywhere easier by providing a continuous stream of ridiculous accusations about President Obama's birth certificate, his education credentials, and his choice of footwear.
Prince William of Wales will marry his girlfriend Kate Middleton in Westminster Abbey on Friday, April 29, as you may have heard on every single television news channel in existence. In two days, then, Middleton will become the first "commoner" to marry a future English king in 450 years, since Anne Hyde married James I in 1660.
The 137th Kentucky Derby will be run on May 7th in Churchill Downs, Kentucky. The twenty-horse field is considered relatively wide-open this year, with Uncle Mo still the favorite, but only at 3-1 after coming down with a gastrointestinal infection and losing at the Wood Memorial earlier this month. Regardless of who wins, though, organizers expect attendees will uphold the twin traditions of outrageous hats and copious consumption of mint juleps.
Not one, not two, but three different Olympic Games are in the news today. In California, a Sacramento group has announced a bid to bring the 2022 Winter Games to Lake Tahoe. Meanwhile, south of the equator, the government of Rio de Janeiro has launched an international contest to choose who will build its Olympic Park for the 2016 Summer Games. Most importantly, though, today is the final day for fans to purchase tickets to the 2012 Summer Games in London.
Silver and gold prices continued to rise today: In New York, silver futures almost hit $50 an ounce, which would be a thirty-year nominal high, before settling at $47.15. Meanwhile, after breaking the $1,500 mark for the first time last Thursday, gold futures also climbed, hitting $1,508.60 per ounce at the end of trading. Traders pointed to "a falling U.S. dollar, inflation fears, worries about mounting government debt burdens and continued unrest in the Middle East and North Africa" as reasons for the rise in silver and gold prices.
The 2011 NFL draft starts on Thursday night, and eager football fans are already conducting mock drafts around the internet to predict who their favorite teams will pick and/or who will draft their favorite college players. Similarly, reporters covering the NFL are trying to demonstrate their football acumen with their own mock drafts. One opportunity to directly compare prospects before the draft is the NFL combine, held in late February, where prospects compete in a battery of tests of their physical and football talents, such as the 40-yard dash and the vertical jump.
On Easter Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI caused a bit of a stir when he insisted in his Easter Vigil homily that humanity is not a random product of evolution. "If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature," the Pope said. "But no, reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine reason." Now, we at The Study were unsurprisingly unable to find scientific studies of evolution at the time of Big Bang.