Anything Is Possible

Grind for January 30th, 2019
“All men are prepared to accomplish the incredible if their ideals are threatened.”

– Maya Angelou


The Headline

Remnants of tiny organism discovered beneath Antarctic surface

The Grind

It’s rare to evidence of life in Antarctica – let alone 3,200 feet below the surface.

But that’s exactly what happened on December 26th, when scientists drilling a hole near Subglacial Lake Mercer discovered the remains of a micro-animal called a “tardigrade” or “water bear.”

Scientists believe the tardigrade lived during the Eemian (120,000 years ago) or Holocene (50,000 years ago) period, but they won’t know for sure until they use radiocarbon dating and sequence its DNA.

Other questions to answer include:

— Whether the tardigrade was terrestrial or aquatic

— Whether it lived in Lake Mercer or was transported there after it died

The implications are exciting for our ongoing exploration of Mars – which has polar landscapes resembling the Antarctic environment.

“What was sort of stunning about the stuff from Lake Mercer is it’s not super, super old. They’ve not been dead that long,” says animal ecologist Byron Adams, who identified the tardigrade and a handful of other tiny organisms in samples collected from beneath the ice.

The Details

The unexpected discovery was made during a project conducted by the Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access (SASLA) program, which is seeking to learn more about the vast network of lakes located beneath the Antarctic surface.

The scientists were using a hot water drill to penetrate the ice when they found the dead tardigrade. The bore hole, which was just 60 centimeters wide, was sealed on January 5th.

Now, SALSA is focused on analyzing the samples they collected – which are the first to be obtained from the region.

It Could Work

The Headline

Would you wake up early for free noodles?

The Grind

Officials in Tokyo have come up with a unique solution designed to reduce congestion on its overcrowded metro line.

Starting this month, The Tokyo Metro is offering free noodles and other snacks to passengers who decide to take the metro before rush hour.

In order to take advantage of the deal, metro passengers have to sign up online and then use their metro cards to pass through a checkpoint before a certain time. Passengers who make it to the station before the cut-off time for 10 consecutive days will receive vouchers they can redeem at local restaurants.

Nearly 1,000 local businesses have agreed to participate in the deal by allowing their workers to arrive early.

The Details

The Tokyo Metro said it would reward passengers with free tempura if 2,000 people participate, soba noodles if 2,500 participate, and both soba and tempura if 3,000 or more people participate.

So far, more than 8,000 people have signed up.

“It’s a lot of effort for a bowl of free soba,” explains Cizuka Seki, who owns a noodle shop in Washington DC. “But people in Japan love coupons and free stuff. It brings people a lot of joy.”

The noodle offer stands only for passengers on Tokyo’s Tozai line, which in FY2017 had a congestion rate of 199%.

According to the Japanese government, a 100% congestion rate means there are no available seats. A 200% congestion rate means “bodies come into contact with each other and one feels considerable pressure.”

Did you know… Most Japanese schools don’t have dedicated janitors. Instead, children do the daily cleaning, which originated from the Buddhist traditions that associate cleaning with morality.