Sleep Science, DIY Submarines, and Infectious Kissing Bugs: Best Gizmodo Stories of the Week

Graphic: Clockwise: (Sam Woolley, Brett Foxwell, CDC, Sam Woolley/Shutterstock)

The end of summer is fast approaching, though the fun in the sun is coming to an even swifter conclusion for some of us: Take the tale of Paul Ceglia, the man who allegedly used forged documents naming him as a Facebook co-owner to try and rip off CEO Mark Zuckerberg in court. This week, police reportedly arrested Ceglia very far from his native home of upstate New York after three years on the run in Ecuador, and all without ever getting a taste of those sweet Facebook billions.

But you, reader, probably have fewer good excuses than Ceglia to be spending your remaining summer nights locked up inside—You’re just addicted to a screen. Well, same here. And as long as you’re hiding from the outside world, you might as well read the best Gizmodo stories of the week.


How Much Sleep Is Too Much Sleep?

Illustration: Sam Woolley ( Gizmodo)

An entire industry—with its own spokespeople, podcasts, best-sellers, retreats, truisms, etc.—has sprung up around sleep. Give or take a contrarian or two, the message of most of this stuff seems to be that sleep is good, and that if you’re not sleeping seven or eight hours a night, you should be. And since you’re probably not sleeping seven or eight hours a night—since, in all likelihood, you can barely focus on this sentence, having sacrificed one or two or all of your needed eight hours to soothing your newborn, or streaming bad TV, or snorting cocaine—what all this stuff is really saying is: sleep more.

But how much is too much, sleep-wise? It is possible to go overboard, or is sleep one of those things, like eating well, or not erupting in rage at friends and loved ones, to which moderation does not really apply? As we learned from the host of sleep experts we reached out to for this week’s Giz Asks, this is a somewhat controversial question in the field of sleep studies. But the good news is that if you’re worried you’re sleeping too much, you probably aren’t—unless you’re still always tired, in which case you very well might have a severe clinical disorder. Could go either way!


The Wacky, Risky World of DIY Submarines


When marine scientist Shanee Stopnitzky learned that police had hauled her stolen yellow sub out of San Francisco Bay and taken it to an impound lot, she was relieved. Not for the vehicle, but for whoever took it for a joy ride.

“If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can die,” Stopnitzky told Earther.

What Will Quantum Computer Games Be Like?

quietlyfallingwithin’ (2014)
Image: A. Bill Miller (Used with permission)

You’ve just booted up a game on a state-of-the-art quantum computer. You’re running 19 superconducting quantum bits on a processor held at near absolute zero. Anticipating its sheer power, you press start and...

Well, you don’t get much. Maybe a smiley face that’s winking and not winking at the same time.


What gives?

Quantum computers are nascent computer processors that promise to solve problems that are difficult or impossible for today’s computers. They use the mathematics of tiny particles, rather than computer logic, to guide their binary system calculations. And while programmers are making basic quantum games that sometimes amount to flipping coins, one day researchers hope they’ll be able to introduce strange new in-game weapons, improve procedurally generated levels, and create far more lifelike in-game artificial intelligence.


Meet the Nuclear Weapons Nerds

Castle Bravo, the first high-yield thermonuclear weapon U.S. design test at at Bikini Atoll.
Photo: Department of Defense, Defense Atomic Support Agency / National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Courtesy Alexander Mikhalchenko, from his “Thousands of Suns” exhibition at the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow

John Coster-Mullen was driving his truck to a warehouse in Oshkosh, Wisconsin when he told me that he owns uranium. He’d been talking on the phone for about hour, and I hadn’t been able to ask a single question about the project that has consumed a quarter century of his lifethe reverse-engineering of America’s first nuclear bomb. I was too engrossed to interrupt. The news of uranium, though, made me stutter.

The kind of uranium Coster-Mullen owns isn’t used in nuclear weapons. Not all uranium can blow up the better part of Manhattan—just one of many facts I learned while digging into the community of people who collect images, scholarship, and artifacts relating to nuclear weapons, and yes, even uranium. Stepping into their world of compulsive collecting and dedicated communicating, you begin to understand that this terrible, powerful, almost supernatural deadly force is very much a human creation.


The io9 Guide to the Egyptian Superhero Universe of El3osba

Egyptian superheroes from El3osba.
Image: Ahmed Raafat

Superheroes are a ubiquitous part of the global culture. Anywhere you go on this beautiful planet there is a pretty good chance you will spot a little kid with a Spider-Man backpack. No matter what language they’re speaking or what race they are, they share the same myths of men and women in funny outfits selflessly saving the world. Egypt is no exception. A group of Egyptian comic book nerds has begun building a comic universe of their own, representative of the experiences, challenges, and paradoxes that they and other Egyptians face.

5 Things We Loved About the First Season of Disenchantment (and 3 We Didn’t)

Pour one out for an often funny, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately intriguing show.
Image: Netflix

Futurama is one of my all-time favorite shows. It’s one of the first things my now-husband and I bonded over when we met. So I was excited to hear that creator Matt Groening was moving from sci-fi to fantasy with Disenchantment. After watching the whole season, which debuted last Friday on Netflix, I can safely say it’s a fine show. Not great, but not bad either. And the final couple of episodes may blow you away.

A Futuristic Mechanical World Comes to Life in This Gorgeous Short Film, Fabricated

The “last man” in Fabricated’s mechanical world.
Photo: Brett Foxwell

We’ve featured the work of Brett Foxwell on this site before, but the filmmaker’s latest stop-motion masterpiece, Fabricated, is extra-special and we’re thrilled to debut it here on io9. It’s a labor of love that took him 10 years to complete, a gorgeous sci-fi tale about a mechanical world trying to figure out how to evolve.

Castle Rock Just Aired Its Most Heartbreaking and Shocking Episode

Sissy Spacek as Ruth Deaver.
Photo: Dana Starbard ( Hulu)

Castle Rock has thus far mostly followed the story of Henry Deaver, a man forced to confront a past he neither understands nor fully remembers when he returns to his Maine hometown. “The Queen,” the show’s most daring episode yet, shifts the show’s focus to another character: Henry’s mother, Ruth.

We Need to Pay More Attention to a Deadly Disease Spread by Kissing Bugs, Heart Doctors Warn

Triatoma infestans, one of the kissing bugs responsible for spreading Chagas disease.
Photo: CDC/World Health Organization

A disease that often causes no symptoms, but which can suddenly become fatal years after a person was infected, is receiving a big spotlight from the American Heart Association (AHA). On Monday, the organization published a scientific statement in its journal Circulation, urging heart doctors in the U.S. to start paying attention to Chagas disease, a parasitic infection mainly spread by bloodsucking kissing bugs.

Chagas disease is caused by the single-celled, whip-tailed protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. Kissing bugs, nicknamed for their habit of sucking blood from the moist skin around our mouths or eyes, don’t infect us with T. cruzi the way mosquitos give us malaria, though. Instead, the parasites are pooped out while the bugs feed on their unsuspecting, sleeping victims. The parasites then get rubbed into the wound or eyes by our own cloddish hands. Kissing bugs, meanwhile, get the parasite from feeding on the blood of hosts, including humans, starting the whole cycle anew. The parasite can, more rarely, spread through food, blood and organ donations, or from mother to child in the womb.


‘Spooky’ Quantum Entanglement Confirmed Using Distant Quasars

A quasar
Image: NASA

If you read enough science news, you’ll know that there’s a long list of experiments attempting to “prove Einstein wrong.” None have yet contradicted his hallmark theory of relativity. But the latest effort to falsify his statements surrounding “spooky action at a distance” has gone truly cosmic.

Scientists have long performed tests demonstrating that the quantum concept of “entanglement” forces us to accept something that doesn’t make much logical sense. But in order to get around loopholes in previous iterations of the test, which are conducted fully here on Earth, scientists lately have hooked their experiments up to telescopes observing the cosmos.


“We’ve outsourced randomness to the furthest quarters of the universe, tens of billions of light years away,” David Kaiser, one of the study’s authors from MIT, told Gizmodo.

How Bogus ‘Eco-Friendly’ Products Trick You

Graphic: Sam Woolley (Shutterstock)

There are few things more fashionable these days than being “green”, but separating a truly eco-friendly bottle of sunscreen from a bottle of emerald-tinted snake-oil can be tough even for the shrewdest of consumers.

Companies use everything from catchy buzzwords to certain color and design choices and brand associations to convince us their product is Good for Mother Earth. Learning to spot these tricks will help you actually do better by the planet—and avoid wasting your money on marketing gimmicks.


The Stress-Free Guide to Upgrading to a New Computer

Photo: Alex Cranz ( Gizmodo)

You’ve had all the slowdowns and crashes and bugs you can take—it’s time to upgrade your computer. While the thought of shopping around for new components or a whole new machine might fill you with dread and foreboding, it doesn’t have to be a stressful process, and this guide will serve as your one-stop shop for all the information you need to have on hand.

Your first decision right at the outset is whether to upgrade the components inside your current computer or buy something completely new. There’s no right answer for everyone: It depends on how old your current setup is, what budget you’re working with, and how confident you feel about plugging in hard drives and motherboards.


We’ll start by looking at the process of upgrading, then move on to looking at how best to go about buying something completely new.

Shooting Photos With Nikon’s Z7 Mirrorless Camera Is Fun as Hell

Photo: Sam Rutherford ( Gizmodo)

After all the rumors and build up, Nikon’s first pro-grade mirrorless camera is finally here. And while I got a brief chance to handle the new Nikon Z7 and play around with its various knobs, dials, and adapters ahead of its announcement, I hadn’t actually had a chance to snap some pictures with it, until now. So here’s a quick account of what the Z7 is like to use, and a sample of the kind of images it can produce.

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Tom McKay

"... An upperclassman who had been researching terrorist groups online." - Washington Post