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PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to picks@whowhatwhy.org.

Solar Panels That Can Generate Electricity at Night Developed at Stanford (Maria)

The author writes, “A team of engineers at Stanford University have developed a solar cell that can generate some electricity at night. The research comes at a moment when the number of solar jobs and residential installations are rising. While standard solar panels can provide electricity during the day, this device can serve as a ‘continuous renewable power source for both day- and nighttime,’ according to the study published this week in the journal Applied Physics Letters. The device incorporates a thermoelectric generator, which can pull electricity from the small difference in temperature between the ambient air and the solar cell itself.”

Osama bin Laden’s Niece Praises Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz (Sean)

From Newsweek: “Osama bin Laden’s niece Noor bin Ladin offered public praises to Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz and Republican Senator Ron Johnson for their roles in defending the pro-Trump mob who rioted at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Swiss-born bin Ladin, 35, reached notoriety in the U.S. when in 2020 she did her first-ever interview with the New York Post in which she urged Americans to vote for Donald Trump as, in her opinion, only he could prevent another 9/11.”

Leaked Chats Show Russian Ransomware Gang Discussing Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine (Sean)

The author writes, “Internal chat logs leaked from the notorious Russian ransomware gang Conti reveal unfiltered conversations between ultranationalist hackers in which they repeat Russian President Vladimir Putin’s conspiratorial lies about Ukraine, discuss the impact of early Western sanctions against their country, and make antisemitic comments about Ukraine’s Jewish president. The logs were leaked late last month, reportedly by a Ukrainian security researcher, after Conti publicly announced its support for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and threatened to retaliate against any cyber warfare targeted at the Russian-speaking world. The logs span two years and multiple chat services and were released alongside training documentation, hacking tools, and source code.”

Wesley Hawkins, Talk of the Jackson Hearings, Describes Life After Pornography Sentence (Russ)

The author writes, “Wesley Hawkins heard a few weeks ago that a Black woman had been nominated to the Supreme Court and wondered why her name, Ketanji Brown Jackson, sounded so familiar. Then, he saw her picture and knew. Jackson was the judge who had sentenced him for possession of child pornography nine years earlier, when he was a teenager. Hawkins, now 27, gave the matter little additional thought. But in recent days, unbeknown to him, Hawkins’s 2013 sentencing became central to the partisan battle over confirming Jackson to the high court.”

How to Get Past Despair and Take Powerful Action on Climate Change (Laura)

From Fast Company: “Our species is in a race with climate change, and a lot of people want to know, ‘Can I really make a difference?’ The question concerns what’s known as agency. Its meaning is complex, but in a nutshell, it means being able to do what you set out to do and believing you can succeed. How well people exercise their agency will determine the severity of global warming — and its consequences. The evidence is clear that people are changing the climate dramatically. But human actions can also affect the climate for the better by reducing fossil fuel burning and carbon emissions. It’s not too late to avert the worst effects of climate change, but time is running out.”

Vermont Has Lost Over 100 Country Stores. But in Some Small Towns, There Is Hope Yet. (Reader Steve)

From The Boston Globe: “Across the state, as longtime general store proprietors retire, they struggle to find anyone, even their children, willing to take on the debt, maintenance, and 12- to 16-hour days that come with ownership. That, combined with the competition of Amazon and Dollar Generals, has led to over a hundred stores shuttering in the last two decades.”

Built by an Unknown Culture, This Is the Oldest Sun Observatory in the Americas (Mili)

The author writes, “Long before the Incas rose to power in Peru and began to celebrate their sun god, a little known civilization was building the earliest known astronomical observatory in the Americas. While not quite as old as sites like Stonehenge, these ancient ruins, known as Chankillo, are considered a ‘masterpiece of human creative genius,’ holding unique features not seen anywhere else in the world. Based in the coastal desert of Peru, the archaeological site famously contains a row of 13 stone towers, which together trace the horizon of a hill, north to south, like a toothy bottom grin.”

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