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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.

The 10 Biggest Science Stories of 2022, Chosen by Scientists (Maria)

The author writes, “From moon missions to fast-charging batteries and AI-sourced antibiotics, in no particular order, the year’s significant scientific developments. The year opened with a bang. Or rather, it didn’t. … Nonetheless, the possibility of an asteroid colliding with Earth is a reality — the globe is covered in craters from previous impacts, and it is well known that 65 million years ago, dinosaurs became extinct following the impact of an asteroid about 10 kilometers across.”

Elon’s Stale Playbook (Reader Jim)

From Insider: “Elon Musk has a pretty tried-and-true playbook for doing business — he’s used it for years to build companies from Tesla to SpaceX. Unfortunately for him, it is not a model that can turn Twitter into a profitable company. It’s one that will take the social-media company down in flames. Here’s the Musk playbook: Enter a field with very little competition. Claim that your new company will solve a massive, global problem or achieve a seemingly impossible goal. Raise money from a fervent group of true believers and keep them on the hook with flashy, half-baked product ideas. Suck up billions from the government. Underpay, undervalue, and overwork your employees. Repeat.”

China Deals Hammer Blow to Russia’s War Effort (Sean)

From Newsweek: “Beijing has reportedly banned the supply of military-grade processors to Russia produced by Chinese company Loongson, in a potential setback to Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine. Sanctions imposed since the start of Vladimir Putin’s invasion have driven out many western companies from Russia and forced Moscow to look for new suppliers for crucial electronic components, including those for its weapons.”

‘Nightmare’ New York Warehouse Fire Erases Evidence in Many Unsolved Cases (Russ)

The author writes, “When a massive Police Department warehouse burned Tuesday, troves of evidence gathered over decades disappeared in a towering column of smoke or crumpled into soggy ruin, along with the possibility of justice in untold cases. On Wednesday, debris scattered outside the Erie Basin Auto Pound, in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood, could only hint at the legal significance of what was lost to the three-alarm blaze the day before. The waterfront compound had held everything from souped-up vehicles seized from reckless drivers to forensic fibers from decades-old murders and cold cases.”

EPA: Racial Disparity in Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley’ (Mili)

The authors write, “The Environmental Protection Agency said it has evidence that Black residents in an industrial section of Louisiana face an increased risk of cancer from a nearby chemical plant and that state officials have allowed air pollution to remain high and downplayed its threat. The agency’s 56-page letter to Louisiana officials describes early findings of racial discrimination by two Louisiana departments involving the entire corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, a plant that EPA said emits large amounts of a cancer-causing chemical and a proposed plastics complex.”

Destroying Maya Treasures to Build a Tourist Train (Laura)

The authors write, “Mexico is building a $15 billion train line through the heart of ancient Maya civilization. It’s one of the largest and most controversial infrastructure projects in the country’s history. Archaeologists are now racing ahead of construction crews, exploring caves and sinkholes deep in the jungle. They’re discovering an astonishing array of antiquities — and then tearing them down.”

Alabama ‘Cat Ladies’ Found Guilty on All Four Charges (Reader Steve)

From the Montgomery Advertiser: “Two women charged with misdemeanors after tangling with Wetumpka police over the feeding of the city’s stray cat population were found guilty on all four charges Tuesday. City Judge Jeff Courtney sentenced Beverly Roberts, 85, and Mary Alston, 61, each to two years of unsupervised probation and 10 days in jail. The jail sentence was suspended. They were also ordered to each pay $100 in fines, plus court costs. Roberts was found guilty of criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct. Alston was convicted of criminal trespassing and interfering with governmental operations.”

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