Apollo Astronaut Nearly Lost His Wedding Ring in Space — Fact or Fiction?

Former Apollo astronaut Charles “Charlie” Moss Duke Jr. loves to tell the story about how fellow astronaut Ken Mattingly nearly lost his wedding ring in outer space. The circumstances surrounding how he got it back are so remarkable that the story has attained folklore status in the annals of space exploration.

According to Duke, on the second day of the 11-day Apollo 16 mission to the moon and back, Mattingly, the command module pilot, reported his wedding ring missing. Despite the ship’s tight confines and the crew’s best efforts, they could not locate the ring.

“It just floated off somewhere, and none of us could find it,” the 81-year-old Duke told Wired magazine in a 2016 interview.

The ring remained elusive until Mattingly’s spacewalk on Day 9 — April 25, 1972. Duke said he exited the spacecraft to check on Mattingly when he noticed the wedding ring floating out the hatch door.

Duke tried to grab it, but failed.

The ring would have been lost to the vastness of space, but miraculously bounced off the back of Mattingly’s helmet, reversed its course and returned to the vehicle through the hatch. Duke said he was able to secure it shortly thereafter.

Scientifically speaking, the astronauts, the ship and the ring were all flying through space together at 3,000 feet per second, but in the absence of wind resistance, as Duke explained in the Wired interview, things just “move along together.”

While the remarkable recovery was attributed to lucky physics, Mattingly, also 81, has a different recollection of how the wedding ring story went down.

In a 2014 interview with SpaceKate.com, Mattingly bluntly poked a giant hole in Duke’s account.

“That’s Charlie’s story,” he said. “I lost it, on Earth.”

Mattingly believes the ring slipped off while he was removing his flying gloves.

So much for a lost-and-found story that was truly out of this world…

Credits: Photos by NASA (Public Domain).

Guggenheim Museum’s Fully Functional 18-Karat Toilet, ‘America,’ Will Have Its Final Flush on Sept. 15

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City is about to close the lid on its fully functional 18-karat gold toilet, with the final flush taking place on September 15.

Called “America,” the single work of art by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan has dazzled and delighted museum-goers for the past year. The installation features a solid gold replica of a Kohler toilet tucked into a single-occupancy restroom. Visitors are encouraged to use the dazzling fixture as they would any other public toilet.

The Guggenheim has kept the golden commode immaculate, thanks to a cleaning detail that has been responsible for tidying up every 15 minutes using special wipes.

“More than 100,000 people have waited patiently in line for the opportunity to commune with art and with nature,” noted Nancy Spector, the Guggenheim’s artistic director and chief curator, on the museum’s website.

In describing the irreverent exhibition, the Guggenheim’s website noted that Cattelan’s toilet offers a wink to the excesses of the art market, but also evokes the American dream of opportunity for all — its utility ultimately reminding us of the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity.

“This is 1 percent art for the 99 percent,” Cattelan told the New York Post during the opening of the exhibition in 2016.

Created by a foundry in Florence, Italy, “America” doesn’t carry an official value, but the folks at Gothamist.com estimated the gold was worth between $1.4 million and $2.5 million.

Reviewers who have experienced the toilet first-hand have reported that the seat is very heavy to lift and the gold sparkles so much that it’s almost too bright to look at.

Neither the Guggenheim nor Cattelan revealed what the future has in store for “America.” Will it become part of a new exhibition? Or end up in the powder room of a 21st century tycoon? Only time will tell.

Credits: Photos by Kris McKay © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

Artie the Police Dog Sniffs Out Missing Diamond Four Days After It Was Lost

Artie the Police Dog used his super sniffer to locate an engagement diamond for a New England couple — four days after it was lost.

About two weeks ago, Jamie and James Ruddock of Sunderland, Mass., visited a nearby kennel to pick up one of their dogs, but as they were leaving the facility, Jamie noticed that the diamond from her engagement ring was missing. The Ruddocks retraced their steps, but couldn’t find the diamond.

Undaunted, James Ruddock returned to the kennel four days later with his secret weapon. You see, Ruddock is a K-9 Officer for the Montague Police Department and his patrolling partner is Artie, a dog specially trained to sniff out drugs, find bodies and track down fleeing criminals.

Finding the diamond would be a piece of cake for the talented pooch.

While diamonds don’t have a scent, the person who was wearing the diamond in her ring did. Within 10 minutes, Artie found the diamond in the turf outside the kennel.

“We knew to ‘trust your dog,'” Ruddock told NBC affiliate WWLP, “and we did eventually find it under some thick grass. It was very surreal and a pretty emotional moment.”

According to the Montague Police Department, Ruddock was appointed as a K-9 Officer in 2014. He and Artie have been a team ever since.

Besides fighting crime and finding lost diamonds, Artie is a favorite of local schoolchildren and participates in community programs. Artie has a custom vehicle and his own Facebook page.

Dogs are exceptional sniffers because their noses have as many as 300 million olfactory receptors, compared to five million in humans. This gives them such a keen sense of smell that they can detect some odors that are just one or two parts per trillion.

Earlier this summer, The Times of London reported that researchers at Manchester University were teaching two Labradors and a Cocker Spaniel to detect the smell of the molecules emitted from skin just before people develop Parkinson’s Disease. If successful, the dogs will be able to identify those susceptible to the neurodegenerative disease before they show any symptoms.

Credits: Screen captures via wwlp.com. Officer Ruddock/Artie portrait via Facebook.com/K-9-Artie-of-Montague-Police-Department.

‘Fight of the Century’ Victor Floyd Mayweather Jr. Earns ‘Priceless’ Money Belt Encrusted With 4,260 Gems

When professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeated UFC star Conor McGregor by TKO Saturday night in what was billed as “the fight of the century,” the undefeated Mayweather earned a $100 million-plus payday and a Money Belt glistening with 4,260 gemstones. It is believed to be the most valuable sports trophy ever created.

World Boxing Council (WBC) president Mauricio Sulaiman unveiled the belt on Wednesday during the final press conference leading up to the fight in Las Vegas. The belt, which is made from alligator leather imported from Italy, is studded with 3,360 diamonds, 600 sapphires and 300 emeralds set in 3.3 pounds of solid, 24-karat gold. It also features the names of the two combatants spelled out in gemstones.

Sulaiman refused to reveal how much the belt was worth, opting to describe it as a “priceless piece.”

“It cost a fortune,” Sulaiman told MMA Fighting. “It cost many, many, many hours of work of many artisans. It is just a beautiful piece of work. It’s a lot of money. I don’t really have a figure. It’s a priceless piece for an historic event.”

When asked by a reporter where the belt would be housed during the time between the Wednesday press conference and the Saturday night event, Sulaiman said with a laugh, “If I told you, I would have to disappear you. It’s in a safe place. It’s in a secure vault.”

Interestingly, when Mayweather beat Manny Pacquiao two years ago, he also walked away with a blingy WBC belt featuring 3,017 emeralds set in 1.7 pounds of gold. That belt was said to be worth more than $1 million.

The match between Mayweather and McGregor was an unusual spectacle because it brought together the top names from professional boxing and mixed martial arts. McGregor made a strong showing in the opening rounds, but faded as the fight wore on. Mayweather’s superior boxing skills prevailed, and the referee called a stop to the fight in the 10th round of the super-welterweight bout.

The victory brought Mayweather’s unflawed record to 50-0, surpassing the 49-0 record amassed by Rocky Marciano during the 1940s and 1950s. The 40-year-old Mayweather announced that the McGregor fight would be his last. Mayweather was guaranteed a purse of $100 million for Saturday night’s fight, but could end up earning $200 million or more based on international pay-per-view revenues.

Credits: Images via Twitter.com/Mauricio Sulaiman.

Music Friday: Unlucky in Love Maia Sharp Wonders, ‘How Much Gold Can You Find If You Never Go Mining?’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, singer-songwriter Maia Sharp ponders the question: “How much gold can you find if you never go mining?” in “Underneath,” an intimate, self-effacing song about a woman who’s been unlucky in love.

Sharp uses the mining simile to illustrate her passive approach to romance. She admits that she has no one but herself to blame for her loneliness, but she’s confident that it will all work out in the end. Perhaps the best things will come to those who wait.

She sings, “How much gold can you find if you never go mining / They say the wine gets better if you let it breathe / Oh, the deeper the digging, the sweeter the finding / I want to know what’s underneath / Oh, I want to know what’s underneath.”

“Underneath” appears as the third track on Sharp’s sixth studio album The Dash Between The Dates, which was released in 2015. Providing the harmonies on the track is singer-songwriter Gabe Dixon.

In describing the album, Sharp noted, “I was trying to look at things with a wider-angle lens and bring more breadth to the songs without sacrificing the intimacy.”

Interestingly, the artist admitted that she worked on the album during a period of extreme writer’s block. Critics countered that it was her best work to date.

Born in California’s Central Valley in 1971 to a singer-songwriter dad and a college professor mom, Sharp wrote her first song as a five-year-old. By the time she was a teenager, she had already shown proficiency with a number of instruments, including keyboards, guitar, oboe and saxophone. She studied music theory at California State University and honed her songwriting skills. As a 22-year-old, Sharp began performing her own music in Los Angeles clubs.

A few years later, she was discovered by music executive Miles Copeland, who managed The Police. During her 20-plus years in the music business, Sharp has written songs for some of the industry’s top acts, including Cher, Kim Richey, Amanda Marshall, Paul Carrack, Edwin McCain, The Dixie Chicks, Trisha Yearwood and Kathy Mattea.

We know you will enjoy the audio track of “Underneath.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

Written by Maia Sharp. Performed by Maia Sharp with Gabe Dixon.

No one but myself to blame
If I ain’t got a love to call my own
Maybe it takes some chippin’ away
Before you get down to the cornerstone

How much gold can you find if you never go mining?
They say the wine gets better if you let it breathe
Oh, the deeper the digging, the sweeter the finding
I want to know what’s underneath
Oh, I want to know what’s underneath

When the new ran out, I ran out
I took off one time, took off the shine
I never could shake my shadow of doubt
And the only heart I ever really broke was mine

How much gold can you find if you never go mining?
They say the wine gets better if you let it breathe
Oh, the deeper the digging, the sweeter the finding
I want to know what’s underneath
Oh, I want to know what’s underneath

Underneath these
Underneath what’s shown
Past the shallow waters
To uncharted undiscovered unknown

How much gold can you find if you never go mining?
The wine gets better if you let it breathe
Oh, the deeper the digging, the sweeter the finding
And I want to know what’s underneath
Oh, I want to know what’s underneath

I want to know what’s underneath

Credits: Screen capture via YouTube.com/Maia Sharp.

Survey: Millennial Women Prefer ‘The Real Deal’ When Buying Diamonds and Luxury Items

Despite being tempted by a retail environment flush with fast fashion and unlimited choices, millennial women would prefer to adhere to the maxim of “buy less, buy better.” According to a survey conducted on behalf of the Diamond Producers Association, the vast majority of millennial women prefer “the real deal” when purchasing diamonds and luxury items.

In fact, exactly 89% of women between the ages of 18 and 34 said they are looking for authenticity when shopping for finer items, with 94% of the highest-earning millennials ($150,000+) reporting that they would prefer a single expensive, genuine item over lots of cheaper ones.

“When evaluating luxury purchases, [millennials] seek items that are genuine, unique and not mass-produced, and have inherent meaning and value,” said Deborah Marquardt, the DPA’s Chief Marketing Officer. “This preference speaks directly to the diamond promise — in an increasingly artificial world, diamonds remain authentic, rare and precious.”

Interestingly, during the span from 2013 to 2015, self-purchasing of non-bridal diamonds by U.S. millennials increased from 25% to 31%.

Here are some other key findings from the survey that sought to pinpoint what millennial women really want when it comes to luxury goods, such as diamonds:

• Three in four millennial women see diamond jewelry as an investment in themselves, and 82% consider it a long-term investment. Among the highest-earning millennial women, these numbers jump dramatically to 94% and 91%, respectively.

• Exactly 85% of high-earning millennials said they would be embarrassed to know that they own a knock-off, especially for luxury items.

• Two out of three respondents admitted to feeling more confident in themselves when wearing diamond jewelry.

The survey was conducted online by KRC Research and took place from July 10 to July 14 among 995 millennial women. The DPA’s current marketing initiative is called “Real is Rare. Real is a Diamond.” The group has amassed a promotional budget of $57 million, the great majority of which is dedicated to the U.S. market.

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com/Real is a Diamond.

Experiment Supports Theory That ‘Diamond Showers’ Take Place on Uranus and Neptune

At Stanford University, an international team of scientists finally simulated the “shower of diamonds” that they believe is taking place deep within Uranus and Neptune.

Uranus and Neptune are both classified as “ice giants.” Unlike the Earth, their solid cores are likely swathed in thick layers of “ice” made from the combination of water and ammonia.

At a depth of 6,200 miles, researchers speculate that the hydrocarbons encounter so much pressure and heat that the bonds between the hydrogen and carbon molecules are broken. Once free from the bonds, the carbon atoms are compressed into microscopic diamonds, resulting in what can be described as “diamond showers.”

Previously, no one had been able to directly observe these sparkling showers in an experimental setting, according to Dr. Dominik Kraus, who is the head of a Helmholtz Junior Research Group at the German research laboratory Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf.

But, that was precisely the breakthrough Kraus and his international team have now achieved. In their experiment, polystyrene (a plastic made from carbon and hydrogen) was exposed to a simulation of the immense pressure found deep within Neptune and Uranus. They blasted the plastic with shock waves generated by an optical laser and x-rays.

At a pressure of about 150 gigapascals and temperatures of about 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the shock waves compressed the plastic and successfully broke the carbon-hydrogen bonds. The carbon atoms instantly transformed into microscopic diamonds.

“The first smaller, slower wave is overtaken by another stronger second wave,” Kraus explained. “Most diamonds form the moment both waves overlap. Our experiments show that nearly all the carbon atoms compact into nanometer-sized diamonds.”

Kraus theorized that the cores of Uranus and Neptune could contain “oceans of liquid carbon” with gigantic “diamond icebergs swimming on top of it.”

While it’s unlikely man will ever have the ability to mine diamonds on these distant planets, the experiments at Stanford are already yielding innovative and efficient ways of producing nano-diamonds — diamonds that may find their way into electronic instruments, medical equipment and cutting devices.

The results of the research were published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy.

Credit: Illustration by Greg Stewart / SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

70-Carat Asscher-Cut Diamond Stars at Model’s Fairytale Wedding to Russian Billionaire

Model Ksenia Tsaritsina’s fairytale wedding to Russian billionaire Aleksey Shapovalov included a “suspended” eight-tier cake, illuminated dance floor, two bridal dresses, live pop-star entertainment and a 70-carat Asscher-cut diamond ring valued at $10.5 million.

For those of you keeping score at home, the diamond alone weighs about a half ounce.

Shapovalov told Cosmopolitan Russia that the 33-carat, D-flawless, Asscher-cut Krupp Diamond that actor Richard Burton famously purchased for his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, in 1968 was not big enough for his new bride.

The 27-year-old Tsaritsina described her 70-carat ring in an Instagram post from April.

Translated from Russian, she wrote, “My husband is never too stingy to buy me presents. Now he made a decision that a 30-carat ring is not enough for me.”

An Asscher-cut diamond is sometimes described as a “square emerald-cut diamond.” The gem has cropped corners and is step-cut, which means that the facets are rectangular and appear to be descending into the stone. The Asscher cut was developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland.

Even though the oligarch and the model have been together for five years and have two children together, Shapovalov decided to finally seal the deal last week at the $644-per-night Barvikha Luxury Village Hotel in Moscow.

Guests marveled at one of the most lavish ceremonies ever seen. Inside a ballroom decorated with thousands of white flowers and glittering chandeliers, they danced to live performances by Russian singer Polina Gagarin and rock band Leningrad.

Some news outlets called it the wedding of the year, while AOL wondered out loud if this might be the wedding of the century.

The couple travels frequently between Russia and Dubai.

Credit: Images via Instagram/ksenia_tsaritsina.

‘Diamond Ring Effect’ Will Add Excitement to Today’s ‘Great American Eclipse’

Today, the Great American Eclipse will be visible to nearly everybody in North America, but those of us lucky enough to be viewing from a narrow path that runs from Salem, Ore., to Charleston, S.C., will experience a total solar eclipse and a bonus phenomenon called the “Diamond Ring Effect.”

During a total solar eclipse, the moon aligns itself precisely between the sun and Earth. Sunlight gets blocked out and a 68-mile-wide shadow of the moon (also called its umbra) gets cast upon the Earth, resulting in total darkness for about 2 1/2 minutes. The Diamond Ring Effect occurs in the instant right before the total solar eclipse and in the moment just after.

Francis Baily in 1836 surmised that the Diamond Ring Effect owed its magic to the rugged surface of the moon. As the moon slowly grazes past the sun, tiny beads of sunlight, now called Baily’s Beads, can shine through in some places and not in others. When only one single point of sunlight remains, the burst bears a remarkable resemblance to a diamond, and the halo of the sun still visible behind the moon looks like a ring.

NASA also noted that more than a century earlier, English astronomer Sir Edmond Halley (who discovered Halley’s Comet) also gave a correct explanation of the Diamond Ring Effect during an eclipse of 1715.

The moon’s shadow will race across the continental U.S. at speeds ranging from 2,410 mph in western Oregon to 1,502 mph in Charleston. That means that the Diamond Ring Effect should be visible starting in Oregon at about 10:15 a.m. PST and ending in South Carolina at about 2:48 pm EDT. The duration of the 3,000-mile, coast-to-coast celestial show will be about 90 minutes.

Viewers in the path of the total solar eclipse can expect temperatures to plunge by as much as 20 degrees.

Those not living in the direct path of the total solar eclipse will still see a partial eclipse, which resembles a crescent moon, but in this case it’s a crescent sun. New York City dwellers, for instance, will see 70% of the sun covered by the moon.

We can not overemphasize the importance of utilizing proper solar glasses or filters when viewing the Great American Eclipse. Solar eclipse eye safety is reviewed at NASA’s website here…

Don’t miss the Great American Eclipse of 2017. The next total solar eclipse will take place in North America on April 8, 2024.

Credits: Eclipse viewing image by Arches National Park [CC BY 2.0 or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Diamond Ring Effect image by Lutfar Rahman Nirjhar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Map by NASA.

Music Friday: Marc Scibilia’s ‘On the Way’ Inspires Us to ‘Sparkle Just Like Diamonds’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great, new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, singer-songwriter Marc Scibilia celebrates the season of sun, surf and wanderlust in a catchy tune that inspires us to “sparkle just like diamonds.”

TV watchers will recognize “On the Way” from the newest Jeep commercial. The 30-second spot, which is called “Summer of Jeep: On The Way,” has accumulated 2,300 national airings and has been viewed on YouTube.com nearly two million times since it was posted about 10 weeks ago. It features great-looking millennial Jeep owners enjoying a perfect day at the beach. Shazam the song and you’ll learn that Scibilia also released a full length-version.

Scibilia repeats the hook, “Let your summer guide you, on the way, on the way,” while encouraging the listener to be fearless when discovering new roads.

In the first line of the song, he introduces precious stones to help make his point. He sings, “Journey where this path may lead / And live as big as giants / Summer sun and feeling free / Sparkle just like diamonds.”

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., to a musical family, Scibilia moved to Nashville to become a songwriter just a month after graduating high school. According to his official bio, the young Scibilia got the idea to head south from a sarcastic guidance counselor who was frustrated with Scibilia’s reluctance to pursue a “conventional” career path.

“What are you going to do? Go to Nashville and write songs?” she taunted.

To the young musician, this was a great idea.

Scibilia flourished in Nashville and took in all that it had to offer. He experimented with every genre of music, writing songs for other artists and touring as the opening act for James Bay and the Zac Brown Band, among others. In 2010, Scibilia landed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV.

The artist got a big break when his cover of the Woody Guthrie song “This Land Is Your Land,” appeared in Jeep’s “Beautiful Lands” Super Bowl commercial — the most Shazam-ed commercial of Super Bowl 2015.

Once again, Scibilia’s “On the Way” has been catapulted by the popularity of a Jeep commercial.

Check out the two videos below. The first is the Jeep commercial and the second is an audio track of the full song. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“On the Way”
Written and performed by Marc Scibilia.

Journey where this path may lead
And live as big as giants
Summer sun and feeling free
Sparkle just like diamonds

Golden hearts never afraid
Discover roads brightly shining
Wanderlust runs through our veins
Be fearless, tall as lions

Let your summer guide you
On the way, on the way

Let your summer guide you
On the way, on the way

Let your summer guide you
On the way, on the way

Trust your bones where they take you
Adventure awaits
Here we go it’s all brand new
You won’t hesitate

Let your summer guide you
On the way, on the way

Let your summer guide you
On the way, on the way

Let your summer guide you
On the way, on the way

Let your summer guide you
On the way, on the way

Let your summer guide you
On the way, on the way

Let your summer guide you
On the way, on the way

Let your summer guide you
On the way, on the way

Let your summer guide you

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.