The end of the world
July 25, 2014
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In spite of what fantasists, conspiracy theorists, incompetent interpreters of the Mayan calendar and Roland Emmerich suggested, the world did not end on the 21st of December 2012. But earlier that year, on the 23rd of July, the world really did come extremely close to what NASA estimates would have been a $2 trillion economic and technological disaster.

A coronal mass ejection — a huge burst of hot plasma — from the surface of the sun exploded into space. And if it had hit the Earth, the burst of charged particles would have severely damaged Earth's infrastructure of satellites, computers, the electrical grid, medical equipment, and smartphones. Unshielded electric circuits would be fried.

"If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces," Daniel Baker, of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, told The Guardian. He adds that "[i]f the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire."

The sun periodically blows off huge quantities of plasma. The last time Earth was struck was 1859, an event referred to in astronomy as The Carrington Event for its discoverer Sir Richard Carrington. That was before we came to rely on electrical equipment and computers for our modern way of life. But even then, it caused telegraph lines to spark enough to set fire to some telegraph offices. And the Northern Lights, were visible as far south as Cuba.

Nobody knows when such an event will occur again, but FEMA warns Americans should be prepared for the possibility, and recommends a series of steps for preparation, including making back-up copies of important digital data and information, keeping your car's gas tank at least half full, and filling plastic containers with water and placing them in your refrigerator or freezer.

too many dursts
2:25 a.m. ET

Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst is here to remind you that he is not, in fact, accused murderer Robert Durst.

I am NOT ROBERT

A photo posted by Limp Bizkit (@limpbizkit) on

Durst — the one whose band once released an album called Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water — posted a photo on Thursday showing him in a gray sweatshirt that reads "NOT ROBERT." In case that didn't get the point across, he captioned the photo, "I am NOT ROBERT." Unfortunately, there wasn't a follow up picture of Durst — the one who was caught on tape during filming for the HBO documentary The Jinx saying he killed people — wearing a sweatshirt that said "I am NOT FRED."

Durst — the one who famously declared he "did it all for the nookie" — likely posted the photo in response to The Associated Press getting the Dursts confused and erroneously reporting on March 16 that "an arrest warrant was issued for the former Limp Bizkit frontman." AP issued a correction, but the damage was already done: The nation once again was talking about Limp Bizkit.

$$$$$
1:48 a.m. ET
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Before he dies, Apple CEO Tim Cook says he plans to give away his entire $800 million fortune.

Prior to donating it all, Cook will make sure that his 10-year-old nephew's education is paid for, he told Fortune. He did not say which charities he will be giving money to, but he has spoken publicly about his support of human rights and equality and the need to stop HIV/AIDS and climate change, The Guardian reports. In 2012, Cook donated $25 million to Stanford to build a new children's hospital and $50 million to Project Red.

paying their respects
1:20 a.m. ET
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There are so many people waiting in line to view the coffin of Singapore's late leader Lee Kuan Yew that officials are asking mourners to stay away and instead visit community tributes spread out across the island.

Lee died Monday at the age of 91, and his funeral will be held on Sunday. The line to get into the Parliament House to see Lee stretches for several kilometers, with wait times of as long as 10 hours, The Associated Press reports. By late Thursday, close to 150,000 people had already viewed Lee's coffin, and officials were passing out water so people would stay hydrated in the heat. Those who came out to pay their respects said they had no problem standing in the hot sun. "I'm not afraid to wait," Idy Leong told AP. "Even waiting for 8 hours, I'll still want to wait. Ten hours, I'll also want to wait."

Late Night Antics
12:58 a.m. ET

What happens when you take Jimmy Fallon, add five wax figures of Jimmy Fallon, and throw in some Beach Boys music? You get a rather bizarre — and kinda dark — Tonight Show sketch. If you can get through the clip without singing along to "Barbara Ann," I salute you. —Catherine Garcia

livin' that big mac life
12:36 a.m. ET

If you want a Big Mac but could do without the calories, now you can just wear the burger instead.

McDonald's has launched a website in Sweden featuring Big Mac-emblazoned jackets, rain boots, blankets, and even dog sweaters, Ad Week reports. The collection is part of a global marketing stunt that McDonald's launched on Tuesday, with special events and activities around the world, including a performance by a McOrchestra in Vienna and a Ne-Yo concert in Los Angeles. This actually isn't the first time a McDonald's-inspired clothing line has found success in Sweden: People went crazy for Big Mac thermal underwear, which the company made just as a sponsor for the Swedish Alpine and Cross Country Ski Team.

Quotables
March 26, 2015
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In his last speech on the House floor before resigning his seat at the end of the month, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) said on Thursday he is leaving with "sadness and humility" — and then compared himself to the man who preserved the Union, abolished slavery, and strengthened the government.

"I also know that every person faces adversity in life. Abraham Lincoln held this seat in Congress for one term but few faced as many defeats in his personal, business and public life as he did," he said. "His continual perseverance in the face of these trials, never giving up, is something all of us Americans should be inspired by, especially when going through a valley in life."

In his goodbye address, Schock also said he tried his best to "contribute constructively to the process and to serve the people of my district and my country," and apologized to "those whom I've let down." Schock, 33, was elected to Congress in 2008 at the age of 27, and resigned his seat after questions came up about lavish spending of both taxpayer and campaign funds on private jets, concerts, and Downton Abbey-inspired office decorations.

Watch this
March 26, 2015

On Thursday's Conan, Will Ferrell is happy to talk about anything and everything — except for the big white bird on his shoulder. When Conan O'Brien asks for details about the bird — named Prof. Don Feathers — Ferrell freaks, saying he tries to keep his personal life private. "I told him this would be low key, and now you've made it weird!" he exclaims. This is the latest in a string of wacky late night appearances by Ferrell to promote his new movie, Get Hard; last week, he showed up as Little Debbie on The Tonight Show. —Catherine Garcia

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