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Weekly News Digest

The Bittersweet Story of Vanilla - SmithsonianConsumers’ insatiable appetite for this fragrant spice means that an estimated 18,000 products on the market contain vanilla flavor today, with prices for natural vanilla hovering around $300 per pound.

The Psychology of Fact-Checking - Scientific American  (5 min).   Fact-checkers aim to get closer to the truth, but their biases can shroud the very truth they seek.

An Atlas of the Cosmos - longreads.com (16 min). We’ve mapped Mars, the Moon, the solar system, even our own galaxy. Which means there is only one thing left to understand in this symbolic way and that is the entirety of the cosmos.

Animated Map: What America Searched for on Google, Over the Last Decade - Visual Capitalist. "(…) because Google makes up more than 90% of all internet searches in the U.S., looking at what’s trending on Google is a great way to understand the shifting questions and interests that are captivating society at any given time."

The Cheap Pen That Changed Writing Forever - BBC Future (10 min). Fountain pens were a stylish statement but messy and impractical. Their replacement was a stroke of design genius perfectly in time for the era of mass production.

Common Probability Errors to Avoid - Farnam Street. If you’re trying to gain a rapid understanding of a new area, one of the most important things you can do is to identify common mistakes people make, then avoid them. Here are some of the most predictable errors we tend to make when thinking about statistics.

A MacArthur ‘Genius’ Will Likely Use His Grant To Support His Wife’s Work — In the Name of Science - Stat. There’s a rare and touching symbiosis in Damien Fair’s marriage. The prominent University of Minnesota neuroscientist was honored earlier this month with a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation, but he likely will spend his earnings — a cool, no-strings-attached $625,000 — to support his wife’s life’s work.

How Hops Became the Star of American Brewing - Outside (18 min). The craft beer revolution turned the tall cousin of cannabis into a breakout ingredient, infusing your brew with flavors and aromas that range from stone fruit to barrel oak.

Germany's Smart, Simple Formula for Fighting Its Coronavirus Spike - Slate (3 min). By paying bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other high-risk indoor gathering places to close in order to limit community spread, and thus make it safer to keep schools open, Germany is pursuing what has long appeared to be a commonsense strategy for managing the pandemic while retaining some semblance of normal life.