I've recently come across some items in the news that are “new news” to me. Some items are cutting edge, some involve things that are just good to know, and some are sort of humorous. 


At the top of the list is something that coincides with the opening of the school year. Many students have already purchased this year's school supplies and this might include a selection of paper notebooks. These will be filled with class notes throughout the year and then (most likely) will be cast aside. It does not have to be this way. Enter the Rocketbook, the “world's first intelligent reusable notebook.” 


This is how Rocketbook works. You take notes by hand (as you always have). Rocketbook then sends those notes to the cloud storage service of your choice or emails the notes to you. When you are finished with the class, for example, you clear the Rocketbook and reuse it. Get this, the Wave model gets cleared by putting it into the microwave. You wipe the Everlast model clean with a damp cloth. Watch the cool video at Taking notes may never be the same. 


Speaking of school, this time of year many of us will be enjoying watching our favorite high school fall sports. For an old football coach like me, nothing beats a Friday night high school football game on a crisp autumn evening. 


In the country of Columbia, they also enjoy sports. Their national sport of Tejo can get loud. You see, it's sort of a combination of horseshoes and explosives. “The fundamentals are simple. Teams stand about 20 meters from a target composed of a box filled with clay. Nestled in the clay is a ring, and the goal is to lob a metal disc (the tejo) into the ring’s center. There’s a catch — packets filled with gunpowder are strategically placed in the box. Hit one, and the resulting explosion signals an automatic three points for your team.” (


It is noted that during the playing of Tejo, participants tend to partake of multiple adult beverages, which explains a lot, right? Anyway, in that regard, I have good news and bad news for beer drinkers. 


The good news is that drinking beer may help you lose weight. “Published in the thrilling pages of Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, research conducted by scientists at the Oregon State university determined that xanthohumol, a flavonoid  found in hops and beer, "significantly improved some of the underlying markers of metabolic syndrome in laboratory animals and also reduced weight gain." Lab mice consuming  xanthohumol gained 22 percent less weight. 


The bad news is that to duplicate this in humans, a 150-pound person would need to drink 3,500 pints per day to get the appropriate dose. (


If scientists ever figure out how to use a substance to downsize humans, it will definitely have an effect on the airline industry. “Before airlines were deregulated in 1978, seats were wider and offered more legroom. But in recent years, average seat width has shrunk from 18 inches to 17 inches or less. The seat shrinkage has occurred while Americans have grown larger. An average woman who weighed 140 pounds in 1960 weighed 166 pounds in 2010; the average man went from 166 to 195 pounds.” This may explain the “sardine effect” prevalent in today's air travel. (


Sometimes the findings of scientists have the potential to save us from ourselves. One recent study asked and answered a simple question: “Do you wash your dishes in the toilet? In a study published in Scientific Reports, researchers from Germany showed just how germy 14 different used kitchen sponges actually were with more bacteria than typically found in the toilet.” Specifically, they found: “...362 different types of bacteria. Five of the 10 most frequently detected bacteria species could cause problems and disease in humans.” (


One way to keep your sponges bacteria free is to sanitize them in in the microwave, but that has some dangers, too. “A Michigan State University web site includes some tips on how to do this so it doesn't catch fire or explode.” The potential for exploding sponges may be more trouble than it's worth for Americans, but might appeal to Columbian Tejo players. (


Finally, for those who like a bit of nostalgia with their science, news comes that ABC has ordered a pilot for a “Jetsons” live-action series. “Based on the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon, the series would be a multi-cam sitcom set 100 years in the future that follows the exploits of the Jetson family.” The original, you may remember, “followed George, Jane, Judy, and Elroy Jetson along with their robot maid Rosie and family dog Astro.” (  


In related business news, now might be the time to buy stock in Spacely Space Sprockets, Inc. You may recall that this is a company “ Orbit City that manufactures sprockets. It is owned by Cosmo Spacely. He has a plant on an asteroid in space.” (,_Inc.)


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and