It's pretty obvious when your alkaline batteries run out of power — the flashlight or camera or toy or whatever stops working. But what about the out-of-package batteries lying around your house? Sure, you could find or buy a battery tester. But electrical engineer Lee Hite has an easier test: Just drop your nonrecharable AA battery — or AAA, C, D, or 9 volt — on a hard surface and see if it bounces. If the alkaline battery bounces, it's dead (or near dead); if it doesn't, you're good to go. Watch Hite's video below for his explanation of why dead batteries bounce. (Hat-tip to Digg) --Peter Weber
The family of 25-year-old Freddie Gray held a press conference late Monday, after Gray's funeral, urging the people in Baltimore protesting the unexplained death of the young black man in police custody to stand down. "I want y'all to get justice for my son, but don't do it like this here," said Gray's mother, Gloria Darden. "Don't tear up the whole city just for him. It's wrong."
Gray's twin sister, Fredericka Gray, also said "the violence is wrong," adding that her brother wasn't violent or the type of person who breaks into stores. "I don't think that's for Freddie," she said. "I don't like it at all."
National Guard troops started taking positions on the streets of Baltimore late Monday, as rioting and looting spread from the west side of the city to the east and closer to downtown. By Tuesday morning, fires were still smoldering from the handful of buildings and cars set ablaze. Watch Gray's family call for peace, and city officials talk law and order in the Associated Press video montage below. —Peter Weber
Florida's avocado industry is in grave danger from laurel wilt, a fungus spread by the ambrosia beetle, believed to have been imported from Asia. "This is probably the biggest threat to the Florida avocado that's ever been seen," University of Florida tropical fruit specialist Jonathan H. Crane tells The Associated Press. Florida's avocado advocates have a simple message for America: #SavetheGuac.
That may sound like hyperbole, but if the ambrosia beetle spreads to Texas and California — California produces 90 percent of U.S. avocados — America really might have to import all its guacamole. Mexico would be at risk, too. So Florida is trying to detect the fungus in the early stages, when trees can still be saved, and to do that, they are employing drones to find diseased areas and dogs to sniff out infected trees. The AP video below has more details, plus footage of one of the four dogs that may save your guacamole. —Peter Weber
On Tuesday, an appellate court in Gwangju, South Korea, convicted the captain of a ferry that sank a year ago, killing 300 students and other passengers, of "murder through willful negligence," and sentenced him to life in prison. Last year, a lower court had acquitted the captain, Lee Joon-seok, of homicide but sentenced him to 36 years in jail for lesser charges.
Fourteen other crew members of the Sewol were given sentences of between 1.5 and 12 years; the chief engineer actually received a reduced sentence, from 30 years to 10 years.
"Because of Capt. Lee's irresponsible behavior, many young students died without their lives blossoming," said the presiding judge, Seo Kyong-hwan. "His conduct, which helped send the country's national prestige crashing down, can never be forgiven." Lee, 70, and his co-defendants can appeal the verdicts to South Korea's Supreme Court. Peter Weber
"We use a lot of water in California, to grow things like tomatoes and marijuana," Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday night's Kimmel Live. "But we waste a lot of water, and we all have to do our part," what with that terrible drought afflicting the Golden State. If you think this is leading up to an environmental lecture, remember, this is Kimmel. And if you are a fan of water-based pranks and bleeped-out swearing — and who isn't? — you could do worse than watching below. —Peter Weber
At the White House Correspondents' Association gala on Saturday night, "Barack Obama lit it up — crushed it — as did Cecily Strong," Jon Stewart said on Monday's Daily Show. "It was a fine 40 minutes of entertainment." And that was the last nice thing he said about Washington's annual "nerd prom." Because "while the A-list of America's media-political complex fiddled on this Saturday night," he said, Baltimore was burning.
And where was cable news? Covering not just the president's comedy routine, but the red carpet to get into the already self-referential and self-congratulatory White House Correspondents' dinner. CNN and MSNBC were aware of what was happening a relatively short distance away, they just didn't care. "To be clear," Stewart said after one clip, "a guy on CNN just said, 'Hey, if people are looking for news, I'm sure they can find it somewhere.'" Jessica Williams capped it all off with a Hunger Games homage that, well, seems kind of apt. —Peter Weber
Since 1962, the U.S. Public Health Service has recommended that communities fluoridate their water with between 0.7 milligrams per liter and 1.2 mg/L, based on an area's outdoor temperature. On Monday, the PHS pared back those recommendations to 0.7 mg/L for all communities that fluoridate their drinking water.
"The change is recommended because now Americans have access to more sources of fluoride, such as toothpaste and mouth rinses, than they did when fluoridation was first introduced in the United States," Deputy Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak said on Monday. Too much fluoride can cause fluorosis, a condition that affects kids 8 and younger, staining tooth enamel with faint white dots or, in severe cases, staining and pitting. "The new recommended level will maintain the protective decay prevention benefits of water fluoridation and reduce the occurrence of dental fluorosis," Lushniak added.
The American Dental Association applauded the new guidelines, NPR reports, while critics of fluoridation said 0.7 mg/L is still too much, arguing that people should be able to decide how much fluoride to give their kids on an individual basis. Peter Weber
If you're a Billy Corgan fan who also enjoys wrestling, then today is the greatest day you'll ever know: The Smashing Pumpkins leader will now serve as the senior producer of creative and talent development at TNA Impact Wrestling.
Corgan's ideas will come to life on the Destination America network's Impact Wrestling starting in May, and they won't include any tired tropes. "There is a tremendous opportunity to go into really fresh, new directions," he told Variety. Later, the longtime wrestling fan added: "I think there's an endless supply of things in our culture where people are dealing with race or with gender, etc., and you can get into these things in a way that is both revelatory and enlightening. Treated the right way, ultimately, the good guy wins. The right ideas win." This actually isn't the first time Corgan has been part of the wrestling world — in recent years, he did some promotion work around the Chicago area. Catherine Garcia