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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Sanctioned, Synthetic, Savory: Our Best Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

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License plate collage“License plates like these may soon be a thing of the past as states move from analogue to digital. brians101/Thinkstock

The Winter Olympics are in full swing. Even though you’re not a world-class athlete, you can still feel like a champ by expanding your mind. The judges at HowStuffWorks are giving you a score of two articles and a podcast. Here are some of the stories you may have missed this week.

The Sanctioned

Nobody likes long lines at the DMV, especially Neville Boston, CEO of Reviver Auto and creator of the RPlate Pro, a digital license plate that makes vehicle registration as easy as online shopping. The smart plate is designed to be readable no matter what. If it is damaged, the screen will splinter but not break, just as a windshield does when it’s cracked. Plus, the plate will notify the driver and Reviver Auto if it is stolen. Another cool feature is that RPlate Pro gives drivers the option to have a different vanity tag every day.

Not everyone is thrilled that license plates are going digital. Besides privacy and security concerns, the base price for the RPlate Pro is $599 plus an $8 per month subscription fee. So far, it’s only available in four states.

The Synthetic

The BBC’s "Blue Planet II" is one of the most popular nature documentaries in recent memory. In addition to breathtaking cinematography and a re-imagined version of Radiohead’s "Bloom," the series has inspired many to be more environmentally conscious, including royal family members. When Queen Elizabeth II announced this week that she was banning plastic from royal estates, the world took notice. Food service workers will be required to use glass and materials that are either compostable or recyclable. This is one of many steps the royals have taken to be more eco-friendly. Buckingham Palace is also in the process of reducing its energy consumption by 40 percent. Many scientists believe that by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish. Reducing plastic consumption is important to protecting the environment.

The Savory

If someone were to describe a company that offered its employees perks like health and dental coverage, on-site manicures, laundry service and access to a swimming pool and rooftop garden, you’d probably assume that he was talking about an internet giant in Silicon Valley. But he also could be referring to Heinz Ketchup Company … in the 1800s. Henry J. Heinz was a leader in food safety who believed that clean, happy employees made the best products. Long before Heinz called his tomato sauce "ketchup," the Chinese sold catsup, a fermented fish sauce, to European merchants. Westerners appropriated the recipe by adding ingredients like shallots, and creating even sweet varieties like apple and pear. This week on the Food Stuff podcast, co-hosts Anney and Lauren review the saucy history of ketchup.

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