FBI
FBI

New Evidence Suggests D.B. Cooper's Tie May Help Solve a 45-Year Mystery

FBI
FBI

The unidentified hijacker known as D.B. Cooper leapt from a commercial flight in November 1971 with a parachute and $200,000 in ransom money after threatening passengers and crew with a bomb. He was never located, although that’s not quite the same as having disappeared: Cooper became a folk hero, with both the FBI and curious amateur investigators sifting through scarce evidence for well over 45 years.

Last July, the FBI officially closed the case, citing a lack of promising leads, but continued to solicit public information if that information was compelling. The invitation appears to be paying off: A team of scientists in Seattle has recently extracted some intriguing new clues from the clip-on tie Cooper left behind.

Tom Kaye, spokesperson for a group called Citizen Sleuths, told King5 News that an electron microscope has identified several rare earth materials on the tie, including Cerium, Strontium Sulfide, and pure titanium, a cluster of particles that individuals would only have been exposed to in 1971 in very specific lines of work.

One of those lines of work is aerospace, a major industry in the Northwest. Kaye believes it’s possible the elements would have been found at Boeing during work on a Super Sonic Transport plane in the 1960s and 1970s. If the man who became known as Cooper was employed at Boeing, his tie could have been collecting debris from the workplace.

“The tie went with him into these manufacturing environments, for sure,” Kaye told King5.com. “He was either an engineer or a manager in one of the plants.”

Kaye and his team have been working on the case since 2009. Various hypotheses have been put forward about Cooper’s identity, including one surprisingly sound argument that he (or she) was a woman in disguise. Kaye is inviting anyone familiar with Boeing in that time period, or familiar with the materials found on the tie, to come forward with any information that could further aid in the famed hijacker's identification.

[h/t King5.com]

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The Secret to a More Pleasant Flight? Urinals
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iStock

Even if you can deal with the lack of legroom, privacy, and decent meal options on airplanes, your patience may start to wear thin when it comes time to pee. Being stuck waiting in long bathroom lines on planes may feel like one of life's unavoidable annoyances, but according to WIRED, there's a way to make the experience more tolerable. The secret involves urinals and a bit of math.

At last month's Crystal Cabin Awards, a competition that recognizes innovation in aircraft interiors, Zodiac Aerospace introduced the Durinal, a two-urinal plane bathroom that takes the place of one toilet. Replacing a bathroom that serves all passengers with one that's made for only half the population may seem like a quick way to make the long-line problem worse, but there's some logic behind the proposed solution.

As Wouter Rogiest, a mathematician at Ghent University in Belgium, tells WIRED, gender-neutral bathroom lines are shortest when men have the option to head straight for a urinal. That's because it's quicker to use a urinal than a stall, and when men opt for the urinal, it frees up stalls for women. When he drew up an equation looking at hypothetical bathroom wait times at a concert, he found that a ratio of 14 toilets to eight urinals produced the most desirable wait times: one minute, 27 seconds for women and slightly under a minute for men. On a commercial plane, this ratio would come out to one or two Durinals per six conventional bathrooms.

Rogiest's concert equation isn't a perfect stand-in for airplane scenarios, so a more specific study would be needed before airlines could consider installing urinals. Unfortunately, if bathrooms with urinals do show up on airplanes, you can expect the spaces to be just as tight as they are now.

[h/t WIRED]

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United Airlines Has Gotten Rid of Tomato Juice, and Customers Are Freaking Out
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iStock

Lovers of tomato juice are a small camp, but a vocal one. And they're furious that United Airlines has replaced their beloved Mott's tomato juice with Mr. and Mrs. T Bloody Mary Mix on all flights under four hours, which includes most of its domestic runs. United said these changes are part of efforts to “streamline” its food service, the Chicago Business Journal reports.

The stealth substitution has fueled a rebellion among loyal tomato juice fans, as The Week points out.

There is some truth to the claim that tomato juice tastes better on flights. One study revealed that the noise level on an airplane affects our perception of taste, making savory or umami flavors more delicious. Another industry-funded study said the air pressure and humidity levels make bolder drinks seem more appealing.

Premium and economy passengers flying United can also say goodbye to Sprite Zero, Jim Beam, Courvoisier, and Amaretto, which were cut from the menu. And although airlines are not exactly known for their cuisine to begin with, passengers will likely start to see a difference in the types of meals being offered. The Chicago Business Journal writes:

"The reduction in food being offered in many instances in first-class and business-class cabins is not insignificant. Hot breakfasts are being replaced on some routes with only fruit plates and muffins, and more substantial lunches are being switched out for wraps and chocolate slabs."

The airline has said it is "monitoring customer feedback."

[h/t The Week]

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