And Now, the Answers to Our 2013 News Quiz, Plus the Super Smart Contest Winner

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Illustration by Fred Harper
This picture is a joke about Banksy, who was real big in 2013.
At the end of 2013, before our collective spirits had been broken by the endless Polar Vortexes inflicted upon us, we extended a challenge to you, our readers: show us what you remember about the past year in news. Our 2013 news quiz brought in lots and lots of people willing to take that challenge, and finally, we're ready to announce a winner. But first, an apology.

That quiz was hard. We didn't exactly mean to make it so hard, but some of the stuff we threw in there was just cruel. The bizarre species of cockroach found on the High Line? Which politicians were indicted for election fraud and which ones were merely divorced by their long-suffering spouses? Who even remembers this stuff?

A few things, though, everyone got right. Damn near all of you knew that Amanda Bynes was accused of throwing a bong out the window of her apartment (a charge that was dismissed not long ago). Most people remembered that Anthony Weiner was pursued by sexting buddy Sydney Leathers through a McDonalds on election night, although very few of you remembered that Leathers subsequently attempted to auction off her "excess" labia skin after a "rejuvenation" procedure.

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Manhattanhenge, the NYC Solstice, Strikes Today

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5oulscape via Compfight cc
Manhattanhenge has arrived--the day of the year when the cosmos miraculously aligns with the grid plan. At sunset (around 8:15 p.m.), the sun will set on rows of streets like a pinball queuing up for play, with half the orb sitting on top of the street horizon and the other half beneath.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium, and inadvertent meme, coined the term "Manhattanhenge" in 2002, and recommends that wide cross-streets, like 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, and 57th are the best through which to view the phenomenon. Some people stake out these locations in the middle of the street hours beforehand, but with thousands of fledgling Citi Bike users on the ground, standing in bike lanes is probably a bad idea.

The good news is that if you miss tonight, tomorrow you can try again, when the whole sun will balance on the street horizon before setting.

Send your story tips to sbrownstone@villagevoice.com. Follow her on Twitter here.

Great News, Adult Pot Heads: Weed Won't Make You Stupid, According To Science

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We have some great news, adult pot heads: weed doesn't make you stupid -- as long as you didn't start smoking it regularly until you're 18.

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Duke University, kids under the age of 18 suffer a dramatic decrease in IQ if they smoke pot regularly before they hit adulthood. However, the study found no decline in IQ for people who hold off on becoming pot heads until they turn 18.

If you don't understand how this could potentially impact the debate over the legalization of/medical marijuana, you probably started smoking pot before you were 18.

The study tested the IQ of people at age 13 and again at age 38. A decline in IQ was only seen in subjects who smoked pot before they turned 18.



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Want Times Square to Be More Crowded? Air the Mars Rover Landing There Tonight

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A few weeks ago, my roommate and I decided to take a late-night bike ride up the West Side Highway. It was around midnight when we hit 59th Street and headed east towards Central Park. Dangerous, yes, but the air was calm until we decided to advance on the brilliant idea of biking through Times Square to head back Downtown to home base. Somehow, at that time of night, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of gawking pedestrians, amazed by the lights and sounds of the commercial hub. Given, it was almost 1am on a Wednesday night.

Why bring up this experience? We all know the pains of Times Square; it's become that cliche criticism of tourists - "Ugh.... I HATE Times Square." We get it. But here's an amazing reason to check out 42nd Street and up tonight:

The Mars Rover known as Curiosity will be completing its eight-month journey across the galaxy and everyone in Times Square and beyond will be able to watch it on the Toshiba Vision screen (it's one of those, uhm, big flashy screens... just look where everyone else is looking). At around 11:30pm, the screen will flash to the event as our Rover lands on the Red Planet. It's not until 1:31am, though, that the exploratory device is set to land; from then on, pictures will be taken immediately and will flash across the screen until 4am.

We're trying very, very hard to keep our inner geek excitement from bursting out.

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Space Shuttle Enterprise Will Be Sailing Around the City Today

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C.S. Muncy

Remember when we told you guys that the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on the Hudson was being blessed with NASA's non-flight space shuttle, Enterprise? And then remember when fellow Voice-naut Steven Thrasher and photographer C.S. Muncy saw it being flown in over New York?   

Well, since the end of April, the Enterprise has been posted up at JFK Airport, as it was detached safely from its carrier plane and eventually placed on an enormous barge. The barge will take it from the airport to the Intrepid in a path that circulates most of the boroughs for all of our nerdy viewing pleasures. 

Well, today happens to be the beginning of its maiden voyage. So go grab your binoculars and get to the shore.

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Happy Manhattanhenge! Tonight's Sunset Will Align With Manhattan's Street Grid

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Happy Manhattanhenge!

So what the hell is Manhattanhenge, you might ask?

On May 29 and July 12 every year, the sunset lines up with Manhattan's street grid which, as the Hayden Planetarium puts it, simultaneously illuminates "both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough."

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That "Ring of Fire" Solar Eclipse is Happening Soon, Here Are Live Streams to Watch It

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Forget Mother's Day; or Memorial Day; or Zuckerberg Weekend (what May 18th-20th should be called from now on); or any other important May event. Tonight is the annual solar eclipse and this one, as many astronomists are predicting, could be a rare spectacle to see.

At one point this evening, 80 percent of the Sun will be covered by the black Moon, creating what has been deemed a "ring of fire" because of the image it will provoke. The orb's trajectory over the Pacific, California and most of the West will guarantee great views for that side of the country.

And for the rest of us East Coasters... well, we might get a peek. But, thanks to our good, trust-worthy friends at Fox News, we have a bunch of live streams so no stargazer is left out of the fun. Here's a few to check out:

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Take Cover from the Space Storm! Two Solar Flares Hit Earth, NASA Says

Today's space-weather report tells of a different kind of sunny sky: Two flares, including the second biggest of the Sun's 11-year solar cycle, hit earth early this morning and could cause the biggest solar storm in five years, NASA says.

Now, what the hell does this mean, exactly?

Every so often, a chunk of charged particles -- called a coronal mass ejection -- spirals earthward, which can cause problems with electronic devices.

So, if your GPS, computer, or cell phone is in a funk, it might very well be the Sun's fault.

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Sewage Secrets: Leif Percifield Does Not Like It Raw

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Percifield
Last week, Runnin' Scared brought you news of Leif Percifield, a Parsons grad student who's working diligently to develop a phone app, DontFlushMe, that could prevent 27 billion gallons of shit from flowing into New York's waterways yearly. A lot of this raw sewage enters the City's harbors as overflow -- concisely, when the system gets backed up and people continue to flush. So Percifield's basic idea is this: He wants to hook up sensors to the plants where this excess travels, that would send text alerts to people notifying them of potential overflows. That way, they can change how they use water, preventing pollution. We had a chance to catch up with the Bushwick resident and chat a bit about his aqueous ambitions.

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Powerful People Are Delusional

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Surely, you've heard that old chestnut that tall people make better leaders. That more presidents are tall. That tall people are smarter, hotter, funnier, more successful, better athletes, better models, and make more money -- and, even, that women like tall men better. Some of this may be true -- some of it may be too high up in the air for us to know any different. But, the latest scientific study adds a new twist to this learning. That is, powerful people think they're tall, taller than they actually are. Which changes EVERYTHING. Tall or not, powerful people are clearly off their rockers.

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