Dec 17, 2010

Hybrid Apple

deviantART user wolkentanzer split two apples and stapled sections together. Presumably this was part of some junior mad scientist research!

Earthquake Twists Railroad Tracks

On September 4th, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand. Pictured above is a railroad track that crossed the fault line near Rolleston. Geographer Dave Petley of the American Geophysical Union writes that the buckling may be the result of compressional deformation across a broad zone. The compression on the very strong railway line was accommodated when a weak point was found, leading to a comparatively rapid deformation to form the main buckle on the left. This then concentrated stress on both sides of the buckle, allowing the other (right side) bends to form.

Dec 15, 2010

Typewriter Art

British artist Keira Rathbone uses the letters and punctuation marks on typewriters to create landscapes and portraits. The 27-year-old begins by selecting the image she wants to capture and then decides which of her 30 typewriters is best for the job. By turning the knob attached to the platen – the roller onto which the paper is loaded – she can deftly move the page around and line up where the typebars hit the paper and make the character mark in ink. Because she uses old manual typewriters, she can control the shades by hitting the keys softer for lighter colors and harder for darker shades. You can view more images from here gallery by clicking here.

Dec 13, 2010

Man Carves Wooden Declaration of Independence

Charlie Kested of Johnstown, NY spent 10 years carving a wooden replica of the Declaration of Independence. For the last decade, Kested has regularly sequestered himself away in his basement workshop, carefully carving, letter by letter, every single line of the document. The massive piece, which is nearly as tall as Kested himself, was finally completed several months ago. It’s an exact wood model of the Declaration of Independence, right down to the flourish of John Hancock’s signature at the bottom. The dark walnut words are a stark contrast against the Baltic birch background.

Dec 10, 2010

10 Obsolete English Words That Should Make A Comeback

The following words have sadly disappeared from modern English, but it’s easy to see how they could be incorporated into everyday conversation. If we all start using them, these words can be resurrected!

1. Jargogle verb – “To confuse, jumble” – First of all this word is just fun to say in its various forms. John Locke used the word in a 1692 publication, writing “I fear, that the jumbling of those good and plausible Words in your Head..might a little jargogle your Thoughts…” You could use it next time someone ttempts to explain complicated physics concepts to you: “Seriously, I don’t need you to further jargogle my brain.”

2. Brabble verb – “To quarrel about trifles; esp. to quarrel noisily, brawl, squabble” – Brabble basically means to argue loudly about something that doesn’t really matter, as in “Why are we still brabbling about who left the dirty spoon on the kitchen table?” You can also use it as a noun: “Stop that ridiculous brabble and do something useful!”

3. Kench verb – “To laugh loudly” – This Middle English word sounds like it would do well in describing one of those times when you inadvertently laugh out loud while reading a text message in class and manage to thoroughly embarrass yourself.

4. Deliciate verb – “To take one’s pleasure, enjoy oneself, revel, luxuriate” – Often I feel the word “enjoy” just isn’t enough to describe an experience, and “revel” tends to conjure up images of people dancing and spinning around in circles – at least in my head. “Deliciate” would be a welcome addition to the modern English vocabulary, as in “After dinner, we deliciated in chocolate cream pie.”

5. Corrade verb – “To scrape together; to gather together from various sources” – I’m sure this wasn’t the original meaning of the word, but when I read the definition I immediately thought of copy-pasting. Any English teacher can picture what a corraded assignment looks like.

6. Brannigan noun – “A drinking bout; a spree or ‘binge’” – Brannigan was originally a North American slang word, but it is now rarely used. “Shall we go for a brannigan on Friday?” can be a more sophisticated way to discuss such activities.

7. Widdendream noun – “A state of mental disturbance or confusion” – I can start using this obsolete Scottish word right away: “While working on writing my thesis, I find I am constantly in widdendream.”
8. Twitter-light noun – “Twilight” – Used in the early 17th century, “twitter-light” sounds like a romantic way to refer to the hours as the sun goes down.

9. Yemeles adjective – An Old English and Middle English word meaning “careless, heedless, negligent” – Pronounced as “yeem-lis,” this is another word that could prove useful for teachers around the world: “Handing in messy and incomplete work just shows me you are being yemeles, and I won’t hesitate to give you a zero for the assignment.”

10. Hoddypeak noun – “A fool, simpleton, noodle, blockhead” – This one doesn’t need any explanation as to how you could use it; you may already have someone in mind who fits the description.

Corraded from Heather Carreiro's recent article on MatadorNetwork.

Giant WWI Crowd Pictures

Over 90 years ago, Arthur Mole and John Thomas created a series of amazing images to inspire American patriotism.  They photographed these enormous ‘Living Photographs’ at military bases throughout the country by carefully positioning up to 30,000 officers, nurses and men to capture the familiar and patriotic subject.
"The Human U.S. Shield, 1918" 30,000 officers and men, Camp Custer, Battle Creek, Michigan
One hundred years ago there was no way that photographs could be ‘pixellated’; yet a pair of inventive snappers managed to achieve something very much like the effect, creating a series of images that would help Americans feel good about themselves and boost patriotism.
The 11th Division Seal
It was in the time just prior to the outbreak of WWI that Arthur Mole and John Thomas came up with the idea of using an eleven by fourteen inch view camera to produce what they called ‘Living Photographs’ on an enormous scale. This involved the careful positioning of many thousands of men in ways that would suggest familiar and patriotic images when photographed from far enough above.
"The Human Liberty Bell, 1918" 25,000 officers and men at Camp Dix, New Jersey 
The two ‘pixel pioneers’ decided to construct a wooden tower tall enough that they could take their pictures from as far as 80ft up in the air. Mole often resorted to using a megaphone to position the crowds below. He would mark out the required patterns on the ground by pinning thousands of yards of lace materials to the ground. Each single project called for a great deal of careful planning and preparation - working out correct numbers of men required was not easy.
"The Human Statue of Liberty" 18,000 officers and men at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa
During his time in pursuit of these endeavours, Arthur Mole visited many military bases, and the servicemen involved were only too happy to help. The secret of getting the images just right lay in finding exactly the right perspective from which to snap them, and Mole was a master at this. Though a ground level view of one of these crowds would have given nothing away, from 80ft up the outlook was completely different.
"Living Emblem of  the US Marines" 9,100 officers and men at Paris Island, South Carolina
Mole and Thomas had no desire whatever to profit from their pioneering photography. Though obviously deeply moved by the patriotic fervor they encountered, they felt it appropriate to donate all income from their work to helping government schemes for rebuilding the lives of soldiers returning from active service. 
It takes a special kind of vision and talent to pull off these types of pictures, and it seems all the more amazing because of the time in which it all took place. Arthur Mole was an extraordinary talent, and deserves to be remembered.

Dec 9, 2010

Amazingly Detailed 360 Degree Panorama of London

Jeffrey Martin shot 8,000 photographs of London and then spent six weeks stitching them together to create this amazing seamless 360-degree panorama of the city. You can zoom in and lose yourself looking at details, or zoom back and admire the city as a whole. The quality of this panorama was impossible to achieve only a year ago - and at 80 gigapixels, it is the largest 360-degree panorama in the world! Open the map to find specific landmarks, or take the tour to see places you’d never think to look for on your own. This is the next best thing to traveling to London, and you don’t even have to leave your desk!

Song of Healing Played on Wine Glasses

YouTube member Sp0ntanius performs the “Song of Healing” from the video game The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Not only does he play all the parts on wine glasses well, but as you watch the video, weird things start to happen!

Dec 7, 2010

Two Square Meters of Sunlight Can Melt a Rock

Bang Goes the Theory is a popular science show on BBC One. In this clip, host Jem Stansfield visited the Solar Furnace Research Facility in France and witnessed how much power can be generated from 2 square meters of sunlight when it’s all focused on one small spot.

The Fastest Classic Video Game Character

Animator Steve Williams imagined a race between classic video game characters. The winner was surprising, but it makes sense:

Shop Vac - Typographic Video

“Shop Vac” is Jonathan Coulton’s song about life in a suburban paradise. This music video for it features the clever typographic animation of Jarrett Heather. Words and corporate logos flow across the screen as the narrator embraces a lifestyle of prosperity symbolized by the Shop-Vac in his basement workshop:

Hottest Pepper in the World: The Naga Viper

Jalapeño peppers rate about 2,500 to 5,000 on the Scoville scale of pepper hotness. The new Naga Viper, however, measures 1,359,000 Scovilles. It was developed by researchers at Warwick University in Britain who crossed the hottest peppers in the world. The Naga Viper is so hot that it’s actually dangerous to eat.
“It’s painful to eat,” one researcher told the Daily Mail. “It’s hot enough to strip paint.” Indeed, the Daily Mail reports that defense researchers are already investigating the pepper’s potential uses as a weapon. 
But the researchers — who make customers sign a waiver declaring that they’re of sound mind and body before trying a Naga Viper-based curry — insist that consuming the fiery chili does the body good.

Dec 6, 2010


Be honest - does this picture look like it belongs in the Arctic Circle? This is a view of an island in the archipelago known as Lofoten, a part of Norway north of the Arctic Circle. Lofoten experiences the biggest temperature anomaly in the world, thanks to the Gulf Stream that blows in from the southwest. Fish take advantage of the mild temperatures to spawn and the human inhabitants take advantage of the spawning fish. Tourists also enjoy outdoor sports during the time of the midnight sun.

Reverse Mermaid

The Photo of the Day at National Geographic is a snorkeler in Thailand -or is it a reverse mermaid? The photograph was submitted by Nick Kelly.

Ready Set Bag! - Official Trailer

People who bag groceries for a living have to work quickly and efficiently without breaking anything. Not everyone is good enough to make it as a bagger, but some are superb at the task. And they can enter the world of competitive bagging. The below video is a trailer for Ready, Set, Bag!, a documentary about this sport:

Seuss Wars

Cartoonist Adam Watson took two of my favorite fantasy worlds and melded them in drawings of Star Wars characters as imagined by Dr. Seuss! In addition to Jabba here, see Yoda, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and more at his site.

3D Panoramic Camera

The Electrical Engineering Institute at the École Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne, Switzerland, has developed a camera that can see 3D images in all directions. The design is based on insect eyes, which are hemispherical and contain many individual photoreceptors. Potential applications include gaming, media production, and robot navigation systems.

Dec 3, 2010

Building on San Francisco's Russian Hill

Photographer Håkan Dahlström snapped this picture in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. He tilted his camera so that the building would be appear to be tipping over instead of lying on a steep incline. If you don't want to strain your neck trying to figure out what it really looks like, I've rotated the image 16 degrees counter-clockwise for you:

Girl Goes from 0-10 Years in 1.5 Minutes

Natalie’s family took a picture of her everyday, from birth up until she turned ten years old, and cut all the photographs together into this impressive time-lapse video clip:

Real Life Wiley E. Coyote and Road Runner Cartoon

Apache Pictures made a short film that imagines Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner as human beings. It's called Wiley Vs. Rhodes. The special effects are impressive for an independent short film.

If Web Browsers Were Celebrities

Shane Snow decided to give it a thought and shared his conclusions in this infographic:

US Air Force Builds Supercomputer with 1,760 PS3s

US Department of Defense engineers and Sony built the most powerful computer in the Department’s inventory by linking 1,760 PlayStation 3 gaming consoles. The supercomputer, nicknamed the Condor Cluster, will allow very fast analysis of large high-resolution imagery — billions of pixels a minute, taking what used to take several hours down to mere seconds. Its sophisticated algorithms also will allow scientists to better identify objects flying in space, where movement and distance create blurring, with higher-quality images than possible before. Its capacity makes the PlayStation 3 cluster about the 33rd largest computer in the world, and it's currently housed at the US Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, New York.

Hierve el Agua

Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Mexico looks like a beautiful waterfall, but it’s not moving. Ice? No, this illusion is actually a rock formation, made of minerals left behind by dripping water. The white that makes it look like water is calcium carbonate, just one of many minerals that make up Hierve el Agua, which means “the water boils”. Click here to read about how this happened and see many more pictures at Kuriositas.

Star Wars Paper Snowflakes

When Ethan cut a paper snowflake that faintly resembled a Storm Trooper, his mother took the idea and ran with it. The result is this Darth Vader snowflake and another with Bobba Fett and a Clone Trooper:

Dec 1, 2010

Duct Tape Duck

Instructables user seamster made a duck model out of tape, cardboard, newspaper, marbles, and dowels. He used colored packing tape to cover the head. Black tape was used first and then covered with green. He used yellow electrical tape to cover the beak, and black marbles were glued into small holes cut into the head above the cheeks.

Nov 30, 2010

Brazilian Grape Tree

Though I detest fruit of all kinds, I love learning about strange ones. This is the Brazilian Grape Tree. The fruit, which is actually called Jabuticaba, grows right on the bark!
    According to Kuriositas, the delicious, grape-like fruit is used in jams and summer drinks, but it also comes with some great benefits: it supposedly curbs inflammation, and contains anti-cancer compounds. So, why doesn't your neighborhood grocery store carry the fruit? One of the reasons may be that it doesn't keep very well. Within just 3 days of plucking, the jabuticaba begins to ferment, which is great for winemaking, but not for international transport.

Nov 28, 2010

Keep Your Eye on the Ball...

Here's a great shot of Tiger Woods hitting a ball directly into photographer Mark Pain's camera at the Ryder Cup. Pain took this shot right before impact.

The photographer from The Mail didn't flinch, however, and captured this extraordinary picture just before the ball hit his camera, bounced onto his chest and came to rest at his feet.

"Woods was furious about his blunder, but neither he nor caddie Steve Williams objected to Pain's position. The Americans accepted that the ball had hit the intrepid photographer only because Tiger's effort, from rain-soaked rough, had been so badly struck."

But let's get to the real story...who is that cigar-smoking, mustachioed gentleman on the right? Here's a closeup along with a little Photoshop fun:

Trotternish Peninsula

On the Isle of Skye's (Scotland) Trotternish Peninsula, basalt pinnacles loom over the Sound of Raasay. Rising from the debris of an ancient landslide, they bear witness to the geologic upheavals that shaped these lands. Photograph by Jim Richardson. From National Geographic, March 2010.

Nov 24, 2010

Praying Mantis

Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii. This beautiful insect evolved through two of its nymph-stages on the Barberton Daisy at left, surviving because of its bright color which blended so well with the flower. Towards the end of its growth into an adult, it became a little more adventurous (but not much more) as pictured here. Once it had shed the layer in this picture, it became a fully-fledged adult, and departed after about two weeks. Total stay in this tiny ecosystem was approximately six weeks. Photo by Fred Turck

Nov 22, 2010

Orko: The Worthless Wizard

Think having a wizard for a friend will make all your troubles go away? Think again - possessing the power of magic doesn’t always mean one possesses competence!  Case in point: Orko, from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. In fact, a running gag in the series is Orko's poor magical skills. Nearly every time Orko attempts to use magic, it backfires. It’s never made clear why Orko is so inept, but several explanations are given. From Orko supposedly losing an amulet that allowed him to properly use his magic, to it being suggested in an episode that the natural laws of Trolla (Orko's home world) are opposite of Eternia.

Vader Portrait Constructed from Star Wars Script

David Johns created a portrait of Darth Vader using the script of Star Wars as his medium. Here, you can zoom in to see what’s written in different parts of the image.

The World's Fastest Roller Coaster

Formula Rossa, the new roller coaster in Abu Dhabi travels 1.2 miles in only a minute and a half, reaching speeds of up to 150mph! But what else would you expect from a theme park called Ferrari World? Harnessing the same technology that powers fighter planes off aircraft carriers, the ride was built above Abu Dhabi’s Formula 1 track. It’s the star piece for the “Ferrari World” theme park that’s opened just in time for the UAE’s grand prix on November 12th.

If Worlds Were Reversed...

You can pick up this shirt at SnorgTees...along with tons of other great shirts.

Oct 14, 2010

The Nearest McDonald's is Never More Than 115 Miles Away

Stephen Von Worley created the above map of all McDonald’s locations in the 48 contiguous states. A spot in northwestern Nevada is the most McDonald’s-free on the map. It’s the McFarthest spot (to use Von Worley’s term) at 115 miles to the nearest McDonald’s restaurant. You can read about Von Worley’s discovery here, or about his subsequent pilgrimage to that location here. (He brought McDonald’s food with him.)

Oct 13, 2010

Star Trek: Red Shirts

In the original Star Trek TV series, wearing a uniform with a red shirt meant that someone was in operations, which included the security department (gold or green meant command, and blue was worn by the science department). It made sense to take an extra security person on an expedition to a new planet. The landing party would consist of the show’s stars, plus one unknown in a red shirt. This unknown security guard is often killed immediately after beaming down to the planet of the week, which conveniently displays how dangerous the residents of the planet are, and what strange powers they have. This device was used so often that the term “Red Shirt” came to signify an obviously expendable character who will die early in the show.

This is the perception - but did red shirts actually die more often than characters wearing other colors? Or did it just seem that way? After all, Captain Kirk had a reputation for finding a girl in every episode, but an analysis of episodes show only seven romances in 79 episodes. Matt Bailey compiled statistics on deaths among the Enterprise crew in Star Trek. He found that 73% of those who died were wearing red shirts, compared to 10% for yellow shirts and 8% for blue shirts (the rest were wearing other uniforms). The majority of red shirt deaths happened on an alien planet. The trope was not our imagination, however the “red” part may have escaped the notice of many who didn’t have color TVs in the mid-’60s.

The episode of Star Trek that had the most red shirt deaths was Where no Man has Gone Before, in which twelve red shirts kicked the bucket. In second place was The Changeling, which saw six red shirt deaths.

Forget the debate about whether Star Trek or Star Wars is a better science fiction universe - the real conundrum is among the minor characters. You know red shirts are always killed. You also know that Storm Troopers shoot and shoot and can’t hit anything. If the two groups were to meet, we would have The Redshirt vs. Stormtrooper Paradox... a question that feeds many forum threads to this day.

Stormtec Sandbags

Stormtec Stormbags seem to be a neat alternative to sandbags. According to Boingboing, the lightweight bags are easy to transport to disaster sites. Once you're there, you can simply immerse the bags in water, and within 5 minutes, the polymer crystals inside the bag will expand to create a 33 lb. bag. The even stranger part is that the bags are completely reusable! Once the storm has passed, you can let the bag dry out and it will shrink back to its original size and weight!  Pretty crazy. The Stormbags cost $7.00 each at the Stormtec website, or $340 for a box of 50 bags.

Oct 11, 2010

How Did Colón Become Columbus?

Ah, Columbus Day...a federal holiday here in the United States. Kids are out of school, bankers are running amok, and I'm wondering how 'Cristóbal Colón' became 'Christopher Columbus'.

The basic explanation of that is actually fairly simple. Columbus' name in English is actually an anglicized version of the Columbus birth name. According to most accounts, Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, as Cristoforo Colombo, which is obviously much more similar to the English version than is the Spanish one.

In most of the major European languages, Columbus' name is similar to the Italian one: It's Christophe Colomb in French, Kristoffer Kolumbus in Swedish, Christoph Kolumbus in German and Christoffel Columbus in Dutch.

So perhaps the question that should be asked is how Cristoforo Colombo ended up as Cristóbal Colón in his adopted country of Spain. (Sometimes his first name in Spanish is rendered as Cristóval, which is pronounced the same.) Unfortunately, the answer to that appears to be lost in history. Most historical accounts indicate that Colombo changed his name to Colón when he moved to Spain and became a citizen. The reasons remain unclear, although he most likely did it to make himself sound more Spanish, just as as many European immigrants to the early United States often anglicized their last names or changed them entirely. In other languages of the Iberian Peninsula, his name has characteristics of both the Spanish and Italian versions: Cristóvão Colombo in Portuguese and Cristofor Colom in Catalan.

Incidentally, some historians have questioned the traditional accounts surrounding Columbus's Italian origins. Some even claim that Columbus was in reality a Portuguese Jew whose real name was Salvador Fernandes Zarco.

In any case, there's little question that Columbus' explorations were a key step in the spread of Spanish to what we now know as Latin America. The country of Colombia was named after him, as was the Costa Rican currency (the colón).

Oct 8, 2010

Enormous Gingerbread House

Nothing matches the childhood joy of building, admiring—then devouring—a holiday gingerbread house. This mouthwatering gift lets you expand that tradition with enough glee for all the children, grandchildren, godchildren, relatives, and lucky friends of all ages. This unique edible playhouse is handcrafted of 381 lbs. of gourmet gingerbread and 517 lbs. of royal icing by the expert confectioners at Dylan's Candy Bar. The munchable manor, which stands 6.6 feet high by 5.25 feet wide by 4.1 feet deep, incorporates the best confections from the world's largest candy store in New York City. With literally thousands of signature gourmet sweets from which to choose, it is both artfully designed and decadently delicious. It includes giant cookies, lollipops, gummies, mints, gumdrops, and (of course) a candy-encrusted roof. There's also a lollipop tree inside, just for good measure. CEO and self-proclaimed Candy Queen Dylan Lauren was inspired as a child when she watched the classic movie Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

Over 200 New Species Discovered in Papua New Guinea

This pink-eyed katydid lives in the forest canopy in Papua New Guinea. It represents one of the over 200 new species discovered by the Conservation International expedition to the Muller Range mountains last year. See more of the new species of frogs, ants, spiders, mammals, and plants, and videos of the expedition at Conservation International.

Auroras on Saturn

Earth is not the only planet with the phenomenon of polar lights - Saturn has ‘em too! NASA’s Cassini orbiter captured infrared images that revealed the stunning sights. According to National Geographic’s Breaking Orbit Blog, the ring of green auroras might seem faint, but that curtain of light is shooting up about 600 miles from the cloud tops of Saturn’s south polar region.

In general, astronomers think auroras on Saturn occur via a process similar to the one that creates Earth’s polar lights. Charged particles from the sun flow along the planet’s magnetic field lines, hitting the upper atmosphere at the poles. There the particles excite (or transfer energy to) atoms in the atmosphere, and the excited atoms release the excess energy as light.

In Saturn’s case, auroras can also be sparked by electromagnetic waves generated when the planet’s moons move through the charged gas that fills Saturn’s magnetosphere, the bubble around the planet created by its magnetic field.

Critter Catalog

Darren Bryant scanned a catalog called Stromberg’s Chicks & Pets Unlimited 1972, from which you could order chickens, dogs, skunks, raccoons, monkeys, anteaters, chinchillas, minks, owls, and even an ocelot! The pages are in a photoset on Flickr. Note that when you order a monkey, the clothing worn in the photograph is not included...!

World's Largest Hand-Held Yo-Yo

Chris Allen, a professional yo-yoist, made an enormous yo-yo out of two dog pools. It’s 35 inches across, 18 inches wide, and weighs 5.4 pounds. Allen tested it while standing on the roof of the parking garage at the National Yo-Yo Museum in Chico, California. At this link, you can watch a video of Allen building and using the yo-yo.

Antarctic Architecture

Buildings are buildings are buildings … except when they’re in Antarctica, where the extreme environment make them look like futuristic spaceships that have landed on a desolate, frozen landscape.

Oobject has a neat gallery of antarctic architecture, including the one above - the British Antarctic base Halley VI, built by Titan Hydraulics. Work can only be carried out during the period when there is almost constant daylight and temperatures climb to -20° C and above.

The Balancing Barn

What happens when your engineer had a little too much (okay a lot of) fun with cantilevers? Behold, the Balancing Barn!

Designed by the Dutch firm MVRDV, The Balancing Barn is new rental house located near the Suffolk, England towns of Walberswick and Aldeburgh.

It's a startling feat of engineering - 50 percent of the barn hangs in free space. Leasing will begin on October 22, 2010.

Chewbacca Backpack

Need a backpack? Chewbacca’s got your back! Well, actually in this case, he really does have your back. Behold, the Chewbacca Backpack Buddy from the NeatoShop.