Posts filed under ‘How curious!’

How Curious!

I’ve collected a few curious (if not downright bizarre) items for your enjoyment. Let’s start off with what will surely become the next action-packed thriller adventure movie starring Samuel L. Jackson – Bees on a Plane.

 No doubt the pilot of a plane at a flight school in Massachusetts wondered if he was appearing in a sequel to Snakes on a Plane, this time starring bees. 10,000 honeybees swarmed the left wing of an airplane at the school (weren’t honeybees said to be inexplicably dying off in the US?). The owner of the flight school called the cops (not sure cops are known for their bee removal abilities). The cops called a bee removal expert who sucked the bees off the wing by using a vacuuming tool and then shipped the bees off to hives (hope they survived the huge vacuum cleaner!).  Experts are saying that the Queen bee most likely was on the left wing and the honeybees swarmed to protect her (that or they all thought they’d hitch a ride). Source: Discover Magazine.

Have dog will travel. If you cannot be parted from your beloved canine even for one minute, no problem. Honda has just unveiled a dog-friendly car, complete with a cushioned dog bed in the boot (trunk), a built-in water bowl and fan and a ramp to assist the senior dog up into the pooch mobile. (Is there a cat version I wonder?). The car also comes with fitted restraints, rubber mats with a toy bone pattern and paw print exterior badging. It will be on sale from Fall 2009 in the US. Americans spend $41 billion a year on their pets so I guess the $20,000+ price for this car will be a breeze for the serious dog owner. Source: Reuters.

One day I have no doubt that we will no longer need to lug mobile phones and laptops around with us. Ultimately, we’ll have electronic devices embedded within the human body and it seems a transitionary step to this is already happening. Researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems in Dresden, Germany have created head-mounted display eyeglasses that use eye movements to control what is shown onscreen. Users can influence the information content presented by moving their eyes or fixing on certain points in the image shown.  A chip is embedded in the eye glasses and projects an image onto the retina. The image appears to be at a distance of about one metre. The eye glasses, however, are apparently heavy and cumbersome at this early stage of development in augmented reality. Source: Science Daily. Image credit: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

Your cheese-grater could be radioactive: an investigation into thousands of common items like elevator lift buttons, shovels, metal bits on handbags and the humble kitchen cheese-grater shows that these items might not be made of innocent looking metal but could in fact be slightly radioactive. Did you know that the banana is slightly radioactive because it contains radioactive potassium isotope? Better cut down on my banana intake! Potentially radioactive recycled metals don’t need to be tested or reported so they can be used in chairs, airline parts and even in the construction industry.  Perhaps we could just encase ourselves in lead. Source: Discover Magazine.

Don’t Beam Me up Scotty: If you’re thinking of taking one of those civilian space flights that will happen in the future, you might want to think again. Because it will be no Star Trek adventure. The human body is designed to have two feet firmly planted on the Earth. If there’s no gravity, then this is what can happen to you: motion sickness; puffy face-bird leg syndrome (what the? apparently, during launch, body fluids move toward the torso and head. This causes a distended jugular vein, headaches and persistent nasal congestion – charming); muscle wastage; organs and tissues are assaulted by galactic cosmic rays; your bones shrink; your immune system alters; the spine can be stretched; the circadian rhythms and sleep quality are stuffed; and ionizing radiation can kill cells and damage DNA, which may lead to cancer and an increased risk of cataracts.  Even worse, you could return from space looking not so much like the deletable Chris Pine (the new Capt Kirk of Star Trek) but more like a bloated, bald dude. Humans need gravity to look “normal” and long distance space travel will cause bodily fluids to shift eg from the torso to the head so you end up with a “fat head”.  Astronauts on short flights have complained about exploding headaches that make a migraine feel like a slight ache.

Sources: The Star and Discover Magazine.</p

June 17, 2009 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

How curious!

Time to check out what curious, bizarre or downright strange things have been happening on this wonderful planet of ours.

First bat in space: You may have seen this tenacious bat clinging to the external fuel tank of the recently launched Spaceshuttle. Apparently, the bat had chosen the Shuttle as a roost. Bats have done this before but flown the coop before the Shuttle blasted off into space. Not so this brave bat, which caused NASA to be a tad concerned that it might disrupt the launch.

Well, the launch happened and still the bat clung on for dear life, one theory being that the poor thing (nicknamed Brian) had become frozen to the fuel tank as the cryogenic hydrogen and oxygen fuel was pumped into the tank. But apparently this wasn’t the case because the area the bat was clinging to did not reach below freezing point. The other theory (from a wildlife specialist) is that when g-forces took hold and the Shuttle was rattling and shaking as it took off, the creature fell off and died in the searing 1400°C exhaust of the throttling boosters. My theory? Brian wanted to be the first bat in outer space. Source: Universe Today

Vampire hunting: And speaking of bats, this is curiously gruesome – archaeologists digging around Venice have unearthed the 16th Century remains of a woman who people of that time believed was a vampire. The telltale sign? The huge brick lodged between the poor woman’s jaws. Fear of vampires (and ignorance about death) was so rife in that time period, a simple stake through the heart was not considered enough to finish off a vampire. So the brick in the jaws method was used to starve any vampire to death. Eewww!! Source: CBS News

Invented too early? Everyone’s favourite toy, the iPod, was invented in 2001. But perhaps not. Perhaps Britain invented the iPod in 1979. A pocket-sized portable music player, the IXI System, was invented by Kane Kramer, 23 years and James Campbell, 21 years. The device stored music in a chip, had a display screen and navigation buttons. Four prototypes were built but the device could only store 3.5 minutes of music. A fifth pre-production model actually went on sale at the APRS exhibition at Earls Court – London. Wouldn’t you love to be one of the people who bought one of them – imagine how much it might be worth now! Unfortunately for Kramer, his patent lapsed in 1988 and was possibly an invention way before its time. Source: kanekramer.com and Wired.

Norris for Prez: If you don’t think having The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as Governor of California is surreal enough, then think about Chuck Norris as “President of Texas”. Yes, folks, Norris has had a word or two with the Founding Fathers who have told him what America really stands for and he talks about America turning into a totalitarian country and how Americans won’t tolerate it. Of all the States of the US, I’d always place my bets on Texas to be the one to secede. If the GFC causes the US to spiral out of control, Norris is ready to seize the reins (or give a karate chop or two). So if you think all is lost in America and you want to rekindle the patriotic fires of early America – join one of the thousands of cell groups Norris and others are organising in Texas. If this doesn’t appeal to you, well you can go along to the Houston area and see Norris display that raw Texan fighting spirit in a national martial arts event called Showdown in H-Town. Source: WorldNetDaily.

March 29, 2009 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

How curious!

I have collected some choice bits for ThinkingShift’s regular How Curious feature. So let’s kick off 2009 by looking at what bizarre, odd and curious things can happen in our world.

Beware the goat.  Seems Nigerian goats walk a fine line when it comes to the law. Police are holding a goat on suspicion of armed robbery (yes, really). Some people (perhaps smoking the wacky tobaccy) dragged a goat into a police station and mumbled things about black magic. They say an armed robber magically transformed himself into a goat to escape the long arm of the law. In a “what the?” moment, police have been quoted as saying: “We cannot confirm the story but the goat is in our custody. We cannot base our information on something mystical. It is something that has to be proved scientifically, that a human being turned into a goat.” Good luck proving that dudes. Source: Reuters.

Beware the alien octopus. Besides goats, you need to keep a watchful eye out for an alien octopus that may destroy a wind turbine near you soon. A wind turbine in Lincolnshire, England was hit by something mysterious in early January. One of its three 65 ft blades was totally mangled and left wilting. Officials have no explanation for what caused the mangling. UFO enthusiasts have their theories because bright orange spheres were seen in the area at the time. Could it have been destroyed by a many-tentacled alien, a meteorite, a plane? Personally, I’m going for the revenge of the bats theory. Source: Discover Magazine.

Sexual gorillas. Possibly this curious story could only happen  in Australia. A stern magistrate has issued a warning to a young driver accused of speeding. To quote the magistrate’s words of wisdom: “You’ll find big, ugly, hairy strong men (in jail) who’ve got faces only a mother could love that will pay a lot of attention to you — and your anatomy”. I bet that guy is no longer speeding! Source: Reuters.

Foiled by Thor. Should you wish to deter burglars, simply dress up as Thor, the god of thunder. A man was busy burglarising a home in Edinburgh, Scotland when he came face to face with the menacing Thor and fled. Well, actually a man returning from a New Year’s Eve party dressed as the Norse god (presumably this was a fancy dress gig and he doesn’t normally parade around as Thor). Source: BoingBoing

 

Squirrels come in purple. People were amazed when a purple squirrel was spotted in a village in Hampshire, UK. The squirrel hangs around the local school and has become something of a legend. I’m placing bets that the squirrel fell into a pot of paint whilst nosing around the school’s art class. But just because you’ve never seen a purple squirrel before doesn’t mean they don’t really exist! Source: The Telegraph

Beware the sandwich. Aside from goats and an alien octopus, you should also be wary of sandwiches. A UK woman regularly faints after eating sandwiches or fizzy drinks. After 10 years of fainting episodes and many medical tests, an unusual swallowing reflex has been blamed. Bubbles of gas from fizzy drinks or clumps of bread from sandwiches caused the woman’s heart to momentarily falter. She has now been fitted with a pacemaker and can happily attack sandwiches and fizzy drinks without fear of toppling over. Source: BBC News.

February 5, 2009 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

How Curious!

Just two more sleeps before Santa arrives (if you believe in Santa that is). So time for ThinkingShift’s last How Curious! post for 2008. I am whipping up a batch of predictions for 2009, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, let’s have a look at some odd, bizarre and curious things.

Death map: I guess we all wonder when we’ll waft off this planet but with the help of a nifty map, you can scrupulously avoid all the places in the US where you might meet your Maker thanks to Mother Nature. Well, won’t affect me as I avoid the US because of biometrics but in case you’re planning a trip there, go here to see the map, which plots where people have snuffed it from the forces of Nature. Clearly, you should not wander into Wyoming, Utah or Colorado as they have the highest mortality rates from natural disasters like lightning strikes, death from sizzling summers or bone-rattling cold weather or hurricanes. And be careful of lightning – bolts from Heaven account for 11.3% of deaths from the 20,000 that have taken place between 1970-2004. Sources: Discover Magazine & msnbc.

Don’t throw out the vase! My grandmother and mother were hoarders. My mother always said “you never know, this item could be Lalique, don’t throw it out”. Well, it never was but a £1 purchase at a car boot sale in Dumfries, Scotland, did turn out to be a Lalique -  a 1929 work – Feuilles Fougeres – by the renowned French designer and major Art Nouveau figure, Rene Lalique. The £1 purchase was used as a plant holder and when the plant snuffed it, the vase was tossed into the attic. Thankfully, Antiques Roadshow was in town, so the vase was trotted out and the valuers had a heart attack! The vase was eventually sold at a Christie’s auction for £32,450 Source: BBC News.

New prime number.  For the pointy-headed amongst us – a new prime number has been discovered. Maths is not one of my strong points, so I’m certainly going to have trouble with a number that has nearly 13 million digits. Prime numbers can be divided only by themselves and one and the new number was discovered by using 75 computers linking up and using their unused power (guess with 13 million digits, calculating by a small calculator could hold you up). A group of mathematicians were searching for the so-called higher “Mersenne” prime numbers – named after the 17th Century French mathematician, Marin Mersenne. Well, guess it’s exciting for mathematicians. Source: BBC News

Two faced kitten. Not sure what Australian mother cats are being fed but a two-headed kitten was recently born in Perth. The kitten eats out of just one mouth because of a cleft palate but both mouths meow simultaneously. A vet nurse (clearly on the ball) says that something went wrong in the early embryonic developmental stage. Yep, I’d say so. Sadly, the poor little thing died. I have checked whether this is a hoax but it seems to be genuine. Source: The Age

Hello Kitty! hospital. And speaking of cats – a Hello Kitty-themed maternity and pediatric hospital has opened in Yuanlin, Taiwan. Not sure if this qualifies as curious or just plain ridiculous. It’s a 30-bed facility authorised by Sanrio (the creators of the character) and I guess it might bring a smile or two to women having babies. Source: BoingBoing.

December 23, 2008 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

How Curious!

Let’s have a look at some bizarre and curious things going on in our world.

Hide your underwear. Seems there are some birds keen to collect unusual objects such as white socks and English football club flags. Red kites are rare birds of prey, reintroduced four years ago in the UK, and normally known for nabbing clothes from washing lines. But seems these birds now have different collectibles in mind! Red kites went kaput, extinct in the early 1800s. They had rusty red plumage and a wing span of two metres. And now in nests across north-east UK, these glorious birds are breeding again thanks to their reintroduction and collecting odd objects to place in nests. Objects found so far: underwear, flags, a soft toy, a sponge ball, gloves. Well, you know, clothes are made in China mostly these days and they just don’t last. So maybe the kites are pretty smart and going for objects that will last! Source: BBC News. Image credit: Virgin Media

Clean out your library. You never know what you might find! I’ve always fantasized over buying some old books and finding a long, lost letter from George Washington or Marie Antoinette tucked inside the yellowing pages. Seems the Essex Records Office in Chelmsford, UK is living this fantasy. The Records Office was conducting a regular cleaning of missives when, lo and behold, they found a letter from Oliver Cromwell bound in one of the volumes.

The 17th Century statesman and soldier died 350 years ago and is best known for his role in the execution of King Charles I. The letter is dated March 25, 1642 and is a recommendation by Cromwell to promote Captain Dodsworth, who he describes as an “honest, religious and valiant gentleman”. Amazing how items lost for centuries can resurface in unexpected ways. Source: BBC News

Dolphins visit Melbourne. I was in Melbourne last week but I didn’t have time to check out the veracity of this curious story. Three Bottlenose dolphins were spotted in the Yarra River. Now, dolphins don’t normally frolic in the Yarra, so near to a major city, so this is a rare occurrence. But just two weeks ago, two dolphins were glimpsed frolicking in the Maribyrnong River near the Flemington racecourse. Two startled joggers were enjoying a spot of exercise along the Yarra when they saw the dolphins happily swimming. Perhaps they were chasing fish or heading towards Southbank to dine at one of its great restaurants!  Source: The Age

Rogue dentist. I’m off to the dentist tomorrow so this story will serve as a timely remember for me to pay the bill promptly!  Sounds like dentists are feeling the credit crisis. A German dentist showed up one evening at a patient’s home, forced the patient into her living room and tied her up. What happened next is truly bizarre. The dentist forcibly removed two dental bridges from her mouth, worth £320. Apparently, her health insurance had refused to pay for the work. German police are now charging the dentist with assault and theft. Source: The Telegraph

September 28, 2008 at 1:54 am Leave a comment

How Curious!

Time for some fun. Let’s find out what bizarre, intriguing and curious things have been going on in this world of ours.

Beware the closet! A Japanese man living in Fukuoka was puzzled by disappearing food. Tasty morsels would seemingly vanish from his refrigerator. So he installed a security camera and was shocked to see images of a woman brazenly walking around his home while he was out. Being a quick thinking dude, he called the cops who found a woman hiding in the closet. It seems she had been there for a year and had made a comfy place for herself. She had sneaked in a mattress and plastic bottle for water. Apparently, the woman makes a habit of closet hopping from home to home. Now, why the Japanese guy hadn’t noticed towels or soap being used or heard snoring emanating from the closet is a mystery to me! Source: AdelaideNow.

Mac captures thieves. I love my Mac. Now I have more reason to because my Mac is capable of catching bad guys. A young woman returned to her apartment in NYC to find stuff stolen including her Mac laptop. A friend then sent her a text message to say great you’re back online and you’ve recovered your laptop. But…she hadn’t. So clever lady signed on to “Back to my Mac” using another Mac and she remotely activated her Mac’s web cam. Stupid thieves obviously hadn’t thought of this because the woman was able to capture a photo. In another stroke of luck, one of her flatmates recognised a tattoo on the arm of the dude photographed. Turned out the thieves had been in the flat a few weeks earlier attending a party. Source: The Age.

Light bulb glows on. In a fire station in California, an electric light bulb has been glowing for 107 years. It is a low-watt light bulb with that curlicue carbon filament I remember from my grandparent’s house. And this little bulb has now entered the Guinness Book of Records as the planet’s longest continuously burning bulb. Apparently, the light has never been turned off, which experts say is the secret to longevity. I hate to think of the electricity bill though! The little bulb even has its own website. Source: LA Times.

It’s raining iguanas. A recent cold snap in Florida caused frozen iguanas to fall from trees at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne. Dozens of iguanas in suspended animation were found on the bike path in the park. Apparently, they snapped back to life when they warmed up in the sun. Source: FoxNews.

The eyes have it. I confess to a liking for Hello Kitty stuff. I have a Hello Kitty make-up purse to hold the essential item of life (lip gloss of course) and a Hello Kitty mobile phone holder. But I wouldn’t go this far – wearing Hello Kitty contact lenses. That’s a bit creepy. But I must say the Hello Kitty contact lens case is pretty smashing! Source: KittyHell.

June 18, 2008 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

How curious!

I’ve collected some choice stories for ThinkingShift’s How Curious! regular feature. Our world can still be wondrous, bizarre, amusing and touching despite all the cruelty that goes on.

Dinosaur did it. Our first story suggests that giant pterodactyls might still be cruising the skies or that a Washington man pulled over by police has been smoking the whacky tobaccy. A 29-year old dude smashed his car into a streetlight at 11.20pm. The cops arrived and this dude’s excuse – one word – pterodactyl. Now this guy might have been smoking magic mushrooms but reports of giant winged creatures have come out of Africa and people in Texas in 1976 reported sightings of enormous flying creatures with faces like cats. Texas: mmm…isn’t this the home state of Prez Bush? Say no more! So next time you’re faced with explaining things to the cops, simply say the pterodactyl did it. Source: Fortean Times

We’re not that smart. Apparently, the Boskops were smarter than us. The Boskops were early humans who lived in southern Africa between 30,000 and 10,000 years ago. Fossil records tell us they were similar to modern humans but with child-like faces and huge melon-shaped heads that encased a brain 30% larger than our own. And according to a cognitive scientist, the Boskops probably had a mental life beyond anything we can imagine – fabulous memories, more insightful and self-reflective than modern humans. But the jury’s still out on this question as far as I can tell: if they were so smart, why are they extinct? Source: Discover Magazine

Melting mole. Should you need to bore your way through ice, grab the nearest mole. In Antarctica, there are hairless pink mole-like creatures that have body temperatures of 110 degrees. They live in labyrinthine tunnels under the ice and bore their way through ice with their heads, melting it along the way to scoffing a penguin or two. The bony plates on the animals’ heads radiates heat, melting ice so that poor penguins fall through and become dinner. Source: Discover Magazine.

Knut: psychopathic bear. Knut’s a pretty famous and cute polar bear who lives at Berlin Zoo. I have to admit I don’t visit zoos because I hate to see animals as spectator sport, for humans to ogle at. And Knut’s keepers now say that Knut has turned into a publicity seeking psychopath and “a combination of abused child-soldier and abused child-star — treated as a useful spectacle, with too little regard for his long-term psychological well-being”. Apparently, he chucks a hissy fit if he’s not the centre of attention. Sad. Source: The Atlantic.

Caffeine to the rescue. I gave up coffee in January, well reduced my intake really. Maybe that was a bad move. Because it seems that caffeine might just protect the brain from dementia by blocking the damage cholesterol can inflict on the body. The ‘brain blood barrier’ is a filter which protects the central nervous system from harmful chemicals and cholesterol apparently makes this barrier leaky. Caffeine appears to stabilise this barrier. No word on how many coffees per day or whether they can be my beloved vanilla-flavoured lattes. Wonder if caffeine would make our brains grow to the size of the Boskops?! Source: BBC News

April 15, 2008 at 2:00 am 2 comments

How curious!

To kick-start the New Year, let’s have a look at some curious bits and pieces I’ve found.

Glow-in-the-dark kitty. Perhaps you’re tired of the usual assortment of colours cats come in: tan, black, white, gray, marmalade, chocolate. So why not colour-coordinate so kitty matches your personal colour scheme preference? Scientists first cloned a cat in 2002 (the cat was named Copycat – how droll) but not content to just clone felines, researchers have now found a way to change the colour of cats. By modifying a gene, the enterprising scientists have produced the planet’s first red cloned cat (seems the colour palette is limited to red at the moment, so if red’s not your fav colour, bummer). The photo above shows two cloned Turkish Angola kittens (cute!). Due to the red fluorescence protein in their skin cells, the kittens look reddish under ultraviolet light.

I would think this would be a most useful feline feature should you have trouble finding kitty in the dark. Here’s a video of the glow-in-the-dark cats.

Source: The Korea Times

A beetle of many colours: staying with the colour theme, there’s a golden beetle species in Panama that can do its very own colour-changing trick without the need for gene modification. If it desires, the Panamanian tortoise beetle can turn brick-red in less than two minutes. This is not due to external temperature changes. The beetle can alter the flow of fluid in its ecoskeleton, which consists of 20 to 40 layers. Apparently, when the beetle is wet, wavelengths of light bounce off the ecoskeleton due to the porous nature of the layers and gives the beetle an overall glossy golden colour. But when the beetle has dried off, the light doesn’t bounce off evenly and the ecoskeleton becomes translucent, revealing red pigment. The colour-changing trick could have implications for biomimicry. If a house plant dries out, for instance, the pot could change colour to warn that the plant needs watering. Source: Discover Magazine

Don’t bug a cockroach in the morning. If you’re not a morning person, well you have some company: neither are cockroaches. Scientists have found that the learning ability of cockroaches is pretty kaput in the morning, but by evening, they’re raring to go with learning tasks and it’s the first example of an insect whose ability to learn is controlled by its biological clock. Now, I was more interested in what on earth scientists are teaching cockroaches. It seems they were taught to associate peppermint, which they don’t like, with sugar water so they would favour peppermint over one of their favourite smells – vanilla. Apparently, the bugs trained at night could remember the smell association for several days, but their morning trained counterparts were incapable of learning anything new, let alone remembering it. Mmmm….better get that vanilla out of my pantry or start training cockroaches fast! Source: Reuters.

How much would you pay for dessert? Well, if you have a spare US$14,500, you can savour the taste of the world’s most expensive dessert. A Sri Lankan hotel is serving up a chocolate pudding but this is no ordinary choc pud. This pudding includes a gemstone – an 80 carat aquamarine. The dessert sits on a pedestal with a model of a fisherman perched on a stilt and contains chocolate, champagne, caramelised sugar and the gemstone. This culinary experience costs seven times the average national income and so far only one dessert has been ordered. Let’s hope the person didn’t choke on the gemstone. Source: BBC News.

Japanese mutant ninja mice. Back to messing around with animals’ genetic make-up – a Japanese university professor has been interfering with the receptors in the olfactory bulb of mice and has produced fearless mice. Normally, a mouse gets a whiff of a cat and runs fast in the opposite direction. But because the part of the brain that processes information about smell has been blocked, the mice are so fearless they actually play with their nemesis as if they were long-lost friends. Mind you, the cat in the video below is Mochikko-chan, a cat that was specifically selected for the demonstration because of her docile nature. But still this mouse is pretty game!

January 4, 2008 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

How curious!

Let’s forget the surveillance society stuff for a moment and take a look at how odd and curious this fascinating world of ours can sometimes be. For your enjoyment – a collection of stories that strike me as very curious.

Take that, you nasty snake! Should you be enjoying a leisurely stroll with your beloved canine and unexpectedly come across a giant Burmese python, don’t worry. Follow these simple instructions. Simply fling yourself at the snake whilst your pet dog is being twisted and crushed by the python. Pull your dog’s legs out of the python’s grip. Have another dog nearby yapping away – this will distract the python whilst you’re tussling with it and give you encouragement. Since a python can weigh up to 100kg, you should probably not be a stick insect. Grapple with the snake until it’s had enough and slithers away.

Believe it or not, this close up and personal with a snake happened recently in Hong Kong. Catherine Leonard and her dog, Poppy, were minding their own business when a slithery Burmese python spoilt their day. Poppy was rescued by her fearless owner. Source: Mail & Guardian Online.

Or…find a squirrel. If you can’t stomach the notion of flinging yourself at a giant python, then quickly look around for a squirrel to do your dirty work for you. Squirrels have a very curious capability – they can heat up their tails to fend off snakes, rattlesnakes to be precise. Not sure if this works with all snakes. The thermal-signalling of the squirrel causes angst for the rattlesnake as they are heat-sensitive. The squirrel vigorously waves its tail, which signals the snake “watch out, I’m ready to rock and roll”. Source: National Geographic.

Have goat, will travel. Qantas may want to follow Nepal Airline’s practice of sacrificing a goat or two should there be technical problems. A Boeing 757 was apparently experiencing an electrical fault, so a couple of goats were sacrificed in front of the plane before it took off for Hong Kong from Kathmandu airport. It arrived safely in Hong Kong. The goats were sacrificed to appease a Hindu god. Next time I board an aircraft, I’ll take a moment to check out the tarmac. Source: BBC News.

Throw away your tinfoil hat. You’ve probably heard that some conspiracy theorists think that tinfoil hats may prevent the Government from reading your thoughts. Hey, I don’t think the Government is that smart anyway. But in February 2005, a group of scientists from MIT conducted rigorous tests on the mind-ray blocking powers of the tinfoil hat and found…..while tinfoil hats mostly had a modest attenuating effect, they in fact amplified signals on certain frequencies, namely 1.2 – 1.4 Ghz – the range allocated to the US government. Yikes! Just when I was going to order a tinfoil hat in hot pink! Source: Fortean Times.

Should you encounter a burglar in your house. Offer a glass of wine and a group hug. A group of friends were dining on the back patio of their house in Washington, when a masked robber suddenly appeared, brandishing a gun and demanding money. After some stunned silence, one guest asked “Why don’t you have a glass of wine with us?“. The intruder (clearly no idiot) had a sip of their Chateau Malescot St-Exupery and said, “Damn, that’s good wine” and also nibbled on some Camembert. Obviously delighted by the hospitality, the intruder announced that he had clearly come to the wrong house and asked for a group hug. The five adults complied and the group hug was followed by the would-be burglar dashing off into the night. Source: CBS News.

Lock up your cat. Just in case “fur with attitude” (aka domestic cat) is mistaken for a feral cat, you’d better lock up the moggy if you live in Australia. We have a problem with feral cats that roam the Outback. No issue really: we Australians are a pretty innovative bunch and we love our culinary delights. The solution? Cook up some wild cat stew. Recently, a contest in Alice Springs featured a wild cat casserole recipe. Not having snacked on a wild cat, I can’t give you first hand experience of the taste, but it is apparently a cross between rabbit and chicken. I’m intrigued by the recipe. I can’t find step by step instructions, but somehow you’ve gotta go out and track your cat, wrestle it to the ground and then….well, let’s just say the meat is added to a pot with lemon grass and quandong (sweet desert fruit).Simmer for 5 hours then serve up garnished with bush plums and mistletoe berries. Very timely recipe: now I know what to serve up at my next dinner party. Source: BBC News.

National Geographic imageI, Clawdius? Forget the cats inhabiting the Forum in Rome. There’s a whole bunch of fearless crabs lurking in the ruins. The Roman crabs—of the species Potamon fluviatile—were discovered in in 1997. They must like life amongst the ruins because they grow to around 8 cm long, whereas crabs in the wild grow to around 5 cm. Gigantism is an animal response to isolation. Apparently, they’ve been there for at least a thousand years before the complex was completed in AD 112. Source: National Geographic.

September 29, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

How curious!

This is the fourth outing for ThinkingShift’s How Curious! category. There are so many weird, wonderful, bizarre and curious items I could bring you that I struggle to reduce things to just four or five items per How Curious! feature. But I have some good ones for us today.

Will the fish suffer? There’s a bizarre experiment going on in Finland. Some poor salmon, trout, pike and perch, species common to Finland’s coastal waters, will be subjected to Uriah Heep. Who or what is Uriah Heep you may ask (had to look this one up for myself). According to Wikipedia, Uriah Heep was (and still is) a British rock band active since the 1960s. The aging rockers will perform a ‘fish concert’ for 3,000 fans, including said fish. The point? To see if the fish suffer any distress or abnormal behaviour. The Finnish researcher behind this experiment says: “It could be quite nasty to arrange such an aquarium and a performance venue (so close to the fish) especially when the (band) is a bit old-fashioned.” Eh? Why Uriah Heep I ask? The fish might want something a bit more contemporary rather than some old rock and roll dudes. I haven’t found out yet what the results of the experiment are and whether the fish jumped out of their aquarium with the first loud twang of a 1960s guitar! Source: Reuters

Thinking of a new career? Being a Kiwi, it is with a twinge of embarrassment that I bring you this story. Should you be fed up with your career, you may soon be able to enrol in a new tertiary course in New Zealand. Education types are in full discussion over in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Courses in prostitution (yes, you read correctly) are being considered. But said courses would need to meet stringent funding criteria: “… meet minimum quality standards, demonstrate genuine community need and meet Government priorities laid out in the Tertiary Education Strategy”. Now, I’m just not going to ask how they’d be assessing quality; I’m not sure what the community need would be; and I’d love to see the Strategy! Would this be a three year course I wonder? And being a Uni lecturer myself, I’d be intrigued to see the Subject Outline – perhaps, History and Philosophy of an Ancient Art; Dressing for Success; You and Your Client. Source: NZ Herald.

Pride and Embarrassment. I’m sure you’ve read Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, probably at school. Her book has been in publication for over 200 years and been retold in numerous films. But in today’s cut throat publishing world filled with piranhas, sorry literary agents – would Austen get published in a Potter-mad world? An enterprising Austen enthusiast made only minor changes and sent off opening chapters and plot synopses to 18 of the UK’s largest publishers and agents. Guess what? All 18 turned down Austen’s work with a resounding “no thanks”. What’s really curious to me is that only one of the 18 recognised Austen’s work. Hello? Austen’s book was retitled to First Impressions but the opening line remained the same: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife“. Source: Guardian Unlimited.

Leave the iPod at home. I have a sleek black iPod for when I’m out and about exercising. I occasionally jog (I’m more a treadmill hamster) but news from Canada has caused me to rethink. Apparently, iPods, jogging and lightning is one electrifying mix. A 37-year old jogger decided to brave a thunderstorm and jog whilst listening to his iPod. Alas, lightning struck a near-by tree and directly traced a path through the metal in the jogger’s earphones, burning his chest, neck and face. It must have been one heck of an explosive trip – the poor chap’s eardrums were ruptured and the bones in his middle ear were dislocated. Not to mention his jaw broke in four places. This brave dude still jogs but he leaves the iPod at home. Smart. Source: Reuters.

Rethink that trip to the Congolese jungle. I remember studying H. Rider Haggard novels at University and thinking how the steamy, impenetrable African jungle must be full of undiscovered animals and fierce, exotic tribes. Okay, long time ago; but seems I might not have been that wrong. Did you know that deep in the Congolese jungle are some chimps, giant ones at that, who kill lions, catch fish and howl at the moon? Yep, this fact eluded me too. Seems local lore speaks of a hybrid creature: a chimp gorilla, which has remained hidden to scientists due to the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some intrepid scientists have managed to push through the region and croc-infested waters and discovered not a hybrid but unique, super-sized chimps who love a bit of cat-flesh. They are called the Bill Apes (named after a near-by town – I reckon a better name could be found for these chimps. If they’re super-sized, maybe McChimps?!). They’re obviously pretty fierce as they sleep in nests on the ground and are not afraid of encountering a leopard, buffalo or elephant. These chimps like to smash things around, such as hard-shelled fruits and snails, and use sticks up to 2.5 metres long to catch fish. Not sure why they are said to howl at the moon. Think I’ll take the Congolese jungle off my list of “Must Visit” holiday spots! Source: Guardian Unlimited.

August 11, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

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