Posts filed under ‘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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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