Move over, Ian McKellen! Country legend Willie Nelson is aiming to play Gandalf in The Hobbit 2. Here's his audition tape, courtesy of Team Coco - I dare say he's a shoo-in for the role, dontcha think? Link - Thanks Diana Chang!
Travis Jonker and his team work at an elementary school library. They had some old auditorium seats left over from renovations. They were functional as seating, but Jonker and his co-workers turned them into advertisements for works of children's literature. Click on Continue reading to view more.
Photos: Mark Lorch
Here's a nifty weekend science project that you can do with your kids: make a DNA from jelly babies and licorice. Mark Lorch of The Guardian's Notes & Theories tells us how:
Two long, flexible sweets, such as liquorice ribbons.
A few handfuls of soft, highly coloured sweets, such as jelly babies or marshmallows.
And the best part? Eating 'em at the end!
Peter Nonacs, professor of biology at UCLA, teaches Game Theory in his Behavioral Ecology course. He told his students that for an upcoming exam, they could do anything that would normally be considered cheating:
A week before the test, I told my class that the Game Theory exam would be insanely hard—far harder than any that had established my rep as a hard prof. But as recompense, for this one time only, students could cheat. They could bring and use anything or anyone they liked, including animal behavior experts. (Richard Dawkins in town? Bring him!) They could surf the Web. They could talk to each other or call friends who’d taken the course before. They could offer me bribes. (I wouldn’t take them, but neither would I report it to the dean.) Only violations of state or federal criminal law such as kidnapping my dog, blackmail, or threats of violence were out of bounds. [...]
Once the shock wore off, they got sophisticated. In discussion section, they speculated, organized, and plotted. What would be the test’s payoff matrix? Would cooperation be rewarded or counter-productive? Would a large group work better, or smaller subgroups with specified tasks? What about “scroungers” who didn’t study but were planning to parasitize everyone else’s hard work? How much reciprocity would be demanded in order to share benefits? Was the test going to play out like a dog-eat-dog Hunger Games? In short, the students spent the entire week living Game Theory. It transformed a class where many did not even speak to each other into a coherent whole focused on a single task—beating their crazy professor’s nefarious scheme.
On the day of the hour-long test they faced a single question: “If evolution through natural selection is a game, what are the players, teams, rules, objectives, and outcomes?”
Most students responded by working together:
One student immediately ran to the chalkboard, and she began to organize the outputs for each question section. The class divided tasks. They debated. They worked on hypotheses. Weak ones were rejected, promising ones were developed. Supportive evidence was added. A schedule was established for writing the consensus answers. (I remained in the room, hoping someone would ask me for my answers, because I had several enigmatic clues to divulge. But nobody thought that far afield!) As the test progressed, the majority (whom I shall call the “Mob”) decided to share one set of answers. Individuals within the Mob took turns writing paragraphs, and they all signed an author sheet to share the common grade. Three out of the 27 students opted out (I’ll call them the “Lone Wolves”). Although the Wolves listened and contributed to discussions, they preferred their individual variants over the Mob’s joint answer.
In the end, the students learned what social insects like ants and termites have known for hundreds of millions of years. To win at some games, cooperation is better than competition. Unity that arises through a diversity of opinion is stronger than any solitary competitor.
But that wasn't the end of of Prof. Nonacs's instruction:
But did the students themselves realize this? To see, I presented the class with one last evil wrinkle two days later, after the test was graded but not yet returned. They had a choice, I said. Option A: They could get the test back and have it count toward their final grade. Option B: I would—sight unseen—shred the entire test. Poof, the grade would disappear as if it had never happened. But Option B meant they would never see their results; they would never know if their answers were correct.
“Oh, my, can we think about this for a couple of days?” they begged. No, I answered. More heated discussion followed. It was soon apparent that everyone had felt good about the process and their overall answers. The students unanimously chose to keep the test. Once again, the unity that arose through a diversity of opinion was right. The shared grade for the Mob was 20 percent higher than the averages on my previous, more normal, midterms. Among the Lone Wolves, one scored higher than the Mob, one about the same, and one scored lower
It's a shame such grand homes are built and now no one lives in them. Most are abandoned because restoring them to safe living conditions simply costs too much. See nine such mansions and castles at io9. Shown here is Château Miranda in Belgium, built in 1866 and empty since 1991 due to a property dispute with the government. Link -via the Presurfer
(Image credit: Flickr user Paul-Henri S)
Boston native Hilary Sargent, also known as Chartgirl, made a chart about the various media and news outlets and how well they covered the Boston marathon bombing story. You'll have to click twice enlarge it at the link to read all the information. Which news outlet got the facts right? Which advertised pressure cookers on sale? Who identified the wrong people as the bombers? Who used Photoshop on the photographs? It's all here in the handy chart. Link -via Boing Boing
In Russia, Victory Day is May 9, a day to commemorate the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II. Look closely at this billboard promoting the holiday. It has a Soviet flag, but the soldiers are taken from Joe Rosenthal's photograph "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima," which shows the U.S. victory over the Japanese in the 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima. Yes, it's been flipped horizontally, so maybe no one will notice. See more at English Russia. Link -via Buzzfeed
This is Harvard Square as you've never seen it before -and you'll probably never see it again without people. Boston was on lockdown earlier today, as police looked for the fugitive bomber (and they got him). Citizens were told to stay home and stay inside during the sweep. Some took advantage of the eerie situation to photograph the city with empty streets. See more of them in a collection at NBC. Link -via Fark
(Image credit: someaunty)
Wen Hsu of Jilin, China didn't want his water pipes to freeze. So, just as many people around the world, he turned on the tap. And left it on...all winter:
Wen Hsu, 58, had lived on the seventh floor of the property scheduled for demolition to make way for a new shopping centre for 35 years and when developers managed to buy all the other flats in the building - he was left as the only resident.
As winter approached and it got colder Hsu was worried that the uninsulated water pipes running up through the unused and unheated flats below him would freeze, leaving him without running water. So in order to keep the temperature of the pipes above freezing he simply switched on the tap – and then diverted the warm water to flow down the side of the building.
Link -Thanks, Wifey!
Image via Joey deVilla
I'm at a loss of what to say about today's tragedy in Boston, but perhaps this quote from Mr. Rogers is appropriate:
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."
Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Got toxins in your bloodstream? Soak 'em up with science!
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have created a nanosponge that can remove a broad class of dangerous toxins from the bloodstream:
These nanosponges, which thus far have been studied in mice, can neutralize "pore-forming toxins," which destroy cells by poking holes in their cell membranes. Unlike other anti-toxin platforms that need to be custom synthesized for individual toxin type, the nanosponges can absorb different pore-forming toxins regardless of their molecular structures. In a study against alpha-haemolysin toxin from MRSA, pre-innoculation with nanosponges enabled 89 percent of mice to survive lethal doses.
We don't need train stations the way we once did, but the buildings were built too nicely to not use them in some way or another. Those decommissioned stations have become homes, hotels, museums, libraries, and other facilities, and some of them are out of this world gorgeous. Shown here is the Grand Concourse restaurant in Pittsburgh. See a selection of the best at Flavorwire. Link
This sign at Roots Bistro in Houston was up long enough this weekend to have its picture snapped and posted to Twitter. The manager later said it was only up for about ten minutes.
When contacted about the sign and its intentions, a manager on duty who identified himself as Kenneth offered the following explanation: "That sign is not up now. It was up literally for 10 minutes and it was pulled down."
"We'll go on the Internet and look at other businesses and what they post on their signs," Kenneth said. "Another business had posted it," Kenneth continued, and the employee who put together Roots Bistro's marquee apparently took that as a cue that the message was somehow acceptable.
"Obviously no one here would condone any type of violence, domestic or otherwise," Kenneth said, although he couldn't explain why no one thought the sign was tacky, tasteless or offensive until a customer dining on the patio pointed it out.
Protip: being on the internet does not necessarily make something acceptable. The slogan was replaced with a new message on the marquee that says, "Seriously focus your energy on equal rights." Link -via Fark
(Image credit: Scott Wilson)
The photographer behind a Swedish-language photo blog captured this image two Common Goldeneye ducklings flying for the first time. Flap harder, baby ducks!
(Image credit: Pierre Dalous/Kookaburra 81)
The winners of the Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year Contest 2012 have been announced. This is their seventh annual contest, and the winners were selected by votes from active Wikimedia project members. The picture above, of a pair of European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) by Pierre Dalous, came in first place. Continue reading to see the rest of the 12 top vote-getters.
Remember the amazing Skidboot? The dog was a legend. Skidboot and his owner David Hartwig show off a little in this clip. These guys have probably done this routine a million times, but it's still impressive, and downright humorous. After watching this, you'll probably want to go back and watch the full report we posted a few years ago. -via Tastefully Offensive
Don't enable her. The only way to help her stop crafting is to get all of that yarn completely out of her system.
-via Makin'ology | Image: unknown
Boris the cameraman has a thick head of curly hair. When the crew was shooting footage at the Nambiti Private Game Reserve in South Africa, a serval became fascinated with it. The grooming session that followed was recorded for posterity. That the kind of experience you never forget!
Photo: Sebastian Saarloos
It was 10 degrees below zero, with 30 mph winds in the Alaskan wild, where the nearest town was 50 miles away, but Sebastian Saarloos came out alive and with this gorgeous souvenir: a magnificent photograph of a moondog.
In this image, the first quarter moon is flanked on both sides of a halo by "mock moons," also known as paraselenae or "moondogs." The apparitions are formed when moonlight is refracted through thin, plate-shaped ice crystals in cirrus clouds. They are easy to spot at an angle of 22 degrees from the moon when it is low in the sky.
SPACE.com has the story: Link
Stairs are so plebeian! The Manhattan elites rock climb up and then slide down tubular steel slide in this gorgeous penthouse apartment dubbed the Skyhouse, as designed by architect David Hotson.
First, climb up the steel beam in the middle of the living room:
Then enter the gleaming stainless steel slide, which entrance is cut in a hole on a seamless glass wall:
Then you go down, down, down ...
We love the work of Hong Yi, an artist who "likes to paint, but not with a paintbrush." For her latest project, she's creating images with her food, one each day for the month of March. You can view them all at her Instagram feed.
We kids would jump onto the back steps of the slow-moving, horse-drawn ice wagons and steal a chip or two; the ice smelled vaguely of manure but cooled palm and tongue.
People on West 110th Street, where I lived, were a little too bourgeois to sit out on their fire escapes, but around the corner on 111th and farther uptown mattresses were put out as night fell, and whole families lay on those iron balconies in their underwear.
Reading the essay might make you feel cooler, or at least appreciate the modern convenience of air conditioning. Link -via Metafilter
(Image credit: Arthur Leipzig)
We all have an increasing number of sites and online services we’re members of, and sometimes it all gets a little overwhelming. At times, we just need to delete our memberships to some sites, either in an effort to simplify our lives or just because we’ve grown tired of a particular site or service.
What we often don’t realize when signing up for all these accounts, though, is how difficult it can be to permanently delete our accounts when we’ve had enough. Some require complicated, multi-step processes that can stretch over the course of days (or weeks). Others take less time, but still require multiple steps by the user.
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