John Marshall lives on Frye Island, Maine, which is a lovely spot in the middle of Sebago Lake. The sunsets on his beach are gorgeous and he takes full advantage of them with his silhouette art. Marshall cuts cardboard props and sits with them as the sun goes down. The results are funny stories of encounters with animals and monsters.
As previously noted, animal behaviorists have deteremined that the direction of a dog's tail wag indicates emotional mood. This discovery led Yannis Tsampalis and his colleagues to create TailTalk--a device that will read those tail movements and report them to humans. They've founded a company called DogStar Life to develop and market this product. Yahoo News reports:
TailTalk transmits the emotional data to a companion app for iOS and Android via Bluetooth. Ideally, the information will enable owners to emphasize the environments, people, toys and so forth that bring their pets the most happiness, while avoiding stress inducers. […]
“If you know that your dog is really unhappy during the day, it’s probably in the best interest of both of you to have a dog walker or dog sitter come over,” he suggested. “We feel that pet parents are wonderful, but if they had more data, they can probably make better decisions and create a stronger bond between them and their dog.”
The rabbits in the novel Watership Down can count up to four. Any number higher than that is "hrair", which means "more than four" but is often translated as "a thousand."
This is not dissimilar to the way in which many technologically primitive human societies count. Michael Erard writes in the magazine Science:
For some cultures, big numbers just don’t make sense. Take the shepherd who knows that he has the right number of sheep not by counting them one by one but by grasping the gestalt of his flock. That may sound strange to people from other cultures, says Patience Epps, a linguist at the University of Texas, Austin. Indeed, she says she’s often asked by incredulous Americans how people with few numerals know, for instance, how many children they have. When she asks this of the Amazonian tribe she works with, “they look at me like it’s a weird question. They list the names, they count on their fingers, but they don’t go around with a quantity in their heads,” she says.
From her research the Amazon, Epps found that once tribes began regularly trading with each other, higher numbers became a necessity. The tipping point in number formation, linguist Claire Bowern found in her study of a group of Australian languages, is the number five:
Surprisingly, they tended to acquire numerals in bunches, leaping from five numerals to 10 or 20, for example. The numeral five was often the tipping point—once a system reached five, it was likely to add more numerals, up to 20. As a result, numeral systems with five as an upper limit are rare in Pama-Nyungan languages.
“This is surprising, given the predominance of fingers and toes as things to count,” Bowern notes. Adding or losing the numeral four was the most frequent change. (The words for “four” were most often composed out of words for “two,” not by creating or borrowing a new word that means “four,” showing how the numeral systems evolved.)
Bowern thinks that numerals were added in clusters for practical reasons: If you need to count above five, you probably need to go higher than seven or eight as well. And she speculates that perhaps a cognitive shift occurs at about five. “Once you generalize beyond five or so, it becomes easier to generalize to an infinite system.”
He calls it handskating--no, extreme handskating. And it is. Mirko Hanßen possesses extraordinary coordination, balance, and upper body strength. While wearing rollerblades, he can flip over from hands to feet and back again, all while moving at high speed. He can perform jumps, use ramps, and weave through obstacles upside down with skates attached to his hands.
Researchers at Indiana University found that women who have sexual intercourse even while they were not ovulating were more likely to become pregnant than women who had sex only while ovulating. Physiological changes resulting from non-fertile sexual congress increased the likelihood of conception. Eureka Alert quotes lead study author Tierney Lorenz:
"It's a common recommendation that partners trying to have a baby should engage in regular intercourse to increase the woman's changes of getting pregnant -- even during so-called 'non-fertile' periods -- although it's unclear how this works," Lorenz said. "This research is the first to show that the sexual activity may cause the body to promote types of immunity that support conception.
"It's a new answer to an old riddle: How does sex that doesn't happen during the fertile window still improve fertility?"
Women in the study who had regular non-procreative sex were preparing their immune systems to accept conception:
"We're actually seeing the immune system responding to a social behavior: sexual activity," Lorenz said. "The sexually active women's immune systems were preparing in advance to the mere possibility of pregnancy."
Both studies contribute to a growing body of evidence that the immune system isn't a passive system that waits to react to outside threats, but a highly proactive system that changes in response to external cues, such as the physical environment and social behavior.
During the past week, areas of South Carolina have experienced major flooding. When fire ants, the dominant life form in South Carolina, encounter a flood, they form enormous rafts using their own bodies. Entire colonies consisting of thousands of them can clump together in floating islands consisting entirely of painful red bites. Brian Clark Howard of National Geographic explains how these fire ant rafts work:
When waters start to flood a fire ant colony, they take evasive action. Worker ants link legs and mouths together, weaving a raft in a process that can take less than two minutes (see pictures).
The ants move their queen and larvae to the center of the raft, where they stay high and dry on top of the mass of bodies. The fine coat of hairs on the ants traps enough air that those on the bottom layer of the raft avoid being completely submerged.
Fire ants can survive in a raft up to several weeks, though they must eventually reach dry land if they are to restart their colony. In the water, they face constant danger from predators, particularly fish, who pick them off one by one. If enough ants are removed, the whole colony can collapse.
Daniel Drake is constantly creative. He's the frontman for the band Psych Squared, writes comic books, does graphic design, and makes pancakes that almost look like photos. With a griddle, a spatula, and carefully colored pancake batter, he can compose portraits that go well with syrup, such as this one that looks like Sam Winchester, a character on the TV show Supernatural.
This isn't just cooking, but a performance art. Drake is available to fry his custom pancakes at parties and other entertainment venues.
In a traditional tabletop role-playing game, the players' imaginations make an adventure an immersive experience. I've seen some game masters use audio soundtracks to enhance this experience. Here's a new sensory tool to make traditional RPGs even more realistic: scents for particular scenarios.
Jennifer Howlett is the founder of Adventure Scents, a line of aromatic beads carefully selected to reflect common role-playing game situations. They include Horse Stables, Rowdy Tavern, Fishing Docks, Pirate Ship, Enchanted Forest, Dusty Library, Moldy Crypt, Roman Bathhouse, and Fetid Swamp.
Which one should you choose? Howlett makes suggestions with the Scent-O-Matic--an interactive tool that helps game masters select scents by game, fantasy setting, entertainment franchise, and location.
You're about to leave the building when you realize that it's raining. You have an umbrella at home, but you didn't bring it with you. Do you have to just get wet?
Here are Amir Entezari and Babak Asad standing before an UmbraCity kiosk--their solution to this common problem. Sign up for the program, then swipe a credit card. The machine dispenses an umbrella. If you return it to a kiosk within 2 days, it's free. If you don't return the umbrella, the system charges $2 per day for up to 10 days.
Entezari and Asad are debuting their program at 5 locations on the campus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Your ravishing good looks, charming personality, and flair for romantic gestures help you. But what will likely predict your ability to maintain a committed relationship over time is your credit score. That's the conclusion of a paper by the Federal Reserve Board. The paper surveyed 12 million consumers participating in the Equifax credit reporting agency for a 15-year period. The Washington Post reports on the findings:
They found that people with higher (i.e. better) credit scores are more likely to form a committed relationship, as the chart below shows. This was true even after controlling for other differences between partners, like education level, race or income.
The researchers also found that having higher credit scores when they started the relationship meant that couples were less likely to separate over the next few years, as the chart below shows. In fact, for every extra 100 points in the couple's average credit score when beginning the relationship, their odds of splitting in the second year fell by around 30 percent.
His legal name is Santa Claus. He's running for the city council of North Pole, Alaska. The election is today. Last Thursday, he filed paperwork to run as a write-in candidate for an open seat. So he's not on the ballot and will count on people voting for him based on his reputation alone.
Santa Claus previously ran for President of the United States in 2012. You can watch his campaign announcement here. FYI: he lost. So now he's setting his sights a bit lower. Good luck, Santa!
By the mid-1960s, half of the revenue came from takeout orders. In 1965, Pizza Hut issued its first television commercial with this market in mind. It shows a man ordering pizza over his home phone, then driving to pick it up. He's using a tiny Junior Central brand Ford Mustang go-kart.
One surprise for me: the pizza doesn't come in boxes, but in paper bags.
When it debuted in 1975, Jaws terrified audiences and made its movie production studio rich. This led to three sequels in 1978, 1983, and 1987. The last one, Jaws: The Revenge secured seven Golden Raspberry Awards and is widely regarded as among the worst sequels ever made.
Nonetheless, it was commercial success, earning more than $51 million in box office receipts, which was more than twice the production cost. So Universal Pictures continued to make Jaws movies, as we can see in Back to the Future II. When Mary McFly visits October 21, 2015, he sees an advertisement for Jaws 19. Here's a trailer that Universal recently made for Marty's future and ours.
Etsy seller Andrea y Diego makes storage benches that are shaped and colored like blocks from the classic video game Tetris. Each square of her 5-piece set is 20 centimeters across, so the units are about 40 cm deep. They're made of artificial leather and wood.
Be careful: if you arrange the blocks so that the form a horizontal line, it disappears. Don't interlock them.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) was one of the leading French painters of the Impressionist movement. He painted scenes of everyday life in France, portraits, landscapes, and nudes. He was world famous in his own day and remains loved and appreciated in art museums around the world.
But don't tell that to Max Geller, the owner of the Instagram account Renoir Sucks at Painting. He and his compatriots are appalled that the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has chosen to exhibit Renoir's work. That's why on Monday they protested in front of the museum. MassLive reports:
One sign harkened to ones held by members of the Westboro Baptist Church, read "GOD HATES RENOIR." Another read, "We're not iconoclasts, Renoir just SUCKS at painting." One kept it simple, stated, "reNOir." [...]
The small group chanted protests in unison such as, "Other art is worth our while, Renoir paints a steaming pile."
They call him the Candy King. Like Michael Jackson, the original King of Pop, David Shtorm is a master dancer. But he's more than that. He's a cotton candy vendor. When you visit his street stand, you get more than just a tasty treat. You get a performance that combines Michael Jackson's music, dancing, and cotton candy spinning. You can see more of Shtorm's videos at Rocket News 24.
Amy of the great food blog Oh, Bite It! offers a recipe that looks both delicious and simple. She cut fresh pears in half, removed the cores, and added canned cinnamon rolls. When baked, they filled the holes to create a piping hot treat with an original flavor combination. Amy then added frosting and cinnamon on top. She also suggests ice cream, which sounds like a great idea!
Austin Crecelius took his girlfriend, Allison Boyle, on The Voyage, a huge wooden roller coaster at the Holiday World amusement park in Santa Claus, Indiana. As they neared the top of an incline, Crecelius turned to Boyle and said:
At one point in time, you had mentioned to me that life is like a roller coaster. And it's got its ups and downs, it's got its twists and turns, and it even throws you for a loop sometimes. And you can go by yourself, but it's a lot more fun to go along with another person. So I wanted to ask you if you wanted to be my roller coaster buddy. Allison, will you marry me?
Boyle said yes! Then, immediately, the roller coaster plunged down.
You have a cat. Now what beer should you get? Not just any cheap party fuel will work for a cat of quality. The Instagram account Beer Cats is filled with pictures of cats next to craft beers. In this case, Rosie the cat is best enjoyed with Prairie Ales Limo Tint, a chocolate beer.
Or to be safe, do the first three: purge your social media, lock it down, then run a dummy. LinkedIn at work, Snapchat at home, and never the twain shall meet.
Every semester, I have my students try to find dirt on themselves online. I teach them my personal rule on the subject: assume that everything that you post online can be read by everyone in your life, or who will ever be in your life.
Rocket News 24 tells us that this is called shokkiri--a comedic sumo performance. This is not a serious match, but a carefully coordinated and rehearsed routine between men who are masters of both sumo and physical comedy. I've selected a few choice scenes and turned them into animated .gifs.
The design studio THISLEXIK makes novel pieces of furniture that attract selective tastes. We've previously seen their stool made entirely of blue jeans and resin. Now designer Vedat Ulgen offers the Peak Series, a furniture line that gives owners a combination of "aesthetics, science, humor, and a touch of surprise." It includes this chair of transparent acrylic that has a planter for a cactus. If you sit in it, you appear to hover over danger.
Harvard's crack debate team was taken by surprise. Its members didn't expect that their opponents, inmates from the Eastern New York Correctional Facility, to offer much of a challenge. But the judges ruled that the prisoners, who are participating in a rigorous educational program offered by Bard College, had won. The topic was this resolution: "Public schools in the United States should have the ability to deny enrollment to undocumented students." The Wall Street Journal reports on the battle:
The audience burst into applause. That included about 75 of the prisoners’ fellow students at the Bard Prison Initiative, which offers a rigorous college experience to men at Eastern New York Correctional Facility, in the Catskills. […]
The Harvard team members said they were impressed by the prisoners’ preparation and unexpected line of argument. “They caught us off guard,” said Anais Carell, a 20-year-old junior from Chicago.
The prison team had its first debate in spring 2014, beating the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Then, it won against a nationally ranked team from the University of Vermont, and in April lost a rematch against West Point.
Have a heart, Moses. They'll never have a surfing opportunity like this ever again. In fact, since they're facing 40 years in the desert wilderness, so they won't be able to surf at all. Let them have one last ride.
Since she was 5 years old, Sharina Jones of Detroit, Michigan has used a wheelchair. When she recently became a mom, she found a new obstacle to overcome: it was impossible to use a conventional stroller while in her wheelchair.
That's where 16-year old Alden Kane stepped in. He designed and built this prototype stroller that clamps onto Jones's wheelchair. Her baby's car seat fits snugly into the top. Now Jones can easily take her baby around by herself. Fox 2 reports:
The young engineer spent months working on the project, making sure it would be comfortable for Mom and for baby. So, using lightweight steel tubing, this baby carrier easily clamps onto the chair and then the baby's car seat seat snugly sets right in.
So far, the prototype is a huge hit.
"After six months of hard work, six months of working in the machine shop designing it up, it was priceless seeing the design on her wheelchair, being used with her child in it," Alden says.