John Farrier's Blog Posts

Hudson River Fish Evolve Incredibly Quickly

Fish in the Hudson River (US) have developed an immunity to polychlorinated biphenyls, a type of toxic chemicals developed in 1929. They've done so at an amazing speed:

"This is very, very ra­­­­­­­­­­­­pid evolutionary change," said Isaac Wirgin, an environmental toxicologist at New York University’s School of Medicine, and the study's lead investigator. "Normally you think of evolution occurring in thousands to millions of years. You’re talking about all this occurring in 20 to 50 generations maybe.”

The fish in question is called the tomcod, and scientists have determined the specific gene which has changed:

It turns out the fish sport a handy modification to a gene encoding a protein known to regulate the toxic effects of PCBs and related chemicals, called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor2, or AHR2.

The fish are missing six base pairs of DNA of the AHR2 gene, and the two amino acids each triplet would code for. PCBs bind poorly to the mutated receptors, apparently blunting the chemicals' effects.

The adaptation occurs almost universally in Hudson River tomcod, but crops up only infrequently in two other tomcod populations—in Connecticut’s Niantic River and the Shinnecock Bay at Long Island’s south shore.

Link via reddit | Photo: Mark Mattson, Normandeau Associates

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Propeller-Powered Skis Can Move a Man 25 MPH

(Video Link)

Sergei Khvalin made a propeller, attached it to a 200 cc lawnmower engine, and strapped the assembly to his back. This clever gadget can move him as fast as 25 MPH.


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IKEA Instructions for Stonehenge

What was the purpose for Stonehenge? Was it a calendar, an observatory, or a sacrificial site? These suggestions by archaeologists assume that it was a completed design instead of a project left half-finished because the assembly instructions were provided by IKEA. Justin Pollard, John Lloyd and Stevyn Colgan composed a cartoon illustrating this explanation. This is the first panel; the latter stages seem to involve magic and heavy drinking.

Link via The Presurfer

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How Does the M.C. Escher Waterfall Machine Work?

A few days ago, a viral video surfaced which appeared to show a functional model of M.C. Escher's famous drawing "Waterfall". How does it work? Boing Boing reader David Goldman proposes the above explanation. Do you agree?

via Boing Boing

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Star Trek: The Angry Birds

(Video Link)

An episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled "The Game" told of a simple but addictive video game that captured the minds of Enterprise crewmen. It sent subliminal messages to them and nearly permitted pirates to capture the ship. Wesley Crusher and a young ensign played by Ashley Judd discerned the true, malevolent nature of the game and saved everyone. That game, Collin Cannaday proposes, was actually Angry Birds.

via Urlesque | Cannaday's Website

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Mission Impossible Squirrel

(Video Link)

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to cross an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine until arriving at a bird feeder. Good luck, Chompers.

via SnarkyBytes

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Rubik's Brain Cube

Artist Jason Freeny made this fully functional Rubik's Cube puzzle shaped like a brain. Presumably some knowledge of anatomy is essential to solving it.

Link via Super Punch

Previously by Jason Freeny:
The Anatomy of Nemo
Gingerbread Man Dissection

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Somewhat Cumbersome 24-Shot Revolver

In the past, we've looked at somewhat fanciful efforts to improve the ammunition capacity of revolvers, including the use of feeding chains, superimposed loads, and stacked chambers. There's not much information available about this solution except that it's a single-action .38 that can fire 24 rounds.

Link via The Firearm Blog | Photo: Drefizzle

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Charlton Heston's 3 Post-Apocalyptic Films Make Sense if Played Simultaneously

(Video Link)

Charlton Heston starred in three post-apocalyptic films: Planet of the Apes (1968), Omega Man (1971), and Soylent Green (1973). As an art project, Anthony Discenza took the entire run of each film and spliced them together at every tenth of a second while playing their soundtracks simultaneously. The result is both trippy and coherent.

via Blastr

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Ice Age Cup Made from Human Skull

It is said that Alboin (d. 572), King of the Lombards, had the skull of his enemy, King Cunimind of the Gepids, turned into a drinking cup. It was the ultimate sign of triumph against a defeated foe. This tradition, however, whether for practical or emotional purposes, now appears to date back almost 15,000 years:

Ice Age folk who lived in what’s now southwestern England gruesomely went from heads off to bottoms up. Bones excavated at a cave there include the oldest known examples of drinking cups or containers made out of human skulls, says a team led by paleontologist Silvia Bello of the Natural History Museum in London.[...]

Prehistoric cave denizens cleaned the skulls before using stone tools to shape the upper parts of the brain cases into containers, the researchers say.

Bello suspects that Ice Age Britons hoisted hollowed-out crania in rituals of some kind. Other human bones found near the skull cups show signs of flesh and marrow removal, a result either of cannibalism or mortuary practices. The striking similarities between the cave finds and historical examples of drinking cups made out of skulls further support a ritual role for the Ice Age receptacles, Bello says.

Link | Photo: Natural History Museum

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Billboard Swing Set

Architect Didier Faustino made Double Happiness out of an old billboard in New York City:

Double Happiness responds to the society of materialism where individual desires seem to be prevailing over all. This nomad piece of urban furniture allows the reactivation of different public spaces and enables inhabitants to reappropriate fragments of their city. They will both escape and dominate public space through a game of equilibrium and desequilibrium. By playing this “risky” game, and testing their own limits, two persons can experience together a new perception of space and recover an awareness of the physical world.

Link via Flavorwire | Artist's Website | Photo: Broken City Lab

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Great Gatsby NES Game

Yes, this is a completely real, playable game based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Charlie Hoey and Pete Smith made this wonderful gem. Just click on the link and follow the instructions.

Link (auto sound) via Topless Robot

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Legend of Zelda Reimagined as an 80s Teen Movie

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The people at have really outdone themselves this time. Previously, they've brought us parodies of God of War and Super Mario Bros. Now they've gone all out and produced a truly convincing presentation of a worn-out VHS copy of The Legend of Zelda...the teen romance from the 1980s.

via Geekologie

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Legal Argument: Technically Speaking, the Law Doesn't Require That the Seat Belt Be Attached to the Car

Paul Weigand of Kansas argued with the court that the state statute requiring people to wear seat belts while riding in a car didn't specifically assert that the seat belt (not pictured) had to be attached to the vehicle in question:

An officer ticketed Paul Weigand during a winter traffic stop after making him get out of his car to prove the belt wasn’t connected to the vehicle. Weigand says he is terrified of becoming trapped in a burning vehicle. Plus, he says the law doesn’t specify that the seat belt has to be attached to his vehicle.

The judge disagreed and levied him a fine and court costs.

Link via Lowering the Bar | Photo (unrelated) via Instructables

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Bubble Wrap Ties

When I saw this, my first thought was to email Alex and suggest that this awesome item be added to the NeatoShop. Unfortunately, designer Shunsuke Umiyama's brilliant idea has yet be mass produced. He writes:

Bubble Wrap is hidden on the back of the Tie!
Unpleasant boss's talk or boring meetings is a thing of the past,
you can just crush the bubble wrap.
This little function should ease your stress.

We have now reached the apex of human achievement.

Link via OhGizmo!

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Space Invaders Moss Mural

This video game is guaranteed to move very slowly. Kimi Spencer and Marko Manriquez created an interactive mural that uses moss to depict Space Invaders:

Moss invaders comprises a living graffiti mural and a capacitive sound installation into one piece. The moss mural is made using laser cut stencils to mold a moss milkshake concoction of our own devising. The moss paste is "painted" onto the stencils to grow directly onto the brick wall surface. The sound installation aspect takes the moss invaders into the intergalactic realm. Each moss pad is a capacitive sensor which plays 8-bit musical sounds when touched.

Link via DVICE | Photo: Core77 | Previously: DIY Moss Graffiti

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Laptop Bag Made from Floppy Disks

Sure, you can use your old 3.5" floppy disks as coasters or to prop up uneven table legs, but why not try something a bit more creative? Stanislav, a reader of TechEBlog, made a laptop bag out of a bunch of them.

Link via Geek Crafts | Previously: Floppy Disks as Art Medium

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Working Model of M.C. Escher's "Waterfall"

(Video Link)

M.C. Escher's Waterfall appears to show a stream of water fed by itself -- something of a perpetual motion machine. This clever video of mysterious origin creates the illusion of a functional model of that image.

via GearFuse

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Marital Partner Rating System

Does your wife wear soiled aprons around the house? That's a demerit. Is she slow in coming to bed? That's another demerit. She's not turning out too well.

In the 1930s, psychologist George Crane developed ratings charts that husbands and wives could use to offer each other constructive criticism:

Although most people who read the test today find it humorous and obviously dated, Crane did attempt to make it scientific. His method was to interview 600 husbands on their wives' positive and negative qualities. Then he listed the 50 demerits and merits that arose most frequently. Crane, did admit to using a personal bias in weighting the items that he thought were most important in marriage.

You can view the chart for husbands at the link.

Link via Glenn Reynolds

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LED Bench

The lighting apparently doesn't head the bench itself, so it's probably more comfortable than the keyboard bench or retractable spike bench. Opulent Items sells a bench that can be lit with different colors. It's weather resistant, but you do have to plug it into an electrical outlet.

Link via Technabob | Photo: Opulent Items

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Capybara Relaxes under a Hot Shower

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At a zoo in Saitama, Japan a group of capybaras are keeping warm and comfortable at an outdoor spa. One particularly adorable critter is just letting the water pour over his head.

via Urlesque

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Mos Eisley Embroidery

Mos Eisley on Tatooine seems like a more pleasant, cheerful place in this description. The bee is smiling, see? Craftster user GeekySweetheart made this piece of embroidery for her husband.

Link via Geek Crafts | Pattern

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Castle Grayskull Snow Fort

Would He-Man and the Masters of the Universe make more sense if the show was set in Brooklyn? Because that's where an artist who goes by the moniker Kilroy III made an enormous snow fort modeled after Castle Grayskull. It's large enough to fit three to four adults inside. There are several more pictures at the link.

Link via Geekologie | Artist's Website | Photo: Carbon-Fibre Media

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Dating Service for Superheroes and Supervillains

(Video Link)

In the olden days of the World Wide Web, there were only general-purpose dating websites. Now there are countless niche websites for specific needs, from the undead to the ugly. But what does a superhero or supervillain have to do to get to know someone who's, you know, normal. SuperHarmony is here to fill that need.

Link via Geekosystem

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Worldwide Per Capita Coffee Consumption

According to data compiled by environmental think tank World Resources Institute, Scandinavians drink a lot of coffee. Between 6.8 and 12.0 kilograms per year. So world travelers, does this map match up with your experiences?

Link via Ace of Spades HQ

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Stop-Motion Self-Assembly of a Car

(Video Link)

This video by YouTube user michalbakiewicz shows a custom Suzuki Swift assembling itself in a garage. Think about how much work went into moving each component just a little bit at a time for each shot.

via Jalopnik

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26 Science Fiction Weddings

Evan Hoovler of blastr compiled images from 26 weddings depicted in science fiction and superhero television and movie weddings. Actually, he identifies them as science fiction. But I suppose that superhero fiction could be considered a subgenre of science fiction, as it involves a focus on the laws of nature or the distortion thereof as central to the narrative. Right? Discuss.

Link | Image: 20th Century Fox

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Competition for the World's Longest Kiss

As of Saturday, fourteen couples in Thailand were competing to engage in the longest continuous kiss. They've already broken the previous record of 32 hours, 7 minutes, and 14 seconds. Does that sound romantic? Just remember that every so often, the couple gets to take a "comfort break". While still kissing.

Link (self-starting audio/video)

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How to Make Glow in the Dark Flowers

(Video Link)

NurdRage offers up an especially nerdy Valentine's Day present: glow in the dark flowers. It's a simple process. Just drain the contents of a magic marker into a jar of water. Cut the stems off of some flowers and stick them in the jar. Let the flowers sit in the solution overnight. In the morning, after they have absorbed the fluorescent dye, they'll glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet light.

via Geekologie

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Real Mugshot of KFC Double Down Sandwich

Kentucky Fried Chicken's famous or infamous (depending on your point of view) Double Down sandwich, a concoction comprised of two chicken breasts with bacon and cheese between them, has an arrest record with the Escambia County, Florida Sheriff's Office. Presumably the officers created the record for training purposes. Presumably.

Link via Geekosystem

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Profile for John Farrier

  • Member Since 2012/08/04


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