Have you ever heard the saying, "No good deed goes unpunished"?
Simon Cowell of Wildlife Aid got a call about a cygnet (baby swan) stuck in a chain link fence along the Thames. It would have been a routine rescue, except that the swan family was standing by, and the father did not like the interference of this human at all. His overprotectiveness discouraged Cowell not one bit, but it did leave him a little bruised. -via Daily Picks and Flicks
Slipping on banana peels, seeing Jesus in toast, magnetic dogs, and baby poop sausage: what do these thing all have in common? They are the subjects of prize-winning scientific research!
Our friends at The Annals of Improbable Research pulled off the 24th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony last night at Harvard’s Sanders Theater. The winners are:
PHYSICS PRIZE [JAPAN]: Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that's on the floor.
NEUROSCIENCE PRIZE [CHINA, CANADA]: Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, and Kang Lee, for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast.
REFERENCE: "Seeing Jesus in Toast: Neural and Behavioral Correlates of Face Pareidolia," Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, Kang Lee, Cortex, vol. 53, April 2014, Pages 60–77. The authors are at School of Computer and Information Technology, Beijing Jiaotong University, Xidian University, the Institute of Automation Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, and the University of Toronto, Canada.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Kang Lee
PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, UK, USA]: Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.
The language of sea travel may seem like a foreign language to you, as it does to me. In an examination of the use of “port” and “starboard” to mean the left and right sides of a ship, the nautical terms get even more confusing to us landlubbers. At one time, they were “starboard” and “larboard”! What could possibly go wrong? But like all language, those terms evolved over time. Get enlightened with this video from Today I Found Out.
Elin Nordlander caught these two koalas airing their differences at Great Otway National Park in Melbourne, Australia. Although angry koalas usually sound like grunting pigs, these two communicate with party horn sounds. -via Tastefully Offensive
You know how kids love to try out what they see adults do? These three siblings staged their own dance battle earlier this week. ShoateZoo’s kids are ages 6, 4, and 2. The two older ones are great dancers, but if it was put to an audience vote, the two-year-old would win just for being adorable. -via Daily Picks and Flicks
Okay, adults, back to school time, and you will be timed on this. A year before the movie Star Trek III: The Search for Spock came out, he was featured in a math problem in a 1983 issue of the journal Mathematics Teacher. Students were instructed to use a compass and a straightedge to solve the puzzle. Can you find Spock? Students were given 50 minutes to complete the task. No, you won’t see him in the image, but you might find it a challenge to figure it out. The ten steps of instructions are at at io9. Will he Bonus: Can you find the glaring anachronism in the image? -via Digg
College Humor brings us a parody of “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid, this time going down much deeper where the sun does not penetrate, where sea creatures grow larger, uglier, and more dangerous than anything Sebastian is used to. We’ve featured a lot of these critters before, but seeing them all together is fairly terrifying. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...
Pogo (Nick Bertke) has a new Disney remix featuring clips from Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Dumbo. It’s just as hypnotic as his other remixes, but this one contains words that you can understand. -via Tastefully Offensive http://www.tastefullyoffensive.com/
Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Let's hear some pirate stories, courtesy of mental_floss magazine.
1. Pirate Panache
Legendary and ruthless sea-raider "Black Bart" may win the award for the most prolific pirate, with more than 400 ships reportedly falling to his sword in the early 18th century. But Bart was much more civilized than history would have you believe. The Welsh-born Bartholomew Roberts (sound less tough now, doesn't he?) always wore a damask waistcoat, snappy breeches, and a dashing red feather in his cap. The refined Bart also drank only tea and water, commanded lights-out by 8 p.m., and had musicians play hymns for him on Sundays.
2. Yo-Ho-Ho and an Epidural
Grace O'Malley (born Gráinne O'Malley) was the Irish Sea Queen of the 16th century. Earning her sea legs as a kid on voyages with her father, O'Malley went on to lead a crew of 200 sailors as part of her Celtic Sea "protection service." Her specialty? Intercepting merchant ships to negotiate their safe passage to Galway and ruthlessly pillaging any "uninterested customers." Infamous for being lewd, gambling too much, and cussing like—well—a sailor, O'Malley truly proved her mettle when she gave birth mid-voyage. Soon after the delivery, Turkish pirates attacked the ship, and when the flailing crew came running to O'Malley, she reportedly snapped, "May you be seven times worse off this day 12 months from now, you who cannot do without me for one day!" When the postpartum hell-raiser finally emerged on deck waving her gun, the attackers quickly remembered they had other engagements.
Abandoned buildings are interesting: we’ve posted about abandoned mansions, schools, hospitals, and even entire villages. But who would’ve ever thought there was this many abandoned international airports? Well, it’s true that some airports outgrow their locations and are rebuilt in larger areas, and others were just a bad idea from the start. While unused airports are often demolished or repurposed, it can take quite some time before that happens. Meanwhile, there are diverse stories surrounding these erstwhile facilities, like the notorious Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong.
No list of abandoned international airports (or non-abandoned ones, for that matter) would be complete without Hong Kong’s notorious Kai Tak, which from 1925 until 1998 scared the living daylights out of nervous flyers as their planes descended through the island’s mountains and skyscrapers. Ranked as the sixth most dangerous airport in the world by the History Channel, landing on the famous Runway 13 involved passing over the densely populated area of Western Kowloon then a sharp, 47 degree turn at a checkerboard marker on in the hills above the airport. If all went according to plan, airliners would level out at just 140 feet before touching down, in a manoeuver known to pilots as the “Hong Kong Turn” and to passengers as the “Kai Tak Heart Attack”.
How fun can it be to skateboard in a skatepark filled with 5001 balloons? Great fun, I’m sure, if you know what you’re doing. In my case, the fun would be in the slight possibility that those balloons might somehow cushion my fall. This video by Devin Supertramp is an ad for Banzai Skatepark in Linden, Utah. See the behind the scenes video, too. -via Viral Viral Videos
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the movie Ghostbusters (and the Blu-ray release), Krispy Kreme will feature two new Ghostbusters doughnuts from September 29 through Halloween. The Ghostbuster and the Stay Puft are both marshmallow-filled doughnuts with Ghostbusters icing decoration.
You can pre-order if you need five dozen or more of them. I hope that’s for sharing at work or at a party. If you really need five dozen marshmallow-filled doughnuts for yourself, shame on you. -via Daily of the Day
Elliott Morgan hosts this week’s mental_floss video, in which we hear about jobs that no longer exist. Most of them are jobs that you wouldn’t want to do, anyway, done away with by the miracles of electricity, plumbing, and mechanization. There are more occupations joining these every day. I had to explain to my kids why anyone would ever need a “typist.” They also discovered a new occupation when we visited Idaho, because they’d never seen a “cobbler” before. Still, they know of some obsolete jobs, as their grandma spent decades as a "local telephone operator." Her stories of those days never made much sense to the kids, but they are aware of them.
Diatoms are at the bottom of the food chain, and provide sustenance for many sea creatures. If you can see the tiny things, you'll find they come in a amazing variety. At one time, they were used as an art media! Filmmaker Matthew Killip made a documentary about the last remaining master of the art of arranging diatoms.
Diatoms are single cell algae that create jewel-like glass shells around themselves. Microscopists of the Victorian era would arrange them into complex patterns, invisible to the naked eye but spectacular when viewed under magnification.The best of these arrangements are stunning technical feats that reveal the hidden grandeur of some of the smallest organisms on Earth. Klaus Kemp has devoted his entire life to understanding and perfecting diatom arrangement and he is now acknowledged as the last great practitioner of this beautiful combination of art and science.
It’s extremely difficult work, but the complex kaleidoscopic results are stunning. Continue reading to see more of Kemp’s diatom art and the video about him.
Henry the peacock is displaying his glorious plumage. Putting his fabulous feathers on parade is serious business for a peacock. The last thing he needs is interference from a curious 5-week-old kitten!
Henry: “Scram, kid! Can’t you see I’m trying to impress the ladies? You’re crampin’ my style! Why don’t you go play in the road?”
This video of traffic during rush hour will probably make you nervous -if you’re an American. Those who have driven in other countries may see it as an everyday occurrence. Relax, it’s not a documentary. This art video was directed by Fernando Livschitz of Black Sheep Films, but I still don’t know for sure if it’s all editing and CGI, or if he used stunt drivers. Considering the other films by Fernando Livschitz we’ve posted, I’d go with “masterful editing.” -via Buzzfeed
The kitten on the right is an example of a new breed called Lykoi. Veterinarian Johnny Gobble breeds Lykois, a name that is derived from “lycanthrope,” or werewolf. The cat is result of a mutant gene that inhibits hair growth, leaving a cat with sparse hair, especially on its face. Although the gene is naturally-occurring, these cats do not last long in the wild. Due to lack of fur, they are suseptible to hypothermia.
According to Gobble, the cats’ infirm appearance is only skin deep. Aside from the patchy hair that makes them notable, the first few generations of Lykoi cats seem rather healthy thus far. Tests conducted by Leslie Lyons, an aptly named expert in cat genetics at the University of Missouri (home of The Tigers), found no recognized genetic disorders in the cats; a battery of tests done by Gobble at his clinic, from blood screenings to thyroid function exams, turned up nothing out of the ordinary. Gobble cautions, though, that giving the breed an entirely clean bill of health right now would be premature. “It’s way too early,” he emphasized. “A lot of health problems won’t show up until a cat is 6 or 7 years old, and we don’t have any Lykois that old yet.”
Cats with the sparse hair gene are bred with black cats to highlight their unusual fur pattern. A cat must carry two copies of the gene to be a true Lykoi, which is why the littermates in the above picture look so different. The black cat on the left carries only one copy of the pertinent gene. Read more about this new cat breed at Nautilus. See more pictures of Lykoi cats at Gobble’s website.
A woman on a motorcycle rides around in Russia dispensing karma to those who litter the streets. She may not be the superhero Russia deserves, but she is the one it needs. Really, how hard is it to put your garbage in a drive-through bin?
Many folks are calling this staged. So what if it is? It makes a great public service announcement, although Russian commenters have not seen it on TV …yet. I actually hope that it is staged, because this kind of behavior would eventually lead to someone shooting her. And that's a video we don't want to see. -via reddit
Have you ever noticed that most women in old paintings look unimpressed, bored, and even frustrated? It’s probably because they had to sit and pose for some slow artist, but Mallory Ortberg at The Toast has some better ideas, and she captioned paintings to show what these women are really thinking.
i thought we were going to cover the whole harp in roses but if these were all the roses you could find i guess that doesn’t have to ruin everything
hey girls i have a fun idea try playing something good just for a change just to see what it would be like
With the recent hipster obsession with Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, and the other foods that jumped on the pumpkin spice bandwagon, it only makes sense that we eventually have a pumpkin spice hamburger. And here it is. As a play on the latte, Pornburger calls their creation the Pumpkin Spice Fatte. But this one goes the latte one better: it actually contains a bit of pumpkin! And coffee, too! If the list of ingredients is too small on the picture, see it full-size at Pornburger.
You might love it, but I’m an old fart a purist. The cinnamon, ginger, and clove combination (with occasional allspice, nutmeg, and mace) is what makes pumpkin pie special. Or at least edible. If we put it in everything, we may as well just forget the pumpkin. -via Time
Even though Maru now has his cat friend Hana to play with, he still loves boxes. He recently received a new set of boxes, and each one had to be tried out and tested individually. It must have been like Christmas for this cat! -via Tastefully Offensive
Finnish heavy equipment operator Juha-Pekka Perämäki shows off his skills by constructing a LEGO truck with an excavator! A Hitachi ZX210-11, With Engcon EC30 rototilt, to be exact. I know a heavy equipment operator who can’t even put LEGO blocks together with his hands. To be honest, I don’t even know how hard it is to put LEGO blocks together with your hands, much less with an excavator. -via Tastefully Offensive
Check out more amazing talents over at our Mad Skills blog
Legendary Australian diver and environmentalist Valerie Taylor tells how she made friends with an eel. It took quite a few years, but sometimes that’s what it takes to build trust. I’m sure the gift of fish didn’t hurt, either. Look at them together! That's amore. I mean, a moray. -via Viral Viral Videos
Jürgen Horn and Mike Powell are living in Macedonia for 91 days, and recently took a sightseeing trip to the town of Tetovo. There they saw the Šarena Džamija, the Painted Mosque. The mosque lives up to its name, with intricate and colorful decorations painted inside and out. The other town attraction is a dervish monastery named Arabati Baba Tekke.
The Arabati Baba Tekke was established in 1538 by Ali Baba, the brother-in-law of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. After his sister had angered the Sultan, Ali Baba was exiled to the fringes of the Ottoman Empire. In Tetovo, he decided to spend the rest of his years as a Bektashi monk, devoting his life to Sufism.
The tekke is still in use by a single dervish: a very tall man with a very long beard, whom we had the opportunity to meet. We saw his quarters, along with the graves of the babas who have led the tekke throughout the centuries. And while German Jürgen was a hit at the Painted Mosque, here it was American Mike’s turn to shine. Flying above the door to the dervish’s quarters was a big USA flag. Perhaps our government helped with funds, or maybe there’s some personal connection — I can’t say for sure, but I sure liked it.
One of the adages I grew up with is that when you move to a new house, you should rub butter on your cat’s paws. Mom said it made sense, because it would keep the cat busy. That advice is older than I ever thought possible, having been published in medieval times.
"If you have a good cat and you don't want to lose it, you must rub its nose and four legs with butter for three days, and it will never leave the house."
The Distaff Gospels
This trick will certainly prevent your cat from running away. It's less clear whether the cat will stick around because of adoration or poor traction.
That’s an entry from Ask the Past, a blog by Johns Hopkins history professor Elizabeth Archibald. She quotes advice from old books, often very old books, whether it’s good advice or not. Mostly not. Here are some other example posts.
Steve Simons takes the images on ancient Greek vases and makes them move! Some of the vignettes he creates tell stories from Greek mythology, the Olympics, or everyday life. This one, however, puts those ancient characters into a modern setting as they stage a short dance battle. The story was conceived by the students of Maiden Erlegh School, who did the storyboards for it. You can see more of Simon’s ancient Greek vase animations at his YouTube page and read about what went into this project at his website. -via Everlasting Blort
The Monkees were one of the strangest stories in both musical and television history.
The story's genesis was actually in July of 1964, when the Beatles first movie A Hard Day's Night was released. The film's smash hit success inspired producers Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson to cook up a very interesting idea for a new TV series.
The two had the idea of a musical group, sort of like the Beatles, long-haired- yes, but not successful, rich or famous like the Fab Four. The original idea was to cast either the Dave Clark Five or the Lovin' Spoonful as the series leads, but the concept was soon changed to assembling a cast of four unknowns. The fictional rock band, and their TV series, were to be called The Monkees.
The name “Monkees" was derived from a 1957 Elvis Presley movie called Loving You, a movie whose plot featured Elvis as a singer being exploited by an unscrupulous manager. In one overly dramatic scene in Loving You, Elvis confronts his manager and says, “That's what you want isn't it? A monkey in a zoo!" (The double e's in “Monkees" was a semi-pun, like the "beat" in “Beatles.”)
On September 8, 1965, open ads appeared in the two show biz bibles, Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, seeking "folk and musicians-singers for acting roles in a new TV series.” The ad stated that they were looking for "insane boys".
A total of 437 applicants answered the ad, including later-to-become-famous musicians Paul Williams, Stephen Stills, and Harry Nilsson. (There is no truth to the later urban legend that Charles Manson was one of the applicants, as Manson was incarcerated in federal prison at the time.) Four young men, two musicians and two actors, were finally chosen.
The first one cast was Davy Jones, a good-looking British actor, already under contract to Screen Gems. Jones, a former jockey, had recently been touring in the musical Oliver! and, by an amazing coincidence, had actually appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, the night of the Beatles legendary appearance.
George Michael “Micky" Dolenz was an actor who had starred as a child in the TV show Circus Boy in the fifties. Micky was making the rounds at local auditions and had played guitar in a band called the Missing Links.
Robert Michael “Mike" Nesmith, having served briefly in the U.S. Air Force, was a musician/composer/singer who had made a handful of recordings under the alias “Michael Blessing." (Mike was the only member of the Monkees who actually saw the ad in the trades.)
Peter Tork, the last Monkee to be cast, was suggested for the audition by Stephen Stills, his roommate, and was currently a musician playing gigs in the Greenwich Village area.
The four young men took a six-week course in improvisational comedy (taught by director James Frawley) and it was soon discovered that all four displayed real humor, talent and chemistry in front of the camera. On the show, the four would be playing a rock band and, in an unprecedented move, would actually be recording songs, which would be released as records and albums. The songs would be premiered and promoted in videos that would be featured every week on the show.
Lesley University assistant professor Elizabeth Stringer Keefe came into the possession of a wedding photo that was picked up in the rubble of the World Trade Center after the buildings collapsed on 9/11. Every year for 13 years, she posted the photo on the internet, hoping to find the owner of the picture. This year she posted it on Facebook and Twitter.