This is raw footage from EuroNews of the Bardabunga volcano erupting today in Iceland. Lava fountains are spewing up to 100 meters high, yet journalists and sightseers are there to not only record it, but pose with it. The eruption, which began on Sunday, could continue for weeks. Read more about Bardabunga at Mashable.
You may have seen pictures of this sad-looking cat over the past few weeks. This is Tucker, and she has genetic abnormalities that give her droopy eyes, extremely sensitive skin (hence the t-shirts), and deformed legs. Yet Tucker is a sweet, gentle cat who came into the care of Purrfect Pals Cat Shelter in Arlington, Washington. And after a recent spate of publicity, Tucker has a new home!
Many people applied to adopt Tucker. She ultimately went home with Katie, who is a vet tech and, along with her husband, lives with their cat Poe, who has similar special needs. Tucker couldn’t have ordered up a more perfect match. Now she will have a loving family, custom-made t-shirts, and a companion cat that can relate. -via Daily of the Day
In Romania’s Valcea County, there are boulders called trovants that grow. Really. They also multiply, by sprouting bulbs that form into rocks. It sounds like a tall tale or urban legend, but science confirms it. There’s a perfectly logical but rather complicated explanation, involving the nearby sand quarry, the mineral-rich rain of the area, and other factors that make the location unique. You can read how it happens, and see plenty of pictures at When On Earth. -via the Presurfer
(Image credit: Flickr user Daniela Constantinescu)
The BBC TV show Fawlty Towers aired only twelve episodes, but the talents of John Cleese and the rest of the cast left an indelible mark on the show’s fans 40 years ago. One of those fans has recreated the hotel setting completely in LEGO!
Nathan Feist, the Fawlty Towers fan who built the reproduction, honored the show in such meticulous detail that even small things like fire extinguishers were reproduced in LEGO form. And have you ever seen a LEGO moose? Well, look no further. The famous moose head from the show is up in glorious detail, broken antler and all, on the wall above the reception desk.
Craig Benzine explains how decaffeinated coffee is made. The answer is, of course, chemicals. The bigger question in my mind is why would anyone make decaf coffee. That's akin to non-alcoholic beer, which seems to defeat the purpose.
This is the premiere episode of mental_floss video’s new show The Big Question. Each Monday, we'll hear the answer to one burning question from readers.
(Image credit: Flickr user slworking2)
"I was just pulling into the Piney Bluffs gas station," the shaken witness told the operator. "I heard a gunshot. And then I saw the men—two of them—running out of the station and hopping into a recreation vehicle. They'd killed the attendant." She gave a description of the R.V and a general description of the men.
The R.V was found, abandoned south of one of the roadblocks the highway patrol had set up. The vehicle was just feet away from Piney Bluffs State Park, which was enjoying its first rain in weeks. It was assumed that the men had hiked away into the hundreds of acres of parkland. Officers were sent in to interview the campers.
On September first, 1914, one hundred years ago today, the very last passenger pigeon, named Martha Washington, died of old age at the Cincinnati Zoo. It's hard to imagine that once there were billions of passenger pigeon in the U.S. An account from 1860 described a flock that took 14 hours to fly overhead.
It is testimony to humankind’s great powers of destruction that within 50 years of this event, only a single captive pair remained, named after the US’s first president and lady George and Martha Washington. George perished in July 1910 at Cincinnati Zoo. Martha survived for four more years, sufficient time for her to garner celebrity as the sole-surviving member of her species. When she eventually died on 1 September 1914 “at 1 P.M. of old age”, she was frozen in a huge block of ice and sent by train to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
Read about the passing and the preservation of the last passenger pigeon at The Guardian.
Snell’s O & P has been in business since 1911, and Chris Snell is the fourth generation of his family to make orthotics and prosthetics. Chris recently made this steampunk leg that has gears controlled by a microprocessor and powered by movement. It creates the illusion that a presumably steam-powered set of gears is moving the leg! He also posted a gallery of some pictures taken during the building process. -via Geeks Are Sexy
James Chapman has told us how sneezes, eating, dogs, and frogs sound in other languages. Now he gives us the lowdown on pain. How do other languages express the sound we know as “ouch”? Learn these, and you’ll be able to offer sympathy when it’s appropriate. Check out Chapman’s works at his Etsy shop.
See more from James Chapman.
ZDoggMD (Dr. Zubin Damania) blames George Lucas for ruining his childhood with retroactive edits to the Star Wars series. I don’t know if that really inspired this parody song of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida,” but that’s what he complains about at his site. Unlike most of his videos, this one has no real medical connection, just some Star Wars fun.
See more from ZDoggMD.
The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.
(Image credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF)
Acronyms swim and
Bullets denote a life's work
On your resume.
A flash of insight.
The Universe demands that
You test the theory.
Peruse the journals.
An unsuccessful search means
You need new data!
Write a proposal
To justify the science
That you need to do.
Have patience while the
Time Assignment Committee
You have been awarded time.
Prepare for the run.
On board the plane you
Explain astronomy to
Once on the mountain
You have little time to rest.
Check the telescope.
A message appears:
"Cannot access pixel file."
You must fix this bug.
You are ready now.
The telescope is working.
Eat a quick dinner.
The sun is setting.
It's time to open the dome.
The stars await you.
This article is republished with permission from the May-June 1998 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can purchase back issues of the magazine or subscribe to receive future issues, in printed or in ebook form. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!
Visit their website for more research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.
The following is an article from the book Uncle John's Bathroom Reader History's Lists.
Borders, fences, fortifications, demarcations- whatever you call them, there are a lot of dividing lines in history. Here are some of the most famous.
1. HADRIAN’S WALL
Milecastle 39 on Hadrian’s Wall near Steel Rigg. (Image credit: Adam Cuerden)
In AD 122, the Roman Empire was near the height of its power, but in the far-flung imperial province of Britannia, the empire was having some trouble near its northern border. To control that line in the heath, Emperor Hadrian ordered the construction of what became the most heavily-fortified border in the Western world at the time: a 73-mile wall of limestone and turf, with small forts roughly every Roman mile occupied by a few dozen troops. Additionally, larger forts were also constructed. The Romans built the wall well enough that it survived the Roman Empire, and what remains of it became a World Heritage Site in 1987.
2. THE TORDESILLAS MERIDIAN
(Image credit: Lencer)
There’s a reason that the citizens of Brazil speak Portuguese while nearly all of the rest of South America speaks Spanish: that reason is the Tordesillas Meridian. In 1493, Pope Alexander VI offered a papal edict saying that Spain (Alexander VI’s native country) would control any land west of a meridian (a line stretching from pole to pole) that lay 100 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands, which were off the coast of Africa. This meant that the pope was giving the Americas to Spain, which did not sit well with the Portuguese, who thought they were entitled to it.
In 1494, the Spanish and Portuguese signed the Treaty of Tordesillas, which nudges that papal line further west -giving Portugal the eastern “bump” of the South American continent that would become Brazil.
3. THE PALE
(Image credit: Hamish Bain)
When is a line not just a line? When it is “the Pale” -an area on the eastern shore of Ireland that was directly under the control of the English crown during the Middle Ages. It derived its name from the Latin word palus, which literally meant a stake, but figuratively meant a fence or line, the lands beyond which one does not have control (and indeed, the Pale had a border fence, or some say a line of dikes). This is what people are referring to when they use the expression “beyond the pale.”
4. MASON-DIXON LINE
Alex Burkovskiy taped a laser pointer to his cat’s head. Usually, just a piece of tape on a cat will cause the animal to go bonkers trying to get it off, but this cat was too fascinated with the red dot to notice he had something taped to him! He chased the dot for over an hour. That’s about as long as a piece of tape stuck to fast-moving fur can possibly last. -via Tastefully Offensive
When you fart, are you spraying microbes all over? Should we fear the effects of flatulence in a crowd? Science is on the question!
“It all started with an enquiry from a nurse,” Dr Karl Kruszelnicki told listeners to his science phone-in show on the Triple J radio station in Brisbane. “She wanted to know whether she was contaminating the operating theatre she worked in by quietly farting in the sterile environment during operations, and I realised that I didn’t know. But I was determined to find out.”
The upshot is that if people fart while wearing clothes, you’re pretty safe. But fart naked, and it’s a whole different story. And you’ll want to read that story of the experiment by which Dr. Kruszelnicki found the answer at Discover magazine. Oh, the things that researchers do in the name of science! -via Digg
Maybe you’ve noticed a trend lately of people posting long strings of emojis as translated text. Those are a real pain for someone like me, who has neither the time not the inclination to parse them out. But then here comes Slate with a quiz about some short, familiar phrases. These twelve strings of pictures are well-known first lines of classic novels that you know, rendered in emoji. Can you figure them out? I can’t say I did well, but I was proud to figure out a few. And your first impressions can be hilarious: for #3, I read "Here's an idea you're going to love! Let's cook eggplant!" When you’ve strained your brain enough, you can check the answers at Slate. -via mental_floss
Just For Laughs planted a dog puppet in a park. Real dogs may have never noticed it, if it didn’t have a nice, meaty bone! But the bone attracts the dogs, and the puppet defends his treasure. These poor confused dogs don’t know what’s real and what’s not anymore! -via Viral Viral Videos
For those who wish to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations in pop culture and science fiction, the Star Trek universe can be intimidating. Yes, there are plenty of people who haven’t watched Star Trek for one reason or another, but might if they knew where to start.
Star Trek is more than pop culture; it’s 20th century mythology with its own complicated mythos. “Beam me up” and “live long and prosper” may have invaded the cultural lexicon, but Star Trek is particularly intimidating for the uninitiated. Where to start and what to skip are up for debate even among the most hardcore Trekkies and Trekkers (the fandom can’t even decide on a name for itself). One thing is clear: It all begins with Gene Roddenberry, the visionary who created the original show in the 1960s and presided over the franchise until his death in 1991. The WWII fighter pilot turned TV writer would have turned 93 this August. He’s survived by a franchise that encompasses five live action TV shows, one animated series, and 12 films. Given that Star Trek will celebrate its 50th anniversary in just two short years, this the perfect time for new fans to jump on Roddenberry’s “Wagon Train to the stars.”
The A.V. Club has stepped up to the plate with a guide for Star Trek newbies, which includes a brief history and description of each series and recommends standout episodes to introduce the viewer. There are also recaps of the movies and miscellaneous information to make tackling Star Trek both easy and fun for a beginner. Baby steps. For the established Star Trek fan, it’s a walk down memory lane (or more likely, Memory Alpha), with plenty to argue about, which you’d expect.
Jorge lives in Australia, and has always dreamed of running with the bulls in Pamplona. But that’s in Spain, far, far away. Then one day he heard about an event called the Running of the Sheep at a local festival in the Australian town of Boorowa. Excited, he goes to Boorowa and finds out that it’s not quite the same. This short film by Sam Matthews is just as cute as it can be. -via Tastefully Offensive
Oh, this will be exciting -the strange phenomena known as the water blob gets the Devin Supertramp POV treatment! But that’s not all that’s going on: there’s also wakeboarding, waterskiing, jet skiing, surfing, and that odd water jetpack thing. Makes you wish that summer vacation could last forever, doesn’t it? That, and I wish I was thirty years younger and had the wherewithal to travel to such fun places. If you’d like more, there’s a behind-the-scenes video, too. -via Viral Viral Videos
When you’re shooting video from up on the penthouse of a beachfront hotel, you can see what’s in the shallow water a lot better than the people who are in the water can see. These guys could see a hammerhead shark chasing a stingray, while the guys in the water couldn’t. They couldn’t hear the shouting from the hotel for a while, either. This happened in Destin, Florida. -via Daily Picks and Flicks
The 1964 Disney movie Mary Poppins was released 50 years ago this week. What better way to celebrate its anniversary than by learning some movie trivia? For example:
10. That’s Julie Andrews whistling the robin’s part during “A Spoonful of Sugar.”
An accomplished whistler (who knew?), Andrews recorded the robin's sweet tune. In order for the bird to move and nod during the scene, by the way, Andrews had to wear a ring that connected to it. Yards of cable ran from the ring, up her arm, and out to engineers who could control the bird’s movements.
11. Disney was sued over “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
Though the Sherman Brothers claimed they made the word up themselves, a 1949 song called “Supercalafajaistickespeealadojus” would seem to say otherwise. The writers of the song, Barney Young and Gloria Parker, sued for $12 million. They lost because lawyers were able to present evidence showing that the nonsense word had been around, in some form or another, for decades. Indeed, the Sherman Brothers later claimed that their made-up word was a variation on a similar word they had heard at summer camp back in the 1930s: “super-cadja-flawjalistic-espealedojus.”
There are videos from the film and about the film accompanying the 18 facts about Mary Poppins at mental_floss.
You’ve seen examples of how editing can turn a set of movie scenes into something completely different from what was originally intended. We've even heard stories of actors who were surprised by the finished product because what they understood of the movie when they delivered their lines was so different from what ended up in theaters. The same principle works for movie trailers, which already have a tendency to mislead by showing only the best parts -which may be the only good parts. We’re used to being misled about the quality of a film, but Cracked looks at a few cases of the audience being misled about the type of film they went to see. For example, I did not know until today that Sweeney Todd was a musical.
Don't get us wrong -- the trailer accurately sums up the plot, showcases the principal characters, and provides dialogue in a satisfactory context. However, it leaves out one key element of the movie: It's a full-fledged musical. And we're going to guess that a whole bunch of goth kids looking for a dark period slasher film were confused as shit the first time somebody broke into song.
To be fair, Sweeney Todd is an adaptation of a popular Broadway show, but the trailer's absolute refusal to even allude to a musical component is awfully suspicious.
There are five other examples of confused movie audiences who were misled by a trailer that you can read about at Cracked. -via mental_floss
Earlier this week, John told us about the Camels of Texas. The Confederate Army used quite a few of them during the Civil War. That inspired Neatorama reader Russ Warner to send us some of his neat pictures of the Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where the camel named Old Douglas, of Company A of the Forty-third Mississippi Infantry, is honored with a marker. From Wikipedia:
Though the men tried to treat Old Douglas like a horse, the camel was known to break free of any tether, and was eventually allowed to graze freely. Despite not being tied up, he never wandered far from the men. The Infantry’s horses feared Old Douglas, and he is recorded to have spooked one horse into starting a stampede, which reportedly injured many, and possibly killed one or two horses.
Old Douglas’s first active service was with Gen. Price in the Iuka campaign. He also participated in the 1862 Battle of Corinth. He remained with the regiment until the Siege of Vicksburg, where he was killed by Union sharpshooters. Enraged at his murder, the men swore to avenge him. Col. Bevier enlisted six of his best snipers, and successfully shot the culprit. Of Douglas’s murderer, Bevier reportedly said, “I refused to hear his name, and was rejoiced to learn that he had been severely wounded.” According to legend, after Douglas was shot, his remains were carved up and eaten, with some of his bones made into souvenirs by Federal soldiers.
Learn more about the American camels from the Texas Camel Corps, a group “established to educate the public about the historic use of camels in America in the 19th century.”
(Images credit: Russ Warner, Brandon, Mississippi)
We’ve seen filmmaker Casey Neistat snowboarding the streets of New York, making a banzai intercontinental rush to a wedding, wrecking his bike, and taking his son Owen to Machu Picchu. In this video, we get the story of his relationship with Candice, told over nine years and various corners of the earth. It’s sweet and romantic and when it’s done, you’ll be glad you watched it. -via Digg
Illustrator Ed Harrington has a series of IKEA instructions for building your favorite horror movie character. They even come strangely pseudo-Swedified with umlauts in their names. Shown here is the construction called Vörhees, from the Friday the 13th movie series. He’s also got instructions for Cenobite from Hellraiser, Brundlefly from the remake of The Fly, Edward Scissorhands, and the Human Centipede. See all of them at Uproxx.
Look at this lovely couple getting married in London in 1934. Such a gorgeous dress! And the groom’s stylish mustache belies the fact that he was only 22 years old. That was 80 years ago, and they haven’t changed all much. Yes, Maurice and Helen Kaye are still alive and still married. He is 102 and just recently gave up driving. She just turned 101 and looks decades younger.
If what they have could be bottled, they would make a fortune. Apart from the odd ache and pain, they are in good health, presiding over a family that loves them. They talk about their son, their daughter (and each of their spouses), their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren with the pride of people who know how lucky they are. Although luck hasn’t always been with them.
Together they survived World War II, in which their house was destroyed by bombs, bore four children, of which two now survive, and built a chain of clothing stores. You can read their story at The Guardian. -via Buzzfeed
A colony of ants work together to drag dinner back to the nest to share -and possibly store- their find. The ants form chain to get more pulling power. At first I thought this was a sausage (you know how ants are at picnics), but considering the scale, I think it’s a worm or a millipede. The language is not identified, so maybe you could help us out if you recognize it. -via reddit
Peter the elephant lives in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Here, he enjoys a clarinet tune from Paul Barton and wants to make some music of his own. Elephant see, elephant do. Who’s going to tell him he can’t? -via Tastefully Offensive
Need any more proof that the laser pointer is the best toy ever? We’ve seen all kinds of animals chase after the red dot, but in this case, a cat and a child compete to see who catches it first. Instant entertainment for Mom and Dad! -via Tastefully Offensive
Redditor meancloth is pretty sure everything is fine with the latest ultrasound image. Baby A gives a thumbs up to assure him that conditions are AOK inside. Baby A? Yep, the other baby is fine, too. However, if you’re into counting fingers and toes, Baby A seems to have six on one hand. That could be a sonogram artifact, or a biological bonus. As if twins aren’t already a biological bonus!
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