The Hickory Horned Devil (Citheronia regalis) is the largest caterpillar in North America. It will eventually burrow into the ground to metamorphose into a regal moth, which has a 6-inch wingspan, but is much less bulky than its caterpillar form. The caterpillar molts four times to become this big (up to six inches long), and is bright green only in its final phase.
Just before pupation, the larva expels its gut and changes color from green to turquoise, the skin of the fully fed creature stretched shiny and tight. They then crawl down the host plant, where they burrow into the dirt and pupate in a well formed chamber at a depth of five to six inches. The pupae are dark brown/black in color, and have a relatively short cremaster. Some pupae overwinter for 2 seasons, perhaps as an adaption to variable and adverse conditions such as fires and flooding, or to maintain genetic diversity across generations.
The caterpillar is harmless, and only looks scary to protect itself while it's this big and easy for predators to see. This one was recorded in Dothan, Alabama. -via Daily of the Day
A chemistry teacher did this fiery jack o’lantern inside, but if you want to try it, outdoors would be better. You can get that green flame by burning boric acid and methanol together. Geekologie has the instructions. This will cook your pumpkin, but it won’t be edible because of the boric acid. Then there is the remote chance that such experimentation could summons the demons of hell. Your mileage may vary.
Jennifer Culp designed a Halloween face based on Google’s DeepDream technology, which produces nightmarish images by finding and enhancing any hint of pareidolia in an existing image. Culp imitated DeepDream images you’ve seen by adding eyes, plenty of them, all over her face, on her neck, and even in her ears and nose! Top the nightmare with a crown of images of her dog, and you’re ready for Halloween. Not only do we get the bizarre result, but she’s posted a tutorial just in case you want to duplicate the look yourself. And if you think this image is disturbing, Culp then ran a picture of her finished makeup through the DeepDream algorithm. You’ll have to go to the tutorial to see that. -via Boing Boing
I’ve never seen a pet pay the least bit of attention to TV when all we had were cathode-ray tubes. Flat screens are a completely different story. Cats and dogs actually watch flatscreen TVs, computer monitors, tablets, and phones. But that’s not all that featured in this compilation from The Pet Collective.
You can live a long, fulfilling life without money, prestige, or power. But who's kidding who? If you had a choice, you'd take it. It's when we have no choice that we become satisfied with what we have, since the alternative is frustration. This comic is from John McNamee at Pie Comic.
We hear horror stories about how much someone is paying for a one-room apartment in San Francisco, and we have to cringe. Houses in the fancy suburbs are even more expensive, particularly in Silicon Valley. Has it always been that way? Maybe not, but in the early days of the city, which became a city thanked to the Gold Rush of 1849, things were even worse.
Edward Gould Buffum, author of Six Months in the Gold Mines (1850), described having a breakfast of bread, cheese, butter, sardines and two bottles of beer with a friend and receiving a bill for $43 – the equivalent today of about $1,200.
There were reports of canteens charging a dollar for a slice of bread or two if it was buttered, the equivalent of $56. A dozen eggs might cost you $90 at today’s prices; a pick axe would be the equivalent of $1,500; a pound of coffee $1,200 and a pair of boots as much as $3,000 when today you could get a decent pair for around $120.
Stephen Grant and Lucy Day of East Sussex, UK, were having a bad day. Grant cut off his finger in a lawnmower accident. They couldn’t get an ambulance. The couple put their 3-year-old daughter in the backseat and took off toward a hospital. On the way, their car burst into flames. They pulled off to the side and exited the car. That’s when Spider-Man showed up to save the day.
Tom Roche, a 24-year-old entertainer, was traveling to a child’s birthday party fully dressed in latex as Spider-Man. He and his girlfriend noticed smoke coming from the car before it pulled over in flames. Roche hurried the family away from the burning car, and seeing Grant’s wound, drove them straight to a hospital.
Lucy, who is 22 weeks pregnant with her second child, said, “We’re concerned that a relatively new vehicle with a reputation for safety and reliability should fail in such a dramatic way.
“The fact we couldn’t get an ambulance is worrying. It goes to show there is something really wrong with the care available in Eastbourne.”
The couple tracked down Tom after the incident to offer him and his girlfriend their thanks.
Lucy said, “We are so grateful for their help. He was only a young guy and I think he was a bit shaken up by the whole thing. I really want him to know how much it meant.
It’s hard to believe we’re already into October- I’m still in summer mode. Maybe you need to get your October vibe going with a taste of Halloween. How about a compilation of Liz Climo’s Halloween comics? There’s a bunch of them in a post at her website, compiled by Tastefully Offensive.
He goes from a polite nudge to full-on attack when she doesn't take a hint. Does the cat just not like flute music, or does he think she’s not good at it? Honestly, she’s a pretty decent player. She may have to go practice out in the garage. -via Tastefully Offensive
Yes, this is Superman dancing with a woman dressed as Spider-Man in a Bollywood production number. It’s another of the many unauthorized copies of blockbuster movies that were made in countries around the world in order to cash in on a popular franchise. Without the royalties, of course.
This list from Screen Rant includes the famous Japanese Spider-Man TV series and the Turkish Star Trek movie. Most of these are based on comic book superheroes, but not all of them. Some are even supposed to be comedies, and the others… well, they are worth a laugh, too. -via Geeks Are Sexy
If you were to rename animals, you’d want to be more descriptive, so everyone would know what you’re talking about. HuffPo rounded up some of the funnier examples of this Facebook meme. If you can’t figure out what a saber tooth death mouse would be, or a majestic sea flap flap, go look at the entire list. Yes, the last one is a punch line.
For Rod Serling, TV was the perfect landscape to battle bigotry and corporate censorship. But was the nation ready for it?
In the late 1950s, Rod Serling found himself sitting in a London airport tired and ready to go home. As he waited to board his flight, he spotted something eerie. Across the room stood his doppelgänger: a man who looked to be his same height, sporting the same coat and carrying the exact same cowhide briefcase. It blew his mind. As the award-winning TV writer tried to catch a glimpse of his double’s face, a strange thought hit him: What if, through some glitch in the universe, he was watching another version of himself?
“I kept staring and staring,” Serling recalled, “with this funny, ice-cold feeling that, if he turns around and it’s me, what do I do?” Eventually, the gentleman did turn around. He was a decade younger and, Serling joked, far better looking. But the experience was too uncanny to forget.
As a writer, Serling made his name toying with unsettling concepts, which made him a critical darling. His 1956 teleplay, Requiem for a Heavyweight, had garnered numerous awards, an Emmy among them. But corporate sponsors didn’t find his work appealing. Always looking to skirt controversy, they preferred to work within the confines of formulaic Westerns and bland sitcoms. Serling wanted none of that. He thought TV should probe deeper, believing it could address big concerns: social injustice, bigotry, mortality. In 1959, he got the chance to do just that, using that strange airport experience as the kindling for his legendary science fiction TV series, The Twilight Zone. The series would be a double itself, a serious exploration of politics and ethics disguised as harmless sci-fi. The question was whether he could get away with it.
Even as a teenager, Serling had been a social activist. Growing up in Binghamton, New York, he was editor of the high school newspaper, injecting social commentary in between box scores. Fighting in World War II only galvanized his mission. Stationed in the Philippines with a demolition platoon, he witnessed horror firsthand. Serling left the island consumed by a hatred for war, and he brought back a souvenir: a piece of shrapnel in his knee that bled spontaneously for the rest of his life.
Ever wonder why normal people are intimidated by the thought of learning to code? Or for that matter, intimidated at the very thought of talking to geeks who make a living coding software? This is why. In middle school, my kids already figured it was too late to learn. This is the latest from CommitStrip. The top comment:
Ya, well, let's see how good your code is during the zombie apocalypse
The Slow Mo Guys were inspired by an imaginary digital image of a tennis racket slicing up Jello (or jelly, as Brits call it). They had to try it in real life, and capture it in 2500 frames per second.
The cats from Breaking Cat News (previously at Neatorama) explain how cats wind up in animal shelters, and why some of them don’t get adopted. To illustrate, they follow five different cats who become homeless for five different reasons. At least 95% of those who read the whole story will need a hankie before it’s over, so be warned before you begin. But these cats have happy endings. So many shelter cats don’t. -via Metafilter
PermaGrin Films brings us a stop-motion fantasy that pulls you into a child’s magical imaginary world. The video is accompanied by the song “Pure Imagination” by Jordan Corey (originally sing by Gene Wilder in the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). Don’t let the video length discourage you, the sequence is only four minutes long. However, the credits are impressive, too.
On October 2, 1950, Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts debuted in seven newspapers. October is also National Stamp Collecting Month. To celebrate the 65th anniversary of Peanuts, the U.S. Postal Service is releasing a new set of Peanuts stamps today, featuring ten scenes from the TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The TV show first aired 50 years ago, in December of 1965.
The stamps are “forever stamps,” meaning they are sold at the current rate for a first-class letter and will always be good for mailing a one-ounce letter, even when rates go up. They will be formally introduced at a ceremony this morning at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California. You can order the stamps through the USPS website or, if you’re lucky, at your local Post Office. Stamp collectors can also purchase First Day Covers with either black or multicolor postmarks, press sheets, and framed art.
Everyone knows Popeye the sailor. And everyone knows his secret. Whenever the cartoon sailor is on the verge of a fight, he squeezes open a can of spinach, pours the greens down his throat, and uses his muscles to pummel his opponent (almost inevitably fellow sailor Bluto, his arch-enemy.)
As an interesting sidebar, in the classic Popeye animated cartoons, it wasn't always Popeye who eats the spinach. In one Popeye cartoon, he actually forces the spinach down Bluto's throat, so Bluto will work him over and he'll get sympathy from his dream girl, Olive Oyl.
Even Olive Oyl eats her spinach in one rare Popeye cartoon. A Mae West-like competitor is flirting a little too intimately with Popeye in a gym and Olive gets fed up, downs some spinach, and proceeds to beat the crap out of her competition.
Few people know that the U.S. government is directly responsible for Popeye's dependence on the canned green vegetable.
In the 1930's, America was mired in the Great Depression. The U.S. government was looking for a way to promote iron-rich spinach as a meat substitute. To help spread the word, they decided to hire one of America's favorite celebrities, Popeye the Sailor Man.
This report from last Saturday has people laughing out loud across the country. You have to ask why the raccoon didn’t tear the guy up when he first caught him. Well, he probably did, but the guy was drunk, so that part didn’t get mentioned in the report.
The sad part of the story is that it’s not true. The watermark logo is JTTOTS, which designates military humor. Yet enough people believed it to make the debunking itself worth a news story. People wanted this to be true because it paints such a funny picture. Expect to see the vignette incorporated into some movie screenplay before a year passes. -via reddit
A leopard was seen wandering through the village of Rajsamand, Rajasthan, India, with its head stuck in a metal water pot. The animal had apparently tried to get a drink, but the opening of the pot was easier to get into than to get out of. Now, a fox stuck in a jar or a skunk stuck in a yogurt container can be helped by anyone willing to try, but a leopard is a dangerous animal, even with its teeth encased. According to ANI News, forest department officials responded to a call and sedated the leopard, making the job of removing the pot much safer. -via Buzzfeed
You’ve got to print a lot of money when hyperinflation hits -enough so that people could use them as wallpaper! But honestly, anything with value can be traded for anything else with value. Bills and coins are just a way to keep up with that value. Places around the world have done their trading in a lot of different ways. Adriene Hill from Crash Course Economics guest-hosts this week’s mental_floss List Show, in which we find all kinds of things about money. -via mental_floss
Atlas Obscura and Digg teamed up to plot a map of businesses with pun names in America. They asked for submissions, and ended up with about 1900 business names, which are plotted on an interactive map for your viewing pleasure.
I zoomed in on Lexington, Kentucky, and found four hair salons: Hair Jordan, The Twisted Scissor, Hair on Broadway, and Hair and Now. The nail salon is Clip Art. But you’d expect salons to have punny names, like Curl Up and Dye (from the movie Earth Girls Are Easy). There’s also the Thai and Mighty restaurant and Common Grounds Coffee House. But the one we all expected to see, and it’s there, is Hugh Jass Burgers. (Sadly, it closed this year. We still have Big Ass Fans.)
Check out the map here, zoom in, and look around. There are also links to editors’ picks in different categories. I haven’t had time to go through all 1900 yet, so what’s the funniest name you’ve found?
If I had to pick one, I’d go with 1925; none other comes close for me. The 1955 gown looks just like my mother’s wedding dress, except hers was blue. The 1975 gown looks like what I wore to the prom that same year. -via Buzzfeed
Introducing VODER (Voice Operation DEmonstratoR) from Bell Labs. From Wikipedia:
The Voder synthesized human speech by imitating the effects of the human vocal tract. The operator could select one of two basic sounds by using a wrist bar. A buzz tone generated by a relaxation oscillator produced the voiced vowels and nasal sounds, with the pitch controlled by a foot pedal. A hissing noise produced by a gas discharge tube created the sibilants (voiceless fricative sounds). These initial sounds were passed through a bank of 10 band pass filters that were selected by keys; their outputs were combined, amplified and fed to a loudspeaker. The filters were controlled by a set of keys and a foot pedal to convert the hisses and tones into vowels, consonants, and inflections. Additional special keys were provided to make the plosive sounds such as "p" or "d", and the affrictive sounds of the "j" in "jaw" and the "ch" in "cheese". This was a complex machine to operate. After months of practice, a trained operator could produce recognizable speech.
This device was demonstrated at the World’s Fair in New York in 1939 and at the Golden Gate International Exposition. Pretty amazing for the time, huh? -via Everlasting Blort
When Henry Hudson arrived in 1609, the island called Manahatta was a lush area with hills, swamps, beaches, forests, rivers, meadows, tidal flats, and a wide variety of plant and animal life. Landscape ecologist Dr. Eric Sanderson (previously at Neatorama) launched a project to detail what every block of the city was like back then. He’s worked on it since 1999, and now you can use the interactive map from the Welikia Project to see it yourself. The research that went into the work is staggering.
The 16-year process of uncovering what once lay beneath the super-dense urban fabric was (and is) a feat of incredibly detailed historical detective work. The geological and landscape data was the simplest–it came from a 1782 map drawn by the British that included locations of more than 60 miles of streams, as well as 300 natural springs and plenty of wetlands, beaches, and hundreds of types of trees, plants and soil types. Not to mention dozens of hills–after all, the island’s name is derived from the Lenape word Mannahatta, or “the island of many hills.”
But figuring out the specifics of the city’s more than 50 ecological groups was more difficult, as Sanderson explains on the project’s website. They created a list of species that lived on the island, then compared them against the existing data about different environment pockets in the island, creating a web of relationships based on which species were more likely to flourish or depend on which ecologies – they call this a Muir web, after the naturalist John Muir, who popularized this idea of interconnected habitats. The data visualization designer Chris Harrison created this Muir web of the associations between known habitats and species in Manhattan in the 17th century:
The Welikia Project is far from finished- they hope to eventually have all five boroughs of New York City mapped this way. The rest will be more difficult, as they weren’t mapped as early as Manhattan. Read more about the project at Gizmodo.
The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.
Angular approaches to, or with, hair by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, Improbable Research staff
Redrow’s Twist “Hair Dressing Method and Device,” U.S. patent 3889692, issued June 17, 1975 to Redrow Allan Raymond. The inventor explains:
To use this invention, the hair to be manipulated is first combed and separated into a number of strands and the free end of each strand is engaged with one of the leaders to be drawn into and through one of the respective guide means. Each separate hair strand is thus led into the intertwined position of its guide with respect to the other guides and their hair strands. When all of the strands to be intertwined have been led into and through their respective guides their leaders are detached from the strands and the tubes are pulled longitudinally off of the free end of each strand to leave the several hair strands intertwined in the pattern that the guides originally occupied.
Daum’s Hair Twists “Wordless Thoughts: Entering the Knot of Compulsive Hair Twisting,” Melissa A. Daum, master’s thesis, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2012. The author begins thus:
In this thesis, I will be exploring my own habit of twisting my hair. I want to formulate an understanding of what motivates my hair twisting habit and what its purpose is in my life. By understanding the specifics of my own personal fixation, I am assuming that I will better understand the more general, commonplace phenomenon of bodyfocused repetitive behaviors.... To begin this journey, I will illustrate my habit and its origins in detail.
The second Avengers film didn’t quite make the splash the first movie did, even after years of hype. They do have a point about the unbelievable requirements of Age of Ultron in regards to the rest of the Marvel movie universe. No matter, if you liked it, you’ll like it even after seeing the Honest Trailer version. -via Tastefully Offensive
The movie Everest opened in theaters last Friday, and people are wondering whether it is embellished or even possibly toned down for one reason or another. Our feature article this morning gives plenty of reasons to watch the movie instead of climbing the mountain yourself, but how accurate is the film? Uproxx talked with mountain climbers Sean Swarner and Nick Heil, who have been there. They tell us that the climb itself isn’t all that hard compared to other mountains (Denali is actually taller from base to top), especially with the infrastructure that’s been built, but there are other, more serious dangers.
Swarner: When you’re up above, in the death realm, above 26,000 feet, your brain’s not even functioning very well. Your body is deteriorating and you just can’t even think at that level. What would be simple down here in New York, like tying my shoes, up there would take a half an hour just because your brain can’t even process things that well. You really have to push yourself and be very cognizant of how your body feels and what’s going on, because being hypoxic, oftentimes you don’t even know you’re hypoxic, and that’s one of those things… Bad things happen.
Heil: The really sort of insidious danger on Everest is altitude. It’s about being up in these extreme altitudes and how debilitating that is. I think this is the thing that most people that read about Everest and find Everest interesting and compelling, but who haven’t been to altitude, can’t quite grasp because there’s nothing quite like being up at high altitude. You may not be even fully compos mentis in these environments. In fact, no one is. You’re making decisions based on very compromised mental facilities, and it’s easy to make mistakes.
I spent a day walking around Aspen, Colorado, and was astonished at how the altitude affected me, and it’s only around 8,000 feet. Everest, at 29,000 feet, is more than three times the altitude. Read the rest of the interview at Uproxx.
Fifteen years ago, the PBS series NOVA ran a special two-hour episode called “The Vikings.” That episode is still highly rated and available for rent. And the original promotional materials for it are still available online, including a generator that explains Viking runes.
Runes are the characters of the alphabet used by the Vikings and other Germanic peoples from about the second to the 15th centuries A.D. Some runes vaguely resemble letters in our own alphabet; others look more like symbols. All had meaning to the Vikings, who carved them into their so-called rune stones—large monuments that honor the memory, and the names, of Norsemen past.
Try your hand at it, but yours will probably be as incomprehensible as my name. I’m sure you can probably guess what I was trying to say in the example above. -via Everlasting Blort