If you want to do something neat but odd, Dave Hax will find a way to make it work! If you are a fan of Minions, you’ll want to see the new movie Minions, opening next week in the U.S. And you’ll want to make your own.
Unfortunately, a very crucial basic step in the beginning makes it darn near impossible for Americans to carry out this project. If you live in Europe, it should be a snap. But at least we now know what inspired the look of the Minions. -Thanks, Dave!
I’m not sure that he was the first to think of it, but Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad started a flood of people asking Siri the question “What is zero divided by zero?” For those of you who don’t use iPhones (like me), Siri is a personal assistant that talks to you. Those of you who use Siri may want to stop reading right now and try it. Otherwise, here is what she said:
“Imagine that you have zero cookies and you split them evenly among zero friends. How many cookies does each person get? See? It doesn’t make sense. And Cookie Monster is sad that there are no cookies, and you are sad that you have no friends.”
The Terminator franchise has already given us four movies over 30 years with one story, but it’s a confusing one. The new film, Terminator: Genysis opens today, but before you see it, you might want to have a refresher course on the chronology of the other films. All time travel movies tend to be confusing, but with Terminator, each film alters the timelines of those that came before -and the new movie messes with that timeline even more. Direct TV gives us an interactive timeline for The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and Terminator Salvation, plus an alternative timeline and an overview of the entire saga. -via The A.V. Club
The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.
Gutsy Explosions in the Northern Hemisphere compiled by A.S. Kaswell and S. Drew, AIR staff
Here is a brief and somewhat haphazardly selected guide to some unfortunate, and probably embarrassing, explosions of a particular type.
Boom (Italy, 1952) “Unusual Complication in Electrosurgery: Explosion of Gases in the Cecum During Operation of Cecal Fistula” [article in Italian], G. Pezzuoli and C. Ghiringhelli, L’Ospedale Maggiore, vol. 40, no. 9, September 1952, pp. 443-6.
Boom (Spain, 1964) “Pneumatic Explosion of the Cecum in Patients with Carcinoma of the Colon” [article in Spanish], N. Antonelli and E. Borenstein, Prensa Medica Argentina, vol. 51, October 23, 1964, pp. 999-1002.
Boom (Germany, 1974) “Intestinal Gas Explosion As a Rare Cause of Traumatic Colon Perforation” [article in German], F.J. Stucker and H. Molzberger, Chirurg, vol. 45, no. 8, August 1974, pp. 373-5.
Boom (America, 1974) “Explosions of Colonic Gas,” B.H. Rogers, New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 291, no. 20, November 1974, p. 1089.
Left: Mrs. Casey, the wife of the minister to the Australian Legation in Washington, D.C., and two children studying global phenomena in 1942. Photo: Marjory Collins, courtesy of the Library of Congress.
There’s nothing like parenthood to make you appreciate what your own parents went through. But even if you aren’t a parent, you can bet your bottom dollar that you weren’t easy to deal with as an infant (or toddler, or teenager). This revelation is brought to you by Lunarbaboon.
Look at this beautiful suit of custom-made armor! It was fashioned by Samuel Lee of Prince Armory (previously), who specializes in one-of-a-kind cosplay armor. It’s made of leather with brass hardware, and it’s not for sale. Yes, Lee can make you something just as awesome, but he’s got a substantial waiting list. See more pictures at Geeks Are Sexy.
Take a look at this gravestone. It would certainly give you pause if you came across it, wouldn’t it? Lily Gray died in her seventies, and was buried in Salt Lake City over 50 years ago, but is still the subject of urban legends. Was she killed by demonic spirits, or even Satan? What would cause someone to think that? There are plenty of colorful tales, but the real, or at least the most believable, explanation is found at Urban Ghosts.
Valencia, Spain’s historic Silk Exchange is a 15th-century building of amazing opulence, “like a church devoted to the god of commerce.” The city had plenty of money at the time, and the mercantile building was designed to intimidate those who came to trade. In fact, the main business was conducted in a room 17 meters tall -that’s almost 56 feet!
A new toy/pet/science experiment from Vat19 is like sea monkeys on steroids. Dino Pet is a plastic shell shaped like a dinosaur, but it’s actually an aquarium for plankton. The living plankton are called dinoflagellates, which is the bioluminescent species that makes some beaches glow at night.
According to FAQ on the sales page, dinoflagellates can live one to three months on sunshine alone, or several months with food. After that, you can order more. And if you decide to buy a Dino Pet, prepare yourself for questions from your children about the ethics of keeping living beings in a small aquarium, even if they are plankton. -via Laughing Squid
The Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage across the U.S. is causing a few awkward moments. The most common joke is about commitment-phobic partners who are suddenly put on the spot about marriage. A 3-year-old Key and Peele routine illustrates that perfectly. In the scenario above, it’s a case of crossed signals and dashed hopes. Poor Robin! This is from the webcomic BatsVsupes. -via Geeks Are Sexy
A World War II bomb shelter 100 feet below the streets London once had room to protect 8,000 people. Now it’s a farm! Last year, we told you about the plans to open an underground vegetable farm called Growing Underground, where leafy greens are grown under LEDs. Now the project is reality.
Crops will be grown in a sealed clean-room environment with a bespoke ventilation system, advanced LED lighting and a sophisticated irrigation system that enable the farm to produce crops with very little energy.
The farm’s mission is to deliver fresh produce with zero effect on the environment and all energy is sourced from green suppliers.
The farm says its advanced systems mean crops can be grown year-round in a perfect, pesticide-free environment because there is no risk of pests or disease.
“Because we have total control over their environment, each tiny leaf tastes as amazing as the last and because they are unaffected by the weather and seasonal changes, we can reduce the need to import crops and drastically reduce the food miles for retailers and consumers.”
Growing Underground is expected to deliver pea shoots, radishes, coriander, celery, parsley, and other vegetables sometime in July. Read more about the project in two articles at Farmer’s Weekly. -via Boing Boing
What would it look like if you got shot in the eyes with Nerf darts -those little missiles with suction cups on them? Charles Tietjen shows us. It’s not pretty, but it’s not beyond your capacity to handle.
At exactly 9:27 P.M., when dusk slips into darkness in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the “light show” begins. It’s June, and for two weeks in Elkmont, Tennessee, the fireflies pool their efforts. Instead of scattershot blips of light in the summer sky, the fireflies—thousands of them—pulse this way for hours, together in eerie, quiet harmony. It’s as if the trees were strung up with Christmas lights: bright for three seconds, dark for six, and then bright again, over and over. It continues this way for hours.
As a child, Lynn Faust would huddle with her family on the cabin porch to watch the spectacle. They’d sit, mesmerized by the “drumbeat with no sound.” And though they’d appreciated the show for generations, Faust never thought the event was newsworthy. “I’d assumed there was only one kind of firefly and thought they did a nice show in the Smokies,” she says.
The natural world has long enchanted Faust. In college, she majored in forensic anthropology and minored in forestry. In her twenties, she circumnavigated the globe for three years, visiting islands you could only get to by boat, learning about cultures before they disappeared, pursuing underwater photography. Today, at 60, she’s a naturalist who writes scientific papers and field guides about fireflies. But she wasn’t always obsessed with the insect. In fact, her academic interest began only in the ’90s, when she read an article by Steven Strogatz, a Cornell mathematician, in which he marveled at a species of Southeast Asian firefly that synchronized its flashes. Highlighting how rare this phenomenon was, Strogatz noted that there were no synchronous fireflies in the Western Hemisphere.
This struck Faust as odd. It contradicted the light shows she had seen growing up. As she dug deeper, Faust found that while there had been more than 100 years of colloquial accounts of North American fireflies flashing in sync, scientists discounted those reports, attributing them to lore or optical illusion. Faust knew the truth: that her Tennessse fireflies were every bit as special as the species in Asia. But how could she prove it?
We’ve seen plenty of nursing mammals take in orphan babies of a different species, but it’s a totally different story with marsupials. Kangaroos and wallabies are born very underdeveloped, and stay in their mother’s pouch for months while nursing and growing. At the Adelaide Zoo, a Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo died while nursing a joey. Zookeepers transferred the baby to the pouch of a a Yellow-foot rock wallaby, a completely different species. That had never been done before, but the joey, named Makaia, survived and thrived with his surrogate wallaby mother.
Tiny Hamster is back and getting ready for the 4th of July celebrations with a tiny barbecue! That means a tiny little cookout with tiny little veggie burgers and vegetable shish-kabob, a pool to cool off in, tiny holiday hats, and a picnic table set for friends (rabbit, guinea pig, and hedgehog).
We once posted about the business of hauling pollinating bees across country by truck for agricultural purposes. And it had to happen sooner or later. A truck carrying bees through Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, overturned on I-90 and spilled up to a million bees on Sunday. Traffic was backed up for a couple of miles, and drivers were warned to keep their windows rolled up. To make matters worse, Coeur d'Alene was hosting an Iron Man Triathlon event at the same time. That couldn’t have been pleasant. -via reddit
The question is, do you let the cat in at night, or not? Before watching Call of Tutu, I would’ve said, “Of course!” But as it goes on, I changed my mind. This unsettling short film was obviously influenced by H.P. Lovecraft; in fact, filmmaker Aaron Vanek says as much. I do believe they gave just a little too much of it away at the end, but it’s still terrifically creepy. -via Metafilter
The street artist Mobstr found a wall in East London that was partially red and decided to have a little fun with it. It turned into a battle of wits that lasted an entire year.
I cycled past this wall on the way to work for years. I noticed that graffiti painted within the red area was “buffed” with red paint. However, graffiti outside of the red area would be removed via pressure washing. This prompted the start of an experiment. Unlike other works, I was very uncertain as to what results it would yield. Here is what transpired over the course of a year. --Mobstr
Steven Spielberg’s 1998 film Saving Private Ryan took war movies to another level. The realism and attention to detail were unprecedented. Seventeen years later, let’s find out a bit of what went on behind the scenes to bring the project together.
2. STEVEN SPIELBERG WAS INSPIRED TO DIRECT THE MOVIE BECAUSE OF HIS FATHER.
Spielberg directed Saving Private Ryan as a tribute to his father, Arnold Spielberg, who served in the U.S. Army and Signal Corps, and fought in Burma during World War II as a radio operator in a B-25 squad. Arnold also helped a young Steven to direct his first movies as a teenager, both of which involved plots that took place during World War II. Escape to Nowhere was a 40-minute behind enemy lines movie that a young Spielberg shot with his friends, while Fighter Squad was shot at the Sky Harbor Airport hangar in Phoenix, Arizona, which conveniently housed grounded former WWII fighter planes that the young Spielberg and his friends used, but didn’t fly.
3. IT’S PARTLY BASED ON A TRUE STORY.
Contrary to popular belief, Saving Private Ryan is not based on the Sullivan brothers, a group of five brothers who were all killed in action while serving in the US Navy during World War II on the USS Juneau. The movie is actually based on the Niland brothers, four siblings who all served in the US Army during World War II. Three brothers—Robert, Preston, and Edward—were supposedly killed in action, which caused their remaining brother, Fritz (whom the titular Private Ryan was based on) to be shipped back to America so that the Niland family wouldn’t lose all of their sons. Edward, who was originally thought dead, was actually found alive after escaping a Japanese prison camp in Burma, making two surviving brothers out of the four who fought in the war.
As soon as World War II was over, television engineers and executives got back to a project they’d started before the war: broadcasting television signals in color. CBS and RCA developed competing transmission systems, but it was still decades before color TV sets were common in homes. Meanwhile, testing and calibration went over the airwaves, featuring models who became famous for doing nothing out of the ordinary that home viewers could see. Patty Painter and Marie McNamara were the most famous models who worked long hours to test the color systems.
Both of the women nicknamed “Miss Color Television” performed similar roles, but McNamara ended up getting greater public exposure, with the nationally syndicated columnist Walter Winchell describing her as “the most indispensible [sic] person” in color TV. Others had said similar things about Painter, but because most people did not own color receivers, they could not actually see her for themselves. Thanks to Sarnoff’s insistence on a compatible color system, people could now watch McNamara, if only in black and white. Even before the official endorsement of the RCA color standard, McNamara appeared alongside Dinah Shore on the cover of TV Guide, and soon she had made her way on to Howdy Doody and The Today Show, all the while extolling the virtues of compatible color.
An article at The Atlantic covers the working conditions and the fame Painter and McNamara experienced, but it also explains the war between CBS and RCA for FCC approval of their competing color systems. As you’ll see, the winner wasn’t necessarily “the winner.” -via Digg
If you put a large seashell to your ear, you can hear the ocean! Not really. What you hear is the shell amplifying the ambient noise around you. But it’s a wonderful thing to believe when you’re a kid. Here are some other fascinating facts about nature’s most curious— and beautiful—“ living houses.”
REMAINS OF THE DAY
Seashells come in a vast array of shapes, colors, and sizes, but they all have one basic (and creepy) thing in common: They’re the partial remains of dead animals. Finding a seashell is the equivalent, in a way, of finding a human skeleton on the beach. But seashells are the outer skeletons (technically, exo-skeletons) of their deceased inhabitants. Their soft remains have either been eaten or rotted away.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of animal species that grow and leave behind seashells, ranging in size from microscopic to sofa size. Most of what we think of as classic seashells were made by marine mollusks. That’s because they make the sturdiest, longest-lasting shells. Marine mollusks include gastropods— which include an enormous variety of sea snails; bivalves— such as clams, oysters, and scallops; scaphopods— that make tusk-shaped shells; and some cephalopods— such as the nautilus and spirula. (There are many types of mollusks that make no shells at all, including sea slugs and octopuses.)
All mollusks have the same basic body form: They have a head, which holds the sense organs; a visceral mass, or the internal organs; and a foot. And all mollusks— even ones that don’t create shells— have an organ known as a mantle, which comes from the Latin mantellum, meaning “cloak” or “cape,” so named because it sort of looks like a cape draped over the animal’s back. The mantle has the crucial job of containing the mollusk’s visceral mass. On mollusks that produce shells, it has another job: Build and maintain the shell.
Seashells are made up almost completely of the calcium-based mineral calcium carbonate. Animals that create these shells acquire the ingredients needed to make it— calcium, carbon, and oxygen— from their food sources and even from the water around them. Those ingredients are collected from the mollusk’s bloodstream by specialized cells in the mantle. They are then combined with different proteins made just for the job and secreted out of the mantle surface. The resulting material quickly hardens into shell.
You’ve probably seen seashells that have a coiled, spiral end (sort of like a soft-serve ice-cream cone) with an opening at the other end. These are the shells of gastropods— the snails and slugs of the world.
The newspapers dubbed him that, the nutty strangler, although there was nothing funny about him. Five times he'd struck, each time leaving nut shells—piles of nut shells. On the first occasion the body of a businessman was found in an alley. The police barely noticed the walnut shells among the midtown litter.
The second time it was a suburban housewife and peanut shells. On the third strangulation (a secretary and pecans) the homicide squad started looking at photos of the previous cases. That's when they made the connection.
"Maybe he likes nuts," a rookie suggested. "Maybe cracking shells calms this psycho down while he waits for the right victim to come by."
On the sixth murder, the police caught a break. It was late. Four officers were just coming off their shift when they heard a strangled scream. They arrived too late to save the young college student. But one glance at the piles of red pistachio shells told them who they were dealing with. The officers fanned out, detaining the only three men they could find in the surrounding streets.
An interactive map by Andrew Kahn shows the origins and destinations of ships that transported slaves from Africa to the New World (and some other countries) between 1540 and 1860. Nothing much happens at first, but soon the action becomes a flurry and then a flood.
The dots—which represent individual slave ships—also correspond to the size of each voyage. The larger the dot, the more enslaved people on board. And if you pause the map and click on a dot, you’ll learn about the ship’s flag—was it British? Portuguese? French?—its origin point, its destination, and its history in the slave trade. The interactive animates more than 20,000 voyages cataloged in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. (We excluded voyages for which there is incomplete or vague information in the database.) The graph at the bottom accumulates statistics based on the raw data used in the interactive and, again, only represents a portion of the actual slave trade—about one-half of the number of enslaved Africans who actually were transported away from the continent.
If you learned about slavery from American history classes and TV, you might be surprised to see how many slave ships actually went to the U.S. as compared to other destinations. The number of transports to America is dwarfed by those sent to the Caribbean and to Brazil. Watch the map in action at Slate. -via Digg
New Zealander Jordan Watson has a baby, and has classified 17 different ways to hold her. He’s glad to share them with you in this instructional video. He must be doing it right- the baby never hit the ground and never started wailing in terror. My favorite is the Superman. -via Tastefully Offensive
Admiral Ackbar from the Rebel Alliance is known for one thing and one thing only. But there’s more to him that that. A comic from AC Stuart at College Humor shows the Admiral on a typical day in his suburban everyday life. But this is just the first page. There’s plenty more, and just when you think you know where it’s going -and you think you know already- it still manages to surprise you. -via Geeks Are Sexy
On the surface, they look just like any other couple their age. And just like any other couple, you can’t know what astonishing forces shaped their lives until you ask. Helena and Szczepan Wojtak were born only 35 miles apart in Poland, but did not meet each other until they were refugees in England after World War II.
Frankly, American history classes in public schools are lucky if they have time to touch on anything more recent than World War II. Even if they do, there probably wouldn’t be more than a day or two devoted to the entire space race. The story of space exploration is a long and rich one, with occasionally bizarre incidents that we can laugh about, now that we know no one died because of them. This tidbit is bizarre because of the difference in the American and Soviet space programs. Cosmonauts carried a weapon into space that was basically a sawed-off shotgun.
The TP-82 pistol was developed specifically for cosmonauts and packed enough punch to take out a half-ton grizzly bear. That specification is not an accident, either -- despite our sincerest hopes that the Ruskies had armed their cosmonauts with a hand cannon to fight off aliens or in the event they got into a space-train robbery gunfight with the Americans, the gun was actually intended as a survival measure once they were back on Earth. Why? Because unlike the stupid Americans, who directed their spacecraft into the Pacific Ocean, the Soviets cleverly pointed their returning capsules to the nice, soft rock of Siberia. And, as is wont to happen, capsules occasionally went off course, landing somewhere else in the vast, inhospitable wasteland.
In one such instance, two cosmonauts ended up stranded in the middle of the woods in the Urals, 600 miles from their intended landing site, with only a 9 mm pistol to deal with the bears and wolves that lurked in the woods around them. Despite the fact they never encountered either, they managed to convince their bosses that future crews should be packing more heat.
The Jurassic Period was a long time ago, and it had dinosaurs, which made for an exciting movie in Jurassic Park. But if you can resurrect DNA from that geologic period in fiction, then the other geologic periods of earth’s history wouldn’t be off limits, either. That could give us a lot of sequels!
That is, if they could find any creatures from those other periods that might cause fear and conflict among humans. Or even be the least bit familiar to audiences. College Humor looks at what might have been. -via Tastefully Offensive
You’ve heard of bridges in various parts of the world that have become dangerous because lovers attach locks to the scaffolding to cement their love. The historic Pont des Arts bridge in Paris recently had to be “de-locked” to prevent further damage. But there are many bridges in the world, and many superstitions and traditions about them. Some expect a greeting, others expect you to kiss someone. The Harvard Bridge has a particularly great story behind a rather strange tradition.
Oliver Smoot enjoys the unusual honor of having his own body used as a unit of measurement. In October 1958, members of MIT's Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity devised a pledge prank in which they used Smoot to measure the length of the Harvard Bridge. (Smoot was supposedly chosen because he was the shortest pledge, and his last name sounded kind of scientific.) The obliging Smoot lay down and got back up repeatedly across the bridge while his pledge brothers painted marks every ten "Smoots" (one Smoot is about 5 foot 7 inches). According to their final calculations, which were painted onto the pavement, the bridge was 364.4 Smoots, "plus or minus an ear." The ear was intended to provide a margin of error, since the fraternity brothers knew their methods weren't precise. The Smoot marks have survived, and are re-painted by incoming members of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity each year. They've been preserved through renovations on the bridge, and were celebrated during a Smoot Day bash on October 4, 2008, the 50th anniversary of the original measurement. Incidentally, Oliver Smoot went on to have a career in measurement, eventually becoming chair of the American National Standards Institute and serving as president of the International Organization for Standardization.