The iconic photograph we recall from the movie Paper Moon was a common trope in the early 20th century. The crescent moon, sometimes with a face, was an available photo setting at many photography studios, carnivals, and fairs on which to have your picture made.
An interesting fact about most examples of paper moon photographs is that we can see stars in the center of the moon’s crescent… something which in reality is blocked by the darkly shadowed sphere of the moon. It was clearly something not understood in the pre-space travel era of early 20th century America and still frequently overlooked today.
Aren't these great pictures? They are early submissions to the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. If you have a great photograph, get your entry in for your shot at a 10-day expedition to the Galapagos Islands for two! There are plenty of other prizes, too. The contest is open for submissions until June 30. Even if you don't enter, you'll want to go see the pictures already entered at NatGeo Traveler. Link
Astronomer Tygo Brahe (born 1546, died 1601; Latinized name: Tycho Brahe) was not just an early geek. When he was exhumed in 1901 to celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of his death (and also to restore his grave), many people were eager to get a look at the famous metal insert that had been substituted the Brahe's birth nose.
The Coming of the Nose
In 1572, as a Student at the University of Copenhagen, Brahe observed a very bright star. He proved that it was a Supernova located outside our solar system. Brahe's later observations of the orbits of Cassiopeia and of a comet made clear that those objects, too, were located more distantly than our moon. All this meant that, contrary to what many people believed, the heavens were changeable, not immutable as Aristotle had long ago postulated. Still, Brahe avoided painting a heliocentric view of the universe; he described the earth, rather than the sun, as being at the center of all things heavenly.
To take up his studies, Danish student Tygo had moved from Copenhagen University to the German cities of Leipzig, Wittenberg and Rostock. There, he developed an interest in alchemy and astronomy. He soon became a successfui astronomer. In 1572, he observed the new star Cassiopeia and in 1574, he became a lecturer for astronomy in Copenhagen. Shortly after that, he took up an invitation by Prussian Kaiser Friedrich II to set up the finest astronomical observatory of its time, the "Uraniborg," on the island of Hven in the Sont near Copenhagen. From 1599 on, Brahe worked in Prague. In 1600, the German astronomer Johannes Kepler joined him. Kepler caiculated planetary orbits - basing his caiculations on Brahe's meticulous observations, which Brahe had performed without a telescope.
The Going of the Nose
Tycho Brahe's nose got lost, quite early, in a student fight. On December 10, 1566, Tycho and the Danish blue blood Manderup Parsbjerg were guests at an engagement party at Prof. Bachmeister in Rostock. The party included a ball, but the festive environment did not keep the two men from starting an argument that went on even over the Christmas period. On December 29, they finished the matter with a rapier duel. During the duel, which started at 7 p.m. in total darkness, a large portion of the nose of Brahe was cut off by his Opponent. It was the most famous cut in science, if not the unkindest.
The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.
An analysis of the world’s rarest and most expensive coffee by Massimo F. Marcone, Ph.D., C.Chem., Chimiste (PQ) Adjunct Professor, Department of Food Science University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
[EDITOR’SNOTE: Kopi Luwak (sometimes spelled Kopi Luak) is a rare and prized variety of coffee. It was the subject of the 1995 Ig Nobel Prize in the field of Nutrition. Professor Marcone’s work, described here, advances our understanding of Kopi Luwak. Title image by Praveenp.]
No coffee is perhaps in shorter supply and has a more distinct flavor and history than “Kopi Luwak” from Indonesia. With an annual production of less than 500 pounds and a price tag of 500-600 dollars (Canadian) per pound, it commands the undisputed reputation of being the rarest and most expensive coffee in the world. This is indeed a unique coffee, as it is processed through the digestive system of a palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). This three-to-ten pound arboreal animal uses its keen sense of eyesight during the night to smell and seek out only the ripest reddish coffee cherries to eat. The coffee cherry fruit is completely digested by the civet, whereas the actual coffee beans are excreted in their feces, being deposited in civetries. These are ultimately collected and washed by local coffee collectors. The internal fermentation and action by different digestive enzymes add a unique flavor to the beans. This flavor has been described as earthy, musty, syrupy, smooth, and rich with both jungle and chocolate undertones.
The author displays some coffee beans.
Curiously, Kopi Luwak is not the first nor the only food that-- prior to human consumption-- makes a passage through the entire, or partial, digestive tract of an animal.
Vi Hart, who really knows how to make a video we want to watch, explains why a video with five reasons is a sure-fire hit. At least I learned that birds suck at foosball, even if I didn't learn why. -via Viral Viral Videos
Russian president Vladimir Putin arrived in Amsterdam today to celebrate new economic ties between the Netherlands and Russia. He was greeted with rainbow flags flying at half-staff from gay rights groups. Amnesty International had welcome signs out as well, with several along the lines of the one pictured here, which you can see in an imgur album. Link -via reddit
He put a hotdog down a hole and caught crabs. That's the joke, but it's also what redditor dustbin3 did when he saw a large hole in his yard. This crustacean is a crayfish, also called a crawfish, crawdad, yard lobster, freshwater lobster, mudbug, yabby, and other names depending on where you live. They can be tasty with the right sauce. This one is, ahem, larger than average. Link
Rapid City, South Dakota, has been welcoming U.S. Presidents since 2000. Statues of the presidents, that is! Every year, two new bronze statues (each created by one of four South Dakota sculptors) are added to the downtown tour of presidents. Now every president is represented except for the incumbent (which is coming soon). If you can't get to Rapid City, you can see all the statues at Kuriositas. Shown here is Andrew Jackson. Link -via the Presurfer
This sign should save him a lot of time! In addition to the actual time spent dealing with people who interrupt you, there's the time you spend reorienting yourself once you are free of them, and the time re-doing whatever it was you were doing when the interruption occurred. My kids were on spring break last week, so I know of which I speak. No sign whatsoever would have helped me. -via Geeks Are Sexy
Of all of the incredible women we've ever read about, Dr. Sara Josephine Baker is one of the most incredible. Her accomplishments are astounding, especially when you consider the time in which she lived. Next time you think one person can't make a difference, remember Dr. Baker.
RICHES TO RAGS
Sara Josephine Baker was born to a life of privilege in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1873. In those days there were no water treatment plants or indoor plumbing -people pulled their drinking water right out of the Hudson River. Unfortunately, the Baker family lived downstream from a hospital that discharged its waste right into the same river. The hospital treated people suffering from typhoid fever -and the germs went straight into the water. Baker's father and younger brother both contracted the disease and died when she was 16 years old.
Although the family was left with no income and small savings, Baker announced that she wanted to go to college to become a doctor, so that she could combat diseases like typhoid. But not many women became doctors in those days. Nevertheless, the young woman insisted, and her mother finally agreed.
In 1900, after graduating from the Women's Medical College of the New York Infirmary and completing her internship, Baker hung out her shingle in New York City. THe next year, she took the civil service exam and scored very high -high enough to qualify for the job of medical inspector for the Department of Health.
A MISSION Perhaps because she was a woman, she was given the worst assignment of all: reducing the death rate in Hell's Kitchen -one of the worst slums in New York. But among rat-infested buildings crammed with poverty-stricken immigrants, Dr. Baker found her calling. She went from tenement to tenement, searching for people with infectious diseases.
She said, "I climbed stair after stair, knocked on door after door, met drunk after drunk, filthy mother after filthy mother, and dying baby after dying baby." Every week, more than 4,500 people in this district died from cholera, dysentery, smallpox, typhoid, and other illnesses, fully a third of them newborn babies. Dr. Baker rolled up her sleeves and went to work.
Remember the Lykov family, who lived isolated in Siberia's taiga forest for 40 years until they were found in the 1970s? The only family member left today is Agafia Lykov, who still lives in a cabin in the same wilderness spot, although she has visitors and travels occasionally to the nearest town for medical help. VICE magazine visited Agafia to make a documentary of her life. TYWKIWDBI has the full 35 minute version. Link
Clonakilty, Ireland, is a town of less than 5,000 people, but it knows hospitality, and it knows how to draw tourism. A new monument unveiled today honors an incident of the town's hospitality in 1943. An American B-17 bomber carrying ten crewman and a monkey named Tojo headed for Norway landed in Clonakilty when it went low on fuel. The police took them into custody at a hotel where the Yanks and the locals held a three-day party.
During their stay, the US airmen were able to reciprocate the warm Irish welcome they had received by sharing their 36 bottles of rum with their hosts and Tojo.
After several days, the crew were taken to Cork before they were driven from the neutral Irish Republic into Northern Ireland where they were handed over to the RAF.
But one very important primate was missing when the the airmen left the west Cork town.
Tojo had taken too much of a liking to the rum and other beverages.
"The efforts of local doctors, chemists, and vets failed to save the monkey and Tojo died of pneumonia," said Mr Tupper.
"It was a great tragedy and people lined up and queued to see the dead monkey laid out on a sheet in a bed upstairs in the hotel."
But Tojo had made a lasting impression during his short stay and was given a funeral, with full military honours.
The townspeople still talk about Tojo, the first monkey most of the residents at that time had ever seen. To commemorate the occasion 70 years later, the town unveiled a bronze statue of Tojo today, created by local sculptor Moss Gaynor. Link (with video) -via Arbroath
Thanks to Josephine Cochrane, most of us don't have to suffer through "dishpan hands."
What really is the mother of invention? When it comes to the invention of the dishwasher, necessity had nothing to do with it. It was chipped china.
Josephine Cochrane was a wealthy socialite from Shelbyville, Illinois. She gave a lot of dinner parties and was very proud of her china, which had been in the family since the 17th century. But her servants weren't particularly careful with the priceless china when they washed them after each party. Pieces were chipped; pieces were cracked; pieces were broken. Cochrane felt that the only way to protect her treasures was to wash them herself …but she hated the job.
Why should a rich 44-year-old woman be doing this menial job? Why wasn't there a machine that could wash the dishes for her? Well, there was -sort of. The first dishwasher was patented in 1850 by Joel Houghton. It was a wooden machine that splashed water on dishes when a hand-turned wheel was rotated. It didn't work very well, so Cochrane decided to invent a better one.
TO THE DRAWING BOARD
First, she set up a workshop in her woodshed. She measured her dishes and designed wire racks to hold them. She placed the racks inside a wheel, then laid the wheel inside a tub. The wheel turned while hot soapy water squirted up from the bottom of the tub, falling down on the dishes. Then clean hot water squirted up to rinse them. And finally, the dishes air-dried. It worked.
But while she was busy working on the dishwasher, her ailing husband died. Mrs. Cochrane was left with little money and a lot of debt. Now she needed to follow through on the invention not for convenience, but out of necessity. She needed to earn a living.
The science fiction magazine Fantastic Adventures shows us a glimpse of life on other planets from their 1939-1940 issues. While the alien designs are quite strange, they are meant to illustrate the different conditions on each planet, like gravity and atmosphere. All the planets besides Earth are included, even Pluto, plus Io, one of Jupiter's moons. Link -via reddit
Ars Technica has a tutorial on one of my favorite gardening methods because of the science involved. That and because it's really neat. Learn the technique and you'll have many more plants than you thought you could afford. In a nutshell, you cut pieces off an existing plant and help it grow roots until it is a complete plant on its own. The easiest common plant to start with is tomatoes, which is what Jacqui Cheng uses to demonstrate. I do this with different kinds of flowers, mostly begonias this year. Link
A little unconventional, but that's what makes it worth a video. Do not miss the very ending. If the setting looks familiar, this is Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles, where many teen movies are shot. The security guard is named TC, and he has a lot of fans on reddit. -via reddit
See if you can fill in the blank before you get to the end of the clues.
Clue #1: In 1897 the German government was able to coerce the Chinese givernment into giving them a 99-year lease to the city of Tsingtao, on Kiautschou Bay in East China. The bay and surrounding region soon became a German colony, and a large naval fort was built in its harbor.
Clue #2: In July 1914, World War I officially began. In August, the British -and their allies, the Japanese- attacked Tsingtao, and by November they had taken it from the Germans. The Japanese captured about 4,000 German prisoners in Tsingtao and transported them to POW camps in Japan.
Clue #3: In 1915 several hundred of those prisoners were transported to the newly-built Narashino camp, east of Tokyo. Among those prisoners was one Karl Jahn, an expert in a field that had been mastered by Germans centuries earlier.
Clue #4: In 1918 Jahn and a handful of other POWs taught the secrets of their skill to Yoshifusa Iida, a Japanese givernment official. Yoshifusa, who happened to be in the midst of experiments with the processing of a certain kind of food, was impressed.
Clue #5: Yoshifusa subsequently taught the process to manufacturers all across Japan, marking the beginning of a new industry in the country.
Clue #6: As the years passed, the story of how the Japanesse learned to produce this product was almost completely forgotten. Then, in 2008, a collection of photos of Narashino camp was discovered -including images of Yoshifusa Iisa, Karl Jahn, and the other prisoners making it.
What is the product? Continue reading to find out.
"Brian," said Old Jay, "if you can tell me how much change is in my pocket, you can have it. All but three of the coins are quarters. All but three are dimes. All but three are nickels. All but three are pennies."
The town of Contamana, Peru, has a hospital, but it has no emergency equipment. It also has an airstrip, but it doesn't operate a night because there are no lights. But Wednesday night, a woman and her newborn baby needed emergency medical help. So did a teenager with a tropical disease. How could the medevac plane take off in the dark? A plea for help went out over the local radio station.
Their lights blaring in the night, hundreds of taxis lined an unlit airstrip in a jungle region of Peru so an emergency medevac plane with three very sick patients could take off.
All three survived after the 300-odd drivers of motorcycles fashioned into small taxis with compartments for passengers heeded a call Wednesday night from a radio station to race to the 800-meter airstrip in Contamana, in one of Peru's poorest regions, Peruvian media reported Thursday.
A little girl wants a hoverboard like those in the 1989 movie Back to the Future Part II, but building one is difficult. So she finds a workaround. This film by Sydney Freeland was part of the PBS 2013 Online Film Festival. -via Laughing Squid
Last Monday, Alex posted a rant about how difficult blogging is on April Fool's Day. Is he ever right! You can look all over the internet, and everything you see is either false or suspect. Original content creators were saving their good stuff for April 2. And I learned a lesson. See, I was fascinated by a great story from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader about the guys on the ISS building a satellite out of a space suit, a ham radio transmitter, and garbage. So I posted it. And nobody read it, linked it, or shared it. Well, a lot fewer people than expected. I couldn't figure out why, because it was a neat story. I posted a link to the story elsewhere, and Tuesday night received a comment telling me that was no April Fool, that it really happened. Well, I knew that, but then it dawned on me that no one took the story seriously just because it was posted on April Fools Day! Next year, I'll make our feature story a list of cat pictures on April first. Here's what else happened this past week at Neatorama.
In the What Is It? game this week, the mystery tool is a mechanical pry tool that was used to free people who were trapped in cars before the jaws of life were invented. After studying the comments and collaborating with the powers that be, we decided to award two prizes for the correct answer. Craig Clayton said it is a automotive tool to force open body panels. That's sort of right. Then Jonnette Samantha Huntley Mix said "The Jaws of Life for [ pick your favorite Kardashian ]'s pantyhose." That's sort of right, and funny, too! So both Craig and Jonnette win t-shirts from the NeatoShop! The prize for the funniest answer goes to The Professor, who said, "It's the remote control for a North Korean TV set." Alrighty then, that's good for a t-shirt as well! Thanks to everyone who played, and see the answers to the other mystery items of the week at the What Is It? blog.
Usability tip of the week: With the new Neatorama design, we have expanded the ways you can interact with others on the site. Registered users can leave comments on the posts AND on other user's profiles -including the authors profiles. But if you don't have time or don't know what to say, you can simply leave a ♥ on the top of a post you like, or beside comments you like or agree with.
And if that isn't enough Neatorama for you, we have extra content and fun at our Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Pinterest pinboard. For mobile users, Flipboard makes it easy to keep up with Neatorama. Oh yeah -look for Neatorama on Instagram, too!