The Mars Curiosity rover had its eyes wide open as it landed on the red planet. Meaning, the forward-facing camera was taking color images as it landed. In a couple of videos released by NASA, you can see the heat shield falling away from the rover, the heat shield slamming into the planet, and the dust of Mars stirring up as the rover itself touched down. See the videos, and read an astronomer's account of why they are so amazing, at Bad Astronomy. Link
In 1955, geneticist Helen Spurway discovered the phenomenon known as parthenogenisis: how some species procreate without a male. Spurway was studying guppies, but wanted to know if parthenogenisis, or "virgin birth," happened in humans. A call went out through the British magazine Sunday Pictoral to find possible cases. They found Emmimarie Jones, who had an 11-year-old daughter named Monica with no known father. Tests available at the time showed that Monica had many genetic traits eerily identical to her mother's, except for a skin transplant, which both mother and daughter eventually rejected.
Eight months after the search for a virgin mother had been announced, the Pictorial published a world exclusive on Emmimarie and her daughter. The full details of their tests were also revealed in The Lancet, which published “Parthenogenesis in Human Beings” by Dr Stanley Balfour-Lynn of Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London. On the skin grafts, The Lancet concluded that they indicated that Monica’s genes did not in fact match her mother’s, despite all the previous evidence to the contrary. Yet there was a scientific curiosity here. What any parthenogenetically conceived child certainly could not have, unless they had mutated, were any genes that had not come from the mother in the first place. This is why the skin graft from a virgin-born child would be expected to take when implanted on her mother, but one from the mother would not necessarily take on her child. Yet, the opposite had happened in Emmimarie and Monica’s test. What on earth was going on?
In such a case, Balfour-Lynn wrote, interpretation was very difficult, making rigorous proof impossible. True, the Joneses had failed the most stringent test, but that didn’t negate the validity of the first three; it only muddied the waters. The study concluded that Emmimarie’s claim that her daughter was fatherless must be taken seriously. “Doctors have been unable to prove that any man took part in the creation of this child”, screamed the Sunday Pictorial.
But modern DNA tests were not around in 1956, and no DNA samples from the women exist now. However, subsequence advances in science throw doubt on Emmimarie's story. Read the explanation at the Telegraph. Link -via Not Exactly Rocket Science
Nellie the sea otter lives at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington. The otters are given toys for entertainment and enrichment, and here you see Nellie stacking them back in order, after which she hands them back to her keeper. Before you know it, our factory robots will be replaced with otters, who will work for clams. That is, until they tire of the novelty and just want to float in the water, holding hands with a friend. -via reddit
The clip is from 1960 film The Time Machine, produced and directed by George Pal, based on the H.G. Wells novel. Yes, you've seen this movie probably more than a few times. But did you ever see Woody Woodpecker in it? He's there, for an interesting reason.
When director George Pal first came to the United States from Hungary, animator Walter Lantz helped him obtain U.S. citizenship. As a tribute to their friendship, Pal inserted Woody Woodpecker into most of his films
This past Wednesday, New York Times tech columnist David Pogue arranged for a summer resort to play a very special trailer before the scheduled movie. The very special trailer follows how he fell in love with Nicky and leads to a proposal. You can see Nicky's face as she begins to recognize their story in what she thought was just a movie preview. Aww. -via Laughing Squid
In Spain, The Simpsons is so popular that the reruns are broadcast several times a day. It's no wonder a tavern owner wanted his establishment to be Moe's. But when the pull-down door is closed, Homer is upset! This picture was posted by redditor jparrai, who deleted a reference to the bar's location because he doesn't want any infringement trouble to come to the business owner. Link
That's what redditor nwootten named this picture. Isn't it the loveliest rush hour you've seen all week? Link
By Eric Schulman
In this paper we explore the resistance of astronomers to new paradigms.
In the classic work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Kuhn 1962), Thomas S. Kuhn describes scientific research as "a strenuous and devoted attempt to force nature into the conceptual boxes supplied by professional education." He points out that in some cases research results can change the basic tenets of current scientific practice, a process known as "paradigm shift," but that scientists are usually very reluctant to change their ideas about how the universe works.
The history (Schulman 1999) of paradigm shifts in astronomy include the overthrow of Newton's classical theory of gravity (Einstein 1916), the discovery of the expansion of the universe (Hubble 1929), and the realization that there aren't enough jobs in academia (Schulman 2001). Such major paradigm shifts may occur only once in an academic career, making them difficult to study.
It is possible, however, to gain insight into how science works by looking at minor paradigm shifts. Unlike major paradigm shifts, in which the majority of the scientific community is forced to modify its assumptions, minor paradigm shifts result in only a few people changing their assumptions.
In this paper we look at the mental processes of a Ph.D. astronomer undergoing a minor paradigm shift. Such mental processes are by nature private, and it is therefore important to hide the astronomer's identity by referring to him/her by initials only.
The following article is from the book Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Tunes Into TV.
What if the studio audience isn't laughing at what's supposed to be funny? What if there isn't a studio audience at all? There's always "sweetening" -tweaking a program's audio wth a laugh track or some other canned response. This is the story of "canned laughter."
SILENCE IS DEADLY
Laughter is contagious. That's why radio comedies in the 1930s often employed studio audiences -their laughter showed listeners at home which lines were supposed to be funny, and make them think the show itself was well liked by many people. Television continued that tradition. The problem: Sometimes nobody in the live audience laughed, or they laughed at the wrong parts, or too hard, or for too long.
LAUGHING ON THE INSIDE
In the late 1940s, CBS sound engineer Charley Douglass came up with the solution for the problem of underwhelming audience responses: artificial laughter. Making fake laughter was fairly simple: create tape loops of ideal audience responses, then insert them wherever they were needed.
Douglass started collecting audiotapes of shows from the CBS archive. He listened carefully to them, analyzing why one laugh worked and another didn't. Douglass soon noticed that laughter came in many varieties: An audience could titter slightly, chuckle, or roar. And then there was the timing: the instant laugh, the surprised laugh, the delayed one, and, with a particularly intelligent or obscure joke, the rolling laugh as members of the audience got the joke at different times. Douglass realized that dozens of taped laughs would be required.
Ideally, Douglass thought, the canned laughter should be hearty but not too loud, enthusiastic but not disruptive, and just long enough to not throw off the performers' delivery. He aimed to make it consistent and reproducible, and realistic enough to augment and even replace an actual audience.
THE MYSTERY MACHINE
Douglass compiled his tape loops and programmed them into a device he called the Laff Box. And that's all that's really known about it: He was so protective of his invention that he wouldn't even let his clients see it. From the accounts of those who caught a brief glimpse, it's likely that Douglass was inspired by the Mellotron, am electronic instrument that looks like a keyboard, with each key playing a recorded sound stored on magnetic tape. (The Mellotron later became a favorite instrument of bands like King Crimson and the Electric Light Orchestra.)
Similarly, the Laff Box was probably a keyboard with a different kind of laugh attached to each key, and Douglass "played" it to match the right laugh to the joke or situation. The first show to employ Douglass and his mysterious machine: a short-lived 1950 NBC sitcom called The Hank McCune Show.
What you see here is the Red Sands sea fort six miles off the coast of England. It was used during World War II to guard against u-boats and aircraft attack. As you can probably guess, the was an unpopular post, and was only manned for a few months. Other sea forts look more comfortable, even spectacular, in a list of ten at The World Geography. Link -Thanks, Bosko!
(Image credit: Wikipedia user Russss)
Any Twitter user knows that there are a lot of spam accounts. Some mainly post advertising Tweets; others are just accounts created to boost someone else's following. You can even buy Twitter followers. But now there's an app to find out how many of your followers are fake. PLUS you can find out how many of someone else's followers are fake. And that's just what Business Insider did -they analyzed the Twitter accounts of online celebrities who have record numbers of followers. They found huge numbers of those followers are fake accounts. Now, that doesn't mean the celebrity has been buying them; it could mean spam accounts tend to attach themselves to celebrities, or it could be a combination of both. I used my account as an example here, because I'm not a Twitter celebrity (and it shows). Link -via Metafilter
You might argue that dogs can feel shame, or maybe they just seem to be particularly aware when you're angry with them. In any case, putting a sign on them to tell the world of their shame probably won't change the dog's behavior, but it does make for some funny pictures! The Tumblr blog Dogshaming collects those photos to share with the world. Oh yes, and it features the occasional cat, too. Submission are welcome, and critical comments will be posted for public shaming. Link -via Metafilter
Hi Neatoramanauts! This past week I've been up to my elbows in tomatoes and beans, putting them up for the winter. I've also been in discussion about new and expanded features coming soon to Neatorama. No, I can't tell you just yet, but we are working on ways to make Neatorama the best ever. Rommel deserves a pat on the back as he's been very busy chasing down and fixing the bugs in the new system, which pop up during relaunches no matter how well you think you've prepared. Next, we've got a list of real work for him. Our focus is on content and usability. We want to make Neatorama a pleasure for the reader in as many ways as we can, and we are always glad to hear your thoughts and suggestions. And in case you've missed any, here are the feature stories we published this past week:
John Farrier, who is a reference librarian, gave us A Professional Assessment of Twilight Sparkle as a Librarian. Even if you don't follow My Little Pony, the article told us a lot about how real librarians go about their work.
Thursday was the 35th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley, so Eddie Deezen wrote The Song Elvis Presley Recorded in the Dark to mark the occasion.
Jill harness brought us Five Fortunes Found at Thrift Shops.
The History of Surfing came from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.
The Lady and the Bug was a silly poetic contribution of The Annals of Improbable Research.
And mental_floss magazine gave us Pythagoras: World's Nerdiest Cult Leader.
The Caption Contest featuring a reading chipmunk was a lot of fun, and then it got delayed by the move to the new site. But we finally announced the winners this week. Congratulations to Bearfoot, Bunny, and Meghan!
In the What Is It? game this week, the pictured object is the first U.S. patented ice pick, number 15,483. The very first commenter, Galen, knew the answer, and wins a t-shirt! The funniest answer came from pismonque, who guessed it to be the "original Shake Weight, quite popular in the 19th century until someone put his eye out" (which barely beat out "binary abacus," also from pismonque). So pismonque wins a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! Thanks to everyone who played this week. Find out the answers to all this week's mystery items at the What Is It? blog.
If you haven't yet registered your Neatorama account, go and ahead and do it now, so you'll be ready to participate in upcoming gveaways and win great prizes from the NeatoShop! Then you'll be ready to participate in comment discussions as well as giveaways. When you register, go ahead and put something on your profile page; it's not mandatory, but you might want to tell what makes you stand out from the other Neatoramanauts. You can even have a discussion on your profile page!
The non-contest post with the most comments this week was How Is The New Neatorama Doing So Far? We heard about issues with using the new site and were able to address most of them. If you are having any problems, you can still leave comments there, or here, too. In second place was the discussion on A Professional Assessment of Twilight Sparkle as a Librarian, which was starkly divided between My Little Pony fans and librarians. Coming in third was Should Mentally Disabled People Hold Political Offices? You can still get in on those discussions. When you open the comments section, replies to comments are nested under the comment being responded to, and you can access those by hitting the + sign where it says "replies." You can also reply to existing comments, or start a new thread.
Remember, there's a lot more to Neatorama than what you see on the main page. There's plenty of new items this week at NeatoBambino. You'll also find more content, discussions, and treats on our social network pages at Facebook, G+, and Twitter. Oh yes, there's also the NeatoShop, where you'll find new stuff coming in all the time. Have a great weekend!
Ask almost any James Bond fan to name his or her favorite Bond film, and chances are they'll reply with Goldfinger. Steven Spielberg has called it his favorite Bond film. Goldfinger is also quite probably the most widely seen of any Bond movie. According to one source, 75% of worldwide moviegoers have seen Goldfinger at least once. Goldfinger seems to be the quintessential Bond film.
It was the start of the modern James Bond film formula as we know it, complete with the genesis of the unusual gadgets Bond was to use in pretty much every succeeding film following Goldfinger. It was the first Bond film to have the classic Q-branch gadget testing workshop scene that became a Bond staple. It also features the classic Bond car: the Aston-Martin DB-5. Sales of the Aston-Martin DB-5 increased 50% after the release of Goldfinger.
(Image credit: Deutsch Wikipedia user Chilterngreen)
Sean Connery, in his third outing as 007, seems really in his prime here. During Goldfinger, Connery was actually married to actress Diane Cilento, but since he is playing a freewheeling ladies man, he wore a flesh-colored bandage over his wedding ring (clearly visible in production stills).
As in every James Bond film, there is a knockout Bond girl. In this case it Honor Blackman, actually the oldest Bond girl in history -a decrepit 37 years of age at the time of filming. Honor took on the unforgettable role of Pussy Galore. One can only wonder how hard it must have been to get that one by the 1964 censors! The introduction scene between Bond and Miss Galore was originally written as:
GALORE: I'm Pussy Galore.
BOND: I know, but what's your name?
This racy dialogue proved too much to be accepted and was changed to:
GALORE: I'm Pussy Galore.
BOND: I must be dreaming.
Pussy Galore was actually the name of Bond creator Ian Fleming's pet octopus!
By the way, take a quick look at Galore's all-girl flying circus in the film- some were actually men wearing wigs.
Detainees at Guantanamo Bay can earn rewards by cooperating with authorities: normally extra food or cigarettes. But there is word that at least one received a cat. And a lawyer representing another detainee is upset about it.
Carlos Warner, a lawyer representing Muhammed Rahim, an Afghan who was a translator for Osama bin Laden, gave the Loop a brief letter from his client. That note, which was just declassified, consisted of one line: “Dear Mr. Warner — Majid Khan has a cat.”
Khan, an alleged member of Al Qaeda who has agreed to testify against one of the chief planners of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is considered a “high-value”detainee and was held by the CIA in a secret prison for several years before his transfer to Guantanamo.
Warner says the cat-as-reward is just an example of problems plaguing the system used to prosecute detainees, complaining that the military has shut down talks with detainees’ representatives. “I promise that the solution is not providing kittens to those who cooperate,” he told us. “The solution requires an open dialogue with those of us who have close relationships with the detained.”
(Image source: I Can Has Cheezburger)
A collection of photographs at Environmental Graffiti gives a glimpse into the lives of women in China in the 19th century. About this photograph:
To create those amazing ‘wings’, the hair was wrapped around a piece of wood at the back. “The [Manchu] style is simple and graceful, and must have been designed, one would almost think, to represent horns, enabling the wearer to hold her own against her antagonistic husband,” joked photographer John Thomson, who took many 19th-century Chinese photographs, including this one from 1869.
Customs and fashions varied from Formosa to Manchuria to the enclaves of minority tribes. Read about each with the photographs. Warning: bound feet. Link
(Image source: Flickr user ralph repo)
There you are, reading the political news stories of the day, and the reactions of your friends on Twitter, when suddenly you see this:
"Wonder if Sununu's fired now" is both a legitimate question and a palindrome.— trifecta (@3fecta) August 16, 2012
Alex Moore was properly floored, because, well, you just don't expect a palindrome to be so clever and topical at the same time. He has the backstory at Death and Taxes. Link -Thanks, Brian!
The condom industry in America, which had been quite robust to that point, was pushed underground after the country went full prude and the Comstock Act of 1873 outlawed the sale of contraceptives by mail. People still bought them, but advertising had to be very creative to get around the law.
Carol Queen says, “What’s interesting about that moment historically, as far as ads for any product that had a sexual purpose, is that there’s a cryptic language being used that made people think about the real function without ever actually saying it.”
Still, venereal diseases (VD, now called STDs) were a big problem. What turned the condom industry around was the U.S. military, which in World War II was determined to avoid the VD problems of the first World War.
By the time the U.S. entered World War II, American soldiers were much better prepared for VD. The military stopped focusing only on prevention through abstinence and post-infection treatment, incorporating condoms on its approved list of prophylactics. Troops could purchase sets of three condoms for ten cents at “pro stations” placed for easy access, day or night. The military also created an aggressive advertising campaign promoting safe sex through prevention, combining images of sexy women with the not-so-sexy effects of VD.
Read the rest of the story at Collector's Weekly, along with many photographs of clever historical condom packaging. Link
Today is Black Cat Appreciation Day. Why? Because, as organizer Wayne Morris says,
Black Cats are frequently the last to be adopted and are often put to sleep. I came up with this idea in the hope that opinions could be changed and the Black Cat would be a welcome addition in everyone's home! Black cats are playful, loving, and sometimes even remind you of miniature panthers with their shiny black coats! Save a life and get a wonderful friend...adopt a black cat!!!
Celebrate this online holiday by posting pictures of your black cat at the Facebook event page, or better yet, by making the decision to adopt a cat. I have a black cat; why doesn't everyone? Link
-via Buzzfeed, where you can see more black cat pictures.
Older homes that have been added to, altered, and modernized over the years sometimes contain surprising empty spaces. Andrea's family discovered that as they worked on their home. A little space under the stairs became a secret playroom for a small child. As their family grew, more work was done, and more small spaces found, until they had four "secret rooms" not quite large enough to be called a room, but big enough for children to play in. See how it all came about, with pictures, at Happy Chaos. Link -via b3ta
Purple Hearts are awarded to service members who are wounded in war. There are quite a few folks you know from the worlds of TV, movies, or literature that you may never have suspected are recipients of the Purple Heart. For example, James Arness, who played Marshal Dillon for years on TV's Gunsmoke.
Arness (or Aurness before he started acting) enrolled in the US Army in 1943. He wanted to be a fighter pilot, but with a height of 6’7”, there was no way that was going to happen – the maximum height of pilots at the time was 6’2”. So instead he served as a rifleman. Unfortunately, his height singled him out to be the first off the boat to test the water depth for the other men, leaving him to be the first target for the enemy. As a result, Arness was injured less than a year into his service during an invasion on Anzio, Italy, when he was shot in the right leg.
On the upside, his time in the hospital led to his work in television… eventually.
Read the rest of Arness' story, and those of other notable veterans with Purple Hearts at mental_floss. You might be able to guess a couple of them, but you won't guess all of them -and there are more in the comments, too. Link
The Tuscaloosa News informs us that arresting 55-year-old Walter White is the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office's top priority. Does this mean the end of Breaking Bad? No, just a series of coincidences. The Alabama man has the same name as the series' main character, engages in the same crime (methamphetamine manufacture), and was charged in 2008 (the same year Breaking Bad premiered). Link -via Fark
This article will take you back to an earlier time, when computers had few images and we played text-based games. At the time, they were state-of-the-art, but this analysis will make you either laugh or cringe -or both! Get a look into the sadistic minds who developed these games at Rant Gaming. Link -Thanks, Alex Galbraith!
Historically, cults and their leaders haven't had much luck getting good publicity. Maybe it's because of their intense religious fervor or their creepy recruiting methods, but most people do their best to avoid these cliques (not to mention the punch they serve). But hey, they aren't all bad. Ancient mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras had his own cult (er, "brotherhood") and if it weren't for him, children today might not be stuck at their desks trying to understand the multiplication tables. While most of Pythagora's philosophical beliefs seem pretty normal now, his theories on mathematics, music, and astronomy truly salvaged his legacy from "total whackjob" to "the father of numbers."
LET'S TALK TURKEY
Pythagoras was born on the island of Sámos (off what is now the western coast of Turkey) around 580 B.C.E. As a child, he spent most of his time writing poetry, reciting Homer, and learning to play the lyre. So he was a little precocious, to say the least. By the time Pythagoras turned 22, he pretty much absorbed everything his primary teacher, Pherecydes, had to offer in the areas of math and astronomy, so he was promptly shoved off to Egypt to further his studies. Luckily for our young scholar, this allowed him to get the heck out of Sámos, which was fast becoming a seething pit of unrest thanks to the ruling tyrant, Polycates.
WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN
Pythagoras made a quick beeline for the land of the Sphinx and immediately sought out the knowledgable priests of Egypt. But temple after temple turned him away, refusing to let him study with them because he didn't have the proper training in fasting and breathing. That is, until he arrived on the steps of the temple at Diospolis. There, Pythagoras was allowed to experience this training under their guidance, and, if able to endure the "hazing," would be admitted.
After completing the rites necessary for admission (and learning the extraordinariily complicated Diospolis handshake), Pythagoras was accepted into the priesthood. He spent the next 22 years there, learning geometry and cosmology while embracing the priesthood's other traditions, such as living life without personal possessions, adhering to a vegetarian diet, and, perhaps most famously, being strictly forbidden to eat beans. Although many historians are unsure why, some have postulated that the bean ban was due to the fact that they caused flatulence (still do), which destroyed the mental peace the priesthood of Diospolis felt was necessary for meditation. Another school of thought notes that black and white beans were used for voting at the time, and remaining sans beans was the equivalent of being apolitical. But, beans or not, during Pythagoras' time as a leader in this brotherhood, he began to develop philosophical beliefs that would one day become the cornerstone of his own teachings.
Success! Your email has been sent!