Her name was Rossa Matilda Richter, but she was known as Zazel, the human cannonball. Zazel was a trapeze performer and walked a tightrope, but became famous for performing a new stunt on April 2, 1877, at the Royal Aquarium in London. The 14-year-old performer climbed into the business end of a huge cannon, which was then lit, and she was suddenly launched across the arena and into a net. The cannon act brought Zazel worldwide fame.
“We listen to the loud report which follows its application to the powder and lo! our vision is startled by the sight of the living Miss – we mean missile – flying through space, and alighting safe and sound in the huge net spread to receive her. It is Zazel. There she stands, bowing her acknowledgments of the thunders of applause which greet her. Before the smoke has cleared from the vast mouth of the cannon whence she had come she has made her away along the net, and is found again bowing and smiling upon the stage, and the spectators, almost bewildered as well as delighted, are turning to each other with astonishment plainly written upon their faces, and upon their lips the query, ‘Is it possible?’”
But life wasn't a bowl of cherries for Zazel. She was cheated out of proper compensation by her handlers, and suffered injuries quite a few times, including a horrific injury that ended her career in 1891. Read about the life of the first human cannonball at Geri Walton's blog. -via Strange Company
Many efforts are being made to find a cure for a lot of currently incurable illnesses, one being cancer. In the quest to find a remedy or treatment that would effectively put cancer out, scientists look toward the genes of giant tortoises.
An international research team has discovered several variants in tortoise genomes that potentially affect six of the nine hallmarks of ageing. None of the variants has been previously associated with the ageing process.
They also found that giant tortoises have several expanded tumour suppressor genes, as well as alterations in two genes which are known to contribute to cancer.
This was something of a celebrity-tinged genome sequencing, because one of the two tortoises studied was the legendary Lonesome George, the last member of the Galapagos giant tortoise species from Pinta Island (Chelonoidis abingdoni). The other was an Aldabrachelys gigantea from the island of Aldabra in the Seychelles.
Do these tortoises hold the key to curing cancer? Only time will tell.
(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Italian photographer Dario Bonzi captured this remarkable footage in the central Alps valley of Val Camonica of water flowing out of a pipe that appears to be completely frozen.
This amazing illusion is caused by streamline (laminar) flow, which means when low velocity liquid flows in parallel layers without lateral mixing or other interruptions, it appears incredibly still.
via Laughing Squid
On Tuesday the Japanese convenience chain Lawson Inc. starts testing their Karaage-kun Robot that will serve fresh hot fried chicken nuggets on demand. And of course, the 'robot' also looks like a chicken, because Japan.
The trial will only operate during the daytime until December 28th, so if you're in Tokyo you might want to check it out.
Longyearbyen, Norway, is the northernmost city in the world. It is said that it is illegal to die in Longyearbyen, despite the polar bears, dangerous cold, and occasional diseases. Yes, people can die there, but if you do, it gets complicated.
But for more than 70 years, not a single person has been buried in Longyearbyen. That’s due to the region’s year-round sub-zero temperatures: Bodies don’t decompose, but are preserved, as if mummified, in the permafrost. Should anyone die there, the government of Svalbard requires that the body is flown or shipped to mainland Norway to be interred.
But strange things are happening to the permafrost in this town as the climate changes. Take a short trip to Longyearbyen from the comfort of your home in this documentary from David Freid. Read more at The Atlantic.
What we learn about the aftermath of the American Civil War in history class is usually the Reconstruction era. What happened to the individuals who drove the war? Lincoln was assassinated, his successor Andrew Johnson was impeached (but not convicted), and U.S. Grant became president. What about the leaders of the Confederacy? Considering the lack of history class mentions, you'd think they faded into obscurity, but that was not the case- at least immediately after the war.
Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy, was arrested and held in prison at George’s Island in Boston until October, 1865. He was released from indemnity by Andrew Johnson, a pro-slavery, anti-Black President. He was elected to the Senate, which refused to allow him to sit; was elected to Congress; and became the governor of Georgia. Stephens was a rabid anti-Black racist who wrote the “Cornerstone Speech” stating the the Civil War was all about slavery and that Blacks would never be the equals of Whites.
Read about the post-Civil War lives of Confederate president Jefferson Davis and the generals who led the Confederate army at Mental Floss.
Animator David Li created a web toy for Adult Swim that's a virtual choir you control, sort of. Your job is to pull the lips open, which is all it takes to make the virtual mouth sing. The other lips will follow suit. The further you pull, the higher the note. It's creepy and fun at the same time. They can hold a note longer than you can! -via Laughing Squid
Animals can do some pretty amazing things. Given the time and effort, they can be trained to respond to various cues that refer to specific tasks which they would associate with a reward. Some can even be taught how to do math and play musical instruments.
For this particular parrot, it doesn't need to be prompted. It seems that it has learned how to order things online through its owner's electronic personal assistant:
Rocco, an African Grey, requested the items through an Alexa device while his minder was out of the home. Luckily, due to a parental lock, none of his attempted purchases went through.
Rocco, who lives with Marion Wischnewski in Berkshire, U.K., has attempted to order everything from kites and lightbulbs through Alexa since moving to her home. He also gets the device to tell him jokes and play his favorite tunes.
What a smart bird! Read more about Rocco on Newsweek.
(Image credit: Alex Foundation via Wikimedia blog)
You have to admit the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame is sad and serious. But what if Deadpool joined in to lighten the mood? In this recut trailer by Mightyraccoon! all the superheroes are replaced by Deadpool. This turns the super-serious superhero saga into an R-rated comedy. Contains NSFW language. -via io9
Fifty years ago this week, NASA launched the Apollo 8 mission. It was mankind's first adventure outside low Earth orbit, the first trip around the moon, and the first time anyone got to see Earth as a distant object, a blue marble in space. And it wasn't even supposed to happen.
Astronauts Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Lovell were not supposed to visit the moon at all. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had assigned these men to Apollo 9, a fairly routine test of the lunar excursion module (LEM) in Earth’s orbit. But during the summer of 1968, U.S. officials feared an unexpected Soviet jaunt to the moon, so just 16 weeks before the scheduled liftoff, they reassigned the astronauts to an incredibly ambitious and dangerous flight. This decision was essential “to put us on the right timeline for Apollo 11,” says Teasel Muir-Harmony, a curator at the National Air and Space Museum and author of the new book, Apollo to the Moon: A History in 50 Objects.
Flight Director Christopher Kraft told Borman’s wife Susan that the odds of her husband’s return were fifty-fifty. As launch day arrived on December 21, 1968, many “engineers and scientists at NASA question[ed] whether the crew” would ever return.
One of the reasons for those low odds was because the Saturn V missile had only been used twice, and one of those times was a complete failure. Another was the crucial rocket burn that had to be performed on the far side of the moon, when the astronauts would be completely out of touch with Earth. But the decade was running out, and America was dead set on reaching the moon. What the public recalls about the mission was the Christmas Eve broadcast from the astronauts. You can read the rest of the story of Apollo 8 at Smithsonian.
The best animal videos are either adorable, funny, or strange. Many of the best are all three! The Pet Collective has compiled the best pet videos from 2018 into one rather enjoyable collection, yet they labeled it "part one." That means there are more coming. -via Tastefully Offensive
...or so the title says anyway.
I've been in an infested area like this, only without dogs, and was amazed at how many rats could be found. During WWI, this was a practical reason that soldiers began keeping dogs - to fight off the rats that otherwise would prey on both the wounded and the dead.
Vinyl record albums are grooved in a coil that ends in a circle at the end of a side. That circle is still a groove, and can be recorded on. In 1982, I worked at a radio station that played album cuts, and played the very last long on Def Leppard's High and Dry album, not knowing that that the circle had been recorded onto, and the song ends with an endless loop of the lyrics "No no!" It was a complete surprise to everyone, and it went on for far too long while we figured out what was happening, so I eventually faded it out. There are plenty of examples of albums (and 45rpm singles) that were recorded that way, with a locked groove containing audio. "Muskrat Love" by The Captain and Tenille, Monty Python's album Another Monty Python Record, and certain pressings of Sgt. Pepper. In fact, Discogs has a list of 1251 such records. You might even have one in your collection! -via Metafilter
(Image credit: cogdogblog)
In order to observe the stars and other celestial bodies clearly, you would usually need a telescope to magnify it. But Comet 46P/Wirtanen which will pass by the Earth mid-December may be visible even to the naked eye.
Astronomer Carl Wirtanen discovered his namesake comet in 1948. He was a skilled object hunter and used photos of the night sky to spot the quickly moving object, at least astronomically speaking.
Comet 46P/Wirtanen’s orbit keeps it pretty near to the sun. Its aphelion, or farthest point from the sun, is about 5.1 astronomical units (AU), which is just a tad bigger than Jupiter’s orbit. Its perihelion, or closest approach to the sun, is about 1 AU, just about the Earth’s distance from the sun. This path takes about 5.4 years to complete, meaning it comes back into view quite frequently compared to other famous comets.
Right now, it is approaching its perihelion. Its closest point to the sun will fall on Dec. 16 – which is why it will be brightest on this day.
The undisputed King of Cartoons is Frederick Bean Avery, aka Tex Avery. Although he and his work have been featured before in numerous Neatorama posts, none have ever told his whole story. Following are the high points of the man and his career:
1. Tex was blind in one eye, which actually helped his cartooning.
2. At Leon Schlesinger's studio (later bought by Warner Brothers) Tex gave life to existing characters like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. He is famous for creating the the Exaggerated Take, an example of which is seen above.
3. At the height of his success at Schlesinger's, he left for MGM in 1941. Reports vary as to his quitting or being fired for insubordination.
4. At MGM, Tex created masterpiece after masterpiece, surpassing his work at Schlesinger's. He quit MGM in 1954, working for Walter Lantz a short time, before leaving theatrical cartoons altogether in favor of animated commercials such as Raid and the Frito Bandido.
5. Tex went full-circle late in life, returning to directing cartoons for Hanna-Barbara, his old friendly rivals at MGM, before his death in 1980.
It should be noted that Tex created the famous Bugs Bunny line 'What's Up, Doc?', claiming later that this was just something that was in the popular vernacular in his high school. My grandfather, who was about the same age as Tex and was also in Dallas, Texas, at the same time as Tex, was named Walter but carried the nickname 'Doc' all of his life. Truth is stranger than fiction.
More on Tex Avery can be found [here](http://www.texavery.com} and the video embedded below is an excellent capsule study of Tex, featuring commentary by those who worked with him, such as fellow director Chuck Jones and voice artist June Foray. It is well worth the watching.
Tex Avery Biography - wonderful.
You've never thought of wolves as fish eaters, but there is now evidence that they catch and eat freshwater fish. The Voyageurs Wolf Project has established that wolves in Minnesota eat fish as a substantial part of their diet. The project studies GPS-collared wolves from 15 different packs in the Voyageurs National Park area of Minnesota.
Researcher Tom Gable first noticed the wolf-fish interaction in April, 2017, when he hiked to a creek where GPS data showed one of the collared wolves was spending a lot of time.
“As I approached the area, I briefly saw a wolf trying to catch a fish before it ran into the woods,” Gable said. He then found fish remains and wolf tracks scattered along the creek.
In the following month the team found the two GPS-collared wolves in the Bowman Bay pack, south of Lake Kabetogama, spent 43 to 63 percent of their time hunting fish around this creek.
Camera traps eventually captured concrete evidence of wolf fishing. The project has determined that wolves will leave deer and moose alone if they can catch beavers. Fish -and blueberries- help to round out their diet when other foods are not available. -via TYWKIWDBI
Many building and structures of the ancient world have already become ruins which tells us that there was something there but not really what it was about. Archaeological artifacts may give us clues but it would take time to show us the complete picture.
Now, scientists have been able to virtually reconstruct a pre-Incan temple that might tell us something about the building's purpose and history.
(Image credit: Casto Vocal)
Parker Solar Probe made its journey to the sun about four months ago and it has now reached its destination:
One of the first images NASA’s Parker Solar Probe took during its close encounter with the sun shows a streamer of plasma in the outer solar atmosphere, or corona. The probe took this image November 8 at a distance of about 27 million kilometers from the sun’s surface. The bright dot below the streamer is Jupiter.
With this voyage, we will try to understand the nature of the solar atmosphere and the emissions coming out of the sun like solar flares among other things.
Read more about in on Science News.
(Image credit: Parker Solar Probe/NASA)
Psst! Wanna watch glass shatter at 28,500 frames a second? The Slow Mo Guys have you covered! The idea here is to see how fast a crack will move through glass, and you need a rather powerful camera to measure that. They have to do it more than once to get the technique right, but the speed of a crack turns out to be pretty darn fast. I wonder if thicker glass would crack at the same speed- but that would be another video.
How do you replicate an ancient item that has been no surviving remnants or illustrations to work from? Historical descriptions and texts have given clues to replicate an ancient seismoscope invented by Zhang Heng.
Zhang Heng lived in China during the Han dynasty, and history remembers him as a scholar in many fields. He dabbled in astronomy, mathematics, science, engineering, cartography and poetry, among other fields of study and artistic pursuits. He served as a government official for much of his adult life, and was invited to the imperial court in his mid-30s by Emperor An in honor of his skills as a mathematician.
He worked on calculating pi, mapped stars, and in tandem with his academic career, was an inventor. He improved the accuracy of inflow clepsydra -- a type of water clock that measures time by the flow of liquid -- and is credited with creating the first water-powered armillary sphere (a dynamic model that illustrates the movement of celestial objects). But Zhang Heng is most famed for inventing the world's first seismoscope.
In 2005, a group of seismologists and archaeologists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced they had created a proven, functioning replica. Read more about Zhang Heng and his invention at Engadget.
Image Credit: [State Post Bureau of the People's Republic of China via Wikimedia Commons](http://jeff560.tripod.com/stamps.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2561547)
Replica of an ancient Chinese Seismoscope.
Image Credit: Kowloonese via Wikimedia Commons
In 1949, King Features Syndicate produced a giveaway book, sort of a quasi-comic, to explain how nuclear fission works. It starred Dagwood and his wife Blonde, with appearances by other King Features comic characters: Popeye, the Katzenjammer Kids, the Little King, and others. The science gets explained by Mandrake the Magician! It's only 36 pages long, and they are all scanned and enlargeable at The Ephemerist. Be warned, there's a quiz at the end. -Thanks, Tim!
Denver resident Susan Potter made specific plans for the fate of her remains after death, 15 years before she died in 2015 at age 87. She had already decided to donate her body to science, specifically to medical education. The National Library of Medicine’s Visible Human Project, begun in 1991, seeks to digitize the structures of the human body for anatomy education. The process involves milling a frozen human cadaver in increments of only microns and imaging each slice to create a 3D model that can be studied as a whole or piece by piece. Potter met Vic Spitzer, director of the Center for Human Simulation, and volunteered to be one of those cadavers when the time came.
Spitzer wanted to videotape her while she was living and record her talking about her life, her health, her medical history. Your pathology isn’t that interesting to the project, Spitzer told Potter. But if I could capture you talking to medical students, when they’re looking at slices of your body, you could tell them about your spine—why you didn’t want the surgery, what kind of pain the surgery caused, and what kind of life you led after the surgery. That would be fascinating.
“They’ll see her body while they’re hearing her stories,” he explained, adding that video and audio of her would make her more real and introduce the element of emotion to students. Instead of an anonymous cadaver, this “visible human” would be capable of delivering a medical narrative suffused with the recollection of frustration, pain, and disappointment. The images of Potter, like those of the Visible Humans, would be on the internet, available anywhere, anytime.
Potter took the idea very seriously, and was in constant contact with Spitzer for all those years before her death. She even demanded to see the laboratory where her body would be processed.
The bargain Potter made with the man who would cut her into 27,000 slices undoubtedly added meaning to her last years. In fact, it probably added years to her life. I was led to believe she was going to die within a year because of her multiple health problems. She lived for another decade.
As developers continue to upgrade apps such that it would be more convenient, streamlines, and useful for consumers, the flip side to that is the fact that they gather our data and other information in order to make this possible. Moreover, since they have access to these data, they can send these information to various entities.
The millions of dots on the map trace highways, side streets and bike trails — each one following the path of an anonymous cellphone user.
One path tracks someone from a home outside Newark to a nearby Planned Parenthood, remaining there for more than an hour. Another represents a person who travels with the mayor of New York during the day and returns to Long Island at night.
Yet another leaves a house in upstate New York at 7 a.m. and travels to a middle school 14 miles away, staying until late afternoon each school day. Only one person makes that trip: Lisa Magrin, a 46-year-old math teacher. Her smartphone goes with her.
An app on the device gathered her location information, which was then sold without her knowledge.
Read more on The New York Times.
(Image credit: Intel Free Press/Wikimedia Commons)
They may be small but ants can pack a big punch. Getting bitten by one of them can feel like a needle pricking through your skin or like a burning, painful sensation.
Now, there is a genus of ants called Mystrium, also known as Dracula ants, that has the fastest jaws of all.
According to a new study, the Dracula ant, Mystrium camillae, can snap its mandibles at speeds of up to 90 meters per second (more than 200 mph), making it the fastest animal movement on record.
(Image credit: WikiSysop/Ant Wiki)
Street artist David Zinn (previously at Neatorama) of Ann Arbor, Michigan, often decorates public spaces with temporary chalk and charcoal art, incorporating the landscape itself.
Cracks in the sidewalk, plants, and architectural features become the inspiration for, and part of the art. Imagine happening upon any of these images while walking through town, and you just have to smile.
See more of Zinn's creations at Instagram. You can purchase his artwork and books through his online store. -via Laughing Squid
The new DC superhero movie Aquaman premiered Wednesday night in Los Angeles. No red carpet, but a blue one this time. Aquaman star Jason Momoa did more than interviews; he performed the traditional Maori haka “Ka Mate,” accompanied by his children and co-stars. Aquaman opens nationwide today. -via the A.V. Club
Nobody wants to hear from their doctors that they have detected some form of growth in their bodies especially because they would most likely be a prelude to cancer.
If ever somebody does get cancer, in order to remedy it, they obviously need the best possible treatment even if it requires them to undergo chemotherapy and other painful, aggressive treatments, so that their chances of remission would become higher.
But it is actually a different story for singles out there than for married adults. John DelFattore from the Washington Post writes:
We’ve often heard about studies showing that married adults are more likely to survive cancer than singles. But buried in those same studies is another finding that hasn’t made the headlines. When surgery or radiotherapy is the treatment of choice, patients with spouses are more likely to get it.
I had no idea that marital status might affect medical care until an oncologist, talking about what treatment to give me, asked if I have a spouse or children. When I said no to both, he looked genuinely concerned. “But how will you manage?” he asked.
He then proposed to give me only one mild drug, although the standard of care was a much harsher — and more effective — combination chemotherapy. When I tried to describe my strong network of friends and extended family, he talked right over me.
So why do singles get treated differently from married individuals?
(Image credit: Michael Woloschinow/The Washington Post)
In a photo of a crowd, trying to find a particular person is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Nowadays, facial recognition has become a very useful tool at finding people without having to look through the haystack yourself.
It has other uses too in medicine and even in agriculture. But as with any new technology, it comes with some risks, particularly its applications can easily be weaponized.
David Owen explores the various uses of computerized facial recognition as well as the potential dangers that it poses.
(Image credit: US CBP)
Dan Hubbert of Cottingham, UK, strung lots of flashing Christmas light in his yard. Apparently one neighbor did not appreciate the display. She came in the middle of the night and cut the lights with a knife! Hubbert posted the security footage on Facebook, and asked readers whether he should contact the police. Hubbert said she could have come around and asked him to turn off the lights at night.
“Everyone wants me to ring the police on her,” he said. “She should pay for them. If it was youths I would’ve been straight on the blower to the police but she’s old. You can’t start going across the road and chopping down lights.”
While Mr Hubbert said he was thinking about contacting the police to ask them to speak to the woman, he admitted he and his children saw the funny side of the incident.
Read the story at the Independent. Article contains autoplay ads.