The Zip Feed Tower Story

Pictured above is the CenturyLink Tower. At 11 stories and 174 feet in height, it is the tallest building in South Dakota. At least it is now. The Zip Feed Mill in Sioux Falls had a 202-foot grain elevator that was the tallest building in South Dakota from the time it was built in 1956 until it was scheduled for demolition on December 3, 2005. At that time, it became ...the second tallest building in South Dakota.

They don't build 'em like that anymore. Instead of coming apart under the stress of falling, the tower remained solid and just slid down into its basement, to much amusement from the crowd that had gathered to watch the demolition. However, it was quite tilted, so it was too dangerous to go in and rig it with explosives again. They ended up using a crane and a wrecking ball to take the tower down. You can read a history of the building here. -via a comment at reddit

(Image credit: TCN7JM)

Artificial Intelligence Designs an Advent Calendar

It's December first; time to hang your Advent calendar and open up the first door! Neural network researcher Janelle Shane (previously at Neatorama) introduced an algorithm to the concept of an Advent calendar. This would be the old-fashioned kind before everyone expected chocolate, in which each of the 25 doors would open to a delightful picture. Shane instructed the neural network to follow a story involving a store called Shop of Strange Antiques that got an old Advent calendar with "atypical" images. The algorithm took that to heart. The image ideas were generated in text, then transferred to another algorithm to produce the pictures from the descriptions.   

Shane asked for "atypical," and that's exactly what she got. They are downright bizarre and therefore priceless. A pack of wolves playing poker. Santa Claus strumming a banjo on a trampoline. You get the idea. The Advent calendar has been posted at AI Weirdness in an interactive form in case you want to only open one image per day, or all of them today if you prefer. There were more than 25 images generated because Shane knew that some would have to be discarded, and yes, 20 more were unsuitable for small pixel images or otherwise unusable, but those are listed in a bonus post for your pleasure.

The Time When Henry Kissinger Worked as a Weatherman

Henry Kissinger was National Security Advisor to President Nixon, then Nixon's and President Ford's Secretary of State. He's most famous for negotiating the opening of diplomatic relations with Communist China, the US withdrawal from Vietnam, and nuclear weapons reductions with the Soviet Union. Kissinger was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, so he's accomplished a lot in his career.

But, Kissinger once claimed, what he really wanted to do was to work as a weatherman.

He got his chance on Tuesday, May 21, 1991. Kissinger appeared on the show CBS This Morning. Coached by regular weatherman Mike McEwen, he described the weather across the continental United States, referring to regions of the US by towns named after famous cities, such as Paris, Kentucky and Athens, Georgia.


Rosenberg, Howard. "Forecast: A Trivializing of America Television: Henry Kissinger's Stint as a CBS Weather Forecaster is just the Latest Outrage as a Tabloid Mentality Sweeps Across the Airwaves during the May Ratings Sweeps." Los Angeles Times , May 24, 1991.

-via Weird Universe

The Dryer Song: Musicians Collab with a Squeaky Dryer is What the Internet is Made For

🎵 Got a squeaky dryer? Don't fix it ... instead, record it on Tiktok so musicians worldwide can create entertaining "duet chains" and sooner or later, you'll end up with a full blown and very catchy Dryer Song.

🏰 A man's home is his castle, even if he's living in a tiny home. In this case, a New Zealand couple's tiny truck home actually is a castle, complete with turrets. Oh, and did we mention it actually unfolds and transforms into a bigger castle?

☕ Marble-lous: This NYC woman's coffee table turned out to be a priceless mosaic from the Roman Emperor Caligula's ceremonial ship. The story of how they found out that the coffee table was actually a historical artefact is equally fascinating.

🦠 Good news: bacteria are evolving to eat plastic.

🏆 Can't find that must-have toy for Christmas? Give your kids a bucket of sand and tell them it's the new hot thing. After all, sand is the latest inductee to the National Toy Hall of Fame. Next year, sticks!

🐻 This real-life Winnie-the-Pooh got its head stuck inside a plastic container. Too bad it's not a jar of honey.

🎬 'Doon't' miss this Bad Lip Reading of Dune. The spice, and laughter, must flow.

😺 There is nothing this cat can't catch. A-meow-zing!

👕 Psst! Our Fantasy T-shirts and Sci-Fi T-Shirts make for great 🎄 Christmas presents.

Tons more neat posts over at our new sites: Pictojam, Homes & Hues, Laughosaurus, Pop Culturista, and Supa Fluffy. More neat tees over at the NeatoShop.

Image: @teej011/TikTok

An Honest Trailer for No Time to Die

No Time to Die was the 25th film in the James Bond franchise, and the fifth Bond film starring Daniel Craig as secret agent 007. It's also his final Bond movie, which Screen Junkies agrees is enough, since Craig's Bond was just way too serious, emotional, and depressing. Too realistic, actually, even with the over-the-top gunfights, explosions, and violence. That said, No Time to Die had a respectable run, becoming the most lucrative American film so far in 2021. Yes, it's time for a new Bond, and maybe a return to a more lighthearted spy series. But please, not Chris Pratt.

The Omicron Variant Movie Poster

Everyone's talking about the new omicron variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus. So far, we don't know all that much about it, but anecdotal evidence is that it may be less dangerous than the delta variant, even if it turns out to be more virulent. The word omicron has tripped up a lot of newscasters who've never heard the word pronounced before. Omicron is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet, and not really heard much in English. However, it sure sounds like a science fiction term, doesn't it?

Filmmaker Christopher Miller took a poster from the 1966 movie Cyborg 2087 and altered it to what we picture when we hear "the omicron variant." The title follows the phrasing of science fiction titles like The Andromeda Strain or The Philadelphia Experiment (or The Shawshank Redemption or The Pelican Brief, for that matter). The only thing that would make this more fitting would be to slot in Charlton Heston in the lead role.

It turns out there have been several movies with omicron in the title, in 1963, 1999, and 2013. We nerds really like the Greek alphabet. -via Boing Boing

Squibbing at the Bridgwater Carnival

YouTube has decided to put an age restriction on this video, so you'll need to go there to see it

"It's like any of these traditional regional things that it wouldn't be allowed if you were to ask anywhere else in the world to do it now, innit."

For more than 400 years, Bridgwater, Somerset, UK, has celebrated Guy Fawkes Day, the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, with plenty of gunpowder. The Bridgwater Carnival is held every fifth of November, except it was canceled in 2020 and scaled back in 2021. In a normal year, there is a full carnival including an illuminated parade after sundown. This year they still managed to do the traditional "squibbing," which involves a phalanx of 150 or so people holding fireworks over their heads. Tom Scott got a chance to investigate how the squibbs are made and used, which is just a little bit safer than the traditional ones from hundreds of years ago. He also got to participate in the festivities a few weeks ago, and seems downright giddy at the pyromaniac pyrotechnical display. A good time was had by all.

Invisible Galaxies Spotted!

Experts have discovered two galaxies hiding near the dawn of the universe. These ‘invisible’ galaxies, named  REBELS-12-2 and REBELS-29-2, imply that there were far more galaxies in the early universe than scientists thought. The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) captured the radio waves emitted by these stars, which existed 13 billion years ago, actually. 

According to Swiss astronomer Pascal Oesch, they were looking at a sample of very distant galaxies when they noticed the invisible galaxies. “And then we noticed that two of them had a neighbor that we didn’t expect to be there at all. As both of these neighboring galaxies are surrounded by dust, some of their light is blocked, making them invisible to Hubble,” he said. 

Image credit: NASA

Largest Underwater Volcano Eruption Ever Recorded

We almost failed to notice it, too! 

A New Zealander who was flying home from a holiday in Samoa noticed a strange mass floating in the ocean in her airplane window. The woman took photos of the odd sight and emailed them to scientists, who then realized that this large mass wasn’t a new island popping out of the ocean-- it was a mass of floating rock from an underwater volcano that erupted. 

The volcano in question is the Havre Seamount, which was initially unnoticed by scientists until its eruption that produced the large rift of rocks to flow to the top of the ocean. The eruption is estimated to be roughly 1.5 times larger than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens – or 10 times the size of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland


Image credit: Rebecca Carey, University of Tasmania/Adam Soule, WHOI

What Happened To MSN Messenger?

Microsoft’s MSN Messenger was one of those old-school platforms that actually provided the comfort and efficiency of instant messaging during the early days of the Internet. The application competed against AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, and Yahoo! Messenger for popularity. 

While MSN Messenger didn’t initially rise to the top, its integration with Hotmail managed to overtake the competition, as it offered the convenience of instant messaging to clients of the popular web email service. While it did manage to pull some users, Microsoft phased out the application in 2013 after its acquisition of Skype. Tech Spot’s Shawn Knight details the history of MSN Messenger here! 

Image credit: Tech Spot

So, How Do You Build A Terrarium?

It’s definitely a good addition to your home! Terrariums are small enclosures, usually a glass container, that contain a select number of plants and/or small land animals. Building one is like working hard to create a living garden.

As for making sure that your terrarium stays alive for a long, long time, New York Times’ Margaret Roach says that choosing the right plants and right locations can determine your plants’ longevity. “Your subjects should be selected not just for their good looks, but for their compatibility with the environment you’ll prepare for them — inside a container of a particular size and shape — and with one another,” she adds. Learn more tips and tricks to create and tend to a terrarium here! 

Image credit: Neslihan Gunaydin/Unsplash

Why Did Ancient Egyptians Stop Building Pyramids?

Egyptian pharaohs stopped building royal pyramids after the New Kingdom period (16th century B.C. - 11th century B.C.). While there is no official or recorded reason behind the ending of pyramid construction, experts hypothesize that security concerns could have been a factor. 

According to Harvard University Egyptology professor Peter Der Manuelian, “...since pyramids were inevitably plundered, hiding the royal burials away in a distant valley, carved into the rock and presumably with plenty of necropolis guards, surely played a role." Check out Live Science’s full piece on the topic here. 

Image credit: Osama Elsayed/Unsplash 

Rethinking Invasive Species Amid Climate Change

We've posted quite a few stories of how invasive species can wreck an ecosystem, but those stories represent a small minority of what we call invasive species. The truth is that species move all the time. About 90% of them die out in an unsuitable new environment. Of the remaining 10%, nine will settle in and cause no harm (like kudzu in America). That leaves only 1% of invasive species to make headlines for the damage they cause (like feral cats in Australia). Also, we usually assume that non-native species were transported by humans, such as the plant lovers who bought kudzu from Japanese merchants and the ship crews that carried rodent-hunting cats to Australia.

But there's another kind of invasive species that moves more and more each year- they are climate refugees. As the planet warms up, plants, animals, and other organisms wander further into areas that are becoming more hospitable than their original homes. Is this going to cause problems for existing species in those areas? Maybe, but it may also be the only way those refugee species can continue to exist. Read about this emerging phenomenon and its implications at Vox.

Searching for the Elusive Origins of Glass

The production of glass goes back somewhere around 3500 years. Or at least we once thought so. Producing glass in those days required skilled artisans, or at least we once thought. Glass products were so expensive that they were reserved for royalty, we once thought. Scientists can tell where a glass object was made from the materials used to make or color it, we once thought. All these ideas about the origins of glass have been thrown into the wind with recent discoveries.

It's possible we will never know who invented glass, or where. The very nature of ancient glass shows that it deteriorates in humid conditions over thousands of years, so there may have been samples from its origins that simply no longer exist. Global trade in ancient times indicates that not only was glass imported, but also the raw materials once used to identify its origin. Therefore, glass found in one country, thought to be made in a second country, could have been partially made in a third country with imported ingredients from somewhere else. Partially made glass was shipped in ingots, as in the image shown above, to be remelted and fashioned by artisans into its final form elsewhere. You see how global trade in ancient times makes the story rather murky.

Throw in the fact that archaeologists once ignored evidence of glass when plundering artifacts, and modern archaeologists and material scientists have their work cut out for them. Yet modern technology that can analyze tiny samples of glass without damaging an artifact is helping scientists to learn amazing things about the ancient glass industry. Read about that line of research and what we've discovered at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: Flickr user Panegyrics of Granovetter)

Is This Viral Video Real or Fake?

It's only one minute and six seconds long. In those 66 seconds, a lot happens. This plot is all over the place and moving constantly.

Allegedly, the events take place in Russia. This immediately rings true, but I'm at a loss to explain why I think that. I don't think that it's just the Russian text in the tweet where I first saw the sequence.

Whether this is real or just a slice of security camera footage, I can't wait to see the sequel, preferably directed by Michael Bay

-via Richard Chapman

What do you think? Is this video real or staged?

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