The Vulcan salute was devised by Leonard Nimoy, based on a gesture made by various Jewish denominations, including Orthodox and Conservative. In TV Land's The 100 Greatest TV Quotes & Catchphrases, William Shatner described the salute as a benediction, comparing it to the Sign of the Cross. The gesture actually forms the Hebrew letter "Shin" and represents the honorific title "Shaddai", which means "Almighty (God)." The hand gesture is traditionally used by the Kohanim (Hebrew "priests"), Jews of priestly descent, during a blessing ceremony performed during the prayer service of certain Jewish holy days. The Jewish blessing is done with both hands, with arms extended upward at roughly a forty-five-degree angle, rather than one hand held upright as in the Vulcan salute. Nimoy learned the gesture, which takes practice to do, from visiting his grandfather's synagogue as a child.
Legend has it that if you say "Bloody Mary" three times into a mirror, then Queen Mary Stuart will attack you. Personally, I prefer the South Park version of the story, starring the ghost of Biggie Smalls.
Playing up on the legend of Bloody Mary and poking fun at its rival, McDonald's, a Burger King outlet in Sweden has created a haunted bathroom. If you say "Cancelled Clown" -- a reference to Ronald McDonald -- three times, then the clown will appear before you. Business Insider reports:
The software, installed by a Swedish agency named INGO Stockholm, is trained to listen for the phrase "canceled clown." If it hears it three times, it dims the lights, makes a noise, and plays visual effects on a screen behind the two-way "smart mirror."
Ronald McDonald has been "cancelled" in that McDonald's has gradually removed the mascot from its advertising.
Good etiquette at the gym and execution chamber calls for wiping down equipment before leaving. Don't leave your bodily fluids everywhere. Keep it all clean, especially now, as cartoonist Madeline Horwath reminds us.
While building this Lidl store in Dublin, Ireland, construction crews found the remains of an 11th Century house. Lidl worked with archaeologists to continue construction while also studying the site and educating the public about it. Two sections of the newly-opened store have glass floors where shoppers can watch archaeologists at work, carefully excavating and examining the remains of this Norse-Irish home.
When you think about dinosaurs, does the creature's anus come to mind? It was certainly not addressed directly in Jurassic Park, a 1993 documentary about paleontological experimentation.
The anus is soft tissue, not bone, and thus unlikely to be preserved by the fossil record. But Slate author Riley Black directs us to this scientific study about the subject. Researchers Phil R. Bell, Michael Pittman, Thomas G. Kaye, and Christophe Hendrickx have carefully studied the Psittacosaurus, for which a few soft tissue samples remain preserved to modern times. They conclude that this dinosaur had a cloaca similar to that of crocodilian species. From their abstract:
Here, we describe the outer morphology of the only known non-avialan dinosaur cloaca, preserved in an exceptional specimen of the early-diverging ceratopsian dinosaur Psittacosaurus. We clarify the position of the cloaca with respect to the ischia and caudal vertebrae and document the scales immediately adjacent to the abdomen and tail. We find that the cloaca is from a near-sexually mature subadult individual and is most similar to the cloaca of crocodylians, to the exclusion of lepidosaurians and birds.
The term "hobo nickel" comes from the American experience during the Great Depression, when some impoverished people carved images and designs into coins, often the soft 5-cent coin, to sell. The Hobo Nickel Society is an organization dedicated to preserving this craft and promoting its modern practitioners.
For Halloween, the society is tweeting out images of the best Halloween-themed hobo nickels.
Sure, perhaps a roach will be able to survive the radiation of a nuclear war. But can it take a 5.56 caliber round? Nope. Perhaps, though, this living tank can. It's called the diabolical ironclad beetle (Phloeodes diabolicus). You can drive a car right over it. The New York Times (sorry, but it's paywalled) reports:
In 2015, Jesus Rivera filmed a very unusual science experiment for posterity.
On the asphalt of a sun-soaked parking lot, he placed a mottled black beetle on a pillow of dirt and had a colleague run it over with a Toyota Camry. Twice.
Just about any other bug would have died. This one, a species called Phloeodes diabolicus, did not.
“Yeah, it’s still alive,” Dr. Rivera narrated matter-of-factly, as he prodded the still-intact beetle on the video. “It’s playing dead. But it’s still alive.”
Bashed beneath the wheels of a 3,500-pound sedan, the inch-long insect made it through without a scratch. It was a seemingly impossible physical puzzle that Dr. Rivera spent his doctoral career obsessively trying to solve.
Rivera's research revealed that this bug can withstand the force of 39,000 times its own weight. How? Through a multi-faceted armor system that would be an engineering marvel if it wasn't the result of evolution:
The ironclad’s exoskeleton, they found, was packed with proteins that seemed to enhance its durability.
It was also cleverly structured: Evolved from a pair of now-defunct forewings, the exoskeleton stretched across the insect’s back and hooked into a separate structure sheathing the insect’s belly, encasing the beetle in a shell with an airy buffer underneath.
Dr. Rivera compared the arrangement to an industrial-strength egg, with the yolk sloshing gently against a cushion of whites. “You can compress the shell without the yolk, or the organs, getting squished,” he said. Pressed from above, the exoskeleton would bow out slightly at the sides with just enough strength and flexibility to protect the delicate tissues within.
And where the two halves of the exoskeleton met atop the insect’s back, they interlocked like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. “That provides strength at this interface,” Dr. Kisailus said.
A closer look at the exoskeleton’s interlocking lobes also revealed they each had an internal Russian doll architecture — a series of concentric layers that faithfully mirrored the shapes that contained them.
“Having these layers helps toughen the joint,” said Talia Moore, a roboticist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Michigan who wasn’t involved in the study. “It allows some of the stress to be dissipated.” Any pressure put on the structure would get distributed throughout the labyrinth, rather than concentrating in a single weak spot.
“Even if it breaks, it wouldn’t significantly damage the beetle,” said Adriane Minori, a mechanical engineer at the University of California, San Diego, who wasn’t involved in the study. “It’s a fail-safe mechanism that nature has found — that’s something we can learn from.”
Instagram user Maria Lynn has pioneered a performance art style that I've never encountered before. She carefully arranges painted rice on boards, then jumps off a chair so that the rice hangs in the air for a moment--just long enough to display a visual image when replayed in slow motion. I'd love to see "Starry Night" displayed this way.
As Morticia's brother frequently demonstrated in the show, he can power a lightbulb by placing it in his mouth, this model powers a lamp. Fester is lovingly recreated with hand-painted silicone over a foam core. You do have to plug it in, though.
This lamp has, I am sad to say, already been picked up by a buyer of refined taste at the bargain price of $2,696.51.
Sora News 24 reports on a life-changing food innovation from Japan. Twitter user @yas_yuki0573 discovered that his sandwich press can use more than just slices of bread. He poured pancake batter inside and the result was a thick corrugated pancake. Here are his instructions:
1. Fill one side of the sandwich maker with pancake batter. With the sandwich maker still open, cook on medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
2. When the bottom edge starts to brown but the center is still uncooked, close the sandwich maker and flip it over.
3. Cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes.
4. At this point the center should be cooked too, so turn off the heat. If you want a crispier outer layer, let the sandwich maker sit (while still closed) for 2-3 minutes before removing your pancake.
These can themselves be used as the ends of a sandwich. I'd like to try a Reuben made this way.
Nils Verberne, a makeup artist, describes himself as a "weird kid from the Netherlands doing his best with makeup and a camera." His best is amazing! Verberne's works include copies of famous paintings recreated by hand on his own body, such as Van Gogh's "Starry Night."
Joana Vasconcelos, a Portuguese textiles artist, created "Flower Power." She wrapped this Fender Stratocaster electric guitar in a knit sheath made of intricate psychedelic designs. The back side, which you can view at Colossal, is even groovier.
This guitar will be auctioned to benefit the British charity The Big Issue.
What can you do with a precise, individual, vertical takeoff and landing transportation system? You can board naval vessels moving at high speed. The Royal Navy received a demonstration of this as a Gravity Industries jet suit landed on the appropriately named HMS Dasher.
This is Maki, an elderly ring-tailed lemur who lives at the San Francisco Zoo. He was stolen from his enclosure last week. Fortunately, a sharp-eyed 5-year old boy named James Trinh spotted him as he left his preschool, which is about 5 miles from the zoo. The AP reports how the school director, Cynthia Huang, responded when James cried out "There's a lemur! There's a lemur!":
Huang was skeptical at first. “I thought, Are you sure it’s not a raccoon?” she said.
Maki scurried from the parking lot into the school’s playground and took refuge in a miniature play house, as the school called police who quickly alerted animal control and zoo officials. The children, parents and teachers watched as caretakers arrived and coaxed the lemur into a transport cage, Huang said.
Police have arrested a suspect in the case. Zoo officials have rewarded James with a lifetime membership at their facility.