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Children's Drawings Transformed Into Stuffed Toys

Child's Own Studio is a home-based craft business which makes stuffed toys from children's drawings; some drawings are sent in by adults who want personalized gifts for their children, and sometimes children submit the drawings to make gifts for their parents.  They have a blog, and a gallery of their creations is available on Flickr.

http://www.childsown.com/about.html, via 22 Words.

Pedestrian Signals From Around The World

This week Der Spiegel has an article commemorating the 50th anniversary of the introduction of pedestrian Don't Walk/Walk signals to East Germany.
The hat became the trademark of East German pedestrian crossings. It made them unique. Nowhere else in the world had traffic figures ever worn hats. The German Democratic Republic (GDR), at least when it came to this, was in the lead... and today, 50 years after their birth, Peglau's traffic light men are not only used as traffic signals, but can be seen on T-shirts of Hollywood stars like Dennis Quaid.

The link provides background history of the East German icons, and a photo gallery shows examples from countries around the world, some of which are frankly bizarre.

Link. Photo gallery (27 images).

This Is A Steam-Propelled Tricycle

The photo was taken in 1888 in front of the Smithsonian Institution's "Castle" on the Mall.  The driver is Lucius D. Copeland, who invented the device (30 mile range, 10 mph).  His passenger is Frances "Fannie" Benjamin Johnston, later to become one of Washington's most famous photographers.

The steam-powered tricycle was much more practical than its French predecessor, the dog-powered tricycle.

Photo credit to the Smithsonian Institution Archives, via.

Neodynium Magnets Fall SLOWLY Through Copper Pipe

YouTube link.

Note the magnets are not attracted to the copper.  The physics  of the process is explained briefly by thedevguy:
The movement of the magnet induces an electric current in the copper and with electric current comes a magnetic field, which attracts the magnet. The magnet doesn't stick to the wall as it falls because the induced current, and its corresponding magnetic field, are perfectly distributed so that the magnet feels magnetic force equally from all sides. The magnetic field slows the magnet, but can't stop its fall because if the magnet stopped moving, the induced electric field would go away and the magnet would start falling again.

Of note, while the magnet is falling slowly, the copper pipe will feel heavier in the hand because the pipe is "holding up" the magnet.  I wonder whether the same effect could be observed by dropping buckyballs through a smaller copper tube?

Meet a "Water Sommelier"

If you're not certain which bottled water goes best with your dinner, you may need to draw upon the expertise of a water sommmelier.
Rainwater is being served, rainwater that has traveled 16,000 kilometers (9,950 miles) from Tasmania to be sipped by a dozen guests sitting in club chairs in a timber-framed house in a Hamburg suburb. In front of the guests stands a man who is on the short side, wearing a suit and glasses. Jerk Martin Riese, 34, is the maître d' at the Michelin-starred First Floor restaurant in Berlin. There, he created a water menu with 40 different selections -- something for the bored diner to peruse if their partner is monopolizing the wine list.

Link.  Photo credit Gregor Schlaeger.

Meet the "Hotlips" Fungus

Octospora humosa was an obscure spore-shooting fungus, living quietly in patches of moss.  Then the Guardian included it in a species-renaming competition, and a 12-year old girl beat 5,000 other entrants by dubbing the fungus "hotlips."
Brotherton said he hoped the popular competition, now in its second year, would draw people into the natural world and get them looking for these unheralded species, which include the largest sea squirt in Britain, a lichen that thinks it is a mushroom and a sea slug that recycles stings.

The judges thought the name particularly apt, since Octospora is a member of the discomycetes group; the renaming thus creates a "hotlips disco."

Link.  Photo credit: Thomas Læssøe/MycoKey/Natural England

A Wedding in a Hospital

Stories about weddings conducted in hospitals are not rare; typically, however, they involve terminally ill patients.  This one is different because the bride is a pediatric neurosurgeon who wanted to include her patients in the ceremony.
At the reception near the tiny hospital chapel where the vows were spoken, the couple greeted small patients, some hitched to monitors... "They are like my own kids," Bragg said. "My goal is to make kids happy and healthy and to help them live the lives they were meant to live. This is exactly what I wanted. They are a part of my life, and they are a part of my happiness. That's what today was all about."

The rest of the story is at the Wisconsin State Journal.

Children Mailed by Parcel Post

From the archives of the National Postal Museum comes this photo of a postal carrier with a young boy in his mailbag.
After parcel post service was introduced in 1913, at least two children were sent by the service. With stamps attached to their clothing, the children rode with railway and city carriers to their destination. The Postmaster General quickly issued a regulation forbidding the sending of children in the mail after hearing of those examples.

Link, via Good Mail.

25 Takes and 42 Sticks of Butter Later...

YouTube link.

... a local YMCA had the advertisement they wanted.  In order to promote healthier living (and the use of YMCA athletic facilities), they filmed a young woman consuming a stick of butter while watching television, to the accompaniment of Patsy Kline's "You Made Me Love You."
Edwards was allowed to spit the butter in her mouth into a plastic bucket between takes and was fed bottles of Coke to wash away the aftertaste. But by the end of the day she estimates she ingested the equivalent of two butter sticks.

The advertisement, produced for a total of less than $5,000 has won a national award in the "low budget" category of the Association of Independent Commercial Producers.


An Unexplained Roman Dodecahedron

This should be "What Is It? Game 184" - but we don't have an answer.  Nobody does.
It’s dated from somewhere around the second and third century AD, and has been popping up everywhere in Europe. Archeologists have found the majority of them in France, Switzerland and parts of Germany where the Romans once ruled. But its use remains a mystery, mostly because the Romans who usually kept meticulous accounts make no mention of it in records. And with sizes varying from 4 to 11 cm, and some bearing decorative knobs, it only gets harder to pinpoint a function.

About a hundred of these have been found. Suggested uses include a gambling or game die, a candleholder, a staff decoration, a survey instrument, a toy, a calibration device, or a religious object.

Your guess is as good as theirs.

Link and followup link.  Photo: Portable Antiquities Scheme, British Museum.  Additional photos at Wikipedia.

Roman Ships Could Transport Live Fish

In order to keep their catch alive (and fresh) until they return to shore, fishermen have traditionally used "stringers" to suspend the catch over the side of the boat.  What was thought to be a more modern invention was the "livewell," a container on board supplied with circulating water.  Now archaeologists have discovered evidence that livewell technology was used by the Romans in the second century.
Consisting of a pumping system designed to suck the sea water into a fish tank, the apparatus has been reconstructed by a team of Italian researchers who analyzed a unique feature of the wreck: a lead pipe inserted in the hull near the keel... Indeed, a number of historical accounts have suggested that the Romans might have transported live fish by sea. For example, the scientist and historian Pliny the Elder (23 – 79 A.D.), wrote that live parrotfish were shipped from the Black Sea to the Neapolitan coast in order to introduce the species into the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Measuring 51 inches in length and featuring a diameter of at least 2.7 inches, the unique lead pipe was located in a sort of "small bilge-well" and would have been connected to a hand operated piston pump (which had not been found within the wreck).

Additional details are at Discovery News.  Schematic diagram by Simone  Parizzi.

Coming to a Theater Near You - the D-Box

In his blog at the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert pans a new technology for movie theaters:
"Move over 3-D, here comes D-Box!" says the article by Dan Craft. "Instead of delivering movie thrills straight between the eyes, D-Box lifts and separates, so to speak -- detaching the moviegoer from his or her seat via three levels of pitching, rolling and heaving.  "Moreover, the moviegoer also has control over the intensity of that action, via a control knob that can reduce the movement, or, if it all becomes too much, shut it off."

The D-Box seats also (surprise!) involve a higher charge of about $8 to the moviegoer.  Further details at the link, where there is also a video history of "Smellovision."


Neatorama Annual Meeting and Staff Party

YouTube link.

This past weekend the authors and administrative staff of Neatorama gathered for the organization's annual get-together.  After a brief business meeting, during which a proposed takeover by AOL was roundly voted down, participants adjourned to a "bonding" activity. For the third year in a row, Alex's staff (in the white T-shirts*), successfully defended the pole against Miss Cellania's writers' group (attired in traditional Kentucky blue).

The highlight of the evening was a dance competition for Neatorama authors, handily won by John Farrier.

(*available in the Neatoshop)

The Stained Glass Windows of Grossmünster Cathedral

At first glance, these appear to be conventional stained-glass windows with a modern design, but the components of the windows are a bit unusual:
The site of the Grossmünster has been a place of Christian worship since the late 3rd century... Now the Grossmünster has been enriched with twelve exquisite windows by Sigmar Polke... He has given the western half of the church seven windows where the glass has been impregnated with thin slices of agate.

Rockhounding purists might be dismayed by the fact that the geode slices have been "enhanced" by artificial coloration, but the effect is nonetheless quite striking.

Link, via.

Statistical Distribution Plushies

The shapes of some of these plushies will be familiar to many Neatorama readers (standard normal distribution, chi-square, log normal...), but other, more uncommon distributions (Gumbel, Erlang, Cauchy) are also available.

From Etsy seller NausicaaDistribution, via the base of ln.

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