Weird Universe

June 2, 2009

Weird Wildlife

It's a law of nature that when you've got to go, you've got to go. So if you happen to be a penguin out on the antarctic ice, well, that's where you've got to go. Which turns out to be an extremely useful fact for scientists, who have used piles of penguin poo identified on satellite images to locate where penguin colonies form. Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey hope to use the new technique to follow the penguins over many seasons and determine how much impact global warming is having on the species (Telegraph).

Meanwhile British beekeepers must be cursing that not all animals can be tracked by satellite so easily after an outbreak of bee-rustling has swept the coutryside. The spate of thefts has been provoked by rises in the price of honey combined with a shortage of bees brought about by disease. In the largest bee-heist so far, 18 hives containing over a million bees were stolen from a strawberry field they had been pollinating. According to John Howat of the Bee Farmers Association, pulling off such an audacious crime would require "inside knowledge" (BBC News).

And it's not just beekeepers who are missing their wildlife. A UK radio station that has broadcast nothing but a repeating loop of birdsong for 18 months as "filler" has finally shut down to make way for a new commercial station, and raised howls of protest from many of its half a million regular listeners. The twenty year-old recording, made in a wiltshire garden and used by the radio station free-of-charge, became a massive hit with people from all over Britain, including author Terry Pratchett, who found it a relaxing alternative to the usual radio fare. The replacement broadcast, Amazing Radio, plays music by unsigned bands uploaded to (Pocket Lint).

Finally, here's one story that almost missed the boat (ark?), swimming with stingrays may be harmful... for the stingrays. Scientists monitoring the sealife around the Camen islands have found that tourist excursions to pet the wildlife around the islands is leading to weaker immune systems and poorer health in the animals. Christina Semeniuk, an ecologist at Simon Fraser University in Canada, cited collisions with boats, overcrowding and hand-fed squid forming an greater part of their diet as the main suspects. She pointed to other studies on bears, penguins, dolphins, and apes which also showed increased stress and illness due to wildlife tourism (Guardian).
Posted By: Dumbfounded | Date: Tue Jun 02, 2009 | Comments (9)
Category: Agriculture, Animals, Crime, Science

Forgotten and Unseen Electronics Part 6

This is a new electronic that just came out a while ago. It's a lamp that dances to "Gonna Make You Sweat" which most people would know as Everybody Dance Now. If you're trying to annoy people at the office you can buy one here.

Posted By: phantomspy1 | Date: Tue Jun 02, 2009 | Comments (1)

The Missing Link

Proponents of evolution have long stated that humans are descendants of apes but there has been no evidence of a link between the higher primates and their more distant relatives. Until now. A recent article in National Geographic claims that a fossil, found in Germany, links humans to... lemurs. Paleontologist Jorn Hurum lead the team of researchers who studied the 47-million-year-old fossil and claims, "This is the first link to all humans, the closest thing we can get to a direct ancestor." Read the article here (there's video too).

Now I don't generally have a problem with thinking that my great, great, great (many greats) ancestors were apes. Especially judging by some of the men I've dated. But lemurs? Did any of you see the movie, Madagascar?
Posted By: Nethie | Date: Tue Jun 02, 2009 | Comments (16)
Category: Animals, History, Science, More Things To Worry About

June 1, 2009

Ferrofluid sculptures defy gravity

How you get from the first simple example to the other demonstrations of ferrofluid is a mystery to me. But here's part of the explanation from the poster of the video:

"A ferrofluid (from the Latin ferrum, meaning iron) is a liquid which becomes strongly polarised in the presence of a magnetic field.

Ferrofluids are composed of nanoscale ferromagnetic particles suspended in a carrier fluid, usually an organic solvent or water. The ferromagnetic nano-particles are coated with a surfactant to prevent their agglomeration (due to van der Waals and magnetic forces). Although the name may suggest otherwise, ferrofluids do not display ferromagnetism, since they do not retain magnetisation in the absence of an externally applied field. In fact, ferrofluids display paramagnetism, and are often referred as being "superparamagnetic" due to their large magnetic susceptibility. True ferromagnetic fluids are difficult to create at present."

First example seems like a science demonstration.

How you get from that to these?

At least this one tries to explain what is happening.

No matter how it is done, you must admit it is beautiful and weird.

Posted By: gdanea | Date: Mon Jun 01, 2009 | Comments (2)

can you handle the truth?

Hi, Wu-vians! This used to be the offending post, until Alex closed it. I've removed the objectionable material, but retained the heading and re-opened the post. That way, anyone can still read the comments and add a comment here, in the appropriate place, if they wish to.

We're all about transparency at WU!
Posted By: hickory_johnson | Date: Mon Jun 01, 2009 | Comments (23)

The Toothbrush Brigade

My dentist has this image hanging up in his office, with the following description:

"The Toothbrush Brigade of Long Beach, California, promote dental hygiene with their three-foot toothbrushes, circa 1950. They are rehearsing for the Tenth Annual 'Brownie Button' party which will be held under the auspices of the Long Beach Dental Society as a climax to the city's Save The Teeth movement."
Posted By: Paul | Date: Mon Jun 01, 2009 | Comments (4)
Category: Costumes and Masks, Hygiene, 1950's

Don’t Steal My Mug

Tired of people stealing your mug at work? The people over at seem to have the solution. They bring you one of the only coffee mugs with a built in anti-theft that renders it useless unless plugged. No more worrying about who molests you mug... unless they have one too.
Posted By: mdb777 | Date: Mon Jun 01, 2009 | Comments (4)
Category: Products

Forgotten and Unseen Electronics Part 5

Today I found something not made from Nintendo.

In 2006 Japan started selling a cigarette case that helps you quit smoking. You would put your cigarettes into it and then you would have to set up a certain amount of time on a timer that was attached to it. You wouldn't be able to open it again until the timer runs out. I don't think this would help people quit because they could just set the timer to 1 second and start smoking again or you would just learn not to put cigarettes in that box. If you understand Japanese you can buy one here.

Posted By: phantomspy1 | Date: Mon Jun 01, 2009 | Comments (2)

Butt Bling, a New District of Calamity, Jonathan Lee Riches Sues Again, and More Tex-Ass Justice

News of the Weird / Pro Edition
June 1, 2009 (news from May 23-30)

Britain's Manchester Museum has hired Mr. Ansuman Biswas as its "hermit in residence" this summer, to live in a tower and blog concerning one object a day from the Museum's stash, musing on its significance (or lack of). For some reason, Ansuman sounds thrilled to be doing this. And the BBC said it was sending Simon Armitage to Afghanistan to embed with troops. Armitage is a, uh, poet (actually, Poet Laureate short-lister). Combat poet. Speaking of poetry, here's this bit of marketing by the Planet Shikoku Rejuvenation Station massage parlor in Eden Prairie, Minn.:
Men are from Mars! / Women are from Venus
We understand that sometimes / It's all about the Penis!
But there's no unhappy endings [sic] here / Because we don't do anything wrong
We will stroke your ego / Not your ding dong!
The Guardian (Ansuman) /// The Guardian (Armitage) /// City Pages (Minneapolis)

Crime Is My Profession
(1) Brandon Hiser, 22, was arrested in Kansas City for trying to break into a bank using a screwdriver. Bonus: It was the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. (2) Ezedrick Jones, 18, was arrested in Memphis for trying to knock off the very KFC from which he had just been fired. Bonus: The manager recognized him through his mask's eye holes and throughout the robbery, addressed him by name. Kansas City Star /// United Press International

Gift Guide
"The most daring accessory you can wear," the mfgr says, available in an assortment of colors and Swarovski crystals: butt-plug bling! (Seriously. Chains hanging out of your sphincter.) /// [NSFW]

More in extended >>
Posted By: Chuck | Date: Mon Jun 01, 2009 | Comments (4)
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.