Category:
Nature

The Sound of the Northern Lights Clapping

People have long reported that they've heard strange clapping sounds coming from the Northern Lights. But scientists tended to ignore these reports. The people hearing the sounds were told they were imagining them, or that the sounds were coming from sources such as trees or falling ice. But now Finnish researchers at Aalto University have recorded the Aurora Borealis actually making these snapping/clapping sounds, and have confirmed (to their satisfaction) that the sounds couldn't have been coming from anywhere else. More info at space.com and at the researcher's website.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jul 28, 2012 - Comments (8)
Category: Nature, Natural Wonders, Noises and Other Public Disturbances of the Peace, Science

Cascade

Cascade from Timothy LaPointe on Vimeo.



And what exactly did you ingest before venturing into the woods?

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jul 17, 2012 - Comments (4)
Category: Nature, Pop Art, Surrealism

Groovy Summertime



Happy Solstice!

Info on the band.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jun 20, 2012 - Comments (9)
Category: Music, Nature

D’une Rare Crudité



Anyone know where to find the complete version of this weird film?

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jun 02, 2011 - Comments (6)
Category: Anthropomorphism, Movies, Nature, Surrealism

Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster



If the Republicans continue to undo environmental laws, this is obviously where we are headed.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Apr 17, 2011 - Comments (3)
Category: Movies, Nature, 1970s, Fictional Monsters

The Maze of the Mind

The Maze of the Mind from Blue Muse Dance on Vimeo.



Let me solicit your interpretations of the meaning of this "dance." I'll start you off.

1) Big black hat equals seriousness.

2) TVs can be powered by grass electricity.

3) Simulated lawn orgasms are fun.

4) The world looks better through rose-colored silk.

5) Is this my outdoor tai chi class?

6) New Yorkers will applaud anything.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Feb 18, 2011 - Comments (6)
Category: Nature, Performance Art, Dance

It’s Not What You Think

I know what my first thought was when I saw the headline 'Weed Dating'. Unfortunately it doesn't involve that kind of weed. This is a take on the popular speed dating model - except instead of meeting for a few minutes in a bar, you meet in a field, and pick weeds. Participants weed a row with a potential romantic interest and then move on to another row and another partner. While there hasn't been much romantic success, the idea has created enthusiasm among Farmer's Associations around the country. You can read more about weed dating here.

Posted By: Nethie - Fri Oct 15, 2010 - Comments (14)
Category: Agriculture, Domestic, Nature, Farming

Next up on World’s Deadliest Jobs - Mushroom Hunters

While it might seem quaint to walk through the woods to find and pick mushrooms, apparently it can be quite deadly. Authorities in northern Italy say that at least 18 people have died recently while hunting for the tasty fungi. Avid seekers are growing careless and ignoring safety procedures because the weather for the month of August has lead to a surge in mushroom growth. Most of those who have died fell off the slippery mountain slopes. Now, I realize that truffles can be worth more per ounce than gold, but I don't think it's worth a person's life.

Posted By: Nethie - Mon Aug 30, 2010 - Comments (8)
Category: Accidents, Death, Jobs and Occupations, Nature, Europe

The Wacky Weed

Posted By: Paul - Mon Aug 23, 2010 - Comments (3)
Category: Drugs, Nature, Cartoons, 1940s

Weird Science – From Whales To Sails

Sperm whales are among the biggest living things on the planet and, surprisingly for these gentle giants, once must have been among the most fearsome. Palaeontologists working in Peru have uncovered the remains of an extinct long lost relative of today’s sperm whale that had 30-40 cm long teeth in both jaws (the modern form has much smaller teeth in the lower jaw only). With jaws more closely resembling those of a killer whale than its thrust/suction feeding relative, scientists believe the newly named Leviathan melvillei was a 15 m long hunter of large prey, probably other whales. Its size, jaws and undoubted intelligence would have made this marine monster more than a match for the giant shark Megalodon with which it shared its home (Science [article], Nature [paper]).

Sperm whales are still the largest animal ever to have teeth, but today their diet consists mostly of squid – including the infamous giant squid – and therein lies a problem. Whereas most land dwelling creatures live on plant material, or some juicy meaty derivative thereof, and hence are essentially “carbon-neutral”, marine animals from penguins to whales feast upon carbon that was probably sequestered in the oceans hundreds if not thousands of years ago, or has weathered out of rocks that are millions of years old. One upshot of this is that carbon dating is notoriously inaccurate on marine organisms, what scientists call the “reservoir effect”, another is that unlike water breathers such as fish, who return this carbon to the oceans, air breathing animals like whales will release this carbon to the atmosphere as CO2 and so contribute to global warming. However in new research published by the Royal Society of London, researchers have calculated that whales have actually offset their carbon emissions with emissions of another kind. Whale poop is iron rich and comparatively liquid, hence returns the excess iron in the whale’s diet back to the oceans in a form that is readily usable by phytoplankton. The team, led by Trish Lavery of Flinders University in Australia, estimate that sperm whales are responsible for removing 200,000 more tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere annually than they actually emit (Royal Society).

But it’s not all good news for the tree-huggers for while whales might be a boon in the fight against climate change, their free-range, organic farming practices of preference are almost certainly not. In a paper published by the National Academy of Sciences, Jennifer Burney of Stanford University and her colleagues have found that intensive farming is by far the most land and carbon efficient method of agriculture. Because agricultural land use is a major contributor to global warming, increasing the yields from farmland, and thereby reducing the amount of land farmed, strongly outweighed the extra carbon emissions of the intensive farming needed to achieve this. Doing the sums on farm outputs since 1961, the team found that increased yields have produced the same as cultivating an additional area the size of Russia at 1961 levels, which would have led to the release of 590 billion more tonnes of CO2, equal to about a third of all man-made emissions since the industrial revolution (PNAS).

And modern farming may be coming to our rescue in another way, as a source of cheap batteries. Almost since Ben Franklin gave up kite-flying, kids in schools the world over have been making batteries out of apples or a potatoes. Now a trio of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, led by Alex Goldberg, have found a way to turn these vegetable power sources from classroom curiosities into a viable product. What’s more amazing is the method they discovered to generate a tenfold increase the output of their potato power-pack, they boil the potato first. How did no-one think of this before (AIP)?

Another new idea, albeit a less welcome one, is that one should prosecute scientists for not knowing everything. At least that seems to be the approach taken by the public prosecutors of the Italian city of L’Aquilla, which last year was hit unexpectedly by an earthquake that killed over 300 people and injured 1600 more. The defendants include the head of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and the director of the National Earthquake Center along with four other equally prominent scientists and Bernardo De Bernardinis then deputy head of the Civil Protection Agency, who together are looking at being tried for manslaughter for not alerting the population to the imminent disaster at a meeting held one week before the quake struck. It was Bernardinis, a government official, who claimed in a press conference held immediately after the meeting that the scientists had said there was “no danger”, despite the minutes of the meeting clearly showing that at no time was the chance of a major shock ever ruled out (Nature).



More in extended >>

Posted By: Dumbfounded - Fri Jul 02, 2010 - Comments (7)
Category: Agriculture, Animals, Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Creatures, Farming, Disasters, Exercise and Fitness, Food, Government, Health, Nature, Natural Resources, Science, Psychology, Excrement

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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