Archive for June, 2012

Meteorites Reveal More Water on Mars Than Thought!

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Science can’t seem to make up its mind about Mars.

Over one hundred years ago, scientists thought that Mars ran wild with water. Many decades later, scientists discovered they were wrong and that the planet may have once had water but was now completely dry. Only a few decades after that scientists learned that there is a small amount of water but only hanging delicately in the atmosphere.

Which brings us up to speed with the latest speculation…

That just below the surface of the planet there might actually be reservoirs of that refreshing martian water.

What’s strange about the discovery is that we didn’t even have to travel to the planet’s surface to get the information. We had the answers to our questions about Mars’ water situation right here on Earth for over a century.

Two meteorites, ejected from Mars almost 2.5 million years ago and which are right here on earth, contained the potential answers to just how ‘wet’ the planet may be all along.

A research team has recently looked at the amount of water molecules locked inside of minerals within both meteorites and used their finding to determine how much water was in the original rock on Mars that produced them.

Their findings so far? That Mars contains an amount of water eerily similar to Earth’s own mantle.

This could be huge for possible colonization of the planet (let’s face it…it’s going to happen).

Mars will begin revealing more of its secrets when, and if, NASA’s Curiosity rover begins playing in the dirt up there when it touches down in August.


Mother Nature Creates Giger-Inspired Wasp!

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Let’s imagine Mother Nature wanted to create a wasp to remind us that she’s still very much in charge of things. Let’s say she’s been looking at a lot of HR Giger’s work for inspiration. Now let’s say that she’s already finished it and released it into the wild.

That horrifying looking thing pictured above is actually real….and it’s called a couple of equally terrifying things; “King of Wasps”, “Horror Wasp” and “Warrior Wasp”. It’s also one more piece of evidence that suggests Mother Nature is getting ready to maybe shake off all the helpless human beings that keep putting up strip malls.

Discovered only as recently as 2011 by Lynn Kimsey of UC Davis in California, the wasp has been dubbed Garuda, the name of a mythical figure that is part-human, part eagle. Garuda is not the biggest known wasp in the world (that award goes to another wasp commonly referred to a the ‘Tarantula Hawk’) but it is the most intimidating-looking wasp out there.

Kimsey discovered the wasp in the Mekongga Mountains of Indonesia and says that they weren’t very common.

That’s great news. We’re sure TSA’s meticulous searches (read that with oozing sarcasm, folks) found any that might’ve stowed away in her luggage, right?

[New Scientist]

Man’s Best Friend Not Safe From ‘Zombie’ Attacks!

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Eventually it’s going to stop, right? The zombie-style incidents? They’ll come to an end before we all end up eating one another, won’t they?

Not any time soon, people.

Not only will they not stop but they’re already getting tired of the taste of tender human meat and are now moving on to man’s best friend.

Yeah. You read that last part correctly…a dog is the latest victim in the new drug-zombie phenomena.

Michael Terron Daniel, a 22-year-old Texan was high on the designer drug known as K2 (a synthetic cannabis) when he began chasing a neighbor…like a dog. Complete with barks and growls, Daniel then turned his attention to the family dog. What happened next was too graphic to really go into detail about according to reports. One witness reported that he was “ripping pieces of flesh away.” The dog was pronounced dead at the scene.

Waco officers (yes…THAT Waco) arrived to find a blood-covered porch and Daniel pleading for them to either fight him or use the stun gun in order “to help him get off his bad trip.”

Daniel has been charged with felony cruelty to a non-livestock animal.


BOOM! Possible Supernova Recorded in 774AD

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Centuries ago, in AD 774, some guy in Britain is keeping a written record of life’s goings-on.

In that year he mentions witnessing something strange…a weird “red crucifix” hanging in the sky.

Fling yourself forward in time. Researchers are unable to explain a strange spike in carbon 14 levels that manifested in unique growth rings in Japanese Cedar trees that year.

UC Santa Cruz biochemistry major Jonathon Allen was listening to a Nature podcast when he heard about the trees and something clicked.

According to Allen’s theory, the spike in carbon 14 that caused the change in the ring patterns of the trees and the ancient text reporting the glowing crucifix in the sky, which seemed to occur around the same period in time, may have both been the same incident…a possible supernova or massive solar flare.

Most scholars that Allen has presented his theory to seem to agree that some kind of massive stellar event took place back in the eighth century and that both nature and the author of an ancient text witnessed it.


Podcast: Ferret Cooties

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Skitched 20110225 175343

Brian stumbles into his new infant child’s room only to find a bloody mystery involving a deadly animal and a hidden menace. Andrew reassures the listeners that the labs producing the most deadly diseases on the planet are being kept extremely safe and secure. Wait, no. The opposite of that. Also, ferrets could be the harbinger of a new super plague.

Support the show by purchasing Andrew’s BRAND NEW BOOK Hollywood Pharaohs just click on the image below.


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The People vs. George Lucas


Locke and Key



Military Weaponizes Lightning! Hell Yeah!

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Here’s your ‘Hell Yeah!’ moment of the week!

If you enjoy phrases like “a device that shoots laser bolts” or “50 billion watts of optical power” you may want to continue reading about how the military is weaponizing lightning with a device called the Laser-Induced Plasma Channel, or LIPC.

Picatinny Arsenal scientists and engineers in New Jersey have developed a lightning bolt weapon by sending a ridiculously fast laser pulse that basically rips the air apart causing a narrow, electromagnetic channel. Immediately following this moment of scientific awesomeness, a lightning bolt is sent along that channel straight to the unfortunate target.

George Fischer, lead scientist on the project gave one of our favorite statements about a developing military weapon. Fischer stated, “We never got tired of the lightning bolts zapping our simulated (targets).”

Can’t really argue with that.


HYSTERIA ALERT: Human Blood Still Has More Alcohol than Soda

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

The UK’s Daily Mail is breathlessly reporting that leading soft drinks including Coca-Cola and Pepsi contain trace amounts of alcohol. What ramifications should this have for teetotallers and people who abstain for drinking for religious reasons? Um, none.

While the Daily Mail points out that the soft drinks contain about .001 percent alcohol, they forgot to mention that your body naturally already has about .004 percent alcohol. This is because those wonderful bacteria that live in our gut and help us digest food and live, sometimes like to ferment (Endogenous ethanol production).

The article was taken from a French publication called ‘60 Million Consumers’ so we can’t tell if they missed that important detail either.

So to put it in simple terms, since Coca-Cola has less alcohol than your bloodstream, assuming that it all went to your blood (instead of getting digested, which is what happens) .001 is less than .004 – so drinking cola will actually lower your body’s natural level of alcohol. It makes you less alcoholic.

If you’re looking to get drunk off cola, you’d be better of drinking human blood. Um, forget we said that. Do not drink human blood.

People will likely ignore this. We’ll get more soda hysteria. Orange juice has more sugar and dissolves teeth too (and fangs).

Check out the Straight Dope if this naturally produced alcohol can get you buzzed…

Besties Forever: Woman and Cow Found Buried Together

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

During the excavation of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Cambridgeshire, archaeologists have discovered the last resting place of a woman and her….cow?

University students who uncovered the find first thought the animal was a horse since men and their horses, even though rare, have been discovered in the past.

Dr. Duncan Sayer, co-director of the excavation stated:

“Animal burials are extremely rare, anyway. There are only 31 horse burials in Britain and they are all with men. This is the first animal to be discovered with a woman from this period – the late fifth Century – and it’s really interesting that it’s a cow, a symbol of economic and domestic wealth and power. It’s also incredibly early to find any grave of a woman buried with such obvious wealth.”

From other trinkets found with these two interesting and apparent companions, it appears that these two may have been besties while alive.

“They would have wanted to give her something really important to show respect and they wouldn’t have done that for just anybody. That’s why we don’t find cows with burials,” she said. Dr Sayer added: “The cow burial is unique in Europe which makes this an incredibly exciting and important find. I don’t think I’ll find anything as significant as this again in my lifetime.”

Anyone else smell a potential animated feature in this story?


[Video] Man vs Robot at Rocks Paper Scissors.

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

News about this Rock Paper Scissors-playing robotic hand has been buzzing because people seem to think it’s novel and cute.

Mocking the slow reflexes of humankind is not novel and not cute. This is more like a total dig and a little kid saying ‘nyah nyah’ and then blowing mankind a big old raspberry. It’s our first glimpse at just how responsive robots will become in the very near future.

Developed at the Ishikawa Oku lab in Tokyo, researchers say they ‘wanted to show what human-machine cooperation systems are all about.’

A high-speed camera recognizes the shape of the human hand and one millisecond later, is able to determine what the result will be and throw the winning sign….every time…without fail.

Sure there’s a lot of awesomely respectable things that this kind of technology could be used for.

That’s all well and good but a human-robot interface with this kind of response time is bringing something even cooler closer to being a reality…

Robot versus robot fights ala Real Steel!


33 Pound Tumor Removed from 26 Pound Boy

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

During a 10 hour surgery, doctors at Mexico City’s La Raza Medical Center removed a 33 pound tumor from 26 pound two-year-old Jesus Gabriel.

Gabriel was born with a small, benign lump on his right side that grew faster than he did and extended from his armpit to his hip. Doctors say that this is the first time in Mexican history that the tumor has been larger than its host was successfully removed.

Little Jesus is doing fine and making a very strong recovery.

[Washington Post]

[Video] Swarming Robots Perform “Meet Your Creator”

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Featured on the cover of WIRED magazine this month, these little drones or “quadrotors” have been popping up everywhere lately.

The show in the video above features 16 of them performing some very cool computer-controlled aerial choreography using reflected light.

It’s some spectacular stuff to watch….until you realize this display is called ‘Meet Your Creator’…and until the kinda creepy ending…

Which we’re pretty sure is a signal to Skynet that it’s highly mobile flying army is ready.


80 Teddy Ruxpins Become Creepy Voice of the Internet!

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Many of you might remember Teddy Ruxpin as something of a tech marvel of the 80s. Teddy Ruxpin was like having your own Disney animatronic as a kid. Insert a cassette tape into his back, press play and Teddy Ruxpin would lip-sync to recordings of stories featuring his adventures…or to any of your favorite bands…or to Eddie Murphy’s Raw standup act. Any audio you could pipe into him, he’d lip-sync to.

Teddy Ruxpin is back…in probably the oddest, almost creepiest way possible…an art installation that reads posts from Twitter out loud.

Eighty Teddy Ruxpin’s have been wired and attached to a wall by Sean Hathaway as part of an installation called TED ( “Transformations, Emotional Deconstruction” ).

Here’s Hathaway’s explanation taken from his official site:

TED is a large, wall-based installation consisting of an array of 80 Teddy Ruxpin dolls that speak emotional content gathered from the web via synthetic speech with animated mouths. The speaking of the emotional content is accompanied by one of twenty-four musical vignettes that have been paired to the emotional content being spoken. Each vignette, representing one of twenty-four subtle variants of human emotion, have been composed in such a way that the beginnings and ends of the short pieces will seamlessly dogleg in any possible configuration and stream endlessly as a unified whole. The installation is allowed to drift about freely through the emotional landscape being driven only by those who are contributing content to the piece whether unwittingly or consciously. As such the overall presentation of the piece can vary greatly based on external conditions such as seasons, world events and even time of day.

Hathaway also states that, “The piece is essentially taking the instantaneous emotional pulse of the internet and this collective pulse, like a human pulse, varies over time,”

Below is a video of the installation at work.

Just don’t watch it before you lay your little precious head down for the night…it’ll probably change your pulse as well…but not in a good way.


Bath-Salt Zombie Activity in New York!

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

We’re not out of the woods yet, kids.

‘Bath Salt Zombie’ activity is now being reported in central New York!

Police officers were called to a bar where a visibly disturbed woman lunged at one officer’s face while screaming that she wanted to “kill someone and eat them!”

This lovely lady won a free ride in a well-cushioned van to the local hospital for mental evaluation.

Just a little while later in a not-so-zombie-like, but still bath-salt fueled, incident, 20 year-old Aubrey Vallis had ripped a door off its hinges and was busy punching a car in a driveway when police busted him for criminal mischief.

Anyone else find themselves a little nervous around the bath section of your local drugstore lately?

[Time Herald Record Online]

Deer Afflicted with ‘Gnarly Buck’

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Ola Enbagen of Gothenburg, Sweden casually went out to grab his morning paper from the post office box. As a bonus he got to see a cute little deer grazing quietly.

Only there was something different about this deer.

“He was looking straight at me and I just thought, “Damn, he looks strange.”

What caught Enbagen’s attention was the weird cactus-like growth on the deer’s head. A moment later the deer leaped over a hedge and disappeared.

“But when I was having breakfast he returned, so I took some pictures and filmed him through the window,” said Enbagen.

Enbagen’s little deer friend was suffering from something called ‘cactus buck’ or better still “gnarly cactus”.

Gnarly cactus is a condition which causes the animal’s antlers to continue growing until they cover its eyes. Normally, a hormonal impulse stirs the bucks to rub the velvet off its antlers every year, and eventually shed them.

When a hormonal imbalance disturbs the shedding of the animal’s antlers, each growing cycle produces more velvet and antler material on top of the previous year’s until they eventually grow over the deer’s eyes, resembling a cactus.

An animal with this condition will have very small or completely undescended testicles. Animals with this condition are not expected to live for a long time. Once the antlers grow over his eyes, the animal will be unable to fend for itself.

Enbagen said deer visit his garden frequently but never one that looked like this.

[The Local – Sweden]

Bird Flu Goes Viral in Lab Ferrets!

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Virologists and epidemiologists sure can be a fun bunch.

Put enough money behind one of their projects and who knows what you’ll end up with.

In this case we may end up with the end of the human race.

Remember the bird flu scare? Total Year 2000-style panic. Many people just took it as another sign that those silly Mayans weren’t so silly and 2012 was the last time they’d have to buy a calendar from one of those kiosks in the mall.

After an article in the L.A Times, that panic could start to rear its ugly head if current research results on the H5N1 virus mentioned in the story begin making rotation on televised news sources.

Scientists have been playing with the bird flu virus in order to see if it would ever mutate enough to become a pandemic among humans spreading merely through someone sneezing on someone else.

And guess what? It could. Since 2003 there have been 606 confirmed cases of H5N1 in humans…almost 60% of those proved fatal. Fatalities among birds, where the virus gets its ‘bird flu’ monicker, have been in the millions. Scientists want to get a lead on the pathogen to see what evolutionary process it would have to take to become a global pandemic amongst humans.

They have an answer and it’s not pretty.

Using ferrets, Dutch researchers led by virologist Ron Fouchier, have developed a strain of the virus that is transmitted through droplets in sneezes. Passing ten times between infected ferrets and mutating five times in the process, H5N1 became airborne and a very real threat to all of us.

After injecting one ferret with H5N1 via droplets to their nose, scientists would let the virus mutate inside the ferret’s body. Once the virus mutated, researchers would then infect another ferret with the mustation. Ten ferrets and five mutations later? Lots of ‘uh ohs’ and nervous, unspoken glances at the other scientists in the room.

As the government continues to provide funding for studies like this in ongoing biological weapons research, scientists, researchers and world leaders are trying to put safeguards in place and determine just how far developing mankind-destroying viruses should go.

The public, because we’ve seen the movies, are worried that scientists may create something that would wipe us all out either because they felt like being a jerk that day, want to swim in a pile of cash like Scrooge McDuck or are making up for all those times people picked on them as a child and would like to pay everyone back for that.

What most people are concerned about is when controversial papers like this are published for the world to see. All we need is one of those scientists with the back-stories mentioned above or a crazy person with enough tenacity and hatred for all of us to peruse a detailed document like the paper for this study to wake up on the wrong side of bed one day.

Brakes had been applied to publishing this research. After six months of red-tape? That paper is about to go public. The Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program at the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science (which publishes Science where the paper will appear) want the paper to see publication so that work can continue on the H5N1 virus. Both the Dutch and US government are seeking to add addtional guidelines concerning publishing research like this in order to prevent individuals from having complete access to the process of creating something like the airborne H5N1 mutation so it doesn’t end up at some local elementary science because some super-nerdy ‘pageant parents’ wanted little Billy to get first place at any price.

Director of the Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program at the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science (seriously…have a title), Mark Frankel, stated that the beneifit of studying H5N1 “far outweighs” any potential danger.

“There’s a risk in everything in life”, he said.

To which many of us would probably think that too.

Especially when we decide to manufacture deadly-to-mankind, airborne viruses.

I’m running to the mall…anyone else want me to pick them up one of those Mayan calendars?

[LA Times]

Sorcery and Witchcraft Punishable By Beheading

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

At first this headline sounded like a joke. This kind of treatment doesn’t still happen ala the Salem witch trials, does it?

It apparently and disturbingly does.

Muree bin Ali Issa al-Asiri was executed several days ago in Saudi Arabia for possession of books and talismans associated with witchcraft.

Asiri wasn’t executed old-school before-the-gun-style either…he was beheaded.

Details on the incident are slowly leaking out at this point. Sebastian Usher, the BBC’s Arab Affairs Editor states that the country’s powerful conservative religious leaders strongly prohibit such practices. A few of them even calling for highest possible punishment for anyone caught practicing ‘sorcery’ which includes fortune tellers and faith healers.

The very real threat of losing your dome over practicing ‘sorcery’ isn’t stopping people from getting all ‘witchy-like’. While pressure from human rights groups saved a television host of a fortune-telling show in 2010, it didn’t save a Saudi woman last December or a Sudanese man last September even after Amnesty International called for their release on both occasions.

Travel tip? Don’t try to catch up on True Blood while you’re there.

[BBC News]