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03 Feb 2012 15:12


Tech: Fun guy chillin’ in South American rainforest finds plastic-eating fungi

  • Seriously, though this is kind of a big deal. Know that big problem we have? You know, the one involving a crapload of used plastic hanging around in landfills with nowhere to biodegrade for a couple million years? Well, Jonathan Russell might’ve solved that problem. See, Russell and his fellow Yale students went to Ecuador, where they found a new kind of fungus they’re calling Pestalotiopsis microspora. Big deal, you’re thinking. Anyone can find fungus anywhere! Well, something his fellow students found out after the fact is that this fungus can live on a diet of polyurethane alone — and even crazier, it doesn’t even need air to do so! In other words, we could potentially put it at the bottom of a landfill and cover it with plastic, and it would do the rest of the work. This might be game-changing if it works as advertised. (photo via Flickr user dbutt; EDIT: Updated with link to research abstract) source

25 Jan 2012 20:14


Tech: That’s hot: X-Ray laser heats aluminum foil to 3.6 million degrees

  • Hot dense matter, indeed: Scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have successfully super-heated a small piece of aluminum foil, as thin as spider silk, to a temperature of 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit. They did this by hitting it with a rapidly pulsing, high-powered X-ray laser, which caused the foil to become what scientists refers to as “hot dense matter,” commonly found only in places like the center of stars. This is the first time a sample has been able to be reproduced in a lab setting, and could lead to greater understanding of nuclear fusion, among other things — the 3.6 million degree matter was, in fact, hotter than the corona of our Sun. (Photo from University of Oxford/Sam Vinko) source

08 Jan 2012 22:01


Culture: Stephen Hawking turns 70, misses his own birthday speech

Hawking, one of many famous people (Elvis, David Bowie, Kim Jong-Un) to have a birthday today, was recovering from an infection, but pre-recorded the speech ahead of time. He’s turning 70, despite doctors predicting he wouldn’t pass 25. source

02 Jan 2012 21:14


Politics: The perfect antidote to Iowa caucus coverage: This video

  • As you might have noticed, we’ve been somewhat light on the Iowa caucus coverage today in part because it’s gotten so overwhelming. (We’re leaving the good stuff for tomorrow, when it ACTUALLY HAPPENS.) But Scott Siepker, this guy … This guy. He offers a progressive defense to the perception that Iowa is full of conservatives that don’t represent the country at large. And wow, it just makes you like you’ve been translated to Iowa for three minutes. You get it, with lines like: “Next time you ‘fly over’? Give us a wave. We’ll wave back. We’re nice. That’s right. We’re nice. @(&!%!^.” It’s profane, but there’s a PG-rated version over here. Must watch. (h/t Buzzfeed)

31 Dec 2011 11:11


Offbeat: Awesome: Random dude inherits Hollywood star’s old cell phone number

  • A few weeks old, but too good not to post: What happens when you get a new cell phone previously owned by a well-connected Hollywood actor? That’s what happened to a middle-aged dude named Bob Gray (center), who moved to California and got a new cell phone with his girlfriend Liza Foster (right). It was obvious that someone famous owned the number before him — because he kept getting invited to parties, including Paris Hilton’s birthday party. In a fitting end to this Happy Madison-like tale, Adam Sandler himself called the number and told Gray he inherited the cell phone number of Nick Swardson, a regular in Sandler’s movies who most recently starred in “Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star.” (Too bad it wasn’t like Sean Penn, but not bad either way.) Gray plans to write a screenplay about this, because … um, wouldn’t you? source

06 Nov 2011 21:21


World: Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, stuck with huge tax bill, gets huge donations

  • $2.4M the size of the fine China gave to firebrand artist Ai Weiwei — to be paid in just 15 days
  • 20k number of people who have offered Weiwei donations to help pay this insane tax bill
  • $550k amount of money these people have given the artist in just five days; impressive source
  • » This on top of a long arrest earlier this year: Ai Weiwei spent 81 days in jail on tax evasion charges, but claims all authorities wanted to talk about was his pro-democracy record. The fine Ai has been forced to pay is more than three times the size of his tax bill — and he needs help paying. The surprising part is that he actually got said help. “It’s surprising; it has really changed my perspective on people,” he said, noting that people traveled long distances to give him financial help — in person. Ai prefers to think of the payments as loans, and turned down a $157,000 payment from a businessman, saying he preferred smaller loans.

01 Sep 2011 10:27


World: Australian outlaw Ned Kelly’s remains discovered via DNA testing

  • So that’s where that Heath Ledger movie came from. The headless remains of notorious bucket-clad Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, whose plight was the subject of the first feature-length film ever made, were discovered in a former Melbourne prison and — get this — confirmed via DNA testing. Officials were impressed. “To think a group of scientists could identify the body of a man who was executed more than 130 years ago, moved and buried in a haphazard fashion among 33 other prisoners, most of whom are not identified, is amazing,” said Victoria Attorney General Robert Clark. Next challenge: Figuring out if he and Buckethead are distant relatives. source

10 Aug 2011 20:13


Culture: J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore = Kinda like Beatlemania

  • A first look at Pottermore: While the latest project from J.K. Rowling isn’t quite ready to be released, the BBC was able to get a glimpse at some of the site’s features. Here’s a peek at Ollivander’s wand shop and some of 4 Privet Drive. source

17 Jul 2011 10:43


Offbeat: Guy wins right to wear pasta strainer in drivers’ license

  • Hey, it’s religious garb, guys! After a years-long struggle that included a psychological exam, Austrian Niko Alm will finally get the right to carry around a driver’s license that honors his religion: The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. “The photo was not approved on religious grounds. The only criterion for photos in driving licence applications is that the whole face must be visible,” said Vienna police spokesperson Manfred Reinthaler. In case you’ve forgotten about the Pastafarians, they’re a tongue-in-cheek religion designed to mock intelligent design. And now Niko Alm can mock it all the way to the DMV. source

08 Jul 2011 15:44


Offbeat: Gorilla vs. Banana: Guess who won. (Hint: Someone slipped.)

  • This is the best story ever. And it involves a guy in a gorilla costume getting tackled by another guy in a banana costume. And a 911 call. And a manager who looks like he’s phsyched about the free publicity the incident just gave his store. And a gorilla. And a banana. And this line: “The kid was in mid-air, flying. He just looked like a Spartan from that movie ‘300,’ except he was a banana.” (h/t ProducerMatthewsource