Bizarre


Hazel Muir writes on New Scientist:

A new interactive program reveals the spectacular light show you’d see if you dared to wander close to a black hole. It demonstrates how the extreme gravity of a black hole could appear to shred background constellations of stars, spinning them around as though in a giant black washing machine.

The program’s creators say it could be an excellent tool to familiarise people with the weird ways that black holes warp light. “It’s useful for people to play around with the parameters to study how, for instance, a black hole would distort the constellation Orion,” says Thomas Müller of the University of Stuttgart in Germany.


The New York Times reports on the mysterious link between karaoke and murderous violence in the Philippines. A Frank Sinatra song is singled out as especially dangerous:

The authorities do not know exactly how many people have been killed warbling “My Way” in karaoke bars over the years in the Philippines. But the news media have recorded at least half a dozen victims in the past decade and includes them in a subcategory of crime dubbed the “My Way Killings.”

Killings are not limited to the Philippines. In the past two years alone, a Malaysian man was fatally stabbed for hogging the microphone at a bar and a Thai man killed eight of his neighbors in a rage after they sang John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”


With a massive blizzard going on in the Northeastern U.S., water (albeit in a frozen form) is on everyone’s mind in this part of the world. Very interesting article, whether you are snowed in or not. Edwin Cartlidge writes in New Scientist:
Ice

We are confronted by many mysteries, from the nature of dark matter and the origin of the universe to the quest for a theory of everything. These are all puzzles on the grand scale, but you can observe another enduring mystery of the physical world — equally perplexing, if not quite so grand — from the comfort of your kitchen. Simply fill a tall glass with chilled water, throw in an ice cube and leave it to stand.

The fact that the ice cube floats is the first oddity. And the mystery deepens if you take a thermometer and measure the temperature of the water at various depths. At the top, near the ice cube, you’ll find it to be around 0 °C, but at the bottom it should be about 4 °C. That’s because water is denser at 4°C than it is at any other temperature — another strange trait that sets it apart from other liquids.


“Thinking outside the box” and “Let’s touch base” were the most hated buzz phrases among the 1,836 people surveyed by Opinium research. Nearly two-thirds of them said their stress levels had been increased by office irritations and one in 10 had left a job because of them. The survey found the Top 10 office annoyances were:

1. Grumpy or moody colleagues (37 percent)
2. Slow computers (36)
3. Small talk/gossip in the office (19)
4. The use of office jargon or management-speak (18)

The most annoying jargon:

1. Thinking outside the box (21 percent)
2. Let’s touch base (20)
3. Blue sky thinking (19)
4. Blamestorming (16) (sitting down and working out whose fault something is)


missmeyetWho is behind W’s ‘Miss Me Yet?’ billboard? NPR reports:

Internet chatter had led to speculation that it might be an urban myth — nothing more than clever digital trickery spreading via the Web.

But our friend Bob Collins at Minnesota Public Radio assures us he’s seen it with his own eyes:

There is a billboard along I-35 near Wyoming, Minn., with a huge photo of former president George W. Bush and this question: “Miss Me Yet?”

Now, the push is on to find out who paid to have it put up.

Bob says there’s no readily apparent claim of ownership on the billboard, so he’s heading back to the scene to see if he can find out who’s behind the message. He’s also got some local politicos looking into it. He’ll keep us posted…




David Dosa, MD, a geriatrician since 2003 in Barrington, Rhode Island, has made the news recently with revelations of a cat that uncannily predicts death. His book Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat is excerpted in Readers Digest:

My faith in science and my own intellectual vanity led me to reject the notion that some four-legged feline possessed special powers. As a researcher, I’d been taught to consider facts dispassionately—to analyze them, form theories, and poke holes in them until new theories arose that were closer to the truth. From a scientific point of view, it seemed ludicrous that a cat could predict human death. It was much easier to say that Oscar was drawn to warm, quiet beds—cats sleep two thirds of the time anyway, right?

Still, there was a plausible biological explanation for the “sweet smell of death,” which was perhaps what Oscar had sensed. As cells die, carbohydrates are degraded into many different oxygenated compounds, including various types of ketones—chemical mixtures known for their fragrant aroma…


You know, if Joe Biden has so much on his mind that he didn’t notice the movie, that’s a good sign for a public official. Via New York magazine’s website:

Vice-President Joe Biden stopped by MSNBC this afternoon to chat about important domestic and foreign-policy issues with Andrea Mitchell, but he was disappointingly less gaffe-tastic than we’d hoped. Nevertheless, we were delighted by Biden’s answer about his pick for Best Picture Oscar, Avatar. “I think one of the odds on favorites … is um, is uh, this uh, this, this, this new program that I looked at and wished I was seeing it in 3-D, and you sit there and you watch this science-fiction thing unfold in front of you,” he said, with adorable wonder and excitement. “The magic of it is kind of overwhelming.”





Anyone think Wal-Mart’s going to resell the steaks? ALWAYS LOW PRICES! : )
Pete Kotz writes on True Crime Report:

Wal-Mart Always Low PricesWhen heading off to jail, it’s best to commit a crime that will provide you with a manly story to tell your fellow inmates, something a little more desperado-like than, say, knee-capping a rival figure skater. Working as a hired gun for the Mafia always sounds good…

Armored car heists always have a nice ring to them. And even if you’re not quite up to something this ambitious, you can still trot out the old resisting arrest.

Unfortunately, Robert T. Jenkins now sits in jail with probably the worst criminal tale ever. He was arrested at a Wal-Mart in Canton, Ohio for peeing on steaks. Yes, you heard that right.

Cops were called to the store after Jenkins simply walked up to the meat counter, pulled out his manly apparatus — which we hope isn’t capable of reproduction — and begin peeing on the steak selection.

No one seems to know why he did it, unless he was practicing a bold new form of marinating.


Via the Daily Mail:

She was born with a unique body — eight limbs and two torsos fused at the hips. Now Lakshmi Tatma, the Indian toddler whose plight touched the world, has grown up and started school.

Two years after a ground-breaking operation to separate her from a parasitic twin, Lakshmi is a lively and bubbly four-year-old.

She loves playing cricket with her older brother, has a tendency to boss around her newfound friends and remains firmly a daddy’s girl.

‘When I think of the way she was, never in a million years would Lakshmi have been able to go to school or have the life she does today,’ said her mother Poonam, 26. ‘All the things she’s capable of now were impossible two years ago.



Sounds like a joke, but it’s for real. Truly bizarre. Reports LiveScience: Many gardeners swear you should not water in the midday because water droplets on plants can magnify the sun’s rays…