Archive for Just for Fun

It’s eggbot!

// April 9th, 2012 // Comments Off on It’s eggbot! // Just for Fun

Happy Easter everyone! And if you don’t celebrate, than happy spring themed holidays that happen in August in the Southern Hemisphere.

Check out this robot ($195) that decorates eggs, golf balls, baubles and other strangely shaped objects. You can make designs from Inkspace on Mac, Windows or Linux. How geeky and Eastery is that?

Their website is egg-bot.com, and this picture of eggboot in action is from their homepage.

Their flickr page has some amazing designs. Very cool.

Which animal has the longest tail?

// January 19th, 2012 // Comments Off on Which animal has the longest tail? // Just for Fun

I’m pretty fond of doing the Saturday quiz in the Adelaide newspaper, though I never keep score. I mean, who knows who won the Olympic backstroke in 1978? That was before I was born! I can’t let that drag down my credit rating, you know.

Anyway, last week it asked which land mammal has the longest tail. What do you think?

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Go on, have a guess.

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Got one?

If you thought a giraffe, congratulations. You got it, at least, that’s what the paper said. It’s so dang tall, even its knee-length tail breaks records.

But that’s not the animal I want to talk about. Pff, giraffes. Have you seen them drink? Gimme a break.

I want to talk about the giant anteater that has an almost equally long tail, and a far finer one IMHO.

Found in South and Central America, as far down as Northern Argentina. They eat a lazy 35,000 ants a day with their lovely long tongue and fearsome claws, which rip and tear into rock-hard anthills. They eat quickly for a minute, than meander off to the next anthill leaving the colony to recover.

Plus, they are MASSIVE! Giant anteaters can be over two metres long, roughly seven feet.

Three feet of that length is all tail baby. Long, hairy tail. Not quite long enough (by inches!) to rival that of the giraffe, sadly. Still… you know… I was pretty close.

Here’s Wikipedia’s image of the giant anteater. Notice anything weird?

Giant anteater

Giant anteater, image by Malene Thyssen

How much does its front foot look like a panda? I had to look twice to make sure the animals weren’t cohabiting or something.

Made me wonder if there aren’t other, even more exciting tails out in the animal kingdom. Comment if you’ve got ’em.

A little something something from a bluehead wrasse fish

// January 13th, 2012 // Comments Off on A little something something from a bluehead wrasse fish // Just for Fun

I know, I know. It’s been awhile. Bad pirate! Post-holiday pillaging and plundering, time got away from me. Not to worry, I’ve harpooned it and got a handle on things now.

So, just a quick one to tide ye olde blog over ’till I’m properly back on decks.

Thought I’d share this rather funny column with you.

‘Tis McSweeney’s (hast thou heard of it?) called Dan Savage’s Wild Kingdom. Just quietly, it’s high-llarious!

This post includes various organisms calling a talk-back radio show looking for some late night dating advice. Here’s a sampler:

CALLER: Dan, I have a question for you. Why is it that when a female bluehead wrasse fish sleeps around, she’s a slut, but if she becomes a male through simultaneous hermaphroditism and sleeps around, he’s a stud? Double standard much?

Read Dan’s reply, and the other caller queries, here. Do click it, ye scurvy dog, there’s plenty of lols to be had.

Fond frolicking and frothy waters, the Captain.

Prehistoric kraken lair with fossilised ‘self-portrait’? Probs not.

// October 14th, 2011 // Comments Off on Prehistoric kraken lair with fossilised ‘self-portrait’? Probs not. // Just for Fun

It would be remiss of me not to write about this wonderful, but rather unlikely story, given its about a subject close to my heart – giant squids.

Within Nevada’s Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park are nine fossilised remains of ichthyosaurs, marine reptiles that looked a little like dolphins, but much bigger. Nine remains all in one spot! How did they die? Why were they all found in one place? And don’t they resemble, just a little, the suckers of an octopus, a squid or a GIANT KRAKEN!

At least, that’s an idea presented to the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America on Monday. Here’s the press release and the presentation blurb.

According to the blurb, the fossil remains are from a giant cephalopod midden, a collection of bones arranged by a huge prehistoric squid, octopus, or the mythological Kraken. Perhaps this fearsome beast of the sea hunted ichthyosaurs like the epic, iliad-worthy battles of giant squid versus sperm whale. Powerful tentacles curling about the undulating reptilian body, a lover’s embrace turned fatal attraction, tightening, strangling until still and dragging to the depths of the ocean.

The arrangement of the bones resembles suckers because, according to the blurb, they are a particularly grisly self-portrait. An intentional arrangement of the vertebra to resemble the creature’s own suckers. Imagine it – An introspective kraken rising up from the deep and looking deeply at its tentacles with saucer-eyes. Did it want a friend? Was it an homage to the suckers on which its lonely life depended? Was it not a self-portrait, but a picture of a friend, a lover, a child? We simply don’t know.

Granted, these ichthyosaur vertebra do look a lot like suckers, but a self-portrait is a big call.

The media release has received a lot of attention, not all of it good. There’s a rather scathing report from the brilliant fossil-blogger Laelaps and a reply of (sarcastic) support from Deep Sea News.

Unfortunately, cephalopods are soft-bodied and don’t fossiise well, so there’s no evidence of the prehistoric kraken, and certainly none that it created self-portraits. Still, it’s a nice story.

(Just to be clear, I’m not giving this guy a hard time. I think it’s great he has the opportunity to discuss his ideas publicly. It would take some bravery, and I respect that. I wouldn’t agree with a reporting of the presentation as if it were widely accepted fact, though. But even then, I don’t think it’s particularly harmful to readers. That’s my humble opinion, and I love a good giant squid story.)

Happy Pi Day!

// July 22nd, 2011 // Comments Off on Happy Pi Day! // Just for Fun

Hooray, it’s Friday Pi Day! Today, 22 July, is Pi Approximation Day – 22/7 being a sweet close-to value for that wonderful mathematical constant. Celebrate by eating pie, either for dinner or dessert (or both!) and indulging in a pint of your favourite beverage.






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