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Moon Shot

NASA's twin spacecraft, launched in September, should be in position around the moon by New Year's Day, ready to give us the most detailed information we'll have about any celestial object, including our own planet:

Standing the World on Its Head

How to create your own camera obscura (video):

What's Your EQ? ... What IS EQ?

A quiz that might help you determine whether you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur ~ and shares some interesting statistics and facts along the way (from Northwestern Mutual Life). N.B., Don't click where it says to. The quiz is just below that, on the same page:

Remember Your Omega 3s

U.S. researchers have found preliminary but compelling evidence that diet can influence one's chances of developing Alzheimer's. Among those studied, people with high levels of vitamins ~ specifically B, C, D, and E ~ and omega 3 in their blood had a larger brain volume than those with high levels of trans fat:

Knitly News

Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy
A woman in France knits scenes from the news for her website, Delit Maille (slideshow):

Good and Clean

A list of some of the most interesting ~ and promising ~ clean-technology developments of the last year (story and videos):

Switching Gears

Not only does the Prius X Parlee bike, or PXP, read your mind (with the help of a special helmet and app), but it remembers where on your route you shifted gears:

Hot Foods

Even though it's sponsored by (*shiver*) Monsanto, this column predicting the top food trends of 2012 is interesting and probably pretty right-on:


We should be together/Like the walls and ceiling/Like a door and doorknob/Like the hat on your nob ~ so sang the charming little Shirley Temple many moons ago. While those pairings seem fairly obvious, here's one that doesn't but still makes sense, in a useless-and-yet-vaguely-entertaining kind of way:

An A for IQ

Between 1955 and 1972, Norway increased the amount of time its children spent in school from seven to nine years. This coincided with an increase in their average IQ. Coincidence?:

Meet Anthony Knivet

English sailor, pirate, shipwreck victim, slave, slave trader, tribal guest, and autobiographer, Anthony Knivet (1591-1649) was among the first to describe pre-colonial Brazil:

Listen to Your Mütter

Welcome to Philadelphia's Mütter Museum, home to preserved fetuses, dried skin, and other fascinations, including part of Einstein's brain. Be sure to check out the "Guess What's on the Curator's Desk" and "Mütter Minute" videos (plus, at the online store, you can get an umlaut button and a replica of Dr. Koop's bow tie)!:

Beethoven's ear

Ludwig van Beethoven's compositions have always been divided into three periods. Now researchers at the University of Amsterdam have shown that those periods coincide with the deterioration of his hearing:

Next Wave in Christmas Cards

British marine scientist Dr. Richard Kirby used his photos of plankton, starfish larva, and other oceanic creatures to create a unique and beautiful Christmas card:

Less Water, Water All Around

New satellite data show just how much less groundwater there is in many areas around the world, especially California, India, the Middle East, and China:

Deus as Machina

The illustrations of Gvozdariki (what would Gregor Samsa think?):

Just the Facts

Another rant against standardized testing ~ valid, but the real issue (IMHO) is the "teaching to the test" it engenders:

Crop Tops

California Academy of Sciences
 ©Tim Griffith
Grassy roofs and the ground-breaking buildings that sport them:

The Ones to Watch

Forbes's list of "30 Under 30" includes Ronan Farrow, the only biological child of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, now a humanitarian activist:

It's a Stalled World After All

David Gray, Reuters

Ten years ago, a Thai company started building WonderLand, a kind of Disneyland, in a village about 20 miles from Beijing. The deal fell apart, and the hulls of the buildings were left to rust and decay ~ and provide photographers with bizarre, ghostly images:

Like a Rolling Stone

One question answered begets another, just as puzzling. Some of Stonehenge's stones, weighing 3 to 5 tons, came from 160 miles (257 kilometers) away:

Light Up the Holidays

A tram in Milan
Photos of holiday dazzle around the world:
Also, check out New York's window displays!:

The 99%'s (average) 2.5%

Hey! Here's a holiday gift idea! Let the folks over at 23andMe ( ) test your DNA for the Neanderthal gene. FYI, the average carried by modern humans is 2.5%:

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

NASA scientists are looking at a galaxy as it was 12.9 billion light years ago, almost at what we think was the beginning of time. Even though it's 100 times less massive than our Milky Way, it's creating about 30 times as many stars every year:

Superb Secret Santas

Some true Samaritans have been going into stores like Kmart and paying off the layaway bills of total strangers. To borrow a line from Tiny Tim, God bless them, every one:

Stress? What Stress? :P

A few ideas/reminders that may help make the season calmer and more enjoyable for everyone:

Dear Country

A few years ago, VICE founder Shane Smith managed to get into North Korea and even film bits of it. Herewith, The VICE Guide to North Korea (video):

Cloud vs. Black Hole

A distant battle with a predetermined end will take place, probably in the year 2013, when a giant gas cloud spirals ever closer to the massive black hole at the center of our galaxy ~ and we'll be there to watch the decimation:

Stealing Banksy

Yes, it's true!: A hotel group in Australia is putting up a $15,000 Banksy somewhere in its hotels and challenging guests to steal it. Whoever succeeds in snatching it without getting caught gets to keep it:

Trashy Cruise

What could be more exciting, more adventurous, more romantic than a cruise to the lovely, the fascinating, the inspirational ocean garbage patch, now featuring debris from Japan's tsunami?:

Occupy Dickens

The Occupy movement is alive, to begin with, and its message has been melded with Charles Dickens's in a new Christmas Carol. Makes absolute sense, when you think about it:,0,2712360.story

Angel in Disguise

A profile of Paris's Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore in the truest sense of the concept, where writers hung out, composed, and palavered, written in the wake of its owner's recent passing:

Imagine Peace

Harvard professor Steven Pinker has written a new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, in which he argues that, far from what we may believe after viewing the evening news, we are actually living in a very peaceful era (video):

Influential as the Dickens

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.   ~ from A Tale of Two Cities
A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Hard Times, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, The Pickwick Papers, Bleak House. Was there ever an author more prolific, more influential, more esteemed than Charles Dickens? With his 200th birthday in plain sight (Feb. 7, 2012), the BBC lists "Six Things He Gave the Modern World":

The More Things Change ...

Predicted percentage of ecological landscape being driven
toward changes in plant species by 2100. NASA/JPL-Caltech
... the more they force other things to change. A new report out from NASA and Caltech, based on computer modeling, predicts the biome and species shifts that will take place in the next centuries as a result of climate change.
"Our study introduces a new view of climate change, exploring the ecological implications of a few degrees of global warming," said study leader Jon Bergengren. "While warnings of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other environmental changes are illustrative and important, ultimately, it's the ecological consequences that matter most."

Before Steve Jobs ...

... before Bill Gates, there was Robert Noyce, who turned 84 on Dec. 12. Who is he? Just the co-inventor of the humble microchip, among other things, and mentor to many of Silicon Valley's finest (ignore the typos and grammatical errors):

How To Pack a ひるごはん

In the competitive world that is Japan, moms are taking classes on how to pack an artistic lunch for their progeny. Be the first on your block to construct stars' faces out of rice and seaweed (it only takes two hours):

'You're a Rat.' 'Why, thank you!'

And we thought we were the only ones with empathy and a moral code. Rats will free a trapped rat and even leave food for him/her:

Time for Bed

Envious of those who can get by on four hours' sleep? Just tinker with your ABCC9 gene, and you can join that vivacious group (but seriously now, do you really want to?):

No Longer Left Behind

More research has been done recently on left-handedness, and the results are fascinating. New theories as to why 10% of the population is left-handed and 1% is mixed-handed confirm some traditional theories but dispel others. One interesting fact ~ Six of our last twelve presidents, including Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush, have been lefties:

And Justice for All

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948:

Young Talent

Meet the winners of this year's Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, headed by 17-year-old Angela Zhang, who came up with a nanosystem for the treatment of cancer stem cells:

App, App, Baby!

BBC's review of some great websites and apps (video):

Sugar ... Ah, Honey, Honey

One cup of Honey Smacks, Golden Crisp, or Wheaties Fuel has more sugar in it than a Twinkie, according to a list by the Environmental Working Group. Check out the rest of the tested cereals:

Total Lunar Eclipse Dec. 10

... and we on the West Coast will get the best view! It all starts at 4:45 a.m. and ends at around 8 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 10:

FWIW: Pun of the Day

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. (Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

Beijing is No. 1

And you thought L.A. was bad: Beijing is suffering through its third day of some of the worst smog ever (video):

Last Supper, New Threat

Da Vinci's masterpiece is well protected from theft and outdoor air pollution, but a new threat has surfaced, and it has to do with you and me:

The Hottest Hot Chocolate

It IS that season! The results of a taste test of 15 hot chocolate brands reveal the very best:

Beneath the Ice

It took ships, planes, satellites, and dog-drawn sleds, but scientists have put together an updated, very detailed map of the rock bed under all that ice and snow in the Antarctic (story, video, and animation):

A Model Model Train

The Miniatur Wunderland, in Hamburg, Germany, has more than 800 trains crossing countries like Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, the United States, and of course Germany, for the edification of the Wunderland's over 200,000 inhabitants (video):

Remember the Music

Scientists are trying to find out why an individual who loses his/her memory can still remember music:

Amazing Arachnid

Darwin's bark spider has the toughest silk of all and is therefore capable of creating the biggest webs in the world, including some that span rivers (story and video):

A Tangled Web

What happens when scientists apply the math used to model natural systems to the global economy? We find out that Occupy Wall Street has been right all along:

Cold Enough fer Ya?

Sixteen-year-old Amelia Hempleman-Adams (whose dad has summited the seven highest peaks) prepares to ski the South Pole by camping in a freezer (video):

Do You Believe in Magic?

Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting techno-illusionist Marco Tempest and his magic iPods! (video):


Cicada magazine for children ages 14 and up is taking submissions of stories, poetry, or artwork on the topic Change: . The winners will be published in upcoming issues!

See the Tree!

The nation's Christmas tree is stopping in L.A. on its way to Washington. The Autry museum gets the honors and has planned a lovely family event around it:

Yeah, and How Many Did They Consume?

The making of the "In Your Arms" music video ~ two years, 288,000 jelly beans, and a WHOLE lot of ingenuity (video):!

Squash History

No, not "squash," the verb, but "squash," the noun! Seeds from 12,000 years ago were found in caves in Equador, and the Iroquois planted them next to two other crops that, together, they called the "Three Sisters":

Forever No More

female Black Western Rhino Hubert Planton
The Western Black Rhinoceros has been declared extinct. Here's the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, a work in progress (story and video):

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Primordial Stars

It turns out that the first stars were only tens of times the mass of our sun, not hundreds of times, as we had previously thought (duh):

Things To Do ~ Nov. 11 & Beyond

Nov. 11 ~ Veterans' Day Malibu Ceremony, Malibu Legacy Park, Malibu:

Nov. 11 ~ Celebrate Veterans' Day, Nixon Library, Yorba Linda:

Nov. 11-13 ~ Free Entrance Day at the National Parks:

Nov. 11-Jan 16 ~ ICE outdoor skating rink, Santa Monica:

Through Nov. 12 ~ LA5: Sculpture That Shaped the City, PYO Gallery, downtown:

Nov. 12 ~ Dragonflies That Dazzle, King Gillette Ranch, Calabasas:

Nov. 12 ~ Target Free Family Saturdays: "Planet Power," Japanese American National Museum, downtown:

Nov. 12 ~ Safari As a Way of Life Launch Party,  Dan Eldon Center for Creative Activism, Malibu:

Nov. 12 ~ Carl Stone: Sonic Excursions From Al-Noor to Zang, Getty Center, Los Angeles:

Nov. 12, 13, 14 ~ Residency: Diavolo Dance Theater open rehearsals, the Plaza, Music Center, downtown:

Things To Do ~ Nov. 4 & Beyond

Nov. 4 ~ The Music of Dirk Fischer, Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center, College of the Canyons, Santa Clarita:

Nov. 5 ~ L.A. Opera Open House, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Music Center, downtown:

Nov. 5 ~ Peace and Rhythm, Promenade Park, Long Beach:

Nov. 5 ~ 15th Annual Long Beach Veterans' Day Parade, Atlantic Boulevard and Harding Street, Long Beach:

Nov. 5 ~ Art Exhibit in Celebration of Will Rogers's Birthday, Will Rogers State Historic Park, Pacific Palisades:

Nov. 5 ~ Andrew & Polly Mini-Concert, Children's Book World, Los Angeles:

Nov. 5 ~ Theodore Boone and the Thrill of Rights, Geffen Playhouse, Westwood:

Nov. 5-6 ~ Japanese Garden Festival, Descanso Gardens, La Cañada Flintridge:

Through Nov. 6 ~ Spider Pavilion, Natural History Museum, Los Angeles:

Nov. 6 ~ Daylight Saving Time ends ~ time to fall back!:

Nov. 6 ~ 11th Annual Día de los Muertos Festival, Canoga Park:

Baby Berg

Scientists are excited about the upcoming birth of a new iceberg, this one approximately the size of New York City or Berlin:

A Poem As Lovely As a 朳

American and Chinese poems are being translated in the latest exercise in cultural exchange and understanding (video):

The Bus Stops Here

Christopher Herwig

Photographs of bus stops all over the former Soviet Union depict the diversity of that empire:

Better Beans

In which Uncle Samuel (of no less than the Smithsonian Institution, circa late 1800s) lays down the law for obtaining the perfect cup o' joe:

Awesome by Degrees

A couple of former Apple execs started a new company, Nest, last year: . Now, they're ready to unveil their first creation, a thermostat, and it's hot (video):

It's the Teenage Mutant Brain!

A new study suggests there is more plasticity in the human brain ~ and for longer in life ~ than previously thought. IQ can go up (or down) by as many as 20 points:

Things To Do ~ Oct. 28 & Beyond

Oct. 28-Dec. 4 ~ Moonlight and Magnolias, Theatre Palisades, Pacific Palisades:

Oct. 29 ~ Halloween Haunt, Rustic Canyon Recreation Center, Santa Monica:

Oct. 29 ~ 6th Annual Dusk-to-Dawn Horrorthon at Aero Theatre, Santa Monica:

California's No. 2!

Right behind Massachusetts and ahead of New York, Oregon, and Washington State ~ in energy efficiency, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy:

But Is it Art?

Does a good back story turn an interesting creation into "art"? What IS art? The British founder and curator of the Museum of Everything has staged a retrospective of the works of an American who died in 2005 at the age of 61. While her story may not turn her creations into art (and maybe they already are), it certainly makes a difference in how we view them:

About Face

Scientists have found distinct facial characteristics among autistic children that could help them pinpoint the cause(s) of the syndrome:

Stone Mountain King

The Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Washington, D.C., is the only one on the Mall dedicated to a non-president, the only one to an African American. It was carved by Chinese artist Lei Yixin and inspired by a line from King's 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech: “With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”

A Very Cool Concert

Norwegian Terje Isungset plays instruments he carved from ice (audio slideshow):

FWIW: Escargots à la Face

Watch as young Tom Vincent of the U.K. sets a world's record for the most snails on a human face (bet you can't look away!) (video):

Note the Quote

“Why can we remember the tiniest detail that has happened to us and not remember how many times we have told it to the same person?”                               ~ François de la Rochefoucauld

Living in Trees

Andrea Noti
Superb, outrageously inspired and inspirational tree houses (some with plans and instructions!):

This treehouse, at Beach Rock Village in Okinawa, Japan, is inspired by UFOs and has a transparent floor.

Art & the Brain

Some brain damage can have unexpected effects, like revealing ~ or perhaps creating ~ hidden artistic talent:

It's a Gas

 There's photosynthesis, and there's the methane-based food chain, which may extend farther up than previously thought:

This Is Your Money on Hormones

What makes Wall Street traders go crazy? Why, raging hormones, of course (and, yes, we're talking male traders here, which most are):

New Gene Baby

Harvard genetics professor George Church on reading and writing our own DNA (video):

It's a Bird! It's a Plane!

Physicist Brian Cox on Cern's finding of a subatomic particle that might have traveled faster than light (video):

Look! Skywalker!

What? An X-Wing Fighter on the USS Long Island? An AT-ST at the landing at Normandy? A Battle Droid fought alongside Pancho Villa? Apparently so!:

Things to Do ~ Sept. 24

A list of the California museums participating in Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day, Sept. 24 (free admission):
N.B., You'll need a special ticket, which you can download from that page (it's on the right side). One ticket per household, and each is good for two free admissions.

Danger: Hospital Ahead

The Good Virus

Scientists have modified a virus that, injected into the bloodstream, attacks only cancer cells:

Mother and Child

A poignant story, beautifully told in pictures and captions, of a mother whale and her calf on the Klamath River:

Thinking About the Box

The Life Cube starts out as a box 5 feet square and sets up in 3 minutes into a 10' by 12' structure. It comes complete with a solar panel, stereo with DVD player, stove, toilet, cell phone charger, lighting, and solid plastic floor, among other things (video):

Baby, You Can Drive My Car

There are now more than 1 billion vehicles on the roads of the world (not including off-road, heavy-duty vehicles):

Harry Potter and the Remote Control

Who wants to use a boring old remote control when you can change channels with a flick of your very own wand (13 and 3/4s, faux walnut, triple-A core ...)?:

It's New to US!

Ornithologists have discovered the first new species of bird in the U.S. in almost 40 years:

Brave New World

For the college class of 2015,  Frank Zappa has always been dead, "PC" has always meant just "personal computer," the Communist Party has never been the official party of Russia, and music has always been available as free downloads. Discover more eye-opening frames of reference at Beloit College's Mindset List:

A Picture Lives Forever ...

Some beautiful portraits of animals on the edge of extinction:

Do Unto Your Neighbor

According to statistics from the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteers served almost 8.1 billion hours in 2010. The breakdown (especially the one by state, which shows the center of the country leading the coasts by a very wide margin) is interesting:

Very Fine Art

Jason Padgett hand draws fractals!:

Fill 'Er Up With Greenhouse Gas

Is it possible to turn the carbon dioxide that would otherwise be sullying our atmosphere into fuel to power our vehicles? Some think it is, with the help of new technology, and they're working on it:

Will It Blow?

The Alaska Volcano Observatory has rated the Cleveland volcano Orange, which means "Volcano is exhibiting heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption, timeframe uncertain, OR eruption is underway with no or minor volcanic-ash emissions":

Thin Skin

Scientists have invented an ultra-thin electronic skin patch that stretches, bends, and can include things like "sensors, LEDs, transistors, radio frequency capacitors, wireless antennas, and conductive coils and solar cells for power":


Why would people confess to doing things they hadn't? And yet, disturbingly, many do:

A Tale of Two Cities

On August 13, 1961, East German soldiers began building the wall that would divide Berlin for almost 30 years. A brief overview of its history (video):

What a Doll(house)

Barbie's new abode is very modern and very green:
The winner, by Ting Li and Maja Paklar

Wild Child

In 1725, a child was found, alone and naked, in a forest in Germany and was brought to the court of King George I of England. His inability to speak, walk upright, and learn manners led to much speculation about the nature of being human. Now, analysis of a portrait made of him at the time is leading people to speculate that he may have had a rare genetic disorder known as Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome:

What's the Matter?

There is apparently a layer of antimatter around Earth, trapped by magnetism between the Van Allen belts, and it could potentially be used to power rockets:

Islam 101

In this month of Ramadan, a blogger suggests 15 books that explain Islam:

Hot Enough Fer Ya?

The Natural Resources Defense Council's maps showing change in average number of days of heat, flooding, and other climate-related issues:

Things to Do ~ August 4 & Beyond

Aug. 4, Twilight Dance Series, "Cirque du Soleil Presents Rock of the Bay," Santa Monica Pier:

Aug. 6, Kinetic Theory Theater, Skirball Cultural Center:

Aug. 6, B Movies and Bad Science: The Valley of Gwangi, Page Museum, La Brea Tar Pits:

Aug. 6-7, Garden Concerts for Kids: Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, Getty Center:

Aug. 7, Children's Concerts: HOLA, Levitt Pavilion, MacArthur Park, Los Angeles:

Aug. 7, American Indian Culture Day, the Autry, Griffith Park, Los Angeles:

Aug. 7, Cool Your Heels in the Shade concert, California African American Museum, Exposition Park, Los Angeles:

Aug. 7, Family Flicks: Toby Tyler, Hammer Museum, Westwood:

Aug. 7, International Family Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana:

Aug. 7, Living History Tour, Rancho Los Cerritos, Long Beach:

Aug. 8, Special, "kid-friendly" Joint Meeting of Optical Society of America and Los Angeles Astronomical Society, Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater, Griffith Observatory:

Aug. 8, Free Movie Mondays: The King and I, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa:

Aug. 10: Museum Munchies, Heritage Museum of Orange Country, Santa Ana:

Aug. 11, Thursday Summer Fun: "Exciting India: Dancing Ganesh," Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena:

Aug. 11, LAPL Kids: International Dances, Palms-Rancho Park Branch Library:

Aug. 11, the Beatles tribute band 4 Lads from Liverpool, Culver City City Hall courtyard:

Aug. 11, Twilight Dance Series, "La Monica Ballroom Then and Now," Santa Monica Pier:

FWIW ~ Happiest Students

The Princeton Review has ranked the colleges and universities with the happiest students:

The Air Up There

—Image courtesy A. Dupree (CfA), R. Gilliland (STScI), NASA

After decades of looking (and one brief glimpse), scientists have seen oxygen molecules in space, in a star-forming area in Orion:

Dancing on the Ceiling

A brief history and explanation of the U.S. debt ceiling (video):
The ceiling hit a trillion in September 1981, under Ronald Reagan (1981-1989). How the federal debt limit has grown from its inception in 1917, by the numbers:

Toxic Meltdown

Findings by Canadian scientists are confirming what Swiss scientists reported in 2008, that melting glaciers are releasing toxins, including PCBs and others used decades ago but banned since:

The Chimp and the Cubs

A chimp in a Thai zoo is taking care of orphaned tiger cubs (video):

A Thousand Voices

The amazing voice impressionist Jim Meskimen will be at The Acting Center July 29, 30, 31. Here he is performing a speech from Shakespeare's Richard III using celebrity voices (video):

New Faces, Same Problems

from The Grapes of Wrath
British journalist Paul Mason traces the journey made in The Grapes of Wrath and finds that the more things change, the more they stay the same (video):

"Life in a Day"

Almost 900 submissions and 4,500 hours of footage later, Life in a Day ("the day" being July 24, 2010 ~ what were you doing that day?), a compilation of YouTube videos from around the world, is now in theaters (video):

By Any Other Name

I don't know if this is true, but I remember once hearing that someone in the Lear family named a daughter Chanda. And of course, there are the famous Ima Hogg and Ima Pigg (apparently, the rumor that there was also a Ura Hogg is just that, a rumor). Here are some more (shall we say?) unusual baby names:

Home At Last

Six young Grauer's gorillas, orphaned by poachers, are home at a rehabilitation center in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the story, "catching a ride on a helicopter is not a gorilla’s idea of a good time."

All Hail Londinium!

Time to go back to London ~ or go back IN London ~ with an iPhone/iPad app that lets you see and hear what would have been going on around you in any given location around the middle of the first century C.E. It's an update of an older app:

Speed Show on the Menu

An artist takes over an internet cafe for a speed show (added bonus: Now you know why your seat on the plane won't recline!) (video):

That's Odd

Mass mud bath, longest table (seating 550), air guitar championships, a 200-year-old "petite folie," and bell-ringing in a garage: A rundown of the week's bizarre stories from around the world, as only the BBC can do it (video):

Sunny at Chincoteague

The 86th Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim (video; not much to see after about minute 5):

A New Leaf

Amazing! How does Spanish artist Lorenzo Duran cut these beautiful, intricate scenes out of leaves? (credit where credit is due: this came from PCCL science/math/art teacher Erin):

Tragedy in the Making

Archive photos chronicling the building of the Titanic:

Otterly Entertaining

Mazu, a Congo clawless otter who was rescued after his mother was shot by a hunter, shows off his otterly ways ~ and in the process inspires a village to place a ban on otter hunting (video):

In Our Prime

The significant, fascinating, and consequential mystery of prime numbers:

A Hairy Journey

Starting out clean-shaven, a young man walks across China and chronicles his trip in a unique way. Credit where credit is due: This came to me via my amazing bro, Mark (video):

The Water Next Time

In a quasar far, far away ~ 12 billion light years away, to be (more or less) exact ~ lies a mass of water vapor 140 trillion times the size of all of Earth's oceans put together:

Possibly Maybe

Researchers at Chicago's Tevatron think they saw glimpses of what they hope is the elusive Higgs boson particle:

Women of War

A female historian dresses up like a woman who dressed up like a man so that she could fight in the Civil War (video):

Nom de Moon

Pluto's newly discovered moon needs a name. Learn how Pluto and its other moons got their names and be inspired:|utmccn=%28direct%29|utmcmd=%28none%29&__utmv=-&__utmk=231179807

Six Degrees of Education

Why, in many cases, a bachelor's degree just isn't enough anymore ~ or is it?:

The Last Starfighter?

A Q&A with Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, who in May officially retired from his government duties despite pleas from the Tibetan people:

Recycling 101

Death of a Buddha, Revisited

photo from
It was 10 years ago that, in a startling display of chauvinism, ignorance, and philistinism, the Taliban systematically destroyed the extraordinary and beautiful Buddhas that had been carved into the cliffs of Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan 1,400 years ago:

A Right Proper Argy-Bargy

A list of Americanisms that have the Brits' knickers in a twist:
... and, as turnabout is fair play:

Climb Everest Mountain

Apparently, there's still some debate over exactly how tall Mount Everest really is and how it should be measured, but fear not. We are expecting the definitive answer shortly:
Watch climber and World Tri founder Charlie Wittmack solve a Rubik's Cube on the summit of Mount Everest for Save the Children (video):


Fantastic time-lapse video of the work that was done on Mulholland Bridge, start to early finish, while the rest of us reveled in the empty streets of Carmageddon:

Dang! Caught in the Act!

Hahahaha ~ what? This cat is actually barking out the window at something or someone, then turns around, sees it's being watched, and changes its tune (video):

Beatles for Sale

A video collage of some of the newly released photos of the Beatles' first two U.S. visits, which are being put up for auction at Christie's:

this isn't one of the pictures being auctioned off, and apologies to whoever took it ~ I looked for a photo credit but couldn't find one

Dinosaur Death

A fossil find is evidence that the theory that a meteor wiped out the dinosaurs may be correct:

One Very Hot 'Summer'

David Garrett and his violin. Need I say more? (video)

Doing One's Doggie Duty

Seattle's latest, musical attempt to get residents to clean up after their dogs (I would add only that compostable bags are a good idea) (video):

Shell's 600,000-ton 'facility'

Shell plans to build the first floating natural liquefied gas platform, to work off the coast of Australia:

Main Drag

Time-Warner Cable's doing its part this weekend with a 24-hour channel, 101, dedicated to information about L.A. traffic during the closure. So is our metro service, such as it is. Go to for all sorts of information and news about discounts and free rides.
If all else fails, here's one idea for an alternate route:

National Parenting Gifted Children Week ~ July 17-23

Early Talker

After a patient, 123-year wait for new technology to be invented, Thomas Edison's talking doll has found her voice:
The poem whose first verse she recites was written in 1806 by English poet, engraver, and novelist Jane Taylor (apparently with her sister Ann). Here's the full version:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

Then the traveler in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark;
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

In the dark blue sky you keep,
While you thro' my window peep,
And you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

Personally, I like this version best:

Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivific
Oft have I pondered your substance specific
Loftily poised in the ether capacious
Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous!

Summer Privation

Need to go to the hospital but have a choice in the scheduling? A new study confirms what many have known all along: Avoid July:

The Preservation of the World

Henry David Thoreau once said, "In wildness is the preservation of the world." Some of the most beautiful wild places are in remote regions of some of our most war-torn countries, like Afghanistan. But wildness there, according to an article in the journal Oryx, seems to be doing surprisingly well:
More good news: The Wildlife Conservation Society has found signs that the endangered snow leopard population in Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor may be on the rise:
One of the world's most spectacular wild areas is Band-e Amir National Park, in Central Afghanistan (video):

This Is Your Brain on Stress

A Q&A with psychologist Sian Beilock about her research on what happens in our brains when we're under pressure and why being smart might not help:

Wizard Lizard

The anolis evermanni figures out how to get to the food (story and video):

The Last Spacewalk

(story and video):

More Is Lessmore

Once upon a time, a onetime Pixar designer created an interactive children's book on the iPad (story and video):

Here Comes the Sun(flower)

Sunflowers can decontaminate soil made toxic by radiation, and residents of Fukushima, Japan, are being urged to plant them. The question then is, what does one do with the now-contaminated flowers?:
photo by Fabio Visentin

Magic Mushrooms

In Brazil, scientists have found a bioluminescent mushroom that was last seen in 1840. Apparently, its glow is brighter than that of your iPhone:

Sweet Health

Sugar vs. agave vs. maple vs. molasses vs. corn syrup vs. ... aaaggghh! Fructose vs. glucose ... AAAGGGHHH!! Here's a fact-based chart I found that might help reduce at least some of the confusion:
In addition, what I've been finding, in a nutshell, is this: glucose, good; fructose, not so good. This is basically for two reasons: because of the way the body processes them/what they turn into and because, while glucose sends the brain an "I'm full" message, the brain gets so such message with fructose. But, you ask, what about fruit, whose sweetness comes from fructose? Fruit contains fiber (not to mention other good stuff we need), which sends the body its own "I'm full" message.

Made in China/Made in India

British photographer Adrian Fisk traveled throughout China and India, letting his subjects speak for themselves (click on New Stories, then "Ispeak China" and "Ispeak India"):

"We are the lost generation. I'm confused about the world." photo by Adrian Fisk

Things to Do ~ July 10 & Beyond

July 10, Family Flicks: The Red Pony (the original from 1949), Hammer Museum, Westwood (N.B., this is a tear-jerker; hard for sensitive kids):

July 10, "Whoo-WhOoot-Whistles," Zimmer Children's Museum, Los Angeles:

July 10, "Oh, the Monstrosity!," Hammer Museum, Westwood:

July 10, I See Hawks in L.A. and Dustbowl Revival in concert, Peter Strauss Ranch, Malibu:

Through July 10: "The Merry Wives of Windsor," Old Zoo Theater, Griffith Park:

Through July 10, America's Favorite Animal Shelter contest, online:

July 11, "Flamenco, ¡Ole!," part of J.A.M Sessions, Ford Theatre, Hollywood:

July 14, Thursday Summer Fun: "Knights, Damsels and Castles: Bijert, Goya and Savery," Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena:

July 14-16, "Hamlet," Old Zoo Theater, Griffith Park:

JULY 15: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2!!!:,+CA&date=20110714

Through July 15: "Summer Sounds," Hollywood Bowl:

July 16, E-Waste Recycling Event, Malibu:

JULY 16: Dinosaur Hall opens!, Natural History Museum, Los Angeles:

July 17, Sun Sets: Flattop Tom & His Jump Cats, Calabasas Lake:

July 19, The Magic of Printmaking (ages 8-18), Westwood Branch Library:

Aug. 6, Public Star Party, Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles:

Aug. 13, Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company, part of the Big! World! Fun! series at the Ford Theatre, Hollywood:

Through Sept. 4, "Houdini: Art and Magic," Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles:

Through Sept. 4, "More Than a Dream: Aviation Development in Southern California," Autry National Center, Griffith Park: 

Through Sept. 4, Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy," Orange County Museum of Art:

Through Sept. 5, Butterfly Pavilion, Natural History Museum, Exposition Park:

Through Sept. 11, Butterflies Alive, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History:

Through Sept. 25, "Race: Are We So Different?," Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History:

Through Dec. 31: "1001 Inventions: Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization," California Science Center, Los Angeles: