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Finding a 42-foot-long snake (fossil)

 Images Titanoboa-Model-Photo-Shoot-3 In 2009, I posted that paleontologists found the fossilized remains of the world's largest snake, a 42-foot-long relative of the boa constrictor. Paleontologists from the University of Toronto dubbed the species Titanoboa cerrejonensis for the Cerrejón region of northern Colombia where they found the remains. The snake snacked on crocodiles. As part of a new Smithsonian documentary "Titanoboa: Monster Snake," sculptor Kevin Hockley built a life-size replica of the beast. Smithsonian has a preview of the documentary along with a feature article about the discovery of the snake. From Smithsonian:
 Images Titanoboa-Eating-An-Alligator-1 The (Cerrejón) river basin held turtles with shells twice the size of manhole covers and crocodile kin—at least three different species—more than a dozen feet long. And there were seven-foot-long lungfish, two to three times the size of their modern Amazon cousins.

The lord of this jungle was a truly spectacular creature—a snake more than 40 feet long and weighing more than a ton. This giant serpent looked something like a modern-day boa constrictor, but behaved more like today’s water-dwelling anaconda. It was a swamp denizen and a fearsome predator, able to eat any animal that caught its eye. The thickest part of its body would be nearly as high as a man’s waist. Scientists call it Titanoboa cerrejonensis.

It was the largest snake ever, and if its astounding size alone wasn’t enough to dazzle the most sunburned fossil hunter, the fact of its existence may have implications for understanding the history of life on earth and possibly even for anticipating the future.

"How Titanoboa, the 40-Foot-Long Snake, Was Found"

Unfortunate cover of The Rifleman

Woodoftherefileman

Great composition! (Thanks, Greg Long!)

Fantasy-themed B&B in Belgium


La Balade des Gnômes is a B&B in Durbuy, Belgium. It has a series of themed rooms kitted out with carved driftwood and various fantastic elements. As the name implies, many of the rooms look like something out of a Brian Froud illustration, but there's also a Jules Verne space-exploration room, Baba Yaga's hut, a troll's den, a Gaudi themed room, and what appears to be a Trojan Horse. It's like a Belgian Madonna Inn, with less kitsch and more fantasy. The site's kind of hard to navigate, and the photos are disappointingly small, but there's a partial set of larger ones on Kozikaza.

La Balade des Gnômes - Chambres de charme - Chambres d'hôtes - Bed&Breakfast à DURBUY (Heyd) (via Neatorama)

(Photo: © Photos P. Schyns - Sofam)

Pure evil causes birth defects

Unassailable evidence presented by the Institute for Dangerous Research's Department of Mad Biology.

UPDATE: This brilliant poster is the work of Allison Lonsdale. She made it for the 2010 San Diego ConDor. You can get a closer look at the poster and its text on the ConDor site. The photo is the work of Jerry Abuan. Thanks to all the readers who filled in the blanks on this amazing work of wonderous awesomeness!

Via penguinchris.

Turning on a 100-year-old light bulb

Incandescent lights work by turning heat into light. You run an electric current through a filament, the filament heats up, and as it does, it starts to glow. The basic element has been around since 1809. The trick is finding material for a filament that will get hot enough to glow, but won't destroy itself too quickly. In fact, that's really the breakthrough Thomas Edison brought to the table in 1879. His carbonized bamboo filament lasted for 1200 hours—long enough to make the investment in a light bulb worth it. According to sources I found in the Wisconsin Historical Archives while researching my upcoming book on the past, present, and future of electricity, one of Edison's bulbs cost the equivalent of $36 in 1882.

This is not one of the earliest Edison bulbs. It's a later model, with a tungsten filament, dating to 1912. It was found in a time capsule at NELA Park, the General Electric headquarters and research laboratory that was opened that year. There were five light bulbs in the time capsule. This is the only one that GE engineers were able to get to light up. In the video, you can see it faintly glowing, 100 years after it was squirreled away.

Video Link

How Facebook ownership contract was 'forged'

The contract presented by Paul Ceglia, who claims he paid Zuck to build Facebook, was forged, according to a forensic report(PDF) by Stroz Friedberg. Wired's David Kravetz: "The metadata shows they were backdated to 2003 when Zuckerberg, as a Harvard University student, agreed to perform the contracted work for Ceglia. But the copies of the contract were created in 2011." Rob

Dain Fagerholm's incredible animated GIFs

Dain Fagerholm creates animated GIF art similar to traditional stereo 3D photos.

Pictured here is Daydreamer. Other favorites of mine include Four creatures in a room and "Seven Headed Creature".

Dain's latest, Creature in Cube with Gem looks anagyphic as well as stereoscopic (but I'm not sure if it is)! [via Illusion 360]

Deepwater Horizon-related court filing in which an injured oil rig worker seeks justice through wit and metaphor


This motion, filed on Mardi Gras in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, is a "metaphorical request for a ride on the streetcar named remand." Its author, Lance Lubel of Lubel Voyles LLP (on behalf of Buddy Trahan, who was aboard the Deepwater Horizon at the time of its catastrophe), produced five pages of quirky, metaphor-laden pleadings related to his case against BP, seeking damages for the horrific injuries he suffered at the time. He cites Bob Dylan, Franz Kafka, Binx Bolling, and many other legal authorities. It really sounds like Trahan got a raw deal, and there's a lot of bravery and charm in this doc. I wish him the best of luck.

When queried by his Aunt how none of the values she had tried to impart meant anything to him, Binx Bolling replied: “My objections, though they are not exactly objections, cannot be expressed in the usual way. To tell the truth, I can’t express them at all.” Walker Percy, The Moviegoer (First Vintage International Edition, April 1998), at 224-25. Unlike Binx Bolling, Buddy Trahan can--and did--express his objections to the treatment he feared from the courts. What is more, he expressed those objections in the usual way to the Southern District of Texas, to the JPML, and to this Court. All that was for naught and Buddy Trahan fears that his time is running out. He therefore expresses his objections in what some might deem an unconventional manner. But as the Chief Justice has observed, “”[w]hen you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” Sprint Communications Co., L.P. v. APCC Services, Inc., 554 U.S. 269, 301 (2008) (Roberts, C.J., dissenting), quoting Bob Dylan, Like a Rolling Stone, on Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia Records 1965). Accordingly, Buddy Trahan respectfully requests that the Court (i) take this missive in the spirit in which it is intended, (ii) lift the moratorium on deciding motions to remand, (iii) give Buddy Trahan his much-needed and well-deserved ride on the metaphorical Streetcar Named Remand, and (iv) remand this case to Texas state court.

According to Lowering the Bar, the motion was denied.

Buddy Trahan Needs a Ride

(Image: Deepwater Horizon Offshore Drilling Platform on Fire, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from ideum's photostream)

Things that never, never work #3428172

If you are a powerful corporation or individual and someone parodies you, challenging them with copyright infringement will not make the whole thing quietly go away. Scientists are boycotting the scientific publishing giant Elsevier. @FakeElsevier is a twitter account that mocks the real Elsevier's IP and paywall practices. Real Elsevier thinks they can take the heat off themselves by hitting @FakeElsevier with a takedown notice. Inevitable Streisand Effect ensues. (Via Stephanie Zvan) Maggie

And now, a moment of science fashion

James Cameron. Steve Zissou. What is with submarine explorers and little knit caps? Slate investigates. (Via Miriam Goldstein) Maggie

Whatever happened to Russia's Moon lander?

The United State won the race to put a man on the Moon. But we weren't the first to land anything on the Moon. That prize went to the Soviet Union, which successfully put Luna 2 on the surface of the Moon in 1959.

Their later missions were less successful and the USSR never made it past unmanned moon landers. Even some of those failed. Last week, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted the remains of two of these Luna missions, still sitting on the Moon. At Vice, Amy Teitel talks about the Luna program and what NASA has learned about why it failed.


Luna 23 met a similar fate. Launched on October 28, 1974, it malfunctioned halfway through its mission and ended up crashing on the surface in the Mare Crisium (the Sea of Crisis in the northwest on the Earth-facing side). The spacecraft stayed in contact with Earth after its hard landing, but it couldn’t get a sample. Mission scientists expected the spacecraft had tipped over as a result of its landing, but without a way to image the moon at a high resolution, they weren’t able to confirm, and the mystery endured.

It turns out they were indeed right. The whole spacecraft is still on the surface, its ascent engine never fired, and high resolution image from LRO’s cameras show the spacecraft lying on its side.

Read the rest at Vice

Apps for Kids 015: Simple Physics


Apps for Kids is Boing Boing's podcast about cool smartphone apps for kids and parents. My co-host is my 9-year-old daughter, Jane Frauenfelder.

In this week's episode Jane and I talk about the engineering construction simulation game, Simple Physics. We also discuss "endless runner" games in our "Listener Email" segment. If you would like to have us read your favorite game or gadget recommendation on the air, or if you have a question you'd like us to answer on the show, email us at appsforkids@boingboing.net. Include your age, and the city, state, and country you live in.

If you're an app developer and would like to have Jane and me try one of your apps for possible review, email a redeem code to appsforkids@boingboing.net.

Read about past episodes of Apps for Kids here.

To get a weekly email to notify you when a new episode of Apps for Kids is up, sign up here.




Bathos in Sealand

At Ars Technica, James Grimmelmann charts the failure of offshore datacenter HavenCo. Supposedly beyond the reach of national laws, HavenCo was located on Sealand, a tiny naval fort six miles off the English coast. Occupied since 1967 by a pirate radio DJ and touting itself as the world's smallest nation, Sealand's monarchical trappings are ever-mingled with libertarian fancy. The Pirate Bay expressed an interest a couple of years ago; now Fox News claims Wikileaks could go there. JWZ highlights the most telling photo. [Ars Technica] Rob

Laugh-Out-Loud Cats "Constellations" tee at w00t!


Ape Lad writes, "Woot is selling a poster of one of my recent Laugh-Out-Loud Cats comics for a limited time. It shows an inaccurate depiction of the constellations."

Connect the Dots Poster (Thanks, Ape Lad)

Medvedev cat safe

Following rumors that his cat had run away from home, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev reassured Twitter, the nation and the world that Dorofei is safe. This is not Dorofei's first scrape; he once lost a fight with neighbor and former president Mikhail Gorbachev's cat. [Reuters] Rob