Robotic drone bee pollinates flowers

Japanese researchers demonstrated how a tiny remote-controlled drone could help bees pollinate flowers in areas where bees populations have been reduced due to pesticides, climate change, and other factors. Eijiro Myako and his colleagues at the Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology hope that eventually robotic bees could handle their share of the work autonomously. From New Scientist:

The manually controlled drone is 4 centimetres wide and weighs 15 grams. The bottom is covered in horsehair coated in a special sticky gel. When the drone flies onto a flower, pollen grains stick lightly to the gel, then rub off on the next flower visited.

In experiments, the drone was able to cross-pollinate Japanese lilies (Lilium japonicum). Moreover, the soft, flexible animal hairs did not damage the stamens or pistils when the drone landed on the flowers...

“We hope this will help to counter the problem of bee declines,” says Miyako. “But importantly, bees and drones should be used together.”

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Watch a real exorcism through a church keyhole

In 2014, Daniel Trochta of the small town of Vranov nad Dyji in the Czech Republic heard screaming coming from the Roman Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. He peeped through the keyhole and watch an exorcism unfold, and caught a couple minutes of it on his mobile phone camera. Sadly, Trochta seems to have missed any projectile vomiting, levitation, or head-spinning that may have occurred. From Mysterious Universe:

After Trochta posted the video, some parishioners and town residents questioned its authenticity and complained about the noise and possible danger. Local priest Father Marek Dunda finally confirmed that the video was real and implied that he was the exorcist or at least present during the ceremony.

"We were asking God to protect and to liberate the person. We used a Latin prayer asking for help. Of course it helps."

He refused to identify the woman and gave no details on her current condition. While the complaints continue, the town mayor says he’s talked to the priest and nothing illegal occurred in the church.

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Watch The Agitated, a dark and twisted noir stop-motion short

If Raymond Chandler was writing for the Brothers Quay, it might feel like The Agitated, a fantastic new short film directed by Preston Maybank. The stop-motion animated film tells the dark, witty, and weird story of Guy, a creepy clown puppet who breaks free from the literal and figurative strings controlling his life and embarks on a nightmarish journey through his own tortured soul. This is cartoon noir at its finest. And if the voice of Foxy sounds familiar, that's because the character is played by John Billingsley, Doctor Phlox on Star Trek: Enterprise! The Agitated is making the film festival rounds or you can rent it for a couple bucks on Vimeo On Demand.

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How to fold a World Record-winning paper airplane

John Collins holds the Guinness World Record for designing the farthest flying paper airplane. The plane, folded from a single piece of A4 paper, flew 69.14 meters in 2012. Harvard University made this video of Collins folding his masterpiece during a recent visit with Harvard's design engineering graduate students. More designs at The Paper Airplane Guy.

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Border police find two tons of marijuana disguised as limes

US Customs and Border Protection officers in Pharr, Texas found two tons of marijuana packed inside key limes on a truck near the Texas-Mexico border.

According to CNN, "over 34,000 of the fake fruit packages were discovered by an imaging inspection system and narcotics K-9 team."

Last year, carrots were the mule of choice in the area.

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DIY machine sorts M&Ms and Skittles by color

William Pennings built this wonderful machine that automates the arduous but necessary task of sorting M&Ms and Skittles by color. (Insert Van Halen joke here.)

"It's pretty quick and sorts about 2 pieces of candy per second" Pennings says. "It uses Arduino microcontrollers and stepper motors for quick and precise movement. A TCS34725 color sensor performs the measurements. Furthermore, the device is equipped with LEDs in several spots which nicely complement the overall look of the machine."

M&Ms and Skittles sorting machine (via Laughing Squid)

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This man has been looking for the Loch Ness Monster for 25 years

Steve Feltham has been camped at Loch Ness for 25 years keeping a constant vigil for Nessie. He seems like a delightful happy mutant doing exactly what he wants with his life.

"Some people think it's a giant eel," Feltham says. "Some people think there's a rip in time. Others believe there's a spaceship on the bottom of the Loch. It's more likely to turn out to be a big catfish."

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If the original Tron had a kayaking scene, it would look like this

Footage shot by Brendan Wells as he and his brother descended the rapids of Washington state's White Salmon River and Outlet Creek in kayaking gear outlined with LED rope lights.

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Idaho's massive checkerboard forest seen from the Space Station

An astronaut on the International Space Station snapped this striking photo last month of forest land adjacent to the Priest River in northern Idaho. From NASA:

The squares in this landscape checkerboard appear to be the result of forest management. Similar patterns originated in the 1800s, when alternate parcels of land were granted by the U.S. government to railroads such as the Northern Pacific. Many parcels in the Pacific Northwest were later sold off and harvested for timber.

The land shown here is now managed for wildlife and for timber harvesting. The white patches reflect areas with younger, smaller trees, where winter snow cover shows up brightly to the astronauts. Dark green-brown squares are parcels of denser, intact forest. The checkerboard is used as a method of maintaining the sustainability of forested tracts while still enabling a harvest of trees.

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When animals attack... in super-slow motion

Makes me wonder what I looked like this morning attacking that chocolate donut.

(BBC Earth Unplugged via Neatorama)

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Nebraska flag, flying upside down at State Capitol without notice, may get redesign

Nebraska State Sen. Burke Harr is pushing for a redesign of his state's flag because, well, it sucks. From the Omaha World-Herald:

For 10 days, the state flag, which is hoisted over the State Capitol’s west side when lawmakers are in session, flew upside down.

“Nobody noticed it,” State Sen. Burke Harr told members of the Legislature’s Executive Board. “It took someone drawing it to my attention before it was changed...”

An effort in 2002 to develop a new flag design with the public’s help, however, died after critics called it a blow to the state’s heritage.

Harr brushed off criticism from earlier this month that the state has more pressing issues to deal with, saying that the lawmakers can take a look at the state flag while addressing the looming budget deficit, the troubled Department of Correctional Services and other areas of concern.

“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” he said.

And for more on vexillology, don't miss this classic episode of the 99% Invisible podcast: "Vexillology Revisited: Fixing the Worst Civic Flag Designs in America" Read the rest

Stranger Things: watch the teaser for the next season

Who you gonna call?

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David Axelrod, incredibly influential soul/jazz/rock composer and producer, RIP

David Axelrod, whose 1960s and 1970s production and compositions melding jazz, soul, and rock had an indelible impact on contemporary hip-hop and R&B, has died at age 83. From Billboard:

Born in Los Angeles in 1933, Axelrod produced his first album in 1959 and went on to become a pioneer in combining jazz, rock and R&B in recorded music. He spent several years working for Capitol Records in production and A&R in the 1960s and went on to release more than a dozen of his own albums.

While a contemporary of, and somewhat analogous to, idiosyncratic composer/arrangers like Van Dyke Parks, Axelrod was much more influenced by jazz, as reflected in his orchestrations and his own compositions. He produced David McCallum's Music: A Bit More of Me, the 1967 release featuring "The Edge," a song that famously turned into the predominant sample in Dr. Dre's 2000 hit "The Next Episode." He also collaborated with the Electric Prunes on their bizarre 1968 album Mass in F# Minor, and when the group splintered in the middle of recording, he finished it with session musicians.

So sad to hear about the passing of musician/composer #DavidAxelrod. He was so immersed in creativity and so pure with his arrangements he WAS hip hop. And understood and appreciated hip hop culture (most cats would get guarded about time moving on & easily take the "NO!!!!!!!!" disposition if they aren't informed. David embraced and often reached out to producers and beatmakers for cool collabos) he appreciation for music and his ability to recognize musicianship is what I'll take from him.

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Devo "Energy Dome" 45 rpm adapter

The good people at Oakland's excellent Contact Records record shop are selling these delightful Devo "Energy Dome" adapters to play your New Wave 45s in style. Locally 3D-printed by Jeremy Solterbeck, they're just a few bucks each and big fun for vinyl geeks.

ENERGY DOME 45 ADAPTERS IN OUR SHOP NOW!!! #devo #whipit #contactrecords #vinyligclub #energydome #45adapters #goldenenergy

A video posted by Contact Record Shop (@contact_records) on Nov 16, 2016 at 1:19pm PST

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Kronos Quartet's Kronos Festival 2017 this weekend in San Francisco

My favorite avant-garde classical group Kronos Quartet are holding Kronos Festival 2017: Here and Now this weekend at the SF JAZZ Center! There's a wide variety of musical experiences all weekend long including a family concert on Saturday. The performances feature a stellar array of composers and special guests, including minimalist pioneer Terry Riley, legendary producer/songwriter Van Dyke Parks reading Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poetry, Indian violinist Kala Ramnath, Persian singer Mahsa Vahdat, and Vietnamese instrumentalist Vân-Ánh Võ. Iranian composer Sahba Aminikia is this year's artist-in-residence. Open your mind and your ears to some surprising and beautiful new sounds. Buy tickets here. Below, a Spotify playlist to give you a sense of what you'll hear at the Festival:

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Dig these fantastically eclectic online DJ mixes by Zach Cowie

Zach Cowie is a cratedigger of the highest order. Following gigs at Rhino and Sub Pop, Zach turned his insatiable record collecting into a job: He's a music supervisor for TV and movies with credits like Master of None and The Little Hours and curated musical selections for the fashion label Rodarte. As a DJ, Zach (aka Turquoise Wisdom) frequently makes the scene in LA and elsewhere, sometimes spinning with pals like Elijah Wood and Andy Cabic (Vetiver). It seems that his destined role in life is to turn us on to the best music we've never heard of. And he's got a Voyager Golden Record tattoo, so that makes me like him even more. Here's an interview with him from Dust & Grooves.

Zach is now recording a monthly set for NTS called "Play It As It Lathes" that mixes ambient, psych, spiritual jazz, prog, cosmic country, dream pop, folk, and every other far-out genre you can imagine into stunning two-hour sets.

"It's the best place to hear what i’ve been listening to at home lately," Zach says.

Turn on and tune in below.

(Thanks, Jess Rotter!)

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Stunning image of Saturn's moon Mimas

A breathtaking photo of Saturn's moon Mimas taken this week by NASA's Cassini space probe.

You may recall, that another photo (below) of Mimas raised concerns that it isn't actually a moon but rather the Death Star.

(Images: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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