Ambergris is often referred to as "whale vomit", but that's not really correct. A more accurate analogy would be to say that ambergris is like the whale equivalent of a hairball. It's produced in the whale digestive tract, possibly to protect intestines from the sharp, pointy beaks of squid — you'll often find squid beaks embedded in the stuff. Most of it gets pooped out. But the big chunks of ambergris have to exit the other direction. In the human world, these lumps — which have the consistency of soft rock or thickly packed potting soil — are famous because we use them to make things like perfume. The ambergris washes up on beaches, people collect it, and sell it to make cosmetics.
Anyway, that's what usually happens. Recently, a dead sperm whale washed up on a beach in Holland and the conservationists who dissected it found a huge quantity of ambergris in the animal's intestines.
That news made me realize that I'd never actually seen a picture of ambergris before, so I went hunting around to see what the stuff looked like. That's a photo of a lump of ambergris, above. But it's not really indicative of what ambergris looks like all the time. In fact, as far as I can tell, the stuff comes in a wide variety of shapes and colors — ranging from stuff that looks like small brown pebbles to yellow-green globs covered in bubbly nodules. The diversity is worth perusing. This website, for a company that buys and sells ambergris, has several nice photos. And Google image search turned up a plethora of pics that really capture how different one lump of ambergris can be from another.
I’ve had quite a few fun afternoons playing with dry ice from making spooky fog in the kitchen to exploding plastic bottles in the yard. But I’ve never had the opportunity to pour hot lava over dry ice. In this video, the lava is 1400 °C and the dry ice is -78C°. So cool! And […]
A Boston University team have developed an acoustic, 3D-printed metamaterial whose topology is such that it reflects 94% of human-audible sound; the researchers' demonstration involves inserting a ring of this stuff in a PVC pipe and blasting a speaker down one end: light and air emerges from the other end, but sound does not.
Scientists Lior Appelbaum and David Zada in Israel publish new proof that sleep serves to help our brains repair damage.
If you’re a Mac user, you thrive on simplicity. Everything in its place and a place for everything. Unsurprisingly, there’s a ton of great organizational apps out there for Mac, and now someone’s had the great idea to bundle them all together. Whether you’re running a demanding business or just getting through the day to […]
Seems like drones are doing a lot of jobs these days, from reconnaissance to delivery. Now, we can add “keeping the Death Star safe” to that list. Whether you’re a drone enthusiast or a Star Wars fan, these Star Wars Propel Drones are undeniably the coolest toy around. Yes, that’s a fully functional drone replica […]
It’s spring clearance time for the Boing Boing Store, when some of the best deals from the holidays return even cheaper than before. From top-rated apps to educational software to the cutest record player of all time, they’re all back with a little extra incentive. Shop your heart out before tax season wraps up! Use […]