• For sale: incredible double geodesic dome home with two interior slides, putting green, monkey bars, and secret passage

    This magnificent double geodesic dome in Eden Prairie, Minnesota is listed for sale at $3 million. Located on 2 acres of land, it's 8,000 square feet with six bedrooms, five baths. Two physicians had the home built in 1977 and reportedly inventor and geodesic dome advocate Buckminster Fuller once stopped by. From Kare11:

    Four junior bedrooms connect to each other through a loft playroom. The primary bedroom includes a private treetop deck. 

    "Every single bedroom, minus one, you really are sleeping under the stars," [current homeowner] Sarah said. 

    The property features two slides. One of the slides leads to the outside while the other slide is completely indoors, leading to the amusement room. A hidden door disguised as a book shelf leads to a movie theater room. A hallway has been transformed into an indoor putting green with monkey bars overhead. 

    Here's the listing.

    images: Edina Realty

  • Can you solve the "secret" phrase on the USPS's new Mystery Message stamps?

    The US Postal Service yesterday released a new stamp emblazoned with unusual colorful patterns. Each pattern is a camouflaged letter of the alphabet. A full pane of the twenty different stamps spells out a mystery message.

    Designed by art director Antonio Alcalá, the USPS held a dedication ceremony for the Mystery Message Forever stamp at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC. It's a fun idea but would have been more compelling if it was a more challenging, perhaps even Kryptos-themed, design.

    According to the USPS, "the new Mystery Message Forever stamps will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price."

  • Brazilian president hospitalized for 10 days of hiccups

    Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, 66, was admitted to the hospital yesterday after suffering hiccups for ten days that apparently still haven't stopped. He may have to undergo surgery, according to his physician. From the BBC News:

    He is being transferred to a hospital in São Paulo to undergo tests for an obstructed intestine.

    In a tweet, Mr Bolsonaro said he would be "back soon, God willing".

    There have been concerns about the far-right leader's health since he was stabbed in the intestines while campaigning in 2018.

    Mr Bolsonaro was seriously wounded in the attack and lost 40% of his blood. He has had several operations since the stabbing.

  • Scientists: Don't call them shark "attacks" anymore. They are "encounters" that sometimes result in "bites."

    Australian scientists and government agencies are officially discouraging the use of the phrase of "shark attack." Rather, they are "negative encounters" that might result in "bites." The Queensland government and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries is updating the language in its reports to reflect the new preferences. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

    Researchers such as Christopher Pepin-Neff from the University of Sydney, who has studied the language used, say such encounters were dubbed locally as "shark accidents" before the 1930s when a prominent surgeon, Victor Coppleson, began to describe them as attacks[…]

    A change in language matters "because it helps dispel inherent assumptions that sharks are ravenous, mindless man-eating monsters", [Australian Marine Conservation Society scientist Leonardo] Guida said […]

    The terminology can also be important especially if words such as "attacks" prompt people to demand culls of what are already often protected animals. Shark numbers are globally in decline because of over-fishing, pollution and the increasing impacts of climate change, including around Australia.

    image: Fallows C, Gallagher AJ, Hammerschlag N (CC BY 2.5)

  • Secrets of a backyard astrophotographer

    My old pal Eric Paulos is an engineer, artist, and computer science professor at UC Berkeley. While he's been curious about astronomy since he was young, his interest went supernova (heh) in the last two years. Astrophotography became Eric's primary pandemic passion. After Eric posted a few astonishing backyard astronomy images on social media, his friends started asking questions. Lots of questions. So Eric kindly wrote a wonderful guide to his gear and technique. From his post on Medium:

    I've been into astronomy since I was about 10 years old and taking images along the way with a variety of equipment. However, over the past 2–3 years I've significantly upgraded my setup. Amateur astronomy also saw an exciting upswing in interest during the pandemic and locating scopes and gear was nearly impossible. Things are a bit better now but some stuff was out of stock for almost a year. If you were discouraged by this check back now as more astro gear is back in stock and available! And please…you don't need to start anywhere near what I describe below to have fun. I often go outside at night with just a nice set of binoculars and watch stars, planets, satellites, etc.

    When I do go out to image deep sky objects, I have a more dediated astrophotography setup. My latest images are shot using a Celestron Edge HD 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with a 2032mm focal length (and 8" aperture) making it F/10 (see image at top). It's on an equatorial CGX mount that helps cancel the rotation of the earth to enable taking long exposures without star trails. I'm also using a ZWO ASI533MC Pro dedicated color astronomy CMOS camera cooled to -20C, a ZWO ASI290MM Mini guide camera on a 60mm guide scope, an electronic auto-focuser, and an ASI Air Pro (essentially a specialized Raspberry Pi for dedicated astrophotography) to manage everything. I always select targets before I go out to image for the night so I have a plan. I select objects appropriately positioned high in the sky (to avoid atmospheric disturbances) and up for long periods of time to allow the longest possible imaging opportunities.

    "Cosmos Capturing: Under the Hood (and Clear Skies)" (Medium)

    M27 Dumbbell Nebula 1360 light years away and only 9,807 years old from 30 stacked 2 minute subs

    top image: M51 Whirlpool Galaxy 30,000 light years away from 20 stacked 2 minute subs

  • Authorities bust crypto-mining farm running on 4,000 Sony PlayStation 4s

    Ukrainian police in the city of Vinnytsia raided a warehouse crypto-mining farm running on nearly 4,000 PlayStation 4s. The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) described the warehouse operation as "the largest crypto farm in Ukraine." According to the SSU report, the miners had been stealing electricity and the warehouse formerly belonged to the electric company.

    The report stats that the miners were siphoning off so much power that "entire neighborhoods of Vinnytsia could be left without electricty."

    From Kotaku:

    The agency has accused the operation of leeching as much as $256,648 worth of energy from the surrounding grid using special electrical meters to hide the theft. It also hasn't ruled out involvement by officials at the power company located right next to the warehouse. 

    images: @ServiceSsu

  • Firefighters free naked woman wedged upside down between two buildings

    A rescue crew worked for more than two hours to free a naked woman wedged upside-down between two buildings in Santa Ana, California yesterday. Workers heard the woman screaming and called emergency services. According to firefighters, the woman was jammed inside a space just 8 inches wide. No information about how she had gotten stuck between the buildings—an auto body shop and an audio store—or why she was nude and upside down.

    "That's a mystery to all of us here right now," [Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Thanh] Nguyen said.

    From KTLA:

    While stuck, the woman was alert and communicating with rescuers, officials said.

    Around 4:30 p.m., firefighters were able to get the woman out after cutting a chunk of concrete out of the wall, according to the O.C. Fire Authority.

  • It's now legal to get a haircut in New York on Sundays. No, it wasn't before.

    If you've ever gotten a haircut or professional shave on a Sunday in New York, you've benefited from criminal activity. Until yesterday, it was illegal for someone to practice barbering on Sundays. Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to immediately end the prohibition. From the Times Union:

    It had a fine of $5 for a first offense; a second offense could cost $10 to $25 and a trip to the county jail for 10 to 25 days.

    "That is the very definition of an archaic and meaningless law that makes little to no sense in the 21st century," Cuomo said in a statement[…]

    The old Sunday law may have been related to the bootlegging business, Politico noted. The Senate agreed to the law on a 28-to-12 vote, according to the New York Times. A Bronx Democrat tried to exempt New York City and Saratoga Springs from the law, but was unsuccessful. One senator called the law "a measure to promote bootlegging in barbershops."

    image (cropped): Willjay (CC BY-SA 3.0)

  • Taco Bells employees set off fireworks inside, starting fire while locked outside

    Taco Bell employees in Nashville reportedly set off a fireworks show inside the restaurant and then ran outside to watch through the window. Fortunately, they did it when no customers were inside. Unfortunately, they locked themselves out and a fire broke out. Police arrested shift leader Courtney Mayes, 25, and charged her with felony aggravated arson. They expect to make more arrests soon. From ABC News Radio:

    "According to the surveillance footage, the employees can be seen locking the doors to the dining room to keep customers from entering the business," the fire department said in the statement. "The video then shows the employees running around the inside of the store with fireworks in their hands."

    At one point in the video, the employees can be seen going into the men's bathroom, where they are out of sight of the camera for a short period of time, before returning to the lobby and placing an item into a trash can near the door, according to the Nashville Fire Department.

    "Employees are seen using their cell phone cameras to record the trash can from the outside of the restaurant," the fire department said. "Employees then realized they locked themselves out of the restaurant. The employees tried unsuccessfully to get back into the store. When the employees saw the trash can start to smoke, they called 911 for help."

  • McDonald's introduced an "impossible" meatless burger in 1962 but it was pineapple

    In 1962, Lou Groen, owner of a McDonald's franchise in Cincinnati, Ohio, had an idea for a "hamburger" that would appeal to his mostly Catholic customers who didn't eat meat on Fridays. McDonald's founder Ray Kroc was skeptical that Groen's so-called Filet-O-Fish would take off, and besides, he had is own meatless burger in mind. Kroc's Hula Burger consisted of a slab of grilled pineapple with cheese on a bun. From McDonadl's:

    Kroc made a deal with Groen that they would sell the Hula Burger and the Filet-O-Fish on a Friday, and whichever sandwich sold the most would be added to the permanent menu. Kroc was so convinced that his Hula Burger would outsell the Filet-O-Fish that he made a side bet with his first grillman Fred Turner that the loser would buy the winner a new suit.  The final score? Hula Burger: 6, Filet-O-Fish: 350.

    "Fred got a new suit and McDonald's got the Filet-O-Fish," said McDonald's Company Historian Mike Bullington.

    Apparently, McDonald's China does offer the Empress Pineapple Burger that is a slice of the fruit atop a chicken breast patty with barbecue sauce and mayo.

    image: McDonald's Wiki

  • Body language expert explains why we are so creeped out by bad handshakes, people who clear their throat, and staring

    Joe Navarro is a former FBI agent who specializes in nonverbal communication, body language, and other fascinating aspects of human behavior. He's written numerous books on these subjects, including The Dictionary of Body Language, and conducts corporate and government trainings through his Body Language Academy. He's also known for training professional poker players on how to identify "tells" and avoid giving them yourself. Here's what he says about handshakes:

    I come from a culture where we like to stand close together, but personally, I like to keep people three or four feet away. So one of the ways to avoid violating space, which makes people uncomfortable, causes psychological discomfort, is to, when you first shake hands, you reach in and you shake the hand. And rather than just remaining there, take a little step backward and assess what the other person does. And one of the things you'll find is if both of you take a step back, then both of you need that little bit of extra space. If the person moves towards you, then perhaps they come from a culture or they have a preference for standing closer. And in that case, what you may wanna do is just angle your body a little bit so you don't feel like they're as close to you as they may be.

    (Wired)

  • The Foo Fighters cover the Bee Gees' "You Should Be Dancing" (1976)

    Remember how Dave Grohl confessed that his Nirvana drumbeats were swiped from disco songs? Grohl is keeping the boogie alive with this Foo Fighters (aka The Dee Gees) cover of the Bee Gees' 1976 hit "You Should Be Dancing."

    This banger is included on their forthcoming album HAIL SATIN! to be released this Saturday on Record Store Day. The first side of the LP are all Bee Gees covers (well, one is by Andy Gibb solo). Side two are live versions of songs from the last Foo Fighters' album Medicine at Midnight. Here's the full tracklist:

    Side A — The DEE GEES:
    You Should Be Dancing
    Night Fever
    Tragedy
    Shadow Dancing
    More Than a Woman

    Side B — LIVE at 606:
    Making A Fire
    Shame Shame
    Waiting on a War
    No Son of Mine
    Cloudspotter

    top press photo: Magdalena Wosinska

  • Man found more than 150 bowling balls hidden in his home

    David Olson of Norton Shores, Michigan has got a lot of balls. The 33-year-old has uncovered more than 150 bowling balls hidden in the foundation of his home. Olson was renovating his back steps when he noticed a single ball integrated into the cinder block structure.

    "The deeper I got into it the more I realized it was just basically an entire gridwork of them making up the weight in there," Olson said. "I was actually a little happy about that because it's a little easier to roll bowling balls out of the way than to move the sand and figure out where to put all that."

    From the Detroit Free Press:

    As for the ball's origins, Olson said there used to be a Brunswick bowling ball plant in Muskegon. He said some ex-Brunswick employees contacted him through his Facebook post, and said workers used to take scrapped bowling balls to use as a cheaper alternative to gravel or sand.

    Olson said he plans to use the balls as edging for his landscaping, or to make sculptures. He also donated eight balls for a nearby church to use in a bowling ball cannon at a pig roast. He will also be giving some to his stepfather, who plans to use them as custom furniture legs.

    image: David Olson

  • Thom Yorke just released a new slowwwwww remix of "Creep"

    Thom Yorke has released a new remix of Radiohead's 1992 breakthrough hit "Creep." This slooowwwww version is based on an acoustic arrangement of the song. Yorke originally created the remix for fashion designer Jun Takahashi's UNDERCOVER runway show at Tokyo Fashion Week in March. Takahashi's artwork is seen in the above video.

    But I'm a creep
    I'm a weirdo
    What the hell am I doin' here?
    I don't belong here
    I don't belong here

  • Scientists decipher how Romanesco broccoli gets its freaky fractal shape

    Romanesco broccoli (aka Romanesco cauliflower) is a quite strange (albeit tasty) vegetable that looks otherwordly in its freaky fractal formations. Every bud is self-similar, resulting in a logarithmic spiral. Now, researchers at the French National Centre for Scientific Research have determined that the natural (approximate) fractal nature occurs because each bud is a failed flower that becomes a shoot that produces a new flower that fails and so on. By analyzing the genes and developing a 3D computer model, François Parcy and colleagues teased apart the biological mechanism behind the beautiful shapes. From New Scientist:

    "They start as flowers then lose their identity," says Parcy. "If you imagine a firework, it explodes and makes light. It's like if each of them was exploding again and again. And what you get, the structure of this cauliflower, is the result of all those consecutive explosions."

    The difference between regular cauliflowers and Romanesco is that each individual failed flower is visible in the final Romanesco. This is because Romanesco shoots produce more buds at an accelerating rate which lifts the growing tip away from the centre of the growing cauliflower, creating the familiar array of conical shapes that characterise the Romanesco.

    image: Ivar Leidus (CC BY-SA 4.0)

  • Making deer glow to prevent cars from hitting them

    The Finnish Reindeer Herders Association is hoping that painting deer with fluorescent paint could reduce the number of reindeer killed by cars. According to Smithsonian, around 4,000 deer dies this way every year in accidents that result in 15 million Euros in damage.

    "The spray is being tested on fur at the moment, but it may be even more effective on the antlers, because they are seen from every side," Reindeer Herders Association chair Anne Ollila told Finnish news site YLE.

    Another promising approach might be to mount a red LED bulb on the reindeer's nose.

    image: Anne Ollila/Reindeer Herders' Association

  • Sealed copy of Super Mario 64 breaks videogame auction record at $1.5 million, Luigi very proud

    Remember the hubbub last week when a copy of The Legend of Zelda videogame sold for $870,000? It beat the prior videogame sales record set in April when a sealed copy of the original Super Mario Bros. went for $660,000. Those numbers are nothing compared to Sunday's final vid on a sealed copy of Super Mario 64 that sold for $1.5 million.

    I hope that whomever bought it raced home, cracked open the plastic protector, tore open that shrink-wrap, blew into the cart, and slammed it right into their console. But somehow I doubt that's how it all played out.

    From CNN:

    "After the record-breaking sale of the first game in the Zelda series on Friday, the possibility of surpassing $1 million on a single video game seemed like a goal that would need to wait for another auction," Heritage Auctions video games specialist Valarie McLeckie said in a statement.

    "We were shocked to see that it turned out to be in the same one! We are proud to have been a part of this historic event," she added.

    The game that was sold was immaculately sealed, achieving the highest possible A++ grade from video game grading company WataGames.

  • Prince's shoe collection on display at Paisley Park

    Prince's home and studio Paisley Park, now a museum celebrating the purple one, is hosting a new exhibition of his fantastic custom shoe collection. From The Beautiful Collection exhibit description:

    "Vibrant colors. Intricate designs. Edgy elegance. Like everything else Prince touched, his custom shoes are expertly crafted and visionary works of art. Come see over 300 pairs, from his iconic 4-inch boots to his suede light-up roller skates, and marvel at how Prince's bold style continues to impact fashion to this day."

    The exhibition also features video interviews with Prince's shoe design collaborators, a special focus on his work with Gianni Versace, and an examination of Prince's "impacts on fashion and gender expression," according go the museum.

    De Beers and Versace "Diamonds Are Forever" charity event (1999)
    Coachella, light-up heels (2008)

    Top: post-Batman soundtrack (1989)

    Images: Paisley Park

  • One of Judy Garland's original Wizard of Oz dresses found stuffed in a shoebox in a university's drama department

    In the early 1970s, actress Mercedes McCambridge, a contemporary of Judy Garland, gifted the Catholic University of America's drama department with one of the iconic dresses that Garland wore as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939). (It's unclear why McCambridge had one of the dresses.) Shortly after the fanfare of the gifting moment, the dress vanished. Rumors abounded that it was somewhere in the drama apartment but nobody could seem to find it. Lecturer Matt Ripa had looked everywhere when he spotted a bag on top of a row of mailboxes in the department office.

    "I was curious what was inside and opened the bag. Inside was a shoebox, and inside the shoebox was the dress! I couldn't believe it," Ripa told CNN. "My co-worker and I quickly grabbed some gloves and looked at the dress and took some pictures before putting it back in the box and heading over to the (University) Archives."

    Apparently this is the sixth of Dorothy's Oz dresses still in existence.

    "All of the dresses have certain verifiable characteristics, including, for example, a 'secret pocket' on the right side of the pinafore skirt for Dorothy's handkerchief, 'Judy Garland' written by hand in a script specific to a single person who labeled all of the extant dresses in the same hand. Apparently, the thin material of the blouse was prone to tearing when Garland took it off after filming, and a seamstress often repaired it before she donned it for the next shoot," the university reported.

    A few years back, one of the other dresses sold at auction for more than $1.5 million.

  • UK man is first person to break his penis vertically

    A 40-year-old man in the UK suffered the first vertical break of a penis ever reported. That means his tunica albuginea—the fibrous membrane that surrounds the spongy chambers that fill with blood during an erection—tore up and down as opposed to across the shaft. According to his physicians' report published in the current issue of the British Medical Journal, "the patient reported that his penis buckled against his partner's perineum" while they were having sex. He did not report the common "popping" sensation that usually accompanies such injuries.

    After surgery and recovery, they wrote, "the patient was able to resume sexual activity within 6 months of the injury, achieving erections of the same quality to those prior to the injury, denying any penile curvature or significant palpable scarring."

    From the British Medical Journal:

    [A penile fracture] occurs when the erect penis is subjected to an abnormal 'bending' force, inducing an acute increase in intracavernosal pressures, exceeding the tensile strength of the tunica albuginea, which is approximately 1500 mm Hg, resulting in a tear, or so called 'fracture.'

    Up to 88.5% of penile fractures occur during sexual intercourse, with a 20-year retrospective study concluding 'doggy style' and 'man on top' as the two main etiological positions. Other lesser reported causes include masturbation, sleeping prone and 'taqaandan' (the practice of forcible detumescence performed primarily in Middle Eastern countries).

    Above is an MRI showing the injury. "Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, medical photography was prohibited," the physicians wrote. Unfortunately.