Hey man, great blog. I was going through your blog (as I do once a week) and read the party story. Do you think you’d be able to give me the name of the plant/sea animal that you’re cousin told you about at the get together? I’d really appreciate it if you could
…..
The fellow is in fact the brother of my brother-in-law, not my cousin (I DAMNED WELL WISH), a marine biologist from Rhode Island, the first scientist I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking to socially.
In brief, the conversation (part of it) was about a particular kind of algae bloom that has the devastating effect of obliterating memory (often permanent) & can cause a host of psychosis symptoms (also often permanent). I was told about a British scientist who did go mad (and never recovered) while researching this stuff in her lab. She ended up writing a paper that amounted to actual gibberish & her peers could not convince her that it made no sense whatsoever. 
I’ve been receiving bunches of messages about this since I posted that thing about talking to him at a gathering, so I finally gave him a call & asked him to explain it to me again, & here it is: 
The Red Tides of the Noctiluca Scintillans:
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Can cause extensive brain damage including permanent amnesia and homicidal tendencies. 

I do not pretend to have anything close to comprehensive knowledge on this & my phone conversation w scientist was very brief because 1. long distance & 2. he’s a scientist & therefore busy (not to mention that i just met him & don’t feel at ease to hold him to a long conversation), so any science buffs out there who care to elaborate and/or correct, please do. 

Read more on their memory-obliterating effects here

Watching an ep of one of my favorite quiz shows, the info being given is that circa 1815 when doctors knew very little about comas & such and wanted to be more certain as to whether or not a person was dead (because there were something like 30 indicators that looked like death but it was a time when people used to get interred with little bells in their coffins in case they happened to wake up), they tried “methods” like this: 

- attaching pincers to nipples

- scolding the arm w boiling water to see if blister would appear

- putting leaches on patient’s butt

- sticking long needle into patient’s heart with a flag on the end, & if the flag waved…well, you get the idea

- at last in 1816 the stethoscope was invented

This was less than 2 centuries ago. 

Today: 

Doctors at China’s Peking University Third Hospital have successfully removed a cancerous vertebra from a 12-year old boy and replaced it with a 3D printed implant in a first such procedure worldwide, Forbes reports.

“This is the first use of a 3D-printed vertebra as an implant for orthopedic spine surgery in the world,” said Dr. Liu Zhongjun, director of the Orthopedics Department at the hospital, as quoted by the CBS News.

The boy, referred to as Minghao, was diagnosed with cancer following a football accident. The tumor was located on the second vertebra in his neck. He is reported to be in good condition following a five-hour surgery and is expected to recover quickly.

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Read the article here

The Lobed-tooth Crabeater Seal

"The mouth of a crabeater seal is uniquely adapted to feed on Antarctic krill by acting like a sieve. A hungry crabeater will take a mouthful of water, close its jaws, squeeze the water out through its teeth and filter out all the krill, which it then consumes.These microscopic krill comprise over 90% of the crabeater seal’s diet (despite its name, the crabeater seal does not actually feed on crabs).”

In very rare circumstances it is possible to see a full 360 degree rainbow from an airplane.

In very rare circumstances it is possible to see a full 360 degree rainbow from an airplane.

Going to keep it a little casual today. Just for fun.

Been watching these back to back all day with the friend who first got me into QI years ago after I declared my hatred for gameshows near & far with the one exception of Whose Line is it Anyway?. 

Anyone unfamiliar: QI (Quite Interesting) doesn’t award points on the merit of right answers only & you don’t lose points for wrong answers. The panel is all pro comedians (most of the time). You get points for interesting answers, right or not. The panelist with the most boring/obvious answer tanks. 

Been some years since I’ve watched & so why not pass on a little good entertainment to you folks while I’m at it? 

Give it a try, see if you like it, especially if you hate gameshows.

Having an easy, nice time atm.

Earthrise

"Earthrise is the name given to a photograph of Earth taken by astronaut William Anders in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission. Nature photographer Galen Rowell declared it ‘the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.’ 

This had been preceded by the crude 1966 black-and-white raster earthrise image taken by the Lunar Orbiter 1 robotic probe.

An audio recording of the event is available with transcription which allows the event to be followed closely. Excerpt:

Anders: Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! There’s Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty.

Borman: Hey, don’t take that, it’s not scheduled [joking].

Anders: [laughs] You got a color film, Jim? Hand me that roll of color quick, would you…

Lovell: Oh man, that’s great.”

C. J. Schrat

"Well, I went to go hunt for a martini glass yesterday because I broke my favorite one, and went into one of the local thrift stores. As luck would have it the woman happened to keep parakeets and sell the ones her birds had. As I was walking around looking for a glass I liked, one bird in particular caught my eye as it followed me every time I walked by it’s cage. Now I was intrigued. I approached it and it began making lil cheeps at me. I decided ‘why not, let’s see what happens if I try and pet it through the cage’. It immediately began rubbing against my finger affectionately and cheeping louder, and yah. Fuck. I went to possibly buy a martini glass, and came home with a bird I’ve named Martini."

Smoke Ring - 1,000 feet wide, after demo shot, Al Anbar Province, Iraq (2005)

Smoke Ring - 1,000 feet wide, after demo shot, Al Anbar Province, Iraq (2005)

Trevor Paglen - They Watch the Moon (2010)

"This photograph depicts a classified ‘listening station’ deep in the forests of West Virginia.

The station is located at the center of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a region of approximately 34,000 square kilometers in West Virginia and parts of Maryland.

Within the Quiet Zone, radio transmissions are severely restricted: omnidirectional and high-powered transmissions (such as wireless internet devices and FM radio stations) are not permitted.

The listening station, which forms part of the global ECHELON system, was designed in part to take advantage of a phenomenon called moonbounce.

Moonbounce involves capturing communications and telemetry signals from around the world as they escape into space, hit the moon, and are reflected back towards Earth.

The photograph is a long exposure under the full moon light.”

Septim themes