While working hard on deadlines, I kept tossing interesting things into a folder and thinking I’d blog them later. That folder needs a good cleaning, so here’s a link dump to start off your weekend.
In a classic example of “science because we were curious,” researchers have discovered the mechanics behind the opening of a lily blossom. Turns out that the petals grow longer at the edges than they do in the middle. That puts stress on the bud, which eventually pops it open. The BBC has more explanation and a slow-motion video.
Also in the BBC, and under the category of “science made possible by how freaking tiny transmitters are these days,” the full migration route of the northern wheatear has been revealed at last. Until now, no one knew where these Arctic birds spent the winters. Turns out that northern wheatears, which weigh 25 grams (0.8 ounces), manage to fly 30,000 km (18,640 miles) from their breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra to sub-Saharan Africa. The daily distances they travel are staggering: an average of 290 km per day (180 miles) for those coming from Alaska.
Best quote from one of the researchers: “It seems that bird migration is limited by the size of the Earth. If the planet was larger, they would probably migrate even further.”
Little birds kick butt.
Here’s what happens when you mount a camera on a four-wheel drive mini-buggy and drive it into a pride of lions. The buggy didn’t survive, but the camera did and got some amazing photos.
I first heard Sarah Brightman as Christine in Phantom of the Opera, and fell in love with her voice then. She’s a rare opera talent, able to reach up and easily slide those high notes on a shelf, as if it took no effort at all.
Turns out that her greatest dream wasn’t to be an opera singer, though. It was to go to outer space.
One has enabled the other. Brightman’s career has given her the means to purchase a $52 million ticket on a Soyuz spacecraft to spend ten days on the International Space Station. Having passed all of the medical tests, she’s been in 16-hour days of training since January to prep for her flight in September. She even has her own mission patch, which you can see here.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, some citizens of Hamburg, Germany have declared it’s “peeback time” on public urinators. Tired of the mess caused by men peeing on building walls, a group of activists have coated some buildings with a superhydrophobic paint that redirects the urine stream.
Signs warning of the peeback have been posted in some of these booby-trapped places…but not all of them. The explanatory video is pretty hilarious.
I could have sworn I blogged this one ages ago, but a search doesn’t turn anything up. Check out ten continuous minutes of dominoes falling—275,000 of them—including a world record spiral and some fairly brilliant tricks. Not everything works exactly as planned, which makes it more fun. And some of it is obviously meant for specialty audiences, but the sheer complexity of the set-up is mind-blowing.
That’s it for today’s link dump, but there’s more in the folder…