Saturday, January 31, 2009

What happens when you cross a zebra with a horse? The result isn’t really a horse, it’s a zorse, of course! Meet Eclyse — a zebra / horse hybrid, born on a ranch in Germany. Not part from any fabled Frankenstein style story or science experiment gone bad — she’s the product of a holiday romance in designer breeding. Might make you think twice before dashing away on that little rendezvous yourself.

Typically, most zorses have stripes across their entire body, but Eclyse has only two blocks of stripes — on her face and her hind quarters.

Eclyse inherits her pure white markings from her mother, a horse named Eclipse. Eclipse’s owners sent her to a ranch in Italy for breeding, where she met a rugged, handsome young zebra named Ulysses.

One thing led to another as rendezvous’ often do. When she returned home to Germany, Eclipse surprised her keepers by producing a little half-horse, half-zebra with extraordinarily unusual markings.

Ranch spokesman Udo Richter commented: “You can tell she is a mix just by looking at her. But in temperament she can also exhibit characteristics from each parent.” reports Metro.

“She is usually relatively tame like a horse but occasionally shows the fiery temperament of a zebra, leaping around like one.”

Not convinced that zorses actually exist? Here’s more living proof for you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

King Tooth set a new world record by pulling a 7 coach train using nothing but a steel rope and his bare teeth for the heaviest weight pulled by teeth. The Malaysian man’s achievement — whose real name is Rathakrishnan Velu – is projected to be accepted into the Guinness World Records within 2-3 weeks once the information has been verified, said his manager Anna Chidambar.

You could literally see how strained his neck muscles were as Velu pulled the 297.1 ton train over 9 feet, 2.2 inches (2.8 meters) along tracks at a railway station in Kuala Lumpur.

“I don’t know what toothpaste he uses but I am sure a lot companies will be looking to endorse their products from Rathakrishnan.” said Maximus Ongkili, a Cabinet minister, who was an eyewitness to the feat.

Just before his attempt, Rathakrishnan closed his eyes, took deep breaths, and held his left index finger against his nose and right index finger against his chest. Then he touched his forehead and the top of his head before sitting on the ground to begin reports the Daily Mail.

Dozens of spectators were cheering and clapping as they chanted ‘Malaysia Boleh!’ and ‘Malaysia Can’ as Valu sat down and pulled the train, grasping both tracks for support, pushing his feet against the wooden beams to thrust himself backwards.

In his second and third attempts Rathakrishnan moved the train 2 feet, 4.7 inches (.73 meters), and 8 feet, 1.6 inches (2.48 meters).

“We are slightly disappointed … he would have liked to end up with a longer distance but at the end of the day it is still a record.” said Chidambar.

Rathakrishnan also holds the previous world record for the heaviest weight pulled with teeth when he dragged a lighter 260.8 ton train over 13 feet, 9.3 inches (4.2 meters) on October 18, 2003.

Rathakrishnan — a strict vegetarian ethnic Indian — attributes his strength to an Indian form of meditation and daily jaw training. He also runs at least 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) and lifts bars up to 551 pounds (250 kilos).

How to pull large objects with your teeth

How does one pull a 50,000 pound bus with their teeth?

The main force required to move the bus is the rolling resistance of the tires, which is dependant upon the weight of the bus and the coefficient of rolling resistance of the tires.

How Stuff Works explains that the tires on any vehicle flatten as they move, which takes force to make them deform. The less they deform, the less force it takes. A steel train wheel has less than one-tenth the resistance of a car tire because it doesn’t deform as much as it rolls.

Ensuring the tire pressure on the bus is correct or slightly high can minimize the resistance. Assuming the coefficient is 0.006, the force needed to pull the bus is 0.006 multiplied by the weight of the bus, or 0.006 times 50,000 pounds, which equals 300 pounds. There could be extra force from brake drag or friction in the driveline, thereby bumping it to a generous estimate to move the bus requires 400 pounds of force.

It’s possible for a person to exert 400 pounds of force with their legs and hold it with their teeth, but there’s still the factor of traction. The coefficient of friction between your shoes and the ground determines how much force you can apply in the horizontal direction before your feet slip. About the best coefficient you could hope for is 1.0. If your shoes had a coefficient of 1.0, you could apply a force equal to your weight in the horizontal direction. Unless you weighed much more than 400 pounds, you wouldn’t be able to exert that much force against the ground.

A key factor is to increase your traction. One can anchor a ladder to the road and use the steps of the ladder to push against. To pull a train, a person could push against the railroad ties. This reduces the traction because you’re now pushing against a vertical surface instead of a horizontal one, so the force you apply against the ladder is in the same direction as the force you apply against the bus. Thus it’s more like lifting a 400 pound weight with your legs.

Your teeth have to be able to hold the rope with 400 pounds of force, but they’re not doing the lifting. Neither is your neck supporting much of the weight. Since you have to lean back to push against the ladder for traction, most of the force is transmitted down your spine. The closer you can get to the ground, the less force your neck muscles have to apply.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

World renowned Natasha Veruschka won Guinness immortality by swallowing 13 swords for which the belly dancer nearly died of her injuries of a severe hemorrhage — a bystander pushed dollar bills into her belt, triggering 3 blades in her throat to scissor.

Natasha won her 2nd world title in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. She and 8 sword swallowers of the Sword Swallowers Association International (SSAI) broke the 2002 SSAI and Guinness World Record by simultaneously swallowing a total of 52 swords on September 3, 2005 at the ‘Big Swallow’ annual sideshow.

Born in India of white Russian and British descent, the world’s only sword swallowing belly dancer has lived, studied, and performed her art around the world, and currently lives in New York City. Natasha Veruschka trained for the art with ‘Sai Master’ John Bradshaw of Bradshaw’s Circus World of Curiosities.

The ‘Neon Sword’ is the most dangerous on her ‘Swords on the Menu’ — 24 inches of glass and poison gas.

1. Guinness World Record — the most swords swallowed at once — thirteen 22 inch (55 centimeters) long swords

2. Guinness World Record — the most swords swallowed at once by a group (52). Natasha downed 11 swords

3. SSAI World Record — longest sword swallowed by a female — 27.5 inches (69 centimeters) long

4. SSAI World Record — the only female ‘Neon Sword Swallower’ — 24 inches (60 centimeters) long

5. SSAI World Record — the only female ‘Sai Weapon Sword Swallower’ 24 inches (60 centimeters) long

6. SSAI World Record — the most swords swallowed simultaneously — thirteen 22 inch (55 centimeters) long swords)!

7. SSAI World Record — the most swords simultaneously swallowed by a group (50). Natasha swallowed 11 swords

The ‘World Class Belly Dancer’ has won scores of national and international belly dancing contests. The dance is but one of many reasons her shows are so widely received.

Natasha has been featured by CNN, HBO, MTV, The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, and National Geography to name but a few.

Natasha swallows seven swords at once in her ‘Sword Sandwich’ performance, then removes them one by one.

The art of sword swallowing began more than 4000 years ago in India and the Middle East. It requires fierce mind-over-matter to control the body and repress natural reflexes in order to insert the solid steel blades from 15 to 25 inches down the esophagus and into the stomach.

With the demise of the traveling circus sideshow over the past 30 years, there are currently less than 40 full-time professional sword swallowers actively performing the ancient but deadly art around the world today.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Scientists analysing a 'hobbit'-sized skull found five years ago have claimed that it is not human.

The fossil was discovered in Indonesia and named Homo floresiensis, or 'hobbit', but its species was not known.

Now researchers at the Department of Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook University claim the shape of skull is consistent with a scaled-down human ancestor but not with modern humans, Science Daily reports.

They used 3-D shape analysis to study the size, shape and asymmetry of the cranium.

They compared it with other extinct homini species as well as with modern humans and apes.

Karen Baab said: 'The overall shape of the skull, particularly the part that surrounds the brain looks similar to fossils more than 1.5 million years older from Africa and Eurasia, rather than modern humans, even though Homo floresiensis is documented from 17,000 to 95,000 years ago.'The researchers believe their findings counter one scientific theory that says the creature was a diminutive human that had suffered microcephaly, which leads to a smaller cranium.

They concluded that the skull had not suffered microcephaly because the difference between its right and left sides were not as great as would be expected in that case.

Dr Baab recognised, however, that the controversy as to the evolutionary origins of the 'hobbit' will continue.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Attracting daredevils and water babies who love to live on the edge and will go to any depth to experience the ultimate life’s thrill, Devil’s Swimming Pool has to be the world’s most dangerous naturally formed pool, located mere inches from the lip of the Victoria Falls rim at a height of 360 feet (108 meters), before the raging waters spill into the vast gorges below in deafening sound.

During rainy season, some are swept instantly over the falls — including the occasional hippo and foolish humans — to their death and oftentimes found swirling about and washed up at the north-east end of the Second Gorge, about 820 feet (250 meters) south of the falls.

But generally from September through December when water levels are lower, daring individuals can jump in to be carried away within inches of the chasm without continuing over the edge and falling into the gorge.

A natural but slippery rock wall just below the water’s surface at the very edge of the falls forms a barrier that stops them from crashing over despite the current, with thrill-seekers exhilarated from the dangers nearby as the swimmers get within inches of their deaths.

Devil’s Pool is definitely one of the most surreal locations on Earth.

Forming the largest single sheet of falling water in the world, the Victoria Falls — originally called Mosi-oa-Tunya, or Smoke That Thunders by locals — are situated on the Zambezi River, on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe in southern Africa, accessed via Livingstone Island.

The falls are by some measures, the largest waterfall in the world, as well as being among the most unusual in form, and having arguably the most diverse and easily seen wildlife of any major waterfall.

Up to 500 million liters (132,275 gallons) of water cascade per minute over the mile-wide (1.7 kilometer) falls, creating a spectacular explosion of rainbow colored spray that rises over 1,300 feet (400 meters) — and sometimes even twice as high — which can be seen as far as 30 miles (50 kilometers) away.

At full moon, a ‘moonbow’ can be seen in the spray instead of the usual daylight rainbow.

During the flood season from February to May, it’s impossible to see the foot of the falls and most of its face, and the walks along the cliff opposite it are in a constant shower and shrouded in mist. Close to the edge of the cliff, spray shoots upward like inverted rain, especially at Zambia’s Knife-Edge Bridge.

Victoria Falls — later named as such by Europeans — are one of Africa’s major tourist attractions, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where many of Africa’s animals and birds can be seen in the immediate vicinity.

Thousands of thrill-seekers descend on the falls annually, scuttling across rocks and wading through shallows across the precipice to reach the pool from the town of Victoria Falls in Nature’s most exhilarating theme park.

The unusual form of Victoria Falls virtually enables the entire width of the falls to be viewed face-on at the same level as the top, from as close as 200 feet (60 meters). Few other waterfalls allow such a close approach on foot.

The whole Zambezi River drops into a deep, narrow slot-like chasm, connected to a long series of gorges.

For a long distance leading to the falls, the Zambezi river flows over a level sheet of basalt, in a shallow valley bounded by low and distant sandstone hills. The river’s course is speckled with numerous tree covered islands, increasing in number as it approaches the falls.

The unusual form of Victoria Falls virtually enables the entire width of the falls to be viewed face-on at the same level as the top, from as close as 200 feet (60 meters). Few other waterfalls allow such a close approach on foot.

The whole Zambezi River drops into a deep, narrow slot-like chasm, connected to a long series of gorges.

For a long distance leading to the falls, the Zambezi river flows over a level sheet of basalt, in a shallow valley bounded by low and distant sandstone hills. The river’s course is speckled with numerous tree covered islands, increasing in number as it approaches the falls.

No mountains, escarpments, or deep valleys are present which might be expected to create a waterfall — only a flat plateau extending hundreds of miles in all directions.

The falls are formed as the full width of the river plummets in a single vertical drop into a chasm 200 to 400 feet (60 to120 meters) wide, carved by its waters along a fracture zone in the basalt plateau.

The depth of the chasm — called the First Gorge — varies from 262 feet (80 meters) on the western end to 360 feet (108 meters) in the center. The only outlet to the First Gorge is a 360 foot (110 meter) wide gap about two-thirds of the way across the width of the falls from the western end, through which the entire river pours into the Victoria Falls gorges.

Two islands on the crest of the falls — Boaruka Island (or Cataract Island) near the western bank, and Livingstone Island near the middle — are large enough to divide the curtain of water even at full flood. At less than full flood, additional islets divide the curtain of water into separate parallel streams.

The main streams are named Leaping Water — called Devil’s Cataract by some — Main Falls, Rainbow Falls (the highest) and the Eastern Cataract.

The gorge below the Songwe called the Batoka Gorge — also used as an umbrella name for all the gorges — is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) long. The straight line distance to its end is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of the falls and takes the river through the basalt plateau to the valley in which Lake Kariba now lies.

For more than 100,000 years, the falls have been receding upstream through the Batoka Gorges, eroding the sandstone-filled cracks to form the gorges. The river has fallen in different eras into different chasms which now form a series of sharply zig-zagging gorges downstream from the falls.

Zambia and Zimbabwe each share the falls, and both have national parks to protect them and towns serving as tourism centers — Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and Livingstone in Zambia, and Victoria Falls National Park and the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

In 2006, hotel occupancy on the Zimbabwean side was about 30%, while the Zambian side was at near-capacity, with rates reaching $630 US per night. The rapid development has prompted the United Nations to consider revoking the fall’s status as a World Heritage Site. Problems of waste disposal and a lack of effective management of the falls’ environment are also a concern.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Guinea Pig Games (GPG) Olympics have started with an amazing opening as rascally rodents display their dedication to their chosen sports. In the struggle for survival, only the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals with their stamina, prowess, and incredible feats to win gold, silver, and bronze medals.

Their docile nature, responsiveness to handling and feeding, and the relative ease of caring for them, continue to make the guinea pig a popular pet, which furry fellas world-wide fear may be the very thing that bridges them from being taken seriously in their own class of world Olympics.

But recent events in the 2009 GPG Olympics have vindicated guineas throughout the planet from these stereotypes.
Rowing rodents Ricky and Rafael clawed their way to victory in the battle of the boats for the GPG Olympic rowing event for gold. Much to the GPG official’s amazement, the pair decided only moments before the race to switch boats like a golfer decides to change clubs.

“It’s like when you try on running shoes in the store. You try a pair of Nikes and a pair of Reeboks and one just feels better.” said Rafael.

It may very well have been the deciding factor than won them their prized medal.

Wil Liam Tell displayed his expert marksmanship with the crossbow as he took aim at his target. Tell had been promised the gold if he shot the apple nose-on, which he performed effortlessly, splitting the fruit with a single bolt from his crossbow without mishap.
It was a slam dunk when these water rats displayed no fear in the challenge to get their fur wet. Nosing ahead, Papael Phelps performed great feats in the pool, claiming 6 gold medals and 2 bronze to match the record aggregate for a single GPG Olympics, a feat which could net him $1 million from a swimwear company.

Papael says he trains for 8 hours a day in his private pool at home. The rest of his day consists mainly of feeding on fresh grass hay, apples, cabbage, carrots, celery, and spinach along with complex dietary supplements to maintain his health fitness and garner energy.
Called the Night Rider, or better known as Sir Jules (R), the British cyclist has enjoyed more success on 2 wheels than any other cycling rodent in history, with a feat of 3 gold medals under his belt at the 2005 GPG, receiving royal recognition by the Queen.

Stunned spectators watched the race in shock as the Olympic cycling champion barely won the event by a whisker in the semi-finals. Rumors have since circulated that he was distracted by the news that guineas would no longer compete with humans in the Tour de Rats in France this upcoming summer.

In a giant leap for rodentkind in the men’s pole vaulting event, Igor Bubka of the so-called “6 meters club,” broke the outdoor men’s world-record 24 times culminating in his current world record of 20.5 feet (6.25 meters).

Igor says he had a lot of practice since childhood in his homeland where poles were used as a practical means of passing over natural obstacles in marshy places in the provinces of Friesland in The Netherlands, along the North Sea.

Artificial draining of these marshes created a network of open drains or canals intersecting each other. In order to cross these without getting wet, while avoiding tedious roundabout journeys over bridges, a stack of jumping poles was kept at every home and used for vaulting over the canals.

Setting a new gold standard for his kind, Chubby Cheeks received a taste of Bad Ronnie’s badminton supremacy, losing to the austere athlete’s expert skill in the finals of the men’s GPG Olympic badminton tournament.

But the game was not without controversy of its own, when Squeakers Solomon’s coach was caught betting on his match. The gambling stint caused an outrage amongst the GPG officials and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who called for tough love, resulting in Squeakers to be banned from the Olympics and stripped of his silver medal.

Peter Pestbrook’s (L) mother bribed him with $5 to take fencing. His talent and drive gained him a place on the 1976 Olympic Team. For more than 20 years the fluffy rodent has dominated saber fencing in the U.S. and 6 Olympics, winning the national title 13 times.

The semifinal had to be stopped for about 10 minutes after Peter lost his cork and slashed the hand of his opponent, Bitey Betus, with the score even at 42 to 42.

Pestbrook is expected to take gold for the Fencing Men’s Individual Foil, but it could be a close shave against his worldly contender.

Since 1988, table tennis has been an Olympic sport. The Chinese ping-pong team has won all medals in World Table Tennis Championships and Olympic Games 4 times, which has placed more pressure on the team.

Their head coach has maintained low goals for 2009, stating that the current team has to face greater difficulties than the last Chinese ping-pong team for game, pet, and match, but says they still have the strength to win gold medals in the 4 events.

With the amazing prowess that would make his ancestors Heracles and Zeus proud, Hairycles defeated his fellow guinea pigs in the 100-meter running race in a record 10.73 seconds, and not only took the gold, but was also crowned with a wreath of wild olive branches.

Pumping fur iron in the heavyweight true Olympic GPG weightlifting championship is Louie Long who lifted more than 5 times his weight of 13.2 pounds (6 kilos) for the title, followed by his compatriot Stinger Skittles for silver at 12.5 pounds (5.7 kilos). The bronze medal was taken by Tim Tun Tae at 12.2 pounds (5.5 kilos).

Mad Hummad Hali, widely known for his fighting style, which he describes as “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” He’s the only guinea pig to have won the linear heavyweight championship 3 times, and the contender for this year’s gold. Hali was also the winner of the Olympic Light-heavyweight gold medal in 2005.

The heavyweight furball has made a name for himself for great hand-speed, with swift feet and taunting tactics. While Hali has been renowned for his fast, sharp out-fighting style, he also has a great chin, and has displayed great courage and an ability to take a punch throughout his career.

Splitting hairs, Lolo Lones, a beautiful world champion hurdler (L) is vying for the gold against champion hurdler Dana Dawlinson (R) who won the 400-meter hurdles world championships in 2001 and 2005 and is Australia’s best chance of a track gold.

Rani Ralkia, the reigning Olympic champion in the 400-meter hurdles, told reporters she was “shocked” to learn she had tested positive for the banned substance methyltrienolone and would be unable to defend her gold medal. A total of 15 furry pigs from Guinea including Ralkia have tested positive for methyltrienolone.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Who doesn’t love tongue twisters? A tongue twister is a phrase designed to be difficult to articulate properly. In other words, it twists your tongue. Tongue twisters are great fun, nonetheless, and a perfect way to kill time.
By the way, many tongue twisters also make use of alliteration, to get the desired effect.

So, here’s a list of thirty-three tricky tongue twisters to have some fun with. Enjoy tongue twisting!
1. A quick witted cricket critic.
2. How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?
3. Can you can a can as a canner can can a can?
4. Roberta ran rings around the Roman ruins.
5. I wish to wish the wish you wish to wish, but if you wish the wish the witch wishes, I won’t wish the wish you wish to wish.
6. Six sick slick slim sycamore saplings.
7. Shy Shelly says she shall sew sheets.
8. Friendly Frank flips fine flapjacks.
9. Betty bought butter but the butter was bitter, so Betty bought better butter to make the bitter butter better.
10. Six savory sausages sizzling
11. Lesser leather never weathered wetter weather better.
12. The boot black bought the black boot back.
13. Which witch wished which wicked wish?
14. Nine nice night nurses nursing nicely.
15. Sarah saw a shot-silk sash shop full of shot-silk sashes as the sunshine shone on the side of the shot-silk sash shop.
16. Gertie’s great-grandma grew aghast at Gertie’s grammar.
17. The two-twenty-two train tore through the tunnel.
18. Did Dick Pickens prick his pinkie pickling cheap cling peaches in an inch of Pinch or framing his famed French finch photos?
19. How many cookies could a good cook cook if a good cook could cook cookies? A good cook could cook as much cookies as a good cook who could cook cookies. [P.S: this one's really twisted!]
20. Three short sword sheaths.
21. Six slimy snails sailed silently.
22. Seven slick slimey snakes slowly sliding southward.
23. I wish to wash my Irish wristwatch.
24. Give papa a cup of proper coffee in a copper coffee cup.
25. Don’t pamper damp scamp tramps that camp under ramp lamps.
26. Betty and Bob brought back blue balloons from the big bazaar.
27. Who washed Washington’s white woollen underwear when Washington’s washer woman went west?
28. Tom threw Tim three thumbtacks.
29. The big black bug bit a big black bear
30. The soldiers shouldered shooters on their shoulders.
31. Cows graze in groves on grass which grows in grooves in groves.
32. Little Mike left his bike like Tike at Spike’s.
33. How many sheets could a sheet slitter slit if a sheet slitter could slit sheets?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

As complicated to create as the brain is intricate, a psychiatrist has knitted herself an exact replica of the human body's most complex organ.

Taking Karen Norberg almost a year to knit, the 1.5 scale brain is colour-coded to represent the different elements and areas that make up the human mind.

Knitted using 100 percent cotton yarn, the woolen brain is nine inches at its longest excluding the spinal cord that exudes from its base.

Ms Norberg says: 'The traditional fibre arts - including knitting and crochet - are a very flexible medium for making complex forms,'

'The process of construction was also much more similar to the actual growth of a real brain than it would have been if I'd been using a material such as clay or metal.

'You can see very naturally how the 'rippling' effect of the cerebral cortex emerges from properties that probably have to do with nerve cell growth.
'In the case of knitting, the effect is created by 'increasing' the number of stitches in each row.'

A passionate knitter in her spare time, Ms Norberg, from Boston, was inspired to attempt the challenge of knitting a human organ.

She said: 'I was ready to start a new project, and was looking for something related to the human body, that would also have an element of humour,'

'In this case, for me, there are two humorous aspects: one is simply to undertake such a ridiculously complex, time consuming project for no practical reason; the second is the idea of making a somewhat mysterious and difficult object - a brain - out of a 'cuddly', cheerfully coloured, familiar material like cotton yarn.'

Knitting each of the brains' different cores separately and then joining them together through a stitch, Karen spent over one year on and off creating her brain art in her down time.

'I begin by constructing separate elements that make sense as related structural forms - the brainstem, the cerebellum, the deep structures involved in memory and emotion (like the amygdala and hippocampus), and then the cortex,' says Dr Norberg.

'Then I assembled the parts together. The spinal cord consists of straight strands of string extending backwards from the base of what's called the brainstem.'
Karen's brain art caused such a stir amongst her colleagues that the Boston Museum of Science now has a permanent exhibit for it.

'The brain is the seat of the mind; but it is a biological, evolved structure - we're extremely good at doing things that our computers (so far) find difficult, and we're bad at doing things computers can do well,' says Karen.

Lost for ways to fill her spare time, Karen is now exploring ways of furthering her incredible brain art.

'I'm thinking of posters or t-shirts, but I am not so sure whether people will want to walk around with a knitted brain on the front of their clothes,' says Karen.

Intricate and painstaking, Karen's brain art is definitely the smart way to use a ball of wool.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009