Tag: Nature

Dog Islands

These far-flung locales are going to the dogs…that is if they haven’t already.

Snoopy Island

Snoopy IslandNishinoshima lies off Japan’s Pacific coastline and is best known for its active volcano, which last erupted in November. The ensuing lava flow created an entirely new island called Niijima. But the volcano wasn’t quite done. In the weeks that followed, it spewed out enough lava to connect the two islands as one. This strange event caused many a volcanologist to cry “good grief!” when they first saw aerial photos of the new, improved Nishinoshima: because the island now strongly resembles Snoopy. However, Japanese scientists aren’t ready to rename it “Snoopy Island” just yet. They say that the volcano is still active and that Nishinoshima’s current shape may only be temporary.

7 Quick Facts About Roses

All about the most famous, prominent, symbolic, and revered
flower in the Western world: the rose.

Facts about Roses• Humans began cultivating roses only about 5,000 years ago, in China and the Far East. But they’ve been used and enjoyed by humans for much longer than that. Ancient Egyptian mummies have been discovered wearing rose wreaths. Fossilized rose remnants have been found that date back 35 million years.

• A rosebush blooms on the wall of Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany. It started growing at about the same time the church was built, around 1010, making it the oldest living rosebush on the planet.

• In the early 1800s, Empress Josephine of France engineered the first modern-day “rose garden.” She had a lofty goal—a sample of every rose variety in the world. Her gardens at the Malmaison château housed 250 varieties of roses—helped along by a standing order to the French Navy to confiscate any rose plants or seeds found on enemy ships.

• Josephine’s garden made rose growing and collecting very popular in western Europe. In the mid-1800s, gardeners figured out how to crossbreed roses, to combine, for example, one rose’s color with another’s heartiness. The first major hybrid rose: “La France,” developed by grower Jean-Baptiste Andre Guillot in 1867. Today there are over 10,000 hybrid rose varieties.

• While it probably didn’t have every rose in the world, Josephine’s was the largest rose collection in the world until the opening and rapid growth of the Europa-Rosarium in Sangerhausen, Germany, in 1902. As of 2013, it houses 75,000 rose varieties.

Weird Invention: Here Comes the Fake Sun

A low-tech/high-tech cure for the winter blues for a city that is is cut off from direct sunlight for five to six months a year.

As the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, a little sunshine can be hard to come by. It’s especially true in Rjukan, a small town in Norway. Because of a nearby, imposing mountain chain, the area doesn’t receive any direct sunlight from September until March.

fake sun mirror project

Seven months of near darkness can get anybody down, as well as deprived of Vitamin D. Fortunately for the residents of Rjukan, there’s a high-tech cure for the wintertime blues.

Nearly seven months of that kind of gloom can get anybody down, even Vitamin D deprived Norwegians that are accustomed to harsh winters. Fortunately for the residents of Rjukan, there’s a solution. At a cost of 5 million Norwegian Kroner (roughly $841,000 in US dollars), three 183-square foot mirrors were installed on a cliff overlooking the town. On clear days – which are unable to discern from the ground in Rjukan – the mirrors reflect the sunlight down into the town square.

A Crappy Cup of Joe

If you think these coffees taste crappy, you wouldn’t be wrong. They literally came from poop. They are coffee from feces.

coffee from fecesIn one of the most inexplicable, perplexing, and kind of gross fads of all time, the hottest thing going in the world of coffee are beans that have passed through the digestive tracts of exotic animals. Adherents claim that the premium coffee that results is better than regular coffee. Why? The animals eat only the tastiest, ripest berries from coffee plants, then digest the outer berries, allowing the beans inside pass through their stomachs unharmed, but left coated with amino acids and enzymes. The animals’ feces is collected, with the beans removed, cleaned, and roasted, then ground into a beverage that fans claim is smoother and less bitter than other coffees because of those amino acids and enzymes from an animal’s digestive tract.

The most popular berries-to-butts-to-baristas blend is kopi luwak coffee, made from beans that have passed through the digestive system of the civet, an exotic mammal native to Asia and Africa, also known as a luwak or toddy cat. In 1991 British coffee importer Tony Wild became the first European to offer coffee made from pre-digested beans. The kopi luwak became so popular in Europe that its production is being industrialized, leading to widespread mistreatment of civets. Recently, Wild launched a campaign to end the production and consumption of the special coffee.

The Big Hunt for Bigfoot

Better living through Sasquatch-hunting technology.

“Drones” are seemingly everywhere these days (look out!). These controversial “unmanned aerial vehicles” are currently being used for military missions, surveillance, and even domestic policing. But drones aren’t just the possible progenitors of an Orwellian future. Their use is being explored in forest fire prevention, pizza delivery, and video tours.

Hunt for BigfootAnother possible use: in the big hunt for bigfoot. Jeffrey Meldrum, an anthropology professor at Idaho State University, along with entrepreneur William Barnes, are spearheading a project that will use an innovative new type of drone to search for evidence that Bigfoot actually exists. They call their undertaking “The Falcon Project.” Barnes and Meldrum hope to find enough funding to build the Aurora Mk II, an unmanned, 45-foot-long airship equipped with thermal-imaging equipment and high-resolution cameras. It should be just the tool to scour the forests of the Pacific Northwest day and night, tracking Bigfoot, and, should it find one, take a picture. Unlike more conventional drones, their ship will be quieter and stealthier so as not to scare away their targets. The Aurora Mk II will also be able to travel at speeds of up to 45 mph. The team hopes to launch the ship next year and start sending it on nighttime runs over reputed Bigfoot hotspots around the United States. Over the years, there have been dozens of amateur films that claim to contain footage of real-deal sasquatches—but nothing has ever been confirmed. Earlier this year, however, a couple hiking in British Columbia captured a fairly convincing video of what may (or may not) be one.