Welcome to the link list! Here's the weird, wonderful, and strange rounded up for your enjoyment and delectation! Here, you may envision free-falling from the Eiffel Tower, seeing life through a peahen's eyes, wearing dresses made of book pages, a Dr. Seuss version of the Call of Cthullu, and much more!
1) Does free-falling from Eiffel Tower sound like fun? An 1891 French inventor, Carron, apparently thought so it did. He designed a padded vehicle that would cushion riders as they plummeted from the top into a champagne glass-shaped pool at the bottom. Read more on Io9.
There's no evidence anyone ever actually tried the ride.
2) What does a Peahen want, anyway? Michael Platt, a neuroscientist at Duke University, uses an eye-tracking camera to watch what a peahen watches as a peacock tries to impress her. Evidently, the tail width and tail-shaking are more important than the eyespots--maybe.
They covered one eye for this, for tracking purposes. Do two-eyed peahens track differently? Presumably they let the poor thing get used to walking around one-eyed and with a helmet on before they started in on the experiment.
I was also intrigued by the video of eye-tracking as someone made a peanut butter sandwich (Peahens not included). The person making the sandwich often flicked her eyes to the next step while making the sandwich. I admit, though, I was doing some eye-flicking myself and thinking things like "Is she going to drink juice with that?" at least as often as I was thinking "Oh, look. Her eyes are on the jam now. She must be planning the next step." Do actual scientists have this kind of a problem? How often do they watch each video before drawing conclusions? Inquiring minds would like to know.
3) House sparrows are endangered in England? House sparrows?! Wow. I thought people and sparrows went together like, well, like peanut butter and jelly. There's a problem, though: As people get better at insulating houses, they also get better at locking sparrows out. So, Aaron Dunkerton, an England-based designer, has designed a brick (actually five bricks properly arranged) that has holes just the right size for bird nesting. They haven't really been tested out in actual buildings, but he hopes that ultimately they'll be required in buildings, making house sparrows un-endangered again.
*Looks outside at the bird bath.
It's hard to believe they ever could be in danger of disappearing around here, but it would be a shame if they did!
4) The Call of Cthulhu for Beginning Readers is up on DrFaustusAU's Deviant Art page. It turns out that Dr. Seuss's style is admirably suited for twisted, nightmare architecture.
I've only been able to "properly" (Ie: using link buttons) share a page at a time, but you really should at least look at the whole thing. It's hilarious--in a might drive you insane kind of way.
5) The highest living animal in the world? A spider, of course! To be precise, it's the Himalayan Jumping Spider (and the bugs it eats) lives at 22,000 feet. It's a jumping spider, which means it's completely adorable as well as being highly impressive.
PBS.org has a video of the the Himalayan Jumping Spider jumping, right here. I'm linking rather than embedding for those few of you who (unfathomably) won't find it cute.
6) Scissors that cut a perfectly straight line? Without a ruler? I want! I want! Tamás Fekete, who is studying industrial design at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Hungary, got tired of using multiple tools to cut a single line. Over a six-month period, he designed a wonderful pair of straight-line scissors that also angle the paper to prevent paper cuts.
They're not commercially available yet, though. Too bad! As someone who struggles to get the pencil line straight in the first place and who wages an ongoing and not-entirely successful battle with paper-cutters, I can't tell you how awesome I think these are!
7) Someone recently made a dress entirely of books. I wonder which ones? Anyway, it's impressive! Even more impressive is the fact that, according to my source, (GalleyCat--found via Quirk Books), a Google Image search for "dress made of books" yields scads of book dresses. Part of me is horrified--these are books you're talking about! Part of me is really, really impressed. These are dresses made of books! Or--most of them are. The search could use a little refining, but it's worth looking at anyway.
Highlights from the Google search:
Just look at this impressive gown designed by DJ Gramann. That's a stunning train there. Just looking at the image, I thought it was a wedding dress (which would be incredible, don't you think?). Instead, it's was for "Monday's Ivy Awards." Which Monday not quite specified, but it was sometime last year.
Or here is the Golden Book Gown. Remember those?
A search for "wedding dress made of books" did not give me any actual wedding dresses, but it did yield a lovely gown made out of Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales for a fairy tale reading. Close enough!
8) Check out Io9's collection of London Smog photos! More and more I'm struck by how recent this was. I tend to think of it as "back in Victorian times," but the truth is, it stuck around much longer than that.
Note: Some of you may have seen this already under another title. I meant to post this Tuesday. Obviously, my scheduling skills need work! Rather than leave a dead-link, I'll just say "Hey, have TWO lists this week, aren't I kind?" ;)