austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

She's the wave, she turns the tide

Can science explain these incredible happenings! Can you? Are you science? If you're not, can you pass a note to science while in health class? How could that be possible? Explain with your english class, during social studies! And if you still aren't science, then why are you collecting her mail? What sort of letters was science expecting us not to read? Don't peek!

The ``Watch Your Head'' phenomenon! It is possible at any time and in any place to cause someone to bonk her head on an obstacle simply by ordering, ``watch your head!'' This phenomenon is so all-pervasive it doesn't require there to be any obstruction; the mere warning will cause the sudden shock, head-rubbing, and feeble attempt to pretend it doesn't hurt when actually her forehead burns with the agony of a thousand paper cuts on the elbow. Those don't actually hurt a whole lot, but get a thousand of them together and you're into something. Even more astoundingly, a 1998 survey determined the effect only requires a person two-fifths of the time: the head-bonking will spontaneously happen the majority of the time anyway!

Earth Shape Shocker! While over five-eights of all authorities and six-elevenths of non-expert figures agree on the Earth's being round, none have a satisfactory answer for this anomaly. A research team visiting the longest straight section of New Jersey's anthracite-carrying Morris Canal set up theodolites and a long measuring rod near the end of the so-called horizon line. When parties at both the telescope and the stick sneezed they simultaneously fell into the water! And yet, the Morris Canal was drained of water and closed in 1924 under suspicion of carrying anthracite! We are forced to conclude the Earth is a little bit lower down than most of these professed experts thought previously --- but how to account for the theodolites?

The Unsettling Octopus! Patrons and staff of a Kissimmee, Florida, convenience store were shocked this April when an octopus entered the store, rooted around a little in the magazine section, and then bought a small jar of aftershave lotion with exact change. The startling thing was this so-called octopus sported fourteen arms, six of which it kept hidden in the pockets of its jacket because, it claimed, it ``didn't want to attract any undue attention''. Closer inspection of security footage revealed that this peculiar phenomenon was more accurately described as a chicken. But Florida officials admit that ``Kissimmee, Florida'' is a wholly imaginary city, like El Dorado, Utopia, or Wilkes-Barre ... so why did the octopus need aftershave lotion? Was it for a friend, and if so, why couldn't the friend buy it himself?

Wires of Wonder! A polynomial function describes the twisting of any two wires around each other --- and multiplying two polynomials together describes making the twisting all the more complicated. What has this simple mathematical fact to tell us about reducing the tangling of wires behind any computer, television set, power switching station, or electrically-powered roof? Not a thing, but a home stereo system in Blechworth, Vermont, has been nominated for the Fields Medal for encoding a solution to the Hadwinger conjecture on covering n-dimensional convex bodies. The answer is, ``Richard Mentor Johnson,'' vice president for Martin Van Buren, to everyone's surprise. Think of Van Buren felt.

The Photo Album Mystery! You have more blank photo albums tucked away in your closets, cabinets, and lesser-used drawers than you ever bought --- than anyone ever bought. Where did they come from? Who bought them? Who has photos printed out now that it's after 2003? No one can say, and yet, when pressed for an answer, they said, ``We thought we might take up scrapbooking or something.'' And who are those they that said that? They don't know. A receipt provided by arts and crafts store Michael's suggested that we could simply follow them on Twitter, which seems like not that far to go. And yet fewer than one in seven, or two in fourteen, have made that journey. What are they hiding from?

If you know the answers to any of these mysteries please write in!

Trivia: On 20 July 1934 there were 5,251 men engaged in construction at Boulder City or Black Canyon, the peak workforce of the Hoover Dam project. Source: Hoover Dam, Joseph E Stevens.

Currently Reading: Voyager: Seeking Newer Worlds In The Third Great Age Of Discovery, Stephen J Pyne. I should say this is a strikingly good book, with less information directly about Voyager and more about comparing it to social dynamics from earlier ages of exploration. It's very Schivelbusch-y.

Tags: humor

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