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176. Walking Corpse Syndrome

Not a sufferer of Walking Corpse Syndrome

Also known as Cotard’s Syndrome, this rare mental condition has a very bizarre way of changing one’s outlook. It is usually a side-effect of a previous mental illness but occasionally the result of head trauma. What it actually does is make the sufferer believe that they are dead, non-existent or in even rarer cases, immortal.

They simply are convinced that they are in essence, a walking corpse, or ghost. Some conclude, just because it is hot when they gain consciousness, that they have died and gone to hell, even though life goes on normally around them.

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Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

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175. The Great Saharan Eye

In a remote section of the Sahara Desert, Mauritania specifically, there lies this most mysterious formation, the ‘Eye of the Sahara,’ also known as the Richat Structure. Those passing over the large flat dome on the ground do not notice anything particularly out of the ordinary, but when viewed from space it stands out.

The eye of the Sahara is 50km in diameter and when viewed from above it does bear a resemblance to the human eye. Especially when one considers that it is actually a low dome, like a large eyeball peering out of the desert and gazing up into the sky. Its bizarre appearance and considerable size have led to great speculation as to how it ever came to exist. It used to be that no-one understood its formation and even now it has been extensively studied few believe that we are in possession of the truth yet. I suppose we shall have to wait, and see.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Articles

 

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91. Cobwebbed Copses

FACT: Throughout March 2011, there was an unfortunate incident in Pakistan. Devastating flooding that at some points meant that one fifth of the whole country was covered with water. Amongst the many, many lives it affected an indelible mark has been left, many however can continue their lives on normally.

Fortunately it gave rise to a never-before-seen phenomenon, one which saves lives.

Cobwebbed copses, a copse being a small group of trees, of course. In layman’s terms, across Pakistan there were hundreds of trees completely encased by the fine gossamer webs spun by the millions of arachnids resting in their boughs.

The cause of this was obvious, flooding. Floods involve water, and spiders hate water (see the ‘Incey Wincey Spider‘ for confirmation). So to flee the high waters almost every single spider clambered up the nearest tree. The number of spiders was so great in fact that when the time came for the spiders to make their cobwebs, the sheer number of webs wrapped each tree in its own respective ethereal veil, or cocoon. An effect never before seen, even by the Pakistani Elders.

Saving lives. How do they do that? Well I did mention that earlier. Firstly to downsides; the flood left a lot of surface water in many areas of Pakistan, water that had the chance to warm and stagnate, making it the perfect breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. So what one normally sees after floods in poorer countries is a sharp rise in oft-fatal malaria cases. However not so with this flood.

Kill it with fire!The areas with the most ‘cocooned‘ trees have actually reported below average cases of malaria. This is in part because all of the spiders on the ground were making cobwebs which never caught mosquitoes, but now their webs are in the air, which happens to be the same thing that mosquitoes fly through, so more mosquitoes are caught.

This rare and spooky phenomenon is a wonder to behold and to those in Pakistan,a small blessing but a blessing none-the-less. Evidence that nature in dangerous as well as kind, all whilst being simultaneously unpredictable. Who knows, with floods becoming more common with every passing year (because of that global warming thing), cobwebbed copses may soon pepper every landscape like little flecks of earth dandruff across the world.

Watch out then, the tress may be coming to you soon. Will you welcome them?

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

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66. Cheerios Effect

FACT: Remember your last bowl of cereal? Go on, really try (I believe in you).

If you remember correctly you will have noticed that your cereal didn’t spread randomly over the surface of the milk(or alternate fluid). You will have noticed that they clump together, kind of like a soggy hug for inanimate objects.

This is a mysterious phenomenon known as the Cheerios Effect.

This kind of gathering together happens with everything that floats, from paperclips to bubbles. It was named after the eponymous cereal as it is particularly subject to this effect. This mysterious clumping works because Cheerios, or your preferred cereal of choice, disrupt the cohesive forces between the surface molecules. Also the individual pieces of cereal create little dips or depressions in the surface of the water which causes them to move together. Cool eh?

One more thing to consider is this; gravity is just a depression in space-time, when you get lots of objects in space creating all of their little depressions they become attracted to each other. This is how galaxies form, in almost exactly the same ways as cereal clumps together. Think about that the next time you are picking at your cereal, you are almost watching a new galaxy forming. Although you may want a few more Cheerios to create a 1 : 1 scale model of the milky way.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2011 in Trivia

 

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44. Ant Spirals of Death

FACT: Ants are wonderfully strong, durable and efficient creatures, unfortunately whilst the colonies are smart, the individual ants are not, meaning that stupid things such as circular milling a.k.a ‘Death Spirals’ can occur. They are often found on pavements or other smooth surfaces in Uruguay, Argentina and other South American countries.

Here is one such spiral:

So why does this happen?

Death Spirals only affect ants especially dependent on scent trails. You see, the blind ants cannot navigate back to their colony on their own, so instead each one follows a scent trail which is a stream of chemicals coming from the ant in front saying to the ant, ‘This way!’

This is a good system, and it works as every ant lays down a stream of these chemicals so no ants lose the scent, unfortunately things can go wrong. One leading ant, no different from any other, makes an error, it turns off the path and keeps going in a circle until it meets its own stream – and as we all know you should never cross streams.

The ant loops around in a circle and is now stuck in a loop, so are the ants following it and furthermore all of the ants following them. a Spiral has begun. Over time thousands upon thousands of ants join and follow the loop, forming a large, shifting, writhing and spinning mass of legs and mandibles. This is the ‘Death Spiral‘. The word ‘Death’ is in there with good reason –  no ants will survive this.

Why? because ants are stupid. Due to their inability to see the world the ants just carry on, running at full pelt along their circles their loops with the false belief that they are approaching their colony. Unfortunately its a road to nowhere and they will not stop. They will eventually die of exhaustion, running in their loops until they collapse. There re never survivors. Fortunately for the colony there are always more ants

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

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