Giant ball pit for grown adults opens in DC

It’s a dream come true. Who doesn’t wish that there was some place they could go, as an adult, giant-ball-pit-for-adultsto dive into a giant pit of plastic balls without facing social judgment?

The National Building Museum in Washington, DC, last weekend opened a 10,000 square foot ball pit to the general public.
The installation, called “The Beach,” is literally two massive, gallery-white pools, built by Brooklyn design firm Snarkitecture, filled with plastic balls that fully grown adults can actually play in. It is reportedly very large and very fun, and is accompanied by a few dozen beach chairs.
 

You can see more photos here and here.

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“Thigh bone” spotted on Mars is just rock, NASA asserts

No need to worry, folks. It’s certainly not the bone of an alien or a hyper-ape, and there’s nothing anachronistic about it. Just a rock. Yup, no biggie. thigh-bone-on-mars.jpg

NASA released Curiosity’s “thigh bone” Mars rock photo with an explanation on Thursday.
 
In the photo description, NASA officials wrote that while “this Mars rock may look like a femur thigh bone,” it is not the fossilized remains of a mysterious Martian. “Mission science team members think its shape is likely sculpted by erosion, either wind or water.”
 
The Curiosity rover has found evidence that Ma
rs was once a habitable place in the ancient past, but there is no evidence that creatures large enough to leave a bone behind ever existed on the planet.
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Ancient Mayan cities discovered hidden deep in Mexican jungle

It doesn’t take long for an unattended lawn to return to pasture, or for ivy to creep up and over the face of a brick building. But the jungle is another force of nature entirely, more than capable of swallowing whole entire cities, perhaps never to divulge them again. Two such cities, lost centuries ago, were recently rediscovered in the Yucatan:
A monster mouth doorway, ruined pyramid temples and palace remains emerged from the Mexican jungle as archaeologists unearthed two ancient Mayan cities.
 
Found in the southeastern part of the Mexican state of Campeche, in the heart of the Yucatan peninsula, the cities were hidden in thick vegetation and hardly accessible.
 

“In the jungle you can be as little as 600 feet from a large site and do not even suspect it might be there; small mounds are all over the place, but they give you no idea about where an urban center might be,” said expedition leader Ivan Sprajc, of the Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU). 

 

 Read more… here!

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Scottish man fined for “pretending to be ghost” in cemetery

This is offensive to real ghosts. Straight from the source:

Tim Concannon, prosecuting at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court, said: “This defendant was effectively singing loudly and being disrespectful in among the graves.
 
“He was throwing himself backwards, waving his arms about and going ‘wooooooo’. I’m assuming he was pretending to be a ghost.”
 
Stallard [the defendant] had accepted at an earlier hearing that his behaviour could have been seen to cause distress to grieving relatives, and had pleaded guilty.
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If you can find it, you can swim in the secret pool in the Mojave Desert

Related to yesterday’s post is another harrowing true story about a mysterious body of water in the middle of a vast desert. Unlike that inexplicable Tunisian lake, though, the origins of this hidden swimming pool are no enigma: it is the work of an artist named Alfredo Barsuglia, who “created the minimalist sculpture to nod to other monumental works of desert-bound land art.”

hidden-mojave-desert-swimming-pool.jpg
Writes Gizmodo:
GPS coordinates can be obtained, along with the key, by visiting the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in West Hollywood, where the Austrian-born Barsuglia was a fellow last year. You can’t call to see if the key is there, and you can’t reserve it ahead of time. Of the destination, the artist will only say that it requires “several hours of driving from Los Angeles, plus a willingness to walk a long distance to reach the pool from the nearest road.”
What fun! Quirky, playful installations like these make the world a more interesting place. You can read more here.
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Mysterious lake appears in the middle of the desert, without explanation

We bring you the latest in our ongoing series of stories about lake-related mysteries: apparently, a large, deep lake has unexpectedly (who ever expects this sort of thing?) materialized in the middle of the Tunisian desert.

Our North African correspondents write:
The lake is just over a hectare in size and 10-18m deep. It is presumed that a small earthquake fractured a natural dam holding an artificial reservoir allowing the water to reach the surface. However, the aquifer has not been found – the theory relies more on the absence of other credible explanations than anything else.
More troubling than the lake’s unexplained formation, perhaps, is that people are flocking to swim in it — despite potentially grave dangers. The lake, it seems, may harbor potentially toxic algae — and, due to the presence of nearby phosphate mines, the waters may be radioactive.
You can see a swell photo of the lake here.
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Pennsylvania sends draft notice to 14,000 dead men

Talk about an embarrassing clerical error:

Pennsylvania government authorities admitted they mistakenly sent out more than 14,000 military draft notification letters to men who were born between 1893 and 1897, calling it a “serious” glitch at the hands of a computer inputting error.
 
The notices from the Selective Service System were mailed to at least 14,250 men born more than a century ago — all believed to be dead — warning them that failure to register is “punishable by a fine and imprisonment,” The Associated Press reported.
 
“I said, ‘Geez, what the hell is this about?’ ” said Chuck Huey, 73, about the notice he received that was addressed to his late grandfather, Bert Huey, who was born in 1894, served in World War I, then died in 1995 at the age of 100, AP reported.
Oops! What I wonder, though, is how many of those addresses were correct. Did many of them go to the men’s descendants? How many of the 14,000 were no longer legitimate mailing addresses at all? At any rate, you can read the full article here.
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Mysterious object spotted in lake on Saturn’s moon

Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, is notably the only known extraterrestrial body where surface liquid exists. In its case, the liquid is not water but rather liquid methane. Titan hasn’t just got a few puddles here and there, either: it has veritable seas of liquid methane covering large parts of its surface. And at a balmy -180 degrees Celsius, they make for the perfect beach vacation!

Recently, scientists have been puzzled by th

Radar image of the Titan surface taken on 22. ...

Radar image of the Titan surface taken on 22. July 2006 from Cassini probe. We can see liquid lakes of methane in this picture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

e appearance of a large object in one of Titan’s methane lakes:

They spotted the object in an image taken by Nasa’s Cassini probe last year as it swung around the alien moon, more than a billion kilometres from Earth. Pictures of the same spot captured nothing before or some days later.
 
Little more than a white blob on a grainy image of Titan’s northern hemisphere, the sighting could be an iceberg that broke free of the shoreline, an effect of rising bubbles, or waves rolling across the normally placid lake’s surface, scientists say.
 
Astronomers have named the blob the “magic island” until they have a better idea what they are looking at.
 

Personally, I prefer to believe that the Sirens of Titan are somehow involved. At any rate, you can read more here.

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Leading scientist ejected by audience after ‘trying to crowd surf’ at classical music concert

This may be the most perfect headline ever written, and I am so glad to live in a world where such absurd things sometimes happen.

The distinguished gentleman in question was a member of the Royal Society; the venue, the Bristol Old Vic; the tune, Handel’s Messiah.
Before the performance, [Bristol Old Vic Artistic Director] Mr Morris invited the audience to bring their drinks into the standing area in front of the stage and instructed them: “Clap or whoop when you like, and no shushing other people.”
 
But Dr Glowacki, a Royal Society Research Fellow, was so overcome during the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ he began lurching from side to side with his hands raised and whooping before attempting to crowd-surf, witnesses claimed.
 
Irritated by the distraction, audience members proceeded to physically eject the Bristol University academic from the area, in what Mr Morris claims is the first such incident at a classical concert since the 18th century.
That man is an inspiration to all of us. Original article here.
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The tree that owns itself

This is one of those times when I’ll let an excerpt from a Wikipedia article do all the talking:

A photograph of the Son of Tree That Owns Itse...

A photograph of the Son of Tree That Owns Itself taken by myself on a humid day in 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Tree That Owns Itself is a white oak tree, widely assumed to have legal ownership of itself and of all land within eight feet (2.4 m) of its base. The tree, also called the Jackson Oak, is located at the corner of South Finley and Dearing Streets in Athens, Georgia, United States. The original tree fell in 1942, but a new tree was grown from one of its acorns, and planted in the same location. The current tree is sometimes referred to as the Son of The Tree That Owns Itself. Both trees have appeared in numerous national publications, and the site is a local landmark.
How extraordinary! Legend has it that sometime between 1820 and 1832, one Colonel William Henry Jackson deeded the original tree to itself. I can only hope that this proud line of self-owning trees will endure indefinitely.
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