Black and Blond – The Origin of Blonde Afros in Melanesia

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About a quarter of the Melanesian population in the Solomon Islands archipelago has an extremely unusual trait – dark skin with blond hair. The archipelago, located east of Papa New Guinea in Oceania, consists of a thousand islands inhabited by over half a million Melanesian people. They have the darkest skin in the world outside of Africa, but strangely, about one-fourth of the inhabitants sport blond afros.

This rare Melanesian characteristic has baffled scientists and genetic experts for years. Up until now, they have attributed the trait to inheritance – from the Europeans, especially the British, German and Australians, who have been associated with the island for hundreds of years. Several of the islands were under German jurisdiction in the 19th century. In 1893, the UK took southern Solomon Islands under their wing, declaring the region a protectorate. The rest of the islands were added to the protectorate at a later stage. And in the early 20th century, Australian and British companies set up coconut plantations on many of the islands.

So it isn’t entirely unbelievable that the dark-skinned Melanesians got their blond hair from the growing influx of ‘outsiders’. The locals, however, prefer not to go by that theory. They have been insisting for years that their blond hair is a result of a diet rich in fish and constant exposure to the sun. As it turns out, both theories are quite far from the truth. According to a recent investigation, random mutation might actually be the answer to the mystery of the Melanesian blonds.

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Japanese Researcher Uses Controversial Experiments to Prove Our Thoughts and Intentions Can Alter the Physical World

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Self-help gurus have been telling us about the power of positive thinking for years. Now, the results of an experiment might just prove that they were right all along. Dr. Masaru Emoto, a researcher and alternative healer from Japan, has researched the effects of positive and negative thoughts on materials such as water and cooked rice. The results are pretty amazing.

Dr. Emoto shot to international fame in 2004, when he was featured in the documentary film What the Bleep Do We Know. In that film, he demonstrated through experiments that human thoughts and intentions could cause a great deal of change to the molecular structure of water. His discovery was path breaking, given the fact that human bodies are made of almost 70 percent water.

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Mystery Surrounds Colombian Cemetery That Turns Buried Bodies into Mummies

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The ancient Egyptians spent centuries developing their mummifying techniques, but at a cemetery in San Bernardo, a small Colombian town, corpses somehow become naturally mummified in their coffins.

The phenomenon was first noticed 15 years ago, by grave digger Eduardo Cifuentes. “The burial pit was full of bodies,” he said. “I didn’t like stepping on them because they were humans like us so I started organizing them.” It’s only because of Eduardo’s efforts that the mummies are being talked about. He said that the mummified bodies have been around since about 1957, but no one paid any attention to them. “I liked the idea of keeping them for posterity,” he said. With the passage of time, the mummies’ clothes and skin have turned brown. Their skins look pasty and wrinkled.

Scientists have no idea why this is happening. The only other site in Latin America where natural mummification takes place is the Guanajuato, a town in central Mexico, where underground gas and soil conditions are the secret. But the same cannot be said for San Bernardo, because bodies are buried in chambers above the ground (as is customary in Colombia) so they do not come into contact with the earth.

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Scientists Create Candy That Doesn’t Cause Cavities

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Dentists have always warned us that too much candy will cause cavities. But all that could be a thing of the past, thanks to a new experiment by scientists from the Berlin biotechnology firm, OrganoBalance.

It turns out that candy doesn’t cause cavities at all. The bad guys are actually the bacteria that remain on our teeth after we eat sugary treats. So the scientists’ logic was simple – reduce the amount of ‘bad’ bacteria in candy, and the chances of cavities should naturally decrease.

After you eat a normal piece of candy, the bacteria on your teeth slowly release an acid that eats into tooth enamel. When the enamel wears down, it causes cavities to develop. One of the most common strains of bacteria responsible for cavities is mutans streptococci. When you chew candy, this bacteria is released into the saliva. If you swallow or spit, some of the bacteria is removed, but the remaining sits on your teeth and causes them to rot.

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What 10 Days Underwater Can Do to Your Hands

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You know how the skin on your hands gets wrinkly every time you spend a little too much time in the bathtub? Imagine what your hands must look like after ten full days of being submerged underwater. Tim Yarrow doesn’t have to imagine it; he is the current record holder for the longest time spent underwater and he has the hands to prove it.

Back in 2002, South-African Aquaman Tim Yarrow spent 240 hours submerged in a small water tank in a Johannesburg shopping mall. He beat a record that dated back to 1986, but it was much tougher than you think. Breathing issues aside, the man had to eat, sleep and do his “business” underwater for 10 days, while groups of shoppers gathered around the tank and watched. He used a low fiber diet delivered through a tube, and a catheter to eliminate waste from his body. Scary stuff if you ask me, but not nearly as scary as how his hands looked when he finally came out of the water. Even though he wore scuba gloves the whole time, the guy had the hands of a 200-year-old. The Science Channel’s “Outrageous Acts of Science” TV show explains why Tim’s hands became so freakishly wrinkled.

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Gallium – The Rare Metal That Melts in Your Hand and Attacks Other Metals

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Remember those liquid metal Terminators from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies? What if I told you that kind of material isn’t just the fruit of someone’s sci-fi imagination, but a real metal? It’s called Gallium and it has some pretty cool properties.

So what makes gallium so special? Well, first of all, the brittle metal has a melting point of just  29.76 °C (85.57 °F), so if you hold it in your hand long enough it will become liquid. That alone is pretty cool, but this rare metal has a few other amazing properties. For example, it “attacks” other metals, like aluminum. As you’re about to see in one of the videos below, just a drop of liquid gallium weakens the structure of a Coke can to the point where it can be pierced with the slight press of the thumb. Gallium infiltrates the aluminum structure, compromising its integrity and making the can feel like tin foil instead of metal. Another interesting experiment involving gallium is called the “beating heart”, in which the amazing element is made to look like an alien life form. When submerged in sulfuric acid and a dichromate solution, gallium looks like an organic beating heart, due to the gallium sulfate which increases surface tension.

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World’s Quietest Place Lets You Hear Your Internal Organs

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The mad and hectic pace of life, sometimes makes us all crave some peace and quiet. But then, as they say, too much of a good thing can actually be bad for you. That applies to silence, as it turns out people can’t stand to be in the world’s quietest place for too long. The longest a person has lasted in there is 45 minutes.

The place I’m talking about is a room at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis. The room, also known as the ‘anechoic chamber’, is 99.99% sound absorbent. The double-insulated walls are made of steel and foot-thick concrete. Along the walls are also 3.3-foot thick fiberglass acoustic wedges that contribute to the ultra-quietness. The room holds the current Guinness World Record for being the quietest place on Earth. While it does seem like a dream come true, especially for those who live with kids or have stressful jobs, it’s actually not all that great. The room gets so silent that you can actually hear your internal organs at work. And after a while, the hallucinations begin.

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Student Wears Jeans for 15 Months without Washing Them

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Josh Le, a student at the University of Alberta, wore a pair of skin-tight jeans from September 2009 to December 2010, without washing them, just to see how much bacteria would build-up on them

The pair of jeans in question was actually made of raw denim, which isn’t treated with any chemicals, so Le thought they would make a perfect home for bacteria, in the course of 15 months. He declared he wore them almost every day, which is pretty amazing, considering that apart from a few wear marks, they looked pretty clean.

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Ice Boats Are Good Just in Theory

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BBC science show Bang Goes The Theory set out to test inventor Geoffrey Pyke’s claim that ice boats could be used during World War 2, in case steel supplies ran out.

Geoffrey Pyke suggested suggested it was possible to build unsinkable boats using a special material called Pykrete – a mixture of ice and wood pulp. In theory, the icy material could be moulded into any shape and because of its slow melting rate, could carry troops and vehicles for long distances. The idea was first mentioned during the early 1940s, but it sounds like a good idea for modern times, as well, so the guys at Bang Goes The Theory decided to test it out.

The team mixed 5,000 liters of water with the hemp-like wood pulp, moulded the mixture into the shape of a boat and froze it in one of England’s largest ice warehouses, in Tilbury, Essex. It took three weeks to freeze the boat, before it was transported to Portsmouth Harbor. The crew prepared for a trip to Cowes, on the Island of Wight, but son after the boat was launched on the water, it began taking water. Before they even got comfortable in their icy boat, the crew had to abandon ship and swim to the rescue craft.

But this test wasn’t enough to disprove Pyke’s theory. According to experts there are several explanation for the recent Pykrete failure, and they include water temperature and size. Geoffrey envisioned his revolutionary material used to create 1,000-ton carriers, not half-a-ton boats, because a large ice surface requires a lot more energy to start melting. Also the waters of Solent Bay are far warmer than the Atlantic, where the carriers were meant to be used.

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Scientists Discover the World’s Largest, Toughest Spider Web

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Scientist have recently discovered that the web of Darwin’s Bark Spider is the largest in the world, and is also ten times more resistant that Kevlar.

Igni Agnarsson, from the University of Puerto Rico, first discovered Darwin’s Bark Spider and their giant webs, back in 2001, and knew he had to return to Madagascar and study these little creatures further. He did just that in 2008 and 2010, and his research revealed some pretty incredible data.

While it isn’t exactly the largest spider known to man (the female is larger than the male, and it only measures 3-4 cm, with its legs outstretched), Darwin’s Bark Spider spawns giant webs that reach up to 25 meters in length, with a main core of around 2.8 square meters. With webs this size, it’s now wonder the silky substance can withstand twice as much force as a normal spider’s, which makes it 10 times stronger than a similar piece of Kevlar, and thus, the strongest biological material ever found.

How, and why Darwin’s Bark Spider creates these giant webs is still a secret, but the fact that they are usually found across rivers and lakes suggests they mean to capture big insects that spent their young lives in a water environment, trapping them right when they take to the air. Birds and bats also pass right above the water, but there’s yet no evidence the spider web could trap such large prey.

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Gunther von Hagen’s Plastinated Animal Menagerie

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Doctor Gunther von Hagen , the anatomist who invented plastination, presents his newest exhibition – a collection of the most revered animals in the world.

At the “Body Worlds of Animals” exhibition, held at Neunkirchen Zoo, Germany, people can discover the intricate anatomy of some of the most remarkable creatures in the animal kingdom. Samba and Chiana, two elephants donated by the zoo to the Institute of Plastination, four years ago, return home in plastinated form. The whole process of plastinating an elephant took 64,000 hours, 4 tons of silicone and 40,000 liters of acetone. By comparison, platinating a human body takes only 3,000 hours of work.

But the difficult and time-consuming process is well worth it, if it can reveal amazing mechanisms, like an elephant’s trunk, manipulated by 40,000 muscles, or the incredible cardiovascular system of the giraffe, which prevents it from being in permanent cardiac arrest.

The Body Worlds of Animals features other popular animals, like the bear, gorilla, or ostrich, stripped of their skin and ready for inspection. Dr. Gunther von Hagen, a self-declared animal lover, hopes his exhibition ” will increase appreciation for animals, especially endangered species, and remind us all of our obligation to animal wellfare.”

Photos by REUTERS via Daylife

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The Mysterious Blood Falls

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One of the most amazing sights in Antarctica, the Blood Falls have been a mystery ever since they were discovered, in 1911.

A bloody column of water coming out of a glacier isn’t what you’d expect to see in the frozen land of Antarctica, but if you visit Taylor Glacier, that’s exactly what you’re going to find. At first, scientists thought they were dealing with some sorts of red algae, but further research proved the bloody color was caused by something spectacular.

It turns out a small lake was sealed under Taylor Glacier roughly 2 million years ago. Incredible, isn’t it?!? Actually no, what’s incredible is the glacier acted like a natural time capsule for the ancient microbes living in the lake. These invisible forms of life have survived without oxygen, light or heat and are considered to be the “primordial ooze” out which every living thing on Earth evolved.

The Blood Falls are proof life can be found in the most extreme environments, probably even on other planets, like Mars.

via Atlas Obscura

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