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The Timekeeper's Things

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

On my way to the workshop, I pass a haunted house. It's not October, not even close, so I'm pretty surprised to see scarecrows and plastic skeletons and—is that a hearse? Yes it is. It takes all my strength not to pull into the parking lot for a little off-season ...

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Big Moments Get Less Weighty: Whatever Happened To Stiff Paper?

Sunday, June 08, 2014

It's no big deal. It shouldn't matter. I just realized that something that's been around forever, that I grew up with, took for granted and used all the time, is slowly vanishing. Now that it's going, I suddenly care and want it back again, back in my hands so I ...

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How Chocolate Might Save The Planet

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Honey is nature's gift. It's natural. Made by bees. Chocolate is the opposite, a great engineering creation that could, just possibly, just maybe, help save our planet.

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A Decision! Kind of….

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued their opinion in Bond v United States.

Maybe you remember a while back we made a short about this case called, "Sex, Ducks, and The Founding Feud."

If you don't remember, it’s a story about a Supreme Court case involving a ...

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The Lost Mushrooms of Oceania

Monday, June 02, 2014

Steve Axford’s photographs seem to come from a slightly enchanted place. It’s a place where the pale brown lumps I think of as "mushrooms" have been transformed into a host of strange new creatures—some shimmering, some translucent, some hairy, some hideous, but all magic.

...
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A Little Bird Either Learns Its Name Or Dies

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Names are useful. We use them to catch someone's attention, to talk about them. Do animals create names for each other like we do? Yes, turns out. Here's a crazy example, with a dastardly back story.

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A Young Woman Falls In Love With Everything

Sunday, May 25, 2014

You start with difference, with mystery. Some things spiral, some become spheres, some branch, some don't. We know that inert atoms quicken, become bees, goats, clouds, then dissolve back into randomness. We look at these things, all these very, very different things, and we wonder, are they really different, or ...

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Jupiter's Dot And Mine. Why Life Is Unfair

Thursday, May 22, 2014

When I was 9, my dad drew this picture of me. You will notice something on my left cheek — a little brown spot.

Allen Krulwich

That's a mole. The doctor called it "a birthmark." My mom called it "a beauty mark." I was ...

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So What If It's Ugly? It Just Keeps On Going ...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Far, far, far away is a great place to be — if you want to stay marvelous. There is a plant, called Welwitschia mirabilis (mirabilis being Latin for marvelous), found only one place on Earth. You can get there, as artist/photographer Rachel Sussman did, by driving through the vast emptiness of the ...

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Head In Your Hands

Monday, May 19, 2014

Maybe you’re like me and you’re not exactly sure what to make of 3D printers. Sometimes they feel straight out of sci-fi (home print yourself a gun!), at other times they seem like a frivolous way to procure something you could buy at the dollar store. Only ...

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Intriguing Lime-Green Blobs Appear In The Andes Mountains. Are They Alive?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Oops.

Someone dropped lime sherbet on the desert — and it's melting. Who's going to clean this up?

Courtesy of Terrace Lodge

Nobody. Because this — believe it or not — is a plant. It may look like a glob of goo, but it's ...

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When Numbers Bleed, Freeze, Starve And Die On A Battlefield: The Dark Poetry Of Data

Friday, May 16, 2014

Vasily Vereshchagin/Wikimedia Commons 

I once read that when Napoleon invaded Russia, he lost most of his army not to the horrible Russian winter, horrible though it was. No, says this legend, Napoleon's army suffered from "button failure." The company that provided the army with ...

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Did Homer Simpson Actually Solve Fermat's Last Theorem? Take A Look

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

You don't have to notice, but if you do, it's like a hidden kiss. There have always been popular television shows that sneak bits of arcane learning into their storylines. Star Trek did this. Dr. Who (in Britain) did this. So, back in the day, did Rocky and Bullwinkle, and before them, a cartoon show called Crusader Rabbit. You'd be watching the program, and — hiding in a tossed-off bit of dialogue, a detail on the set, or some signage in the background — there would be a sly reference to a math problem or to a philosopher.

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A Question Of Biggitude: What's The Largest Creature On Earth?

Thursday, May 08, 2014

What's the biggest living thing on Earth? I can think of two. I'm not sure which is biggest, but neither of them is a blue whale. These are weirder. Much, much weirder.

One is a tree. The other eats trees.

This is the tree.

J. ...

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Draw My Left! No, No, My Other Left! A Hidden Bias In Art History Revealed

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Look at this guy.

He is half-smiley, half-frowny. I drew the mouth carefully to make it equal parts sad and happy.

But when you look at him — take him in whole — would you say he's having a good day or a bad day?

...
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Listen To These Lovely Cats. No, Actually, Don't

Sunday, May 04, 2014

John Pitcher /iStockphoto

"Oh, evolution," writes Mara Grunbaum in her new, about-to-come-out bookWTF Evolution, "You were doing so well with the lynx. You made it a fierce and graceful hunter, you gave it a luxurious spotted coat, you gave it pretty yellow eyes and tufted ears — and ...

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'Wassup, Sheep?' He Asked

Friday, May 02, 2014

One man is facing a few hundred sheep. He has questions. When he shouts to them, the sheep — surprisingly — answer back. It's a very lively back and forth, with one obvious problem. I don't trust these sheep. Their answer to his "Are you happy?" question seemed oddly, even ...

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Plants Talk. Plants Listen. Here's How

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

They don't have eyes. Or ears. Or what we would call a nervous system. But plants can talk. And they listen. Let me show you how.

First, we'll need a plant eater. This one's perfect: It's an aphid, a hungry little critter who loves to munch on fresh, green leaves ...

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'Don't Touch Me,' Said Canada. 'I Won't!' Said The USA. So They Moved 20 Feet Apart

Friday, April 25, 2014

Canada and the USA agreed to create a 20-foot-wide corridor between them that runs for 5,500 continuous miles. Cartographers drew the line straight, but engineers built it crooked. Take a look.

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