Friday, April 29, 2005

See Spot Grow

Spaceweather calls our attention to a huge sunspot. It's very active and about to be facing directly at us. Spaceweather even has handy instructions to see the spot for yourself.

Top Men at Wohba are hoping for an Earth facing CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) to light up the night skies.


Mars isn't the only place with sand problems. Here's a sandstorm in Iraq on Tuesday (April 26th.)

(And we thought those movie special effects were made up.)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Jinxed Opportunity!

No sooner had the Top Men at Wohba crossed their fingers, when Opportunity rover plows itself into a sand dune. All six wheels seem nice and dug in. Top Men at NASA (Steve Squyres) claim that they are optimistic - they've backed out of deep stuff before, but Top Men at Wohba haven't seen either Rover quite this deep before.

We've plowed (ahem) through the raw images to show you what you need to know. Rear Hazcam and Front Hazcam.

If this is a soft sand problem (not a correctable drive problem) we're not sure how Opportunity could proceed - the dunes get higher for a while. And so close to Erebus!

As always, we'll keep you informed.

Freedom to Associate

From Brice ( comes a link to Guess the Google. A mosaic of images from Google - you try and guess the word that is associated with them all. (If you can't even guess the word for the image above, don't bother with the game.)

(A gratuitous link to the site of your choice for anyone who knows what product was first marketed with the phrase "Freedom to Associate.")

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Will Opportunity Make It To Victoria?

Top Men have their fingers crossed on this one.

The Mars rover Opportunity started out in tiny Eagle crater (22 meters wide), took 90 sols (Martian days) to drive to huge Endurance crater (132 meters wide), and now (after 450 sols) has old boring Erebus crater in its sights.

That means it's on the home stretch to amazingly impressive Victoria crater (600 meters wide!) Victoria crater dwarfs any crater the rovers have encountered! (It's diameter is about the distance the rover drove from Eagle to Endurance.)

Opportunity just has to cross the etched terrain which is not a gimme, since no one knows what the etched terrain is, and because the right front wheel is having some steering problems.

Top Men (at Wohba and NASA) never dreamed there was a chance of making it to Victoria. We'll keep you informed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Another Machine

If the Soda Machine didn't have what you wanted, what about a SymmetryLab Machine.

Thanks Alex! (

Google Sightseeing

Here's a great site for wasting even more time on Google Maps.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Happy Birthday Hubble

The Hubble Space Telescope is 15 today. Small versions of these two images were released on Friday, but here at Wohba we waited until we could dig around and find the big versions. Wohba is all about the amazing details!

Eagle Nebula (3857 x 7804)
Whirlpool Galaxy (11477 x 7965 )

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Soda Machines

Soda Constructor has nothing to do with soda (as in fizzy liquid), but it certainly evokes a refreshing "wohba!"

It's kind of a 2D physics/robotics gallery and lab. You can choose to browse through the hundreds of creations in the zoo, or take the plunge and build something yourself. I recommend starting here and choosing "click here to play". Sliders on the left control the time, gravity, friction, and kinetic energy - just mess with them, you'll see what they do.

I like to browse through the zoo, pick things up and drop 'em, or turn them over and watch 'em squirm.

Grand Illusions

Square A and square B are the same shade of gray. If you're skeptical, here's a link to MIT's Perceptual Science Group gallery.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Martian Dust Devil in Motion

Since wohba scooped the world on the first Mars dust devil, we only though it appropriate to follow up with this amazing Martian dust devil activity.

Here's the story from

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Question: What was created in 1939 that piqued the interest of such brilliant and diverse minds as Richard Feynman and Martin Gardner, but was simple enough to build that it became a fad for schoolchildren?

Answer: Flexagons

The Hexahexaflexagon is the best of the Flexagons. There are numerous sites with history and information. As far as building your own - check out this site or this site. If you have kids, make it a family project. If you don't have kids, then you have plenty of time on your hands to make one for yourself.

Interesting and cool - you won't be disappointed. Top Men would not lie to you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Genesis McNuggets

Hey, good news!

Remember the Genesis spacecraft? It sat in space, gravitationally balanced between the Earth and the Sun, for several years, patiently catching solar stuff that would reveal the answers of the universe. It was suppose to come back to mother Earth, gently swinging on a parachute, which would be gently plucked from the sky by a Hollywood-stunt-piloted helicopter, and gently flown to a special lab to be gently examined by Top Men.

"Uh, oh, hot-dog!" Last year the thing slammed full-speed into the Utah desert like a UFO-gone-wild. If you haven't seen the video of the... uh... landing, you're missing out. And here's some photos of the fragile pieces. So much for gentle.

(We just love this shot of of a guy in a clean suit keeping the fragile collectors squeaky-clean before the mission. Poor guy.)

Anyway (back to the good news) it appears the Top Men are gonna be able to get some good science out of the shattered pieces. Seems the solar stuff is still in excellent condition. (If the answer is 42, I'm gonna be awfully suspicious.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Wadi Hitan

Wadi Hitan means Whale Valley. It's a great place to snorkel with whales and other very unique sea creatures.

Except for the fact that it's in the middle of the Egyptian desert, southwest of Cairo.

Evidently during the Eocene Period (millions of years ago) this part of Egypt was part of the Mediterranean Sea, a really amazing shallow part with lots of little islands. Wadi Hitan, it seems, was a perfect protected area for whales to migrate for annual birthing.

Long story short, it dried up (or the land rose) so quickly that the place is full of whale fossils - more than 400 so far. The first one was discovered only a hundred years ago.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Fistulated Cows

I still remember seeing a fistulated cow at the New Mexico State Fair when I was in Jr. High. Quite impressive - a cow with a hole in it - still alive. Just pull the plug, reach in and grab a handfull of... uh... cow stomach stuff. In case you never had the distinct priviledge, here's a few things you should know about fistulated cows.

The whole idea of fistulating seems to have been inspired by a certain Alexis St. Martin, who had a rather nasty wound in his left side that refused to heal. Oddly enough he lived a long life after the injury, even with his physician checking out his stomach on occasion to see how it worked.

Friday, April 08, 2005


...until April 17.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Nutational Movement

Maybe plants are intelligent, they're just slow. Check out what morning glory vines look like when you speed them up.

Real Levitation

Don't know if that Hutchison guy is for real, but this seems to be. Here's a few movies featuring diamagnetic levitation of very non-magnetic things - like water, strawberries and frogs. This is probably as close as you can get to real levitation.

Here's the simple explanation. (Yeah, right.)

Sea Stealth

So an octopus has eight legs, but it turns out they only really need two to walk. (Go figure?) What are they suppose to do with the other six? What about bundling them together to look like a coconut. Or how about letting 'em hang out all squiggly-like to look like some seaweed. Wohba! Good thing they live in the ocean or I'd be feeling pretty paranoid - did that shrub just move? (Thanks to David Nevin.)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Google Ogle

Google Maps now does satellite. Now it's easier than ever to see what's in your neighbor's backyard!

Titan TV

Gotta love it when the teeming masses take things into their own hands. Remember a few months back when the ESA (European Space Agency) landed a probe (Huygens) on Titan, a moon of Saturn? So the probe dropped down through the atmosphere snapping photos the whole way down and radioing them to the Casini craft that is orbiting Saturn, which in turn radioed them to earth.

Once the data arrived, the ESA got kind of greedy and didn't release the raw photos right away. (Whatever.) But luckily the data was leaked and made it into the hands of the teeming masses. Low and behold, in less then eight hours a web site was established where not-so-top-men began assembling the photos to make sense out of them. It was weeks before the ESA actually released official results, and it was old news by then. The power of the masses.

One of the coolest items on the site is this video. The Huygens probe continued to snap photos after it landed - just sitting there on the surface of one of the moons of Saturn. The video is the collection of those photos. Check it out - at a couple points in the video it almost appears as if stuff is blowing by.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Hutchison Effect

From eaa comes this crazy link. Talk about your mad scientists - this Hutchison guy has gotta be on the short list. The thumbnail links to this video of one of his incredibly useful machines in action - the machine that warps metal and makes things (things like plates and bowling balls) leap off the floor! He also makes time machines and free energy devices. (Very short list!)

Here's his site. Proceed with caution - unexplained phenomenon!

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Here at Wohba we also have a kindler, gentler, softer, artistic side. Sometimes we come across artwork that has the ability to make our top men stop and ponder.

Ambigrams for example.

Co-invented independently in the seventies by John Langdon and Scott Kim (et al), Ambigrams consist of typography that... blah blah blah blah blah... just explore the links below and be amazed.

Start at John Langdon's site. He gives a bit of history and has wonderful examples of different styles. Then try Scott Kim's site. Scott is considered by many to be the master of this artform.

More links...
Gef's Ambigram Site
Stefan Gustavson
Robert Maitland

And lastly, go to this site and get a brute-force Ambigram of your name (or any other words.)

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Whole World in Your Hands

At NASA's Blue Marble web site there are really big images of the whole earth. REALLY BIG IMAGES!

Don't get fooled into dowloading the laughably small 2048 by 1024 pixels (1.8 MB TIFF) image, or even the tiny 8192 by 4096 pixels (26.5 MB TIFF) image. And don't even think about just settling for the medium size 21,600 by 10,800 pixels (173.5 MB TIFF) image.

Go for the gusto - the big dog - the holy mother of all earth images! It's a whopping 43,200 by 21,600 pixels (642 MB TIFF)! It's so big you gotta get it in two seperate hemispheres!

You can get them all here. The last two are the big ones.