Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Deb: What are you drawing?
Napoleon Dynamite: A liger.
Deb: What's a liger?
Napoleon Dynamite: It's pretty much my favorite animal. It's like a lion and a tiger mixed... bred for its skills in magic.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Eel City

Not far from Samoa an active underwater volcano has been discovered. And as if that wasn't cool enough, when Top Men from Scripps Institution of Oceanography went down to check it out they found yellow "fluff" (which is a scientific term at Scripps evidently.) And as if that wasn't cool enough, they also found hundreds of eels had built a miniature version of downtown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania complete with hotels for out-of-town eels to stay in.

Here's video. Here's the story.

(Note: Small portions of the story above were dramatically enhanced to increase their amazement level.)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Submerged Sahara

On the west coast of Africa there is a place where the Sahara desert flows into the Atlantic ocean. The Gulf of Arguin is essentially 4,000 square miles of underwater sand dunes (roughly half the size of New Jersey). The entire coastline is an amazing transition zone.

St├ęphane Scotto has a wonderful gallery of photographs from the area.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Art of Science

The Art of Science 2005 Online Exhibition is an amazing display of the beauty in nature.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Opportunity Update

Wohba's got another exclusive new wheel spinnin' video (1.2 meg) from the Opportunity rover. This one covers roughly nine martian sols worth of attempts - almost a foot of progress. Looks hopeful, but even after it digs itself out, top men at Wohba still wonder if perhaps this rover will have to backtrack instead of moving on.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Fine Art

Hmmm. What about using lasers to build itsy-bitsy polymeric structures on the surface of a human hair (and the hair stays soft and managable.) Here are the details.

Kinda puts those guys who can write your name on a grain of rice to shame.

Alien Sunset

Meanwhile, on the other side of Mars...

This afternoon Spirit sent down this panoramic image of the sun setting over the rim of Gusev crater.

(Thumbnail image colorized.)

Deep Impact

If the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys - the guys at NASA are real men!

Sure they've got a couple of bazillion dollar remote-control cars on Mars to play with, but real boys like to blow stuff up, too. How about a comet! Deep Impact is NASA's mission to frag (literally) comet Tempel 1. Here's the high points...

Launched in January (this year) it's travelled about 260 million miles and picked up the target last month. It's approaching fast for a July 4th encounter. And by encounter we mean smacking it at 23,000 miles per hour with an 800 pound copper missile to blast a stadium-size hunk out of the comet.

Two weeks ago top men at NASA made some course adjustments to make the impact better visible from Earth. After all, what good is blowing things up if you can't watch, right.

Wohba will bring you the fireworks.

Free Falling

Top Men at Wohba felt inclined to mention the short film "G" as alternative aerial cinematography. Filmmaker Rolf Gibbs has captured the essence of free falling from a plane from 30,000 feet.

Of course he had to make a marvelous bomb-like contraption to accomplish this task. Early attempts destroyed the video tape beyond usability. He eventually settled on a two-camera system, connected via firewire, where the first camcorder sits in the nose of the bomb capturing the view and feeding it to the second camcorder in the tail. The front camera is of course, not preserved, but the rear camera has just enough padding to save the precious video. (More of the story is here in Salon's archives)

The complete video is apparently only here (on iFilm). Don't hesitate to fast forward - it doesn't get interesting until the end.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


...until May 21.

Space Balloon?

If aerial photography from a kite isn't quite high enough for you - how about a home-built balloon rig (digital camera, GPS, custom micro-controller, radio, alarm, helium balloon, etc.) that managed to climb to over 50,000 feet, snapping photos the whole way! Just a couple of guys looking for something cool to do!

Here are the photos, and here is the story - it was quite an adventure.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Another Inch?

Opportunity Update.

UPDATE: Steve Squyres details the progress. (May 16th)
UPDATE: We've extended the rover Hazcam movies with additional frames showing another day of movement.
UPDATE: Added PC QuickTime version of movies (for EAA )

Front Left HazCam Movie
Front Left HazCam Movie (QuickTime 7)

Front Right HazCam Movie
Front Right HazCam Movie (QuickTime 7)

(Movies are in QuickTime format.)

Sidewalk Chalk Art

Feels like Mary Poppins - kites and sidewalk chalk drawings. But I don't think Jane and Michael Banks would be all that excited about jumping into this one. Amazing artwork by Master Street Painter - Kurt Wenner. (Thanks Brice!)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Aye-Aye Sir

Bizzaro Creature Department - The Aye-Aye.

Found only on the eastern coast of Madagascar, the Aye-Aye has been referred to as one of the most distinctive mammals on earth. Prime Wohba material. Here's are the highlights of its weirdness...

It climbs the trees at night, tapping on them with its bizzaro third finger. When it finds a spot that sounds right (with it's bizzaro large ears), it chews a small hole in the bark (with its bizzaro front teeth) and inserts its bizzaro elongated, boney finger in the hole and brings out a yummy grub to eat. By the way, the weird finger actually has something like a ball joint so it can swivel handily in through the grub tunnels. Top men are truly amazed.

This teeny, tiny video will demonstrate.

Here's another small video and more info here and here, if you're interested.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Diggin Out

Wohba Exclusive!

Top men at Wohba have created video footage from images released by NASA less than 30 minutes ago. Opportunity has just started trying to dig its way out of the sand trap. The video very clearly shows the progress... uh... not much. But of course NASA probably considers this just the first step in a series of carefully .. yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah. Just get it un-stuck, will yah.

The movies loop back and forth to make it look more like an AMC Pacer trying to rock out of a snowdrift.

Front Left HazCam Movie

Front Right HazCam Movie

UPDATED: Hazcams above now include additional frames from morning of the 16th - two days worth of movement.)

We included this NavCam sequence to show the movement from another perspective.

NavCam Movie

(Movies are in QuickTime format, and you may need QuickTime 7.)

The Kite Stuff

Kite photography has come a long way since George R. Lawrence made his groundbreaking aerial photos of San Francisco in 1906. Check out this VR aerial kite photography by Scott Haefner. He uses a very clever technique to take/make these impossible shots.

(Scott's entire site is worth exploring.)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

St. Helen's Fire

Every now and then, when the conditions are right, the Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam catches the glow from the hot, expanding dome. Here's a shot right now (9:35 Thursday evening.) But this amazing flash sequence from October is much more impressive.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Ring Waves

Top Men at Wohba love the idea of rings around planets. Saturn is just plain cool. The Cassini spacecraft that's been spending some quality time with Saturn's moons is now turning it's attention to the rings. Here's a movie released yesterday that shows the delicate interaction of a newly discovered moonlet (cleverly named S/2005 S1) and the rings. Even the micro-gravity of a 4 mile wide moonlet produces subtle ripples in the rings.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Some of the Top Men at Wohba have a slight problem with road rage. Playing with Traffic Simulators doesn't help. It makes us all the more aware of how a single, ignorant, inconsiderate, distracted, moron (just a slight problem) can cause a traffic tie up for hours!

This traffic sim has several variations, including the on-ramp bottleneck - which actually provides a politeness slider.

And this one is a traffic-light simulator. See if you're any better at programming the lights then the monkeys (just a slight problem) at city hall.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Mimosa Movement

In an ongoing attempt to educate the teeming masses regarding... uh... cool moving plant stuff, Top Men at Wohba add this Mimosa leaf response movie to our ongoing series. (previous post one and two.) This movie is in real-time which makes it even more amazing.

There a link to a second movie at the bottom with a more dramatic response.

Oh, how I wish I had known about this growing up. We had Mimosa trees everywhere. All I needed was a lighter and... hmmmm... okay, maybe it's better I didn't know.

Other People's Photos

More fun with photos. This time it's Flickr Colr Pickr .

(Short aside: What if the next, big, trendy, hip, way to create trademarkable words (instead of adding an "i" to the front (wow, that's three levels of nested parentheses in a sentence)) is to remove the vowel before the "r" in any "er" sounding suffixes.)

Anyway, go play with it, and don't miss the fine-print options at the bottom. For example, the diametrically opposed categories Flowers and Urban Decay.

Wish they'd let us pick our own category and keywords... oh, wait... that would be something like Montage-a-google.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Stop Splashing

Top Men at Wohba would have thought this was discovered long ago, but it turns out that splashing is strongly air-dependent. Meaning that in low air pressure situation (like a near-vacuum), there is no splash. This would be pretty boring except that there is video to watch.

Opportunity to Move

This week NASA will attempt to move the Opportunity rover out of deep sand by enticing it with a popsicle.

Okay the popsicle part isn't true, but this week the rover will make the first attempt to back out -- although the first steps will be more like moving the sand than moving the rover. Top Men at NASA have planned things out to an amazing level of (ahem) granularity. Read Steve Squyres latest update (May 7) if you want the amazing details.

If you just want a picture, try this one.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Fun with Particles

The fun is at the bottom of Cass's page. Cool little Java app - waste time and learn about the structure of matter.

Clicking in the box produces cyan colored particles, and (this is the key) you can make a bunch of them. The coolness starts when the space starts to get filled up with cyan particles. Because they repel each other, they begin to form a structured lattice. A some point, you add the particle that breaks the camels back. There's just not enough room for them all in the space, and they go nuts. Top men believe this is remotely similar to atoms when the state of a substance becomes gaseous.

Oh, and don't forget the bully orange particles which you can add to the mix to push the cyan particles around.

News Montage

If you want a summary of current events - check out newsmap, a rather clever hack that puts all that dry and boring Google News in a happy and colorful montage. It's been around a while, but still amazing.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Down Under Cam

It's the next best thing to being there. Control a live web cam high above Sydney harbor. Pan around, zoom in, and check out the sights. No expensive airfare. No jet-lag.

Click on the Start Control button to... well... start controlling. If someone else is using it, you'll be put in a queue with a countdown timer.

Paper Chase

Do you have any idea what the world record flight duration is for a paper airplane? 27.6 seconds in 1998. Wohba!

Okay, it's old news, it's not life changing, and compared to global warming it's downright trivial. But who cares! Top Men at Wohba like paper airplanes.

Here's the story about the world record - related in an overly-dramatic narrative, as if it actually mattered. And more importantly, here are the plans so you can make the world record holder yourself. (Surprisingly simple - no origami skills required.)

And just for fun, here are plans for a really cool, but much more complicated plane for those of you with too much time to waste.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Degree Confluence Project

Don't let the fancy name scare you. The idea behind the Degree Confluence Project is to use a GPS device to get to the spots on Earth where the longitude and latitude lines cross, and document it with some photos. Here's a link to the mosaic map of North America pictured above.

Most of the US is complete, but most of the world is just waiting to be... uh... conflued?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Moving Illusions

Some very unique optical illusions created by Akiyoshi Kitaoka. Some of our top men got a headache from staring too long.