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Archive for May, 2015

How would you like your steak? Vesuvius or Mt. St. Helens?

With summer upon us it’s time to break out the grill for some tasty steaks (or veggies). Of course, if you’re a science student at Syracuse University  you might take things a little further.

When first erupted from a volcanic vent, lava has a temperatures from 700 to 1,200 °C (1,292 to 2,192 °F). Since most oven broilers top out at about 575°F, lava would be pretty efficient.

The goal of the steak project was to demonstrate that lava is something to be respected but not feared.

Of course, if you are the traditional charcoal-type with your grilling, here is video of George Goble from 1995 in an experiment at Purdue University to find the fastest way to light a BBQ. His solution? He poured 3 gallons of liquid oxygen over a grill with 60 pounds of coal and a lighted cigarette.

Don’t forget to invite all of us as the Museum of the Weird to your next BBQ. We’re sure to have something to liven things up!

Boy genius

11-year-old Tanishq Abraham showed himself to be a very special young man. While many his age are tweeting about their favorite music, movies and video games, he writes:

As seen in this USA Today report, Tanishq is the youngest person to ever graduate from California’s American River College.

What makes Tanishq so smart? Is he unique or his he an example of the future of the human race? Here he is on Conan, sharing some of his favorite science jokes.

His goal is to earn a Nobel prize and we certainly hopes he succeeds and doesn’t end up in an icy, Arctic lair with space lasers pointed at all the world leaders. On the other hand, that could be kind of cool too!

What would you do with all that brain power?

Rain of spiders

It’s an arachnophobe’s worst nightmare… spiders literally raining from the sky, falling into everything and leaving a debris of web. That was what many experienced recently in the Australian city of Goulburn.  (See amazing photos from the Sydney Morning Herald.) This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened either. This video shows an incident two years ago in Brazil.

While bizarre, this is a natural event when a large population of spiders migrates from one area to another, using a bit of web to catch the wind and fly them to a new home. Texas also had a migration in 2013.

Spiders are generally under-appreciated creatures that are often used for their fear-factor in movies. In reality, spiders consume a vast number of pests that invade the home and farm. In fact, a single spider can eliminate about 2,000 insects in a year (according to this spider fact page from the National Geographic Society).

Yes, they are weird and alien. Their lifestyle is gruesome. We’d rather have a rain of spiders than a rain of jellyfish any day.

Munstrous Mansion in Texas

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and that goes for fandom as well. In 2002, Sandra McKee and her husband Charles created a big Texas tribute to celebrate their passion for The Munsters, the iconic 1960s television series that took a light look at the Universal Studios movie monsters. Nestled in the wilds of Waxahachie, this replica of 1313 Mockingbird Lane features the architecture and much memorabilia.

The detail of this place is incredible, as many of the items in the house are either original from the show or painstaking replicas. This gallery from their web site will look very familiar to fans of the show. The Munster Mansion is not a museum or a public attraction. This is their actual home. They have special tour events, typically around Halloween. Watch their web site for availability.

Of course, the house is not the only thing that they recreated. Here is Charles McKee, as Herman Munster, firing up the Munster Coach. Nice!

This location is included on our Weird Places Map.

Are you a big fan of something? a cosplayer? If so, you should definitely check out all the goodies at Sfanthor, our sister store. Share your biggest fan moments and we’ll feature the best of them in a future post.


Ghosts of Gettysburg

First, the Museum of the Weird and all our staff would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. War forever changes all that it touches. Memorial Day was founded to remember soldiers of the U.S. Civil War. It’s observance has been expanded to include soldiers from all U.S. conflicts.

As we honor the fallen, we can’t help but wonder about the spirits that may linger from these conflicts. It is said that some hauntings are caused by sudden and particularly violent deaths. If that is true, the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-6, 1863, would be a perfect circumstance to create ghosts. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle. The actual fighting occurred over a period of about 24 hours, meaning that a soldier fell about once every 2 seconds!

There are many reports of ghosts in Gettysburg, and it is a popular destination for people looking to have a paranormal experience. Your author poured through a number of videos and sites with everything from TV ghost hunting teams to individuals. There is a lot to see and a quick search will bring it all to you. As a taste, here is an interesting piece of video from an amateur investigator.

According to the notes on YouTube, this video was shot at the Wheatfield, a site of more than 6000 casualties. They did not notice anything at the time of filming, but saw some strange activity at the following marks: 0:44, 0:58, 1:04, 1:30.

This is only one of many pieces of evidence collected around Gettysburg that have convinced people that the spirits of the dead remain. Do you have a personal ghost story related to a war? Share it with us in the comments.



Strange new creatures

Photo by NBC News

In 1995, divers discovered bizarre configurations about 6 feet in diameter off the coast of Japan’s Amami-Oshima Island. They resembled crop circles. Were these underwater aliens?

The answer turned out to be a newly classified pufferfish, Torquigener albomaculosus. The “Crop Circle Fish” was among many species that received scientific names over the last year. The International Institute for Species Exploration has listed their their top 10 of nearly 18,000 newly named species.

These obscure creatures may be hidden away in environments that are not populated by people, such as the strange creatures we are discovering deep beneath the ocean. Others are known locally, but only recently noticed by the scientific community. Here are the other nine recognized on this “top 10” list:

  • Anzu wyliei, also known as “the Chicken From Hell,” is a 10-foot-tall birdlike dinosaur which lived around 66 million years ago in the Dakotas.
  • The Balanophora coralliformis is a parasitic plant found only on the southwestern slopes of Mount Mingan in the Philippines. It has a unique, coral-like appearance because of branches of above-ground tubers which have a coarse texture.
  • The bizarre Cebrennus rechenbergi, or cartwheeling spider, uses a strange flipping motion to propel itself over the sands of Morocco.
  • Dendrogramma enigmatica are multicellular animals resembling mushrooms. Not only a new species, they may represent an entirely new phylum!
  • The so-called Bone-house wasp, Deuteragenia ossarium, from southeast China, uses corpses of ants to ward off predators by stuffing them into crevices on the outside of the nest.
  • The Limnonectes larvaepartus is a fanged frog from Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, that gives live birth to tadpoles that are deposited into pools of water. Other species hatch from eggs.
  • The Phryganistria tamdaoensis, discovered in Vietnam, is the world’s second longest insect.
  • A Sea Slug, Phyllodesmium acanthorhinum, is a particularly beautiful variety that might be a sort of “missing link” in the sea slug world.
  • A Mexican plant had been used for years in “nacimientos,” or altar scenes depicting the birth of Christ, by villagers in Sierra de Tepoztlán, Tlayacapan, San José de los Laureles, and Tepoztlán.  It turned out to be a species of Bromeliad previously unknown to science. It’s been dubbed Tillandsia religiosa.

These are only ten from thousands of newly classified species. As we continue to seek perhaps we’ll finally be giving scientific names to some of the legendary creatures such as Bigfoot that have eluded and fascinated seekers for centuries.

Sounds in the sky

People around the world are reporting a strange trumpeting sound that seems to come from the sky. It’s a massive droning unlike any aircraft we’ve ever heard before.

Listen to the sounds in this video from Texas.

Another video from Germany is very similar, though less distinct.

There is speculation that we are hearing the mysterious HAARP project, a radio-wave device that some claim is used for weather control. Officials deny that HAARP has any affect on the weather, though there is a patent, number 4686605,  which appears to describe exactly such a theory. HAARP was supposedly set to be dismantled in 2014, but page 92 of this US Navy budget request shows continued funding.

Other theories about these sounds are:

Have you ever experienced sounds like these? Do you think they’re natural phenomena? Share your thoughts and stories.