Whatever You Do, Don’t Blow Up That Whale
When a dead blue whale washed ashore in a small Newfoundland town a few weeks ago, residents were reminded of a similar 1970 incident in Oregon – one with gruesome results. The Newfoundland whale is thought to have died when trapped in heavy ice, washing ashore in Trout River (pop. 600). The 66-ton, 81′-long body, reeking with decomposition and bloating to twice its size with methane gas, is threatening to explode. The town has no resources to deal with its removal.
Residents of Florence, OR faced a similar problem in 1970. Figuring a half-ton of TNT would vaporize their unwelcome visitor, they placed their charges and pushed the plunger. But things didn’t work out as planned. See the video above for details – if you can stomach the visuals.
Informed Trout River officials plan to have the Royal Ontario Museum remove their problematic new resident. A second dead whale has now washed ashore in nearby Rocky Harbor. More exploding whale footage can be found at the TheExplodingWhale.com.
DARPA Plans Brain Implants
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is close to developing a brain implant to restore suppressed memories in veterans traumatized by war. DARPA program manager Justin Sanchez discussed the possibilities of such a device last week at a conference for the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas, saying he expects to release further details of the Restoring Active Memory (RAM) program in the next few months.
While RAM targets victims of dissociate amnesia, a mental disorder in which victims block out information associated with an overwhelmingly stressful event, the program might also be used to treat victims of Alzheimer’s diseases.
DARPA medical ethicist Arthur Caplan cautions that a RAM device could have significant unforeseen consequences, speculating that altering the memories of military personnel could impact combat training, mission debriefings, and investigations.
Neanderthals Weren’t So Bad After All
A study published last Wednesday concludes Neanderthals have been getting a bad rap. Long considered inferior to Homo Sapiens in cognitive, technological, language, and hunting capabilities, Neanderthals became extinct about 40,000 years ago. But the study found they hunted in groups, using cliffs and other landscape features to hunt large animals – a capability that evidences their ability to plan, communicate, and cooperate. Their diet – previously considered limited and as such a contributor to their demise when food sources changed – was found to have been much broader than what has long been believed.
Researchers Paola Villa of the University of Colorado Museum and Wil Roebroeks of Leiden University also noted that previous studies compared Neanderthals not to their contemporaries, but to the Homo Sapiens of today. Says Villa, “It would be like comparing the performance of Model T Fords … to the performance of a modern-day Ferrari and conclud(ing) that Henry Ford was cognitively inferior to Enzo Ferrari.”
While concluding general inferiority to Homo Sapiens wasn’t the reason for Neanderthals’ extinction, the study doesn’t offer a single evidential cause. It does suggest genetic depression due to inbreeding and lower fertility rates in Neanderthal/Homo Sapiens offspring could have been a contributor.
L.A.’s House of Davids De-Tackified
The House of Davids is no more. Located in Hancock Park, the nineteen bright white copies of Michelangelo’s David lining the driveway long made the home a notorious L.A. landmark and mecca to gape-mouthed tourists. The interior was adorned in a similarly over-the-top design, with David busts, outsized white furniture and sculptures, clear Lexan dining room chairs suspended from the ceiling, a gold tub, and glossy Greco-Roman marble floors.
R&B singer Norwood Young is the man with the aesthetic, according to a 2011 Curbed Los Angeles post having, “lived, decorated, and pissed off the neighbors on Muirfield Street since the nineties.” Young initially rented the residence, then bought it in 1997 for $1.2 million. He listed it in 2011 for $2.4 million, in April of 2012 accepting a $1.45 million offer from an unidentified real estate investor who then renovated the place, removing all traces of Norwood’s distinctive tastes.
In an updated post last week, Curbed now describes the home as “just one more thing a flipper has Pottery Barned to death.” It’s listed at $2.9 million.