Easter Special: Egg Launching Monster Slingshot

Shooting Machetes with the Slingshot

Spiders Encasing Entire Trees in Webs in Pakistan

Spiders Encasing Entire Trees in Webs in Pakistan: "

This looks like that spider from The Lord of the Rings is laying down webs but it’s actually just millions of small spiders. I’m not sure which I’d rather face. It seems that the major floods in Pakistan last year caused millions of spiders to take refuge in the trees for extended lengths of time where they spun these massive webs. That’s actually something of a relief - I’d hate to pitch my tent near a tree and wake up trapped in a web with millions of spiders.

Fake Stairs

Graffiti Stairs Optical Illusion: "

Andrew Hillman spotted this work of graffiti in a subway. Examined from the correct angle, it looks like a staircase.

Toy Story Midway Mania

One of our favorite attractions at Hollywood Studios!


via Neatorama

Make Your Own Peeps Plushies

Make Your Own Peeps Plushies: "

Though they look good enough to eat, these marshmallow Peeps bunny plushies are really made of fleece (and they’re considerably bigger than the real thing). Even if you don’t like to eat the real thing, these are too sweet to pass up. You’ve got plenty of time to use the tutorial so thoughtfully provided by Dandelions and Lace to whip up a few in time to put in Easter baskets. Link

Create A Hula Hoop Rug [Weekendproject]

Create A Hula Hoop Rug [Weekendproject]: "

Create A Hula Hoop RugThis simple and cheap project is a good way to teach your kids about weaving using simple things you may have around your home.

Using about a dozen t-shirts, some scissors and a hula-hoop, you can easily have a nice weekend project set up for your kids while teaching them the essentials of weaving.

Essentially you cut up the t-shirt to create loops, also known as warp, which are placed around the hula hoop. Then you cut up the rest of the t-shirts, now known as weft, and weave it between the warp to create the weaving pattern.

When you have created a rug which is the size you were looking for, cut off the loops and tie them off - and your rug is ready.

Hula Hoop Rug via Disney FamilyFun

A promise is a promise!

A promise is a promise!: "It was in a book he wrote in 1947 — called Secrets Behind the Comics — that the 24-year-old future head of Marvel, Stan Lee, offered readers a chance to have their comic book artwork reviewed for the price of $1. So imagine his surprise when, 25 years later in 1972, an aspiring artist named Russell Maheras attempted to take him up on his offer by sending Lee his Souperman spoof along with a fee, kindly doubled to take inflation into account, of $2. Lee's gracious response can be seen below.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Russ Mahera at The Comics Journal.


Marvel Comics Group

December 7, 1972

Mr. Russell Maheras


Dear Russ:

Okay, never let it be said that sweet ol' Stan ever reneged on an offer (even if it was made 25 years ago!) A promise is a promise! And besides, I can use the two bucks.

However, rates have gone up in 25 years, so all your buck and the buck for postage will buy you is a footnote! Hence footnote--

Do you have talent? Yeah, it seems that way. Have you a sense of humor? Apparently. Is your artwork of professional caliber? Not yet. Why not? Glad you asked--

Your anatomy is still weak-- practice it, study it, work on it. Don't worry too much about inking yet. That can come later. The pencilling is the important thing to begin with. Your layouts are good. You seem to have the ability to tell a story pictorially-- which is important in comics, obviously. But, if you really wanna become a pro, you're kidding around too much. Nobody's impressed with 'Souperman' takeoffs now. We were doing them 30 years ago. Do real serious stuff. For example, pick a character you think you could handle-- HULK for example. Then do a serious, no-kidding story about him-- using your own drawings and layouts (no swipes). That's the only way to really tell if you have the stuff or not. When you think your work is as good as what's already appearing in the mags, send it in to us-- or DC, or anybody. Till then, keep studying.

Worth $2.00?

(Signed, 'Stan')


P.S.-- Your backgrounds are pretty good, too.

Albrecht Dürer Stag Beetle in LEGO

Albrecht Dürer Stag Beetle in LEGO: "

(L) Stag Beetle by Albrecht Dürer (R) Legohaulic [Flickr]

In 1505, German polymath Albrecht Dürer drew this painting called Stag Beetle. Fast forward 500+ years later, Flickr user Legohaulic recreated it in LEGO. Via Make.

Giant UPS Ink Crash Turns Highway Technicolor

A stretch of Massachusetts highway has been drenched in the colors of the rainbow after a UPS truck carrying industrial printer cartridges rolled and spewed out its beautiful cargo. No one was hurt, but Skittles really needs to reign in these guerrilla marketing campaigns.

Inky crash may shut down ramp from Route 128 to I-95 North during evening commute [Boston]

Glacial Caves

Glacial Caves: "

For several years, photographer Eric Guth has shot some amazing pictures of caves and hollows that form under glaciers. He explained how he knows where to look for good shots:

“I’ve found that melt water has everything to do with how glaciers change, move and create points of entry. As I’ve learned more about how water erodes, shapes and works the ice (as it does everything else on the planet, given enough time), I’ve learned where to look to find caves.

“More than where to look, where to listen. Where water enters from a nearby stream or exits from a sub-glacial river there is a good chance the erosive force of that water has created an opening. Whether that opening is safe or dry enough to explore is another question!”

You can view sixteen more photos at the link.

Link via Flavorwire | Previously: Ice Caves

Two Story Batman Snow Sculpture Towers Over Vermont

Two Story Batman Snow Sculpture Towers Over Vermont: "

This two story Batman snow sculpture can be spotted at the Totem Pole Ski Shop in Ludlow, VT—until the temperatures rise anyway. Better hurry, spring’s a comin’ and snow Batman can’t withstand the treacherous sun villain for long. Check out a more detailed image after the break.

(Geek Mountain State via Comics Beat)

Neatorama Facts: It’s A Small World

Neatorama Facts: It’s A Small World: "

Love it or hate it, It’s A Small World is undoubtedly a catchy song and an iconic Disney attraction. But did you know the ride was actually made on the fly as a last minute World’s Fair attraction or that it was originally slated to feature a variety of national anthems instead of its title track? Here are some fascinating facts you might not know about one of the park’s most popular rides.

Image via Thomas Hawk [Flickr]

A Last Minute Addition

One of Disney’s most iconic attractions actually started out as a last minute attraction to the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The team was already working on a number of exhibits for the fair, including the Magic Skyway, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and The Carousel of Progress, when the program manager for the fair reached out to Disney and asked him to creat a tribute to UNICEF.

Always up to a challenge, Disney agreed and asked Mary Blair, Marc Davis, Alice Davis and Gregory S. Marinello for help. Mary gave the ride its overall feel and whimsy and inspired the general character design. Marc designed the scenes and the specific characters, while his wife, Alice, designed the costumes. Gregory designed the clock face on the exterior. Walt oversaw the design of the doll’s faces, which were all made to be exactly the same in order to promote the concept that all around the world children are all the same deep down.

Image via Andy Castro [Flickr]

The original nickname of the ride was “the happiest cruise that ever sailed” and the ride was intended to showcase the national anthem for each country portrayed. Unfortunately, this ended up sounding like a terrible mess in practice, so he hired the Sherman Brothers, the same gents who wrote the theme song for the Tiki Room, to create a song that would unify the ride’s characters together. It was only after the boys came back with their masterpiece that the ride got its name.

To really bring a spirit of unity, children from all over the world were hired to sing the song for the official recording. A London church choir, a Roman school chorus and Mexican tv performers are some of the many voices heard on the soundtrack. In a striking gesture, Disney opted not to copyright the song at the urging of UNICEF and he declared that he gave it to the children of the world as a gift. It remains the only Disney creation to never be copyrighted.

A Smashing Success

At the fair, the ride was a huge hit and over 10 million ride tickets were sold in the two years the fair operated, resulting in a huge chunk of proceeds given to UNICEF. While the ride constantly had visitors, the mechanics of the boat ride allowed for lines to move quickly. The amazing capacity prompted the company to change their plans for the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean attraction from a walk-through exhibit to a boat ride.

As soon as the World’s Fair was over, the ride was installed in the Anaheim park, opening for the first time on May 28, 1966. The attraction was installed rather quickly since it mostly just had to be moved from the World’s Fair back to Disneyland and put back together (all the original pieces were used in the current version). Still, some additions were needed to ensure it could survive as a permanent ride instead of a quick touring ride.

To commemorate the ride’s official opening, Disney invited children from around the world to attend the grand opening. He asked each of them to bring a container of water from a lake, ocean or river in their native country. Before the ride opened, the containers were emptied into the water of the attraction.

Each cruise lasts about 15 minutes and features over 300 costumed dolls singing the official song. Because there are now five Disneyland parks, all of which play the song on a constant loop, the song is estimated to be the most performed musical composition in the world. It’s estimated that more than 256 million people have ridden the cruse, which means it might just hold the record for “song to get stuck in the most people’s heads.”

Changing A Classic

Image via Armadillo444 [Flickr]

As you may have noticed through the Neatorama Facts series about Disneyland, the park always goes through renovations and no matter how minor they are, fans always cry foul. It’s A Small World went through a very serious renovation in 2009 and the reviews seem to be divided. While some of the changes were minor, like the enhancements to the water jets that push the boats through the ride and the replacement of the old boats, the big difference was the addition of over 30 Disney characters into the classic attraction’s scenes. The renovation also included a new “America” area, where there used to be a South American rain forest scene.

Personally, I find the added Disney characters to be subtle and their inclusion creates a fun game for guests to find all of the new characters. Here’s a video of the change for comparison:

Holiday Inspirations

It’s A Small World joins the Haunted Mansion in being one of the only rides to change on the inside and outside during the Christmas season. During this time of year, the children sing classic holiday songs, which are seamlessly blended in with the Small World theme. Each region is also adorned with the area’s traditional holiday décor. On the outside, the façade is just as impressive, adorned with tons of glowing Christmas lights.

Image via Andy Castro [Flickr]

A Few More Fun Tidbits:

  • The Sherman Brothers claim to have written the song in response to the fear caused by the Cuban Missile Crisis, hence some of the less cuddly lyrics like “it’s a world of laughter, a world of tears, its a world of hopes, its a world of fears.”

  • In reference to the song’s lyrics, which say, “there is just one moon and one golden sun,” there is at least one sun and one moon in every room of the ride.

  • The official name of the waterway you travel down is the “Seven Seas Canal.”

  • The golden accents on the building are actually 24-karat gold.

Do you guys like It’s A Small World, or does the catchy song drive you bananas? For those of you who are fans, what do you think about the Disney character additions? Are they a fun little enhancement or a distraction?

Sources: Wikipedia, National Institute For Health, Mental Floss, Disneyland and Little-Known Facts About Well-Known Places


Disneyland fans! See more Neatorama Facts:

Neatorama Facts: Haunted Mansion

Neatorama Facts: Sleeping Beauty Castle

Neatorama Facts: Pirates of the Caribbean

Neatorama Facts: The Jungle Cruise

Neatorama Facts: Space Mountain

Neatorama Facts: The Enchanted Tiki Room

Neatorama Facts: Christmas at Disneyland


How Do Fireflies Glow?

How Do Fireflies Glow?: "

Coming to Light: A Brief History of Bioluminescence

When ancient humans saw mysterious blinking lights over field and stream, they sometimes attributed the light to dragons, gods or demons. Reports in early religious writings from China and India hold the earliest recorded discovery of the true source of the lights. The glow came not from deities or monsters, but normal, mortal animals: fireflies.

Greek and Roman scholars made the first thorough examinations of fireflies (which aren’t actually flies, but a family of beetles known as Lampyridae) and other “luminous organisms.” Aristotle described almost 200 marine species with the strange power to glow.

Centuries later, the phenomena of bioluminescence (from the Greek bios (“living”) and the Latin lumen (“light”))was fairly well known, but still poorly understood. While Shakespeare mentioned the “effectual fire of the glow-worm” in Hamlet, English explorers missed their chance to land on a poorly defended Spanish Cuba, mistaking fireflies for Spanish campfires and deciding they would be outnumbered.

In 1887, French pharmacologist Raphael Dubois made a giant leap in figuring out the secrets of bioluminescence. During one of his experiments, he took tissues from a bioluminescent clam called the common piddock and ground them up. He found that if he put the ground tissues in cold water, they glowed for a few minutes. He’d extracted the animal’s light-producing chemicals. When he put ground tissues in hot water, there was no glow, but adding the hot water to the cold water made the light come back on. He called the hot water extract luciferin (from Lucifer, Latin for “morning star”) and the cold water extract luciferase.

American biologist Edmund Newton Harvey continued on the path that Dubios had forged and spent most of his career looking for luciferin and luciferase in almost every luminous organism he could find. He discovered that luciferins and luciferases from different animals were not interchangeable; he hypothesized this was because bioluminescence and its systems had evolved to fit the various needs of different species.

You Light up My Life: The How’s and Why’s of Bioluminescence in Fireflies

The tag team of the luciferase enzyme and the luciferin molecule is the key to turning on a firefly. To make light, luciferin combines with adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a high-energy molecule that powers cells, to form luciferyl adenylate and pyrophosphate. These compounds bind to the surface of luciferase. Luciferyl adenylate then combines with oxygen to make the molecules oxyluciferin and adenosine monophosphate (AMP). Rapid energy loss from the excited oxyluciferin results in it giving off visible light.

The wavelength of this light is between 510 and 670 nanometers, making it appear like a pale yellow or orange-green color to us. In the area of the body where the light-making reaction happens—called the photic organ or the lantern—there are uric acid crystals that help reflect the light away from the abdomen.

How fireflies control their glow is still a mystery. There are several competing hypotheses that point to oxygen intake, messages from the brain, and other methods for controlling the lantern. However fireflies turn their light on and off, scientists do know what the glow is for: love and war.

For firefly larvae, bioluminescence is a defense against predators. Most firefly larvae produce chemicals within their bodies that are toxic—or at least taste terrible. Their glow warns predators that they won’t be a pleasant meal, and that trying to eat them isn’t going to do anyone any good.

Biologists think adult fireflies used to also use their glow for defense, but it eventually evolved as a tool for mate selection and communication. At certain times of night when they’re active, male fireflies will begin flashing a light pattern specific to their species. Females of the same species will watch and if a flashing male catches a female’s eye, she will respond with the same pattern, on a short time delay. A flash dialogue ensues as the male locates his lady fair and flies to her to begin mating. Female fireflies are known to be fond of certain flash characteristics, like longer flash duration and bigger lanterns, and will preferentially respond to and mate with males who have more attractive glows.

Males looking to mate walk a thin line between sex and death every time they flash their light. Females of the Photuris genus of North American have figured out how to turn amorous males into an easy meal. They’ve developed an ability to replicate the mating flash code used by the Photinus genus. The Photuris females will flash back their hacked code in response to males, and when the poor suckers come looking for some loving, they walk into a dinner date that won’t end well.

Not only do the femme fatales get a meal, but they also pick up an insurance policy against getting eaten themselves. Photinus fireflies have a natural defense against predators in the form of steroidal chemicals called lucibufagins, which Photuris fireflies lack. When a female Photuris cannibalizes a male Photinus, though, the toxins slip into her bloodstream. She’s now got a defense against hungry predators and can even pass the protective chemicals onto offspring.

Back from Disney!

Back from spending 6 days at Disney World!  We all had a great time.  The kids loved pin trading!  More to come....