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Science

Cult leader Charles Manson

Common traits of a cult leader or how to spot a cult leader (or President) in a crowd.

A while back, Psychology Today published a list of common traits researchers found in successful cult leaders. These are the people that can, beyond rational belief, convince others to drink the Kool-aide. The list is pretty much a roadmap on how they do it. I've reproduced the list below in case, you know, you need someone to mow your lawn for free or something.

How different animals see the world around them

Recent scientific research has revealed how animals see the world around them and many possess dramatically different “sights” than humans. For instance, the brain of the dragonfly processes the images it sees so fast, it appears to be in slow motion and pigeons are capable of detecting more subtle color gradations than the most complex computer software. Below is a collection of comparisons between human and animal vision.

Rare photographs of unusual animals before they became extinct

When we think of extinct animals, species which are no longer living, we tend to envision dinosaurs, woolly mammoths, and saber tooth tigers. What you may not know is that several species, some quite unusual, have only recently been wiped out. In fact, some extinct animals ceased to exist after the 1820’s when photography was invented and hence, a few photographs exist of the species. Below is a collection of rare photographs of extinct species before they disappeared.

Wave your hands in the air and dance like the Peacock Spider

This festive little critter knows how to party. It’s fancy name is Maratus volans but we prefer the more descriptive term, peacock spider (or “gliding spider”), a species of jumping spider with colorful red, blue, black, and green flap-like extensions on its abdomen that it raises for display during mating. The colorful little showboat’s artistic characteristics don’t end there either – while approaching its potential mate, the male peacock spider will vibrate its abdomen and dance from side to side while raising its legs and tail for added attractiveness.

Schizophrenia artwork – a peek at the altered perception of reality as seen by schizophrenics

It’s one of the more bizarre brain disorders, schizophrenia, a challenging disorder that makes it difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is fantasy. People with schizophrenia have an altered perception of reality, and it shows in their artwork. Below are several works of art, rendered by schizophrenics, that might possibly provide us the best “look” inside a schizophrenics head.

Geeks never cry! Yeah, right. See if you can read this 16th century death letter without shedding a tear

In 1998, after several hours of hard work, archeologists in Andong City, Korea dug through a tomb exposing a small wooden casket. Inside they found a very well-preserved body, skull decayed but skin and beard still visible. Also found in the tomb, placed beside his head, were the sandals pictured above, woven from hemp bark and his distraught wife's own hair. The mummified man inside, later to be identified as 30-year-old Eung-tae, a member of Korea's ancient Goseong Yi clan, measured 5 feet 9 inches and was dated to the 16th-century.

If Earth’s life was compressed into a single day

I'm a big fan of Bill Bryson's writings and especially loved his A Short History of Nearly Everything book in which he gave an example of the Earth's history if it had been compressed into a single day. The example highlighted how insignificant our time on Earth has been and really put things in perspective (and clears up some misconceptions too). Below is how the Earth and its inhabitants would have evolved if the entire saga took place in the span of 24 hours.

Classic: NASA’s famous Hammer and Feather drop on the moon that proved Galileo correct [VIDEO]

In 1971, during the Apollo 15 mission, astronaut David Scott conducted Galileo's famous “hammer and feather drop” experiment. Galileo had concluded that all objects, regardless of mass, would fall at the same rate of speed. Galileo theorized that a feather falls slower not because of its mass, but because of wind resistance. Hence, given that there is no atmosphere on the moon, a hammer and feather dropped at the same time on the moon should fall at the same speed and both objects should hit the ground simultaneously. Here is the video of the experiment as it was conducted during the Apollo 15 mission.

Computer generated simulation provides stunning visualization of the half million pieces of “space junk” orbiting Earth

95% of the objects in this computer generated simulation of low-Earth orbit objects is “orbital debris”, not satellites. “Space junk” consist of everything from spent rocket stages, lost equipment and defunct satellites to erosion, explosion and collision fragments. NASA estimates there are more than 500,000 pieces of space junk orbiting the Earth (“tens of millions” if you count smaller objects such as coolant, paint particles, and dust from solid rocket motors). The space junk eventually collides with other orbital debris (and potentially satellites) creating even more pieces of dangerous objects orbiting the Earth. As the orbit of the objects declines, they eventually re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere where they hopefully burn up before reaching the ground.

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