I’m getting tantalizingly close to having posted a full 365 days of #weirdscifacts on Twitter! Here are the past week’s facts:
347. Feb 23: Paleontologist C.D. Walcott (1850-1927) was inspired to study Cambrian strata when his wagon hit & split open a sandstone fossil rock. Lots of scientists have had their careers dictated by odd chance: we’ve mentioned previously physics Nobel prize winner Chadwick, who intended to study math but accidentally sat in on the physics entrance exam! Walcott’s career was literally determined by a bump in the road. (Source for #weirdscifacts [pdf, p. 5])
348. Feb 24: Largest recorded beaver dam: 2790 ft long, in Northern Alberta, Canada. That is, for the record, over nine football fields in length! It was obviously made by multiple families of beavers working together.
349. Feb 25: In 1929, Werner Forssmann put a catheter into his own heart, tying up a nurse who tried to stop him! With the catheter in place, he then walked himself up to the X-ray room to take an image and prove that he had accomplished his goal. (h/t for last #weirdscifacts to @JenLucPiquant and @io9, and this article)
350. Feb 26: Getting X-rays from scotch tape! I wrote a blog post on the subject some time ago. When tape is peeled, electric charges are separated between the peeled and unpeeled portions. In a vacuum, the electrons can “jump” back across the gap, and release X-rays upon deceleration. Don’t worry — under ordinary circumstances (ordinary atmospheric pressure), there are no X-rays released.
351. Feb 27: The cousin of the Schrodinger’s cat thought experiment: quantum suicide!
352. Feb 28: The Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorder — invented in 1853 and still used today. With a wooden bowl and a glass sphere, you too can record the intensity of sunlight over the course of the day! (h/t @patrickneville)
353. Mar 01: “Cactus Walking On 20 Legs Found In China“. This ancient creature was a type of spindly worm, and is only known through the fossil record. Did it actually “walk”? We don’t know for sure. Nevertheless, it is a very weird creature. (Post by @rkrulwich)