The following items come to me courtesy of other people—I don’t have the time to surf the web and find this stuff!
Cat trees bear…
Our title story is one of the odder ones I’ve heard recently. But the picture sure looks real. In West Medford, NJ, a black bear was treed by a territorial tabby cat named Jack. (If you click on the picture, you can see an enlargement that shows Jack a little more clearly.) Can we trust AP that it’s true? I dunno—it’s too good a story not to be.
Teenagers turn a “teenager-repellent” sound into a ring-tone…
This is from the NY Times: “In that old battle of the wills between young people and their keepers, the young have found a new weapon that could change the balance of power on the cellphone front: a ring tone that many adults cannot hear.” Very handy in classrooms where cell phones are forbidden—a tone inaudible to the teacher, which signals an incoming text message or email.
“The cellphone ring tone that she heard was the offshoot of an invention called the Mosquito, developed last year by a Welsh security company to annoy teenagers and gratify adults, not the other way around… It was marketed as an ultrasonic teenager repellent, an ear-splitting 17-kilohertz buzzer designed to help shopkeepers disperse young people loitering in front of their stores while leaving adults unaffected.”
The Mosquito depended on the fact that most adults have already lost enough high-frequency hearing that they simply wouldn’t hear the sound, while to teenagers it would be an irritant.
We tried it out here. (You can download an MP3 of the sound from the NY Times page.) My wife played it on her Mac laptop, and I couldn’t hear it, while my daughter said, “Sure, I can.” Then I played it on my PC laptop, with the volume all the way up, and I could hear it as a faint, unpleasant keening sound. My daughter said, “Augghhh!” and immediately left the room. (My other daughter said she found it unpleasant, but not enough to work as a dispersant.)
New Careers for Dogs…
This also from the NY Times. Dogs have now been trained to sniff out bedbugs, cancer in people, cows in heat, and potentially pirated DVDs in cargo containers, among other things. Good boy!
Droids on the International Space Station…
Remember the trainer-droid in Star Wars—the little hovering robot that Luke had trouble whipping with his light saber until he finally “used the Force”? Well, from NASA’s Space News comes this:
“Six years ago, MIT engineering Professor David Miller showed the movie Star Wars to his students on their first day of class. There’s a scene Miller is particularly fond of, the one where Luke Skywalker spars with a floating battle droid. Miller stood up and pointed: ‘I want you to build me some of those…’ So they did. With support from the Department of Defense and NASA, Miller’s undergraduates built five working droids. And now, one of them is onboard the International Space Station.”
It doesn’t actually fire little laser beams. But it does maneuver, and they’re working on teaching them to rendezvous in space. Hm, I feel an urge to pit one against my Roomba.