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Station: Weird World

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A long time ago, in the Crimean War (circa 1854) in Russia, two soldiers had the narrowest possible brush with death, and survived (at least for that moment), and probably never realized it.  These remarkable pictures show two bullets, one French, one Russian, that met and welded together in mid-air.  The odds of this happening are microscopic, not to mention the odds that the bullets would ever be found, but the find appears to be authentic.

This is a really clever bit of animation by someone.  There are some other equally interesting clips on the linked page.  These include the hungry (and resourceful) feathered thief shown to the right.

Was it good for you, too?  A male praying mantis pays the ultimate dinner tab for a roll in the hay - he's the featured main course!  Some cynics may see this as the ultimate expression of the "mating game", but then again, most insects don't have good divorce lawyers.

I guess he's OK as long as he doesn't try to turn right! Photos are from Widelec.org

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This photo shows the tracks left behind rocks that have moved across the dry lake bed known as "Racetrack Playa" ("playa" is the name for a dry lake bed).  The fascinating thing about these rocks is that no one knows for certain how they move.  The location is a dry lake bed in Death Valley National Park, in California.  Some of these rocks weigh more than 100 pounds and have moved, in some cases, hundreds of feet in paths that are sometimes straight, but other times take sharp bends.

The cause of the movement is still in question, as no one has ever actually seen them move.  The consensus is that when the very infrequent rains fall, the mud of the lake bed becomes very slick, allowing the rock to be pushed by the winds.  This idea is supported by the nature of the trails, which clearly show the displacement of the soil by the rocks, as would be the case if the mud were wet and soft.

The possibility of human or animal involvement is ruled out by the total lack of footprints along, or within, the paths behind the rocks.  There are some videos of the area, but unfortunately none of them capture the rocks in motion.
This one has to be seen in full size to appreciate it.  It is an optical illusion which creates the impression that portions of the picture are moving, as you scan your eyes across it. Open the full-size picture by clicking on this link or the picture at the right.  Notice that as your eyes scan across the picture, the regions outside the central focal point will seem to be turning in different directions. The picture is absolutely a static image - there is no movement whatsoever.  If you are very careful, you will be able to see that the different circles turn in a direction such that the blue cylinders are in the lead.

This, believe it or not, is an insect - specifically, a female South American mantid.  It's ability to look like a piece of lichen provides camouflage that could allow it to escape predators, or perhaps allow it to remain unobtrusive while its next meal approaches it.  This photograph is one of many remarkable nature photos taken by Piotr Naskrecki