Stalin’s Ape Army

In 1926 Joseph Stalin did some pondering.  Concerned about rebuilding his army, Stalin believed he’d found the perfect solution, better yet his solution killed two birds with one stone. He gave Russian scientist Illia Ivanov funding  to cross humans and apes. The plan was to create a super army with strength, endurance, and low maintenance costs of apes. Bonus – he believed he could prove Darwin’s theory of evolution once and for all and discredit creationism. Ivanov attempted to impregnate women with ape sperm. His research was carried out in French Guinea,  eventually attempting insemination of African women with Chimpanzee sperm without their knowledge. Not too popular in Guinea and out of funding, he returned to Russia where he was arrested for “having created a counter revolutionary organization among agricultural species” . Sent to a work camp in Kazakhstan, he died two years later.

"Stalin" by Nathaniel Gold

“Stalin” by Nathaniel Gold

Our Sun is getting uppity again

As I ponder the sky, it’s only fair to report back. In fact, you can leave the sky watching to me. I assure you, anything of interest, you’ll be the first to know.

A new sunspot – AR1532 erupted with an M6 class flare today. Impressive, but not remarkable, the resulting  CME ( coronal mass ejection ) is heading our way. If you’re lucky enough to be away from city lights, and the sky is clear around midnight tomorrow, you could witness the auroras in the most unexpected of places. Over the next few days, predictions are that much stronger flares will occur.

Meteor showers are starting to get interesting. The annual Aquarid shower is taking place now, an opening act for the Perseid shower that peaks August 12 – 13, with as many as 100 meteors an hour.

If you want to learn more, the following link is a great place to start. It’s for Space Weather, and the photo is courtesy their site.


The tongue of a Blue Whale weighs as much as an Elephant

The Blue Whale is the largest animal to ever inhabit earth. It’s uncertain how many remain, estimates are between 10,000 – 25,000. Their tongues weigh as much as an elephant, hearts as much as a car. They reach 100 feet in length, and live up to 100 years.  Ponder this – the world’s largest animal sustains itself on one of the world’s smallest, krill. Krill is no bigger than a shrimp. A single Blue Whale eats nearly 4 tons every day.

Ship Names

Ever pondered what S.S. means before a ships name? It stands for Steam Ship, at one time it stood for Screw Steamer to differentiate it from PS which meant Paddle Steamer. MV stands for motor vessel, generally a diesel engine. SV is a sailing vessel, which by the way, has the right of way over power vessels.

This is a picture of the TEV Princess Patricia ( Turbine Electric Vessel )

Midwest Drought

The American Midwest is in the middle of the worst drought in over 50 years. The corn belt states, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, and Missouri,  are devastated. The U.S. produces 40% of the world corn crop. Throughout the summer temperatures have been over 100 degrees F, with the water in the Wakanusa River near Topeka, Kansas reaching 103 degrees F on July 7.  The dry conditions are perfect for an explosion of insects who love soybeans, the secondary, hardier crop of these states. Most corn belt states have declared a state of emergency, which allows farmers low interest loans. The majority of this corn is used for feed, food prices have already started to climb. Recently a soil scientist had to send a probe 5 feet into the ground to find any moisture, normally he would only have to probe 12 – 14 inches. Indiana and Illinois are on the verge of declaring their corn crops a complete write off.

Ponder this – Is it a natural cycle, or global warming? It really doesn’t matter, we live a fragile existence, at the mercy of the weather.

And you thought all Vikings were blonde haired, blue eyed Norsemen

Genetic tests performed on teeth from human remains found on Gotland Island in the Baltic Sea, show the DNA of almost half the adult males is of Asian origin. Specifically, Mongolian, near Pakistan. Gotland is a Swedish island, from 750 – 1100 AD it was ruled by the Vikings. It was a centre for trade, they made silver jewellery, had factories, established towns and ports. They also had an astounding number of people with Mongolian DNA. Proof there’s a lot more to the Vikings than the text book stereotypes we learned in school.

Hypothetical Supernova

Ponder this – If you could somehow find a way to get a cast iron frying pan into the sun, within moments the sun would go supernova. Iron would instantly shut down our sun, resulting in a massive supernova.. The most common element in the universe, iron is a stars death sentence. It stops fusion. A star burns hydrogen, when that’s gone it burns helium, turning it into carbon, then it burns the carbon, turning it into oxygen. When the carbon and oxygen atoms fuse, the trouble begins. These elements fuse into iron. Once iron is formed, fusion stops and the star collapses in on itself. Imagine our world suddenly fitting on the end of a pin. That’s a supernova.

A well-seasoned cast iron pan. Photo by Scott Gilbertson/Wired

Huron Axe

While excavating a Huron village north east of Toronto ( known as the Mantle Site ) archaeologists found an iron axe head. They believe it was buried deliberately. Carbon dating shows it pre dates Columbus discovery of the Americas, and European contact by 100 years. A makers mark on the iron axe allowed them to trace it back to the Basque region of Spain. They believe Basque fishermen crossed the Atlantic setting up summer camps on the east coast. When they abandoned their camps for the winter, anything left behind became easy picking. The Mantle site is incredibly large, almost 100 longhouses, each accommodating up to 100 people. A wood fence enclosed the entire village. It was previously believed all the wood required for this massive construction project had been felled with stone tools. Evidence still remains that the axe appears to have been buried on purpose. Perhaps a vision of things to come.