Every year in the US there are some 600,000 knee replacement surgeries. But a team at Duke University might help some people avoid those surgeries with a hydrogel that can stand in for cartilage. Plus: engineers at NIKE develop a ball that can really soar.
From The Lab, The First Cartilage-Mimicking Gel That's Strong Enough For Knees (Duke University)
NIKE's new flight ball promises a 'revolution in football aerodynamics' (designboom)
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Today we download video games online all the time. Back in the 1980s, gamers without the Internet (such as it was) had to buy or borrow their games. But a few could download programs off the radio. Plus: there's a comet headed Earth's way, and it might make for some great viewing this month, or 6,000 years from now. Either one.
You Could Download Video Games From the Radio in the 1980s (Interesting Engineering)
Comet NEOWISE could give skywatchers a dazzling show this month. Here's what to know. (Space.com)
Cool Weird Awesome backers on Patreon have exclusive downloads that only they can get! Not even the radio has them!
Today is believed to be the birthday of Leroy "Satchel" Paige, perhaps the most legendary pitcher baseball ever saw. Paige was a star for decades, and once pitched three scoreless innings in the major leagues at age 59. Plus: we'll visit the man who earned the world's first degree in ninja studies.
Fifty years ago, Satchel Paige pitched his last big-league game in KC ... at age 59 (Kansas City Star)
Meet the Japanese man who holds the world's only master's degree in ninja studies (CNN)
Joining Cool Weird Awesome's backers on Patreon is almost as fast as a Trouble Ball - almost. Nothing's as fast as a Trouble Ball.
In the 1980s Deaf children in Nicaragua were sent to a new school that was supposed to help them learn finger spelling. Instead, they built up their own language, now known as Nicaraguan Sign Language. Plus: divers in Mexico find a cave that looked like it hadn't been visited before, only to find a link to civilization thousands of years ago.
The Amazing Story of Deaf Children in 1980s Nicaragua Inventing a Brand New Language (Twisted Sifter)
Canadian scuba diver in Mexico accidentally discovers vast, prehistoric industrial complex (National Post)
Discover the joys of being of a Cool Weird Awesome backer on Patreon
Vivid Maps released a map of the U.S. by demonym, which is the term for a word that describes people from a certain place. Some are straightforward, but there are also plenty of surprises. Plus: you've heard of Four Corners, but did you know there's also a Tri-State Marker where you could stand in the states of Idaho, Wyoming and Utah all at once?
Demonyms of the U.S. and Canada (Vivid Maps)
My Fellow Americanians (New York Times)
You Can Stand In Three Different States At Once Near The Town Of Montpelier, Idaho (Only In Your State)
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Netflix is about to release a show based on The Baby-Sitters Club I used to re-shelve all the time at the public library where I worked. Here's the story of how the series came to life. Plus: if you could use a little beauty in your world right now, check out the photos of Trung Huy Pham, documenting Vietnam's annual water lily harvest.
Over 30 years ago, The Baby-Sitters Club made space for girls from all backgrounds (AV Club)
‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ Trailer: An Iconic Piece of ’90s Nostalgia Heads to Netflix (Indiewire)
Vivid Photographs by Trung Huy Pham Capture Annual Water Lily Harvest in Vietnam (Colossal)
Kristy's second great idea was to become a Cool Weird Awesome backer on Patreon
Today is Canada Day, marking the 1867 confederation of three provinces then known as Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. But Canada was only one name out of many that were suggested for the new country. Plus: this week got weird at several Canadian Tire stores, thanks to a computer glitch that made every item show up in the scanner as a Mr. Potato Head.
What Canada was ALMOST named (CBC Kids)
Canadian Tire in Lindsay temporarily closed after every item scanned comes up as “Mr Potato Head” (Kawartha411)
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A team at UCLA has built technology into a glove that can recognize the hand movements from American Sign Language and translate those movements into spoken English in real time through a smartphone app. This may even get me to put down the Nintendo Power Glove (for a while). Plus: scientists in Australia say they can modify cotton to make its own color, without not-so-eco-friendly chemical dyes.
Wearable-tech glove translates sign language into speech in real time (UCLA)
CSIRO scientists discover how to grow coloured cotton, removing need for harmful chemical dyes (ABC.net.au)
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Back in 1978 the San Diego Chicken was winning huge numbers of fans - which is why Atlanta owner Ted Turner tried to coax the man inside the chicken suit, Ted Giannoulas, to move east. Plus: the Chicken is now in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but why is there also a San Diego Chicken head in the Gerald Ford Presidential Library in Grand Rapids, Michigan?
Profiles in Plumage: The San Diego Chicken (Society for American Baseball Research)
A look back at the 'Grand Hatching' of the San Diego Chicken (ESPN)
Found at the Presidential Libraries Dr. Seuss, Air Force One, and the San Diego Chicken (Prologue Magazine)
This show needs backers on Patreon like a sports team needs a chicken mascot. Join today!
On this day in 1973, a couple in Murphysboro, Illinois reported seeing a tall, hairy, extremely smelly creature that over time became known as The Big Muddy Monster. But what the heck was it? Plus: today is the anniversary of Elvis Presley's final concert. And yes, there's a historic marker on the site.
Chasing Monsters: Big Muddy Monster still has Murphysboro residents wondering (The Southern Illinoisian)
Big Muddy Monster Case File (Murphysboro.com)
The King’s Final Bow: Elvis’s Last Concert in Indianapolis (Indiana History Blog)
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It was on this day in 1894 that Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, aka Annie Londonderry, set off on a bike trip that, over the next fifteen months, would make her the first woman to ride a bike around the world. Plus: meet a contraption that can hit a home run about twice as far as the ones in the big leagues.
A Woman to Know: Annie Londonderry Cohen (A Woman To Know)
First woman to cycle the globe begins journey (Jewish Women's Archive)
World's Longest Home Run (The "Mad Batter" Machine) (Smarter Every Day via YouTube)
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Today at the 2010 Wimbledon tennis tournament was the first day of the longest professional tennis match ever played. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played for more than 11 hours over three days! Plus: since Wimbledon 2020 has been canceled, what are they doing with all those strawberries they usually sell?
Wimbledon 2010: John Isner beats Nicolas Mahut in epic (BBC)
When Isner beat Mahut 70-68 in the fifth: Wimbledon's 11-hour epic defies belief, a decade on (Yahoo! Sports)
Wimbledon strawberries preserved: Huge 750kg crop will be turned into jam after this year's tennis tournament is cancelled due to coronavirus (Daily Mail)
Bees are running into a lot of challenges lately, and while there are efforts to help the bees get their buzz back, scientists are testing out systems that might give us other ways to pollinate. One, at the Washington State University, involves cameras and robot hands - while another, in Japan, involves soap bubbles.
Robotic crop pollination awarded $1 million grant (Washington State University)
Blowing bubbles: Soapy spheres pop pollen on fruit trees (BBC)
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This is about the time we were all supposed to be gearing up for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. Since that's on hold, let's instead talk about the Inter-Allied Games, which began in Paris on this day in 1919. Plus: if you'd like some fierce sporting competition from this century, try out the American Hedgehog Bowling Association (and don't worry, the hedgehogs aren't bowled down the lanes).
WWI Soldiers Held their Own Olympics After the War (History.com)
Two Little Hedgehogs Try to Knock Down as Many Pins as They Can in an Adorable Bowling Tournament (Laughing Squid)
Backing Cool Weird Awesome will give you the thrill of victory, and never the agony of defeat
One of the many special places you can mark Juneteenth is at the George Washington Carver Museum in Austin, Texas, with an art installation that has five statues and six pedestals. Plus: the summer solstice is this weekend, and while crowds won't be on hand the usual way at Stonehenge, they can take in the whole event virtually.
Juneteenth Memorial Monuments Find a Home (AustinTexas.gov)
You Can Watch the Summer Solstice Live From Stonehenge This Year (Thrillist)
Celebrate every day with us as a backer on Patreon
It's the birthday of Roger Ebert, a great film critic, TV host and author, and a pioneer in developing realistic-sounding electronic voices. Today we have the story of how he worked to create a voice called "Roger Jr." Plus: how about teaching the electronic voices to read some of Ebert’s hilariously devastating negative movie reviews?
Remaking my voice (TED Talks)
Roger Ebert's New Voice (CBS Sunday Morning)
Ebert's Most Hated (RogerEbert.com)
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Video games are now as artistically and technically challenging as any other art form. But now they've really leveled up: the FDA has just approved a video game-based treatment for ADHD. Plus: a school librarian in western Virginia just found a clever way to get books to her students while schools and libraries are closed.
Children with ADHD can now be prescribed a video game, FDA says (CNN)
Google-backed drones will drop library books so kids in Virginia can do their summer reading (Washington Post)
Patreon backers can say "All your Cool Weird Awesome are belong to us"
Sometimes you go into space to land on the moon, and other times it’s for maintenance purposes. NASA is planning a mission to replace the toilet on the International Space Station. Plus: this is Waste and Recycling Workers Week, are you paying tribute to those who collect all the stuff we toss out?
The International Space Station is getting a new toilet this year (Space.com)
The Week of June 17th is Waste and Recycling Workers Week
Cool Weird Awesome's backers on Patreon are very clean
It was on this day in 1954 that one of the most important monster movies most people have never heard of was released: "Them!" (note the exclamation mark in the title) featured giant irradiated ants, James Arness, the Wilhelm Scream, Fess Parker, Leonard Nimoy and more! Plus: science has determined how to give the perfect hug, so start practicing.
11 Fun Facts About Them! (Mental Floss)
Hug me tender: scientists unlock the secret to the perfect cuddle (Yahoo! News)
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Today's the anniversary of a pretty unusual moment in the history of human flight: on this day in 1979, an airplane flew over the English Channel that was entirely powered by its pilot. Plus: watching the heaviest airplane ever built take off is a sight to see.
Pedal-Driven Plane Flies Channel (Washington Post)
Gossamer Albatross' famed flight 33 years ago today (Hartford Courant)
Good Lord: Watching The World's Heaviest Aircraft Take Off (Geekologie)
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Our planet is sometimes called the big blue marble, but Professor Shiladitya DasSarma of the University of Maryland-Baltimore has a hypothesis that suggests if you look way back in time, Earth may have once been bright purple. Plus: meet a guitar with LEDs built into its body that can flash in time with the music.
Why Early Earth May Have Been Mostly Purple (Real Clear Science)
The LED Guitar (Immerge Interactive via YouTube)
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Scientists at the University of California - San Diego are trying to help robots walk better on uneven terrain - and, amazingly, coffee is part of the solution. Meanwhile, a robot in Australia is learning how to lay bricks, and it's got a very appropriate name for its job.
Scientists Invent Coffee-Filled Feet That Make Robots Walk Faster and Better (Interesting Engineering)
Hadrian X Breaks New Lay Speed Record (FBR on YouTube)
Robots have infallible logic circuits and they think you should join us as a backer on Patreon
Hundreds of thousands of laborers toiled for decades to build Egypt's legendary Great Pyramid... or did they? Professor Emeritus Vaclav Smil of the University of Manitoba did the math and found a very different conclusion. Plus: it's the birthday of baseball great Dave Parker, who once hit a home run that stopped 150 miles away from the ballpark.
How Many People Did it Take to Build the Great Pyramid? (IEEE Spectrum)
Dave Parker Lives With Parkinson's Disease As Another Hall Of Fame Class Heads To Cooperstown Without Him (The Undefeated)
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Researchers at the National University of Singapore have developed a "shadow effect energy generator" which can make the most of the contrast between bright and dark. Plus: many kickboxers can't compete or even train together now, so some have been taking part in a virtual shadow-kickboxing competition online.
A new device can produce electricity using shadows (Science News)
Moroccan Maria Oudghiri Wins Arab Shadow Kickboxing Virtual Championship (Morocco World News)
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It was on this day in 1876 that the U.S. first fell in love with the banana, when it was introduced at the World's Fair in Philadelphia. Though, back then, eating a banana was quite a bit different than it is today. Plus: on National Doughnut Day, we mark the moment in 2012 when festival-goers in Ukraine proved doughnuts were as good for art as they were for snack time.
Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World by Dan Koeppel
10 Things You Might Not Know About the 1876 Centennial Exhibition (Philadelphia Magazine)
A Look at the Guinness World Records of Doughnuts In Celebration of National Doughnut Day (Newsweek)
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Many of us are getting ready for our weekly shopping trips over the weekend, figuring out what we want to put in our carts. Those carts, by the way, are all due to a guy in Oklahoma who, on this day in 1937, decided to take the shopping basket and give it wheels. Plus: on National Cheese Day we pay tribute to the hardest, chewiest cheese in the world: churrpi!
June 4, 1937: Humpty Dumpty and the Shopping Cart (Wired)
The Strange History of the Shopping Cart (Snopes)
Trying the Hardest Cheese in the World (Great Big Story on YouTube)
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Today in 1967, the town of St. Paul, Alberta officially opened the world’s first UFO landing pad. So why is there a UFO landing pad in east central Alberta? Plus: on this date in 1941, a man called Richard Burgess received a patent for exercise wings - but don't worry, they weren't intended to get their users to fly.
Ready and waiting: Alberta town built world’s first UFO landing pad 45 years ago (National Post)
Exercise Wings (Weird Universe)
Fly like an eagle into the future as a Cool Weird Awesome backer on Patreon
For a time the powers that be only named hurricanes after women. Roxcy Bolton spoke out for years to change that policy, arguing that women “deeply resent being arbitrarily associated with disaster.” Plus: roller coasters are fun to ride, but they're even more fun when the passengers are all teddy bears.
A Woman to Know: Roxcy Bolton (A Woman To Know)
Knuffelberen in #UNTAMED (Walibi Holland on YouTube)
Joining our backers on Patreon doesn't keep storms from forming - but it probably doesn't cause them, either
The word "dinosaur" was coined in the 1840s, but people have been finding dinosaur fossils for thousands of years. So what did people think dinosaur bones were before we had an idea that dinosaurs existed? Plus: if your dream is to find a dinosaur-shaped waffle cone with a scoop of ice cream in its mouth, there's a place in southern California that can help you.
What Did People First Think When They Found Dinosaur Bones? (Today I Found Out)
The Dinosaur-Themed Ice Cream Shop In Southern California, Sweetosaur, Is The Coolest Place On Earth (Only In Your State)
If we were all Jurassic Park characters, our Patreon backers would probably be Ian Malcolm
Most audio these days (including this show) is recorded digitally, but there are lots of ways to document sounds, including one that's built around a paper cup-turned-microphone. Plus: a programmer has designed a face mask with a lit up, virtual mouth!
An audio recording made using a cup. (Dust To Digital on Instagram)
I have finished my face mask (Tyler Glaiel on Twitter)
The sweetest sound we can make is when we say thank you to our backers on Patreon!
Agent 007 is known for living as large as you can - fast cars, fancy clothes, expensive hotels, and fancy food and drink. But writer Ian Fleming once admitted that Bond was originally going to eat pretty much just one food. Plus: if you're going to stick with a single food, why not the extraordinary pies made by Karin Pfeiff-Boschek and their intricate, artistic pie crusts?
Ian Fleming Explains How To Write A Thriller (LitHub)
Doughy Braids and Sliced Fruits Arranged into Sumptuous Pies by Karin Pfeiff-Boschek (Colossal)
Our Patreon backers leave us stirred, not shaken
There are lots of human efforts to help bees out, but there’s also some new research out that says bees help themselves by taking steps to get plants to flower earlier than usual. Plus: a man in Canada ordered hair cream in 2012, and it just arrived this month. Patience is a virtue!
Bumblebees Bite Plants to Force Them to Flower (Seriously) (Scientific American)
Toronto man says Canada Post just delivered package he ordered 8 years ago (CTV News)
This show's Patreon backers create all the buzz - you should join them
Amazingly, the English alphabet added its last letter in 1524, and no, that letter wasn't Z. We'll explain how an Italian grammarian convinced the world to add one more letter to the list. Plus: Andoni Bastarrika is a Basque artist who works with sand, but we’re not talking about basic beach sand castles here.
Do You Know the Last Letter Added to the Alphabet? (It Wasn’t Z) (Readers Digest)
Meet The Man Responsible For The Letter “J” (Dictionary.com)
Self-Taught Artist Creates Stunningly Realistic Sand Sculptures (Oddity Central)
We give an A+ to all of our backers on Patreon
If you miss the speeches that often come at a Memorial Day ceremony, we have a story for you: the story of the speech future president James A. Garfield gave at the first Memorial Day event at Arlington National Cemetery in 1868. It was, shall we say, not a short speech.
10 Things To Remember About Memorial Day (Mental Floss)
Our world is filling up with artificial intelligence, and now, so is the world of dogs. Researchers at Yale University have been testing whether dogs will take commands from robot voices. Plus: someone, somehow, posted a video that appears to show a motorized Porta-Potty. We just report these things, we can't always explain them.
Dogs Obey Commands Given by Social Robots (IEEE)
Ridin’ Dirty: Porta-Potty Cruising Down The Street (Geekologie)
Always listen to our backers on Patreon, they know what's up
It's National Waitstaff Day, and whether or not you're back to dining out, it's a good time to figure out a little of where restaurants come from. (It's complicated.) Plus: the website ThisWordDoesNotExist creates words that sound real but aren't.
When Did People Start Eating In Restaurants? (History.com)
ThisWordDoesNotExist.com is rewriting the dictionary with the help of AI (The Verge)
There are few words that compare with the word "backer." Join us today on Patreon.
It was on this day in 1990 that the Hubble Space Telescope took its first photo from space. Unfortunately the telescope had a problem with one of its mirrors that required astronauts to go up and fix. Plus: for World Bee Day, the story of an Irish bee enthusiast who built a hive out of LEGO.
How Fixing the Hubble Spacecraft Works (How Stuff Works)
30 years of Hubble: Three decades of space wonder began with an underwhelming image that proved extremely important (Independent UK)
Un-bee-lievable! Beekeeper builds fully functioning beehive entirely out of LEGOs (Fox 6 Now)
Our Patreon backers are like the Hubble Space Telescope of backers: the best
This day in 1780 was a very strange day for New England. The sun decided to leave the sky around 10 in the morning, leaving everything pitch black and scaring the heck out of the locals. Plus: this day in 1964 was a very strange day for Andy Warhol, who received a very interesting letter from the Campbell Soup Company.
'mark well the gloom': SHEDDING LIGHT ON THE GRAET DARK DAY OF 1780 (Environmental History)
New England's Dark DayA Witness Account (Celebrate Boston)
“I hear you like tomato soup” (Letters of Note)
In the future, all of our backers on Patreon will be famous for 15 minutes
We explore one of the great mysteries of our time: why is there a rock in Newbury, New Hampshire, with the words "CHICKEN FARMER I STILL LOVE YOU" painted on it? Plus: why is there a giant statue of a chicken eating burgers on top of a restaurant in Wisconsin? Lots of chicken mysteries out there, I guess.
You Asked, We Answered: What's Up With That 'Chicken Farmer I Still Love You' Rock? (NHPR)
Merrill, Wisconsin: Chicken Holding Burger, Beer (Roadside America)
We owe all of our 300 episodes to our backers on Patreon! Join us now and help us make even more!
Imagine a unicycle, but there's no seat, the wheel is much bigger and you ride inside it. That's a monowheel, and while it may not be a casual rider's cup of tea, extreme sports people are way into them. Plus: how would you like to recreate a piece of art in your house that's made of fortune cookies?
Rise of the Monowheel (Mashable)
Want a Gigantic Pile of Cookies in Your Home? 1,000 People Are Being Asked to Hoard Fortune Cookies as Part of an Ambitious Global Art Show (Artnet)
Our backers on Patreon are the real works of art! Join us for just $1 a month!
A new Harvard study finds those systems that suggest words to us when we type on our smartphones are actually shaping the way we write sentences and messages. The new app Drive + Listen can take you on the most realistic virtual road trip of our time.
Predictive text systems change what we write (Harvard)
Listen to local music as you 'drive' through your favourite city with this new app (Lonely Planet)
I predict that our Patreon backers will make this the coolest podcast ever
Otters are known to choose favorite rocks to carry around and juggle - it's a real sight to see. Researchers at the University of Exeter have been trying to figure out why otters juggle. Meanwhile: Juneau, Alaska just set up a joke hotline for residents looking for a laugh while staying at home.
Otters juggle stones when hungry (Science Daily)
City of Juneau started a joke hotline to cheer people up. High demand might have knocked it offline. (Anchorage Daily News)
Our Patreon backers have to juggle being amazing and being awesome at the same time.
The moon waxes and wanes in its phases month after month, and it always comes back. Except for that time in 1110, when records indicate that the moon vanished for months, or maybe even a year or longer. Scientists finally think they know what happened. Plus: a Japanese newspaper has a secret message about social distancing - but you have to be social distancing to read it.
In 1110, The Moon Vanished From The Sky. We Might Finally Know What Caused It (Science Alert)
A Japanese Newspaper’s Secret Social Distancing Message (Spoon + Tamago)
Our backers on Patreon shine as bright as stars, or something
Chris Sedden was looking at scans of a site near where he lived, and spotted something “a bit odd, and a bit round.” It might be a lost henge! Plus: the community of Dorset finds a way to hold the annual "knob"-eating contest even while everyone's staying home.
Lost henge? Digging archaeology online during lockdown (The Guardian)
World-famous 'Knob-eating contest' held online for the fist time ever (Times Now News)
Our Patreon backers are doing great things online too! Join them today!
Colleges and students are trying to make the best of the current difficulties - like with virtual commencement ceremonies, for example. But there are still some traditions that are hard to replicate online, like Meredith College's annual presentation of a class doll at the end of the year. Plus: meet Graham Walters, who rowed his way across the Atlantic Ocean, only to find the world had changed considerably since the start of his trip.
Beyond Fashion: The Story Behind Meredith College’s Class Dolls (Walter Magazine)
A 72-year-old UK man has completed a solo trans-Atlantic rowing trip in 96 days (CNN)
Each year Patreon backers make Cool Weird Awesome possible. Join them!
There's been a surge in popularity for jigsaw puzzles lately - not bad for an idea that was originally meant to teach kids in London about the countries of Europe. Plus: today marks the 10th anniversary of the world record for the largest group hug. Anyone want to try to break that record next year?
Here’s How Those Hot Jigsaw Puzzles Are Made (New York Times)
Piecing together the history of jigsaw puzzles (CBS News)
Ottawa sets the world’s record for largest group hug (Guinness World Records)
Sending virtual hugs to our backers on Patreon. Join us today!
The city of Pompeii was buried by Mount Vesuvius almost 2,000 years ago. And yet something there may sound very familiar to us today: the community had a pretty elaborate recycling system. Plus: why staff at the Sumida Aquarium in Tokyo are encouraging people to video chat with their eels.
Did the Ancient Pompeiians Invent Recycling? New Research Suggests They Used Trash to Build City Walls (and Much More) (Artnet)
Japanese aquarium urges public to video-chat eels who are forgetting humans exist (The Guardian)
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Missing the sounds of a full restaurant on a Saturday night? Several well-known ambient sound apps and platforms feature a wide range of soundscapes, including restaurants, that might bring those familiar sounds back to you. Plus: the story of a dude in Wisconsin who woke up the neighborhood with his guitar shredding.
The Sound of Silence (Eater)
Miss Reading in Public? Bring the Sounds of the Library to Your Home (Electric Literature)
Waukesha blotter (Waukesha Freeman)
Backing Cool Weird Awesome on Patreon sounds like a pretty good idea
Authorities in Belgium are calling on citizens to do their duty and help the country's potato farmers by ordering frites twice a week - fitting, since Belgium is home of the world's only Frietmuseum and considers itself the birthplace of the fried potato. Plus: today in 2008, the passing of the man who made the Pringles can possible. And he included that iconic tube of chips in his final wishes.
Belgians asked to eat fries twice a week (Brussels Times)
The Humble Origins Of The French Fry Might Surprise You (Food Republic)
Can Belgium Claim Ownership of the French Fry? (BBC)
The Man Buried in a Pringles Can (TIME)
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You know how some couples have their own song? There’s actually psychological research into what are known officially as “couple-defining songs," and there are legitimate benefits to the relationship to choosing a tune to share. Plus: next time you're in Japan, drop by Neko Neko Shokupan and share one of their famous cat-shaped breads with someone special.
Do You and Your Partner Have an "Our Song"? (Psychology Today)
Japanese Bakery Makes Cat-Shaped Breads And They’re Just Too Adorable (Bored Panda)
We'd like to dedicate this next song to our backers on Patreon
It would be understandable if you felt a little cut off from the rest of the world these days. Hopefully it won't be as challenging as it was for Dr. Leonid Rogozov, who on this day in 1961 had to remove his own appendix while stationed in Antarctica. Plus: today in 1970, Pink Floyd played a concert for public TV in San Francisco. Silence in the studio!
The Soviet Doctor Who Cut Out His Own Appendix (Flashbak)
EXCLUSIVE: Unseen Footage of Pink Floyd Playing in 1970 (KQED)
How I wish, how I wish our Patreon backers were here
Physical distancing has hopefully made us all appreciate the sense of touch a little more. Scientists in Ohio may have found a way to bring that sense back to people with spinal cord injuries. Plus: an octopus may have brought back a family heirloom to a woman in British Columbia, which is a pretty nice thing for an octopus to do.
Brain-decoding computer can restore this important human sense (Inverse)
This woman lost her engagement ring in the ocean. A baby octopus helped get it back (CBC)
My sense is that our backers on Patreon make Cool Weird Awesome what it is. Join them!
This month marks 50 years since the world learned The Beatles were calling it a day. So we're telling the story of the American Beetles - a knockoff band that toured South America, without quite telling everyone they weren't the genuine article. Plus: Spanish artist Bichopalo is not only making beautiful music, he's making beautiful musical instruments, too.
How the fake Beatles conned South America (BBC)
Beautiful Musical Machines Perform Otherworldly Tunes (Geeks Are Sexy)
Please back us on Patreon, oh yeah, like we back you, oh yeah
Lead, unfortunately, is something that lingers, as was proven by scientists who used lead pollution from centuries ago to track the ups and downs of European monarchs. Plus: the story of a Japanese chef so good with a knife that he's created what's probably the world's thinnest sandwich.
Lead pollution in ancient ice cores may track the rise and fall of medieval kings (Science)
Making the World’s Thinnest Sandwich (Laughing Squid)
Cool Weird Awesome probably has the world's greatest Patreon backers! Join us!
Today is Arbor Day, and so we’re going to talk about the Friendship Oak, a remarkable tree in Mississippi that just keeps on keeping on. Plus: we'll visit Joe Bagley, who has 1,400 house plants in his apartment and for whom it might be said that every day is Arbor Day.
Friendship Oak (University of Southern Mississippi)
Houseplant Enthusiast Turns Apartment into Urban Jungle with Over 1,400 Potted Plants (Oddity Central)
Cool Weird Awesome is growing like a tree, thanks to our Patreon backers. Join us for just $1 a month!
Music scholars at Cambridge University studied musical manuscripts without modern notation and after years of detective work, reconstructed what they would have sounded like. Plus: on this day in 1982 Key West, Florida declared independence from - and war on - the United States. For not very long.
First performance in 1,000 years: ‘lost’ songs from the Middle Ages are brought back to life (Cambridge University)
That Time the Florida Keys Tried to Secede from the US by Dropping Conch Fritter Bombs (Vice)
On this day in 2020 Patreon backers made another great episode of Cool Weird Awesome happen. Join them!
Like people in other industries who have the means to do so, the scientists who operate the Curiosity Rover are working away from their office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in southern California. Though technically when you run a craft that's on another planet, you're always working remotely. Plus: artist Greg Olijnyk makes intricate sculptures of robots, telescopes, ships and more out of plain old cardboard.
NASA's Curiosity Keeps Rolling As Team Operates Rover From Home (NASA)
Greg Olijnyk Makes Incredibly Detailed Sculptures out of Cardboard (Cool Material)
Patreon backers make Cool Weird Awesome fly through the solar system, or at least the podcast universe
The University of Virginia's Disabilities Studies Symposium has produced a version of a 1950s opera called “Dialogues of the Carmelites" featuring both traditional opera singers and Deaf actors performing together and living up to the name of their workshop, "Breaking the Sound Barrier." Plus: a cat played a Theremin on the internet, because why not.
Singing and Signing: ‘Deaf Opera’ Comes to Grounds (University of Virginia)
Cat Plays With A Theremin And Is Completely And Utterly Befuddled (Digg)
Cool Weird Awesome sounds great because of its backers on Patreon
It's a very odd anniversary in the history of the US presidency. Today in 1979, President Jimmy Carter got into a fight (of sorts) with a swamp rabbit. Plus: today would normally be a big day in Zurich, when participants in the annual Sechselauten bring on spring by blowing up a snowman!
In 1979, Jimmy Carter was attacked by a giant swimming rabbit (AV Club)
The History of Sechseläuten (Zuerich.com)
Patreon backers are always welcome in Cool Weird Awesome's boat
Some health experts suggest that when the world gets back to normal we should do away with the handshake. It is an effective way to spread germs, but it's also had some pretty useful functions in its long history. Plus: since it's the anniversary of the first episode of "Game of Thrones," we visit a guy in California who installed a 15-foot-tall dragon in his front yard.
Why do we touch strangers so much? A history of the handshake offers clues (National Geographic)
When Did Shaking Hands Become a Standard Way of Greeting Someone? (Mental Floss)
‘Dragon House’ in Imperial Beach Turning Heads (NBC San Diego)
We'd like to shake the hands of our backers on Patreon - if that were an OK thing to do these days
Falls on hard pavement can be very, very dangerous for some of us. That's why a research group called SAFERUP is trying to make safer, bouncier pavement. Plus: the Rakuten Monkeys baseball team in Taiwan is planning to have robot mannequins in the stands to cheer them on until fans can return to the ballpark.
Ground-Up Tire Pavement Could Be Safer for Pedestrians and Athletes (Popular Mechanics)
Taiwanese Baseball Team Will Use Dressed-Up Robots Instead of Fans When Season Begins This Weekend (12up)
Support from Cool Weird Awesome's Patreon backers is even better than support from robot mannequins!
Artist Itsuo Kobayashi has been keeping an illustrated food diary since 1980, drawing and describing each meal, the ingredients, the price and how it made him feel. Plus: for National Banana Day, we go to - where else - the International Banana Museum in California.
For Over 30 Years Itsuo Kobayashi Has Been Keeping an Illustrated Food Diary (Spoon & Tamago)
Opening a Banana Museum next to a toxic desert lake makes absolutely no sense—but that’s part of its a-peel (Roadtrippers)
Cool Weird Awesome's Patreon backers make every episode of this show possible!
Today's the day in 1828 that Noah Webster went to the copyright office to register his work “An American Dictionary of the English Language.” This work, no pun intended, defined American English as people actually spoke it, but it also included some words that haven't exactly stayed with us. Plus: there are perhaps no words for the mulletty goodness that resulted when a woman in New Zealand tried to cut her hair with a kitchen knife.
Happy Birthday, Webster's 1828! (Merriam-Webster)
An A to Z of Noah Webster’s Finest Forgotten Words (Huffington Post)
'Don't have any scissors': Hamilton woman cuts own hair with kitchen knife (Stuff.co.NZ)
Cool Weird Awesome's backers on Patreon are the very definition of amazing
A company called Carbios says it’s been using what it calls a “mutant enzyme” to break plastic down into the components to make new plastic in mere hours. But will this mutant eventually try to rule humanity for its own good? Plus: an education student in Kentucky creates see-through plastic masks to help deaf and hard of hearing people during the current difficulties.
This "Mutant Enzyme" Can Break Down Plastic Bottles In Hours (Futurism)
College student makes masks for the deaf & hard of hearing (Lex18.com)
Cool Weird Awesome gets its super powers from backers on Patreon!
We're replaying some of our favorite robot-themed episodes of the show this week. In this episode from October 2019, we hear about an autonomous device that’s ready to clean up after our dogs on demand, thanks to a large scooper on its underside. If they’re willing to do this job, maybe robots aren’t trying to conquer us after all. Plus: “dogfishing” is a problem for online dating. People are using other people’s dogs in their profile pics in the hopes it will land them more dates. The internet is weird.
Dogfishing: When online daters pose with adorable pets that aren’t theirs (Washington Post)
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We're replaying some of our favorite robot-themed episodes of the show this week. In this episode from July 2019, we learn about a quadcopter drone that uses spring-loaded arms and a process called “rapid aerial morphing” to fold itself up as it flies. So we’re a step closer to real-life Transformers. Plus: the story of the all-robot band Compressorhead, whose members twist and turn their mechanical parts so they can ROCK!
Spring-Loaded Drone Collapses Mid-Flight to Zip Through Windows (IEEE Spectrum)
Compressorhead (Weirdest Band In The World)
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We're replaying some of our favorite robot-themed episodes of the show this week. In this episode from July 2019, we check in on a little white robot swimming through rice fields in Japan, imitating a duck! It’s actually helping to grow the rice by aerating the water and stopping weeds from growing. Plus: if you prefer non-robotic ducks, then you’ve got some options with the World’s Largest Rubber Duck.
Nissan Builds Robot Duck To Help Rice Farmers Keep Weeds Out Of Their Paddies (Designboom)
World’s Largest Rubber Duck
Quack – er, back – this show on Patreon!
We're replaying some of our favorite robot-themed episodes of the show this week. In this episode from June 2019, researchers teach robots to row themselves gently down the stream and to connect to each other autonomously. They could help clean the water or even turn themselves into temporary footbridges. Plus: a band in Mexico knew just what to do when the mall they were playing in started to flood. Celine would have been proud.
Autonomous boats can target and latch onto each other (MIT)
As heavy rain floods shopping center, musicians play Titanic theme (Mexico News Daily)
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We're replaying some of our favorite robot-themed episodes of the show this week. In this episode from April 2019, a New Zealand company tests a robot that’s supposed to move through an apple orchard, spot ripe fruit, yank it from the tree and bring it back to the farmer. They’re either helping us do a hard job or taking the first step toward an agricultural Skynet.
Your Apples May Soon Be Picked By Laser-Shooting Robots (Wired)
Brian Shaw Devours Nearly Everything on The Taco Bell Menu (Muscle and Fitness)
Firefighters in Chongqing, China, may soon put out fires with help from a team of six large drones that can get in the air and quickly extinguish blazes. Plus: a guy in Tacoma, Washington is spreading positivity by yelling things at people for money.
China's firefighting drones: Unmanned aircraft can extinguish a blazing 10-storey building within minutes (Daily Mail)
Driver on the Street: Tacoma man screams positivity through coronavirus scare (Q13 FOX)
THANK YOU TO OUR PATREON BACKERS ok gonna stop screaming now
They’re holding auditions for the next voice of Big Tex, the 55 foot tall cowboy that’s the embodiment of the Texas State Fair. He's joined forces with the X-Men and survived catching on fire, not he just needs someone to help him talk about his long career. Plus: today is National Burrito Day and we've spotted one that even Big Tex would probably have trouble finishing.
Big Tex needs a new voice, and it could be you that gives it to him (KXAN)
The History Of Big Tex At The State Fair Of Texas — And Why We Love Him So Much (KERA)
Howdy, folks: 10 things you probably didn't know about Big Tex (Dallas Morning News)
This Massive Burrito Weighs 8 Pounds (Food Network)
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