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Man Breaks World Record for Getting Hit by Wet Sponges… For Science!

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  • It’s an unusual method, but if it works…

People will do strange things for money, fame and recognition, from sticking toothpicks into their beard to piercing coconuts with one finger. Being pummeled in the face by the most wet sponges in one minute is definitely one of the more bizarre world records and until recently it stood at 76.

Then along came a 35-year-old Idahoan David Rush, who crushed the record by receiving 92 wet smacks to the face within a 60-second time frame. That’s… An achievement.

Aided by his neighbor Jonathan Hannon, Rush had 106 sponges flung at him, of which 96 connected with his body. Unfortunately, four of them had be disqualified for not being clear face-shots.

Earlier this year the pair broke the 30-second version of the same record. At that time, Rush took 43 sponges to the face, meaning that he more than doubled that amount when taking the record up to a while minute.

Whether Rush got better at aligning his face or Hannon’s throwing arm got more accurate, the story doesn’t tell. But they definitely improved.

 

 

All for Science

In fact, the word ‘improvement’ is the key word behind Rush’s strange world record attempt. He didn’t go for it – at least not solely – for personal glory, as he explains in a video he created for the Ada Community Library Summer Reading program.

He firmly believes that a person can better themselves if they just set their mind to it. “If you believe in yourself, set your mind on a goal and pursue it with passion, you can accomplish virtually anything,” Rush says.

With this attitude in mind, Rush has in the last five years gone from holding no records whatsoever to claiming a whopping 150 Guinness-recognized world record titles.

Other records he’s broken include the most Hanetsuki (a Japanese ping pong-like game) hits in one minute and the most ping pong balls bounced into a pint glass within a minute. And he does it all in the name of science.

Rush uses the publicity he gains from his continuous quest for world records to promote STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – education among both young people and politicians making educational decisions. He particularly targets those pupils and students who believe they don’t have what it takes to excel in sciences.

“I’ve been able to talk to thousands of people about the importance of STEM education, what role it plays in our lives, and to tell people to believe in yourself and – when doing your math homework – to not have that inner dialogue that says ‘I can’t do this’. There are studies that show that if you don’t believe you can get better… You will not get better.

“But if you believe that you can get better and you can get the help you need, you can do it,” he says.

 

Personal Experience

Rush uses his own experiences as an example in his talks. When he was in the second grade, he applied to a program for gifted students. He didn’t get in.

“I just wasn’t smart enough. In the fifth grade I tried again, but I only got in for math. Does that mean I couldn’t be good at science, history, languages or literature?” he asks.

He decided to answer the question himself. By the time Rush graduated from high school, he had taken advanced placement courses in all of these subjects and was offered admission into MIT.

“But what if I’d believed in second grade that I wasn’t smart? If I’d let a test define me, to tell me that I failed?” he asks. It is this kind of thinking he wants to discourage in young people.

 

How the Records Began

But how does a man decide to approach STEM education problems by breaking bizarre world records? Rush explains that the method stems from a childhood hobby.

Rush has been an enthusiastic juggler since he was eight. “I’ve been promoting STEM education for the last ten years or so. I’ve been using juggling as a hook and I thought, what better way to encourage students to pursue challenges and push themselves to the limit than by breaking a Guinness world record title,” he says.

He decided to break the record for the fastest mile run while juggling, also known as “joggling.” He trained for more than two years, during which he ran more than 2,000 miles while juggling. He even finished a marathon like this.

Then, disaster struck.

“I went on one last juggling run, and I hurt my knee. I couldn’t run anymore. I went to the doctor, got x-rays, got an MRI, got a second opinion… They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my knee but it hurt so bad I had to stop.”

At this point, Rush felt like giving up. But doing so would’ve gone against everything his project was supposed to be about.

“Even though you set our mind to a goal, the outcome might look a little bit different than what you previously expected,” he muses. “So instead of giving up, I decided to pivot to longest duration blindfolded juggling. I’d spent so long doing the basic three-ball cascade juggling move while running that I could literally do it with my eyes closed.”

After several more months of practice, in October 2015 Rush finally claimed his first world record by juggling with a blindfold on for six minutes and 34 seconds.

Since then, he’s claimed many more titles and even appeared on TV. He joined ex-NFL player and actor Terry Crews on America’s Got Talent where they tried ripping t-shirts off of themselves in record time. While Crews is used to posing shirtless, Rush soundly beat him in his own game.

And that is the message he wants to give to aspiring STEM students. That with training and hard work, they can excel in their chosen subject.

“Failure is simply an opportunity to improve,” he says.

Want to tell your strange story? Tell us about it and it could be featured on Oddee. You can remain fully anonymous.



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Banded Mongoose Females Send Their Pack to War… And Then Have Sex with the Enemy

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  • We’ve heard about “blood lust”, but this is ridiculous.

We usually associate animal behavior with cuteness. Whether they’re running, jumping, bouncing, nibbling, or anything else, it’s usually adorable, right?

But if you’re read Oddee at all – or paid any attention to nature for that matter – you’ll know that just as often animals aren’t quite as innocent as we make them out to be. In fact, they can get downright disturbing.

For an example, you could go read our story about naked mole rats and their infant-enslaving ways. You can then come back here for the latest chapter in our series of wanton animal cruelty.

This time around, we’ll be taking a look at the banded mongoose. These animals engage in something that in general is pretty exclusively human behavior – they wage war.

If you were to see a mongoose battlefield, you might think it sort of resembles something out of The Lord of the Rings. The critters will arrange themselves in battle lines and await the command of their leader before charging into the enemy formation.

But there’s nothing so noble as defeating a Dark Lord motivating this battle. A recent study has found has found that banded mongooses will march to war for one reason only.

The female leading the army wants to mate.

And you thought human dating got messy.

All pictures courtesy of the Banded Mongoose Research Project.

A Mongoose Explained

As we usually do with articles like this, let’s first answer question: what the heck is a banded mongoose?

These 1.5-feet-long critters live in the grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa. They get their name from the dark bands that run across their otherwise brownish-gray fur.

The banded mongooses are carnivorous and will eat pretty much anything small enough, such as insects, crabs, birds, eggs, and snakes. Unlike most other mongooses, they live in packs of 10-40 individuals that move between burrows and other hiding places every few days.

At the head of the pack stands one dominant female. However, when a female goes into heat, he may find his position is not quite as all-powerful as he might think.

Unwanted Attention

According to the new study, when a banded mongoose female enters estrus – the fertile period of her reproductive cycle – she will understandably start attracting the attention of the males from her pack. Only, that may not be what she wants.

Michael Cant, a biologist at the University of Exeter and one of the authors of the study, said that nearly all inter-group mongoose battles are initiated by females in estrus.

“We think females play a role in inciting these conflicts to escape the males in their own family groups during the confusion and chaos of battle,” Cant told the Associated Press.

Banded mongooses are usually extremely loyal to their birth pack. They live together, they guard their burrows together, and they raise their pups together.

This loyalty, however, seems to fall apart when a female starts looking for a mate. The researchers found that females take the lead in steering their packs into places where they’re likely to run into competing mongoose bands.

“This is fascinating research on a pretty unique situation,” said biological anthropologist Michael Wilson from the University of Minnesota, who was not affiliated with the mongoose study.

“What’s driving this is partly the dilemma the females find themselves in.”

A dilemma? What is he talking about?

A Bloody Distraction

Wilson is talking about incest, that’s what. Since the mongooses live in such tightly-knit groups, inbreeding can become a real problem.

To avoid this situation, Wilson said the female mongooses have a strong drive to find mates from other mongoose groups.

“But it’s really hard to do that because as soon as they come into estrus, they get followed doggedly by a male in their own group. The only way they can shake him off is to visit the neighbors and start a fight,” Wilson explained.

And so, the female will lead her lusty followers into bloody battle. After forming into the aforementioned battle lines, the males of two mongoose armies will charge each other with fire and fury.

“They bunch up into writhing balls, chaotic and fast-moving, and you hear high-pitched screeches,” Cant described the battle.

So Violent They’re Almost Human

While the mongoose warriors are tearing each other to pieces, the instigating female will sneak behind enemy lines and mate with their males. And so the mongoose pack receives new genetic material – bought with the blood of their own.

According to Cant, this is a classic example of “exploitative leadership”. The instigating female benefits at the cost of her own pack.

“The findings do not fit a heroic model of leadership, in which leaders contribute most to aggression and bear greatest costs, but rather an exploitative model, in which the initiators of conflict expose others to greater risks while contributing little to fighting themselves,” he said in a statement.

You could argue that the group does end up benefiting from the battle in the long run by avoiding inbreeding. The study found that 20% of a banded mongoose band’s pups are fathered by males from different groups.

Still, the immediate result of a mongoose war is that good number of a pack’s males will be either severely injured or dead. No matter how good it was for the instigating female, you can’t help but ask whether it was worth it.

But the large numbers of casualties highlighted another curious fact that the researchers picked up on. Apparently, the mongoose battles aren’t extraordinarily bloody when compared to some other war-waging species.

“The mortality costs involved are similar to those seen in a handful of the most warlike mammals, including lions, chimpanzees, and – of course – humans,” the researchers said.

They also found that the exploitative leadership model is very much human-like.

“A classic explanation for warfare in human societies is leadership by exploitative individuals who reap the benefits of conflict while avoiding the costs,” they added.

Seems the mongooses are painting a caricature of humanity. And it’s not a pretty picture.



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Alien Monolith Discovered in Utah Desert

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  • Dear extraterrestrials, please stop leaving your weird metal constructs on public land.

Are we alone in the universe? Or do alien creatures occasionally – or maybe even regularly – descend from the skies to walk on Earth?

Some people certainly think so, and not all of them are UFO-hunting crackpots either. For example, you could go read our story of the ex-U.S. military boss who thinks we should have a defense plan against UFOs.

But if aliens do visit Earth, why don’t we ever see anything they might’ve left behind? Sure, there’s an occasional purported alien artefact – in addition to whatever what was involved in the Roswell crash – but if there were regular extraterrestrial visitors to Earth, you’d think they’d leave behind otherworldly sandwich wrappers or something.

But now we may have just found something. State officials in Utah have discovered a strange object sticking out of the ground in the middle of the desert.

What they found sure looks alien. It’s a 10-foot-tall shiny metal monolith, jutting out of Utah desert.

Anyone who’s watched 2001: Space Odyssey should be having chills right about now. The find is eerily similar to the black ominous rectangle responsible for human evolution that was depicted in the movie.

But what on Earth is the strange object? Is it even from Earth?

Photos courtesy of Utah Department of Public Safety.

A Strange Discovery

The strange object was discovered on November 18 by officials from the Utah Department of Public Safety, who were giving a helicopter ride to their colleagues from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

They had taken to the air to perform a count of bighorn sheep in a part of southeastern Utah. As they were flying over the Red Rock Country – a particularly famous desert landscape – one of the biologist onboard the chopper noticed something on the ground.

Between the red rock faces, something metallic was shining.

“One of the biologists is the one who spotted it and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it,” the helicopter’s pilot Bret Hutchings told KSL TV.

“He was like: ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn around!’ And I was like: ‘What?’ And he’s like: ‘There’s this thing back there – we’ve got to go look at it!’”

Not one to turn down such an enthusiastic request, the pilot identified a suitable landing spot. He brought the craft down, and the officials began to walk toward the thing they’d found.

And there it was. In the middle of nowhere, hidden between tall cliffs, stood a rectangular, polished silvery metal monolith.

“I’d say it’s probably between 10 and 12 feet-high,” Hutchings said.

The Out-of-place Oddity

Not only was the monolith itself strange, but its location made it even more eerie. There was no immediate indication of who had brought it there.

The officials found no footprints or car tracks. It was as if the thing had fallen out of the sky and buried itself in the ground.

What’s weirder, the soil around the spot is particularly hard-packed. It would’ve taken some serious effort to dig and cut a hole big enough to hold the monolith upright.

Yet, there was no sign of such activity either.

“That’s been about the strangest thing that I’ve come across out there in all my years of flying,” Hutchings told KSL TV.

“We were kind of joking around that if one of us suddenly disappears, then the rest of us make a run for it.”

The crew couldn’t figure out the purpose of the object, either. They speculated that it might have some space-based applications.

“We were, like, thinking is this something NASA stuck up there or something. Are they bouncing satellites off it or something?”

Maybe it was NASA. Or maybe it was… Aliens.

Alien Artwork?

Well, probably not. At least the helicopter crew doesn’t think so.

The thing is definitely an artificial construct, but the helicopter crew figured that it’s more of an art piece than any alien object.

“I’m assuming it’s some new wave artist or something or, you know, somebody that was a big Space Odyssey fan,” Hutchings said.

Whatever the monolith’s purpose, Utah Bureau of Land Management is currently determining whether it warrants a further investigation. Meanwhile, they’ve decided not to reveal the object’s exact location to the public.

“It is in a very remote area and if individuals were to attempt to visit the area, there is a significant possibility they may become stranded and require rescue,” Utah Department of Public Safety said.

Yeah, right. That sounds exactly the kind of story they’d come up with to keep us in the dark about alien encounters!

Speaking of aliens, if the monolith is of extraterrestrial origin, its owners might be in for a hefty fine if Utah officials catch them trying to retrieve their metal rectangle.

“It is illegal to install structures or art without authorization on federally managed public lands, no matter what planet you’re from,” the Department of Public Safety reminded.



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Eel Refuses to Die, Busts out of Heron in Aliens Reenactment

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  • If you’re body-horror adverse, tread no further, it’s as gruesome as you think.
  • Snake eels are hard-to-kill with hard heads and iron wills, they often burrow back out of the predators who consume them.

Nature is a brutal, unforgiving place. The fact the sun goes down at 3:30 in the afternoon should be reason enough to accept that as fact, but if you’re unconvinced (or a masochist), I present to you the eel. Researchers published a study in the Memoirs of the Queensland Museum journal about snake eels. They’re hard-headed, tough-to-kill guys who burrow out of the stomachs of the fish who eat them.

Make Sure Your Food is Dead

Photo by Roman Klimenko on Unsplash

Not to victim-blame here, but if you’re not going to chew your food, then you have to accept that some horrific things can happen–like your brunch shreds your innards. In these circumstances, the snake eels rarely make it back out into the world. The predator’s immune system encloses them in a cyst or abscess, where they’re mummified. Presumably, the predator dies as well. 

 

John Pogonoski, one of the snake eel researchers, told Live Science that their colleague once found a snake eels writhing around inside of a fish they caught and were about to eat. That sight alone would put me off food for a good long while. 

 

A few weeks ago, Sam Davis, an engineer by trade who takes wildlife photos to relax, got the shot of a lifetime. He took a series of pictures of a Delaware heron flying around with a snake eel wriggling out of her neck. Traumatizing. 

Just Out for a Nice Flight

Photo by Thomas Millot on Unsplash

Both the heron and the eel look remarkably casual in the photos, which are worth checking out on Live Science. Pogonoski even gave the heron even chances of surviving the encounter, as long as the wound didn’t get infected. The fact an eel-sized hole in the neck isn’t an instant death sentence for an animal is further evidence of how brutal it is. 

 

However, the eel may have been in worse shape following its madcap dash for freedom. They require specific salinity if you remember our story about the freedom fighter dumping 100 eels into a Brooklyn lake. So if the two animals finally parted over land or a freshwater lake, the snake eel would still die. 

 

Chew your food, folks.



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