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How To: Wrestle an Alligator

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1 Alligator, un-sedated and unbowed
1 Person, just a little bit crazy
1 Rope, preferably strong

Do: Check the Classifieds
In 2000, members of the Seminole tribe near Hollywood, Florida put an ad in a local paper. They were looking for a new alligator wrestler. While mano-y-gator conflict is nothing new to the Seminoles (the leathery beasts were once a valuable—and traditionally hand-caught—food source), it's only recently that the tribe has had such hard luck finding people willing to jump in there (i.e. the swamp) and go for it (i.e. pin several-hundred-pound, sharp-toothed creatures to the ground with only their soft and presumably tasty bodies). However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Wrestling alligators for the benefit of white tourists used to be one of the few Seminole-friendly job markets in Florida, but that's changed. Seminoles now have improved access to higher education and better paying (and significantly less lethal) jobs. They also tend to own their own tourist attractions now, instead of working for outsiders. All of this adds up to fewer Seminoles willing to meet the continued tourist demand for alligator wrestling—thus, the need for a classified ad.

Don't: Expect A Great Pay Scale

Answering the ad, and ultimately winning the gig, was 32-year-old Greg Long. By November 10 of 2000, Long was wrestling alligators for $8 an hour. Yes, believe it or not, this dangerous job pays only a little better than a nice, safe McDonalds' burger-flipper position. Remember, tipping your alligator wrestler is recommended.36387a346b56354c6c68744d716b7356594267-100x100-0-0.jpg

Do: Expect to Get Bit
The "wrestling" in alligator wrestling is something of a misnomer. Rather than thrashing about Greco-Roman (or even WWF) style, an alligator wrestler's main goal is to catch an alligator from a pool or pit and then bind its jaws shut with a rope. Along the way, they might perform a few tricks, such as carefully setting their chin on the gator's upturned maw, all while explaining a few interesting tidbits about the animals' habits and biology to the crowd. Despite not being nearly as violent as it sounds, all alligator wrestlers will most likely be bitten at some point. Capturing and pinning a "˜gator requires a significant amount of strength and timing. One wrong move, and your arm or leg could become lunch. In 2006, an alligator took a real-estate baron down a peg when the businessman tried to wrestle the beast on a whim. Florida land-developer Ronald Bergeron suffered several shattered finger bones after he tried to wrestle an alligator during a party. In fact, the 'gator actually dragged Bergeron underwater briefly before party guests were able free him.

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Watch How to Make a Compass
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Let's say the mega-earthquake comes and you're stranded with just some MacGyver-style bits and bobs. If you've got a magnet and a little knowledge, you can make a compass that reliably points north. Below, check out a vintage segment from Curiosity Show explaining how to do it—and a bit on the science of why compasses work.

In the clip below, presenter Deane Hutton shows three methods involving a mirror, cork, a pin, a drinking straw, and a circular magnet (in different combinations). There's something for everyone!

Incidentally, one of the key issues in making a compass is knowing which end of a magnet points north and which points south. One YouTuber asked how to determine this, if it's not already marked—as might be the case in a survival situation. Decades after the clip aired, Hutton chimed in via YouTube comments to answer:

Wait till the Sun is about to set. Stand with your right shoulder toward the setting Sun. You are now facing South. Suspend the magnet and let it swing freely. When the magnet stops swinging, the end pointing South is the South Pole of the magnet. Deane.

Science is cool. Anyway, enjoy:

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Watch How To Make a Self-Starting Siphon Using Bendy Straws
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In this vintage video segment from Curiosity Show, we learn about self-starting siphons. These things start a flow of water without the user having to squeeze a pump or suck on a tube, which is a distinct benefit.

In the segment, we also observe the limitations of self-starting siphons. Because the act of submersion starts the flow, we're limited to siphoning water out of very full vessels. But still, this could be useful for a home aquarium, which is one of a thousand scenarios in which you don't want to use a mouth-primed siphon.

The best part of the segment is when presenter Rob Morrison shows how to make your own self-starting siphon. File this under "Handy stuff you can do with bendy straws." Tune in and enjoy this simple physics demo:


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