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Famous Globsters

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If you ask me, globsters have the makings of a terrible (but great) horror movie. What is a globster? So glad you asked. A globster is"¦ well"¦ it's kind of hard to define. Basically, it's a blobby-looking, unidentifiable carcass that has washed up on a shore somewhere. Some globsters have bones, some don't. Sometime they have tentacles, flippers and eyes, sometimes they don't.

One of the most famous globsters is the St. Augustine Monster.

It was first spotted by a couple of kids riding bikes on the beach on November 30, 1896. It had sunk into the sand under its own weight "“ only about half of it was visible to the boys. They thought it might be the leftovers of a beached whale, because something similar had happened in the same area a couple of years before. They reported the blob to a local physician, who went to the beach to inspect it the next day. He estimated that the carcass weighed five tons and that it might be a giant octopus because he could make out what he thought was four arm stumps, with another stump buried in the sand nearby.

Another doctor came for a look and described the thing as such:

"The head is as large as an ordinary flour barrel, and has the shape of a sea lion head. The neck, if the creature may be said to have a neck, is of the same diameter as the body. The mouth is on the under side of the head and is protected by two tentacle tubes about eight inches in diameter and about 30 feet long. These tubes resemble an elephant's trunk and obviously were used to clutch in a sucker like fashion any object within their reach.

"Another tube or tentacle of the same dimensions stands out on the top of the head. Two others, one on each side, protrude from beyond the monster's neck, and extend fully 15 feet along the body and beyond the tail. The tail, which is separated and jagged with cutting points for several feet, is flanked with two more tentacles of the same dimensions as the others and 30 feet long. The eyes are under the back of the mouth instead of over it."

Yikes. Over the years, it has been speculated that, among other things, the carcass was that of a sea monster, a giant octopus, a sperm whale and a giant squid. A chunk of the blob was preserved at the Smithsonian, and over the years it has been tested by various scientists. The most recent, conducted in 2004, concluded that it the globster had once been a whale.

In fact, research is now showing that most of the globsters are probably just big chunks of blubber that have fallen off decomposing whales. Delightful. Or maybe that's just a conspiracy to make us think that's what globsters are (I saw Cloverfield last weekend, people).
Nevertheless, some other well-known globsters include:

The Tasmanian Globster washed up on the shores of western Tasmania in 1960, measured about 20 by 18 feet and weighed somewhere between five and ten tons. It didn't have any eyes, and instead of a mouth it had "soft, tusk-like protuberances". It did have a spine, in addition to six fleshy arms and stiff white bristles all over its body.

The Bermuda Blob was found by fisherman Teddy Tucker in Mangrove Bay, Bermuda, in May 1988. Compared to the others, this guy was relatively small: only about three feet thick. He described it as being white and fibrous and having five arms kind of like a starfish. Turns out it was just the remains of a big shark.

globster.jpg"¢ In 1990, a globster was found across the pond in Hebrides, Scotland. It was found by Louise Whitts, who said it looked like it has a head at one end, furry skin and lots of fin shapes along its back. No samples were taken of the Hebrides Blob, so it's unknown what it was exactly.

"¢ Tasmania is a popular gathering ground for these things, I guess, because the Four Mile Globster was found on Four Mile Beach in Tasmania in 1997. It was 15 feet long and weighed about four tons. It was described a lot like the first Tasmanian Globster: strands of white hair, fleshy lobes and some flipper/arm like things. This one was also never tested. Suspicious!

The Chilean Blob really takes the cake"¦ or the beach, as it were. The 13-ton (!) globster (below) was found in the sand in Los Muermos, Chile, in July 2003. At the time, biologists couldn't figure out what it could possibly be and thought that it might be some sort of giant octopus previously unknown to man. About a year later, after DNA testing, they discovered that some of the DNA matched that of a sperm whale and the blob was just part of a whale's remains.

globster1.jpg

Really, all I have to say about any of that is "ew". Can you imagine swimming in the ocean and accidentally brushing your leg up against any of that? I'm so grossed out right now.

What do you guys think? Whales? Unidentified sea creatures? Government cover up?? Despite my joking, I think whale blubber seems pretty plausible.

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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
A Chinese Museum Is Offering Cash to Whoever Can Decipher These 3000-Year-Old Inscriptions

During the 19th century, farmers in China’s Henan Province began discovering oracle bones—engraved ox scapulae and tortoise shells used by Shang Dynasty leaders for record-keeping and divination purposes—while plowing their fields. More bones were excavated in subsequent years, and their inscriptions were revealed to be the earliest known form of systematic writing in East Asia. But over the decades, scholars still haven’t come close to cracking half of the mysterious script’s roughly 5000 characters—which is why one Chinese museum is asking member of the public for help, in exchange for a generous cash reward.

As Atlas Obscura reports, the National Museum of Chinese Writing in Anyang, Henan Province has offered to pay citizen researchers about $15,000 for each unknown character translated, and $7500 if they provide a disputed character’s definitive meaning. Submissions must be supported with evidence, and reviewed by at least two language specialists.

The museum began farming out their oracle bone translation efforts in Fall 2016. The costly ongoing project has hit a stalemate, and scholars hope that the public’s collective smarts—combined with new advances in technology, including cloud computing and big data—will yield new information and save them research money.

As of today, more than 200,000 oracle bones have been discovered—around 50,000 of which bear text—so scholars still have a lot to learn about the Shang Dynasty. Many of the ancient script's characters are difficult to verify, as they represent places and people from long ago. However, decoding even just one character could lead to a substantial breakthrough, experts say: "If we interpret a noun or a verb, it can bring many scripts on oracle bones to life, and we can understand ancient history better,” Chinese history professor Zhu Yanmin told the South China Morning Post.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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6 Eponyms Named After the Wrong Person
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Salmonella species growing on agar.

Having something named after you is the ultimate accomplishment for any inventor, mathematician, scientist, or researcher. Unfortunately, the credit for an invention or discovery does not always go to the correct person—senior colleagues sometimes snatch the glory, fakers pull the wool over people's eyes, or the fickle general public just latches onto the wrong name.

1. SALMONELLA (OR SMITHELLA?)

In 1885, while investigating common livestock diseases at the Bureau of Animal Industry in Washington, D.C., pathologist Theobald Smith first isolated the salmonella bacteria in pigs suffering from hog cholera. Smith’s research finally identified the bacteria responsible for one of the most common causes of food poisoning in humans. Unfortunately, Smith’s limelight-grabbing supervisor, Daniel E. Salmon, insisted on taking sole credit for the discovery. As a result, the bacteria was named after him. Don’t feel too sorry for Theobald Smith, though: He soon emerged from Salmon’s shadow, going on to make the important discovery that ticks could be a vector in the spread of disease, among other achievements.

2. AMERICA (OR COLUMBIANA?)

An etching of Amerigo Vespucci
Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1451–1512) claimed to have made numerous voyages to the New World, the first in 1497, before Columbus. Textual evidence suggests Vespucci did take part in a number of expeditions across the Atlantic, but generally does not support the idea that he set eyes on the New World before Columbus. Nevertheless, Vespucci’s accounts of his voyages—which today read as far-fetched—were hugely popular and translated into many languages. As a result, when German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller was drawing his map of the Novus Mundi (or New World) in 1507 he marked it with the name "America" in Vespucci’s honor. He later regretted the choice, omitting the name from future maps, but it was too late, and the name stuck.

3. BLOOMERS (OR MILLERS?)

A black and white image of young women wearing bloomers
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Dress reform became a big issue in mid-19th century America, when women were restricted by long, heavy skirts that dragged in the mud and made any sort of physical activity difficult. Women’s rights activist Elizabeth Smith Miller was inspired by traditional Turkish dress to begin wearing loose trousers gathered at the ankle underneath a shorter skirt. Miller’s new outfit immediately caused a splash, with some decrying it as scandalous and others inspired to adopt the garb.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer was editor of the women’s temperance journal The Lily, and she took to copying Miller’s style of dress. She was so impressed with the new freedom it gave her that she began promoting the “reform dress” in her magazine, printing patterns so others might make their own. Bloomer sported the dress when she spoke at events and soon the press began to associate the outfit with her, dubbing it “Bloomer’s costume.” The name stuck.

4. GUILLOTINE (OR LOUISETTE?)

Execution machines had been known prior to the French Revolution, but they were refined after Paris physician and politician Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin suggested they might be a more humane form of execution than the usual methods (hanging, burning alive, etc.). The first guillotine was actually designed by Dr. Antoine Louis, Secretary of the Academy of Surgery, and was known as a louisette. The quick and efficient machine was quickly adopted as the main method of execution in revolutionary France, and as the bodies piled up the public began to refer to it as la guillotine, for the man who first suggested its use. Guillotin was very distressed at the association, and when he died in 1814 his family asked the French government to change the name of the hated machine. The government refused and so the family changed their name instead to escape the dreadful association.

5. BECHDEL TEST (OR WALLACE TEST?)

Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel
Steve Jennings/Getty Images

The Bechdel Test is a tool to highlight gender inequality in film, television, and fiction. The idea is that in order to pass the test, the movie, show, or book in question must include at least one scene in which two women have a conversation that isn’t about a man. The test was popularized by the cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985 in her comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For,” and has since become known by her name. However, Bechdel asserts that the idea originated with her friend Lisa Wallace (and was also inspired by the writer Virginia Woolf), and she would prefer for it to be known as the Bechdel-Wallace test.

6. STIGLER’S LAW OF EPONYMY (OR MERTON’S LAW?)

Influential sociologist Robert K. Merton suggested the idea of the “Matthew Effect” in a 1968 paper noting that senior colleagues who are already famous tend to get the credit for their junior colleagues’ discoveries. (Merton named his phenomenon [PDF] after the parable of talents in the Gospel of Matthew, in which wise servants invest money their master has given them.)

Merton was a well-respected academic, and when he was due to retire in 1979, a book of essays celebrating his work was proposed. One person who contributed an essay was University of Chicago professor of statistics Stephen Stigler, who had corresponded with Merton about his ideas. Stigler decided to pen an essay that celebrated and proved Merton’s theory. As a result, he took Merton’s idea and created Stigler’s Law of Eponymy, which states that “No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer”—the joke being that Stigler himself was taking Merton’s own theory and naming it after himself. To further prove the rule, the “new” law has been adopted by the academic community, and a number of papers and articles have since been written on "Stigler’s Law."

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