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Office Hours Extended!

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By popular demand—and by "popular demand," I mean "one guy who asked politely"—we'll hold Office Hours again on Friday.

In a newsletter last month, mental_floss co-founder Mangesh asked readers for suggestions about additions to our site. Good ideas poured in, and one person reminded me of something we used to do from time to time:

"Remember when you used to hold Office Hours and chat with readers via Instant Messenger? You should do that again. Maybe you'll receive good suggestions that way."

I loved to see a suggestion about suggestions. That meta-quality is reminiscent of Executive Order 5658, which Hoover issued in 1931 to standardize the paper size, margins and format of Executive Orders.

But anyway, good idea. It's been about 18 months since I last hung the 'Office Hours' sign. If you've been wondering about anything related to mental_floss, I'd be happy to try to clear things up. People had all sorts of fun questions last time: Can my nephew have an internship? Is Mangesh single? How about Ransom?

I'll fire up the AOL Instant Messenger around 1:15pm 11:15am Eastern Time today. My username is flossyjason. Talk soon!

(And if you're wondering why this is happening today, I've got a fever and a nagging cough, and this I can do from bed.)

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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]


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