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Scientists Baffled by Weird Web in Amazon

Scientists Baffled by Weird Web in Amazon…no one knows what it is

Troy Alexander / Tambopata Research Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bizarre-looking web structure has been found in the Peruvian Amazon, and apparently nobody knows what it is, not even scientists.

The strange formation resembles a tiny spire surrounded by a webby picket fence and is about 2 centimeters (0.8 inches) wide. Georgia Tech graduate student Troy Alexander first spotted one of these on the underside of a tarp near the Tambopata Research Center in the Peruvian Amazon. At first he thought it might have been an aborted moth cocoon, he wrote on Reddit. But then he found several more, all of which looked quite similar.

He posted the photos to Reddit and asked other scientists to help him out, besides making queries around the Tambopata Research Center, to no avail. His guess is that “there are eggs in the base of the maypole in the middle of the horse corral, though it might be something pupating,” he wrote on Reddit. [See Images of Weird Amazon Web Structure]

Chris Buddle, an arachnologist at McGill University, said that neither he nor any of his associates know what it is. “I have no clue,” he said. It’s “a seriously fascinating mystery.”

“I have no idea what animal made that,” Norman Platnick, curator emeritus of spiders at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, told LiveScience.

So far, Redditors and others have guessed that it could be some kind of moth cocoon, an intricate defense for spider eggs or even the fruiting body of some type of fungus.

Alexander fell in love with the Peruvian Amazon while on vacation there, he told Colossal, an art blog. So he asked his adviser if he could take a leave of absence to be a volunteer researcher. Shortly thereafter, Alexander flew back to Peru to work at the Tambopata Macaw Project, which focuses on parrot biology and conservation, he told Colossal.

If whatever produces this structure turns out to be a new species, it should come as no surprise — the world’s rain forests are expected to perhaps contain millions of new species of arthropods (a group of animals with hard exoskeletons, which includes spiders and insects), according to various scientific estimates. One survey of arthropods in Panama’s jungle, in an area about the size of Manhattan, found 25,000 species of insects, spiders and other arthropods, 70 percent of which were new to science. That study also found that there were 300 arthropod species for every one mammal species.

 

Source: What made that weird web thing in Amazon? Even scientists don’t know – NBC News.com

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Reddit Delivers Pizza to Todder’s Hospital Room

After waiting nearly a week for her white blood cell count to rise so she could continue her cancer treatments, 2-year-old Hazel “Hazelnut” Hammersley got bored and hungry.

With the help of her parents and the staff at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, Hazel taped up a sign from her fourth-floor window, asking for some pizza to be sent to her room.

“This sign was up for several days without even a single phone call asking to send up a pizza (which we completely expected!),” Hazel’s mom, Lauren, blogged. “Then, on Saturday, it all changed.”

One by one, pizza boxes started piling up in Hazel’s room thanks to aReddit user who spotted Hazel’s sign while walking out of a grocery store. The redditor, ashortstorylong, posted a picture of the sign to the site’s popular r/funny forum. From there, it reached the front page.

 

The response was so overwhelming the hospital put out a statement kindly asking for the pizza deliveries to stop.

“On behalf of the Hammersley family, thank you for spreading the word and we hope the photo of Hazel with a successful pizza delivery received spreads just as far and fast as the original photo has,” the hospital stated.

Reddit’s altruism, particularly involving pizza, is a cornerstone of the community. Reddit has helped raise $65,000 for an orphanage in Kenya$170,000 for Doctors Without Borders, and more than $100,000for Child’s Play, a charity that provides games and toys to children in the hospital. After the Boston Marathon bombings, Reddit flooded Boston with—what else?—pizza.

 

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Explain Like I’m Five Reddit Video Series

Reddit’s New YouTube Series Explain Like I’m Five

Reddit has launched a video series on YouTube based on a popular subreddit entitled “Explain Like I’m Five.” Reddit calls itself “the front page of the Internet” and it’s memes spread across the web faster than you can say grumpy cat.  The subreddit attempts to explain complicated ideas in an understandable way, much like you would explain something to a child.  For example the topics of the videos are: the stock market, existentialism and the current state of Syria.

The series starts off with three videos of two adults explaining aforementioned topics to children and were funded by YouTube in efforts to gain more unique user generated content. Reddit general manager Erik Martin told the Hollywood Reporter, “For us, it’s more about encouraging the Reddit community and bigger community of producers, filmmakers, and animators out there to create content, video, web series, shows … based on Reddit content.” Martin said more videos will be made out of other subreddits as well.

The videos are an experiment for Reddit to see if answers from the forum actually make sense to five year olds and although the subreddit was geared towards adult readers it now features real five year old kids.  Just like an actual Reddit thread, the kids get to ask questions and comment throughout the discussion. From what I’ve seen, these videos are going to help out quite a bit of adults who need the “Explain like I’m Five” learning method. Maybe it’ll become something like “Hooked on Phonics.”

Check them out here:

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