How the World’s Largest Signature Is Used by NASA to Analyze Satellite Imagery

In the late 1990’s, when a Texas farmer decided to clear up some new grazing land for his cattle by leaving up just enough trees to spell his name in giant letters, he probably never imagined that his signature would one day be used by NASA to evaluate the quality of their satellite cameras.

Jimmie Luecke was a young Texas state trooper who left the highway patrol in 1980 to try his luck in the oil business. He was lucky enough to do so during the chalk oil boom, became a millionaire, and invested most of his profits in land outside the town of Smithville. He started raising cattle on it, and by the late 1990’s his heard had gotten so large that he needed to clear up some more of his land of trees for grazing. Only he didn’t just settle for bulldozing all the trees, he decided to write his name in the process, thus creating the world’s largest signature.

Photo: Google Earth

The name LUECKE, written out with trees, stretches about three miles on a plot of land near Buescher State Park, outside of Smithville. Each letter measures thousands of feet high, and there’s no doubt that Jimmie Luecke signed his name on his land out of simple egocentrism, but today his signature actually serves a purpose. A few years back, NASA revealed that the LUECKE signature provides a perfect target for astronauts “to estimate the maximum resolution of cameras aboard the space shuttle”. The strips of trees making up the letters also prevent soil erosion, although they don’t necessarily have to be shaped like letters that happen to spell out the land owner’s name…

Luecke Farm is located directly along major flight paths, including most westbound flights out of Houston, which makes the world’s largest signature a very popular sight for people flying over it. And with the rise of Instagram, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people got on a plane just so they could snap a picture of Jimmy Luecke’s creation.

Ice makes strange sounds in bizarre new video

Dropping a chunk of ice down a 450ft borehole can produce weird sounds resembling cartoon ricochets.

In a recent Twitter post, isotope geochemist John Andrew Higgins, who is currently working in Antarctica, shared footage of an interesting experiment involving a borehole and a chunk of ice.

“What does a 9 inch ice core sound like when dropped down a 450 ft hole ?” he wrote. “Like this!”

The sounds produced by the falling ice are undeniably bizarre – resembling something like cartoon lasers or gunshot ricochets repeating over and over followed by a heartbeat-like thudding.

This phenomenon was recorded previously by glaciologist Peter Neff who received over 10 million views for his footage of a piece of ice being dropped down a 295ft borehole.

“The first thing you hear as the ice is falling is the pitch of the sound changing,” he said. “That’s the Doppler effect. Then when the ice hits the bottom of the bore hole, the sound doesn’t only come straight up – the sound waves start to bounce off the sides of the hole.”

“That’s why you hear this ‘pew!’ with sort-of a heartbeat sound afterwards.”

You can check out the sounds for yourself in the video below.

Airplane Movie Jive Dudes

First Jive Dude: Shiiiiit, maaaaan. That honky muf’ be messin’ mah old lady… got to be runnin’ cold upside down his head, you know?
Second Jive Dude: Hey home’, I can dig it. Know ain’t gonna lay no mo’ big rap up on you, man!
First Jive Dude: I say hey, sky… subba say I wan’ see…
Second Jive Dude: Uh-huh.
First Jive Dude: …pray to J I did the same ol’ same ol’!
Second Jive Dude: Hey… knock a self a pro, Slick! That gray matter backlot perform us DOWN, I take TCB-in’, man!
First Jive Dude: Hey, you know what they say: see a broad to get dat booty yak ’em…
First Jive Dude, Second Jive Dude: …leg ‘er down a smack ’em yak ’em!
First Jive Dude: COL’ got to be! Y’know? Shiiiiit.

Randy: Can I get you something?
Second Jive Dude: ‘S’mofo butter layin’ me to da’ BONE! Jackin’ me up… tight me!
Randy: I’m sorry, I don’t understand.
First Jive Dude: Cutty say ‘e can’t HANG!
Jive Lady: Oh stewardess! I speak jive.
Randy: Oh, good.
Jive Lady: He said that he’s in great pain and he wants to know if you can help him.
Randy: All right. Would you tell him to just relax and I’ll be back as soon as I can with some medicine?
Jive Lady: Jus’ hang loose, blood. She gonna catch ya up on da’ rebound on da’ med side.
Second Jive Dude: What it is, big mama? My mama no raise no dummies. I dug her rap!
Jive Lady: Cut me some slack, Jack! Chump don’ want no help, chump don’t GET da’ help!
First Jive Dude: Say ‘e can’t hang, say seven up!
Jive Lady: Jive ass dude don’t got no brains anyhow! Hmmph!

Gene Simmons in the studio

IMAGE: WARING ABBOTT/GETTY IMAGES

After a slow start in the early 1970s, New York glam-metal band KISS rose to stardom after adopting their signature makeup and stage personas.

The Starchild, Demon, Catman, and Space Ace achieved massive commercial success not only through their albums and concerts but through their characters, which they licensed to comic books, costumes, toys, board games and other merchandise.

In the spring of 1980, just after the release of their eighth studio album Unmasked, bassist and lead vocalist Gene Simmons visited a cramped New York studio in full Demon garb, axe in hand, for a photo shoot with a narrow backdrop and a very patient makeup artist.

IMAGE: WARING ABBOTT/GETTY IMAGES

IMAGE: WARING ABBOTT/GETTY IMAGES

IMAGE: WARING ABBOTT/GETTY IMAGES

IMAGE: WARING ABBOTT/GETTY IMAGES

IMAGE: WARING ABBOTT/GETTY IMAGES

Climate Change Affecting Antarctica

Argentina’s Esperanza Base on Antarctica’s Trinity Peninsula reached 65°F (18.3°C) on Thursday, notching the continent’s warmest temperature in recorded history, per the World Meteorological Organization.

Why it matters: Antarctica is one of the globe’s fastest-warming regions with temperatures rising 5°F (2.8°C) in the past 50 years, spurring the retreat of 87% of the glaciers along the Antarctic peninsula’s west coast, the Washington Post reports.

Something has to be done here for future generations.

Obscure Animals

The Dhole

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The Dhole is a species of canid native to South and Southeast Asia.  The dhole is a highly social animal, living in large clans which occasionally split up into small packs to hunt.  It primarily preys on medium-sized ungulates, which it hunts by tiring them out in long chases, and kills by disemboweling them. Though fearful of humans, dhole packs are bold enough to attack large and dangerous animals such as wild boar, water buffalo, and even tigers.

 

The Babirusa

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Babirusa, meaning “Hog-deer”, are members of the pig family found in Wallacea, or specifically the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi, Togian, Sula and Buru.  If a babirusa does not grind its tusks (achievable through regular activity), they will eventually keep growing so as to penetrate the animal’s own skull.

 

The Fossa

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The fossa is a cat-like, carnivorous mammal that is endemic to Madagascar.  The fossa is the largest mammalian carnivore on the island of Madagascar and has been compared to a small cougar.   It has semi-retractable claws and flexible ankles that allow it to climb up and down trees head-first, and also support jumping from tree to tree.

 

The Gerenuk

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The gerenuk, also known as the Waller’s gazelle, is a long-necked species of antelope found in dry thorn bush scrub and desert in Eastern Africa. The word gerenuk comes from the Somali language, meaning “giraffe-necked”.  Gerenuks have a relatively small head for their body, but their eyes and ears are proportionately large.  Gerenuks seldom graze but browse on prickly bushes and trees, such as acacias. They can reach higher branches and twigs than other gazelles and antelope by standing erect on their rear legs and stretching their elongated necks.

 

Irrawaddy Dolphin

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The Irrawaddy dolphin is a species of oceanic dolphin found near sea coasts and in estuaries and rivers in parts of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia.  Genetically, the Irrawaddy dolphin is closely related to the killer whale.

 

Markhor

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The markhor is a large species of wild goat that is found in northeastern Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The species is classed by the IUCN as Endangered, as there are fewer than 2,500 mature individuals.  The markhor is the national animal of Pakistan.  While chewing the cud, a foam-like substance comes out of its mouth which drops on the ground and dries. This foam-like substance is sought after by the local people, who believe it is useful in extracting snake poison from snake bitten wounds.

 

 

Southern Right Whale Dolphin

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The southern right whale dolphin is a small and slender species of mammal found in cool waters of the southern hemisphere.  They are fast active swimmers and have no visible teeth and no dorsal fin. They are very graceful and often move by leaping out of the water continuously.

 

Sunda Colugo

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Also known as The Sunda flying lemur, it is not actually a lemur and does not fly. Instead, it glides as it leaps among trees. It is strictly arboreal, is active at night, and feeds on soft plant parts such as young leaves, shoots, flowers, and fruits.  The Sunda Coluga can be found throughout Southeast Asia in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.

 

Lamprey

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Lampreys are a type of jawless fish that live mostly in coastal and fresh waters whose adults are characterized by a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth.  They attach themselves to fish and suck their blood.  Lampreys have been around for nearly 300 millions years and their body structure has remained relatively unchanged.

 

Raccoon Dog

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The Raccoon Dog, or Tanuki, is a canid indigenous to East Asia.  The raccoon dog is named for its resemblance to the raccoon, to which it is not closely related.  They are very good climbers and regularly climb trees.

 

Zebra Duiker

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The zebra duiker is a small antelope found in Ivory Coast and other parts of Africa.  They have gold or red-brown coats with distinctive zebra-like stripes (hence the name)  Their prong-like horns are about 4.5 cm long in males, and half that in females.  They live in lowland rainforests and mostly eat leaves and fruit.

 

Star-Nosed Mole

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The star-nosed mole is a small mole found in wet low areas of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It is easily identified by the 11 pairs of pink fleshy appendages ringing its snout, which is used as a touch organ with more than 25,000 minute sensory receptors, known as Eimer’s organs, with which this hamster-sized mole feels its way around.

Some more common animals.

 

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bears

 

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Sea Monster Washes Ashore in Scotland

The sizeable remains of a mysterious sea creature washed ashore in Scotland this past weekend. The curious carcass reportedly appeared on a beach near the port city of Aberdeen after a powerful storm swept over the area. A picture of the oddity subsequently appeared on a community Facebook page with a caption asking “any ideas what it could be?” As one can imagine, there were a variety of suggestions and theories put forward by people online.

The primary prosaic explanations offered were a whale, a dolphin, or a thresher shark. Of course, with the creature having been discovered on a beach in Scotland, a popular possibility which kept coming up was that it was, in fact, the Loch Ness Monster. Alas, since the remains are rather badly decomposed, a marine biologist conceded that it’s difficult to know precisely what the animal had once been. Think you can solve the mystery?