World in Creeps (10.30.13)
Greetings, readers! We have a special “spooktacular” version of World in Briefs this week. Prepare to be shocked, terrified, and confused over these real events going on in the world—the very world that you live in! For the best experience make sure to listen to Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s classic hit “Monster Mash” while reading.
In what can only be described as the plot from a bad sci-fi movie from the 1950s, Argentine scientists are attempting to harness the power of a frightening substance—cow burps. However, instead of using this for world domination, they’re suggesting that it might be a viable source of energy. Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) is pioneering the experimental idea. “Once you get it compressed, it’s the same as having natural gas,” says Guillermo Berra, head of INTA’s animal physiology group. “As an energy source it is not very practical at the moment, but if you look ahead to 2050, when fossil fuel reserves are going to be in trouble, it is an alternative.” The daily emissions of a single cow are strong enough to power a refrigerator for a 24-hour period. Looking at this idea, we have to ask what will be the next experimental idea. Snakes the size of airplanes? Actually, forget I said that. Please don’t make those, science.
With the growth of technology, there has been some substantial innovation when it comes to artificial body parts. Through careful testing and refinement, these could eventually be used to save thousands upon thousands of lives. However, a couple of people decided to don the role of Dr. Frankenstein and put all these prototypes together to create a robotic monster. The “bionic man” was recently showcased at Washington’s Air and Space Museum. It was assembled over the course of three months for approximately $1 million using 28 artificial body parts loaned from biomedical innovators. Remotely controlled from a computer, it is able to walk, talk, and—if the history of robots in cinema is any indication—eventually kill. The latter may be a bit of a jump as the bionic man’s artificial intelligence is limited to a chatbot computer program, but this is only the beginning. I’ve seen I, Robot; I know how this goes down. I just hope we don’t also have to deal with a profanity-spewing Shia LaBeouf during the robot revolution.
The Titanic was a remarkable ship at the time it was built; over 100 years after its tragic collision its legacy can be seen in our modern times—literally. A violin that played as the Titanic sank has been auctioned off for a reported $1.46 million. The instrument in question was played on the night of the event by the band leader Wallace Hartley in an attempt to calm the passengers. Choosing to remain on the ship, Hartley and his fellow band members continued to play until their deaths. More than 10 days after the incident, Hartley’s body was found with a leather case containing the violin strapped to his body. The violin eventually found its way to this auction and a new home. Now, I’m not saying that the violin is undeniably haunted or anything, but the new owner might want to call someone if the walls of his house start to bleed. If there is some sort of spooky ghost involved, we can only hope that it’s not too violint. I’ll admit that pun was truly horrifying.