A Japanese scholar was so determined to discover the secret of good sushi--light and airy, meant to be eaten with the fingers, as opposed to the sticky chopstick chunks we're used to here--that he stuck some rolls and nigiri in an MRI machine.
He compared pieces made by an experienced sushi chef, an apprentice, and a sushi-making robot.
The difference seemed to be that the chef's pieces were smaller, less compacted and had their rice grains mostly aligned with each other, leaving lots of space for air inside.
While interesting, the study didn't address a much more pressing issue:
Sushi making robots?
Three words that don't often go together: a Japanese coffee company redecorated the toilet cubicles at some Japanese ski resorts so it looks like you're, um, sitting at the top of a ski jump. Complete with skis on the floor.
The best part, of course, is the Engrish tagline: “Seriously kick-ass intensely sweet for the real coffee super zinging unstoppable Max! Taste-explosion!”
It sounds like a headline from The Onion: a Worcester's Buttonquail (Turnix worcesteri), thought to be extinct, was just found at a poultry market in the Caraballo mountains in northern Luzon, Phillippines.
A local birdwatching group took photos and videos of the bird (left), which was previously only known from drawings of decades-old museum specimens.
Then the rare animal was sold and, presumably, eaten.
"What if this was the last of its species?" said Michael Lu, president of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines.
Mmm...that's some tasty extinction.
(Actually, the "notoriously cryptic and unobtrusive" birds may still live somewhere in the region--we just don't know enough about them.)
(Via) Photo by Arnel B. Telesforo
Chimps, sea otters, crows, crabs and whales have all been shown to use tools in the wild. Now add another animal to the list: bottlenose dolphins, who use sponges to protect their noses when looking for fish in the seafloor sand in Australia's Shark Bay.
And this tool know-how isn't a guy thing--it seems to be passed down almost exclusively from female to female.
No, it's not some weird suggestive metaphor. It's a video of an unintentionally comical drill at the Tokyo Zoo.
I imagine when the real thing happens there will be announcements: "Please proceed to the nearest exit. This is not a drill. This is an actual rhinocerous."
Another great multi-part travel piece from Slate, one of my favorite places for interesting travel writing nowadays.
I can empathize with this line from today's entry:
[T]raveling in Mongolia forced me to re-evaluate my own attitude about one of the greatest of travel dilemmas: that whole "meeting the locals" thing. Call me a snob, but I hate meeting the locals. I'm not really interested in the locals back home, so why should things be any different overseas?
Kimchi, Korea's ubiquitous traditional dish, has never been high on my list of things to eat. In fact, since it's made of liberally spiced and fermented vegetables - think sour cabbage that makes your eyes water - it's usually in the same category as haggis and pickled pig's feet.
But this piece on the Walrus magazine website has me reconsidering. One of the healthiest foods on the planet? Kimchi in space? Sounds like fun...or at least a little less frightening.
I'm still in the dark ages when it comes to car navigation: I actually use those flat, static things called "maps" to get around. But in yet another example of how there's nothing that can't be improved by more kawaii, a Japanese robotics company has unveiled a GPS system that uses a talking robotic teddy bear to point the way.
The 30-cm bear not only tells and shows you where to go, reports the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper (via Pink Tentacle), it also has an alcohol detection system in its neck that can smell booze on your breath and shame you into taking the bus. (“You haven’t been drinking, have you?” It says this. Seriously.) If you jam on the brakes or peel out of the parking lot, it scolds “Watch out!
If you're sober and well-behaved, you can stroke its head to get information on nearby landmarks.
(Creative Commons-licensed Image by Flickr user The Little Lady.)
Stingrays are beautiful. They're also deeply alien and, if you're careless and/or very unlucky, potentially dangerous - just ask the Crocodile Hunter.
Apparently that 646-pound Mekong catfish they caught in 2005 is only the second largest freshwater fish in the world now.
What is it with the Mekong?