Tag: mystery

Where in the World is Wired's Evan Ratliff?

By Allison Bond | August 27, 2009 3:10 pm

Where the heck is Waldo?Have you seen Wired writer Evan Ratliff in the past few weeks? We’re guessing the answer is no—otherwise, we assume you would’ve claimed your $5,000 prize.

That’s because Ratliff is doing his best to keep his whereabouts unknown (even to friends and family) until Sept. 15. The goal of the stunt is to demonstrate how easy it can be to disappear under the radar, even in the digital age. ABC News reports:

[Ratliff] must stay hidden for one month with a bounty over his head.

But to keep things interesting, Ratliff can’t go entirely off the grid. Like any digital denizen, he has to keep up with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and make at least the occasional cell phone call or credit card transaction.

By posting those digital breadcrumbs to the contest’s online page, Wired hopes sleuths both high-tech and low will be enticed to join the hunt. Already, hundreds — maybe thousands — have taken the bait, populating Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and comment threads with tips and teasers about his whereabouts.

Ratliff apparently got the idea while writing about Matthew Alan Sheppard, who disappeared in an attempt to escape  financial ruin. Wired‘s plot seems a little gimmicky, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t curious about where he is—and who (if anyone) will be able to track him down before time runs out.

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Image: flickr / Si1Very

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

Weird Tube-Shaped Clouds Floating Above Australia

By Allison Bond | August 24, 2009 5:08 pm

Morning Glory cloudsNo one is quite sure what caused bizarre 600-mile-long tubular clouds to form above a small Australian town. But because the fluffy white rods, known as Morning Glory clouds, can move up to 35 miles per hour, they can pose a problem for airplanes flying through the area.

Wired reports:

A small number of pilots and tourists travel there each year in hopes of “cloud surfing” with the mysterious phenomenon.

Similar tubular shaped clouds called roll clouds appear in various places around the globe. But nobody has yet figured out what causes the Morning Glory clouds.

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Image courtesy of Mick Petroff


Update: Previously Unidentified Black Blob ID'ed

By Allison Bond | July 20, 2009 1:35 pm

gooA few days ago, we wrote about a mysterious black blob floating off of Alaska’s coast. At that point, experts hadn’t been able to identify what the goo was made of.

New information, however, brings an end to the speculation: Authorities say it’s a gigantic algae bloom, as some commenters to DISCOVER’s previous post hypothesized. TIME reports:

Algal outbreaks can and do occur even in icy Arctic waters. It just takes the right combination of nutrients, light and water temperature, says [Brenda Konar, a marine biology professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks]. “Algae blooms,” she says. “It’s sort of like a swimming pool that hasn’t been cleaned in a while.” The blob, Konar says, is a microalgae made up of “billions and billions of individuals.” “We’ve observed large blooms in the past off Barrow, although none of them at all like this,” Barry Sherr, an Oregon State University professor of oceanography, said in an e-mail. “The fact that the locals say they’ve never seen anything like it suggests that it might represent some exotic species which has drifted into the region, perhaps as a result of global change. For the moment, that’s just a guess.”

The blob isn’t toxic–just gross. No word from the Venter/ExxonMobil camp on whether they intend to scoop up the blob for research purposes.

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Image: Courtesy of the North Slope Borough Planning Department

MORE ABOUT: algae, mystery

Experts Baffled by Unidentified Black Goo Floating in Arctic Ocean

By Allison Bond | July 16, 2009 1:43 pm

gooThere’s a mysterious black goo floating off the Alaskan coast, and no one is quite sure what it is. A helicopter flying over the area spotted a strand of the dark stuff, which is easily visible on the bright white ice floating in the Arctic Ocean, and followed it for 15 miles.

Juneau Empire reports:

“[The goo is] certainly biological,” [Terry] Hasenauer [of the Coast Guard] said. “It’s definitely not an oil product of any kind. It has no characteristics of an oil, or a hazardous substance, for that matter…. It’s definitely, by the smell and the makeup of it, some sort of naturally occurring organic or otherwise marine organism.”

“It’s pitch black when it hits ice and it kind of discolors the ice and hangs off of it,” [an official with the North Slope Borough’s Planning and Community Services Department] said. He saw some jellyfish tangled up in the stuff, and someone turned in what was left of a dead goose – just bones and feathers – to the borough’s wildlife department.”

Anyone wanna go for a swim?

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Image: Courtesy of the North Slope Borough Planning Department


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