10 Mind-Blowing Discoveries This Week
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Many people dream of escaping to Florida. I understand why, and typically I have little quarrel with the affable insanity of my home state, dangling out here in the Atlantic like a completely exhausted penis. This week, though, I’m dreaming of escaping from Florida. Between the heat and humidity, it’s like living in a dog’s mouth and between that and a few other things, frankly, it’s time for a vacation from vacation land.
1. Pipers and diapers
If I were going to run away, it would be to Scotland, long #1 on my list of dream destinations. The sweet-and-crunchy accents, the kilts, the sea monsters -- it’s all so exotic. And by the time I get to go there I may be able to sit on park benches made of old used diapers (it’s the little goals that keep one going).
Mother Nature Network’s Matt Hickman reports that Scotland is trying out a new recycling program in which “absorbent waste products” (diapers, tampons, etc). will be recycled into building materials like roof shingles and perhaps one day into other things like park benches. Knowaste, a Canadian company where such products are sanitized, sterilized, sorted and ground into plastic pellets, had first thought to source the products from institutions like hospitals. Now, however, Knowaste and Zero Waste Scotland will help the domestic sector recycle such things as well. Five Scottish councils -- Fife, Perth, Stirling, Kincross, and North Lanarkshire -- will be on a six-month trial program that encompasses 36,000 homes. If it works out it could go national.
Environmental Secretary Richard Lochhead said that 450,000 disposable nappies end up in landfills every day . A 2010 story on disposable diapers in LiveStrong reported that they take 500 years to decompose, contaminate ground water, and release methane and a variety of toxic chemicals into the air. Making them into clean, useful materials sounds like a win-win -- plus, who can’t think of some earth-conscious mamas who will be happy to have the convenience of disposable diapers that could be recycled?
“Just imagine,” Hickman writes, “that disposable diaper that baby Annabelle took an ungodly poo in could someday wind up in your backyard as a lounger.”
Now that we’ve come all the way to bonnie Scotland, let’s stay for a while and watch as this great land finally kicks the zombie fad to the scrap heap in a one-two punch combining mummies and Frankenstein in a hyper-creepy ancient real-life package.
Charles Choi of Live Science reports on an amazing story that began in 2001 when some mummies were first found beneath a 3,000-year-old house, part of the prehistoric village of Cladh Hallan (if you’re Scottish and can pronounce it Skype me), on Scotland’s West Coast. The area was populated between 2,200 BCE to 800 BCE. Two of the bodies discovered, a male and female, had been mummified on purpose (burial in the oxygen-free environment of peat bogs can naturally mummify corpses; as Choi explains the process, “essentially tanning them in much the same way that animal skin is turned to leather”). They were found in fetal positions wrapped up, Choi notes, like mummy bundles found in other places, plus carbon dating revealed that they had been buried 600 years after their death. Their skeletons were still articulated -- rotting flesh hadn’t caused them to alter from their positions in life: “they must have been intentionally preserved.”
Here comes the Frankenstein part: both mummies were composites of the body parts of more than one person. Analysis of the skeleton revealed, for example, that the neck vertebrae of the male skeleton had arthritis -- but the rest of the spine didn’t so it had to have come from another person. He was composed of at least three people. The woman’s lower jaw, arm bone and thigh bone all came from different people AND two of her teeth were missing and found placed in her hands.