Robert Krulwich http://wqcs.org en When Venus Was Filled With Venusians — 50 Billion Of Them http://wqcs.org/post/when-venus-was-filled-venusians-50-billion-them What a difference 180 years makes.<p>Back in the 1830s, a Scottish minister and amateur astronomer named <a href="https://archive.org/stream/dictionaryofnati15stepuoft#page/18/mode/2up">Thomas Dick</a> tried to calculate the number of intelligent creatures in the universe. He assumed that all heavenly bodies supported intelligent life, maybe not exactly like us, but similar to us in size and habits of living. Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:49:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 48059 at http://wqcs.org When Venus Was Filled With Venusians — 50 Billion Of Them If You're Born In The Sky, What's Your Nationality? An Airplane Puzzler http://wqcs.org/post/if-youre-born-sky-whats-your-nationality-airplane-puzzler Here's a puzzle I bet you've never pondered.<p>Imagine you are very, very pregnant. For the purposes of this mind game, you are a married American woman (with an American spouse) and you are about to board a plane and, pregnant as you are, they let you on.<p>Your flight, on Lufthansa Airlines, will leave Frankfurt, Germany, and travel nonstop to the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean. Germany is cold, wet and unhappy-making, and you crave the aquamarine waters, the balmy skies of the Maldives.<p>You take off. Wed, 20 Aug 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 48001 at http://wqcs.org If You're Born In The Sky, What's Your Nationality? An Airplane Puzzler When Snails Lose Their Way http://wqcs.org/post/when-snails-lose-their-way <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkSN-kqAmxw</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW-tzEKwD7g</p> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 47811 at http://wqcs.org When Snails Lose Their Way Elemental Storytelling http://wqcs.org/post/elemental-storytelling There's a photograph I know that shows a kid's bicycle lying on its side, one wheel turned upright, a smear of blood tracing its path on the concrete. There's a little package still latched to the back, waiting for its owner to return. You can see where the bike swerved, then lost its way. Someone's been hurt. Or worse. The blood is still damp, the trail fresh. Whose blood was it? A child's, I imagine — from an accident? A shooting? The photo was taken by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/annieleibovitz">Annie Leibovitz</a> during a war in Yugoslavia. Tue, 12 Aug 2014 16:44:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 47669 at http://wqcs.org Elemental Storytelling What A Balloon Shouldn't Do, But For Some Reason Does http://wqcs.org/post/what-balloon-shouldnt-do-some-reason-does <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8mzDvpKzfY</p> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 47450 at http://wqcs.org What A Balloon Shouldn't Do, But For Some Reason Does How To Cross 5 International Borders In 1 Minute Without Sweating http://wqcs.org/post/how-cross-five-international-borders-one-minute-without-sweating So many nations are breaking up. Ukraine is in pieces. Moldova is teetering. Libya has no government to speak of. Sudan broke in two last year; now both sides are fighting. Yugoslavia is seven countries. Nigeria has a Christian/Muslim split. Syria has split so many ways it's barely there. Even Scotland is thinking of ditching Great Britain. With every break, we get new lines, new fences, new borders — further evidence of our failure to amalgamate, to get along.<p>The more borders we have, the more quarrels, the more wars. Tue, 05 Aug 2014 18:26:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 47372 at http://wqcs.org How To Cross 5 International Borders In 1 Minute Without Sweating Guess Who's Been Waiting In The Lobby For A Hundred Million Years? http://wqcs.org/post/guess-whos-been-waiting-lobby-hundred-million-years Sometimes the quiet ones surprise us.<p>Take moss — those fuzzy green pads you see on the sides of old trees, or hanging onto rocks. Who notices moss? It's just ... there, doing whatever it does — so slowly, so terribly slowly, that nobody bothers to think about it. Moss creeps up tree bark, sits quietly on crevasses in rocks. Moss is an old, old life form, one of the earliest plants to attach to land around 450 million years ago. It's very patient, very modest — but when you look closely, you discover it has super powers.<p><strong>Pow! Crunch! Sat, 02 Aug 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 47246 at http://wqcs.org Guess Who's Been Waiting In The Lobby For A Hundred Million Years? Where The Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think http://wqcs.org/post/where-birds-are-not-where-youd-think This is a trick question. Where would you expect to find the greatest variety of birds?<p>Downtown, in a city?<p>Or far, far from downtown — in the fields, forests, mountains, where people are scarce?<p>Or in the suburbs? Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:19:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 46999 at http://wqcs.org Where The Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think An Animal Makes A $10,000 Deposit, But Not At The Bank http://wqcs.org/post/animal-makes-10000-deposit-not-bank <em>Editor's note: We've added an update at the bottom of this post with results of the auction. Read on!</em><p>It's a highly specialized category to be sure: "Longest." But that's what the auctioneer is selling. According to the catalog of <a href="http://www.chait.com/asp/fullCatalogue.asp?salelot=NH1407+++340+">I.M. Chait Gallery</a>, in Beverly Hills, "This truly spectacular specimen is possibly the longest example of coprolite ever to be offered at auction."<p>Coprolite is fossilized fecal matter. This specimen is roughly 20 million years old. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:03:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 46781 at http://wqcs.org An Animal Makes A $10,000 Deposit, But Not At The Bank What's Better Than A Total Eclipse Of The Sun? Check This http://wqcs.org/post/whats-better-total-eclipse-sun-check <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyZoD7BRTtg</p> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:55:00 +0000 Robert Krulwich 46723 at http://wqcs.org What's Better Than A Total Eclipse Of The Sun? Check This