Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

A retiree in Germany has struck gold in his garden, finding the wedding band he lost three years ago wrapped around a carrot. The 82-year-old lost the ring while gardening in the western town of Bad Muenstereifel.

The incident happened shortly after the man, whose name was not released, celebrated his golden wedding anniversary. The man’s wife reassured him at the time that the ring would eventually reappear.

She died six months before being proven right.

http://wgntv.com/2016/11/05/german-mans-wedding-band-lost-in-garden-unearthed-by-carrot-after-wife-dies/he

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German police say they’ve arrested an 18-year-old man who was wanted for evading a prison sentence after he ventured out to play the newly launched “Pokemon Go” smartphone game with friends.

Police in Trier, on Germany’s western border, said the group’s “peculiar behavior” as they played the game in the city on Friday prompted officers to check their papers.

The 18-year-old initially gave a false identity but police quickly established that there was an arrest warrant out for him. He was detained and is now serving a six-month prison sentence he had previously avoided serving — police wouldn’t specify for what.

http://bigstory.ap.org/15e655e1560d4f3d9d1a450d9cc61687

A mother in central Germany came up with an unusual tactic to allegedly steal from a pharmacy on Monday. She distracted staff at a pharmacy in Darmstadt, Hesse, by lifting up her top and squirting her breast milk at them.

The mother entered the store at 4.25pm and asked to buy a breast pump, police reported.

But after handing over a €200-note to pay for her €20 purchase, she suddenly uncovered one breast and used her fingers to squirt milk from it at the pharmacist.

She then rummaged through the counter display and went to a second cash register.

Ignoring the pleas of staff and customers to cover herself up, she again rooted through the counter displays and unleashed a fresh spray of milk.

Apparently satisfied with her handiwork, she quickly left the pharmacy, leaving the breast pump behind.

The pharmacists only noticed that €100 was missing from their cash register some time later when counting the day’s takings.

Police believe the woman, who they described as having a “robust” figure, long dark hair tied into a ponytail and speaking an unknown language, stole the cash while customers and staff were distracted by her antics.

Officers described the woman’s antics as “almost unbelievable”.

http://www.thelocal.de/20141028/thief-squirts-her-breast-milk-to-steal-german-pharmacy-darmstadt

archer fish
Footage captured by two high-speed cameras shows the fish’s ability in detail

The jets of water that archer fish use to shoot down prey are “tuned” to arrive with maximum impact over a range of distances, according to a study.

By Jonathan Webb
Science reporter, BBC News

High-speed cameras were used to analyse fishes’ spitting performance in detail.

As they create each jet, the fish tweak the flow of water over time, causing a focussed blob of water to gather just in front of the target, wherever it is.

The ability comes from precise changes to the animal’s mouth opening, which may prove useful in designing nozzles.

Senior author Prof Stefan Schuster, from the University of Bayreuth in Germany, explained that jets of water and other fluids are used to cut or shape materials in industries ranging from mining to medicine.

He believes his new fish-based findings could improve the technology.

Patience and precision
“I’ve never seen anything in which they use a nozzle that changes its diameter,” he told the BBC. “The most standard approach is adjusting the pressure.”

But pressure, which the archer fish apply by squeezing their gill covers together, is not the secret to their ballistic precision.

Prof Schuster and his PhD student Peggy Gerullis found no evidence for pressure adjustments, nor for chemical additives or flicking movements in the water, which might account for the fishes’ ability to control the stability of the water jet, and focus the accelerating blob at its tip.

“The fish add nothing – they only shoot water, and they keep absolutely still during release of the jet,” Prof Schuster said.

“They just do it with the mouth opening diameter. It is not a simple manoeuvre… The diameter is continuously changing.”

That makes the new study, published in Current Biology, the first evidence of an animal actively manipulating the dynamics of a water jet.

Prof Schuster and Ms Gerullis trained two archer fish to hit targets at distances from 20cm to 60cm, under bright lights to help with filming.

The targets were small spheres, which allowed the team to calculate the forces involved.

Accuracy, of course, was rewarded – usually with a small fly. “You can easily train a fish to shoot at anything you want,” said Prof Schuster. “They are perfectly happy as long as something edible falls down.”

The tricky part was organising the angles.

“To be ready to monitor to the right spots with reasonable spatial resolution, you have to convince the fish somehow to fire from a defined position. That was the hardest part of the study, actually.”

With patience, the researchers collected enough measurements to reveal that the all-important blob of water at the jet’s tip, which allows archer fish to dislodge their prey, forms just before impact – no matter the target distance.

To accomplish this, the animals fine-tune not just the speed, but the stability of the water jet.

“It means that the physics the fish is using is much more complicated than previously thought,” Prof Schuster explained.

Cognitive evolution?

Dynamic jet control must now be added to an already impressive list of this fish’s abilities.

Other research has explored questions ranging from how archer fish compensate for the distortion of their vision by the water surface, to how they learn to hit moving targets by copying their companions, to exactly how they produce a water jet that catches up on itself to form their distinctive, watery missile.

Prof Schuster believes that their spitting accuracy may have evolved in a similar way to human throwing, which some theorists argue sparked an accompanying expansion of our cognitive abilities.

His team has also done fieldwork in Thailand, where they observed that the fish hunt in daylight, when their insect targets are few and far between. So having a good range, and not missing, are a big advantage for survival.

That power and precision requires brain power.

“People have calculated that to double [throwing] range requires roughly an 8-fold increase in the number of neurons involved in throwing,” Prof Schuster said.

So are these fish evolving into the cleverest animals under water?

“I don’t think they will develop into humans. [But] they have many strange abilities that you wouldn’t expect from fish.

“Maybe we can show by looking more closely at the brain, that shooting might have played a similar, prominent role in driving these abilities, as it’s thought that throwing played in human evolution.

“That’s just a crazy idea of mine.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29046018

Thank to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

In the space of 24 hours last week, two spectacular rescue operations were carried out in southern Germany.

Both involved men who had become trapped deep inside cave-like structures, and a large team working to set them free. But if explorer Johann Westhauser is expected to soon tell the world how he got trapped inside Germany’s deepest cave, an anonymous exchange student might prefer to keep quiet about the story of how he got into a tight spot.

On Friday afternoon, a young American in Tübingen had to be rescued by 22 firefighters after getting trapped inside a giant sculpture of a vagina. The Chacán-Pi (Making Love) artwork by the Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara has been outside Tübingen University’s institute for microbiology and virology since 2001 and had previously mainly attracted juvenile sniggers rather than adventurous explorers.

According to De la Jara, the 32-ton sculpture made out of red Veronese marble is meant to signify “the gateway to the world”.

Police confirmed that the firefighters turned midwives delivered the student “by hand and without the application of tools”.

The mayor of Tübingen told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that he struggled to imagine how the accident could have happened, “even when considering the most extreme adolescent fantasies. To reward such a masterly achievement with the use of 22 firefighters almost pains my soul.”

Thanks to Michael Moore for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/23/us-student-rescued-giant-vagina-sculpture-germany


Electrodes attached to a cap convert brain waves into signals that can be processed by the flight simulator for hands-free flying.

New research out of the Technische Universität München (TUM) in Germany is hinting that mind control might soon reach entirely new heights — even by us non-mutants. They’ve demonstrated that pilots might be able to fly planes through the sky using their thoughts alone.

The researchers hooked study participants to a cap containing dozens of electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes, sat them down in a flight simulator, and told them to steer the plane through the sim using their thoughts alone. The cap read the electrical signals from their brains and an algorithm then translated those signals into computer commands.

Seven people underwent the experiment and, according to the researchers, all were able to pilot the plane using their thoughts to such a degree that their performance could have satisfied some of the criteria for getting a pilot’s license.

What’s more, the study participants weren’t all pilots and had varying levels of flight experience. One had no cockpit experience at all.

We have, of course, seen similar thought-control experiments before — an artist who can paint with her thoughts http://www.cnet.com/news/paralyzed-artist-paints-with-mind-alone/) and another who causes water to vibrate (http://www.cnet.com/news/artist-vibrates-water-with-the-power-of-thought/), for example, as well as a quadcopter controlled by brainwaves (http://www.cnet.com/news/mind-controlled-quadcopter-takes-to-the-air/) and a thought-powered typing solution (http://www.cnet.com/news/indendix-eeg-lets-you-type-with-your-brain/). But there’s something particularly remarkable about the idea of someone actually flying an airplane with just the mind.

The research was part of an EU-funded program called ” Brainflight.” “A long-term vision of the project is to make flying accessible to more people,” aerospace engineer Tim Fricke, who heads the project at TUM, explained in a statement. “With brain control, flying, in itself, could become easier. This would reduce the workload of pilots and thereby increase safety. In addition, pilots would have more freedom of movement to manage other manual tasks in the cockpit.”

One of the outstanding challenges of the research is to provide feedback from the plane to the “mind pilots.” This is something normal pilots rely upon to gauge the state of their flight. For example, they would feel resistance from the controls if they begin to push the plane to its limits. TUM says the researchers are currently looking for ways to deliver such feedback to the pilots.

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

http://www.cnet.com/news/mind-pilots-steer-a-plane-with-thoughts-alone/

Two men whose remains were recently excavated from tombs in western China put their pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. But these nomadic herders did so between 3,300 and 3,000 years ago, making their trousers the oldest known examples of this innovative apparel, a new study finds.

With straight-fitting legs and a wide crotch, the ancient wool trousers resemble modern riding pants, says a team led by archaeologists Ulrike Beck and Mayke Wagner of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin. The discoveries, uncovered in the Yanghai graveyard in China’s Tarim Basin, support previous work suggesting that nomadic herders in Central Asia invented pants to provide bodily protection and freedom of movement for horseback journeys and mounted warfare, the scientists report May 22 in Quaternary International.

“This new paper definitely supports the idea that trousers were invented for horse riding by mobile pastoralists, and that trousers were brought to the Tarim Basin by horse-riding peoples,” remarks linguist and China authority Victor Mair of the University of Pennsylvania.

Previously, Europeans and Asians wore gowns, robes, tunics, togas or — as observed on the 5,300-year-old body of Ötzi the Iceman — a three-piece combination of loincloth and individual leggings.

A dry climate and hot summers helped preserve human corpses, clothing and other organic material in the Tarim Basin. More than 500 tombs have been excavated in a graveyard there since the early 1970s.

Earlier research on mummies from several Tarim Basin sites, led by Mair, identified a 2,600-year-old individual known as Cherchen Man who wore burgundy trousers probably made of wool. Trousers of Scythian nomads from West Asia date to roughly 2,500 years ago.

Mair suspects that horse riding began about 3,400 years ago and trouser-making came shortly thereafter in wetter regions to the north and west of the Tarim Basin. Ancient trousers from those areas are not likely to have been preserved, Mair says.

Horse riding’s origins are uncertain and could date to at least 4,000 years ago, comments archaeologist Margarita Gleba of University College London. If so, she says, “I would not be surprised if trousers appeared at least that far back.”

The two trouser-wearing men entombed at Yanghai were roughly 40 years old and had probably been warriors as well as herders, the investigators say. One man was buried with a decorated leather bridle, a wooden horse bit, a battle-ax and a leather bracer for arm protection. Among objects placed with the other body were a whip, a decorated horse tail, a bow sheath and a bow.

Beck and Wagner’s group obtained radiocarbon ages of fibers from both men’s trousers, and of three other items in one of the tombs.

Each pair of trousers was sewn together from three pieces of brown-colored wool cloth, one piece for each leg and an insert for the crotch. The tailoring involved no cutting: Pant sections were shaped on a loom in the final size. Finished pants included side slits, strings for fastening at the waist and woven designs on the legs.

Beck and Wagner’s team calls the ancient invention of trousers “a ground-breaking achievement in the history of cloth making.”

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/first-pants-worn-horse-riders-3000-years-ago