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British Adventurer Donates Frostbitten Toes For Canadian Cocktail

A British marathoner who got frostbite during the Yukon Arctic Ultra this past winter is donating his toes to a bar that serves what is known as the “Sourtoe” cocktail.

Nick Griffiths, 46, a former Royal Marine, had to drop out of the 300-mile race in February. At one point, it was minus 50 degrees, and organizers pulled him out of the race after he presented symptoms consistent with frostbite.

Griffiths was transferred to Whitehorse General Hospital, and a nurse told him about the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon, which has a special drink that includes a human toe. Patrons have to follow one rule when ordering the cocktail: “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe.”

After U.K. doctors surgically amputated his big toe and the two next to it, Griffiths decided he wanted to send them to the bar, 3,900 miles away.

“After the amputation surgery, they actually gave me my toes back in three small jars,” he told the Mirror. “When I was going into the theatre I asked the surgeon if I could save my toes and told him what it was for. He found it quite amusing.

“I wrote to the Downtown Hotel to tell them about my toes and what had happened, and they said they’d love to have them. The only problem is I’m not sure you can just send amputated toes through the post. The staff are looking into how I can send them.”

Over 100,000 people have joined the (tasty?) Sourtoe Cocktail Club. Donors are honoured on the bar’s wall of fame. The bar has received 10 toes over the years, and the descriptions of the toes’ journeys to the bar are featured on the wall.

“The first toe was donated in the 1890s, and I think the cocktail started in the ‘70s,” Griffiths explained. “I know someone stole it, then returned it. Another swallowed the drink and accidentally downed the whole toe too.

“I think you can have your pick of any alcohol that is over 40 percent then you down it like a shot and the toe is meant to touch your lips. They read you a ritual poem beforehand and you get a certificate afterwards.”

Anyone who even thinks of stealing a toe will be given a hefty fine—$2,000.

When the bar receives the toe, they put it in medical fluid, drain it, and then cut off any hanging tissue. It sits in rock salt for six weeks before it’s used in a drink, and then it goes back into the salt for preservation.

Griffiths would love to visit the bar someday and hopes his children and grandchildren will do the same and have a sip of the famous cocktail with his toe inside it.

Scientists Discover A New Color Blue & It’s Awesome

The word “blue” did not exist in Greek times, and the color is not very prominent in nature. Yet a team of scientists from Oregon State University (OSU) recently discovered a new blue pigment while experimenting with materials that can be used in electronic applications.

The researchers mixed manganese oxide (which is black) with other chemicals and heated them to nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. One of their samples was a vivid blue.

OSU chemist Mas Subramanian, explained in a press release, “It was serendipity, actually; a happy, accidental discovery.”

According to the university, “The new pigment is formed by a unique crystal structure that allows the manganese ions to absorb red and green wavelengths of light, while only reflecting blue. The vibrant blue is so durable, and its compounds are so stable – even in oil and water – that the color does not fade.”

OSU has licensed the pigment, which is named “YInMn” blue (named after the elements Yttrium, Indium and Manganese). It will be used for a variety of coatings and plastics and possibly roofing materials. The pigment is a “cool blue” with infrared reflectivity of about 40 percent, which is much higher than other blue pigments.

Subramanian, who is the Milton Harris Professor of Materials Science in the OSU College of Science, added, “The more we discover about the pigment, the more interesting it gets. We already knew it had advantages of being more durable, safe and fairly easy to produce. Now it also appears to be a new candidate for energy efficiency.”

Humans only started developing blue colorants about 6,000 years ago, according to Dunn-Edwards Paints. During this time, the Egyptian word for “blue” emerged.

The Egyptians created blue dyes that slowly spread across the world to the Persians, Mesoamericans and Romans. Only royalty could afford these expensive dyes, and the color remained rare for many centuries.

Famous Chefs Use Wasted Food From The Olympics To Feed The Poor & Hungry In Rio

International chefs are helping needy residents in Rio de Janeiro by making them meals from food that would otherwise by wasted during the Olympic games. The group is using surplus food — originally designated for the the trash — from the Olympic village to help feed the city’s hungry citizens.

Brazil is currently hosting the 31st Olympic Games while battling an economic crisis. Many of Rio’s residents are impoverished and have difficulty finding food on a daily basis. In order to combat this problem, the company contracted to the Olympic village is helping provide meals to those most in need, reports the Independent.

Italy’s Massimo Bottura and Brazil’s David Hertz launched RefettoRio Gastromotiva, which uses food and ingredients that are meant for the garbage. They are producing a staggering 5,000 meals a day.

Hertz told Reuters, “RefettoRio Gastromotiva is going to work only with ingredients that are about to be wasted … like ugly fruit and vegetables, or yogurt that is going to be wasted in two days if you don’t buy it. We want to fight hunger and provide access to good food.”

The initiative will continue through the end of the Olympic games as well as through the Paralympic Games, which will take place in Rio in September. Following the games Gastromotiva will serve as a “social business,” according to Hertz.

Bottura came up with the idea after learning about Refetterio Ambrosiano, which took place last year. Sixty-five chefs came together to cook meals using donated ingredients from the Milan World Expo.

Bottura told AP, “There are the best chefs in the world who come here and give the example, (about) what we can do through our knowledge with the food that 99.9 percent of the people they think is waste. This is, I think, is an amazing message.”

The cooks are using food from caterers and other local partners to create gourmet-like meals. Those who need something to eat are also treated to artwork in the dining area, which includes a rendition of Leonardo DaVinci’s “Last Supper.”

Bottura added, “It’s something different. When they leave from here, like two days ago, two people said, ‘This is the first time in life that we were treated like princes.’”

Olympic fans are also embracing the idea. Michael Spitz, a visitor from St. Louis, told AP: “And there is all this food and it shouldn’t go to waste. There are people hungry and it should go for them, absolutely.”

This is a silver lining for a country that has been battling negative headlines over its handling of the Olympic games. Some of the problems include drug resistant bacteria in the water, lack of plumbing and electricity in the Olympic village, the prevalence of the Zika virus, and the killing of a jaguar during the torch ceremony.

Officials had to completely drain one of the Olympic pools after it turned green from algae, and U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte said he was robbed and threatened at gunpoint outside of the Olympic village.

So, while over 11,000 people compete at the games, at least the hungry and homeless are benefiting from the leftovers.

The Corpse Flower, Which Stinks Like Rotting Flesh, Is About To Bloom In NYC

The New York Botanical Garden’s corpse flower could bloom at any moment, and there’s a live feed to watch it in action. Scientifically named Amorphophallus titanum, the giant green plant is renowned for the infamous odor it emits during a brief 24-36 hour peak. It smells like rotting flesh.

“The high temperatures in the Big Apple over the weekend did not impact the Corpse Flower’s growth as our experts anticipated,” NYBG revealed on Facebook on Monday. “The plant is still progressing, but its bloom remains difficult to predict. Please watch our live feed to track its momentum. Thanks to everyone who’s been following along—we’re just as anxious as you are to see the final result!”

The group is consistently monitoring the plant’s progress and has been offering limited tours of the Conservatory’s Palms of the World Gallery in the Bronx to allow people to witness the bloom.

NYBG explains on its website: “The bloom of our Amorphophallus titanum, known to many as the corpse flower, is a horticultural jewel 10 years in the making. Each day of careful tending and feeding has led up to this moment: a brief yet glorious window in which the enormous plant (up to eight feet high) will unfurl, displaying the striking red interior and uncanny scent to which it owes its name. ”

The botanical garden last displayed a blooming titan-arum back in 1939.

The Amorphophallus titanum is native solely to western Sumatra, Indonesia, where it grows in rain forests on limestone hills. It grows infrequently in the wild and less rarely when cultivated. Private collectors around the world and several botanical gardens possess the corpse flower.

It generally takes 7-10 years for the titan arum to bloom for the first time. Its smell attracts pollinators, insects that feed on dead animals or lay their eggs in rotting meat.

The Amorphophallus titanum was the official flower of the Bronx in 1939 (when it was displayed) but was replaced in 2000 by the day lily.

Hubble Telescope Captures Celestial Fireworks Show In Nearby ‘Skyrocket’ Galaxy

Man-made fireworks have been put to shame after NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope recently captured images of a nearby galaxy putting on a “spectacular fireworks display.”

NASA released an image on Tuesday of a star birth taking place in the small galaxy Kiso 5639, which is 82 million light-years away. “The dwarf galaxy is shaped like a flattened pancake, but because it is tilted edge-on, it resembles a skyrocket, with a brilliant blazing head and a long, star-studded tail,” NASA explained in a press release.

Researcher Debra Elmegreen of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, used Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 to study Kiso 5639. Hubble’s images show several dozen clusters of stars in the galaxy’s star-forming head, which is 2,700 light-years across. These clusters are an average age of less than 1 million years old. They are three to six times larger than those in the rest of the galaxy.

Elmegreen said in a statement: “I think Kiso 5639 is a beautiful, up-close example of what must have been common long ago. The current thinking is that galaxies in the early universe grow from accreting gas from the surrounding neighborhood. It’s a stage that galaxies, including our Milky Way, must go through as they are growing up.”

Kiso 5639 has taken billions of years to develop due to its location in an isolated “desert” in the universe, which is devoid of much gas.

Witness ‘Carnivores On Carcasses’ & The Circle Of Life On Nat Geo WILD’s Impressive ‘Wild Yellowstone’ On Dec. 6

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most idyllic natural wonders in the United States. Located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, the park is home to the infamous Old Faithful Geyser and possesses the largest super volcano on the continent. It also features a slew of wildlife, such as bison, elk, river otters, pronghorn, grizzly bears and wolves. There are few places in the country where you can go and see these animals in their natural environment.

Nat Geo WILD is airing the groundbreaking documentary “Wild Yellowstone” on Sunday, Dec. 6 at 9/8 central, which will kick off the network’s yearlong celebration of U.S. national parks. What makes this documentary different than your typical wildlife film is the production team behind it — Brain Farm. The company used cutting-edge camera stabilization, drone, time-lapse and infrared technologies to capture some jaw-dropping moments on film.

We had a chance to speak with Irish-born principal photographer Theo Jebb, who at just 23 years old was able to catch some of the exciting moments for the documentary during the spring, summer and autumn of 2014.

Starpulse: What was your concept going into filming?

Jebb: Because it was Brain Farm’s first wildlife series it was an interesting mix of trying to get the most cinematic stuff possible.  I spent months coming out here beforehand researching the animals and the ecosystem, and I got so excited to get out here and finally see everything in person.

When I came out it was just to capture the most cinematic stuff possible with all the equipment Brain Farm has, which is a very impressive amount of toys from slow motion to stabilization equipment.

Was there one specific scene that you wanted to get and were hoping to shoot?

I think bears just being bears. Growing up I’d always watched wildlife programs and Yellowstone programs, and bears were always such an amazing, kind of elusive animal that I’d always wanted to get closer to.  Getting close to those and filming them was amazing. And then seeing wolves. I didn’t actually film any wolf sequences but seeing the wolves was amazing.

Did anything unexpected happen during shooting?

I think with wildlife you hope for the best. A lot of unexpected stuff happens all the time. We knew the behaviors and the animals we were going for. Nothing kind of extraordinary happened. Getting close to new calves with moose and all that.  Getting to see the whole circle of life was great and seeing carnivores on carcasses was very interesting – seeing both sides of the spectrum.

What was one of the most difficult shoots?

Filming the trout in Trout Lake. They spawn for a couple of weeks. It’s not the furthest incline, but we had to climb every morning before sunrise, and the first four days it was raining all day. So we were climbing up with all this gear on our backs to film it, me and Dawson Dunning, and it was pretty tough stuff just getting all the equipment up there. And the conditions were really bad. It was mid-summer so it was very rainy, but then the weather broke and we actually got a really nice scene at the end with slow motion underwater. So it worked out in the end, but it was a very tricky scene to get.

Do you have a favorite part of “Wild Yellowstone”?

I think just looking back on the whole project. When you film, you’re concentrating on angles and things and you can forget the experience. And then when you watch it, it all comes back and it’s very nostalgic. So I left, and after a few months the memories faded a bit. And when I saw the film for the first time it was all rushing back and it was amazing to watch.

I think the most interesting parts to watch were the parts where I wasn’t there because then it’s new content. A lot of the winter episode I wasn’t there, so seeing that for the first time was really interesting. I had seen some of the shots but as I wasn’t there it was a bit more magical because you don’t know how it was shot and the hardship behind it.

What season would you recommend for a visit?

I’ve always loved spring, but I think here autumn is just amazing. The colors of fall. By the end of the year everything’s very active. At the start everything’s kind of amping up. The snow is receding and it’s quite slow, but by the end of the season a lot of the ruts already happened and the elk rut is in mid-swing now.  The bears are very active.  In spring the bears are great as well. The middle of the summer is the bison rut. It’s one of the most impressive things to see. All three seasons were good.

I would say spring because spring and autumn are the two seasons where there’s not as many tourists. In spring I just love the freshness . The place is all green, and all the trees are just getting their leaves. I think that’s a great time. All the bears are just coming out and birds are super active. Spring’s a favorite.

Skull Island: Reign Of Kong Opens Today At Universal Orlando – And We Got Inside The Exciting Attraction

Park goers at Universal Orlando have been anticipating the official opening of Skull Island: Reign Of Kong for the past few months. Several lucky people have been able to experience it through technical rehearsals, and we got our chance to see it earlier this week. The ride is officially opening today.

The first thing that went through my mind after finishing the attraction was that I wanted more. Even though it’s one of the park’s longest rides at nearly six minutes, I immediately wanted to hop back on and see it again.

The Skull Island adventure begins with the queue, which draws people in through a tunnel that widens and tightens as you get deeper into the chambers. Guests are treated to an assortment of creepy mummies, stone carvings and other objects, accompanied by foreboding music as they navigate the deeply dark tunnel.

The most compelling part of the line is the animatronic witch in the summoning chamber. She is surrounded by giant skulls with fire-lit eyes and speaks in a made-up language as drum beats go faster and faster, like the sound of a thumping heart. The scene faintly echoes “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Jones.”

When the line ends (an approximate 60-minute wait on Monday), park goers grab a set of 3D glasses and board a 72-passenger expedition vehicle. The ride is set in the 1930s and takes guests through Skull Island as part of the 8th Wonder Expedition Company. Riders meet Kate and her fellow explorers, who encounter many creatures, including prehistoric dinosaurs. Kate is gobbled up by one of these beasts. Then Kong appears.

And then it gets really good.

In 3D action, the giant ape battles raptors and a giant T-Rex, jumping over the expedition vehicle from one side to the other, pummeling the creatures with his might fists. It’s nonstop movement as guests look from right to left and back again to see who wins the epic battle.

My bench mate commented, “I’ve been on a lot of rides, and that’s the coolest thing I’ve seen with 3D goggles on.”

But the ride isn’t over. At the end of the attraction, riders come face-to-face with a very large animatronic Kong, who gazes menacingly at the passengers as the expedition vehicle rolls by.

This is the second time Universal Orlando has featured a ride with King Kong. When the park first opened in 1990, Kongfrontation was one of its signature attractions. It closed in 2002 and was replaced by Revenge of the Mummy.

If you’re looking for a fun, multi-dimensional, thrill ride adventure, check out Skull Island: Reign of Kong. And let us know if you wish it was just a few minutes longer too…