The weekly weird

Published January 21, 2023

Mandarin duck draws birdwatchers to Wisconsin shore

Birdwatchers are flocking to a spot on the shore of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin to catch a glimpse of a mandarin duck, a bird native to East Asia.

The vibrantly coloured duck was first spotted in December at the South Shore Yacht Club in Milwaukee. The duck has been seen peacefully mingling with the native ducks and geese on the shoreline.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said the mandarin duck is unlikely to be a wild visitor. Officials said the exotic bird most likely escaped from a zoo or private collection.

The DNR said officials believe the duck to be hardy enough to survive the winter climate in Wisconsin and is being left alone for the time being.

Man typed copies of 81 books backward

An Italian man, who used a technique called “mirror writing” to type copies of 81 books, holds the Guinness World Record for most books typed backward.

The record-keeping organisation said Michele Santelia, 63, of Campobasso, has typed in Hieroglyphs, Old Hebrew, traditional Chinese, Mayan, Etruscan, Cuneiform and Voynich glyphs.

Santelia uses four blank keyboards for each project and codes the keys to the language for any particular project. He has typed backward copies of Epic of Gilgamesh, the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Code of Hammurabi, the Bible, Leonardo da Vinci’s writings and a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records 2002. Santelia said he was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, who was known to use mirror writing in his work.

Human hair recycled in Belgium

The Hair Recycle project, an NGO in Belgium, feeds locks and tresses into a machine that turns them into matted squares that can be used to absorb oil and other hydrocarbons polluting the environment, or made into bio-composite bags.

Project Co-founder Patrick Janssen, explaining that 1kg of hair can absorb 7-8 litres of oil and hydrocarbons, said the mats can be placed in drains to soak up pollution in water before it reaches a river.

The project said on its website that hair has powerful properties: one strand can support up to 10 million times its own weight, and as well as absorbing fat and hydrocarbons, it is water-soluble and highly elastic due to its keratin fibres.

Published in Dawn, Young World, January 21st, 2023

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