It’s got legs
Slightly off-putting news comes from Japan that a 36-armed octopus has recently debuted in an aquarium in the city of Sasebo in Nagasaki prefecture.
This, we discover, is a rare but far from unique phenomenon, thought to be the product of mutant regeneration of limbs bitten off by predators. A 96-legged octopus captured in 1998 in Matoya Bay, also in Japan, even survived long enough in captivity to have (octopedal) young.
Our next question of whether octopus legs only come in multiples of eight is answered by the presence of an 85-limbed specimen in Japan’s Toba Aquarium.
Octopuses are famously resourceful creatures, but given some people’s occasional problems coordinating just two limbs, we can only see such numbers as a burden.
Then again, given the recent revelation in these pages that each leg of an octopus might be independently conscious ( 10 July, p 38), it might be a case of many minds make light work – and probably good for playing the accordion, we imagine. All in all, though, all the more reason for concerted action on cephalopod rights (see page 25).
Keith Houston passes on a sign seen in Kiama, New South Wales – Australia, he stresses, we assume for the avoidance of confusion with old south Wales. “Visitor Information Centre – Toilet Upgrade and Amplification”, it declares, and in only slightly smaller point size underneath, “Proudly funded by the NSW Government”.
We aren’t sure where to go with this, except to say that if you’re going to be loud about it, you might as well be proud. It’s not quite as in-your-face as the sign Feedback spotted when caught short passing the delightful manor house of Ightham – pronunciation on a postcard – Mote in the equally delightful county of Kent: “Toilets open as restaurant”. This was a suggestion we were at pains not to amplify upon.
Feedback has been spending much of the past weeks looking at the world through our (two) legs. It’s the new yoga season, yes, but it’s also a late-onset reaction to our recent musings about the variable size of the moon seen thuswise (17 July).
We can confirm Philip Welsby’s finding that the flattening of the field of vision does give a new perspective on life, although we haven’t gone as far as he has and tried the brain-confounding effects of two simultaneous symmetry inversions. “I sat on some chocolate and decided to bend over in front of a mirror and use a sponge on the seat of my pants,” he says. “I was simultaneously surprised to find myself wiping the mirror and annoyed that the image continued to show chocolate.”
We sympathise. Kudos to the first Feedback reader who can demonstrate conclusively, either with appropriate photographic evidence or theoretical calculation, whether the moon viewed in a mirror upside down between your legs looks (a) smaller, (b) larger or (c) the same size as normal.
Casting our eyes to the north for our next item – or possibly south, it’s hard to tell from this position – Richard Shirreffs of Aberdeen, UK, draws our attention to an article in The Scotsman newspaper of 17 July. In the article, headed “Climate protesters found guilty”, we read that “A verdict was expected last month” from judge Sally Fudge, “but Ms Fudge agreed to postpone the trial to await the outcome of a Supreme Court judgment”.
A wonderful euphony, but as to Richard’s speculation about a new phenomenon of nominative indeterminacy rearing its head, we are reserving judgement.
Catch the koala
Pining for the days of simple measurements in terms of blue whales, elephants and Eiffel Towers (0.39 Burj Khalifas for those struggling with the conversion), Margherita Hooi is confused by an article in Adelaide newspaper The Advertiser about ear-tag homing beacons that can be used to quickly find koalas caught up in bushfires. It expends a considerable portion of five short paragraphs explaining that the beacons are not only the size of a five-cent piece, but weigh less than a slice of bread.
We’re not about to convert that into blue whales for you, Margherita, but after a bit of mental gymnastics, we’ve worked out that it’s probably a better solution for the cuddly koalas than a sensor that weighs less than a five-cent piece but is the size of a slice of bread.
We’re also intrigued by the suggestion in the same article that koalas “have been fitted with bluetooth ear tags that allow mobile phones to detect them from 20m away”. That gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “bush telegraph”.
From other shores
Following our recent item on solar system ambassadors and a new solar system walk in Ventnor, New Jersey (17 July), we are indebted to Bill Darroch for pointing out that the pre-existing Ventnor, UK, has a pre-existing one. We are yet to hear word from representatives from other solar system Ventnors, but rest assured you will be among the first to know.
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