The Sideshow
  • The Gill family, who narrowly avoided the errant cannonball. (Michael Short/SF Chronicle)Whether or not you're a fan of the Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters," it can now be stated unequivocally that the show has left a trail of destruction through many people's lives.

    The San Francisco Chronicle and KTVU report how the taping of a recent Mythbusters segment in Dublin, California went horribly wrong, when a cannonball was launched, missed its target then went on a path of destruction through a residential neighborhood.

    "This cannonball was supposed to pass through several barrels of water and a cinder block wall to slow its inertia," said J.D. Nelson of Alameda County Sheriff's Department. "When the shot was fired, it misfired. The cannon lifted."

    And "misfired" is a huge understatement. Take a look at the horrific recap of the cannonball's run:

    The cantaloupe-sized cannonball missed the water, tore through a cinder-block wall, skipped off a hillside and flew some 700 yards east, right into the Tassajara Creek neighborhood, where children were returning home from school at 4:15 p.m., authorities said.

    There, the 6-inch projectile bounced in front of a home on quiet Cassata Place, ripped through the front door, raced up the stairs and blasted through a bedroom, where a man, woman and child slept through it all - only awakening because of plaster dust.

    It exited the house, leaving a perfectly round hole in the stucco, crossed six-lane Tassajara Road, took out several tiles from the roof of a home on Bellevue Circle and finally slammed into the Gill family's beige Toyota Sienna minivan in a driveway on Springvale Drive.

    "Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy," Nelson said. "You wouldn't think it was possible."

    Read More »from Video: “Mythbusters” cannonball misfire tears through family’s home
  • The Spinops sternbergoruPaleontologists are used to digging deep for dinosaur remains--but to turn up a newly discovered dinosaur species, they had to dig no deeper than the basement of a London museum.

    London's Natural History Museum is a place of constant discovery--for school field trips and science buffs. But this particular discovery, officially known as Spinops sternbergorum, took place in a storage area in the museum's basement.

    "I knew right away that these fossils were something unusual, and it was very exciting to learn about their convoluted history," said Dr Andrew Farke, who led the research team.

    "Here we have not just one, but multiple individuals of the same species, so we're confident that it's not just an odd example of a previously known species."

    The Spinops is about the size of a large bull, with a beak shaped mouth, weighing in at 1 ton and measuring nearly 20 feet in length.

    The remains of the Spinops, which comes from the same herbivore family as the Triceratops, were actually discovered in a quarry known as the "bone bed" in Alberta, Canada in 1916. However, A. Smith Woodward, the former Museum Keeper of Geology didn't think much of the find, describing it as "nothing but rubbish" and the remains were simply transferred into storage.

    Read More »from New species of dinosaur discovered in museum basement
  • A dog poses with Santa for a portrait that was sent out way too early. (Diana Meyer)

    If you feel like America starts celebrating the holidays too early every year, you're not alone. A poll published Tuesday by found that 61 percent of Americans think we celebrate the crowded end-of-year holiday calendar--Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa--too early.

    According to the Dec. 4 telephone survey of 1,029 registered American voters, 27 percent said they were fine with the early-celebration status quo. Twelve percent had no opinion on the matter.

    Of those surveyed, 68 percent of Americans 65 and older felt the current schedule of holiday revelry is premature, while just 20 percent of that group does not. (Perhaps that why there's a Festivus for the rest of us.)

    Among younger Americans--those between the ages of 18 and 29--opinions were split: 42 percent said said we celebrate the holidays too early, 44 percent said we do not and 14 percent had no opinion.

    Men and women were more or less split, too. Sixty-one percent of men said holiday celebrations start too early, and 26 percent said they do not; 60 percent of women surveyed said celebrations start too early, and 28 percent say they do not.

    Read More »from Majority of Americans think we celebrate the holidays too early


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