Geek Girl: The Bears Are Learning to EXFOLIATE?!

Plus, the discovery of 500 new fairytales, a completely Star Trek-themed apartment, and more!

Geek Girl: The Bears Are Learning to EXFOLIATE?!

Plus, the discovery of 500 new fairytales, a completely Star Trek-themed apartment, and more!

-Lucia Peters and PJ Gach

Brown Bear

You heard us: The bears are learning to exfoliate. For real. Is it terrifying? A little; we’ll tell you why if you keep on reading. Plus, a whole bunch of new fairytales have been found, the solar eclipse is coming, and much, much more! Come on. It’s Friday. It’s the perfect time to get your geek on. Let’s go!

Brand-New Fairytales? Yes Please!


How’s this for awesome? 500 never before seen fairytales have just been discovered in Germany. Move over, Brothers Grimm—there’s a new storyteller in town!

According to the Guardian, a massive collections of tales gathered by a Bavarian historian (and contemporary of the Grimms) named Franz Xaver von Schönwerth have been hiding out in a locked archive in Regensburg, Germany for the last 150 years. Von Schönwerth apparently spent decades interviewing country folk, laborers, and servants about local habits, traditions, customs, and history. He put the tales he heard down on paper—a first for nearly all of the word-of-mouth stories—and compiled it all into a three-volume opus called Aus der Oberpfalz (Oberpfalz being the area of Germany in which Von Schönwerth lived and worked). The book faded into obscurity, but last year, the Oberpfalz cultural curator, Erika Eichenseer, began sifting through all of Von Schönwerth—only to find a whopping 500 fairytales, many of which have never appeared in other European fairytale collections.

Unlike the Grimms, Von Schönwerth did not attempt to refine the tales or give them any sort of “literary gloss.” Said Eichenseer, “There is no romanticising or attempt by Schönwerth to interpret or develop his own style”—which, she noted, is what gives them their charm. She went on to say that the fairytales aren’t just for children. “Their main purpose,” she elaborated, “was to help young adults on their path to adulthood, showing them that dangers and challenges can be overcome through virtue, prudence and courage.”

Jacob Grimm himself said of Von Schönwerth, “Nowhere in the whole of Germany is anyone collecting [folklore] so accurately, thoroughly, and with such a sensitive ear.” He even told King Maximilian II of Bavarian that if he and his brother needed replacing, Von Schönwerth was the only one in the whole of the country who could do it. High praise, indeed!

Want to read one of the new stories? Of course you do! Check out “The Turnip Princess” here!

RIP Ralph McQuarrie, Star Wars Artist and Visionary

Ralph McQuarrie

Sure, back in the day, George Lucas was a visionary, the original Star Wars was a visual triumph, yadda yadda yadda… but you know who was really responsible for all that iconic imagery? It wasn’t Lucas. It was award-winning concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. It is therefore with a heavy heart that I tell you that Ralph passed away last Saturday, March 3, at the age of 82.

Don’t recognize his name? Regardless, you’ll certainly recognize his work. He’s the one responsible for many of the fantastic images in Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Cocoon, the original Battlestar Galactica, and Jurassic Park. However, he is without a doubt most famous for his work on the original Star Wars trilogy. Chewbacca? That was Ralph. R2-D2 and C-3PO? That was Ralph, too. Darth Vader? Yep; Ralph. Not to mention the worlds of Tattoine, Dagobah, and Cloud City, as well as that AT-AT up there.

Ralph was born on June 13, 1929 in Gary, Indiana before being raised on a farm near Billings, Montana. He served in the army during the Korean War—where he was shot in the head!—and later survived to go to art school in California. He worked for a dentistry firm for a while drawing teeth and equipment; then he moved on to Boeing; and while he was at it, he animated CBS News’ coverage of the Apollo space program.

Sadly, Ralph was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease some time ago. He retired around the time that the Star Wars prequels went into production (he turned down a job working on them due to exhaustion), though a number of his unused designs from the original trilogy made their way into both the prequels and the television show The Clone Wars.

About Star Wars, Ralph once told the San Diego Union-Tribune, “I just did my best to depict what I thought the film should look like, I really liked the idea. I didn’t think the film would ever get made. My impression was it was too expensive. There wouldn’t be enough of an audience. It’s just too complicated. But George knew a lot of things that I didn’t know.” And boy, aren’t we glad that he took on the challenge! Kotaku has put together an excellent retrospective; check it out here.

RIP, Ralph. You will be missed.

Read Geek Girl: Who Would Win In a Fight, Benedict Cumberbatch or Zachary Quinto?

The Bears Are Coming! Run For Your Lives!

Bears with tools

Well, this is terrifying: The bears are learning how to use tools. They have never before done this in the history of beardom. This can mean only one thing: The bears are going to take over the world.

Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit, but still. BEARS ARE USING TOOLS, YOU GUYS. And they have NEVER, EVER DONE THIS BEFORE. EVER. How amazing is that? According to io9, University of Cumbria researcher Volker B. Deecke described the event in his recent paper Animal Cognition, detailing how one young brown bear in Alaska discovered an alternate use for a bunch of rocks:

“The animal repeatedly picked up barnacle-encrusted rocks in shallow water, manipulated and re-oriented them in its forepaws, and used them to rub its neck and muzzle. The behaviour probably served to relieve irritated skin or to remove food-remains from the fur. Bears habitually rub against stationary objects and overturn rocks and boulders during foraging and such rubbing behaviour could have been transferred to a freely movable object to classify as tool-use.”

Yes, you read that right: The bear figured out how to exfoliate. But what does it mean, other than the fact that this particular bear will now have touchably soft skin? Well, simply put, it means that bears might be getting smarter. Using tools is evidence of some pretty heavy mental lifting, both with regards to fine motor controls and general intelligence.

So watch out, humans. The bears are coming. And they want your loofahs.

Mark Your Calendars: The Annual Solar Eclipse is on May 20th!

Solar Eclipse

On May 20th, don’t forget to take your solar filter with you when you leave the house. Remember those? You had to make one during your Earth Science class way back in middle school. This solar eclipse will be the first solar eclipse of the 21st century and the first central eclipse over the continental US.

The solar eclipse will start making its way across the planet above China on May 21st. Then it will continue over Japan before slowly wending its way across the planet. As it crosses the International Date Line, the date goes back to May 20th.

What is a solar eclipse? If you don’t remember your science classes, it’s when the Earth, the moon, and the sun line up in a row. This occurs when there’s a new moon. The moon partially blocks out the sun, making those very pretty rays that are much stronger than usual—so watch your eyes! There are, however, a variety of ways of looking at a solar eclipse without damaging your eyes. The website Transit of Venus even has photos of the various methods, so go and check them out!

Here’s a cool video that explains everything you’ve ever wanted to know about a solar eclipse (it has pretty pictures, too):

Yes, the sun’s rays will be really strong. No, we have no idea if you’ll get tanner than usual if you’re planning on laying out that day.

Stardate 03092012: The Starship Enterprise Has Been Repossessed!

Enterprise apartment

In the world of Star Trek fandom, there are Trekkies… and then there are Trekkies. You might have heard about Vulcan, Alberta? No? Well, once the town’s residents realized how popular the show was, they turned their town into a Star Trek themed tourist station. Or maybe you’ve heard that apocryphal story about a town somewhere in Pennsylvania where all—yes, I said all—the residents wear Star Trek uniforms or nothing at all? No? Well, that one exists, too.

Meanwhile, over in the UK, 58-year-old Tony Alleyne turned his one-bedroom apartment into a Star Trek spaceship. Or to be more accurate he turned the interior of his apartment into the interior of the Starship Enterprise.

Tony Alleyne

You see, when he and the Missus separated, Tony had a lot of time on his hands. Then he had an epiphany: He decided to redecorate with a vengeance. He told the Daily Mail, “’My friend gave me a Star Trek mag and I became obsessed with having my own space ship. He laughed when I told him – I think he thought it was all a joke, but I knew I was going to achieve it one day…. It all started as therapy after we split up… Building every bit from scratch really helped me to deal with the stress of it all.”

And so he did! As you can see from the photo above, Tony wore his ST uniforms in the house as he carried about his daily life. A voice activated computer turns on the lights every morning and features a full array of sound effects. He covered all the windows with wood and plastic so it appears that when you look out, you’re looking into deep space.

There was only one itty bitty problem with his paradise: His wife was paying the mortgage. And now she’s got the spaceship—er, apartment—on the market, so she wants the place to look like an actual apartment. Tony is devastated! He’s not sure what will happen to his space capsule; he’s hoping that he can salvage everything and build anew.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what the actual building that houses this ship looks like, take a peek at the photo below (the apartment is circled in white). If you’re thinking of buying the apartment yourself, it’s located in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

Apartment exterior

Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor.

PJ Gach is Senior Style + Beauty Editor at BettyConfidential.

Photos 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8

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