Things 45: Ant Colony Sculpture, Maunder Minimum, Photoshop Effect

(Originally sent April 2009)

What happens if you fill an underground ant colony network with concrete, let it set, then excavate the resulting sculpture? [Removed, try this – metatim 18/08/2015]


The sunspot cycle typically lasts 11 years. We are currently undergoing an abnormally long period of low (and therefore cooler) activity, still going 12.8 years after the last solar minimum, which some speculate heralds the beginning of a new Maunder Minimum. However, NASA say this is unlikely and will not have a significant effect on global warming.

The links
Maunder Minimum

How unusual is current activity:

NASA’s take:

I like it when you get a complete story in the few seconds of conversation you hear as you walk past someone. I overheard this:

Teenager: … and then he says-
Adult [interrupting]: “Why have you got no clothes on.” I told *you* that joke.

Last Week’s Puzzle
Last time I asked what you could buy for less than £5 which consists of the largest number of things, where the number of those things is written on the packet/box/tin. For those still working on it, do not click on the following link which goes to the best answer I’ve been able to find – 5,000 things for £2.71.
[Update – the same idea can now yield a score of 10,000 – T.M. 16/4/11]

This time, the question is simple: why do house front doors almost always open inwards?

It is reasonably well known that photo manipulation is common on magazine covers, but it’s good to be reminded of how much distortion actually goes on sometimes, in examples such as this:

An interesting collection of images demonstrating the point the other way round can be found in these front covers of an apparently forthcoming edition of the French Elle magazine.