African Animals Getting Drunk From Ripe Marula Fruit

Nicholas Bakalar

for National Geographic News

Almost anyone who has read a travel brochure about Africa has heard of elephants getting drunk from the fruit of the marula tree.

The lore holds that elephants can get drunk by eating the fermented fruit rotting on the ground. Books have been written asserting the truth of the phenomenon, and eyewitness accounts of allegedly intoxicated pachyderms have even been made.

But a study published in the March/April 2006 issue of the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology tells a very different story.

Steve Morris, a biologist at the University of Bristol in England and a co-author of the study, says anecdotes of elephants found drunk in the wild go back more than a century.

“There are travelers’ tales from about 1839 reporting Zulu accounts that ‘elephants gently warm their brains with fermented fruits,'” Morris said.

But there is nothing in the biology of either the African elephant or the marula fruit to support the stories, he asserts.

“People just want to believe in drunken elephants,” Morris said.

Eating Rotten Fruit?

The marula tree, a member of the same family as the mango, grows widely in Africa. Its sweet, yellow fruit is used for making jam, wine, beer, and a liqueur called Amarula.

But the first flaw in the drunken-elephant theory is that it’s unlikely that an elephant would eat the fruit if it were rotten, Morris says.

Elephants eat the fruit right off the tree, not when they’re rotten on the ground, he explained.

“This a largely self-evident fact,” he said, “since elephants will even push over trees to get the fruit off the tree, even when rotten fruit is on the ground.”


Other experts add that if an elephant were to eat the fruit off the ground, it wouldn’t wait for the fruit to ferment.

Michelle Gadd, an African wildlife specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says that elephants and many other animals—including birds and monkeys—are too fond of marula fruit to let it rot.

“Animals flock, fly, or run to ripe marulas to take part in the gorging, leaving few fruits lying around long enough to ferment,” she said.

“Elephants regularly visit and revisit the same marula trees, checking the fruits and the bark for palatability and devour the fruits when they are ripe.”

Internal Fermenting?

If fermented fruit on the ground is out of the question, so too is the notion that the fruit could ferment in the stomach of elephants, the study authors say.

Believers of the drunken-elephant lore have often supported this theory of internal fermentation.

But food takes between 12 and 46 hours to pass through an elephant’s digestive system, the authors point out, which is not enough time for the fruit to ferment.

Moreover, the authors write, “sugars within the diet are metabolized … to volatile fatty acids, making them unavailable to fermentation.”

In other words, the sugars are turned into fat before they can ferment into alcohol.

It is conceivable, the authors concede, that some small amount of ethanol—also known as grain alcohol—could be produced in an elephant’s digestive system, if its diet were rich enough in both yeast, which is necessary for fermentation, and fruit.

Even in the unlikely event that these things happened, it’s still highly improbable that the food would produce enough alcohol to make an elephant drunk.

How Much to Get an Elephant Drunk?

This raises another question: Even if, under very peculiar circumstances, an elephant were exposed to alcohol, how much would it take to get it drunk?

Through calculations of body weight, elephant digestion rates, and other factors, the study authors conclude that it would take about a half gallon (1.9 liters) of ethanol to make an elephant tipsy.

Assuming that fermenting marula fruit would have an alcohol content of 7 percent, it would require 7.1 gallons (27 liters) of marula juice to come up with that half-gallon of alcohol, the scientists say.

Producing a liter of marula wine requires 200 fruits. So an elephant would have to ingest more than 1,400 well-fermented fruits to start to get drunk.

Even then the elephant would have to ingest the alcohol all at once, the authors note. Otherwise its effects would wear off as quickly as the alcohol was metabolized.

Robert Dudley, a biologist at the University of California, Berkeley who was not involved in the study, believes the authors have put to rest the lore of elephants getting drunk from marula fruit.

The study, he said, “establishes that elephants are unlikely to be inebriated but also that chronic low-level consumption [of alcohol] without overt behavioral effects is likely.”

It may make for a good story and a durable myth, but the science suggests you’re not likely to see a drunken elephant sitting under a marula tree.

Skydiving sex stunt sparks US investigation

Hope Howell with porn star Alex Torres

A porn video featuring a skydiving sex stunt over California is being investigated amid concerns it may breach federal aviation regulations.

The video shows porn star and part-time skydiving instructor Alex Torres having sex with the company’s secretary Hope Howell as they plummet towards the earth over Kern County, the Daily Mail reports.

Police were alerted to the video, which Mr Torres posted on his blog, after parents from a California high school discovered students were sending it to each other online.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating to see if the video breached rules banning activity that could distract a pilot while they are flying.

At one point the video shows Mr Torres and Ms Howell having sex in a seat next to the pilot, before they jump out of the aircraft in a tandem harness and continue the act midair.

Skydive Taft owner David Crouch has sacked Mr Torres but has not yet decided the fate of Ms Howell.

“Apparently they told my pilot it was ok to do this and got here early in the morning before anyone got here,” Mr Crouch said.

Mr Crouch said he was unaware of the video until police contacted him, but has since learnt Mr Torres made it to try and get the attention of shock-jock radio star Howard Stern.

Police said no charges had been pressed as everyone in the video was overage and nobody complained about witnessing the act.

Oh. My. Goodness!!


via Skydiving sex stunt sparks US investigation.

Cancer drug trial halted in UK for being too successful

Doctors halt prostate cancer treatment so others can benefit. Picture: ThinkStock

THE trail of a new drug for prostate cancer was halted in the UK because the results were too good.

Doctors at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London concluded that it would have been unethical not to offer it to all 922 cancer patients on the trial after the drug was shown to ease pain and cause only minor side-effects, The (London) Sunday Telegraph said.

The drug – Radium-223 Chloride, known as Alpharadin TM – targets tumours with alpha radiation, reducing the damage to surrounding tissue.

Dr Chris Parker, lead researcher on the project, said, “It’s more damaging. It takes one, two, three hits to kill a cancer cell compared with thousands of hits for beta particles. They have such a tiny range, a few millionths of a meter. So we can be sure that the damage is being done where it should be.”

Cancer patients on the new treatment have a 30 per cent lower death rate compared to those on placebo pills.

“It would have been unethical not to offer the active treatment to those taking placebo,” Dr Parker said at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress in Stockholm.

Read more at The Telegraph.

via Cancer drug trial halted in UK for being too successful |

Dutch soccer club signs up 18 month old toddler

A 18-month-old boy may be the youngest star to have scored a football contract after being signed by Dutch soccer club VVV-Venlo.

Baerke van der Meij shot to fame last week after his father, Jorg, posted a video of his talented son shooting three balls accurately into his toy box.

Baerke van der Meij (centre) after his signing. (VVV-Venlo)
The video showcasing the boy’s kicking skills has since had more than 1 million views on YouTube and caught the attention of VVV-Venlo, prompting the club to sign the toddler on a 10-year professional contract.

The toddler joined the club’s star midfielder, Ken Leemans, during a training session in Venlo’s De Koel Stadium before being offered the “symbolic” contract.

“The toddler’s favourite position has not yet been determined. However, we can speak of a right-footed player with a very good kicking technique, perseverance and, importantly: football genes via his grandfather,” a VVV Venlo press release said.

The club, which Baerke’s grandfather also played for, even went so far as to have Baerke attend a press conference and “sign” his contract.

Although Baerke may still have a long way to go, ball skills may be in the little boy’s genes because his grandfather used to play for the club.

The toddler “signing” his contract. (VVV-Venlo)

Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability

Why you should listen to her:


Brene Brown studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame.

Brene Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness. She poses the questions:


How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?


“Brené Brown is an absolute legend. This is groundbreaking – not in terms of peoples awareness of these subjects and what they mean… But in these messages enhanced communication made accessible to a wider audience on this level. I have a jumbled up jigsaw in front of me with pieces I’ve been putting together my whole life- and Brené Brown has just connected so many pieces. This makes so much sense on so many levels. Really awesome stuff. I will watch this a few times and recommend it to people!”

jakesandersonaudio on YouTube

US student shows how to listen through steel walls… and send 50W while you’re at it


Tristan Lawry says his technology can reduce the need for drilling holes in submarines. It’s also good for spying on bad guys.

WHOOPS! Looks like it might be back to the drawing board for the world’s spy agencies.


A US student has posted a video on YouTube that proves electronic signals can be picked up and passed through 6cm thick steel walls.

Tristan Lawry, an electrical and computer engineering doctoral candidate at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, says his breakthrough opens up an infinite range of possible uses.

Until now, such wireless technology was limited mainly due to the use of Faraday shielding, a basic necessity that stops machines interfering with each other electronically.

It also has the unfortunate — from a spook’s point of view — side effect of giving the Bad Guys a relatively easy time of it when it comes to hiding their electronic evildoings.

Without giving away too many details, Lawry said his technology uses ultrasound to collect electronic data. Vast amounts of data.

Start of sidebar.


That’s kind of ho-hum — Google will tell you just how easy that is — until Lawry then shows off in his video the other breakthrough.

“My system has the ability to wirelessly and non-destructively transfer large amounts of electrical power and digital information through thick metallic walls,” he says.

Yes, Lawry’s devices can transmit and receive at least 50W of electricity.

He demonstrates that by powering a 25W light bulb and streaming digital audio through a 6cm thick steel wall.

On either side are piezo-electric transducers, which is probably about as technical as we should get, if only because Lawry wants to keep his technology a secret for now.


But his secrets may also be MI6’s, according to the register.

Another variation of Lawry’s technology was on show last year at Farnborough airshow by global arms corporation BAE.


They told The Reg that “other parties” within the British government had requested they keep the details of their technology under wraps.

Who the “other parties” are and what they would be using such technology for doesn’t require a great deal of imagination.


The fact that Lawry’s device also transmits a significant amount of power — and he says it can be improved upon — means a spook can wander into any lair, stick one transducer on the wall and transmit any signals from inside from a corresponding transducer on the outside of the wall.


No electronic jamming. No concerns about batteries running flat.

Of course, Lawry couldn’t care less if the MI6 suddenly has to find a new way to gather state secrets. He’s doing it for the good of humanity and claims it can solve a myriad of design problems.


Submarines are a good example. Because those inside can’t collect sensory data from the outside without drilling hundreds of holes through shell for power and data cables, that makes for structural integrity issues.


The same problems arise for aerospace and nuclear engineers.

But for now, it simply means Traistan Lawry’s well on his way to becoming either extremely wealthy… or extremely missing.


<iframe title=”YouTube video player” width=”480″ height=”390″ src=”” frameborder=”0″

allowfullscreen></iframe>US student shows how to listen through steel walls… and send 50W while you’re at it |

YouTube – A crew of British military were each given LSD 25 (Acid)

A crew of British military were each given LSD-25 (Acid)

This is a British army sous-titre archives of the 60’s and it demonstrates the effect of drugs on our brain.

Several soldiers were given LSD

and then monitored.

Health Hazards

Under the influence of LSD, the ability to make sensible judgments and see common dangers is impaired, making the user susceptible to personal injury, which can be fatal. After an LSD trip, the user may suffer acute anxiety or depression, and may also experience flashbacks, which are recurrences of the effects of LSD days or even months after taking the last dose. A flashback occurs suddenly, often without warning, usually in people who use hallucinogens chronically or have an underlying personality problem. Healthy people who use LSD occasionally may also have flashbacks. Bad trips and flashbacks are only part of the risks of LSD use.

LSD users may also manifest relatively long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression.

LSD produces tolerance, so some users who take the drug repeatedly must take progressively higher doses to achieve the state of intoxication that they had previously achieved. This is an extremely dangerous practice, given the unpredictability of the drug.

via YouTube – A crew of British military were each given LSD 25 (Acid).

VIDEO – 1950s Housewife in LSD Experiment

From a television programme, circa 1956, about mental health issues.

Dr Sidney Cohen, was dosing volunteers at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Los Angeles.

Dr Cohen, seen sitting at a table and wearing a lounge suit – his legs crossed in the classic I’m-a-scientist pose – interviews the unidentified housewife, who is dressed in her best black frock.

She tells the doctor: ‘My husband is an employee here at the VA and he said they were looking for normal people, so I volunteered.’

Dr Cohen asks: ‘How do you feel about coming here and drinking this strange material?’

She replies: ‘A little nervous, perhaps.’


In the unintentionally comical manner that seems to be the preserve of 1950s training films, the camera zooms in on an innocuous-looking glass of clear liquid on the table, as the good doctor says: ‘Well, I think it’s time for you to have your lycergic acid. Drink this down and we’ll be back after a while and see how you’re doing.’

As the housewife obediently drains the glass and Dr Cohen smiles benevolently, a dramatic voice-over explains: ‘This is a glass of water, colourless, tasteless. It contains 100 gamma of LSD 25. One tenth of a milligram, the equivalent of one 600th of a grain.

‘An ounce of this material will make 150,000 such doses. Let us observe the affect some three hours later.’

Unsurprisingly, three hours later the housewife is insanely high.

She says: ‘Everything is in colour and I can feel the air. I can see it, I can see all the molecules – I’m part of it. Can’t you see it?’

Dr Cohen asks: ‘How do you feel inside.’

She replies: ‘Inside? I don’t have any inside.’

via YouTube – 1950s Housewife in LSD Experiment.

P!nk shocks with graphic self-harm, attempted suicide, anorexia scenes in ‘F…in’ Perfect’ video clip

Disturbing scenes … P!nk’s graphic new video for her single F**king Perfect is expected to shock. Screen grab from You Tube

PREGNANT pop star P!nk has sanctioned graphic scenes of self-harm, attempted suicide and the ravages of anorexia in the video for her single F…in’ Perfect.


In a statement accompanying the controversial clip F…in’ Perfect which debuted online this morning, the 31-year-old singer songwriter claimed she was attempting to promote awareness of the escalating problems of “cutting and suicide”.

“… two very different symptoms of the same problem, are gaining on us. (the problem being; alienation and depression. the symptoms; cutting and suicide),” she writes.

“I personally don’t know a single person who doesn’t know at least two of these victims personally.

“A lot of us have seen certain starlets showing off their latest scars on a red carpet somewhere, usually right before they head back to their favorite rehab.

“It’s a problem, and it’s something we should talk about.”

Napoleon Dynamite star Tina Marjorino plays the teenager struggling with bullying and self-esteem issues who harms herself.

But the video has a happy ending. Marjorino grows up to become a successful artist and a mother.

Pink, who has played out her own teen struggles in videos for Family Portrait and Just Like A Pill, said recording the song and video was a “very emotional experience” for her as she gears up to give birth to her first child with husband Carey Hart.

“I have a life inside of me, and I want her or him to know that I will accept him or her with open and loving and welcoming arms,” she said.

“And though I will prepare this little munchkin for a sometimes cruel world, I will also equip this kid to see all the beauty in it as well.

“There are good people in this world that are open-minded, and loving. There are those that accept us with all of our flaws. I do that with my fans/friends, and I will do that with my child, whoever they decide to be.”

For more information on depression and to seek help on suicide prevention, please contact:

Lifeline on 13 11 14
SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263)
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636

P!nk shocks with graphic self-harm, attempted suicide, anorexia scenes in ‘F…in’ Perfect’ video clip |

Oh, Ricky, you’re so fine! The Punch

by  Jason Tin

There are a lot of therapists in Beverly Hills rolling their eyes right now.

Through a performance at the Golden Globes that has outraged the HFPA and other acronyms, British comedian Ricky Gervais may have crushed his Hollywood dreams (he gave it a fair whack in Ghost Town, but this may really sink him).

While awards show hosts traditionally prey upon the beautiful people before them, Ricky appears to have taken things a little too far and upset some of the industry’s biggest names.

Laughter died and eyes narrowed as Gervais gleefully deflated egos with his typically sharp tongue.

Megastars such as Robert Downey Jr made their displeasure clear as the creator of The Office continued to hurl venom around the room like some sort of unholy Anti-Brent.

It was something akin to watching Gerry Harvey shake his fist at all the long-haired hippies saying nasty things about him on Twitter after he called them all unpatriotic, Banjo Paterson-burning China-lovers for buying novelty alarm clocks online.

No doubt, it was a hefty roasting. But it was nothing the big kids shouldn’t have been able to handle.

Alas, Goliath sat crying and comfort-eating in the corner of the Beverly Hilton because David made fun of his coke addiction and called him a “poo head”.

Many stars, however, undoubtedly feigned disapproval while secretly being pleased their rivals were being taken out with sniper precision by the portly British fellow onstage.

“See, I told you he’s overrated. No one believed me when I said Edward Scissor Hands was shit,” Catherine Zeta Jones probably whispered as her attempts to furrow her brow brought her dangerously close to a seizure.

Things got heavy, however, when Tom Hanks and Tim Allen jabbed back.

“Like many of you, we recall back when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian,” Hanks said.

“Neither of which is he now,” Allen quipped.

You know it’s serious when Forrest Gump gets nasty.

It’s funny how things change.

It wasn’t too long ago that stars were badgering Gervais to let them send themselves up on “Extras” with the hope of weaving a little PR magic.

Ben Stiller tried, through an egotistical “parody” of himself, to dispel the image that he tended to resort to lazy comedies peppered with hot chicks by taking the mickey out of Dodgeball.

He continued this little in-joke last week by releasing Little Fockers.

Self-deprecating humour, it seems, is okay when it translates to cash in the (Swiss) bank.

It’s not okay when it comes from the mouth of some chubby British bloke.

Not that mortals like us will ever understand, but celebrities are complex, fragile creatures plagued by hardship.

No one knows what it’s like to dive into a giant pile of $100 notes, only to bump their head on a coin at the bottom.

Occasionally, celebrities are going to do things we don’t understand – like trying to take out the Guinness World Record for “Most Third-World Children Adopted by an Affluent White Woman”.

But deep down, they’re good people – perhaps even better people than we’ll ever be.

So, we should never make fun of them. Ever.

Even if they leave great big dirty shoe marks on Oprah’s couch or lock a porn star in a cupboard.

Even if they visit rehab more than the corner shop and still don’t realise Coke is also the name of a carbonated beverage.

We should never, ever, tease them.

After all, they’re only human – only better.

This isn’t just an American phenomenon, though.

In Australia, we also tend to prop our celebs up just a little too much.

The lines between A, B, C, D and Z (read: ex-Big Brother contestants, Idol “stars”, distant relatives of Toadie from Neighbours and Warwick Capper – in exactly that order) are constantly blurred.

This inexplicable lumping of the talented with the talentless is often referred to as “The Logies”.

If celebrities live up in the stratosphere, it’s because we built the staircase.

That being said, Gervais will find no sympathy from us – because he really should have known better.

This whole nasty business could have been avoided if he had just taken Tom Hanks as seriously as Tom Hanks does.

There’s talk that Gervais may never host another awards night again.

Hollywood, however, can be a very forgiving place – take Mel Gibson, for instance.

One minute he’s dropping jaws with his rather horrendous use of the 14th letter of the alphabet, the next he’s waiving around a beaver puppet and smiling for the cameras.

A carefully-planned meltdown or a tryst with a loud-mouthed hooker may yet see Ricky host the next Academy Awards.

via Oh, Ricky, you’re so fine! | Article | The Punch.