Offbeat: Tasting the rainbow

The stomach of ants is transparent, hence it matches the colour of the food they're eating: Babu.

Express August 29, 2011

Tasting the rainbow

The saying ‘you are what you eat’ is true for these insects as stunning pictures show their abdomens changing colour as they sip on sugar drops.

Father of three Mohamed Babu set up the photographs after his wife, Shameem, showed him some ants had turned white after drinking spilt milk.

He gave the creatures the brightly coloured sugar drops and watched as their transparent stomachs matched the food they were eating. Some of the ants even wandered from one colour to another, creating new combinations in their bodies.

Scientist Dr Babu, mixed the sugar drops with edible colours red, green, blue and yellow and placed them in his garden to attract the insects.

By placing them on a paraffin base the drops kept their shape when touched by the ants. The 53-year-old discovered the ants preferred lighter colours such as yellow and green.

He said: “The idea for the photograph came to me after my wife showed me some ants that turned white sipping the spilled milk drops on our kitchen counter.”

“I shot the photo in my garden to take advantage of the natural lighting and set a paraffin sheet with coloured sugar drops near some ants.”

“Even though I could get enough of a crowd within a few minutes, it required several retakes to have a shot up to my satisfaction.”


The world’s youngest preacher

A US boy who has been ‘preaching’ since he was a toddler has wowed millions of followers online.

Kanon Tipton, now four, is a Youtube sensation whose precocious speeches have been watched by more than four million people.

He shot to fame aged just 21 months when, barely able to talk, a video of him ‘preaching’ was uploaded online by his family.

Kanon’s parents, Damon and Kandi, insist they do not force him to take the stage, but simply allow him to preach when he feels like it.

In his first clip, Kanon merely mumbles and imitates the tone of voice and hand movements made by preachers.

But now he dresses in a suit and tie to perform, shouting about Jesus and ‘the red-hot revival’ with a handkerchief in hand to wipe away his sweat.

Kanon says: “I like to stand up there. Because I just see my daddy preach all the time.”

His father added: “It really captures the audience. Of course he is mimicking, but I do feel like the hand of God is on him in a special way.”


Car nearly shot off 50 feet roof

A Chinese couple had a lucky escape when a driver hit the accelerator instead of the brake and nearly shot off a 50 feet rooftop carpark.

A security guard at the car park, in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, said the couple worked for a company nearby.

They arrived for work, as usual, one morning but while maneuvering into a space, their black Chevrolet suddenly started shooting backwards.

The car smashed through a perimeter wall before coming to a halt teetering dangerously over the edge of the building.

The guard added: “They both looked terrified as they crawled out of the vehicle. It looked like it could have crashed to earth at any moment.”

They escaped unhurt — but an unfortunate deliveryman needed hospital treatment after part of the stone wall landed on his feet.


Holy Cow! What have you done?

A cow had to be rescued from a tight squeeze in Scotland after it got its head stuck in a ladder.

Members of the public spotted the Belgian Blue bullock in a field on the Troon to Barassie road in Ayrshire.

The startled onlookers immediately called the Scottish SPCA to help the animal, reports the Daily Record.

Inspector Kerry Kirkpatrick contacted the farmer who owned the cow and helped return the bewildered beast to the herd unharmed.

The inspector said that the cow looked confused but surprisingly calm despite having her head wedged tightly in between the rungs of the ladder.

“The farmer’s family rounded up the whole herd into a holding pen and we managed to gently pull the ladder off the cow’s head.

“The farmer had no idea how the ladder ended up in his field as he only recently took on the lease for the land.


Drunk passenger threatens staff

An American businessman was charged with assault and being drunk on an aircraft after threatening to stab the staff on his British Airways flight.

Tim Bradley, 32, was on a flight from Phoenix to London Saturday, during which passengers reported seeing him drink several glasses of wine and beer. He became aggressive when the cabin crew cut him off.

Wielding a shard of glass, the mortgage consultant was “ready to attack the crew.”

Bradley also reportedly spat at the cabin crew.

He was arrested shortly after landing and appeared in a London court Monday. Bradley will re-appear in court for sentencing September 23.

According to British Airways, “We do not tolerate abusive behavior towards our staff or customers.”


Airport staff goes virtual

‘Virtual’ boarding agents are greeting passengers at a French airport in a bid to jazz up terminals with 21st century avatars who always smile, don’t need breaks and never go on strike.

The pilot project at Paris’ Orly airport began last month, and has so far been met with a mix of amusement and surprise by travellers.

So convincing are they that people frequently try to touch and speak with the life-like video images that greet them and direct them to their boarding gate.

The images materialise seemingly out of thin air when a boarding agent — a real live human — presses a button to signal the start of boarding.

They are actually being rear-projected onto a human shaped silhouette made of plexiglass.


Burglars found asleep in coffins

Police in Tennessee were called to a funeral home where workers found two intruders sleeping inside coffins.

The employees at Weaver’s Funeral Home in Bristol called police at about 10.30am on Tuesday after finding two men asleep in the coffins. The men fled through a window after police were alerted, the Bristol Herald Courier reported.

One man escaped, but police caught and arrested Barrett Lance Hartsock, who was charged with burglary and vandalism.


A buy that bites!

A Pennsylvania man picked up more than he bargained for at a yard sale — a snake bite.

The small snake bit Donald Forshey on the leg as he and his girlfriend were driving home from a yard sale, Duncansville police chief James Ott told the Altoona Mirror.

Mr Ott said the snake probably slithered into a milk crate containing items the couple had purchased.


There is a rabbit in the shower

An Edinburgh hotel owner has told of her shock to discover a rabbit — complete with hay, bedding and food — in a guest’s shower.

Patricia O’Donnell, who runs the Armadillo guesthouse, believes the family smuggled the rabbit upstairs in a suitcase. She had entered the room of a family of Chinese tourists to water the flower boxes when she spotted the animal.

She spilt a jug of water all over herself in the shock of the incident, and said it was the strangest thing she had seen in 20 years of running the guesthouse. “The family — a mum, dad and daughter — checked in and about an hour later went out to visit the castle,” said Ms O’Donnell.

“I thought I’d better go and water the window boxes, but when I got to their door there was a ‘do not disturb’ notice on the handle”.

“That was odd because they’d only been there a short time, so I got the jug of water, went into the bathroom and almost died when I saw this rabbit.”

Seeing that the grey-coloured animal was shaking and uncomfortable, she called the SSPCA, who attended shortly afterwards.

Ms O’Donnell added: “The mother said that most guesthouses allow animals. Maybe we’d allow dogs or cats but not for somebody to keep a rabbit in the bathroom.”

She asked the trio to leave the seven-room guest house, which they did with minimum fuss.


Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2011.