I listened to a backlog of podcasts on a log drive to Kentucky this evening, and was treated to quite a collection of weird and wonderful tales. Like the one about the guy in the 80’s who figured out that the “random” pattern of lights on the game show Press Your Luck wasn’t random at all, and won more than $100,000, which he converted into $1 bills in an effort to win a “match the dollar bill serial number” radio contest, all before he went a little nuts and ended up dying on the lam from federal agents who were chasing him because he had bilked people out of a lot of money in a ponzi scheme and become a pioneer in the world of Internet fraud.
Or the one about the guy who cut down an old tree to analyze its rings for climate change research and then counted the rings and realized: (a) that the tree was nearly 5,000 years old; and (b) that he had just killed he oldest living organism on the planet.
Or the one about Bristol and Levi getting back together. (Mama grizzly’s little cub is all grown up.)
Or the one about how one of the students who was subjected to horrifying and degrading psychological experimentation by a Harvard professor who had been cut loose by the C.I.A. grew up to become one of the most famous domestic terrorists to ever don a hoodie and aviators.
But my favorite, bar none, was about an abandoned copper mine outside of Butte, Montana that slowly filled with water after the mining company split in the early 80’s. The resulting lake was the color of rust and full of sulfuric acid. It was so toxic that all of the geese that landed there in a storm were found dead the next day. The story is really about these two scientists who were studying the slimes that somehow lived in the lake, and who found one that absorbed metals from the surrounding water at an amazing rate — something on the order of 6 times more efficiently than the microorganisms then being used in environmental cleanup. When the scientists had the key ingredient analyzed, they learned that it was a yeast that had only ever been identified in the digestive tracts of geese.