Wednesday’s Wonderful World Of Wikipedia: Exploding Whales

This Wednesday’s Wonderful World Of Wikipedia brings us exploding whales. If your a “save the whales” type person, you may want to skip this one. Exploding whales have been documented on two notable occasions, as well as several lesser-known ones. The most famous explosion occurred in the United States at Florence, Oregon, in 1970, when a dead sperm whale (originally reported as a gray whale) was blown up by the Oregon Highway Division in an attempt to dispose of its rotting carcass. The other best-reported case of an exploding whale was in Taiwan in 2004, when a buildup of gas inside a decomposing sperm whale caused it to explode while it was being transported for a post-mortem examination.

Wednesday’s Wonderful World Of Wikipedia: Gravity Hills

A gravity hill, also known as a magnetic hill (and sometimes a mystery hill or a gravity road), is a place where the layout of the surrounding land produces the optical illusion that a very slight downhill slope appears to be an uphill slope. Thus, a car left out of gear will appear to be rolling uphill. There are hundreds of known gravity hill locations around the world. These “paranormal” sites also tend to have names like “Haunted Hill”, “Magnetic Hill”, or “Anti-gravity Hill”, reflecting attribution by local folklore of the unusual properties of the area to such “mysteries” as the supernatural or magnetism. While humans also have a sense of balance to determine the inclination of the ground, visual cues can override this sense, especially if the inclination is shallow. This wikipedia link also lists all known gravity hill locations.

Wednesday’s Wonderful World Of Wikipedia: The Grandfather Paradox

The paradox is this: Suppose a man traveled back in time and killed his biological grandfather before the latter met the traveler’s grandmother. As a result, one of the traveller’s parents and by extension, the traveler himself would never have been conceived. This would imply that he could not have traveled back in time after all, which in turn implies the grandfather would still be alive, and the traveler would have been conceived, allowing him to travel back in time and kill his grandfather. Thus each possibility seems to imply its own negation, a type of logical paradox. The grandfather paradox has been used to argue that backwards time travel must be impossible. However, other resolutions have also been advanced.

An equivalent paradox is known in philosophy as autoinfanticide — that is, going back in time and killing oneself as a baby — though when the word was first coined in a paper by Paul Horwich it was in the malformed version autofanticide.