Itsy-Bitsy Spiders Follow Laser Pointers Like Cats Do

Kaldari, Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0
Kaldari, Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0

Humans of Earth, we have feared our spider neighbors long enough. It’s time we appreciated them for the helpful, adorable little critters they are. You need proof? We’ve just learned that the presence of a laser pointer turns jumping spiders into teeny, eight-legged kittens. For this information, we can thank Twitter and scientists—although the heroes of this story are not arachnologists but astronomers. Jamie Lomax spends most of her time studying objects in space at the University of Washington. But one afternoon, she found her work interrupted by a very small object much closer by:

And then another spider fell. And then another. “It was a little unnerving,” Lomax told The Atlantic. “I’m not scared of spiders but if someone else wants to take care of the spider in a room, I’ll gladly let them do it over me. And I don’t really want them raining down on my head.” Suggestions on how to deal with the spiders came pouring in. They were pretty much what you’d expect—“nukes and fire” was a popular option—with one exception:

Lomax had not tried lasers. But her colleague at the University of Washington, Emily Levesque, was reading the tweets, too, and she couldn’t wait. “She has a laser pointer and she happens to be the only other person with spiders in her office,” Lomax said. “She ran down to me and said: You have to see this.” Consummate scientists, the two astronomers tested the spiders on different-colored lasers to see which they’d prefer. For whatever reason, the green light was like spider catnip.

The scientists’ progressively sillier and more fascinating spider/laser updates drew a large following of astronomers, laypeople, and spider experts, including Nate Morehouse of the University of Cincinnati. Jumping spiders don’t spin webs, Morehouse explained. They rely on their keen eyesight to stalk their prey the same way cats do. The spiders’ enormous, sophisticated eyes “are built like … wait for it … Galilean telescopes”—that is, tubes with a convex lens at one end and a concave lens near the other.

“They can definitely resolve the moon in the night sky,” Morehouse tweeted. This image, of wee spiders gazing up at the moon, has already inspired at least one artist. Lomax is also into it.

If all this doesn’t just melt your heart, there’s probably no hope for you.

[h/t The Atlantic]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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A Wily Fox With a Passion for Fashion Stole More Than 100 Shoes From a Berlin Neighborhood

The smirk.
The smirk.
Brett Jordan, Unsplash

In Berlin, Germany, a fox has embarked on a crime spree that puts Dora the Explorer’s Swiper completely to shame.

CNN-News18 reports that residents of Zehlendorf, a locality in southeastern Berlin, spent weeks scratching their heads as shoes continued to disappear from their stoops and patios overnight. After posting about the mystery on a neighborhood watch site and reading accounts from various bewildered barefooters, a local named Christian Meyer began to think the thief might be a fox.

He was right. Meyer caught sight of the roguish robber with a mouthful of flip-flop and followed him to a field, where he found more than 100 stolen shoes. The fox appears to have an affinity for Crocs, but the cache also contained sandals, sneakers, a pair of rubber boots, and one black ballet flat, among other footwear. Unfortunately, according to BBC News, Meyer’s own vanished running shoe was nowhere to be seen.

Foxes are known for their playfulness, and it’s not uncommon for one to trot off with an item left unattended in a yard. Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife explains that foxes are drawn to “things that smell good,” which, to a fox, includes dog toys, balls, gardening gloves, and worn shoes. And if your former cat’s backyard gravesite is suddenly empty one day, you can probably blame a fox for that, too; they bury their own food to eat later, so a deceased pet is basically a free meal.

The fate of Zehlendorf’s furriest burglar remains unclear, but The Cut’s Amanda Arnold has a radical idea: that the residents simply let the fox keep what is obviously a well-curated collection.

[h/t CNN-News18]