Upside Down Tree

Right way up? PICTURE: zharth/Flickr (licenced under CC BY-NC-ND-2.0)

Looking for a different sort of Christmas tree this festive season? Stores in countries like the US, Australia and the UK are offering artificial upside-down conifers in a trend which is not apparently as strange as it might seem (nor, apparently, merely an attempt to introduce a new fad to drive up sales). Turns out that upside-down Christmas trees traditionally haven't been uncommon in parts of Central and Eastern Europe where hanging the tree from the ceiling was considered the norm. Tradition holds that the shape of the upside-down tree is said to resemble the figure of Christ on the Cross. Prices for the trees in the US reportedly range up to as much as $US1,000.

Monday has reportedly been set as the new launch date for a home-made rocket carrying Californian 'Mad' Mike Hughes, who is attempting to prove that the Earth is flat. The 61-year-old limo driver has had to postpone the launch of his manned rocket from his base in the Mojave Desert after it was found he didn't have the proper permits to do so last weekend. He intends to broadcast the launch, which he hopes will take him a kilometre into the air over the ghost town of Amboy, via his YouTube channel. Hughes built his steam-powered rocket using salvaged parts in his garage.

Sad to say, new evidence has emerged showing that specimens like hair purported to have belonged to a Yeti actually have more mundane sources. Scientists at the University of Buffalo have revealed that DNA tests on nine specimens - including bones, teeth, skin, hair and faecal samples all collected in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau - are not from yetis but various species of bears as well as a canine. “Our findings strongly suggest that the biological underpinnings of the Yeti legend can be found in local bears, and our study demonstrates that genetics should be able to unravel other, similar mysteries,” said lead scientist, Dr Charlotte Lindqvist. The specimens were held in museums and private collections.