Stories tagged Harry Potter

Harry Potter fans, you might enjoy this clip of Daniel Radcliffe, on BBC1, singing Tom Lehrer's "The Elements."

Nov
04
2010

This goes double for you, kid: Do you know what they have to eat in Slytherin? Shape up, or you'll find out.
This goes double for you, kid: Do you know what they have to eat in Slytherin? Shape up, or you'll find out.Courtesy plainsight
Please, students, have a seat. Dinner will be served momentarily, but first I need your attention for a few words. Thank you.

Well well, my little wizketeers. You have been bad, very bad indeed.

I think you all know what it is I am referring to, but I will say it anyway: owl thievery is through the roof, and I’m inclined to think that many of you are nothing but stinking little owl thieves.

I know that some of you are from muggle families, and have only recently been introduced to the traditions of wizardry, but even you should know that owl stealing is one of the worst crimes of the wizarding world. Worse than sealing a goblin in an empty pumpkin juice cask and burying it in the woods. Do you understand?

Here: extend your right arm. Place your hand on the shoulder of the wizard or witch sitting to your right. Now remove your hand from their shoulder, and thrust your finger into their eye. Either eye will do. And, for those of you sitting at the extreme left of your row, I ask that you poke your own eyeballs as well.

How did you all like that? Well, that was nowhere near as bad as stealing an owl. Do you know who else was an owl thief? Voldemort. Also, Hitler. It was certainly the least of their crimes, but no one would disagree that it was indicative of their characters.

You see, owl populations have been shrinking on the Indian subcontinent. (And, for those of you who haven’t pursued geography outside of our more magic-based curriculum, India is a massive chunk of the Earth, which is the planet we live on.) India is tremendously rich in biodiversity, but its 30 or so species of native owls are disappearing thanks, in part, to the illegal sale of owls as pets.

Oh. Gosh. Where could those owls be going? What a mystery. Wait… By Godrick’s beard… Could they maybe, just maybe, be going to one place in the world you’re most likely to find spoiled children with pet owls, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?!

It’s not as if you even take care of them. Believe me, I’ve pulled enough dead owls out of the toilet traps in this school to know.

And what’s worse is that you’re encouraging others to buy owls as well. I can—and believe me, I will—personally hunt down and punish each owl-owning student in this school, but there’s little I can do about the legions of muggle children you are inspiring to buy owls. The most I can hope for is that they all catch salmonella from careless pellet handling. But that does the owls little good, and all the while Indian ecosystems are becoming weaker and unbalanced, because top predators are being eliminated. Without creatures like owls to keep them in check, rodent populations will boom. They, in turn, can over-consume the plant life of an ecosystem and outcompete other animals.

But then, what would you all understand of ecology. Most of you can barely handle basic sums. Such is the drawback of the narrow focus of our school.

So I will make it simple for you: if I catch any of you with an owl, you will be transferred to Slytherin House. Have you ever seen Syltherin? Those kids are the worst. I’ve been in the Slytherin common room once, and I got some sort of fungus there. And if you already live in Slytherin, owl possession will earn you room and board in the forest. Does that sound fun? It’s not. The forest is like the Jersey Shore for elves. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, at least remember this: always keep an eye on your drink.

Well. I think you all have got the message now. Remember: I’m only stern with you because I care so much for you. You little poachers.

Now let’s eat!

I say that because he's a British schoolboy, and he seems to be magic. But only seems to be: the-boy-who-lived here used two vacuums and some homebrew engineering to build a machine that lets him climb freakin' walls like Spiderman. (Or, you know, HP with a wall-climbing spell.)

PS—If you're wondering why this is on a science blog it's because engineering uses science to do awesome stuff. And that's what's happening here.

Jan
03
2007

Headng south: Birders near Red Wing recently saw a snowy owl. The birds of prey rarely get that far south. Northern Minnesota is their usual southern range during the winter time.
Headng south: Birders near Red Wing recently saw a snowy owl. The birds of prey rarely get that far south. Northern Minnesota is their usual southern range during the winter time.
Just a couple days ago, a couple birders around Red Wing reported seeing a snowy owl. And they weren’t reading any Harry Potter books at the time.

That’s a rare, but not unheard of, occurrence. According to information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s website, snowy owls nest in the arctic tundra in northern Canada and Alaska. During the winter, however, they’ll often be seen in northern Minnesota as they hunt for voles, mice and other small animals.

Once and awhile, however, invasion winters occur. Snow and cold in Canada will drive snowy owls south, allowing them to be seen in the southern part of Minnesota. And that’s probably how come they were spotted recently near Red Wing.

Want to bone up on your snowy owl information?

Adults are about 22 inches tall and weight about five pounds. They’re about the same size as great horned owls. And as you can see in the picture, they’re nearly pure white in color. During the winter, they rarely make a vocal call.

While they like to eat little critters, they’re also on the defensive. They’re hunted by great horned owls, coyotes and foxes.
Biologists capture snowy owls by using a fishing pole to cast a fake mouse into an open area and then reel in as fast as possible. As the owl flies down to catch the mouse, it is netted.