Wednesday, January 31, 2018

SearchResearch Challenge (1/31/19): What's going on in these photos?

Every so often... 

... you run across a photo that makes you ask, "What's going on here?"  You take a look, and think "hmmm...."  

Often, these are images that you find in things you're reading; a figure, photo, or illustration that makes you pause and wonder.  And usually, the text on the page will give you a good clue about the backstory.  

But then there are the decontextualized pics.  Like as not, these are photos that you've taken somewhere along the way, and you run across them on your way to looking for something else.  

Here are two such photos I ran across recently on my hard drive--images that made me wonder "What's going on here?"  

Can you figure out what's happening in each of these images? 

1.  What's up with these railroad tracks?  They see very odd, yet familiar.  Why are there three rails?  (I'll spare you the metadata extraction task.  This image was taken at:  38.908711, -77.068983)  

Link to original

Those rails seem awfully familiar.  Any idea why?  Hmmm.... 

2.  Here's another picture I got from a friend, obviously taken late at night at the Googleplex back in December, 2013.  What's the backstory on the dinosaur?  Why pink flamingos? And what's with all the yarn??    (Extra credit:  What's the dinosaur's name?)  

Link to original 

I was there, but obviously don't remember much about this incident with the dinosaur in the night.  Can you fill me in on the yarn, flamingos, and dinosaur?  

As always, you get virtual SRS points for figuring out the Challenge.  But your name will be lovingly inscribed in platinum letters on the SRS eternal heavenly charter if you also tell us how you figured it out.  

What did you have to search for to get the backstory on the triple rails?  What kind of clever searching did you do to discover the dinosaur's name.  (Who knew that dinos could even have a name?)  

Search on!  


  1. Picture #1: tracks for the old Georgetown streetcar:

  2. First pix of the track(s) with my Platinum answer

    Found it to be P street in Washington DC

    [rail tracks in Washington DC] led to Wikipedia Washington and Georgetown Railroad. Article mentions that a cable car system was in use long ago. So the Center 'track' is where the cable ran.

    Good one. jon

  3. 1. What's up with these railroad tracks? They see very odd, yet familiar. Why are there three rails?

    Searched by Image and then searched again with added after looking coordinates “P ST NW Washington”

    Original 1880s Street with Tram tracks in Portsmouth

    [p st nw Washington DC tracks[
    Streetcars in Washington, D.C. CTRL F “p street NW”

    D.C. Streetcar Track and Structurest

    [P Street NW tracks]
    The historic streetcar tracks on O and P streets in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, are significant as...

    3D Animation of Streetcar Tracks on P Street in Georgetown

    Rails still down there

    D.C.’s old streetcar system is gone, but miles of rails are still down there

    From LOC link:”These are some of the last visible examples in the world of a unique, late-nineteenth century underground conduit system that was also installed in New York City and London”

    2. Here's another picture I got from a friend, obviously taken late at night at the Googleplex back in December, 2013. What's the backstory on the dinosaur? Why pink flamingos? And what's with all the yarn??

    I remember perfectly the dinosaur as I asked for him when saw one in the offline in Chrome. And, saw before that a dinosaur in Google photos.

    [google dinosaur name]

    On Google campus, a dinosaur is forever in battle with hordes of flamingos

    Flamingos and yarn still to find. At the moment no answer

  4. The coordinates showed the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C. I searched [Georgetown trolley], and sn “Images” this Panoramio photo with a P St. caption: . I added [history “P St.”] to the search, which turned up this “Georgetown Trolley Ghosts”: article (oddly from a “Forgotten NY” website, that said:

    >>>Note the third “track” in the center. It is not a track at all, but a conduit. A sliding “shoe” on the underside of the trolley carriage ran along this conduit and took electric power from an underground source along the rail. The Metropolitan, acting on a charge from Congress, began conversion to underground electric power in 1895 and all Metro lines had complied by 1897. Other lines in town used overhead trolley wire and some even used cables, as in today’s San Francisco streetcars.<<<

    (Is the SF Cable Car connection the “awfully familiar” connection, Dan? )

    (continuing to quote the “Georgetown Trolley Ghosts” article) …

    >>>After trolleys were converted to bus lines and eliminated in the early 1960s…
    Much of the track in D.C. was removed and sold for scrap. … In other places, the track was buried under pavement. … The only remaining visible tracks and conduit in the region are in the center of the cobblestone streets of Georgetown, specifically the 3400 through 3700 blocks of P Street NW and O Street NW.<<< (citing this Wikipedia page:,_D.C.#Washington_and_Georgetown )

    The Wikipedia article mentioned that “The (P. St.) line ceased to operate on January 3, 1960, when the Cabin John line (Route 20) was abandoned.”

    The “Georgetown Trolley Ghosts” article also linked to this 2006 op-ed article in the Georgetown Voice: ( that mentioned:

    >>>The mere existence of the tracks on O and P St. reveal a political dynamism at work in Georgetown. People are livid that they endure. They argue they are dangerous, unattractive and without historical importance. … I sat in stuffy Georgetown living rooms with penny loafer-clad men who had made post-retirement careers out of a dedication to either the tracks’ preservation or their eradication. … I interviewed grown men who still play with train sets and others who told me with straight-faces that these are the “last remaining conduit tracks in the world” … <<<

  5. I did searches similar to the ones above.
    However, I also Googled "third rail streetcar" and found that there are systems in France for which that rail in the middle is the power supply, eliminating the need for overhead cables.

  6. As for the second challenge:

    [dinosaur Googleplex “pink flamingos”]
    A couple of photo/caption sites of Stan the T-Rex and its flamingos:
    (including: “The final photo is a pile of cement with flamingos in it placed under Stan’s tail–making it look like he has eaten and pooped out the plastic birds.”)

    Adding [“”yarn””] to the search gives …
    This Sept 17, 2013, blog post (, which mentioned that Stan had been yarn-bombed” … but the photo was a silhouette, so it didn’t show the yard.

    Changing Googleplex to “Google campus” turns up a page from one of your courses ( , which includes this challenge:

    >>> 3. Now that you’ve read an article or two about yarnbombing, you want to see some pictures of it. Go to Google Images and look up [yarnbombing]. Note that sometimes people will spell things in slightly different forms. For instance, can you find the yarn-bombing of the dinosaur at the Google campus? (Really!)<<<

    The best image was found on the “demiked” site cited above: . It showed the added yarn, but not when/why or by whom it was done.

  7. Further to my first answer this fascinating article had popped up but I had missed it until this minute.

    The slots actually carried 600 DC volts of electricity for the streetcars, modelled on the system used in Budapest. The whole works on P street and O was rebuilt a few years ago to look authenticate but to be safe.


  8. [Googleplex back in December, 2013 dinosaur yarn bombed] ANd indeed thats all it is as explained here:

    [Googleplex back in December, 2013 dinosaur] finds

    The T Rex name is Stan. THe flamingos are just there to entertain him.


  9. jtU - the O&P Streets Rehad Project pdf is a great find!
    Dan's location was on P Street
    view on O Street from pdf
    "O" Street, 2014

    some further searching… interesting (imho) peripheral bits… pewter maybe? anyway…
    maybe the tracks seemed familiar to you because of this? - check 'images' too…
    tracks SERP

    noticed this was nearby to the Georgetown tracks, electric motor car/Hollywood/Oddwood related…
    about 4 blocks away…click stairs image

    "The stone steps at the corner of Prospect St NW and 36th St NW leading down to M Street NW in Georgetown were built 1895 during construction of the adjacent Capital Traction Company car barn. For The Exorcist, the steps were padded with ½"-thick rubber to film the death of the character Father Damien Karras."
    see steps about 1:10 in…
    additional -
    a bit of Georgetown lore
    nice pediment
    …another mystery West-coaster visiting Georgetown…
    SOTU notwithstanding — scarier at night… …that's not Ellen Burstyn is it?
    Mike Oldfield
    the Exorcist Steps… Georgetown
    Capital Traction Company
    NPS - National Register of Historic Places Program

    …wonder if the Google legal team played a role in this?
    The Copyright Office agreed. It granted the Black Hills Institute official copyrights for STAN T. rex and SUE T. rex.
    (even this kind of time frame will not free one from lawyers…
    83.6 million years ago - 66 million years ago (Cretaceous) accompanying SERP)
    Fort Collins, CO
    "Note: The original infringing “Peck’s Rex” skeleton is currently with the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana, while “STAN” is on display at The Museum at Black Hills Institute in Hill City, South Dakota. The T. rex “SUE” is currently on exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Natural History."

    copyright//intellectual property infringement…
    Stan can be posed differently -
    Stan in South Dakota
    Sue at the Field in the Windy City…
    meanwhile, at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana:
    Peck's Rex

  10. …did you converse with Jun's dangos or were they already across?
    Dangos crossing P Street

  11. fwiw - good to see that the tracks are getting some use…
    very green

    worth the watch… 56:04, the 4 R's (screen grab>image search>SERP-ing the woodcut wondered how & why you picked that image?)
    Dan Russell | Search is Not Yet Solved for Systems OR Searchers | Feb 1, 2017
    Flammarion engraving
    one interpretation
    in color
    Camille Flammarion
    fwiw, thought the clone zone piece was interesting too… but you said NOT to go there…
    clone alts
    "Clone Zone is the easiest way to grab your friends' attention by creating your own version of a favorite website. You can clone a web page, edit it and share it online. You can change the content - replace pictures, add text and make it as you wish to see how others will react."

  12. I was reading the news and found this one:

    Cómo llegó el fin de Xerox, la compañía que inventó las fotocopiadoras y las primeras computadoras personales The end of Xerox, the company that invented photocopiers and the first personal computers. And with that I remember previous SRS Challenge.

    Fujifilm to take over Xerox as photocopier demand drops I searched for the News in English. However, the article in Spanish mentions many more things including PARC

    Did Steve Hoover and I (Dr. Dan Russell) ever work at the same place at the same time? I hope, Dr. Russell that the friends you have in Xerox keep their jobs and not affected for the changes that will happen there.

  13. Deb and Anne here. For the first question - first put the coordinates from the picture into google maps and found it was Georgetown (imm. saw Georgetown Univ)so then did a search for Georgetown trolley tracks (that was actually the suggestion from Google). First response was for a blog entitled Forgotten NYC where a writer laments about the paving over of trolley tracks in NYC while in Georgetown they wanted to preserve their history. This blog was very informative and even explained the center rail (an electrical conduit). The blog was very thorough but didn't think it was authoritative on its own so searched several other sources. The Washington Post did a story on the train tracks in 2016.
    Will post question 2 separately

  14. Deb and Anne again no Q2: did a search for dinosaur replica googleplex and got this as the first answer in the results: "On Google campus, a dinosaur is forever in battle with hordes of flamingos" From this article found out that it is a replica of a T-Rex and its name is Stan. He is said to be made from remnants of t-rex fossils. The only thing I could find about the flamingos is that they suddenly appeared and seem to be picking at the bones of the T-rex. Did a search for trex statue flamingos googleplex
    Have found nothing on the yarn but know from an earlier search challenge that its an example of yarn bombing Added in yarn bombing to the search and came up with nothing. Will keep on trying.