h a l f b a k e r y
You gonna finish that?
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Why search around for the real thing when you can make your own!
My idea entails filling a weather balloon with water instead of helium gas, thus making it neutrally buyant with the rest of the lake. Attach a small weight on the bottom, and a slightly lighter-than-water monster "head" at the top.
Add some kind of control that adjusts the total buyancy so that it sinks during the day, and the head rises above the water at night in response to light. Put flashing or glowing "eyes" in the head to catch people's attention.
If someone tries to "catch" the monster at night, they'll probably have to use a light of some kind. Once the "monster" senses the light, it sinks back below, furthering the mystery...
Real and fake monsters
Worrying creationist perspective (recent creation makes plesiosaur survival more likely). [pottedstu, Oct 24 2001]
Some pictures [pottedstu, Oct 24 2001]
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||[sp: buoyant; fixed in title. Also "balloon".]
||So the "monster" rises in response to light and sinks in response to light?
||no, the monster
SINKS in response to LIGHT (daytime or flashlight), and RISES in response to DARK (normal night conditions).
||You'd have to say baked. According to the Skeptic's Dictionary (3rd link) at least one Loch Ness monster photo was faked using a toy submarine, which can vary its buoyancy although not in a photosensitive way (though there are plenty of toy robots that follow light). This could be a fun science project for those tired of Robot Wars/BattleBots.
||You could build a shoal and set them loose all round the world. Power would be a problem for long lurking periods. I think autonomous nuclear-powered fake sea monsters would be viewed as a very real threat by a lot of people.
||Natural analogue: once whilst canoeing on a large windy lake I thought I saw a swimmer struggling in the water far from shore. After a horrendous struggle to paddle directly upwind in an unloaded canoe I found a log floating vertically with one end just above the surface. The waves splashed up from it just like the splashes from a flailing swimmer. Er, I dunno why this seemed relevant now...
||[Dog Ed]: I can see it now. Research projects, coachloads of tourists, all looking for the mythical drowning swimmer of Lake ----. Start selling tickets.