Average Looks, Exceptional Bank-Robbing Ability

Sometimes it helps to blend in.

The Seattle office of the FBI is on the hunt for a man dubbed the "Average Joe Bandit," reports KING-TV.

Suspected of at least six bank robberies in the Seattle area, the guy's never worn a disguise and can clearly be seen in surveillance-camera photos.

The problem is, he's so ordinary-looking — a white man, mid-30s, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10, 150 to 170 pounds, goatee, brown hair in a ponytail — that he could be anybody.

"He's gotten to the point where he walks into the bank, carrying nothing," FBI agent Robbie Burroughs told the TV station. "Goes up to the teller and says very few words. Give me your 100s, 50s and 20s. That's it."

Average Joe's crime spree started in November, but his rate of stickups has accelerated from once per month to once per week.

"That causes us concern, when we see them speed up like that," said Burroughs. "They're a little bit more desperate for whatever reason."

Tipsters are asked to call 1-800-552-7595 with information.

"Somebody out there knows him, somebody's going to recognize him from these pictures," said Burroughs. "He's out there for all the world to see."

Security Screeners Find Empty Spaces in Heads

A security-checkpoint screener at Denver International Airport (search) has been rebuked, and others across the country punished, for sending themselves through X-ray machines, reports KUSA-TV.

The Transportation Security Administration (search) won't release any names, but sources told the TV station that six different screeners had decided to X-ray their own bodies.

"There's enough training, enough education available in the public domain, let alone the circumstances of the TSA, to know this is a foolhardy thing to do," security expert David Forbes told KUSA.

TSA spokesman Mike Fierberg told the Rocky Mountain News the Denver incident took place about three months ago.

"The screener went through the X-ray machine voluntarily," Fierberg said. "I cannot ascribe any sort of motive to why anyone would do this."

The makers of the Denver airport X-ray machines told KUSA the exposure wouldn't hurt anyone, pointing out that a hospital chest X-ray would be about 50 times stronger.

— Thanks to Out There reader Chase C.

It's Not Easy Being Green

SINGAPORE (AP) — Life in the balmy tropics has made polar bears Inuka and Sheba go green with algae.

The usually white coats of Sheba and her 13-year-old son Inuka, the Singapore Zoo's (search) two polar bears, turned green a few weeks ago from algae growing in their hollow hair shafts, said Vincent Tan, a spokesman for the zoo.

"The harmless algae is the result of Singapore's warm and humid tropical conditions," Tan said.

Polar bears have clear hair shafts that appear white because they reflect light.

Sheba's coat was successfully bleached with hydrogen peroxide 2½ weeks ago and Inuka will be given a similar treatment in 3 weeks time, Tan said.

The zoo wanted to observe Sheba's reaction to the treatment before bleaching Inuka, he said.

For now, Inuka remains mottled with bright grass-colored splotches behind his ears, on his back and legs.

Three polar bears at the San Diego Zoo developed similarly green coats in 1979 but were cured with a salt solution, according to the Web site of Polar Bears International (search), a nonprofit conservation group based in North America.

Sometimes Science Can Be Yummy

PRINCETON BOROUGH, N.J. (AP) — Princeton University researchers have been using tasty treats to answer ages-old fundamental questions of physics and mathematics.

A team led by physicist Paul Chaikin and chemist Salvatore Torquato has been utilizing M&Ms — and not to find out whether they melt in your mouth, not in your hands.

The question, instead, has been how particles of flattened spheres — in this case, milk chocolate M&Ms — settle when poured randomly into a container. Conducting MRI scans on globular flasks filled with thousands of M&Ms was a way to find that out.

Chaikin and Torquato's team found that the flattened spheres pack more densely than randomly poured spherical particles.

"It's a very amusing result," Princeton physicist Philip Anderson, a 1977 Nobel Prize winner, told The Times of Trenton. "It's also quite surprising and maybe a little bit profound."

Their discoveries, aided by a computer simulation that built on the M&M research, could help revolutionize physicists' understanding of how randomly packed particles — such as grains of sand — transform from a loose, liquid state to a tightly packed, glassy state.

The researchers decided on M&Ms because they are not as conical as Skittles — not because of the 58-year-old Chaikin's love of the milk chocolate candies.

Chaikin keeps the department stocked in milk chocolate M&Ms by regularly topping off a 55-gallon drum of peanut M&Ms a group of undergraduates give to him — part gag, part birthday gift — about 10 years ago.

Hackettstown-based Masterfoods Inc., the maker of M&M's, had no role in developing or funding the research project, but it did sent Chaikin 125 complimentary bags of almond M&M's after learning about it.

Is He Getting a Union Salary?

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — A former department-store model is now working traffic enforcement for the police department.

Officer TED is a dummy, traffic Cpl. James Ginter said. Before joining the force, Officer TED — traffic enforcement decoy — had a career at Robinson's May as a store mannequin, but he was let go and donated to police.

Dressed in uniform, Officer TED is dropped off at busy thoroughfares to peer over the steering wheel of a patrol car. It's an effort to get motorists to obey traffic laws.

Officer TED serves as a visual reminder for people to check their speed, Ginter said.

"It's a traffic-calming device," he said. "Usually when the thing is deployed people will brake and slow down, whether they realize it's a real officer or a mannequin."

Nothing Like the Smell of Burning Compost

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — A cigarette pitched down a ski area toilet is the suspected cause of an underground fire that took several hours to put out.

Plastic fixtures melted in the mid-mountain men's room at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, but the flames did not reach out of the toilet Monday.

"It was too hot to be sitting on the toilet, that's for sure," Teton Village Fire Chief Watt Hyer said.

The fire smoldered overnight before ski patrollers tried to put it out by dumping snow down the toilet. Firefighters arrived around 10 a.m. and began skiing 5-gallon jugs of water down to the bathroom, which can only be reached on skis or by snow machines. The fire was extinguished by 2 p.m.

Hyer said he is not familiar with any other toilet fires and is not looking forward to another one.

"This is not the type of thing we want to be responding to," he said. "You can imagine what's burning down there."

The toilet uses a compost system, and signs in the bathroom warn people not to throw cigarettes down it.

Compiled by Foxnews.com's Paul Wagenseil.

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