Sunday, 28 December 2014

Entertainment from the week up to 28/12/14

Hi Solar Sojournists,

...And a Happy New Year...

Well, maybe. Let's hope the universe doesn't end... again :-D

'Testing 2012's Doomsday Predictions - Minus Beethoven!'

'Queen + Adam Lambert - Exclusive New Years Eve Live Concert Trailer'


{Link in description box}

'Arms Trade Treaty - a major milestone for human rights'

'Top Doubtful News posts of 2014'

In other news:

Bacterial populations have been used to create biofilms exhibiting 2mm-wide letters that spell... 'MERRY XMAS'. I know, it's a bit late, but still. It's a cool story. "Whilst we may think that bacteria are solitary single cell organisms, they are in fact social and in nature almost exclusively exist in the form of structured communities... In forming biofilms, such as the letters, bacteria act collectively to form the structure. Physical forces are excreted by localised cell death, a process which produces the structure's shape – which then protects and supports the living cells." To see a picture of them, just follow the link:

Here we go again. Another BMJ XMAS article (they're always intended to be a tad humorous) has been taken on as gold-plated fact by intellectually-inadequate journalists, including those at the BBC. Again. Yes, you do kind-of breathe fat away, but you also piss it out. It's simple biology: C6H12O6 -> 6H2O + 6CO2. Respiration is basically photosynthesis backwards. When you convert chemical energy in stored bodyfat into electro-chemical/kinetic/thermal energy, the fats are broken down, mostly into carbon dioxide and water. The CO2 is relayed to the lungs by the same haemoglobin that takes oxygen the other way, and the water gets filtered out by the kidneys and sent to the bladder. Breathing a lot is unsustainable as a weight loss technique (as is pissing more) because it doesn't break fat stores down - it just lowers blood CO2 and raises blood O2, making you faint, and eventually fall unconscious! You'll probably feel elated (happy) as a side-effect of the faintness, but you won't be any slimmer.

The BMJ also did an article on how men are idiots. Well, they are. But then, so are women. And children. You're all idiots. But you have potential to be less idiotic, as you grow older, and that's all you can hope for ;-) By analysing Darwin Awards given and contended, over twenty years, from 1995 to 2014, researchers found that men lead on idiocy, as the awards are given for being removed from the gene pool through stupid behaviour. Note that that doesn't necessarily mean death! Of 318 cases, where Darwin Awards were given to either mans or womans, but not together, 84% were given to men. But this might be influenced by alcohol-related behaviour, which is famously exacerbating of both stupidity and consequent harm.

Braingasm videos are popular and plausible. But Science and History have taught us that being plausible can merely be illusory. A huge problem with modern journalism is obsession with narrative. So many journalists, in interviews and adverts, talk about their love for telling stories. "I'm a story teller" they say. But as appealing as a narrative might be, it doesn't make it right. This is why 'poetic' is an insult. "The illuminati are responsible for keeping us proles down? Sounds poetic to me". All conspiracy theories are believed on the basis of narrative, not evidence. In fact, the narrative is strengthened by being contradicted by evidence. The more wrong it is, the more 'plausible' it is to someone gullible to conspiratorial superstitions. Back to this subject, though... autonomous sensory meridian responses (ASMRs) are the names given to elative experiences, perceived when people watch boring videos of a woman not doing very much. I can easily imagine that these videos might be considered pleasurable, by those who need a good excuse for relaxation. It's the same reason people go shopping as 'therapy'. It's also been hypothesised that ASMRs are seizures, which are able to cause spikes of pleasure, as well as spikes of pain. And of course, where funky things are going on in the brain, hallucinations and false memories are sure to follow. But i don't see the veracity to any comparison with 'Magic Eye' pictures, which are carefully constructed, by a known method, to produce a particular repeatable result. Is it just because some people see them and others don't? Some people see the point in Fox News. That doesn't mean it's mystical and/or therapeutic!

But don't worry, Beeb fans - the Torygraph's gone for an unsinkable rubber duck, as James Randi says (they like them familar, at the Torygraph) which makes their Health Correspondent look sane and competent - because, apparently, a man has experienced a brain haemorrhage, as a result of an accident, and according to them, he now speaks "fluent" french. This is surprising, because he learned french, when he was at school. <s> And also surprising, because there's been no verification that he was actually speaking real french, let alone fluently. But it's a cute idea, isn't it, that learning's actually a lot easier than it really is. Sorry guys - keep reading and trying, reading and trying, reading and trying :-D
{Speaking of Tories: David Camoron thinks that the UK's emergency services exemplify 'Christian values'. Sorry Dave? Do you mean their organisations play a crucial role in corrupting British democracy; their meddling in schools corrupts the British education system; their NHS chaplains waste tens of millions of taxpayers' money intended for medical care; or they're complicit in facilitating the systemised sexual/physical abuse of children and other vulnerable people, while pretending it's a purely Catholic problem? Because i think they actually exhibit the atheistic Humanist values of doing good for goodness' sake. Which, funnily enough, even religious people affiliated to non-Christian sects find time to partake in. So there.}

If you got a drone for XMAS, then watch out. Because if you live in the UK, the civil aviation authority has issued a warning: fly your drone recklessly and you face prosecution and a hefty fine of up to £5000. Presumably, this means flying them in populated areas, but not inside your house :-D

If you got a gold swift moth (Phymatopus hecta) for XMAS, then watch out too! "Despite the insect's unassuming appearance, a new study published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society reports a variety and complexity in its mating patterns and sexual positions worthy of an insect Karma Sutra." Unlike most insects, that have a very basic sitting-still-and-pumping technique, the gold swift moth goes crazy. "Colleagues have commented that this is the most elaborate mating procedure known in any insect and I have certainly not observed anything to surpass it." Yes - people get to research this for a living! I know, you're envious. Even Sally Le Page, who watches fruit flies bonking, all day, for weeks at a time, is probably envious of the complex choreography described in the following article :-D

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'Why Electronic Voting is a BAD Idea - Computerphile'

'Is MSG Bad For You? - A Week in Science'

'Where does the fat go?'
As the fat is synthesised, chemical energy is converted into electrical/kinetic/thermal energy. It's always conserved, remember!

'Captain Webb’s legacy: the perils of swimming the English Channel'

'Sea ghost breaks record for deepest living fish'

'The Mysterious Floating Orb'

You can always be fooled :-D

'London's Air Ambulance'

Because Jesus told them to use helicopters? I don't think so :-P

'How An Airplane Is Made'

'Make an AA Battery'

'Boris Johnson is a C-word. "Ebeneezer Couldn't" by Christian Reilly'


'Astronomically Correct Twinkle Twinkle'

'Shooting animals for fun on your own land is OK, clarifies Prince William'

'Eat Mediterranean - a nutritional parody of Hotel California'

'Designated Driver'

'How To Breathe Fire'

'Why is it Harder to Drive Backwards?'

'Tomska picks the Good, the Bad and the Weird of internet videos'

He's right about the Irish road safety advert. But seriously: people don't pay attention to the thousands of deaths to road traffic, every year, just because they don't all happen at once.

'Shelf Life Episode 2 - Turtles and Taxonomy'

'Amazing Animated Optical Illusions! #7'

'radioluminescence / scintillations from H-3 (Tritium) vs. Radium (Ra-226) - highly radioactive!'

'Red hot lava battles snow as volcano erupts'

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Word Of The Week: cryptoscopophilia -- the urge to look through people's windows, as you pass their houses, in order to see what they have inside, or the way other people live

{I imagine cryptoscopophilia's a common condition, at this time of year :-D }

Etymology Of The Week: 'egregious' -- meaning 'exceptionally bad' it comes from latin 'egregius' meaning 'distinguished, excellent, extraordinary' from 'ex-' and 'grege' meaning 'out of the flock' (out of the ordinary). The modern, completely opposite meaning, comes from ironic usage in the 16th century

Quote Of The Week: "Never say never. Whoops - said it twice!" - Harry Hill

Christmas Carol Quote Of The Week: Blackadder: "Here, have a wishbone. What do you wish?" Baldrick: "I wish there was some meat on this!"

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

'Cool cat'
"Ooh, just cruising, Driving along like the swing king, Feeling the beat of my heart huh! Feeling the beat of my heart"

'Rabbit God'

'Loving the reviews for this banana slicer'

'How to NOT wear your Disney Jumper'

'Moss Graffiti'

'Café de L'Enfer (aka Cabaret de L'Enfer)'
Hell's Café! Not Hell's Kitchen :-P

'39 Pictures That Take Awhile To Really Understand'

'20 Chinese Signs That Got Lost In Translation'

'Schlieren Optics'

‘The Earth and Moon from Chinese probe Chang’e 5’

'Multicoloured view of supernova remnant'

'The world's largest Swiss army knife'

'Trevor Noah: USA v. Ebola'
Trevor's YouTube channel is here. He's very good.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Entertainment stuff for the 11 days before XMAS 15-25/12/14

Hi Christmists,

I hope you're having a Happy Christmas and a Merry Winterval. Or that it's passed, and you survived it!

Sorry there wasn't a posting, last week - i do try to be regular, but unfortunately my dwelling lost not just internet access, but phone access too.

Someone from the telecommunications provider had bodged a connection, in the local box, and so half a street lost its landline connection.

But anyway, here's some stuff to remind you what time of year it is... whether you like it or not! :-P


I have now seen the last Hobbit movie, and it's very LOTRy indeed. Lots of running; lots of fighting; lots of screaming; lots of panoramas; lots of lots.

It does seem a bit odd, though, that the dragony stuff ends so soon, as if a production decision was to make the second film half an hour shorter, and make the third half an hour longer, by cleaving the final dragony bits from the end of the second, and onto the third.

Cliffhangery it might have made the end of the second film, but it did seem a bit too abbreviated.

One question that i'm sure almost everybody had on their minds' lips, as they left the cinema, was "If only someone would go to the effort of explaining the mythological context to all of the stuff i've just seen". I'm sure <s>. So here it is:

'The Lord of the Rings Mythology Explained'

All in all, an enjoyable film and another enjoyable trilogy, with more plot than any of the films advertised pre-showing.

That said, the ideological motives of JRR Tolkien, in writing the stories were politically ugly.

Everything in LOTR, The Hobbit, etc, is symbolic of something, and so all the horrendously poetic problems of conflating ugliness with evil (orks) and monarchism with goodness (human kings are glorified and depended on to fight evil) finds itself a place.

I realised, on the day (and you might think me slow for only just noticing) that there is a parallel with the Star Wars trilogies.

Aside from the fact that the second trilogy was also a set of prequels to the first trilogy; there is the stomach churning superstitionist ideology laced throughout the plot.

-- Light side v. Dark side (Biblical terminology, by the way [John1][John2][Isaiah][Corinthians]) parallels the simplism of LOTR's Good gods' creations v. Bad gods' creations

-- Jedi is a Religion (which is a good thing, apparently, and equivocated with goodness) and Magic is the key, through Gandalf (as long as you don't turn to the dark side, like Saruman)

-- The baddies are ugly, and the goodies beautiful (hideous, scarred orks v. pristine elves et al)

-- Midichlorions parallel the Holy Spirit / Karma (ability is not achieved - it is 'unction from above'!? Even Kung Fu Panda does better, in this sense) and Magic and inexplicable plot-based traits of the various species in LOTRs.

And this is just stuff i'm remembering off the top of my head. Sci-fi movies so often end up more like sup-fi - not science-fiction but superstition-fiction, because superstition is more crucial to the narrative. The Sciencey stuff is just for show.

"The story is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless ugliness, tyranny against kingship..." - JRR Tolkien himself. He was a big fan of Fairy Tales, by the way. He seems to have been one of the many to read them without understanding them.

Comparing the two, Tolkien's anarchist/Christianismist muddlings are far less coherent, and thereby far less obvious and lambastable than Lucas' Christianismist (he says Christian-Buddhist) idiocratic agenda. This personal political parallel finds its way through to their creations. Tolkien, btw, is attributed the blame for indoctrinating C.S.Lewis, and thereby for causing the godawful Jesusismianistic idolatry in Narnia.

None of this, however, changes the fact that either set of films can be enjoyed, with a suspension of both belief and disbelief - a temporary imposition of nihilism.

I, however, prefer not to have to do the hard graft of rethinking reality as the plot proceeds. I like plots that make sense, and i don't like Doctorscientists! [Prometheus,grrr,1][Prometheus,grr,2][Prometheus,grrrrrr,3]

Don't get me wrong, though - i know it's all made-up stuff - and i find great additional pleasure in imagining how the film was made, as well as following all the purported narratives, character traits, etc, that are the fiction of the film. Spotting evidence of filming techniques, and appreciating nice shots, i think, enhances the experience of a production. For example, there are some really nice 3D-glasses-utilising shots in Hobbit 3.

As Richard Feynman said:

“I have a friend who's an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don't agree with very well. He'll hold up a flower and say "look how beautiful it is," and I'll agree. Then he says "I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing," and I think that he's kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is ... I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it's not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there's also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts.”

I think taking a film/book/whatever apart and seeing how it works can only add to the wonder of a wondrous filmbookwhatever... or subtract from the negative wonder that an anwondrous film doesn't.

Richard Feynman also said this:

“It is surprising that people do not believe that there is imagination in science. It is a very interesting kind of imagination, unlike that of the artist. The great difficulty is in trying to imagine something that you have never seen, that is consistent in every detail with what has already been seen, and that is different from what has been thought of; furthermore, it must be definite and not a vague proposition. That is indeed difficult.”

Maybe that is why i respect concordant movies more than discordant ones - because it takes so much more effort to produce dynamism while remembering the constraints of reality. Maybe?

I'll fill you in, when i've worked myself out. Ever noticed that yourself is always the hardest person to study? :-P

And maybe that's also why i don't appreciate people crudely pasting miserably pathetic mythological narratives over seasonal festivals, in an attempt to subvert it for the purposes of ideological proselytism.

Yes, it's Christmas Day, and i just wrote an extensive interrogation of the contextual bigotry to two ageing film series. Ain't i a laugh! :-P

But enough of my heresy. This is Christmas. A time for stoic, arcane and/or archaic rituals; and for glorifying the senseless act of enthusiastically lying to children. "What did Santa bring you, kids?"

Let's not be prejudicial though. If we must respect Christian trans-linguistic dogma, then we must respect other religious trans-linguistic dogma. Because it's only OK to subjugate and exclude Atheists, isn't it. <s>

If Christmas is for worshipping Jesus Crosst, then Tuesday is for worshipping Tiw, Wednesday is for worshipping Woden, Thursday is for worshipping Thor, and Friday is for worshipping Frigg. So get down on your knees and pray!!!!

...Or, we could just accept that a name is just a name, and its etymology has no real importance to whatever that day is currently used for.

Can i smell lots and lots of food cooking? Mmmmmm.... [drools uncontrollably] that's what it's used for. :o)

Until my next on-time posting, Happy Christma-Hanu-Rama-Ka-Dona-Kwanzaa. And remember -- Christmas is pain pain pain :-D

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'FLOBER - Christmas'

'World's Smallest Christmas Tree (made from 42 atoms)'

'How to get drunk by eating food'

'Rudolph The Redshifted Reindeer.'
*'quashed' not 'squashed' ;-)

'Fake Snow - Periodic Table of Videos'
Nik282K's got some brilliant close-ups of sodium polyacrylate absorbing huge amounts of water.

'Ultimate last minute GEEK present!'

'"Christmas Is Pain" by Roy Zimmerman'

'"Christma-Hanu-Rama-Ka-Dona-Kwanzaa" by Roy Zimmerman'

'A Merry Heathen Christmas'

'Christmas: Behind the Curtain'

'Unusual Christmas Tree At The Library'

'Seasonal Pareidolia'

'Christmas tree's roadworks-themed decorations removed'

What a stupid thing to do. Why complain about a novel tree decoration design? And why comply? "It's the most unreasonable time of the year"

'Lost Voice Guy wins BBC New Comedy Award 2014 (set and winners speech) - 17 December 2014'

'Father Christmas accused of illegally monitoring millions of children'
"Williams told police, “He asked me if I’d been good, and told me not to lie as he’d been watching me all year anyway.” “It was terrifying. How can he break the law like that and not find himself in front of some sort of government select committee?”"

'Bookmakers stop taking bets on Queen revealing reptilian self'
“Right now our exposure is just too high, so we’ve decided to suspend betting on the queen peeling off her skin to reveal herself to be a humanoid lizard on Christmas day.” “Personally we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for familiar platitudes and a bit about it being 100 years since the first Christmas of the first world war.”

'8 year-old criticised for revealing to trainee Vicar that God isn’t real'

“She’ll get over it, just like I did when I realised Santa wasn’t real. And it doesn’t stop me enjoying Christmas, does it.”

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 8-14/12/14

Hi dusty-wet-space-things,

'Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in living color'

Yes, that picture is in colour. The trouble is, comets aren't :-D

'Comet landing named Physics World 2014 Breakthrough of the Year'

I'm not surprised.

Travelling about 300 million kilometres to catch up with an object careering through space at 55000 kilometres per hour, and then putting a miniaturised laboratory on it that can send back several years' worth of studyable data, despite only being 'on' for a couple of days, is quite a feat!

To find out which 9 experiments didn't quite make the cut, follow the link.

So, where does Earth's surface water come from?

{Not a non-sequitur, i promise!}

There's plenty of water mixed in, inside the Earth, but before the crust formed, that water could just evaporate off into Outer Space. Consequently, Earth's surface water has largely had to come from objects that landed on its surface, post-crust-formation.

This barrage has consisted of a combination of meteorites (rocky, metallic lumps) and comets (rocky, icey lumps) and recent research has shown that most of Earth's surface water probably came from carbonaceous chondrites (a kind of meteorite) because although they're much less wet, each, they're hugely more abundant than comets.

Well, Kathrin Altwegg's smellovision (ROSINA) experiment on Rosett's Philae lander, sent back data regarding the kinds of water there. It turns out that, at least in 67P's case, cometary water contains more deuterium than Earthy water, which means Earth's water can't have come from comets like 67P.

But this conflicts with other findings of comet-water analysis. In fact, it seems all (eleven) comet-water findings conflict with all the others. The only water to match Earth's for deuterium content, comes from Jupiter-family Comet 103P/Hartley 2.

The water in meteorites, in contrast, is broadly consistent with the water that we have on Earth. The investigation continues...

Back on Earth, comet dust has been found, on (in) the ground, for the first time. And guess where... that's right, the Antarctic. The only place on Earth that hasn't been extensively muddied around and stomped on by any and every taxon of life in history.

Usually, researchers collect comet dust from high up in the atmosphere, but this necessitates a sticky sheet, to collect them, and then solvents, to get them off the sticky sheet. Both of these mar results.

Antarctic researchers drilled down into the ice there, and found, among other things, tiny dust particles, measuring 10-60 micrometres across, called 'chondritic porous interplanetary dust particles'. These, of course, are not gummed or solvented, so should provide better data than anything collected before.

Again, the investigation continues...

In other news:

An all-female theatre group has been one of the many, across Spain, to be hit by the current conservative government's 'austerity' measures. To supplement their income, and maintain their theatrics as a going concern, they've opted to sell pornographic magazines, which are, as magazines, taxed at a much lower rate than theatring. This means they can lower their ticket prices, and keep punters coming through the doors. Plus, porn. Anyone who wants to defy a hysterical 'won't somebody please think of the children' government, then just take a peek at a homo sapiens' body, the way the FSM made them. They do not like it! :-D

In contrast <s>, international terrorist organisation PETA (who think it's OK to kill humans, in order to empower themselves to run animal protection shelters worse than anybody else's in the world) seems to think that human sexuality - specifically, semen - is vile and repugnant and unhealthy. As unhealthy as milk! Well, i'd agree with that - both are an equally healthy source of proteins and minerals... except one's available in much larger quantities and (apparently) tastes much nicer... I've never drunk milk (reptiles don't, you know :-P). Dairy products are repugnant, apparently. But not so repugnant that it wouldn't be acceptable to feature them in sexually-allusory form on a huge public billboard! LMAO.

Public service announcement: 'raw' milk is dangerous. Four children are seriously ill, and a fifth has died, following the consumption of 'raw' milk (meaning it hasn't been pasteurised to kill off germs inside it). Some people think that unpasteurised milk is better than pasteurised milk, but there's no evidence it's healthier or even tastier. Milk taste varies by breed of cow and 'raw' milk drinkers tend not to use high-quantity 'milkers' like we tend to get through supermarkets. This means they'd probably be drinking tastier milk even if it were pasteurised. Drinking unpasteurised milk is a pointless health risk, often driven by anti-scientific pro I-SCAM industry ideological sentiment, as demonstrated by the vendors in this story. If you want tasty milk, it's best just to go for expensive (and pasteurised) milk.

Speaking of the I-SCAM (Integrative, Supplementary, Complementary, and Alternative to Medicine) industry, ginkgo biloba's taken a double slam dunk, this week, with one study finding it utterly useless for treatment of Alzheimers, and the other finding commercially available 'ginkgo biloba' products to often be mis-labelled. In other words, they didn't actually have Ginkgo in them, at all. Looking at some other 'supplements' too, they found a sixth to a quarter of leafy gunk concoctions didn't contain any of the labelled ingredient, and suggested that this is likely down to the vendor either deliberately substituting something cheaper, or sincerely having no idea what they're dealing with. So, as with all evil perpetrated in the world, it's either malevolence or incompetence that caused it. Regardless, Gingko is one of many dodgy herbalistic 'eye of newt, toe of frog' concoctions that should be distrusted by anyone who seeks real medicine. Medicine has one ingredient - the active ingredient - the one that's going to make you better; homeopathics have no ingredients; herbalistics contain far too many ingredients, to maximise the chances of side-effects! No-one in the world knows the true extent of side-effects caused by supplements, because the I-SCAM industry doesn't even bother to check. Loyal readers of my blog (who have good memories) will know that i'm repeating myself, but i think these are important points to make.

And while we're on the subject, there's a quackupuncture (health by a thousand cuts) story going around as well:

It seems tabloid newspapers aren't the only journals to accept nonsense tales for the sake of chasing money. If you've seen the documentary 'Starsuckers' you'll know that many papers and magazines offer money for interesting stories, and people will inevitably send them some. Whether they're true or not. These sources are used as a fall-back for when the trio of journalists in the office that day are having trouble fabricating interest in what's available; or are struggling to just completely make stuff up. Well, it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows that humans are generic, and behave according to generic behavioural rules, that the world of scientific academia is similarly affected, and corrupted, by money-chasing capitalism. Maggie Simpson and Edna Krabappel (yes, the cartoon characters) have become yet more in an increasingly lengthy line of characters to publish in dodgy 'scientific'(?) journals, that publish anything, as long as the author might pay the publication fee!
{Incidentally, if you click the 'Starsuckers' link, you can see the whole documentary on Vimeo, free of charge}

And oh dear, yet another counter-productive stunt from Greenpeace. They've maybe-irreparably scarred the Nazca Lines site, in Peru, by trampling all over it in order to construct a huge, yellow, sheet-plastic message that could have just been done in photoshop. I'm not sure whether this publicity stunt is worse than the one where they faked Shell's meetings going wrong, when there are real and actually shameful things about Shell that Greenpeace could have been exposing. I'm in accord with The League of Nerds on this one -- Greenpeace and other prominent environmental organisations are wasting their abilities to lead in the right direction, with genuinely useful investigations and expos
és; and are instead committing to sensationalist, fatuous and harmful gimmicks. What a waste!

But it isn't just big-time organisations that are putting the 'mental' into 'environmental'. One American guy deliberately went to the Amazon basin, to find an anaconda, to provoke it into eating him, and to then chicken out of being eaten at the last moment. I still have no idea what the whole point of this stunt was. Just a TV programme??

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'Trippy spiral hacks a hummingbird's hover'

'Solar Storms: 10 Hottest Facts'

'A Magnet with an Off Switch'

'The Saturn V in perspective'

'Gallium Induced Structural Failure of an Aluminum Sheet'

'Baby bird mimics a toxic caterpillar'

'How fungus invades and digests fruit'

'Where Does Belly Button Lint Come From? - A Week in Science'

'How Gangnam Style Broke YouTube - Computerphile'

'The Psychic Song (It's Sad)'

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Word Of The Week: velleity -- a casual wish; one unaccompanied by an effort to actually obtain its object of desire

Memogenesis Of The Week: The factoid that Charles Manson auditioned for The Monkees originated with an off-the-cuff joke by Mickey Dolenz: “I just made a joke: ‘Everybody auditioned for the Monkees, Stephen Stills, Paul Williams and Charlie Manson!’... And everybody took it as gospel, and now it’s an urban myth!”

Fact Of The Week: Colin Firth has a credit as an author of a neuroscience paper, despite playing no active role in any research. To find out more about the contentiousness of the subject, follow the hyperlink.

Quote Of The Week: “The journalistic tradition so exalts novelty and flashy discovery, as reputable and newsworthy, that standard accounts for the public not only miss the usual activity of science but also, and more unfortunately, convey a false impression about what drives research” - Stephen J. Gould

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

Famous conjuror, Derren Brown, has a YouTube channel! Here's the 'best of' until now:

'Derren Brown at the Circus'

'Derren Brown at Greenham Common Bunker'

'Derren tricks shop keepers to let him pay with just paper - Derren Brown: Trick or Treat'

'Derren Brown Advertising Agency Task'

'Stephen Fry amazed by card trick - Derren Brown: Trick of the Mind'

'How not to have your wallet taken - Derren Brown: Trick of the Mind'

'Voodoo Doll - Derren Brown: Trick of the Mind'

'Derren asking for directions - Derren Brown: Trick Of The Mind'

'Derren asking for directions 2 - Derren Brown: Trick Of The Mind'

'Derren asking for directions 3 - Derren Brown: Trick Of The Mind'

'Derren asking for directions 4 - Derren Brown: Trick Of The Mind'

This one brings a whole new meaning to the term 'colour-changing card trick' :-D

'Incredible Hypnotism Trick - Derren Brown: Enigma'

'Stamping A Foot Onto A Knife - Derren Brown: How To Win The Lottery'

Demonstrations of superstition itself:

'Derren explores Superstition and BF Skinner - Derren Brown: Trick or Treat'

'Derren reads peoples hands with a twist (Part 1) - Derren Brown: Trick of the Mind'

'Derren reads peoples hands with a twist (Part 2) - Derren Brown: Trick of the Mind'

'Paranormal Photo Collection - The Ghost Hunter'

'Debunking Joe Powers' 'Psychic' Secrets feat. Quirkology - The Man Who Contacts The Dead'

'Milgram Experiment - The Heist'
Some refer to this experiment as an indicator of the base evil of humanity. But actually, it boils down to politics. The original experiment found huge conflict in the Teachers, whether they carried it out to the end, or refused to start. How far they got through torturing the Learners 'for Science' depended on how much value they put on 'people' relative to 'principle' i.e. how socialist/authoritarian they were. Mindless compliance was never what Milgram found - they had to agree that the suffering was worth it.
[New Scientist reference (subswalled)] [BBC Prison Study reference] [PLOS Biology reference]

Better than any zombie movie!

'Derren Brown the great art robbery'

'Derren Brown: The Gathering (full episode)'

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 1-7/12/14

Hi oldies,

It's been a week for old stuff, this week...

{Not as old as me, obviously}

The next Bond film has been named. They're calling it... Spectre.

{Cue speculation about the return of Blofeld}

And the first trailer for Star Wars 7 has been released... even though it won't be out until 2016!?

[Trailer version 1] [Trailer version 2]

And here's something that's older than the hills -- colour.

Apparently, some people don't understand that there's no such thing as 'primary' colours, and that there's a difference between pigment and colour...

'Pigment v. colour'

If you've just read my writings ^ on tumblr, then you should now understand the difference. Please hand in your assignments before 12:00 on Wednesday :-P

In other news:

Apparently, many people believe that pufferfish 'hold their breath' when they puff up. Direct evidence has shown that they do not do this - they continue to breath while they're puffed up, which means they continue to pump water over their gills. Keep on puffing, guys.

In some peculiar cases, it seems, it is possible for mammalian eyes to pick up some wavelengths of infrared light. Using pulsed LASER light, researchers found that when eyes received two close-together pulses (essentially a double-pulse) both mouse and human retinas showed responsiveness. "Normally, a particle of light, called a photon, is absorbed by the retina, which then creates a molecule called a photopigment, which begins the process of converting light into vision. [But packing a lot of pulses into a short period] makes it possible for two photons to be absorbed at one time by a single photopigment, and the combined energy of the two light particles is enough to activate the pigment and allow the eye to see what normally is invisible." At the other end of the visible spectrum, beyond blue, are ultra-violet wavelengths. The closest-to-blue of these have also been found to be visible, by some people. Especially those who've had lens transplants, as the replacement plastic lens attenuates UV much less than the original biological lens does. This isn't superhuman, but it is superinteresting ;-)

One of the most famous supernovae pictures, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, has now been shown to capture a fast-changing object - the pictured supernova and resultant nebula themselves - Eta Carinae and the Homunculus Nebula. The linked GIF image shows the HN's expansion, over the last 19 years. It was produced by the Eta Carinae star system's supernova-ing, which started 170 years ago, and subsided 150 years ago, leaving the Homunculus Nebula more easily seen. You can follow the link for the image:

Funky potatoes! They're already nutritious and delicious, and make a good staple to a balanced healthy diet, but potatoes are now becoming even more interesting. Modern varieties of all genetically-modified-by-artificial-selection vegetables are larger, sweeter and prettier than their ancestors centuries ago, but their nutritiousness and deliciousness have waned over the same period. Various breeders are trying to hybridise potatoes and other veggies with 'heirloom' varieties (that are tasty) and these guys have been working on more-nutritious varieties, which, as a side-effect, have red or purple flesh! "The team reported that yellow potatoes had a 45-fold greater concentration of carotenoids than white potatoes, and purple potatoes had a 20-fold greater concentration of anthocyanins than yellow potatoes."

James Watson - one of the people awarded the Nobel Prize for Biology, for identifying the double-helix structure of DNA, put up his Nobel Prize medal for auction, this year, to donate much of the revenue to research organisations he has worked at in the past. Christie's auction house estimated it to make $2.5-$3.5 million, but it actually made $4.75 million.

It's going to be a (relatively) clean Christmas in Paris, this year - the city's banned log fires. Paris struggles with soaring temperatures in the summer, but as you would expect of a city, it struggles with air pollution too. In March, the problem got so bad that "authorities" banned half of all cars from the streets and made public transport free for several days! Extreme actions? I think it sounds quite reasonable. If you're not just mindlessly adhering to culturalised ritual (i.e. you have freedom of choice) then just choose to do something else, this year. Just sayin' ;-)

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'John and Kevin's Sunday Papers - November 2014'

'2014 CAASTRO Annual Retreat'
Scientists' amateur videography. How cute :o)

'Giant lobster 'aged 70' caught off Californian coast'
I have no idea where they got the age figure from. Maybe they just extrapolated by how long they thought it would take to grow that big.

'First video evidence of cusk eels feeding'
Because they live 8000 metres below sea level, cusk eels have never been seen feeding, before. But then, they've never seen humans feeding before, and all the footage of human mealtimes we've got are home videos of babies flicking fish paste into mummy's eye. Humanity should take a long hard look at itself :-P

'Synchronised sex dance fails to lure lady crabs'
FYI: It doesn't work for tapejaras, either.

'How to see the iron in your cereal'
I'm definitely going to do this for myself, at some point :o)

'Investigating the Trees of Amazonia'

'Electric soap film creates liquid motor'

'Slow Motion - Hand Boiler'

'Sodium Hydride (SLOW MOTION) - Periodic Table of Videos'

'Amazing Light Bending Cloak Experiment!'
A couple of weeks ago, i blogged about a research team's development of a device that conceals doughnuts. While they conceal the polo mint, Brusspup can conceal the hole in the middle :-D

'Make Paramagnetic Fluid ("Parafluid")'

'Flowering Hurricane Balls'



'Wacky Weligious News #2'
I can't wait for WWN #3, when 2016 comes :-D

'Samson's Revenge (part 2 of the Samson Trilogy)'
Here's part 1, in case you missed it:

'Christmas Shopping Simulator (HO HO HO!)'
You can see more from Squirrel in non-contemporary stuff. Glitches FTW :-D

'The Chaser's Media Circus - Episode 8'

That's the last of the season for 'Media Circus'. Hopefully, The Checkout will be back on TV soon.

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Word Of The Week: scintilla -- a tiny trace, iota, spark, or flash; a barely detectable amount

Gene Of The Week: Unkempt -- along with another gene called 'Headcase', it is responsible for how nerve cells develop, in the brains of fruit flies. Problems with the timing of this development can lead to disorders like epilepsy or autism. There are certainly lots more genes also involved in this process, and Unkempt is known to also exist in mammals - specifically, mice.

Baffling Biological Demonstration Of The Week: Pasta-based demonstrations of ring-shaped polymers -- I think you have to actually have to be doing a degree in it, in order to know what he's talking about, LOL

Quote Of The Week
: "Careful grooming may take twenty years off a woman's age, but you can't fool a flight of stairs" - Marlene Dietrich

Fact Of The Week: Electric eels stun their prey by matching their electrical discharges with the motor neurons of their prey. When hunting, they can induce an involuntary twitch, causing them to give away their position. They can then go in with a full discharge, causing whole-body muscle contraction (tetanus) rendering them unable to escape. {For more information}

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

'Charlie Brooker's 2013 Wipe'
'2014 Wipe' is expected to be broadcast, later this month

Very realistic indeed :-D

If you like Richard Herring, then you will find this very funny. If you don't, you will find it bemusing. But i'm sure now's not too late to get enthused into the wondrous world of Me1 vs. Me2 Snooker?? :-P

'Me1 vs Me2 Snooker'

Here's the aforementioned Squirrel:

'Sunday Night Truckin' (Song)'

It's not all truckin' from Squirrel. He's previewed some really interesting games, over the last few years:

'The Vanishing of Ethan Carter'
This is a fantastically-themed investigation game, which has a brilliant ending. Even if you don't play it yourself, the walkthrough's still a good ride. Except for Squirrel's incompetence with logic puzzles :o)

'The Forest (Alpha)'
The still-unfinished 'The Forest' is a Robinson Crusoe like game... with added Mutants.

If you like cars, you'll like one or both of these:

'Let's Play Bridge Project'
And this game is more exciting than the fishing one :-P

There are many more, on Squirrel's channel, besides these :-D

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 24-30/11/14

Hi dinosaurs,

OMFSM - Jurassic Park 4!

'Jurassic World - Official Trailer (HD)'

And yes, it has been a while since Jurassic Park III. A whole decade, in fact!

But no - it seems like none of the original cast are going to be in it :-(

In the words of Sam Neill:

"I'm told it's a big reboot, a total re-jig."

I'm quite disappointed that the franchise has left Grant, Malcolm, Sadler et al behind, but let's face it - the producers want bigger and better with every film.

With 'III' they outgrew T-Rex, for goodness' sake! Their only option is to do as Godzilla has done, and just start breaking reality like they've never broken reality before!

It's long since been infeasible for anything to grow that big, because of the limitations for a small body growing so fast that it could get that big in a lifetime, because of the food that would be necessary to sustain them at every stage, because of the power-to-weight ratio of their musculature, and because of the strain exerted on their bones in order to move.

Strain on bones is the reason we have different gaits, and intuitively transition between them, according to speed. Horses, famously, have many different gaits, suited to the different speeds they do. When humans want to go faster, it feels really uncomfortable to walk so they break into a run. Elephants are so big that they don't have the luxury of doing that, which limits how fast they can go.

Godzilla would be massively more limited still, due to its sheer bulk. Motility itself would be threatened by their own body's unwillingness to exceed ~20% bone breakage stress. Even if they could physically lift their feet, they wouldn't want to, due to discomfort signals ricocheting around their enormous nervous system.

That painful reality is completely ignored by Film&TV of course, but interestingly, Godzilla seems to have grown in tandem with the buildings they're situated amongst. In fact, faster than the buildings they're situated amongst.

The motive of Godzilla's memetic evolution, has been to retain emotional impact, on an entertainment-seeking market; and that is exactly what the 'stars' in the Jurassic Park franchise have to do.

I have no idea what it's going to look like, on screen, yet, because the trailer-clips might not have featured Jurassic World's 'main attraction' but like Godzilla, surely its size can only go up??

Or maybe, in the interests of contrast, everything else on the islands should be forced to get smaller...

Or just be children.

{Oh yeah [ponders] :-P }

My prediction for Jurassic Park 5:

The main (human) star of the film will be a newborn baby :-D

Casting casting speculations aside, i suppose i should speculate on the veracity of the sciencey lingo employed. Will it make sense, or will it turn out to be word salad?

Well, if you take a bunch of genes from hither and thither, slam them all together, and then see what grows from that...

You'll probably get a bunch of dead cells.

Biology's temperamental like that. You can't just throw any old genes together - they have to work in synchrony.

But let's just say that the scientists at whatever-their-company's-called-now have managed to splice some genes together, then they could create a dino hybrid.

But it would be wrong to think that that means sharing outward features from different dinos, like a serial killer's newspaper-cut-outs letter, in a crime drama.

Shoving a club tail on it, a sickle-like hallux claw, a row of stegosaurid plates... and, let's say, ornithocheirus' wings, just isn't going to work.

That would be a chimera. What you've got there, is Frankenstein's Monster. Except it wouldn't be re-animated dead matter, which Frankenstein's Monster was. So what you'd have there... wouldn't even be like
Frankenstein's Monster.
In real life, hybrids are usually not immensely interesting because... well, all of you are hybrids, for a start.

You are the product of a mixture of genes from your biological mother and your biological father. And do you look completely different, like some weird monstery thing that feeds only on blood and can't come out under a Full Moon?


You don't have half your hair in your mum's colour and the other half in dad's because that's a product of chimerism*.

I wonder what the new dino in Jurassic World will turn out like, though.

Probably a weird bodge job, but hopefully an excusable weird bodge job, for entertainment's sake. :-D

*In fact, the whole subject of chimerism is a fascinating one in itself.

A chimera is simply an organism consisting of cells with different genomes in them. Usually, an organism consists only of cells with the same genome in each, or no genome at all, like erythrocytes (red blood cells) which don't have any DNA in, to save space.

But the definition of a chimera doesn't specify where those differently-genomed cells might be in the body.

Griffins are a famous example of mythical chimerae - with the head of an eagle, and hind quarters of a lion; or even the chimera itself, from which the modern meaning of 'chimera' has migrated - with the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a snake, it would undoubtedly have different genetics in those regions of its body - an eagle genome, a lion genome, a goat genome, and/or a snake genome... if it were real.

But a chimera can have all those genetically-distinct cells mixed up, all around its body. Less like a pie; more like a stew. Statistically, there are humans wandering around today, who are chimeras of this sort, who do not know it, and might not ever know it.

They will only find out if it matters to something. In fact, it's possible to be both male and female, where half your cells' genomes are XX and the other half XY - in this case you would be a hermaphroditic chimera.

When male and female cells grow in opposite places, initiating in the first stages of development, and inevitably carrying on through to adulthood, this results in a condition called mosaic chimerism. Specifically, bilateral gyandromorphic mosaic chimerism.

So basically, what this means is... anything and everything can be true :-P

Well, not really. None of these are necessarily hybrids. They might be, if one or multiple parts of them are hybrids - mixtures of DNA - but surely that's just too weirdly amazing to happen coincidentally with chimerism!?

And even if they were a hybrid and a chimera, that still wouldn't excuse a poorly-bodged pseudo-hybrid in the film, because... hybridism and chimerism are not the same.

If it's a chimera too, then say it's a chimera too.

So what shall i make the point of this addendum? Um... OK...

Just look at all the big words i've written, already. If you want to show off how sciencey boffiny brainboxey the whole palaver in your plot is, than what would be a better thing to do than to put some meat into your word salad about what the hell that thing in the cage is?

Do it, scriptwriters. Do it. Use the word 'chimera', at least. I arrest my case :-D


There is nothing peculiar about any superstition. Where you have wrong beliefs tolerated, you have moral atrocities committed, whatever type of belief they might be. Rationalism FTW!

'UKIP warns of Schrödinger’s immigrant who ‘lazes around on benefits whilst simultaneously stealing your job’'
"He continued “Some bloke down the pub who knows – for definite – told me that Romanians in particular have been stealing his job, and if that’s not bad enough, they’re also too lazy to work because cause they’re all on the dole.”"

In other news:

How bizarre. Some people seem to think that there's a species of pterosaur that lives on, to this day, called a 'Ropen', and has been credulously reported on by the SyFy and History TV channels. That's just ridiculous. I'm a Tapejara, and i've never been on either of those channels :-P

'Some Idiots Flew to Liberia to 'Cure' Ebola Patients with Homeopathy' - Vice. This story is far worse than simply that - real lives are at stake, and the horrendous conflation between genuine attempts to treat people, and the selfish propagation of a fraudulent industry, is an ever-present undercurrent whenever something like this happens. Possession of superstitious beliefs is a strong motive to lie, so i don't even believe this article's ending reconciliation to 'having their heart in the right place'. No! Quackery is done for profit - not for patients - and the perpetrators have already stooped further than they would have to, to make such an excusing lie.

More than 16,000 pages of Charles Darwin's research on evolution has been released online, as part of the Darwin Manuscripts Project. That's a lot of reading, but if you want to have a go at it, then just follow the links:

Here's a story we might be looking back on, in years to come: the European Parliament has voted to approve a resolution to compel search engines (no prizes for guessing which one they might have had in mind) to separate their business interests. The resolution passed by 384 to 174. No thanks to the Ukippers, who ideologically vote 'No' on everything, including anti-ivory-poaching legislation. There's been quite a left-wing streak in the EP, on this subject: last year, the EU's top court ruled that Google must allow a 'right to be forgotten'  where search results disappear (although WaybackMachine still works) even though this would be good news for for unaccounted criminals; and since 2010, the European Commission has fretted about Google's over-arching power, quashing competition.

A 23,000-year-old woman has been dug up in France, with all her curves still in place. Well, some of them have chipped off, but most are still there. "About 12 centimetres (4.7 inches) high, it shows a woman with big breasts and buttocks. The head and arms are less detailed. "The fact that the sculpture is not totally realistic shows the intent was to produce a symbolic image of a woman linked to fecundity," [archaeologist Clement Paris] said."

It looks like the German government's going 'arse about tit', on their Energy policy. Or should that be 'arsch vor dem titten'? Maybe not, LOL. In environmental interests, it was a totally stupid idea to get rid of the nuclear power industry before the coal power industry, and yet that is what they seem to be half way through! Sure, nimbyism and nuclearphobia are making ii difficult to find anywhere to put nuclear waste, but in the mean time it's doing nowhere near as much harm as the coal industry is. And in fact, because they got rid of the nuclear sector, harm committed through the coal industry has increased, in that mean time.

A newly-identified taxon of frog, has been named the Atlantic Coast leopard frog. It looks much like any other in the area, but is distinguishable by its croak. Instead of a more usual 'ribbit' it sounds like it's groaning and coughing. To hear its idiosyncratic vocalisation, follow the link:

Insect porn! Want to see some well-hung millipedes? No? Well, read on anyway, and just don't click the link. The gonopods (millipedes' equivalents of penises) are golden, paired structures, with enough variation between them, that they've been used to distinguish 39 different millipede species. It's the solenomere that really varies the most - the "long, twirly part" at the end, that distributes semen to wherever it needs to be. "Dr Car says, although only 39 species have been formally described, the genus Antichiropus has been extensively collected and examined with 160 species known to occur across most of Western Australia south of the Kimberley."

A reassembled woolly mammoth skeleton has sold, in Britain, for £189,000. I'm not sure this should be considered a good thing, really. When people are willing to pay lots of money for things, they tend to mysteriously go missing. Think of living species, too: the rhinos and tigers that poachers sell to quacks who sell to people who believe that ivory decorations are nice, and that penile dust is a medication. Archaeology and painting has suffered the capitalist desires of those who know that others are willing to pay a lot of money for their equivalents of a lot of old bones. High prices might be bad for both research and the environment.

For the first time, evidence of human older-than-a-baby milk consumption has been found to prove lactose persistence reaching back at least 5000 years. The researchers found that there was milk protein in dental calculus (plaque) on the teeth of Eurasian people. For that to happen, they would have to drink it regularly and frequently, and so it can be relatively-safely assumed that they drank milk quite frequently too.

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'"I'm Dreaming of a Black Friday" by Roy Zimmerman'

'Black Friday sale like ‘the Hunger Games’, claims eye witness'
"With shoppers seemingly willing to end the lives of people standing between them and a 20% discounted television, reports say the number of victims could run into the thousands."

'Really Cool Science with Honey!'

'Ten Steps of Tortoise Taxidermy with Lonesome George'

'Beer physics: How foam affects sloshing'

'Colours of Westminster and Lambeth Bridges'

'Adult Swim compilation 2014' - cyriak

'NASA's SDO shows moon transiting the Sun'

'Guns still awesome, insists Grand Jury'
"America’s love of guns came about when immigrants from Western Europe arrived in the sixteenth and seventeenth century and shot everyone who lived there."

'The Chaser's Media Circus - Season 1 Episode 7'

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Word Of The Week: lethologica -- the inability to remember a word or put your metaphorical finger on the right word

Tree Of The Week: The Lonely Tree of Llanfyllin -- well, it is Wales' tree of the year' :-D

Quote Of The Week: "Always be sincere, whether you mean it or not" - Michael Flanders

Fact Of The Week: The Komodo Dragon can eat 80% of its bodyweight in one mealtime, and actually employs venom to subdue its prey. It's known that some pretty potent bacterial varieties live in Komodo Dragons' mouths, but they presumably take too long to have a predation-enhancing effect. The venom, however, is quick enough to fell a traumatised attack victim, which makes the Komodo Dragon's job a lot easier. Claire Ainsworth found out, last year, through Raja - a dragon at London Zoo - that they can, indeed, be trained to follow commands, and that they can be placated by stroking.

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

'Fossil Rock Anthem'

'One Bottle at a Time (Save the Fishes)'

'All the Salamanders #SmokiesCool'

'The Reluctant Cannibal - Flanders & Swann'

'Hold the Elevator | Robot Chicken | Adult Swim'

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 17-23/11/14

Hi beardies,

ISIHAC is back! Yay :-D

'Series 62 - Episode 1'

Want to hear what it sounds like to land on a comet? Well, this it:

'Scientists record thud of Philae's comet landing'

Short and crunchy :-D

'What Philae did in its 60 hours on Comet 67P'

'What is the difference between asteroids and comets?'

Following the Ukippers' 100% increase in MPs (now 2) there has been a barrage of fascism-fawning churnalism. So let's have some Thump instead...

{On the subject of fawning churnalism -- where's the 'outcry' about deranged monarchists corrupting UK democracy?}

'ISIS leader endorses UKIP candidate'

'‘Send em back where they came from’ officially 2014’s top performing political slogan'
“For some reason the idea of displacing millions of hard working people really resonated with the public – no, I don’t know why either.”

'Farage erection enters 7th hour'
"As his party won its second MP via Mark Reckless in the Rochester & Stroud by-election, Nigel Farage is said to be sporting a tumescence that full-time workers in the adult film industry would be proud of."
{Incidentally, if you happen to have a priapism that lasts longer than 4 hours, then you should head to your local A&E, straight away!}

'New bio-bus to run on bullshit election manifestos'
"The eco-friendly vehicle can travel up to 300km (186 miles) on one tank of gas, which in tests can be filled just by the Education section of the Liberal Democrats manifesto from 2010.The eco-friendly vehicle can travel up to 300km (186 miles) on one tank of gas, which in tests can be filled just by the Education section of the Liberal Democrats manifesto from 2010."

'US adds FIFA to Axis of Evil'
“They’ve accepted bribes, they’ve given bribes, they flout local regulations, they run an active slave trade, they worship the devil, they leave the toilet seat up, they don’t serve dolphin-friendly tuna, and we have a great deal of evidence to suggest it was them who attached a pogo-stick to the bottom of the Philae lander.”

'Letter delivery at risk because we only made £200m profit in 6 months, confirms Royal Mail'

The more there is of something, the more of a threat it presents. Bowl of rice, anyone?

'Don’t freak out over eating rice'

"Rice is an important staple for many people, and the arsenic levels that FDA found in the samples it evaluated were too low to cause any immediate or short-term adverse health effects. All consumers, including pregnant women, infants and children, are encouraged to eat a well-balanced diet for good nutrition and to minimize potential adverse consequences from consuming an excess of any one food."

There simply isn't enough arsenic in rice products to warrant evasion. Just don't subscribe a to a pseudoscientific food fad (like GCB) and eat only huge amounts of rice.

That's why you should always eat a balanced diet - to even out your intake of helpful chemicals, and poisonous ones, so that you maximise what you need, and minimise what you don't.


Thursday 25th November marks the 155th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of 'On The Origin Of Species' by Charles Darwin

In other news:

People in Peru appear to believe that pur
éeing the skin of an endangered frog, and drinking it, is an advisable, admirable, efficacious health panacea! It's called 'Rana y maca', and is a pointless threat to the endangered species Telmatobius culeus, which is known as the 'scrotum' frog after the excessive skin that helps it respire at high altitudes. This behaviour is mirrored all around the world, in slaughtering wildlife for I-SCAM industry fake medicine. This kind of thing really contradicts the idea that an anti-scientific 'alternative' lifestyle is a 'greeny' in-touch-with-nature mode of living!
{Amphibians can breathe through their skin, so having extra skin is like having bigger lungs}

Lonsdaleite - named after famous crystallographer Kathleen Lonsdale - is a very hard form of diamond, often found around asteroid and meteorite impacts. Research might have ended half a century's debate about how lonsdaleite manages to be harder than 'regular' diamond, and what makes it so. It seems lonsdaleite is basically the same as cubic diamond, but its structure is full of repeating flaws (presumably due to a huge impact e.g. meteorite impact) that act like metal atoms in alloys like brass, where they prevent the layers of atoms around them from sliding past each other. This makes the material overall much harder. Further lonsdaleite research could produce new highs of material hardness.

Want to conceal a doughnut from discovery? If so, then John Howell and Joseph Choi, at the University of Rochester, have just the device for you. It's the first device to be able to 'cloak' (as in make apparently invisible) objects across a wide angle, but they do this by deviating light around the centre. This means centred objects can't be cloaked. That's why objects can only be hidden if they're within a doughnut-shaped region around the axis of the lens - hence why it would be good for hiding doughnuts. I'm not sure how useful this would be in practice, but every quantum of evidence helps to understand the potential mechanics of invisibility :-D

A man has used a technique called 'multiphoton lithography' to 3D-print nano-scale sculptures, ranging from the width of a human hair, to hundredths of that width. Basically, the technique is like spot-welding in miniature, but with polymer instead of metal, and light instead of scorchingly hot exhaust gas. So having scanned a model, and worked out where each spot of melted polymer should go, the computer-controlled process builds up a nano-scale polymer sculpture. Follow the link to see pictures of the result - an 80 x 100 x 20 micron figure called 'Trust'.

I'm not sure what's so brilliant about its thighs, but the brilliant-thighed poison frog of the Amazon Rainforest has just become famous for having a mental map of its surroundings. Because it tends for multiple tadpoles, left in different waterpools, across a 600-metre-diameter area, it has a motive to learn how to get from pool to pool with effectiveness and efficiency. Recognising where they are, and how to get where they need to be, improves their own survival chances, and those of their progeny. Until now, apparently, no frogs have been shown to possess this kind of mental map ability.

Migrating across South America to the Peruvian rainforest now, we find an entomologist, who's uploaded videos of a species of bio-luminescent larva. They use bio-luminescence in the same way as deep sea Angler Fish - to coax in prey - which they then grab with their huge jaws. The larvae can also control when they emit light - only when in a hunting position. Which adult species they grow into is currently a matter of speculation - insect larvae famously look nothing like their adult forms! Follow the link to see a video:

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'Do Beards Make Men Sexier? - A Week in Science'

'Secrets of Sex @ Ri Lates'
Sally Le Page's 20 minute show at the Ri's Faraday Theatre... in chunks.

'Quantum Cheshire Cat - Sixty Symbols'

'Science Bulletins: Egg Patterns Identify Intruders'

'Light Bulb in Hydrofluoric Acid (HF)'

'It's All Just Chemistry'
The bread-mat reference:

'Ban Feminism?'
Do you remember when feminists tried to ban the word 'bossy'? Well now they've received a dose of their own medicine... and they don't like it. It seems banning the word 'feminist' is a banning that has been banned :-D

'The Imitation Game Reaction'
Follow the link in the description box for a much more in-depth scrutinisation of the ins and outs of the film. It's a really good review :-)
And skip to 7" on the SGU for a review of 'Interstellar'. It gets far more stars (black holes?) than TIG ;-)

'Johnny Depp buys a bath in Norwich'Stop the Press! ...They keep publishing fatuous stories :-D

'The Expert (Short Comedy Sketch)'
Funnily enough, it is possible to produce all of the required phenomena. It's just not possible to draw them all on a page :-D

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Word Of The Week: potable -- safe to drink; drinkable (through latin for 'i drink')

Scientific Pwnage Quote Of The Week: "...I do think that a really good idea, for environmental reasons, is really getting good at growing meat tissue in labs. That solves all our problems. And obviously the technology isn't there yet, but most people have like a gut reaction of "Ewww, that's icky" and "That's unnatural". Well guess what: the entirety of human civilisation has been us building a giant, middle-finger-shaped monument toward nature! Very few things we do are 'natural' and that's a good thing." - Q-Dragon

Legal Quote Of The Week: "Even unpleasant people are entitled to justice" - Ian Cambridge, Fair Work Commissioner

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

'NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa'
An old image, remastered. Plus a video about the featured moon - Europa.

'Two new Chandra images of supernova remnants reveal intricate structures left behind'
Follow the link for some wordy stuff and a picture

'The inventor of predictive text...'

'At airport...'

'The Two Ronnies: Mastermind'

'Switching Bodies (series)'
I have no idea whether this series is going to continue, but here's it, so far.

'Switching Bodies - Episode 1 {The Kloons}'

'Switching Bodies - Episode 2 {The Kloons}'

'Switching Bodies - Episode 3 - {The Kloons}'