Sunday, 26 January 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 20-26/1/14

Hi antihumans,

First up - a mini-essay i wrote, in the week: 'Neuromarketing: Good Or Bad?' which proves that i do finish mini-essays sometimes. And all in one day, too :o)

And a quiz:

Which animal was discovered in Nelson Mandela's ear, this week?

The answer's at the bottom of the page...

What was that, what went supernova in M82? Well, what that was what went, was a supernova in M82!

'Bright Supernova in M82'

"M82 is a mere 12 million light-years away (so the supernova explosion did happen 12 million years ago, [and that light is] just now reaching Earth), making supernova SN 2014J one of the closest to be seen in recent decades."

'Antimatter experiment produces first beam of antihydrogen'

As is probably common knowledge now [said with a Dunning-Kruger-like air] Supersymmetry explains the observation that matter is, fundamentally, made of fundamental particles, but it is also known that they might all have complimentary antiparticles - each of these might have a 'twin' - a mirror-image-like antiparticle that corresponds to it.

Electrons are matched with positrons, for example, and larger structures, such as hydrogen, can have antihydrogen. These are not negatively present - they are corresponding anti-particles - but they do annihilate when they meet their doppelgangers. This makes it incredibly difficult to isolate antimatter, using matter-made equipment, but
they are known to exist.

In order to collect any, it must be held away from its container - this can be done with hugely powerful magnetic fields. The trouble is, those magnetic fields make it incredibly difficult to do spectroscopic analysis i.e. to 'see' what the matter is and how it interacts with light. The solution: to create a beam of antimatter, isolated from its container, but outside the magnetic fields, for long enough that it can be studied.

"the unambiguous detection of 80 antihydrogen atoms 2.7 metres downstream of their production" might seem like a small achievement (certainly small numbers, for Physics!) but it sets the stage for grander discoveries about antimatter. Roll on, 2014! :-)

Happy 10th anniversary Opportunity!

The Opportunity Rover wasn't expected to last until the end of 2004, and it's still going strong!

Held over from last week, because there was so much stuff:

'First instance of ball lightning captured on video and spectrographs'

Ball lightning, though oft-reported, had not been caught on camera before, in such a way as to verify it as a real thing. All those videos on YT could be anything.

...but here's the video of it. The researchers have isolated the image, and presented its spectrum, to the right.

Interestingly, the hypothesis presented for this phenomenon, by the researchers, is the vaporization of silicon oxide, in the soil, which rises up and floats in the air as it burns out.

We've also recently heard about flames hovering above the ground, prior to earthquakes:

'Extraordinary earthquake lights explained -- they're not UFOs'

The explanation they give, in that case, is that the energy of the preceding tremors energises (heats) certain types of rock, causing small amounts of plasma to form, which races up through cracks and out at the surface.

As excited materials tend to do, they give off light. That's how the Sun works. And lamps. Except lamps don't turn into plasma as they illuminate. Candles in microwave ovens, however...

So plasma is involved in both circumstances, the evidence suggests. The difference is that in 'ball lightning', the energy to form it comes from the atmosphere, and in 'earthquake lights', that energy comes from the ground.

Oh, and note the "they're not UFOs", in the title. Due to the lack of a real explanation, and the wont of bullshitters, they have exploited the opportunity to claim all kinds of ridiculous nonsense. [shakes head derisively] :-D

Speaking of bullshitters - a hysterically conservative lunatic in the UK has joined people of less-enlightened cultures in blaming bad weather on dem gayz!!!

'UK storms are divine retribution for gay marriage laws, says UKIP councillor'

The guy defected from the Conservative Party, to the nationalist party UKIP, because they weren't quite homophobic enough for his tastes - David Cameron saw more votes in allowing Queer people to marry each other, than joining his fervent, baying, bloody-toothed peers.

So there you go, Rest Of World - there are nutbags scattered all over the place :-D

...more nutbaggery:

'No, Edward Snowden Did Not Blow the Lid Off the Alien Conspiracy'
"What do Adolph Hitler, Edward Snowden, and extraterrestrials have in common? Who knows. But FARS is a semi-official news agency of the Iranian government, reportedly affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, which suggests that someone in Tehran thinks this new report alleging that Washington is secretly run by a malevolent race of extraterrestrials known as "Tall Whites"—who also, by the way, engineered Hitler's rise to power—will boost their country's geopolitical posture vis a vis the United States."

...aaand, again:

'Popular Blood-Type Diet Debunked'
The researchers found no correlation between blood-type and responsivity to any kind of diet, as should be expected by anyone who is aware that blood 'groups' - A, B, AB and O - are, to be pedantic, different to blood 'types', which are defined by the biological features of our blood cells. Of which, there are many, many, many more combinations. Blood groups are only what relate to transfusions.
The blood-type diet is merely a pseudo-scientific fad diet, invented by a naturopath (quack) in order to sell a book - surprise, surprise - 'Eat Right for Your Type', which presented no evidence in favour of the claims within it, at the time.

...aaaaaand, again!

'Knees strewn with gold thread'

"When doctors examined an X-ray image of the knees of a woman experiencing severe joint pain, they found a gold mine: hundreds of tiny gold acupuncture needles left in her tissue."

Look at that picture! Quackupuncturists just don't know how to stop!

"Not only is there no scientific evidence that this form of acupuncture works or does anything resembling what they claim, it’s also dangerous. The needles may migrate and damage other parts, they can cause a reaction or infection as the body tries to get rid of the foreign object and they make Xrays hard to read."

...aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, again :-D

'I get that cows are sacred and all, but drinking pee?'
"Urine-drinking Hindu cult believes a warm cup before sunrise straight from a virgin cow heals cancer – and followers are queuing up to try it"
Another claimed panacea -- rule of thumb: claimed cure-alls actually cure nothing!

Well, i knew all religion was batshit crazy... but cowpee crazy, too? Seems like it is... :-D

The side-effects of 'urotherapy' as the quacks call it, can involve anything related to ingredients in your wee. Any chemicals that are not entirely degraded in your body can build up, if you keep feeding it back in. This means it amplifies the hazards in 'herbal medicine', which involves munching on the hundreds of chemicals found in  plant vegetation, potentially meaning overdosing on... pretty much anything. To conclude: don't rely on drinking your own piss, if you don't have to!

And out of the world of bizarre fiction, to...

'Peter Capaldi's first Doctor Who action figure looks great - it's just a shame about Clara'

Nah, she looks good to me... she just looks like someone else... so who is this imposter?? :-D

'JILA Strontium Atomic Clock Sets New Records in Both Precision and Stability'

The new record-holder is 50% more precise than its predecessor, and just as stable... yet the buses still struggle to run on time :-/

For anyone who likes (electric) cars, and shiny things... and maybe even girls that go faster on tiny wings? {Roger Taylor shout-out :-P }

'London to Edinburgh.... in January'

And here's the follow-up, post-trip:

'London-Edinburgh. Mainly Mundane.'

"All-in-all, a 100% successful trip"
"But sir - we lost Mr. Rimmer!"
"...all-in-all, a 100% successful trip!"

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

'Pourquoi j'ai quitté Facebook (Adrien Ménielle)'

'Millions Die from Fukushima Fallout!' - Thunderf00t
This is how comic anti-nuclear hysteria gets... as far as i'm aware. Haha :-D

'Sodom and Gomorrah' - DarkMatter2525
Righteous, my ass! :-D

'Magical vines' via Richard Wiseman

'AO Bloopers - 2014 Australian Open'

Stepanek. Patience... Someone give that man a Guinness :-D

'Dry Ice Depth Charge'
More on the evaporation of liquid CO2, from Nik2K, using a short section of straw, held sideways between tweezers.

'Gollum Singing Wrecking Ball'
Very good. Andy Serkis would be so proud :-D

'Zero S electric Motorbike | Fully Charged'
Bobby Llew's shown an electric bike (as in motorbike) that can do 556 miles per gallon! (equivalent, obviously - no petrol!) With special guest... well, if you don't know who they are, shame on you for not watching Red Dwarf or Death In Paradise :-P

'"Freedom Industries" by Roy Zimmerman'

'Super Bowl 48: The most EPIC Super Bowl ever!'
Dusty explains what's going to make Super Bowl 48 the greatest ever :-D

'"MORE NFL" — A Bad Lip Reading of The NFL'

'Kung Fu Dung Beetles - Operation Dung Beetle - BBC'
Not, strictly-speaking, comedy; and not, strictly-speaking, contemporary; but newly-uploaded by the Beeb, and chuckleatable:

'Weather Phenomenon - Halo 'Three suns' filmed over Russia [sun dog]' via cibertimanios
A stunning parhelion, filmed over Russia. There are more pictures of parhelia, on my tumblr:

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

Word Of The Week: hyperforeignism -- a mistaken translation resulting from the misapplication of foreign linguistic forms e.g. spelling latte with an accent (it doesn't have one) or habanero with a tilde (which it doesn't have)

Tweet Of The Week: "In lift. 2 guys talking. One says he is going to a session on focusing. Presses 9 th floor button. Gets off at 5 by mistake."

Pronunciation Of The Week: Hyundai -- HYUN-day (Korean) Hy-OON-die (British) HUN-day (American) Han-die (Californian Spanish)

Comic Observation Of The Week: The current President of Italy is called Giorgio Napolitano. He has a son called Giulio Napolitano. In 1962, Norman Wisdom played a character called Giulio Napolitani, in the film 'On The Beat'. I wonder whether they're anything alike :-D

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

'John Finnemore - 50 Things You Must Do Before You're 30'

'The Travelling Lemon Goes To Europe'

'WTF Happened to Movie Posters?' via Cibertimanios

'Which words crop up most frequently in song titles?'
Surprisingly, there are more "man"s than "woman"s, but "love" conquers both. How true [sighs] :-D

I agree with the sentiment, but deodorant is really not going to solve complex social problems! :-P

'Could have been worse'
They might be a danger to sick people, and should be banned from hospitals, but as guide animals, there could be far worse than dogs :D

'Divorce happens'
Bloody thumbnails! :-D

'Give it to Jesse Jane'
I'm pretty sure this idea's been done before :-D

On a side note: Birmingham (UK) is proud to be the home of HP Sauce. In celebration of 100 years of production, in 1998, the Queen Mother visited to address workers at the HP factory. Her Majesty was a little frail and unable to get her words out, so they turned her upside-down and smacked her on the bottom. The rest of her speech came out so fast, it was more than her audience could manage! Incidentally, the QM spent the last few months of her life, standing on her head, in a cupboard :-P

'Si miras fijo y de cerca esta imagen, desaparecerá'
Focus on the centre of this image, and the colour will seem to disappear!

'Do you see a nativity scene or two T-Rexes?'
My question: who are the dudes holding up the roof?

'Kinetic Sculpture - Fisher Technical Services, Inc'

'Trevor Noah - Melbourne Comedy Festival'

'Trevor Noah - Live at the Apollo - London'

'Trevor Noah: Crazy Normal - President Jacob Zuma's Speech'

'Trevor Noah: That's Racist - Surfing AIDS'

'Trevor Noah: Crazy Normal - Attention All Passengers'

'Richard Herring: The Racist Origin Of The Belief That Black Men Have Bigger Penises'
Recently uploaded to YouTube, by me. Not so comic, but certainly interesting, Richard expounds the fascinating story behind the myth that Black men are hung like space shuttles.

'Goldtatze: Your cats wants'
I want this for me :o)

I'd rather see them wrapped in

'So, how did you pose the taxidermy crocodile? Oh'

"Just saw this on side of drinks cabinet. Am assuming it means I am fine to stick my thumb up my arse. Am I right?"

'Look at the invisible tree'

'Can you keep and eye on the cross?'

'Ice Tsunami..Glacier like ice moving across Mille Lacs lake, damaging houses, Minnesota' via Cibertimanios
Amazing footage! Glacial ice, apparently, splintering into shards as it's pushed onto land and across these people's lawns.

'Gael Monfils - INSANE Forehands (HD)'

Ridiculously powerful strokes :-D

'Wet floor'
This reminds me of a Mitchell & Webb sketch.
"There is a lot of moisture, but it's not actually a damp problem - it's actually water which the current owners deliberately keep here... i don't know if you can tell, but the floor level actually descends toward this end of the property, and the moisture is even more pronounced here!"

John Howard, former Prime Minister of Oz, gettin' down wiv da yoof, bruv :-D

Googly eyes. Aaargh!

Time-lapse snow, in Connecticut:

'Glen Arbor Ice Boulders in the Making'
Just like with rocks, the rolling and abrasive friction that these lumps of ice experience, is roundening them off into smoothed boulders. Neat :-) Well, not that neat, and they're all dirty, too... [mumble grumble mumble...]

'20 Videos Of Bubbles Crystalizing In Freezing Temperatures'

The answer to the quiz:

It was a little bunny rabbit. The designers of the 10-metre-tall bronze Mandela statue, in Pretoria, were found to have added a tiny rabbit into the cast of his right ear, apparently as a trademark and as a symbol of the speed with which they had to complete the statue. The idea being that the Afrikaans for rabbit is 'haas', which also means 'haste'.

For South Africans who didn't get that answer: [shakes head mournfully] :-P

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Neuromarketing: Good Or Bad?

Date started: 24/1/14              Date Completed: 24/1/14              Date First Published: 24/1/14

You might be aware that i have done a mini-essay on a certain quack company that sells games, with the claim that it will make people keener of mind. That is not neuromarketing, and it is not the subject of this mini-essay. I want to write about the nature of marketing in general, and whether the use of techniques to exploit our susceptibility to persuasion, is something we should fear, and maybe even reject. That is what i shall do...

Like with any science, the techniques developed for use in marketing are tools that can be applied for good or evil.

Nuclear power, for example, can be used to light a city of 10 million people, or it can be used to destroy a city of 10 million people. What you choose to do with it, is a decision that could make you laudable or reprehensible. And that is why it's the politicians, with their fingers on the big red buttons, that should take the flack for nuclear weapons - not the scientists who pursue knowledge for knowledge's sake, naively or not.

And so it is, with the tools of marketing.

There is no (known) way of just reaching into someone's mind and... well, changing their mind. If you're sufficiently strong-minded, or aware of the tricks that might be employed, then you can more easily shrug off persuasive influences. Or, like me, you might just be really difficult to convince :-D

The intent of marketers is to hone a technique by which they can change people's minds. Oh yes - that is what marketing is for - please don't any of you embarrass yourselves by denying it! The entire point behind advertising, in general, is that it changes non-consumers of a product, into consumers of a product - your product - the one you advertised. If advertising never succeeded in this, then there would be no advertising para-industry, and no research being done into 'neuromarketing' either.

You might find this trend increasingly scary - this bid to influence the way we think - to corrupt our decision-making processes, and leave us drowning in useless products that we can barely cram into our homes, at the expense of our bank balances. Well, you're not alone.

But neither is neuromarketing. As we grow up, we all learn rules that are gracefully titled 'social skills'. We might be autistic, and have great difficulty picking them up, but the intent is to convey them to us, and condemn us if we haven't mastered them by adulthood!

The whole point of 'social skills' is that they influence the way people treat us - by learning social skills, we learn how to sculpt others' perceptions of us - essentially, social skills are for manipulating our peers. And that is what marketing is for. Some people will even use this paradigm to encourage jobseekers, for example, to 'sell themselves' more.

But we won't necessarily use these abilities for evil - we might use them to persuade someone to take their medicine, for example, or finish their work, or see something through, consider someone else's point of view, or add persuasive power to a logical argument.

Neuromarketing is contingent on learning how people respond to advertising - their attention spans, features that catch their eye, the cultural contexts in which their product will sell better - black eye-liner to goths, for example.

Or nappies and baby-food to pregnant women. Sometimes the algorithms that are already in use know more about a teenage girl than their own father does:

We know that the intent of neuromarketing is not selfless - it's not social, and it's not philanthropic - it's not the NHS persuading people to join a fitness group, or even the R&C persuading people to file their reports in time - it's intended to convince people to spend more money on products they didn't previously want to buy.

I'll attest this: i find the whole idea of neuromarketing... quite creepy. Another form of manipulation that i find creepy is seduction. Let's face it: the whole point of seduction is to change a person who doesn't want to have sex with you, into someone who does... ummmmm :-/

We could be using these skills to improve effectiveness in classrooms and lecture halls - by attuning to the pupils' and students' concentration spans, presenting data in a way that can easily be assimilated into their minds, and utilising examples that they find easier to engage with.

The techniques that are used in contemporary marketing, and the techniques that might be used in neuromarketing, are not intrinsically bad - they can help us learn - but in the avaricious hands of a profit-motivated company, they will be used to fill our heads with distractions and destructive thoughts. Think of tobacco advertising, and the marketing of 'fast food' to children, for instance.

But neuromarketing is the use of these techniques for the purposes of selling products. So with this specific definition: thumbs up, or thumbs down?

Thumbs down.

But the tools that are used in neuromarketing?

Thumbs up. Let's put them to good use.

If you haven't yet done so, go back and click on that link... or click on it, here: The Checkout did a great expose that's well worth watching. It's certainly scary, the way the biggest companies - the ones most dehumanised by scale, and empathic distance from the customer - have committed to marketing schemes that are designed to, basically, own us!

We should all be very wary of any entity that seeks to hoard data about us, and certainly any of those entities that are explicitly motivated by profit. "Knowledge is power", as they say, and if a profit-motivated company knows our susceptibilities, then they have us 'by the short and curlies'. This is why the Data Protection Act exists - with equivalents, around the world - to protect people from abuse by entities that deal with information about them.

You might have heard about the genetic 'testing' company - 23andMe - that has been in the minds of Science reporters, recently, for, to put it bitterly, screwing people over. Their genetic tests don't actually work, it seems - and this is a common problem with profit-motivated companies that offer such tests. I've written, more generally, about the hazards of medical screening, before, but it seems 23andMe, akin with 'neuromarketers', have a secondary agenda - to stockpile people's personal data for sale to third-parties, in flagrant breach of their trust, but with the potential to make those like Anne Wojcicki and her company stinking rich!

23andMe, by the way, have been told to stop selling their genetic tests, by the USA's Food and Drug Administration, having spent the last six years blagging rather than presenting evidence of efficacy, and are also involved in a separate $5 million class action lawsuit for misleading advertising! {Class action lawsuits represent multiple people at once}

23andMe wrote on its blog in 2008 "Wikipedia, YouTube and MySpace have changed the world by empowering individuals to share information. We believe this same phenomenon can revolutionize healthcare". Not if those individuals deem you untrustable, it can't!

So the techniques employed in marketing are generic, and the techniques involved in neuromarketing are just more effective techniques than their predecessors. Those same techniques can also be used for good, rather than evil, and those that would use them for evil, whether blindly or sightedly, are designing a world that no-one can really be benefitted by.

When it comes to advertising, all the fatcats of the world face the same problem as in Medicine - like Ben Goldacre says in Bad Pharma - when it comes to medicine, we are all in this together. If the director of a pharmaceutical company gets immensely rich, by corrupting the medical evidence-base (censoring negative results) then they will hamper progress, and inhibit the development of working medicines. It won't matter whether they're rich or poor - if the 'best' isn't very good, then they can't do much better than the poor person.

We are all going to be consumers of medicine, someday, and we are all going to succomb to marketing, too.

It all comes down to what we're prepared to put up with -- someone who works in Pharma will strike a wry smile at misleading claims on TV... "that kind of thing funds our vacations, honeybun" ...and someone in Marketing will do the same when they walk down a city street plastered with adverts. They judge it to be worth it, because their special interest biases their perception.

But in an absolute frame of reference, is it worth it, to suffer this barrage of persuasion?

San Francisco banned the 'smellvertising' of cookie-flavoured milk, in 2006, on various bases, but the main one being the exacerbation of obesity. People who overeat generally feel more hunger than people who do not - i, for example, stay thin because i'm just not that hungry. 'Bigger' humans i have met seem eternally hungry - their hunger sparkable by the mere mention of food. Biologists know this as a system hinging on the chemical 'ghrelin'. There are two mechanisms by which we feel hunger - one proportional to the depletion of our fat cells, and one proportional to our exposure to tasty stuff. Our stomachs release ghrelin whenever we're exposed to a tasty smell, or even the idea of something tasty, and some people experience this more powerfully than others. There is only so much that self-control can achieve - fat people genuinely do have it harder than thin people!

On this basis, smellvertising, and food advertising in general, can be seen, evidentially, as abusive.

As we proceed into the 21st century, markets are likely to become less physical, and more Web-based. If this does indeed happen (which i predict it will not, with products like food, because people feel reassured by tactile experience) then advertising might become the only way for unfamiliar products to become familiar to us. In the past, you'd just see it in the store, and so the only function of advertising was to make you perceive it as better. I remember a reader of New Scientist writing in their Letters section, that their young son had remarked that if the product were worth buying, then it wouldn't need advertising. Give that lad a medal :-D

We really need to get a grip on what we're prepared to tolerate, in letting control of our lives be meted out to companies. But inevitably, getting a grip will require some form of regulation - and the industry won't take kindly to that. If we don't reel them in, now, we might lose all opportunity to, in the future.

My advice, in the meantime: neuromarketing - get smart, know their tricks, always remind yourself what you originally wanted, also remind yourself of what you really need, and remember that even algorithms should be treated as salespeople - don't take their word for anything, try to make decisions in a diplomatically-neutral environment where you're less susceptible to pressure, and don't make decisions when you're tired and vulnerable.

Other than that... good luck.

Oh, and stay skeptical people, stay skeptical. i'm off to buy an electric golf trolley... FOR GOLF!!! :-P

P.S. There's no such thing as 'good luck' and subliminal advertising isn't a thing, either.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 13-19/1/14

Hi synthetic-breasted-DNA-shedding-cannibalist-novelists!

I'm running short on inventive intros. Can you tell? :-D

First up - please sign this - the more signatures there are, in petitions like this one, the more it'll show the Russian government that homophobic hysteria is not OK, and that there are plenty of people around the world who agree on that point. All people and nations can influence each other, so any changed mind is an achievement. 
 'To: Winter Olympians'

That sexy top's being modelled by Belle Brockhoff, btw, whom, amongst other athletes, fears the way they might be treated, at the Games. Their fears are not unfounded - non-athlete residents have been subject to brutal homophobic violence, in recent years, with victims unable to name their perpetrators' crime, because it's unlawful to even acknowledge homosexuality, in Russia atm!
Please sign.

And, on with the show. You might have seen the last episode of the Sherlock mini-series. In it, they reference 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens - houses that are mere facades. Are they real?

'The 'houses' in Leinster Gardens'

They're absolutely real - the facades are in Leinster Gardens, built to preserve the image of the street, from the road, but to leave room behind, for smoke from the London Underground trains to escape through!

As the article says of numbers 23 and 24:

"Like Dolly Parton, Blackpool and extreme political organisations of both left and right, it is all front."

Incidentally, i happen to know that 'Dolly the Sheep' was called Dolly, because she was cloned from a cell from another sheep's mammary gland.

"Who's famous for mammaries?", thought the scientists, "Why, Dolly Parton is", they giggled, "Then we shall call her 'Dolly'." And so it was.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why scientists never present comedy shows... apart from Brian Cox, Dara O'Briain, Harry Hill, and, um... more.

Some scientists do have a strong sense of humour :-P

Exciting news from the world of synthetic biology:

'First Plastic Cell With Working Organelle'

"Jan van Hest and his PhD candidate Ruud Peters created their organelles by filling tiny spheres with chemicals and placing these inside a water droplet. They then cleverly covered the water droplet with a polymer layer -- the cell wall. Using fluorescence, they were able to show that the planned cascade of reactions did in fact take place. This means that they are the first chemists to create a polymer cell with working organelles. Just like in the cells in our bodies, the chemicals are able to enter the cell plasma following the reaction in the organelles, to be processed elsewhere in the cell."

Other researchers have been working on replicating the equivalent mechanisms, with the specific materials that are used within real cells - fatty acids, for example - but i think the mechanisms are of highest interest. It doesn't really matter whether the specific components are the same, as long as the processes they go through mimic real cells.

In future, these simplified versions of real cells, made to order, will be incredibly useful in exploring the myriad of chemical reactions that go in inside the cells of every living organism on Earth - a world that is, as yet, very murky to us!

'DNA detectives able to 'count' thousands of fish using as little as a glass of water'

"It might be unpleasant to think about when going for a swim in the ocean, but the water is a soup of cells shed by what lives there," [Ryan Kelly, University of Washington assistant professor of marine and environmental affairs, and lead author] said. Fish shed cells from their skin, damaged tissues and as body wastes. "Every one of those cells has DNA and if you have the right tools you can tell what species the cell came from. Now we're working to find the relative abundance of each species present," he said.

Wow! What the scientists did, was to identify different species by the genetic samples they left in the water. By collecting a glass of it, they could recognise those traces, and match them to the species they already knew.

This technique could be used to track the presence and abundance of known species, in the wild, without catching them.

The limitations are, of course, that it can't be used to identify unknown species, because their genetic 'fingerprint' would be unknown. Also, the technique didn't work for cartilaginous 'bony' fishes - rays and sharks - or the reptiles in the tank - turtles.

Potentially, this means that ocean and waterway surveys can be conducted without costing the lives of the species they're looking for... and no excuse for Japanese whalers who slaughter them 'for research'.

And here i go, bringing the mood down again --- sickening religious behaviour by a Christian man who blamed a Muslim for his wife's death -- he proceeded to find the next entirely-different Muslim man, and to eat him, in public, while passing strangers vomited in disgust!

'Cannibal Eating Muslim Man That Killed His Wife–CAUGHT ON TAPE'

Imagine if he'd arbitrarily picked somebody who instead happened to be White, or had epicanthal folds, or was short, or fat, or had collected sticks on an arbitrary day of the week.

What kind of a sick, corrupted mind could think such a thing morally viable? Well, actually, this other Christian dude thinks it:

'How Religion can make you happy to kill!'

Except he's a pale and pastey White man, boasting armchair bigotry. Either way - religion, yuck. :-(

There will never be peace in the world while do-gooders don't know what 'good' is!

A first for RC Christianity: this week, the Holy See (the Roman Catholic Church when it's speaking through its 'country' hat) reported to the UN, for the first time ever. And guess what about -- their systematised abuse and rape of children, around the world.

'Crime But No Punishment'

Did they show an intent to stop being such perverted anti-sexual deviants, however? No - they offered only empty promises - as usual - to prevent their faction's 'image' from slipping! It's possibly a sign of progress that they're apologising to the UN, though, or maybe they're just trying to make more use of their guise as a nation?!

As if to pile in on the coincidence, Roy Zimmerman has presciently recorded and uploaded a good 'ol song, to cheer us up, in deriding the factionalism that keeps people apart:

'"Norwedish Hate Anthem" by Roy Zimmerman with Joe Zimmerman'

They're both wrong, however. The English, the English, the English are best! I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest :-D

'Flanders & Swann - A Song Of Patriotic Prejudice (VIDEO)'

"This is a song calculated to offend practically everybody" :-D

In case you're wondering:

- Michael Flanders had polio, which left him paralysed from the chest down, meaning he had to breath from the shoulder.
- This performance is from the '60s - not the Teenies of Lloyd-George's Prime Ministership.
- And no, Donald Swann was always like that :-D

Away from Superstition, and back to Science, for some pleasant News...

'ScienceCasts: Countdown to Pluto'

NASA has officially started plugging New Horizons' arrival at Pluto. Unfortunately, that countdown's going to be quite long - it won't start sending back pictures until July of 2015!

There's more from NASA in 'contemporary stuff', btw...

'The Secret to Writing a Bestselling Novel'

If you have any awareness of anything, you'll probably be aware that there are all kinds of people willing to offer fatuous advice about how to do things. Writing novels is just one example.

Don't worry - Mignon is not trying to sell you anything - her podcast's free!

But the 'rules' she describes... not very useful, but certainly curious ;-)

Other things that happened this week:

MI5 and MI6 officers have been granted permission to break the national speed limits on the UK's roads. They have to abide by the rules of the road even if national security is threatened, but they will be given the same exemptions as police vehicles, ambulances and fire engines, Transport Minister Robert Goodwill has announced. Basically, that means they can treat red lights as 'give way' signs, and break speed limits on open roads, where it's safe to do so.

Guenter Zettl was awarded a copy of 'Painter Man' by 'The Creation', for correctly identifying it in a radio competition, 45 years before, when he was 18. The Stasi intercepted his postcard response, and censored it due to the illegality of listening to 'Western' stations. This week, the radio station Europawelle Saar awarded him a copy of the single. How cute.

Female capuchin monkeys were captured by film-makers for the BBC/Discovery Channel co-production series Wild Brazil throwing stones at potential mates as a form of flirtation. In-so-doing, their use of tools displays greater skill than the humans who behave with similar antipathy to lovers - they usually resort to punching, shoving and verbal abuse. Does this mean capuchins are more mature than humans? Discuss.

A nun who had sex, got pregnant, and then birthed the baby somewhere in the central Italian city of Rieti, claimed she had no idea she was pregnant. She thought she merely had stomach ache. I have no idea whether she's also claiming pathenogenesis! Do i have to remind everyone that Jesus was a girl? It's impossible to produce an XY individual, when all of the genome comes from an XX mother. Either 'the big JC' was a lady, or Mary was a bloke in drag... or lying. Nah - people don't ever lie to save face, do they :-P

I've held a ball lightning story over 'til next week.... just so you know :-P

I reckoned there was disproportionately much wordiness, for one week, in this issue.

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

To start - two awesome astronomy videos, from AMNH - the American Museum of Natural History:

'Science Bulletins: Signs of Water Detected on Distant Worlds'
{There's no narration in this one, so keep you peepers on the text!}

'Seeing Planets Like Never Before'
A demonstration of the incredible science that's done to peruse the exoplanets of our galaxy.
{When the James Webb Space Telescope comes online, in 2018, it'll give us masses more data to search for signs of life in}

And from Science@NASA - how to recover meteorites:

'ScienceCasts: New Year's Asteroid Strike'

'See Liquid Carbon Dioxide'

'Pouring Mercury into Liquid Nitrogen (slow motion)'

'How the Rosetta spacecraft will orbit a comet'
Funky-sounding music, for a funky-looking journey :D

'Hunting falcons rely on sailor's trick'

'Knight's Tour - Numberphile'

'Cassetteboy vs David Attenborough'
{Deleted on the grounds of nudity? Pathetic! Hopefully, the video will be returned. Update: Link to silly version with pixellated bits so we don't know what they could possibly have 'down there'. Gah! }

'Eating Grass For Jesus!'

'SURICATE - Faites-Le Rire / Make Him Laugh'

'Top Wesh (Lucien Maine)'

The gangsta version of Masterchef! This week, on Top Gangsta, the candidates vie to impress the judges on Gangsta Stars.

Interesting goings-on at the Australian Open, this week:

'Ball kid classic catch (2014 edition) - 2014 Australian Open'

And proof that even the best can completely shash up a serve!

'Wozniacki serve fail - 2014 Australian Open'

'Andy Murray's super shank serve - 2014 Australian Open'

I feel so much better about myself :-D

'Sherlock Falling'
This was bound to happen. Internet memes, eh :D

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

Word Of The Week: opprobrium -- harsh criticism or censure; often following someone's shameful conduct

Etymology Of The Week: Spain -- possibly via 'I-spania', from Punic for 'land of rabbits'

Gene Of The Week: Headbobber - Headbobber mice have characteristic ear problems including bobbing their heads (obviously), going round in circles, balance problems and deafness.

Quote Of The Week: "A stitch in Time makes it difficult to turn the pages" - Anon; very possibly me

Fact Of The Week: The first spherical magnets were made in the 16th century (or earlier), by grinding mined magnets, called lodestones, into spheres. These were called "terrellas" (little Earths) by William Gilbert, the physician to Queen Elizabeth I of England. He presciently believed the Earth itself to be a giant lodestone with a weathered surface.

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

'Is Katy Perry's Album a Biohazard?'

'I'm A Climate Scientist - Extended Version - (CLEAN)'

'Wonders of the Stoner System'
What Brian Cox really did with licence-fee-payers' money :-P

'Incredible Painted Dolls'
The best thing about this article, is that they censored the boobs on the Angelina Jolie doll! LMAO. That puts porn filters in perspective :-D

'Knife Throwing Mama'
Oh, the horrendous things people do for a giggle >:-(

Some of cheekychickenhead's videos, that i've added to my YT playlist 'comedy 4' - casual, aussie humour, newly-discovered by me. I like :o) Starting with the oldest... and most psychotic, haha :-D

'Survivor Parody'
{This is what Survivor is, btw, if you don't know it}

'TaDa Look at Me | Olympic Events'

"I've got to get on the floor!"

'Flagged | I've made it big time!'

'Keep Your Day Job'

'Yentl Bra'
Are four boobs better than two? Answers on a postcard... :-P

'Gift wrapped'
Best. Freudian Slip. Everrrr. :-D

Pokemon tribute to Miley Cyrus:

Are those dogs mocking that baby? Bitches!
<<<Tapejara receives 3 points on its blogging licence for using such a trite joke>>>

'futurama songs'
Songs from Futurama. Self-explanatory, really :-P

And this DIY 'cheap and cheerful' not-really-a-valid-medical-test says you are... oh :-/
"u have a demon"

'Unlikely things for Andy Murray to think - Mock the Week - Series 12 Episode 9 - BBC Two'

'Chris Packham's The Smiths references - Springwatch 2009'
Chris Packham is a Leg End. There is nothing more to say :-D

'Clever Old Dog'
Featuring the dog that plays fetch with himself.


Sunday, 12 January 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 6-12/1/14

Hi stargazers,

It's been Stargazing week, on the Beeb, this week:

In it, Dara O'Briain got put in NASA's G-machine. If it's any suggestion of what people will look like, in decades to come, then it's good signs for Dara.

Not such good signs for the great Professor Brian Cox, however, who experienced it for his series 'Wonders Of The Universe'.

'Brain Cox endures extreme G's'

It looks like he's been in the Rolling Stones! D:Ream must have got up to a lot more than we thought :-D

'Radar reveals extraordinary ladybird flight paths'

What extraordinary flight patterns would they be? Well...

"Scientists examining radar data have spotted the tiny creatures travelling at heights of up to 1100 metres, and at speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour."
Wow! Presuming the data is accurate, of course.

They might just be anomalous data points. But that performance would explain, as the article says, how the Harlequin Ladybird has managed to migrate so far, so quickly.

'The combover: A hairstyle that refuses to lie down'

Personally, i think the mohican's a pretty good hairstyle...

A big... orange... mohican. That looks good ;-)

Asinine bullshit propaganda from international terrorist organisation PETA:

'Another Cuban Missile Crisis'

Are they seriously claiming that going vegan will make men last longer, in the sack?

Maybe it should be pointed out to those nutbags that the only way diet could do that, is by quelling excitation - so lasting longer means taking longer to get it up, and having more difficulty in keeping it there.

So yeah - go vegan; gain erectile dysfunction - let's buy into that bullshit! <s>

No more hard-ons, no more wide-ons, if you only eat greens. That's if you reach adolescence at all.

Grumble grumble grumble... lovely weather we're having... etc.

Good news, everyone! This...

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

'SURICATE - Saison 2'
Finally - a trailer that makes sense - how can they show us anything, if it hasn't happened yet? Duh :D

World-leading psychologist Richard Wiseman has a new channel :o)

'In59seconds - Think a little. Change a lot'

'10 Amazing Ways To Stop Overeating'

'Never lose your wallet or purse again'

He has, quite deservedly, made his way into a tumblr GIF:

'Reconstruction gives Stonehenge man a face'
And... he looks like a regular bloke... who's confused to have a face, again :D

'Researchers use sound waves to levitate objects in three dimensions'
I posted a video of this, last week. Here's the wordy version. 3D acoustic tweezers. Oh yeah :D
The video:
'Levitación de objetos mediante intersección de ondas sonoras'

'The Covert World of Fish Biofluorescence'

These next two videos are not the same!

'National Gallery Faces of Chemistry 11-14 Microscopy'

'National Gallery Faces of Chemistry 16-18 Chromatography'

'Charlie's Zombie Noises'
Charlie's zombie needs some opal fruits :-D

'ASTOUNDING: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + ... = -1/12'
This is like a joke, played on mortals by the gods... "Haha - they'll never get their puny heads around this [rumble rumble]"
The joke is in the premise - in the first equation, the answer is not 1/2  - it's undefined. That makes the rest of the equating facetious :-D
BTW, the Physics it's involved in is String Theory which is, as yet, an obsolete hypothesis. I hope that, someday, all those brilliant minds' works don't prove to be wasted, however.
In Professor Ed's video, you can see him use other mathematical shortcuts that don't necessarily hold all the time but that give the same result. It's wonderfully preposterous maths :-D

'Carl Sagan's Cosmic Calendar'
Made with updated footage. We now know more details of this cosmic calendar - flowers appeared much earlier than thought, for example - but Carl Sagan does this so wonderfully.

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

Word Of The Week: brachiation -- diverging into branches / swinging from branch to branch, as a form of locomotion

Etymology Of The Week: bourse -- Stock Market; through the meaning of 'meeting place', from latin 'bursa' meaning 'hide'; in modern french, 'bourse' means 'pocket'/'purse'

Fact Of The Week: In 1965, George and Charlotte Blonsky invented a centrifugal birthing machine (to help extract babies from women, by swinging them around in a circle). In 1999, they received a posthumous Ig Nobel Prize for their efforts

Quote Of The Week: "If you gave [Jerry] Falwell an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox." - Christopher 'Hitch' Hitchens

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

'Sneezes of the world'

'Hey, mother foca'
Foca: the earless seal

'Who Were the Amazing Ross Sisters?'
Ripley's' lowdown on the amazing Ross Sisters, as well as other extraordinary contortionists.

'Truck Made From 11,000 Pounds of Ice'

Conservative hysteria, LOL

John Cage's 4'33" has been silenced due to third-party content :-D

"Son, if you can't say something nice, say something clever but devastating"

'Amazon Kleenex Review'

'The after-effects of a flood near Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Sherbrooke, Quebec'

P.S. If you're living in the Far Northisphere, and feeling the effects of the cold, wintry winds, take a peek at my tumblr for December, where there are lots of pictures of the Sun to make you feel warmer :o)


Monday, 6 January 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 30/12/13 - 5/1/14

Hi new-year alcoholics,

Tesco supermarket seems committed to encourage healthy behaviours, by selling...

'Everyday Value Vodka 70Cl'

That's right. Just shove some in your spag bol, pour it over your cornflakes, and spice up your cup 'o tea. Squirt some "everyday" vodka in it!

Tesco, in line with other supermarkets, thereby demonstrates that there is zero necessity to be better at regulating the food and drink industry, and certainly zero cause to be better at regulating supermarkets.

After all, like your friendly GP says:

"A pint of vodka a day keeps the doctor away... if you throw it at them"

...or maybe Tesco's just shit at marketing, and this is an honest mistake?

Nah - only joking - with the amount of money they pour into marketing, this is highly unlikely to be an accident.

But let's go back to that expression:

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away"

Dr Steven Novella has written an article refuting quacks who condemn Skeptical Rationalists, such as himself, as Big Pharma shills, despite the obvious (except to themselves) irony - the Quackery industry is massively profitable, and Rationalists rarely profit by their adherence to evidence!

As an example, he compared statins to, quite literally, the practice of eating an apple a day. What would happen if everyone over 50 were offered a statin / ate an apple every day, for vascular ill-health, and 70% actually took it?

The evidence showed that taking a statin would save ~9400 (7000 to 12500) lives per year from vascular illness, and eating an apple would save ~8500 (6200 to 10800) lives per year from vascular illness.

That means eating an apple a day saves an equivalent number of lives from vascular illness, compared to taking a statin... but with much less serious side-effects.

In fact, the only noteable side-effects of eating an apple are tooth decay (from the acidic juices; solved by being assertive with tooth brushing, with toothpaste) and weight-gain through the high-calorie content of the sugars that are in fruit (go for another walk).

Yet again, the general advice for healthy living is this:

- Eat a well-rounded healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Get enough sleep
- Don’t smoke
- Use alcohol in moderation

And that advice hasn't changed for decades.

BTW, a vodka every day is not "moderation", Tesco PLC!

A spoiler alert now!

In the new Sherlock series - Sherlock undies :-P

So now you know...

Due to the plot of that episode, the BBC's Magazine Monitor has done an article about abandoned London Underground stations:

'The allure of abandoned Tube stations'

At least half a million people don't know how he didn't not die, however:

You gotta watch it to the end, guys :-D

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

Forget the YouTube Rewind video - this is the one you ought to watch :-D

Verification of the Benedict Cumberbatch neutron story. LOL
Simon Pegg talked about this on Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre podcast. That's where i first heard it:

'Levitación de objetos mediante intersección de ondas sonoras'
Want to see what acoustic tweezers can do? Yeah - pretty impressive stuff :)

Only three items? Yeah - it's January - everyone in the Far Northisphere's hibernating :-D

Have some rhymes, instead:

While wanderin' through Sherwood Forest,
i bumped into one Friar Tuck;
said "i heard your name's a spoonerism".
that he used to be called Triar F... actually, let's try another one.

There once was a man dressed in orange,
Who went by the name of Stan Collins;
He was unfortunately built,
I mean, under his kilt;
His member was shaped like a syringe.

Simple Simon wore an iPod,
going to the fair;
said simple Simon to the pieman:

In a house, on a hill, lives a hobbit,
least i think that's what he said he was to me;
he had spent all his time on a rocket,
and left me to work out the trajectory!

While pondering my favourite Science,
i thought "well, it's got to be Physics";
with Newton, and Einstein, and Krauss,
and the latter's penchant for Politics;
but i've got to consider Biology,
and the squidgy bits in all those animals;
and then there's my interest in Chemistry,
which comes between each in the annals...
of Science's great records of wonder and might,
of evidence and empiricism;
'scientility''s the name for truth-born delight,
and like Science, this poem'll take criticism...
i expect.

Well, you make a poem with the word 'empiricism' in it! :-P

While writing some of these, i got writer's block, and couldn't think of the right word for two weeks. Then i remembered it - 'fortnight'.

They might not be up to the standards of William Topaz McGonagall, but i hope they make someone smile :-)

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

Word Of The Week: dioecious - describing species that have distinct male and female sexes

Expression Of The Week: 'court of piepowders' -- 'piepowder' comes from french - 'pied poudreux', meaning 'dusty footed' - it referred to itinerant tradesmen, who bought and sold their wares at borough fares. the 'court of piepowders' was a borough organisation that existed to organise these fairs, settle disputes, and punish theft and violence. They had died out in the UK, by the end of the 19th century.

Etymology Of The Week: St Kilda -- an island of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The name does not come from that of a saint - there is no saint called Kilda, male or female. Leading hypotheses are that it was originally sunt kelda (sweet wellwater) or skildir (shields)

Fact Of The Week: The elements lutetium, hafnium, and holmium are named after Paris, Copenhagen, and Stockholm, respectively; the elements copper, ruthenium, thulium, and magnesium, are named after Cyprus, Russia, Norway, and the region Magnesia, in Greece, respectively.

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

'Roger Federer - Top 10 All-Time Tweeners (HD)'
I'm too short to play this shot. 65cm isn't enough :-(

'Andy Murray vs Roger Federer Australian Open 2013 Semi Final'

'The Fastest Tennis Shots (HD)'

'The Fastest Tennis Shots - 2nd Part (HQ)'

'The Fastest Tennis Shots in 2013 [HD]'

'The Greatest ATP Points in Tennis [HD1080p]'

'British Whale - This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us'
Here's an old favourite - and yes, that is Phil 'the power' Taylor - and yes, those two are Ron and Russell Mael, who did the original of this song :-D

'British Whale - This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us (Making Of)'

'Best Snookers in Snooker (Reedited)'

'Exhibition Shots'

'Exhibition Shots 2'

'Perfect Swerve Technique'

'Snooker Bloopers'

'Snooker Chuckles!'

'Rammstein - 03 - Rammlied (Rammin The Steins Remix by Devin Townsend)'
Loving this remix. So comic :D

'Reflections on Planet Earth'

'The boy with the giant head'

'Giant Snow ‘Crop Circles’'

A beautiful map of Earth's circulating weather systems; apparently updated every 3 hours. I'm not sure how accurate, nor useful it is, but it certainly looks nice :-)

'Estructura de un hormiguero revelada por aluminio líquido'
The structure of an anthill, cast in aluminium

'Giphoscope, reproductor de GIF animados analógicos'
Giphoscope - a reproduction of GIF images, in analogue form. The last one's a bit quirky :D

[smirks] :o)

'Awkward moments of 2013'

'How Canadians are hatched'

"There's a pudding hidden in the money"

"I'd like to be able to move out of my parents' place"

'A Still From A Workplace Etiquette Video For Deer'

'Death's Psychiatrist'

ès-ing Mantes'

'Carbon Hard Under Pressure'


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

What Happened In 2013? An Uncomprehensive Guide

In case you've forgotten what happened during 2013, or just forgot how long ago each event was, here's a rundown of some of the major events that occurred, in chronological order, during the totally-arbitrary solar sojourn that was the year 2013 CE.

It's not comprehensive - it'd be too long to read, if it were - and it might be a tad anglo-centric, but i've tried my best. Enjoy...


Malala Yousafzai - the the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by Religion, in October 2012, for wanting to go to school but being a girl - is discharged from hospital, in Birmingham, the UK.

Researchers successfully restore sight in mice, by injecting photosensitive cells into their retinas. This promises a future cure for retinitis pigmentosa.

The AllTrials campaign is launched, pioneered by Ben Goldacre, to gain access to vital pharmaceutical research data. Medical organisations from around the world sign up almost immediately, with many pharmaceutical companies refraining, for obviously capitalistic reasons.

A cloud of atoms is made that appears to 'break temperature' by going below absolute zero. What it really does is to expose the insufficiency of Classical Physics, in describing very low-energy ensembles.

Researchers create a super-omniphobic material. Everyone gasps at how clean it is.

Quadruple helix DNA is discovered in human cells. "Wow, that's amazing" Unfortunately, it's associated with cancer. "Boo, hiss"

A sucrose-based skin patch is developed, to deliver vaccines without the need for a scary-looking needle. It means the potential for self-administered vaccination, as there is less risk of misuse or accident, and the patch can't be reused, which also means protecting more people from horrible diseases.


Glory-hunters claim to have found the remains of King Richard III of England, under a Leicester car park. In actual fact, the genetic tests they used are insufficient to determine such a conclusion - they could be one of many thousands of ancestors - but who cares when it gets publicity!

Antarctic researchers discover bacteria, living under sub-glacial ice, in Lake Whillans. This means they can survive without light, in persistently low temperatures.

A meteor splinters and crashes into the frozen ground near Chelyabinsk, in Russia. At almost the same time, another meteorite passes Earth, from the opposite direction, too small to be detected. Conspiracy theorists go crazy, ignoring the fact that neither the USA nor Russia have a meteorite cannon in outer space.

Fox News mistakenly uses a picture of a lesbian couple to cover an article promoting 'traditional marriage'. Butch lesbians, eh - FSM bless 'em all!

Pope Benedict 'Rattie' XVI resigns his infallibility to become Pope Emeritus. The Vatican is struck by lightning on the same day, and superstitionists conclude it's a message from Yahweh. Presumably, a very poorly worded one.

A researcher of the ideation of conspiracy theories publishes a paper about it, and is subsequently subject to conspiracy theories about his study of conspiracy theories. Or is this story a conspiracy to make us think it was?

Australian-based comedy group 'The Sunny Coast Skate' shoots a dance video to Baauer's 'Harlem Shake' song, starting a meme that will last half the year.


The UN imposes stricter sanctions on North Korea, for conducting nuclear weapons tests, detected by seismology. Three days later, North Korea withdraws from its armistice with South Korea.

The Curiosity Lander makes its first major discovery, examining the rocks in Gale Crater, and sends back extraordinary images of the Martian surface.

MIT reveals their running cheetah robot. Surprisingly, it doesn't fall over.

The Planck telescope reveals an almost perfectly smooth universe, with a mysterious but incredibly subtle pattern hinting at mysterious early-universal physics. Theoretical Physicists order new crates of chalk.

An Italian man who worked in the UK for 10 years, pretending to be a lawyer, was convicted on 25 charges of deception, fraud and money laundering. He claimed to have worked with train robber Ronnie Biggs, Saddam Hussein, Harold Shipman, and Slobodan Milosevic.

Maurice Goeller - a Swiss quackupuncturist - is sentenced to 13 years in prison, for giving 16 people HIV via standard acupuncture practice. The I-SCAM industry does not commit to any kind of reform, and no official investigation of the fraudulent industry ensues.

Companies that bank with Cyprus - a tax-haven - are given a $13 billion bailout, by the EU. And who is made to pay for this? The people who actually live in Cyprus, via a tax on their savings accounts! Protests are met with disdain.

A species of fly is discovered that is only 0.13 millimetres long. Unsurprisingly, they found it while hunting for fly eggs, not trying to spot it in flight.

Chinese scientists further develop aerogel to produce the least-dense material ever created by mankind. It's carbon-based, and only slightly more dense than air.

Jon Millward reveals what a real porn star looks like, and how they live their lives, through statistics. They turn out to be very 'average' - men are 5'10", women 5'5", but weighing a couple of stone less than the USA's population. That's not hard! The average female's measurements are 34B-24-34, and her hair colour is 'brunette'.
She is proportionally representative of all ancestral backgrounds, and gets into the industry at the same age as her predecessors 40 years ago - at 22. Men, however, are starting younger - 25, down from 29. They're not noteably kinky, but they are more open to new ideas, and experience higher-than-average self-esteem, social support, and sexual satisfaction. Also, the majority do more than three shoots before deciding to quit.
The research jars horrendously with what common prejudice says about pornographers and the porn industry. But that's exactly what you'd expect of people who are ignorant of it!

The world's first entirely-algae-powered building is constructed in Hamburg, Germany. It is, quite literally, a green building.

In Bangladesh, an 8-storey manufacturing building collapses, claiming the lives of 1,129 people, and injuring 2,515. The profit margins of companies that used the employees' labour - like Benetton, Bonmarché, Matalan, Primark, and Walmart - were barely affected, although some did make a meagre effort to pay reparation.

Lady Thatcher - the only woman to ever be Prime Minister of the UK, past or future, unless the Tories let people forget her - receives a funeral, partly funded by British Labour Party-voting taxpayers. They do not receive shares in her cemetery plot. Atos later declares her fit for work.

IBM produces the world's smallest movie: 'A Boy And His Atom'. It was shot through a Scanning Electron Microscope, and made with carbon monoxide molecules.

James McCormick is arrested for selling dowsing rods to the UN, USA, UK, and Iraqi security services, as well as others, calling them 'bomb detectors'. His crimes are recognised by the courts, but they, governments, and the Media, continue to pretend that the root problem is not that dowsing is nonsense, and that he is as much a charlatan as a friendly homeopath!

The first gun to be manufactured by a 3D-printer is fired. It breaks. Some others don't fire, at all. But the question still remains: is it a good idea to empower any chump/sociopath with a gun obsession, and enough money to buy a printer, with the ability to manufacture such an item?

The second of twins was born, 87 days after their sister! Some commenters make it clear that they need reminding what 'twins' really means.

Angelina Jolie receives a double mastectomy, due to medical advice. Epidemiologists go to town, futilely attempting to explain to the scientifically-illiterate Media what her risks really were, and why genetic screening - especially that offered by 23andMe - is not advised, in attempts to be safe.

Lego produces a full-scale model of a Star Wars X-Wing fighter - the largest in history - using 5,335,200 bricks.

The New York Times reports that the USA spends the most on healthcare, of any country in the world, yet has the worst healthcare of any developed country. The reason: lack of universal healthcare. They leave medicine in the hands of the private sector, which forces up costs.

Andy Murray becomes the first British winner of the Men's Singles competition at Wimbledon, for 77 years. It had been 36 years since a woman won the Women's Singles, 6 years since Andy's brother - Jamie - won the Mixed Doubles, and only 1 year since a Brit won the Men's Doubles.
Many newspapers failed to report this correctly, when they truncated their headlines to paraphrases of "First Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years". Wrong!

Edward Snowden reveals himself to be the man who released top-secret documents regarding the activities of the USA's NSA - they had been undergoing covert surveillance, spying on individuals, organisations and governments alike. All, quasi-legally. He is prosecuted under the guise of 'national security'. The spying continues, while the world waits for another hero. Bradley Manning - another whistleblower - announces his body dysmorphia, and that he wishes to be known as Chelsea Manning. A transsexual hero!

The US Supreme Court rules that non-synthetic genes may not be patented, with significant implications for future medical research. Permitting Intellectual Property legislation to encroach on science in this way could easily hold humanity back - practically, enforcing a form of blasphemy law, where people are prohibited from freedom of information, at another's selfish whim.

Bizarre stories of goblins running amok continue to come from Zimbabwe, where goblins are believed to be real. The serious moral of these stories is yet another one warning against superstition. Lives will continue to be lost, if they don't discover the true causes of the events.

China's Shenzhou 10 manned spacecraft returns safely to Earth, having conducted China's longest manned space mission to date. But this is not their biggest achievement to come, in 2013.

The President of Egypt - Islamist, Mohammed Morsi - is deposed, and onlookers wait to see whether there will be any genuine changes made, as failed to happen with their last revolution.

The male guppy is found to grow claws on its genitals, in order to improve its chances of successful reproduction! Penisia dentata? Be afraid!

The London Array - the world's largest offshore wind farm - opens in the UK, in the London Estuary. Thousands of hysterical Londoners instantly get psychogenic migraines.

Solar Impulse completes the second leg of its global flight, powered only by the light of the Sun. Last summer, it flew from Madrid to Rabat, in Morocco. This leg crossed the USA - from San Francisco to New York.

Two new, massive types of virus are found, that are larger than some bacterial cells, and hence visible to the naked eye - Pandoravirus dulcis and Pandoravirus salinus. Virologists' minds swim with the prospect that they've been overlooking species because they were too big.

Studies of bottlenose dolphins off the Florida coast, reveal that they use names to identify each other, in just the same way humans do. They don't say whether dolphin mothers use the wrong names for their children, in just the same way human mothers do, however.


Climatologists report that the trend of increasingly large and dangerous wildfires in the USA is set to continue, as the climate changes. You can guess what the deniers did...

The world's first lab-grown burger is cooked and eaten at a conference, in London, UK. 20,000 slivers of beef muscle were grown over three months, each 1 millimetre thick and 2.5 centimetres long, in order to make the burger. It's pricetag was put at $370,000, but was described as lacking flavour, because it was all muscle, and so contained very little fat. Scaling the process up could lead to a more-efficient way to satiate people's meaty desires, without having to grow and slaughter animals.

Leading Indian Rationalist Narendra Dabholkar is assassinated. Charlatans across India breath an inappropriate sigh of relief. Sanal Edamaruku has already left India, fearing prosecution under the power of the bullying Christian Church.

Biologists release the first study of homosexual behaviour in insects. Homosexual behaviour has been seen in ~150 vertebrate species, and in them, it is usually caused by their complex sexualities, often evolved to enhance social bonds. In insects, however, the researchers found that homosexual encounters are accidental - with pheromones circling in the air, they blindly stumble into the wrong sex. The FSM must have a sense of humour!

Other biologists produced the first synthetic brains from human stem cells. The pea-sized bundles of neurons were unable to 'think' the way we do, but this advance suggests what might be possible for medical training, research, or CNS transplantation.

NASA reveals a newly-discovered canyon hidden under Greenland's ice-sheet. It's 800 m deep in some places, and 700 km long - longer than the Grand Canyon. Christian Creationists have yet to explain how the Great Flood carved it, when it's underneath all that ice.


Voyager 1 officially leaves the solar system, becoming the first human product ever to be placed outside it. So far, it has completely missed all those aliens that pass it to draw pictures in our wheat.

A UK gardening firm starts selling Tomtato plants: tomato and potato plants, cleaved together. Scientifically illiterate journalists incorrectly call it a hybrid.

Palaeontologists discover the oldest known fossil of a jawed fish, dating back to 419 million years ago. Creationists pretend not to be surprised.

The Mars Curiosity Lander discovers "abundant, easily accessible" water in soil samples in Gale Crater. Meanwhile, droughts are becoming increasingly common and severe, on Earth.

The Conservative Party of the UK clamours for bloodshed in Syria, but fails to win a vote for it, in the House of Commons. The pro-Warists lost by two votes, because two of its members were in the next room along, at the time! David Cameron's shiny face grows redder.

The IPCC releases its updated report on Climate Change, showing new, less-pleasant 95% confidence-interval figures. It directly contradicts the obstructionist Media's claims that global warming has stopped.


Newly-discovered fossils of pollen grains show that flowering plants evolved 100 million years earlier than previously thought, in the Early Triassic (252 to 247 million years ago) or even earlier. The hunt commences, for dinosaur florists.

Republicans in the US government force the furloughing of public sector employees, for half a month, over budget disagreements. NASA was worst affected, with more than 17,000 people (of 18,000) told to not go to work.

Peter Higgs and François Englert win the Physics Nobel Prize for theorizing the now-discovered Higgs Boson. The Media still insists on calling it 'the God particle', despite it actually being nicknamed 'the goddamn particle' after its difficulty to find. Some theists get confused, and start thinking God lives in Geneva.

Investment bank JP Morgan reports a $9 billion quarterly loss, having had to set aside $23 billion to pay off fines for investment misconduct. The fines are record sums, but adequate changes to banking regulations have still not transpired.

Hamza Kashgari is released after 2 years of imprisonment, for 3 vanilla statements on Twitter. He was prosecuted under Blasphemy Laws, and was fortunate not to be executed, like many atheists have been, in countries where Religion has the power and freedom to do so.

Australia experiences its earliest bushfire on record, claiming 2 lives and destroying 200 homes - its newly-elected Climate Change and Evolution denying Prime Minister ignores this fact, and sees fit to continue his administration without a Climate Council, or even a Minister for Science!


Astronomers extrapolate, based on Kepler space mission data, that there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of sun-like stars and Red Dwarf stars within the Milky Way galaxy. 11 billion of these estimated planets might be orbiting sun-like stars.

Satellite data reveales a net loss of 1.5 million square feet of forest between 2000 and 2012, based on 650,000 high-resolution images. Having not heard any of them fall, philosophers take to their quills.

Hurricane Haiyan claims more than 6000 lives, in the Philippines alone. Climate Change action obstructivists immediately jump to arms, to undermine people's autonomy - to prevent anyone from thinking they could do anything about it. Evidence shows warming will not make such storms more frequent, but will make them stronger, and hence more deadly. The destruction of neighbouring Malaysia's rainforests, to be replaced with Palm Oil plantations for overweight Westerners to eat, is a major cause of carbon emissions.

Complimenting the pea-sized brains made from stem cells, earlier in the year, researchers grow miniature kidneys from human stem cells. Again, one day, this technology could be used to develop personally-honed transplant organs. Or it might be used to mass-produce meals of liver and bacon. Yum yum.

Antarctic researchers discover neutrinos that likely travelled to here from another galaxy. They did not break the speed of light.

Paleontologists reveal a newly-discovered dinosaur, second only in size to T-Rex - Siats Meekerorum - which was the largest known predator for 30 million years. It could not fly, and it does not have a blog.


Nelson Mandela - former President of South Africa, who presided over efforts to end racist segregation, and to fight HIV, as well as many other causes - dies, at the age of 95 years, with great successes seen, during his lifetime.

Monty Python get back together for a series of stage shows, in order to pay off Terry Jones' mortgage.

China's Jade Rabbit - Change'e-3 lands on the moon - the first human product to do so for forty years! It does not vibrate, nor is it a luminous colour - it is not a dildo! Jade Rabbit is the character that the Chinese pareidoically perceive in the Moon, much like Europeans' 'man in the moon'. Personally, i just see a poorly-arranged nest site. You mammals are weird!

The European Space Agency's Gaia space telescope is launched. It will be used to compile a 3D space catalogue of approximately a billion astronomical objects! Sorry, ESA - that's impressive - but i think the CNSA wins the spacerace for 2013. Oh, btw, it is true - some conspiracy theorists have already decided they didn't really go. Haha!

So, that's 2013 summed up. Like i said at the top - there is a lot i've left out - and i know it.

I wonder what will happen, in 2014. Don't just wait for it, though - make it happen - and make the most of this recurring solar sojourn.

On with 2014....