Monday, 23 February 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 16-22/2/15

Hi stickers,

OMFSM... Darkness album #4 is on its way :-D

'BARBARIAN... Teaser'

Bollocks to Nature! ...sorry, "bollocks" in Nature:

'A quantitative analysis of how often Nature gives a fuck'

In the print version of the Science journal/magazine 'Nature', the word 'bollocks' has featured six times, since its first usage in 1998, while quoting a postgrad's off-the-cuff remark.

The first 'bollocks' was requoted, within two weeks, thereby doubling its incidence.

And three years later, a letter requoted the first two, increasing the abundance of 'bollocks' in Nature to four :-D

The author of the above-linked article went on to find 48 shits (including 13 bullshits, 1 shit-stirrer and 1 nano-shit), 26 "piss-derived expressions", and "a grand total of 10 fucks".

The first of those fucks appeared in 1937, as an abbreviation of someone's name, given to a species of fungus, in which the original - Fuckel - is often abbreviated to Fuck.. {The full stop denotes abbreviation}

The next, in 1985, is also someone's name; but it only took another four years, until a fuck was actually given, with linguistic taboo in the mind of the issuer.

Surprisingly, that person was Richard Fortey. But at least he, and all the others, with their remaining examples, were quoting other people as they did so.

So scientists in Nature have given 10 fucks in a century and a half, and only 8 of those were deliberate.

How stereotypical of a bunch of nerds. And how stereotypical of someone to count them :-D

'New Species, the ‘Ruby Seadragon,’ Discovered by Scripps Researchers'

Wow - what an aesthetically fascinating species!

There were only two known species of seadragon, in the world - off the southern coast of Australia - before this ruby red one was found.

Having done so, the researchers combed through the Western Australia Museum's collections, to find anything similar, and they found one other specimen of the ruby seadragon, dated 1919.

The team hope to go on a voyage, to the depths of the waters off south-west Australia, where ruby seadragons are expected to live -- in deep waters, all-red pigment serves as a kind of camouflage, as blue ones permeate through the water more successfully.

To see some more pictures, follow this link to Scripps' Flickr album:

'Ruby Seadragon Discovered'

'Scientists find strongest natural material'

There are many different forms of strength, depending on the conditions under which a material's performance is required: compression, stretching, twisting, etc. Compression and tension are the most commonly referred to.

Brick clay, for example, is strong under compression, making it good for holding tonnes of house above it; but it's brittle compared to steel, so you wouldn't want to make a sword out of it - it would smash like a vase.

Rolls of paper can hold strong under compression and tension, too, but they'll easily bend if twisted.

The material that limpets use to stick themselves to rocks need to be strong under tension, so that it's difficult for predators, or the raging seas, to cleave them away to their doom.

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth have found that the mineral-protein composite used by limpets performs better under tension than any other biological material: from 3.5 to 6 GPa. Or, as the researchers put it:

"The teeth of limpets exploit distinctive composite nanostructures consisting of high volume fractions of reinforcing goethite nanofibres within a softer protein phase to provide mechanical integrity when rasping over rock surfaces during feeding. The tensile strength of discrete volumes of limpet tooth material measured using in situ atomic force microscopy was found to range from 3.0 to 6.5 GPa and was independent of sample size."

That's up to 6,000,000,000 Newtons per square metre. So theoretically, a 60 Kg person could hang from a filament measuring 0.3 x 0.4 millimetres!
{At least, according to my mental arithmetic :-D }

In comparison, the best steel has a tensile strength of 2,600,000 Pa; kevlar can manage 3,620,000 Pa; spider silk can manage 1,652,000 Pa; and human hair can manage 200,000 Pa.

Limpets are three orders of magnitude ahead of humanity's best. Go limpets :-D


The 14th of February marked the 25th anniversary of the 'Pale Blue Dot' images, of a tiny Earth, like "a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam" as Carl Sagan - the man who suggested the shots be taken - put it.

In other news:

Want to check whether a JPEG file's been edited or not? Well, izitru might be able to help, as it can tell whether software's been used to change an image. Only if it's a JPEG, though. It's not perfect, but it's something.

A toy from the 50s, that explores the basics of life and death through the periodic table - the 'Atomic Energy Lab' - has been dubbed the 'world's most dangerous toy', and is now on display at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Why so dangerous? Because it actually comes with 150 discs of radioactive isotopes. Well, it used to, before they took them out. It's a funny idea that a company would sell something like that, even in the wake of the USA's attacks on Japan, using nuclear weapons. But clearly, anti-nuclear hysteria didn't really kick in until later. Undoubtedly, it is not, and never was, the world's most dangerous toy - for that, millions of kids would have to have taped the discs to their faces for weeks on end. I think it would have been safer to stay in, and occasionally play with the 'Atomic Energy Lab', than it would to frequently play outdoors. Accidents aboun aplenty, there. And it's probably much safer than Equinity, too.

The use of life-like prosthetic masks, by tutors of trainee nurses, at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, has been terminated. What were they for? Teaching them how to deal with patients of mental illness. Are you thinking what i'm thinking? How the hell did anyone think that prosthetic masks would be useful, in the first place? There's no visual 'type' for someone with a history of Depression. Mentally ill people just look like people. Their fallacious justification of both demonisation and expense, is the same as the idea of 'what a criminal looks like', or 'what a drug user looks like', or 'what a Communist looks like'. Stupid. Really stupid.

The hazard of being psychic — you are the first suspect. Cult leader Daniel Perez has been convicted of all charges against him, including murder, in a case where he 'foresaw' the death of someone who died three weeks later. Get the hint guys: there's no such thing as 'psychic' so if you 'see' something before it happens, it suggests that you planned it. Or at least, didn't bother to stop it. You should consider that maybe the bullshitting isn't worth it. In this case, the 'prophesy' was probably a threat, that he eventually carried out - charlatans like this are often so arrogant and reality-denying that they'll try self-undermining tactics to control their peers. He has not been investigated for several other deaths within the cult.

This, for example, is an ongoing case, in which 'guilty' or 'not guilty' is contingent on whether a superstition is sincere. But it might be 'guilty' either way. The case for the defence is that the girl (12 years old, at the time) stabbed her friend, to spare her from The Slender Man (a fictional character akin to Spring Heeled Jack, the Boogie Man, or a Devil) but how can her belief in them be considered sincere, when it wasn't the Slender Man they attacked, but the real person whom they actually knew, who is now dead? Is your faith (delusion) strong enough to render you unaccountable for murder? That's one heck of a scary question.

Have you heard the story about the Canadian guy who might have invented a tattoo-removal cream? Well, suffice to say, its workingness is plausible, but that doesn't mean it does work. 'Can' and 'does' are not synonymous. It might be a hint, though, that there seems to be no academic evidence of research having been published. Truth is found by research - not by press release. Unfortunately, it's widespread nowadays, for the (marketing) departments of Universities to distribute misleading and/or unsubstantiated press releases, long before the research has actually been published; thereby making the copied-out-and-pasted News articles uncheckable. [shakes angry fist] So it might work, but now is certainly not the time to believe it.

Food Babe (an American quack, who happens to be female) apparently thinks that food dyes are dangerous. But not so dangerous that she won't sell them herself. And in conjunction with a metal that she (wrongly) says causes Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. Bad enough for other people to sell; good enough for her to sell. It's almost as if she were spouting shit (she has 'good' form for bullshitting) just to drum up trade for herself. But then, is she smart enough to do that? Evil is always perpetrated through malevolence or incompetence; and personally, i always err on the side of 'incompetence'. But that doesn't mean she should be allowed to wantonly deceive people.

And on the subject of incompetence, let's go to the top: a Saudi Cleric has proclaimed that reality is wrong, and Astrology is right, because the Earth does not go around the Sun. Some 'scripture' - superstitious scribblings - say that Earth is 'static' and so must be in the middle of everything. This is how Astrology is premised - not Science. Even the Roman Catholic Church accepted that the heliocentric model is correct, and not the geocentric one, in the 1990s.

Back to reality: what are moth tails for? No, not coat tails - moth tails. The trailing material on the back ends of moths. Well, these researchers think they're there as wind-breakers - useful for introducing turbulence into the air behind them, so that it's more difficult for bats to track them, using their echolocative abilities. When the tails are there, bats are much more likely to miss the moth's body, and hit the tails instead.

Since late 2013, a team of hackers/crackers have been gaining access to banks' computers through phishing schemes and other methods, lurking for months to learn the banks' systems, taking screen shots and even videos of employees using their computers, in order to become familiar with the banks' operations, and using that knowledge to steal money without raising suspicions: programming ATMs to dispense money at specific times and setting up fake accounts and transferring money into them. Kaspersky Lab says they've stolen ~$1 billion by this method, from more than 100 banks, in 30 countries. Some of the proceeds have been found deposited in accounts in China, and the USA. Kaspersky warns that although the targets are the banks themselves, the costs will inevitably pass to consumers, and the systemic weaknesses suggest that other hackers could steal personal information if wanted.

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

'The Wagon Wheel Effect - Temporal Aliasing'

'Amazing Bird Migrations - A Week in Science'

'Shelf Life Episode 4 - Skull of the Olinguito'

'Mummy Brains'

'A Cool Thing - Objectivity #7'

'Robo-raven performs aerial acrobatics'

'*UPDATE*' - Thunderf00t

'Science for kids - Soap boat water experiment - ExpeRimental #14'

'Brain blubber helps mice master weird wheel'

'Snoopy & The Drone'
Click this link to go to the whole episode:

'Reptilian Bieber-mosh'


'Rio de Janeiro 2015 Friday Nadal Shorts Feature'
Best. Feature. Ever. LOL [wolf whistles] :-D

'How Not to - Eyebrow Kit'
It's a beautiful look, Tam. Just beautiful :-D

'Pascal's Ditty'

'Embankment Street Names'

'If Life Were A Musical: Waiting Room'

'Igudesman & Joo's Concerto Fantastique: "Thematic Material"'

How to write personalised music :-P

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

Word Of The Week: croodle -- to make a murmurring sound; or to huddle together in the cold

Etymology Of The Week: orrery - meaning a device meant to physically model the machinations of our heliocentric Solar System; comes from the original designer's name - Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery - and so it actually takes its name from a place in Ireland, which was the English version of the Gaelic 'Orbhraighe' (Orbh-raighe = "Orb's people") the name of a tribe.

Acronym of The Week: DUGS - the Durham University Geographical Society ('dug' is an archaic term for a breast; still sometimes used in the context of farming animals)

Quote Of The Week: "That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam." - Carl Sagan

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

'Poker Face'

'Two of a kind'

'Quasimodo meets Victor Hugo'

'A Bit of Fry and Laurie - Argue the Toss'

I love this sketch on so many levels. Especially the basement. I find it's easier to get privacy, there :-P

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 9-15/2/15

Alright, moy luvvers?

Unfortunately for me, i've come down with some kind of rhinovirus, in the last week. And just look at my avatar - i have plenty of nose, to get infected :-D

If this week's post looks even less worked-on than usual, then that's why, LOL

It seems Singles Awareness Day has come around again.

So that's that...

Oh alright, here's some luvvy-duvvyness related research:

According to the UC College of Business, people make mistakes by buying more specific gifts for their friends/lovers, the closer they are to them, emotionally. They say they've observed this backfiring, because people appreciate more versatile gifts, even when they're very emotionally close with someone. A more honed-to-the-receiver gift is actually more likely to be wrongly chosen, or non-useful, or just plain inappreciable.

Yet another study has found that 'being real' helps when you're constructing dating profiles, on websites. This is medium-level Game Theory, here: what you're trying to do, is to create an impression of yourself that is both attractive to other people, and also attractive to people that you will find attractive. But if you're going for people who don't want anyone vaguely like you, then you'll construct a profile that is dangerously misleading, and the consequent interactions are bound to lead to failure. Don't waste your time trying to fake your personality - honesty genuinely works better. If you're a grumpy git, then you should want someone else who wants a grumpy git. Stands to Reason, doesn't it?

According to a GIT researcher, who followed 1000 people's tweets, on Twitter, people's behaviour changes after getting engaged, and getting married. After getting engaged, tweets with the words "I" or "me" dropped by 69%, to be replaced with "we" and "us", as the individuals tried to see themselves as conglomerated entities. They also noted that these newly-conjoined peoples would use the future tense more, fantasising about their futures as inextricable homogenised entities. This, of course, can be dangerous, as no two people genuinely do have all the same life goals, and marriage certainly can't fix that disparity. The GIT researchers also noted that men and women use different words. Men are more "physical" and women more "emotional" as men describe their partners as, for example, "beautiful" and women describe their partners as "wonderful". I suppose male astronomers are more likely to call the universe 'beautiful' and female astronomers to call it 'wonderful', and this says something about fundamental division in the human psyche, too? Nah - i'm not sexist :-P

'Dating Advice From The Animal Kingdom - A Week in Science'

In other news:

A man who claimed Barack Obama was an alien punched his mother at her home in Telford, Shropshire, because she laughed about it, a court heard on Friday. Hmmmm... :-D

The discovery of fossils of two interrelated ancestral mammals, in modern-day China, have pushed the original diversification of arboreal and subterranean mammals to more than 160 million years ago. With claws for climbing and teeth adapted for a tree sap diet, Agilodocodon scansorius is the earliest-known tree-dwelling mammaliaform; and Docofossor brachydactylus is the earliest-known subterranean mammaliaform, possessing multiple adaptations similar to African golden moles such as shovel-like paws. Docofossor also has distinct skeletal features that resemble patterns shaped by genes identified in living mammals. You can see some artists' imagery, and a video, at the link:

Here's yet another human superstition: is it true that there's a curse of the Oscars? No, it isn't. The idea of the Oscars curse, is that as soon as someone wins one, their career takes a dramatic downturn. And that's what's wrong. Oscar winners appear, on average, in more films following their wins than Oscar nominees and other actors. The costs of winning an Oscar are the same as winning any international award: the pressures of scrutiny, and enhanced expectation. Neither of these are peculiar to the Oscars themselves.

But this isn't a superstition: cricket players genuinely do play more cautiously, when approaching the 50-run mark, and the 100-run mark. When they're batting, obviously. They do this because the arbitrary numbers '50' and '100' are quasi-real prizes within the game of cricket. So batters play more cautiously to avoid getting 'out' before they reach either of them. Afterwards, they play more wildly, maybe in jubilation, and so they're much more likely to get 'out' in the period directly after a 50 or 100 has been reached. Interestingly, this cautious attitude is beneficial to the individual (in that they get a numerologically arbitrary prize) but because it wastes balls and time, it's costly to the team, overall. So if cricketers abolished the notions of '50s' and '100s' maybe the standard of play would improve? Marginally. Maybe.

Researchers have found the top 100,000 of the most frequently used words across 10 languages from a wide range of sources, and then asked 5 million speakers of those languages to rate whether the words were "happy" or "sad" on a 1-9 scale. What they found, is that the emotional content of the most popular words are skewed towards happiness, in every single language studied. Given that language is crucial to the way we think about the world around us, this linguistic optimism could enact a positive feedback relationship with cultural, and thereby personal optimism, too. Optimism can be very dangerous, because it leads to ebullience with superstition and arrogance with prejudice. People who are optimistic are overly-confident in their ideas, which means they cultivate themselves a world of error and division. Optimism might be a very human trait, but i wonder whether it, and superstition itself, have a commonality in archaic evolutionary motives? But i extemporise too much. I don't know the strength of this researched correlation, nor its statistical significance.

I'm slightly late with this story, and i don't know whether it's 'finished' or not, but there's been a measles outbreak in Disneyland, California, and it looks to have been caused by vaccine negligence. Of the 42 out of 50 cases at Disneyland, known by the time of this article, 34 were unvaccinated, 3 were partially vaccinated, and 5 were fully vaccinated. Is it worth getting vaccinated to protect you from lethal/mutilating diseases like measles? Absolutely. Unfortunately, due to the superstition-determined actions of vaccine-refusers, the world is made more dangerous for everyone else, too. No-one can be made perfectly safe from any disease, but the numbers are clear that vaccination makes you much safer.
{This story is the reference to two-weeks-ago's Onion post: 'I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back'}

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

'Why a 28% Effective Influenza Vaccine Matters'
Following straight on from 'In other news'

'Genetic Modification -- science vs belief'
Potholer! Finally in >480p... but only superficially :-D

'Shining Light Through Walls - Sixty Symbols'

'The Amazing Heptadecagon (17-gon) - Numberphile'

'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Marketing to Doctors (HBO)'This is a big problem that Ben Goldacre has written about, too.

'The One Ring Explained. (Lord of the Rings Mythology Part 2)'

'Allah's QC 1.2: Heaven (And Virgins?)'
Is the ultimate reward, promised by Islam, really 72 virgins? Jog on...

'Good Thinking Investigates: Chiropractic'
Bloody hell! Steer clear of quackery, please, folks!

'Halley's Fish - Objectivity #6'

'Hawaiian Food! ft. Aloha Cafe - JK Food Adventures'

'The 'superweapon' that almost won Hitler the war!'

'Flesh-Eating Hydrofluoric Acid - Periodic Table of Videos'

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

Word Of The Week: callipygian -- possessing beautifully shaped buttocks

Misquoted Proverb Of The Week: "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall" - Proverbs 16:18 (The Bible) The truncated misquote is, of course 'pride goes before a fall'.

Scientific Quote Of The Week: "To every complex question there is a simple answer... and it is wrong." - H.L. Mencken

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

'Amazing illusion'

'These 22 Pics Show Exactly How Creepy Post-Mortem Photography Was In The 19th Century'

'The Chase Amazing player cash builder and Epic Final Chase 2010'

'The Chase (ITV): The Fixed Final Chase?'

I demand a slow-mo replay!

'25 Most Ridiculous Questions On Yahoo Answers'

'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Bloopers and Fails Compilation - Epic Game Show Fail Edition'
Never has the retort "i'm sorry" been abused more, than by Meredith Vieira on the USA's version of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' :-D

'First Letter in English Alphabet'
A sketch has to be this well-written to vie with reality :-D

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 2-8/2/15

Welcome Attenboroughiis,

'Supermarkets urged to keep daffodils away from vegetables in case they are mistaken for food'

Public Health England has warned supermarkets in, well, presumably England, to distance their stocks of daffodils from vegetable counters, in case shoppers mistake them for the varieties that, thanks to centuries of genetic modification, are now safe to eat.

You might think this a stupid story. But what, essentially, is the difference between an edible plant and an inedible one? This...

Daffodils, like most plants, have evolved to produce poisons, in order to prevent ingestion by vertebrate species. But mostly insects, who really rule the world. Only joking... that's bacteria, obviously!

The tannin that makes tea taste bitter, for example, evolved to gum up the saliva of ants. Because our sense of taste/smell has evolved in tandem with the development of these poisons, we can have a rule-of-thumb sureness that anything that tastes bitter is poisonous.

Most GM-ed veggies that are available, whether fatuously labelled 'organic' or 'natural' or 'GM free' or none of the above, will taste much sweeter than wild varieties, and be safe to eat.

It should be noted that Herbalists deliberately stock up on bitter leaves, on the mistaken premise that the bitterness is 'purifying the body' which couldn't be further from the truth! I wonder whether Public Health England has issued similar advice to quack shops, like Holland & Barrett maybe, that deliberately stock dangerous plants amongst the slackly-produced veggies they sell?

I suspect not.

Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Valerian Root, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto. What do all of these have in common?

Well, daffodils can be mistaken for food, and they can be mistaken for medicine.

Also, New York State wants all of them withdrawn from shelves in GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart, having tested them and found them to contain 'contaminants not identified on ingredient labels' and for 'posing unacceptable health hazards'.

Absolutely right, too. While 'GM free', 'organic' and 'natural' are labels that tell the consumer nothing about the safety of what they're about to eat/drink, hazard labels for poisonous content would be very useful!

'NY takes serious action against dietary supplement retailers for misleading advertising'

'Conflating memories is normal. Give Williams a break!'

US News presenter Brian Williams has been getting a lot of flack recently, for misremembering something. Well, that's news, isn't it! No, it's not.

This is just another case demonstrating the generic inadequacy of eye-witness testimony. Best advice: before you contradict someone else's eye-witness testimony with your own, check whether your memories agree with the facts!

Misremembrance has happened to the best of us. Including me. [bashful expression]

From incorrect memories of past events, to incorrect predictions of future ones.

Superstitionists who claim psychic clairvoyance (being able to see future events before they happen) have managed to perform worse than sports pundits, at predicting the results of American Football's 'Super Bowl' tournament.

'I correctly predicted sportswriters would out-guess psychics in the Super Bowl'

New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28 to 24. [spoiler!] 69% of ESPN writers predicted a win for the Patriots, as did 64% of 'psychics'; but but the 'psychics' failed to divine the closeness of the score anywhere near as successfully.

One psychic failed to even predict (postdict, actually) which teams would be in the final, with a prediction that the Patriots would win 13-5 against the Minnesota Vikings! LMAO.

With a Science, answers converge on the hypothesis supported by most evidence; with a Superstition, answers diverge according to the whim of the believer.

And sometimes, those superstitions diverge way beyond the realms of basic credibility. But then, the Vikings winning the tie they weren't even in, was actually as likely as a 'psychic' genuinely being psychic :-D


The 5th of February was the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 14 mission's landing on the moon. Here is a beautiful picture of Alan Shepard doing something with something, on the lunar surface.

On the 4th of February, NASA released these images of Pluto, showing Charon - one of Pluto's five moons - orbiting it.

And on the 5th of February, NASA/ESA released these images of three of Jupiter's moons transiting it at once. Apparently it's a rare occurrence to catch Io, Callisto and Europa, all between the camera and the host planet, at the same time.

In other news:

The UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has confirmed that 2014 was the warmest year, on record, for the Earth as a whole. And that's without the Southern Oscillation's help! Usually, peaks in temperature come with El Nino phases in the Pacific Southern Oscillation, but this new high has been set without 2014's El Nino arriving. When it eventually does, a new record could easily surpass this one.

Here's a case of phallic pareidolia - not perceiving faces where there are none, but instead penises where there are none. A guy was commissioned with making a public sculpture, and he settled on a cloud-and-raindrops design, which you can see at the link. But it seems many passers-by's perceptions jumped straight to the first thing on their minds: cock! LOL.

A religionist thinks exorcisms are demonised and rape shouldn't demean it. Oh really? 'Steven Engler, religious studies professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary' definitely genuinely has a real qualification in a real subject that actually has intellectual veracity to it, and absolutely shouldn't be derided for choosing such a stupid, self-demeaning career. Well, this pathetic arse has claimed that the sexual abuse of an exorcist's victim should not be used to give a bad name to the psychological abuse of their victim - what the exorcist is really there for! The deception is astounding, isn't it. How can anyone's mind be so distorted as to think that allegations of one crime might demean another crime: abusing someone while pretending that the process of extracting non-existent demons has been demonised?!?

Birds have demonstrated greater cognitive prowess, in their flight patterns: research has newly shown that, when flying in formation, birds take it in turns to go at the front. V-formations form, because wings leave streams of 'clean air' behind them, making it more energy efficient to fly there. For the bird at the front, however, they have to face the full air resistance of the atmosphere. So to share the cost of leading, they take it in turns. Neat.

Sir David Attenborough now has a genus of plants named after him. And guess what it's been called... Sirdavidia. Wonderful, LOL. He already has a species of pitcher plant named after him. And a flowering plant, and a ghost shrimp, and a grasshopper, and a spider, and a weevil, and an echidna, and an extinct fish, and an extinct plesiosaur. The newly-named genus is one of custard apples - plants that have been found to live on both sides of Africa, thousands of kilometres apart!

A UCLA department has found a population of bacteria so similar to their ancestors, that left marks in rocks 1.8 billion years ago, that they can almost state that the bacteria haven't evolved in almost 2 billion years! They explained that because biological evolution is adaptation to circumstance, then unless circumstances change, the evolutionary motive is to not change. Having lived in very stable environments for billions of years, should be expected to produce unchanging (or imperceptibly-slowly-changing) organisms. However, this direct comparison doesn't necessarily mean that none of their ancestors have ever adapted, at any time. Just like species can convergently evolve, in different places, to attain similar features; species can convergently evolve, in different times, to attain similar features. If the environment is the same as 1.8 billion years ago, then the evolutionary pressure is toward similarity with the organisms living there 1.8 billion years ago.

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

'The Incredible Candles'

'Best Hotel Ever? - Deep Sky Videos'

'Indie Games & the Fourth Dimension - Computerphile'
This is brilliant!

'Flaming Bottle Rockets - Tales from the Prep Room'

'Visible Helmholtz Resonance'

'Hot and Cold'

'Science for kids – How to make bouncing eggs – ExpeRimental #12'

'I Don't Know'

'The 5th of February'
Yes, John did upload this song on the 5th of February :-D

'Mr Deity and the Atheist'
Ah, acting - that means there's at least one thing i'm better than Richard Dawkins at. "Projection, luvvy" :-D

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

Word Of The Week: defenestration -- expulsion from Office, by being thrown out of a window. Coined according to the 'Defenestrations of Prague' in which people were literally thrown out of a window.

Etymology Of The Week: stickler -- meaning 'someone who persists with tasks/rules unyieldingly', comes from the 1530s, meaning 'umpire'/'moderator', from the verb 'stickle' meaning 'to moderate' which was a corruption of 'stightle' meaning 'to control' coming from Proto-Germanic 'stihtan' meaning 'to put on a step/base' and originally from PIE 'steigh-' meaning 'to stride/step/rise' as in the modern word 'stair'.

Misquoted Proverb Of The Week: "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall" - Proverbs 16:18 (The Bible (misquoted as 'pride goes before a fall'))

Quote Of The Week: “The difference between faith and insanity is that faith is the ability to hold firmly to a conclusion that is incompatible with the evidence, whereas insanity is the ability to hold firmly to a conclusion that is incompatible with the evidence.” - William Harwood

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

'Hybrid Sports'

'Glendale and Phoenix from the ISS'

'QI - David Mitchell's Angry Logic'

Monday, 2 February 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 26/1 - 1/2/15

Hi Natrists,


Thunder science!

Most commonly known as the Rationalist YouTuber Thunderf00t, Phil Mason has a serious academic Science career, and plenty of research papers to his name.

Over the last few years, he's uploaded videos alerting us to his (partly crowdfunded) discoveries, and he's now got to a point where Nature have published his research (in collaboration with other people, of course) and dedicated an article to it!

This is the video attached to that article:

'Why Sodium explodes.. a new explanation!'

But don't just watch that. Here's Thunderf00t's full-length video on the topic:

'High speed camera reveals why sodium explodes!'

It's so exciting, to see Science in progress, and to be able to look back and think "yup - i knew that theory back when it was just a gleam in a Physicist's eye".

Thank you, Thunderf00t. Thank you for everything :-)

Horrible Histories is to return!

Series 5 is due to be shown later in 2015, and will feature Rowan Atkinson, amongst other stars, with Rowan reprising his tights-wearing duties, as Henry VIII.

Unfortunately, the original cast won't be the main cast, except for a few occasional parts by some of them. No Matt Baynton or Laurence Rickard then :-(

On the 27th of March though, the film 'Bill' will first be in cinemas - a film starring all the original Horrible Histories team.

In the current vein, of taking names people know and attaching them to completely made-up plots (a la 'The Imitation Game' and 'The Theory of Everything') it takes William Shakespeare, Queen Liz 1, and others, and puts their names to a completely fictional, but hopefully enjoyable story.

If you have the good fortune of being able to make the trailer at the bottom play, then you'll be able to see what it'll look like :-D

'Rowan Atkinson to star in Horrible Histories'

'I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back'
"there’s simply no question in my mind that inciting a nationwide health emergency by unleashing a disease that can kill 20 percent or more of its victims is the right one for my child. People need to respect that and move on",37839/?

'We’ll take the risk of ‘girl on top’ injury, insist men'
“Bouncing”, he added. “Bounce... bounce... Sorry, I was miles away, what were we talking about?”

'Pope invokes Papal infallibility to win Vatican pub quiz'
"Despite insistence from the Spanish team that the Nile is the longest river on earth, a position backed up with evidence from books, encyclopedias, the Internet, and even satellite imagery, the quiz-master was left with little choice but to declare the Pope the winner."

'Daily Mail down to just 2,376,253 potential causes of cancer'
“It’s investigative journalism like this that keeps the Daily Mail in the thoughts of panic-stricken morons everywhere.”

'Colleges to offer free short courses in ‘Decoding Political Bullshit’'
“I think it’s vital for the future of our country that people realise that just because most politicians don’t wear grossly oversized shoes, it doesn’t mean they’re not a complete clown.”

'Pretty Woman to be remade with Ryan Gosling as a male prostitute'
"With gender reversal in lovingly remembered blockbusters now de rigueur in Hollywood, there has been fervent excitement at the prospect of Gosling taking on the role made famous by Julia Roberts in the 1990 smash hit."
I love this idea! And i reckon Jurassic Park should be remade with all-male dinosaurs, too :-P

'Waitrose on receiving end of world’s largest ‘I told you so’'
“It turns out these ‘people’ just wanted the free coffee and to sit in our coffee shop for hours on end breathing our air.”

'Widespread condemnation for man who removed memory stick without ejecting it'
“The whole office went silent, Si was just standing there staring at the memory stick. I think he was in shock.”

'Robert Mugabe to run for FIFA presidency'
"The perks of the job include millions of dollars in bribe money, a secret lair under a volcano, his own personal death squad, and a top of the range Ford Mondeo."

In other news:

Is it really possible to unboil an egg? Well, no, not really. It'll never be a pre-boiling egg again. But Biologists have found that it is possible to recover one of the chemicals in egg white - a clear protein called lysozyme, which makes up ~3.4% of the egg's white, which as an enzyme, is used to eat through the cell walls of invasive bacteria. The newly-developed process uses "a urea substance" to chew away the other 96.4% of the egg white, leaving the lysozyme behind, which can then be put in a vortex fluid device, to straighten the proteins out. This cuts the processing time down from days to minutes, according to the researchers. So given that this process does nothing for the yolk, and involves throwing 96.4% of the white away, i'd say that this is a pretty ineffective technique for 'unboiling' an egg. Wouldn't you? :-D

According to research on three US States - Minnesota, Mississippi and Alabama - gasoline prices are linked to vehicular 'incidents' like crashes, and injuries, and they think that this association is causative. They say the link is strongest between young around-20s drivers, who see driving more as an activity for its own sake, and less strong between older drivers, of their late-20s and early 30s, who have their priorities shifted toward familial responsibilities, and so drive more cautiously. They hypothesised that a $2 per gallon price drop would result in an additional 150 crashes involving a death, 5,000 producing injuries and 35,000 causing property damage, in Minnesota alone.

Biologists have been studying a bilaterally gynandromorphic bird, living in the wild. A bilateral gynandromorph is a chimera where the left side of the body is male, and the right side is female. The biologists are very interested in how a bird that is both male and female behaves. They say they've never seen it in a pair, with another bird; nor have they ever heard it sing. You can see a couple of pictures of it, by following the source link.

Yet another study finds that it takes very little data to identify an individual, without ever having to know their name. This study, using the credit-card transactions of 1.1 million users, has found that four vague items of information are enough to pick out an individual's record, in 94% of cases. "This is true, the researchers say, even in cases where no one in the data set is identified by name, address, credit card number, or anything else that we typically think of as personal information". The researchers use an example of: one receipt, one Instagram photo of you having coffee with friends, and one tweet about the phone you just bought. That would be enough to work out which details were yours.

A survey of the 'general public' and members of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) has found that they have starkly different views on a range of subjects: GMOs, nuclear power, fracking, climate change, etc. Unsurprisingly, the AAAS members' opinions were far more likely to be concordant with evidence, but the fact that there were no cases of unanimity demonstrates that this was a diverse population of Science enthusiasts, with diverse expertise. For example, only 87% of AAAS members believed in anthropogenic climatic change. 13% are wrong, because scientists, like everyone else, are not authorities - their beliefs are as contingent on evidence for verity, as everyone else's. But the fact that these people, who are defined by their enthusiasm for evidence, show greater agreement with fact than people who are less familiar with it, disproves the popular prejudice that evidence doesn't change people's minds!

What would you do if this happened to you? Someone in Nottingham, in the UK, found a tiny face staring back at them, when they opened a tin of tuna chunks. An associate professor of veterinary parasitology at the University of Nottingham has said it could be some form of juvenile crab; and the tuna company has said "We are arranging for her to send us the product so that we can look into this matter fully". In other words, they want to have a gawp, too! But this kind of thing does happen. If you buy cereal, or loaves of bread, you'll likely be purchasing fragments of insects, that didn't escape the thresher. But that doesn't necessarily meant they pose a threat to your health. I think this kind of thing is fascinating. I wouldn't eat it though - i'd bottle it, and stare at it :-D

Not all fake banks have JPEG store fronts. Some have real, touchable buildings, and cashiers! This one operated in Nanjing’s Pukou district, and by offering people 2% interest... per week... managed to con more than £20 million out of almost 200 people. The bank stopped paying interest after four weeks, and did not have the necessary permits to act as a bank.

Boarzilla! It's a real beast... and it's not dead. At time of printing, at least. The largest ever known - Hogzilla - was reported to weigh 1000 lbs (450 Kg in proper units) but actually weighed 800 lbs (364 Kg). This one weighs 790 lbs (359 Kg) and had probably escaped from domestic ownership. Feral hogs trample and dig up crops and soil, eat provisions meant for other wildlife or livestock and pollute wetlands, so it's probably best that this one be recaptured. In the wild, they usually don't grow much bigger than 400 lbs (181 Kg) so this one's really exceptional.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned the sharpest images ever seen of the dwarf planet Ceres. The images were taken 147,000 miles (237,000 kilometers) from Ceres on the 25th of January, and represent a new milestone for a spacecraft that will soon become the first human-made probe to visit a dwarf planet. Ceres lies in the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. At 43 pixels wide, Dawn can get images more than 30 percent higher in resolution than those taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 2003 and 2004 at a distance of over 241 million kilometers, because it's traveling through the solar system towards Ceres, while Hubble remains fixed in Earth orbit. You can see some shots, if you follow the source link.

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

'The 5 Weirdest Science Stories of 2014 - A Week in Science'

'ScienceCasts: The Strange Way Fluids Slosh on the International Space Station'

'Lars Andersen: a new level of archery'

'Winning at Rock Paper Scissors - Numberphile'

'Rock Paper LIZARDS - Numberphile'

'How random is a coin toss? - Numberphile'

'Diamonds, Pearls and Atomic Bomb Stones - Periodic Table of Videos'

'The Science of Sex with Sally Le Page'

This is the full-length version of Sally's uploads, posted here in November.

'Il a mis son sexe (McFly & Carlito)'
{Note: None of Tom, Danny, Dougie or Harry actually feature in this video :-D }

'Schrodinger's Joke'
Tru dat :-D

'The Story Of Margaret Thatcher Sung In The Style Of Dave Grohl. For Some Reason'

'Every Bruce Springsteen Song In 50 Seconds'

'Jesus God News 26 Feminism Special'

'The Shrinking Penis of 55 Broadway'
"That penis offends me. Cut it off!" Fuck the Matriarchy :-D


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

Word Of The Week: poltroon -- an utter coward

Comic Mode Of Death For A Religionist Of The Week: autoerotic asphyxiation as the consequence of a rubber fetish

Fact Of The Week: The longest point in tennis history was played between Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner in the 1984 Virginia Slims of Ginny Tennis Tournament. It lasted 643 shots and took 29 minutes to complete, from service to end. The whole match took 6 hours and 31 minutes to play, and was a straight sets victory for Nelson!

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

'Smile for the camera'

'NGC 7714's Galactic Merger'

'theHunter: Primal'

This game is immense! The bugs aren't so comic in this one, though :-D