Monday, 4 July 2016

Entertainment stuff from the week 27/6 - 3/7/16

Hi rabbiteers,

Disappointing news, coming to me through adverts on YouTube:

'Cosmetic Science - A New Course Coming 2016'

Yet another waste of resources, effort, and people's lives, taking an undeserved spot at a university.

The thing that annoys me the most about the (subject of the) aesthetic insecurity industry ('cosmetics' industry) is its equivocation with animal experimentation. There's a big difference between medical research involving mice, and simply squirting shampoo in rabbits' eyes, which has no benefit whatsoever, other than to abuse people through their vanity.

The University of Sunderland is definitely not alone in hosting bullshit courses, that are a total waste of resources, funding, and decades of people's lives - homeopathy, theology, gender studies, etc, all exist to do the same.

They contain no valuable content and/or utility. At least, not beyond feeding poor suckers into industries that should really spend their own money on training their own staff!

Public funding should be spent on works that are of public benefit. And i'm nowhere near alone in thinking that. In parallel, academics (scientists, at least) campaign to release research papers that are publicly funded, on the grounds that they paid for them, so the public should see the rewards of their expense.

I think that if public money is being spent on training people up to work for the aesthetic insecurity industry, then the public should be receiving reparations from the aesthetic insecurity industry, for having trained their staff up for them.

I am nowhere near the first person to think of this. I remember reading a letter to New Scientist suggesting public-to-private transfer fees, a few years ago. When i searched the website, i found an article dating to 25 years ago, suggesting the same idea!

Either the taxpayer is issued due repayment for all the money spent on training people, or the private sector trains its own staff.

It's not like a huge national shortfall of vanity researchers is threatening the survival of the species. Many of the courses provided by universities and colleges are unfundable any other way, but are still socially beneficial, or based on an economic need for which private funding is lacking.

But the aesthetic insecurity industry is not one of them.

The so-called 'beauty' industry is swimming in money. It's swimming in money extorted through cut-price emollients, marketed at top-shelf prices.


'Use Cream That's Cheaper'

P.S. It's not even moisturiser. It must be a matter of deference to habit, because what they're really selling you are oils. Not moisture.

Splashing water on your face will make 'dry' skin worse, not better. But the same industry loves to market 'healthy oils' for your hair, so why not for your skin? Because they and their market are in the habit of calling them 'moisturisers'.

Having realised this, every time i hear/read an advert saying how to 'hydrate your skin' i scream quietly, inside. Water is a polar molecule; oils are non-polar. They do not go together, unless combined in an emulsion. The term 'moisturiser' is marketing nonsense.

On the subject of industrial 'wellness' deception, Nestle's recently announced that its new CEO's past has been in 'health care'.

'Nestle taps new CEO with health care industry background'

According to their press release, the customer-obesity-bloated business is seeking "to evolve into a nutrition, health and wellness business".

Well that sounds dandy doesn't it - a business historically predicated on chocolate, ice-cream, and pre-made foods, that are notorious for being overloaded with fat/sugar, and being high in salt, wants to con people into thinking that it's got their best interests at heart.

Nestle, by the way, is responsible for perpetrating the 'Nestle Institute of Health Sciences' which is responsible for various egregious press releases, reiterated as 'news' by inept media organisations. For example, last week's declaration that we should 'eat breakfast like a king'.

Nestle claims that it researches and develops "nutritional solutions for the maintenance of health". Which is a typical scoundrel's cover for deception. But that's why it's called pseudoscience - it's bullshit dressed up to look like science.

Creationists do the same, with their 'bible universities'. And the quacks do the same with their 'colleges'.

Same tactics, different bullshit.

P.S. One of the most flagrant scams perpetrated by companies like Nestle, has to be their bottled water. A bottle of water, that costs a penny to manufacture, is sold for thousands of times its production cost, just because they can. Scumbags.

More on the subject of scumbags...

'Nobel winners slam Greenpeace on GMO crops'

"Opposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped."

Hear, hear; all you 108 nobel laureates. Unsurprisingly, Greenpeace's response to this has been: denial, deception, and damage control.

Greenpeace's zealous technophobia has seriously compromised its support amongst the scientific quasi-community.

If Greenpeace has to be pushed to breaking point, then sobeit - it's not a viable 'green' organisation as it is. If it has to be broken down and rebuilt, then that's just the way it's got to be.

'Greenpeace Will Be Remembered in History as Monsters - TLoNs Podcast #067'

So Tesla has had its first fatality, associated with its road-driven electric cars. Specifically, with its road-driven, self-driving, electric cars.

And boy, has technophobia been making hay for journalists, in the aftermath:

'Fatal Telsa crash shows limits of self-driving technology'
"The crash raises questions about autonomous and semi-autonomous cars, their capabilities and their limits"

"By the time firefighters arrived, the wreckage of the Tesla—with its roof sheared off completely—was hundreds of feet from the crash site where it had come to rest in a nearby yard"

"It could be a wakeup call for the self-driving car movement... it was a nightmare scenario for an industry promoting a way to improve road safety and reduce traffic fatalities"

And rather conciliatorily:

"He had the need for speed" said a friend "Kind of a daredevil, loved the excitement"

"His driving record, obtained by The Associated Press, showed he had eight speeding tickets in a six-year span. The most recent ticket, in 2015, was for driving 64 mph in a 35 mph zone"

So it could be true to say that the crash, which occurred in light that obscured the tractor trailer (it being white) which the driver hit, while with the car's autopilot on, might have been the fault of the driver, and not the autopilot.

According to Tesla, this is the first death, under the autopilot's guidance, after 130 million miles of driving.

And that's really where the important point lies. Assisting and self-driving cars only have to produce mortality and morbidity statistics better than humans. Legal paperwork will catch up - it always does - but more than 1500 people die due to traffic in the UK, every year, and more than 30000 die due to traffic in the USA, every year.

One of the motives for the development of self-driving cars, is to cut out human error, which is apparently responsible for ~90% of road traffic morbidities in the USA.

Contrast that recent singular incident, regarding Tesla's autopilot, to this recent report regarding Fiat Chrysler's gearshift:

'Fiat Chrysler gearshift probe finds 266 crashes, 68 injuries'

Fiat Chrysler has agreed to recall 1.1 million vehicles, to prevent further deaths, after actor Anton Yelchin (modern Star Trek) became a famous casualty. He died a few weeks ago.

And what's the commonality with all 266 incidents? The drivers had difficulty driving the car, because the gearshift was confusing them. Sure, the company shares blame for poor vehicle design, but human frailty is the principle problem with >1 tonne vehicles on public highways.

In other news:

Researchers have developed a material that mimics the physical responses of the leaves of the mimosa plant. The mimosa's leaves fold up, when touched. Their artificial material works by being made of layers of hydrophilic and hydrophobic materials, on a backbone of polyvinylchloride microfibres. As you can see in the embedded videos, moisture causes the layered material to distort, as the hydrophilic layers attract the moisture, and the hydrophobic layers repel the moisture. The result is that the material folds toward the moisture, like the mimosa's leaves, when touched.

An international collaboration of biologists has found that nicotine-producing plants like tobacco are not just protected from insects, through the neurotoxic poison. They've found that there is strong sexual selection for the Coyote tobacco plant (Nicotiana attenuata) to produce nicotine, in order to repel mammalian herbivores, that prevent them from flowering and reproducing, by stripping their stems - a threat not substantially presented by insects. The researchers found that rabbits especially, in their study, favour plants that are jasmonate deficient. Jasmonates are a variety of chemicals that are involved in growth, photosynthesis, and reproductive development. So it seems likely that jasmonates are necessary to produce the nicotine, that poisons herbivores, to put them off eating the plant.

Ants have been reported, for the first time, forming chains to heave prey away, back to their nest. Ants of the Leptogenys genus, in Phnom Kulen National Park, Cambodia, have been seen to hold on, with their mouths, to the ant in front, forming a long line, with the ant at the fore of the chain clinging to the antennae of a millipede. By holding to each other, and walking backwards, they can achieve greater traction than by trying to grab the millipede directly. Other genuses - weaver and army ants - have formed chains to sew nests and cross waters respectively, but
Leptogenys are the first to do so in hunting.

An international collaboration of physicists has found a new quantum state within a superconducting material. It is characterised by lacking rotational symmetry, which means that when the material is rotated inside a magnetic field, its conductance changes. This is weird. As can be seen in the diagram, resistance was higher, the stronger the magnetic field that the material, bismuth selenide, was subjected to, but was always zero between 289 and 347 degrees orientation. Bismuth selenide, when doped with strontium, as in the experiment, has a layered structure, like an onion. The top layer is a superconductor in cold temperatures, so resistance is usually about zero. The powerful magnetic field was used to suppress its superconducting nature. The researchers hypothesise that Cooper pairs - where pairs of electrons couple up, in superconducting materials, might have something to do with the material's strangely variable resistance, revealing properties of bismuth selenide under those conditions.

Paleontologists have reported the first discovery of amber-preserved avian fossils from the Mesozoic era. The two enantiornithin specimens are preserved with feathers, and colour pigments, revealing them to be pale and dotted on top, and having darker browns on other parts. Tomography also shows evidence of scratching insude the amber - evidence of the centimetre-scale birds' attempts to break free of it. The enantiornithines went extinct in the K-Pg extinction, 66 million years ago, along with the non-avian dinosaurs, but their fossils have shown that they had the same basic feather arrangement as extant birds, so despite their different shoulder morphology, they would probably have flown in a basically similar way.

ESA has announced that Rosetta's mission will end on the 30th September when, after a period of reducing orbits, it will be crash landed on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, maybe right next to the lander Philae. Rosetta isn't expected to maintain power until 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comes back within range of the Sun, in 6.5 years, so the opportunity is being taken to get better and better images of the comet, on its slow descent over 6 weeks, before the "final, parting kiss" as CNES (France's space agency) president Jean-Yves Le Gall has said.

An international collaboration of zoologists have conducted a two year study, tracking frigate birds, using extremely lightweight transmitters that are capable of monitoring GPS positioning, altitude, heart rate and acceleration in any direction. Using the data, they found that the birds were staying aloft for up to two months at a time. They were also able to find that they were using updrafts to stay up, and swooping close to the sea to catch fish that had ascended to escape predators from below. By utilising air currents, the birds could travel 250 miles in a day, and use the updraughts under cumulus clouds to rise 1600 metres, at 5 metres per second, into cold thin air, where they could glide down on their way to the next updraught. Frigates have to be this good at gliding, assisted by having the lowest body weight proportional to wing-area of any bird, because their wings are not waterproof. This means that in the regions they live - around the Pacific and Indian Oceans - they have very few places to land. The researchers hypothesise that frigate birds might take sleep breaks while they're rising into the clouds, before they have to regain control for their descents.

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

'ScienceCasts: Monitoring Air Quality'

'Did the Food Babe Mislead Her Followers About Yellow Dye No 5 and 6?'

'Wind Waves'

'Tetrafluoroethane and Water'

'Image: Sentinel-2A captures Mount St Helen's'

'Image: Hubble hotbed of vigorous star formation'

'Spectacular VLT images of Jupiter days before the arrival of Juno'

'Jupiter's Clouds from New Horizons'

'Hubble captures vivid auroras in Jupiter's atmosphere'

'Exploring Jupiter's Magnetic Field'

'Unexpected God'

'Amazing Miniature Bear!'

'7 billion'

'The Chaser's Election Desk (2016) Episode 4'

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

Word Of The Week: vivisection -- from latin 'vivus' meaning 'alive' and 'sectio' meaning 'cutting'; meaning surgery conducted for experimental purposes on a living organism, typically animals with a central nervous system, to view living internal structure; often used a pejorative term for any experimentation involving animals

Amathematical Quote Of The Week: "The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side. Oh joy, rapture, i've got a brain!" - the scarecrow in The Wizard Of Oz

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

'Te están robando' (You are stealing)

'Math in the Simpsons: Homer's theorem'

'Homer's last theorem | Simon Singh | TEDxSalford'

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