Put the beat down on cancer
An informative article from Men’s Health magazine suggests eight ways you can protect your body from cancer. Strategies discussed include eating foods high in anti-oxidants and spending time (but not too much) in the sun to ensure an adequate supply of vitamin D. Although a little obvious, the article gives extremely sound advice that everyone can benefit from. Considering one in three people will get cancer in their lifetime, it’s probably wise to start protecting yourself now.tinyurl.com/2gffxe
We seem to leave crap wherever we go
(NASA should be fined for littering): An interesting Wikipedia entry (titled “list of artificial objects on the moon”) describes in detail all the junk we have left on the moon—all 170,000 kilograms of it stashed over the years. Smaller objects, like the golf balls hit by Alan Shepard during his lunar golf practice and the numerous flags left behind by several missions, are not listed. (Also absent from the list is a book of Russian cosmonaut jokes dropped by Buzz Aldrin after using the lunar portapotty on the Apollo 11 mission).
Speaking of crap
Ever wonder why poo is brown? (I know I sure do.) The answer is that orangebrown bilirubin and yellowish bile are both released from the liver and combine in feces to give it its distinctive colour. I am currently working on a proposal for Crayola to include ‘poo brown’ in their crayon boxes, but they are not receptive to my idea. You know the kids would love it.
A fishy story
Scientists have developed a technique that allows salmon to give birth to trout offspring. Apparently bored with doing regular experiments, the Japanese research team injected trout sex cells into salmon embryos, allowing the salmon to give birth to normal trout fish that were capable of reproducing. This could prove to be a useful technique for breeding endangered fish species in an economical and effective manner. There are no reports on the effect of the trout offspring on the parent salmon’s marriages. (Though I suspect there is a consortium of sushi restaurants funding this research).
A clear diagram showing how circular reasoning works
(and how I win any argument I am in): Check out this link: tinyurl.com/2qvgad
Save the environment and look ridiculous at the same time:
As much as it is our responsibility to save our already critically-injured planet, some eco-friendly ideas are definitely lacking in the aesthetics department. This funny device is a miniature (and somewhat) portable windmill that can power your laptop or cell phone. I don’t think the public is yet convinced of its practicality, as the first comment attached to the article suggests: “How many people would actually carry that thing around when we won’t even carry around a solar cell 1/10th that size? Impractical.” To paraphrase that anonymous commenter: Worst. Invention. Ever. (And why didn’t the Dutch come up with this sooner?) tinyurl.com/22vdth
Did you hear the one about Jack Hanna and a flamingo at the airport?
Turns out famous animal expert Jack Hanna got stuck in an Ohio airport turnstile with an 11- month-old flamingo in a carrying container. The flamingo was eventually freed, but it took three firemen to rescue the trapped bird. The Department of Homeland Security held the bird for questioning and released it later after it was determined it wasn’t on the no-fly list. Unfortunately the penguin that was with the group was held for further questioning. (Although it’s ridiculous this item makes the news, the fact that I found it on CNN makes sense).
Looking down from above
As the International Space Station orbited above Dubai, it snapped an incredible shot of The Palm Jumeirah island resort project. It seems like Dubai is going to be the new Las Vegas pretty soon. I wonder how long it will be until they beat out Disney World. tinyurl.com/2yplpk
Finally, science brings us something useful
(so that we can be cool like the Jetsons): It’s about time the self-chilling drink was invented. No more lugging around ice and coolers on those hot summer days. Although speculative in nature, an article from engadget.com suggests that we could soon see soft drinks (and conceivably, beer) with built-in cooling technology that works by using a vacuum and heat sink to absorb warmth from the drink, bringing its temperature down. I can envision news reports of exploding cans taking out the eyes of several people once this product comes out — but at least they will be refreshed!
Inaccurate sayings that piss me off
“Shoot for the moon, because if you miss, you will at least land among the stars.” This quaint and encouraging proverb is greatly lacking in scientific accuracy. The moon is only 405, 696 kilometres from the Earth compared to the closest star, Proxima Centauri, at 4.22 light years away. If you convert that distance into kilometres, it equals 39 trillion (3.9 x 1013) kilometres. You would have to overshoot very, very badly in order to land among the stars if your original target was the moon. The children that hear this saying will grow up to be shoddy astrophysicists.
Organism of the week
Class scyphozoa — commonly known as jellyfish. These alien-looking, generally amorphous blobs are found in every ocean on the Earth. Their name is somewhat inaccurate, as they are invertebrates and do not have backbones (whereas fish do). Jellyfish are interesting in that they lack a brain, but are able to perceive and respond to their environment using their basic nervous system. An adult jellyfish is made up of 94 to 98 per cent water and generally feeds on small fish and plankton. Many species are capable of delivering a nasty sting using numerous small cells known as cnidocytes that can contain a small amount of venom. Although the venom in most jellyfish stings is not fatal, some jellyfish do carry venom strong enough to kill. The best-known example is the box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri), which is responsible for at least 5, 567 recorded deaths since 1884. If stung by a jellyfish, the best course of action is to pour vinegar on the area to deactivate any cnidocytes that have not yet injected their venom and carefully remove any remaining tentacles using protective gloves or clothing. The tentacles can still sting even if the jellyfish is dead. An extremely useful protein known as green fluorescent protein (GFP) was first isolated from the species Aequorea victoria and has been used in countless biological experiments due to its ability to glow green when exposed to blue light. A group of jellyfish is known as a ‘smuck’ of jellyfish. Contrary to popular belief, jellyfish are not the source of fruit jelly.
The crazy things we used to believe #2
Phrenology: Back in the good old days of the 19th century, a German physician named Franz Joseph Gall developed an odd theory that stuck around for far too long. He believed that a person’s intelligence, personality, and future behaviour (things such as the likelihood of them performing criminal activities) could be determined by carefully measuring the shape of the head. Phrenology was based on the notion that specific areas of the brain handled certain functions. Furthermore, it was thought that these areas would be larger if the person was skilled in that particular mental faculty.To practice phrenology, one would feel the bumps of the subject’s skull and draw conclusions on the supposed 27 areas that made up their personality and beliefs. As well, measurements of head size would be taken with callipers. The phrenologist could then predict what kind of behaviour the subject was prone to and other speculative information. Some people had so much faith in the ridiculous practice that it was even used as a type of background check for job applicants.Phrenology became increasingly popular in Victorian England and in the United States through the 19th century. Although some ‘scientists’ wrote serious papers on the subject, it was considered to be a pseudo-science by most in the scientific community.Regardless, phrenology has had adherents even up until the end of the 20th century. Its use as a tool to promote racism in a seemingly scientific way has been seen several times, including by Nazi scientists claiming that there was a biological basis for the supposed superiority of the Aryan race.Thankfully, the dawn of neuroscience killed any serious interest in phrenology. People born with bumpy heads today need not fear phrenologists telling them that they have a lifetime ahead as a career criminal.