Tag Archives: science

The Shadow of Surface Tension

An insect like a wasp or a water strider can rest atop the water, held up by surface tension. This means that the cohesive force of the water molecules sticking to each other is stronger than the force of the bug being pushed down by gravity. This works because it spreads its weight out over a large surface area (like snowshoes). That creates a slight indentation in the top of the water, changing the direction that the light coming down is refracted and re-directing it slightly sideways (that’s where the bright halos around the dark areas come from). And what’s the absence of light?

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What 200 Calories look like

Apples

Apples

Jack in the Box cheeseburger

Jack in the Box Cheeseburger

Black Beans

Canned Black Beans

Werther’s

Werther's Originals Candy

Jack in the Box chicken sandwich

Jack in the Box Chicken Sandwich

Broccoli

Broccoli

Glazed doughnut

Glazed Doughnut

French sandwich roll

French Sandwich Roll

Avocado

Avacado

Corn

Corn

Baby carrots

Baby Carrots

Peas

Canned Peas

Pork and Beans

Canned Pork and Beans

Celery

Celery

Coca-Cola

Coca Cola

Doritos

Doritos

Dried apricots

Dried Apricots

Jack in the Box french fries

Jack in the Box French Fries

Fried bacon

Fried Bacon

Fruit Loops

Fruit Loops

Grapes

Grapes

Splenda

Splenda

Gummi Bears

Gummy Bears

Hershey Kisses

Hershey Kisses

Mini peppers

Mini Peppers

Honeydew melon

Honeydew Melon

Hot dogs

Hot Dogs

Jelly Beans

Jelly Beans

Ketchup

Ketchup

Kiwi

Kiwi

M & M’s

M and Ms

Onions

Mini Peppers

Sliced smoked turkey

Sliced Smoked Turkey

Eggs

Eggs

Smarties

Smarties/Rockets

Tootsie Pops

Tootsie Pops

Whole Milk

Whole Milk

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Brazilian Bikini waxes are eradicating pubic lice

As I’m sure nobody wants that guy up there crawling around in their pants, recent studies have shown that not only does shaving/waxing your “downtown city center” prevent the little bastards from sticking with you, but because the trend of removing the carpet and “sticking with hardwood floors downstairs” is becoming more and more common, pubic lice are well on their way to becoming an endangered species. So there you go people, do it for science, and for everybody who is going to be visiting you down there as well.

Waning infestations of the bloodsuckers have been linked by doctors to pubic depilation, especially a technique popularized in the 1990s by a Manhattan salon run by seven Brazilian sisters. More than 80 percent of college students in the U.S. remove all or some of their pubic hair — part of a trend that’s increasing in western countries. In Australia, Sydney’s main sexual health clinic hasn’t seen a woman with pubic lice since 2008 and male cases have fallen 80 percent from about 100 a decade ago.

“It used to be extremely common; it’s now rarely seen,” said Basil Donovan, head of sexual health at the University of New South Wales’s Kirby Institute and a physician at the Sydney Sexual Health Centre. “Without doubt, it’s better grooming.”

The trend suggests an alternative way of stemming one of the globe’s most contagious sexually transmitted infections. Pubic lice are usually treated with topical insecticides, which once included toxic ones developed before and during World War 2. While they aren’t known to spread disease, itchy skin reactions and subsequent infections make pubic lice a hazardous pest.

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Science vs Art

Richard Feynman does his best to explain why science, in essence, is a form of art that may be much deeper and more philosophical than simple art itself. By no means am I calling art simple, but I will openly say I have much more respect and interest in scientists than artists, sorry artist friends.

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One more reason dogs are better than cats; they can drive cars. Seriously, there’s video.

Two stray dogs in New Zealand went through an extensive 5-week training program where they learned how to shift and steer a car. This is real life. They started out on little “doggie go-karts” then upgraded to modified Mini Coopers.

For the four-legged competitors, two months of hard work – and a fair few treats – ensured they were raring to get on the racetrack. So when the big day rolled around, the only ones likely to get hot under the collar were any bystanders who spotted a Mini hurtling towards them with a dog at the wheel. Two mutts made history yesterday by driving a car down a racetrack. Ten-month-old beardie cross Porter put his paws to the pedals first, steering the Mini down the straight and then turning a corner.

He was followed by Monty, an 18-month-old giant schnauzer cross, who completed the same feat. As the Mail reported last week, the pair – along with one-year-old beardie whippet cross Ginny – had been taking driving lessons, which began with them learning to steer a wooden cart pulled along on a string by their trainers.

In just eight weeks, they progressed to driving a real car – a modified Mini in which they sat on their haunches in the driver’s seat. Their front paws were on the steering wheel, while their back paws were on levers attached to the accelerator and the brake.

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World Bank envisions a 4°C over normal future temperature. Call Kevin Costner so we can survive in the water world.

When scientists and politicians chat about the next century of climate change, the idea is that we can make enough changes and keep things together enough to see only a 2 degree Celsius rise in temperature from pre-industrial levels. Realistically however, even with electric cars on the rise and carbon offsets, we may still hit the dreaded 4 degree mark, which would cause the kind of catastrophic climate change and flooding that all those tree-huggers have been warning us about. And now, the World Bank is involved because if this does happen, it will completely change the entire global economic picture.

In a report released today, the World Bank analyzed the consequences of allowing temperatures to reach 4°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. Even the well understood problems—up to a meter of sea level rise, winter months that are warmer than our current summers—sound pretty ugly. The report also notes the possibility of tipping points and synergies make some of the impacts much harder to predict.

The report itself is a collaboration between the Bank’s Global Expert Team for Climate Change Adaptation and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics. In addition to taking a different perspective on the problem of climate change, the report comes at a valuable time. It’s been five years since the release of the fourth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; the fifth isn’t due until late next year.

So, what are the chances of adding an extra 4°C by the end of the century? The report estimates that, even if all countries are able to meet their current emissions pledges, there’s still a 20 percent chance we’ll hit 4°C by the end of the century. The longer we wait to meet those pledges, the harder it will be in part because it means we’ve already built fossil fuel infrastructure that has a life span of decades.

What does a world that much warmer look like? To give a sense of how hard it is to imagine, the report notes some points in the last glacial period were only 4.5°colder than present temperatures—and there were ice sheets covering a lot of the Northern Hemisphere. We’ve already hit levels of CO2 in the atmosphere that haven’t been seen in over 15 million years. To reach 4°C, they’d have to roughly double again. And these changes would take place at a pace that probably has few geological precedents.

So, even the report’s authors admit that predications are a challenge. Still, they do their best to try to paint a picture, and boy, is it grim.

Sea level would rise by a half-meter or more, putting lots of coastal infrastructure and plenty of people at risk. The typical summer temperatures would be the equivalent of our worst heat waves. In fact, the specifically note that normal temperatures in Russia would be similar to those of its recent heat wave, which killed 55,000 people and caused massive property damage. Meanwhile, the baseline winter temperatures would be equivalent to our current summers in most areas. Temperatures over land will rise faster than they do over the ocean, and some regions will be especially hard hit. The authors predict that typical temperatures in the Mediterranean will be up by roughly 9°C.

Rainfall patterns would shift dramatically, with some river basins seeing a reduction of over 20 percent in water while others get additional rainfall. That will add to the stresses on agriculture, where many crops will already be pushing up against temperature limits in current growth zones. Meanwhile, the level of ocean acidification driven by our emissions may stop coral reef growth as soon as the 2030s. Acidification may also begin reducing reefs by the end of the century.

All of that sounds pretty awful, but that’s not the end of it. Even if atmospheric greenhouse gas levels were stabilized by the end of the century, it would take our planet time to reach a new equilibrium. Temperatures would continue to rise, with the global mean reaching 6° over pre-industrial levels. Sea levels would continue to rise, reaching somewhere between 1.5m and 5m above present levels. That later figure is higher than the storm surge that swept into Atlantic City, New Jersey.

In addition, the report raises the spectre of nonlinear events, commonly called tipping points, where a current equilibrium is shifted to a new state entirely. It points out there might be synergistic effects that could make a combination of tolerable impacts difficult to manage. For example, reduced rainfall, elevated temperatures, and saltwater intrusion from rising ocean levels could all have a negative impact on agriculture. At the same time, loss of port facilities to sea level rise could make importing crops from elsewhere a challenge.

If all of this is a bit shocking, then the report achieves its desired effect. “It is my hope that this report shocks us into action,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. “Even for those of us already committed to fighting climate change, I hope it causes us to work with much more urgency.” He said that the Bank’s goal of economic development and poverty reduction could be met without pushing against planned emissions limits.

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Fun with Gallium

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Gallium, atomic number 31, melting point of 29.4 °C (85 Fahrenheit).This awesome stuff will melt in your hand when you pick it up, and when you’re done, just pour it into a dish of some sort and watch it solidify, just waiting for you to play with it again.

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