Category Archive: society

May 15 2011

Snake oil? Scientific evidence for popular diet supplements

Eh, not everything is good for you.

Mar 03 2011

Spiders leads to safety recall of Mazdas

It’s unclear why this particular spider — the yellow sac spider — seems to prefer the model year 2009 and 2010 Mazda6…

Mazda's not sure why the yellow sac spider likes to make its home in the fuel system of the Mazda6, but it has a way to stop it.

via Spider webs prompt Mazda recall of 50,000 cars – Mar. 3, 2011

Feb 13 2011

The indecipherable Voynich manuscript

No one has yet been able to read or understand the cryptic writing of this 600-year-old book, even with the latest computerized analysis. [Click photo for pictures]

Feb 11 2011

Gene tests inadvertently exposing cases of incest

Mapping your entire genetic code to look for disease signatures may reveal more than you want to know.

Nancy Spinner, a professor of pathology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, said her team had encountered two cases of incest since it began using SNP-based arrays from gene sequencing company Illumina Inc in May 2008.

Nov 15 2010

Tycho Brahe, astronomer: murdered? by Kepler?

Recent investigations have suggested that Tycho did not die from urinary problems but instead from mercury poisoning—extremely toxic levels of it have been found in hairs from his moustache. This may have even been due to the various metals used to create his many different prosthetic noses that he wore. The results were, however, not conclusive. Prague City Hall approved a request by Danish scientists to exhume the remains in February 2010, and a team of Czech and Danish scientists from Aarhus University arrived in November 2010, to take bone, hair and clothing samples for analysis.

Some modern theories suggest that due to the discovery of the mercury in his body, it is possible he was intentionally or unintentionally poisoned. The two main suspects are his assistant, Johannes Kepler, whose motives would be to gain access to Brahe’s laboratory and chemicals, and his cousin, Erik Brahe, at the order of friend-turned-enemy Christian IV due to rumors at the time that Tycho had had an affair with Christian’s mother.

via Tycho Brahe – Wikipedia

Nov 14 2010

Hmmm: studies show traces of drugs in air, water, and sewage

The American Chemical Society has published a series of studies under the title “Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment: Ecological and Human Health Considerations” that detail numerous reports of the detection of cocaine, LSD, amphetamines, marijuana, and pharmaceutical drugs in water, air, and sewage in the US and Europe. Some was “still present in finished drinking water in a Spanish drinking water treatment plant”.

Oct 29 2010

Unpopular science

Life lessons in advanced physics, chemistry, and mechanics.

Christoph Niemann - Physics

Based on supercomplicated physical observations, Einstein concluded that two objects may perceive time differently. Based on simple life experience, I have concluded that this is true.

Sep 15 2010

The Last Story of F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre

What prompted his descent from being that darling of writers’ conventions to increasing reclusion in his third-floor apartment? Which of the terrible facts he shared of his background were true, and did they, ultimately, explain everything else?

via The Last Story of F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre – NYTimes.com

Sep 09 2010

Who lives there …in Newport, R.I.

 “You don’t leave New York to go to Newport,” he said. “You go to London, Milan, Paris. In Newport, you know, there is nothing outside your house. All you have is your things inside, and that’s the end of it.”

Well, what do they know?

Sep 07 2010

Cookware, waterproof fabrics linked to higher cholesterol levels, cancer

Years of exposure to synthetic chemicals now seems to have resulted in permanent biological effects.

Perfluoronated compounds have been found in the blood of virtually every person tested for them in the United States, including children as young as 2. The compounds have been linked to cancer, developmental problems, liver damage and other ailments in animals, though there is no general agreement about their effects on humans.”

Sep 06 2010

What is our life expectancy?

One BBC report, for example, claimed that life expectancy for a man in the UK is 77, meaning that after working to 66, I would have only 11 years left. That seems a bit harsh.

But wait. Another report says that life expectancy for men in this country is 89. Now that’s a bit more like it. But they can’t both be right. Or can they?

via BBC News – Can we expect to live to 77, 89 or 100?

Aug 30 2010

An idle brain may be the self’s workshop

…Until recently, scientists would have found little of interest in the purposeless, mind-wandering spaces between Mrazek’s conscious breakfast-making tasks — they were just the brain idling between meaningful activity.

But in the span of a few short years, they have instead come to view mental leisure as important, purposeful work — work that relies on a powerful and far-flung network of brain cells firing in unison.

Neuroscientists call it the “default mode network.”

via Idlebrain | Minding the gaps – Los Angeles Times.

Aug 30 2010

Does Your Language Shape How You Think?

Benjamin Lee Whorf let loose an alluring idea about language’s power over the mind, and his stirring prose seduced a whole generation into believing that our mother tongue restricts what we are able to think.

 

via Does Your Language Shape How You Think? – NYTimes.com.

Aug 19 2010

Is it better to handwash or use a dishwasher?

Short answer: dishwasher wins by 230 hours and 5,000 gallons PER YEAR.

Washing dishes by hand costs over $431 more in additional energy and water bills than using an ENERGY STAR dishwasher

Aug 01 2010

Rape charges dropped after deleted messages recovered

In what may be the first time an iPhone’s elephantine memory has saved someone accused of a serious crime, deleted data retrieved by a leading surveillance expert appears to have led to the dropping of five rape charges against a Sydney man.

via Rape charges dropped after deleted messages recovered from iPhone.

Aug 01 2010

World’s largest skateboard on a suicidal mission

A helluva ride with no seatbelts. Beats my Porsche.

worlds largest skateboard

Apr 18 2010

Your laptop could detect the next earthquake

The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers.

Dec 28 2009

An illusion of sex change

…rest assured that the both faces are actually versions of the same androgynous face neither male, nor female. One face was created by increasing the contrast of the androgynous face, while the other face was created by decreasing the contrast. The face with more contrast is perceived as female, while the face with less contrast is perceived as male…

via The Illusion of Sex Change | Mighty Optical Illusions.

androgynous face optical illusion

I suspect this is what underlies the effectiveness of makeup: it increases contrast between facial features.

Sep 03 2009

Men lose their minds speaking to pretty women

men who spend even a few minutes in the company of an attractive woman perform less well in tests designed to measure brain function than those who chat to someone they do not find attractive…

via Men lose their minds speaking to pretty women – Telegraph.

I knew that. Really. I was just distracted.

Jul 28 2009

Swedes miss Capri after GPS gaffe

Yes, they drove to Carpi. 400 miles away. To the north. Not an island.

No blonde joke here.

So now literacy is fundamental to even going where you’re going. This means that 14% of Americans are going to get lost a lot.

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