Showing posts from August, 2007

Email routing algorithm (not)

I you ever wondered how email gets from here to there watch this short video. If you never did wonder about that, watch it anyway. It's fun.

Extra Foamy

A Starbucks latte option is 'extra foam.' It makes your drink more like a cappuccino, but with out the cinnamon. The folks at Yamba, Australia, near Sydney had foam with their water recently. In fact, their whole beach and many of the nearby buildings were swallowed by the stuff. The foam, light as bubble bath foam, stretched 30 miles out into the Pacific Ocean It was created by just the right combination of salts, chemicals, dead plants, decomposed fish and seaweed churned up by powerful currents. Storms off the New South Wales Coast and further north off Queensland created a huge disturbance in the ocean, hitting a stretch of water where there was a particularly high amount of the substances which formed into bubbles.

You can help locate meteoroids

On Friday night/Saturday morning, August 31/September 1, there will be an outburst meteor shower. An outburst is a sudden, short burst of a lot of meteors, Aurigids in this case. This is debris left over from the 2000-year-period comet Kiess, and the Earth doesn’t pass through the meteor stream very often so they're very difficult to predict. But the best guess just now is that there will be about 200 meteors visible per hour at the peak -- but the peak comes at 4:36 AM Pacific Daylight Time, which means that it won't be visible from anywhere but the western United States and Hawaii. The Aurigid Laptop Meteor Observation Project will use the Internet to accomplish something that has never been done before: combine the observations of thousands of people in order to build a three-dimensional map of a meteor stream. For all of history, meteors have been observed by independent observers, giving us an ant's-eye view of the forest. But with the Internet, the ants can combine t

Why Won't You Do As I say?

In the Dimensional Change Card sorting (DCCS) task, 3-year-olds can usually sort cards successfully by a first rule - whether by shape, color, size, etc. When asked to switch then to another rule, most 3-year-olds will perseverate by continuing to sort cards according to the first and now-irrelevant rule. This occurs even when the current rule is repeated every single time they're asked to sort a card! Children will even correctly repeat the name of the rule they should be using, and then proceed to actually sort the card by the old rule. By age 4, however, most kids are able to successfully switch to a second rule (though many will still have trouble when asked to switch again). What then changes between 3 and 4 to allow this shift away from a remarkably strange behavior? A new study by Wolfgang Mack begins to answer this question. Mack concludes that the verbal information conveyed by the experimenters at the end of the first sorting rule—at the beginning of the second is merely

Just Wow!—over and over and over

TED (Technology Entertainment Design) is an annual conference held in Monterey, California. TED describes itself as a "group of remarkable people that gather to exchange ideas of incalculable value". Its 'performance' covers a broad set of topics including science, arts, politics, global issues, architecture, music and more. The speakers themselves are from a wide variety of communities and disciplines Take a look at the speakers/performer list . Lectures, music, dance, a sense many of the best of humanity's thinkers, performers, and builders of tomorrow. Jan Goodall-chimpanzees, Jeff Bezos-Amazon, Martin Rees-cosmology, Rev. Tom Honey-religion, Bono - music (U2), Steve Jobs - Apple, and the list just goes on and on. Click on a speaker that interests you and on their page you'll find a small video box that allows you for free (instead of $6000 attendance fee) to see and hear their presentation. There's an enlarge button on each video, and co

Closeup of a star

Over about two and a half days (August 16-18, 2007), the Sun's prominences were seen in extreme ultraviolet light by the Ahead spacecraft. Prominences are clouds of cooler gases controlled by powerful magnetic forces that extend above the Sun's surface. Look carefully and you can sometimes see the gases arcing out from one point and sliding above the surface to another point. In an interesting sequence near the end of the clip, the upper prominence seems to arch away into space. Such sequences serve to show the dynamic nature of the Sun. But did you know you could put you hand in a bucket of sun and not even feel any heat? Temperature is a measure of the energy in a substance (the speed of the molecules), but the sun at the surface is so diffuse that the few fast moving molecules wouldn't even be noticeable.

An espresso has less caffeine than a cup of coffee!

A cup of brewed coffee has about 110 milligrams of caffeine, and potent as it may seem an espresso about 80mg. But of course that's based on volume; 8 ounces for a cup of coffee and 1.5 oz for espresso. Drip coffee has about 13mg/oz., espresso has a whopping 51mg/oz, and instant decaf only has .31mg/oz. A can of Coca-Cola has about 23mg of caffeine, Pepsi Cola 25mg, Mountain Dew 37mg, and TAB 31mg. A cup of tea has about 40mg of caffeine, while an ounce of chocolate contains about 20mg. This all comes up because I'd had a hard time concentrating lately. I'd be jumping from webpage to webpage, back to email, over to Flickr, back to email, check out the news, and and and . . . . Decided to cut out caffeine (about 8 cups a day), and boy did I find out what cold turkey means. By the end of the first day and all through the second I had a headache that Tylenol couldn't cure. Second night, third day, and third night I had legs that ached as if I'd run 10 miles. By day fou


The Pentagon Sends Messengers of Apocalypse to Convert Soldiers in Iraq By Max Blumenthal, Posted on August 8, 2007, Printed on August 18, 2007 Actor Stephen Baldwin, the youngest member of the famous Baldwin brothers, is no longer playing Pauly Shore's sidekick in comedy masterpieces like Biodome. He has a much more serious calling these days. Baldwin became a right-wing, born-again Christian after the 9/11 attacks, and now is the star of Operation Straight Up (OSU), an evangelical entertainment troupe that actively proselytizes among active-duty members of the US military. As an official arm of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, OSU plans to mail copies of the controversial apocalyptic video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces to soldiers serving in Iraq. OSU is also scheduled to embark on a "Military Crusade in Iraq" in the near future. "We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to

A Bitter Dose Of Reality

This blog was started because I often found myself exclaiming, "Wow! Really?" I though other folks might enjoy some of the wowsers, amazing facts and foolishness I discovered. This one I didn't enjoy—yet another indication along with our education and healthcare systems, that suggest we're rapidly moving toward second class nation status. Paul Craig Roberts* in Online Journal provides some evidence, although he didn't say it directly, that we've already achieved that dubious distinction: Early this morning (August 9th) China let the idiots in Washington, and on Wall Street, know that it has them by the short hairs. Two senior spokesmen for the Chinese government observed that China’s considerable holdings of US dollars and Treasury bonds "contributes a great deal to maintaining the position of the dollar as a reserve currency." [China threatens 'nuclear option' of dollar sales, by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, London Telegraph, August 9, 2007]

Oh, come ON!

There's yet another internet hoax* going around that starts something like: "If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. . . ." It goes on to claim, among other things, that if the worlds population is represented by 100 people "1 would own a computer." That means there are only 0.01*6.6 billion or 66 million computers out there? Actually, in 2003 62 million US households alone had a computer, and many have more than one according to US Census Bureau . And the email claims, "1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education" According to the 2000 United States census, 24.4% of Americans have at least a bachelor degree, or another higher degree. The US population is around 302 million. 302 million*0.24.4 = 73.7 million people in the US have a degree, but whoever wrote this claims 6.6 billion*0.01 = 66 million people in

Stretching the limits of fashion

Chinese fashion show promoted condoms to combat HIV. One of the docs we see is just back from three weeks in China--he goes there every 2-3 years, has been for the last 30. Said this visit was very disturbing. Thanks to the one child law children are now unable/unwilling, by themselves, to take care of their elderly parents--virtually the basis of Chinese culture for the last 10,000 years. Living on a farm, and all working together, the family could manage. Now the kids take their folk's new national pension and buy sex from the few women around (girl babies were killed, considered less desirable). Not a good outlook for the largest population in the world. And consider this: