Science is extremely serious stuff. Scientists can’t be lollygagging around surfing for midget porn like you and I. No sirree doggy. When they get to the lab and pull on their sterile smocks they get right down to brass tacks. They want to make the world a better place, learn about stuff so they can share their knowledge and, when all is said and done, make this planet a place worthy of our pathetic presence. They do not get up in the morning and contemplate the relationship between waffles, sex and hockey. Personally I think they should, but I am not a scientist. Nor have I played one on TV. So while I sit here and try to amuse you they are headed into the sweltering other-realm of nondimensional thermal exotrinsicacies that allow them to make up words like that while sounding really important. Those words get even cooler when they are used on a white board or in a Power-point demonstration.The same could be said for my waffle, sex & hockey ruminations, but it won’t be. At least not by scientists.
I’ll give you a real world example. Women the world over know how to tie their hair into a ponytail. But it took scientists decades to come up with the Rapunzel number.
What is a Rapunzel number? Why it’s a number that shows how a ponytail will look once the hair is so tied.
No, I am not making this up.
Cambridge’s Professor Raymond Goldstein told Reuters that he and his colleagues took account of the stiffness of individual hairs, the effects of gravity and the average waviness of human hair to come up with their formula.
The Rapunzel Number provides a key ratio needed to calculate the effects of gravity on hair relative to its length.
“That determines whether the ponytail looks like a fan or whether it arcs over and becomes nearly vertical at the bottom,” Goldstein said in a telephone interview.
The research also took into account how a bundle of hair is swelled by the outward pressure which arises from collisions between the component hairs.
Scientists said the work has implications for understanding the structure of materials made up of random fibers, such as wool and fur and will have resonance with the computer graphics and animation industry, where the representation of hair has been a challenging problem.
“Our findings extend some central paradigms in statistical physics and show how they can be used to solve a problem that has puzzled scientists and artists ever since Leonardo da Vinci remarked on the fluid-like streamlines of hair in his notebooks 500 years ago,” Goldstein said.
The research was conducted by Goldstein, Professor Robin Ball from the University of Warwick and their colleagues. It will be presented to the American Physical Society in Boston on February 28.
See? It’s useful information if you’re working for Pixar.
Of course if you’re in a high stress job like that you’re probably chugging lots of 5-hour energy drinks which, as you are aware, were invented by a monk.
No, I’m not making this up either.
“A Buddhist monk” would not be the first guess from most people when asked who invented the 5-Hour Energy drink. But Forbes reporter Clare O’Conner discovered that’s exactly who is behind the phenomenon that has a 90%-near monopoly of the energy shot market.
Specifically, credit goes to Michigan resident Manoj Bhargava, 58, who came up with the idea after visiting a natural products trade show in California several years ago.
So, how does Bhargava’s billion-dollar energy drink invention line-up with his personal philosophy?
“5-Hour Energy is not an energy drink, it’s a focus drink,” Bhargava tells Forbes. “But we can’t say that. The FDA doesn’t like the word ‘focus.’ I have no idea why.”
Bhargava was born in India, but his parents moved to the United States when he was a child so his father could pursue a career in the plastics industry. After dropping out of college after one year, Bhargava returned to India, where he became a member of the Hanslok Ashram order and lived the lifestyle of a Buddhist “monk” for 12 years. (I put “monk” in quotes because Bhargava tells Forbes there’s no real word in English language to exactly capture what he and his fellow devotees were doing, instead likening it more to a commune, minus the drugs.)
Even though he eventually returned to the U.S. to pursue his own career, Bhargava still spends 1 hour a day in his basement practicing silent meditation. He also says he drinks one 5-Five Hour Energy each morning and another before his thrice weekly tennis matches.
All that said, O’Conner unearths some details about Bhargava that sound decidedly un-Buddhist. He’s fond of comparing himself to Matt Damon’s character in Good Will Hunting, refers to himself as “the richest Indian in America,” and hasn’t been shy about taking out the competition, filing 91 lawsuits.
Yeah. I got nothing I can add to that.
Meanwhile, as Americans rail more and more against genetically altered Frankenfoods, China is having a problem they can’t even begin to explain. People are bouncing boiled eggs and making men sterile.
No, again, this is real. Quit making that face.
Chinese authorities are investigating eggs which bounce after being boiled and may make men sterile, state media reported on Friday, in the latest food safety scare to hit the country.
The eggs, being referred to in Chinese media and on the internet as “rubber eggs” or “ping pong eggs,” are too hard to eat, raising suspicion they are fake, after appearing in “small numbers” in markets nationwide, Xinhua news agency said.
“The investigation is designed to appease consumers’ concerns, after some suspected they bought artificial eggs made by unconscientious traders seeking profits,” it reported.
However, the eggs’ hardness could be a natural occurrence, caused by hens consuming large amounts of food enriched with a compound called gossypol, which binds to protein in egg yolks, Xinhua said.
“While gossypol normally exists in the residue of cotton seeds added to chicken feed as an extra protein source, large doses of the compound will suppress sperm activity as gossypol has been tested to be used in male contraceptive pills,” it added.
Food safety worries are nothing new to China, where tales of fake cooking oil, tainted milk and watermelons which explode from being fed too much fertiliser regularly appear in the news.
In 2008, at least six children died and nearly 300,000 became ill from powdered milk laced with melamine, an industrial chemical added to low quality or diluted milk to fool inspectors by giving misleadingly high readings for protein levels.
In America, where we put a premium on our health, unlike those commie bastards, you can now buy a bacon shake that has a mere 7,149 grams of fat and 140,723 calories.
Thank God someone is looking out for our best interests.
Speaking of “looking out,” pseudo-scientists in Russia claim to have found a living woolly mammoth which, if you click the link and watch the video, seems to look exactly like a bear eating a fish.
Don’t worry, I’m sure this will all be featured, breathlessly and with commentary from serious looking people who – until recently – were employed as greeters by Walmart, on the History Channel soon enough.
Real scientists have made an interesting discovery. Tariser primates, long thought to be mute, actually emit ultrasonic screams.
The tarsier, a small primate best known for its bulging eyes and quiet demeanor, has a secret: It’s actually incredibly loud, particularly if you’re a dolphin.
Until recently, this fact was a mystery to humans because the tarsier has an ultrasonic scream, inaudible to human ears.
“It turns out that it’s not silent. It’s actually screaming and we had no idea,” Humboldt State University evolutionary biologist Marissa Ramsier tells Live Science.
But why would a primate capable of making audible sounds at a lower frequency employ high-frequency cries? The most plausible explanation is that the pint-sized primates, about the size of an adult human’s clenched fist, are most likely using the “silent” screams to coordinate with other tarsiers to avoid predators and find food.
The tarsiers now find themselves in an exclusive club in the animal kingdom. Bats, dolphins and whales are the best-known practitioners of ultrasonic communication, but some cats also use the high-frequency method to communicate with their baby kittens. Some rodents can also make use of ultrasonic frequencies.
Some companies even sell ultrasonic emitters to “startle” cats away from unwelcome areas.
Even before this discovery, tarsiers were a fascinating species. For starters, they are only found on islands in the Philippines. And although they are primarily active at night, they lack the exceptional night vision of other animals, including their feline ultrasonic counterparts. Instead, tarsiers rely on their oversized eyes to capture enough incoming sensory data to survive in the darkness.
Between their limited population numbers, nocturnal hours and skittish behavior, it’s understandable that scientists took so long to make this discovery.
Texas A&M anthropologist Sharon Gursky-Doyen stumbled across the find when she noticed that when the tarsiers opened their mouths to speak, she wasn’t hearing anything. “She had the foresight to get hold of a bat detector, and she was able to get that vocalization on a recording,” Ramsier said.
Other real scientists, noted here by our pal Ian O’Neil, not to be outdone by screaming simians, have announced that they have discovered goo gobs of livable planets.
The number of known multi-planetary star systems has just tripled. What’s more, the Kepler space telescope science team has just announced that they have doubled the number of confirmed exoplanetary sightings made by the observatory.
“Prior to the Kepler mission, we knew of perhaps 500 exoplanets across the whole sky,” said Doug Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “Now, in just two years staring at a patch of sky not much bigger than your fist, Kepler has discovered more than 60 planets and more than 2,300 planet candidates. This tells us that our galaxy is positively loaded with planets of all sizes and orbits.”
Thursday’s announcement focuses on 11 new planetary system discoveries. 26 alien worlds orbit these 11 stars.
Although these stars may possess up to several planets each, that is where the similarities to our own solar system end. The worlds in each of these star systems have very compact orbits — the shortest orbital period (or “year”) is six days; the longest is only 143 days. As a comparison, the orbital period of Mercury is 115 days. All of these worlds have an orbital distance closer than Venus is to the sun.
Some of the newly discovered worlds are only 1.5 times the size of Earth, while others are bigger than Jupiter. Fifteen exoplanets are between Earth and Neptune in size, but further observations will be needed to determine if any have a rocky surface like Earth, or a gaseous consistency like Neptune.
The Kepler space telescope can only detect exoplanets that pass in front of their stars as seen from Earth. Their obits are “edge on” and Kepler surveys one small region of the sky (containing around 150,000 stars) in the hope of seeing the brightness of a star briefly “dim” as the star’s exoplanet blocks some of the starlight from view. Interestingly, the gravitational effects of other planets within these star systems can be detected too.
Okay, “livable” might have been too strong a word but, clearly, goo gobs was the scientifically correct numerical representation. Still, it is pretty exciting. Until just a few years ago the only alien worlds humans knew were from the fevered minds of science fiction writers. In fact there were some scientists who doubted that many such worlds could exist at all.
In other words, we’re just passengers on this rock and there might be more people just like us riding around out there.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Friday morning around 9:10!