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« Science: October 2011 | Main | Science: December 2011 »

Science

Everybody Needs to Start Putting the Lid Down

Why the hell didn't you people tell me this ages ago???

Beginning in the 1960s, an entire field of science aimed to understand the story of bathroom bacteria [4]. These studies revealed that when you flush the toilet with the lid up that bacteria can go up to six feet through the air (including onto your toothbrush)...

WTF, people! Now i have typhoidcholeradysentary, and it's all your goddamned fault.

And i thought Happy Slip's mom was nuts. She knew it all along!

Ooh! Spam!


By min | November 24, 2011, 9:25 PM | Science | Comments (2)| Link



Introvert Care & Feeding

Actually, it doesn't get into feeding. I like beans.

I also don't, i should say, "love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts...". Passionate interests, sure (i assume that means comic books).

But "find[s] other people tiring" sounds about right. Oh, not you, though. I like you.


By fnord12 | November 22, 2011, 12:51 PM | My stupid life & Science | Comments (0)| Link



Talking Panda Robot

Squeeeee!!!!

Toco-chan is an interactive robot that Dr Kabe's students developed with the aim of providing care and comfort to Japan's aging population. Sticking with the cute bear image, the robot Panda was developed to analyze interaction between humans and robot in order to explore the possibility of a future where "human machine interaction is not a one sided relationship".

The next logical step is for me to get a bear like the one in AI.


I bet like me, you too are wondering why isn't this on this year's Hot Toy List.


By min | November 19, 2011, 9:02 PM | Cute Things & Science | Comments (0)| Link



Guess What Adam's Getting For Christmas!

Robotic bear pillow:

This week saw the 19th International Robot Exhibition (IREX) held at Tokyo Big Sight displaying the world's most advanced, innovative and sometimes plain bizarre robots.
...
Dr Kabe from Waseda University's Kabe Lab in the Faculty of Human Science demonstrated a number of different concepts that all centered around providing care or comfort with the aid of technology. One such idea was the "Jukusui-kun" (Deep Sleep), a robotic pillow like device in the shape of a polar bear that looks at helping the more than 2million patients who suffer "Sleep Apnea Syndrome" in Japan (those who suffer breathing difficulties while sleeping...chronic snorers!).
...
When the oxygen level decreases in the patient resulting in the snore level increasing it triggers the bear-pillow's hand to move towards the sleepers face. Gently brushing the face causes the person to then turn from lying on their back to moving onto their side, a more conducive postion for a sound, snoreless nights sleep.

Right. Cause having your pillow move under you and brush your face would in no way wake you the hell up and totally disrupt your sleep entirely.


By min | November 19, 2011, 8:51 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



Good problems to have

Bad for solar panel manufacturers, but good for the country:

The global solar manufacturing industry is unquestionably headed for a thinning of the ranks, with up to two-thirds of all companies being forced to merge or go out of business thanks to the plummeting price and corresponding oversupply of polysilicon, the raw material used to manufacture most solar panels.

This was actually the reason Solyndra went out of business. Solar panels got too cheap for them to compete. It's a good thing in the long run.


By fnord12 | November 17, 2011, 11:59 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (0)| Link



Public Libraries as Maker-Spaces

I got in trouble a few months ago for not telling fnord12 about 3D printers. Now when i see an article about them, i feel i need to make sure to let everyone know i read it.

With the internet providing resources for research and digital books becoming more available, the feeling is that libraries might soon be obsolete. Make Magazine suggested that libraries ought to become public make spaces, providing free access to machines and software. A public library in Fayetteville, NY has embraced this idea.

The Fayetteville Free Library where Smedley works is building a Fab Lab -- short for fabrication laboratory -- that will provide free public access to machines and software for manufacturing and making things.

So far, the Fab Lab is equipped with a MakerBot, a 3D printer that lets you "print" plastic pieces of your own design. The potential for 3D printers to revolutionize manufacturing as we know it is huge: imagine being able to design and then manufacture -- or "print" -- whatever you want. Moreoever, imagine the tools of manufacturing being in the hands of everyone, not just giant factories (and remember, since this is a public library, this is really putting the technology in the hands of everyone, not just those that can afford a membership at a traditional hackerspace).

...

Her plans also include offering free classes and programs for the community, including Introduction to 3D Printing, 3D design software training, computer programming, and Geek Girl Camps.

It's an interesting idea. Many libraries currently have a "craft" room available for groups to book and use. It's not such a big leap to go from that to maker-spaces. However, it would take quite a bit of revenue to set up because of all the equipment and software. Whereas, craft spaces are just tables and chairs set up and the public brings their own materials and tools.

It's also quite a big difference going from the stereotypical quiet reading space to what has to be a noisy build area. Not sure how people who still want a quiet place to study are going to feel about that.

On a different note, it would be awesome to have my own Makerbot. Besides the obvious plus of having anything with "bot" tacked on to the end of it, i'm always looking for shit at stores that apparently doesn't exist. I could make my own! I sucked at CADD, though, so i'm not so sure about the whole 3D design part.


By min | November 15, 2011, 11:41 AM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



Tell Them Global Warming Doesn't Exist

It's so bad in Mongolia, they're proposing building an ice shield. That's right. I said "ice shield". Science fiction continues to invade reality. Although, "ice shield" is very B-level sci-fi, not like robots or lasers...or robots that shoot lasers.

The project aims to artificially create "naleds" - ultra-thick slabs of ice that occur naturally in far northern climes when rivers or springs push through cracks in the surface to seep outwards during the day and then add an extra layer of ice during the night. Unlike regular ice formation on lakes - which only gets to a metre in thickness before it insulates the water below - naleds continue expanding for as long as there is enough water pressure to penetrate the surface. Many are more than seven metres thick, which means they melt much later than regular ice.
...
The Anglo-Mongolian company believe their proposed use in Ulan Bator could set a positive example that allows northern cities around the world to save on summer air conditioning costs, regulate drinking supplies, and create cool microclimates.

By min | November 15, 2011, 8:23 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (0)| Link



According to Science Everything Seems Big to Me

This is just a very weird experiment to show that the way we perceive our bodies affects how we perceive the physical world.

A research group at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has managed to make people feel as though they actually inhabited bodies of vastly different size - either that of dolls or of giants. The researchers showed that this fundamentally changed the way people perceived the physical world. Those in smaller bodies felt as though they were in a world populated by giant hands and pencils the size of trees, while those in giant bodies felt the same objects to be tiny, toy-sized versions of the real thing.

In order to accomplish this trick of self-displacement, participants in the experiments lay on a bed and wore a head-mounted display connected to two video cameras. These cameras faced a fake body lying on a bed next to the participant; thus, when participants looked down toward their own bodies, they instead saw artificial bodies where their own should have been. These artificial bodies were either huge (a 13-foot form made of chicken wire) or very small (a Barbie Doll).

In order to make participants feel ownership over these false bodies, researchers employed a technique well known to those interested in body perception. Participants would place their hands out of view, perhaps under a table, while an artificial hand sat atop of the table. The experimenter then stroked both the obscured real hand and the visible fake hand synchronously. As a result, participants would witness a hand in roughly the same position as their own being touched in precisely the manner that they felt themselves to be touched. This had the effect of making the majority of participants feel the false hand to be their own. This method has been shown to work with whole bodies - it even allows a participant to feel as though he or she is sitting in another person's body, shaking hands with their self!

The bit about self-displacement relieves my mind, though. Those of you who don't scuffle very often may have never experienced this, but there have been times when tangled up during a fight that i've actually confused which limbs were mine. So now i know i'm not an idgit (shuts up). Woo.

At least this article recognizes this experiment sounds wacky and attempts to justify it with a practical and useful application of their findings.

Though to some, these experiments may seem to be no more than glorified parlor tricks, findings from this line of research have a very useful application. The same principles behind this body-swapping illusion were recently established to be an effective treatment for arthritis pain, since they allow sufferers to feel as though their cramped fingers are being stretched to impossible lengths, thus providing relief from their pain.

So the question on my mind is does this mean Reed Richards will never experience arthritis or is he screwed cause this type of treatment won't work for him? Mebbe he wouldn't try it anyway because it's too "undignified".


By min | November 8, 2011, 5:38 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



Lords of Light!

Call Bruce Willis! We need him to drill a hole in a space rock!

The interloping space rock, called asteroid 2005 YU55, will pass between Earth and the orbit of the moon on Tuesday (Nov. 8), but does not pose a threat to our planet, NASA scientists have said. The asteroid is about the size of an aircraft carrier, spanning approximately 1,300 feet (400 meters), and is the largest space rock to have a close encounter with Earth with advance notice in 35 years.

I know how it's going to end.


By min | November 7, 2011, 9:40 PM | Science & TeeVee | Comments (0)| Link



My Chair is Killing Me, Part 2 (or is it 3?)

So, we've learned that sitting is very bad for your back, and that it's not just bad for your back, but that it's literally killing you.

Well, now it's not just getting fat and getting diabetes or heart disease; it's cancer. Like, all of them.

Physical inactivity is linked to as many as 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 cases of colon cancer a year in the United States, said Christine Friedenreich, an epidemiologist at Alberta Health Services-Cancer Care in Canada.
...
But her findings also suggested that an estimated 37,200 cases of lung cancer, 30,600 cases of prostate cancer, 12,000 cases of endometrial cancer and 1,800 cases of ovarian cancer could be prevented if people were more physically active.

The work adds to a growing body of research indicating that prolonged sitting has lethal consequences, regardless of how active people are the rest of the day.

"It seems highly likely that the longer you sit, the higher your risk [of cancer]," said Neville Owen, head of behavioral epidemiology at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia, who also presented findings at the meeting. Owen's study showed that U.S. adults, on average, sit 15.5 hours a day.

...

However, there's good news. It seems that long, uninterrupted periods of sitting are what is most unhealthy, and that by frequently breaking up long bouts of sitting with just a few minutes of light exercise, a person can lower his or her cancer risk. Owen's study found that one- to two-minute breaks from sitting can reduce levels of molecules in the body that are linked with cancer risk.

If you follow the link on "prolonged sitting has lethal consequences", it brings you to an article that suggests the "best" type of chair for not killing you. Unlike the above post with the infographic that says it's best to sit at a 135° angle, this article says it's best to be perched on a stool so some of your weight is still on your legs. They also mention this chair (a Swopper) that sits on a spring that's supposedly good. The only problem is it's $700. I think i'll just stand. That's free.


(except, i prolly won't mostly because i'm one of the Couch-bound.)

By min | November 4, 2011, 8:40 AM | Science | Comments (1)| Link



Zombies are Insomniacs

From Scientific American:

Remember how one becomes a zombie in the first place? Through death, or Intercision, or, since this is a science blog and we need to explain this scientifically, through the effects of tetrodotoxin. In any case, the process incurs some permanent brain damage.

One of the brain centers that is thus permanently damaged is the circadian clock. But importantly, it is not just not ticking any more, it is in a permanent "day" state. What does that mean practically?

When the clock is in its "day" phase, it is very difficult to fall asleep. Thus insomnia.

When the clock is in its "day" phase, metabolism is high (higher than at night), thus zombies require a lot of energy all the time and quickly burn through all of it. Thus constant hunger for high-calory foods, like brains.

Insomnia, in turn, affects some hormones, like ghrelin and leptin, which control appetite. If you have a sleepless night or chronic insomnia, you also tend to eat more at night.

But at night the digestive function is high. As zombies' clock is in the day state, their digestion is not as efficient. They have huge appetite, they eat a lot, but they do not digest it well, and what they digest they immediately burn. Which explains why they tend not to get fat, while living humans with insomnia do.

Finally, they have problems with wounds, you may have noticed. Healing of wounds requires growth hormone. But growth hormone is secreted only during sleep (actually, during slow sleep phases) and is likewise affected by ghrelin.

In short, a lot of the zombies' physiology and behavior can be traced back to their loss of circadian function and having their clock being in a permanent "day" state.

Although, it is not true that insomniacs must therefore be zombies, i'd say we should all be wary just in case (i'm looking at you, fnord12).


(Ha! A zombie post filed under Science.)

By min | November 1, 2011, 3:11 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



Japan's Making Their Own Super-Villains

Gaining super powers through science accidents and exposure to radioactivity is a time honored tradition in the comic universe.

Japan has been known to use it to make giant, rampaging monsters (that's right. that's a godzilla wiki). Done with the animal testing, it's now time for them to try it out on humans.

Yasuhiro Sonoda, an MP in the governing Democratic party of Japan (DPJ), was visibly nervous as his lips met a glass of water collected from inside two reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The 44-year-old had been cajoled into making the gesture by journalists who repeatedly asked him to substantiate government claims that decontamination efforts at the plant were progressing.

I mean, sure, he could turn out to be a superhero instead but my money's on villain. If he becomes hideous, he'll blame the journalist for coming up with the idea and then the government for not protecting him against these types of journalists. If he isn't hideous, but just powerful, he's totally going to feel that now he has these fantastic powers, he's going to be opposite of that weenie he used to be, the weenie who got bullied into drinking radioactive water. Clearly.


By min | November 1, 2011, 11:22 AM | Comics & Godzilla & Science | Comments (0)| Link



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