Sunday, 5 October 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 29/9 - 5/10/14

Guten Tag Forscher,

This week, some journalists noticed that some researchers have been 'sneaking' references to songs by Bob Dylan into their Paper titles. By which i mean "the researchers told a journalist that they'd been referencing Dylan songs".

Examples include 'Nitric Oxide and inflammation: The answer is blowing in the wind.' and 'Blood on the Tracks: A Simple Twist of Fate?'

When other researchers heard about the competition, totalling four competitors, they decided on a frivolous bet (as is the wont of many researchers) that the person to have sneaked in the most references by the time they retire, would earn a free lunch at a restaurant in Solna, north of Stockholm, where the university is based.

This isn't the only case of humour in scientific literature, however. Oh no! Some of these might not be deliberate, but they are all amusing:

'Recursive fury: conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation.'

'Would Bohr be born if Bohm were born before Born?'

{Its explanation, by author Hrvoje Nikolic, being his attempt to compare the work of the quantum physicists David Bohm and Max Born: "I discuss a hypothetical historical context in which a Bohm-like deterministic interpretation of the Schrödinger equation is proposed before the Born probabilistic interpretation and argue that in such a context the Copenhagen (Bohr) interpretation would probably have not achieved great popularity among physicists."}

'‘Christ fucking shit merde!' Language preferences for swearing among maximally proficient multilinguals'

'An analysis of the forces required to drag sheep over various surfaces'

'The case of the disappearing teaspoons: longitudinal cohort study of the displacement of teaspoons in an Australian research institute'

'Sex with knockout models: behavioral studies of estrogen receptor alpha'

'The Origin of Chemical Elements'
by Alpher, Bethe, and Gamow

'Contrastive Focus Reduplication in English (The Salad-Salad Paper)'

'When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection'


'The first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard Anas platyrhynchos (Aves: Anatidae)'

'Hydraulic compression of mice to 166 atmospheres'

'Light-dependent homosexual activity in males of a mutant of Drosophila melanogaster'

'Sexual harassment of a king penguin by an Antarctic fur seal'

'Der unsachgemäße Gebrauch eines Penisringes aus Titan'
(Improper use of a penis ring made ​​from titanium)

'Destruction of Nuclear Bombs Using Ultra-High Energy Neutrino Beam'
{This one's my favourite, LOL}

This announcement is less comic though... kinda ;-)

A professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, in the College of Arts and Sciences, has announced that she has proved black holes to not exist!

This announcement's come as something of a surprise to the Physics world. Especially to those who've been studying them for decades.

She contends that her calculations show that a collapsing core releases enough Hawking radiation to reduce the mass of the core to the point that a conventional Black Hole cannot form, which includes of course its singularity and event horizon.

Even more staggeringly, she claims that her 'proof' unites the Theories of Relativistic Physics and Quantum Physics - something there would definitely be a Nobel Prize in.

Conjectures such as these date back further than since the first Back Hole was observed to be distorting spacetime, so there's really nothing new about it.

But the fact that this turns out to be tired old baseless conjecture hasn't stopped gullible journos jumping on a bandwagon... even the ones that claim science interest.

For more details, just read Bob Novella's article, linked ^ up there.

So much for attracting female talent into STEM, LOL.

"If you want to follow other women into STEM, for a life of infamous bullshit, then step this way" :-D

Here's another 'interesting' one:

Prince recently had a Facebook-based chat session, with fans, in which he apparently answered just one question, in 3 hours. That question was:

"Please address the importance of ALL music being tuned to 432hz sound frequencies???"

If you can call that a question. It's more of an entreatment than a query.

Prince simply replied "The Gold Standard", with a link.

By coincidence, this week's SGU episode answered a question about the 432 Hz tuning thing:

"I'm a software engineer who writes music as a hobby. Recently I have bumped into the topic of 432 Hz tuning in music. You can find a lot of 'information' about this all over the internet. The basic premise here that once upon a time, musical instruments were all tuned so that the note A4's frequency was 432 Hz, which is 'said to be mathematically consistent with the patterns of the universe'. Then Nazi Germany came along and deliberately changed the standard to 440 Hz which is the most common tuning today, 'after conducting scientific researches to determine which range of frequencies best induce fear and aggression'. I was pretty saddened to find out that there are musicians who actually believe all of this. The 'advocates' of this even go as far as claiming that listening to music tuned to 432 Hz can cure cancer and other medical conditions. I believe that this topic might be an interesting one for you guys to discuss in the podcast. Please feel free to contact me if you need more information on this subject."

Apparently, this factoid is popularly believed by musical people. Bless their little cotton socks, they're not very skeptical, are they!

The very idea that there's a pitch 'anchor' to any musical context is completely erroneous. You can put any song in any key as long as they're all in the same one - you can move all the notes up, and all the notes down - and it will make no difference, other than to how easy you find it to sing the song.

The whole idea of Nazis coming along and changing 'it' from 432 to 440 Hz is complete baloney.

The notion of 432 Hz being 'the best' comes from a puerile idea of a universal resonant harmonic 'running through the universe' which bears no relation to actual sound.

Different materials have different resonant frequencies, and so mixtures of materials (such as the human body, and especially the entire universe) will have a broad variety of harmonics that contradict each other. This means there is no such thing as a universal resonance, and it's why you can find a resonant frequency for a tuning fork or Triangle (uniform metal, with a symmetrical shape) but not for your finger (lots of different proteins and things, that wobble about and absorb the vibrations).

Of course, the idea of 'natural' vibrations is one thrown around gaily by Newagers, and so you can easily find plenty of woo-woo quack claims about finding inner harmony, restoring your energy levels, etc etc.

None of their claims have anything to do with reality.

And that includes all of the people purporting to recentre music around 432 Hz instead of 440 Hz. What are they going to do? Just transpose everything down a bit? 440 Hz is 'A' whereas 432 Hz is... a flat 'A'. The next note down is G# at 415.3 Hz. What's the point of making all music just slightly flatter??

It should be no surprise that there are similar factoids floating around, about the Schumann Resonance (atmospheric wobbling).

And it should be no surprise that progenitors of such ideas frequently equivocate between sound and light - radio waves are electromagnetic (light) and thereby not sound.

Sound, of course, requires a physical medium to propagate, whereas light requires only spacetime.

There are various charlatans selling trinkets and all kinds of garbage, on the basis of vibrational resonances and things... and sometimes on the grounds that they protect you from WiFi and 'stuff like that'.

Nope. WiFi is microwaves - that's light - not sound. Not vibration. It's completely different.

Stay skeptical, people. Stay skeptical :-)


Did you know that both The Guinness Book of World Records and CERN are both celebrating their 60th anniversaries this year? Well, you do now.

"“It’s important that the Guinness World Records book continues to monitor these fundamental science superlatives,” said the book’s Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday. “The fact that CERN was acknowledged in our very first edition 60 years ago and continues to break records in our latest edition is testament to the importance of this international scientific effort. It’s been a privilege to visit the Large Hadron Collider and present the team leaders’ their certificates, and I’m sure there will be plenty more record-breaking at CERN in its next 60 years.”"

Hear, hear :-)

In other news:

Does the fish in your fridge glow? Researchers in New Zealand are investigating the case of a woman who noticed her dog food was glowing blue. It's most likely to be caused by bioluminescent bacteria, that live in the sea. However, without oxygen they can't respire, and if they can't respire they can't produce the light, so people are unlikely to notice. Forget glowing cats - glowing fishy food predates human experimentation by a long way, LOL

A superstitious old lady in Bosnia thinks she can cure eye complaints by licking people's eyes. This is an infection risk whether she washes her tongue with alcohol (as described) or not. I still go by the advice that you should never use the same hand to wipe both eyes, in order to stem any budding infection's spread. But i'm pretty sure licking's going to do nothing for cataracts!

Ivan Trifonov has (maybe) become the first person ever to fly a hot air balloon into a cave. He did so with a 25 minute trip into Mamet Cave, on Velebit Mountain, Croatia, using a specially-designed balloon and frame. He's currently holds records in the Guinness Book Of World Records for flying over the North Pole and the South Pole, and has apparently also flown over the Mediterranean Sea, Jerusalem, the Great Wall of China, and The Kremlin.

Yet another dowser has been prosecuted for fraud, in the UK. Following on from the cases of Kim McCormick and Gary Bolton, Samuel Tree and his wife Joan have been prosecuted for selling fake bomb detectors. Make no mistake: they were not selling bomb detectors, but nor were they selling golf ball detectors, or any kind of detector - the crime was in selling something on the basis of dowsing pseudoscience.

A Pope believes in angels. In other news, bears shit in the woods. Superstitionists will superstitiously believe in phantasms :-D

A journalist at the Mirror has groomed a Tory MP into showing them their John-Thomas, and then published the entire affair with the defence that publication was in 'public interest'. I find it hard to have sympathy for any kind of Polly, let alone a Tory one, but when you've been manipulated into doing something embarrassing (but not illegal) that's called 'entrapment'. What it's not called, is 'public service investigative journalism'. If this were done on a teenage girl, there would be outrage, and the Mirror would never have touched the story (i hope) but because this was a grown man pretending to be a young girl, seducing an old man... the old man's the perpetrator? Hmmm....

A Scottish man has behaved in a threatening way, earning him a fine of £200. But the interesting thing about the story, is that he used a spade to do it - in fact, he banged a spade against a radiator. Such is the intellectual height of journalism today, the Paper helpfully supplied a picture of a spade, for its readers. They're all currently wondering what a radiator looks like :-P

Has a Japanese zoo really been trying to mate two male hyaenas, for the last four years? I don't know for sure, but i do know that female hyaenas possess a pseudopenis, which is essentially an inverted vaginal wall. Hyaenas have a very matriarchal society, and so denying males sex is part of the matriarchs retaining power. Unfortunately, this means humans find it very difficult to tell male from female hyaenas, so this story is very plausible, although i would have expected them to do a sex check while they were transporting the hyaenas to the zoo from South Korea. Then again, i've never run a zoo, LOL

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'Get set...Demonstrate Chip Pan Fire'

There are plenty of potentially-dangerous chemicals available for domestic use. Pollies who try to ban dangerous substances don't seem to understand that :-D

'Get set...Demonstrate Iodine Clock'

'Simplest DIY Speaker'

'Why does our hair turn grey? - A Week in Science'

'Astronomers LOVE Acronyms'

'John and Kevin's Sunday Papers - September'

'Sir Roger Moore shunned scotch egg for ham hock terrine'
Stop the press!! LMAO

'Richard Herring's Meaning of Life - Episode 4 - Death'

'Mitch Benn - Can We Come With You? (unbroadcast)' (my upload)


------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Word Of The Week: inamorata -- a woman with whom one is in love

Expression Of The Week: 'his nibs' -- a mildly derisive term for someone in a position of authority; the term 'nibs' probably derives from the term 'nob' (or 'knob') which means 'head' (later, developing the euphemistical sense for male genitals) and of course 'head' also refers to someone in a position of authority

Quote Of The Week: "Get those fucking nuns away from me!" - Norman Douglas' last words (author of South Wind, 1917)

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

'ISIHAC Live on Stage'

Actual video of the actual Clue teams, and Humph, on stage, weaving their magic. Wow :-D

Have some beautiful geology. I don't usually post this content, from my tumblr, but here's some to fill up the page :-P

'Ethiopian opal geode'

'Koroit opal'

'Calcite with quartz from Huanggang Mine'

'Hand-shaped aragonite formation'

'Rainbow Aura Quartz'

'Rainbow obsidian blades'


'Angel Aura Quartz Crystals'

'Ice cave in Iceland'

'Ice Caves Around the World'

'A stone rainbow'

'Pillar engraving'


'Bryce Canyon National Park'

'Tungurahua Volcano Vertical'

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