Monday, 2 February 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 26/1 - 1/2/15

Hi Natrists,


Thunder science!

Most commonly known as the Rationalist YouTuber Thunderf00t, Phil Mason has a serious academic Science career, and plenty of research papers to his name.

Over the last few years, he's uploaded videos alerting us to his (partly crowdfunded) discoveries, and he's now got to a point where Nature have published his research (in collaboration with other people, of course) and dedicated an article to it!

This is the video attached to that article:

'Why Sodium explodes.. a new explanation!'

But don't just watch that. Here's Thunderf00t's full-length video on the topic:

'High speed camera reveals why sodium explodes!'

It's so exciting, to see Science in progress, and to be able to look back and think "yup - i knew that theory back when it was just a gleam in a Physicist's eye".

Thank you, Thunderf00t. Thank you for everything :-)

Horrible Histories is to return!

Series 5 is due to be shown later in 2015, and will feature Rowan Atkinson, amongst other stars, with Rowan reprising his tights-wearing duties, as Henry VIII.

Unfortunately, the original cast won't be the main cast, except for a few occasional parts by some of them. No Matt Baynton or Laurence Rickard then :-(

On the 27th of March though, the film 'Bill' will first be in cinemas - a film starring all the original Horrible Histories team.

In the current vein, of taking names people know and attaching them to completely made-up plots (a la 'The Imitation Game' and 'The Theory of Everything') it takes William Shakespeare, Queen Liz 1, and others, and puts their names to a completely fictional, but hopefully enjoyable story.

If you have the good fortune of being able to make the trailer at the bottom play, then you'll be able to see what it'll look like :-D

'Rowan Atkinson to star in Horrible Histories'

'I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back'
"there’s simply no question in my mind that inciting a nationwide health emergency by unleashing a disease that can kill 20 percent or more of its victims is the right one for my child. People need to respect that and move on",37839/?

'We’ll take the risk of ‘girl on top’ injury, insist men'
“Bouncing”, he added. “Bounce... bounce... Sorry, I was miles away, what were we talking about?”

'Pope invokes Papal infallibility to win Vatican pub quiz'
"Despite insistence from the Spanish team that the Nile is the longest river on earth, a position backed up with evidence from books, encyclopedias, the Internet, and even satellite imagery, the quiz-master was left with little choice but to declare the Pope the winner."

'Daily Mail down to just 2,376,253 potential causes of cancer'
“It’s investigative journalism like this that keeps the Daily Mail in the thoughts of panic-stricken morons everywhere.”

'Colleges to offer free short courses in ‘Decoding Political Bullshit’'
“I think it’s vital for the future of our country that people realise that just because most politicians don’t wear grossly oversized shoes, it doesn’t mean they’re not a complete clown.”

'Pretty Woman to be remade with Ryan Gosling as a male prostitute'
"With gender reversal in lovingly remembered blockbusters now de rigueur in Hollywood, there has been fervent excitement at the prospect of Gosling taking on the role made famous by Julia Roberts in the 1990 smash hit."
I love this idea! And i reckon Jurassic Park should be remade with all-male dinosaurs, too :-P

'Waitrose on receiving end of world’s largest ‘I told you so’'
“It turns out these ‘people’ just wanted the free coffee and to sit in our coffee shop for hours on end breathing our air.”

'Widespread condemnation for man who removed memory stick without ejecting it'
“The whole office went silent, Si was just standing there staring at the memory stick. I think he was in shock.”

'Robert Mugabe to run for FIFA presidency'
"The perks of the job include millions of dollars in bribe money, a secret lair under a volcano, his own personal death squad, and a top of the range Ford Mondeo."

In other news:

Is it really possible to unboil an egg? Well, no, not really. It'll never be a pre-boiling egg again. But Biologists have found that it is possible to recover one of the chemicals in egg white - a clear protein called lysozyme, which makes up ~3.4% of the egg's white, which as an enzyme, is used to eat through the cell walls of invasive bacteria. The newly-developed process uses "a urea substance" to chew away the other 96.4% of the egg white, leaving the lysozyme behind, which can then be put in a vortex fluid device, to straighten the proteins out. This cuts the processing time down from days to minutes, according to the researchers. So given that this process does nothing for the yolk, and involves throwing 96.4% of the white away, i'd say that this is a pretty ineffective technique for 'unboiling' an egg. Wouldn't you? :-D

According to research on three US States - Minnesota, Mississippi and Alabama - gasoline prices are linked to vehicular 'incidents' like crashes, and injuries, and they think that this association is causative. They say the link is strongest between young around-20s drivers, who see driving more as an activity for its own sake, and less strong between older drivers, of their late-20s and early 30s, who have their priorities shifted toward familial responsibilities, and so drive more cautiously. They hypothesised that a $2 per gallon price drop would result in an additional 150 crashes involving a death, 5,000 producing injuries and 35,000 causing property damage, in Minnesota alone.

Biologists have been studying a bilaterally gynandromorphic bird, living in the wild. A bilateral gynandromorph is a chimera where the left side of the body is male, and the right side is female. The biologists are very interested in how a bird that is both male and female behaves. They say they've never seen it in a pair, with another bird; nor have they ever heard it sing. You can see a couple of pictures of it, by following the source link.

Yet another study finds that it takes very little data to identify an individual, without ever having to know their name. This study, using the credit-card transactions of 1.1 million users, has found that four vague items of information are enough to pick out an individual's record, in 94% of cases. "This is true, the researchers say, even in cases where no one in the data set is identified by name, address, credit card number, or anything else that we typically think of as personal information". The researchers use an example of: one receipt, one Instagram photo of you having coffee with friends, and one tweet about the phone you just bought. That would be enough to work out which details were yours.

A survey of the 'general public' and members of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) has found that they have starkly different views on a range of subjects: GMOs, nuclear power, fracking, climate change, etc. Unsurprisingly, the AAAS members' opinions were far more likely to be concordant with evidence, but the fact that there were no cases of unanimity demonstrates that this was a diverse population of Science enthusiasts, with diverse expertise. For example, only 87% of AAAS members believed in anthropogenic climatic change. 13% are wrong, because scientists, like everyone else, are not authorities - their beliefs are as contingent on evidence for verity, as everyone else's. But the fact that these people, who are defined by their enthusiasm for evidence, show greater agreement with fact than people who are less familiar with it, disproves the popular prejudice that evidence doesn't change people's minds!

What would you do if this happened to you? Someone in Nottingham, in the UK, found a tiny face staring back at them, when they opened a tin of tuna chunks. An associate professor of veterinary parasitology at the University of Nottingham has said it could be some form of juvenile crab; and the tuna company has said "We are arranging for her to send us the product so that we can look into this matter fully". In other words, they want to have a gawp, too! But this kind of thing does happen. If you buy cereal, or loaves of bread, you'll likely be purchasing fragments of insects, that didn't escape the thresher. But that doesn't necessarily meant they pose a threat to your health. I think this kind of thing is fascinating. I wouldn't eat it though - i'd bottle it, and stare at it :-D

Not all fake banks have JPEG store fronts. Some have real, touchable buildings, and cashiers! This one operated in Nanjing’s Pukou district, and by offering people 2% interest... per week... managed to con more than £20 million out of almost 200 people. The bank stopped paying interest after four weeks, and did not have the necessary permits to act as a bank.

Boarzilla! It's a real beast... and it's not dead. At time of printing, at least. The largest ever known - Hogzilla - was reported to weigh 1000 lbs (450 Kg in proper units) but actually weighed 800 lbs (364 Kg). This one weighs 790 lbs (359 Kg) and had probably escaped from domestic ownership. Feral hogs trample and dig up crops and soil, eat provisions meant for other wildlife or livestock and pollute wetlands, so it's probably best that this one be recaptured. In the wild, they usually don't grow much bigger than 400 lbs (181 Kg) so this one's really exceptional.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned the sharpest images ever seen of the dwarf planet Ceres. The images were taken 147,000 miles (237,000 kilometers) from Ceres on the 25th of January, and represent a new milestone for a spacecraft that will soon become the first human-made probe to visit a dwarf planet. Ceres lies in the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. At 43 pixels wide, Dawn can get images more than 30 percent higher in resolution than those taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 2003 and 2004 at a distance of over 241 million kilometers, because it's traveling through the solar system towards Ceres, while Hubble remains fixed in Earth orbit. You can see some shots, if you follow the source link.

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

'The 5 Weirdest Science Stories of 2014 - A Week in Science'

'ScienceCasts: The Strange Way Fluids Slosh on the International Space Station'

'Lars Andersen: a new level of archery'

'Winning at Rock Paper Scissors - Numberphile'

'Rock Paper LIZARDS - Numberphile'

'How random is a coin toss? - Numberphile'

'Diamonds, Pearls and Atomic Bomb Stones - Periodic Table of Videos'

'The Science of Sex with Sally Le Page'

This is the full-length version of Sally's uploads, posted here in November.

'Il a mis son sexe (McFly & Carlito)'
{Note: None of Tom, Danny, Dougie or Harry actually feature in this video :-D }

'Schrodinger's Joke'
Tru dat :-D

'The Story Of Margaret Thatcher Sung In The Style Of Dave Grohl. For Some Reason'

'Every Bruce Springsteen Song In 50 Seconds'

'Jesus God News 26 Feminism Special'

'The Shrinking Penis of 55 Broadway'
"That penis offends me. Cut it off!" Fuck the Matriarchy :-D


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

Word Of The Week: poltroon -- an utter coward

Comic Mode Of Death For A Religionist Of The Week: autoerotic asphyxiation as the consequence of a rubber fetish

Fact Of The Week: The longest point in tennis history was played between Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner in the 1984 Virginia Slims of Ginny Tennis Tournament. It lasted 643 shots and took 29 minutes to complete, from service to end. The whole match took 6 hours and 31 minutes to play, and was a straight sets victory for Nelson!

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

'Smile for the camera'

'NGC 7714's Galactic Merger'

'theHunter: Primal'

This game is immense! The bugs aren't so comic in this one, though :-D


  1. Caveat to Lars Andersen's archery video:

    Although all the stunts he performs seem to have been genuine (not faked by CGI) the historical context is unsubstantiated. So as impressive as his trick shots are, they are not 'recovering a lost art'.

    1. Then again, Lars has made a follow-up video, after all the criticism he got for the first one, and it seems to deal well with the claims made against him.