Sunday, 22 March 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 16-22/3/15

Hi eclipsegazers,

'Really cool time-lapse of Solar Eclipse'

'Stargazing Live'

'Sky gazers flock to remote islands for total solar eclipse'

'Millions across Britain enjoy partial solar eclipse'

'Ring of light: Total eclipse over Svalbard islands in Arctic (Images)'

And here are some properly good pictures of the eclipse, on Astronomy Picture Of The Day:

'Northern Equinox Eclipse'

'A Double Eclipse of the Sun'

Trust Thierry to get a brilliant shot of the Sun :-)

Here's someone who opened their eyes just in time to appreciate it...

A 'trained' Naturopath (generalist quack) has awoken from inculcated delusion, and 'come to the light side'... as they jestfully say.

The scales having fallen from her eyes, she's since been in contact with the people of the Science Based Medicine blog, which has a very self-explanatory name.

In the coming weeks, she'll be contributing articles on her Naturopathic 'education' and how extensively she was preached to, under the guise of medical teaching.

Far too many people think that Naturopathy is real medicine (and that being a Naturopath makes someone a trustable medical advisor) but in reality they know nothing of real biology, and have little to no commitment to standards of care, and basic respect for patients and their health.

"Her insights into the pseudoscientific medical system of naturopathy, her reasons for becoming a naturopath, her reasons for leaving naturopathy, and, most importantly, her inside knowledge of naturopathy, will provide compelling reading. Here is the first of what, we hope, are multiple posts."

It should be very interesting to hear of what goes on in the murky caves of quackery, from someone who's been on the inside. Read on, MacDuffman...

'ND Confession, Part 1: Clinical training inside and out'


On 18th March 1965 (50 years ago) Alexey Leonov became the first human being to go for a walk, in Outer Space, in microgravity. His walk lasted 12 minutes, and his life almost ended with them. His spacesuit started to inflate so that he couldn't get back through the airlock, and so he had to release air from inside his suit to shrink back down. This almost killed him from decompression sickness, but he did succeed. Well done, Alexey - another of the CCCP's many victories, in the Space Race. To see a video of him floating around, follow the link.

In other news:

Want to help find asteroids that are heading toward Earth? Well, now you can, with desktop software. I've not used it, but it looks like it works like Galaxy Zoo - you're presented with some pictures, and you have to identify whether there's an asteroid in it.

Did you notice that solar storm? No? It happened on Sunday the 15th, and could have dealt huge amounts of damage to electrical infrastructure that modern economies are dependent upon. Fortunately, it just about missed Earth, and the ISS too, only minorly increasing visible aurorae. Phew!

This shot of the Sun by the SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) taken on the 16th of March, shows two coronal holes (where the corona is thinner and cooler than usual) and a highly-active shiny patch on the right, where the feared solar storm came from. But boy, what a lovely picture :-)
{If you think this bit changed, it did. I edited it to make a correction of a silly error}

A Hubble image of UGC 8201. UGC 8201 is a dwarf galaxy, and so is considered well worthy of study, because they're just 'too small' to produce as many stars as they do, for so long, and yet they clearly manage it. How? Don't ask me - i don't know.

Oats, corn, carrots, and frozen peas. Got it! Apparently, it's not too good for birds to eat huge amounts of bread crumb, because it isn't anywhere near as nutritious as they make it seem when they gobble it up. If you want to introduce some variety into their diets, be the one who feeds them items on the aforementioned list. Oh, and maybe cut the carrots into little chunks, first :-P

The Icelandic State has decided to waste huge amounts of money, to placate people who believe that elves live in a rock, lying on the proposed route for a highway. And superstition doesn't effect politics? It does, but it shouldn't. Even if it is really, really popular.

The USA's FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has prepared to pay out $955,000 to consumers who were defrauded by Lane Labs-USA, through supplements sold by fake claims of health benefits. Lane Labs-USA is one of the companies profiting from the pseudoscientific claim that shark cartilage is good for people's bones, and hence osteoporosis cases. The specious premise is that 'sharks don't get cancer' so eating shark must be good for you. But sharks do get cancer. And even if they didn't, that wouldn't make consuming them curative! The money, by the way, is coming from the amount the company was fined.
{Another silly error: osteoporosis - not osteopathy - duh!}

There's been yet another study into intelligence and what might determine it, this time done in Brazil. And one of the variables tested was breastfeeding. And that was the one that made the News. But does it really show that breastfeeding makes your kid cleverer? Well, yet again, not really no. The correlation was small, and the intelligence metric was simply wrong: years of education and even IQ are not good enough measures of intelligence to determine causation. The presumption that 'breast is best' is essentially the naturalistic fallacy - there's no good reason to think that it must be innately better than formula milk, when formula milk is deliberately made to mimic it! As far as i'm concerned, the choice should be based on economics: spare your money, or spare your body? Occam's Razor makes life easier.

There's a 'conspiracy theory' that's common in the USA, and has made 400,000 people into non-citizens, many of whom into criminals, and a splattering of whom corpses. It's this: the belief that Abraham Lincoln sold the USA to make it into a corporation and made its 'citizens' slaves. Thusly, they believe themselves not to be bound by the US Constitution, and so above the Law. They are called 'Sovereign Citizens' and come in three types: Constitutional (which means they disagree with the interpretation of the Constitution), Religious (which means they think theistic dogma comes first), and Diplomatic (which means they claim to be Native Americans or diplomats of another country). They do not recognise Federal, State, or Local Laws as legitimate; they do not pay taxes (like Kent Hovind); they do not gain proper paperwork to reside or drive; and they frequently become violent when police try to apprehend them for even the most mundane of antisocial behaviours. Because of this, the FBI classifies the ~400,000 of them as domestic terrorists. It's not just religious wrongness that can make people into dangerous lunatics.

What's the best way to understand the life of a beetle? Get into its shoes, and see life as it sees it. Unfortunately, beetles don't have shoes (especially when they're Paul McCartney) so these researchers have hooked up sensing equipment into the body of a Giant Flower Beetle (it's easier when they're big) and observed it as a kind of cyborg research subject. Insects can't feel pain though, so it wasn't unduly bothered by the experience of having all its muscles' contractions tracked to see how it flew. Robobeetle, if i may call it that, won't be solving any crimes on the streets of downtown Detroit any time soon, but it might be useful for exploring areas unaccessible to humans or bulky synthetic devices. For more information, and a video, follow the link.

A colour-changing reef fish called the 'dottyback' can change its appearance to mimic surrounding fish, so that it can avoid larger predatory fish, and undermine the defence mechanisms of smaller fish that it predates on. Fish. A particular favourite of the dottyback is the damselfish, which comes in two forms: brown and yellow, to survive best in their respective habitats. Consequently, the dottyback can take the colour of either the brown or yellow forms, simultaneously undermining their defence from predators (often themselves) and sharing their camouflage. But this colour-change trick is not quick. The researchers found that it took approximately two weeks for dollyfish to change from one colour to the other, when put in with the complementary form of damselfish. To read more and watch a video about the fish, follow the link.

Why do some fungi glow? To attract the attention of insects, including beetles, flies, wasps, and ants, which assist in spreading their fungal spores around. The employment of bioluminescence is rare though - in only 71 of >100,000 studied species - and is controlled by circadian rhythm, so that the fungi only shine in the dark, when the light is likely to be noticed. This is thought to be due to the high cost-to-gain associated with bioluminescence, for fungi.Deep sea fish have much more to gain by it, i suppose.

A tiny new species of millipede - just one centimetre long - has been found to live only in the urban parks of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, and not outside in rural areas. It might be rare, but isn't it cute :-P

P.S. Solar Impulse 2 has completed the third leg of its around-the-world trip, from Ahmadabad to Varanasi.

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

'ScienceCasts: The Mystery of Nanoflares'

'History Hit News March'

Horrible Histori.... oh no, wait. Well, it's a good series anyway :-D

'Darwin Day 2015 Questions: #3 What if DNA was infallible?'

'Mudskippers use water like a tongue to swallow'

'Computer Color is Broken'

'St. Pancras'

'east of Chernobyl and the Pripyat river: Simowishtshe (Зимовище) village'
Beware, the phantom flutterbies :-P

'east of Chernobyl and the Pripyat river: Krasnoje (Красне) village & radioactive combine harvesters'


'I Don't Want To Die (A Love Song)'
And here's the reaction video:
'Geo's Reaction to Love Song'


'"The Mathematics of Booze" by Roy Zimmerman'

'On s'était mis d'accord (FloBer)'
Always more metaphors than you can shake a stick at :-D

'Perfect Strangers {The Kloons}'

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

Word Of The Week: rantipole -- a wild, romping, rude, reckless, disorderly or rakish young person

Queeneros' Fact Of The Week: Tori Amos once wrote a song - Pretty Good Year - about Queen's current band archivist, Greg Brooks.

Gene Of The Week: Braveheart -- a non-coding RNA gene that helps turn embryonic cells into heart cells during in the early stages of development in the womb.

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

'Annular Eclipse'
{Not this week's eclipse}

'Instrucciones de baile para matemáticos' (Instructions for the mathematical dance)

'IVIEWME - ROB GRANT - part 1'

'IVIEWME - ROB GRANT - part 2'

'Rob Grant | Carpool'

'Más de 70 bandas musicales en una imagen'

Led Zeppelin
Scissor Sisters
Queen? and Prince?
50 Cent
The Smashing Pumpkins
The Rolling Stones
The Eagles
The B-52s
Iron Maiden
Nine Inch Nails
Guns & Roses
The White Stripes
Alice In Chains (never heard of them!)
Crowded House?

How many can you see? Some say there are 74 acts depicted; others 77. Either way, i've not got many of them :-D

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