Sunday, 10 April 2016

Entertainment stuff from the week 4-10/4/16

Hi cabbages,

So you're back again. And you still can't breathe water. And neither can i. More's the pity...

'Triton artificial gill: BUSTED!'

On a completely different subject...

Why doesn't glomping things work as easily as in the movies?

'FWS - Trying to Destroy My Wii with Potassium Permanganate & Glycerol'

The word 'trying' in that title turns out to be the most pertinent. But it's by no means a mistake peculiar to Myles' experimentation. Lots of people try to glomp things, and are bitterly underwhelmed.

What is it that makes these kinds of meltathons so underwhelming?

Well, actually it's just simple, basic physics.

Reactions occur where reactants come together. And in that region, they're converted to products, possibly emitting heat as they do. Or absorbing it, if the reaction's endothermic.

When people try to melt their Wiis or hard-drives, or smartphones, or other things, they intuitively reach for something flashy - sulphuric acid, or thermite, maybe.

And because they've seen TV, and misunderstood the extensive deception involved in fabricating explosive results, to satiate the producers, they assume that what they see is true.

Years ago, Thunderf00t debunked a caesium/water-reaction on Brainiac, in which, presumably disappointed with the real result, the show's people decided to fabricate a result using explosives.

And as explained 5 years ago, Thunderf00t debunked the assumption that greater reactivity of an individual atom necessarily translates into bigger bangs in practice.

Just months ago, he also debunked a pseudo-technology on Breaking Bad, in which it was claimed that thermite could be used to glomp through the lock on a door.

What do these two, and Myles' reaction, have in common?

Stuff gets in the way of itself.

By piling all the reactants up in a big mound, you'll insulate the object of destruction from the hot region that might have done damage. The reactants become products, and the products just sit there, stopping the rest from getting at the object.

That is why, in demonstrations, there's generally a surfeit of reactant left over, from the reaction snuffing itself out, before that reactant could get involved.

In Breaking Bad, the thermite reacts with the metal of the door OK, but its depth of penetration - the depth of metal it will melt - is limited, because the thermite and the melty metal insulate the rest of the door from the heat that the thermite is making.

And in the caesium/water reaction, which Brainiac was expecting to be better than rubidium/water, the size of the atoms is the problem.

As you go down group 1 of the periodic table, you'll rightly expect the elements to become 'more reactive'. But the atoms also get much bigger. Physically bigger. Massively bigger.

This means that 10 grams of caesium contains fewer atoms than 10 grams of rubidium, and so there are fewer atoms of caesium physically available for reaction. Result: less energy's given out, and so you see and hear a smaller bang.

The way to melt through things this way, unfortunately, requires patience - the result is dramatic, but the process is not.

The process is, unfortunately, self-limiting - the reactants and products get in the way of themselves.

In lithium/water, the reaction is not instantaneous - it fizzes and pops, and the lithium races over the surface, as the outside lithium reacts and dispels into the water, revealing the lithium inside.

A mixture of HNO3 and HCl (Aqua Regia) can melt gold away to nothing, but it isn't quick. If you want to melt anything away with acid, you'll need time, and you'll need to keep products away from the reaction boundary.

So where do explosions come from? They're quick reactions, right?

Well, yes - they depend on the reactants mixing together in such a way that the reaction boundary is a reaction region. Explosions tend to require powders, because they can float around in air or volatile fluids (liquids that easily evaporate into gases). The 3rd dimension massively increases the amount of reactant available, at any one time.

Technically, they also require enclosed spaces. Above-speed-of-sound reactions are required to get the big bang. Otherwise, it just goes "phut".

So the science of bangs is actually more fascinating than just "wow, that was loud". It is also the subject of "how did that reaction proceed so quickly, that it could make that bang?"

Make your prediction now: how many words of legislation do you think the EU has, on regulating cabbages? Got a number? Right. Now click the link...

'The Great EU Cabbage Myth'

It's very much not the only ludicrous, bullshit story going around, reiterated by nationalists who're trying to ridicule/demonise the EU.

Even if it were true, it would still be a staggeringly bad reason to want to leave the EU, and all of its genuine benefits behind.

Some people's stupidity is genuinely astonishing :-D


25 years of Gamma Ray science at NASA

15 years of ASU exploring Mars

In other news:

So, i managed to miss most of the April Fools, a week and a half ago. Maybe the rest of the internet should have done too. The April Fools thing used to be a fun attempt to fool people (temporarily) on the morning only of the 1st of April. Any other day, and any other time of that day, and you're due a forfeit. But various companies that operate on t'internet seem to think that permanent web-pages are good fodder for temporary jokes, and that nothing can possibly go wrong with their workplace pranks. Even when they're perpetrated on the customers. Google, for example, executed a #aprilfail when it apparently added a second button, next to the 'send' button in its Gmail email software, causing serious emails to be sent with a credibility-erasing GIF of a Minion dropping a microphone, at the bottom. That's not cool, Google. And it's not in the spirit of April Fools.

But if Google sucked big hairy balls, this April Fools Day, the SJWs of Stanford failed even harder! When a conservative-leaning e-magazine satirised their ludicrous professional-victimhood bollocks, they responded with a typical crybaby tantrum. But we neutral observers get to laugh at both parties, because the e-magazine that posted the 'April Fools' satire, did so on... the 31st of March. And they're based in the USA, which means the timestamp is correct. Timezones don't excuse their early posting. #aprilfails all around :-D

The quagga is back! A 30 year project to bring back the quagga - a sub-species of zebra with brown stripes over its flanks - has reportedly reached fruition. The interesting thing about this project, is that it has genetically modified the extinct sub-species (last extant in 1883) from modern zebras, without genetic engineering, and without generations of infertile animals. Infertility often happens with crosses - mules, for example - but these animals have a consistently sexually-reproductive ancestry. The motive for their existence, unfortunately, is conservatism more than conservation - to 'bring back' a breed that was 'wrongly killed off' and so the team have given it the name 'Rua-quagga' for the sake of distinction from its extinct lookalike genomalike relatives. Even so, this is an interesting feat, and an interesting animal.

When a Space Agency has to issue a press release, stating that something you've heard is not true, superstition is generally behind it. Back in January, i wrote about the claimed ninth planet, predicted by hypothetical computations, exploring how the solar system might have come to be, the way it is. There was no evidence for 'Planet 9' being anything more than hypothetical then, and there isn't now, but that hasn't stopped people thinking that there is something out there. When people believe unscientifically, they tend not to be the best educated people on the subject in question, that humanity has to offer - they tend to be the kinds of people who might start proffering their superstitious belief as a 'God Of The Gaps' for anything they hear about. So when some certain people heard that there's an unexplained deviation in the Cassini spacecraft's orbit around Saturn... they concluded that 'Planet 9' must be causing it. NASA's press release has categorically stated that there is no basis to assert this. If 'Planet 9' were affecting Cassini, it would affect Saturn too -- but there has been no observed deviation in Saturn's motion. QED wrongness. 'Planet 9' stays as an unevidenced hypothesis.

I find it ironic that this study, by Swiss astrophysicists, was partly funded by the National Center for Competence in Research (NCCR) given that it is entirely predicated on studying a hypothetical object, that has never been shown to actually be there. Wherever it might be. They've somehow formulated a marvelous diagram of 'Planet 9''s structure, and 'calculated' its size (not mass) and proportion of ingredients - iron core, silicate layer, ice layer, then gas layer at the top. It all seems very generic - maybe even Barnum Statement-like - but it hardly counts as research, to study something that's never ever been seen, and could very easily not exist at all!

This extemporisation by a retired Astrophysicist is much more dramatic, but at least it's not quite as implausible as the first. In this hypothesisation, 'Planet 9' is responsible for mass extinctions on Earth, by throwing comets into the inner Solar System, from the Kuiper Belt. While plausible, 'Planet 9' is still entirely hypothetical, and so stands as a poor contender for involvement in the asteroid impacts that have caused extinction events on planet Earth over the last half-billion years.

Now here's a hypothesis that may be believed: climatic change causes the melting of ice sheets, thereby redistributing Earth's mass, changing the planet's angular momentum, and consequently changing its rotation, and axis of rotation. A NASA study has found that this is indeed true. When a dancer is spinning on the spot, and they raise an arm or leg, their angular momentum shifts, and the axis that their body spins around does too. This is the same mechanism at work. It doesn't mean much for future climate change, but it does demonstrate the extent of the impact that anthropogenic climatic change has already had - it has literally moved the North Pole, by pushing the planet's axis over.

Earlier this week, a 21-year-old woman in Belfast was given a three-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to two charges – procuring her own abortion by using a poison, and supplying a poison with intent to procure a miscarriage. Anti-abortion laws like these are not motivated by rational concern for extant humans - they're motivated by concern for the fictional 'souls' that too many people superstitiously believe in. No wonder Amnesty International's campaigning to end these stupid anti-abortion laws, that condemn adult humans, with the duplicitous excuse that tiny clumps of undeveloped cells are more important than them. Save the human, indeed... from its own stupid beliefs. Amnesty has a petition, if you'd like to sign it.

PayPal has reportedly decided not to spend millions of dollars in North Carolina, as companies acknowledge the necessity to oppose the 'HB2' law that superstitionists are trying to push through, to deny human beings basic freedoms. The law includes a requirement that people only go in pissrooms designated for the sex that their birth certificate records! Given that the sexist hysteria of public waste excretion is entirely a self-fulfilling prophesy of danger, it is entirely hysterical to think that transexual, intersex, and cissexual people must conform to this ridiculous sanitatory segregation. I've said it at least once before, on this blog: one of the litmus tests of sexism being conquered, will be the unification of the last sex-segregated 'restroom' as speakers of US English euphemistically call it. The interminable hysteria about transexual people picking the 'wrong' one stems entirely from the notion that males and females should perform basic physiological acts in segregated circumstances. No segregation, no problem.

Homeopathy in the UK's NHS - not vanquished, but apparently shuffling its way through the exit door. "This will not be welcomed by homeopaths whose businesses rely on the (undeserved and unearned) legitimacy that being provided on the NHS lends to homeopathy, but it's the inevitable result of the their own failure to provide robust evidence of its efficacy" Meanwhile, the charlatans' deceptions continue apace, in the private (criminal) sector, and especially in Switzerland, where European Homeopaths convene to conspire to undermine healthcare in Europe, for the sake of their own selfish, and murderous profiteering. I welcome the day when Homeopathy is widely seen as the fraudulent extortion that it really is. It's a test case - once the marketing of damp sugar as medicine can be seen as illegal, then the rest of the quackeries that endanger human health will surely follow.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREnA) renewable energy capacity has grown worldwide, by a record-setting 8.3% across the year 2015. That figure is, of course, an average, with Asian and Meso-American regions experiencing >10% growth, and North American and European regions experiencing 6.3% and 5.2% respectively. I wonder how much of this is due to quashing by renewables-unfriendly governments, such as in the USA and UK.

According to an international collaboration of researchers, technetium carbide does not exist. At least, the material that's claimed to be technetium mono-carbide, isn't - it's an allotrope of plain technetium. According to this article, Tc10C (with 10 carbon atoms to every 1 technetium) Tc8C (with an 8:1 ratio) and Tc6C (with 6:1) can be synthesized, but the claimed TcC (with 1:1) can not, and so the discovery was always highly doubted. Transition metal carbides are usually hard and heat-resistant, which means they are an interesting area of study for anyone who foresees practical applications for materials with those properties.

Horse shit! That, apparently, is the whole case for establishing the true history of Hannibal. Not the guy in the film/book - i mean the Carthaginian Hannibal who conquered some Romans while crossing the Alps, ~2234 years ago. This 'research' has found animal dung in an Alpine valley, in which they found Clostridia microbes, from which they inferred horsey origins for the dung, from which they inferred large numbers of horses had been through the area, following which they inferred an army had been through the area, from which they inferred that it must have been Hannibal's army, and with which they concluded that they'd found the route Hannibal took through the Alps, more than two millennia ago. LOL. Sorry, but i won't be putting any money on that long string of inferences being resolute :-D

[stabs fingers into own eyes] Whenever i see superstitionists using science to spread their superstition, this is what i want to do. The Roman Catholic cult has set up a new office, for promoting the use of the .catholic domain name. This is essentially the same as the astrologers, in motive - they want people to know the difference between real bullshit and fake bullshit, because the fake bullshitters are giving the real bullshitters a bad reputation. Heaven forfend, the Lord above might lead people to an unofficial Christianismist website :-D

You know when people refer to something that's both dark and valuable as being 'black gold'? Well, all of those things (people inclusive, presumably) can be left by the verge of similes, because these guys have developed real black gold. It's gold, and it's black. Because of its nanoporous structure, it doesn't reflect eye-receivable light, so it looks black. Howzabout that then? #blackgoldmatters #elementsofcolor :-P

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

'Lab Equipment: Dean Stark Trap'

'Crank Files - Numberphile'

'SFN #158: Black Hole Telescope Goes Missing; Did Jupiter Have an Impact?; ALMA Images Nearby Disk'

'Tower of London 360 Video'

'Nerd³ Plays... Forestry 2017 - The Simulation'

'Image: The turbulent North Atlantic'

'Image: Tracking Tim's iceberg'

'Image: Opportunity spots Knudsen Ridge dust devil'

'Image: Alluvial fans in Saheki Crater, Mars'

'Image: Saturn askew'

'Defining Gravity (Wicked Parody feat. Dianna Cowern & Malinda Kathleen Reese) | A Capella Science'

'Product vs Packshot : Sirena Tuna & Rice | The Checkout'

'The Lease Of Our Worries | The Checkout'

'The Checkout - Season 4 Episode 1'

'The Checkout Stories - Gift Cards Unwrapped'

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

Word Of The Week: blighty -- meaning Britain; derives from colloquial Urdu 'bilayati' as a reference to foreign people visiting India, and becoming specific to European and/or British people, then the place Europe/Britain. The word became popular amongst British soldiers during WWI, to refer to their home country.

Expression Of The Week: 'tin lid' -- rhyming slang for 'kid', meaning a child; example of use: Greg's Kitchen :-D

Quote Of The Week: "Ordinary fools are all right; you can talk to them, and try to help them out. But pompous fools-guys who are fools and are covering it all over and impressing people as to how wonderful they are with all this hocus pocus - THAT, I CANNOT STAND! An ordinary fool isn't a faker; an honest fool is all right. But a dishonest fool is terrible!" - Richard P. Feynman

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

'Let's Play The Forest with friends | Part 06'
When mutants go rogue, they get strangely friendly :-D

'GAMING Monstrum'
22 episodes of horror. Watch if you dare :-D

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