Sunday, 10 July 2016

Entertainment stuff from the week 3-10/7/16

Hi moneywasters,

Series 65 of ISIHAC is here! And the electric kazoos are amazing :-D

'I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue - Series 65'

'Man forced to close computer repair business to escape wireless technology that's 'making him ill''

Objection: there's no such thing as electrosensitivity - the symptoms are entirely down to stress.

"his symptoms began in 2013 when he moved into a dual shop and house premises"

People who claim that they're sensitive to electricity and/or electromagnetic radiation are incapable of distinguishing between exposure and non-exposure. Their symptoms vary with the amount of stress they are experiencing at the time.

'Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: Real or Imagined?'

This is not the only example of a superstition that blames 'the unknown' for stress. Sick Building Syndrome, for example, was believed in by many people, for a long time, and some of them probably still do.

All of the symptoms that are associated with these non-existent conditions: skin sensitivity, blemishing, light sensitivity, fatigue, high blood pressure, headaches, joint pain, gastro-intestinal complaints, and dizziness, are all caused by stress.

So people like the man in the article, who're living and working in a 'sick building' are blaming the building, or the electricity, for the symptoms that are caused by: an emotional association with the stress of the location; or the intense stress they always experience while they're there.

Ironically, the superstitious beliefs that leads to blaming buildings, and utilities, can lead to greater paranoia, and hence more stress, worsening their stress-condition.

"Since October, he has lived in a van fitted with aluminium lining to block out radiation signals"

'Villagers baffled after coach loads of tourists keep visiting unremarkable residential street'

To be honest, if i went to Japan, i'd be fascinated by the idiosyncratic architecture, and you probably would be too, wherever you went. So why wouldn't they be fascinated by suburban semis? :-D

According to the Bristol BioEnergy Centre, at the University of the West of England (consistently one of the worst ranked in the country) they've developed a self-illuminating toilet. And a cure for poverty. Kind of.

'Public urinal generates electricity from urine'

They claim the fuel is urine, and the product is electricity, which can be used to help sanitise poor neighbourhoods in countries where electricity is hard to come by, while making toilets safer places to be. Crime is known to be lower in well-illuminated places, as people feel more self-conscious.

But can this really work, or is it fakery? Well, the limit of thermodynamics is that you can't get more energy out than there is available. You can only get more energy out of a candle than you put in, while lighting the match, because the fat of the candlewax is a chemical energy store.

So how much energy can you get from urine, without a huge processing centre? I just don't know. But if you leave urine to decompose, it gets slightly warm. So there can't be much in there, to extract.

But i do know that that question's not actually germaine to the greer, because according to the claims, processing is necessary to turn the urine into a fuel. The article describes the use of an MFC (microbial fuel cell) to convert the urine into something else, thereby releasing protons. That'll be ionised hydrogen gas, then.

Unfortunately, this is going to take more energy than you'll ever get back just by letting urine decompose on its own. No matter how much hydrogen you get out.

What we're contemplating here, thermodynamically, reducing it to its physical essence, is the idea of burning urine.

Urine's quite wet. That won't work.

Adding the numbers of joules will find that it takes more energy to extract the hydrogen, than can be got back by burning it.

As it happens, this urine-into-electricity machine is not new - it's been around since at least 2010, at the same Bristol BioEnergy Centre.

The researchers responsible have apparently tried to circumnavigate thermodynamics, by swapping the electricity-powered hydrogen-extracting fuel cell, for the bacteria-powered hydrogen-extracting MFC in its current incarnation.

Perfect! Except it takes even more energy to feed and house the bacteria, in the peculiar conditions they require, than to keep the previous electronic device working. On top of the increased electrical costs of making electricity (duh!) this adds the problem of where the 'third world' people are going to get the apparatus, fertilizer, etc, from, to keep the bacterial population alive.

According to Jason Mick, at Daily Tech, it would take "something on the order of two thousand times [the bacteria's power output] to continuously circulate its [life-support] media"

This whole story of a urine-powered generator might feel familiar to you, as it was the subject of a pop-pseudoscience sensation story, in 2012 (that goes around and around and around, and is still going) about four 14-year-old girls in Lagos, to whom the Maker Faire attributed its invention.

If you follow the link above, or here, and scroll down, you'll see their apparatus, and what looks to me, like the makings of a perpetual motion machine - the generator feeds the cell, which feeds the generator, which feeds the cell,
which feeds the generator, which feeds the cell, etc.

It can't work.

It might also feel familiar to you, because of the claims about hydrogen fuel. It's a staple of perpetual-motion barmpottery, to claim the extraction of hydrogen from something, as if hydrogen is an energetic panacea.

It is not.

If that hydrogen comes from water, then you still need a power station, separating the hydrogen from the oxygen; and if that hydrogen comes from fossil gas, then your car is still powered by fossil fuels!

I confidently predict that this urine-powered electricity generator is going nowhere.

It's one thing to claim that you have a sanitation device that can make human waste safe, with very little energy input, but it's another thing to claim that you can force the decomposition of urine and get energy out.

P.S. The University of Bath seems to be cashing in on the bullshit too. And look at the picture - more women. Why don't more women go into science? Hear, hear! Pseudoscience might be designed to look like it's genuine, but it is not science.


The 5th of July marked the 20th anniversary of Dolly the Sheep's birth, at the Roslin Institute, Scotland, becoming the first mammal to be artificially bred using a cloned adult cell.

The 4th of July marked the 4th anniversary of the discovery of the Higgs Boson, by CERN, using the LHC. Recently, upgrades have enabled it to achieve record luminosity, record numbers of bunches and a record beam lifespan. Recent experiments take data from so many trillions of collisions, that the ultimate intent of the designers of the LHC has now been met, and the capacity is expected to more than double by the end of the year!

In other news:

One of the LHC's recent achievements, has been the Beauty (LHCb) experiment's confirmation of the existence of the tetraquark known as X(4140), and the discovery of three other, heavier tetraquarks - X(4274), X(4500) and X(4700). Most matter is made of atoms, which are made of electrons, and nucleons - protons and neutrons. Nucleons are made of three quarks, but these X-particles are made of four quarks (hence 'tetra-') making them dissimilar to any familiar material. Last summer, physicists discovered two pentaquarks, made of five quarks each.

If you'd like to help find siblings of the Higgs boson, then you can join HiggsHunters, searching through thousands of images from the ATLAS experiment, for characteristic traces of the particles, in the images. There are also various LHC@home projects that you can leave to run in the background, on your computer, increasing the amount of data that can be crunched, by collaboration.

According to an analysis of data relating to EU members (as of 2014) by the Health and Environment Alliance, the WWF, Climate Action Network Europe and Sandbag, the air pollution produced by the coal industry is responsible for 22,900 deaths per year, 12,000 new cases of chronic bronchitis per year, and more than half-a-million asthma attacks in children per year. The economic cost of these 257 coal-powered plants is estimated at 32-62 billion euros. The vast bulk of the blame is laid at the microparticles emitted after coal combustion, with the NGO attributing 83% of deaths to their inhalation. Other studies have attributed 100,000s of deaths around the world to fossil fuel pollution, whether that be coal particulates, or from the combustion of diesel, which is a big but falling problem in places like India, as solar panels become cheaper and cheaper.

If you've got $100 million, you could spend it on a hospital, or a research institute, or something else that's genuinely valuable. Or, you could spend it on a mythology-based theme park, complete with dinosaurs in cages, and tell everyone that it's a 'museum'. This is the same Ark project that Ken Ham was raising funds for, when he declared that he wanted to debate Bill Nye, and eventually did, two years ago. Yes, it really was that long ago. In a way, it's the height of pseudoscience - to be so committed to a superstition, that you'll waste $100 million constructing a fake museum, just to make your crazy bullshit look like it should have a place in a proper museum. Well, maybe it should - as an ancient artefact of a brutal, barbaric past. But it certainly shouldn't be presented as the truth, on the notices, and described as such in the headset audio tours!

The Fail and Grauniad have both gone SJW, again, with a genderist fictionist pseudoscience 'study' claiming that Disney princesses like Elsa in Frozen, are causing 'body esteem' problems. And what was the study? Well, it was a survey (that's a bad start) of the mothers (that's a terrible continuation) of children, that found that the children that play with Frozen dolls more, are more likely to exhibit 'genderist' behaviour, for example, playing with Frozen dolls. And that's the catastrophic conclusion. Girls that play with Frozen dolls are more likely to play with Frozen dolls. So what morons do we have to thank for this waste of money? The Women's Research Initiative, at Brigham Young University. What a massive surprise <s>

From bullshit dressed up as science, to the bloody obvious. According to the Beeb and Fail, consumption of sugar solution causes rotten teeth. That's right, 'sports drinks' rot your teeth. Maybe it's all the sugar that's in them. Unfortunately, this kind of study seems necessary, in a world where the vast majority of recipients (90%) primarily drink them for the 'nice taste'. They aren't even thinking about the pain of caries. But then, since when have adolescents had a deep and insightful care for the murky, distant future? :-P

And on to the bloody adolescent. In adults. In a classic case of newspapers publishing whatever gets them sales, instead of acknowledging personal responsibility, the Fail, Torygraph, Grauniad, and Old Times, have all blamed 'controversy' amongst scientists for killing thousands of people - through scaring them over the safety of statins. Only the Mirror had the integrity to refer to it as a 'press controversy' which is what it really was. The 'papers seized on a rumour that statins were dangerous, and put that rumour in their headlines. Consequently, statin prescription fell (presumably because patients opted out) and deaths rose. Now, the same 'papers are getting high, by pointing out the farago that they produced themselves, by spreading the rumours in the first place. Scumbags.

And finally, the bloody stupid. The Daily Fail, Torygraph, and Old Times' have set themselves apart, in my eyes, for claiming that maternal paracetamol consumption increases a child's chance of being autistic or ADHD, even when the original study showed no such thing. Mental conditions are popular subjects for the Rumour Mill, because they're so poorly understood. It's much easier to bullshit, and be respected, when the bullshittees are unable to recognise the smell.  Once again: sure, paracetamol's not harmless and inert, but it's a better option than the patented alternatives that various parties keep neglecting to slag off, when they have a pop at paracetamol. This February, it was asthma that paracetamol was accused of causing. The trouble is, it's cheaper and simpler to do a study on something that's patent-free, so a measurement bias can result from scrutinising one thing's flaws more deeply than another's. An analogy would be comparing two people's beauty by an SD picture of one, and an HD picture of the other. The person who's seen in HD, will be seen with all their wrinkles and blemishes, whereas the SD image will resolve none of these finer features. The closer you look, the more you see - it's important to maintain a sense of scale.

But here's one of the worst kinds of study you can possibly get - a bullshit telephone survey, 'proving' that religion is a 'cure' for sexuality. It tracked 3290 teenagers and their parents asking them for the details of their pornography consumption, as they aged over the 6 years of the study. The researchers claim that it shows that religion "can shape the behavior of young adolescents in a positive way" by dissuading them from enjoying carnal entertainment. But if there's one thing that we know about superstition, and religion specifically, it's the ability to compel people to lie. Religion-drenched cultures are notorious for their 'virgin births' where women insist that "no i never, no, never!" despite the recently born babe in their arms, and the placenta lying on the floor, like a beached squid. Telephone surveys are notorious for embracing deception. This can only be made worse by the kids knowing that their parents were being surveyed too! "Oh no, my Toby would never do something like that. Would you, Toby" "No, mother" Bullshit :-D

Staying on the 'phones, 6 former execs of French telecommunications company Orange, are to be tried for corporate harrassment, that resulted in the deaths of 19 employees by suicide, and further harm by depression, to 20 other staff. The case pertains to a period from 2006-8, after Orange (known at the time as French Telecom) had been privatised, and was trying to 'reduce labour costs'. Their method of doing so, was to "get them [employees] out one way or another, through the window or the door" in the words of former Chief Executive of the company Didier Lombard. In France, employee-protection law essentially makes a job into a job-for-life, which clashes rather dramatically with the sociopathic culture of people who see employees principally as 'labour costs'. His crass witticism, referring to the cases as a "fashion for suicide" resulted in his resignation... two years later.

If there's one thing that's fascinating, in the animal world, it's penises. No i'm not still talking about execs. Really, i've done that joke before - it can't still be funny [sniggers] I'm talking about insect penises, that are often more diverse than the morphologies of the bodies they're attached too. In one species, the thistle tortoise beetle, the males' penises are as long as the animal itself - 10mm long, and 10 micrometres wide - thinner than a human hair. It's evolved to be this long, in tandem with the female's vaginal tract, that coils like a landline telephone cable. In order to penetrate as far as the spermatheca, where the female stores the males' sperm, the species has evolved a penis that is variably stiff - it's very stiff near the base, and increasingly soft, toward the tip, in order to facilitate quick and effective penetration. The biologists at Kiel University, who discovered this, speculate that the females favour males with the athleticism to penetrate them quickly, and so have evolved a penile assault course - a challenge to which males have had to 'rise'. Even so, the thistle tortoise beetle's lovemaking sessions can still carry on for several hours, with an average time of 40 minutes! Then again, how long would it take you to finish, while a load of researchers were staring at you :-D

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

Word Of The Week: quark -- an elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei. There are six types of quarks, known as flavours: up, down, strange, charm, top, and bottom.

Fact Of The Week: The Mark 14 torpedo was the standard torpedo in use by the USAian navy, from 1931-1980, despite its horrendous performance specs. It became notorious for detonating early, and for veering downward, away from the target. One week in December 1941, Commander Tyrell D. Jacobs of the submarine Sargo, fired 13 of the Mark 14 torpedo at 5 different vessels, the last of which being a huge slow-moving tanker. All 13 torpedoes missed, despite attempts to correct for their chronic deviation. Lieutenant Commander John A. Scott in Tunny, in 1943, fired all ten tubes at three Japanese aircraft carriers, sinking none, and damaging only one. 7 of the torps had run true, but all of them detonated early. The Mark 14 torpedo was also known to desist from exploding altogether, with some lodging inside the enemy ship's hull and just sitting there. Possibly most risibly, the Mark 14 had a track record (no pun intended) of deviating to the side, resulting in a circular course. This meant that it could complete a full circle, and strike the sub that launched it. In fact, this flaw sank at least one submarine, including the Tullibee, and almost sank the Sargo, while under Jacobs' successor - Commander Richard V. Gregory. How did the Mark 14 experience any success? Because the economic might of the USA meant that it could be manufactured in vast quantities, increasing the chances that one of a spray of torps might hit an enemy :-D

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

'Juno @ Jupiter!; Solving the Quasar Seed Problem; Hitomi's Dying Breath Captures Awesome | SFN #170'

'Juno mission scientists discuss Jupiter's mysteries'

'Fried Chicken (That Takes 1 Month to Make)'

'Top Gear | Fully Charged'

'Electroflight | Fully Charged'

'Video: Rosetta's second year at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko'

'Image: Netherlands imaged by Proba-V'

'Image: Sentinel-2A captures Malaspina Glacier'

'Image: Spelunking astronauts train for teamwork'

'Dad³ Vlogs! - Smooth Spanish Guitar'

'In God We Trust?' - America's Best Christian

'The world's worst border' - Britain's Best Map Men

'Where is the north/south divide?'

'"TODAY ON THE INTERNET" Tales Of Mere Existence'

'Fuck, Marry, Kill: The Game Show (NSFW) - {The Kloons}'

No comments:

Post a Comment