Category Archives: science

Now that’s bananas!

Just when you thought the deadliest thing in a Whole Foods Market was some yuppie’s ability to self-aggrandize:

World’s deadliest spider found in Tulsa store

TULSA, Okla. – One of the most deadly spiders in the world has been found in the produce section of a Tulsa grocery store. An employee of Whole Foods Market found the Brazilian Wandering Spider Sunday in bananas from Honduras and managed to catch it in a container.

The spider was given to University of Tulsa Animal Facilities director Terry Childs who said this type of spider kills more people than any other.

Childs said a bite will kill a person in about 25 minutes and while there is an antidote he doesn’t know of any in the Tulsa area.

Spiders often are found in imported produce, and a manager at Whole Foods says the store regularly checks its goods and that’s how the spider was found.

More.

Could be worse, I suppose.

There could have been a rogue orangutan hiding out in those bananas!

The iPod – a crucial part of your . . . . arsenal?

It looks like iPods have finally come to their own with the tactically-minded set – and I don’t mean the ability to bring up “Welcome to the Jungle” every time you find yourself in the middle of a fray.

A company has designed an application for the ubiquitous device that would take the place of a ballistics computer or the standard sniper dope note card taped to the cheek side of your rifle stock.

And you can even download it from iTunes!

Sniper rifle software launched for iPod touch
New BulletFlight program could be a ‘killer’ app for Apple

A new application has been launched for the iPod touch to help gun users line up a clean shot at their target.

The BulletFlight app, which costs £6.99 to download from the iTunes store, has been developed by Runaway App to turn the iPod touch into a ballistics computer which the company says can provide “quick solutions in the field”.

Users can mount their iPod touch to their rifle, and then use the iPod’s touch-screen to tap in details about the wind conditions, ammunition type, distance to the intended target and even the wind speed.

It even includes data for several different weapons and calibers.

The application features built-in profiles for three weapons – the M110 semi-automatic precision rifle, the KAC PDW, and the 14.5in SR16 rifle – although users can add more weapons into the app.

“Environmental calculations are based on the Sierra Bullet model,” says the BulletFlight iTunes entry. “Up to five ballistic co-efficients with corresponding velocity thresholds may be used for each profile.”

More.

Just when you thought iTunes was only a place to download one-hit wonders and audio books.

10 Things to Scratch From Your Worry List

Ok – apologies for snarfing this whole article from the NY Times, but this is just too good not to post. 10-6 Redz sent me this over as an email, but at least I had the common decency to get online and source.

Several times. 🙂

For most of the year, it is the duty of the press to scour the known universe looking for ways to ruin your day. The more fear, guilt or angst a news story induces, the better. But with August upon us, perhaps you’re in the mood for a break, so I’ve rounded up a list of 10 things not to worry about on your vacation.

Now, I can’t guarantee you that any of these worries is groundless, because I can’t guarantee you that anything is absolutely safe, including the act of reading a newspaper. With enough money, an enterprising researcher could surely identify a chemical in newsprint or keyboards that is dangerously carcinogenic for any rat that reads a trillion science columns every day.

What I can guarantee is that I wouldn’t spend a nanosecond of my vacation worrying about any of these 10 things:

1. Killer hot dogs. What is it about frankfurters? There was the nitrite scare. Then the grilling-creates-carcinogens alarm. And then, when those menaces ebbed, the weenie warriors fell back on that old reliable villain: saturated fat.

But now even saturated fat isn’t looking so bad, thanks to a rigorous experiment in Israel reported this month. The people on a low-carb, unrestricted-calorie diet consumed more saturated fat than another group forced to cut back on both fat and calories, but those fatophiles lost more weight and ended up with a better cholesterol profile. And this was just the latest in a series of studies contradicting the medical establishment’s predictions about saturated fat.

If you must worry, focus on the carbs in the bun. But when it comes to the fatty frank — or the fatty anything else on vacation — I’d relax.

2. Your car’s planet-destroying A/C. No matter how guilty you feel about your carbon footprint, you don’t have to swelter on the highway to the beach. After doing tests at 65 miles per hour, the mileage experts at edmunds.com report that the aerodynamic drag from opening the windows cancels out any fuel savings from turning off the air-conditioner.

3. Forbidden fruits from afar. Do you dare to eat a kiwi? Sure, because more “food miles” do not equal more greenhouse emissions. Food from other countries is often produced and shipped much more efficiently than domestic food, particularly if the local producers are hauling their wares around in small trucks. One study showed that apples shipped from New Zealand to Britain had a smaller carbon footprint than apples grown and sold in Britain.

4. Carcinogenic cellphones. Some prominent brain surgeons made news on Larry King’s show this year with their fears of cellphones, thereby establishing once and for all that epidemiology is not brain surgery — it’s more complicated.

As my colleague Tara Parker-Pope has noted, there is no known biological mechanism for the phones’ non-ionizing radiation to cause cancer, and epidemiological studies have failed to find consistent links between cancer and cellphones.

It’s always possible today’s worried doctors will be vindicated, but I’d bet they’ll be remembered more like the promoters of the old cancer-from-power-lines menace — or like James Thurber’s grandmother, who covered up her wall outlets to stop electricity from leaking.

Driving while talking on a phone is a definite risk, but you’re better off worrying about other cars rather than cancer.

5. Evil plastic bags. Take it from the Environmental Protection Agency : paper bags are not better for the environment than plastic bags. If anything, the evidence from life-cycle analyses favors plastic bags. They require much less energy — and greenhouse emissions — to manufacture, ship and recycle. They generate less air and water pollution. And they take up much less space in landfills.

6. Toxic plastic bottles. For years panels of experts repeatedly approved the use of bisphenol-a, or BPA, which is used in polycarbonate bottles and many other plastic products. Yes, it could be harmful if given in huge doses to rodents, but so can the natural chemicals in countless foods we eat every day. Dose makes the poison.

But this year, after a campaign by a few researchers and activists, one federal panel expressed some concern about BPA in baby bottles. Panic ensued. Even though there was zero evidence of harm to humans, Wal-Mart pulled BPA-containing products from its shelves, and politicians began talking about BPA bans. Some experts fear product recalls that could make this the most expensive health scare in history.

Nalgene has already announced that it will take BPA out of its wonderfully sturdy water bottles. Given the publicity, the company probably had no choice. But my old blue-capped Nalgene bottle, the one with BPA that survived glaciers, jungles and deserts, is still sitting right next to me, filled with drinking water. If they ever try recalling it, they’ll have to pry it from my cold dead fingers.

7. Deadly sharks. Throughout the world last year, there was a grand total of one fatal shark attack (in the South Pacific), according to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida.

8. The Arctic’s missing ice. The meltdown in the Arctic last summer was bad enough, but this spring there was worse news. A majority of experts expected even more melting this year, and some scientists created a media sensation by predicting that even the North Pole would be ice-free by the end of summer.

So far, though, there’s more ice than at this time last summer, and most experts are no longer expecting a new record. You can still fret about long-term trends in the Arctic, but you can set aside one worry: This summer it looks as if Santa can still have his drinks on the rocks.

9. The universe’s missing mass. Even if the fate of the universe — steady expansion or cataclysmic collapse — depends on the amount of dark matter that is out there somewhere, you can rest assured that no one blames you for losing it. And most experts doubt this collapse will occur during your vacation.

10. Unmarked wormholes. Could your vacation be interrupted by a sudden plunge into a wormhole? From my limited analysis of space-time theory and the movie “Jumper,” I would have to say that the possibility cannot be eliminated. I would also concede that if the wormhole led to an alternate universe, there’s a good chance your luggage would be lost in transit.
But I still wouldn’t worry about it, In an alternate universe, you might not have to spend the rest of the year fretting about either dark matter or sickly rodents. You might even be able to buy one of those Nalgene bottles.

Original posting.

Ok – I am going to get all kinda crap for number 6. My wife, my baby, and most of the crew are all now onto Kleen Kanteens.

I was even able to get Cheese to get away from his famous red Nalgene bottle – and every time I see him he reminds me that I owe him new stickers for all of the technical climbing and adventure stickers he had to lose when he ditched his old standby.

But remember – the Klean Kanteens can be heated directly in fire and used as a make-shift club.

Take that, Nalgene!

Run for it, Marty! It’s the Libyans!

Who isn’t obsessed with time travel? The idea that you could go back into time to visit a deceased relative, see if primitive man really looked like the Geico commercials, or go back to middle school and slap yourself for being such a putz with the ladies. . .

Most of us can’t get the DeLorean up to 1.21 gigawatts and will have to settle for daydreaming, but this recent news story described how it may be possible, albeit only with much more scientifically advanced than ourselves.

What a cop-out!

Time Travel Machine Outlined

A new concept for a time machine could possibly enable distant future generations to travel into the past, research now suggests.

Unlike past ideas for time machines, this new concept does not require exotic, theoretical forms of matter. Still, this new idea requires technology far more advanced than anything existing today, and major questions remain as to whether any time machine would ever prove stable enough to enable actual travel back in time.

Time machine researchers often investigate gravity, which essentially arises when matter bends space and time. Time travel research is based on bending space-time so far that time lines actually turn back on themselves to form a loop, technically known as a “closed time-like curve.”

“We know that bending does happen all the time, but we want the bending to be strong enough and to take a special form where the lines of time make closed loops,” said theoretical physicist Amos Ori at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. “We are trying to find out if it is possible to manipulate space-time to develop in such a way.”

Ori’s latest research suggests time machines are possible without exotic matter, eliminating a barrier to time travel. His work begins with a donut-shaped hole enveloped within a sphere of normal matter.

Inside this donut-shaped vacuum, space-time could get bent upon itself using focused gravitational fields to form a closed time-like curve. To go back in time, a traveler would race around inside the donut, going further back into the past with each lap.
Ori emphasized one significant limitation of this time machine—”it can’t be used to travel to a time before the time machine was constructed.”

More here.

Umm . . . donuts.

Of course they cover themselves with the idea that humans won’t be able to do this for a long, long time, which of course begs the question, if humans in the future are able to figure out time travel – why aren’t there time travelers from the future around now?

Or the even creepier question – what if we are the race spawned by a bunch of time travelers who crash landed in the past on earth and we all have a combined racial memory to build the technology to start ourselves? And if that’s the case, then would that explain the lack of a clear missing link between our supposed simian ancestors and modern man? Did these time travelers crash and supplant the pre-historic dominant Neanderthal race?

Wait a minute – if that’s the case, then how did the original time travelers cum proto-modern humans come about?

Stupid chicken and egg hypothesis.

Besides, if you can only theoretically travel back to the point at which you built the machine, what fun is that?

Good thing I don’t think too deeply about these things.