Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

science-clipart-life-science-clipart

Because… why not?

SCIENCE!!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Best left alone?

Best left alone?

I mean, it’s just asking for trouble:

And speaking of Pluto’s features, NASA scientists are now giving unofficial names to some of the things they’ve spotted — names they can submit to the International Astronomical Union for official approval. They’re sticking with the trend of underworld creatures and gods — Pluto, after all, was the Roman god of the underworld — and have tentatively named a previously observed dark, whale-shaped splotch (just to the left of the broken heart) after “Cthulhu,” the dark deity invented by author H.P. Lovecraft. Described as part man, part dragon, and part octopus, Cthulhu has gained something of a cult following in the Internet age.

Okay, so Cthulhu is supposed to be trapped under the Pacific, where he lies dreaming, but what if R’lyeh was really located on a dark plane on a dark planet at the far edge of the Solar System, and Lovecraft was trying to spare us the sanity-blasting truth? And what if this awakens him… er…. it?

Yeah. We’re doomed.

PS: Let us enjoy this moment while forgiving the article’s author his apparently weak knowledge of all things Cthulhuoid. First, he’s never been described as “part dragon,” though he does have wings as I recall, and an octopoidal head. But he is definitely not a god. Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, and Hastur are gods. The Big C is “merely” a Great Old One, himself a servant of the gods.

Read Full Post »

I knew it!

"Health hazard"

“Health hazard”

Vegetarianism is bad for you

Population-based studies have consistently shown that our diet has an influence on health – a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is recommended.

But some people go overboard and just eat meat. Or just eat vegetables. Evidence for health benefits of exclusive diets is scant. Vegetarians are considered healthier, they are wealthier, they are more liberal, they drink less alcohol and they smoke less – but those are a lot of variables in health that don’t necessarily result from being a vegetarian.

A cross-sectional study taken from the Austrian Health Interview Survey AT-HIS 2006/07 found that vegetarians are actually less healthy than normal eaters. Subjects were matched according to their age, sex, and socioeconomic status leaving 1320 people – 330 vegetarians, 330 that ate meat but still a lot of fruits and vegetables, 300 normal eaters but that ate less meat, and 330 on a more carnivorous diet.

After controlling for variables, they found that vegetarians did have lower BMI and alcohol consumption but had poorer overall health. Vegetarians had higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders, a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life.

As a result, vegetarians take more medications than non-vegetarians.

Now, as the article points out, this is just one study and, if anything is certain in life and science, there will be other studies showing just the opposite.

Still, this is one of those moments that gives me way too much satisfaction. There is an annoying subset of vegetarians (1) who take their dietary choice as a sign of their moral superiority. Not all, of course; some are vegetarian for religious or health reasons. But, there is that smug faction, and shoving a grapefruit in their face is a temptation I cannot resist.

Yes, I am weak.

And I take my steak on the rare side of medium-rare. Don’t want to get cancer and go insane, after all.

Footnote:
(1) And bicyclists. No, you do not in fact own the road and the sidewalk.

Read Full Post »

Yachting, Titan-style

Yachting, Titan-style

Okay, so trying to catch some rays from a distant, faint sun on the shore of a hydrocarbon sea on a freezing moon doesn’t sound like all that much fun (at least, not to an Earthman…), but the announcement that scientists may have discovered waves on the seas and lakes of Saturn’s moon Titan does spur the imagination:

Now, after years of searching, Nature reports that NASA’s Cassini scientists think they may finally have spotted waves cresting on the seas of Titan. If confirmed, this would be the first discovery of ocean waves beyond Earth.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft spied several unusual glints of sunlight off the surface of Punga Mare in the 2012 and 2013 flybys. Those reflections may come from tiny ripples, no more than 2 centimeters high, that are disturbing the otherwise flat ocean, says Jason Barnes, a planetary scientist at the University of Idaho in Moscow.

(…)

Researchers expect more waves to appear in the next few years, because winds are anticipated to pick up as Titan’s northern hemisphere — where most of its seas are located — emerges from winter and approaches spring.

There’s been a proposal for a seaborne “lander” to go to Titan for an initial exploration of its “waters,” but the project was beaten out by the Mars Lander. Seems kind of silly we couldn’t do both. Besides, imagine the reaction to the last images from the “Mare Explorer,” as a Titanian whale swallows it whole.

Yes!

Let’s do this, NASA.

Read Full Post »

Volcano_q

The danged thing is even bigger than we thought:

The supervolcano that lies beneath Yellowstone National Park in the US is far larger than was previously thought, scientists report.

A study shows that the magma chamber is about 2.5 times bigger than earlier estimates suggested.

A team found the cavern stretches for more than 90km (55 miles) and contains 200-600 cubic km of molten rock.

The findings are being presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

Prof Bob Smith, from the University of Utah, said: “We’ve been working there for a long time, and we’ve always thought it would be bigger… but this finding is astounding.”

If the Yellowstone supervolcano were to blow today, the consequences would be catastrophic.

The last major eruption, which occurred 640,000 years ago, sent ash across the whole of North America, affecting the planet’s climate.

I remember once visiting my late father, about ten years ago, and watching a couple of science programs on the Discovery channel after he had gone to bed. One was on asteroids smacking the Earth, the other was on supervolcanoes — including that monster under Yellowstone. Not surprisingly, I had a little trouble sleeping that night.

With this news, I may have trouble tonight, too.

Read Full Post »

"Your sommelier"

“Your sommelier”

A neat archaeological find in Israel: a wine cellar from 1700 B.C. with enough remains to tell us something about ancient winemaking:

Talk about aged wine.

Archaeologists say they have discovered a 3,700-year-old wine cellar in Israel, a finding that offers insights into the early roots of winemaking.

The large wine cellar was unearthed in the ruined palace of a Canaanite city in northern Israel, called Tel Kabri, not far from the country’s modern wineries. The excavations revealed 40 one-meter-tall jars kept in what appeared to be a storage room.

No liquid contents could have survived the millennia. But an analysis of organic residue trapped in the pores of the jars suggested that they had contained wine made from grapes. The ancient tipple was likely sweet, strong and medicinal—certainly not your average Beaujolais.

If the researchers’ theories are correct, winemaking may have originated in Canaan and been exported to Egypt, where the oldest known wine cellar, dated to 3,000 B.C., during the Old Kingdom, was found. From the description the wines once housed in Tel Kabri sound like they tasted like an herbal liqueur. Bleh.

If they recreate the flavor, however, I expect Trader Joe’s will soon offer it as “Pharaoh Joe’s.”

Read Full Post »

"Don't worry. It's for research purposes."

“Don’t worry. It’s for research purposes.”

SCIENCE!!

Women have long been told that a good bra can help support the chest, relieve back pain and prevent sagging.  However, a new 15-year French study reveals the opposite: bras do little to reduce back pain and, over time, they can actually make breasts sag even more.

Researcher Prof. Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports science expert from the University of Besançon in eastern France claims that “bras are a false necessity,” according to The Local.

“Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity,” said Rouillon. “On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra.”

Rouillon and his team spent years measuring the changes in the breasts of 330 women using a simple slide rule and caliper at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (University Hospital) in Besançon, where he carried out his research.

He found that no evidence that bras helped ease back pain. Instead, he found that the chest supports could even add to the problem.

The guy worked on this for 15 years!  Such dedication. (And where do I get a job like that?)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »