December 27, 2003

» Physics jokes

PhysicsWeb - The best physics humour ever

But the winner in the jest category - for sheer absurdity, economy, and unexpectedness - was submitted by David Herzog of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
"What's new?"
"E over h."

December 24, 2003

» Imagine one of these going through your binbag

BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Leopards spread fear in Bombay

The leopards sneak into Powai from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, an urban lung which covers 100 square kilometres and is a haven for wildlife - including leopards.

December 23, 2003

» Making antibubbles in beer (includes recipe)

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Antibubbles made in Belgian beer

Take some water in a clear bowl or tank
Fill it to the very brim with dishwashing liquid (water with a few squeezes of washing-up liquid in it)
Keep some of this liquid back in a beaker or jug Very gently pour the liquid from the beaker onto the surface of the bowl
Watch beneath the surface as you pour and vary the speed at which you pour
If you find the right speed, you might see antibubbles form as the stream of water descends beneath the surface
You can now watch these antibubbles move and sink downwards and they will eventually burst.

December 22, 2003

» How to get lucky

BBC NEWS | Magazine | The loser's guide to getting lucky

Unlucky people are generally more tense than lucky people, and this anxiety disrupts their ability to notice the unexpected.

» Chinese gamer wins virtual property lawsuit - Online gamer in China wins virtual theft suit - Dec. 20, 2003

A Chinese court has ordered an online video game company to return hard-won virtual property, including a make-believe stockpile of bio-chemical weapons, to a player whose game account was looted by a hacker.

December 21, 2003

» Gratifying list of honours refuseniks

Times Online - Sunday Times

The documents, obtained from Whitehall sources by The Sunday Times, show that the rock star David Bowie, the celebrity cook Nigella Lawson, the playwright and novelist Michael Frayn, and the comedy duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are among members of Britain?s ?A list? who have refused to accept honours under new Labour.

The novelist JG Ballard, James Bond leading lady Honor Blackman and jazz musician George Melly have also turned down honours under Blair, according to more than 400 pages of internal government files revealed for the first time today

December 19, 2003

» Hooray for Beagle 2!

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Beagle separation is successful

Beagle 2 has successfully separated from its "mothership" for the final leg of the journey to Mars.

» Global dimming

Guardian Unlimited | Life | Goodbye sunshine

It turns out that Ohmura was the first to document a dramatic effect that scientists are now calling "global dimming". Records show that over the past 50 years the average amount of sunlight reaching the ground has gone down by almost 3% a decade. It's too small an effect to see with the naked eye, but it has implications for everything from climate change to solar power and even the future sustainability of plant photosynthesis.

December 18, 2003

» SpaceShipOne breaks the sound barrier

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Private plane breaks sound speed

The sound barrier has been breached by a privately built rocket-plane, the first time it has been done without government help.

» The Galaxy is still growing

Scientific American: Our Growing, Breathing Galaxy

Gradually, though, it has become clear that the Milky Way is not a finished work but rather a body that is still forming. Like the earlier discoveries, this realization has relied heavily on observing other galaxies and bringing the lessons back home. Most galaxies are now assumed to result from the merging of smaller precursors, and in the case of the Milky Way, we can observe the final stages of this process. Our galaxy is tearing apart small satellite galaxies and incorporating their stars. Meanwhile gas clouds are continually arriving from intergalactic space. No longer can researchers speak of galaxy formation in the past tense.

» New evidence says Voynich manuscript is a fake

World's most mysterious book may be a hoax: The Voynich manuscript may be elegant gibberish.

But this complexity could have been produced easily, Rugg demonstrates, with an encryption device invented around 1550 called a Cardan grille. This is a table of characters. Moving a piece of card with holes cut in it over the table makes words. Gaps in the table ensure different-length words.

Using such grilles on table of Voynichese syllables, Rugg has produced a language with many, although not all, of the manuscript's features. About three months' work would have been enough to produce the entire book, he says.

December 17, 2003

» Artificial intelligence: LOTR soldiers run away in the face of battle

Montreal Gazette - Story - network

But this attempt to ensure that they acted spontaneously almost sabotaged the the battleground sequences.

"For the first two years, the biggest problem we had was soldiers fleeing the field of battle," Taylor said.

» Now that's what I call dead-tree media - Guinness: Scientist creates world's largest book - Dec. 16, 2003

A 133-pound tome about the Asian country of Bhutan that uses enough paper to cover a football field and a gallon of ink has been declared the world's largest published book.

December 16, 2003

» Diary of an astrobiologist

A weeklong journal of an astrobiologist. By David Grinspoon

Venus has always been my second favorite planet after Earth. Venus is not considered by most scientists to be a likely planet to find life, but I think the bright clouds shrouding our sister planet could be a fertile habitat for some cleverly adapted bacterium.

» The Best of 2003, in exhaustive detail

(((oooo))) Feeding Time

Including "Most Frigid People in Hollywood" and "World's Largest Databases".

December 12, 2003

» Floating dinosaurs

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Gigantic dinos 'floated in water'

Sauropods - the largest and heaviest dinosaurs that ever existed - floated in water, according to new claims.

» "We are all nerds now". Except the geeks

Guardian Unlimited Film | Features | We are all nerds now

Downstairs in the comic-book section, 36-year-old Steven Lewis admits to being a geek, but not a nerd. He explains that there is a crucial difference. "Nerds are highly intelligent but they have no social skills whatsoever. You can't hold a proper conversation with a nerd. Geeks are very intelligent too, but a geek can hold a conversation, and have a girlfriend and an active social life. So I freely admit to being a geek. I have no problem with that label at all."

» Next-gen hanky code - Student 'sex bracelets' an urban legend? - Dec. 11, 2003

As the story goes, break someone's orange bracelet (or purple, in some cases) and you get a kiss. Red, a lap dance. Blue, oral sex. Black, intercourse. And so on.

» Hounslow - boo!

Gillette To Leave Historic Premises (from This Is Local London)

When the manufacturing plant is moved, the accompanying offices - which house a further 600 workers - will also relocate, although according to Gillette headquarters this would be "within the local area".

This would leave a question mark hanging over the premises known as Gillette Corner', a listed facade dubbed the "best of the best" Art Deco architecture in the UK by English Heritage.

» Hounslow - yay!


The shepherds look a little nervous, the angels a little boisterous - it is no different here from hundreds of schools up and down the land as the nativity season gets under way. It is not every school, however, in which Mary will be played by a Filipino Christian six-year-old and Joseph by a Punjabi Sikh seven-year-old.

» Good local news site

Local News Net

The World Wide Web delivers your best parochial news, including RSS feeds

December 11, 2003

» A chain of holes

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Galactic impact makes black holes

Andreas Zezas, also of the CFA, says: "From the optical and radio images, we knew something unusual was going on in the nucleus of this galaxy, but the real surprise turned out to be on the outer edges of the galaxy.

"Dozens of black holes and neutron stars were strung out across space like beads on a necklace."

» The North Pole is melting


Wadhams points to a darker side. He says that about 7 per cent of the Earth's surface is covered by sea ice, much of it in the Arctic. Without sea ice, the planet would be a very different place. "The ice-covered seas represent the cold end of the enormous heat engine that enables the Earth to have temperatures suitable for human life over most of its surface," he explains.

December 08, 2003

» Space Invaders return

BBC NEWS | Technology | Space Invaders advance on the US

The Japanese game machine maker Taito is planning to start re-selling arcade console machines in the US.

» The Golden Bough and Tony Blair

Guardian Unlimited | Columnists | From Golden Bough to Gordon Brown

As for David Blunkett, well, mythology often holds that blind people, undistracted by the shapeless confusion of the material world, have a deeper wisdom and insight than the rest of us. So perhaps I won't go too far down that road.

December 04, 2003

» Which 20th century philosopher are you?

What 20th Century Theorist are you? - Quizilla


You are Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari! That's right! You're two people! Actually, you're probably a lot more than that, because you argued that all of us are, fundamentally, schizophrenics. Your notion of the rhizome is far too popular amoung people who fantasize about digital technology. You are, however, both dead.

I know very little about either of these people.

December 03, 2003

» That Bladerunner zoom thing is getting more plausible: Exhibit 2

Damn. | A Whole Lotta Nothing

Notice there's nary a hint of pixelation anywhere. After years of using 1 megapixel cameras and more recently a 3 megapixel camera, the stuff coming out of the SLR is unbelieveable.

» Scurvy: Not a disease, a lifetyle

pro_scurvy - Community Info

Remember, Scurvy is NOT a disease. It is a lifestyle. Spread the truth!

» Spy kids


Britain's largest agency, Nationwide Investigations Group (NiG), now receives such calls twice a week, and have four young employees to help deal with them, of whom the youngest is 19.

December 02, 2003

» Britney sez: Here be dragons


Desperate Christian fundamentalists stoop to crypto-nonsense.