Friday, May 11, 2007

Think Thin?

Ken forwarded me this article, with some additional comments that are not suitable for a family-friendly (?) blog. But:
Thin people may be fat inside

Some doctors now think that the internal fat surrounding vital organs like the heart, liver or pancreas — invisible to the naked eye — could be as dangerous as the more obvious external fat that bulges underneath the skin.

"Being thin doesn't automatically mean you're not fat," said Dr. Jimmy Bell, a professor of molecular imaging at Imperial College, London.
"The whole concept of being fat needs to be redefined".
OK, I have the utmost respect for science in general, and medical science in particular, but it's stuff like this that makes holistic medicine, homeopathy, and other such quackery sound appealing. Yes, yes, yes, everything is lethal, everything will kill us. Let's fret about every last nanogram of fat in our bodies. What's next: "Not being sick doesn't automatically mean you're healthy"? "Being alive doesn't automatically mean you're not not dead"? It's amazing that the human race survived for hundreds of thousands of years. Y'know, my grandmother lived on a diet of basically butter and she lived to be 99.

I'm going for a hamburger...

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Mollusk that Refreshes

My vote would go to R.C. Cola or perhaps Genessee Cream Ale, but Japan's Octopus Dumpling Soda would be a contender for Worst Beverage Ever.

UPDATE: Ah, the Octopus Dumpling Soda is just a joke. Pity. Would that Genesee Cream Ale were.

Something for Nothing

Would you pay $6+ for nothing? Some people apparently would. Yes: someone is selling a shrinkwrapped package of "nothing." That is, a clear plastic dome filled with nothing. OK, then.

The Giant Spider Invasion

Now, I rather like spiders (up to a point, natch) and despite the tarantula's fearsome reputation, truth is, there is no record in the history of medicine of anyone ever having died from a tarantula bite (the proteins in their saliva have been known to trigger some allergic reactions, but is not considered venom per se). Plus, many species of tarantula are quite docile and rarely bite anything as large as a human (unless the human is causing it undue aggravation). It's interesting to me that, even knowing all this, people are still terrified of tarantulas, while mosquitoes--which have been responsible for millions of deaths (malaria, encephalitis, dengue, etc.)--are just considered pesky nuisances. Go figure.

Anyway, that all said, a tarantula that measures one foot wide and eats chickens is just wrong. We may have to send in John Agar.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Cutting the Cords

This is cool:
Plastic sheet delivers wireless power

Desks and walls could one day light up electronics without need for cables.

Annoyed by the tangle of power cords under your desk? A sheet of plastic invented by researchers in Japan could one day make for tables and walls that power devices placed on them — without any need for wires or plugs. Computers could be powered through the desks on which they sit, for example, or flat-screen televisions through the walls where they hang.

The team of seven researchers at the University of Tokyo has produced a sample sheet of the plastic, which is about the size of a very thin magazine — just one millimetre thick and weighing 50 grams. It can deliver up to 40 watts of power to products on or near it that contain a special 'receiving coil': enough to power a lightbulb or a very small laptop. They say that scaled-up production of such sheets could be inexpensive enough for widespread installation in desks, floors, ceilings and walls, ushering in a "new class of electronic devices".

The plastic, described today in Nature Materials1, has as its base a layer of transistor featuring pentacene, an organic molecule whose electrical conductivity can be controlled. Topping that are layers holding copper coils that can sense whether a compatible electronic device is nearby, microelectromechanical-system (MEMS) switches that serve to turn on and off the power, and copper coils to transmit electricity.

Breakfast of Champions?

If Internet cafes started serving breakfast, I can only assume they would use the latest in utter nerdiness: the keyboard waffle-iron. Most of us have inadvertently spilled syrup, butter, or other comestibles into our keyboards at one time or another, but now we can do so without worry. What's next--mouse-shaped muffins? (Oh, dear, let's not give them any ideas...)

You have to eat the Enter key to feel full.

If you eat the Shift key, the portions will be bigger.

If you eat the Tab key, you will fly across the breakfast table.

To get away from an unwanted breakfast guest, eat the Esc key.

If you eat Ctrl-Alt-Delete simultaneously, breakfast will abruptly end.

Whatever you do, don't eat the Up Arrow key.

Eating the space bar will just give you gas.

And after breakfast, of course, you can have a vowel movement.

Days of Future Past

Someone has unearthed and posted a set of vintage postcards from 1900 illustrating what the quaint fin-de-si├Ęcle Victorians (actually a German chocolate company) thought life would look like in 2000. The House-Moving Train is not that far removed from (but a little smaller than) some of today's SUVs. The Personal Flying Machines are an interesting illustration of a class-action clawsuit about to happen, but my favorite would have to be the Personal Airships. Who wouldn't want their own blimp?

What I especially love is how dignified and respectable everyone looks--quite the opposite of today, where decorum and dignity (must people wear flip-flops in public?) appear to have gone the way of Victoria.