Category Archives: In the News

Einstein, ACME, and science

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A while back I read an article about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and it had a few statistics that seem somewhat embellished to me.  Now, I’m no scientist, but I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.  And because of the anonymity of the Internet, I could be the smartest person in the room (as far you know).  Whether any of that is factual or not is largely irrelevant to this discussion, because we’re going to have fun with it.  Let’s get started, shall we?

Winding the solenoid coil of the CMS [Compact Muon Solenoid] took five years to complete. When it is fully operational, it will generate a magnetic field 100,000 times stronger than the one produced by the Earth.

What could possibly go wrong?  I first think of a super magnet that Wile E. Coyote bought to catch Bugs Bunny.  It was a 10,000,000,000 volt electric magnet, in a do-it-yourself (DIY) kit sold by ACME (of course).

Actually, there’s a structure made with 12,000 tons of iron to bridle the lines of the magnetic field in the LHC so normal stuff won’t get disturbed.  So they say…  Next!

Components are assembled for A Large Ion Collider Experiment, a.k.a. ALICE, an experiment to measure the matter created in the extraordinarily high temperatures — estimated at 100,000 times hotter than the sun — that existed after the Big Bang and that will be created by the particle collider.

The Earth picks up only 0.45 billionth of the sun’s daily energy output, yet that is more than 239 trillion horsepower each day.  I realize there’s more to energy than heat, but I still question their estimate.  And even more so, I wonder what their electrical bill is…  And upon further thought, would a device creating heat that’s 100,000 times hotter than the sun contribute to global warming any?  Something has to happen to the heat — you can’t just flush it down the toilet — there are those pesky laws of thermodynamics…  🙂

Speaking of ACME, they had everything, didn’t they?  Did you know that the Animaniacs helped Einstein figure out the theory of relativity by singing the ACME song to make him feel better about himself?  I never learned that in school…

But wait, there’s more!  While watching the Wile E. Coyote video with the super magnet, I noticed it said “Zajaxi Dynamos” on one of the boxes instead of ACME.  Maybe it was a subsidiary?  I have no idea.  I’ve never noticed that before and never heard of that, so I googled it, and would you believe my search returned ZERO (0) results?  There is something that’s been around for decades for which Google had no answer whatsoever!  I’ve always figured you could find anything on the Internet, but I just proved otherwise.

So now let Buffet o’ Blog be the FIRST WEBSITE EVER to mention “Zajaxi Dynamos”!  How many times can you say your website is the first to ever do something in the history of the Internet?  We should win an award…  🙂

And since there’s no reference to what that phrase stands for, I suppose we can make it up.  Any ideas?

Jetman, flying cars, the future

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In the news recently was someone called Jetman, who built his own jetpack with four rockets on it.  Supposedly he can go 190 mph.  Here’s a video:

That would be awesome to have.  I wonder if we’ll ever have flying cars or something like that.  There are still companies working on it, and every few years there’s news that it’s almost ready.  I’m thinking it won’t happen until computers are controlling them.  That may seem kinda scary, but even more scary is bad drivers and drunk drivers in a flying car.  Crashes would be even more dangerous, causing much more collateral damage.

He uses a parachute to land, which might seem lame for a jetpack, but I bet landings would be really tricky to maneuver, as well as extremely dangerous.

FYI, computer-controlled cars are already on the road — just not available for purchase yet.  Google has been testing them in certain areas.  So far, with hundreds of thousands of miles, they appear safer than the average human driver.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  I actually enjoy driving; however, if I’m able to do other stuff during road trips, like video games, reading, sleeping, etc., then that would be awesome.

diet colas with artificial poop

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The other day I wrote about a spa using bird poop in facials, and at the end of the discussion I joked about what would be the next use of poop.  At the time, I was unaware of a breaking news story about diet colas that is somewhat related.  (Are you getting scared yet?)

diet cola - now with more artificial poopRecently the patent details for the artificial sweetener aspartame became available online, and well, it’s made with a certain byproduct.  (Are you sure you want to keep reading?  It might get even worse.)  Obviously it’s an artificial sweetener, which has certain connotations, but there’s more than you’d expect.  Some versions of aspartame are made by harvesting the protein waste (i.e., poop) of genetically modified E. coli bacteria, then adding methanol to it.  (On a side note, how someone invented this process is beyond my imagination, so I looked it up.  In 1965 a chemist was trying to create an anti-ulcer drug, and while generating a hormone for it, he licked his finger and accidentally discovered the sweet taste of aspartame.  Go figure…)

Aspartame is one of the most common artificial sweeteners, and it’s sold under the brand names NutraSweet® and Equal®.  It’s used because it’s about 200 times sweeter than table sugar, so less can be used, which lowers the calories in the food or beverage.  It is used in thousands of different food products.  The FDA maintains that it is completely safe.

It may be safe, but this is one of the those things that I kinda wish I didn’t know…

bird poop facials — only $180

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I’ve heard of people drinking coffee made from poop, which is crazy enough.  But at least it’s cooked and processed to some degree.  Now there’s a new use for poop.  (But wait, there’s more!)

Now a spa in New York City is offering bird poop facials for $180 each.  Supposedly it gently exfoliates the skin.  I’m no beauty expert, but aren’t there other ways to do that?  Anyway, it’s called a “geisha facial”, which is supposedly a Japanese beauty secret.  (I’m thinking I’d keep the ingredients list secret if this was my product, but I’m no marketing expert, either.)

I know what some of you are thinking — “But you never mentioned the smell!!!”  🙂  Of course they have to account for that; how many people would stay in a spa if it smelled like crap?  At this spa, they surround you with aromas of camellia, lavender, and rose.  They mix the bird poop with a rice bran, so it supposedly smells like toasted rice.  The treatment begins with steam to open the pores and soften the skin, then they leave this poop mixture on your face for five minutes.  I guess they want the bird poop to soak in.  (Remember, they’re a professional business and they charge you a lot of money, so obviously they must know what they’re doing.)  The owner says the bird feces brings out the dirt and dust that builds up in the skin and leaves the customer feeling refreshed.

poop - jar of poopOh, and they don’t use just any ol’ bird poop, because that would be gross.  It’s only from nightingales, because they eat seeds that produce the natural enzyme that is the active ingredient.  Seems to me it would be good to cut out the middleman in this situation…

The article says that about 100 people get this pooperizing procedure done at this spa every month, which, doing the math, brings in $18,000 — every month.  That’s a lot of money for a procedure using bird poop and rice bran.  Seems like a high-profit business to be in.  They must be doing something right.  (I’d guess it’s the advertising and promotion — how else are you going to convince people to pay big bucks to get poop smeared on their face?)

A doctor (also in New York) has predicted that animal extracts will grow in popularity, that they offer “a new definition of natural”, because some marketed natural products could be harmful to the skin.  However, I also learned that because this is sold as a cosmetic rather than a drug, there is no obligation to back up their claims with evidence.

What’s going to be the next use of poop?  Actually, never mind — I don’t want to know.

weird baby names, some banned

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cowboy making hand gesturesIn America, you’re free to name your baby whatever you want.  For the most part, freedom is good; we don’t want tyranny.  But some countries’ governments feel it is their duty to protect people from stupidity.  A debate on whether that is good or not is beyond the scope of this article.

I started thinking about this because New Zealand just banned a number of baby names, including 18 that have been used in the U.S. (and some are popular).  Some of them make sense for other countries, like King, Princess, Duke, Baron, Majesty, etc.  Some are to prevent religious confusion or controversy, like Christ and Lucifer.  Someone cross-referenced their list with the U.S. Social Security Administration’s database and found that 46 boys in the U.S. are named Christ, and 8 are named Lucifer.  I just don’t know why someone would choose to name their child Lucifer.  Seems kind of forboding toward evil…  (That’s like naming your child “Important Evil Genius“, except even worse.)

Sweden has similar bans, although they extend it to names such as Superman and Metallica.  U.S. celebrities are becoming known for giving their children weird names.  A few examples:

Moxie CrimeFighter — child of Penn Jillette
Kal-El — son of Nicolas Cage
Pilot Inspektor — son of Jason Lee
Moon Unit, Diva Thin Muffin, and Dweezil — children of Frank Zappa
Pirate — child of Jonathan and Deven Davis
Tabooger — child of Dan Cortese
Tu Morrow — child of Rob Morrow

Having named a child now, part of the process process for us was trying to pick a name that people won’t make fun of too much.  Obviously you can’t stop all teasing and bullying, but some of those above are just asking for it.  Tabooger?  Guess what his childhood nickname will be…  And Tu Morrow?  Imagine the awkwardness when everyone he/she meets has a short pause upon learning the name, realizing it’s supposed to be funny but it’s not and then you don’t know how to respond to that.

On a related note, you can go to the Social Security website to see how popular your name has been in America the past few decades.

a Lamborghini Batmobile

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This year Lamborghini released one of the world’s most expensive cars ever, the Veneno at $3.9 million.  Only 3 were produced, so this is just a collector’s item for those with more money than they can count.  (They’d better not wreck it, since there would be no spare parts to find!)

As you might expect with it being a Lamborghini, it looks fast and exotic, although even more so than normal.  This one reminds me of a Batmobile, in some of its stylings.  Obviously it’s not, but it would take someone like Bruce Wayne to be able to afford it.

Lamborghini-Veneno-frontLamborghini-Veneno-back

That’s awesome already, but it would be even cooler if it shot fire out the back like the Batmobile.

There’s more awesome pictures at the link above.

Also as expected with a Lamborghini, it’s faster than most people could safely handle.  It accelerates from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds, with a top speed around 220 MPH.  (The article didn’t mention it’s MPG…)  🙂

I also heard that a Lamborghini SUV will be going on sale in 2017, for an estimated $200,000.  The specs aren’t released yet, but some suspect it will have around 650 horsepower.  (My wife wants a new SUV… hmm… but our car budget will need a considerable increase in the next 4 years…)

eating bacon to live longer

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bacon - sea of baconI just heard about a 105-year-old woman in Texas who says her secret is that she eats bacon every day.  I don’t know if that will stand up to medical scrutiny, but it’s worth something.

The article reveals her bacon “secret”, which should be enough for the whole article.  But then it talks about her birthday party, which featured over 200 guests, which is okay, I guess.  But then it goes into explaining why bacon has gotten a bad rap lately.  It’s somewhat ironic, given the subject of the article.  Apparently some research study linked processed meat to a premature death.  But check out their results — they claim that eating less than 20g per day (which is 0.7 ounces) could prevent an estimated 3% of premature deaths each year.  So if you eat only a bite or two of meat per day, you have a 3% chance of living longer.  For people who follow that advice, I wonder what the odds are on premature death due to not enjoying life as much…  (To each their own, but that advice wouldn’t work for me.)

The article then references another study saying that even a single serving of processed red meat increased the risk of participants dying by 20%.  I may not be a statistician, but I figure the risk of dying is 100%.  🙂  You can eat all the plants you want, but it is appointed for everyone to meet their Maker at some point.

Obviously bacon is somewhat unhealthy — not completely, but in some ways.  However, if a single serving of bacon (or any red meat) increases your risk of dying by 20%, and this woman has eaten bacon every day for 105 years so far (which could be up to 38,000 times), what would her risk of dying be?  I’d like to see one of those researchers calculate it and go tell her.  Maybe she’s like one of those cartoon characters who is invulnerable to the laws of physics because they don’t understand it.  🙂  Either way, whatever she’s doing has worked for her.

This breakfast platter from Tony's I-75 restaurant in Birch Run, MI, has 1 pound of bacon.

This breakfast platter from Tony’s I-75 restaurant in Birch Run, MI, has 1 pound of bacon.

I’m not claiming that all this research is bogus, but I think there’s a LOT more to it than just saying eating meat will kill you early.  I’ve known quite a few people — including my grandparents — who ate big country meals all the time (which included lots of butter, gravy, and fried foods), yet lived to be 90+ and still had above-average health.  I know that’s a small sample, but when you consider how Americans used to eat versus what we now “know” about nutrition, it’s amazing any of them lived past 25.  I’m not saying fattening foods are healthy, but I do wonder if natural / organic fattening foods might be healthier than much of the modern stuff with preservatives and additives and chemicals.  I can’t prove it, and I’m not convinced either way yet, but I do think there’s a lot more to nutrition and healthiness than we currently know.

Regardless of whether bacon is good for me or not, I’m now hungry for bacon…