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Posts Tagged ‘science’

How many times have you been at a bowling alley, ready to throw your next shot, perhaps a strike or two away from a perfect game (or just hoping not to throw ANOTHER gutter ball,) and suddenly it hits you?

“This ball stinks!”

I mean seriously.  When was the last time it bathed?  I have a bowling towel to wipe the excess oil from the lane, but that hardly counts as a good cleaning.

Somewhere, at some time, someone had too much time on their hands.  Or too much to drink.  And they thought to themselves, “why don’t we make scented bowling balls?”

I.  Kid.  You.  Not.

My kids bought me a Storm bowling ball for Christmas.  The box said fragrance: Caramel Pecan.  WTF?

NewBowlingBall

 

It really does have a scent.  It was making me hungry–like a huge piece of caramel candy.  I think I gained 15 pounds!  But who needs (or wants) a fragrant bowling ball?  And just what was wrong with the way my balls smelled before?

I promptly Googled this shit to see if it was real.

Aromatic Bowling.

Competitors dismiss Bill Chrisman’s scented bowling balls as a “novelty,” but he believes there’s more to his success than that, reports Jonathan Eig in The Wall Street Journal. Bill’s balls — marketed by Storm Products, Inc., stormbowling.com, of Brigham City, Utah — smell of peppermint, spearmint, orange, blueberry, amaretto, banana, cinnamon-apple, and pina colada, for instance. Bill’s been making the aromatic balls for about four years now, to a point where his brand is to the market leader in high-end bowling balls, ahead of Brunswick. (You might think Brunswick and the other ball-makers would be rushing scented balls to market. Storm does not officially claim that its aromas affect performance, but the company’s technical director, Steve Koempken, “says the aromatic liquid chemicals added to the vats of urethane had the unintended effect of increasing the tackiness or friction of the surface area, which resulted in a tiny bit of extra hook.” Not only that, but some customers report that the fragrances have the dual effect of relaxing them while distracting their opponents.

I am stunned.  Speechless (but I can still type.)  How does the chemical selectively relax one person but annoy another?  Technology is simply fantastic.

Do the chemicals act like pheromones?  Will my ball be attracting other balls?  What do the pins think about this?  So many questions; so little interest in answering them.

I wonder if they will start adding fragrances to running shoes.  Now that would be a great idea!

SniffingBall

I smell a 300 game in my future!

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So I was having lunch the other day with my son at Longhorn Steakhouse. Everything seemed to be normal.  I ordinarily don’t “do lunch” but I had the afternoon off due to a quirk in scheduling, and my son was home from college.  So we did what any two normal men would do when we were hungry.  We went out to eat.  (Ordering pizza could have been an answer as well–you can give yourself a point if you thought that was what I was going to say.  Either way, WE WERE NOT COOKING.)

But as I unwrapped my silverware from the napkin, I crossed over into the Twilight Zone.  (cue music)

My knife and fork had some kind of strange attraction for each other.  They were difficult to separate.  At first, I suspected they may have been glued together by dried food, and while that may be gross to consider, it would help explain why I could drag my fork around my plate using my knife.

The utensils appeared to be magnetized!

Not me, and not Longhorn Steak House.  But you get the idea.

Not me, and not Longhorn Steak House. But you get the idea.

It does not take much to amuse me, nor does it take much to send my mind wandering off to left field.  Better grab a Snickers . . . we may be here for awhile.

Why are my utensils magnetic?  Even the steak knife that arrived with my meal could perform these feats of magnetic prestidigitation.  I have eaten out quite a bit in my life, and I have never noticed this phenomenon before.

Is this restaurant located on top of some weird magnetic vortex in the earth?

Is there an alien ship buried beneath this restaurant?

Is there a convergence of the Force here?

I sense something, a presence I’ve not felt since… the last time I was in the presence of my old master.

Does anyone else see this?  Is it the silverware . . . or me?

What kind of black magic is this?!?!

My curiosity could not be controlled, and ultimately, I had to ask the waitress when she brought our check.  Her answer, though, was rather anti-climatic and extraordinarily mundane.  There was no vortex.  No alien spacecraft.  Darth Vader has not been here.  I believe he prefers Texas Roadhouse anyway, but don’t quote me on that.

Instead, the restaurant uses magnetized silverware and special garbage can lids that are magnetic to prevent their precious utensils from being accidentally thrown away.

A magnetic vortex or aliens would have been more fun!

A magnetic vortex or aliens would have been more fun!

Alas, I have violated the first rule of magicians . . . never reveal your secret!

But now you know!  (Don’t tell anyone!)

And if you already knew this . . .

DarthVader

 

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I’m sorry, but I thought this was just too funny not to share.  Apparently, the ad is so popular over in the UK and Ireland, that folks call in to find out when they are airing it.

Or, your could look it up on YouTube.  The tag line reads:

Science, flies people to the moon. Religion, flies people into buildings.  Volkswagen=Solution for terrorism.

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There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering Ker-splat!

Delays.  Delays.

Apparently, we will have to wait until Sunday for Felix Baumgartner (Oscar Madison’s finicky roommate in The Odd Couple–oh, wait, that was Felix Unger) to make his historic (and perhaps final) jump from the edge of space, 23 miles above the Earth.

According to Yahoo News:

An Austrian daredevil will attempt to break the world record for highest-ever skydive today (Oct. 9), leaping from a balloon nearly 23 miles above southeastern New Mexico.

If all goes according to plan, Felix Baumgartner will plummet to Earth from an altitude of 120,000 feet (36,576 meters) this morning, becoming the first skydiver to break the sound barrier during his 5.5-minute freefall.

He should also notch a few other records in the process, including longest-duration freefall and highest manned balloon flight, say officials with his mission, which is called Red Bull Stratos.

The action should begin in earnest around dawn New Mexico time, when Red Bull Stratos’ 55-story balloon is slated to lift off from Roswell. Over the course of about three hours, the balloon will lift Baumgartner — riding in a custom-built 2,900-pound (1,315 kilograms) capsule — up to the desired altitude.

Clad in a special pressurized suit, Baumgartner will then step out into the void, enduring unprecedented speeds as he hurtles through the stratosphere in freefall. He should deploy his parachute at an altitude of about 5,000 feet (1,500 m), then float safely to the desert floor.

The daredevil is aiming to break a skydiving mark that has stood since U.S. Air Force Capt. Joe Kittinger leapt from 102,800 feet (31,333 m) back in 1960. Kittinger serves as an adviser to Baumgartner’s mission.

Kittinger apparently fell or was pushed out of a plane in 1960.  This is his attempt to get revenge.  Mr. Baumgartner plans to do this of his own free will.

Alas, the suicide attempt mission was postponed due to high winds.  If the winds shifted, he might end up in Oz.

Seriously?  What would possess a man to step out of a capsule in space and “plummet” back to earth 23 miles–almost a marathon distance–in 5.5 minutes?  You couldn’t pay me enough just to go up in that balloon, let alone jump off when the earth is but a tiny marble below.  Well, maybe you could.  Make me an offer.  But start with eight figures.

Don’t things burn up coming into Earth’s atmosphere?  Got asbestos?

Houston . . . I am a problem.

I would definitely need a toilet in that capsule–there’s no way my aging bladder and a pitcher of beer (and you can bet I’d need me some of that stuff or stronger before I’d accidentally get on board this mission) would last three hours under that balloon.

If he exceeds the speed of sound, he will splat down before his screams reach the ground, correct?

A balloon?  Seriously?  Were all the giant sling shots in use?

Able to leap the Statue of Liberty in a single balloon.

How in the wide, wide, world of sports does he figure he can leap 23 miles above the Earth, and land back in Roswell, New Mexico?  Just because the aliens can do it, doesn’t mean he can.  What if he makes that left turn at Albuquerque?  Or gets hit by a jet plane on the way down.  That would suck, wouldn’t it?

Come Sunday, I’m going to grab me a can of Red Bull and some popcorn, and eagerly await this splat down!

Of course, this gives new meaning to Red Bull’s slogan, Red Bull Gives you Wings.

Angel wings!

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A faith is a necessity to a man. Woe to him who believes in nothing.
Victor Hugo

Just an accident waiting to happen?

Recent events have caused me to become reflective.  We got a new mirror.  But that’s not the reflectivity of which I am alluding.

In the course of browsing blogs on WordPress, I came across two by professed atheists, or at least ones who lost their faith, so to speak.  One is a mechanical/aerospace engineer in training, writing on the Blazing Truth, while another atheist is going to read the Bible over the next year and report her thoughts on what she read.  So far she has finished Genesis 1-3.

Pretty strange undertaking for an atheist, no?

Despite not taking a word in this book as truth, I think it is important that I know what it contains nonetheless.

But neither of these blogs, or the countless others you can read under “religion” (2734 recent posts that were tagged as such at the time I type this) is the sole impetus for this entry.

A fellow blogger left me a message on my ABOUT page, asking that I give more detail about what my blog is, er, about.  I actually thought the ABOUT page was information about me, more so than my blog, but after careful consideration, I can see his point.  I’ll put updating the ABOUT page on my To Do list.

But that did get me thinking, what is this blog about?

Your guess is as good as mine.

So far I have written about my dogs, cataract surgery, on-line games, The Rapture, The Rapture that didn’t Capture, Satan reading my blog, having my toenails removed surgically, Adidas Climacool running shoes, my hometown of Altoona selling out its name to a movie, and dog poop.  Almost all of these are written tongue in cheek and hopefully, my readers find the humor in these posts.  That was intentional.  Whether I achieved that or not is up for debate.  I still have not been FRESHLY PRESSED.  I wrote about that too!

So this post will migrate away from being primarily humorous, and will wax more philosophically.

Can one lose his/her faith?

Is there some celestial lost and found box for these poor souls?  But even that slightly amusing but not intentionally humorous question begets an even more critical one: do we have a soul?  I will leave that question for another day, because I want to concentrate on the topic introduced initially:  Faith.

For some background, I was raised in the United Methodist tradition.  I attended Sunday School, and I will be perfectly honest.  The only thing I really remember is not liking it.  I was there because my parents forced me.  Sure, I can recall tidbits of Bible stories I learned over the years:  Noah’s Flood, the Resurrection, Lazarus, the Prodigal Son, etc.  But I’d probably only score a C on a multiple choice test if I had to take one right now.

As I grew and presumably became smarter–graduating high school, college and then medical school–I increasingly became less religious, whatever that means.  Honestly, I stopped going to church, did not pray to God, and seriously questioned God’s existence.  I’m pretty sure I wrote a paper in college arguing in favor of evolution over the creation story.  I was a biology major after all.  I was immersed in the sciences and evolution fit into that paradigm more neatly than God.

One might argue that I lost my faith.

I would argue that I simply put my faith in something else.  Instead of God, I placed my faith in science.  In rational thought.  In proofs and experiments.  I want to point out that religion and rational thought are NOT mutually exclusive.  But whereas religion uses unseen beings (God, angels) to explain solutions, science never resorts to unseen and unexplainable things.  Like gravity.  Science demands proof.  For the most part, religious faith is in spite of proof.  Science rationalizes its unexplained phenomena as theories.  Religion calls them tenets or creeds.  Tomato, to-mah-to.

Atheists have not lost faith–just faith in God; their faith is in what they can see and measure.  They still have faith–just not religious faith.

If you believe in nothing, then your faith is in nothing.

You may not have faith in God.  You may not have faith in science.  You may not have faith in anything.  But you believe something, even if it is nothing.  Your faith is in what you believe.  You may be confused about what exactly you believe, but that is not a lack of faith or lost faith.  Having beliefs–faith–separates us, I believe, from other living organisms.  I doubt very much that celery believes in anything.  It might believe it is a food, but it not only has no calories, but we actually expend more energy chewing it than it contains.  It has negative calories.  It is certainly NOT a food, no matter what the stalk thinks of itself.  But I digress.

Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof.
Khalil Gibran

After meeting and marrying my wife, I became religious again.  (I changed my beliefs, I attend church on a more or less regular basis and I pray everyday.)  That is in large part due to her, but also to my own maturation.  I discovered that my faith in science left me unfulfilled.  Something was missing.  While evolution certainly occurs, can it really explain how I came to be here today typing this blog entry?

I think not.

Science has yet to adequately explain how life arose in the first place.  Every thing that is alive today came from pre-existing life.  Science has never been able to produce life in a test tube–without using pre-existing life.  Miller showed that inorganic chemicals under the proper circumstances can produce organic chemicals like amino acids, the basic building blocks of life.  But that is not creating life.  That is like manufacturing a piston and claiming you have made a car.  We can manufacture proteins and enzymes.  We cannot create living cells without using pre-existing cells.

Note:  Once you have the first cell, then I can buy the whole evolution thing.  But it is getting to that first lowly cell that seems to be a problem for science.

Just because science cannot explain or replicate the origin of life doesn’t mean that one must evoke a supernatural entity.  But in the final analysis, whether you believe the universe was formed by a Big Bang and life arose by the random chance of molecules combining to form complex cells, or whether a divine creator is responsible for all this is moot.  Either way, you must take the final product on faith.  Neither side has definitive proof.

Likewise it is with death.  Science simply defines death as the cessation of life.  We can measure it medically in terms of brain waves and EKGs.  We can see the body degrade after death.  But what actually makes an individual cell die?  Obviously a lack of oxygen or nutrients is one answer.  When the heart stops pumping, cells throughout the body die.  One can be brain-dead, but the rest of the body can be kept “alive” indefinitely through mechanical and artificial means.

But if you take one cell out of the body that has died, and ask yourself how is it different from one that was alive only moments before, science is hard pressed to answer that question.  Proteins denature.  Chemical bonds are broken.  Cell membranes break down.  Yada. Yada.  Yada.  These are merely descriptions.  They do not answer the fundamental question of why it happened in the first place.  It is almost a chicken and egg conundrum, but not quite since obviously life came first and then death.  But which can be answered first is the heart of that issue.  Why does life begin is as important a question as how does it end.

Again, it is not necessary to ascribe some soul or life force to the cell which makes it living when it is present and non-living when it isn’t, but there is certainly something special about life such that only other life can produce it, and once it is gone, the processes of degradation and decay take over.

For myself, I believe in a Creator.  God.  I am a Christian and I believe in Jesus Christ.  I don’t believe so because I can prove it.  I can’t.  I believe because I have faith.  One of the things that sways me most about the Bible is how the disciples reacted after Christ’s death and resurrection.  This was a rag-tag band of basically uneducated men–manual laborers not priests–who when the chips were down all deserted Christ.  Peter denied Him thrice.  Yet, after the resurrection, this group went out and spread Christianity in a world that was not terribly receptive to them.  Most of them died–were painfully martyred–for their beliefs.  What did they witness that gave them that kind of resolve?  Before his death, they ran scared and lied to protect themselves.  Then, something changed and now they were willing to die for this cause.

Was it mass hypnosis, like the Hale-Bop followers?  Did they drink the Kool Aid?  Or did they suddenly find their faith?

For me, I believe they witnessed the risen Lord and it changed their lives.

But have faith, if you don’t want to believe in that, you can still take faith in that.

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And no one will get fat.

According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (motto: You can’t read that from here!) Potato Chips make you fat.

I know!  Who would have thought?!  Thank heavens for science!

Weight problems are epidemic. Two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese.  Childhood obesity has tripled in the past three decades. Pounds often are packed on gradually over decades, and many people struggle to limit weight gain without realizing what’s causing it.
The new study finds food choices are key. The message: Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Cut back on potatoes, red meat, sweets and soda.
Potato chips were the biggest dietary offender. Each daily serving containing 1 ounce (about 15 chips and 160 calories) led to a 1.69-pound uptick over four years. That’s compared to sweets and desserts, which added 0.41 pound.
The study looked at data on a 120,877 people.  I could have told you chips weren’t good for you, and it would have taken a lot less time.  Chips in general are not healthy:  chocolate chips, cow chips, poker chips.

GPS: Gastronomic Preference System

Seriously!  The problem with American Obesity isn’t that we don’t know that we should be eating fruits and vegetables and whole grains and nuts.  We don’t need a stupid multi-colored plate to tell us that.  We know that.  What we lack is the capacity and will-power to do something about it.

What we need is a study that shows us how to avoid pulling into Kentucky Fried Chicken or Wendy’s.  I eat at McDonald’s.  I don’t for a minute delude myself that this healthy.  I still eat it.  It’s not the fast food industry’s fault.  If they made healthy food, we wouldn’t buy it.  It doesn’t taste good.

What we need is a study to make vegetables taste like chocolate (without actually dipping them in chocolate or adding the calories of chocolate.)

What we need is a health food GPS system.  A Gastronomic Preference System.

When you enter Burger King’s parking lot, it tells you to make a U-turn when possible.

When you head down the ice cream aisle, it starts recalculating.

When you reach for the white bread, it tells you your destination of wheat bread is ahead on the right.

But even that would probably fail.  (Like you never got lost with a GPS system!)  What we really need is shock therapy.

Maybe the electric company would underwrite that research.

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Udderly Ridiculous

How do you even categorize news like this?  A sign of the apocolypse?  Stupid Human Tricks?

In case this tantalizing tidbit of technological transcendence has eluded your perusal, I am talking about the announcement that scientists have genetically modified COWS to produce HUMAN MILK, as you can read about in this article by Richard Gray, Science Correspondent.

The milk tastes stronger than normal milk.

Really?  I don’t remember.

Seriously, they have created around 300 of these animals to produce human breast milk.  Isn’t science wonderful?  Always pushing the envelope, breaking down barriers, answering unanswerable questions.

Like WHY?

They hope genetically modified dairy products from herds of similar cows could be sold in supermarkets.

Well there’s the answer:  MONEY.

But just who is the target consumer?  Babies?  Most don’t have disposable income; just disposable diapers.  What kind of mother is going to buy this, this, this . . . . MILK, and feed it to her baby?  What baby is going to choose to feed itself this way?

China is now leading the way in research on genetically modified food and the rules on the technology are more relaxed than those in place in Europe.

That makes me feel better.  With quality like that we can expect the milk to be high in formaldehyde, arsenic, and lead and as well.

“The modified bovine milk is a possible substitute for human milk. It fulfilled the conception of humanising the bovine milk.”

There are horror movies with weaker plots than this.

The researchers also insist having antimicrobial proteins in the cows milk can also be good for the animals by helping to reduce infections of their udders.

I am going to assume that this is a big problem for cows, probably right up there with mad cow disease.  Angry Udder Discharge.

Offspring of cloned animals often suffer health and welfare problems, so this would be a grave concern.

Health and welfare problems?  Loss of  insurance?  Will these cows  have to find jobs instead of getting their monthly checks?

Regardless of the ethical issues, I think it is quite clear that these genes still make the cows look fat.

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