Recent Posts

Dec 29, 2009

Record setting caves

World's largest cave - Hang Son Doong or Mountain River Cave.
Located in the heart of the Vietnamese jungle, the cave was first explored by a British team in earlier 2009. Measuring at 200 meters high, 150 meters high, and at least 4.5 kilometers long, it is believed to be almost twice the size of the current record holder, the Deer Cave in Sarawak, Malaysia, which is 100m high and 90m wide.

World's longest cave - Mammoth Cave.
Located near Cave City, Kentucky, the cave has more than 367 miles (591 kilometers) of explored passage but cave explorers believe the cave system will eventually prove to be 560 miles (900 km) long. This record is unlikely to be surpassed in the near future, as the second longest cave in the world, Optimisticeskay Cave, is only 143 miles (230 km) long.

World's deepest cave - Krubera Cave or Voronya Cave.
Located in Abkhazia, Georgia, the distance between the entrance point to the deepest explored point is about 2,191 meters. The cave remains the only cave on Earth deeper than 2,000 metres.

Dec 26, 2009

Why Cell Phone use is banned on Airplanes

It turns out that the ban on wireless devices has a lot more to do with possible interference for ground networks, rather than any danger posed to aircraft systems. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) banned in-flight use of most cell phones and wireless devices in 1991, citing the reason of ground network interference. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations uphold the FCC decision. But some airlines allow passengers to use cell phones in "airplane mode," which shuts off phone transmissions.

The FCC briefly considered lifting the in-flight ban on wireless devices, but eventually decided in 2007 to keep the current rules in place because there wasn't enough evidence to show whether in-flight wireless devices would cause harmful interference with ground networks. There also wasn't evidence demonstrating that the devices do cause interference, but the federal agency decided to play it safe.

Dec 24, 2009

Does Drinking Ice Water Burn Calories?

You have an 8-ounce glass of ice-cold water in front of you. That's about 240 grams of water.

When you drink the ice water, which is roughly 4 degrees Celsius, your body will expend calories to bring it to body temperature, which is about 37.5 degrees Celsius; that's a difference of 33.5 degrees. To raise 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius, 1 calorie is expended. (This is a "little" calorie - what scientists use to measure small units of energy. The calories we refer to colloquially are actually 1,000 of these and are known as kilocalories in the science world.)

Raising 240 grams of water by 33.5 degrees Celsius will take 33.5 calories x 240 grams of water, which equals 8,040 little calories.

Dividing 8,040 by 1,000 gives us 8.04 food calories (kilocalories). Therefore, you’ll burn about 8 calories for each glass of iced calorie-free beverage you drink. That's equal to about one Life Saver: not exactly a weight-loss miracle.

Using Clemens's figures, it would take about 435 8-ounce glasses of ice water to lose a pound.

Dec 22, 2009

The Tree Whisperer

Alex Erlandson, born in 1884 has a passion for sculpting trees, also known as arborsculpture. As a young boy, the Swedish born grew up becoming a bean farmer in Central California near Turlock. There, inspired when he noticed that trees of the same species would naturally "inosculate" or bond together where they touch, he began to shape trees. It started out as a hobby for the amusement of himself and his family but turned into his life's work as his tree creations brought more and more attention from the public. Using a special set of skills, Erlandson started to sculpt things out of living, growing trees.

In 1947, Erlandson opened his Santa Clara Valley attraction called "The Tree Circus" where locals and tourists could pay to see his “World's Strangest Trees” and by 1957, he had created more than 70 circus trees. Alex Erlandson died in 1964.

Today 25 of Axel Erlandson's trees are on display at Gilroy Garden, California and his first creation, the "Four Legged Giant" remains alive and well at the park, some 80 years after it was begun.

Unfortunately, Erlandson never shared his techniques. When people asked him how he created them, he simply said "he talked to the trees". Many believe he may have done just that.

Dec 19, 2009

Can blind people see in their dreams?

Most researchers believe that people who are blind from birth or who become blind in infancy do not see in their dreams. They do not retain visual imagery because it was never acquired in the first place.

However, those blinded in childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, or afterwards usually do see in their dreams. "They often retain visual imagery in their waking life and in their dreams," according to Drs Nancy Kerr of the Department of Psychology at Oglethorpe University and G. William Domhoff of the Department of Psychology at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

They write in the December 2004 issue of Dreaming that "individuals blinded before the age of about five report no visual imagery in dreams as adults, whereas those blinded after about the age of seven are likely to retain visual imagery in dreaming".

This conclusion is based upon four sleep laboratory studies conducted between 1966 and 1999. According to the Royal National Institute of the Blind in London: "Dreams are experienced in the same way as life is lived. If someone loses their sight, they will dream of events during the days when sight was available in visual terms. If dreams are about recent events when sight was not used, sensations will be in terms of sound, smell, texture, and so on." A person dreams as they live.

Dec 18, 2009

How to win a Nobel prize?

Winning a Nobel prize makes you the most honorable individual on the planet and can fetch you a big amount of money (USD1.5 million up to date and getting higher each year). If you want to be part of it, here's how.

Do something useful

You're more likely to get the nod if you can actually offer some evidence that your work actually matters. For example; global warming is big news at the moment so solving climate change or the forthcoming energy crisis should score you a few points. Incurable diseases are always a popular area.

Move to the U.S. and, if necessary, have a sex change
Statistic shows that you stand a better higher chance of of winning if you're an American. And a man. Prior to 2006, 758 individuals and 18 organizations have been honored by the Nobel Foundation and almost 300 of those recipients have been American. For women though the figures look even worse. There had been just 33 female winners since 1901.

Be a famous humanitarian
This is the obvious approach. It is also the hardest. The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Albert Schweitzer, who built hospitals in Africa; to Norman Borlaug, who developed high-yield strains of wheat; to Muhammed Yunus, who devised a new method of giving loans to low-income entrepreneurs; and to the Dalai Lama, who...actually, I'm not sure what the Dalai Lama does, but evidently it impresses a lot of people.

Bluff it
The key to Nobel success is that nobody should understand anything at all about what you do. Maybe you don't understand either, but that doesn't really matter. At the end of the day, all you have to do is convince somebody else that what you do is really important.

Start an international organization
Over the years, the Nobel Peace Prize has gone to Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, the UN's International Labor Organization, and the Red Cross. Gore himself will share his prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Dec 17, 2009

World's largest artwork

Etched onto the desert sands of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, this unique sand drawing is the world's largest single artwork with a total circumference of over nine miles. Big enough to contain over 176 Wembley Stadiums, the giant drawing is visible from 40,000 feet up in the sky, and has even been wowing airline passengers flying across the desert into San Francisco.

Taking 15 days to complete, Jim Denevan and a team of three colleagues worked day and night on the stunning piece in May of this year, which has a diameter of just over three miles.

Containing more than 1000 individual circles, Jim, 48, painstakingly built up the giant circle using a roll of chain fencing six feet across pulled by a truck round repeatedly to dig into the desert sand. Using GPS technology to organise their co-ordinates to create a perfect circle, the team braved the intense desert heat and night-time cold to construct their masterpiece.

Artist Jim has been creating sand art for the past 17 years and sees this piece as the next step in his ultimate plan to work with NASA to draw on the plains of Mars.

Click on the pictures for enlarged view.


Dec 15, 2009

What if an Asteroid hits the Earth?

What will Earth become if an asteroid as big as a mile-wide strikes the planet's surface at about 30,000 mph. An asteroid that big traveling at that speed has the energy roughly equal to a 1 million megaton bomb. It's very likely that an asteroid like this would wipe out most of the life on the planet.

It's difficult to imagine 1 million megatons, so let's try some smaller sizes. Let's say that an asteroid the size of a house crashed on Earth at 30,000 mph. It would have an amount of energy roughly equal to the bomb that fell on Hiroshima -- perhaps 20 kilotons. An asteroid like this would flatten reinforced concrete buildings up to half a mile from ground zero, and flatten wooden structures perhaps a mile and a half from ground zero. It would, in other words, do extensive damage to any city.

If the asteroid is as big as a 20-story building (200 feet on a side), it has an amount of energy equal to the largest nuclear bombs made today -- on the order of 25 to 50 megatons. An asteroid like this would flatten reinforced concrete buildings five miles from ground zero. It would completely destroy most major cities in the United States.

By the time you get up to a mile-wide asteroid, you are working in the 1 million megaton range. This asteroid has the energy that's 10 million times greater than the bomb that fell on Hiroshima. It's able to flatten everything for 100 to 200 miles out from ground zero. In other words, if a mile-wide asteroid were to directly hit New York City, the force of the impact probably would completely flatten every single thing from Washington D.C. to Boston, and would cause extensive damage perhaps 1,000 miles out -- that's as far away as Chicago. The amount of dust and debris thrown up into the atmosphere would block out the sun and cause most living things on the planet to perish. If an asteroid that big were to land in the ocean, it would cause massive tidal waves hundreds of feet high that would completely scrub the coastlines in the vicinity.

In other words, if an asteroid strikes Earth, it will be a really, really bad day no matter how big it is. If the asteroid is a mile in diameter, it's likely to wipe out life on the planet. Let's hope that doesn't happen anytime soon!


Dec 12, 2009

Why Toyota and not Toyoda?

Toyota Motor Corporation, Japan's largest car maker was founded by Kiichiro Toyoda but ever wonder why the company was named Toyota and not Toyoda?

Back in 1936, in anticipation for the launch for the Model AA, which was Toyota's first passenger car, Toyoda held a public competition to establish a new symbol mark to promote its vehicles. The company indicated that the new design should convey the feeling of speed. Twenty-seven thousand entrants answered the call and submitted their ideas to Toyoda. The winning design led to a change in the name of the automobiles and plants from "Toyoda" to "Toyota." The name change made the Japanese lettering more streamlined and was also chosen because the number of strokes to write Toyota in Japanese (eight) was thought to bring luck and prosperity. The sound of the word "Toyota" was also deemed more appealing.


Dec 11, 2009

How astronauts go to toilet in space?

The Shower
Smart astronauts take long thorough baths before taking off because there is no shower in the space shuttle! So astronauts have to wash themselves with wet washcloths, using soaps that do not need to be rinsed and they bring plenty of towels to dry themselves with. For privacy, they extend the curtain of the WCS (Waste Collection System), the toilet or bathroom.

Brushing Teeth
Expectorating or spitting in a near weightless environment is never a good idea and so dental consultants of NASA developed a foamless toothpaste that can be swallowed. It is called NASAdent and they are now available in the market. Astronauts who can not bring themselves to swallow the toothpaste, or who have brought their own favorite brands sometimes spit into a washcloth.

Toilet Use
Since there is no gravity to either hold a toilet bowl full of water in place or pull human wastes down, NASA had to develop a way to use air flow to make the urine or feces go where they wanted to. The toilet which can be used by either men or women is designed to be as similar as those on Earth except for some changes. Straps are in place to hold feet against the floor and over the thighs to make sure that the astronauts don't float away. seated. Since the system operates on a vacuum, the seat is designed so the astronaut's bottom can be perfectly flush to make a good seal.

Besides the main toilet bowl, there is a hose, which is utilized as a urinal by men and women. It can be used in a standing position or can be attached to the commode by a pivoting mounting bracket for use in a sitting position.

The human waste is separated and solid wastes are compressed and stored on-board, and then removed after landing. Waste water is vented to space, although future systems may recycle it. The air is filtered to remove odor and bacteria and then returned to the cabin.

Dec 7, 2009

Is it Wise to remove Wisdom tooth?

Wisdom tooth or third molar extraction is expensive, and recovering from the surgery is no easy feat, considering that pain, bleeding, swelling, infection and nerve injury are but a few of the complications. Still, removing wisdom teeth is recommended by many dentists to avoid the pain and periodontal disease that results from an impacted tooth. The surgery should be done during young adulthood, before the teeth attach to the jaw and become too difficult to extract.

In 2007, however, dentist Jay W. Friedman claimed in the American Journal of Public Health that at least two-thirds of wisdom tooth extractions are unnecessary. He and some other dentists argue that these teeth will come in at the proper position and cause no trouble. These dentists say that instead of simply doing preventative removals for most young people, we should only remove wisdom teeth that are impacted. Other dentists say that these teeth are still difficult to clean and should be removed.


Dec 5, 2009

World's Smallest Snowman

He is just 0.01 mm across and measures about a fifth of the width of a human hair — the world’s smallest ‘snowman’ can be found in a British laboratory.

Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in West London have created the smallest ever miniature figure from two tin beads, usually used to calibrate electron microscope lenses, which were welded together with platinum.

A focused ion beam was used to carve the snowman’s eyes and smile, and to deposit a tiny blob of platinum for the nose, The Telegraph reported.

It was put together by Dr David Cox, a member of the Quantum Detection group at the laboratory, who also took the picture.

However, Britons searching for the real thing will have to head for the northern hills of Scotland, where forecasters say there is a chance of snow falling over the weekend.

The NPL is one of Britain’s leading science facilities and research centres. It is a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate measurement.


Dec 4, 2009

Can You See the Great Wall of China from Space?

This is a popular myth - the Great Wall of China is the only human structure that can be seen from space. Well, it's not true. The reality is that you can't easily see the wall from space with the naked eye.

In fact, China's first astronaut, Yang Liwei, went into space, said that he couldn't see the structure of the wall from out his capsule window.

NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao attempted to photograph the Great Wall of China from out his window on the International Space Station. He photographed a region of Inner Mongolia, about 200 miles north of Beijing. Chiao and NASA believe they can identify parts of the Great Wall in his photograph, but it's not easy to see.

The ancient pyramids at Giza are easy to see out the window of the International Space Station, however.

This myth goes even further, though. People somehow think that the Great Wall of China can be seen from the Moon. The Apollo astronauts confirmed that you can't see the Great Wall of China from the Moon. The best you can see is the white and blue marble of our home planet.

For more details:

Dec 3, 2009

Brothers living in cave inherit $6.6 billion

Zsolt and Geza Peladi and a sister who lives in the US are each to receive a share of a $6.6 billion inheritance. The broke brothers living in a cave on the outskirts of Budapest, Hungary and selling scrap for pennies are now on the verge of inheriting their grandmother’s fortune. Their maternal grandmother died recently in Germany, entitling the pair to a share of her estate.

"We knew our mother came from a wealthy family but she was a difficult person and severed ties with them. She later abandoned us and we lost touch with her and our father until she eventually died", said 43-year-old Geza.

"If this all works out it will certainly make up for the life we have had until now – all we really had was each other. No women would look at us, living in a cave. But with money maybe we can find a partner and finally have a normal life.

Details of the wealthy grandmother have been kept secret to deter fraudsters.


Dec 1, 2009

Why bugs are attracted to lights?

Many insects are attracted to light, and some fly right into the light itself. Moths commonly hover around lights and are active at night. This attraction to light is a response called phototaxis.

When insects fly at night they use light sources such as the moon for navigation. Light from a distant source reaches both eyes with the same intensity. This enables the insect to fly in a straight line with both wings beating at the same rate.

If the light is from a closer source such as a candle or lantern, it changes the insect's perception. The light is perceived stronger in one eye than in the other eye. This causes the wing on one side to move faster. The insect then approaches the light in a spiral path, eventually drawing it into the light itself.

One good way to know if an insect is nocturnal is to look at their antennae. Insects with poor eyesight have longer antennae. Many varieties of beetles have poor eyesight. They use their antennae to move around safely at night.