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Feb 24, 2010

World's biggest airplane graveyard

New high-resolution images from Google Earth reveal the size and extent of the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, where the United States Air Force sends their outdated and decommissioned planes to rest.

As reported by the Telegraph, "The Boneyard," as the location is known, covers 2,600 acres and houses over 4,200 military aircraft valued at roughly $35 billion dollars.

The location holds aircraft there for a variety of reasons. Some planes are held for long-term storage, some are scavenged for spare parts, some are held for short-term storage or sale, and others are later restored to flight status. The location has also been utilized by Hollywood as a set for movies such as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Feb 23, 2010

Why sky is blue?

The blue colour of sky is due to the scattering of light by small particles of the atmosphere (air molecules) when the light is incident on particles whose size is smaller than the wavelength of light, it is scattered.

According to Rayleigh law, the intensity of scattered light is inversely proportional to the fourth power of wavelength.

As the wavelength of blue colour is smallest and that of red light is longest, the blue light is scattered most and the red light is scattered least.

The scattered blue light reaching the eye gives the appearance of a blue sky. The sky will appear black in the absence of earth’s atmosphere because no scattering of any colour takes place in that case. While flying in an aeroplane one can observe the sky to be black at high altitudes.


Feb 22, 2010

The Jade Emperor

Prior to the introduction of Buddhism in the first century A.D., the deity was never represented in human form in China. But the native Taoists were quick to assimilate this new form of worship into their own. A Triad of Gods was created, the most important being the Pure August Jade Emperor, YĆ¼ Huang Shang Ti, who became so popular that the Buddhists in time also adopted him. Also known as Tien Kung, he is the supreme deity of folk religion. His rule was traditionally conceived of as equal to that of the reigning emperor of China. His concern is meting out justice to men through his subordinate deities. He is ultimately responsible for the deification of other gods, or for their dismissal from the pantheon.

The Jade Emperor dwelt in the Jade Castle of Abstraction, high above the earth and the thirty-three heavens, according to some accounts; or according to others, on the Mountain of Jade in the K'un Lun range. Here, on the shore of the Jade Lake, grew a Jade Tree, which measured three hundred arm lengths across and whose red jade fruit conferred the boon of eternal life.

On the Jade Emperor's birthday (the ninth day of the first lunar month), special sacrifices of pork, chicken, duck and occasionally goat are placed before his image. Although the emperor himself is considered a vegetarian, he is believed to feast with meat-eating friends. The emperor is usually depicted with two servants who hold fans above his head; in a few temples, he is flanked by civil and military aides. Images of the Jade Emperor normally show him seated in imperial robes, his flattopped crown notable for the short strings of pearls that dangle from the front. He holds a short, flat tablet in both hands before his chest. Historically, he did not come into prominence until the ninth century, considered late by Chinese historical standards.]

Feb 19, 2010

What Really Makes a Good Cell Phone Camera?

The great megapixel race may finally be slowing down in digital cameras, but it's picking up steam in cell phones.

If this sounds a little crazy, that's because it is, experts say. Few people need 12 megapixels, especially in a cell phone camera. The megapixel race has grown out of the megapixel myth, the false notion that a camera with higher resolution is always better. Manufacturers and retailers, eager to convince consumers that they need the latest camera and phone models, have pushed this faulty idea hard.

"By itself, the number of megapixels doesn't tell you anything about the quality of the image produced," said Steve Berardi, founder of "Sure, it will tell you how big the image is, but bigger doesn't always mean better quality."

For the average shutterbug, five or six megapixels is probably plenty of resolution. Beyond this level, various other camera characteristics, such as the size of the image sensor and optics quality, are more important than raw megapixels.

As with the early days of digital cameras, the quality of cell phone photos is improving. But higher megapixel counts are likely not the main reason why, Berardi told TechNewsDaily.

"It's probably because they're using better [image] sensors, or just larger ones."

Feb 14, 2010

Who was Saint Valentine?

Several tales have taken root as the cultural heart of Valentine's Day, most of which stem from the patron Saint Valentine.

One legend describes a priest named Valentine who lived during the third century in Rome. The Roman Emperor Claudius II was building up a military at the time and supposedly thought single men would make better soldiers. To build a stronger army, the emperor outlawed marriage for young men. Feeling this sweetheart ban was unjust, Valentine apparently performed secret marriage ceremonies. When found out, legend has it the love priest was put to death.

A slight twist to the tragic love story has the priest or bishop being publicly beheaded for refusing to denounce the name of Christ. His feast day was set as Feb. 14 by the Church to honor his heroic life.

Valentine's name was not associated with romantic and courtly love until the 14th century, when Geoffrey Chaucer incorporated St. Valentine’s Day into his love poem "The Parliament of Fowls," according to Philip Florio, assistant to the vice president of student life at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia.

The ensuing Valentine's Day has been linked with heroism and romantic love for centuries. Flowers, candies and syrupy-sweet cards help men and women profess their love for one another.

Feb 12, 2010

Is it safe to drink urine?

Short answer – yes. Long answer – probably, yes. There is nothing particularly dangerous about drinking your own urine and none of the compounds found in urine are going to kill you. In fact, some people regularly drink their urine for health, healing, and cosmetic purposes. This practice is known as Urine Therapy. Nasty crap if you ask me, but to each his own.

The safety of drinking it changes depending on the situation you’re in though. A normal person with a healthy intake of food and water every day is more than safe why downing a glass of their pee. This is because they have enough water in their body – mainly their kidneys – to dilute the urine and the compounds it contains.

But what about someone in an emergency or survival situation? Often, when you’re in a survival situation you’re dehydrated. If you’re thinking of drinking your own piss to stay alive, you damn well should be. When you’re dehydrated your urine is concentrated. The sodium content, which is already quite high, is even higher. This also means the other chemicals and any toxins your kidneys had filtered out are more concentrated.

When you drink your urine when you’re already dehydrated you’re introducing concentrated chemicals back into your body for your kidneys to filter again. You might get a very slight amount of hydration from doing it, but as the urine if cycled through your kidneys again and becomes even more concentrated it will quickly become more of a danger than a benefit to drink it.

Feb 8, 2010

Sea Serpent or Dragon?

The origin of sea serpent stories is quite literally based on sea serpents. The oarfish or scientifically known as Regalecus Glesne is a strange-looking fish. Its long body undulates like a snake, and can grow up to the length of 11 meters (36 feet) and weigh as much as 300 kilograms (660 pounds).

These deep water fish of the tropics and subtropics are rarely seen, and usually only dead or dying specimens are found washed ashore. In 1996, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs found an oarfish while training on Coronado Island off the coast of San Diego, southern California. It was 7.3 meters (24 feet) long and weighed 136 kilograms (300 pounds).

The distinctive red dorsal fins that the oarfish can raise like a bird's crest give it the dragonesque appearance that no doubt impressed ancient seafarers. They described their sightings of sea dragons and thereby contributed to the dragon lore of many cultures.

In Asia, due to its strong resemblance to the mytical creature, "Naga" or dragon, the fishermen believed that whoever caught the fish must return it back to the sea for fear of the Sea Naga King. They believed that bad luck will be bestowed upon them if they don't do so. It is said that this creature was seen beached before the Tsunami disaster happened back in 2004.

Feb 4, 2010

How did Bruce Lee die?

Following the untimely death of Bruce Lee, there were many rumors and speculations about the cause of his death. These rumors ranged from murder to drug overdose. None of which were true.

For the most part, the course of events on that fateful July day in 1973 can be pieced together. According to Lee's wife, Linda, Bruce met film producer Raymond Chow at 2 p.m. at home to discuss the making of Game of Death. They worked until 4 p.m., and then drove together to the home of Betty Tingpei, a Taiwanese actress who was to also have a leading role in the film. The three went over the script at Tingpei's home, and then Chow left to attend a dinner meeting.

A short time later, Lee complained of a headache and Tingpei gave him a tablet of Equagesic a kind of super apirin. Apart from that, Lee reportedly consumed nothing but a couple of soft drinks.

At around 7:30 p.m., Lee lay down for a nap and was still asleep when Chow called to ask why he and Tingpei had not yet shown up for dinner as planned. The actress told Chow she could not wake Lee. The ensuing autopsy found traces of cannabis in Lee's stomach, but the significance of this discovery is debatable. Some believe the cannabis caused a chemical reaction that led to the cerebral edema, but the coroner's inquiry refutes this theory. In fact, one doctor was quoted as saying that the cannabis being in Lee's stomach was "no more significant than if Bruce had drunk a cup of tea that day."

After a lengthy coroner's inquest in Hong Kong. A panel of medical experts eventually concluded that Bruce Lee had died from a hypersensitive reaction to a compound in the drug Equagesic. This hypersensitivity led to a swelling of the brain and resulted in Bruce Lee entering a deep coma from which he never awoke. The coroner declared himself satisfied with the finding, and so did Linda Lee, his wife.

Feb 2, 2010

Will eggs raise your cholesterol?

For more than 50 years, eggs have been called unhealthful because they are among the foods that contain the highest levels of cholesterol. However, in recent years eggs have been rehabilitated. In Bangkok, a team of researchers at Mahidol University showed that adding an egg a day to the diets of healthy people in Thailand raised the good HDL cholesterol that prevents heart attacks. It did not affect the bad LDL cholesterol or triglycerides.

Adding as many as three eggs per day to your diet will not raise cholesterol. More than 80 percent of the cholesterol in your body is manufactured by your liver, and less than 20 percent comes from the food you eat. When you eat more cholesterol, your liver makes less. When you eat less cholesterol, your liver makes more. However, if you add eggs you must subtract another equal source of calories, because increasing caloric intake will raise cholesterol. So this is not an invitation to eat an unlimited amount of eggs. The study supports other research showing that eggs in moderation are not harmful, and that up to one egg a day may have specific health benefits.

Feb 1, 2010

Why snow is white?

The reason we see snow in the first place is due to light. As snow falls through the atmosphere and lands on the ground, light is reflected off the surface of the ice crystals. Since the snow has multiple facets, some of the light is scattered.

Visible light from the sun is made up of a series of wavelengths of light on the electromagnetic spectrum that our eyes interpret as different colors. When light hits an object, different wavelengths of light are absorbed and some are reflected back to our eyes. To complicate matters, light passing through ice will not continue through the ice crystal without first changing directions or reflecting off an interior angle within the ice crystal.

No one really ever sees one snowflake at a time. Most of the time, we see huge collections of millions of snowflakes on the ground. As light hits the snow on the ground, there are so many locations for light to be reflected, that no single wavelength of light gets absorbed or reflected with any consistency. Most all of the white light from the sun hitting the snow will reflect back and still be white light. Therefore, snow on the ground appears white.

One other important point to remember is that snow is indeed tiny ice crystals. Ice itself is not transparent like the glass in a window, but translucent. Light does not pass through ice easily. Instead, it bounces around back and forth within the ice crystals. As the light inside an ice crystal bounces around off the interior surfaces, some light is reflected and other light is absorbed. With the millions of ice crystals in a layer of snow, all this bouncing, reflecting, and absorbing leads to a neutral ground. That means there is no preference to one side of the visible spectrum (red) or the other side (violet) to be absorbed or reflected. The sum total of all that bouncing leads to white.