Knitpicking

A science geek and knitter talks about random stuff.

Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

A Halloween Debunking

Posted by knitpicking on 31 October 2006

According to Costas Efthimiou, a physicist at the University of Central Florida, ghosts and vampires are a mathematical impossibility. Awww.

But luckily for people like Anne Rice, the general population is not easily swayed by facts with which they disagree.

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A Dubious Honor

Posted by knitpicking on 5 October 2006

It’s Nobel Prize time again, which means it’s also time to announce the winners of its less serious and more amusing cousin, the Ig Nobels. I’ll leave it to you to ponder the merits of this year’s recipients.

ORNITHOLOGY — The late Philip R.A. May and Ivan R. Schwab, for exploring and explaining why woodpeckers don’t get headaches.

NUTRITION — Wasmia Al-Houty and Faten Al-Mussalam, for showing that dung beetles are finicky about dung.

PEACE — Howard Stapleton, for inventing a teenager repellent, an electronic device that makes an annoying noise audible to teenagers but not adults.

ACOUSTICS — D. Lynn Halpern, Randolph Blake and James Hillenbrand, for their experiments on why people dislike the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.

MATHEMATICS — Nic Svenson and Piers Barnes, for calculating the number of photographs you must take to ensure nobody in a group photo has their eyes closed.

LITERATURE — Daniel Oppenheimer, for his report “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.”

MEDICINE — Francis M. Fesmire, for his medical case report “Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage”; and Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan and Arie Oliven for their subsequent medical case report.

PHYSICS — Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch, for their insights into why dry spaghetti often breaks into more than two pieces when bent.

CHEMISTRY — Antonio Mulet, Jose Javier Benedito, Jose Bon and
Carmen Rossello, for their study “Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature.”

BIOLOGY — Bart Knols and Ruurd de Jong, for showing that female malaria mosquitoes are attracted equally to the smell of Limburger cheese and to the smell of human feet.

The take-home lesson: you can research just about anything, but someone may make fun of it.

[Listening to: “The Pageant of the Bizarre” by Zero 7]

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When Worlds Collide, Pt. III

Posted by knitpicking on 13 March 2006

The amazing things you can find on the internet. Like an illusion-knitting pattern for a Linux scarf. I guess something’s gotta keep the necks of computer geeks warm and toasty.

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When Worlds Collide

Posted by knitpicking on 18 January 2006

This is what happens when science and crochet meet:

It’s a model of a Lorenz manifold done with crochet. Lorenz equations describe the nature of chaotic systems (or so I’m told). This model has 25,511 crochet stitches and took about 85 hours to complete. The thing is almost a meter high.

A project like that takes some dedication, or an excess of weirdness. But it looks really cool.

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Grabbing Some "Cosmic Booty"

Posted by knitpicking on 16 January 2006

I’m only posting this because I couldn’t resist the title.

It took them 7 years and untold amounts of money, but NASA scientists managed to get their hand on some dust from a comet (comet Wild-2, to be exact). Apparently, comet dust contains the explanation for life, the universe, and everything.

The scientists called it (and I am not making this up) “cosmic booty”, as if they’re some sort of space pirates. Or in some interstellar bar.

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