Wikipedia:Reference desk archive/Science/2006 August 23

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Physicians[edit]

I would like to see a sub cat. for Physicians of color and/or Contributors to Sci. from men or women of color. I am thinking of writing a book on the subject and it would help me alot.--Ghost writer 00:42, 23 August 2006 (UTC)Ghost writer 01:37, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_talk:Physicians"

Unfortunately, our category system has rejected the notion of binary (yes/no) data in favor of complex, combined categories. If physicians were characterized by race, sex, nationality, etc., you could select out what you needed (the equivalent of a database "and" query), while at present unless there is an exact category that corresponds to your query, you are out of luck. (And if you want to know what sex someone is, you generally won't find out from the categories.) In order to find out if Christian Baarnard is a physician, you would have to look for "South African surgeons", and you will not find his ethnicity or race mentioned anywhere: not terribly useful. - Nunh-huh 04:44, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Simulating zero 'g' in the vomit comet[edit]

When astronauts train for zero 'g' activities, I believe they use what is amusingly called the vomit comet. This plane apparently does parabolic arcs to achieve the zero gravity. Why does it need to be a parabolic arc? Couldnt they just do a steep dive?--Light current 01:49, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes, but pulling out of a steep dive causes multiple g forces, which are unpleasant at the least and quite possibly dangerous. Astronauts do train under multiple g forces on the ground, using essentially a large centrifuge. There they can be monitored closely so the tests can be stopped and medical attention given immediately, if needed. StuRat 01:57, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

So how does this parabolic thing work/--Light current 02:03, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

  • I found this here; a deeper web search might find more complete "how it works" (like, what's the physics that makes the parabola cause the zero net gravity thing?) Or, I guess it might be here on Wikipedia somewhere.

To create the maximum period of weightlessness, the aircraft is accelerated to maximum speed just prior to the start of parabolic flight. Its nose is then pulled up suddenly and the engines power is lowered to allow the aircraft to follow a parabolic trajectory. To ensure safe recovery of normal flight, the engines power is increased before the nose is oriented below 40 degrees, and the nose is pulled up to resume normal flight. This action is repeated.

--jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 02:17, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Let's presume the goal of "zero g" is that an unattached object remains motionless with respect to the airplane cabin. That suggests two key conditions: the plane is moving vertically to match free-fall (accelerating down at a rate equal to gravity) and the plane is moving horizontally at a constant rate. From a given starting point and assuming an initial non-zero horizontal motion, the graph of those conditions over time is a parabola, same as any object in free-fall. The logical extreme--no horizontal motion--is going straight down, but there's no need to do that, and during the time you're pitching forward to go from "flying straight across" to "flying straight down", you're not floating, and you're wasting precious altitude. DMacks 02:20, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
It's quite simple. In order you to experience "zero g", you must be in free fall. In other words, the plane must be falling at the same rate as you would be without the plane (not counting air resistance, from which you are sheltered in the plane). That is, during the dives, you are falling as if the plane didn't exist. Luckily for you, at the end of the dive, the plane does exist, and it can gently bring you out of free fall (or not so gently, as its name suggests). As for the parabolic path, it's just a complicated way of looking at the fact that the plane must be accelerating downward at a constant rate, and going in the transverse direction with zero acceleration - just like you. You are falling with a constant acceleration downward, and traveling transversely at some constant velocity (i.e. with zero transverse acceleration). --Bmk 02:30, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes both the above are perfect answers. And I see it now . THanks!--Light current 02:34, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Not quite right. The above answers imply that you must be diving to experience free fall. This isn't correct. You can be in free fall while climbing. It's just that your rate of climb must decrease as you climb at roughly 32'/sec/sec. This will happen as you enter the rising part of the parabolic path with engines off.Bunthorne 05:04, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

ICP-AES safety[edit]

Is there any danger associated with direct exposure to the plasma from an ICP-AES? (Excluding the RF from the coil.) Maybe X-rays or charged particles? JohnDoe9

What is an ICP-AES?--Light current 02:03, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Why not take a look at ICP-AES? --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 02:11, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I would think the plasma might be hot!--Light current 02:35, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
would have thought this was a bit of a no-brainer if you were in a position to know about ICP-based methods. 1)enormous voltage 2) enormous temperature 3) enormous RF fields... given the ICP device can create large populations of excited individual atoms, and you're made of atoms, i think you'll work it out. Xcomradex 07:51, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Yeah perhaps John wanted us to get excited and jump up and down also!--Light current 15:31, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Giant Caterpillar?[edit]

On my fence today I saw what looks like a giant cocoon with a giant caterpillar in it, it's about 4 1/2 inches long and 2 inches wide, does anybody have any idea what it is? Thanks in advance. 69.179.103.177 01:56, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Was it hanging and did it have lots of little twigs in it? --liquidGhoul 02:13, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes, it was hanging, and No there were no twigs. 69.179.103.177 02:18, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

You'd probly have to upload a photo for anyone to know, also where do you live? --liquidGhoul 02:27, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Central Wisconsin, and I can't upload files because I don't have an account. 69.179.103.177 02:39, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Why not get one its dead easy, and free and confidential!--Light current 02:59, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

And give in to there fucking politics? No, thank you. 69.179.103.177 03:09, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't think I'm parsing your statement correctly - could you clarify that last? --Bmk 03:40, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

People Like Cyde Use wikipedia to hurt others, so I say fuck Cyde and Tony Sidaway. 69.179.103.177 04:04, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Now I'm curious. Who's Cyde? And Tony Sidaway? Did I miss something? 222.158.118.110 10:07, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
See User:Tony Sidaway, User:Cyde Weys--Light current 16:08, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Administrators. Some people can't handle the fact some try to uphold policy, but if you just upload a self-made picture to get a picture answered and follow the rules on the upload page you're very unlikely to even have to worry about policy. - Mgm|(talk) 11:10, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Oh, no I don't mind when people uphold policies, like when you blocked me I deserved it, but what I hate is when people twist those policies to hurt others, which I have seen far too many times. I tried to follow the rules and be a good little boy but that didn't work, I still was attacked by policies day and night. 69.179.103.177 12:39, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

How can policies actually attack anyone?--Light current 16:13, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Could it be Citheronia regalis? The caterpillar is rather large. --LambiamTalk 04:00, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
That caterpillar looks to be about 4.5 inches long, but only about 0.75 inches wide. Come to think of it, a 4.5 inch long caterpillar wouldn't be 2 inches wide, that's just not a normal caterpillar length/width ratio. The question poster might want to check the width dimension again. StuRat 06:02, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for treating me like an idiot. No it ís 2 inches wide. 69.179.103.177 12:39, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't think anyone is being treated badly here. This sounds like a very big... whatever it is. Is it possible that the width of the caterpillar has been somehow expanded due to the conditions within the cocoon you mentioned it was in? Perhaps it is wrapped up, or the outer layers of skin are being pushed outwards by what's inside. I can't say I remember hearing of or seeing a catepillar that's barely twice it's length either, so there must be some reason.  freshofftheufoΓΛĿЌ  16:48, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Grub
Maybe it's not a caterpillar, but something else, like a grub ? They have a width to length ratio closer to what we have here. StuRat 21:12, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Wow, now that's random. I'm just reading a random reference page and my name pops up. Am I that famous? Oh yeah, and this little anon troll is going to have a bit of trouble responding to any questions on here for .. oh ... 48 hours. --Cyde Weys 18:16, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

How can you smell a troll so quickly?--Light current 18:42, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for blocking me after I had already been blocked for it Cyde. Nice one. 69.179.111.218 17:53, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

human urine scents[edit]

when my urine has different aromas could it mean I have a vitamin deficiancy? And, if so what are they? ***Cole

I hesitate to ask but... what sort of aromas?--Light current 03:00, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
And how different? Different from other people? Different from day to day? Have you been eating asparagus? --LambiamTalk 04:04, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Some people have genes that make you metabolize and excrete in the urine some of the compounds in asparagus that are not normally treated as such. Something like 30% of people fall in this category. I think heritage has to do with it. — [Mac Davis] (talk)
There are (at least) two issues involved in "asparagus urine": the ability to produce/excrete methyl mercaptan, which gives the urine the aroma, present in about 40% of the population, and the ability to smell methyl mercaptan, also present in about 40% of the population (but not necessarily the same people: there's no relation between the ability to produce and the ability to smell). So there are 4 basic groups of people: those who excrete methyl mercaptan, and smell it; those who excrete methyl mercaptan, and don't smell it; those who don't excrete methyl mercaptan, and wouldn't have smelled it anyway, and those who don't excrete methyl mercaptan, but can smell it in other people's urine.

I've noticed 2 odors in addition to asparagus:

1) Sweet odor: seems to result from eating too much sugar.

2) Bacon odor: I believe this is the smell you get when protein is broken down to amino acids, either in the frying pan or the human body. So, this is sign that I've eaten too much protein.

StuRat 05:52, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

If that sweet smell's due to sugar, I'd get a test for diabetes--Light current 06:03, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I may well be pre-diabetic, since my Dad is diabetic and my brother is pre-diabetic. I don't notice that smell normally, only when I eat more sugar than my body can handle. So, the moral is to take it easy on the sugar, and hopefully delay, or even prevent, the onset of diabetes. StuRat 06:08, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
About a year ago I decided that eating fish every now and then would be a good addition to my normal diet. Recently, my urine has started to smell fishy every now and then. Before anyone asks, no, I'm not turning into a woman. DirkvdM 09:57, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
You might want to try eating a less smelly fish. Tilapia, for example, doesn't stink nearly as much as salmon. StuRat 21:01, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I prefer herring (not red like salmon), a Dutch delicacy and one of the more nutritious fish, I've heard. DirkvdM 09:04, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Do you go around smelling womens urine? Is that the latest fetish? THats a new one on me 8-)--Light current 15:14, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

That proves this question is a fishy business... - Mgm|(talk) 11:07, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

You can buy a bottle of urine test strips at any pharmacy, which allow you to test for sugar in urine. You can also get strips which test for ketones, another chemical sometimes found in urine of diabetics. Various kidney conditions can result in protein in urine. You doctor can order acccurate urinalysis and remove all doubts. Edison 14:52, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

You cannot diagnose diabetes on a urine test. You need a blood test to diagnose diabetes mellitus. - Cybergoth 13:11, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Strong smelling spicy foods can make the urine smell a bit. I dont notice it normally because:
  1. I dont eat much spicy food
  2. My sense of smell is not that great now
  3. I dilute any food with lots of liquid--Light current 15:16, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Mmm... grass[edit]

From an evolutionary perspective, why can't humans eat grass? ("Because we are descended from animals that couldn't eat grass" is not a sufficient answer.) BenC7 03:11, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

We dont have the stomach(s) for it--Light current 03:27, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Because our ancestors didn't need to. Grasses are tough and not especially nutritious, so it was much more efficient to simply eat something else. – ClockworkSoul 04:44, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Actually, the appendix, which is now a vestigial organ, is believed by many to be the remnant of a more developed organ (in conjunction with the cecum) which was able to digest plant matter, or cellulose. Today we are unable to digest cellulose, but as evidence may suggest, our ancestors may have indeed been able to digest cellulose. - R_Lee_E Flag of the United States.svg (talk, contribs) 04:59, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

What are you talking about? We eat grass all the time. Er, the small portion of grass which we call rice. Ohanian 05:23, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
According to the latest "Awake!" magazine, the appendix is no longer considered a vestigal organ. Explain that! Aaadddaaammm 08:18, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Digesting grass takes quite an effort; ruminants like cows have up to 4 stomachs and must eat constantly to survive. That's just not our ecological niche. From an evolutionary perspective, the cost of being able to digest grass isn't worth the benefit, especially as we are capable of finding/growing/raising many other more easily digested foods. StuRat 05:44, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

When you say upto 4 stomachs, does that mean some cows have fewer?--Light current 05:58, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, I guess you could say it is between one and four? Cattle have one stomach, with four compartments: rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. — [Mac Davis] (talk)
Yes, that's what I meant: the question of how you define "stomach" can make the number a cow has 1 or 4. StuRat 06:13, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
The question is, when they chew the cud, how do they know which compartment to send it to?--Light current 06:06, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Animals much smaller than cows, like chickens, can also eat grass, as can various arthropods. So I don't buy the explanation that the cost isn't worth the benefit, if animals smaller and simpler than us can do it. If, as R_Lee_E said, our ancestors could, what fitness improvement would there be in losing the ability? Clearly the ability to eat grass would offer a survivial advantage, because if there was no food around, grass would at least keep you alive. BenC7 07:31, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Other animals may "eat" grass, but don't get much of any nutritional benefit from it. Cats, for example, seem to eat grass to induce vomiting when they have a furball. I've never heard of chickens eating grass, are you sure about they aren't just eating bugs in the grass ? StuRat 07:39, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Bamboo is grass, and bamboo shoots are edible. As for that other type of grass, I prefer to smoke it. To eat it, you'd first have to cook it. Having said that, I now wonder if lawn-grass could be made edible by cooking it. Grass soup ayone? DirkvdM 10:03, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Eating grass takes a hell of a lot of energy, and doesn't give much back in return. You have to be continually eating and digesting to get enough nutrients and energy to survive from grass. So, if a human is to do something other than eat and breed (which they do), then they shouldn't be eating grass, they should eat meat. Also, the difference in the digestive tract of a herbivorous and a carnivorous mammal is huge, and there are problems associated with a herbivore eating meat. So, if humans had adapted to eat grass, then we probably wouldn't be able to eat meat, and probably wouldn't have time to build society. --liquidGhoul 10:16, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
It's simple, kids. If we ate grass, we'd be competing with all the other animals that ate grass. It's much more efficient and productive for us to be competing for the animals who eat grass. Anchoress 16:21, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

If humans ate grass we'd be herbivores, and if we were that, we wouldn't have a lot of the traits that make us human today, including intelligence. All of the most intelligent animals are necessarily at the top or near the top of their food chains. See dolphins, humans, predator mammals, etc. Herbivores are generally dumb (like cows). Carnivores are generally smart (like cats). Can anyone come up with an animal that gets a non-trivial part of its diet from meat that also eats grass? Hrrmmm ... do elephants eat grass? For that matter, elephants might be herbivores, but they're more an exception than the rule. And they aren't as smart as people give them credit for. --Cyde Weys 18:14, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

"Herbivore" just means plant eater, and some of them, like the elephants mentioned, are pretty smart (elephants seem to recognize the bones of their dead, for example). I don't know if there is a "fillintheblankavore" name for an exclusive grass eater. They do tend to be rather stupid, however. StuRat 20:42, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
The word would be "graminivore"; in various dictionaries I only find the corresponding adjective "graminivorous". --LambiamTalk 00:00, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
And here I thought that was someone who had a diet of just graham crackers. :-) StuRat 01:28, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Us herbivores are not stupid. Apparently "Cows are individuals and all have their own characteristics. They are curious creatures" as well as "They are curious, clever animals who have been known to go to amazing lengths to escape from slaughterhouses."[1] "Stupid" doesn't seem to be in the correct place here. IolakanaT 20:54, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Cows are stupid. They may have personalities, I have cows that I love and others that are angry bastards, but that doesn't mean they are intelligent. Some, are also great escape artists (either they know how to jump, or know how to ram through fences) and getting out of a slaughter house is instinct because they just want to get back to their herd. I have pet frogs, and they have personality, but that doesn't mean they are intelligent. If I open the terrarium in the afternoon when the sun no longer reaches them, one of them will climb out and sit in the sun. Instinct doesn't equal intelligence, and character or personality is something humans use to relate to them. Again, it doesn't eqate to intelligence. --liquidGhoul 00:49, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
LiquidGhoul, please explain what you mean by "there are problems associated with a herbivore eating meat". Especially considering some animals are omnivorous. Like whales, for example. BenC7
I understand what people are saying about grass not providing much energy, yet it would provide a fitness advantage if we could at least eat it to stay alive. Especially considering that a lot of food needs to be grown before it can be eaten, being able to eat grass could at least prevent a person from dying of starvation. BenC7 03:29, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Sorry this took so long, I didn't notice you had replied. Omnivorous animals don't eat the same plants for energy as herbivores. Whales eat plankton, which are completely different to grasses and leaves. Humans are omnivores, and we eat fruit, nuts and roots (potatoes, carrot etc.). The cellulose we do eat is not digested, but used for other things, like keeping you regular ;). If a herbivore such as a cow eats meat, the meat is kept in a bacteria rich region of the digestive tract for a long time because the digestive tract is so long. If the bacteria present in the meat begins to build up, it will compete with the flora of the gut, and cause illness and bad digestion of food. Also, the teeth of an animal are very specialised towards their diet. Our teeth are omnivorous, but are badly designed for grass. We have molars, but they are small and don't grow back. They would be worn down too fast if we were to eat grass.
You must remember that although something would be convenient, doesn't mean it's going to evolve. It is much easier for a carnivore to further evolve carnivorous traits which make it more successful in its ecological niche, than to undergo the massive change in the digestive tract to change its ecological niche, or have a back-up plan of being able to eat grass. Humans are basically as generalist as possible. You need to become very specialist to eat certain foods such as grass. Why not eat heaps of dirt, absorb the nutrients, and crap the rest out like worms? That would be really convenient :) --liquidGhoul 15:25, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Think I would need some tomato sauce on my dirt. But I don't remember using the word "convenient". I am trying in my mind to reconcile the fact that humans being able to eat grass would not offer a sufficient fitness advantage (I'm sure some way could be found), but having hair in one's armpits is. BenC7 07:35, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
If there was a stomach which could digest meat, grasses, dirt, and everything else, then every animal would have it. That would be an innovation in evolutionary development that would spread pretty quickly. However, there is always a trade-off with these things. You choose one or the other (herbivore or carnivore), and if you choose both, you will be restricted on both sides of the scale. We can't eat rancid meat, yet carnivores can and we can't eat grass, yet herbivores can. Again, there would be a huge fitness advantage to being truely omnivorous, but it just hasn't evolved yet. It is too complicated for something so unneccesary. --liquidGhoul 09:13, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Unnecessary? People die of starvation by the thousands every day! BenC7 03:10, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
But our species has survived, and that is all that matters with evolution. --liquidGhoul 03:12, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

(clear indenting) Just to add on to my above statement. The world has far exceeded overpopulation of humans. When we evolved, we evolved in an area of Africa which had a lot of large animals for eating, and lots of fruit, vegetalbes etc. People also had few children, and fewer children which survived, so the population wasn't growing much. However, something happened which caused high reproductive success and high lifespans. The population density of humans in most areas is far too large, and this causes shortages in resources. It is called super-fecundidty, and has happened throughout the history of evolution, and usually must occur to populations for natural selection to occur. We would still have starvation problems if we could eat grass, there would be no grassland left in areas of high density. Humans, as a speices, don't understand sustainability. --liquidGhoul 04:46, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Discovery of Uranus and Pluto[edit]

Uranus and Pluto were both discovered on March 13. Did Pluto's discoverer (Clyde Tombaugh) wait until the 13th to announce his discovery, because he knew that it's the 149th anniversary of the discovery of Uranus? Or is March 13 simply a very lucky day? --Bowlhover 05:39, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

I think that 18 February 1930 is usually considered to be the date of the discovery of Pluto. That was when Tombaugh knew he had discovered something significant, even if he had to wait till 13 March for confirmation. JackofOz 05:49, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
The discovery was announced on March 13th by Slipher, the director of the observatory, but this was often mistaken at the time for the date of discovery - indeed, I've a book claiming Slipher himself discovered it that day. They needed to wait for confirmatory photographs, which explains a delay of about a month. Shimgray | talk | 09:32, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

I was going to say something about Uranus at this point.. but I think Ill leave it to StuRat.--Light current 05:55, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Please do tell us what you wanted to say about Uranus. --Bowlhover 06:05, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Its not important believe me.--Light current 06:07, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Well, since you're obviously waiting for my comment, here it is: "After you discover Uranus, be sure to wash your hands." :-) StuRat 06:10, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Yeah not bad! I thought if you can see Uranus, you must be some sort of contortionist 8-)--Light current 14:31, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

I must be seeing things that aren't there again, because I thought the title of the thread was 'discovery of Uranus ON Pluto', which really would be something. Anchoress 09:23, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

OTOH the discovery of Plato on Uranus would not be at all surprising! 8-) -Light current 15:18, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

I get the "joke". It's not funny. I really expected you guys to be more mature. --Bowlhover 19:23, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes youre quite right! Apologies. We are all only 14 after all! Seriously though, we do try to answer all questions to the best of our ability. You must not deny us our little bit of fun tho'. We dont get paid you know!--Light current 19:29, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

You're 14? Never knew that--I thought you guys were much older. Also, you can have a little fun, but let's try not to be disgusting. --Bowlhover 20:06, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Well User:Mac Davis is 15 with an IQ of 165. I am slightly older (with a slightly lower IQ!). User:StuRat seems to be an adult!! We dont know how old User:Anchoress is but she has an IQ of 156 (far too clever for me)

(actually, I am fourteen for another week, I just changed it ahead of time while I was editing my page so I didn't have to make an edit just to change the four to a five) Then again, IQ really doesn't matter, I decided to take that dumb box off last week but I forgot. I guess it helps my "authority?" Having credentials on a subject is a positive, but I don't really believe lack of credentials is a negative. I'm glad Wikipedia is one place where what I say is taken for what I say, without my age coming into play even before I say something. I guess you read, and if you are compelled, you click on the name. Or just because of my pervasive presence on the Desks. Cheers! — [Mac Davis] (talk)

You have a mature mind for your age--Light current 01:04, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

And I have an immature mind for my age. :-) StuRat 01:23, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Agree! So do I. I think they call it second childhood! 8-)--Light current 01:32, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Disgust is in the mind of the beholder. That is, whats disgusting to some is merely amusing or not even funny at all to others. You may be thinking Uranus is something other than a planet. What is that other thing. Did we mention it? If we didnt, its in your mind!--Light current 20:14, 23 August 2006 (UTC)


IQ of RD wikipedians[edit]

Moved downward to IQ.

Structure of Cholesterol[edit]

Hi

I know that Poullerier de la Salle discovered cholesterol from gall stones (and bile?) in 1769, and I want to find the original 'article' although they probably didn't have journals back then. Can you suggest how I might track it down to quote from it?

Thanks very much.

Aaadddaaammm 08:14, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, make that Poulletier de la Salle. Aaadddaaammm 08:26, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
The first step would be to check JSTOR, which has journals dating back to 1665. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have this one.
Checking Google Books, I found that The discovery of this crystalline matter was simply announced in the ‘Dictionnaire de Chimie,’ but Macquer gave no further information about the nature of this singular substance. Poulletier, however, gave some further information to Fourcroy, which this chemist recorded in his paper, that paper being Fourcroy, Antoine François (1789). "Chemical Examination of the foliated and crystalline substance contained in Gall-stones, and of the nature of the cystic crystallized concretions". Annales de Chimie 3: 242.  I suppose you'd be able to get your hands on that at a university library. --Ptcamn 10:39, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I found a slightly different reference: Examen des expériences et des observations nouvelles de M.G. PEARSON, sur les concrétions urinaires de l'homme; et comparaison des résultats obtenus par ce chimiste, avec ceux de Scheele, de Bergman, et de quelques chimistes français. In Annales de chimie, An VI, Tome 27, p.225–293. Poulletier is supposed to be mentioned on pages 259 and 260. Poulletier was an amateur scientist, who did his work on urinary stones in collaboration with Fourcroy. As far as I can check, Annales de chimie was founded in 1789.[2][3] --LambiamTalk 21:58, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
But this must address some other discoveries, as of course urinary stones ≠ gallstones. --LambiamTalk 22:25, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm allergic to my dog's toenails; why would that be?[edit]

I have a big dog, I've had her for six years. I'm not allergic to her saliva, her fur, her dander (what little there is of it), or anything else about her except her nails. When she scratches me (which is fairly often) I get these big, supremely itchy, raised welts for a couple of hours. They never get infected, they just itch like hives even if the skin isn't broken. What could that be? Anchoress 09:27, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

  • I think it's your body's natural reaction to the scratching rather than a allergic reaction (see Wheal (Welt)). When I'm severely scratched by anything or anyone I have similar symptoms although not as severe as show in the picture. But remember, I'm not a doctor. :) - Mgm|(talk) 11:04, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Hm, yeah. Well I'm pretty clumsy, I get all kinds of scratches little and big, and I have never in my life had this reaction, except to my dog's nails (and I've had lots of other animals, it's not that). You have to understand, if she scratches my arm and doesn't even break the skin, there's no mark, and I get these big itchy raised welts like big burn scars, and they go away after a couple of hours. Anchoress 14:08, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Your dog obviously walks with her claws on the floor and out side can pick up all sorts of things. Before you let her scratch you next time, give her paws and claws a good scrub with anti bacterial agent and then see if it happens. THe other solution is to have her declawed or buy her some little boots. If she gets suspicious, you could say they were a birthday present!8-)--Light current 14:46, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
One way to tell if it is an allergic reaction is to try tking some antihistamines afterwards and see if that noticibly decreases the welt and/or itching. You could go to an allergist and get tested if it is really bothering you, though I don't know whether one would be able to stop it from happening even with the information. Don't get the dog declawed, they need those things. --Fastfission 23:22, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I occasionally get a similar reaction to my cat's scratches. The fact that it happens infrequently shows that it's probably dirt or litter or even urine on her claws that are getting to me (and probably putting me at risk to cat scratch fever) and not her actual claws. AEuSoes1 00:04, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Don't worry, Fastfission, I won't be getting her de-clawed. The thing is, a) I am absolutely positive it isn't something on her claws; b) it is definitely an allergic reaction; and c) it doesn't really bother me, I just think it's strange. The reasons why I know it isn't something on her claws are: a) it never happened with any of the cats I had even though they were outdoor cats; b) it's happened right after my dog's been bathed and had her nails clipped (right at the groomers); c) it is always consistent in scope; and d) I know my own body. I never swell, even when I get injuries that are heavily contaminated. I get a bad case of road rash at least once a year, sometimes from sidewalks, sometimes from roads, and they never swell even if they're filthy. I mean not at all'. Anchoress 00:22, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the answers all. Anchoress 13:32, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Computer / Automated Testing[edit]

My question is simple. I just wanted to know what exactly QTP does. Appreciate if you could please revert back in a lay mans language —Preceding unsigned comment added by 210.18.183.69 (talkcontribs)

You clean your ears with them, although it is not recommended by medics (yes we're in World War II (under dispute)) (under dispute). See our article at Q-tips. — [Mac Davis] (talk)
If you mean the Powerhouse program, then it stands for Quantity Transaction Processor. It is the file update program.

Genetic Engineering[edit]

Hello sir/madam I am a student of microbiology and want to do my further studies in Genetic Engineering.Though I have searched much on net I couldnot arrive at a conclusion.My question is how can I do genetic engineering?How long does the courswe take?Is it a branch of Biotechnology or Genetics?After completing the course will I be called Genetic Engineer?On asverage how much does a Gen.eng. earns? Please help me.Thank you

If you dont mind it, I've fixed the format of the question a bit as it was a little hard to read. You could start by read the article Genetic Engineering. Follow the external links for more information. By the way, if you could mention where you are from, it'll be easier for us to help you. Good Luck! Jayant,17 Years, Indiacontribs 10:03, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
A Masters course in this subject would probably take two years. How you go about applying to begin such a course depends on where you are now and where you intend to study. I would say it would come under 'Genetics' but different institutions may classify things differently. You would be called a 'genetic engineer' when you get a job in the field of genetic engineering and I would expect to earn between 12 (PhD) - 30 pounds (UK) but this depends on where we're talking about and how high up the ladder you climb. If you're studying Microbiology at a University, perhaps your course leader/tutor or career-development services can be of further assistance. --Username132 (talk) 11:10, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, plant biotechnology etc all use genetic engineering to some degree. A degree in any of those (maybe microbiology is less good) would get you a foot in the door into genetic engineering, IMHO. Where I come from (Noo Zealand), you'd do 3 years for a BSc, then 1 year for BSc (hons) OR 2 years for masters. Then you'd probably have to do a PhD (3,4,5 years?) if you're serious about researching genetic engineering. Go for it! Aaadddaaammm 00:43, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Molecular genetics. - Cybergoth 04:27, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Nipples[edit]

why do men have nipples is it because we are all conceived as females? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 193.120.250.103 (talkcontribs)

No, it's not, because only females are conceived as females. - Nunh-huh 12:58, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Why do you assume women are the ones that need nipples? Well, that was a dumb question. Anyway, they are vestigial, because in the womb we all start out the same. No, we don't have a "women's brain" (if it is you again), we have a "human brain" it is not male or female yet. — [Mac Davis] (talk)
The short answer is, women and men share almost all their genetic material, so they are almost identical. Mostly a few hormonal differences - everything else is quite similar. Therefore one should expect everything to be the same, with small differences. --69.207.115.134 14:13, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Except for the BIG one !!! (the brain)--Light current 15:40, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
They're decoys, to attract more nipples. But actually the user above is right. Anchoress 14:48, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Why would you want more than 2? 8-)--Light current 15:03, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
You might enjoy Ménage à trois. I mean enjoy the article, not the... Weregerbil 17:55, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Possibly both 8-)--Light current 23:26, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Male breasts are fully functional, and equivalent to pre-adolescent female breasts. The breasts of a 9 year old girl are likewise not vestigial. When a man develops a prolactin secreting microadenoma of the pituitary, his breasts may produce milk. If he develops gynecomastia his breasts may produce milk, without generalized feminization. Edison 14:57, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

So how do you get them to produce milk ordinarily. Ive heard somewhere of a man breast feeding a young, baby. Can that be right?--Light current 15:03, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Prolactin would initiate milk production. IIRC males normally have some female hormone in the circulatory system in addition to the male hormone, with the liver absorbing the excess. Liver damage, such as from alcoholism could impair liver function and cause the unusual hormonal results. Tumors can secrete hormones. Hormones can be administered by injection. Many medicines may produce gynecomastia, but that is a different issue from lactation.Edison 16:43, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes I ve heard that some male alcoholics start to grow breasts (he says feeling his own-- no I think thats just fat!)--Light current 16:46, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Male lactation. Yummy. --Shantavira 15:28, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
"Male" and "female" hormones are just called so because in each sex there is a lot more of it than in the other. All women have testosterone, and all men have estrogen. It isn't like we're all transvestites. Male breasts are not fully functional. It is a rare occurance that you would find a man who lactates. If you ask me, 9-year-old girl breasts are not fully-functional. You can't even feel them and get anything out of it. Well, I guess that depends on you. :P — [Mac Davis] (talk)

Male breasts are equivalent to preadolescent female breasts. Do we agree on that? In the presence of hormonal stimulation or other factors they can grow like female breasts (gynecomastia) and they can even lactate. Do we agree on that? Now go milk the bull!Edison 01:30, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

I hate to disappoint you, but those things hanging down from a bull are not udders--Light current 02:17, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
No, I think he was talking about the bull. I am really not interested in zoophilia[Mac Davis] (talk)
Yeah, but that kinda throws the kick out of it. Of course with proper hormonal stimulation they will grow like female breasts, and/or lactate, but the stimulation isn't there. — [Mac Davis] (talk)

Testicles do not grow into breasts! at least not on this planet!--Light current 03:28, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

How come nobody's yet mentioned the sexual function of nipples (both women's and men's)? For men, that function beats lactation hands down. JackofOz 03:41, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Anyway when I suck on my girlfriends nipples...I'. like...a strange crotch sensation question c

Chromosomal crossover[edit]

The chromosomal crossover article says (first paragraph) that if chromosomes break and rejoin on opposite sides of the centromere, the result can be one chromosome being lost during cell division. When I follow this situation in my mind, I can understand the loss of all genes on one side of the centromere but how does an entire chromosome become lost? --Username132 (talk) 11:04, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

The centromere is the chromosomal site that organises and regulates the machinery responsible for chromosome segregation to daughter cells. Its functions include kinetochore assembly, tethering sister chromatids by cohesin until anaphase, monitoring attachment of sister kinetochores to microtubules via the spindle checkpoint, and, via kinetochore associated motor proteins, are responsible for the movement of chromosomes along microtubules towards the spindle poles. If the centomere becomes separated from its chromosome, it can no longer control the segregation of the normally-associated genetic material, and so that material is lost in the daughter cells. - Nunh-huh 13:10, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Oh, right, I get it now! I wasn't reading it the right way - I'll see if I can edit out the ambiguity. Thanks! --Username132 (talk) 08:38, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

How do spacecraft change direction?[edit]

Can a spacecraft alter the direction in which it's travelling without using an external factor such as the gravity of a planet? Excluding gravity, when something changes direction on Earth it's always because it's pushing against something (e.g. water, air, road surface). With nothing to push against, wouldn't sideways thrust on the nose of a spacecraft simply make it rotate around its centre of mass while continuing to travel in the same direction? PaulStephens 15:05, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

It is important to realize that in space, aerodynamic considerations are moot, so changing the orientation of the spacecraft has no effect on its trajectory, but I think you understand that. If a spacecraft wishes to accelerate itself in some direction, possible a different direction from one in which it is currently travelling, then it must apply a thrust along a line which passes through the spacecraft's center of mass. You are correct in your intuition that applying a thrust somewhere off-axis (off any line through the center of mass) would result mostly in rotation. However, assuming some simple design of the spacecraft, the craft could turn using "sideways nose thrusters", then stop turning using the opposite "sideways nose thrusters", then fire the "forward thrusters", which would change the course of the craft. --Bmk 15:15, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
What about angling your rear nozzles? Would that just start rotating the vehicle--Light current 15:22, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
The nozzles of the Space Shuttle engines can be aimed in different directions, enabling thrust vectoring.
No, not only rotating. It would push it forward as well. —Bromskloss 16:49, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Ahhh! Vectored thrust! One of my favorite phrases 8-)--Light current 16:52, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Hehe, nice to hear that. :-) Would you like to share something about it with us? Why is it so exciting? —Bromskloss 17:08, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Well it just sounds so exciting and scientific doesnt it! Ive always had a penchant for the word 'thrust' nad 'vectored' makes it sound quite Star Trekkie. Actually I might change my user name to VectoredThrust- sounds powerful!--Light current 18:06, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I understand! I too like when stuff sound that scientific and spectacular. It's nice to see you're of the same kind – the kind that wouldn't mind running a space station with lots of meters and blinking lights. Am I not right? ;-) I think your username is already cool, though. Btw, what's up with your indentation? —Bromskloss 20:17, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
In my younger days yes. I put all my posts directly under one another so I (and others) can easily find them!--Light current 20:31, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Hold on there. You don't have to apply thrust aimed at the center of mass to get moving, even though that probably is how you want to do it. (Mabye you didn't mean that either.) Actually, we can compare a body (spacecraft) with a particle of the same mass. When we apply some forces to the particle, it will follow some trajectory. Applying the same forces (equal in direction and magnitude) to the spacecraft will cause its center of mass to move the same way the particle did, regardless of where on the spacecraft we applied the forces. On top of that, of course, the spacecraft may start to rotate, depending on where we apply the forces.
For an example of this, consider a particle (such as a little ball) thrown here at earth. Disregarding air resistance, the only force that acts on it is gravity, and so it will follow a parabola. Compare this to a high jumper who throws themselves over the bar, with the same initial direction and speed as the particle. The only external force acting on them is gravity, so their center of mass will follow the same arc. The fact that the jumper's muscles exerts forces on different parts of the body does not spoil this argument since every muscle that pulls in some part of the body also pulls in the opposite direction in its other end. The same goes for spacecrafts – only external forces are of interest. —Bromskloss 15:41, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I'll note that you want to be careful with the above thought experiment. Applying thrust on a vector that passes far from the center of mass will not produce the same acceleration as applying the same thrust along a vector passing through the center of mass. When your thrust vector is far from the center of mass, you'll end up delivering a lot of angular momentum, without changing the velocity vector of the center of mass much. Picture a rod-shaped spacecraft. If you poke the side of the rod near the middle, you'll increase its velocity; if you poke the rod near the end, you'll set the rod rotating. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 18:17, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
You note that there is nothing out in space to push against. Well, consider two people floating together in empty space. If they push against each other, they will start going in opposite directions, right? Now, the same thing happens with spacecraft – one person is the spacecraft and the other is the exhaus gas. So, yes, a spacecraft can change direction on its own. However, it should be noted that doing more than small course corrections isn't a good idea – it consumes a lot of fuel. —Bromskloss 15:49, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Well it is a good idea if you want to actually get anywhere, like, say, the Moon or Mars. Otherwise you'd just be stuck in an Earth orbit and that'd be it. --Cyde Weys 18:08, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I think that we may be missing the point of the question. The questioner didn't simply ask how a change in direction can be initiated, but also how it can be stopped once the change is achieved, without the object simply spinning on and on due to inertia. Say a spacecraft would like to change its direction 10 degrees to port. I would imagine that the starboard thruster would burn for a certain amount of time to initiate the change in course, and some time thereafter, the port thruster would burn for a precicely equal amount of time (assuming the two burners are of equal force) to stop the craft from further rotating, and leave it heading exactly 10 degrees to port as was initially intended. Loomis 19:01, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Loomis, On the science ref desk you make even less sense than on the humanities ref desk (or is it just more obvious here?). Port and starboard in space?? Also, the questioner didn't ask anything about stopping the change in direction. DirkvdM 09:54, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Dirk? What's up with the completely uncalled for, unprovoked, childish personal attack? I'd thought we'd gotten beyond that. Well at least I have, I still don't intend to personally attack you, no matter how immature you may behave.

My answer was pretty much a rewording of Bmk's, (although I suppose my mistake was in not reading his first,) otherwise, our answers are pretty much identical: 1) Initiate side thrust towards the new direction you'd like to be heading, and 2) Initiate opposite side thrust (to keep the craft from spinning continuously due to intertia, and to stop the nose of the craft once it's pointing directly at where you'd like to go). I had assumed that the forward trusters were burning, so I didn't mention the obvious last step: 3)If your forward thrusters aren't burning, press that "big button" that says "forward thrusters" and bingo, the course adjustment has been made.

"Also, the questioner didn't ask anything about stopping the change in direction". Well of course the change in direction must be stopped, otherwise you'd have a spacecraft spinning aimlessly for no apparent purpose. If you only want the craft to change direction by , say 10°, you'd have to find a way to stop it before it reaches 11°, or 12° etc.

So now please explain it in a more "sensible" way than I just did (if you indeed have any clue as to what myself or Bmk are talking about). Loomis 19:55, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Slightly unrelated item: A person in zero g can turn to face in any direction and wind up facing backward/upside down/sideways etc without any kind of thruster, without throwing anything, grabbing anything, etc, via "cat twists." This is not immediately obvious, but cats do it, skaters do something like it, and divers do something like it. Scientif American IIRC had a st of maneuvers for rotating in zero g several decades ago. I have always found it amusing when space opera such as Star Trek or Star Wars shows spacecraft in vacuum having WW1 type dogfights, doing aerobatic maneuvers such as barrel rolls, Immelman turns, etc rather than changing orientation and firing the main thruster in the direction they wish to go. They must carry ample fuel/reaction mass. Edison 01:28, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, it often gets rather ridiculous. Not to mention the screaming sound of an X-wing zooming by...across the vacuum? Eh. On a related note, i think this is an appropriate time for the rigorous attention to detail that 2001: a space odyssey contains? I mean - it's amazing - everything is beautifully realistic (not counting the alien monoliths, I mean). How the heck did they get all that stuff so right, before the space race had even really gotten started? It's amazing! --Bmk 03:37, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Googling for cat mid-air rotation finds some interesting discussions. DMacks 05:59, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
You can't do all that arbitrary turning in empty space, you need the air! If, in empty space, you turn your head left, the rest of your body will turn right. —Bromskloss 07:07, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Air plays no more role in these "cat turns" than it does in the operation of a gyroscope. A person in vacuum, in a suit way more flexible than our space suits, could reoriente himself to face in any vertical or horizontal rotation by body movements. It is about conservation of angular momentum.Edison 18:58, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
This was a discussion here a little while ago. I will put forth my idea again. Suppose an extravehicular astronaut stretches out his arms, sways them to one side, thus causing his body to rotate in the other direction. This move wil end with his arms wrapped around his body (at which point he stops rotating). If he then moves his arms back close to his body, that will partly reverse the effect, but only partly because the mass of his arms is the same but the distance to the body is smaller, so there will be less rotational momentum. So he ends up in the same position, but slightly turned. This can then be repeated. And something similar could be done for rotations in other directions. Right? DirkvdM 09:54, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Exact-a-mundo. I believe you have the germ of the concept. Edison 18:58, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm baffled! Without really thinking too much about it, I thought this would be impossible due to the conservation of angular momentum. Now I don't really know what to make of it, which is a bit embarassing. :-/ I think I'll just go cover myself under a thick layer of snow and sort things out. Well, I could've, if it was winter. —Bromskloss 21:46, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

handset splitter/adapter[edit]

I know this is barely an electronic question, but science is the best place I can think to put it... I have a telephone and I want to plug a headset into it. I would like a splitter where the handset plugs into the main phone unit that lets me plug in the handset and lets me plug in a standard headset (1/8" stereo plug if I remember correctly). I've been searching and searching, but I don't know what this device is called, so I keep getting all kinds of things for recording phone calls. Does anyone know if this exists and what the proper name of it is? --Kainaw (talk) 16:48, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

If its a moblie phone, you want a hands free kit. If its a landline- not sure!--Light current 16:54, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Have you tried Headset Plus? I googled 'switchboard headset' because I think that's the idea of what you want, although they are actually the same for individual lines. There seems to be an adaptor on the left side of the screen on the homepage. You might need to hunt around a bit on there, or email/phone. Anchoress 17:30, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
For this kind of thing, I think Radio Shack is probably a better place to look than Google. Melchoir 18:17, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
(after edit conflict) For a landline, if you're in the UK, www.maplin.co.uk do one, just search for "telephone headset". Presumably Radio Shack do something similar. They can only be used with certain types of phone.--Shantavira 18:22, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
After a trip to Radio Shack and a good 30 minutes explaining this to a pimple-faced idiot, I found that Radio Shack carries nothing like what I want. What they have is a telephone that has a headset that replaces your phone. Since my phone has a speaker-phone that I never ever use, I'm going to wire the speaker and mic to a 1/8" plug and do it the hacker way. --Kainaw (talk) 13:12, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Methadone Clinics[edit]

To the Excellent Editors of Wikipedia,

Your clip on Methadone was very helpful. I'm doing a nationwide study on Methadone clinics and I'm trying to find out the best methods to answer the following:

1.) How many methadone patients are treated per year per state? 2.) Who's the largest clinic in the state?

So far I've had little success contacting each state individually. Similarly, I also look for published data on the each state website. Would you have any other recommendations for collecting this data?

I appreciate your consideration and time.

Thank you,

Dan

Dan, a bit of googling turned up The American Association for the Treatment of Opoid Dependance, which might be a good place to start. Good luck with your research. --Robert Merkel 02:38, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
If you use words like 'nationwide', you should also state which nation you're talking about because else the question becomes unanswerable (or you might get replies for every country). That said, you're probably from the US because people from other countries have a tendency to realise this and be more forthcoming. Still, I have to ask, one can never know. DirkvdM 10:02, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Why do people's arms move when they walk?[edit]

When people walk, their arms generally move back and forth. In fact, the left arm tends to move forward when the right leg moves forward, and the right arm tends to move with the left leg. Is this an involuntary reflex involving muscle action? If so, is it a vestige of quadrupedal locomotion? Or do the arms simply swing without muscle action due to the force of gravity? Thanks. Marco polo 17:38, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Hmmm...that's an interesting one. I wouldn't be surprised if it's, at least in part, a hard-wired vistigial trait (I have to deliberately relax my arms to not do it). But I think it also serves a useful purpose, providing a counter-balance to leg movement that can improve overall balance, and a simple source of additive forward momentum during the step process to perhaps increase the overall efficiency of the walking motion. Just my guesses, though. -- Scientizzle 17:46, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
An easy way to check this is to obtain a dummies arm (or a hinged peice of wood say), attach it to the shoulder and walk whilst keeping your real arm in your pocket. If the dummy arm swings like your real one did, its due to gravity/the way we walk.--Light current 17:58, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I imagine[citation needed] it would be for balance. My arms never swing[citation needed], but I do swing them a teensy bit to look like other people. — [Mac Davis] (talk)
It has something to do with balance. Try walking with your arms bound at your side. You're more unsteady. Especially try jogging or running with your arms straight at your side. It's difficult. --Cyde Weys 18:06, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Try running with your hands in your pockets, and without twisting your shoulders, hopefully youll realise its neccesary to move your arms before your face hits the tarmac! hehe Philc TECI 18:18, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I read the results of a study a year or so ago that found people who swing their arms more when they walk tend to be happier than those who swing them very little or not at all. Perhaps it is a self-inducing happiness technique. --Kainaw (talk) 18:49, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, the inverse is more likely, that depressed people tend to put their hands in their pockets, and hanging your head, another sign of depression, moves your shoulders, in such a way that your arms swing naturally swing less when you walk. Philc TECI 20:38, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
As the song goes' It dont mean a thing if it aint got that swing!'--Light current 19:02, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
My guess is that it helps with balancing and correcting for the various twisting forces you create when you move your legs. Additionally the human center of gravity is relatively high off the ground compared to other primates. My rough guess would that anything which has mammalian hips is going to need some sort of counter-balancing movements in the upper body for reliable bipedal locomotion, whereas something with bird hips probably does not. Just guesses, though. I doubt the motion is vestigial—it seems rather intimately connected to the motion of the legs and hips. --Fastfission 20:22, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
It also takes energy to keep them still, energy that's wasted since there's no practical purpose to it. Moving them in sympathetic motion is probably a form of conservation of energy. Anchoress 01:34, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
It may need force, but energy.. well Im not sure!--Light current 01:40, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Energy is the ability to do work; force is ther work done (in this instance). So Anchoress is right, and your comments is, well, like hundreds of your other comments on these reference desks: unhelpful. Here's a rule of thumb for you. If your contribution includes an exclamation mark, then it is probably better not made. --Tagishsimon (talk)
But I do exclaim! (all the time -- is that a crime?) Im afraid you are confusing force and energy Simon!!!--Light current 17:29, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Please read the articles force, mechanical work, and energy before claiming others (who quote directly from the articles) are wrong. --Kainaw (talk) 19:50, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Center of mass[edit]

It's entirely about stabilizing your center of mass. I recall there being a subtle joke about Jack Webb from Dragnet not swinging his arms, or perhaps it was Dan Aykroyd, eh? Anyway, watch your dog, cat or horse as they speed up or slow down, and the relative position of their limbs.

-- Schweiwikist   (talk)  19:54, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Safe Disposal of Chemical Weapons[edit]

Although my question has some very obvious political implications, I'm asking it here on the Science RefDesk for now as for the time being I'm I'm only interested in a scientific answer.

My question is: Hypothetically, should a regime (hmmm...I wonder which one he's talking about!) :) possess large stockpiles of chemical weapons, for example, such chemicals as mustard gas, and such nerve agents as sarin, tabun and VX, and should such a regime wish to dispose of these weapons as safely and as harmlessly (and as secretively) as possible, how would one go about doing that? Is it even possible to begin with? I can't imagine "dumping it all ito the sea" as an option, as surely that would cause a great deal of the worst kind of pollution. Similarly I can't see how either gradually releasing it into the atmosphere in a totally unpopulated area, or just plain blowing the stuff up as being feasible. What I do know, although this is somewhat unrelated, is that nuclear radioactive waste can't be safely disposed of, and must be buried underground (or otherwise contained) with the hope that no one will ever inadvertently come into contact with it. I'm just wondering if the same holds true for such deadly chemicals as mentioned above, or if there is indeed a way by which they can be safely disposed of without anyone being the wiser. Loomis 18:46, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Hussein wouldn't just "dipose" of them, are you crazy? I personally think he gave them to all his cronies—sold them. — [Mac Davis] (talk)

It depends on the chemical in question. Some chemical weapons can be "neutralized" by mixing them with other chemicals, i.e. using hydrolysis. See this chapter from a National Academy of Science report on chemical munitions disposal. This would require facilities though. If you wanted to really do it as quickly as possible, you could just bury it deep underground or even bury it at sea in sealed containers—it would be no different than burying nuclear waste or anything else you wouldn't want people to find. Depending on how you buried it you'd have different expectations of its safety and likelihood to be detected. In other words, burial itself can be considered a form of disposal. Eventually many (most?) chemical weapons will break down into less dangerous compounds as well. Releasing nerve agents into the air is probably the opposite of what you'd want to do in any situation. I don't think blowing them up would probably be a great idea either. It'd be a tough operation to pull off without anyone ever finding out, though. --Fastfission 20:09, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Just a thought here, but how about burning them? Sure, it would be polluting but the resulting substances generally would be less toxic to humans (especially the nerve agents), and not identifyable as chemical weapons would they? - Dammit 20:22, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Since most chemical weapons are made of hydrocarbons, they can be burned in a high temperature incinerator which will break them down into harmless gases like water vapor, carbon dioxide, etc. Note, however, that normal burning is not effective. StuRat 20:24, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps this discussion should now be turned over to the humanities page. But since my good buddy Stu has responded (no sarcasm intended...I really enjoy our discussions and respect your perspectives, otherwise I wouldn't bother taking you seriously,) what, in your opinion happened to all those WMDs? They obviously didn't vanish into thin air, (Saddam would need an Iraqi David Copperfield to accomplish that,) and as I've just learned, they'd be pretty hard, if not impossible to destroy without leaving any trace. But you, as do many, many others, seem to argue that GWB "lied to the American people" in assuming they still existed. Mac seems to have suggested that they were shipped of to places like Syria. Fastfission seems to have suggested that they may be buried deep beneath the Iraqi soil, or perhaps even, deep below the seabed of the Persian Gulf. What do YOU believe happened to them? And do you believe that it was so far-fetched to believe that they still existed in Iraq that GWB, Cheney, the CIA et. al. must certainly have been knowingly lying when they came to conclusion that they must be somewhere, and that that somewhere would most likely be somewhere in Iraq? Loomis 21:36, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Lying does not come from making wrong assumptions; it comes from saying something which you know isn't true. The problem is that the CIA itself knew the information they had on CBWs in Iraq was bunk. The "lying" comes from the fact that the administration took information which was known to be dubious or even outright false and presented it as a reason to go to war. If the assessments had just turned out to be wrong, that'd be an entirely different issue than them being known to be wrong ahead of time and used as a justification anyway. I'm fine with people just being wrong, but when they know ahead of time that they're wrong, or they ignore good advice because it goes against what they'd want the facts to look like, I find that pretty irresponsible in general and absolutely abominable when we are talking about things with tens of thousand of civilian deaths as a consequence. --Fastfission 22:58, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

There is where I disagree. I can't speak for myslef, but Stu is an intellectual, as you seem to be. I simply take issue with the argument "that the administration took information which was known to be dubious or even outright false and presented it as a reason to go to war". The CIA didn't ever say the information was "bunk". At most, they merely threw their hands in the air and admitted that their "proof" wasn't indeed "proof". But who really cares about the CIA? What I'm concerned with is reality. Though the community of intellectuals love more than anything else to paint GWB as some sort of Christian evangelical moron, I've yet to hear some alternative explanation as to what ever happened to those damned WMDs! Nobody seems to care anymore that there's a mystery out there yet to be solved. Why would you say the information was "known to be dubious or even outright false"? As I think I've just proven, the assumption that Saddam had WMDs is the least bit "dubious". In fact, it would seem to be the most logical explanation for the state of affairs. Further, I still don't know whatever happened to those damned WMD's! I still don't know whatever happenned to them, where they were buried, or where they were shipped off to. Until I hear a more intelligent explanation that GWB should have heeded, I can't help but agree with the conclusion he came to, that Saddam still had WMDs unaccounted for. Loomis 00:19, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

But that's why I'm here. I don't quite understand the "GWB lied" mentality. If he did, I'd be more than pleased to entertain any and every possible theory as to what really happened to those chemical weapons that we know Saddam, at least at some point, had considerable stockpiles of. Until then, the whole issue will remain, at the very least, a mystery to me. Loomis 00:28, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

I just can't understand it either. Just because the inspectors didn't find them, doesn't mean he didn't have them at some time (not ruling out at the same time). And chem/bio weapons were not the only reason allied military operations were done. "A threat to democracy anywhere, is a threat to democracy everwhere." If you know what I mean. — [Mac Davis] (talk)

They FOUND chemical weapons, but stuff left over from the First Gulf War. google 'Saddam chemical weapons found':

  • http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,200499,00.html Report: Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq Thursday, June 22, 2006 WASHINGTON ? The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers said Wednesday.
  • http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,200726,00.html "Well, we knew that Saddam used chemical weapons against the Kurds and we knew he used chemical weapons against Iranians. But it's clear, or it seems to be clear, that these weapons were not available to Saddam in 2003 when we were going to war. They seem to have been available to him in the early '90s. ... "One thing I would like to add, though, is I do believe what Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said is inaccurate. The inspectors started with a declaration by Iraq that it had over 100,000 chemical weapons either filled or unfilled. And Iraq tried to explain what it had done with those weapons. The inspectors investigated extensively what happened to, again, over 100,000 filled and unfilled chemical weapons. ... Iraq said, very clearly, we don't know where all of them are. They even gave a case of 550 that they could not find after the Gulf War. So... ... COLMES: So we already knew, Dan Senor, that this was the case. And also, let me show you what else was reported today in The Washington Post. Put it up on the screen. "Last night, intelligence officials reaffirmed that the shells were old and were not the suspected weapons of mass destruction sought in Iraq after the 2003 invasion."

etc --GangofOne 02:36, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

What we do know:
1) At one time, Saddam had lots of chemical weapons.
2) Some, but not all, of these weapons were "used up" against Iran and the Kurds.
3) Saddam claimed to have destroyed the rest (as required by the UN following Gulf War 1), but offered no proof.
4) After the Gulf War 2 invasion, hardly any were found.
I would guess that they were destroyed, most likely by just detonating them in open fields and then letting them dissipate (very bad way to destroy them, BTW). His reason for not offering any proof (like videotapes, shell fragments, etc.) was apparently to make his neighbors assume he still had them. He was betting he could thus intimidate his neighbors without suffering an invasion by the US/UN. He thought his claim to having destroyed them along with a lack of proof to the contrary would be enough to keep him safe. However, this ambiguity, combined with lies coming from the Iraqi National Congress and other sources, and the desire of the Bush administration to find any pretext for invasion, made Saddam's calculations completely wrong. StuRat 02:41, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
As for the Bush administration lying, the "African yellowcake" (uranium) claim was the most absurd. It had been completely discredited, but the Bush admin, and Cheney in particular, chose to continue to use it as "evidence" of a covert Iraqi nuclear program, despite knowing it was untrue. They then moved toward retaliation against anyone who told the truth, like Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame. StuRat 03:04, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Plasma destruction of toxic wastes--Light current 03:09, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree about the nukes. Saddam never had any (although he was working on some back in the '80s but Israel bombed that whole idea). As for the rest, though, what you're offering is pure speculation. When push came to shove, though, back in December '02, when the UN DEMANDED for some sort of explanation for what ever happened to the chemical WMD's or face a UN invasion (he couldn't be sure at that point that the French would put up such a hissy-fit, not to mention having the US and a few others go it alone), don't you think it would have been time for him to 'fess up and explain what he did with them? Don't you think that by offering a tonne of nonsense, in the form of thousands and thousands of nonsensical documents to the UN, he was pretty much asking for an invasion?

How can I, GWB, and the rest of us morons have ever concocted such a theory that he indeed destroyed them but hid that fact to keep his neighbours scared? Saddam "secretly" destroying his WMDs? You know of the man, now who's going on with absurd speculation? Even if that were so, it would seem too far fetched to bet a few million lives on. The most likely scenario to me, given all the above is that WMD's are buried somewhere in some desert in Iraq, only to be found at some time in the future when all of us are dead and gone, by our children, thinking, "how could they all have been such fools, thinking that a madman would destroy his own weapons? Of course he hid them! GWB was onto him all along!" Loomis 05:48, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Maybe I'm forgetting, but I don't remember anybody saying he had nuclear missiles. Wasn't that just a dumb domestic rumor? — [Mac Davis] (talk)
If that had been the case, I would have expected Saddam to use the chemical weapons during the invasion to try to win. After all, the US couldn't very well respond with chemical weapons, so Saddam would have a weapon the US couldn't match. Also, why wouldn't insurgents who knew of their location (those who helped bury them, for example), go and dig them up and use them ? StuRat 07:26, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Stu, you say that he didn't have them in '03 because if he did, he would have used them. But you also say that he was only required to destroy them after Gulf War I. It would appear, then, that pretty much everyone was in agreement that he had them during the first Gulf War, and yet, for whatever reason, he didn't use them then either. If your assumption is: "if he had them, he would have used them", why didn't he use them back in '92? It's still quite the mystery to me. Loomis 21:08, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
The goal of the First Gulf War was just to evict Iraq from Kuwait, not to overthrow Saddam, and he was fully aware of this. If, however, he had used chemical weapons on American troops, then the US would likely have escalated and removed him back then. In the Second Gulf War, however, the goal WAS to remove him, so using the weapons then couldn't hurt him any. Thus, he would maximize his chances of staying in power by abstaining from using WMD in the first war and by using whatever WMD he had left in the second. StuRat 10:09, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Loomis, with that theory, in a hundred years when the WMDs still haven't been discovered (because they were never there to being with), you'll still be saying "They're there, you just haven't looked in the right place yet". A bit like El Dorado, or Shangri-La, really. You are an unabashed supporter of GWB - not that there's anything wrong with that per se - and your biases are very apparent. I suspect you will find any way you can of making him look like a teller of the truth. Unfortunately, the principles of parsimony would tend to lead one to an alternative conclusion. (Say, how come this quest for "only scientific answers" turned into an ultra-political discussion?) JackofOz 06:11, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

It depends. If you're the US, you get the Army to pre-treat it and then you ship it to New Jersey so Dupont can treat it and then dump it in the Delaware river. If you are the Soviet Union, you dump it in a lake, fill the lake with concrete, and then stay the hell away for 10,000 years Raul654 07:32, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

I really tried, Jack, to get a pure scientific theory, but the first word of the first post was "Hussein"! Also, I don't recall El Dorado or Shangri-La to have ever been proven to have existed, only to have mysteriously disappeared a mere 10 years later. I only proposed my "theory", what in my opinion was "the most likely scenario" because it just appears to me to be the most logical. I also said that I don't believe there were nukes, because Saddam never had nukes. He never used them on Iran or on the Kurds, so no reason to believe they ever existed. But he did have chemical weapons! (Notice I didn't mention biological weapons, because there was no evidence of their existence either.) All I'm asking is how such volatile chemical substances such as the ones mentioned could have existed and then, just ten years later ceased to exist? Until I get some sort of proof or at least a reasonable hypothesis to how they seemed to have disappeared, I can't help but assume that they continue to exist. A blanket statement "because they were never there to begin with" doesn't seem to make any logical sense to me, unless it's your position that certain incidents like the Halabja poison gas attack was just another CIA hoax as well. But you're right, my little editorial rant didn't belong here, considering the purely scientific nature of my question. My apologies for that, I just couldn't help myself. Just one little comment if I may, perhaps you've got my position upside down. Perhaps I'm "an unabashed supporter of GWB" because I agree with him, and not the other way around, that I agree with him because I'm an unabashed supporter? Do you really think I'm of the mentality to blindly support some leader and then retroactively rationalize every ridiculous position he's taken? C'mon Jack! I thought you thought better of me than that! Bush has made some stupid mistakes, such as the assumption that the Iraqi people would embrace pluralism and democracy the moment that big ugly statue of Saddam was torn down. He was wrong there, I just think he was quite right and quite logical in assuming that what once existed, absent any proof or explanation for its mysterious disappearance, should, according to reason, continue to exist. Loomis 09:57, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
In any case, I'm still trying to avoid a political discussion. I don't want to argue about whether Bush was right or wrong, as that would be a completely political argument. I just can't help but see the whole thing as one enormous mystery. The only thing more mysterious than the "The Case of the Missing WMDs" is the fact that hardly anyone seems to be the least bit curious about it. To me, "The Case of the Missing WMDs" is no more or no less political than "The Case of Who Killed JFK". At the time, that mystery was an incredibly politically charged one: "Was it Castro?", "Was it the CIA"?, "Was it Johnson?", "Was it the Russians?", "Was it the FBI?", "Was it the Mob?" Was it just that 'Oswald' lunatic acting on his own?" At the time, I'm sure you would be considered rather biased one way or the other depending on your particular theory. If you said you believed it was the CIA or the FBI, there'd be people out there calling you a Commie. If you told people you thought it was the Cubans or the Russians, some would likely criticize you as being a right-wing McCarthyesque wacko. It's been almost 43 years and still nobody knows for sure, but still plenty are drooling with curiousity. One thing has changed though: After all this time most if not all of the politics behind this theory or that have long since been stripped away. It's now no more than a fascinating whodunnit. Perhaps "The Case of the Missing WMDs" is still too fresh in our minds and too enmeshed within present-day politics to be looked at as coldly and logically as I would have hoped. Oh well guys, maybe it's just best to leave this one alone until it's also 43 years old. See you all back at the RefDesk in 2046! :--) Loomis 21:08, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Mistakes in the history of science[edit]

Hello all - I'm looking for a collection of events in the history of science where scientists have made good faith errors (not scientific misconduct). In particular I would like cases where a result is widely accepted for a given time and widely cited/used/referenced during that time, but then later determined to be in error. Importantly, the cases need to be obviously in good faith and widely regarded as mistakes now. Controversy about either of these lowers the value of the case for me. Please take science broadly to include social sciences and mathematics. Don't be shy, the more examples the merrier I will be! If you can give me examples not covered in wikipedia, I will gladly research them and write the corresponding article. Thank you very much in advance. --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 20:20, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Have you tried Superseded scientific theory and Category:Obsolete scientific theories? Melchoir 20:22, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Where do we start? Almost everyones made a mistake at sometime/.--Light current 20:23, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the quick response! That's a nice list which I hadn't seen before, I'll give it a look. In general scientific theories are probably too grand for my purposes, because often times the failure of the theorist was not a simple mistake per se, but rather a failure in the theorist's imagination. Sometimes it's more complicated, but either way maybe too big. --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 20:54, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
The history of politicized science and psuedoscience is riddled. DDT, Eugenics, Lysenkonism, Physiognomy, Phrenology. — [Mac Davis] (talk)
Thanks also for the quick response, you folks are amazing. I'm afraid that psuedoscience really doesn't fit the bill either, because in those cases the mistakes are not obviously in good faith. Many people would say the mistake of a phrenologist was not simply getting bad data because of a faulty measurement device or something, but because they simply ignored good scientific practice. But perhaps there is a good example in politicized science that might fit, where someone interfered in a way that the scientist was unaware. If he wasn't so bumbling and the situation so abhorrent, the mistakes of the lab employed by Fred A. Leuchter when investigating Auschwitz might count in this vain. Do you know of a particular case that might fit here? --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 20:54, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Einstein's Cosmological Constant
    • I thought the jury is still out on this one, with the current consensus being that the value best agreeing with observations is something like ΩΛ ≅ 0.7, which is definitely not zero. --LambiamTalk 00:13, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
      • Well, one way or another, it was a scientific mistake. Either Einstein was wrong initially when he proposed it was nonzero, or he was wrong later when he thought it was zero. --Trovatore 00:15, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
  • cause of ulcers, once thought to be excess stomach acid, now known to be bacterial. --GangofOne 20:44, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I overheard an ER doctor a few years ago explaining to an aged gentlemen that the doctor was going to give the man something to get rid of the heliobacter germs causing his ulcers. The man explained that he appreciated the doctor's efforts, but he had had the ulcers for decades and many fine doctors had treated them, but they kept coming back. The young doctor repeated that he proposed to cure them once and for all. You would have thought from the man's reaction that the doctor was proposing to amputate a valued organ.Edison 01:15, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
I can't even get my thank yous in because you are too quick! The cosmological constant is a good suggestion that I'm looking into. I didn't know about ulcers, that sounds very interesting. I'll bet its perfect because a lot of people were mislead for a long time (Doctors, etc.). Do you know was there an experiment that "demonstrated" ulcers were caused by excess acid? I'm afraid our article on peptic ulcer doesn't appear to say. Thanks for the cases! --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 20:54, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
As most anyone will tell you, Spinach is particularly high in iron. In fact it's not. In 1870, one Dr E. von Wolf made a decimal transposition error and reported spinach's iron content as being ten times its actual amount. This false feature of spinach made its way into the popular Popeye cartoons starting in 1929 and the myth was cemented ever after as a commonly known but wrong fact. It wasn't until 1937 that the mistake was even realized.--Fuhghettaboutit 21:12, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Yeah but theyre still showing Popeye cartoons. THats why I still believe in Spinach--Light current 22:12, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Very interesting, I didn't know about this at all. Oddly enough Dr. E. von Wolf was just created three days ago. There is something about it in the Spinach article as well. I'll look it up. Thank you very much! --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 21:26, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Flat Earth Society? hehe. Philc TECI 22:09, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
One could maybe see the Michelson-Morley experiment as an error; Michelson and Morley sure didn't think that a null result was a likely possibility for the measurement they wanted. There are many instances of incorrect conclusions by some of the early human genetics people, i.e. Charles B. Davenport identifying pellagra as a Mendelian unit trait (it is caused by a deficiency in the diet). Linus Pauling put forward a very incorrect formulation of physical structure of DNA not long before Watson and Crick articulated the double helix (the latter got an advance copy of the paper through Pauling's son and realized it had a number of basic errors in it). Charles Darwin of course considered heredity of acquired characteristics to be valid and incorporated it into his theory of pangenesis. There was also Lord Kelvin's incorrect calculation of the age of the earth which was quite famous for being too short.P.M.S. Blackett had a theory of gravity that he eventually disproved in the course of his research which was meant to prove it. Those are just a few that come to mind. --Fastfission 23:10, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Great, thank you! A long list indeed! I will look into some of these in more detail. I knew about M-M, pangenesis, and Kelvin before, but not the others. I know about Kelvin's estimates of the age of the earth particularly in connection with its use against Darwin's theory. Do you know if it was used in other scientific work at the time? Is there perhaps a good book you could recommend detailing that bit of history? The pellagra bit sounds promising also, do you know a good reference for it? No problem if you don't, I have once before used the dreaded library. :) --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 23:43, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

How about the years in which the psychoanalytic explanations of asthma and inflammatory bowel disease were considered scientifically valid? For several years after the discovery of chromosomes, humans were thought to have 48 rather than 46. alteripse 00:01, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

I vote for cold fusion and that Martian meteorite thought to contain a microscopic fossil (ALH84001). Also, the earlier incorrect observation of Martian canals. StuRat 00:25, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Cold fusion is not quite clean enough for me, because I don't think there is agreement regarding the intentions of pons and fleischmann (i.e. it doesn't clearly meet the "good faith" clause). Is there something else in Cold fusion you were thinking of? The other two might work well. Thank you for your suggestions! --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 03:20, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Global warming? Ice ages, Ozone holes, weather patterns, etc etc--Light current 00:34, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
This book will answer all your questions: Scientific Blunders: A brief history of how wrong scientists can sometimes be. The author Robert Youngson covers everything from the ancient Egyptians to cold fusion. It's an awesome book. Anchoress 00:36, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
That book has some rather scathing reader reviews you can see if you follow the link. StuRat 00:47, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
I've seen them. So what? Anchoress 00:56, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
They bear upon your assertion that the book is "awesome". StuRat 02:22, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
How? Anchoress 02:31, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Because they disagree with you, do I really need to explain this ? StuRat 02:56, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
They don't disagree with me, they have a different opinion from me. But there were a lot of reviews on Amazon that do think the book is awesome, and the one editorial review was positive, and from a respected journalist. Of course people are going to disagree. If some anonymous user on Amazon says that Joyce's Ulysses is crap, does that mean that the person on WP who says it's 'awesome' is wrong? Do I really need to explain this? Anchoress 03:00, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Geez, take it easy, will ya ? I'm just pointing out that most of the reviewers do not share your opinion that this is an "awesome" book. StuRat 07:17, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Thank you, this book does look interesting. I'll eventually turn to primary sources regarding any of the cases which I find interesting, so I'll be able to justify the books veracity. Although, I do also appreciate knowing the book is controversial, so I can be careful. Thanks to you both! --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 03:20, 24 August 2006 (UTC)


See Pathological science re: N-rays, polywater, water memory, cold fusion. You might add Shroud Science (sindonology) although it still has its devout adherents. ESP experiments have been debunked, but again there are still true believers. Homeopathy still sells a lot of tapwater for curing all ails through the principle of opposites. "Facilitated communication" involved people (facilitators) attending classes with children who were rather nonresponsive (brain damage?) and moving the child's hands to respond to questions, The parents thought their vegetative children were getting a good education and would have a fine career. "Clever Hans" was a horse who could "solve" complex math problems by watching for unintentional clues from the questioner. Pyramid power. Phrenology. Also the discredited theory that autism was caused by mothers being cold toward their children. Blame game. Per Thomas Kuhn "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" the true believers often go to their grave refusing to believe in the Germ Theory, evolution, or whatever. The scientif revo;lution often means new scientists replace the old ones. Edison 01:11, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks you, that's a great list of pseudoscience. Unfortunately, most of these won't work for my purposes, because they aren't clearly good faith mistakes by scientists. But, I'm impressed by the long list :) --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 03:20, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Please take another look. N rays were certainly a good-faith mistake, aswas cold fusion and as was polywater. Degreed scientists in a legitimate lab setting making and perpetuating errors, not unqualified charlatans trying to pry bucks from the gullible.Edison 19:01, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Will do. I'm pretty sure there isn't widespread agreement about Pons and Flieschmann. At least I know of a few people who believe that it was intentional misconduct. I will look into N rays and polywater. Our articles on both cite these as examples of pathological science which, if fair, put them on the border of good faith. But, of course, wikipedia is not a primary source :), and I will rely on other sources before dismissing them. Thanks for pointing these out! --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 19:39, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Piltdown man was no mistake, it was intentionally faked. Nimur 17:17, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
I'll bet this one is perfect too. Especially if the widespread use of lobotomies stood in the way of finding other cures. The only concern is if the first "demonstration" of the effectiveness of lobotomies was good science. Psychology during that time was sort of up in the air. I'll look into it. Thanks a lot! --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 19:56, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Curly wire- how is it made?[edit]

I should know the answer to this ... but I dont. How is that curly wire (sometimes used as guitar leads or telephone lead) made? Also, if you have some, how can it be straightened out?--Light current 21:21, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Depends on what you mean by curly wire. Do you have picture for us? --M1ss1ontomars2k4 (T | C | @) 21:33, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

You know, the wire connecting the hadset to the phone base! I cant find a pic on WP--Light current 21:48, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

you can get such an effect by getting a straight piece and scoring along the inside of the intended curl with a blunt blade (ie, not so sharp it just digs in and takes out chunks), or by just using curly copper to make the wire. Philc TECI 22:07, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

It looks like its been wound round some sort of mandrel before treatment because the inside of the coil is somewhat flattened.--Light current 22:15, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

I would guess the mandrel is then warmed. To make it straight I would stretch it then warm it. Maplin call it coiled cable, with the brand name StretchFlex.--Shantavira 07:24, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Switching power supplies[edit]

The standard Apple power adapter for iBooks and PowerBooks is a switching power supply. I know it will work with either about 100 V or about 240 V AC. But it's labeled as being "100-240V". Does that mean that if I wanted, I could choose any voltage between 100 V and 240 V? Obviously, this isn't likely to happen, but I'd like to know anyway ;). --M1ss1ontomars2k4 (T | C | @) 21:23, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes you can! Switchers have an extremely wide input voltage range. THats one reason they are so good. Another is that they are generally much lighter than linear power supplies--Light current 21:27, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Massive Object Collisions in Particle Accelerators[edit]

I was wondering whether or not it would be possible to acclerate a mass of 1 kilogram to near the speed of light in a large particle accelerator just as one does in any accelerator with particles. If possible, how much energy would be needed to charge the process, how big would the accelerator have to be, and how fast exactly or approximately would the mass go. Also, what type of energy is released in a collision of such objects? How much light and heat energy is released? Sorry to ask so many questions but please answer as many as you can. Thank you very much for your time.

If E=mc^2, you could work it out yourself! I think with the accelerators we have at preent, it would not be possible. You would have to go to Altair IV to perform this one!--Light current 23:17, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm by no means an expert on this, but since the particles are accelerated magnetically, accelerating a mass of 1 kg would take such huge magnets that it wouldn't be realistically possible, not to mention the huge amounts of energy it would take. - Dammit 23:24, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Light current is right; for more precise information, try Kinetic energy#In relativistic mechanics. Make sure you get to the bottom, though! Melchoir 23:26, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm probably just repeating whatever's in the relativistic mechanics article says, but the energy of the block, as light current mentioned is given by
 E = m c^2  = \gamma m_0 c^2 = \frac{m_0}{\sqrt{1-\frac{v}{c}^2 }} c^2
where m0 is the rest mass, and v is the velocity. So, the kinetic energy is given by
 K = E - E_0 = E - m_0 c^2 = (\frac{1}{\sqrt{1-\frac{v}{c}^2 }} - 1) m_0 c^2
All you have to do is plug in the numbers. m_0 = 1 kg, and pick a value for v/c. On a side note, current particle accelerators are designed to accelerate particles on the order of 10^-27 kg - that's 27 orders of magnitude smaller than your hypothetical 1 kg block. That is, particle accelerator technology is really utterly unsuited to accelerating macroscopic objects. You'd need a completely different type of "accelerator". You'd have more luck with a rocket in space. Our ability to accelerate such a massive amount to such a high speed (v > .01c) in a distance comparable to the diameter of the earth is really far beyond our current technological capability. Cool idea, though. --Bmk 00:09, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
I compute the energy needed to accelerate 1 kg of mass to 1/10th of the speed of light as about 266 TJ. Isn't that about the world energy consumption in one minute? Maybe we should read the question as "large-particle accelerator". --LambiamTalk 01:13, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
I'll note that the cyclotron radiation (or synchrotron radiation, if you get going that fast) is going to kill your energy budget if you use a conventional ring-shaped accelerator. Using magnets to push your big mass around a curve bleeds off energy (it gets radiated as photons tangentially to the object's path) at a rate that goes up as both the square of the objects velocity and the square of the magnetic field strength. Ouch. Perhaps a linear accelerator of some kind, but it's going to have to be awfully long.... TenOfAllTrades(talk) 02:14, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Why not take the reverse approach, and use a rail gun or coil gun, both of which are designed to accelerate a sizable slug, rather than subatomic particles ? True, they are only designed for low speeds, but why couldn't you chain, say, 1000 together, end to end, in a vacuum, to accelerate the slug to 1000 times the speed ? I would expect that the electromagnetic forces would turn the slug into a ball of plasma, so you would need to magnetically contain it, but that sounds possible to me. StuRat 02:49, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Strangely enough, I cant think of any argument against this idea ATM (But give me time!) tick.. tock....tick. Ahh yes ..you would need a hell of a long railway!
It doesn't seem like it would be any longer than current linear accelerators, perhaps a few miles long ? StuRat 07:08, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

The gigantic current passing thro the mass will turn it into plasma which may then diffuse uncontrollably. But maybe it has been tried. Who knows! I assume the required length could be worked out quite easily.--Light current 03:01, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

  • Has anyone ever considered constructing a zero G particle accelerator? I have no idea of the logistics of it, in fact it would probably require taking something the size of a small brownstone, and sending into orbit, so it might actually be impossible, but supposing that you had one anyway, wouldn't a low gravitation environment be superior to one at sea level? Or is 1 G so minimal an acceleration compared to that of the actual accelerator that it wouldn't make any difference--71.249.31.135 13:02, 25 August 2006 (UTC)