Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2007 August 31

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August 31[edit]

School Certificate and London Matric. (History)[edit]

Hi! I've been trying to find out what the content of the old examinations i.e. School Cert & Matriculation before the introduction of CSEs and O Levels etc. was and why they were changed just a general outline of the history. Sorry if this is obvious but I haven't been able to find anything. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:03, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Being around at the time I can tell you that I gained my Schools Certificate at 16 by passing the required minimum of six subjects including maths and English at the one sitting. I actually took nine subjects and gained three credits (60 - 70%, three passes 50 - 60%, and three fails 49% and lower). The year before me Matric finished (thank goodness for me because that included a compulsory language within the six subjects). Subjects on offer were far fewer than today. No "soft" options: media, sociology, etc. The most "artisanal" were wood and metal working, cookery and home economics. A wide range of science subjects were offered as routine. The GCE came in so that it could be awarded in single subjects. Thus employers began to ask for six good GCEs at the same sitting. But the qualification allowed the subjects to be taken one or more at a time, and then totted up. Not so previously. They also introduced band marking: A, B, C, D, E & F. So one secured a GCE "Pass" at any grade. A GCE grade D, E or F wasn't of much value... but the certificate was issued anyway. Nobody could "fail". 13:28, 31 August 2007 (UTC)petitmichel

I don't know about your time, but in the mid-70s when I did my 10 O levels and 3 A levels you certainly could fail GCE. In 1974 my O Levels were graded on a scale of 1-6 with anything else being a fail; a few years later they altered the system so grades 1-2 = A, 3-4 = B, and 5-6 = C, and they introduced D, E and F which were supposed to cover the old CSE grades - in my time we were told that a CSE grade 1 was equivalent to an O level grade 6. In 1976 my A levels were graded on an A to E scale, with F for fail. It was when they merged GCE O levels with CSE to create the GCSE around 1980 that we got the "nobody fails" mentality. That said, my actual O Level certificate doesn't say what my grades were, just that I "passed in the following 10 subjects:". -- Arwel (talk) 17:12, 31 August 2007 (UTC)


Are lower degrees in a subject usually required if a person wishes to earn a doctorate in a specific field? For example, say Joe has a Masters degree in Mathematics, and he wants to get a Doctorate in Physics. Would he have to take courses equivalent to 4 or 5 years of study in Physics to earn a Doctorate, or could he just start at the Graduate level? Thanks. GhostPirate 00:25, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

It depends on the person, the institution and the topic of the doctorate. If Joe wants to do a PhD by applying a boatload of maths to a physics application, then his maths masters should be fine. My beloved has an economics BSc and a computing PhD. I have an engineering first degree and a maths PhD. However these are from UK universities who have a very much more apprenticeship sttle of teaching PhDs than US universities. SaundersW 09:05, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
This will vary among graduate departments in the United States. Most departments would be unwilling to consider an applicant without significant undergraduate or graduate coursework in that discipline. On the other hand, using your example of Joe, if Joe had an undergraduate degree in physics, then studied mathematics at the masters level, then wanted to apply mathematical principles and methods to an area of physics for which his undergraduate coursework had prepared him, then he might be a strong candidate for a doctoral program. Even if Joe lacked an undergraduate degree in physics, but had taken courses, seminars, or practica in physics during his unversity career, if he could demonstrate the ability to apply math to physics, then some departments might strongly consider him (assuming, of course, that his grades, test scores, and recommendations were satisfactory). In either of these cases, Joe might be required to take some remedial undergraduate courses to fill in gaps in his knowledge of physics, but he would not be expected to complete the equivalent of an undergraduate degree in physics before advancing. If Joe needed that much remedial work, he would almost certainly not be accepted into the doctoral program. If Joe discovered a new passion for physics without much prior exposure to the subject after completing a masters in math, and if Joe were not daunted by additional years of schooling, Joe would be advised to complete some substantial coursework in physics (though not necessarily complete a degree) before applying for graduate study in physics. Marco polo 15:27, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I did a similar thing, switched fields in the middle of grad school; I took one year of grad studies in the new field as a 'special student' (i.e. out of my own pocket) and when I did OK, I got merged into the regular grad program. Gzuckier 16:03, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Turn It On Again: The Tour in Texas!!![edit]

Is it true Genesis might or not be visiting Texas for their tour? --Writer Cartoonist 01:29, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Yes. Bielle 01:32, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
The way the question is phrased, the only answer is yes. Clarityfiend 01:43, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
...unless, of course the idea was to actually help people rather than (say) to play the oh-hilarious game of being a bloody annoying language lawyer. I'll remind you to read Wikipedia:Reference_desk/guidelines#Content_and_tone which very specifically tells you not to do what you just did. A public apology to our OP would be in order here.
Anyway, it doesn't look like Genesis are coming to Texas - has no mention of Texas on their list of venues for the '07 Reunion tour. SteveBaker 02:32, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I was merely pointing out that Bielle's answer was ambiguous. But if the original poster took it as ridicule, I apologize. On the other hand, I find your tone a bit on the offensive side myself. Clarityfiend 09:52, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Oh, don't be so precious. We have an article on the tour - Turn It On Again: The Tour. Sorry Writer Cartoonist, as it stands it looks like no grooving to Invisible Touch or No Son of Mine for Texans. Neil  10:36, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Maybe these sorts of things would be avoided if questions were phrased in a less ambiguous way. This particular question contained 2 sub-questions: (a) Is it true that Genesis are coming to Texas?, and (b) Is it true that Genesis are not coming to Texas? Apparently, the answer to (a) is "No", and the answer to (b) is "Yes". -- JackofOz 11:39, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Or people could just answer the question, since they knew exactly what the OP meant. Saying "oh, I do believe your question is a tad ambiguous there chap" isn't helpful or polite. Recury 14:04, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Many visitors here use English as a second language and/or are Texan, so I think it's fair to assume in cases like this that it's a language/grammar issue, rather than that the OP came here to have a tautology confirmed. --Sean 15:42, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, precisely. It was really obvious what the OP was asking. Nobody - yes NOBODY - was genuinely confused by it. So rather than spend a couple of minutes using our web surfing skills to actually answer the question (thank you User:Neil - your answer was much better than mine) - Bielle thought it amusing to give a literalist answer that would likely have the effect of tricking the OP into falsely believing that there actually would be a Texas tour and Clarityfiend (Doh! Bad choice of username!) tried a rather pathetic attempt at "I'm so superior" humor (which wasn't in the slightest bit funny or original by the way - and nobody here (including Clarityfiend) believes it was a 'clarification'). The big message is "That's not why we're here folks". We are supposed to actually help people. If you can't do that, you aren't welcome here. The ref desk guidelines clearly say that what happened here last night is not allowed. It says: "In particular, don't poke fun at a poorly-written question" - is there anything ambiguous about that? It's perfectly OK to reply with your own clarification of the question if it's truly not clear. If (and I don't believe it) you were genuinely confused by the language of the question, you could still have replied: "If you are asking whether there will be a Texas venue on the tour - then the answer is 'No', they won't be coming to Texas. If you are asking something else, then perhaps you could rephrase the question." The first two answers given were flat-out inappropriate no matter what your underlying difficulty with the question was. SteveBaker 16:03, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

(De-indent) Wow! For a lapse in judgement on my part, which I acknowledge and for which I apologise to Writer Cartoonist, that's a lot of words, anger and time. I picked the wrong time to be elsewhere. Enough said, I think. Bielle 17:29, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Bielle's answer could have been OK. The way I understood it when I read it, she wasn't "poking fun at a poorly-written question" at all. The way I think of it, to poke fun at a poorly-written question implies being rude to the original poster and offending them because of their writing skills. That didn't happen, and had I written that question, I'd find her answer funny. In fact, the original poster could have phrased the question like that to make it funny in purpose. Anyway, my point is that Bielle's reply could have been a joke supposed to make the original poster laugh as well, not be offended, and that's the way I took it. I think she should only apologise if her intention was to be rude and poke fun at the original poster because of their writing skills. A.Z. 01:47, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Social Security Number for Animals[edit]

Is it possible to get a social security number for a pet? I ask this because if it is, then a person could claim their pet as a dependent and get discount on their annual income tax. -- —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:36, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Unless Rover has a driver's licence, passport, or state-issued ID card, no. But you can still leave him $12,000,000. - Eron Talk 02:53, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I have heard all sorts of stories about people doing things like this; how true they are I don't know. However I think you are asking whether you would actually be allowed to do this if they knew that you were doing so for your pet, in which case the answer for any country I know of would be no. --jjron 09:29, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Its definetly not legal. Grango242 20:34, 31 August 2007 (UTC)


Sorry. I was just a question I was asking about. The Turn It On Again was just a question I asked becuase I thought they might be visiting where I live (see my User:Writer Cartoonist user page). I didn't mean to trick people into really thinking that Genesis are coming down, I was just as curious as they were. --Writer Cartoonist 02:48, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Wait, what happened?-- —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:58, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

I think there was a misinterpretation here. The criticism was aimed at Bielle (not at Writer Cartoonist) because Bielle answered an "is it possible" question with a simple "yes" (because, of course, anything is possible). This could be taken to be a bit rude to Writer Cartoonist. StuRat 04:04, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
This discussion probably should have stayed up with the original 'Turn it on again' post. --jjron 09:35, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Sorry Writer Cartoonist - no criticism of your question was intended...just some silly ref-desk humor that went beyond the bounds of our guidelines. But as a fellow Texas inhabitant, I concur..."Darn - no tour for us". SteveBaker 16:11, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
See the original 'Turn it on again' post for my apology to the OP. Bielle 17:32, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Water Allergy[edit]

I heard it is possible to be allergic to water. Does wikipedia have an article on water allergy? How does someone with a water allergy survive, being that we need water to live? -- —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:02, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

See Aquagenic pruritus. I love questions like this. I never knew such a thing was possible, but I learned something while searching for an answer. Thank you for asking this. 03:52, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Maybe not exactly an allergy, but I have a friend who experiences severe Aquagenous Urticaria and anaphylactic shock whenever he goes into cold water for more than a couple of minutes. He almost died once when swimming at a secluded beach, and he only survived because he had an epipen on hand. -- JackofOz 11:32, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Forgive the obvious question, but why was he swimming at a secluded beach if he had this problem? Why was he swimming in the sea at all? Or was this his first attack, with the epipen being for some other condition? Or is this too personal a question? Or just too high a question density? :) Skittle 15:47, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Fair question. He'd experienced similar, but much milder, symptoms previously. They only started when he was around 23 years old, for no apparent reason. This was one of the first times he'd been swimming since the symptoms first appeared. The severity of the attacks seems related to the coldness of the water and the length of time he's in it, but it's a bit hit and miss. One time he might just have hives; but another time his breathing is also affected. But never previously anything as bad as on this occasion. Seems he had just the wrong combination of temperature and length of time in the water this particular day, and he had a severe attack of both hives and throat constriction. He had the epipen because his father's a doctor who, after the first (minor) symptoms occurred, gave it to him just in case he might ever need it. He'd never needed it before this occasion. Since then, he's learned how to have a swim in a way that doesn't jeopardise his health, but he keeps the epipen on hand just in case. (And although the beach was secluded, he wasn't alone. He was with a friend, who was able to help him administer the epipen and ease his panic). -- JackofOz 04:34, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Makes sense :) Lucky him having a doctor father. Skittle 19:48, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Cajon home built boat.[edit]

When I was much younger I lived in the deep south and had several Acadian (Cajon) friends. At one time I received an offer to be taught how to build the small boat that we used on the river and bayous. Unfortunately I did not accept their invitation. We called it a pea-row probably spelled (pe’reau). I’m looking for plans and any other information from my past on this little boat. Smokydawg 03:03, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

I can't help with plans, but it sounds like you are looking for a Pirogue. - Eron Talk 03:17, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Telepathy / tarot sites[edit]

Can anybody explain to me how the above sites can manage to answer personal questions you ask about what you are wearing, who your boyfriend / girlfriend is, what can be found in your room etc. Its quite spooky! Thanks. Reference —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:31, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Cold reading. -Wooty [Woot?] [Spam! Spam! Wonderful spam!] 09:24, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
If these are sites where a friend types a question in as you ask it, then the answer appears, they will be typing an answer in secretly. Watch their fingers :) Skittle 11:08, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Aha, and after going to the site in the OP, this appears to be the case! A fun trick, confront your friend about it and they'll tell you how to prank someone else. -Wooty [Woot?] [Spam! Spam! Wonderful spam!] 11:12, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
In the 'petition' box, type . then your answer then . again. Then type enough so that petition is all written out, then a : type your question, then a question mark. Voila. Skittle 11:42, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

I really dont think this is the case as I was in the room next to the computer at the same time as the questions were being asked. Has anybody tried these sites? Its quite awesome and I would like to know what is going on?

UFO Shot @ by SA Police / How Chinese deal with Kidnappers[edit]

Where in the UFO article can this be placed ? Link is Primary links may be from the local SA media and the HBCC. Also, here are three photos depicting how the Chinese govt. deals with kidnappers and criminals. Link is The pixes depict a cop killing the criminal. Can this be placed anywhere ? 08:45, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

I was going to put the 1st one in the UFO article in which a UFO was shot at by police/military police, the 2nd one in one of the China articles and/or the crime articles, but I'm NOT sure. 08:56, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
HELP! 08:57, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
First of all, people will respond when they do, and tripleposting within 15 minutes is bad form. Second, your question would be better on the help desk, or an article talk page, not on this board. Thirdly, this "rense" place doesn't look like a reliable source to all. -Wooty [Woot?] [Spam! Spam! Wonderful spam!] 09:22, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Edit conflict. Quite frankly the whole site doesn't exactly appear to be a very reputable source. Have you looked at their homepage for example - hardly something to inspire confidence. To be honest I'd forget about trying to put anything you get from this site into articles until it can be verified from somewhere that does seem to be reputable. --jjron 09:23, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Real Estate Term[edit]

In the real estate business, i would like to know what means the word "side" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:52, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Well if it is city-position it is placement of the district in the city (e.g. the 'east'-side of town). It could be the side of the home that entrance is available via (e.g. side-entrance), it could mean a worksurface like a 'granite' side (though that would be a bit odd). It could be the side of deal that you are on, so the buyer's side V the seller's side (again a little odd terminology though). If you put this more in context beyond just real-estate someone else may be able to definie it better for you. ny156uk 16:02, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I'm going to agree with NYuk, Buyer Side or Seller Side. I'm in the Title Insurance field in Southern California, the realtors that call up don't really use this term openly, Side-Out!, unless they play volleyball on the weekends. 'Who's the Selling Agent? Who's the Buying Agent?' the sort of 'Who's side are you on anyways?' doesn't really apply to corporate end of R.E., maybe on the street it means something else. --i am the kwisatz haderach 17:54, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Amendment to Street Jargon, via real estate world. 'What do you got on the Side?' Sounds like shady dealings. In what context do you hear this "side" being used? --i am the kwisatz haderach 17:57, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I live in the Uk and always thought that US houses could be protected from the elements by having a "Side" or "Siding" affixed to them, usually made from Aluminium Sheeting? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:10, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

City of lights[edit]

Hey, wondering what The City of Lights is? Google's first result says Paris but I'm not so sure. As shown here (which is, in my eyes, not Paris's skyline!) JoshHolloway 15:27, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

As noted in out Paris article, "City of Light" (singular) is a common nickname for the home of the Eiffel Tower. I can't identify the city on the linked photo, but it seems that whomever titled it was just using the name to describe the picture (similarly, I almost always title my LiveJournal posts with a song lyric or title that is related to the content). --LarryMac | Talk 15:40, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I don't know whether Paris is the City of Light, but that picture is a night-shot from the Tour Eiffel. --Ibn Battuta 16:28, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Paris is the accepted answer, but remember that in L.A. Woman Jim Morrison says it's Los Angeles.

Atlant 16:49, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Jim Morrison! Gotta love the Doors! Grango242 20:26, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Solar technology[edit]

Are any companies which produce technology for the generation of solar power located in Africa? How about use of solar technology in Africa? And what are the main obstacles? Thanks, Ibn Battuta 16:23, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

This is from South Africa. Corvus cornix 16:57, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
  • This Economist article is about electricity in general, not just solar electricity, but it will give you a good idea of what the main obstacles are to any business that might want to manufacture or market solar power in Africa. Except in the jungle areas, the problem is not a lack of light (see these maps [1][2]). It's a shaky political/economic environment. --M@rēino 20:05, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Solar power has a good potential in Africa, due to lots of sunlight and a lack of electrical grids in many areas which offer cheaper alternative forms of energy. The relatively low start-up costs (say compared with building a nuclear power plant) also favor solar power. StuRat 21:40, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Plasmatronics in Australia produce solar regulators and export at least to Rwanda where lightning strikes have been a problem.Polypipe Wrangler 08:42, 1 September 2007 (UTC)


I have a building constructed with board and batting siding (pine, smoothed sanded and polyurathane varnish). Woodpeckers keeprillings holes (2" diameter) in the boards. My question is how do they hold on to do their pecking? Can anyone direct me to a good sourse to learn woodpecker physiology? Thanks, WSC —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:22, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Bird talons can be remarkably effective. Andif you don't believe me, I'll introduce you to my parrot the next time hers get sharp again.
Atlant 18:45, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Woodpeckers have zygodactyl feet, meaning that two toes project forward and two back. This allows them to hang on tightly to the trunk of a tree or other surface. (Most birds have three toes forward and one back; although interestingly enough, parrots also have zygodactyl feet.) Woodpeckers also have strong, usually pointed tail feathers that they use to brace themselves, thus giving them a strong tripod base.--Eriastrum 20:04, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

San Diego Weather[edit]

Are there other locations in the U.S. that have weather similar to the San Diego area????

Thank you, Crabby1. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:46, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Maybe Santa Barbara? The coastal parts of Orange and Los Angeles Counties, too. And the coastal parts of San Luis Obispo County. Any further north, and it gets to be cooler and foggier. Corvus cornix 18:23, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

The Hawaiian climate can be more humid, or so I've heard. Grango242 20:24, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

This is true. Corvus cornix 20:36, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
The wonderful coastal SoCal climate is pretty unique in the US, which is why it is such a popular place to live and visit. As Corvus cornix says, all the coastal towns/cities as far north as Santa Barbara are similar to San Diego, such as Del Mar, Oceanside, Newport Beach, Santa Monica and Malibu. Though the last week has been extremely hot in this region, so currently its more like Arizona or Nevada weather. Rockpocket 20:09, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

To be the cat's meow[edit]

What does "To be the cat's meow mean"?. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:33, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

And, what is the "cats pajamas"? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:06, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Did you even try to look?
Cat's meow
Cat's pajamas - Zepheus <ゼィフィアス> 20:23, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Zepheus, that seems a little bitey. Do you think you could reword it to be less mean? (If so, feel free to remove this comment) Skittle 20:34, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

I looked on Wikipedia and did not find it, neither on the Oxford English Dictionary. I also used Google and searched for a long time wthout being able to find it, that is the reason why I had to post a query on Wikipedia, which was very hard to do because there really is a lot of information and rules everywhere.

It would be nicer if people were a little more polite when they answer. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:33, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Well, I guess. Except that Wikipedia does have an entry for at least one of them, which directs to a definition. -- 21:58, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

I only asked about "To be the cat's meow", I do not have any idea about who interfered and asked the other question. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:07, 1 September 2007 (UTC)


Are there any helicopters capable of carrying an Main Battle Tank, either inside or underneath?--Pheonix15 19:52, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

and for the heck of it, what about a Panzer VIII Maus?--Pheonix15 19:54, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
To the best of my knowlege, "no", and "no". An M1 Abrams weighs in at 135,000 pounds -- so heavy that only the C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III heavy-lift airplanes can carry it -- while a Panzer VIII Maus weighs in at 400,000 pounds, too heavy for any aircraft in existence. --Carnildo 20:41, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
According to [3] - "10--Sikorsky's YCH-53E, Number 1, flew in a hover at a gross weight of 71,700 pounds. It carried an external load of 17.8 tons and hovered at a wheel height of fifty feet. This was the heaviest gross weight ever flown--and the heaviest payload ever lifted--by a helicopter in the western world." - As current Western MBT's exceed 60 tons in weight and current Russian MBTs exceed 40 tons, there is no way any contemporary helicopter could carry any contemporary MBT. However it is possible that an extremely heavy duty helicopter could airlift a Mobile Gun System or other lesser AFV such as an APC or IFV. Exxolon 21:42, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
For comparison the heavy-lift helicopters S-64 Skycrane and CH-54 Tarhe seem to be limited to about 20,000 lbs each. StuRat 21:35, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Note that the US Navy's MH-53E_Sea_Dragon ("the largest helicopter in the Western world") is listed as being able to lift up to 16,330 kg (36,000 pounds), and the soviet Mil Mi-12 holds the world record at 44,205 kg (88,636 lb). -- 21:44, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Hmm - that claim in the Mil Mi-12 article doesn't have a source. If it's true, then conceivably the Mil Mi-12 could just about lift a contemporary Russian model MBT such as a T-72 - a T-80 or T-90 would be a little too heavy, and western MBT's with their 60+tonne weights would be way outside the theshold. Exxolon 21:53, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

How are tanks like the Abrams transported from the US to Iraq? Do they do it through ships? Acceptable 22:43, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Yes, they use ships and, as already noted, the C-17 and C-5 can also carry the Abrams (but not very efficiently!). FiggyBee 00:34, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Breeders' Cup[edit]

Does anyone know where the Breeders' Cup is going to be this year? Grango242 20:23, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Monmouth Park - Monmouth Park Racetrack. Corvus cornix 20:40, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Odd smelling Microwave[edit]

When I am microwaving something, my microwave makes an unusual sound and there is a strong smell of alcohol. Could there be something wrong with the electrical wiring of the microwave that is perhaps causing the wires to be microwaved? My microwave is a few years old and this problem just started recently. Thanks, Acceptable 20:31, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Are you sure someone didn't spill something under the glass tray, like glass cleaner ? It may be evaporating when heated, which would explain why you only smell it after operating the microwave oven. StuRat 21:05, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I just cleaned the microwave and there are no food or any other residue in it. The noise that the microwave makes is different than that it normally makes. Acceptable 22:40, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
What did you use to clean it ? StuRat 16:52, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
If my microwave started making a funny noise in use and giving off a bad smell, I would not use it again until I knew what the problem was because the potential for bad incidents is too nasty. If you've eliminated things like the inner tray thing not being properly in position and food or chemicals in the inner section, it's best to get a proper expert in to look at it or (probably cheaper and more practical) buy a new one. If your microwave were fairly new, you could probably take it back to the shop and ask for it to be repaired or replaced, but if yours is quite old you're probably better off replacing it :( 19:18, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

PC Health Risks[edit]

"What are health risks for someone working on a PC for more than 6 hours nonstop?" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mapambazukoleo (talkcontribs) 20:52, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Eye strain, obesity, back problems, wrist problems. Corvus cornix 20:59, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Since you already asked this at Wikiversity, let me refer you to my answers there: [4]. StuRat 21:00, 31 August 2007 (UTC)


"What is a scientific world stance on the UFOs phenomena" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mapambazukoleo (talkcontribs) 20:56, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Since you already asked this at Wikiversity, let me refer you to my answers there: [5]. StuRat 21:00, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Firstly let's establish that by 'UFO' we're talking about aliens in spaceships - right? Technically, any object that you can't identify that's flying is a UFO - but I'll assume you don't mean that. I think that science generally points to the very strong likelyhood (from a statistical basis alone) that there are alien civilisations 'out there'. But the numbers suggest that if they are there - they'd be an awfully long way away. So the fact of there being 'aliens' is pretty much an OK assumption - it's certainly not ruled out. However, we also know that it would be almost impossible for a spacefaring alien species to get here from wherever they are. The sheer difficulty of interstellar travel makes it seem REALLY unlikely they'd be here visiting. It's far more likely that SETI will find aliens by radio or laser contact than to have them show up on our doorstep completely unannounced. Even if they were coming - I'd expect to see some unmanned scientific vehicles arriving first. Robot probes could get here and perhaps they'd have some really smart robots. It's not impossible that they'd show up in person - but it's just really, really unlikely. Now we have to add to that the fact that there is a TON of eyewitness reports but absolutely zero solid evidence. Most (if not all) of the photos can be shown to have been faked - and the eyewitnesses don't really stand up to careful investigation. In the end, we can't know for sure but Occam's razor says it's a lot more likely that there are a bunch of nut-jobs out there than that there are aliens here - and "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". SteveBaker 01:05, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Without patronising you in any way Steve, I'd say that was a damn good summing up of the present situation. Richard Avery 07:19, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Choosing a digital camera.[edit]

I had a Samsung Camera a few years ago that went wonky whilst on holiday in San Diego so I bought a Canon Powershot A510 which I brought home to Scotland and which has been fine for my needs since then. But I am getting a bit fed up with the delayed shutter speed and want to upgrade to something that is much faster and more responsive and which also doesn't take an age to recharge the flash. I thought about a Digital SLR but don't fancy the bulky size and shape and also the relatively bulky price (for me). Also, I would prefer to stick with my current stock of SD Memory cards and rechargeable AA batteries. Any advice would be gratefully received. Thanks in anticipation. 22:05, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Sounds like you already know quite a bit about digital cameras, but just in case you haven't yet figured it out, "digital zoom" is absolute marketing crap (worse than useless, I'd pay to take it off a camera); only settle for real "optical zoom".
It would help us to make recommendations if we knew what you use your digicams for. For example, if it's just for e-mails (at the low end) or if you are a professional freelance photographer (at the high end).StuRat 22:14, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
If you're shooting sports or anything else where shutter response is important, you NEED a (D)SLR. --antilivedT | C | G 01:26, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

The samsung/pentax digital slr's take AA's and SD cards - eg Pentax_K10D or Pentax_K110D samsung models are similar. If you don't want a dSLR I'd imagine you have a huge range to choose from - one possibility are bridge cameras - which fuji make AA/sd compatanle model(s) (amongst others) - these are smaller than the dSLR but a similar shape, and around half the price. You can get these for about (UK)£160 ) - the main problem seems to be getting one which takes AA's - see "fuji s5700" - and tell us if it's too much/not good enough/too big etc —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:26, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Thanks folks for all your prompt and helpful responses. It's a bit like going to a restaurant with an extensive menu and then wishing you had ordered what the person at the next table is eating - there is so much choice out there. My budget would be around £300 max. inclusive of any lenses, flash etc. I am not a professional or sports photographer, just a happy retired family man who used to take zillions of family and holiday snaps with film cameras but moved to digital about 10 years ago. I like spontaneous shots - they produce more natural results than posed, but I can't get that with my current Canon Powershot A510 because of the shutter and flash delay. I rarely print pictures though I do have a good quality printer, but I do like to copy to disk and share them with family and friends around the world - and I do send lots by e-mail. The Nikon D-40 D-SLR I was shown yesterday in a branch of Jessops looked good and the price was Ok, but it did feel bulky, though light, and the manager described it as an excellent intro. level D-SLR but having checked on various websites, it seems to attract a lot of criticism for every compliment it gets. So I am really confused between upper end Digital Compact or lower end D-SLR. Am I being too demanding do you think, or should I just take a chance? Again, any advice will be appreciated. Thanks. 13:06, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
One site quotes a 0.2sec "click to capture" time for the nikon above, there's definately nothing wrong with it (review sites can be niggly and often in the case of SLR's are comparing to the performance of a hypothetical 'ultimate camera') - I wouldn't be upset to say the least to find that in my christmas stocking..The cheaper of the pentax/samsungs I mentioned above are a little cheaper than that nikon but not by much, argubly the nikon is a better camera (by a small amount).
Your main problem it seems is the flash - herein lies the problem - despite advances in technology flashes require energy to charge up - and that is a drain on the battery - the batteries can only supply a certain amount in a given time - so the 'flash charging' problem is a universal one.. However certain battery types allieviate the problem: see here (reply to first question)
As far as I know the 'shutter lag' or 'start up time' problem is almost non-existent nowadays on the new model cameras - you can take it for granted this won't be a problem.. However some cameras will go into 'menu mode' when you first turn them on - though you can get round this by selecting 'fast start' or equivalent in the options - (will require reading those massive manuals they come with) hopefully you should only have to do it once. Make sure before you buy that it's possible to have the camera go into 'take a picture' mode from off. (there may be a standby mode that hardly takes any power that you can use)
That said a SLR is often overkill for most people, (I used to have one and I never changed the lens - one of the main reasons for getting one), 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Given what you've described about the photographs you'd be taking a 'point and shoot' camera sounds far more suitable than an SLR plus you'll save at least £200 - I'd recommend asking another question to see if anyone can recommend a good point and shoot camera - basically most of the named brands are good (though some samsungs and sony's are hideously overpriced) - and just about all take SD cards. 17:46, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
If you don't often print your photos, then there isn't much point in them being higher resolution than a computer screen - so a 2Megapixel camera should be fine. Getting a camera with minimum delay is really important. My camera sucks at that and it's my biggest problem with it. SteveBaker 15:02, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
From my experience, 2 megapixel cameras don't have that clear of a resolution on a monitor. But you're on the right track, a 4 megapixel-ish camera should be plenty, and would cost significantly less than 7/8+ megapixels. --Wirbelwindヴィルヴェルヴィント (talk) 21:20, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
If you're shooting things indoor getting a £75 flash (eg. this, look at the comparison under "Why I love mine") will benefit you far more than say getting a £6000 Canon 1Ds Mark II. If you don't mind the slight bulkiness, you can either get a new Nikon D40 (D40x if your budget allows) or a second-hand D50, which is both cheaper and allow you to use non-AF-S lenses (but it shouldn't concern you right now), along with their kit lens (18-55mm) and a SB-400. --antilivedT | C | G 04:25, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Once again folks, thanks for all your helpful comments. I am now re-thinking the Nikon option but also thinking of delaying my purchase until I visit San Diego in the Spring. I bought my last camera there when my Samsung died and I found US prices much cheaper than UK. But if anyone has any warning shots about that, please let me know. Cheers. 15:22, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

traveling overland across Africa[edit]

I've heard of people doing this in land-rovers and land-cruisers. Just wondering what the budget was for a party of 3-4 who have done these trips. Or, if that is not available, then an estimate within $5000 please. I haven't given any assumptions, and I know this, so remember that saying "it depends" doesn't answer the question or add any insight. Thanks. -Rob —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:12, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Can't give you a budget, but here are a couple of guys who did Plymouth to Banjul in an old VW Golf [6]. DuncanHill 22:28, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I guess you just have to break down the things you need and the costs you're going to incur piece by piece and add up the total. I doubt that anyone here can help you on that. The most best possible thing you could do would be to get in touch with someone who already did this trip. Their knowledge is worth more than anything we could possibly give here - and they'd probably be able to tell you what this cost them. But failing that - since everything you'll take with you has to fit into two land rovers, I'd say that your biggest expense by far is the land rovers themselves. If this is a one-way trip, you've got to consider whether you'll sell them and fly home at the end - or whether you'll put them on a boat and ship them home. If you are going there and back again then that's a VERY different equation! You'll be putting a LOT of miles (and rough miles at that) onto those two vehicles - the effect on their depreciation will be substantial - they may actually be worthless at the end of the trip! I suppose if it were me, I'd factor in the possibility that one of the land rovers wouldn't make it and might have to be abandoned...that would be costly. Then you have fuel, food, water, medical supplies, spares (very important!), tools and the usual camping supplies, emergency equipment, water filtration/purification, radios, GPS's, satellite phone, laptop, cameras, maps, lots of spare batteries and 12v chargers. You'll need a bunch of jerrycans for fuel and water (both for you and for the vehicles). When you get to civilisation, you'll probably want to spend a night or two in a hotel to recover from the ravages of the trip - so I'd factor in the cost of some hotel stays. Of all of those things, I'd expect spare parts for the land rovers to be the biggest part of that because you don't know what you are going to need in advance and you'll need to take a ton of stuff "just in case". I'd guess that stuff like air filters, oil, battery, suspension, wheels and tyres would be the most likely things to need replacement - but you might want to consider taking a spare starter, alternator, fuel and water pumps, lots of spare nuts and bolts, duct tape, hoses, clamps, belts and a REALLY good service manual. You'll want a complete set of tools (make sure they are the right size/type for your vehicles!)...power tools need to run off of 12 volts so you can use them from the truck if you are in the middle of nowhere. If a substantial part of the trip will be off-road then you'll need things like tow chains, sand trays, shovels, jack, winch and cable. I'd hide some very convertible currency (maybe a small number of gold coins) for emergencies of a 'bribing someone to get you out of jail' variety! But overall, I'd imagine that the biggest part of the cost would be the vehicles and their spare parts. All of the other stuff put together probably comes to less than $5000...but you need to sit down with the four of you and make a really comprehensive list. I would want to talk to a land-rover dealership to find out the most likely spare parts and tools you'll need. Make sure at least one of you knows enough about land rover mechanics to do jobs like changing a fuel pump. You may need some things that are normally optional extras on the vehicles - roof racks, off-road suspension kits, tropical radiator fans...who knows? 14:57, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
I traveled from Amsterdam to Nairobi in 5 months with an overland organisation for a total of 5000 euro. Half of that I spent during the trip, the other half was for the organisation. Fun thing is - because I had sublet (subletted?) my flat it was cheaper than staying home. :) The reason it is so cheap to book is that those organisations make their money on short trips in Africa (mostly Kenia and thereabouts), but to do that they have to get the trucks into Africa. So when they do that they might as well take along passengers, whom they only charge for the fuel. Food one has to buy and cook (oneself), but is dirt-cheap in Africa. Mind you, this is really low-budget (sleeping in tents most of the time), but that's more fun. I also met some people on an expensive tour, and they didn't have any fun at all. They kept their distance from their surroundings and where therefore constantly frustrated and scared even. The orgnisation I traveled with was Amsterdam-based Afriesj (didn't expect there to be an article), but there are many others, most of them based in London, I believe. Googling 'overland tours' gives some results. DirkvdM 19:16, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Why are some artists more famous than others?[edit]

Why are some artists more famous than others? How does one establish themselves as a famous artist? Thanks. Acceptable 22:38, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Be in the right place at the right time, and have a good sense of self-promotion. Talent doesn't hurt, either. FiggyBee 07:33, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
One doesn't "choose" fame oneself (despite the best efforts of certain people desperate for celebrity), instead fame becomes you.
For artists, and in addition to luck, popular exposure certainly helps. I have heard it said the most famous artist in history is Rolf Harris, while it is unclear if this is true or even how would one ascertain this, his exposure to the masses is without question. Similarly Leonardo da Vinci is extremely famous today over 500 years after his death, due in no small part to his extremely popular paintings of the Last Supper and Mona Lisa (not to mention a certain anthropomorphic mutant turtle that brough awareness of him to a new generation).
Another thing that helps is having an influential benefactor, supporter, patron or mentor. Da Vinci had Andrea del Verrocchio then Ludovico Sforza. More recently Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin made their names largely due to the support of hugely influential Charles Saatchi.
Finally, it is helpful, though not essential to have a modicum of talent. Rockpocket 22:38, 1 September 2007 (UTC)