Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2009 February 20

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Miscellaneous desk
< February 19 << Jan | February | Mar >> February 21 >
Welcome to the Wikipedia Miscellaneous Reference Desk Archives
The page you are currently viewing is an archive page. While you can leave answers for any questions shown below, please ask new questions on one of the current reference desk pages.

February 20[edit]

What do you do if you wake up and find that your pet, a large pet like a dog or cat, is dead?[edit]

How do you dispose of it? Do you bury it, or have it cremated, or what?--AbilityAgility (talk) 00:43, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

It depends how romantic you are about pets. Some people spare no expense. Most people just put the animal in a box and bury the box. In the United States, it is perfectly legal to bury a dog or cat on your property. (Horses and cattle are another matter.) Ideally, you should bury it above the water table to encourage aerobic decomposition. However, too shallow a grave leaves it vulnerable to scavenging animals. Of course, some unsentimental people just leave the dead beast at the curb for the garbage man to deal with. If you can throw away a chicken carcass, why not a dog? Lantzy talk 01:19, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Putting it in the garbage could be a violation of garbage regulations -- it is here. If you can't or don't want to bury it, the minimum-cost option is to take it to the vet's office and ask for "mass cremation". --Anonymous, 08:08 UTC, February 20/09.
Well yeah, I suppose that just shows the ethical schizophrenia in the Western world... pet funerals and pet insurance exist (when dog and cat meat is eaten in like Korea) whereas people think nothing of the idea of eating a cow, pig, sheep, chicken, fish, etcetera.--AbilityAgility (talk) 01:24, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
When our oldest dog died a few months ago, we had the local Vetinary surgery deal with it. They collected the body - cremated it and returned the ashes in a neat little box so we could scatter them in his favorite spot in the woodland behind our house. I forget how much this cost - but it wasn't outrageous. SteveBaker (talk) 02:02, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure that burying a pet cat tells us much at all about our "ethics", only our sentimentality. I eat ham sandwiches all the time, but If I somehow had a pet pig I wouldn't treat him like livestock. APL (talk) 19:50, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
You can also have Fluffy turned into a diamond. – 74  02:20, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
You can take it to the vet. They will dispose of it for you (cremation). I suspect those who do not understand why one doesn't just "throw it away" have not had a beloved pet die. The grief is as real as any family member. -- (talk) 02:23, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Well... I wouldn't much care if a family member's body was just thrown away, for that matter. And I'm not saying I wouldn't feel the grief, I just don't care a whole lot about what happens to the body. My loved one -- family member, friend, pet, whatever -- isn't going to care. (I understand why many people feel differently, of course, but the grief isn't really tied to the body.) -- Captain Disdain (talk) 07:51, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Well, it's easy for us all to pretend to know what we'd care about in the abstract, and that we'd all be able to make a clean conceptual break from the loved one we saw the other day and the corpse we have now found. But grief has a way of catching you off guard. It is not an emotion to underestimate. I used to underestimate it myself, but it caught me out once, and I no longer will. It's the most intense emotion I've ever experienced—far more intense and dangerous than love, passion, rage, jealousy, etc. All of those are rather tame by comparison to that shock of being robbed of someone well-loved, animal or human... -- (talk) 15:10, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
I agree with both of you actually. I don't particularly care what happens to the body - because it's no longer that person or pet that I loved - mainly you have to "do it right" because other people care. But the feelings of grief can be quite amazingly overwhelming. When I heard that my father had just died - I had to get on a plane and fly halfway around the planet to get to the funeral. My first thought was that I needed some new black shoes to go with my dark suit - and I didn't have a lot of time before the next flight out from Dallas - so I got in the car and drove about half a mile towards a shoe store - but I became so overwhelmed with grief that I had to pull off the road and phone my wife to come and get me because I literally couldn't drive the car anymore. SteveBaker (talk) 16:20, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Your local branch of the ASPCA has many services available, including cremation and grief-consolation, for a price that is many times lower than your local vet. Phil_burnstein (talk) 16:54, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
I am in no way underestimating the impact of grief, and I certainly don't claim to be immune to it. I'm absolutely not saying that the grief isn't real. I'm just saying that I don't particularly care what they do with the body. Obviously, I realize that many, many other people feel differently about it, and if it makes it easier for them to deal with the whole thing, I'm quite willing to go along. Why wouldn't I? They're hurting just like I am. But to me, that pain doesn't have much to do with the body. Your mileage may vary. -- Captain Disdain (talk) 19:35, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
I could be wrong but I think you're missing the point. AFAICT, people are saying it's all very well to conceptialise now, but there's no way of knowing how you will react when it actually happens, there's a good chance even you won't be actually be so willing to just throw away the body of a loved one. In other words, unless you've actually had a loved one die, and were perfectly willing at the time to just throw away the body, your comments are more theoretical then practical. There are many people who can say they won't care in the abstract, you, me and SB are some, but far fewer who can do it in practice (of course as you've already mentioned, the other thing is you're usually not the only one who has an interest and even if you are perfectly willing, others may not so you won't) Nil Einne (talk) 13:24, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

It is shocking when something like that happens, and you have my condolences. If you own the property where you live, onsite burial can be comforting. Edison (talk) 05:53, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

Build a pendulum clock (simple)[edit]

I'm a part of the Science Olympiad competition, and one of the events requires building a time keeping device, accurate to .1 seconds. I was hoping to do a wooden pendulum clock, as that would be fun. Does anyone know where I could find plans to build a simple one? Especially the escapement/gear, as that appears to need some precision. I have a fair amount of power tools, wood, etc., but I don't have the skill or time to do something really ornate.

The general requirements are: fits, disassembled, in 80 sq. cm. box; measures time, accurate to .1 sec; period of time to be measured not greater than 5 min. The event supervisor plays an audio clip that's pre-recorded to have 10-300 seconds between two beeps, and we have to measure that time with our device.

Or, does anyone have any other ideas, than a pendulum clock? Without using electricity.

Thanks! Can-Dutch (talk) 02:59, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Can you just manually count the number of times the pendulum passes a given point ? That would avoid the need for all the fancy stuff, which will no doubt tend to run the pendulum down. Are you sure about that 0.1 sec time interval ? You'd need a rather fast pendulum to measure that. StuRat (talk) 04:55, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
For this application you don't really need precision-machined parts for a clock; you just need a device that behaves reproducibly for at least 5 minutes. You can build the "timekeeping device" first without worrying about the exact response timings, then use a (real) clock to mark the calibration on your timekeeping device. That way it won't matter if your pendulum swings every .9 seconds or 1.2 seconds—it only changes the spacing of the calibration marks.
Other potential timekeeping devices would include a water clock, sand clock, mechanical timer, rolling ball clock (unfortunately our article is a mess), candle clock (probably not allowed even if you could get the right accuracy), a steam clock (good luck getting that one by the judges), or anything else that behaves reproducibly (one such repurposed timekeeping device would be a mechanical metronome). With any of these devices (and the original pendulum clock), though, you are likely to have problems trying to measure with an accuracy of .1 second. – 74  05:41, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Re: "accurate to .1 seconds". Maybe the OP means that the device shouldn't lose/gain more than 0.1 seconds in the 5 minute time span over which it is measured. Astronaut (talk) 12:30, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
The way it works is they deduct points for loss of accuracy. You start with 10 points, then lose a specified number of points per 0.1 sec distance from actual. For example, if the time period is between 10-30 sec, you lose .4 points per .01 sec; if between 180-300, you lose .1 point per 0.1 sec. Can-Dutch (talk) 14:02, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
But how do they intend to measure your clock's accuracy so precisely ? A person wouldn't be able to detect a difference of .01 seconds between the clock and a reference source. You'd need some electronic measuring device, which means your clock would need to provide a usable input to the device. I'm afraid more explanation is needed here. StuRat (talk) 14:08, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
They have a pre-recorded soundtrack, that they know is 5.6 seconds long, or whatever time period they choose to use. They then play the recorded audio file, and we have to measure it. So we're measuring a known quantity, and they compare our numbers to the actual. They official Science Olympiad page has MP3s of all the possible sound lengths: Can-Dutch (talk) 15:17, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
And re "80 sq. cm." I'd expect a box to be in cubic centimeters. I guess it's a cube 80 cm on a side. The size would affect what could be made. --Milkbreath (talk) 12:47, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
The "sq." was a typo/terrible math on my part ... the official rulesheet says "fit into an 80cm cube", so I'm assuming that means 80*80*80=512000 cubic cm. I'll make sure to ask someone who did the event already to clarify. Can-Dutch (talk) 14:02, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Well, the desire to do an actual pendulum clock with escapement, etc. was mainly because that would make it more fun/interesting. Thanks for all the suggestions so far ... I'll probably end up playing with either a water clock or a simple pendulum. Can-Dutch (talk) 14:02, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Accuracy: My reading of the conditions are that you have to measure the period between the beeps to an accuracy of 0.1s. That's very different, and harder, than having a clock that doesn't lose or gain 0.1s. Maybe a spring clock would be better than a pendulum, as it could have faster oscillations. DJ Clayworth (talk) 15:22, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
If that accuracy statement is accurate then you'll definitely want to consider something with a fast action. Our (sparse) article on reaction time indicates that human response times to audible stimuli are generally .14 seconds or greater. I can't seem to find the rules (Ah, because they are copyrighted with a strict "no internet" policy (link removed per WP:ELNEVER))… OK, so the desired accuracy really is .1 second. I'd suggest a spinning spring mechanism with a long length of cord and a start/stop switch (a disassembled tape measure might be a good start). You'll probably want multiple configurations where the maximum rotational speed is limited differently to measure the different time scales presented. Beyond that, it's just a matter of setting the device in a reproducible configuration at the beginning of each run and comparing the amount of line remaining afterward to other known runs. (Note however that such a system may not be linearly related to time.) – 74  17:57, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
This sounds like one bad set of rules. If they really expect people to measure time intervals between 0.01 and 0.1 secs with nothing but their ears and a homemade clock, the results will have a very large random factor and will measure people's response times to audio stimuli more than they will determine the accuracy of the clocks. StuRat (talk) 19:02, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Just to clarify, the .01 second value is *not* included in the official rules that I originally linked to. Ideally, the device would respond to the beeps itself (in a predictable manner) to remove the response times from the equation, but that becomes very difficult without any electronic elements. Pragmatically, it would seem that your "device" might consist of two independently operated devices in an attempt to average the error (though the judges might rule that violates the "don't circumvent the rules" rule). Regardless, I agree that this competition is poorly designed—a more "interesting" measurement would be the time disparity after an hour's runtime, for instance. – 74  19:47, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
You might consider using a couple of permanent magnets (e.g. fridge magnets) to control the speed of your pendulum. (They are only there for speed control. You'll still need weights or a spring to drive the thing.) If your don't use them to induce a current anywhere it should be within the rules. (talk) 20:36, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Half-baked idea: A long, really long, piece of clear tubing full of water suspended by cords or net in maybe a descending spiral or helical configuration allowed to drain through an eyedropper-like nozzle, the size of which dictates the rate. The tubing is marked in minutes and seconds, and finer divisions are found by measuring from a mark. Calibrate by experiment to get the gross markings and interpolate by derived formula and measurement to whatever precision you want. Color the water so you can see it easily. Start and stop with a pinchcock. Reaction time error should cancel to a great extent at the beginning and end. Fill the tubing by immersion, and then haul it up. --Milkbreath (talk) 04:17, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

Demanding that amateurs build a mechanical device accurate to .1 sec over 5 minutes seems idiotic. You need a response time to start and stop the timer which has less than .1 second lag, beyond human reaction time, The it must count accurately from 100 to 300 increments. Is there a rule against making a crystal controlled digital millisecond oscillator with a microphone or input jack and a Schmitt trigger and a counter? I have a schematic for such. A water clock or wooden pendulum would not have the precision demanded. Mt stopwatch, allowing for reaction time, would not have the accuracy demanded, since it only ticks 5 times per second. Might as well demand the contestants build antigravity boots and levitate to the ceiling! Edison (talk) 05:46, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

Alright, I believe paraphrasing the copyrighted rules is permissible:

Teams will construct a non-electrical device to measure time intervals between 10 and 300 seconds. Such devices cannot include, in whole or in part, commercial counters, timers, or parts thereof; electrical components; or chemical reactions. The device must fit inside a 80 cm cube (disassembly allowed), and assembly and calibration (against your own time standard) of the device may take 5 minutes maximum. There will be 5 trials total, with 1 minute provided after each trial for you to determine the results and prepare for the next trial. The trials will be performed by an electronic device generating a beginning and ending tone. Each trial is scored independently from 10 points (minimum 0); a 10 point penalty will be assessed for spilling something on the floor/table/etc, and a 15 point penalty will be assessed for failure to clean up after the trials are complete. The trials are:

Trial Interval Scoring
Uno 10 - 30 seconds -0.4 points for each 0.1 second error
Dos 30 - 90 seconds -0.3 points for each 0.1 second error
Tres 90 - 180 seconds -0.2 points for each 0.1 second error
Cuatro 180 - 300 seconds -0.1 points for each 0.1 second error
Cinco 10 - 300 seconds -0.1 points for each 0.1 second error
I think that covers the important details. – 74  06:36, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

Please help!![edit]

I know that I am not supposed to be asking for homework help on here, but believe me this is important! I am writing an essay and of course i procrastinated until the last day...Anyway, i just need to know where i can find an expert opinion on why societies form. please answer quickly! Thanks so much!Grango242 (talk) 03:24, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

You might try starting from our article on society and investigating the referenced scholars. The society article also includes links to related articles, many of which might prove useful. Good luck. – 74  03:55, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Anthropology may also be a bitg help; just remember to use your own words, as your teacher may well be checking to make sure nobody copied Wikipedia articles.Somebody or his brother (talk) 14:51, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
It's better to go to the teacher, fess up to procrastination, and agree to turn it in another day for a lower grade, rather than to plagiarize. The risks of getting caught are too high, whereas the risks of being a little late in a genuine attempt are actually quite low (though one perceives them as high). I've caught a number of plagiarists over the years; it is always very sad, because it is such a stupid decision to make, but their fates are sealed at that point. Don't be one of them. A bad paper is a better thing to submit than one that could get you kicked out of school. -- (talk) 14:59, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Eh, I certainly don't condone passing off an expert's opinion as your own. I assumed the assignment was to find an expert opinion and explain/analyze/discuss it, not to write an opinion on why societies form (but I could have been mistaken). Please don't plagiarize. – 74  16:44, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Your teacher might appreciate you including some original thoughts too. For example, think about what would happen if 100 of you and your closest friends suddenly appeared, semi-clad on a earth-like planet devoid of what we traditionally call "intelligent life." NByz (talk) 03:46, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
For instance, on the topic of "why societies form", you could include your own thoughts on how the Wikipedia Reference Desks came to be and how they function. However with one day to go, not likely. It's an interesting topic though. Franamax (talk) 10:58, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

a dead webcomic[edit]

What was the name of the webcomic that had a supporting character named Mangler? where by 'supporting' I mean he was the usual victim of the two lead characters' pranks. Mangler was deformed and (iirc) could not speak. The strip fell off the web years ago. —Tamfang (talk) 06:23, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Would it be Warp 9 to Hell, the first appearance of someone named Mangler in which is shown here? Deor (talk) 14:27, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Wow. Yes. —Tamfang (talk) 02:02, 21 February 2009 (UTC)weird random facts

12 new of these are constructed everyday[edit]

I have been racking my brain trying to get this for the past month (co-worker won't give me the answer)... I tried guessing fast food places (Dunkin Donuts) and other off the wall things (sperm banks) but I have yet to hit the answer. Can anyone out there help!? Thank you in advance. --Endlessdan and his problem 15:02, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Does it have to be a building? Lanfear's Bane | t 15:05, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
It can be anything I guess - he won't even give me a hint (she knows she's driving me batty). --Endlessdan and his problem 15:12, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
I would say it's going to be one of several kinds of answers - it's either some fast-growing kind of building like 'Walmarts' or 'Starbucks' (both of which achieved several new outlets per day at one point); or it's going to be something which needs to be 'built' regularly like "BBC news bulletins"; or maybe something mass-produced but slow like "jumbo jets". DJ Clayworth (talk) 15:18, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Here google, google: [1]. Golf holes. (talk) 15:21, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
I would not consider such random collections of "facts" to be very reliable. That one page claims that sneezes travel both 100 mph and 600 mph. Friday (talk) 15:36, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
No, but there is no reason to assume the OP's co-worker got the fact from a reliable source. --Tango (talk) 15:39, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Besides, this dubious statistic is repeated multiple places online. I'd say the odds are good that has found the "solution". – 74  17:00, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
The number 12 suggests it's something that happens once an hour during daytime and not at all at night...or perhaps vice-versa. Beyond that - my mind is a blank. SteveBaker (talk) 16:05, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Although if you read "everyday" as "every day", perhaps it happens once every hour but it's not talking about the night-time ones. TastyCakes (talk) 22:03, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Tango's judgement is right, and so also is Friday. Judging by some of the other 'facts' on the linked page, golf holes may be the answer, but that is almost certainly an inaccurate random figure. If your co-worker obtained the fact from a site like that, (fairly bursting with urban myths and crimes against common sense), you can easily challenge it. I was rather surprised to learn about HMS Friday, contradictory sneeze speeds and several other pieces of nonsense. Amazing stuff from a well-tagged list. The real answer should be urban myths themselves.Centrepull (talk) 16:17, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

I like doing the NY Times crossword, so I'd insist on correct and exact spelling of the clue. Subtle indirections and so forth... Franamax (talk) 10:51, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

UK exam dates[edit]

I know I should be more proficient at Googling things, but after 45 frenzied minutes getting nowhere could someone please tell me what are the exam dates for my son taking UK AS level exams in Summer 2010? I just want to know whether we can get to the football World Cup in South Africa without interrupting his exams. I know the exact dates depend on what subjects he is doing, but just generally - late May? early June? late June? thanks for any help

What exam board is he using (e.g. OCR, AQA etc.)? My experience is more with GCSE dates, but the exam board's website is probably the place to look. - Jarry1250 (t, c) 22:06, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
I don't think the 2010 dates have been published yet, but AQA's Summer 2009 dates [2] (the other boards will be similar) are 11 May to 24 June. So, roughly speaking, all of the above! The AS exams are generally in the first half of that period - I can't see any past about 8 June. Although, if he's doing Further Maths, he may be taking A2 modules in his first year (I don't think there are any other A-levels that often get done in one year). --Tango (talk) 22:43, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Thanks guys, very helpful.