Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2010 May 24

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May 24[edit]


Hey guys. I've bought some brie, ina slice. Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure how to cut and serve it. It is quite soft and sticky, so cutting it with a knife is hard and makes a mess. What would someone recommend? Thanks in advance! ```` —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:49, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Using a cheese cutter (a device which cuts by means of a wire, rather than a blade) instead of a cheese slicer or a cheese knife may be a little easier. If you don't have one, you can improvise with dental floss, preferably waxed, although I would recommend you stay away from the mint/cinnamon flavored flosses. -- (talk) 01:30, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
What kind of knife are you using? A sharp enough knife should be able to cut brie without too much difficulty. --Tango (talk) 01:34, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Well, you can cut it, and it will deform over the knife, then you spread (as opposed to place) on a cracker or what have you. Being so pliable you can treat it more like a cream cheese than is the norm. Vranak (talk) 03:08, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Not to sound uncultured, but do all brie cheeses have that... poopy smell? (talk) 06:34, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
They don't have a "poopy" smell. As they ripen, they can develop ammonia, which smells a bit like urine. Some people like it, but it is usually considered a flaw and a sign that the cheese has not been stored properly (I forgot what exactly was wrong - I think to cold, or too little air - mine never survives long enough). As an anecdote, it's rumoured that brie that has reached its "best before" date in Germany is then shipped to France, where it is considered "not yet ripe enough for consumption". --Stephan Schulz (talk) 08:25, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Just in case you're not aware of this, the rind is edible and you shouldn't try to remove it. AndrewWTaylor (talk) 08:10, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Cool the brie before cutting. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 11:22, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I was going to say, if it's too mushy for your tastes (or cutting), put it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so and it will firm it up. You generally want it to be soft but not too soft. --Mr.98 (talk) 12:38, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Well, you can remove the rind if you like. I don't think there's a great deal of nutrition in it. Vranak (talk) 12:50, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
I work as a cheese specialist in a major UK supermarket. There are several things you could do to improve serving: Firstly, as Cuddlyable3 suggests, first chill the cheese so that it stiffens up and is more amenable to cutting; next rather than use a cheese wire, use a soft cheese knife - a knife whose central portion has been cut away to leave a gap. This cuts down on resistance from the cheese as you cut it. Don't remove the rind as the paste adheres to it in such a way that slicing is made easier. As it comes back to room temperature (which it should be for serving) it will liquify again. The rind is edible and adds to the overall experience in eating, in that there is a difference in texture. Alternatively, you could allow the cheese to come to room temperature, when the paste (the gooey centre of the cheese) will become runny, in which case you could remove it with a spoon and place it onto bread, crackers or whatever and spread with a knife as you would with a soft cheese. As for the unpleasant aroma - brie style cheeses should smell mushroomy when they are fully mature. As they over-ripen the smell of ammonia begins to dominate, which is quite wrong. Never purchase cheese that smells of ammonia. Any reputable cheesemonger will allow you to smell and taste any cheese before you buy. Those that don't for 'hygiene reasons' should be viewed with suspicion. Finally, don't be scared to cut a cold cheese and warm it up under a grill once it has been applied to the serving medium - A warm, sticky brie can be utterly sublime. Should you ever find a brie-style cheese that smells of wet nappies you should reject it immediately. I hope this helps —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:48, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
This advice does not apply to all soft cheeses, for instance Vacherin, whose rind is inedible. Only Brie style cheeses should be treated in this way —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:13, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
I don't know what the OP thinks, but I think you deserve some applause for a very thorough answer which will improve my future cheese experiences. (talk) 02:20, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes: that answer is excellent. Bravo. --Mr.98 (talk) 16:04, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Ruined stainless steel pot?[edit]

Hello, dear Wikipedians. I am in great need of advice on a matter I do not know much about.

My flatmate just yesterday decided she would boil up some jello in a pot of ours (stainless, cheap IKEA cr*p). Water, powdery essence, etc. Apparently she forgot it on the stove and, while I cringe to think what the turn of events were, our biggest pot now looks absolutely awful. In the bottom, there are dark streaks in spiralling patterns (I wish I could photograph it), and basically the entire flat surface is tainted very dark, darker in some places than others; this is not a layer of something, but seems indistinguishable from the metal. When one attempts to clean this, a distinctly metallic smell rises from the pot. Also worth mentioning is that the bottom has taken on a light orange hue.

I assume that the pot had been left standing to boil until it was basically dry, and so the air humidity in the kitchen would've been considerable. I am looking for answers to two questions here, mainly: 1) From my description, is there any method of cleaning the bottom? 2) Can the pot be used again? I worry about the smell and what it might herald. Thank you in advance! (talk) 13:03, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

If it's available where you live, I would suggest giving Bar Keeper's Friend a try, with plenty of elbow grease. It's performed very well for me in cleaning stainless cookware, although nothing quite as bad as you describe. -- Coneslayer (talk) 13:13, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Try putting in some water and bio washing powder (as used for cleaning clothes) and then heating it up and leaving it for a while. The washing powder often dissolves organic stuff like you have on the bottom of the pan. --Phil Holmes (talk) 13:26, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
The biological washing powder is supposed to work well - but don't use boiling water - use 40C or whatever. (talk) 13:42, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Bio washing powder is good, or use a washing machine tab in the pot with hot water. Brillo pads are also worth a try. I'd add that discolouration itself is no real problem, and most pans will discolour in time. Washing soda and hot water is also good, and should remove any odours. DuncanHill (talk) 13:47, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
To quote the leaflet on care of kitchen utensils from my local kitchen supplies shop (which also supplies caterers): "Overheating can also cause blue/bronze tints to appear. These are harmless and can usually be removed by using stainless steel cleaner unless the overheating is severe. In extreme cases of overheating the pan and its conductive base [see Cookware and bakeware#Stainless steel] may separate and will be unrepairable." Stainless steel cleaner has worked well for me in the past (when i shared a kitchen...) But I also found this on eHow, which suggests simmering a vinegar-water mixture. Qwfp (talk) 02:25, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Will the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill heat up the Gulf?[edit]

There doesn't seem to be anyone talking about it, at least in my spectrum of searches and articles, so I'm really not sure if it is an issue at all.

Will the oil floating on the surface of the Gulf from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill get heated by the sun? Does the oil absorb sunlight? Will it raise water temperatures?

I read on Wikipedia "Because oil floats on top of water, less sunlight penetrates into the water, limiting the photosynthesis of marine plants and phytoplankton." - [1]

I just can't find out anywhere whether or not the oil absorbs the sunlight and will heat the waters.

Down4digital (talk) 14:29, 24 May 2010 (UTC) I changed your Wikipedia reference to a simple link and hope you don't mind. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 15:21, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Oil is black - therefore it absorbs visible light - it's not clear what it's like in the ultraviolet and infrared range. But if it absorbs over most of the energetic part of the spectrum, that's definitely going to warm up the oil - and therefore the layer of water immediately beneath it - but it's blocking light from reaching further down into the water column - which will result in less heat reaching there - so a reasonable guess might be that you'd end up with colder than normal water at depth and warmer than normal at the surface. We're also learning that there is a considerable amount of oil in the water column itself - not just floating on the surface - and that complicates matters still further. Overall, it's tough to predict exactly what the detailed effect will be. However, reducing the amount of reflected sunlight certainly means that more energy is entering the system (and less is reflected out into space) - so the overall effect will almost certainly be a net warming. SteveBaker (talk) 15:15, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
This was discussed on National Public Radio last week - link. --LarryMac | Talk 15:17, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Another wrinkle is that the oil could limit cooling evaporation. It has been theorized that this could cause hurricanes to lose energy over the slick. --Sean 15:32, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Though a hurricane would disturb the water so much that the thin slick would be broken up and plenty of (oil-heated) water would be exposed to the surface. This is probably a question that we can't answer reliably without a very complex computer model. Marco polo (talk) 15:49, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Leviticus 9[edit]

While reading a question on the Science desk I came across the above mentioned section of the (good)book. In this section God is telling the people what they can and cannot eat, he has already told them that they cannot and may not eat Bats he then later goes on to state that they can eat, anything that flies, swarms, and has four feet, what animal could this refer to? I am stumped the only thing I can think of that fits into this catagory, is bats. I would not eat a bat but I can imagine some one somewhere would, so what can it mean? Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:35, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

There is no text such as you describe in Leviticus chapter 9. But in Leviticus 11:13,19 Moses declares the bat to be "an abomination" you shall not eat. Regarding permitted foods in the KJV Bible, (a book that IMHO is not an entirely good one) the key directions allegedly by God are:
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, shall ye not eat. Gen 9:4,5.
Paul the Apostle writing to christians advises as follows.
If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof...Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do it all to the glory of God. 1 Cor 27,28,31. Bon apetite. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 15:15, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
There's something along these lines in Leviticus 11. It appears to refer to the kosher locust. Warofdreams talk 15:20, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Which have apparently grown another pair of legs since the Good Lord last described them. --Sean 15:35, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
The key point in most translations is that they walk upon four legs, while using their other two legs to jump. Warofdreams talk 15:45, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

OP, different computer, this does not answer the quetsion, what animal has four legs, flies, and swarms that one would willingly eat. Think of it as a riddle, clue? its not a bat —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:35, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Did you read the Kosher locust article? It seems that it's talking about walking on four legs, not having four legs, which makes the riddle easier. Comet Tuttle (talk) 17:13, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Could it be a cow, they're often surrounded by flies, and gather into large swarms. Though personally, I would not willingly eat beef. (talk) 18:07, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
The reference is indeed to locust, and the mention of four legs is to speak of their hind two legs as "jumping legs" as explained previously. (Lev. 11:20-23) As with the rest of the Five Books of Moses, this verse cannot be properly understood without the assistance of the oral tradition that was given simultaneously. In the Minchat Chinuch (Vol.2), commandment #158 delineates the positive commandment to "evaluate and identify kosher signs of locusts (מצות בדיקת סימני חגבים)", referring to verse Lev. 11:21. The Minchat Chinuch provides the three kosher signs that can be used to identify kosher locust:
  1. that they have four wings that span the majority of the length and circumference of their bodies (ארבע כנפים שחופות רוב אורך ורוב היקף גופו)
  2. that they have four legs (וארבע רגלים)
  3. that they have two knees with which to jump upon the earth (ושתי כרעים לנתר בהן על הארץ)
The manner of writing that splits the four fore legs from the hind two is with the intent of separating the dissimilar legs -- not because locusts grew more legs since then, as that would be at odds with reality. More detailed information is laid out in the 3rd chapter of Chullin. DRosenbach (Talk | Contribs) 20:10, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
A swarm of cows? Bizarre mental picture, there. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 20:59, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

body shape[edit]

why are people so tall? wouldn't we be more efficient if we were round, so everything was closer together? (talk) 18:06, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

If you go to Google Book search and search for human height "survival value" you get several results: [2]. Height is helpful in getting berries from trees or bushes farther from the ground. Height of the eyes aids in seeing things at a distance in savannas. A taller person can reach a branch and pull himself up into a tree to get bird eggs or escape a nonclimbing predator. Long legs might assist fast running,(up to a point) to catch prey or escape predators. Male height might possibly be a benefit in attracting mates. A tall person has more surface area and can dissipate heat better, but a stocky person fares better in a bitter cold environment[3], [4]. But see also Spherical cow. Edison (talk) 19:18, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

(ec)Like this? (video) Cuddlyable3 (talk) 19:21, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

So, there is no advantage then to designing something else, say a city, to be layed out in the same shape as a person? Since they don't have to steal eggs or pick fruit. (talk) 21:57, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

That's right. Cities are not subject to the same environmental pressures that humans have been subject to during the course of human evolution; and in any case cities don't evolve in the way that living organisms do. Comet Tuttle (talk) 22:11, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
However, cities often do develop organically, which shows similar tendencies to evolution. --Tango (talk) 00:50, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
I can see over all the short people. That helps. ;0 Shadowjams (talk) 08:42, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Probably because height is a rough measure of viability, and height has implications for fitness, particularly in combat. There have been recent studies that suggest that male-to-male combat is a relevant factor in human mating. Note that these "factors" are talking about hundreds of years, not modern industrialized society. I'll leave it to you to disect how that disconnect affects the world we actually live in. Shadowjams (talk) 08:59, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
The Neanderthal died out in part because of his build, stocky and suited for colder regions. Not able to run very fast, he was forced to hunt in a riskier manner than the Sapiens; when the climate changed in such a way as to remove forests from many areas, the stockier build had fewer advantages. Few lived beyond the age of 45ish. The OP's answer is thus that yes, biologically we would be better off. However, early environmental factors have given us a certain height. Now that these factors are largely unimportant, the human body can evolve in any direction, likely to grow a little taller over time. (talk) 16:31, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
As far as I know, the above statement about the Neanderthals is one theory, not accepted (still less demonstrated) fact. See Neanderthal extinction hypotheses. --ColinFine (talk) 17:15, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Defective product[edit]

hi this is tarun verma.i m graguate (mechanical).i m working in aluminium foil rolling mill as a maintenance engg. my question is.....

here we r using oil filter of superstack from achenbach this filter ,we have to create vaccum in filter stack completely.other wise their may be fire my question is is how this vaccum pump create vaccum .and some times it is not working properly...

can u give the idea about pump and problem occouring during working in pump.we just knock it ,it will start it self.this pump working is based on air (low pressure)

thanks rehards tarun verma <e-mail address removed> —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tk.verma (talkcontribs) 20:10, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

I've removed your e-mail address to protect you from spam etc., answers will (hopefully) appear here, so it's unnecessary. Have you tried looking at our article on vacuum pumps. Without knowing how good a vacuum is required it's difficult to be more specific as there are so many different types. Mikenorton (talk) 21:04, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
What did the vendor say when you contacted them about your badly functioning vacuum pump? Comet Tuttle (talk) 22:01, 24 May 2010 (UTC)


Hi, to who ever is at the other end. My name is <personal information removed>. I used to study BTEE at 38 convent ave. New York during the years 1983,84, I think, and for reasons that I recently discovered it became clear that I had a problen about VietNam, so I have findly decided to continue my educacion after being lost in limbo for so many years. Please, I am now living in South America and it is my wish to acquire all my recors so that the school board in this country can balidate what ever I have conpleted at CCNY and Finish my degree and be able to say " I DID IT ". I hope you can feel some compasion for this VET. and help with this so needed assistance...Cesar Cardenas-Servat. <e-mail address removed>...Thank you. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:21, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

This website is unaffiliated with the college. You need to contact the college directly at -- Mwalcoff (talk) 23:25, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

sale of people[edit]

So, supposeing someone decided to hold a promise auction, where people would offer services, either as part of their job or just to work for someone, for sale to raise money for charity. What I need to know is a range of things someone could then be asked to do by the person paying for them, stuff that might take a few hours, maybe most of the day, and be worth giving money to charity for. (talk) 22:00, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

OR here, but in my experience people who volunteer services at charity auctions like this usually offer services they're expert in, or have some interest in. A webmaster might offer 10 hours of web design work time; a gardener might offer 2 days' gardening work, a baker might offer a month's worth of desserts baked on the weekends, and so on. Comet Tuttle (talk) 22:08, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
I dunno: I've offered unskilled manual labor (clean out garage, etc.), and people will buy it. At a charity auction, people are generally willing to pay a premium over what the market rate for the service is. Buddy431 (talk) 22:15, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Lawn care is usually a good item. Mowing, raking, etc. Dismas|(talk) 00:53, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Either the service someone performs for a living, as Comet suggests, or household chores (cleaning, weeding, ironing, etc.). If you are the one organising it, you shouldn't need to worry too much - the people offering their time will decide what they want to offer to do. You might want to put a few ideas on publicity/application form to let people know the kind of thing you are thinking of, but you don't need much. --Tango (talk) 01:01, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Tango has the best of it there. You can make suggestions. Some people might offer specific service, as above, or general physical labour (unspecified). If you're worried about what people might ask of them, a short disclaimer might be appropriate, ruling out inappropriate demands, like sexual favours, not allowing breaks, humiliation, etc. Although they're often called 'slave auctions' as an amusing title, most people understand that it's for volunteers, etc. In some of them I've seen, it was for an afternoon, or a day's work. Others were more specific. I recall one in which the auction was for a date with the person being auctioned (like in Groundhog Day). The person being auction agrees take the winner out to dinner and give them a fun night out. Steewi (talk) 03:01, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
If all the lots are dates then it is a "Bachelor auction" rather than a promise auction. That's quite different but still a fun way to raise money for charity. --Tango (talk) 03:11, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Flower-arranging and cake baking at some future time are popular offers with people planning weddings, as is a makeup lesson or a hairdo. How about the offer of a knitted garment or baby's layette (bidder supplies the wool), a pair of handmade curtains (bidder supplies the fabric), or a cross-stitch sampler personalised as a gift for an important occasion? A main course cooked and delivered for a special dinner? Pet-feeding, house-sitting or babysitting for a specified time? A lesson in internet use for a first-time surfer, or an hour's coaching from a good ballroom dancer for a wannabe with two left feet? The possibilties are endless. Karenjc 10:31, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
We do have the article Slave auction, though it's quite uninformative. Buddy431 (talk) 14:40, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
In more large scale ones, having dinner or lunch or whatever with a celebrity (used loosely here since can include a sports person, business person, politician, etc). However I don't know if you would call those promise auctions, usually those sort of big auctions include plenty of other stuff which can't be considered 'promises' Nil Einne (talk) 23:13, 26 May 2010 (UTC)