Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2012 January 8

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January 8[edit]

Cameras in cell-phones[edit]

I need a camera in my new cell-phone to use it as scanner of bar codes and to photograph some odd page of printed material. What does this camera has to have to accomplish this? (talk) 02:49, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

I don't know of any camera in a modern cell phone that can't handle these tasks. You will likely need what is called a "smart phone" in order to scan bar codes and QR codes since I don't think these can be done with cheaper, and dumber, phones. If you ask at your local cell phone provider's store, they should be able to help you out with the model that works best for you. Dismas|(talk) 02:53, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
But, will any picture of printed material also be readable? I haven't seen any advertised with this ability specifically. (talk) 03:02, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
As Dismas said, I don't know of any smartphone that does not accomplish this. In the case of actual physical specimens being photographed and recognized, as per all photographs, lighting conditions are everything. The other thing needed is an appropriate photo app, of which there are a great many, both paid and free. Mingmingla (talk) 03:58, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't think I've ever seen/heard any advertisement for a cell phone camera ever say that they can photograph printed pages so that they're readable. Given that the main reason people have cell phone cameras is to take pictures of themselves, their friends, and what they're doing, why advertise to the minority who are using it to take pictures of printed materials? Dismas|(talk) 04:13, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Because niche markets are sometimes worth something? (talk) 14:56, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
The original iPhone had a 2MP camera, which is kind of marginal for document scanning, (especially as it didn't have a light.)
I would look for any phone that has a camera of at least 3 megapixels and a "flash". Like Dismas says, most smart phones will have something this good or better. The "Flash" on these phones is pretty worthless, but I've found that it's handy for taking pictures of documents. APL (talk) 04:31, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Just as a point of reference, this is the kind of quality I get with iPhone 3G (3-year-old design, 2MP camera without a flash), with bright indoor lighting: [1] --Itinerant1 (talk) 06:25, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
And to prove that lighting conditions are not everything, same text, same lighting conditions (still no flash), but with a real camera: [2] --Itinerant1 (talk) 06:59, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
The tiny-lensed cameras on phones perform very poorly in low-light. If you had been able to put more light on that page, the phone's image would look a lot more like the "real camera"'s image. That's why I recommend a phone with a built-in light if you're going to do a lot of document photographs. APL (talk) 22:31, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

My iPhone4 does this work superbly, and via iPhoto the prints are first class and totally readable. (talk) 07:20, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

I've seen researchers in archives using iPhones more and more these days for photographing documents. Just a datapoint. Even just two years ago this was very uncommon. --Mr.98 (talk) 16:31, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Ants in coffee[edit]

My father told me that in his childhood in the 1950s, people used to put ants into ground (not filtered) coffee. The ants tried to fight for their lives in hot coffee, pushing all the grounds left in the coffee down to the bottom, making it easier to drink. I hadn't heard of such a thing ever before, so I'm wondering whether it's true. I already asked over at the Finnish Wikipedia, but they hadn't heard of such a thing either. Is this actually done? JIP | Talk 09:11, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Sounds highly implausible. Assuming you were using basically boiling water as you do with coffee the ants would die almost immediately making the whole scheme fall flat. Secondly I don't see how the ants would be heavy/strong enough to push the coffee grounds to the bottom. And I personally think I'd rather fight my way through coffee grounds than dying ants regardless! --jjron (talk) 10:28, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
(ec)I would assume the ant will die the second it is submerged in the hot coffee. Insects are much more susceptible to temperature changes than mammals. --Saddhiyama (talk) 10:29, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
My grandmother used to have a small coffee and cacao orchard. She often made us homemade chocolate and coffee from them and I've never heard of this practice either. Besides, the formic acid in ants would have made the coffee taste funny, to say the least (speaking from the personal experience of a forgetful coffee drinker, LOL)-- Obsidin Soul 11:16, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps we should have asked earlier - how old were you when your father told you this? This sounds a lot like one of those made-up stories parents and other oldies make up to entertain/freak-out the kids. My uncle used to tell us that the raspberry flavoured soft-drink we liked as young kids was made from crushed beetles, which discouraged us for a while until our parents told us it wasn't so. :) --jjron (talk) 13:15, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
If the raspberry drink had natural red color then it likely is actually ground-up beetles. See carmine and cochineal. Ruby red grapefruit juice is often colored with these bugs, too. (talk) 20:09, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Actually, it was last Friday, down at the local pub. I thought it could be a made-up story too, but my father sounded so sincere. And people weren't actually supposed to drink the ants, they would be picked out before drinking the coffee. JIP | Talk 13:20, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
And we can safely assume you're older than 10. ;) OK, so location? Perhaps this is some type of local custom or something. A Google search doesn't show anything obvious - there's actually lots of results saying coffee can be used to deter ants. --jjron (talk) 13:32, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
My father didn't say exactly where this happened, but he lived his childhood in the Kainuu region, so it was probably somewhere around there. In rural areas, I suppose. JIP | Talk 13:37, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Hmm, well maybe the coffee was really bland and tasteless (especially during the war and in that immediate post-war period when supplies could have been short and they had to make do) and they added the ants to give it a bit of a kick and some flavour? I've heard of other what we would consider weird practices going on in that period to try to compensate for their previous 'luxuries' that had become unavailable or in short supply. I don't spose he ever said why they stopped doing it, in that I can only assume you've never seen it happening so they must have stopped not that long after for some reason? --jjron (talk) 14:42, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
When I was a kid I poured hot tap water over ants, and they were paralyzed, eventually recovering after five minutes or so. So I don't think they could operate in hot coffee. I'm sure they need to breathe air too. Vranak (talk) 14:35, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
While researching this I found quite a few stories about ants infesting people's coffee machines and coffee pots, which may be the source of this story. Apparently ants like the moisture and possibly the warmth.[3][4][5][6] --Colapeninsula (talk) 14:59, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
As a personal counter-observation, my grandfather was in the habit of making coffee in the cup with ground coffee as if it were instant, and never had any problems with floating grounds. If this were a problem with coffee made more conventionally in a jug, why would people not simply pour it through a strainer, as is routine with loose-leaf brewed tea? {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 22:30, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Age of Adam at creation[edit]

Can we assume that Adam was around 20 years old when created. This will make the year Seth was born on 110 or 130, age of Adam, less 20112.200.127.251 (talk) 09:36, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Feel free to assume whatever you like! It's a myth! --TammyMoet (talk) 09:39, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
If by "we", you mean Wikipedia, no we are certainly NOT at liberty to assume any such thing. Maybe some reliable source has an educated opinion on the matter, which we could report, but it's stil an opinion. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 09:42, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
No. Genesis 5:3-4: "And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth. And the days of Adam after he begot Seth were eight hundred years; and he begot sons and daughters." That places Seth's birth in 130 AM, regardless of how you compute his fathers "age". -- ToE 10:48, 8 January 2012 (UTC) ("I was born at a very young age.")
Even if he had the body of a 20 year old, why would you include that 20 in his "age"? He didn't live through those years. APL (talk) 11:07, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Did he EVER exist? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:20, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
No, but that is irrelevant. "He never existed." is not an appropriate answer to "How old was Pip when he first met Estella?" A polite respondent would assume the question to be set in the narrative universe. -- ToE 12:48, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
How old was Pip when he met Estella? I'm reading it for the fourth time right now. (talk) 00:39, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, OK, so it's true that if you applied some logic to the story he was obviously zero when he was made, but was made to look like some chronological age. I guess you can choose which of these ages to attribute to him, but you're really interested in the age he was made to look. So perhaps your best option is to work out if there's some typical age that the folks in the early part of the bible back around that time started getting it on, given that I think according to the story he and Eve got into it pretty much straight away? If you can work that out, then you could probably pretty safely say that was his 'age'. If there's no consistency to that, then I guess that's not so helpful. Surely there's biblical scholarship on this? --jjron (talk) 13:23, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
FWIW, this question at is answered with an age range of 25-35, most likely around 30. --jjron (talk) 13:28, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Adam was made in God's image (Genesis 1:27), and St Augustine of Hippo was one of many Christians who believed that time did not exist before the Biblical Creation. Therefore, God was only a few days old when He created Adam, and Adam was created in the image of someone a few days old. --Colapeninsula (talk) 15:04, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
That's all good and well, but the real question is: what came first? The chicken or the egg?-- Obsidin Soul 15:23, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
More one of whether a chick should calculate its age from the date of being laid or of being hatched. -- ToE 15:59, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Responses to religious questions on the Science Desk (although I also fail to see why anyone would ask them here) never cease to amaze me. Colapeninsula, why exactly do you conclude that "time did not exist before the Biblical Creation" would imply that "God was only a few days old when He created Adam"? It may indeed imply that the world was only a few days old, but a God who exists outside of time could not be in any meaningful said to be "only a few days old" at any point in time. Deor (talk) 03:38, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't notice that this is the Miscellaneous Desk. I'll leave my comment unchanged, however. Deor (talk) 04:35, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Your point is correct. God is assumed to exist outside of time, therefore He has always existed and always will exist, regardless of the condition or "point in time" of the physical universe. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 07:57, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Meanwhile, Genesis is silent on the "apparent age" of Adam, except that he's presumed to be an adult under some reckoning of what constitutes a "man" as opposed to a "boy" (in theory, he could be as young as 13). Complicating matters is the two contradictory creation stories in Genesis, one in which God simply creates men and women, and the second in which he creates Adam (man) out of dust and creates woman out of Adam's rib. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 08:02, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
There's no necessary contradiction there. One story is about men and women generally, and the details of how they came about are left unstated. The other story is about the first of each type (well, if there were "men and women", there had to be a first, unless they were all created instantaneously), and how the woman was made from the man's rib. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 08:23, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Actually, there is a blatant contradiction. The first story, the "Elohist" story, has everything created before man is created. The second story, the "Yahwist" story, which begins at Genesis 2:4, has man created first, and nearly everything else created afterwards. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:27, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Smoke from the hood[edit]

I was driving my car home when some smoke came out from under the hood and there was a weird smell. When I pulled over and stopped the car, there was some green liquid, probably coolant, leaking onto the pavement. The car is a 1989 Nissan Sentra and my father is considering dumping the car as he does not want to pay $400 for repairs. My father spoke to a mechanic and he mentioned the car should be dumped; an engine rebuild might be needed. I personally would like to keep the car but money is tight. Should the car be fixed or should it be donated to a charity and if so, where? --Blue387 (talk) 15:39, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

I've no idea about fixing cars, but Googling "donate car charity XXX" where XXX is your city (or a large city nearby, if you are somewhere small) ought to answer the latter question. --Mr.98 (talk) 17:23, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
It is hard to say because you don't tell us what is actually wrong with the car. From what you describe, it could be any number of things regarding the cooling system. The vehicle mileage would also be a factor to consider, but keep this in mind, if the mechanic is telling you to get rid of the car, you probably should. It is in his interest to tell you to fix the problem and will only tell you to scrap the car if he is certain your repairs will quickly overtake the value of the vehicle. --Daniel 17:38, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Mileage is important on a car of this age. But what doesn’t make sense is you saying “your car” and then “your farther” wants to dump it? Are you still in seventh grade or somthin'? The mechanic might just be hopping he can get this wreak for nought from a couple of simpletons, get it running and quickly sell it on again– that would be in his interest. If the repair kept it on the road for (say) another year that would only be just over a dollar a day -cheap! It also makes one wonder what kind of green leakage would require a $400 repair bill. Don't you know anyone who is a little bit mechanically minded to look at it for you? It sounds like it might be a simple thing to fix. Lift the hood again and tell us where this fluid is come from. Better still, post a photo --Aspro (talk) 20:42, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  • It sounds like you might have a blown head gasket, but it's hard to say from your description. It all comes down to how much you trust this mechanic. Maybe get a second opinion. $400 for an engine rebuild is a pretty good deal by the way. Beeblebrox (talk) 20:46, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
A blown head gasket. That's your worst case scenario. Yet, just a new head gasket and a torque wrench to bolt the head back down again and Bob's your uncle.--Aspro (talk) 20:58, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't know where you got the impression that I was describing a worst case scenario, you seem to have made that up out of thin air. Don't bother looking for hidden subtexts in any remark that I make, they aren't there. Beeblebrox (talk) 00:17, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Green stuff can only come out of so many places. A blown head-gasket is the biggest job - as far as my experience goes. So it was a natural inference to your comment. So as such it would be: the 'worst case scenario' – unless you can think of something even worst of course (like split plastic windshield washer bottle).--Aspro (talk) 00:33, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Our article: Head gasket. Hopefully Uncle Bob is a "shade tree mechanic" (no, not this kind). Our article automotive repair redirects to auto mechanic, which exclusively discusses the profession, save this one line: "Fading quickly is the day of the 'backyard mechanic', who needs little knowledge of today's computerized systems." *sigh* -- ToE 00:05, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Verily, shade tree mechanics are masters of performing Bob's your uncle at little cost and fuss. Downloadable computer apps have enabled them to 'branch' out (despite what tree surgeon may want to do to them) to fix modern engine control systems. After all, what's the difference between a wonky TV and a computer controlled ignition system... -- that a good whack with a spanner (or any other large object close to hand) wont fix. --Aspro (talk) 01:08, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
As others have stated, the biggest factors into whether or not you want to dump or repair your car should be the car's age and the mileage that it's accrued since you've started driving it.--WaltCip (talk) 22:02, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I'd say the biggest factor is it's current state of repair. An old car with lots of miles may still be a keeper if it's been well maintained and has many new parts, while a newer car which has been neglected (and thus has many expensive things that need repair) should be dumped. StuRat (talk) 01:29, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Let me run down some possible sources of a coolant leak, with approximate repair costs:
1) Leaking coolant hose hose or radiator cap or overflow container. Quick fix, around $20.
2) Leaking radiator. Must be replaced, for like $150.
3) Leaking heater core. Expensive fix, but doesn't match symptoms. This clouds up the windows inside when you turn heat on and you smell it inside.
4) Head gasket, as described previously.
So, ask the mechanic which problem it is and let us know. StuRat (talk) 01:20, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
I've driven the car around the block today and there was no problem. I didn't spot any leaks but I sensed the car had the engine seemed to be running at a higher rate. I also filled up the coolant reservoir with some additional coolant. I also turned off the air conditioning and heater. The radiator was replaced when there was a leak two years ago. The car has around 105,000 miles with some new parts and passed inspection a few months ago. I think the repair would cost more than the vehicle itself but I would like to retain the vehicle for as long as possible. I also know an engine rebuild will cost more than $400. This generation of Sentras are pretty reliable from what I've read. --Blue387 (talk) 04:06, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
“Air-conditioning?!!!” If you want to save money you'd be well off to remove the belts as to not wast engine power- and thus gasoline. Sounds like you might have another 20,000 miles to go. Engine reeving a little higher... Maybe, you-two are simpletons (as suggested above) that deserve to be parted from what little money you have but surly you know some shade tree mechanics that can give this auto the once-over. Hell, there are 55 Chevys that are still motoring around and the Japs didn’t have any design in-put to those.--Aspro (talk) 19:25, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Another option is some stuff your pour into a leaky radiator which forms plugs in any holes. This has the advantage of being cheap, but is only a temporary fix, perhaps long enough to find a better car. StuRat (talk) 06:06, 13 January 2012 (UTC)


Why did evolution choose laugh as a way to show happiness, and why does laugh involve face and mouth movements and showing the teeth? emijrp (talk) 17:20, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

That's a tough question, and probably not one with a definitive answer. I would imagine it is something we inherited from out primate ancestors, a simple form of communication with both a visible and auditory aspect but no actual language. The Laughter article discusses the actual physiiological process at some length. Beeblebrox (talk) 20:50, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Just a bit of a clarification that may help your thinking. Evolution doesn't "choose" anything. Evolution (in terms of natural selection) involves the preferential survival of random traits that prove to be beneficial. So the laughing, and it's precedents such as smiling, evidently proved beneficial to those that first exhibited them and their offspring that inherited them and thus it became common in the species. And remember that evolution generally works by modifying existing traits, such as what is usually an aggressive teeth-showing characteristic. --jjron (talk) 00:33, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Just to correct the correction; it didn't even necessarily choose to be beneficial, it just had to not be so detrimental as to kill off those that did it before they could pass on the genetics behind it. --Jayron32 01:52, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
That's not really a valid correction. A mutation with minimal selective pressure supporting it won't become widespread in a gene pool. Laughing is a near universal human trait(that may be present in some other primates). This suggests that those who did not laugh either died or failed to reproduce. Considering the supposed importance of sense of humor in dating being a well known factor(even if it lacks direct evidence) it's not hard to say that it was the latter and not the former. That is, of course, personal conjecture, and does not represent any sort of actual study of the genetics of humor. Actual research on the subject seems to only have begun in the last decade. google scholar has a great deal of potential starting places if you're looking for real detail. (talk) 21:03, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Cuff Links[edit]

Why are cuff links curved? I have several pairs of cuff links, and all of them either have a slated stem, i.e. the stem that passes through the eyes of the cuff are not perpendicular to the face of the line, or they are curved, i.e. the stem is curved. There must be a reason for this. Please leave links to references. Fly by Night (talk) 21:05, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

They would cut into your wrist if they weren't!--Aspro (talk) 21:16, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't think they would. Have you worn French cuffs before? The cuff links are a good distance from the wrist. Take a look at our article's picture. (Also, you don't seem to have linked to any references. My fear was that people might just give -- possibly incorrect -- opinion.) Fly by Night (talk) 22:17, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Wrists are round. If I wear a tight cuff with cheap straight links I can feel them. With large cuffs (which where popular my day and much larges than in your photo) it didn’t matter too much. Fashions change and so do the other apparel to suit. Try a straight link in a tighter cuff and see the difference. It is just too loose and uncomfortably. --Aspro (talk) 22:37, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
(EC) Although I very rarely wear cufflinks I do possess a pair (with stems, not chains): I just checked and they are not curved or slanted as you describe, so it must depend on individual design decisions rather than be a universal rule.
If one were wearing one's cuffs in the pinched style (as described in your first-linked [heh!] article), the curvature might be intended to conform to that of the wrist for added comfort; if in the barrel style, it might cause the links to fall into a preferred orientation to best display their ornamentation, but these are my own speculations – I'm afraid I can't immediately think of a useful reference. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 22:44, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

If it helps, I have cufflinks that are and are not curved and I find the curved ones easier to put on. --Dweller (talk) 12:17, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

If you wear your cuffs "kissing" (as seen in the French cuff article) the cuffs will form a natural V shape, since the cuffs approach each other from two different sides. A curved cufflink will follow this natural shape better, allowing the visible parts of the cufflink to rest in flush with the fabric. For a barrel shaped sleeve (with the cuffs overlapping each other), straight cufflinks are better suited. Most often, straight cufflinks have little or no decoration on the side facing the wrist. I am sorry that I cannot provide references. DagI (talk), 10 January 2012

First modern newspaper horoscope - when?[edit]

Nowadays, most newspapers and magazines include a horoscope, dividing the readers into 12 star signs according to their birthdays, giving advice and seemingly predicting some future trends. This kind of horoscope was developped by R. H. Naylor in the 1930ies. His first horoscope with reference to the month of birth was published in 1930, and his first horoscope including some reference to star signs in 1935. But when came the first horoscope following the modern pattern? I failed to research that. --KnightMove (talk) 23:53, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

This article reads: "Initially, Naylor’s forecasts were by birth date rather than star sign but by 1937 he was also giving weekly predictions for each of the 12 sun signs (aka star signs) and calling his column Your Stars." I am not privy to the technicalities of astrology, but I suspect this is what you were looking for? --Saddhiyama (talk) 10:52, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Indeed, thank you. --KnightMove (talk) 13:55, 10 January 2012 (UTC)