Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Science/2010 August 20

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August 20[edit]

Car antenna[edit]

A mechanical question: I recently purchased a 2001 Ford car, and the antenna on it is very short. I've found the radio reception to be tenable but overall very poor. How can I go about upgrading my antenna? Or is it the antenna at all that needs the upgrade? I am not at all familiar with either radio or car radio technologies, so apologies if my question is off base. Magog the Ogre (talk) 00:01, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

The visible part might not be the entire antenna, and there is more to good reception than just the antenna - but it certainly helps. The first thing I would do is find a forum with other people who have the same car and see how their reception is. That can help you distinguish a bad design from a problem of some kind. And BTW how short is short? Ariel. (talk) 01:18, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

About a foot on the exterior. It's a 2001 Ford Echo, there aren't a lot of those around anymore. Magog the Ogre (talk) 03:09, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Interesting. We normally have an article (or redirect) for every model of car but I can't seem to find one for the Ford Echo. What is it called elsewhere from where you live? By the way, my Subaru Forester has a stubby antenna as well and while it's not bad, I have noticed that the reception is slightly less than other vehicles that I've had. Dismas|(talk) 03:36, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
I've also noticed that my recent cars with short antennas have poorer reception. Presumably car manufacturers don't consider drivers who live in areas of poor reception. I haven't tried replacing the antenna. Can one still obtain old-style aerials? Dbfirs 07:24, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Dear goodness I'm an idiot, it's a Toyota Echo. Magog the Ogre (talk) 07:28, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

I doubt you'll improve matters much by changing the antenna - and indeed length isn't everything. Antenna design is an arcane and horribly complicated business. I switched out the foot-long bendy antenna on my MINI Cooper'S convertible for a stiff four inch 'billet aluminium' antenna (because that car has the antenna mounted just above the windshield in the center - and the bending and bouncing of the thing distracted the heck out of me when the roof was down). I expected worse reception - but in fact, there was no difference at all...I know this because I regularly to the same 180 mile freeway trip and I have to tune to a different radio station roughly halfway I know exactly where the FM reception starts dropping out - and it didn't change measurably with the shorter antenna.
If your reception is substantially worse than many other cars in your area then it may be that the antenna connection is faulty - either at the radio end - or at the antenna end - or possibly as the wire goes through some hole in the bodywork.
SteveBaker (talk) 12:37, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Given the age of the car I would check the antenna route for bad connections or broken insulation.
ALR (talk) 12:43, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Electronic front-end amplifier design is so complex nowadays that the (external) antenna may actually be irrelevant to the final signal quality (even in things like FM radios- but especially in things like iPods that operate at much shorter wavelengths - despite recent media hype). In any case: for your car question, I vote "no" on a mechanical antenna solution, "yes" on an electronics replacement. The quarter wave antenna for a dipole whip at 100 MHz (FM radio) is about 75 cm; so a good, long antenna wire should "theoretically" make a big difference. But as described in this 2007 EE Times article, modern AM/FM mmics are so good, your "antenna" is probably the wire-lead between the circuit edge and the chip! (Anything sticking out of the car is just for show!) The MAX2180 automotive AM/FM LNA seems to be a pretty standard model in cars these days - it's a low noise pre-amp that gives 30dB of gain with built-in gain control. If your loudspeaker-amplifier even knows it's connected to an antenna, I'd be surprised! So, as the end-user: you might consider upgrading to an after-market stereo - this will replace the AM/FM radio component as well - and pick out one that has a reputation for good FM reception (i.e. uses good quality tuner and amplifier circuits). That will make a much bigger difference than changing the physical antenna-wire. Nimur (talk) 20:50, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the advice, Nimur; you advise a complete upgrade of the radio? I looked and I'm using the Toyota a56814 that came with the car; does your advice remain the same? Magog the Ogre (talk) 01:14, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Well, it depends on how much you want to spend. You can probably buy a new antenna much cheaper than an aftermarket stereo; but you can buy replacement radios for as low as $50 or $100 (though theoretically, more expensive units will use better parts; in actual fact, many brands and models probably use the same ASIC on the front-end). Compare to a new antenna, which can be as low as ~ $10. Installation costs are where they'll get you, if you choose not to attempt the installation yourself. Here's a replacement parts for Toyota Echo models for comparison; it looks like if you buy a part specifically for an older Echo, the antenna is a little longer. I actually don't know how standard/non-standard these antennae are; there are parts specifically listed as "Toyota Echo Antennae" in a lot of these online catalogs, but I suspect they're the same parts as most other antennas. Nimur (talk) 05:19, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Cats' whiskers...[edit]

Inspired by the above cat question and my subsequent reading of Cat senses... Is it actually true that the whiskers of domestic cats are usually as wide across (when measured across from one side to the other, tip to tip) as the widest point on the cat's body, in order that the cat may easily determine whether it will be able to fit through a space/hole by first attempting to place its head through? So, fat cats will have longer whiskers than skinny cats?

It's one of those 'everyone knows' factoids that you hear as a kid that I've never really thought much about until now. --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 00:09, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

OR warning: After having had cats pretty much my entire life, I would say that it's false. Just looking at the cats that currently rule my house, they each can fit through much narrower places than their whiskers would have you believe. Dismas|(talk) 00:30, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Children can often use their ears for the same purpose. As one gets older, the proportions change! Some fat cats might have a similar problem. Dbfirs 07:08, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
It's my understanding, and I can't find a good source at the moment (sorry), is that they don't literally use them as a yes/no "Can I fit" check, but one of their uses is to help judge near-face distances while crawling through close spaces. As you might imagine they rely on them much more in total darkness than in the light. APL (talk) 14:37, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Web Bot predicting the future[edit]

How exactly does web bot predict the future? According to the article it searches the internet for words and phrases. But surely that just means it reports what everyone is talking about, rather than predicting the future?-- (talk) 01:23, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

It doesn't. It's fiction. I doubt they even have a search spider at all. In fact I bet they don't - if they do what is the user agent of the bot? Ariel. (talk) 01:35, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Reading the article suggests to me the owners follow the typical behaviour of people that claim to predict the future in some way. Make very vague claims and then fit whatever happens (the more major the better) to your vague claims (alternatively put out a bunch of nonsense and then find some way that you can get something to support a major event in said nonsense). When you really can't either ignore it or just say you were wrong for some reason. I find it funny how the Columbia Shuttle Disaster is a 'maritime disaster' (and they ignored real maritimes disasters). Anyway my predictions for next month are 'airplane, meow, iraq, dollar, natural disaster, iran, people, un, many deaths, tiger, disease'
Oh snap "From July 11, 2010 onward, civil unrest will take place, possibly driven by food prices skyrocketing, and the devaluation of the dollar". Maybe they got a little too worried by teapartiers?
Nil Einne (talk) 01:54, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Has anyone ever observed their web-bot in action? If you run a web page it's easy to spot most web spiders in your log. If their claims are true they ought to be one of the web's most common spiders, on par with the Google bot. APL (talk) 14:28, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
If it's ever shown up on my webserver, it's never hit more than two or three pages per month. My server sees a very low level of human traffic, so web bots stick out like a sore thumb. --Carnildo (talk) 01:54, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
A similar "Delphi" function, polling the opinions of a large number of actually uninformed people and arriving at actually meaningful odds of future developments, (and also soliciting pooled advice for personal problems) is depicted in John Brunner's pre-web 1975 SF novel The Shockwave Rider, which I happen to be currently re-reading. Perhaps that's where the idea came from. (87.81 posting from . . .) (talk) 14:01, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Mathematical computation, Symbol, Electrical check on circuit board[edit]

Mathematical computation symbol for counting the number of pin to pin checks on a circuit board needed to be done without duplicating already checked pins. For instance; I have 1000 pins to do an ohms check on. I check from pin 1 to pin 2, then 1 to 3, then 1 to 4 … and so on until 1 to 1000. That was 999 different checks. Now I have to check from 2 to 3, then 2 to 4 … and so on until 2 to 1000. That was another 998 different checks. Then on to pin 3, then 4, then all the way to pin 999 to pin 1000.

I have already figured out the answer for what I need in Excel, but there has to be an equation for this problem without using excel at all, I just can’t seem to find it.

Now for the real question AFTER the equation…What is the ‘name of this equation’ and if it has a symbol ‘what is it’ and ‘what is the name of the symbol’?

Much appreciated and thank you for your time. v/r cg (talk) 01:48, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

It sounds like you want to read the combinatorics article. The mathematical notation for calculating "all possible combinations" are binomial coefficients - commonly referred to as "n choose k" or "choose" functions. Nimur (talk) 01:56, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
It's probably Summation, and it's this symbol: Σ. Ariel. (talk) 01:57, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
It's a special case of a mathematical series, and a well known one (because it's really easy to prove the result). Let's say you have (N+1) pins to check, and S (for sum) is the number of checks you have to do; the series is given by
if N is an even number,
if N is an odd number,
The proof is left as an exercise for the readers ;) Physchim62 (talk) 02:27, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
For the practical application, be careful that I said there are (N+1) pins, that is N spaces: this gives the equations in a form that you should find them in any decent high-school algebra textbook. Physchim62 (talk) 02:44, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
The symbol for this is , by the way. Looie496 (talk) 03:08, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Specifically (read n choose 2) for n pins. for n either odd or even. Note that Physchim62's two formulas above for S with even and odd N (with N+1 pins) are equivalent to each other. The traditional visualization is to do the pairing suggested by SteveBaker, but to overcount and then divide by 2, obviating the need to worry about a lone middle pin. -- (talk) 13:08, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
The easy way to think about this is as follows: For the first pin, you have to do 999 checks 1-2, 1-3, ...1-1000. For the second pin, you only have to do 998 checks and for the third, 997...and so on until the second to last pin where you only have to do one check (999-1000) and the last pin for which you have nothing to do. Now, here is the clever twist: if you add the number of checks you have to do for the first pin (999) to the number you have to do for the last pin (0) - then you get 999. If you add the number of checks for the second pin (998) to the number for the second-to-last (1) then you get 999. Add the third to the third-last and you get 999 again...all the way up to pin 500 (500 checks) and pin 501 (499 checks). You can imagine this process as writing down the number of checks for each pin on a long sheet of paper - then folding the paper in half so that each number is match with it's opposite. Every one of those pairs adds up to 999. Do this 500 times and you get 500 pin pairs x 999 checks for each pair = 499,500 checks.
You have to be careful about cases where there are an odd number of pins to check because there is then one pin in the middle with no buddy on the other side!
SteveBaker (talk) 12:20, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Cooking wine?[edit]

Why do people use cooking wine if the alcohol evaporates in a few minutes? Would it dissolve some unpleasant flavors from food and leave them in the food as it without changing anything? Many commercial cooking wines are salted. Isn't it going to make cooking even more difficult? -- Toytoy (talk) 04:01, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

For the flavor of the wine. Wine has a lot of flavor which isn't due to the alcohol, which typically only makes up about %16 of the wine. Vespine (talk) 04:13, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Also, the alcohol does not cook out completely. This is a fallacy sadly spread by some cooking shows (but not all, see Good Eats for one that gets it right). Ethanol and water form an Azeotrope, which basically means that you cannot completely seperate a mixture of ethanol and water by heating alone. When you cook with alcohol much of the alcohol cooks off, but a small amount does not. This alcohol can act as a solvent which will dissolve certain flavor components from foods that water by itself does not; which is part of the reason why cooking with wine or brandy causes a different flavor profile than cooking with, say, grape juice would. There are compounds in foods which are more soluble in ethanol than in water, and thus the small amounts of alcohol that are left in the dish after cooking actually bring these flavors to your taste buds in ways that water by itself does not. It should be noted that this is still a pretty small (but not zero) amount of alcohol left in the food; most people should be safe, but if you have any concerns (small children, people with religious objections or health concerns) then you should leave the alcohol out of the recipe because it never cooks out 100%. --Jayron32 04:22, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Quibble about azeotropes: it means you cannot separate an alcohol/water mixture that is at the azeotropic ratio and you cannot boil off anything except that if both alcohol and water are present (i.e., distill out just the alcohol, leaving the water). But you certainly can "remove the azeotropic mixture until there is none of one component left"--the whole topic deals primarily with what's vaporizing, not so much whatever else may be in the pot. You can (assuming ideal conditions, etc etc) evaporate (nearly) all of the alcohol from the wine, you just also lose a little water in the process too. DMacks (talk) 14:40, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Sure, there are traces of alcohol that can be detected with sufficiently sensitive equipment. But listing small children as a concern??? That's just silly. There's not enough left to worry about from that point of view. I have never heard of a health condition (in the ordinary sense of the word) that would be sensitive to it either, though I haven't heard of all possible health conditions. I think only the religious objections would really hold water, or possibly you'd want to avoid it for some recovering alcoholics, not because they would notice any actual neurological effect but simply because it might trigger problematic memories. --Trovatore (talk) 20:25, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes I know that there will be a little residual alcohol in the gravy. How does it differ from adding just a little diluted wine+juice after cooking is done? I think it is a waste to let most of the alcohol vaporize. -- Toytoy (talk) 05:52, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

There's a lot of complex things going on in cooking. Two important elements in cooking are heat and time. With any recipe, screwing with these can mess up a dish drastically. Its not just the alcohol in the dish, its the alcohol being present during the cooking process which produces the desired flavor profile the alcohol is producing. While most of the alcohol will cook out, the stuff that does remain needs to be present during the entire cooking process to do what it needs to do to affect the flavor of the dish in the way that you want it to. In other words, adding a cup of wine to a dish before cooking will NOT yeild the same results as adding a few drops of wine after you are done cooking. The alcohol needs to be present during the cooking process itself. It is not only evaporating. On the way towards evaporation, it is also doing other stuff, which is desirable. --Jayron32 05:58, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
One doesn't drink wine merely for the alcohol.
ALR (talk) 09:00, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
You can always position your head above the pan and breath in the vapours if you don't want the alcohol to go to waste. Something no one has mentioned yet is that esterification will occur if you add alcohol to a dish and heat it, producing more flavour compounds. Smartse (talk) 10:24, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

The Universe[edit]

Is the universe infinite or finite? How do we know this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:51, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

It could be either, and we don't. See Shape of the Universe for some discussions over various hypotheses which are in their own ways consistant with existing theories and models. --Jayron32 05:21, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm a Galactic Zookeeper. What are the conditions of my human habitat?[edit]

I'm curious if there is any scientific consensus about what constitutes "ideal environmental conditions for human life" ? For a start, I figure my human habitat must have the standard day/night cycle. But do the lengths of the days need to change? Would I need to include equinoxes? How about air pressure? Would my humans be more productive at slightly more than 1 atmosphere? Temperature seems easier - hovering around 80F would allow them to pretty much be naked all the time, right? (talk) 04:53, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

You could ask Billy Pilgrim and Montana Wildhack about their stay on Tralfamadore. --Jayron32 05:15, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Humans are very adaptable and can handle a wide variety of habitats, and conversely humans vary a lot and like a wide variety of habitats. So there is no single ideal. To your specific questions: you do not need to vary the day length, except your humans might get bored. Humans like to be able to control the light at will, so please provide some method of local light control. A higher air pressure will increase stamina to some degree. Humans like to cover themselves while sleeping, and 80 degrees is a bit hot for that, so it would be good to vary the day/night temperature. For the infants of the species 80 degrees is too cold for no clothing. Ariel. (talk) 05:27, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
One question that comes to mind is whether humans in any truly constant environment will be damaged by long-term breeding. Logically, humans possess a considerable genetic diversity, but if maintained under truly homogeneous conditions, some genes are good and others bad, even though in nature they were each best suited to a certain niche. As a result, I think genetic diversity should be lost within tens to tens of thousands of generations. The resulting humans may seem as well suited to the zoo environment (better, no doubt), but they would not thrive on Earth. (I'm not sure precisely how to source this, though certain "lab strains" of bacteria come to mind - nobody on Earth has such long-term data for long-lived vertebrates) Wnt (talk) 13:55, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Were you planning on your humans being born in the zoo, or were they going to be "wild caught"? I suspect you will have a ton of problems with the humans that previously were not in your zoo since most humans would resist. And humans are quite clever, so it might be very expensive to hold them in a natural appearing environment. Googlemeister (talk) 14:50, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Don't worry, humans have already figured out a number of clever ways to keep even clever, desperate humans locked up with reasonable success. --Mr.98 (talk) 16:26, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Certainly, but a prison in no way mimics a human's natural habitat. Googlemeister (talk) 16:44, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't expect an intelligent alien species to have that much trouble confining a group of humans to a zoo habitat. It's not like in John Campbell stories, where humans always turn out to be much better than all other possible aliens. Particularly given these are aliens with the means to take the humans and bring them to the galactic zoo in the first place, so they obviously are more technologically advanced than us in some ways. And, unlike a prison, the zookeepers aren't too worried about maintaining contact between the captured humans and their friends and family outside, or about preparing the captured humans to be released into the wild. The problem would be more likely to involve keeping the humans relatively happy and healthy, a necessary task for a good zoo. The danger of them going on hunger strike, or settling into depression, will be difficult to avoid. I would suggest a large enclosure with at least 10 genetically-diverse humans, set up so that each has a private enclosed space that they can choose to retreat to or exit whenever they want (you'll want to put one-way mirrors, or similar, in these so that you can observe them). This gives the humans some choice over their surroundings and the company they keep, and should also reduce genetic problems for the next few generations. If keeping the population per enclosure low, and keeping your humans for more than a few generations, you will need to allow mixing with other human populations, possibly from another enclosure. I think allowing the humans to breed will probably help with some of the issues. (talk) 18:29, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Technological superiority and breaking all contact with friends and family works really well. See e.g. Haitian Revolution. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 18:56, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Ah, but again that didn't involve sealing humans off from the outside: they were interacting with their captors, and they were also enduring appalling conditions. The death rate was higher than the birthrate. It would be an extremely bad idea for the keepers to enter the humans' enclosure when the humans were conscious, certainly, and keeping them in anything close to the conditions slaves experienced in Haiti would be a recipe for disaster for a zookeeper. The humans in the zoo aren't going to have any outside contacts to bring them information or equipment, they aren't going to have access to any of the keepers or anything the keepers care about (except themselves, which is why a hunger strike is a real threat). If prisons weren't trying to be humane or lower reoffending rates, but simply contain people, they would have much easier jobs. Much less useful jobs, but easier. And a zoo only tries to recreate a habitat to a point: a large (building-sized) cell with appropriate set-dressing would be fairly easy to secure. (talk) 19:40, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

If they're captured humans, with their own control over the temp, that 80 degrees will be nonsense to the vast majority. Best you learn about the metric measurement system used by most of them. HiLo48 (talk) 18:20, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm sure the humans will be smart enough to figure out what it means. Temperature units were not given by god, C is not better than F in any way. K might be, but C is not. Ariel. (talk) 18:50, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
There are quite a number of companies which are happy to supply Christians, per Google: [1]. It is harder to find companies which supply adherents of other religions or of no religion. Edison (talk) 20:37, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
For humans living on earth closish to sea level that's questionable. Given how important water is, a temperature scale where water freezes at roughly 0 degrees C and boils at roughly 100 degrees C makes more sense where then one where zero is set at the value which happened to be the lowest the person designing it could come up with Nil Einne (talk) 21:43, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
My point about metric was simply one about what 95% of humans are most familiar with. HiLo48 (talk) 21:52, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
While I understood your point your specific claim '95% of humans are most familiar with' is questionable as well. A significant proportion of humans are almost definitely not familiar with either. If you can't read or write and need to struggle to survive, understanding or being familiar with temperature scales isn't likely to be the most important of things Nil Einne (talk) 22:03, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Just mark one end of the temperature control blue and the other red. Also make sure that neither extreme is immediately fatal. Problem solved. APL (talk) 22:34, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Is the blue cold or hot? Why not say black and white? Nil Einne (talk) 09:34, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Red is hot because it is the color of fire, hot metal, etc. Blue is cold because it's on the other end of the scale.
Of course, captive-born humans might not have experience with fire or hot metal, but they would have grown up with the temperature knobs, so that would just work itself out. APL (talk) 00:45, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Why is blue on the other end of the scale of red? Shouldn't it violet? And anyway wouldn't it make more sense for blue to be hot and red cold, since for a black body radiator, blue is hotter then red? How many people of the over 6 billion have ever seen hot metal anyway? (And want metal actually get blue if it gets hot enough without burning up/melting/boiling?) Nil Einne (talk)
Red/Violet wouldn't be a good pair because we perceive them as visually similar. A color in the blue/green area of the spectrum contrasts red nicely for normal humans, but green isn't a good choice because red/green colorblindness is so very common.
I would be surprised if many adult humans have seen neither a fire nor electric heating element. Blue doesn't work as hotter than red for a thermostat. The comparison goes the wrong direction.
I appreciate your point about challenging pre-conceptions, but are there any existing human cultures that would be confused by a red/blue temperature scale?
The more interesting question is not how to communicate which end of the scale is hot/cold (Afterall, it could be labeled in Klingon and it would only take one experiment to figure it out.) , but how to communicate that the dial has anything at all to do with temperature. APL (talk) 21:28, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Why do humans cover themselves when they sleep?[edit]

My humans are covering themselves when they sleep even if I give them total control over the temperature (so they can't be doing this because they're just cold) and total security. Why do they keep doing this? It makes them harder to observe as they sleep. (talk) 08:19, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Your humans? You're observing them? What are you running there - some nightmarish laboratory with human guinea pigs? -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 10:43, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
You're not AM, are you? As in "I Have No Blanket, and I Must Sleep"? Clarityfiend (talk) 10:46, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
I think it's the OP from the thread above. I've smallified the sub-heading for clarity. Ghmyrtle (talk) 10:58, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
No, this OP has only made two edits. The IP address bears no similarity to the IP address of the OP in the thread above. I assumed this OP might be running a sleep clinic. Dolphin (t) 11:28, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
That would be a remarkable coincidence, given the last comment in the previous thread. I agree they are not the same person - but are they playing the same game or something? Or just trolling? Ghmyrtle (talk) 12:26, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
I think we might be over-analyzing the situation here. The OP's first title says "Galactic Zookeeper" which to my knowledge is not an actual job description ;) and they seem to be asking questions "in character". --- Medical geneticist (talk) 12:53, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Dr. Moreau? Darigan (talk) 12:36, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
"I assumed this OP might be running a sleep clinic" - what a spectacular assumption of good faith!!! In actuality, I just read the above question and decided to add one of my own... (talk) 15:41, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
He's just asking hte question in an interesting way, no need to go so crazy.-- (talk) 22:45, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Whatever it is you are doing, it must be force of habit. Unless you've raised them from birth without blankets, they will be used to having them; without, and they would feel wrong. - Jarry1250 [Humorous? Discuss.] 13:07, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Some humans like to sleep with their heads colder than the rest of their bodies, possibly as a result of using blankets for sleeping since birth. In addition, blankets reduce heat loss from convection and breezes, which cannot be replicated by simply increasing the air temperature, as well as offering some sense of protection from crawling insects, which are common in most natural human habitats. In the behaviour of young humans, hiding under the blankets when afraid, you can also see evidence of the use of blankets as camoflage, hiding the humans from predators when they are most vulnerable. Most humans will feel as uneasy sleeping without a blanket as most rodents feel sleeping in the open. Personally, I think you should be using this as an example of their natural behaviour, and bring it to visitors' attention. You could always produce some sort of soft, warm, but transparent blanket, although I suspect they will still feel uneasy, especially the young. (talk) 15:18, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
I think it is an excellent question the OP poses. (My humans do this too.) Bus stop (talk) 15:43, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
There may be greater heat produced by the head while sleeping than the rest of the body. The head is likely to sweat at a lower temperature than the rest of the body, in general. The greatest overall comfort may thus result from a sheet over the body and the head uncovered, even when the person has control of the thermostat. Edison (talk) 15:47, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
yeah, core body temperature drops during sleep. it would be natural to cover up to prevent further loss of body heat. Not to discount the psychological aspects, of course, which are probably also significant
By the way, anyone know where I can get some humans of my own? I checked eBay, but no luck so far... --Ludwigs2 17:23, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Have you tried your local orphanage? Googlemeister (talk) 19:32, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
There are also "do-it-yourself" kits if you want to make them from scratch. Nimur (talk) 20:06, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Make sure you buy the equipment outright; soliciting for rental is illegal in many jurisdictions. Matt Deres (talk) 20:36, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
The do-it-yourself kit is fun, but with a wait time measured in months at a minimum, if you want fast results, that is not the way to go. Googlemeister (talk) 20:44, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Outright purchase of the equipment is also illegal in many jurisdiction, so you might just have to borrow it. Physchim62 (talk) 20:56, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

LOL. *Ahem* This is merely a habit. Many individuals in western cultures enjoy sleeping in the nude in warm weather, and doing so is the mode in other cultures including many if not most aboriginals without textiles. Even warm areas with mosquitos or other biting insects will naturally lead to a preference for sheets. Ginger Conspiracy (talk) 00:51, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Speaking only for myself, I have difficulty sleeping well when the air is warm enough that I don't need covers. Somehow cool air produces deeper and more restful sleep. Looie496 (talk) 01:08, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Bad dentist?[edit]

Why is it that most dentists almost never prescribe drugs like prevident toothpaste, prevident mouthwash, MI paste, and other similar ones? I was reading that its even possible to re-mineralize small cavities with these drugs. Do most dentists just want to drill them and make money? Rather than help you fix the small cavities and help prevent them in the future? I never heard of any of these until my pharmacist friend told me about it, none of my other friends have heard of this stuff from their dentists too. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:59, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

In the UK my dentist recommends fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes every time I see him, and has described the benefits of re-mineralisation to me. Gandalf61 (talk) 10:04, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
I suspect practice varies according to whether (in the UK) one can/is willing to agree to and pay for private treatment or can/will not go beyond NHS provision (most dentists treating under the NHS offer additional private treatment). Although I've been at the same practice for some 15 years, my most recent dentist there has been very reluctant to carry out any (currently free-to-me) NHS-only treatments, even including scale-and-polishing, filling new cavities and replacing those that have fallen out (often after only a couple of months) but often tries to persuade me to pay for unaffordable-to-me (and doubtless more lucrative to him) private crowns, etc. I am tempted to suspect that preventative treatments might cut down on his potential earnings. I'm also suspicious that when I do have a checkup and/or NHS treatment, I'm always asked to sign a blank NHS form with the actual treatment not yet filled in. (87.81 posting from . . .) (talk) 13:45, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Any chance of looking for another NHS dentist in your area, or even another at the practice? Personally, I never sign anything with blank spaces that will be filled in: that's just a bad idea. What do they say if you refuse to sign it before it's filled in, and draw a line through the rest of the space? Every Primary Care Trust should have a complaints procedure easily accessible, like this one. Alternatively, your local Citizens Advice Bureau can offer help navigating the systems and services in place to try to improve your care. What you are experiencing is not normal, and you don't have to take it. (talk) 14:59, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
I do hear what you say , but NHS dentists are thin on the ground around here (as in most of the UK), and I was previously dubiously bumped out of a nearby practice that wanted to go fully private. I agree that signing blank forms is a bad idea and ordinarily I avoid it, but making an issue of it in this instance (which is an interaction with the Practice admin staff, and in my experience is a widespread dentistry habit) seems potentially more trouble than it's worth, as I could be left without a dentist at all - at least now I can get some treatments when I bother to put my foot down. I know I should try to do something more about the situation, but currently I have more pressing worries and, frankly, I'm indolent where my own affairs are concerned :-). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:16, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Remineralization isn't a very well studied realm of tooth physiology and there are so many variables that research results don't hold much weight in real life. Many aspects of operative dentistry are applied empirically. Most dental literature is related to periodontics and then there's some pedodontic literature as well. That being said, once the surface contour of the proximal surface of a tooth has cavitated (broken inward), all hopes for remineralization are gone. You can ask your dentist to show you the radiographic different between cavitated and non-cavitated lesions. DRosenbach (Talk | Contribs) 18:22, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
According to the toothpaste article, toothpastes in the UK have more flouride in them than those in the US, and its difficult to find a toothpaste without flouride, so recommending extra flouride may not be necessary. (talk) 20:23, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Niggly pedantic correction: it's fluoride, not flouride :-) (talk) 09:25, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Reminding people to brush after meals and floss regularly is so much more important, and meets with so much resistance among people ashamed of themselves for not following that advice, I suspect much of it has to do with the fact that dentists and their assistants can become socially exhausted just trying to convey those basics and performing delicate, tedious, and stressful dental work may not leave them much psychological energy to discuss the details of the latest experimental home treatments. Consult reviews on Pubmed before a visit so you can talk with your dentist and hygienist intelligently on the subject. Ginger Conspiracy (talk) 00:24, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Nootropics, Ampakines[edit]

Hello clever people, can someone here guide me to some good reading about Nootropics/Ampakines, Wikipedia's article is a bit small, I would like to know more info about this topic, specially about their syntesis, but not only, i googled it but didnt find good sites on the web. TY muchDSTiamat (talk) 09:40, 20 August 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by DSTiamat (talkcontribs) 09:39, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

There are a large number of ampakines described here. Could you be more specific about which synthesis interests you? It's not hard to run down some syntheses.[2] Wnt (talk) 13:41, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
While Wikipedia can't give you medical advice (positive or negative), I think you may find AMPA receptor and especially excitotoxicity to be interesting reading. Wnt (talk) 14:00, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

CX-717 synthesis, CX-7139 would interest me, they dont look that complicated. TY DSTiamat (talk) 18:35, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Maybe this will be helpful. Ariel. (talk) 19:43, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Patents on secret compounds?[edit]

Alright, now I'm pissed. According to the Wikipedia article CX717 and borne out by at least early sources, somehow Cortex Pharmaceuticals has kept the actual structure of CX717 secret - while patenting it and referencing it extensively in several patent applications! [3] I thought one of the very few redeeming qualities of the patent system was that you couldn't patent a trade secret - that you had to publish what you did. If they (or some affiliate) go back in 2020 and patent another compound, how do we know it isn't the exact same thing? If someone else tries to patent something, how does he know it isn't already invented? Then there's the part about scientific journals publishing experiments on this unknowable substance, and the FDA approving tests on it, and no one knows what it is, nor has any way to do research on it without company authorization.

Does anyone know what brilliant legal innovation allowed this to happen? Should we expect that discussion in a scientific paper about any future drug will say no more than "This is Good StuffTM. The Company says it is Safe", and move on? Wnt (talk) 20:09, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

That patent you reference appears to be for a method of doing something rather then a specific substance. Cortex is likely to have the rights to any substance which does what's covered in that patent be it CX717 or something with a completely different structure. If someone developed CX717 and uses it for something not covered in that patent then that patent you mention would be irrelevant. Nil Einne (talk) 21:12, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
In theory it is like having a patent that says, "I have patented a use for Coca-Cola as a means of curing cancer" (or washing the baseboards, or attracting ants, or whatever). You don't have to disclose what the formula for Coca-Cola is (or even know!) to get a patent like that. Presumably you could also do tests to see whether Coca-Cola was safe to consume, or cured some disease, without knowing exactly what it was made out of. I do agree that the FDA approving things that it doesn't know the formula for sounds a little dodgy, though they may have some means of disclosing it in such circumstances. (They do have a policy on protecting trade secrets.) --Mr.98 (talk) 23:10, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't find this persuasive. As I understand it, patents were supposed to allow "one skilled in the art" to duplicate the procedure, not "one associated with the parent company". Every other time I've looked at a patent, I've gotten to the compound in question. But why would any company have revealed such information if they're not required to? Admittedly, I'm not an expert in patent law, but something here smells.
However, on consideration, the application does give formulae for two compounds, without, so far as I could tell, saying whether either is CX717. I wonder if they are pulling a smaller fast one here - publishing the formula to claim the patent, but not admitting that they did so? Wnt (talk) 14:34, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Is there any kind of claim as to the formulae given? If someone comes up with a substance that just happens to be the same, I would guess that it could be patented as the patent office will not be able to tell that it was already covered. The suggestion is that DARPA has suppressed it. Because of a lack of jurisdiction in other countries it could be patented elsewhere without the intervention of US government. The company is risking not having a patent on the substance, however it is possible that there can be no patent just on a substance, just on ways of making it or using it. DARPA may hold the IP rights to the substance. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 06:05, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
In any case, it is clear that patents are tricky and that it is usually in the company's interest to try and give as little as possible within the definitions of the patent office regulations. This has been noted in many other contexts before. Even patents which appear to "tell it all" usually manage to avoid giving away the kind of information that would actually let a competitor easily replicate the contents. How flexible that is in either direction largely depends on the patent regulations, how well they are enforced, and what pressures the examiners are under. A nice book on this subject in particular is Innovation and its Discontents. To find unsatisfactory borderline cases in the patent system is not very hard. --Mr.98 (talk) 17:07, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Dilute HCl[edit]

Is very dilute HCl toxic? Can it be used as a vinegar replacement? Does it taste bad? --Chemicalinterest (talk) 16:17, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Your stomach acid is primarily HCl, so it certainly makes sense that at a similar level of dilution it wouldn't be toxic. On the other hand, swallowing it would put it into the same places that gastroesophageal reflux disease does, perhaps producing similar damage. And I think any statement beyond those points of fact would constitute medical advice, which is an area that we are not allowed to get into here. --Anonymous, 16:48 UTC, August 20/10.
It's not toxic - it's in your stomach acid. However, any acid drink can cause acid damage to tooth enamel if the pH is low enough. The cooking uses of vinegar are beyond my competence, but I should note that acetic acid in vinegar is a weak acid, meaning that vinegar placed into a recipe may have a higher pH than dilute HCl, but even so it will bring down the pH of the food to which it is added via a buffer (chemistry) much more effectively than the HCl would. Wnt (talk) 16:49, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
I mean very very very dilute HCl, where the pH is around 3. Not likely to give heartburn any more than soda. I don't want to try my own hydrochloric acid because it is contaminated with cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, chromium, lead, etc. ions from my sloppy experimenting. --Chemicalinterest (talk) 17:05, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes, you can use it as a food additive – it is INS 507 on the Codex Alimentarius list as an "acidity regulator". I've never tasted it (and have no intention of trying!), but I would guess that you only get the "sharp" acid taste, rather than the fuller flavour you get from decent vinegars of the same pH. Physchim62 (talk) 18:22, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
I have, and your guess is correct! (talk) 20:04, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Odd calculation for Percent Daily Values figures[edit]

I recently acquired two containers of spices: both are produced by the same company, but the contents of the containers are slightly different. Among other things, a ¼-teaspoon serving of container 1 has 135mg of sodium, while a ¼-teaspoon serving of the container 2 has 110mg. What's odd, however, is the Percent Daily Values figure — I'm told that a serving of container 1 equals 6% of the PDV daily amount, while a serving of container 2 equals 7% of the PDV daily amount. Is this a simple mathematical error, or do the other contents somehow affect how much of the sodium is absorbed by the body? Nyttend (talk) 16:31, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Incorrect labels would cost the company some fairly hefty fines from the FDA if they got caught at it, so companies are usually pretty careful about them. Still possible that it's an error, of course, but I'd start by looking to make sure the serving sizes are what you think - if container 2 has a larger serving size, that might account for the difference. it's unlikely that the contents of the spice affect the sodium absorption rates - sodium dissolves readily in water, so unless the spice is packages in little tiny latex balloons (what kind of spice is this, exactly?) you can be pretty sure that any salt in the spice will make it into the system. you might also check other wordings: for instance, if one of the spices uses sea salt instead of refined salt it may contain higher percentages of of other ions which reduce the actual sodium content but leave the salt PDV values higher. --Ludwigs2 17:16, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
As I said above, each container specifies that a serving is ¼ teaspoon. There are very few ingredients listed; the entire brand is based on a secret-recipe collection of spices. Container 1 specifies simply "salt" in its ingredients list, while Container 2 specifies three kinds of salt: potassium chloride, sodium chloride, and silicon dioxide. Nyttend (talk) 17:26, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
The brand is Tony Chachare's, by the way. Nyttend (talk) 17:27, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

It might be a case of UK vs US recommendations. In the US, the RDA is 2.4 g, while in the UK, it is 1.6 g. --Polaron | Talk 17:44, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Hmm. Interesting suggestion — the calculations work out to a PDV of 2,250 mg for container 1 and 1571.42857142857142857... for container 2. However, it's a Louisiana-based brand, and the containers were bought in Louisiana, so I can't see why they would have British measurements included. Wouldn't the EU fine them bigtime for including a non-metric serving size, anyway? Nyttend (talk) 21:51, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

[unindent] All the numbers given are only quoted to the nearest whole number (excepting the rather imprecise ¼-teaspoons) so the difference between the resulting 6% and 7% could easily be due merely to rounding errors in the calculations. (talk) 20:01, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

"¼ teaspoon" is a metric measurement, anyway, or at least based on SI, at least in the US, according to Title 21, section 101.9(b)(5)(viii): "A teaspoon means 5 milliliters". Marnanel (talk) 22:07, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
So, a nutritional-unit teaspoon is now a (slightly) different volume than a teaspoon in a recipe or cookbook. Nimur (talk) 22:12, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but I vaguely remember reading of some EU bureaucrats trying to fine greengrocers for selling in customary units, so either the UK didn't legally define customary units in metric terms, or the bureaucrats don't care. Nyttend (talk) 01:49, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
I'd want I cite for that, as it's the sort of thing certain journalists perpetuate without factchecking. I've only seen reliable stories of the so-called metric martyrs, whose real crime is not putting the price in Imperial, but in not including a price in metric. I'm pretty sure you can sell by the teacup as long as you put the price in metric, with a way to measure the quantity in metric. (talk) 02:32, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
The article suggests you do need to have the metric more prominent then other units although it's uncited. Of course it also mentions the case of someone who got in trouble for selling beer in litres instead of the required imperial units so it would be misleading to suggest it's only those who wish to use imperial units who suffer. Note that I'm not commenting on whether I agree or disagree with any of it Nil Einne (talk) 16:23, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Well yes, there are standard units for different situations, but the point is I would be very surprised by anyone being taken to court for selling in teaspoons, as long as they defined the quantity in grams or mils as well. Why would a greengrocer be using teaspoons, anyway? Where 'customary units' differ from the defined legal units of the land, it has been illegal to sell only or primarily in those customary units for centuries, in the UK. Beer in glasses in pubs must be sold in units of pints, just as spirits in pubs must be sold in standard shot sizes, to prevent customers being swindled: the law could, instead, demand that beer be sold by the litre, but people generally don't want that, and actually care quite a lot. If you buy it by the bottle, you can buy and sell it in any size, and it will always have the quantity printed in metric units.. (talk) 20:03, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Origin of Life on Earth, compared to other planets[edit]

One of the theories states that amino acids may have been brought to Earth through comets and their impact with the earth caused these amino acids to form peptides which can eventually form into proteins correct? Well if this is true, shouldn't we expect to see peptides, and amino acids on other planets such as Mars, Venus or moons? Have we discovered such things? ScienceApe (talk) 17:38, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

They haven't been discovered yet, but the Moon is too arid, and the remaining water reserves on Mars have not yet been investigated. Dbfirs 19:19, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Bear in mind that the conditions in the early Solar System, both on other planets, etc, and on the early Earth, were very different from what they are today, so it's dangerous to make assumptions about what could have occurred then based only on what conditions are like now, some 4 billion years later. (talk) 19:56, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Sarah Horst has determined that the atmosphere of Titan (moon) plus small amounts of oxgen results in amino acids and all five nucleotide bases. Let me see if I can find that reference. Ginger Conspiracy (talk) 19:29, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

This is one or another Urey Miller experiment in the lab or a calculation. There are experiments showing that UV radiation can change the material of comets to form amino acids. This all does not help at all. The rosetta mission to a comet will determin what the comet is made of, even amino acids can be determined by the GC-MS onboard. Although the viking experiments showed no organics on mars although the instruments were the best what you can built at that point of time there have been a few martian meteorites here on earth which contained amino acids. The MSL11 and ExoMars mission to mars will search for organic material and both are capable to determine amino acids so after these missions we will know more about mars. The Hyugens probe to Titan was not capable to determine amino acids or peptides so at that planet we will have to wait another 20 or 40 years. Venus might be the wrong place to look, because of the temperatures and the chemical composition of the atmosphere, which makes any organic material short lived. There is only limited knowledge and in a few decades an answer might be possible to your question, but up to now you only can read the hypothesis papers of a lot of astrobiologists.--Stone (talk) 21:32, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
This says that amino acids are found in interstellar gasses and in meteorites - that is not so surprising - after all, Miller-Urey shows that these are not exactly difficult chemicals to produce. What's most interesting about that is that these extra-terrestrial amino-acids are all left-handed - just the same as the ones found here on Earth. It's odd that there isn't a 50/50 mix of left and right handed versions. However, what's even more weird is that the Miller-Urey experiment - and other similar efforts at producing amino-acids from basic chemicals always produce a 50/50 mix of handedness. This is a rather deep mystery...exactly the opposite of what you'd expect! This is at least circumstantial evidence that life may have originated far away from the earth. SteveBaker (talk) 23:47, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
I think the new result from Sarah Horst's very recent Titan+O2 variant of the Miller–Urey experiment was production of all the DNA and RNA bases, beyond just the amino acids. I have asked for that citation and I will try to put it here as soon as I get it. I agree the chirality of the Martian amino acids is very profoundly interesting and provides evidence in the opposite direction, but these lines of inquiry are ongoing and we may learn more about chirality distributions as they continue. Ginger Conspiracy (talk) 23:59, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Will atheists go to hell?[edit]

Note: You cannot answer questions? Only discuss improvements? That's what WT:RD is for! --Chemicalinterest (talk) 11:19, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

What percentage of them are rapists and murderers? What about sociopathy? (talk) 18:29, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Probably less than 1% [citation needed]. The answer to your first question is not really a Science Desk question, and you will get different answers from different religions. Personally, I think that they will have the choice! Dbfirs 18:55, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Not all religions believe in hell. Ariel. (talk) 19:03, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
From [4]:

But when it comes to more serious or violent crimes, such as murder, there is simply no evidence suggesting that atheist and secular people are more likely to commit such crimes than religious people. After all, America’s bulging prisons are not full of atheists; according to Golumbaski (1997), only 0.2 percent of prisoners in the USA are atheists – a major underrepresentation.

If religion, prayer, or God-belief hindered criminal behavior, and secularity or atheism fostered lawlessness, we would expect to find the most religious nations having the lowest murder rates and the least religious nations having the highest. But we find just the opposite. Murder rates are actually lower in more secular nations and higher in more religious nations where belief in God is deep and widespread (Jensen 2006; Paul 2005; Fajnzylber et al. 2002; Fox and Levin 2000). And within America, the states with the highest murder rates tend to be highly religious, such as Louisiana and Alabama, but the states with the lowest murder rates tend to be among the least religious in the country, such as Vermont and Oregon (Ellison et al. 2003; Death Penalty Information Center, 2008). Furthermore, although there are some notable exceptions, rates of most violent crimes tend to be lower in the less religious states and higher in the most religious states (United States Census Bureau, 2006). Finally, of the top 50 safest cities in the world, nearly all are in relatively non-religious countries, and of the eight cities within the United States that make the safest-city list, nearly all are located in the least religious regions of the country (Mercer Survey, 2008).

Dragons flight (talk) 20:15, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
There is a legitimate question in the percentage of self-described atheists who make up various criminal populations. Unfortunately the data is rather muddied on this, and both the pro- and anti-atheist sites distribute some dodgy data. This page goes over a lot of the various data out there. Of note in particular is the importance of distinguishing between a self-defined "atheist" and someone who has "unknown/no answer" when asked about religious preferences. The data from the US Federal Bureau of Prisons, from 1997, indicates that only .2% of federal prison inmates self-identify as "atheists", as compared to 39% Catholics, 35% Protestants, 7% Muslim. The statistics get a little more dodgy when you consider prison conversion, though — some religions (in particular Islam, Nation of Islam, and Scientology) recruit quite heavily amongst prison populations, which is going to skew such things a bit.
There are other class issues that confound this as well. To self-identify as "atheist" or "agnostic" (rather than just saying, "I don't know" or "nothing" or "whatever I was raised with") requires generally some education, and studies have shown (I don't have them on hand, unfortunately) that, say, people who self-identify as "agnostics" and "atheists" tend to have higher levels of education. This is not necessarily because being educated makes you non-religious, at all. Some of this is simply a matter of knowing the vocabulary: "agnostic," for example, is not a word that people who have skipped out on school generally know, or have thought to identify themselves with. But in any case, if you have a class (and probably race) bias in terms of those who identify in this category, then that is obviously going to show up in prison percentages, which are also heavily skewed in class and racial directions.
As a side note, as an agnostic-atheist myself, I have always been completely dumbfounded by the sincerely-held belief by many religious adherents that without worship of God, people would just run around and kill and rape each other. There are two major flaws with this idea. First is that one needs God to have cultural ideas of morality. I certainly know "right" from "wrong" in a visceral way, not because I was taught to believe in a book (or divine punishment), but because I was raised with a heathy diet of ethical consideration and empathy for others. Second, we don't rely on God-based deterrence in any case in civil society. If belief in God was all it took to make people not be criminals, we wouldn't need an extensive police and penal system. Obviously relying on religion alone to deter crime has never worked, so why should anyone assume that religion is necessary to deter crime? --Mr.98 (talk) 20:16, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
One common argument given to explain the disproportionate number of religious people who are in jail is that atheist-prisoners are often converted to religion while in jail - or that the nature of prison life somehow encourages atheist-murderers to "convert" to religion - and hence (so the argument goes) the prisons are full of criminal-atheists who have "seen the light" and are therefore now religious. However, one very significant fact discounts that - all of these surveys are based entirely on the forms prisoners fill out when they enter the prison system. What happens to them as a result of the prison experience is therefore not represented by those statistics. It truly is the case that religious people in the USA are about 70 times more likely to wind up in jail than atheists. SteveBaker (talk) 23:14, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
If there are 70 times more religious people than athiests. --Chemicalinterest (talk) 11:20, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
You seem to not be understanding the statistics here. What he's saying is that it is not equal for either — atheists are underrepresented based on their numbers in the population. You are implying that it is an identical rate. --Mr.98 (talk) 15:20, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
If most murderers are religious, then most religious people must be murderers. (talk) 20:26, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
That is a stupid statement 92. It is equivalent, logically to saying "If most cars are red, then most red things must be cars" which is absurd. Googlemeister (talk) 20:40, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
See joke. (talk) 22:29, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
See crickets. Marnanel (talk) 22:33, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
I've no idea what that is supposed to mean. (talk) 09:45, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
He's saying it wasn't funny — the "joke" fell flat. --Mr.98 (talk) 15:21, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
See satire. I wrote it to draw attention to common fallacious reasoning: There are a lot of {minority-X) in prison, therefore a lot of (minority-X) will do bad things. (talk) 23:28, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Well, it wasn't very clear. As an attempt at satire, it fell flat. When people cannot distinguish a satiric statement from a "stupid statement" (to use Googlemeister's term), it probably means you either didn't bracket it enough or didn't exaggerate enough. Just sayin'. --Mr.98 (talk) 17:03, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Only an idiot would have taken the intial statement literally. (talk) 21:42, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
A person has to feel more secure to identify as an atheist than a member of a religious group. Prison inmates I think feel insecure due to their situation in life. It could be argued that religious identity in a prison population aims to compensate for insecurity—real and perceived. This would tend to skew statistics coming from prison populations concerning religious/atheistic self-descriptions. The reason I say that people need to feel secure to identify as being an atheist is because atheists have fewer or weaker organizations binding their group together than do coreligionists. Coreligionists generally have the bonhomie deriving from a shared weltanschung.Bus stop (talk) 20:59, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Since you think my opinion is minority, I will make it smaller. According to the Bible, man has a sin nature. No matter how religious you are, man has a natural impulse to sin. That would mean that no matter what your religion is, you still sin. Religion does not prevent sin in any way other than a possibly stronger feeling of remorse in most people.--Chemicalinterest (talk) 21:09, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but that is not true. The bible does NOT hold that view. Christianity does. Ariel. (talk) 21:14, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Bibles are books, and are unable to formulate opinions, voice their opinions, or issue decrees and edicts. Nimur (talk) 22:09, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
But the bible was written by God, so it is God's word and has god's views in it. --Chemicalinterest (talk) 11:20, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────This question is impossible to answer and only leads to a simple discussion about theology. ... It really depends if you believe in hell, how to get there and what happens when you die really. Tommy! [message] 21:26, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Read the top of this page - Do not start a debate; please seek an internet forum instead. This is not a question that the science desk is able or indeed intended to answer. --Cameron Scott (talk) 21:27, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Assume good faith please, I'm aware. And as I explicitly stated, this question is impossible to answer (and should be closed). Tommy! [message] 21:31, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
If you believe in heaven and hell and all that stuff - then surely you have to believe that 100% of atheists would wind up in The First Circle of Hell (or the Asphodel_Meadows) just because they are atheists? But this is indeed not a scientific question - because the scientific answer is that the existence of Hell is an unfalsifiable hypothesis and therefore not worthy of inquiry. SteveBaker (talk) 23:14, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
The "Do not start a debate" injunction applies just as much to respondents as to OPs. Apart from the OP's original question, the entirety of contributors to this thread are other editors. It really should say "Do not start a debate; and if someone does try to start one, do not engage them". -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 23:15, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
If you guys read the text of the question rather than the header, there is a legitimate sociological question in there which presumably modifies the header. (E.g. the OP is implying that rapists, murderers, and sociopaths go to hell, and is asking whether atheism in particular contribute to higher percentages of those.) That's perfectly answerable from a sociological point of view. From a theological point of view it depends what you consider "going to hell" to require. Obviously if the OP just assumed, say, that people who violate the first commandment in the Bible as people who are going to tell, atheists by definition fall into that category. --Mr.98 (talk) 23:05, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Actually - if we're being handed the existence of hell and the truth of the Bible as axioms, then the scientific view must be that atheists are actually marginally better off going to hell because it's cooler than heaven. (This is an old calculation - but I can't find it's origin - so I'll explain it in my own words).
  • Isaiah 30:26 says: "Moreover, the light of the Moon shall be as the light of the Sun and the light of the Sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days." So it appears that the Bible is telling us that in heaven the sun produces 49 times as much radiation as it does here on earth - and moreover the moon is as bright as our sun. So heaven gets 50 times the amount of insolation as we get here on earth. That would make the temperature in heaven about 520 degC. Actually, that's a low estimate. Another way to read that Biblical statement is that here on earth, the moon is 450,000 times dimmer than the sun - if the heavenly moon is the same brightness as our sun - then the heavenly sun must be 450,000 times brighter in order to make shine so brightly. I leave it up to you to come up with the likely temperature of heaven under that interpretation!
  • Revelation 21:8 says: "the fearful, and unbelieving...shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." Brimstone is just another name for sulphur - and if it's a "lake" then it must be molten and that means that the temperature in hell is below the boiling point of sulphur - which is 444.6 degC. We don't know how much less it is - but the melting point of sulphur is 115degC - which is hot...but survivable.
So...while neither place is very comfortable, you'd obviously want to go with Hell. Well, that's the scientific view! SteveBaker (talk) 23:34, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
The first verse is not referring to heaven; it is referring to the brightness of Jesus as he descends from heaven to reign the earth. The sulfur thing may or may not be correct, but the verse states about a lake of fire, not sulfur. The main punishment in hell is the eternal separation from God. --Chemicalinterest (talk) 11:15, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure I'm OK with the eternal separation thing. If that's the worst thing, then I'm definitely hoping for hell. SteveBaker (talk) 19:44, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

This reminds me of an old joke: "Everyone goes to heaven, because god knows there's no worse punishment for an evil-minded person than to force them to sit around listening to harps all day." --Ludwigs2 23:50, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

That's not what you do in heaven. --Chemicalinterest (talk) 11:17, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
It was my understanding that it is the dearth of humans in heaven that made it so pleasent.Smallman12q (talk) 13:20, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Getting off topic, but i disagree that 115 DegC is survivable. Maybe for a short while, but then again, you're already dead so it's a moot point really. Personally, I'd rather go to Hell too, but my reason is the same as what Bill Hicks' used to say: Hell would have much better music. Vespine (talk) 11:08, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
We have an article on the World Sauna Championships, where competitors start at 110°C. Marnanel (talk) 19:56, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
You know someone died at that event this year? I did say survivable for a short while, whether you define that in minutes or hours, i still say you could LIVE in 115DegC. Vespine (talk) 04:09, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
You can make a hell of your own with music (its called a party), but the hell mentioned in the bible does not have any music, just the anguished screams of those eternally separated from God. --Chemicalinterest (talk) 11:17, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
If you want to avoid hell, you can always try and follow this guys [5] example Nil Einne (talk) 13:23, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
I could mention that there's mention of discourse, which presumably is in addition to any anguished screams. But even though the medievals called theology "the queen of the sciences", that doesn't mean a discussion of soteriology belongs on the Science Desk, edifying and written in small letters though it may be. Can we stop it now? Marnanel (talk) 19:56, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes, according to the bible, for surely they do not believe that bats are a bird. (talk) 18:24, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Renewal alkaline batteries recharged in NIMH charger[edit]

I have some dead AAA"Rayovac Renewable alkaline" rechargeable batteries, and a charger intended for NIMH Nickel metal hydride batteries. What ill effects are likely to result from recharging the batteries in the charger? How do the charged voltages compare? Edison (talk) 20:00, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

IIRC, the renewable alkaline cells are 1.5V and the charger is made to charge 1.2V. Is it a fast (30 minute) charger or a slower (6 hour) charger? The fast one may overload the batteries. --Chemicalinterest (talk) 20:26, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Do not charge alkaline batteries in a regular charger!!!!! It's not just voltage, the charger needs to send a pulse of current, then wait for the hydrogen gas in the battery to recombine, then do it again. It's a totally different process than for a regular battery. These two pages may help: Rechargeable alkaline battery Recharging alkaline batteries. Ariel. (talk) 21:11, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
It can be dangerous to charge batteries in the wrong kind of charger - they can get hot, the contents boil and then they explode - or hydrogen gas can build up and cause the battery to catch fire. I wouldn't want to risk doing this without being REALLY certain. SteveBaker (talk) 22:47, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
The best-case scenario is that the charger will recognize that you've stuck something other than an NiMH battery in it and will shut off; the worst-case scenario is that the battery will explode and start a fire. --Carnildo (talk) 02:12, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
The worst-case scenario is that the battery explodes violently just as you are near it, blinding you and causing you massive wounds and a slow and painful death. Seriously, Murphy's law man. (talk) 09:15, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree that it is best not to try this because the charge current will be too high by a factor of more than ten (though I did build and use a recharger for zinc batteries nearly fifty years ago without explosions, but with only minor success). It is possible to charge NiCad rechargeable batteries in a NiMH charger, though this might shorten their life marginally. Dbfirs 22:53, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

is all jerky salted?[edit]

or can it be smoked and dried but at no point salted? (talk) 21:19, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Salt is a natural preservative, so yes. In fact, historically salt has been used as a preservative, as it removes water content, in which bacteria and viruses live in. Tommy! [message] 21:23, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
sorry, let me rephrase: Does ANY jerky not contain salt? (is there at least one which has no salt in it). (talk) 21:19, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Without salt, it would probably not be called "jerky", but this is a matter of word style/preference. Smoked meat has its own name. Nimur (talk) 21:29, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Without salt (and no refrigeration) it would be unsafe to eat... and you'd get sick. Tommy! [message] 21:32, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
so salt is the only suitable preservative? what if it were sealed properly after being dried and then in a clean environment "pasteurized" or flash heated to kill bacteria? (talk) 21:41, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
It can't be pasteurized because you can't boil meat. There is irradiated meat, though. But not for jerky. Jerky is known for its salty and smoky taste. Tommy! [message] 21:46, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
What do you mean by "you can't boil meat"? I've eaten boiled hot dogs. Nyttend (talk) 01:53, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Hot dogs are already cookied. Generally, no you can't boil, say a steak... sure it'd cook, but it'd taste like **** Tommy! [message] 12:23, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
I had the same initial reaction, but I think he means you can't boil meat like you can boil water or milk, rather than the culinary sense in which the meat is cooked in a boiling liquid. (talk) 02:23, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes. Meat doesn't boil. I should have said that. Tommy! [message] 12:25, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Of course pasteurisation usually doesn't involve boiling anyway Nil Einne (talk) 09:29, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Sorry for being misleading. Tommy! [message] 14:40, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

By salt do you mean sodium chloride only, or the nitrate and nitrite salts which are also used to preserve jerky? If you smoked meat heavily and packed it under nitrogen or in vacuum, it would keep for a while, but not as long as jerky with one or more varieties of salt. If you irradiated it first you could probably get away with zero salts and still have it last for years potentially. I guess it depends on how strongly you want to irradiate it. Ginger Conspiracy (talk) 00:06, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

The reason jerky needs to be salted is that it isn't completely dry. If you make pemmican by drying lean meat until it is crispy, grinding it to a powder, and mixing it with hard beef fat and berries, the product will last indefinitely without any added salt, as long as you keep it from getting damp. Looie496 (talk) 00:54, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Bakkwa is another form of meat which will keep for some period of time ([6] suggests 30 days stored outside the fridge but in decent conditions). While it usually contains salt [7] [8] sugar is the more important prevervative I think, you could potentially adjust the recipe to eliminate sodium although I can't say I think it will taste very good. Of course you can also use canning to preserve meat Nil Einne (talk) 09:27, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Bird identification?[edit]

Can anyone identify this bird for a friend? Thanks :) FT2 (Talk | email) 22:39, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Well, the back end of it looks exactly like a Canada Goose - but it doesn't have the characteristic black head and neck. I wonder whether it is a juvenile that hasn't quite gotten it's adult plumage. SteveBaker (talk) 22:44, 20 August 2010 (UTC)--Eriastrum (talk) 23:40, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
can't get the image to load. --Ludwigs2 23:52, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Same here. ~AH1(TCU) 01:34, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
... and here. Dbfirs 11:44, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Here too. --The High Fin Sperm Whale 17:59, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
It's vanished for me too - and I could see it when I answered the question yesterday. SteveBaker (talk) 19:41, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
It's an Egyptian Goose--Eriastrum (talk) 23:40, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

The subjective experience of dementia[edit]

Do people ever realise themselves that they are becoming demented, or are sufferers always unaware? Regarding psychosis, do sufferers simply think that other people have become more disrespectful? (talk) 22:54, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes, they often are aware. People in the early stages of Alzheimers are usually informed they have this condition, and that there is support available should they become unable to manage their own lives/affairs. Whether they choose to accept this is actually happening to them is another matter. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 23:08, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
After Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Altzheimer's disease, he gave a famous speech to announce it to the nation; it was very widely publicised, at least in the USA. The full text of the speech is available online. Nyttend (talk) 01:51, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
I believe this varies from person to person. I've worked with dementia sufferers, and some of them have lucid moments when they are fully aware of their gradual loss of capacity. Others (such as a lady I'm currently working with) have no awareness of what's happening to them, even if they are told repeatedly. I suppose that the actual variety of dementia has a bearing on which experience happens. --TammyMoet (talk) 08:36, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
You could look at Terry Pratchett - he has early onset Alzheimer's disease and has done many interviews regarding the condition and it's effect on his life. Exxolon (talk) 11:03, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Hazel Hawke also gave interviews, wrote books and did other fund raising for Alzheimers when her condition was first diagnosed; I believe it's now advanced to the stage where she is no longer capable of doing this. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 11:12, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Alzheimer's disease#Characteristics doesn't list anosognosia as being a characteristic of Alzheimer's until the moderate dementia stage. Red Act (talk) 03:44, 22 August 2010 (UTC)


The article on the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor says it has S-shaped intake ducts. Is this related to an S-duct (even though the S-duct article says it is "used only on trijet aircraft")? And what is an S-duct (the article explains it very poorly)? --The High Fin Sperm Whale 23:44, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

It is a duct that is s-shaped. In the simplest jet-engine design, the air basically flows through a straight cylinder; the various compressors and fuel injectors (and turbos and all the other fun things) are all axially aligned. In an s-shaped configuration, the air intake is offset from the main axis of the jet engine (for mechanical layout reasons - it's less efficient, but it allows the engines to "fit" in ways they otherwise would not fit). In the 727, the "S" was vertical; the intake was above and forward of the tail and ducted down to the rear of the tail. In the F22, the ducts are lateral, and duct in from the front and sides of the airframe, and then to the interior of the airframe, finally to the jet exhausts at the rear of the aircraft. Nimur (talk) 01:03, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Then why does the article say they are only used on trijets? --The High Fin Sperm Whale 03:45, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Good point. I have amended the article by removing the word only. It no longer says S-ducts are only used on trijets. Dolphin (t) 04:53, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
The article on the F-22 Raptor says that it has s-shaped ducts, but it doesn't actually say it has s-ducts. I don't know the exact requirements for an intake system to be classified as a s-duct, but I am geussing that the term s-duct was ment to be applied to the use of the design in trijets and larger aircraft, not fighterplanes, but in reallity there isn't really any difference between a s-duct and what is used on the raptor (besides that most aircraft utilising the design implement it vertically and the raptor implements it horizontally). In other words I think there really isn't a difference, the term S-duct was ment for commercial aircraft and no one thought of applying the term to a fighter aircraft. Although as mentioned above this is only a geuss, so if I am incorrect please anyone feel free to correct me. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:55, 21 August 2010 (UTC)