Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Science/2011 October 4

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October 4[edit]

High protein in chicken noodle soup[edit]

I just had a can of Manischewitz Chicken Noodle Soup and I noticed afterward that there's 20g of protein per serving for a total of 40g in all. Here is the nutritional fact label [1] So, why does this wee can of soup have more protein than a bottle of that Super Protein Odwalla stuff? Is it the egg noodles? Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 6 Tishrei 5772 00:19, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Could be from the grain the noodle is made from. Wheat has a lot of protein. Chicken breast also has a lot of protein. Other than that can't think of anything. --DeeperQA (talk) 00:51, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Does chicken noodle soup have real chicken in it? (Sorry. Couldn't help myself.) HiLo48 (talk) 21:33, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Does when it's certified Kasher meat by the Orthodox Union my good sir. Them's proffessional Orthodoxim thar. Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 7 Tishrei 5772 01:03, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Based on noodles occurring before meat in the ingredients list and [2] I would say it's a misprint and that they probably mean 10g. (talk) 20:25, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Idk why they do that, but now I'm almost certain that it's a result of those being noodles made from durum wheat with eggs, which you don't find in the chicken noodle soup types you linked (they probably use milk instead of egg for the noodles). Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 7 Tishrei 5772 01:03, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Egg white vitamin content[edit]

So, another question. First the context. After consuming an omelette composed of ten large eggs, I was told by my ima that I need to have egg white omelettes from now on or I'll have a heart attack, etc. I looked at Wiki's article about them and saw that 4/5 of the egg's protein is contained in the egg whites, but it says nothing of the vitamins (unless I missed something). So my question is, what is the usual vitamin content of egg whites in a large egg? I'd like to know before I consider switching to egg white omelettes. Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 6 Tishrei 5772 00:27, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Little vitamins. Many sites on the Internet provide the exact breakdown. (Nutitiondata) I purchased 50 lbs of egg white to support the protein requirements of my diet and depend upon vitamin supplements for vitamins. However I have returned to whole fresh eggs since the egg yoke has many vitamins and I take a Lecithin concentrate (400mg) 3 times a day plus a prescription medication to keep the cholesterol under control. --DeeperQA (talk) 00:43, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Ima? You do realize unless your under medical advice to cut out yolks entirely you could cut down to one whole egg and a few eggwhites on top? It'll taste better too. Ten eggs'd kill anybody. There's the case of that guy on death row got a reprieve and died from the final meal of two whole chickens and a five lb bucket of peaches he'd eaten. μηδείς (talk) 00:55, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Ima is the rapport of every Israeli child (though usually said as imaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!) Yeah I was thinking about that. It would be half and half though as I use one of those pans with the weird egg guy on it and it only fits two eggs at a time (and cooks them in a manner similar to pita bread with an air pocket in the center). Last doctor's check I had just had two slices of cheese pizza and so the doctor thought it best to wait on a cholesterol test (though a few years back I had had a cholesterol issue of levels which sounded like they would be fatal from the Wiki article). Come to think of it, the perscription slip for one is lying right there on the end table since 22 August. Meh, if I didn't eat it, my dad wouldn't have he was concerned that it had sort of missed the spatula if you get my meaning (though I roasted any germs off). I probably won't eat one that big again though, but man was it good (with a lot of parsley in it). Well the inmate sounds like an idiot for eating that many peaches, and I have a desire to lol, but at the same time... not a bad way to die, really. Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 6 Tishrei 5772
Eh, I can just drink some of that Special K Protein Shake stuff to supplement my vitamins then (it's rather tasty too). I can also just drink the Odwalla stuff (not so tasty) if the protein amount is too little. Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 6 Tishrei 5772 00:54, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Isn't it true though that the cholesterol in your blood is not terribly related to the cholesterol content of the food you eat since the cholesterol in your blood is stuff that you yourself produced from fat? Googlemeister (talk) 13:19, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
It is quite true afaik my good sir, but try telling that to a Jewish mother. From what I have read, your body will either excrete excess food cholesterol or produce the missing on its own; the bad evil heart clogging cholesterol comes from saturated fats, or, more specifically, the content of delicious Hagen Dasz Ice Cream sundaes and beef ribs. :( Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 7 Tishrei 5772 01:10, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Has anyone tried Ostrich omelette like me? It's huge. Plasmic Physics (talk) 00:49, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Our nearby Whole Foods was selling ostrich eggs at one point, but I didn't like eggs at the time. Now that I do, they've stopped selling ostrich eggs! How do those taste compared to chicken omelettes (not that my spicing can't fix anything)? Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 7 Tishrei 5772 01:10, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Pitty. Pretty good, actually. It tastes a lot more eggy though, and it's very rich, not everybony will like it though. Plasmic Physics (talk) 01:57, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Unless maybe you are in South Africa or something I would think an ostrich egg would have to be way more expensive then the number of chicken eggs it would take to make a similar sized dish. Googlemeister (talk) 13:14, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
They have ostrich farms in the US as well (some are in NJ I believe). The one at Whole Foods was 35 USD, but Whole Foods isn't exactly known for being wallet-friendly. Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 7 Tishrei 5772 19:15, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Ok, so they are expensive, but still at least somewhat affordable if you were feeling adventurous. Googlemeister (talk) 20:10, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Oh they're affordable for me, but I don't know where to get them easily in the Northeast. Fairway doesn't seem to have them, and Fairway has everything. Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 7 Tishrei 5772 20:12, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

seeing our scalp[edit]

Hi, every time that someone makes a buzzcut, you can see its scalp. Well my question is why on the the top of the head you see the skin, and on the other places you can't, another question is which parameter is related to this subject. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:35, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

It depends on the angle of vision, the type of cut caesar haircut, fade haircut and the fact that hair does not all lie flat, with hair on the top of the scalp of people with straight hair usually curling outward from a hair whorl or cowlick. Ask a friend to let you examine his hair next time he gets such a cut. Run your fingers across the top of his head, then around the ears and up the back of his neck and see how it feels. μηδείς (talk) 01:44, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Definitely get permission first. Most guys I know would not be especially comfortable with that. Googlemeister (talk) 13:16, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
You have the wrong friends. μηδείς (talk) 03:07, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Acrophobia and attachment to the ground[edit]

Though I suffer from both acrophobia and a sincere fear of flying, during a flight the one thing that does not bother me is the height we're at. It's great to be able to land and recognize individual trees because it means we're about to have an end to this quest. But this is when we're still at a 1000 feet. Being on a balcony at 200 feet scares me. The 1000 feet in a plane is something I seem to take for granted, the 200 feet is actually quite high and obviously I could easily fall over this rather low fence, strange that nobody else seems to acknowledge in what horrible situation we are, I hate this evil architect who probably never walked here himself and probably lives in a bungalow, etc.

My theory is that the big difference is that in the case of flying there is no building or rock I need to trust not to fall apart. My evolutionary brain obviously doesn't understand that falling from a hot air balloon is just as deadly as falling from a big building because my genes never had to deal with flying to survive. My genes also never had a problem with heights when walking up a 200 ft hill. In my experience, acrophobia does not really imply a fear of height itself but a fear of the consequences of a failing construction which are obviously higher at 100ft than at 10ft. I see no mention of that in Acrophobia and I would like some insight in my own phobias :) Joepnl (talk) 00:40, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

I don't know from phobias, but I share your seeming dichotomy about flying vs. balconies, except that I don't have any fear of flying at all. I feel "safe" in an airplane because it's totally enclosed. (I could be wrong, but if I'm wrong, I'll only be wrong once.) Being anywhere near a situation where I could either fall off a high place or where a structure such as a balcony railing could give way, has the effect of making sure I keep well away from the edge. And the photo of Phillippe Petit tightrope walking between the World Trade Center towers still gives me sweaty palms. However, keep in mind you could be killed falling from the second story of a building. The only difference in falling a hundred stories is that you have time to think about it on the way down. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:22, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I can't quite understand what you mean by 'my genes...' As I understand it as a sufferer and an ex-therapist who has treated people for other kinds of phobias, the fear is an acquired behavioural problem and has less to do with genes. The anxiety associated with acrophobia can be overcome with help and permanently suppressed. The anxious ideas and emotions felt within an active phobia are always present and always irrational, 'I might throw myself off this parapet', 'If I go any further I will have a heart attack', 'this building could collapse at any moment'. This irrationality is the heart of the beast and once you have been able to overcome the apparent 'truth' of these silly ideas then the phobia will be overcome. Your theory about the plane not collapsing does not hold for many people who fear its mechanical failure/pilot being suicidal/terrorist attack/bird strike etc. etc. Getting a phobia fixed is not difficult, it requires some steely determination as you challenge to destruction those irrational ideas of what might happen. I am not advising you to do anything, that is up to you.Caesar's Daddy (talk) 07:34, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
By "my genes" I mean that I think that down below there is a rational reason to be afraid of heights. People who are afraid of heights probably live longer than people who really like heights. That's where the genes come in. Being scared too much is acquired as you say. When I was 9 I didn't have it. (But when I was 2, I also didn't have a problem eating poo for which I have acquired a phobia, too). My theory about planes not collapsing is only meant for heights. I experience exactly the things you describe when it comes to flying, but the very odd thing about it is that the height absolutely doesn't bother me. Being "phobia-prone" that's the thing that amazes me. Btw, I do fly when it's necessary, it's just not a nice experience. Tall buildings are easy to avoid. Being afraid of spiders would be more inconvenient. Joepnl (talk) 00:02, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm curious about this too. It's odd. Tiny planes, large planes, hot air balloons are fine but standing on the edge of cliffs, tall buildings (and I've lived/stayed in many), the decks of large boats, being in tall trees are all scary for me. Being connected to the ground seems to makes a big difference. It's patently irrational because I can rationally compare the consequences (fell off a cliff=wasn't too bad vs botched hot air ballon landing=fractured a rib, hurt like hell) and it hasn't changed my instinctive response at all. Sean.hoyland - talk 07:33, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Aren't phobias, strictly speaking, irrational fears? I don't know about you but I think that the fear of falling off a 100 ft cliff to be perfectly rational. It would be irrational if one were to fear a cliff which was only 4 feet tall. Googlemeister (talk) 13:14, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I guess a phobia is by definition irrational but it's odd how some responses are pretty resistant to evidence and experience e.g. people only have to put their hand in a fire once to not do it again and they aren't left with an irrational response everytime they see a fire whereas most phobias are hard to dislodge. I guess it would be rational to fear heights etc if it made someone more careful in those situations but oddly it often seems to have the opposite effect and increases the likelihood of someone doing the wrong thing. Phobias rarely seem to be useful either. I've never met anyone, anywhere, with a mosquito phobia for instance (which you might expect to be quite a useful thing to have evolved) or an irrational fear of pointy things but put a harmless snake in front of many people or put them on a perfectly safe ledge up in the air and everything goes wrong. Bizarre. Sean.hoyland - talk 15:39, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Evidence and experience are both not hardwired in a brain. From personal experience "doing the wrong thing" is not what you do. People with acrophobia trying to jump over the fence sounds like a urban legend to me. I do have a mosquito phobia and so do you. If a mosquito touches you, you're not going to think "in this area it won't carry malaria so I'll just let it feed on my blood". You smash it the moment you see it landing. That's pretty close to a phobia to me, except that because everyone has the same phobia it's not called one. The fear of pointy things may not be observed a lot, but pointy things are usually not that lethal. To differentiate between harmless snakes and the ones that kill you is quite a job whereas just running away when you see any snake is easy. That's perfectly rational, like not eating any mushrooms because some of them might kill you and it's not worth it to find out which. Washing your hands is a wise thing to do, washing them 200 times a day is not. I think a fear of heights is perfectly rational too, till a certain level. Being afraid that the structure you walk on might fail is wise, but rationality is gone when one, like me, is afraid the Eiffel Tower could collapse because you feel movement.
Anyway, my own acrophobia nor fear of flying was a reason to start this topic. My job does not involve meeting people at 300 ft and I'm perfectly happy driving to France for a holiday. I'm just wondering if the psychologists have been looking at the right thing. A skyscraper at 300ft is scary, a hill at 300 ft is not. It's not the height itself, it's the building. Joepnl (talk) 23:42, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
"because everyone has the same phobia it's not called one" is a good point. I'm curious whether someone has measured the error rates, completion times etc for people walking along something like a 20cm wide, 5m long straight path at various heights to see whether the error rate is flat, increases or decreases with height. Nevertheless, attachment to the ground does seem to play some kind of role for many people. Being on a balcony in a tall building seems to feel different from being in a hot air balloon. Maybe the brain can't deal with not being attached to the ground and it just treats it like being in deep water for lack of a better hardwired model. Sean.hoyland - talk 06:10, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
It sounds like you aren't afraid of heights, you're afraid of edges -- a very sensible fear. --Carnildo (talk) 00:53, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

What are big open questions in Science?[edit]

I am working to put together a simple list of “Open Questions in Science”, as topics for speakers at a Science Club to which I belong. They would be ones of some interest to professionals and the general educated public, and cover all fields. To give you an idea, here are ones I have nominated already:

1. What is dark matter, and does it really exist?

2. What is dark energy, and does it really exist?

3. How did Neanderthals become extinct, and are we really related to them?

4. Did an asteroid impact really wipe out the dinosaurs?

5. How did our Moon come to be? (this one has recently been regarded as settled).

6. Is time travel theoretically possible?

7. How do new species emerge from the old species to which they belonged?

8. Could we engineer our bodies to become immortal?

9. Why do we see no evidence of extraterrestrial life?

10. Is the general form of our Solar System common or rare?

11. Are quantum computers really possible?

12. Is faster than light travel possible, or is it forever prohibited?

Please critique these, and add others you think would be good candidates for such a list. Myles325a (talk) 01:41, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

That is more like a pop-culture list than what I would expect from scientists in their fields. 3,4,5,and 7 have consensus answers. Six, 8 and 12 are perennial fantasies, although immortality in some form is theoretically possible with enough time and resources to develop and apply the methods. Eleven is an engineering program. The answers to 9 and 10 need more data, but look at Fomalhaut b for recent evidence of Borg activity.
Some better questions might be:
  • A Is the replicating molecule or the lipid-membrane first model of life's origin correct.
  • B Are all human languages descended from a common source, and can it or its daughters be partially reconstructed?
  • C Why is gravitic mass apparently equal to inertial mass?
  • D Are the physical constants arbitrary, or mathematically necessitated from self-evident principles?
μηδείς (talk) 02:06, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
More ideas...
  • What did life look like in the "RNA world"?
  • Is our system of nucleic acids one of only a few possibilities for life during evolution, or are there many ways just as good or better for life to use to store its genetic information during its early evolution?
  • Do alien ecosystems develop the species concept like Earth did? If they evolve species, do they resemble those on Earth? Do they develop plants and animals? Trees have evolved many times here - did similar-looking autotrophs evolve elsewhere? Is bilateral symmetry inevitable? Do quadrupeds, segmented organisms with many legs, bipeds, birds, snakes evolve on other worlds?
  • How did the laws of logic, mathematics, and physics come to exist? Why is mathematics so detailed? Could another cosmos have different values for pi and e, different arithmetic, different theorems in predicate logic?
  • Both a person and a video of a person appear to talk, experience stimuli, think and feel. But the video playback is believed incapable of sensation. If you develop the computing system playing the video sufficiently, is there some level of complexity in the computer algorithms controlling the video that can make it so that it becomes capable of feeling? If not, if any arbitrarily complex computer program is never capable of "real" consciousness, what distinguishes brain matter from the computing system in this regard?
Wnt (talk) 03:21, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Agree with μηδείς on questions 3,4,5 and 7. Anyway, some more:
  • Where did viruses come from? And do they predate cellular life? (probably the same as μηδείς' question A)
  • What lies beyond the universe? Is our universe unique?
  • What lies beneath the smallest particles we can detect? Are leptons and quarks all there is?
-- Obsidin Soul 05:11, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
See List of unsolved problems in physics.
Wavelength (talk) 05:50, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

---I want to add these : 1)the existance of paralell word . 2)the existance of gravity waves . 3)moon creating great impact (which was said ). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Akbarmohammadzade (talkcontribs) 06:20, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

In addition to Wavelength's link, see also List of unsolved problems (Unsolved problems in artificial intelligence, Unsolved problems in chemistry, Unsolved problems in computer science, Unsolved problems in economics, Unsolved problems in linguistics, Unsolved problems in mathematics, Unsolved problems in neuroscience, Unsolved problems in philosophy, Unsolved problems in statistics and Category:Ailments of unknown etiology). ---Sluzzelin talk 13:55, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
The biggest open, obvious, super-important question that I can think of — one that we as of yet have still only groping ideas of even how to approach — is What is consciousness? How does it emerge? How does it work? To me there are few problems of such severe importance as the hard problem of consciousness, and yet after centuries of research, we still have only glimpses as to the answer. --Mr.98 (talk) 23:15, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
From the realm of meteorology, "Why/How do tornadoes form?" is a pretty big one that is yet unsolved. See Tornado#Ongoing research. If that question could be definitively answered, it would be much easier to forecast where and when tornadoes would hit, possibly eventually leading to the development of Warn on Forecast for tornadoes. Ks0stm (TCGE) 23:33, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

OP myles325a back live. Thanks all, for a great list, it's more than a beginning. I have one, philosophical AND scientific of my own.

PROB: Are all causative agents ultimately reducible to fundamental physics, or can laws governing reality somehow emerge at higher levels and possess a structure which is not defined by laws at a lower level? This is one of those problems, like the possibility of extra terrestrial life, in which either a yea or nay answer is equally astounding. If all phenomena are reducible to quantum physics, then the Weimar Republic is explicable in those terms, and a better understanding of particle physics will make for a better understanding of the history of that Republic. If it is not, then that means that laws can emerge as higher levels come into being. But how can such a thing operate?

I think Wnt's point, above, on AI, is spot on. Consciousness may very well be an emergent property of complexity (and it would be hard to imagine a conscious matchbox) but if complexity is NECESSARY, is it also SUFFICIENT? That is the rub. For I can imagine very complex machines which might not be conscious, say one that controls air traffic all around the world. Myles325a (talk) 01:05, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

No-one seems to have touched number 6 on the OP's original list. Time travel into the future is just a problem of engineering now, as a consequence of relativity. See Twin Paradox for a good example. I know that probably isn't what you had in mind but it could have been worse. After all, everything that we interact with on a daily basis is traveling though time at a rate of approximately 1 second per second. A big open question in physics is the search for a "theory of everything", and indeed whether there is one. Teshmanesh (talk) 15:16, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

I mentioned "six." Discontinuous time travel is bollocks. μηδείς (talk) 03:03, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
I would narrow Mr.98's question of the nature of consciousness to the question of what is the nature of and mechanism behind sense qualia. That is, what, exactly causes "bare" sensations like hot, sulfurous, soft, red, middle C, sweet, and painful and sleepy to be what they are and different from each other. That's the nut to crack--the higher level stuff supervenes on qualia. μηδείς (talk) 03:03, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Maximum weight per unit surface area that water can support[edit]

Small objects can float on the surface of water due to finite surface tension. Suppose one makes a platform of a few square meters consisting of billions of nanotubes a few nanometers apart as the support. Would such a platform support a few million kg/m^2 as one would expect from the total length times the surface tension, or wouldn't this work? Count Iblis (talk) 04:24, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

No, it would not work. You got your nanotube surface density calculation wrong. All you would accomplish, is to trap a film of air underneath the platform, but it will still sink. Plasmic Physics (talk) 04:41, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
It could work, but there are some serious changes that needs to be made, and it is highly impractical with current technology. I'll go into it a bit later. Plasmic Physics (talk) 04:53, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Essentially, surface tension keeps a single nanotube afloat, if a sufficiently large weight is applied to a nanotube, it will sink. A cluster of nanotubes is kept afloat by having a lower density than water, provided by a thin film of air trapped between nanotubes closer than the critical radius by surface tension. The more air can be trapped the lower the density, this can be accomplished by altering the length of the nanotubes, or by using multiple layers nanotube clusters. Frankly, it's chheper to glue layers of aerogel to your platform. Plasmic Physics (talk) 05:58, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
... and, of course, "a few million kg/m^2" is completely unrealistic. Nanotubes, however clever they are, cannot overcome Archimedes' principle, so you would need to displace "a few million kg" of water to provide the buoyancy. Surface tension only modifies buoyancy by moving the displaced water further away from the object. It doesn't provide a force independent of buoyancy. Dbfirs 07:41, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
But surface tension can provide a force in the absence of gravity, showing that the two mechanisms are indeed independent. Robinh (talk) 18:41, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I wasn't suggesting that surface tension is not an independent force, just that its role under gravity can only be to modify the distance to which a fluid is displaced. It is a force between molecules, so has no net large-scale effect. Archimedes' principle rules buoyancy. I suppose that surface tension can also provide a "downwards buoyancy force" by lifting a liquid upwards against gravity. I agree fully with the analysis by Plasmic Physics above, except that I would add that the buoyancy of the nanotube is provided ultimately by the weight of water it displaces. The surface tension acts only as an intermediary force, upwards on the nanotube and downwards on the displaced water. Dbfirs 07:28, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Class warfare question[edit]

moved to humanities...--DeeperQA (talk) 05:53, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Copper(2+) v.s. copper(1+)[edit]

Why is it that copper(2+) is more stable than copper(1+) in solution? A copper(2+) ion is a radical, while copper(1+) ion is not. Plasmic Physics (talk) 07:34, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

In solution, copper (II) ions form more stable bonds with water, likely due to the greater charge density (2+ vs. 1+ over essentially the same volume), thus forming stronger bonds with the Solvation shell. Copper (I) ions tend to disproportionate in water, as the difference in energy between the solvation of copper (II) and copper (I) ions is greater than the energy needed to transfer an electron between two copper (I) ions to cause the disproportionation to occur. At least, that's the opinion here: [3]. This page: [4] has a discussion of Copper (I) chemistry and how to avoid disproportionation. This page here looks at the disporpotionation of copper (I) from an electrochemical/thermodynamic point of view. The disproportionation reaction has a positive Eo value, which means that it is thermodynamically spontaneous. It is apparent that the existance of the radical is not the predominant factor in determining the stability of a species in this case. (And in other cases as well. The ground state of O2 is Triplet oxygen, which is a diradical.) --Jayron32 13:13, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I'd have to ask, "more stable in what sense, and under what conditions?" If this were an inorganic chemistry exam question, the correct answer would probably have the words Jahn–Teller effect somewhere in it. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 13:14, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Copper (II) is more stable than copper (I) in nearly all conditions, given a long enough time frame nearly all copper (I) compounds will eventually (and in solution, usually rather quickly) disproportionate; this can be of a long enough time frame to create metastable copper (I) compounds which remain long enough to be useful for long times, however thermodynamically the disporportionation of copper (I) into copper (II) and neutral copper is always spontaneous. The Jahn–Teller effect doesn't deal with the overall stability of these ions, it is pretty much unrelated to the OP's question. That effect deals with the shapes and symmetries of coordination complexes of some metal ligands; it applies to copper (II) because of the radical nature of copper (II) prevents complexes of copper (II) from assuming certain types of symmetry. That has nothing to do with the overall stability of copper (II) vis a vis copper (I) which is an unrelated problem. --Jayron32 13:33, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

TenOfAllTrades:By more stable, I mean at a lower ground state. I understand that diradicals are more stable than monoradicals, but not why this monoradical is more stable than the nonradical. It is to me like someone saying that Ga•4+ is more stable than Ga3+, we all know it's not, but that's point. My logic tells me that it should be energetically unfavourable to remove a second electron from Cu+, but it is not. (proven by experiment) Plasmic Physics (talk) 23:07, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

I think, Plasmic, the mistake you are making here is assuming that a single variable (paired vs. unpaired electrons) is the sole variable when determining the relative "stability" of two species. It is true that, in many situations, radicals are often less stable than those situations where there are no unpaired electrons; but not always (the example of dioxygen is important to consider here) and can't be handwaved with "but it's a diradical". If the only consideration were the presense of unpaired electrons, dioxygen would have all of its electrons paired. There are obviously other factors at play which can make radicals more stable than non-radical analogues. Arguing that copper (I), a nonradical, should be more stable than copper (II), a radical, ignores an important bit of evidence called "reality". If your assumptions don't match reality, then it isn't reality which is incorrect. --Jayron32 00:12, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

And that is exactly why I was asking what factors are reversing the bias in this case. Plasmic Physics (talk) 00:43, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

I don't really have an answer yet, having a positive Eo value is consequencial rather than casual. The disproportionation of Cu+ is consequencial of its relative instability compared to the products. What is at the root of it all? Plasmic Physics (talk) 22:05, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Helo? Anybody? Yes, it's not a spelling mistake. Plasmic Physics (talk) 13:48, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

What species do those fungi belong to?[edit]

Cookeina sulcipes.jpg

I just want a precise name for this file, please--Inspector (talk) 07:46, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Please include location and other descriptions (such as size) in your photos in the future. They are very important in identification.
That said, I assume these were taken in China. It looks like Cookeina. Most likely to be Cookeina sulcipes (See [5], [6]), found in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. It's definitely not Cookeina sinensis anyway (see [7]).-- Obsidin Soul 09:18, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Actually I had taken this photo in Malaysia, and the size is like a thumb's size(you can also compare it with the structure of the moss). Thanks for the information.--Inspector (talk) 08:46, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Ah, then it's very likely to be C. sulcipes :) There are several pictures of them also from Malaysia on the internet. I have requested a rename of the file.-- Obsidin Soul 11:25, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

firing a blank[edit]

The old story goes that when someone is executed by a firing squad, one of the rifles contains a blank and the rest contains live rounds. Supposedly this is done so that each firer will have some doubt whether he fired a bullet killing the condemned. However, since the gun is not actually sending a projectile out, but only the firing gasses, I would think that he would know he did not fire a bullet because the gun would not recoil nearly as much. I myself have never fired a blank round, but is my supposition correct here? Googlemeister (talk) 13:37, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

This is true. At least, it says so in Wikipedia. See Firing_squad#Blank_cartridge.--Shantavira|feed me 13:49, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
It depends on the type of blank and the rifle used. For example, you cannot fire a blank from an M-16. The gas will escape and it will not push the bolt back. So, the M-16 requires a blank firing adapter to trap the gas in the barrel. It would be very obvious if you had a BFA on your rifle. But, the recoil would be similar because the recoil you feel is used to push the bolt back and, if the recoil of the blank+BFA is capable of pushing the bolt back, you feel it. Ignoring semi-auto gas-powered rifles like the M-16, consider gunpowder rounds in a standard rifle. If you have a round with just gunpowder, it doesn't kick very hard at all. If you use a wax round, you get a reasonable kick compared to a live round. It depends heavily on how intact the wax is as it escapes the rifle barrel. So, by using good wax, you can create a dummy round that won't kill anyone at a distance, but will kick reasonably well. There are also paper rounds - often used in movies.The paper burns up in the air, but still allows for a reasonable kick. My experience is that the paper rounds don't kick as hard as the wax rounds. So, if I was trying to fake a real round, I'd use wax. -- kainaw 13:59, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
So, could it be that in films they use real guns with fake ammunition sometimes? Wikiweek (talk) 14:32, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes. Dauto (talk) 14:46, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
And yes. -- kainaw 14:52, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I can say both from personal experience and from my knowledge of physics that a weapon with a BFA (blank fire adapter) will not have anywhere near the same recoil as a when you fire a live round. The recoil you will feel comes from the conservation of momentum, and for a given weapon it depends on the weight and forward velocity of the bullet and the gases as they leave the muzzle (or BFA as the case may be). Blank rounds for military use often have a plastic bullet that's much lighter than a live one. The plastic bullet disintegrates in the BFA and leaves the weapon with a pretty low forward velocity. The lower weight and velocity makes for a weaker recoil. Yes, the BFA traps the powder gases for a short while so there's a force that acts on the bolt and pushes it back, but there's also a forward force acting on the BFA from the bullet and gases hitting it and those forces nearly cancel each other out.Sjö (talk) 17:57, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
None of the blanks I used in my M-16 had bullets of any kind. They were regular rounds with the bullet removed and the case crimped shut. There are obviously many kinds of blanks with very different results. -- kainaw 18:15, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I've never fired an M-16 with a BFA so I guess it's possible that the recoil for that weapon is roughly the same with or without the BFA.Sjö (talk) 18:30, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Although there have been very few firing squads since the introduction of automatic or self-loading rifles - at least in countries civilized enough to worry about the guilty conciences of the participants. The last person shot in this way by the British Army seems to have been a German spy called Josef Jakobs who was shot in 1941 in the moat of the Tower of London, presumably with standard Lee Enfield bolt-action rifles. Alansplodge (talk) 23:22, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad in 1977, and according to a source in the article [8] one of the rifles was loaded with a blank. I'd also like to point out that you can easily fire a single blank round in a self-loading weapon, but it won't reload due to the weaker recoil and gas pressure.Sjö (talk) 10:32, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Of course, but if the point is to camouflage the fact you fired a blank, the firearm would need to behave as normal, which would mean the self loading would need to take place. Googlemeister (talk) 13:31, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Execution by firing squad#Blank cartridge (which was linked above) mentions:
While an experienced marksman can tell the difference between a blank and a live cartridge based on the recoil (the blank will have lower recoil), there is a psychological incentive to not pay attention and, over time, to remember the recoil as soft.[citation needed] In more recent times, such as in the execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner in Utah in the United States in 2010, a rifleman may be given a "dummy" cartridge containing wax instead of a bullet, which provides a more realistic recoil.[1]
It's sourced and wax bullets were also used in the execution of John Albert Taylor in 1996. On the other hand [9] calls in to the question how well wax bullets stimulate a live round. Other sources like [10] which aren't discussing their use in executions mention wax bullets tend to have low recoil. Of course those generally rely on experiences with normal wax bullets. From [11] it's apparently a specially designed wax bullet which was tested to be difficult to distinguish. How this is done isn't really explained (since I believe the lower mass is one of the problems) although in the earlier ref there were some suggestions (although it would seem to be problematic to weight a bullet if you want to be reasonably sure it remains non lethal).
Nil Einne (talk) 15:23, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

Strength of glass vs aluminium[edit]

Imagine I was building an oceangoing vessel (I'm not, this is purely hypothetical, but it helps to make the question less abstract). I would like to make the windows in my imaginary wheelhouse proof against being broken in a very severe storm. The damage they need to resist could come either from the pure weight of water, or potentially a point impact from items on deck being thrown against the windows. It's not really possible to model those forces, so instead I set my hypothetical design requirement to be that the windows mustn't be any weaker than the metal structure of the wheelhouse itself. The wheelhouse is made of aluminium, whatever grade is commonly used for such purposes. As a finger in the air, let's say it's made of 10mm plate. Each window is perhaps 2 feet by 2 feet.

The glass can be toughened, laminated, whatever technology is available, but it does need to behave like "real" glass, eg not scratch like plastic windows. Since it is to be fitted to an imaginary vessel, cost is not really a concern, but the suspension of disbelief probably doesn't extend to really exotic materials costing hundreds of thousands.

Is it feasible to have a window that is as strong as the wheelhouse in this way? What material would it be made of, and how thick would it have to be?

Many thanks for your help,

Pete — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:57, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Energy absorbed by brittle (red) and ductile (blue) materials before breaking
You can certainly increase the strength of glass by laminating or tempering it, but I'm going to venture a guess that achieving equivalent strength of the structure (by the way, most oceangoing ships are made of steel, not aluminum) is probably not feasible without a very, very thick pane of glass. The reason is the difference in the Resilience of glass and metals (i.e. the amount of energy that can be absorbed before breaking)--glass is very brittle, while metals are more ductile, so metal can absorb much more energy before breaking. This is commonly cited as one of the reasons the Titanic sank-- the steel that composed the hull was much more brittle than it should have been, which was exacerbated by sailing in the cold waters of the North Atlantic. Mildly MadTC 16:38, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Here's an interesting article on a type of armor known as "transparent aluminum". ...oh, and there's always Transparisteel or this stuff too :-) Mildly MadTC 17:29, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
According to our article on AlON, your 2'x2' window pane could be made at a cost of around $5-10k each. I don't know if strictly speaking it is a strong as aluminum, but it seems like it is very good at impact resistance. Googlemeister (talk) 18:31, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I'd go with coated polycarbonate, to get both polycarbonate's impact resistance and the coating's scratch resistance. There's a reason why it's used for things like airplane canopies and bulletproof glass. --Carnildo (talk) 01:07, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for your answers - must admit I'd hoped someone might find some specific figures from a manufacturer or engineering databook :-). I'll look at the general references though. For what it's worth, aluminium upperworks are not uncommon on smaller vessels even when the hull is steel - helps keep the centre of gravity a bit lower. --Pete — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:54, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

What makes a material tough from a molecular point of view?[edit]

On one hand, you have ceramic which is hard, but brittle. On the other hand you have metal which is ductile, but not as hard as ceramic. Is it possible to model on a computer, an arrangement of atoms and say, "yeah this would give it characteristics of both"? ScienceApe (talk) 21:13, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

To some extent, the ability to resist impact is diametrically opposed to hardness. However, there are materials, such as metals, which are a good compromise between hardness and the flexibility needed to absorb energy from impacts without fracture. Also, a denser material is able to absorb more force, hence the use of materials like depleted uranium for armor. Another approach to get "the best of both worlds" is composite materials, such as in a Kevlar bulletproof vest. StuRat (talk) 02:18, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Young's modulus in metals and fully bound solids like diamond and salts is notoriously difficult to simulate from Schroedinger wave equations because it's heavily dependent on resonances between many if not most of the substance's outer electrons. And the other quantity you ask about, resilience, depends on it. You can have slightly better luck with composites but in general they are much weaker and more brittle, and when they aren't, as in carbon fiber composites, you run in to the same problem. (talk) 04:10, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Irish winters[edit]

What were the causes of the cold winters that hit Ireland and other countries in europe to get a cold winter of during 2009-10 and 2010-2011 is this likely happen again this year at the same severity or much worse. -- (talk) 21:15, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Possibly the conveyor belt shutting down? Plasmic Physics (talk) 23:19, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
No. See Winter of 2010–2011 in Great Britain and Ireland; "During the latter part of November, northern blocking established over Greenland which resulted in the Jet Stream moving south, allowing cold air to flow in from the east." The Winter of 2009–2010 in Europe: "Globally, atypical weather patterns brought cold, moist air from the north. Weather systems were undergoing cyclogenesis from North American storms moving across the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and saw many parts of Europe experiencing heavy snowfall and record-low temperatures." Alansplodge (talk) 23:04, 5 October 2011 (UTC)


What is the difference between a thunder shower and a thunderstorm. -- (talk) 21:17, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

It's the difference between a shower and a storm -- a little rain versus a lot of rain. Looie496 (talk) 21:58, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Electron probability distribution[edit]

What's the maximum distance an electron can be from the nucleus before the value of the probability distribution is 0? Or is it always positive (though very small)? -- (talk) 21:32, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

An electron will have positive probability almost everywhere including at arbitrarily large distances (though the probability decreases exponentially towards zero with distance). Dragons flight (talk) 21:36, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Has a ground-state electron ever been observed an unexpectedly large distance away from the nucleus (e.g. a few microns)? -- (talk) 21:48, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
If it were that distance, it wouldn't be at the ground state... --Jayron32 23:30, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
But even if it's in the lowest energy level, can't it theoretically appear arbitrarily far from the nucleus? -- (talk) 02:18, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Sort of. Except that would assume that you could identify an electron at a single location which you cannot. Saying (in a quantum sense) that the probability of finding an electron at any given distance from the nucleus is nonzero is not the same thing as finding a discrete ball of negative change just hanging out at a point in space at that distance. The electron would have to actually, you know, exist as a discrete ball which stays still at that point. Also, as electrons are nondistinguishible, detecting an electron with an actual detector gives you no information as to the actual specific atom that is the source of that electron. So, you actually can't extend the probability distribution given by the wavefunction into a real chance of finding a specific electron (such as say, the ground state electron of a specific atom of hydrogen) at a specific distance from the nucleus. There's just no way to do that, in an empirical sense. --Jayron32 02:57, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Jayron, you need to read Count Iblis' post below where he explains how that phenomenon can actually be observed. Dauto (talk) 14:32, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, one can observe this indirectly. If you put an atom in a constant electric field, then it has a finite ionization probability, no matter how weak the electric field is. The physical reason for this is that there is enough energy to ionize the atom if the electron moves a large enough distance. But this does mean that even in the ground state, the electron can be arbitrarily far removed from the nucleus. If the wavefunction were such that an electron is always less than some distance d from the nucleus, the ionization probability would become zero already below some nozero electric field strength. Count Iblis (talk) 23:40, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Previously in 2008 on the Ref Desk or in the article Atom we discussed an experiment in which an atom was isolated, and energy was pumped into it until the electron was at a ridiculous distance from the nucleus, like a millimeter. The phenomenon was derided as being merely was something like a "Rydberg atom" without clarifying how it was not a "true atom." The archives of the article are not responding, so I cannot cite the relevant revisions other than [12].Edison (talk) 05:04, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
We do have an article about the Rydberg atom (cool (sorry:) bit of physics!). The comment appears to have been removed from Atom with this talk-page discussion. I disagree with that, now that there are multiple papers (heck, a whole cited article about the phenomenon)...not for WP editors to judge whether it's "a real atom" if that's what WP:RS call it. Can certainly improve the wording to be more WP:V correct numerically, etc. DMacks (talk) 18:04, 5 October 2011 (UTC)


My question for the community to investigate is, "Do wardens execute criminals?" I have attempted to respond accurately to this science question, but I CANNOT DO IT! Can someone in the community PLEASE help me? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:53, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

No. They stand there and watch while criminals are executed. I fail to see the difficulty. Looie496 (talk) 23:05, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
The editor made the change before coming here,[13] albeit with an atrocious spelling. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:45, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
Neither in the US nor in the EU. I don't know how things look like in China or Iran. Quest09 (talk) 00:04, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
We have an article on executioner. Vespine (talk) 00:10, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
The warden gives the final order for the execution to proceed (indicating, among other things, that there's been no reprieve). To that extent, he/she is a participant in the execution: even though someone else sets up the IVs and pushes the button, the warden is the one who, in the end, says "push it". -Nunh-huh 01:52, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes. The OP seems to be using warden in its sense of any prison guard while the answerers seem to be using the (apparently mainly American) definition meaning only the boss of the prison. Certainly in most cases a prison employee is the executioner. Rmhermen (talk) 14:08, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I was confused over the meaning of the term used in the question. In the UK, a prison officer is a warder not a warden. Dbfirs 20:58, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Whether you call him a warder or a warden, if he's executing anyone in the UK, I'd say he's improvising rather dangerously. - Nunh-huh 05:03, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Clinton Duffy was the Warden for 12 years at San Quenton prison, and suoervised the execution of 90 people. In the US, it has been common to establish continuous communication with the state Attorney General and Governor to make sure there is no impediment such as a stay from a judge or a pardon or stay from a Governor. The Warden would arrange for an executioner and for the means of execution (gallows, firing squad, electric chair, gas chamber, lethal injection). He decides on the exact time of execution. He would arrange for a physician to pronounce the prisoner dead. He would ascertain that there was a valid execution order. He would arrange for a Priest or spiritual adviser if the condemned prisoner requests one. He would arrange for witnesses (friends or family of the condemned, victims' family, citizens and press). [14], [15], [16]. Edison (talk) 22:52, 5 October 2011 (UTC)