Monthly Archives: December 2006

What the Geeks of the World Figured Out in 2006 After Spending Millions on Research

I recently perused a list of 50 Things We Know Now That We Didn’t Know a Year Ago.

The introduction to this list states, “Tons of cool new discoveries wash ashore in the media tide each year but fall through the cracks, what with all the coverage of Britney Spears’ undies…”

Well, with such fascinating discoveries as no. 6: Cheese consumption in the United States is expected to grow by 50 percent between now and 2013, I can’t imagine why people would be more interested in Britney’s underwear!

It’s truly amazing the things a geek can figure out given enough funding. Here’s a few of the things that us “normal” folk have always known, but the geeks have just recently discovered this year:

22. The hole in the earth’s ozone layer is closing – and could be entirely closed by 2050. Meanwhile, the amount of greenhouse gases is increasing.

I can’t be the only one that thought it was weird that the largest hole in the ozone was over a completely unpopulated part of the world (save for the nine or so geeks living there conducting scientific experiments). So greenhouse gases eat ozone. But if it were responsible for the holes in the Earth’s ozone layer, then there ought to be a huge gigantic hole right over the U.S. where a huge majority of greenhouse gases are released. Alas, there is none.

24. At least once a week, 28 percent of high school students fall asleep in school, 22 percent fall sleep while doing homework and 14 percent get to school late or miss school because they overslept.

I guess the geeks were too busy doing crazy stuff, like learning things, to realize the rest of the class was sleeping through the teacher’s discussion of amoeba mating.

Wait a minute… amoeba don’t have sex? Man, sucks to be an amoeba!

25. Women gain weight when they move in with a boyfriend.

Since geeks never actually had the chance to live with a woman, they never noticed. I, for one, could tell if a Utah girl was married or not just by comparing them to their high school picture. For the longest time I thought having sex caused a woman to double in weight!

28. Around the world, middle-aged and elderly men tend to be more satisfied with their sex lives than women in the same age group, a new survey shows.

You mean they’ve been lying about having headaches?

32. Just 30 minutes of continuous kissing can diminish the body’s allergic reaction to pollen.

And what 30 minutes of continuous kissing leads to diminishes the body’s reaction to, well, pretty much everything.

47. A python was the first god worshipped by mankind, according to 70,000-year-old evidence found in a cave in Botswana’s Tosodilo hills.

Yeah, he’s called THE DEVIL! Haven’t you ever read the Old Testament?

Ok, so there were a few obvious things that we really didn’t need to waste time or money on. But they did discover a few jewels:

3. Blue light fends off drowsiness in the middle of the night, which could be useful to people who work at night.

Casinos the world over are already replacing all their lighting.

7. At 68.1 percent, the United States ranks eighth among countries that have access to and use the Internet. The largest percentage of online use was in Malta, where 78.1 percent access the Web.

Good to know there are seven other countries that spend more time looking at porn than us.

9. Scientists have discovered that certain brain chemicals in our tears are natural pain relievers.

And all this time girls thought guys cry at sappy movies because they’re emotionally sensitive. Umm… no. They’re crying and drinking their tears to try and STOP THE PAIN!

11. Wasps spray an insect version of pepper spray from their heads to temporarily incapacitate their rivals.

Never look a wasp in the eye.

13. Ancient humans from Asia may have entered the Americas following an ocean highway made of dense kelp.

Oh really? Well, here’s a new discovery from me: I MAY be the Queen of England! That kind of earth-shattering knowledge I charge $3.7 million for.

16. A new planet described as a “super-Earth,” which weighs 13 times as much as our planet, exists in a solar system 9,000 light-years away.

They can’t send a man to Mars, but they can send a bathroom scale 9,000 light years across the galaxy?

20. A substance called resveratrol, found in red wine, protects mice from obesity and the effects of aging, and perhaps could do the same for humans.

You think Pope John Paul II lived so long because he was just so content? There’s a reason he took the sacrament every week!

36. DNA analysis determined the British descended from a tribe of Spanish fishermen who crossed the Bay of Biscay almost 6,000 years ago.

Analyzing DNA can tell you if your ancestors were fishermen? (creds to Buck Roberts for that line)

40. The queens of bee, ant and wasp colonies that have the most sex with the largest number of males produce the strongest and healthiest colonies.

Don’t tell my wife. She might use it as an excuse to “strengthen” our family.

50. Researchers from the University of Manchester managed to induce teeth growth in normal chickens – activating genes that have lain dormant for 80 million years.

Oh yeah, that’ll save humanity. Way to go geeks! Hey, can you figure out how to grow a beak on humans? That’d be sweet!

So there you go. For the full list of 50 things that are less important than Britney’s skivvies, check out TBO.com

Christmas: Not Just for Christians Anymore

Well, not that Christmas really ever had anything to do with Christianity. It should be no surprise that atheists around the world celebrate the birth of required gift exchanges.

Birth of Christ? Oh, is that what we’re supposed to pretend it’s about? I didn’t realize it had anything to with that amongst the 10 million Christmas Specials I’ve seen with no mention of Jesus, his birth or life, but are rather about a jolly fat man named after an anagram of satan, based on a Catholic saint and modeled after Odin.

Though once outlawed in America, Christmas itself has become quite an ecclectic celebration, incorporating traditions and ceremonies from many different civilizations throughout history.

Well, rather than repeat my rant of last year, here’s a link to it.

Enjoy!

I did learn something new this year though. From the Pagan Claus site:

 

Mithra, by the way, was born on December 25, of a virgin. His birth was witnessed by shepherds and magicians [magi]. Mithra raised the dead and healed the sick and cast out demons. He returned to heaven at the spring equinox and before doing so had a last supper with his 12 disciples (representing the 12 signs of the zodiac), eating mizd, a piece of bread marked with a cross (an almost universal symbol of the sun). Any of that sound familiar?

The Natural Gas Scam (and What the *#@! is a Watt?)

Prepare for a long rant. But hey, I added some pictures if that helps.

Last year, my highest natural gas bill was just over $200 for December (with the thermostat at a chilly 62). That’s about a $165 increase versus the summer months. This is the result of being in a house with zero insulation combined with sub-10 degree weather.

Now I’ve always been told that natural gas is the most efficient form of energy. That may be true, but I had a definite feeling my gas company was not passing along the savings.

This year for December, I decided to heat my home using electric space heaters. I’m convinced that I stand to save quite a bit of money by dissin’ Questar Gas for the ol’ coal-burning electricity.


no more Questar Gas!

Yes, I know that it’s not as good for the environment, but at this point I have to choose between hurting the environment a bit more than normal, or putting food on the table for my family of five. Family wins.

Here’s how I calculated my savings:

I know that I am charged about $0.08/kWh, so first I had to figure out how many kWh’s (kilowatt hours) the space heaters would use over the period of a month. I calculated that the heaters would be on for a combined total of 20 hours per day (probably closer to 15, but I want a worst case scenario) for a total of about 600 hours per month. Here’s the algorithm to calculate kWh:

Watts x Hours / 1,000

My space heaters are each 1,500 watt units. Plugging that number into the algorithm, I come up with 900. Multiplying that by $0.08 per kWh gives me $72. So I should expect to see an increase in my electric bill of about $72 at most. Hmmm… that’s just a bit better than $165 wouldn’t you say?

Down with the gas companies and their LIES!!!


James Watt, an onry lookin’ feller

Furthermore, what the *#@! is a watt?

Having worked in the automotive industry for several years, I basically understand how volts, amps (amperes), and ohms work and how they are related. But the meaning of wattage I’ve never understood, and fortunately never had a need to understand. That is, until I decided to calculate the kWh usage of my space heaters.


James Joule: didn’t believe
in shaving

What is a watt? It’s a measurement of one Joule per second. Okay… so what’s a Joule? It’s the work done by the force of one newton. So at this point I’m starting to get pissed. What the heck is a newton then?

It’s a force that produces an acceleration of one meter per second squared.

Alright that means something to me. So what the heck is a watt then??? If I could somehow figure out how a watt compares to an amp.


Isaac Newton, long-haired weirdo
of his day

After searching and searching through at least a dozen definitions, I finally found out that a watt is simply the power dissipated by a current of 1 amp flowing across a resistance of 1 ohm… in other words, voltage times amps (it takes one volt to push one amp through one ohm).

Well why the heck didn’t anybody just freakin’ say so?!

Well, now I know that my space heaters are using a specific combination of volts and amps. Well, I know that my electrical outlets put out 120 volts. If I knew the amps or ohms, I could figure out the other. But that’s not really important now. I can now hold my head high secure in the knowledge that I understand what it means for a device to have a draw of 1,500 watts. Hallelujah!

Now, it gets much more complex than that. I wanted to know specifically about electrical wattage. The watt by itself is a measure of power (specifically, the power to move a one kilogram weight upward under Earth gravity).


Chernobyl wasted thermal watts
when it melted down

A thermal watt is energy in the form of heat. If only we could use that directly. Instead what usually happens is thermal watts are produced to heat water, which creates steam, which in turn drives a turbine to produce electric watts. In the process, many thermal watts of energy are dissipated (ie: wasted).

In the case of cars, a majority of the energy produced by an engine is in the form of heat, most of which is wasted (either shot out the exhaust pipe or carried away by the cooling system and dissipated into the atmosphere). Similarly, whenever you brake all the energy is converted into heat (caused by the friction of brake pad against brake rotor) and again simply dissipated into the atmosphere at an energy loss of 100%. Crazy huh?

Now that I feel so good about myself, feel free to tell me that I got it all wrong. Go ahead. Destroy me in one fail swoop. I can take it.