Shown is Robert E. Lewis, a physicist at the Armour Research Foundation, circa 1950, who's experimenting with his "sitz" meter, a device designed to measure chair comfort. Weight sensors on the pads of the chair would turn on corresponding lights on the panels on the wall, showing how the person in the chair (Judy Blumenthal, who looks thrilled to be participating in the experiment) was distributing their weight. Lewis was trying to scientifically design a more comfortable chair.
Stanford researchers are using virtual reality gear to allow volunteers to experience what it feels like to be a cow. They're curious about whether the experience of temporarily "becoming" a cow will reduce people's desire to eat cows. If the video below doesn't work, the article is here.
Head transplants , according to Italian surgeon Dr. Sergio Canavero, are possible. Not in the future, but right now he claims. It has been attempted on animals in the past but total paralysis was an insurmountable problem. The doctor says spinal cord repair is possible today. The proceedure is estimated to require 100 surgeons 36 hours at the cost of 8.5 million British pounds. I doubt NHS or Obamacare will ever cover it though.
If you haven't seen "The Blob", you need to watch that classic sci-fi horror film. For the uninitiated, watch this magic putty absorb magnets. It's not the same as "The Blob" oozing into the movie theatre through the air vents, but who could predict you could have this in your own home?
I know it cost $279 million, but that seems really cheap compared to lots of other things we spend money on, and it's way bigger than the Eiffel Tower, as the illustration shows. "Bert" and "Ernie" are the names of the first two cosmic neutrinos they think have been discovered.
IceCube. Not just a rapper or a way to cool your drink. Discovering the Big Bang one Sesame Street Character at a time. (Or for the older folks, the taxi-driver and the cop from "It's a Wonderful Life.)
Over in China, researchers decided to test the theory that dogs can predict earthquakes. So they housed four dogs at the Nanchang quake center and waited for them to show signs of "abnormal" activity, such as barking a lot.
They soon discovered that dogs (and apparently these dogs in particular) often bark a lot. According to local residents "every night at 11pm they start barking over and over." After fielding multiple complaints from angry neighbors, the researchers "offered to muzzle the dogs, but accepted later that this might impede their skills as quake-prognosticators." Finally, the experiment was shut down.
So maybe dogs can predict earthquakes, or maybe they can't. But until we learn to speak dog language better, it doesn't look like our canine friends will be much use to us as official quake predictors. [London Times]
On his 1925 Arctic expedition, Admiral Donald B. MacMillan used singing eskimos to test the effectiveness of short wave radio as a communication tool for the world's navies. His experiments are credited with helping to open up previously "useless" radio frequencies.
In the picture, MacMillan is second from right. The guy standing behind him is Eugene McDonald, founder of Zenith Radio Corporation. His company built the special short wave radio gear used on the expedition. All others in the picture are the singing eskimos.
Although modern science has been able to send a man to the moon, it has not been able to make cows poop on command. An effort to solve this shortcoming is described in a recent issue of Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
The thing is, it would be really nice, for the purpose of general hygiene, if farmers could convince cows to stop pooping wherever they felt like it. So researchers devised a series of tests to see if prompts such as walking through a footbath, or being exposed to blasts of air or water, could stimulate bovine defecation. No such luck. The researchers concluded, "None of our tests reliably stimulated defecation, which seemed to occur most when cows were exposed to novelty."