I suspect cows are going to become a theme here at WU. They're ubiquitous and silly and important. Those are three good criteria for inclusion here. Hey, if cows were good enough for Gary Larson humor, they're good enough for us!
The latest news is that they're demanding headphones as they graze! Not sure if iPods are included. Read the article here
Then watch the video of "The Cow Whisperer" here
Hitachi recently announced
that in 2010 they plan to unveil a 5TB hard drive. This led them to note that, "By 2010, just two disks will suffice to provide the same storage capacity as the human brain."
So, according to Hitachi, the brain has a 10TB storage capacity. But how did they arrive at this number?
There's been a lot
about the brain's storage capacity. The most popular method of arriving at an answer is to estimate the number of synapses in the brain and extrapolate from there. This has led researchers to come up with numbers ranging anywhere from 3TB to 1000TB. Hitachi evidently was using this method.
But there's a second method (noted on the Of Two Minds
blog). Psychologists have conducted experiments to measure how much information people are actually able to memorize. This produces much smaller numbers. They've concluded that it's only about two bits per second, or a few hundred megabytes averaged over an entire lifetime.
Of course, until scientists figure out a way to allow us to download our brains to computers, all these numbers are just useless trivia. And when that happens, we can all plug into the Matrix and live happily ever after.
[From Good Housekeeping
for October 1939.]
Here's a great example of Madison Avenue trying to a) make a problem that doesn't exist or is minimal into an overwhelming burden that only their
product can alleviate and b) bring the vaunted "miraculous" power of scientists and scientific imagery into the marketing mix.
Did women in 1939--or ever--really ask their friends for a hygienic crotch alert?
Back in March I wrote an article
magazine about pseudo-scientific terms that have gone out of fashion. For instance, it used to be all the rage to affix "electro-" to everything, as in "electro-lumps" (one marketers inspired term for coal).
A term I definitely could have included in my article is "radiation." Once upon a time it didn't have the negative connotations it does today. Witness the "Radiation Cookery Book" from 1934. It didn't actually use radiation for the cooking (except in so far as heat itself is a form of radiation). Instead "Radiation" was the name of the company that made the gas cooker for which the recipes were designed.
The Chicago Tribune
reports on a mysterious cryptogram received by Fermilab:
The enigma began last year when a plain envelope with no return address arrived at the world-famous physics laboratory outside Chicago, addressed simply to "Fermilab." Inside was a single sheet marked by pen with a bizarre series of hash marks, numbers and alien-looking symbols. No one at the lab could make sense of the letter. Was it a joke? A threat? A hint at some exotic new theory?
The lab eventually posted the puzzle on its website
, and the online community within days had partially solved it. The first part says, "FRANK SHOEMAKER WOULD CALL THIS NOISE." (referring, apparently, to a physicist who used to work at Fermilab). The bottom part reads: "EMPLOYEE NUMBER BASSE SIXTEEN." The middle section remains unsolved.
Unfortunately, these messages are as cryptic as the code itself. If you like puzzles, see if you can be the one to shed light on this enigma.
If only you had been reading Popular Mechanics
magazine for February 1929! Then you could have purchased the same Purple Ray
healing device that Wonder Woman uses! Okay, so it was a "Violet Ray." Same difference, right?
New Scientist reports
that Brazilian researchers are attempting to help infertile men by finding a way to turn teeth cells into sperm cells via mouse testicles:
Irina Kerkis of the Butantan Institute in São Paulo and her colleagues injected stem cells from the dental pulp of human teeth into the testes of live mice. The cells seemed to migrate to the tubules where sperm usually mature and differentiate into cells resembling human sperm.
Just one problem: "some of the human cells fused with mouse cells." Well, at least the kids would be a shoo-in for the Mouseketeers.
Alex's Jesus Toilet post reminded me of this great WIRED article
from a few years ago, about toilet technology.
It so happens that toilet engineers need to simulate excrement for testing purposes. Here's just a couple of the things they use: