Archive for January, 2010

Potato Identity Crisis: Am I a Vegetable or Supercarb or Both?

By Smriti Rao | January 29, 2010 3:16 pm

potatoThe poor potato seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. Particularly in the United Kingdom, where there seems to be a great deal of confusion among consumers over whether the potato is a vegetable or just a starchy carbohydrate or both.

In order to vanquish this confusion and get people to pile on the potatoes, The Potato Council in the U.K. has put forth a petition to Downing Street to re-classify the spud as a “supercarb”–a new food group that, according to the council’s website, would help highlight “how much goodness potatoes contain.”

The Council hope this re-branding restores the potatoes tattered image that has suffered in the hands of those health-conscious folks who believe that a carb is a four-letter word.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Food, Nutrition, & More Food

Video: How Male Frogs Kick up a Frog Froth to Protect Their Young

By Smriti Rao | January 29, 2010 11:51 am

NestHuman parents can get into a huge lather about keeping their kids safe. So why should some species of frog be any different? Male Tungara frogs (Engystomops pustulous) will huff and puff and literally kick up a huge clump of foam that serves as a nest to shelter his mate’s eggs. The floating foam nests sound flimsy, but they’re actually incredibly durable–surviving the sun, high temperatures, infections, and parasites for four whole days until the eggs housed inside mature into tadpoles.

While scientists already knew of these foam nests, they didn’t know quite how the frogs made them. Now research (pdf) published in the Royal Society’s journal Biology Letters provides some answers. New footage filmed of an amorous pair of Tungara frogs foaming up a nest in the West Indies shows a carefully calibrated approach to nest-building that’s part yoga, part physics.

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NCBI ROFL: Civilian gunshot injuries of the penis: the Miami experience.

By ncbi rofl | January 29, 2010 7:00 am

gun“OBJECTIVES: To perform a retrospective study to evaluate the circumstances, extent of trauma, and modalities of treatment for penile injuries caused by firearms in a large metropolitan area. The management of civilian injuries differs significantly from that of the military, and experience with penetrating trauma to the external male genitalia in civilian life has been minimally reported. Read More

How Did NASA Get to Carnegie Hall? Photograph, Photograph, Photograph

By Eliza Strickland | January 28, 2010 1:21 pm

Tonight, New York’s splendid Carnegie Hall will not only resound with beautiful music, it will glow with unearthly images.

A performance of the orchestral suite The Planets, by the English composer Gustav Holst, will be accompanied by a new video put together in cooperation with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and featuring the latest high-definition planetary images. The suite contains seven movements that correspond to seven planets: Earth isn’t included, and the disputed planet Pluto hadn’t been discovered when Holst finished the piece in 1916. As for the images, they come from missions like the Mars rover explorations, the Cassini-Huygens investigations of Saturn, Galileo’s trip to Jupiter, and the epic Voyager 1 and 2 treks across the solar system.

Maestro Hans Graf of the Houston Symphony explains the origins of The Planets: An HD Odyssey in this video:

Ironically, Holst was inspired not by the astronomical wonders seen through a telescope, but rather by the astrological clap-trap of horoscopes and star signs. Still, as long as we get to swoop over panoramas of Mars in high-definition, we’ll forgive the composer his quirks.

Tickets here.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Trippy Lunar Opera: Haydn at the Hayden Planetarium

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Aliens Therefrom

As in Lake Wobegon, Behind the Wheel, All Drivers Feel Above Average

By Smriti Rao | January 28, 2010 11:07 am

driving-carThe thoughts can occur to all of us when we slip behind the wheel of a car: That guy in the other lane is crazy, the old lady up ahead is driving dangerously slow, and seriously, how long is it taking that guy to make that turn? Apparently, we’re all kept warm in our cars by our smugness.

When researchers from Ottawa University polled nearly 400 drivers, ranging from driver’s license newbies to the very old, they found that all of them rated themselves favorably compared to other drivers. In other words, everyone thinks they’re above average.

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MORE ABOUT: cars, driving, smugness

NCBI ROFL: Heat loss in Dumbo: a theoretical approach.

By ncbi rofl | January 28, 2010 7:00 am


“A flat plate model was used to calculate heat loss from the pinnae [outer ears] of the animated elephant Dumbo.  Read More

Botox: It's a Miracle Wrinkle Cure *and* a Bioterror Threat!

By Smriti Rao | January 27, 2010 2:00 pm

vaccine-medicationIt may smooth thousands of pretty brows across the world, but the news that botox could potentially be used as a bio-terror weapon is furrowing plenty of foreheads.

The beauty drug contains  botulinum–a naturally occurring nerve agent secreted by a kind of bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. A speck of this toxin smaller than a grain of sand can kill a 150-pound person–making some security experts worry that a determined terrorist could get his hands on the substance and wreak havoc.

The Washington Post reports:

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MORE ABOUT: botox, terrorism

NCBI ROFL: And you thought your carpal tunnel was from typing…

By ncbi rofl | January 27, 2010 7:00 am

Monkey-typingThe role of sexual intercourse in the etiology of carpal tunnel syndrome.

“The etiology of non-occupational carpal tunnel syndrome is not well understood. It is proposed that carpal tunnel syndrome can develop during sexual intercourse when the hands become repeatedly extended while under pressure from the weight of the upper body. Read More

Trippy Lunar Opera: Haydn at the Hayden Planetarium

By Jennifer Barone | January 26, 2010 3:00 pm

operaScholars debate why opera doesn’t seem to hold much appeal for modern audiences, but they’ve overlooked a glaringly obvious answer: The Zeiss Universarium astronomical projector isn’t involved. Or at least, it wasn’t, until now.

The Gotham Chamber Opera has set out to give the genre some geek awesomeness with its presentation of Haydn’s Il Mondo Della Luna (The World on the Moon) at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium.

The opera follows the exploits of the love-stricken Ecclitico, who poses as an astronomer to impress Buonafede, the strict father of his beloved. Ecclitico and his two romance-minded accomplices, smitten with Buonafede’s other daughter and maidservant, use a sleeping potion to convince the gullible old man that he has been transported to the moon. There, Buonafede can no longer impede the young lovers’ relationships, and the lunar emperor (a servant in disguise, resplendent in imperial glowsticks) commands the three happy pairs to marry.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Aliens Therefrom
MORE ABOUT: Haydn, moon, music, opera, planetarium

Quirky Musicians + Clever iPhone Apps = the MoPho Orchestra

By Smriti Rao | January 26, 2010 12:54 pm

Now we know what students do for fun over at Stanford University. If this video is to be believed, they wave their iPhones around while wearing speakers strapped to their hands. (Actually, the whole production seems kind of like using a weirding module, so maybe they’re onto something.) The speakers amplify the different sounds produced by various iPhone apps to create a glorious symphony, courtesy of the MoPho (Mobile Phone) Orchestra.

Some of the music apps are quite fun–like the one called the “Ocarina” that transforms your iPhone into a 12,000-year-old wind instrument (but with more apps). Check out the video below for a demonstration of both ancient music and modern compositions played on the iPhone, from Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics.

Related Content:
Discoblog: True Crime, Real-Time: Live Streaming Mugshots to Your iPhone
Discoblog: Texting and Walking Made Easy With iPhone App
Discoblog: ZOMG! Get These iPhone Apps Right Meow!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

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