Archive for June, 2010

NCBI ROFL: World Cup Week: World cup soccer players tend to be born with sun and moon in adjacent zodiacal signs.

By ncbi rofl | June 30, 2010 7:00 pm

4072296866_a02dcee6bdWorld cup soccer players tend to be born with sun and moon in adjacent zodiacal signs.

“The ecliptic elongation of the moon with respect to the sun does not show uniform distribution on the birth dates of the 704 soccer players selected for the 1998 World Cup. However, a uniform distribution is expected on astronomical grounds. Read More

How Batman Would Steal Electricity

By Joseph Calamia | June 30, 2010 3:17 pm

bathookOnce reserved for those who couldn’t pay their electricity bills or wanted to grow weed inside, snagging some free power via grappling hook is now a military operation. As described on the National Defense Education Network website, the Air Force has designed a “Bat Hook” which soldiers can heave into the air — action-hero style — to steal some juice from suspended power lines.

“We work very closely with Special Operations,” says Dave Coates, lead engineer on the project at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (in the video below, and as shown by Popular Science). Their request? “Is there a way that you could possibly give us something like Batman?”

The Bat Hook system, technically called Remote Auxiliary Power System (RAPS), pierces the power line’s insulation to draw current directly where it’s needed, to charge batteries on the ground, for example.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

Extreme Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Makeover!

By Joseph Calamia | June 30, 2010 12:05 pm

minotaurIV“Peacekeeper” missiles are getting a new lease on life: as satellite launchers. Next week, the Air Force plans to launch the second of these decommissioned intercontinental ballistic missiles, renamed “Minotaur IV,” to deploy a trash-tracking satellite.

It’s nice to know that one relic will help us spot others–pieces of junk, like abandoned rocket stages left over from other space missions. As the IV in the new rocket’s name implies, the Peacekeeper isn’t the first retired missile to enter the Air Force’s very special recycling program. The first Minotaurs (pdf) incorporated stages from Minutemen missiles.

Barron Beneski is a representative of Orbital Sciences Corp., which holds the Air Force contract to transform the missiles into launch vehicles. Beneski told Discovery News:

“What is neat is that what was once a military weapons system is now a peaceful use of government assets. It’s the whole idea of turning ‘swords into plowshares.'”

Other countries, notably Russia and China, have similar missile makeover programs. Unlike these countries, the United States does not offer the boosters for sale on the open market–only for government use.

“OSC (Orbital Sciences) can’t sell a Minotaur to Brazil,” Wayne Eleazer, a retired Air Force officer, told Discovery News. “That’s still not allowed.”

Related content:
Discoblog: Dang, What Was That? Astronomers Wonder What Just Whizzed by Earth
Discoblog: Killer Military Robots Gaining Independence
80beats: Laser-Bearing Jumbo Jet Shoots Down Its First Missile
80beats: Russia’s Flawed Intercontinental Missile Test Lights Up Norway’s Sky


NCBI ROFL: World Cup Week: Celebrate FTW!

By ncbi rofl | June 29, 2010 7:00 pm

4039772356_6a576135beEmotional contagion in soccer penalty shootouts: Celebration of individual success is associated with ultimate team success.

“We examined the association between celebratory responses after successful soccer penalty kicks and the outcome of a penalty shootout. Individually displayed post-shot behaviours in penalty shootouts held in World Cups and European Championships (N = 151) were rated on the presence of universally distinct and recognizable behaviours associated with positive emotions. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: analysis taken too far, NCBI ROFL

German Bees Report for Duty as Pollution Inspectors

By Joseph Calamia | June 29, 2010 4:40 pm

beeWould you eat honey called Dulles Delight? LAX Natural? LaGuardia Lip-Smackers? Some Germans are enjoying Düsseldorf Natural, honey made from airport-dwelling bees. The Düsseldorf International Airport and 7 other airports have employed bees as “biodetectives”: inspectors test the bees’ honey for pollutants as an indirect way to monitor airport air quality.

As The New York Times reports, these bees come from a long line of other insect inspectors–including aquatic bugs for testing water quality. Though the airports still use more-traditional sensors to test for air pollutants, in 2006 they added these buzzing mini-inspectors to their testing fleet.

The German Orga Lab tests the honey, made from around 200,000 bees, twice a year for contaminants such as hydrocarbons and heavy metals. They hope to monitor changes over long stretches of time to see if the bees can pick up air quality differences.

Martin Bunkowski, an environmental engineer for the Association of German Airports, told The New York Times that the project is appealing because the insects’ job seems clear.

“It’s a very clear message for the public because it is easy to understand,” Bunkowski said.

Currently, the Düsseldorf honey is looking good–contaminants were far below official limits, and the honey was comparable in quality to that harvested in more scenic locales. Most importantly, since the local bee club gives the honey out for no charge, the sweet stuff is effectively duty free.

Related content:
80beats: How Ancient Beekeepers Made Israel the Land of (Milk and) Honey: Imported Bees
80beats: Honeybees Get High on Cocaine And Dance, Dance, Dance
DISCOVER: The Baffling Bee Die-Off Continues
DISCOVER: Who Killed All Those Honeybees? We Did
DISCOVER: The Alluring and Alien Sights of a Bee in Ultra Close-up (photo gallery)

Image: flickr /cygnus921

Shoot it, Blend it, Burn it: 3 Ways to Destroy Your iPhone 4

By Joseph Calamia | June 29, 2010 12:59 pm

Perhaps you think Steve exaggerated the resolution of the band new iPhone 4. Perhaps you’re peeved that the phone’s reception can disappear, depending on how you hold it. Perhaps you’re afraid of dropping it and shattering its sleek face.

Perhaps you just want to know: Will it blend?

We showed the (successful) attempt to blend the iPad in April. Now the blender company Blendtec–which has also destroyed glow-sticks and various Guitar Hero iterations–has tried the same with Apple’s newest toy:

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

NCBI ROFL: World Cup Week: Can watching World Cup football kill you?

By ncbi rofl | June 28, 2010 7:00 pm

186600314_f87703416fAdmissions for myocardial infarction and World Cup football: database survey.

“OBJECTIVES: To examine hospital admissions for a range of diagnoses on days surrounding England’s 1998 World Cup football matches. DESIGN: Analysis of hospital admissions obtained from English hospital episode statistics. SETTING: England. PARTICIPANTS: Population aged 15-64 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Ratio of number of admissions for acute myocardial infarction, stroke, deliberate self harm, and road traffic injuries on the day of and five days after England’s World Cup matches, compared with admissions at the same time in previous and following years and in the month preceding the tournament. Read More

Meet Oscar, the Bionic Cat

By Joseph Calamia | June 28, 2010 5:24 pm

It’s a happy ending for Oscar. While lazing in the sun, the British cat lost his two hind paws in a tragic combine harvester accident. But after receiving two bionic paws from Noel Fitzpatrick, a veterinary surgeon based in Surrey, the lucky black cat can now continue crossing many paths.

Read More

How Archimedes Burned Those Roman Ships: Mirror or Steam Cannon?

By Joseph Calamia | June 28, 2010 11:00 am

mirrorHere’s the situation: You spot Roman attack ships headed for your shores. Do you order your troops to ready the cannons? Or–in an ancient MacGyver move–do you use a parabolic mirror, focusing the sun’s rays to set the ships on fire? Though the latter is clearly more suave, recent research has shown that the 212 B.C. legend about Archimedes’ mirror defense is unlikely: He probably pulled out the big guns instead.

Cesar Rossi, a mechanical engineer at the University of Naples in Italy, figured out the numbers. A steam cannon–like the ones Leonardo da Vinci drew in the 1400s–could use less than a tenth of a cup of water to fire a hollow clay ball, at 134 miles per hour, to hit a target 492 feet away. For comparison, an 1854 American Civil War Howitzer cannon could fire a ball about ten times farther–a little less than a mile.

Read More

NCBI ROFL: A foot needs a nipple like a fish needs a bicycle.

By ncbi rofl | June 25, 2010 7:00 pm

footcensored[Uncensored photo below]

Case report: Ectopic nipple on the sole of the foot, an unexplained anomaly.

“Supernumerary nipples are common congenital anomalies, most often occurring along the embryonic milk lines. We present a patient with an ectopic nipple on the foot. We are unable to explain the aetiology of this anomaly; however, several theories have been proposed.” Read More


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

See More

Collapse bottom bar