Category Archives: Science

The Human Stun Gun

Loving this little article i found on New Scientist http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21783-sauropod-farts-warmed-the-planet.html.

What is says is essentially was our planet getting warmed up through the methane in Sauropods and other dinosaurs. What they reckon is that the global population of these dinosaurs released about 520 million tonnes of methane a year which contributed to warming the Earth and this is apparently estimated to be the same as the total current emissions of greenhouse gas.

Wowza. Also during this time there were no polar ice caps, could this be because of some massive farting dinosaurs…

Go check the full article.

Cheers.

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Did Sauropod farts warm our planet.

Loving this little article i found on New Scientist http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21783-sauropod-farts-warmed-the-planet.html.

What is says is essentially was our planet getting warmed up through the methane in Sauropods and other dinosaurs. What they reckon is that the global population of these dinosaurs released about 520 million tonnes of methane a year which contributed to warming the Earth and this is apparently estimated to be the same as the total current emissions of greenhouse gas.

Wowza. Also during this time there were no polar ice caps, could this be because of some massive farting dinosaurs…

Go check the full article.

Cheers.

Recommendation 1 – Andrew Mayne

Just a short post, Andrew Mayne has recently started uploading a new podcast audiobook on Itunes.
And this is my recommendation… GET IT and get it now. I haven’t had time to listen yet as it will be some good bedtime listening for me.

But everything Andrew Mayne does is golden, his magic is amzing, his podcasts are exciting and books are riveting. This post might as wel just say ANDREW MAYNE. He has the brains of a science wizard and the skills of a master magician.

Here is a link straight to the podcast.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/chronological-man-monster/id500639018

When the citizens of Boston begin to go missing in the fog in 1890,
it’s up to the mysterious Smith, inventor and adventurer, to figure out
what’s going on with the help of his assistant, April Malone. They’ll
have to face off against a secret society, corrupt policemen and a mad
psychologist hell-bent on dissecting Smith, in order to find out what’s
going on and to save the city from a graver threat.

This 4.5 hour science adventure novella is the first story about Smith, a mixture of Tony Stark, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who.

I might as well just plug the rest of his stuff here too while i’m here.

His own site for his magics – http://www.andrewmayne.com/

Weird things website and podcast for weird stories and strange news from around the world or mainly eastern europe in many cases – http://weirdthings.com/

He is also one of the mayne (see what i did there) guys behind a very good magic news and review site – http://itricks.com/news/

He seems to also be a regular guest on anther podcast too – http://nsfwshow.com/

Also he works with the JREF now and then to help promote skepticism and to help administer tests – http://www.randi.org/site/

I will start doing alot of recommendations on here, due to me reading, listening, watching and playing alot.

Cheers.

Quirkology

So i got a new book for Christmas and it is awesome. Written by Richard Wiseman who is the Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology and a Magician. He is on wordpress too. Link! The book is an assorted collection of social and psychological experiments and may be one of the most interesting books i’ve read in quite a while.

The book covers jokes, luck, fake smiles, personal ads, charisma and how our personalities are shaped when we are born among loads of other interesting bits and bobs.
Go and buy the book now its cheap on Amazon Amazon linkage!

 

 

QUIRKOLOGY
The definitive quirky psychology, including the science of charisma, how to detect lies and how our personalities are shaped by when we are born.

If you are interested in psychology or social experiments, just get this book. From reading this book i now realise why people act in certain ways. Its interesting to put into use the things found in this book at work, it helps you realise how others think in different situations too.

Maybe i’ll get time to blog more soon seeing as though i have just over a weeks holiday.

Sorry about the way this is written, this isn’t the greatest post i’ve done. It seems my brain is fried.
Cheers.

Memory Implant / Nanna

This kind of reminds me of the film Johnny Mnemonic. I think its just because of the stored memory information and recall thing. Awesome film, Dolph Lundgren and Keanu Reeves, a film with those guys has to be good right?

Anyway…

Scientists have designed a brain implant that restored lost memory function and strengthened recall of new information in laboratory rats — a crucial first step in the development of so-called neuroprosthetic devices to repair deficits from dementia, stroke and other brain injuries in humans.

I hope this gets developed for Humans as i believe there is a really high probability i will get dementia as most of my grandparents/great-grandparents etc have had it.

The Link to the whole article is here. That is if you want it from the source.

Though still a long way from being tested in humans, the implant demonstrates for the first time that a cognitive function can be improved with a device that mimics the firing patterns of neurons. In recent years neuroscientists have developed implants that allow paralyzed people to move prosthetic limbs or a computer cursor, using their thoughts to activate the machines. In the new work, being published Friday, researchers at Wake Forest University and the University of Southern California used some of the same techniques to read neural activity. But they translated those signals internally, to improve brain function rather than to activate outside appendages.

“It’s technically very impressive to pull something like this off, given our current level of technology,” said Daryl Kipke, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the experiment. “We are just scratching the surface when it comes to interacting with the brain, but this experiment shows what’s possible and the great potential of interacting with the brain in this way.”

In a series of experiments, scientists at Wake Forest led by Sam A. Deadwyler trained rats to remember which of two identical levers to press to receive water; the animals first saw one of the two levers appear and then (after being distracted) had to remember to press the other lever to be rewarded. Repeated training on this task teaches rats the general rule, but in each trial the animal has to remember which lever appeared first, to inform the later choice.

The rats were implanted with a tiny array of electrodes, which threaded from the top of the head down into two neighboring pieces of the hippocampus, a structure that is crucial for forming these new memories, in rats as in humans. The two slivers of tissue, called CA1 and CA3, communicate with each other as the brain learns and stores new information. The device transmits these exchanges to a computer.

To test the effect of the implant, the researchers used a drug to shut down the activity of CA1. Without CA1 online, the rats could not remember which lever to push to get water. They remembered the rule — push the opposite lever of the one that first appeared — but not which they had seen first.

The researchers, having recorded the appropriate signal from CA1, simply replayed it, like a melody on a player piano — and the animals remembered. The implant acted as if it were CA1, at least for this one task.

“Turn the switch on, the animal has the memory; turn it off and they don’t: that’s exactly how it worked,” said Theodore W. Berger, a professor of engineering at U.S.C. and the lead author of the study, being published in The Journal of Neural Engineering. His co-authors were Robert E. Hampson and Anushka Goonawardena, along with Dr. Deadwyler, of Wake Forest, and Dong Song and Vasilis Z. Marmarelis of U.S.C.

In rats that did not receive the drug, new memories faded by about 40 percent after a long distraction period. But if the researchers amplified the corresponding CA1 signals using the implant, the memories eroded only about 10 percent in that time.

The authors said that with wireless technology and computer chips, the system could be easily fitted for human use. But there are a number of technical and theoretical obstacles. For one, the implant must first record a memory trace before playing it back or amplifying it; in patients with significant memory problems, those signals may be too weak. In addition, human memory is a rich, diverse neural process that involves many other brain areas, not just CA3 and CA1; implants in this area will be limited.

Still, some restored memories — Where is the bathroom? Where are the pots and pans stored? — could make a big difference in the lives of someone with dementia. “If you’re caring for someone in the house, for example,” Dr. Berger said, “it might be enough to keep the person out of the nursing home.”

On a more personal note, my Nanna has really bad dementia and has suffered many strokes and is only about 80. She keeps suffering mini strokes and is in a really bad state and cannot do anything for herself anymore. She can hardly hold her arms up and cannot eat or drink on her own. I know this is partially due to age but i feel she would just have a more enjoyable life if it wasn’t for Dementia. My family aren’t even recognisable to her anymore and this to me is just heartbreaking. To me it would seem in her mind she would think no-one visits or cares about her, as she is in a dementia nursing home. Its not a fair thing, i guess life isn’t fair. I want her last moments knowing we are there for her and love her. But at times it seems futile because she doesn’t know anything anymore. Pity nothing can be done but have her without dignity and alone. I know its more fathers day then Grandma’s day but i would like her to know i’m there and miss and love her. I don’t like dementia or the idea that i or anyone else could get it, regardless of whether i know them or not. Its just a bad thing.

Sorry about the personalness i just felt i had to get it down and out of myself.

Thanks.

New Project?

Howdy!

I can’t seem to stick to what i set out for myself to do. Am i bored of the blogging, am i slowing down due to brain function, have i no time on my hands or is it all of the above. Hmmm.

Anyway just typing to ask what any of you reckon to me fashioning some sort of website out of the spare internets lying around.
I was thinking some kind of weird things style website, based around people beliefs of strange animals or goings on, phoney magic tricks done with cameras which may be physically impossible and cryptozoology.

If i did this new site what should i call it has anyone any ideas. I could make it into a sort of blogging community website too which would be nice and that way maybe there will be a stream of content instead of bits and bobs.

So one name i was thinking was ‘Aint no such thing’ because it sounds funny and kind of says what most of the content may be.

Oooh and if anyone could give me a hand with stuff i’d be very appreciative. Let me know…

Cheers.

Derren Brown

Derren Brown: Miracles for sale.

Already it sounds awesome, pity i’m at work late so it looks like sky + has a job to do.

Its on channel 4 Easter Monday at 9PM.

Just watch it, knowing the rest of Mr Browns work this should be a good watch indeed.

Here is the article from his blog. http://derrenbrown.co.uk/blog/2011/04/new-derren-brown-tv-special/

This is the special about faith-healing that some of you will have heard about. It has been the most intensely difficult project that I have attempted: to train an ordinary member of the public as a faith healer, then take him out to Texas, the heart of the Bible Belt, and try to pass him off as the real deal. We filmed this at the end of last year amidst concerns that we had bitten off far more than we could chew.
The film we made is driven by a desire to expose what I consider to be a foul and dangerous fraud at the expense of the sick, the needy and the faithful all over the world. It is not a comment on the church, or belief, or even, before some people get upset, the idea that God can or can’t heal. It is about a specific fraud, a greedy trick that has nothing to do with God whatsoever, beyond the fact that his name gets shouted around a lot. We made the show with the involvement of Christians and pastors who had been involved in that particular scene.
No faith healer has ever been able to provide evidence of a single miraculous healing ever having had occurred. Some when pushed have offered a few success stories, but when those ‘healed’ people have been approached, they turn out to be the same as before, worse than ever, dead, or not to have had the ailment in the first place. What does seem to happen, though, is a cleverly-engineered emotional event brings people into a state of hype that releases adrenalin, which acts as a pain killer. People in the audience with low-level ailments that can respond to such pain relief – combined with a huge amount of expectation and a desire to be healed, or ‘close to the magic’ – will commonly find themselves pain-free and step forward when asked to. There then follows, at the larger events, a filtering process where stewards send back anyone with a serious or visible ailment (such as an arm missing) and test the remaining arthritics and bad-back sufferers to see if they can display a convincing pantomime of having been healed (touching toes and so on). There are other tricks to seemingly cure the blind and deaf which I will also demonstrate on the show. These poor people are then brought up on stage in their heightened state to bounce around and think they’re healed while the truly afflicted are left to believe God hasn’t taken much of an interest. It’s very disturbing to see the rows of the seriously disabled on drip machines, in wheelchairs and even hospital beds, ignored and invisible, safely behind the TV cameras’ reach at the big-name events. Or to hear of the chronically afflicted being carried to these rallies around America by families who spend every last penny they earn in hope that the man on stage might channel a little of God in their direction. A wake of despair is left behind by these charlatans, made up of hundreds of thousands of people who receive no healing or only temporary pain relief, and are encouraged to blame themselves for not having enough faith when they find nothing’s improved.
And then there’s the money. This is the hub of the whole operation. The financial motivation seems to be closely linked to something called the Prosperity Gospel, which has to be the most perverse and self-serving piece of scripture-twisting I have ever come across. It was loudly preached by Oral Roberts and made popular in the 90s, and takes the rather lovely idea of ‘sow and ye shall reap’ and re-defines it as a financial incentive. Jesus bestows his blessings in the form of money. How do you get these blessings? You first give money. More than you can afford, otherwise it doesn’t count. Jesus will repay you hundredfold. If he doesn’t, you probably didn’t give enough, or perhaps you have secret sin or not enough faith. And to whom do you give your money? Your preacher, naturally. You might want to read that through again if this logic is something new to you. Not surprisingly, the big name preachers earn far more than any Hollywood A-lister from this system. Proof of the fact that Jesus bestows his blessings in the form of money? The stinking richness of your pastor. Perhaps his fleet of private jets might just convince you. And these donations come in not just from a mesmerised flock gathering twice on a Sunday, they flood in from millions of people on mailing lists which form the backbone of the big business of faith healing. The TV rallies, the crusade events, are all designed to encourage people to sign up and send in a sizeable chunk of their earnings every month. Cash floods in tax-free (for as long as you say it’s a church you are pretty much left alone by the IRS) and is spent on lifestyles that in some cases reach beyond imaginable luxury. People imagine perhaps that the money goes somewhere worthwhile to support God’s work. It’s disheartening watching the sick and the elderly put cash they can’t afford into the donation buckets at these vast crusades when I hear of how one big-name healer spent thousands of dollars after a rally, in said cash, on hotel room service and rent boys.
The healers perform their shows over here too: I recently went to see a couple of the current main men at venues in London and have never felt such a heady mixture of disgust and deep pity. A girl behind me screamed to her friend ‘There’s your proof God can heal!’ as we watched a man climb out of his wheelchair on stage; in her delight, she missed the moment later when he collapsed unhappily back into it once the cameras had been swiftly pointed away from him. At least it was his own chair: another common trick is to quietly stick someone with a bad back into one of the healer’s own wheelchairs to ‘make things comfortable’ for them, so that once they are brought before the crowd, the glistening man of God can command them to rise from a chair they didn’t need in the first place. Praise the Lord.
The project was hugely difficult because a big business like faith healing is almost impenetrable. We tried to speak to those who had worked alongside the current big-name healers, as we knew of a few who had been allowed in the inner circles of trust and knowing the depths of the corruption had eventually turned against it. But these are people who live in fear. They were told for years by their charismatic, ruthless leaders that they lived under a curse and that to leave the clan would result in God ending their lives. Disturbingly, that may not always be too far from the truth: we heard of a couple of witnesses who had been brought to testify against a healer and had died mysteriously of heart attacks the night before the trial. Something dark may be afoot.
There is, as one might hope, a growing scepticism in Britain amongst Christians towards these so-called healers. Although I don’t hide my own lack of religious belief, my repulsion at this scam comes as much from my days as a Christian as it does from simply being a human being observing ego- and money- driven fraud. It was a gruelling journey to penetrate the world of that fraud in the small way we could, with our own particular journey of seeing if an ordinary guy could pass as a real healer. I hope that the ranks of intelligent believers will feel the same concern at our findings as the rest of the viewers.