Monday, 23 April 2012

...I Feel Guilty Not Updating More Often.

Another rapid fire session folks......I do apologize that I suck at doing this. One of the things I want/enjoy doing is providing you readers with a little more than a sentence or two. But sometimes what you learn can't be expanded any further, meaning you might see some shorter posts coming up. Having said that, I still have been writing stuff down and I learned each of these on a different day. I'll start with the oldest and end with today's.

...Where the Term Taser Comes From.

Its an acronym, just like LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) actually is, although TASER is not that scientific. It comes from a very old series of novels starring Tom Swift. Swift was a teen genius and his inquisitive nature led him to invent all sorts of fururistic devices, a different one for each book. Some crook would catch wind of his device (whatever it was in that issue) and figured out that he could use it to rob a bank or something. But Swift would always prevail.
I could use one of those.
Some of his inventions (remember that most of his novels were written in the 1910s. Inventors were all the rage then) include: a diamond making machine, a photo telephone, a wizard camera (portable camcorder), an electric locomotive, and his electric rifle. First let me point out that these inventions were in the book before they came out in real life. Many of his other inventions were just bigger and better than what we had back then but have now (his giant telescope for instance could see other galaxies). Both Steve Wozniak and Isaac Asminov both list Tom Swift as an influence. Second its the electric rifle that was the TASER, which stands for Tom Swift and his Electric Rifle (the 'A' was added to make it easier). The man who invented the Taser took the idea directly from Tom Swift.

Still from the new Police Academy movie.
...Sugar Free Gum Can Give You The Runs.

Blame Sorbitol, Blame Sorbitol! That's right folks....that's the culprit that makes you clench your butt as you freshen your breath. The chemical does occur naturally in a few fruits and trees but has the ability to retain its sweetness once extracted. Our bodies don't absorb it very quickly and on top of that Sorbitol likes to draw water to it from other sources. Its a recipe for....well disaster.

When you're sliding into first.....
Doctors figured it out based on two patients with the same symptoms but unknown cause. Both patients were having 'problems' but nothing had changed in their lives to explain it. Eventually it came out that each patient would chew 15-20 sticks of gum a day. That's probably why you haven't noticed it yourself, it takes a high dose to have an effect. Its found in a lot of 'diet' food products and cough syrups.

Now available at Costco.
...There Are Avalanche Rescue Cats.

This fact, specifically, is what I referred to above as a two sentence post. So, here it is: There are avalanche rescue cats. A man by the name of Steve Ruskay started CARCA (another acronym), the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Cat Association. He claims that cats are easier to train and are better at finding people buried under the snow. Plus cats are just easier to take care of.
Step 1: Rescue Human.
Step 2: Eat Human.
He came up with the idea over his frustration with traditional probe techniques. That's where you stick a pole into the snow and hope that it pokes someone buried. A fine method over a few feet of space but tougher on the side of a mountain. It's not official yet as there is a lot of red tape to get this approved. But on the one outing that he took a cat, the cat found the person. So far it works 100% of the time. There's a documentary online somewhere about it and you can see the cute volunteers here.

Cuter? I doubt that's a valid reason for funding unless you're a polar bear, baby seal, or a homeless child. 
...The Most Unlucky Number Around.

1000000000000066600000000000001. That's the number. For one, you might be able to see why. A big ol' 666 right in the middle. Flanking the number of the devil are 13 zeros on each side. Plus its a prime number and palindromic. They call it Belphegor's Prime and the symbol for it is an upside down pi symbol. Why is it Belphegor's prime? I'll answer that question with another question....mark, ? Couldn't find out why. I guess the other demons were busy.

Nice ass.
Belphegor is one of the princes on hell (along with Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Satan). Quite the title. He's the prince of sloth and his modus operandi is tricking people with inventiveness. He would offer ideas for new and radical inventions and the man who sold his soul for them would get rich quick. Since money is the root of all evil, it doesn't take much to see where this ends up.

'Any one know Edison's phone number?'
...How To Kill A Whale.

I wouldn't ever kill a whale, except for those smug Narwhals. I know the Inuit (or Eskimos, there's a bit of a debate which term is correct) used to hunt for humpbacks back in the day. This always impressed me that they were able to do this. With a few spears and fast feet they could kill this giant beast and feed for days. But they had help in the form of Aconitum delphinifolium, a flower also known as the Larkspur monkshood.

Ooooo....look at me....I have a useless, giant tooth.
It's unclear how exactly they figured it out but the could extract a toxin from it they used to cover their spear tips. If the spears didn't kill the whale it would take a few days for the whale to die due to its size and slow heart beat but when it washed up, it was party time. Whale hunters were seen in awe by the other villagers. They would sequester themselves before a hunt to bond and prepare as the event was very dangerous. The flower is small and blue. Reminds me of the flower Bruce Wayne had to carry up the mountain in Batman Begins. I even looked online for a connection but couldn't find one.

Ninja training, lesson #1.
...There's A Purple Crab.

I've written about strangely coloured animals before. And there are other colour lobsters as well (if you think white is a colour). So I was very excited to hear of the purple crab. More excited than anyone outside the field of Carcinology should be anyway. The purple crabs act just like any other crab and are found up and down the North American west coast.

Must be gay.
The best reason for being purple, as well as being covered with red, white, yellow, and other coloured spots is to distinguish themselves between other crab species and genders. Crabs can tell the difference between colours so its likely its the case. 4 new species of purple crabs have been discovered in the Philippines just a few weeks ago, and again, behave like you'd expect them do.

Tastes like grape.
...Who Glenn Seaborg Is.

Mr. Seaborg has done a lot for humanity and made some incredible discoveries during his time here on earth. He has also fell victim to the age old human trait of being ignored for his achievements but how we love Kim Kardashian for doing nothing. I wish that behaviour had a name. Glenn discovered and isolated ten nuclear elements: plutonium, americum, einstienium, curium, berkelium, califorium, fermium, nobelium, and mendelevium. I may not know what each does but I know they are important enough to name them after some pretty important people. Glenn got one named after him, seaborgium, while he was still alive (another big deal). Oh, and he also worked in at Berkely University in California, America...if you get my drift.

I can see the similarites.
He is also responsible for one of those weird lines of elements at the bottom of the periodic table that's separated from the rest. He was instrumental in the development of the atomic bomb having isolated plutonium-239 (the isotope that pretty much makes the whole thing work). He was against the use of the bomb though, having signed a secret document sent to Truman asking him to show the Japanese a test of a bomb before using it on them. He also later supported and added to the anti-nuclear bomb movement. He found iodine-131 which is still used in medical treatments today. The lab where he did most of his work is labelled a U.S. National Historic Site. The guy was good. There's even a wikipedia page solely for things named after him.

What? Too cool for the rest of us?

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