BURSTS of radio waves flashing across the sky seem to follow a mathematical pattern. If the pattern is real, either some strange celestial physics is going on, or the bursts are artificial, produced by human – or alien – technology.
Telescopes have been picking up so-called fast radio bursts (FRBs) since 2001. They last just a few milliseconds and erupt with about as much energy as the sun releases in a month. Ten have been detected so far, most recently in 2014, when the Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia, caught a burst in action for the first time. The others were found by sifting through data after the bursts had arrived at Earth. No one knows what causes them, but the brevity of the bursts means their source has to be small – hundreds of kilometers across at most – so they can't be from ordinary stars. And they seem to come from far outside the galaxy.
The weird part is that they all fit a pattern that doesn't match what we know about cosmic physics.
A Weather Underground reporting station at Argentina’s Esperanza Base on the Antarctic Penninsula recorded a temperature of 63.5 deg. F (17 deg. C) last Tuesday (24 Mar 2015):
Weather Underground bloggers Jeff Masters and Bob Henson write Tuesday’s 63.5F reading bests the previous record mark of 63.3F set just the day before [March 23] at Argentina’s Marambio Base (a small islet off the Antarctic Peninsula) and a prior reading of 62.8F (also from Esperanza Base) from April 24, 1961.
Tuesday’s new record is not yet official. Argentina’s Esperanza Base, the site of the record, may not be considered part of Antarctica for the purposes of weather records according to Weather Underground historian Christopher Burt. He explains four different ways Antarctica can be defined in a blog post. Ultimately, for the record to be official, the World Meteorological Organization will need to validate the temperature reading and determine it is, in fact, Antarctic.
This week’s possible temperature record was setup by a large, warm ridge of high pressure – or heat dome – originating from southern South America that extended over the Antarctic Peninsula. The intensity of this weather system was almost off-the-charts, judging by the purple shades on the map below, portraying the difference from normal conditions:
Perhaps those tired of winter in the Northern Hemisphere ought to consider a vacation in the balmy Antarctic Penninsula.
Search engines like Google or Yahoo make people think they are smarter than they actually are because they have the world's knowledge at their fingertips, psychologists at Yale University have found.
Browsing the internet for information gives people a ‘widely inaccurate’ view of their own intelligence and could lead to over-confidence when making decisions, experts warn.
In a series of experiments, participants who had searched for information on the internet believed they were far more knowledgeable about a subject that those who had learned by normal routes, such as reading a book or talking to a tutor. Internet users also believed their brains were sharper.
"The Internet is such a powerful environment, where you can enter any question, and you basically have access to the world's knowledge at your fingertips," said lead researcher Matthew Fisher, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in psychology at Yale University.
"It becomes easier to confuse your own knowledge with this external source. When people are truly on their own, they may be wildly inaccurate about how much they know and how dependent they are on the Internet."
To say that today (or yesterday, depending on your perspective) has been an interesting day for our community would be something of an understatement. While we understand that some people do dislike that 4/1 does not mean business as usual on the site, I think it provides us an important opportunity to remind everyone we are a single community, and just once in awhile, its alright for us to a bit of fun together and perhaps a little bit silly.
For what it's worth, we understood that you didn't want a bunch of fake stories, so we tried to do something a little different, and hopefully catch you off gaurd at the same time.
I'd love to hear your feedback on what you liked and didn't like this year, and for those who issue to use it, the VT100 theme shall remain available as it before. And with that note, so long, and thanks for all the fish :)
(P.S: You may need to do a force reload (Ctrl-F5) to get your theme back)
John Sullivan over at phys.org is reporting on research [Abstract; free access to full paper, but registration is required], published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A on March 13, 2015 (online), which clarifies the accuracy of the Battery Bounce Test. The test purports to determine the charge left on a battery.
From the article:
The battery bounce test, popularized in online videos, shows that fully charged batteries bounce very little when dropped, while those that have been used for a while bounce higher. The height of the bounce increases as the batteries discharge, and that has led to the common conclusion that internal changes related to the reduction in charge are the cause of the higher bounce.
"A year ago a buddy of mine who knows I work on this sent me this video and said 'did you know this happens?'" Steingart said. "I didn't. But I had a bunch of batteries on my desk and I was able to verify it."
The article goes on to discuss the physics behind the bouncing battery test:
"The zinc starts out as a packed bed of particles that all move very nicely past each other," Steingart said. "When you oxidize the zinc, it makes bridges between the particles and makes it more like a network of springs. That is what gives the battery its bounce. "
Steingart said that is not too surprising, as zinc oxide is listed as a component to add bounce to golf balls in many patents.
But the formation of the bridges reaches a maximum "bounce level" well before the oxidation of the zinc is complete. That means that the bounce will reach a peak and level off well before the battery is dead.
So don't throw away those battery testers, folks.
When you become an actor, landing a role in a movie as big as Star Wars may seem like a dream come true. But Tatiana Siegel and Borys Kit report at The Hollywood Reporter that six movies in, the Star Wars franchise has only spawned one megastar: Harrison Ford, unusual for a series of this magnitude. Neither Ewan McGregor nor Liam Neeson was helped by the franchise and the list of acting careers that never took off is even longer, from original stars Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher to Jake Lloyd (young Anakin Skywalker) and most notably Hayden Christensen, whose star was on the rise when he nabbed 2002's Attack of the Clones. Even Natalie Portman who already had a hot career before Episodes I-III, admitted she struggled after the exposure. "Everyone thought I was a horrible actress," says Portman. "I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me."
So what is the problem? "When you sign up for this, you're signing your life away, and you're keeping yourself from any other franchises out there," says an agent whose client is one of the stars of Episode VII. "They will not let you be in another franchise. They're going to be cranking out a new movie every year. These actors never get to read the script before signing on. They don't even know which [subsequent] one they are in. And then they become known for that role, and it's hard to see them in [another] kind of movie." Still, agents keep pursuing roles in the upcoming films even though newcomers can only command a meagar $65,000 to $125,000 for Episode VII. "It secures all involved a place in film history," says agent Sarah Fargo, "and guarantees a huge global audience, enhancing an actor's marketability."
A Pimp Named Slickback writes in with a job offer guaranteed to tickle the fancy of many.
German social media site KaufMich.com [NSFW, German language] (literal English translation: "Buy Me") is currently recruiting a full-time "prostitute tester" to vet and rate the products on its virtual shelves.
According to a piece by David Moye over at the Huffington Post:
A willingness to lie down on the job is a requirement, if you get our drift.
Moye goes on to say that according to kaufmich.com's product manager:
"Clients on Kaufmich should be able to check the quality of brothels before there go -- like you check your hotel online before you book."
Besides scoring tips for carnal consumers, the ideal candidate "should enjoy having fun with people and not be afraid of contact."
If you think you have the right equipment for this job, whip out your resume or CV and stroke it until it gives you a chance to stand out from the crowd.
livescience reports it could be time to start mining our poop, instead of treating it purely as waste and fertilizer:
Kathleen Smith, a USGS geologist, thinks people could make more of these biosolids; they're full of tiny particles of metals that find their way into waste through beauty products, detergents and even odor-resistant clothing.
They detected some sizable concentrations of platinum, silver and gold when they looked at their samples under a scanning electron microscope, they reported.
"The gold we found was at the level of a minimal mineral deposit," Smith said. In other words, if that level of gold were observed in rock, it would be considered a potential mining prospect.
Sure, it's gross to think about, but why shouldn't we reclaim everything we can from our own "waste" products?
In the desert of Arizona north of Tucson, a 40 story tall gerbil holding a giant wooden scepter has been spotted. It's walking towards Phoenix and is estimated to arrive by tomorrow afternoon. The giant anomaly was first spotted when seismologists went to investigate repetitive events, which turned out to be the footsteps of the giant beast. It stands erect and walks on two legs, and audio recordings and eye-witness accounts report that it is murmuring in an unknown language. The army has been deployed to set up a barricade near Phoenix.
So, after playing 14 hours of NetHack, I'm a little burned out, I've even run out of things to talk about; which honestly took longer expect, so in trying to keep things interesting, I going switch games. I thought playing Dwarf Fortress, but I don't I think I can get too much done in the time remaining, and DF can be somewhat formulatic, so we're going to switch to Minecraft. My goal to try and beat the Ender Dragon (the original boss) between now, and the end of the LiveStream at 23:59 EST.
Unfortunately, I can only stream this via Twitch, so telnet viewers, your SOL for now. I think this event gone pretty today; we had a lot of good conversations about where going site, some thoughts long term, having SirFinkus, mrcoolbp, and Paul join me for parts of the livestream, so lets do something that I talk about. As always, I'll available to field questions by IRC, comments here on the or in the Twitch channel.
I may open this world up to MP if members of the community wish to join me, although I will have to tweak my setup for that. I do for an "after party", after slaying the dragon, or at least giving it my best go :).
Feel free to join us on my Twitch channel, and I am recording so for those who have not been able to follow the stream, you will be able to watch it after the fact. I'm looking for volunteers to edit the massive FLV file generated by the stream.
Join Us Here: SN eBBQ on Twitch
Update: mrcoolbp, paulej72, and NCommander are all on the stream now.
Researchers surveyed 481 heterosexual females, all sexually active but not in serious relationships. The results, published in The Journal of Sexual Archives, threw up the usual, predictable reasons for faking - but also a surprising one.
The most common reason was ‘altruistic deceit’ - to protect the man’s feelings.
Second, fear and insecurity. Wanting the sex to be a positive experience, rather than a negative one.
Fourth, was faking it to end the sex session. No surprises there (though it’s usually further up the list!)
The most interesting reason came third on the list.
‘Elevated arousal’ - faking orgasm to make yourself feel more turned on.
Communication is the key to good sex - and faking orgasm (for reasons that aren’t so helpful) isn’t necessary if admitting to not having one isn’t a problem!
Wired brings us this novel new use for a favorite feminine hygiene product.
Tampons were placed in 16 surface water sewers, using the handy attached string to secure them to bamboo poles. After 3 days the tampons were retrieved and tested under UV light. And indeed, they did successfully detect grey water contamination, and determination of a positive and negative result was pretty clear. The total cost of sampling? An estimated 20 pence/tampon (30 cents in US Dollars), including the cost of the black light.
Could this finally be what helps men the world over to be able to buy this product in stores without embarrassment?
I thought it might be interesting to document the violent reaction of these common household substances in a video with varying speeds. I really hope you enjoy this captivating experiment.
An article in the Daily Mail explains to us the life of the active senior.
With their silver hair and kind smiles, Christine Smith, Sheila Henderson and June Senior look like three normal grandmothers, enjoying a quiet drink and a chat. But their innocent looks bely a wilder reality and when the trio, who are aged between 61 and 64, travel abroad on one of their regular grannies’ trips, all thoughts of a quiet life are left behind. Instead of enjoying quiet days out with their grandchildren, fancy dress, colourful cocktails and Spanish party spots are the order of the day for the three Barnsley pensioners.
The subject of a new channel 5 documentary, these ladies may turn you off going to the bars forever. The pictures make it all worthwhile.