Offbeat, Other, Physics

‘Risking’ your life for the love of physics [a fantastic video lecture]


Some people become in love with physics because they’re secretly in love with the truth. Physics never lies, if you care to think in absolute terms, so there must be a great deal of comfort. The reason modern civilization works  they it does today is because of our faith in physics and other sciences. If the calculations are performed correctly, you’ll wind up with a predictable result. There are no surprises. Some are better than others at using physics, and some are so confident in their understanding of physics that they’re willing to bet their lives on it – of course, for them it’s never a bet. Take  Physics professor Walter…

Feature Post, Offbeat

Our little study: No, 9 out of 10 people don’t see the same word


Look at this image – what’s the first word you see? According to some (unscientific) sources, 9 out of 10 people see the same word. This has been spammed all over the internet and even snuck its way into some medical and psychological cabinets, but I had a feeling it’s hogwash – and you (yes, you, our wonderful readers) helped prove that. First of all, I couldn’t find any scientific source. I couldn’t even find a semi-serious source for this. Chasing this was like running around in circles, and I couldn’t get to the bottom of it. Second of all, it seems like one of those made up things that…


Roland le Fartere – a medieval flatulist from the 12th century


Roland le Fartere (also known as Roland the Farter) was a medieval flatulist who lived in 12th century England. He served as a jester for King Henry II, and apparently, he was so good at his job that he was rewarded for his services with a manor in Suffolk and 30 acres (120,000 square meters)! The historical reference can be found in the 3th-century English Liber Feodorum (Book of Fees), where the king’s men noted everybody who they paid. According to the book, all that Roland had to do for this rather wealthy estate was perform “Unum saltum et siffletum et unum bumbulum” (one jump, one whistle, and one fart) once…


Scientist kicked out of classical music concert for trying to crowdsurf


When theoretical chemists are potrayed in the media, it’s usually not for their musical experiences – but that’s exactly what happened to Dr David Glowacki, a Research Fellow at the Royal Society, affiliated with Stanford.  Glowacki was kicked out of a classical music concert for attempting to crowd surf during a performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” Everything started when the performers encouraged the audience to move towards the front of the stage with their drinks and ‘clap or whoop when you like’. However, Glowacki probably took things a bit too far. Having attended his fair share of rock and punk concerts, he started to “lurch from side to side with his hands raised and…

Feature Post, Geology, Offbeat

The World’s Deepest Hole Lies Beneath this Rusty Metal Cap – The Kola Superdeep Borehole


Would you believe me if I told you that under this rusty, abandoned metal cap there lies the deepest hole ever dug by mankind? That beneath this metal seal which measures only 9 inches in diameter there are 12,262 metres (40,230 ft) of nothingness? You might have your doubts – but you’d be wrong. A journey to the center of the Earth During the Cold War, the race for space took all the headlines, but the digging race was equally competitive (digging boreholes, that is). This is the Kola Superdeep Borehole – a project funded by the USSR and then by Russia between 1970 and 1994. In that period, geologists and geophysicists…

Feature Post, Offbeat

The creative and (often times) dirty things Romans wrote on walls


Writing on walls is one of the oldest things humans did – people drew on walls in the stone age, and they still do so now (well, some do, anyway). But I’d dare say that no one has taken the art of writing on walls to the same level as romans – sometimes poetic, sometimes dornwight dirty – but definitely creative. Here are just a few of of the quotes found by archaeologists written on the walls of Pompeii. Be warned – this is not for the prude! As fun as these may be to read, I believe they can hold valuable clues into the more intricate aspects of Roman…

Biology, Discoveries, Offbeat, Other

How does a message in a bottle survive for 101 years at sea?

A postcard dated 17 May 1913 and the old beer bottle sit on top of a map in Kiel, Germany. Photograph: Uwe Paesler/EPA

Last week, the story of a German fisherman made front news after he found a message in bottle floating in the Baltic Sea for nearly 101 years. What’s more, despite most of the text written was undecipherable, researchers at the Hamburg Museum were able to find the sender’s name and deliver the message to his grand-daughter. An incredible story, the kind you don’t hear every day no doubt, but how was this possible and what can we learn from this? Better way said: what can you do for your message in a bottle to last longer and eventually reach a ship in case your stuck on a deserted island? You…


The Pharmacy that prescribes Monster Spray to kids that are scared of the dark


In the small town of Watford City, North Dakota (population 1,744), the local pharmacy has a cure for kids that are afraid of the dark. The bottle looks like any other drug (more or less), and comes with this simple indication: Spray around the room at night before bed, repeat if necessary. The bottle is good for 120 sprays, and has proven to be quite effective over the years – kids often come back for more. So what do you think, is this useful, does it have its place? Before you answer that, consider that on a larger scale, placebo has been used with consistently good results in several areas….


Skydiver nearly struck by meteor, catches it all on film


Anders Helstrup and several other members of Oslo Parachute Club were expecting a good time, and no major events when they went skydiving in Hedmark, Norway. They most certainly weren’t expecting a meteor swooping by past them. This is the first time in history that a meteorite has been filmed in the air after its light goes out. Thankfully, no one was hurt, even though it was a little too close for comfort. Also, Helstrup had two cameras fixed to his helmet, which allowed him to see the meteor on film, even though he didn’t realize it at the moment. “I got the feeling that there was something, but I…

Offbeat, Studies

Medieval Latin dictionary completed after 100 years of work. Last entry is a type of beer


A truly monumental task has finally been finished: the final part of an epic dictionary of medieval Latin is to be published this week, finally closing a project that started over 100 years ago. The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources has more than 58,000 entries, and spans over 15 volumes. The 16th and final volume is published by the British Academy on 11 December – this is by far the biggest and most comprehensive study of medieval Latin academy. Academy president Lord Stern praised this herculean achievement, saying that it “enabled us to discover more about the English language and shown us that Britain has indeed been at…