B-A-C-H the melody.

Monday, December 15, 2008


It may be strange to think of "B-A-C-H" as a melody, given that the available musical notes we are familiar with include only A,B,C,D,E,F, and G

In the early days of European music notation (4-line staff Gregorian chant manuscripts), only the note B could be altered (i.e. have an accidental applied to it): it could be flattened, thus moving from the hexachordum durum (i.e. the hard hexachord: G-A-B-C-D-E) where it is natural, to the hexachordum molle (i.e. the soft hexachord: F-G-A-B♭-C-D) where it is flat.

The flat sign ♭ actually derives from a round b, signifying the B of the soft hexachord, that is, B flat (hence the name of the flat sign in French "bémol" from medieval French "bé mol" — modern French "bé mou" — or "soft b") and originally meant only B♭;

Both the natural sign ♮ and the sharp ♯ derive from a square b, signifying the B of the hard hexachord, that is, B natural (hence the name of the natural sign in French "bécarre" from medieval French "bé carre", earlier "bé quarre" — modern French "bé carré" — or "square b") and originally meant only B natural.

In the same way, in German music notation the letter B designates B flat while the letter H, which is actually a deformation of a square B, designates B natural.

Thus, in Johannes Sebastian Bach's homeland, his name is indeed a melody, more specifically, a cruciform melody, which Bach encoded into the last theme of the last fugue he ever wrote as a devotion to Christ.

What time of the day is noon?

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Noon derives from the Latin nona hora meaning, "the ninth hour." Roman days began at six in the morning, so "noon" originally meant from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

When the word was borrowed into Old English as non it meant 3 p.m.

By the 12th century noon had come to refer to midday, and when prayer and meal times transitioned from 3.pm to 12 p.m., noon officially came to mean the sixth hour instead of the ninth.

Brannock Device

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


If you have ever wondered about the device used at shoe stores to measure your feet, it is called a Brannock Device, and was patented in 1926 by Charles Brannock from Syracuse, New York. The initial prototype was based on models made using pieces from an Erector Set. Prior to the Brannock device shoe makers referred to wooden measuring sticks.

The Brannock device measures the length, width, and heel-to-ball length of the foot at the same time.

Brannock devices last up to 15 years (when the numbers wear off).

Liquid Breathing


Liquid breathing is a form of respiration in which a normally air-breathing organism breathes an oxygen-rich liquid (usually a perfluorocarbon) rather than breathing air.

Liquid breathing could be used in diving as an alternative to rigid diving suits and heliox/trimix. With liquid in the lungs, the pressure within the diver's lungs could accommodate changes in the pressure of the surrounding water without the huge gas partial pressure exposures required when the lungs are filled with gas. Liquid breathing would not result in the saturation of body tissues with high pressure nitrogen or helium that occurs with the use of non-liquids, thus would reduce or remove the need for slow decompression.

A significant problem, however, arises from the high viscosity of the liquid and the corresponding reduction in its ability to remove CO2. All uses of liquid breathing for diving must involve total liquid ventilation. Total liquid ventilation, however, has difficulty moving enough liquid to carry away CO2, because no matter how great the total pressure is, the amount of partial CO2 gas pressure available to dissolve CO2 into the breathing liquid can never be much more than the pressure at which CO2 exists in the blood. Therefore, assistance from a mechanical ventilator is required.

Liquid breathing could also be used in space travel to insulate astronauts against the effects of rapid acceleration. Liquid immersion provides a way to reduce the physical stress of G forces. Forces applied to fluids are distributed as omnidirectional pressures. Because liquids cannot be practically compressed, they do not change density under high acceleration such as performed in aerial maneuvers or space travel. A person immersed in liquid of the same density as tissue has acceleration forces distributed around the body, rather than applied at a single point such as a seat or harness straps. This principle is used in a new type of G-suit called the Libelle G-suit, which allows aircraft pilots to remain conscious and functioning at more than 10 G acceleration by surrounding them with water in a rigid suit.

Acceleration protection by liquid immersion is limited by the differential density of body tissues and immersion fluid, limiting the utility of this method to about 15 to 20 G[21] Extending acceleration protection beyond 20 G requires filling the lungs with fluid of density similar to water. An astronaut totally immersed in liquid, with liquid inside all body cavities, will feel little effect from extreme G forces because the forces on a liquid are distributed equally, and in all directions simultaneously. However effects will be felt because of density differences between different body tissues, so an upper acceleration limit still exists.

Liquid breathing for acceleration protection may never be practical because of the difficulty of finding a suitable breathing medium of similar density to water that is compatible with lung tissue. Perfluorocarbon fluids are twice as dense as water, hence unsuitable for this application.

Nose grease... amazing stuff

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Nasal sebum, also known as Nose grease/oil, is grease removed from the surface of the human nose. The pores of the lateral creases (where the nose joins the face) of the exterior of the nose create and store more oil and grease than pores elsewhere on the human body, forming a readily available source of small quantities of grease or oil.

Nose grease can be used to minimize scratches in optical surfaces, for example when cleaning photographic negatives. Observatory lore holds that nose grease was used to reduce stray light and reflections in transmissive telescopes before the development of vacuum antireflective coatings. The antireflective properties are due in part to the fact that the nose oil fills small cracks and scratches and forms a smooth, polished surface, and in part to the low index of refraction of the oil, which can reduce surface reflection from transmissive optics that have a high index of refraction. The same effect is sometimes used by numismatic hobbyists to alter the apparent grade of slightly worn coins.

Nose grease has mild antifoaming properties and can be used to break down a high head on freshly poured beer or soft drinks. Wiping nose grease onto one's finger and then touching or stirring the foam causes it to dissipate rapidly.

Nose grease has also been used as a lubricant when playing the banjo. It can lubricate fingers for slides with the fingering hand, or to lubricate picks so they do not 'stick' to the strings when playing.

Great highland bagpipers use it to coat the right pinky finger to play the burl movement more rapidly.

Observing a green apple increases the likelihood of all ravens being black


Given the proposition
(1) All ravens are black.

the observation
(2) My pet raven is black.

is clearly evidence supporting the hypothesis that all ravens are black.

However, statement (1) has precisely the same meaning as:
(3) Everything that is not black is not a raven.

and the observation
(4) This apple is green.

supports (3) just as (2) supports (1).

Since (3) and (1) are logically equivalent, the observation of an apple that is green supports the assumption that a raven is black.

Sticky Tape Produces X-Rays


You may have noted the effect of triboluminescence, in which peeled tape emits visible light.

In a vacuum, it also would appear to emit x-rays.

As the tape peels the acrylic adhesive on the exposed tape becomes positively charged and the outer surface of the remaining polyethylene roll acquires a negative charge. This causes electric fields to build up to values that trigger discharges.

At the reduced pressure in the experiment--about one millionth of an atmosphere--the discharges accelerate the electrons to energies that generate X–rays when they suddenly decelerate in the positive side of the tape.


Hippocleides doesn't care!


As a young man Hippocleides competed for the hand of Agariste, the daughter of Cleisthenes, the tyrant of Sicyon. By the end of the competitions, only Hippocleides and Megacles remained. According to Herodotus (6.129-130), Hippocleides became intoxicated during a dinner party with Cleisthenes, and began to act like a fool. At one point, he stood on his head and kicked his legs in the air, keeping time with the flute music.

When Hippocleides was informed that he had "danced away his bride," his response was "Hippocleides doesn't care."

The phrase, according to Herodotus, became a common expression.



A113 (Sometimes A-113 or A1-13) is an inside joke present in animated films created by alumni of CalArts referring to the classroom used by character animation students at the school.

  • American Dad! - Stan's neighbor's driver's license when he pulls into church.
  • Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law - In Deadomutt Part 1, Birdman is moved to office 113-A (which is really a restroom).
  • The Simpsons - Krusty the Clown's prison number in the season one episode "Krusty Gets Busted" and Sideshow Bob's number in the season seven episode "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming."
  • The Simpsons - Sideshow Bob's prison number in his mugshot in the episode "Cape Feare."
  • The Simpsons - Bart's inmate number in his mugshot in the Do the Bartman music video.
  • Powerpuff Girls - The number of the Stealth Fighter when Blossom flies as she reaches and touches the tail with her hand.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures - In Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, when Plucky and Hampton arrive at Happy World Land, a license plate reads "A-113" on one of the cars in the parking lot.[citation needed]
  • South Park - On the side of a helicopter in the episode Prehistoric Ice Man, "A-113" is clearly visible.
  • Bobby's World - In the episode "The Visit to Aunt Ruth's", the number on the card of Bobby's imaginary mugshot.
  • Toy Story - License plate number on Andy's mother's minivan
  • A Bug's Life - Code on cereal box as Flik enters the bug city.
  • Toy Story 2 - Airport announcement for "LassetAir Flight A113", also a reference to director John Lasseter.
  • Monsters, Inc. - Sign seen in the background when Sulley sees Smitty and Needleman loading the trash compactor.
  • Finding Nemo - Model code on camera used by scuba diver.
  • The Incredibles - Room number in Syndrome's lair, the prison level where Mr. Incredible is held is "Level A1" in Cell # 13: A1 & 13, and the rocket holding the Omnidroid 9000 is rocket #13 in sector A1. Also, when Mirage gives Mr. Incredible the room number where he would be briefed on his next assignment, she says it is D-wing, room A-113.
  • Cars - Mater's license plate. Also the number of the railway train which almost crashes into Lightning McQueen while he is on his way to Radiator Springs.
  • Ratatouille - Git, the lab rat, has a tag on his left ear that reads, "A113".
  • WALL-E - The code for Auto's directive.
  • The Iron Giant - License plate on car partially eaten by the Giant; the 3 is bitten off.
  • Leroy & Stitch - License plate on Stitch's car.
  • Lilo & Stitch - License plate number on all vehicles, including Cobra Bubbles' rental car, Captain Gantu's spaceship, Nani's car, fire truck, tanker truck, and license plate in Lilo's room (used in Stitch's model of San Francisco)
  • Bugs Bunny's Lunar Tunes- In the scene with the Key Witness, one of the videos the Witness shows is "Satellite View A-113."
  • The Brave Little Toaster - The apartment number where "The Master" lives.
  • Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers - The license plate number of the carriage that has Mickey held as captive.
  • Aladdin (film) - The license plate on Abu when the Genie turns him into a car for a split second.

Mammalian diving reflex


The mammalian diving reflex optimizes respiration which allows mammals to stay underwater for a long time. It is exhibited strongly in aquatic mammals (seals, otters, dolphins, etc.), but exists in a weaker version in other mammals, humans included. Every animal's diving reflex is triggered specifically by cold water contacting the face. Also, the reflex is always exhibited more dramatically, and thus can grant longer survival, in young people and animals.

On July 16, 2004, a toddler was successfully revived after five hours following an accident in an Australian pond.

Arrays in C


C's array notation is really just shorthand for pointer operations, and C lets you use either in most contexts. For example, if a is declared as an array, *(a+i), a[i], and i[a] mean exactly the same thing.



One possible derivation of the name for the island of Manhattan is from "manahachtanienk," meaning "place of general inebriation" in the Munsee dialect of Lenape. There is an associated tradition that Henry Hudson once preferred his liquor to an Indian chief on the island, and the Indian chief passed out, awaking to request more for his tribe, whereat they all got wasted.

Other possible derivations include "manahatouh" (place where timber is procured for bows and arrows)
or "menatay" (island).

Or "manhattan" may be translatable as "island of many hills."

Monopoly Math


The best return on investment to be found is from putting a third house on New York Avenue. In fact, the third house has the fastest payoff of any building on almost all of the properties.

The square most landed on other than Jail is Illinois Avenue, and a hotel there will bring the most income other than a hotel on Boardwalk.

By far the worst individual investment is to buy Mediterranean Avenue without first owning Baltic.

Nintendo Mario Trivia


  • Mario was first seen in the video game Donkey Kong, but he was called "Jumpman." He was also a carpenter then, not a plumber.
  • Mario was named after Mario Segale, the landlord of Nintendo of America’s office, who barged in on a company meeting demanding an overdue rent.
  • Shigeru Miyamoto drew Mario as wearing a cap because he found drawing hair difficult. He also drew in the moustache, because it was easier to see than a mouth in the crude video game screen resolution back then.
  • Mario and his younger brother Luigi are known as the "Mario Brothers." This means that Mario’s last name is also Mario, so his full name is Mario Mario.
  • Mario’s nemesis is Wario (a combination of “warui”, the Japanese word for bad, and Mario). Similarly, Luigi’s rival is Waluigi.

The Tragic Tale of Meux's Horse Shoe Brewery


In 1814, Meux's Horse Shoe Brewery in London constructed a brewing vat that was 22 feet tall and 60 feet in diameter, with an interior big enough to seat 200 for dinner -- which is exactly how its completion was celebrated. (Why 200? Because a rival had built a vat that seated 100, of course.)

After the dinner, the vat was filled to its 4,000-barrel capacity, ruptured, caused other vats to break, and a wall of 1.3 million gallons of dark beer washed down the street, caving in two buildings and killing nine people by means of "drowning, injury, poisoning by the porter fumes, or drunkenness."

Rescue attempts were blocked and delayed by the thousands who flocked to the area to drink directly off the road. And when survivors were finally brought to the hospital, the other patients became convinced from the smell that the hospital was serving beer to every ward except theirs. A riot broke out, and even more people were left injured.



Middle English, from Old French aguillette, diminutive of aguille, needle, from Vulgar Latin *acūcula, from Late Latin acucula, diminutive of Latin acus, needle; see ak- in Indo-European roots.

An aglet is the small bit at the end of your shoelace, or any other cord/ribbon, that is used to feed it through the eyelit holes.


24601 is the prisoner number of Jean val Jean in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.

Why did he choose it? One theory is that it is the date of his conception.

It is also a hyperperfect number and appears in the apocalypse prime 10^665 + 24601, although it is not itself prime. (it is divisible by 73)

Coso artifact


The Coso Artifact is a spark plug found encased in a lump of hard clay or rock on February 13, 1961 by Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey, and Mike Mikesell while they were prospecting for geodes near the town of Olancha, California and long claimed as an example of an out-of-place artifact. Following its collection, Mikesell destroyed a diamond edged blade cutting through the rock containing the artifact and discovered the item. Within a three-paragraph letter,Virginia Maxey, one of the discoverers, wrote:

"In the opinion of one trained geologist, it has taken at least 500,000 years for this nodule to attain its present form—and yet, when we cut it open, we discovered a manmade object within the geode's cavity"

It is well documented that the nodule surrounding the spark plug may have accreted in a matter of years or decades as demonstrated by examples of very similar iron or steel artifact-bearing nodules.

On September 9, 1999, Chad Windham, President of the Spark Plug Collectors of America, identified the Coso Artifact as a 1920s-era Champion spark plug, which was widely used in the Ford Model T and Model A engines. Other members of the spark plug collector community soon concurred with this assessment.



Herostratus (Ancient Greek: Ἡρόστρατος) was a young man who set fire to the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (in what is now western Turkey) in his quest for fame on about July 20, 356 BC. The temple was constructed of marble and considered the most beautiful of some thirty shrines built by the Greeks to honour their goddess of the hunt, the wild and childbirth. The temple was also one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, 425 feet long and supported by columns sixty feet high.

Far from attempting to evade responsibility for his act of arson, Herostratus proudly claimed credit in order to immortalize his name in history. In order to dissuade similar-minded fame-seekers, the Ephesean authorities not only executed him but also condemned him to a legacy of obscurity by forbidding mention of his name under the penalty of death. This did not stop Herostratus from achieving his goal, however, as the ancient historian Theopompus recorded the event and its perpetrator in his history.



Thiotimoline is a fictitious chemical compound conceived by science fiction author Isaac Asimov and first described in a spoof scientific paper titled "The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline" in 1948.

In Asimov's writing, thiotimoline is notable for the fact that when it is mixed with water, the chemical actually begins to break down before it contacts the water. This is explained by the fact that in the thiotimoline molecule, there is at least one carbon atom such that, while two of the carbon's four chemical bonds lie in normal space and time, one of the bonds projects into the future and another into the past. Thiotimoline is derived from the bark of the shrub Rosacea Karlsbadensis rufo, and the thiotimoline molecule includes at least fourteen hydroxy groups, two amino groups, and one sulfonic acid group, and possibly one nitro compound group as well. The nature of the hydrocarbon nucleus is unknown, although it seems in part to be an aromatic hydrocarbon.

The story of the genesis of this spoof was one of Asimov's favorite personal anecdotes, one he retold a number of times in print. In the spring of 1947, Asimov was engaged in doctoral research in biochemistry and, as part of his experimental procedure, he needed to dissolve catechol in water. As he observed the crystals dissolve as soon as they hit the water's surface, it occurred to him that if catechol were any more soluble, then it would dissolve before it encountered the water.

By that time Asimov had been writing professionally for nine years and was shortly to face the challenge of writing up his research as a doctoral dissertation. He feared that the experience of writing readable prose for publication might have impaired his ability to write the prose typical of academic discourse, and decided to practice with a spoof article (including charts, graphs, tables, and citations of fake articles in nonexistent journals) describing experiments on a compound, thiotimoline, that was so soluble that it dissolved in water up to 1.12 seconds before the water was added.

Asimov wrote the article on 8 June 1947, but he was uncertain as to whether the resulting work of fiction was publishable. He finally offered it to John W. Campbell, the editor of Astounding Science Fiction, his preferred publication outlet. Campbell was delighted with the piece, and accepted it for publication, agreeing to Asimov's request that it appear under a pseudonym in deference to Asimov's concern that he might alienate potential doctoral examiners at Columbia University if he were revealed as the author.

Some months later Asimov was shocked to see the piece appear in the March 1948 issue of Astounding under his own name. In later years Campbell insisted that this was an oversight, though Asimov maintained a suspicion that Campbell had acted deliberately out of greater worldliness, for, in Asimov's words, "The Columbia Chemistry Department proved far less stuffy than I had feared" and his examiners effectively delivered their favorable verdict on his dissertation by good-naturedly asking him a final question about thiotimoline. In Opus 100 (1969) Asimov called the thiotimoline article "an utter success", and noted that the New York Public Library "was pestered for days by eager youngsters trying to find the nonexistent journals so they could read more on the subject".

Acidosis (from exercise) is not caused by lactic acid


Contrary to popular belief, this increased concentration of lactate does not directly cause acidosis, nor is it responsible for delayed onset muscle soreness. This is because lactate itself is not capable of releasing a proton, and secondly, the acidic form of lactate, lactic acid, cannot be formed under normal circumstances in human tissues. Analysis of the glycolytic pathway in humans indicates that there are not enough hydrogen ions present in the glycolytic intermediates to produce lactic or any other acid.

The acidosis that is associated with increases in lactate concentration during heavy exercise arises from a separate reaction. When ATP is hydrolysed, a hydrogen ion is released. ATP-derived hydrogen ions are primarily responsible for the decrease in pH. During intense exercise, aerobic metabolism cannot produce ATP quickly enough to supply the demands of the muscle. As a result, anaerobic metabolism becomes the dominant energy producing pathway as it can form ATP at high rates. Due to the large amounts of ATP being produced and hydrolysed in a short period of time, the buffering systems of the tissues are overcome, causing pH to fall and creating a state of acidosis, a natural process which facilitates the easier dissociation of Oxyhaemoglobin and allows easier transfer of oxygen from the blood. This may be one factor, among many, that contributes to the acute muscular discomfort experienced shortly after intense exercise.

How to coinflip over the telephone


In telecommunications and cryptography, the following algorithm can be used:

1. Party A chooses two large primes, either both congruent to 1, or both congruent to 3, mod 4, called p and q, and produces N = pq; then N is communicated to party B, but p and q are not. It follows N will be congruent to 1 mod 4. The primes should be chosen large enough that factoring of N is not computationally feasible. The exact size will depend on how much time party B is to be given to make the choice in the next step, and on party B's expected resources.
2. Party B calls either "1" or "3", a claim as to the mod 4 status of p and q. For example, if p and q are congruent to 1 mod 4, and B called "3", B loses the toss.
3. Party A produces the primes, making the outcome of the toss obvious; party B can easily multiply them to check that A is being truthful.



In low doses, nutmeg produces no noticeable physiological or neurological response. Large doses of 60 g (~12 teaspoons) or more are dangerous, potentially inducing convulsions, palpitations, nausea, eventual dehydration, and generalized body pain In amounts of 10-40 g (~2-8 teaspoons) it is a mild to medium hallucinogen, producing visual distortions and a distinct euphoria. According to some, the effects have a striking similarity to cannabis intoxication, except with a longer duration, and more side effects. Nutmeg contains myristicin, a weak monoamine oxidase inhibitor.

Comparisons between nutmeg intoxication and MDMA have been made, however this remains speculative. This has recently been disproved by the 2006 paper "Abuse of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt.): studies on the metabolism and the toxicologic detection of its ingredients elemicin, myristicin, and safrole in rat and human urine using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry" by Hans Maurer et al at University of Saarland. However, use of nutmeg as a recreational drug is unpopular due to its unpleasant taste and its side effects, including dizziness, flushes, dry mouth, accelerated heartbeat, temporary constipation, difficulty in urination, nausea, and panic. A user will not experience a peak until approximately six hours after ingestion, and effects can linger for up to three days afterwards.

A risk in any large-quantity (over 25 g, ~5 teaspoons) ingestion of nutmeg is the onset of 'nutmeg poisoning', an acute psychiatric disorder marked by thought disorder, a sense of impending doom/death, and agitation. Some cases have resulted in hospitalization.