1. TVs Virtual Backlot
Scientists still havent discovered a cure for the common cold, but researchers now say zinc may be the next best thing.
A sweeping new review of the medical research on zinc shows that sniffing, sneezing, coughing and stuffy-headed cold sufferers finally have a better option than just tissue and chicken soup. When taken within 24 hours of the first runny nose or sore throat, zinc lozenges, tablets or syrups can cut colds short by an average of a day or more and sharply reduce the severity of symptoms, according to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, a respected medical clearinghouse.
Why would mental athletes be navigating spaces in their minds while trying to learn three-digit numbers?
The answer lies in a discovery supposedly made by the poet Simonides of Ceos in the fifth century B.C. After a tragic banquet-hall collapse, of which he was the sole survivor, Simonides was asked to give an account of who was buried in the debris. My trainer and all the other mental athletes I met kept insisting that anyone could do what they do. It was simply a matter of learning to think in more memorable ways. When the poet closed his eyes and reconstructed the crumbled building in his imagination, he had an extraordinary realization: he remembered where each of the guests at the ill-fated dinner had been sitting. Even though he made no conscious effort to memorize the layout of the room, it nonetheless left a durable impression. From that simple observation, Simonides reportedly invented a technique that would form the basis of what came to be known as the art of memory. He realized that if there hadnt been guests sitting at a banquet table but, say, every great Greek dramatist seated in order of birth or each of the words of one of his poems or every item he needed to accomplish that day he would have remembered that instead. He reasoned that just about anything could be imprinted upon our memories, and kept in good order, simply by constructing a building in the imagination and filling it with imagery of what needed to be recalled. This imagined edifice could then be walked through at any time in the future. Such a building would later come to be called a memory palace.
7. Weird News of the Week: Robbery crew steals, snorts cremated ashes
A robbery crew ransacked the home taking electronics, jewelry and the cremated ashes of the homeowner’s father and two Great Danes.
“During the investigation, detectives learned that the ashes were taken because the suspects mistook the ashes for either cocaine or heroin. It was soon discovered that the suspects snorted some of the ashes believing they were snorting cocaine,” a sheriff’s department statement said.
After learning that they had snorted the ashes of a dead man or dead dogs, the suspects discarded the rest of the ashes, authorities said.
Mathematicians are creating their own version of the periodic table that will provide a vast directory of all the possible shapes in the universe across three, four and five dimensions, linking shapes together in the same way as the periodic table links groups of chemical elements.
A banana equivalent dose is a concept occasionally used by nuclear power proponents to place in scale the dangers of radiation by comparing exposures to the radiation generated by a common banana.
Many foods are naturally radioactive, and bananas are particularly so, due to the radioactive potassium-40 they contain. The banana equivalent dose is the radiation exposure received by eating a single banana. Radiation leaks from nuclear plants are often measured in extraordinarily small units (the picocurie, a millionth of a millionth of a curie, is typical). By comparing the exposure from these events to a banana equivalent dose, a more intuitive assessment of the actual risk can sometimes be obtained.
(Via: Gene Veith )
12. Image of the Week: Book Rest
1. McLobster - Anyone who’s heard the eerie silence that follows a Filet-O-Fish order at McDonald’s will be aware that seafood has no real place underneath the golden arches. Try telling that to those crazy New England types. Their self-explanatory McLobster cropped up in their local franchises and it’s not a pretty sight. Best filed alongside the McPizza, McPasta and McHotdog. McCanned.
For 125 years, Coke’s secret recipe has remained one of the most heavily guarded trade secrets in the world. Now a group of accidental soda sleuths say they’ve stumbled across a list of its ingredients.
Producers of the radio program This American Life came across an article on the history of Coca-Cola in an old copy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Coca-Cola’s hometown newspaper. Published on page 2B on February 18, 1979, the article received little attention at the time. But, producers say, that’s because no one realized the photo used to illustrate the story is a hand-written copy of John Pemberton’s original recipe, jotted down by a friend in a leather-bound recipe book of ointments and medicines, and passed down by friends and family for generations.
Yoshihiko Takano and other researchers at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan were in the process of creating a certain kind of superconductor by putting a compound in hot water and soaking it for hours. They also soaked the compound in a mixture of water and ethanol. It appears the process was going well, because the scientists decided to have a little party. The party included sake, whisky, various wines, shochu, and beer. At a certain point, the researchers decided to try soaking the compound in the many, many liquors they had on hand and seeing how they compared to the more conventional soaking liquids.
Consumers often have a distorted view when they compare information that involves numbers, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
22. HistoricalLOL of the Week
For over a century, our sense of smell has been explained with the “lock and key” hypothesis, which holds that each odor molecule has a particular shape that allows it to fit into particular smell receptors in the nose. But now a controversial study involving fruit flies suggests that hypothesis might miss the truth entirely - the secret, they say, is all in the vibrations.
26. Better Book Titles of the Week - The Sorrows of Young Werther
As recorded in the book of Kings II in the Bible, Jezebel was defenestrated at Jezreel by her own servants at the urging of Jehu. (2 Kings 9: 33)
- The crowd stormed the city hall and threw the patricians out of the window. At least 15 patricians were killed during this defenestration of Leuven.
- In 1572, French King Charles IXs friend, the Huguenot leader Gaspard de Coligny, was killed in accordance with the wishes of Charles mother,Catherine de Medici.
- On the morning of December 1, 1640 in Lisbon, a group of supporters of the Duke of Braganza party found Miguel de Vasconcelos, the hated Portuguese Secretary of State of the Habsburg Philip III, hidden in a closet, killed him and defenestrated him. His corpse was left to the public outrage.
29. How-To of the Week: Turn a $10 Flashlight into a $95 Flashlight
In the Book of Genesis, the builders of Babel declared, Come, let us build us a city and a tower with its top in the heavens. And let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered upon the face of the whole earth. These early developers correctly understood that cities could connect humanity. But God punished them for monumentalizing terrestrial, rather than celestial, glory. For more than 2,000 years, Western city builders took this storys warning to heart, and the tallest structures they erected were typically church spires. In the late Middle Ages, the wool-making center of Bruges became one of the first places where a secular structure, a 354-foot belfry built to celebrate cloth-making, towered over nearby churches. But elsewhere another four or five centuries passed before secular structures surpassed religious ones. With its 281-foot spire, Trinity Church was the tallest building in New York City until 1890. Perhaps that year, when Trinitys spire was eclipsed by a skyscraper built to house Joseph Pulitzers New York World, should be seen as the true start of the irreligious 20th century. At almost the same time, Paris celebrated its growing wealth by erecting the 1,000-foot Eiffel Tower, which was 700 feet taller than the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.
The prospect of long-term space travel has led scientists to consider, increasingly seriously, the following conundrum: if travelling to a new home might take thousands of years, would humans be able to successfully procreate along the way? The early indications from Nasa are not encouraging. Space, it seems, is simply not a good place to have sex.
Additional Sources: Justin Taylor