From the Greek meaning 'heavy with wine'
A blog devoted to science and reason
Written after a glass or two of Pinot Noir.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Giving Zeroes

Doesn't it sound reasonable that if a student misses an assignment that the instructor should score that as a zero?  That's what I do in my classes.

It was also the policy of Canadian high school physics teacher Lyden Dorval.  He's going to be fired for it.

Here's the story.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Applying Physics To Cooking

Need to separate the yolk from the egg white?  All you need is a slight difference in air pressure.  Watch.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I'm Being Sued?

Almost a month ago, I wrote about how I had been banned by a couple of Facebook users FaceBookers, The Question Evolution Project and True Dinos.  In the post I invited both of them to respond.  It took them three weeks, but Cowboy Bob Sorensen did on this blog,
and Aaron Tullock did on his True Dinos Facebook FB page.
I'm a physicist, not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure I didn't post anything illegally.  Both of the Facebook pages are public, as are their web pages.  I believe that the Fair Use Doctrine may apply.

As to the defamation charge, Aaron needs to know the difference between slander and libel.  Notwithstanding the vocabulary, I think libel is " to publish in print (including pictures), writing or broadcast through radio, television or film, an untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his/her reputation, by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of others." [dictionary.law.com]  If Aaron can point out the untruth, I will gladly retract.

By the way, Cowboy Bob and Aaron, calling you out for your scientific nonsense is not ridiculing you for spreading your gospel.  I'm ridiculing you for believing in creationist gibberish.

Lastly, I will take this opportunity to once again invite them to address the issue that led them to ban me.

Both Cowboy Bob and Aaron are biblical literalists.  The bible literally says the Sun orbits the Earth.  [A historical point here.  Galileo was tried and convicted by the Catholic Church in 1633 for promoting the heliocentric model for which Pope John Paul II apologized in 1992.]  Do they adhere to the biblical view or is their bible wrong on this matter?  To make matters easy on them I will once again provide a link to true biblical literalists that know what the bible says on this. Galileo Was Wrong; The Church Was Right.

They are invited to comment here using whatever language they deem appropriate.  I ask that they do not do so anonymously.  They will not be banned.

I wonder if they will extend to me the same courtesy?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Todd Akin Is An F***ing Idiot

Credit: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Todd Akin is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri.  When asked about abortion in an interview with Fox 2 of St. Louis, he asserted that in cases of "legitimate rape," it's difficult for a woman to become pregnant.
It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. 
What a putz.  

I'd like to know the names of those doctors.  They can't be M.D.s from any accredited medical school.  

Akin attended Worchester Worcester Polytechnic Institute and earned a bachelor's degree in management engineering, and he must have had to take some biology, but he must slept in on the days when reproduction was discussed.

Now upon realizing what he said, he quickly backtracked and said he "misspoke." He didn't misspeak.  He said what he thought he understood, but like many of his ilk, whenever their true thoughts expose them for what they are, they fall back on the time-tested I misspoke.

This moron is currently serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and sits on the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.  I feel less safe tonight knowing this jerk has a hand in legislation, but particularly with regard to women's health and science & technology.

Ebay Bans Prayers

ABC News reported on Aug. 16 that on August 30, 2012, Ebay will no longer allow the following to be offered for sale:
advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; prayers; blessing services; magic potions; healing sessions...

Their reason?
Transactions in these categories often result in issues between the buyer and seller that are difficult to resolve. To help build confidence in the marketplace for both buyers and sellers, eBay is discontinuing these categories and including the items on the list of prohibited items.
In other words, buyers were disappointed in the results of their purchases and wanted their money back. Sellers refused.

Albrecht Dürer
This reminds me of the study done on the effects of intercessory prayer on heart patients. The study's conclusion was that "intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from [coronary artery bypass graft surgery], but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications."

A Live Plesiosaur is Found!

There's even photographic evidence.  According to the Inverness Courier, cruise owner George Edwards walked to the back of his boat, Nessie Hunter IV, and saw this.
What is it?  Doesn't it have to be Nessie, the Loch Ness monster?

I tried to determine the size of this object by trying to find several distances in this photo, and I found it very difficult to come up with any calculation I trusted.  The biggest issue is I don't know if Loch Ness cruise owner Mr. Edwards zoomed in on the photo.  It's also hard to judge where Mr. Edwards is in the loch.

I was able to determine several things using Google Earth.  The distance across the loch from the castle directly across the loch is 1.1 miles or 1.8 km.  The distance between the castle and Temple Pier where he docks his boat is around 9/10 of a mile or 1.4 km.  The cruise owner claims he was a half mile from the object. From photos I could estimate the height of the Tower House (the structure on the right in the photo above) is approximately 11 meters or so.  I can't tell if the structure on the right is another castle structure or the visitor center.
Left: http://www.photo-pimp.com/gallery.php?gid=63; Right: Wikipedia Wknight94
The viewing angle appears to me to be too high.  If the cruise boat owner was on top of the boat, then he was approximately 3 meters above the water.  Remember he claims to also be one-half mile away (800 meters).  

Here another thing about the photo that bothers me.  Look at the ripples in the water.  The cruise boat owner reports that the object was moving slowly away from him toward the castle.  Then why are the ripples moving from the side of the object?

Another creature has been found in Norway.
Andreas Solvik

Here's a question for both Mr. Edwards and the Norwegians.  You had cameras.  You watched these things for up to ten minutes, yet you took one picture.  Plus even the most inexpensive digital cameras have a video camera.  

Cryptozoology is a pseudo-science like homeopathy, magnet therapy, intelligent design (neé creationism), chemtrails, ESP, ancient astronauts, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  As Michael Shermer, Executive Director of the Skeptics Society and columnist for Scientific American, says, "Show me the body."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dr. Oz's Diet Advice

I was really bored yesterday, August 6, 2012.  Flipping through the channels, I came upon the Dr. Oz show, and I wondered what woo he was pushing today.  Sure enough, he begins the show with metabolism boosters.  

I immediately began to wonder whether a person can really boost their metabolism by simply drinking tomato juice spiked with a little Tabasco sauce and lime juice, but then he said this.

"And while wine snobs may not approve, adding ice chips to your red wine forces your body to burn calories, as it has to use its own energy to warm the liquid to body temperature."

Let's see what science has to say about this.

One learns in both physics and chemistry courses that to raise the temperature of any substance it takes an amount of energy equal to Q = mcdT where m is the mass of the substance, dT is the final temperature minus the initial temperature, and c is called the specific heat. The specific heat takes into account all the complicated physics and chemistry of how energy is distributed among the atoms and molecules.

I went to my freezer and looked at a ice cube - technically it's not a cube, it's a rectangular solid, but I'm being pedantic.  I don't have a kitchen scale, so I'll determine its mass by measuring its dimensions.  My cube is 5 cm by 3 cm by 3.5 cm or about 53 cm3.  The density of ice is 0.998 grams per cubic centimeter, so I can calculate its mass by multiplying the density by the volume.  Therefore, my ice cube's mass is 53 grams.

The ice will melt and cool the wine as cold as 0ºC.  After you drink the wine, your body will warm the liquid to body temperature, about 37ºC.

The specific heat of water is 1 calorie per gram per Celsius degree.  So your body will use 
Q = (53 g)(1 cal/(g ºC))(37ºC–0ºC) = 1961 calories.
But I have to correct something here.  A food calorie is different from a calorie.  A food calorie, also called the Calorie (notice the capital C), is equal to 1000 calories.

So your body has to expend almost 2 Calories to warm the cold wine.  I think you can burn 2 Calories by breathing for a whole minute.

UPDATE: Oops! I made a mistake here.  Your body has to warm all the liquid, not just the melted ice.  If you have a standard serving of wine, 6 oz., then your body expends 8.5 Calories.

You can do a little better by eating the ice, since your body has to melt the ice, too.  I''ll spare you the details, but that takes a whopping10 Calories! Assuming you drink the wine, too.

Even if you live a sedentary lifestyle, you will burn at least 1200 Calories every day by just existing. This is your metabolic activity. If you are active, your metabolic activity can be as high as 3000 Calories.  

If you want a little dieting advice, I share with you the only diet proven to work.  

The Thermodynamic Diet

The 1st law of thermodynamics states that one cannot create nor destroy energy.  All that can be done is to convert energy from one form to another.  Your body converts chemical energy in the food to kinetic energy (energy of motion) and thermal energy (you may call that heat, but that's technically incorrect).  Any energy not converted into these two forms may be converted into another form of chemical energy; that is, weight gain.

So the thermodynamic diet is burn more calories than you ingest.