The Trivial News
- Some of those huge and some of those not-so-huge
ancient sea monsters may have been warm blooded. Who knew? They might
have been real cuddly, too . . . or maybe not.
- Teens: A survey discovered that only 7.6% of US teens get enough
sleep. And teenage hearing loss has risen by 30% since the 1980s. So
maybe the TV should tell us "Don't play me so loud!"
- Scientists who tested major cigarette brands found hundreds of
disease-carrying bacteria in the tobacco contained in those clean white
papers. Smokers' cough, anyone?
- Paint your room, get new slipcovers, make it pretty and there's a
good chance you'll improve your mood. Mice that were moved to fancier
cages became friskier. What works for them could also work for you!
Birdsong? Whalesong? They're the same!
What? Yep! All it takes is four octaves, according to a letter in the
April 9/05 issue of Science News. Although whales sing lower on
the scale. (Of course. We said that.) And they probably sing a lot of
songs about fish, and not about cheese. Also mice don't sing
underwater, do they. And we have not compared ALL whalesongs to ALL
micesongs. So we can't say the are exactly the same. Hmmm.
But they do sound really similar to anyone who doesn't speak the
How Do You Know If It's A Stroke?
Symptoms of a stroke are sometimes difficult to identify. And this lack
of awareness may spell disaster, as a stroke victim may suffer brain
damage if people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and
seek treatment immediately. Doctors say any bystander can recognize a
stroke asking these simple questions:
Researchers have learned that non-medical volunteers can identify facial
weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, and crooked tongue, using
these tests, and at the American Stroke Association encourages the
general public to learn to ask those four questions. Widespread use of
this simple test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of
stroke and perhaps lessen brain damage.
- Ask the individual to smile.
- Ask him or her to raise both arms.
- Ask the person to speak a simple sentence.
- Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to stick out his
tongue. If the tongue iscrooked, that is, if it goes to one side
or the other, that is also an indication of a stroke.
- If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 9-1-1
immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.
Foil the car-jacker who may be stalking YOU!
TITAN NOT A NICE PLACE TO VISIT
. . . No. it's not nice at all. Clouds of methane hover around the
south pole of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. That celestial body is
larger than the planet Mercury, and it's the only moon in our solar
system that has a real atmosphere. But that doesn't mean breatheable
air. It's mostly nitrogen, plus a generous helping of methane. Also,
there's hardly any atmospheric oxygen, and it's too cold for humans
(minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit).
Although Titan is about 1.3 billion kilometers away We've had a
good look at it. Ground-based telescopes can now show details as small
as 300 kilometers across. That's like reading an automobile license
plate from 100 kilometers away. And sure enough, more recent images
clearly show bright clouds near Titan's south
seasons much like Earth, but each of its years is 30 earth-years long,
because Saturn's is so far away that its orbit is much longer that ours.
Right now it's summer on Titan, and its south pole has been in
continuous sunlight for over six Earth years. Researchers believe that
this fact may explain the location of the large clouds.
"These clouds appear to be similar to summer thunderstorms on Earth, but
they're formed of methane rather than water. It's the first time we've
found such a close analogy to the Earth's atmospheric water cycle in the
solar system," says Antonin Bouchez, a Caltech researcher who has been
studying Titan's atmosphere.
In addition to the clouds, a bright continent-sized feature has been
spotted. It appears to be an icy highland surrounded by what may be
ethane seas or tar-covered lowlands.(Another reason why this may not be
the spot you'd choose for a holiday, even it it meant a 6-year summer
vacation!) ( Content information courtesy of NASA.)
What can you believe, really?
Most people have a number of beliefs that are not really based on
evidence or logical reasoning, the Scientific American
magazine reports. We use our chance experience, we listen to what our
friends tell us, we ask our brothers-in-law, consult what our culture
has taught us, and then we pick the answers that pretty much confirm
what we already believe. And we ignore or rationalize away pretty much
anything that does not fit our preconceived ideas.
Confirmation bias, as it's called, helps explain the fact that 30
percent of adult Americans believe that UFOs are space vehicles from
other civilizations; 60 percent believe in ESP; 40 percent think that
astrology is scientific; 32 percent believe in lucky numbers; 70 percent
accept magnetic therapy as scientific; and 88 percent accept alternative
medicine. (Data courtesy of the National Science Foundation's April,
2002 report on the state of science understanding.)
Are educated people less likely to hold kooky theories? Not
necessarily. Belief in ESP decreased from 65 percent among high school
graduates to 60 percent among college graduates, and belief in magnetic
therapy dropped from 71 percent among high school graduates to 55
percent among college graduates. Also, your grandmother's first name is
How did I know all that? Easy I read your mind!
Harry Potter and the Moons of Jupiter
Genuine American Immigrants:
Coyotes pick up a living hanging around the outskirts of large and small
cities in the western U.S. Raccoons and even foxes have become sometime
city dwellers. Green parrots flock in the boroughs of NYC, in winter
and summer alike. (And it's rumored, of course, that in every large
city everything from cast-off 'gators to piranhas swarm the waters of
the sewers but none of them seem to do much harm.)
Not all immigrants are so welcome, of course. In Australia, imported
rabbits are worse than a pest and a nuisance. Snakes were inadvertantly
imported into several Pacific islands with disasterous results. And
you remember the Oryxs that were were introduced into the White Sands
area of New Mexico but that's another story.
An experiment in forced immigration to the cities is still in progress.
It involves some endangered peregrine falcons hatched right in the city
of Denver. Originally there were four birds, but one of the males
divebombed himself into a plate glass window and thus out of existance,
Not to worry, however, the other took over and partied on, and soon
there were eight hatchlings, all of whom thrived, dining out on urban
pigeons, and nesting in skyscraper windowsills, much to the edification
of local office workers. The enthusiastic watchers would not let even
the window-washers approach while the eggs were hatching becoming
even fiercer protectors than Ma and Pa Peregrine! Last we heard the
flying city dwellers were still in residence, although one died from
eating poisoned pigeons. (Yes. there was an autopsy!)
Most volcanoes come from small amounts of the Earth's upper mantle
boiling over, but mantle-plume volcanoes happen when hot rock from deep
within the Earth's mantle shoots straight up through the Earth's crust.
The timing suggests that these volcanoes are related to asteroid
impacts, Abbott and Isley report in Earth and Planetary Science
Letters (vol 205, p 53).
Make a bundle remodeling your home? Well, probably not a
Will your home office recoup 110% of a $12,686 investment? Will a
no-frills bathroom remodel costing $10,729 add $12,160 to the value of
your home? When real estate agents (those are folks who actually know
what homes sell for!) were asked such questions they usually shook
their heads. And appraisers interviewed by Consumers Union said that
home sellers who had added a home office would be likely to recoup only
about 10% of their costs. They say that upscaling a bathroom is likely
to increase the home's value by only 50% of its cost, and they estimated
that none of the common remodeling jobs would allow homeowers to recoup
more than 75% of their cost. So folks, remodel your home all you want
to, but do it because you want more luxury, more style, or more
convenience, because it's unlikely it will turn out to be a money-making
Ooops! No smoking, kitty-cats!
from malignant lymphoma (which is similar to Hodgkin's lymphoma in
humans) and who were hospitalized at the Tufts University School of
Veterinary Medicine were found to have something in common. An
extremely high percentage of them lived with smokers. And the longer
cats had stayed in the smoky environment, the higher their risk of the
disease. So if you won't quit for your own sake, consider quitting to
save your poor furry companious!
What's this? Fido goes to
Flying from the Sun on Gossamer
How far and how long will
those solar batteries run?
A review of a review of a splendid dream: REAL throwaway packaging
Several years ago, The New
Yorker magazine included a review of Cradle to Cradle by
William McDonough and Michael Braungart that dreams up a future in which
everything we now throw out is either completely reusable or completely
biodegradable. More than just a dreamer, Mr. McDonough has designed a
fabric for airplane seatcovers that is absolutely non-polluting, and he
recently persuaded Ford Motor Company to rethink its roofing insulation
on one of its factories covering the roof's surface with a plant
called sedum, he kept their cool, helped oxygenate the region, and
reduced the parking lot's heat island. Let's have a bunch more of that!
Why do they call it "Labor Day" it's a
How much to move my Oryx?
In a continuing effort to keep its citzens amused, back in the 1960s,
the New Mexico State Game Commission imported 38 African antelopes and
turned them loose in the desert, north of the White Sands Missle Range.
The idea was that hunters would enjoy bagging this good-sized animal for
its tasty meat and 40-inch trophy antlers. Maybe they should have
Whoa, buddeola, not so fast! The newcomers looked at New Mexico
Badlands and thought they were in the Garden of Eden compared to home!
Your typical 450-pound Oryx, a native of Africa's Kalihari Desert, is
superbly adapted to arid conditions. Oryx need next-to-no water, eat
almost any kind of vegeation, blend in with the local landscape, breed
like wildfire, and back in Africa were known for impaling lions on their
horns. (Yeah. Remember those 40-inch horns?)
To be brief,the hunters were no match for the antelope, which were a
success story waiting to happen. There are now about 4,000 of them
roaming around New Mexico, eating up the landscape, knocking off
mountain lions, invading White Sands National Monument, threatening
tourists,interfering with traffic, infesting the Missle Range, and
resisting arrest. (Oh yes, now they're on National Park Service land,
wherehunting is illegal. Now they've had to call in the U.S. Army!)
let you know when we find out if there is one!
Our thanks to
our Texas correspondent for the Oryx clipping she sent us.
How patriotic are we?
How many really get out to vote?
Get the spin on Jupiter, the movie!
Brain makes Brawn. An EASY way to exercise at
Hoopla! Guang H. Yue of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation got together a
bunch of volunteers who spent 12 weeks thinking about crooking
their fingers and bending their elbows doing 50 mental
contractions, 5 days a week. Yeah, yeah, but when they finished those
brain exercises, they were no more buff than when they started.
But Wait!Amazing! The muscles powering their "exercised" elbows were
13.5% stronger. And the "exercised" finger muscles were a stunning 35%
stronger. Wow a new me coming right up. Working on the abs
here, even as I write! (Always supposing those volunteers weren't doing
finger push-ups in their spare time . . . .)
In hock? Think twice twice about Home Equity Loans
The Consumer Literacy Consortium warns us to be cautious about taking
out home equity loans. These loans sound temping, but they will
increase your mortgage payment and reduce the equity you've built up in
your home. And if at some time you're not able to make payments, you
could lose your home. You're advised to use this precious source of
credit only in health emergencies, or for expenses that will pay off in
other ways such as investing in a college education. If you must
borrow against your home, compare equity loans offered by at least four
banking institutions, and consider not only the annual percentage rate
(APR) but also points, closing costs, other fees. If you use a variable
rate loan, be sure it is pegged to a stable, conservative index.
The C.L.C. is a working group of representatives from federal and state
government agencies, consumer groups, business organizations, and
educational institutions that seeks to develop and disseminate essential
messages to inform and educate consumers.
A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to give life beyond life." John Milton
New study of ancient artifacts upsets old theories of stone age
A new study of stone tools recently unearthed in central Asia suggests
that their prehistoric users were more skillful and versatile and
better fed than was previously believed. Microscopic analysis of
over 50 stone tools used from 32,000 to 80,000 years ago showed that
many of them once had attached handles, and the axes, blades and
scrapers had been used to process a variety of plants, animals, and
Neanderthals had no cell
but they did a lot with those sticks and stones!