Friday, October 31, 2008

From Cool Science Dept: Mimicking Gecko Feet

From AAAS Science Roundup:

"The ability of gecko lizards to scurry up walls and cling to ceilings by their toes has fascinated scientists for decades. The creatures owe this remarkable ability to microscopic branched elastic hairs on their feet that are able to induce atomic-scale attractive forces to strongly grip surfaces. In a Report in the 10 Oct 2008 Science, Qu et al. reported on the latest attempt to mimic this impressive adhesive effect. The team showed that a disordered array of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes -- consisting of a straight body segment with curly entangled tops -- can achieve macroscopic adhesive forces almost 10 times that of a gecko foot. A strong shear adhesive force, forged when the tangled portions of the nanotubes become aligned when pressed onto a surface, allows for a strong grip of vertical surfaces without slipping, while a much lower normal adhesive force enable easy removal and reattachment. In addition to the ability to stick objects to walls, the material could have many technological applications, including connecting electronic devices and substituting for conventional adhesives in the dry vacuum of space."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Is it really a myth in "the myth of the paperless office"?

Turns out that the myth might not have been a myth after all! Since 2001, American office workers have been reducing their paper usage. The Economist has a great article on this.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sake as food

From the TrueSake newsletter, comes this interesting bit:

"the genesis of sake (nihonshu or wine of Japan) was not a crystal clear liquid that is best served chilled in fancy bar glasses. ... Like most all things sake can be traced back to ancient China, as this is where rice has its "ground zero."

Farming was a communal occupation, and rice was the most communal of bonds. It was a food source - so valued that at one time it was even traded as a currency. But more importantly rice brought people together. It brought folks together to chew and spit! Yes, the earliest recorded history of sake spoke about a form of brew that was created by chewing rice and spitting the gob into a wooden bucket - "kuchikami no sake" or "chewed in the mouth sake."

Those glorious farmers somehow realized that if they chewed the rice and spat it out into wooden tubs or buckets that the enzymes in their mouths would break the long-chain starch molecules into a glucose, and then this glucose would sit in the bucket for about a week and allow airborne yeasts to propagate and ferment the glucose into wonderful alcohol.

Bingo! A meal and a party in one! And that is indeed what happened. Villages used religious occasions to get groups together to chew and spit en mass to create a large batch of saliva sake - my words not theirs. ...

Then and thankfully some smart and perhaps germaphobic farmer said "I am sick of drinking Yoshi's spit," and suggested that he would prefer the ricey spit of a virgin. And so began the next phase of sake in its oldest form - Bijinshu or "beautiful girl sake" that basically was a virginal masterpiece.

Yes, the village virgins would all gather and chew rice as a team descended from the gods.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Review of Yakima Big Powderhound Ski Mount - 6 pair

Originally submitted at REI

Carry up to six pairs of skis or four snowboards on your Yakima® roof rack with this nicely designed, easy-to-use Big Powderhound mount.

Installation not too bad; good quality

By Ed Chi from Palo Alto, CA on 10/12/2008


4out of 5

Gift: No

Pros: Stable, Durable, Easy to Use

Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational

Having installed Thule before on our Honda CRV with custom mount adapter, I didn't think the Yakima installation is too bad. This time around, we had to get the Yakima, because Thule did not make a 4 board solution for the Xterra. The universal mount is a little more complicated than the Thule Big Mouth clamp, but that's because Yakima really cared about this being secure. The installation procedure causes the screws to be covered, so that it cannot be easily unmounted. The installation probably took about 30min, but 15min was spent reading the instructions and figuring out how it would work.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Where does our taxes go [in the US]?

Ever wonder how the US gov't spend our tax money? Here is a great representation that tells you what happens to it:

Apparently, we spend a huge amount of the military and national security, like 68% of 1182 Billion dollars or 799 Billion. We should all think about what Eisenhower about the power of the military industrial complex.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Two is not better than One

Apparently, two handed turtles have a hard time deciding which way to rotate if they become overturned in water. See the description of Two-Headed Yellow Belly Slider here!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Music Mashups

This is a real mashup. The mashup is a real speaker that is embedded inside of a violin, so that the player can perform a duet of live and pre-recorded music. Cool!