Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for February 12th, 2011

It Took 84,000 Pennies, But Michigan Mom’s Giant Coin Really Makes Cents

Posted by Anonymous on February 12, 2011

Giant Coin Made From 84,000 Pennies Really Makes Cents“I wanted to share the message that anyone can do this, you just have to start somewhere. What matters isn’t how much you make, but how much you save.”

Martich — a self-taught artist — glued each penny onto a wooden frame that’s nearly 10 feet tall and sorted through thousands of coins to choose ones that were blemish-free.

Eventually, she turned to a bank to get coins straight from the U.S. Mint.

“I needed very shiny pennies to create the highlights,” she said. “I wanted to use the different natural shades of pennies to create the image.”

After working more than 10 hours a day for three months, Martich entered the work — titled “Helping Mom One Penny at a Time” — into the ArtPrize contest in Grand Rapids, where it placed sixth and caught the eye of Edward Meyer, Ripley’s vice president of exhibits and archives.

“Martich’s giant penny was the very first piece I saw at ArtPrize 2010 out of over 1,600 entries,” he said in a statement. “I saw it in the distance and drove right up to it with my jaw on the ground and spent the next half-hour just awestruck at the magnitude of the piece and the story of its creation. I knew instantly I wanted to add it to the Ripley collection.”

Martich’s sculpture will be displayed at one of Ripley’s Odditoriums. …

via It Took 84,000 Pennies, But Michigan Mom’s Giant Coin Really Makes Cents.

$840 the hard way.

Posted in Art, Money | Leave a Comment »

Teenage girl collapses and dies after first kiss

Posted by Anonymous on February 12, 2011

Jemma Benjamin 18 who died after kissing a boy for the 1st timeJemma Benjamin, 18, was kissed by fellow university student Daniel Ross, 21, at his home after a night out together.

But Miss Benjamin suddenly slumped onto the sofa – and died in front of Mr Ross’s eyes.

The inquest heard Jemma died from SADS, a rare heart condition which kills 500 people in Britain each year.

Mr Ross, who had known Miss Benjamin for three months, tried desperately to save her before paramedics arrived on the scene. …

A post mortem examination by pathologist Dr Jason Shannon could find no medical reason for her death in April 2009.

The hearing was told she had no history of cardiac problems. …

via Teenage girl collapses and dies after first kiss – Telegraph.

“A shy British teenager collapsed and died from sudden adult death syndrome (SADS) just minutes after her first kiss, a coroner’s investigation found.”

I think Fox is wrong, it isn’t “sudden adult death syndrome”. SADS stands for Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes.  This is so sad. Get checked out if you have “a family history of unexplained sudden death in a young person (under 40), … Fainting (syncope) or seizures during exercise (or right after exercise), excitement or being startled …. or Consistent or unusual chest pain and/or shortness of breath during exercise.”

Posted in Strange | Leave a Comment »

Should a computer decide if a senior can drive?

Posted by Anonymous on February 12, 2011

Rhonda Callow… It seems that here in BC computer-based testing is used to help determine a person’s fitness to drive. The explanation below was extracted from the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles‘ publication 2010 BC Guide in Determining Fitness to Drive:

“The DriveABLE assessment is specifically designed to identify cognitive impairments in experienced drivers. The first component is an in-office assessment conducted by a qualified DriveABLE assessor that requires the driver to complete a series of tasks on the computer. Those in the most dangerous and most competent ranges are identified through automated scoring procedures and do not require further assessment. Drivers who score in the indeterminate range proceed to a road test for the second stage of the assessment. The road test is different from regular road tests and administered by a qualified DriveABLE evaluator. The road course was developed to reveal errors made by drivers who have become unsafe due to declines in cognitive abilities.”

What this means is that the computer test alone can decide whether a person is competent to drive or whether they are sufficiently cognitively impaired to warrant their license being revoked. Yikes! I can’t help but wonder whether a computer should really be making this call. I mean, taking away a person’s independence and mobility is no trivial matter, especially if the person is elderly or ill or lives in a remote area. Additionally, accurately determining that a person is medically okay to drive is also critically important.

In my opinion, it’s perfectly okay for computer-based testing to form part of the decision making process but the computer should not have the final say; instead, that responsibility should rest with a doctor and/or driving examiner. …

via Should a computer decide if a senior can drive? | Sync™ Blog.

Interesting idea. I wonder if this will be used in the US some day? (Is it already?)

Posted in Survival | 1 Comment »

Royal Ontario Museum investigates sudden bee death

Posted by Anonymous on February 12, 2011

A file photo of a bumble bee feeding from a lavender flowerA Toronto museum is investigating the sudden death of thousands of bees in a glass-enclosed beehive exhibit.

Officials at the Royal Ontario Museum said 20,000 bees in a biodiversity exhibit had died within two days last week, though they had appeared healthy.

Scientists have ruled out staff error and starvation, but said poor ventilation, disease or a lack of worker bees could be to blame.

The museum plans to replace the colony in the spring.

“The queen stops laying eggs in early- to mid-October and starts laying again in late February,” University of Guelph researcher Janine McGowan told the Toronto Star newspaper.

“If she didn’t lay enough winter worker bee eggs to make sure the hive and honey is kept warm during the winter, that could have contributed to the die-off.” …

via BBC News – Royal Ontario Museum investigates sudden bee death.

the scene is a sad one. A once thriving beehive has turned into a tomb for 20,000 bees.




The bees were part of the biodiversity exhibit at the ROM. They were viewed through a special glass hive and staff say there was no sign that anything was wrong. The bees, they say, were perfectly healthy until late last week.

Then, within two days, they were all dead.

Janine McGowan, ROM’s head beekeeper for the past several years, says she’s been trying to come up with an answer.

“It’s kind of like playing Sherlock Holmes, in a way, where you look for certain symptoms and you can diagnose different problems.”

McGowan has ruled out colony collapse disorder, a mysterious affliction that’s been gouging the honeybee populations around the world. In colony collapse disorder bees leave the hive and never come back. But the bees at the ROM just dropped dead.

McGowan’s working theory is the deaths were caused by a lack of procreation.

“I believe that actually what happened is that their numbers were too low to survive the winter and they may have indeed either frozen or starved to death,” she said. …

- cbcnews

Posted in Biology, Strange | Leave a Comment »

Nanowire processor signals route to ever-smaller chips

Posted by Anonymous on February 12, 2011

False colour SEM of nanowire chip (Lieber group, Harvard)Engineers have developed a computer chip made of tiny “nanowires” whose computing functions can be changed by applying small electric currents.

These “programmable logic tiles” may represent the building blocks of a new generation of ever-smaller computers.

Instead of etching chips down from chunks of material, the nanoprocessors can be built up from minuscule parts.

The work, reported in Nature, may outpace the shrinking of chips made with current manufacturing techniques.

The group led by Charles Lieber of Harvard University has spent the last few years developing the nanowires – each made of a core of the element germanium and sheathed in a silicon shell, thousands of times thinner than a human hair.

The latest report is a demonstration that the wires can be made reliably enough to enter the world of computing.

Small circuits made of nanowires have been assembled before, but the latest work is unique in the sheer complexity of the resulting circuit, along with the fact that the tiles can be “cascaded” to yield far more complex circuits. …

via BBC News – Nanowire processor signals route to ever-smaller chips.

Posted in Technology | Leave a Comment »

Egypt crisis: Jubilation as President Mubarak departs

Posted by Anonymous on February 12, 2011

Fireworks lit the skies of Cairo and protesters shed tears of joy in Egypt as they celebrated the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30 years of power.

Mr Mubarak stepped down as leader on Friday, after 18 days of widespread anti-government demonstrations.

The country is now is the hands of the high command of the armed forces, headed by the defence minister.

US President Barack Obama called Egypt an inspiration, but said it must now move to civilian and democratic rule.

Demonstrators in central Cairo continued to celebrate the departure of Mr Mubarak into the night, dancing, chanting slogans and singing songs.

In Cairo’s Tahrir Square – the heart of the demonstrations – the news was greeted with jubilation by a crowd of tens of thousands.

A huge poster hanging in the square read, “Breaking news: The people have brought down the regime.”

Mr Mubarak has already left Cairo and is in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where he has a residence, officials say.

The anti-government protests that began on 25 January were triggered by widespread unrest in Egypt over unemployment, poverty and corruption.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo said the announcement caught everyone by surprise: all over the city, drivers honked their horns and people fired guns into the air.

“Egypt is free,” Mahmoud Elhetta, a protester, shouted.

“We are a great people and we did something great. This is the expected end for every dictator.” …

via BBC News – Egypt crisis: Jubilation as President Mubarak departs.

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

Bizarre mammals filmed calling using their quills

Posted by Anonymous on February 12, 2011

A yellow streaked tenrec in Madagascar

Unique hedgehog-like mammals have been filmed using their quills to communicate.

A BBC film crew captured footage of the streaked tenrecs in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar.

By rubbing together specialised quills on their backs, the tenrecs made high pitch ultrasound calls to each other in the forest undergrowth.

The footage is the first of a mammal communicating in this way, a technique called “stridulation”.

The lowland streaked tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) resembles both a hedgehog and a shrew with black and yellow stripes, and is found only in Madagascar.

A film crew hoping to feature these visually striking animals in the BBC series Madagascar faced a number of challenges.

As eaters of invertebrates, particularly earthworms, the best time of year to film the tenrecs was the rainy season.

The time of day also played a considerable role.

“They’re active during the day and during the night but they hide a lot so it can be difficult,” said local conservation expert Dr Rainer Dolch who assisted the crew in their search.

Despite being crepuscular and used to twilight conditions, the streaked tenrecs were unconcerned by the crew’s lights as they foraged on the forest floor.

However, recording the sounds the animals made required more sophisticated technology.

Streaked tenrecs are known to communicate using high-pitch tongue clicks when foraging but many of the sounds are beyond human hearing.

“Most of the sounds are too high for us to hear so we took a bat detector so that we could also pick up ultrasonic noises,” said researcher Emma Napper.

Using the bat detector, the filmmakers found that the seemingly “quiet” mammals were constantly communicating.

Scientists have theorised that tenrecs could also be using high pitched calls to echolocate in the dark forest, finding their way with sound rather than sight in a similar way to bats. …

via BBC – Earth News – Bizarre mammals filmed calling using their quills.

I believe this video was taken before we knew that they were communicating with ultrasonic quill sounds. Notice how they pause at the same time? I think they are listening to the quill song when they all pause.

Posted in Biology | Leave a Comment »


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