Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Ceiling height affects your head

Ceiling height isn't something I lose sleep over. At 5'1" my head is too far away from the ceiling for it to be of any great concern.

But clearly it's actually a much bigger issue in the scientific world than I could have imagined. The Journal of Consumer Research is publishing a paper in August entitled "The Influence of Ceiling Height".

The suggestion is that retailers should consider their ceilings in relation to customers' states of mind on point of sale. High ceilings encourage free, abstract thinking; low ceilings are more conducive to detail specific thought.

Well I don't buy it. Some scientist somewhere must have got over excited after a session with his fengi (or whatever you call someone who practices feng shui).

See what you think anyhow.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Biofuel? Bio-bunkum

I've been saying for a while that if someone tells you that using biofuel is a good way to save the planet, you should look at them sympathetically in the eye and then slap them across the face. Hard. Twice.

These people reckon it's a good idea to start growing even more crops in a world where land space is becoming ever more pressured with every new baby we pop out.

"But it's the most practical way to reduce our carbon emissions", they bleat. But where's that land going to come from huh? Oh yeah - those rainforests are just hanging about not doing much - they'll make great biofuel cropland... for about five years. And what a great way to reduce CO2 emissions that is - cut down the greatest terrestrial carbon sinks we have.

Well geniuses, hopefully the death knell for biofuel might have been rung - because it doesn't even reduce CO2. It increases them.

So start practising those sympathetic looks and maybe your right hook. You're bound to need them.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Daiquiris all round

For anyone who despairs of getting it right when it comes to healthy eating - look no further than your local cocktail bar.

Apparently adding alcohol to strawberries and blackberries increases their antioxidant properties, meaning they mop up more of those nasty free radicals that cause disease and aging.

And whilst various detractors may point out that alcohol consumption itself isn't too great for the body, every little helps I say.

If you need me I'll be catching up on my 5-a-day... hic!

Thursday, 19 April 2007

News in Brief

Odd science snippets from around the world:

In Japan it is common place to have toilets with fitted bidets, blow driers, air purifiers and seat warming functions. Sounds impressive, but 26 have recently gone up in smoke and three have even caught fire. Not exactly sitting pretty now are they?

A truck containing pet rabbits recently closed the M1 motorway in Budapest when 5000 of the animals escaped on to the road. Surprisingly though, hardly any did a runner, most just sat munching grass - it's the simple pleasures in life.

Eating chocolate gives you a bigger high than kissing your partner; apparently it gives a longer lasting buzz and has the same effect on both sexes. I wonder what happens if you eat chocolate off your partner? Buzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

There is a rumour in Pakistan that a virus on mobile phones is killing people and many of the country's 56 million mobile phone users have been duped by this prank. Some reports even suggest that 20 people have already died. Beware the text message.

has created artificial snow in Tibet for the first time after warnings of melting glaciers and drought. What next then? Lightning at the flick of a switch; rain at the press of a button; better still, remote control clouds.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

How to build a DeLorean

If anyone fancies having a go, I've discovered this handy guide - available online for free - which explains exactly how to do it. Hmm, good luck with that. This is just the door mechanism, but you can check out the DeLorean Motor Company's online store for parts and more ridiculous diagrams. Eat your heart out Marty McFly.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Frog torture

Hello all! I like this idea of an online party. I reckon like there will be a lot less mess and vomit to clean up than after a real party, but I could well be wrong.

If you're the kind of folks who find videos of frogs in tupperware tubs amusing (and lets face it, who isn't?!), there is a story on the New Scientist website entitled 'Friction helps frogs stick to ceilings'. The investigator, Jon Barnes, from the University of Glasgow (no relation to the 90s Liverpool striker/one-time rapping sensation) placed frogs in a relvolving transparent container to measure the amount of friction between their toes and the glass plate.

It seems that unlike geckos, who use a velcro-esque mode of adhesion, tree frogs prefer the sellotape method, and adopt a stance like Spider-Man. Confused? Take a look for yourselves here.

Image: Leon Brooks

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Henry McHenry and the Lower Limbs

Henry McHenry! What a name, I thought when I stumbled across it whilst browsing the infinitely inferior pages of Science.

Henry McHenry is in fact a well renowned "lower limb expert". If I had a name as good as that I'd be starting a band, but each to their own.

But that's beside the point.

Henry, it seems, has recently been in the news commenting on our old friend, Homo floresiensis. If you remember, the original archaeological dispute related to the size of this "hobbit's" head.

Now the argument is about the shape of the little guy's wrists. Using his lower limb expertise, McHenry claims to have proven beyond doubt that Homo floresiensis constitutes a separate species to modern humans. Others disagree.

Hopefully more silly names to follow in the continuing saga of the oddly shaped dead guy.

Of course, I would say check out Science for further details, where aptly named Ann Gibbons presents her version of the story. However, due to the extortionate cost of subscription, you probably won't be able to.

Image: Reuters/Ho/Peter Schouten/National Geographic Society

Welcome to Null bloggers

It falls to me to kick off the finest blog ever to hit the Internet. So here it is. Welcome Null bloggers - this is the place you can kick back, relax and let your thoughts run amok through the hayfields of your mind.

Such an occasion deserves a cutesy picture don't you think? So do I!