Daily Archives: October 23, 2009

Crocs Afar

One day, about six thousand years ago (or more like 15 thousand ? the timing of this is disputed) a volcano in the vicinity of Mwea, Uganda blasted a huge volume of stuff into the air, covering the surrounding landscape and choking off most of the life forms living in a nearby lake. (A very nearby lake ? the current configuration of the lake suggests that the volcano may have actually been beneath the lake at the time of the eruption).

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Keith Schon on Skeptically Speaking tonight

Keith Schon of Cataphora discusses how computers can track behavior, and find out all your dirty little secrets.

What are the limits on what your company is allowed to find out about you, and how are they doing it? How do we figure out, after the fact, whether “Yeah, go do that” means “Yes, grab me some lunch” or “Yes, perpetrate that multi-million dollar fraud scheme.” And what do your online behavior patterns say about you?


Happy Mole Day!

It’s mole day. The mole day site is down (try it later), but you can find out about it on Wikipedia.

Mole Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated among chemists in North America on October 23, between 6:02 AM and 6:02 PM[1], making the date 6:02 10/23 in the American style of writing dates. The time and date are derived from the Avogadro constant, which is approximately 6.02Ã?1023, defining the number of particles (atoms or molecules) in a mole, one of the seven base SI units.

Mole Day originated in an article in The Science Teacher in the early 1980s.[2] Inspired by this article, Maurice Oehler, now a retired high school chemistry teacher from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, founded the National Mole Day Foundation (NMDF) on May 15, 1991.[2]

Vegetarian Diets vs. Meat

It is an old story that a vegetarian diet is linked to a more efficient use of resources than a meat-rich diet. One of the reasons cited for this is that meat is taken from a higher level on the food chain, and thus about one tenth of the energy that enters the system is used per culinary unit (calorie, meal, whatever) than for vegetables. However, this argument, while partly true, overlooks a lot of other factors. For instance, the meat is a more efficiently used package for some purposes than the veggies. Think about it this way: A certain percentage of the food you eat is used to build tissues, including tissues used in growth (for growing individuals), for repair of tissues, as well as for immune system products. Meat is essentially the same “stuff” as is produced in these processes, so the balance of amino acids, co-enzymes, etc. in a chunk of meat is very closely matched to the need. Most of the food we eat is used as an energy source, and both meat and veggies have such energy in them, to varying degrees. With respect to energy alone, the most efficient diet may be something like pure sugar produced from prairie grasses or something along those lines.

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