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Recently I saw this article on scientific american which caught my eyes: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=bisexual-species

It’s an article regarding bisexual behaviors in animals. What’s interesting about this article is that it seems to imply that it is not so uncommon for animals to engage in homosexual behavior (or what most people say: unnatural sex) as we think it is.

It appears that there is a likelihood that bisexual behavior is a natural state for these animals. In fact, animals do not actually have problems with sexual orientation. To them, that’s just sex. With heterosexual partners or otherwise isn’t that big a deal.

There’s more you can gain from this article but I don’t have time to pick them all out. (Have to start on work! boo.)

Do read the article! Have fun.

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Ever wondered why clouds can be white and fluffy like cotton on bright sunny days and dark and gloomy when it’s gonna rain?

My mum used to tell me that was cos the clouds absorbed all that dirt in the skies, turning it really dark and dirty. (That’s also why she says it’s not a good idea to get yourself wet standing in the rain)

So are the clouds dirty just before it rains? Well, not really.

The truth is, when you look at clouds, the extent of their brightness (or greyness) depends on how much light is reflected into your eyes. The more water droplets there are in the skies, the more light is absorbed such that less light can reach your eyes –> hence darker clouds. When there isn’t a lot of water droplets in the skies, most of the light can be reflected into your eyes and you see the the clouds are white.

When there is a lot of water droplets in the skies, they block off a lot of light, hence causing the clouds to look dark. And because there is a lot of water droplets in the skies, it is more likely that dark clouds signify that it’s going to rain!

I found a more scientific explanation in this site here: do read it for better insight!

I found this website long ago and it just came up in a conversation i had recently so here’s the site: http://www.ultrasonic-ringtones.com/

These ringtones, also known as mosquito ringtones, are popular amongst teens nowadays because of their purported usefulness – teens can hear the phone ring but adults can’t.

This is true to some extent since teens have a better hearing ability (most of the time) and can therefore hear a wider range of sounds so when the ringtones reach a certain high frequency, only those whose  hearing abilities are good enough can hear the ringtones.

You can click through the various ringtones in the website to see how good your ears are. A word of warning though, some sounds can be so high pitched that your ears might throb a long time after you stopped listening to it. =p I learnt this the hard way. =p

Anyway, just another trivia: These ringtones were initially used in certain shops to deter teens and kids from loitering near the shops as the high pitch sound irritates and repels these youngsters but not the adults with purchasing power (since adults can’t hear a thing).

Warning: this is just going to be a random set of instructables I saw the past few days.

An easy to make IQ paper toy cube

DIY Magnetic stirrer with hot plate for less than US$30 

A different kind of made of paper toy cube

DIY sterling engine 

And another paper toy 

Origami Ball 

And Oooh look! your very own wooden gear clock 

Now your job is to decide what kinda of theme (if any) I had for this bumper set. =)

I was looking through Instructables.com and came across this:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Paper-Noise-Maker/

I used to make this when I was really young. You just fold a piece of paper into that shape and flick it really hard. It makes really loud noises and scare the wits out of anybody nearby. Such fun!

And now for a bit of physics while we are at it: How does this work?

Basically, when the centre-fold of the paper gets flicked out, it moves at a very fast rate and pushes the air in front of it away quickly. This creates a shock wave which can be really loud.

I’ve gone meteor-shower-watching several times now and never did see anything. Not one ‘shooting star’. This year, I’m not quite sure if I’ll see any too. But nonetheless, according to British meteor astronomer, Alastair McBeath, this year is a ‘great year’ for the Geminid Showers. Maybe I’ll look up in the skies tmr. =)

Oh yes, for those interested, it is claimed that this fantastic showers will peak on the night of Dec 13 and 14th. That’s tonight and tomorrow night! Do take a look outside your window. =)

For more info, click here!

I’m sure most people would have heard the news by now: Japan has decided that they need to do some research on our beloved humpback whales – by hunting them down – too.

I must say I’m saddened by this decision. Unfortunately, neither my unhappiness nor the unhappiness of many other like-minded people and nations could change their point of view – the humpbacks have to go.

I never could understand what scientific research do the Japanese do when they kill the whales and sell the meat in their markets. So I tried finding out.

According to BBC news, the reason for this scientific research is the following:

The ICR and the Japanese government’s Fisheries Agency believe that if enough of the right sort of data can be collected, they can go back to the IWC and prove scientifically that some whale stocks are robust enough to allow a degree of sustainable commercial hunting.

This scientific research is aimed at gathering “information on the age distribution within each population (which relates closely to the natural rate of morality), blubber thickness (an indication of health and food supply), and diet.

Apparently, the Japanese researchers believe that lethal methods of surveying is necessary because it is the “only way” to accurately determine a whale’s age and only by examining the stomach contents of the whale can they assess a whale’s diet with accuracy.

read here for more info: BBC news

Here’s what WWF has to say:

Regarding a whale’s diet:

The Government of Japan claims it needs to kill ten sperm whales each year to learn what they eat. Yet the diet of this species is well known – not surprisingly, since more than a half a million sperm whales were killed and examined in the 20th century alone. Furthermore, the ecological significance of the sperm whale’s predation on squid cannot be meaningfully assessed without estimating the abundance of squid in the ocean – a question to which marine biologists world-wide would like to know the answer.

Regarding stomach contents:

Japan also claims it must kill whales to determine what they eat, which they accomplish by studying stomach contents of the dead whales. However, this generally provides nothing more than a snapshot view of the most recently consumed prey, and may not be indicative of the real diet, particularly with whales such as minkes, which consume a broad range of prey items. In contrast, stable isotope analysis from skin samples, again obtained using a biopsy dart on a live whale, provides a long-term view of the whale’s diet over a longer time period. Whatever food is consumed has a unique isotopic “signature” reflected in the tissues of the animal consuming the food. This technique has been applied all over the world in studies of other whales.

Alternative non-lethal assessment:

Genetic samples are generally taken from a live whale using a biopsy dart, and do not require killing or injuring the animal. Biopsy darting is also far more efficient, allowing scientists to acquire large amounts of data from a broader section of the whale population.

Read the rebuttals here: WWF

Excuse me while I grief… I just wish there was a way we could stop this whaling business… =(

Just yesterday, I read an online news that a ‘surfer dude’ with no university affiliation have published a paper about a theory of everything.

Not string theory mind you. A different one that marries gravitational field, Quantum Mechanics, Electromagnetism etc using E8. I admit I do not exactly understand what he is trying to say, but it is said that if his theory can actually predict ‘new particles’ which we can test and confirm then this might just be THE theory of everything.

Just a note la. If anyone’s interested to read his paper, it can be accessed through here: http://arxiv.org/abs/0711.0770

Have fun reading! (it’s 31 pages long) Gimme a summary *points to ‘comment’ link* when you are done with it okay?

Oh ya, the surfer dude’s name is A. Garrett Lisi.

I got this interesting piece of news from my rss feed today:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two separate teams of researchers announced on Tuesday they had transformed ordinary skin cells into batches of cells that look and act like embryonic stem cells — but without using cloning technology and without making embryos.

link

Hopefully this breakthrough would mean that the current debate about moral and ethical issues would become irrelevant. Anyway, do go read that link. There’s not alot of scientific jargon so it should be an easy and informative read.