Knowledge is power Archive Last updated - Aug 2003
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About the Archive
This is the archive before I switched to a content management system. Everything was done by hand. Somedays I wish I still did it that way. Everything before Feb. 2003 is to the left, but it isn't worth it to make anything searchable or indexed, mainly because of linkrot. To help a little, I've pulled out the most common search subjects that people find this site with. Towards the bottom of the page are some compilied posts of common or popular subjects. Keep in mind I do absolutely no work to upkeep these links.



Most Common Search Subjects

Current Events in Science
The most common search phrase used to find this page is "current events in science". Though I report on the odd moon link or melting ice cap story, I'm probably not holding up to my advertising here. There's lots of other sites that do a much better job at daily science reporting. So for the 5 or 6 browsers a day who hit this site for science news - here's a primer.
  • The New Scientist Daily science news reports and some very good, detailed topic sections (my favorite is on alcohol.
  • Bottomquark slashdot-style science and tech news. Has an on-the-front-page list of articles from the past week for a comprehensive view. Its had a few technical problems in the past few weeks. I hope its OK.
  • Nature's Science Update "The latest research reported by Nature's science writing team." Updated daily. The articles and issues here are always interesting and complex but always the perfect length for a Web article - not too long to be daunting.
  • Junk Science With the constant "food found to cause cancer" 11 o'clock news features, its nice to know somebody's got a grip. "'Junk science' is faulty scientific data and analysis used to used to further a special agenda."
  • Baloney.com This regularly updated science page is mantained by a team of bloggers.
  • Anthropology news From Texas A&M, Archaeology, Bioanthropology, Socio/Cultural Anthropology, Linguistics.
  • Bubble Chamber Updated every few days.
  • Science Daily Headlines.
  • Space Daily One of the best daily updated space news sites. Why? Because it generates its own content. many of its space-business news won't be found anywhere else.
  • Sky and Telescope news Good info about what's happening among the stars and how to look for it.
Selected Weblogs with lots 'o science links If check on some of these sites a few times a week, you'll never miss another flourescent bunny story.




Don't try this at home
Home-made weapons are dangerous. Even including the words home-made weapons twice on your Web page will get you in trouble these days. (Welcome to everybody finding me in the search engines now.) This knowledge is the most powerful kind, cause it kills people quite often, usually the builders. However I got to point to these guys from MIT building a railgun because their design and production process is fascinating. This is no pipe-bomb experiment, they had to figure out some heavy-duty physics. A railgun shoots its projectile using an enormous magnetic field and they have to solve some interesting problems.
via kottke


Getting your site indexed by Yahoo
Another Webmaster wanted to know why his site wasn't indexed by Yahoo when the site had really good rankings in all the other engines. If you use Yahoo, you should know how it works. Unlike almost all the other ways to search the internet, Yahoo is done by humans, not bots. So it takes forever to get looked at (almost 2 months for one of my sites) and you may not even get on after they visit you. Here's some good tips on getting those humans to list your site. Yahoo itself answers most questions about getting listed. The really tricky part is getting in the right category so people find you once you are listed.


Important food science
Months ago I reported on the link scientists at Rice University provided detailing gravitational response, radiation, solubility and many more tests on Twinkies. I'm glad to report others are conducting such important studies on marshmallow bunnies and marshmallow peeps. While less scientific than the Rice University tests (and a Turing test was not performed on the marshmalow treats) these studies offer useful knowledge, and will help you know where not to put your Easter basket. The coyote test made me fall off my chair. Thanks to illuminatrix for the link. For more official info on Peeps and Bunnies visit Peepsville.


Soft toy history
Strange Brew pointed me to the history of Play Doh. If all the Play-Doh Compound made since 1956 was extruded through the Fun Factory®, it would make a "snake" that would wrap around the world nearly 300 times.Just imagine, a big thick Play Doh Equator. Also on that site is the history of Mr. Potato Head. I am much more interested in the history of Silly Putty (click on the timeline), which as we all know is a much more useful product. Silly Putty is a dilatant compound, which means it reacts differently to hard, fast pressure than it does to slow, even pressure. When pressure is applied quickly, Silly Putty acts like a solid and holds its shape. When pressure is applied slowly, it acts more like a liquid and can be molded easily.




Alcohol

Pubs
Back to my favorite subject. Here's a very detailed article on British pubs. This is serious research. What is a pub, and how to act in them. Subjects like how to queue up to the bar, how to get the barman's attention, why you don't tip in a real pub (I was stearnly admonished when I made this error in Ireland), the sacred ritual of round-buying and much more on the culture of drinking in public. There's lots more on other stuff here at the Social Issues Research Center.


Pubs
Pubs in England and Wales may not have to close at 11:00 pm under government proposals due out within the next few weeks. My recent experience in Ireland taught me that the 11:00 closing time is considerably stretched in the smaller pubs even though owners and their late-night guests could both be fined for drinking after hours. The super-huge pubs in Dublin do not risk staying open and most drinkers pour onto the street at 11 looking for a late-night club. Despite the huge drunken crowds we managed to get into some night clubs including the very exclusive Lilly's Bordello. The giant super-bars in Dublin may be killing off the traditional pub. A 1998 report by the Competition Authority said that there were 1,119 people per pub in Dublin, compared with only 260, for example, in Limerick.


Bubbly
The Nature Science Update article Bottoms up discusses why champagne bubbles start from one point and form a "bubble train" to head to the top. It also answers the question: Why do champagne bubbles travel faster than beer bubbles? In champagne... surfactants stiffen -- and hence hold back bubbles only slightly. Beer, on the other hand, contains about 30 times more surfactants than champagne, and so beer bubbles move far more slowly. There is also less dissolved gas in beer, so bubbles grow and ascend at a more leisurely pace.


What happens to beer in space?
According to this New Scientist page on beer in orbit, it still forms bubbles, "because the carbon dioxide would still come out of solution under room temperature and pressure, but they wouldn't move in any direction." You can't drink beer in orbit anyway cause the body needs gravity to burp. Do you have more alcoholic questions like - why does my beer freeze after I take it out of the freezer and open it? Then you should read the entire NS Web site section devoted to alcohol for some fascinating insight into the stuff I seem to be constantly recovering from.



Knowledge

The Edge of the World's Knowledge
The tagline of Edge.org reads "To arrive at the Edge of the World's Knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking each themselves". Great stuff here, including the World Question Center which asks 100 of the world's top thinkers: "what is today's most important unreported story?" Everything on this page should be read. Stories include The Gradual The Growth of a Prosperous Middle Class in China and in India, The Rise of Organic Farming in Europe, Quality Pigs and The Immortalization of Humanity.


Understanding America
Understanding America is a visual demonstration of questions and answers leading to understanding. Understanding information is power. As we all know from reading kiplog, understanding information is knowledge and knowledge is power. It's chock full of nice infographics and answers to questions like "how many wars have been waged in countires with at least 1 McDonalds franchise? Zero". There's lots of good stuff here but the Web presentation is poor and you would need to download the PDF's of each chapter if you want to read the sources. Because all the information and text are coverted into graphics, there's no searching or indexing, and it makes the statistics very vulernable to being obsolete since it will be close to impossible to update any of the data. I was waiting for this to debut, but forgot about it 'til slave reminded me.

All Human Knowledge vol. 2
I'm always surprised to find that people don't know about one of the greatest sources of information on the Net - the list of FAQs. Have a question about something? ANYTHING. Want to know something about Kool-aid? Its here (including the fact that it wasn't used in Jonestown). It could take a while to find certain things but its all there. For instance everthing you want to know about Dippy birds, why golf balls are dimpled, why hot water freezes faster than cold, and the apparent superluminal velocity of galaxies can be found on one page! Part 3 of the Particle Physics FAQ. I'll be pointing to the best of them as time goes on.


All human knowledge
This is the first of many attempts to prove that if the Web isn't the repository of all human knowledge, it soon will be. When I say all human knowledge I don't just mean the writings of philosphers, I'm talking about my previous twinkie link. Somebody learned what happens when you put a twinkie in a microwave and that knowledge is now available to everyone. This List of movies with women smoking in them is an incredible database of microtrivia for whoever needs such information. Don't ask me how such information could be used, I don't have the foggiest.


Is Knowledge Power?
I thought I'd stir up the "what is knowledge" question again. According to T. H. Huxley:
"The value of any pursuit depends upon the extent to which it fulfils one or all of three conditions. Either it enlarges our experience; or it increases our strength; or it diminishes the obstacles in the way of our acquiring experience and strength. Whatever neither teaches, nor strengthens, nor helps us, is either useless or mischievous."

T. H. Huxley On Natural History, as Knowledge, Discipline, and Power Proceedings of the Royal Institution (1856) Scientific Memoirs I
He goes on to consider how the process of acquiring knowledge strengthens and develops the powers of the gainer (that is the ability of the gainer to turn one part of the universe against another, in order to attain his own ends). He's talking about the Science of Natural History here, but it applies to all knowledge.
So is the dancing hampster page I pointed to a week ago useless and mischievous or did it enlarge our experience?

Here's a good synopsis of the limits, origins, history and consequences of knowledge (I learned here that this blog's title comes from Francis Bacon). Some of the other articles linked on the top of the page look interesting too.




Urban Exploration

Dangerous exploration
darkpassage.com has some impressive photography of their expeditions into abandoned subway passages and deserted hospitals.

One of their links is planetjinx.com an excellent collection of urban adventure stories and advice. Advice on how to survive your first trip to Rikers, info on prison as well as jungle diseases, stories about urban mountaineering in NY, sneaking into an abandoned Soviet sub base, exploring in Pol Pot's jungles etc. etc. In their link section they point to another excellent adventure resource: Feilding's Dangerous Places which are detailed feild guides for dangerous countries. You probably won't plan a trip to the Congo, Burundi or Chechnya any time soon, but these guides will teach you what's happening and why in the world's hot spots.


Weird NJ
Weird NJ highlights some of the unusual sights to see in my home state. Some of which I have seen myself including the abandoned Jungle Habitat (rumors abound about lions roaming southern NJ after the place went backrupt), the grave in the middle of a parking lot, and stories about mysterious tunnels and other underground structures. They don't include the abandoned amusement park near Lake Hopatcong (I don't know whether its still there but the memories of crawling through the abandonded ruins of a dark funhouse still gives me nightmares.) They also leave out the World War II bunkers in Sandy Hook. Those are very cool if you can find the way in. I'll try to get some pictures up here of both places - stay tuned. Standard disclaimer: underground structure exploration is dangerous and usually illegal. Thanks to Fasthack.

Underground adventures
Most of you have seen the abandoned missile silo tour, but here's a site about British underground structures from Subterrenae Brittancica. Their Research Study group is all about Cold war structures in the UK. M.E. found this real estate site where you can actually buy one of these to move into. Some really cool places listed. Coming soon from me will be a few pictures of my latest trip into the bunker in Sandy Hook NJ.





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