science

Sorry about the absence, have some pi

No, the Poorhouse is neither dead or so poor he can't pay the hosting bill. So many sorries for lack of updates, I know I shouldn't take those micropennies of google ad income for granted. However the situation (extreme busyness, lack of internet freedom) is in no danger of resolving itself anytime soon.

So, in the mean time, baffle yourself with this apparent fact.

If you divide the length of a river from source to mouth across a gently sloping plane by its direct length "as the crow flies", you'll find pi.

The mathematics of waiting for a bus

We all use math (sic) everyday! - so says the intro to the geek fantasy that is Numb3rs, the US maths/FBI/unrequited love show. Apparently we should, according to Chen et al., when experiencing the irksome decision of "shall I wait for a bus or just walk there?".

For those of you who find this a challenging decision to make, there's an easy answer. Simple solve this funtastic equation:

Women break the planet

Ladies! You might be nice to look at, and a dab hand at the old housework, but really - you do know you are responsible for the ever-more imminent end of the world?

Yep, the Government's chief scientist has blamed your shallow, shallow attitudes to the important things in life for global warming, no less.

Reporting on drugs impairs mental performance

Researching the mental effects of chemicals on humans is notoriously difficult and complicated, not least because of the immense amount of ways that a certain person may react to any given substance, the huge number of external factors that may be involved in a psychological outcome, and the difficulty in quantifiably measuring many mental effects. Add to this the sometimes extreme politicisation and bias of results that comes when researching controversial topics like the use of illegal drugs and one can see that researching the mental effects of banned-but-fun substances is especially troublesome.

This trouble is often seen in mass-media reports of such experiments. Often, presumably in order to make the "news" exciting and dramatic for their readers the "shock horror - you will die if you even look at illegal drugs" conclusions are heightened to the max, and any opposing conclusions, grey areas and other interpretations of the same data are ignored. Not only does this undermine any sensible attempt at presenting results with potentially important public health conclusions to the public at large, but research suggests that it could be this very style of reporting that causes some of the mental problems it shouts about so loudly.

People do not assess risk very logically

The Poorhouse was recently reading a study that showed just how illogical people are, even when the logicalness at first sight seems simplistic to adhere to. Furthermore, it specifically concerning the topic of risk assessment of major terrorist attacks, there are present and clear dangers as to decision makers falling prey to such logicalities.

Not only do we not really want to get blown up by being silly enough to ignore the risk, it is also vital not to think too much of the risk given certain politicians' likings for discarding civil liberties and instilling military-rule-esque regimes amongst the poor, innocent, ignorant civilian population that we apparently consist of. As a bonus, it also shows how the potential bias inherent in survey responses needs to be taken with even more seriousness than the average layperson might think.

The difference between Poorhouse and a cockroach narrows

Although no specific memory is held, there is every chance the Poorhouse has been called a "cockroach" in his short time on this planet so far. There is, as a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, at least one obvious similarity.

Both have brains that really do not work well in the morning.

Scientific crudity

Close-up of an arsoleClose-up of an arsoleScientific nomenclature - i.e. what top boffin scientists insist on calling things to in order to sound clever - is not known for its hilarity. Names like sodium chloride (table salt), aluminum potassium sulfate (alum) or magnesium silicate (talc) are long-winded for sure, but in no real way funny.

Fortuitously, there have been rare exceptions. Certain high-level chemistry books must be almost as funny as that joke from Monty Python that is so funny it was used as a deadly weapon by the Ministry of War.

The 5 second rule: fact or fiction?

When it comes to oral satisfaction, pretty much everyone knows the infamous "5 second rule".

For any readers who either are inhumanely non-clumsy or don't eat food it can be summarised by saying that if you drop your lovely delicious cream bun onto the floor it is medically, socially and morally acceptable to pick it up and continue eating it as long as it has only been on the floor for 5 seconds or less. Any more than that- if you're not prepared to throw away your hard-earned food - and you risk dirt, disease, death and derision from the floor filth getting onto your sustenance and into you.

After finishing their theses at Connecticut College, biology students Molly Goettsche and Nicole Moin wanted to do something "light-hearted and fun". Unfortunately it seems they couldn't get their hands on recreational drugs right away, so instead they decided to test the premise of the 5 second rule using cold hard science.

Name blame

Isabella: probably not her nameIsabella: probably not her nameThe Poorhouse is never one to be over-quick on the uptake, whether this be in reality or in the strange webworld your brain is currently hooked into. To prove the point, then here is a story from a month ago designed to commemorate an event not so different in duration ago - namely the blissful birth of faux-niece baby Susie. For the 99.9% of readers for whom the shout-out means nothing, read on anyway. What do you have to lose?

Everyone knows the best thing about having a baby is you get to choose its name. For sure they can go on to legally change it, but you have at least a few years to laugh hysterically about how your baby's initials spell out a rude word, or that their name is Cockney slang for a toilet and so on. Even those parents who aren't out to give their kids hell need to be a spot careful though in name-selection according to research from Professor Figlio. Especially if you have a career in mind for your darling offspring.

Cups of magic

Amazing new coffee makes you thin...apparently. The appallingly named "CoffeeSLENDER" has recently hit UK shores. It's a simple diet plan whereby after each meal you eat you ensure you have a cup of this magical coffee, and sit back watch the weight drop off.

It sounds a bit unlikely for sure, but to be fair the makers do give a bit of hardcore science as evidence. Certainly "normal" coffee is associated with weightloss, especially in the anecdotal world - although there seems some disagreement between ye olde wives as to whether drinking it helps or hinders weightloss. One obvious potential explanation is that as it is a proven diuretic you do lose weight, but only because you need to go urinate that extra bit more than usual. Less internal water = less weight.

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