Archive for November, 2011


Posted by on Saturday, 26 November, 2011


A fella shows up at his church and says to the priest, Father, I have three things to confess. I didn’t do my penance like you asked me to last week, I didn’t put any money into the poor box today, and I told my kid I don’t have time for his stupid jokes. Well, says the priest, let’s not get bogged down with all the religious stuff when you’re lousing up yer kid’s life!

Not that funny? But, you know what? That priest had a point. According to Dr Elena Hoicka (a developmental psychologist, University of Stirling, Scotland) you need to yuck it up some with your kids.


Here’s the thing.

Hoicks’s work shows it’s important to interact, using jokes and pretending. If you think you’re too much of a stiff to pull this off, there are even tips to help you  loosen up (brandy?).  Knowing how to joke, they say, helps kids make friends, deal with stress, and think creatively.

Does MISTER SASB think this is crazy important science? Is this what Einstein WISHED he could do?

Tell me this. How could it hurt?


Thanks (again) xkcd for the image:

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Why Are Phones Getting So Large?

Posted by on Friday, 25 November, 2011




” Zoey” asked about screen size for smartphones. They’re getting so big. Why?

I said:

Phones started out small.

Apple made a big thing about how dainty the IPhone was. But, as people have come to expect more from their phones, small has become less cute and more aggravating. How are you going to read a book, watch a movie, or edit a document? With a magnifying glass?

So  there’s been some “size drift”.

It’s true you can add a tablet to your electronics collection – something like the very nice IPad.  But some people don’t want to have a permanent forward lean like a school kid with a backpack full of gadgets. Maybe bigger phones will  take pressure off of your need for multiple electronics, multiple accounts, and multiple charging technologies .

Saves money too, right?

We don’t know what is the best size for a smartphone yet. This is an experiment. We’re figuring this out together.

I thought you should know.

Thanks to David Baldinger for the cartoon figure used in the above image. Creative Commons License
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How You Make A Universe!

Posted by on Friday, 18 November, 2011


From Nothing

Dr. Christopher Wilson (Chalmers Institute Of Technology) created light. 

He did some complicated things that that sucked up photons out of absolutely nothing (what physicists call the  “quantum vacuum”).

Yes. I know God did this a long time ago. But he didn’t have to do it on a budget.

The thing to keep in mind here is that light is a form of energy and energy is a form of mass (Einstein) . So what Dr Wilson did is he created something from nothing.

Can you do that?

It’s slightly more than a cute trick, actually. It suggests that that Big Bang (which started the universe) actually makes some logical sense. After all, if there wasn’t anything before the universe, how could it ever get started? What would it have been made of?

In other words, is it really possible to make something from nothing?


ScienceAintSoBadRating = 10 . A wonderful piece of science.



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Posted by on Wednesday, 9 November, 2011




Remember how Doctor Spock and Captain Kirk, in the Enterprise, were always running into alien life forms? I don’t believe they ever explained, exactly, how the plug uglies they encountered happened to be up there (or maybe I missed that episode). Did they evolve from monkeys just as we did? Very homely ones? Were their planets colonized by refugees from Earth who, under the constant bombardment of gamma rays on Alpha Four, began to look like they had a case of bad stage makup?

Maybe there’s another explanation for how alien civilizations get their start. Two researchers at the University of Hong Kong say the “building blocks of life” are everywhere, waiting for the deft touch of nature (or, if you prefer,the finger of God) to turn them into living cells.

They (the researchers) say stars make a petroleum like substance which is full of complex organic molecules. Aromatic rings, even. This  “Star Goo”, eventually, spreads throughout space.

The last time we watched life get started – um that would be the first time too – it happened in the wink of an eye. A cosmic eye, anyway. Since we know there are lots of planets and lots of water out there and, now,  thanks to Kwok and Yong Zhang , we know that every star in every galaxy contains  an E Z STARTER KIT FOR LIFE , it’s a good bet that there are plenty of living creatures to be found.


Doesn’t that just suck?  Living creatures inhabiting biological niches throughout this busy universe, and, yet, we continue our lonely existence with no practical way to know who or what is out there? Life everywhere but “not a single drop to drink”?

As it were.

For a while, the SETI Project seemed like it might come up with something but it’s beginning to dawn on some that we’re probably barking up the wrong antenna. Our own civilization sends out very few stray radio waves anymore.  More underground cables. Less antennas. If it’s like that, upstairs, this is bad news for SETI.

Sad, I suppose, although, maybe it’s good for us to figure things out on our own. And, maybe, we’re better off without yet another higher power. Heaven KNOWS we’re having enough problems with the lower ones.

Get this though. There may BE a way to sniff out another civilization. Wouldn’t aliens, independently, come up with the idea of artificial light? Just like we did? It makes sense.   Abraham Loeb and Edwin Turner think so. Loeb (Harvard) and Turner (Princeton) feel that a well lit alien city could be detected with a sensitive telescope. It would have to be  more sensitive than anything we have now but, with the right filters, a new generation of telescopes might do the trick.

At least, that’s the theory.


Image by Mister SASB