Archive for August, 2014

What is Mechanical Engineering?

Posted in SCIENCE, GEOLOGY,HEALTH, INVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,ANTHROPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, with tags on August 29, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3676

Reference:

What is Mechanical Engineering?

 

How to Quench Data Centers’ Thirst for Power (Op-Ed)

Posted in SCIENCE, GEOLOGY,HEALTH, INVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,ANTHROPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, with tags on August 29, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3675

How to Quench Data Centers’ Thirst for Power (Op-Ed)

This Street Performer Has Mastered One of the Greatest Illusions

Posted in THE ART with tags on August 29, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3674

George Dvorsky

http://io9.com/how-is-it-possible-that-this-street-performer-can-float-1627390526

This Street Performer Has Mastered One of the Greatest Illusions

This Street Performer Has Mastered One of the Greatest Illusions

These Prague street performers have pulled off one of the finest executions of the levitating man illusion you will ever see. For those of you who hate fun and wonder, we’ve got the secret — and the physics — behind this ancient trick.

For centuries, Indian yogis have claimed to have mastered the powers of levitation. In reality, they’ve simply managed to dupe unsuspecting bystanders by tapping into fundamental design principles and basic physics.

Simply put, the floating man illusion is accomplished through the strategic placement of steel rods and plates. And though the performers appear to be defying the laws of physics, the structure is remarkably stable. Here’s an image from 22 Words that shows how the one-person variation of the trick works:

This Street Performer Has Mastered One of the Greatest Illusions

The special wrap-around configuration, along with a solid base, provides the stability and strength required to pull it off. The three components include a solid base (3), the staff (2), and seat (3).

The two-man version is slightly different, but it borrow from the same solution. Writing in theJames Randi Educational Foundation, Kyle Hillexplains:

To fit underneath the carpet, the plate must be rather small. And from the looks of the picture [below], the sitting man isn’t that elevated therefore the plate is not too thick. A thin plate can be heavy, so you may be thinking that the weight alone is balancing the whole apparatus, but a ~180 pound man on a steel rod can produce quite a bit of force. There is more physics to it than this, though the additional weight certainly helps. It could also be the case that the sitting man is helping to balance the levitating one, but considering that this trick can also be done with one person, we’ll assume that the sitter isn’t contributing to the stabilization. [image credit: Michael Shermer]

This Street Performer Has Mastered One of the Greatest Illusions

I’ll do some engineering calculations in a process called statics to sort this out. I’ll assume a 180 lb man whose center of gravity is directly above the bar connecting to the plate.

This Street Performer Has Mastered One of the Greatest Illusions

Now, the most efficient way to do this trick would be to sit directly above where the steel rod connects to the plate. This way, there is no torque in the plate-rod connection created by the levitator. This looks to be how the two-person levitation trick is set up.

The calculations are easy. To be in equilibrium, all the forces and moments (rotational forces) must cancel out. And what we are really concerned about, if we were the tricksters, is whether or not the apparatus will tip over. We can find this out by calculating how much rotational force is acting at the edge of the plate assuming nothing is moving. In the set-up above, the moment at point A is calculated by multiplying the downward force by the perpendicular distance (I guessed again here) to the point. This results in 180 ft-lbs that push the plate edge down into the ground (a clockwise force).

The trick, says Hill, is that the further the edge of the plate is away from the center of gravity of the levitator, the more stable the apparatus becomes. There must be a clever balance between rotational forces and deception. As Hill says, “The closer the weight of the levitator comes to any edge of the plate, the smaller the moment becomes, until it becomes zero when the levitator is directly over an edge. This is the near-tipping condition.”

Here’s a variation of the trick by performance artist Johan Lorbeer. I’ll leave it to you to figure this one out.

This Street Performer Has Mastered One of the Greatest Illusions

More at 22 Words and the James Randi Educational Foundation.

Top image: George Dvorsky

 

Americans Clearly Don’t Understand How Deadly HPV Is

Posted in SCIENCE, GEOLOGY,HEALTH, INVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,ANTHROPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, with tags on August 29, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3673

Robbie Gonzalez

http://io9.com/americans-clearly-dont-understand-how-deadly-hpv-is-1624268523

Americans Clearly Don’t Understand How Deadly HPV Is

Americans Clearly Don't Understand How Deadly HPV Is

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in America. With the exception of HIV, it is also the most fatal. But for almost a decade, we’ve had a vaccine that prevents HPV infection and, by extension, the deadly cancers it causes. So why aren’t American adolescents getting access to this vaccine?

Top Image via Getty

When the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics immediately recommended it be received by all adolescents (in the last decade, these institutions have jointly recommended just two other vaccines, namely meningococcal and Tdap). Their reasoning was simple: The human papilloma virus (HPV) is known to cause several types of cancer, including carcinomas of the cervix, anus, penis, and throat. By preventing HPV infection, the HPV vaccine can stave off several types of cancer. You might think that Americans would be signing up in droves to have their children vaccinated against cancer. You’d be wrong.

In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control reported that only one-third of girls aged 13–17 had received all three shots of the HPV vaccine, which, like the hepatitis B vaccine, is delivered by a course of three injections. Compare that to Australia and the UK, where HPV vaccinations rates approach twice those of the U.S., or Rwanda, where more than 80% of teen girls receive the entire series. At the time, CDC director Tom Frieden expressed his concern over the vaccine’s miserable uptake:

Our low vaccination rates represent 50,000 preventable tragedies – 50,000 girls alive today will develop cervical cancer over their lifetime that would have been prevented if we reach 80 percent vaccination rates.

Last month, the CDC reported the most recent results of its teen immunization survey. The numbers were discouraging. Fewer than 60% of girls had started the HPV vaccination series. Only 38% had finished it. The numbers for boys, whom the CDC also recommends should receive the vaccination, are markedly worse.

“It’s frustrating to report almost the same HPV vaccination coverage levels among girls for another year,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a statement. These numbers are, to quote the CDC’s report, “unacceptably low.” By comparison, the survey indicates that roughly 80% of adolescents receive the meningococcal and Tdap vaccines.

This disparity is mind boggling, especially in light of the relative risk posed by the diseases these vaccines target. Paul Offit illustrates this point quite powerfully in an op-ed published in last week’s New York Times.

In his piece, Offit – a professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases, and director of the Vaccine Education Center, at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – attempts to account for the HPV-vaccine’s slow uptake by the American public. Part of it, he says, is “a clash between perception and reality.” He proceeds to debunk several common misconceptions about the HPV vaccine’s effectiveness (it is virtually 100% effective at preventing the most common cancer-causing HPV infections, for at least 30 years), safety (the vaccine has been shown to cause no serious side effects), and propensity to promote promiscuity (it doesn’t).

If you believe in the safe, preventative power of vaccines, I doubt much of this comes as a surprise to you. But here’s something you may not have known: You’ll recall the statistic cited earlier, that 80% of U.S. adolescents receive meningococcal and Tdap vaccines to prevent meningitis, tetanus, diptheria, and whooping cough. Well, according to Offit, people are more than 20 times more likely to die of HPV than from the other four diseases combined:

People just don’t understand how serious an infection HPV can be. In a typical year in the United States about 150 people die from meningococcus, four from tetanus, none from diphtheria, 20 from pertussis, and roughly 4,000 from cancers caused by HPV. People are more than 20 times more likely to die from HPV than from the other four diseases combined.

About 79 million people in the United States have been infected with HPV, and 14 million new infections occur every year. As a consequence, 18,000 women and 8,000 men suffer preventable cancers of the cervix, anus, penis and throat; it’s the most common, and except for H.I.V., the most fatal sexually transmitted disease.

To recap: Roughly one-in-three Americans is carrying a sexually transmitted infection with a mortality rate second only to HIV. That infection is largely preventable by a vaccine – a vaccine that the majority of American adolescents are not receiving. That’s astounding.

What can be done to improve HPV vaccination rates? One solution may be to stop talking about HPV in terms of sex. When Schuchat delivered the CDC’s latest results on vaccination rates, she reported that one of the main reasons parents gave for not vaccinating their kids against HPV was that their doctors just weren’t recommending it. Why not? Offit posits that, because HPV is often transmitted sexually, and because many doctors are likely uncomfortable talking about sex with 11-year-olds, physicians may be neglecting to raise the subject of HPV vaccination with their patients. This, Offit points out, is silly:

Amy B. Middleman, chief of adolescent medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine offers one solution in the coming NOVA television special “Vaccines — Calling the Shots”: Don’t talk about sex. “The sex part,” says Dr. Middleman, “the way in which you get the target disease, is irrelevant. We don’t talk about diphtheria, and how you can get diphtheria, before we give the Tdap vaccine.” In other words, it’s not about sex. It’s about cancer.

Read the results of the CDC’s latest vaccination survey here. Check out the CDC’s list of FAQs on HPV here. Read Offit’s NYT op-edhere.

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

Posted in THE ART with tags on August 29, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3672

Vincze Miklós

http://io9.com/these-secret-artistic-masterpieces-were-hidden-beneath-1626834333

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

Over the centuries, it has been common to reuse canvases and paint over murals, meaning that many great works of art have been lost between layers of paint. Fortunately, modern technology and notes on the originals lets us see those hidden masterpieces once again.

The Battle of Anghiari, by Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519), painted in 1505, now behind a section of a fresco by Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) in the Hall of the Five Hundred (Salone dei Cinquecento), Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy

A copy of its central section is known, thanks to a drawing by Peter Paul Rubens, 1603, which was based on an engraving of 1553 by Lorenzo Zacchia:

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

The project was abandoned by Leonardo because its upper part couldn’t dry fast enough and the colors intermingled.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

The Portrait of Isabella Romola de’ Medici, under the 19th century portrait of Eleanor of Toledo. The original was painted around 1570-1574, and attributed to Allesandro Allori

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

(via Carnegie Museum of Art)

A beached whale on View of Scheveningen Sands, created by Hendrick van Anthonissen (1605-1656), around 1641, had been hidden for more than 150 years

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

(via The History Blog)

A bust of Napoleon’s son in the upper left corner of Portrait of Jacques Marquet de Montbreton de Norvins by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), 1812

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

(via Wikiart)

Portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother Joseph, who was the King of Spain between 1808 and 1813 as José I, under the Portrait of Don Ramón Satué, a Spanish judge, by Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828), 1823

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

(via WikiArt and ABC)

Two half-naked wrestlers, one of Vincent Van Gogh’s (1853-1890) homework as an art student, behind Still Life with Meadow Flowers and Roses, 1886

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

(Photo by AP/Kroeller Mueller Museum and WikiArt)

The portrait of a woman behind Patch of Grass, by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), 1887

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

(via Google Art Project/Wikimedia Commons and DESY)

A portrait of a bearded man underneath The Blue Room, by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), 1901

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

(Photos by The Phillips Collection/AP)

A woman with a child, a bull and a sheep, behind The Old Guitarist, by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), 1903-1904

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

The hidden painting with a detail from a letter wrote by Picasso himself:

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

(via WikiArt, Medill Reports, Wikimedia Commons and The Art Institute of Chicago)

A portrait of a man beneath Woman Ironing, by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), 1904

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

(via Guggenheim)

An illustration of a fist fight, appeared in a 1919 article in Everybody’s Magazine, behind Family Portrait, an oil painting by Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945), 1924

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

These Secret Artistic Masterpieces Were Hidden Beneath Other Paintings

(via WHYY and Winterthur)

 

Researchers Isolate A Gut Microbe That Combats Food Allergies

Posted in SCIENCE, GEOLOGY,HEALTH, INVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,ANTHROPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, with tags on August 29, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3671

George Dvorsky

http://io9.com/researchers-isolate-a-gut-microbe-that-combats-food-all-1626987928

Researchers Isolate A Gut Microbe That Combats Food Allergies

Researchers Isolate A Gut Microbe That Combats Food Allergies

Food allergies have risen dramatically in recent years, leading scientists to speculate about possible environmental factors. A recent study suggests that antibiotics may be destroying a key gut microbe — one that could be reintroduced into the body, to restore proper immune function.

Food allergies are definitely on the rise. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, some 4% to 6% of children are now affected. There has been an 18% increase among children in the U.S. between 1997 and 2007 (and possibly as high as 50%). It’s an alarming generational increase — one that’s likely caused by environmental interventions of some sort.

Now, a new study by Cathryn Nagler and her colleagues has shown that changes to the trillions of bacteria that normally inhabit our gastrointestinal tract are profoundly influencing our allergic reactions to food. The researchers implicated one bacterial community in particular: Clostridia.

Writing in Science Magazine, Jennifer Couzin-Frankel explains:

In one of the latest efforts, Nagler’s team first confirmed that mice given antibiotics early in life were far more susceptible to peanut sensitization, a model of human peanut allergy. Then, they introduced a solution containing Clostridia, a common class of bacteria that’s naturally found in the mammalian gut, into the rodents’ mouths and stomachs. The animals’ food allergen sensitization disappeared, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When the scientists instead introduced another common kind of healthy bacteria, called Bacteroides, into similarly allergy-prone mice, they didn’t see the same effect. Studying the rodents more carefully, the researchers determined that Clostridia were having a surprising effect on the mouse gut: Acting through certain immune cells, the bacteria helped keep peanut proteins that can cause allergic reactions out of the bloodstream. “The bacteria are maintaining the integrity of the [intestinal] barrier,” Nagler says.

The research “opens up new territory,” Blaser says. It “extends the frontier of how the microbiome is involved” in immune responses and the roles played by specific bacteria. (Blaser’s group reported earlier this month in Cell that giving mice penicillin soon after birth changed their gut microbiome and made them much more likely to be obese as adults.)

The researchers, who have now filed for a patent application, are hoping to interrupt the allergy process by directly manipulating our microbiota. One way this could be done is by using a probiotic consisting of Clostridia. Nothing like this exists quite yet, but Nagler’s work suggests that such an intervention may be possible.

Read Couzin-Frankel’s entire article. And check out the entire study at PNAS: “Commensal bacteria protect against food allergen sensitization“.

Top image CDC.

The Most Majestic Fairy Sculptures We’ve Seen Are Made Out Of Insects

Posted in SCIENCE, GEOLOGY,HEALTH, INVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,ANTHROPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, with tags on August 29, 2014 by 2eyeswatching

Post 3670

Lauren Davis

http://io9.com/the-most-majestic-fairy-sculptures-weve-seen-are-made-o-1626963398

The Most Majestic Fairy Sculptures We’ve Seen Are Made Out Of Insects

The Most Majestic Fairy Sculptures We've Seen Are Made Out Of Insects

Okay, the next filmmaker to develop a movie about fairies really needs to bring sculptor Cedric Laquieze on as a concept designer. He carefully arranges parts of various insects parts—as well as plants, feathers, and bones—into remarkable creatures that are beautifully strange.

Laquieze’s works frequently integrate materials and designs from the natural world. He’s made a headdress from horseshoe crab shells inspired by microscopic insects, sculptures made from flowers and bones, and many, many, many, insect fairy sculptures. Head over to his blog to see them all and imagine a world where they flutter through the forests.

The Most Majestic Fairy Sculptures We've Seen Are Made Out Of Insects

The Most Majestic Fairy Sculptures We've Seen Are Made Out Of Insects

The Most Majestic Fairy Sculptures We've Seen Are Made Out Of Insects

The Most Majestic Fairy Sculptures We've Seen Are Made Out Of Insects

The Most Majestic Fairy Sculptures We've Seen Are Made Out Of Insects

The Most Majestic Fairy Sculptures We've Seen Are Made Out Of Insects

[via Design Taxi]