Erm, what?

The job would be difficult anywhere, but it’s particularly taxing in Washington. Here, wintertime low tides – when shellfish are harvested – occur in the middle of the night. This means that farmers like Cordero are out at midnight, in the freezing cold, in January.

Lunar months – which determine tides, yes? – process through the solar months, don’t they?

I am a disappoint

Really, I thought someone would have done this by now.

So, NASA, DART mission, crash into asteroid.

Clangers. Why hasn’t someone cut the Soup Dragon into the asteroid pics?

I am disappoint. What happened to ingenuity?

Can we raise an entry for next year’s IG Nobels?

Not that I know how to write a scientific paper. Nor do I have access to the cash to pay the fees to get one published.

But. “An estimation of capital turnover from baked bean can sizing”.

Standard baked bean cans are still Imperial (actually, I think, American, No. 3 cans? 330?) which equates to 430 or 440 grammes, about. But some are beginning to appear in 400. And newer varieties, or totally different sizes – half cans say – often seem to be accurate metric – 200 grammes.

Why is this? Because canning lines – including the whole deal of getting the steel cut to size and so on – last for decades. How many decades? We can estimate by how long it takes for can sizes to change after metrication.

Capital turnover/technological lockin can be estimated from can sizes. Actual real science but clearly jocular….. a shoo in, surely?

This looks like fun

Given my entire lack of engineering nous I’ve no idea whether it’s useful, or even sensible, but it is fun:

Water activated disposable paper
Alexandre Poulin1
, XavierAeby1 & Gustav Nyström1,2*
We developed a disposable paper battery aiming to reduce the environmental impact of single-use
electronics for applications such as point of care diagnosis, smart packaging and environmental
sensing. The battery uses Zinc as a biodegradable metal anode, graphite as a nontoxic cathode
material and paper as a biodegradable substrate. To facilitate additive manufacturing, we developed
electrodes and current collector inks that can be stencil printed on paper to create water-activated
batteries of arbitrary shape and size. The battery remains inactive until water is provided and absorbed
by the paper substrate, taking advantage of its natural wicking behavior. Once activated, a single cell
provides an open circuit potential of 1.2V and a peak power density of 150 µW/cm2
at 0.5 mA. As a
proof of concept, we fabricated a two cell battery and used it to power an alarm clock and its liquid
crystal display

Via Mr Katz

Ah, re first comment, this might work better.
s41598-022-15900-5 (1)

Not quite, no

I read — Lord forgive my search history — that testicle size corresponds with animal fertility.

It’s more closely related to the female propensity to shag around in that species. Being able to drown out the sperm of male rivals works. Of course, this is also relative to body size, but gorillas have smaller than bonobos, with humans in between.

The classic case of this being Soay sheep. Similar, at one point, to mainland cousins, they’ve been wild for centuries now. Which means that the rams haven’t been culled as wethers etc. The competition for access to ewes has meant the rams that do successfully procreate are those with the Buster Gonads…….an inheritable condition.

Oh, and it’s also possible to run this back the other way. Testicle size is a good guide to the long run female propensity to shag around in that species…..

Oh Dear God

The key theory of what causes Alzheimer’s disease may be based on ‘manipulated’ data which has misdirected dementia research for 16 years – potentially wasting billions of pounds – a major investigation suggests.

A six-month probe by the journal Science reported “shockingly blatant” evidence of result tampering in a seminal research paper which proposed Alzheimer’s is triggered by a build-up of amyloid beta plaques in the brain.

In the 2006 article from the University of Minnesota, published in the journal Nature, scientists claimed to have discovered a type of amyloid beta which brought on dementia when injected into young rats.

It was the first substance ever identified in brain tissue which could cause memory impairment, and seemed like a smoking gun.

The Nature paper became one of the most-cited scientific articles on Alzheimer’s ever published, sparking a huge jump in global funding for research into drugs to clear away the plaques.


Of course, this aids in explaining why I’ve been snarling at Murphy these decades. No, not because I have a differently caused Alzheimer’s, but because errors in analysis of causes lead to horrible problems in designing solutions…..

Since then, universities, research institutions and pharmaceutical companies have spent billions investigating and trialling therapies to clear the brain of amyloid, but none have worked.


This is fun

The weather was too hot for solar panels on Tuesday as soaring temperatures reduced their efficiency.

So, the cells they put in deserts, how are they made differently then?

Err, no

The present study examined the rate of retransition and current gender identities of 317 initially-transgender youth (208 transgender girls, 109 transgender boys; M=8.1 years at start of study) participating in a longitudinal study, the Trans Youth Project. Data were reported by youth and their parents through in-person or online visits or via email or phone correspondence.

We found that an average of 5 years after their initial social transition, 7.3% of youth had retransitioned at least once. At the end of this period, most youth identified as binary transgender youth (94%), including 1.3% who retransitioned to another identity before returning to their binary transgender identity. 2.5% of youth identified as cisgender and 3.5% as nonbinary. Later cisgender identities were more common amongst youth whose initial social transition occurred before age 6 years; the retransition often occurred before age 10.

These results suggest that retransitions are infrequent. More commonly, transgender youth who socially transitioned at early ages continued to identify that way. Nonetheless, understanding retransitions is crucial for clinicians and families to help make them as smooth as possible for youth.

Mean age at start of transition, 8.1 years. 5 years study – 13.1 years.

That’s not the end of puberty now, is it?

If you’re going to get evolution this twattishly wrong then….

…we can and should disregard everything else you’ve gotto say:

These opposable thumbs are a trait that humans share with our primate cousins such as chimpanzees. But it has only recently been discovered that our thumbs might have first evolved as a device for measuring whether or not fruit was ripe.

Things do not evolve “to do things”. Things evolve by mutation and are then put to use to do things. The change happens first, then the use is determined, not that something is desired therefore the change comes.

And since the rest of the piece is about how we should all stop eating industrial food and get out there and eat summat summat because evolution we can safely disregard that larger argument, can’t we?

We do not have opposable thumbs because they evolved to measure whether fruit was ripe. We have opposable thumbs because we’re descended from those who had more offspring as a result of, possibly just even coincident with, having opposable thumbs.

Can of worms being opened in 3…2…1

Yes, this is sensible:

Common drugs do not work properly for up to 70 per cent of patients, royal colleges have warned, as they call for routine rollout of gene tests before treatment.

The British Pharmacological Society and the Royal College of Physicians called for more personalised treatment, with genetic tests to ensure that medication is not prescribed if it would do more harm than good.

There are some things that do tend to work with everyone – chopping heads off is really very certain to cause death for example. There are other things that don’t work with everyone and sure, genetics will be a goodly part of that.

OK. So test people – well, think about what the expense of doing so is and all that but still – to see which drug works upon their specific set up. Cool.

But doesn’t this just entirely kill that progressive left insistence that actually, we’re all the same in potentio. That it’s society and its iniquities which creates all the difference?

We know this is true of certain genes too – sickle cell is West African and Mediterranean sourced, cystic fibrosis I think North European? Genes do indeed differ, potentials do – fast twitch fibre in likely sprinters, bone density in swimmers – and the more we do genetic testing of individuals the more we’re going to recognise the patterns that run through groups.

Basically, routine genetic testing would kill the Blank Slate theory….

Possibly, possibly

‘Quantum hair’ could resolve Hawking’s black hole paradox, say scientists

Although I recall a (Jerry Pournelle I think?) essay of 40 years ago entitled “Do fuzzy black holes have hair?” or the like which looked at exactly this and Hawking’s thoughts on it.

The specific answer was different*, a difference, aha, of hairstyle. But still….

*As everything, but everything, vibrates around the Planck Constant therefore so does the Schwarzschild Radius and thus black holes do not have an absolute limit – they have hair. Yes, I know, appalling science description but that’s the gist of it.

Well, quite

Brown bears switch habitats in the spring so they can hunt reindeer and moose calves, research suggests.

After emerging from hibernation, the animals embark on an active hunting strategy to take full advantage of the calving period.

One of the bears studied killed 38 newborn reindeer in one month and 18 young moose the next.

Predators predate where the prey is….


It’s taken 6 decades for me to find out that a baby porcupine is called a porcupette:

Pictured: Rare porcupette born in UK takes a seat in keeper’s hand
A rare species of porcupine that is notoriously hard to breed has given birth on Christmas Day in Kent

This isn’t important, of course it isn’t, but just the name – let alone the piccies – is producing an excess of squee.


mag. 4.4 earthquake – 78 km south of Armona Island, Faro, Portugal, Jan 1, 2022 8:03 pm

So, about 120km from us. I’ll let someone clever than me do the translation into how powerful would the equivalent be if it happened under the building but gave us the same effect here.

The fracking limit is 0.5 in the UK.

7943 times different.

The effect here was that the wife looked at the dog to ask it to stop scratching and banging its leg against the sofa. Earthquakes do matter, of course, but scale does too.

That fracking limit hasn’t been set for any scientific reason, has it?

Apropos strange thoughts

So, hyenas are felids – cats – which occupy a dog – canid – sorta environmental space. Which is why dentition is like doggies and so on.

Not exactly and all that but about.

So, are there any canids that occupy felid sorta space?

You may or may not use bears as canids in your answer, as you wish.

Quite where this question came from I’ve no idea but there we are.


Decreasing fertility rates may be linked to pollution caused by fossil fuel burning, a review of scientific studies has found.

Over the past 50 years childbirth has steadily decreased. The study focused on Denmark, but the trend is also seen in other industrialised nations. One in 10 Danish children are born with assisted reproduction and more than 20% of men never have children, according to the researchers. This decrease seems to have started at the beginning of industrialisation.

That’s a significant increase, not decrease. The usual rule of thumb of archaic societies – from DNA studies – is that only 40% of men did have children. Thus the introduction of fossil fuels – and possibly the nuclear family format – has increased male fertility, hasn’t it?

Now what is it about the BMJ Chrissy Ed?

The paper is published in the BMJ Christmas Edition.

We take things seriously but light heartedly? Or they’re a joke through and through?

“It’s not rocket science” is a phrase often used by disgruntled bosses to employees failing to do something simple. But its impact hinges on one thing – rocket science being difficult.

According to new research, it isn’t.

Announcing the EV capacitor

OK, so, we know that folks who drive ICEs sometimes run out of petrol/derv. So, hitchhike, get a can of gas, return, carry on.

Can’t do that with a ‘leccie. Got to get power source to come to car, or tow car.

So, an American small fry company has just seen it’s stock jump from $3 to $10 by announcing the mobile charging solution. Which is a diesel generator on the back of a truck. Which is pretty cool I thought.

But that’s not good enough. We here, we stout readers and creators – for you are all such with your comments – of this blog are going to go one better.

We’re going to create the company which sells capacitors for EVs.

Well, maybe capacitor isn’t the right word. But, back when, you used to be able to buy little gadgets – they were a big craze for a short while – which would short an AA battery or the like into your mobile phone battery. Give you 10 mins or whatever of charge. So, how do we do this with car batteries? What’s going to be that emergency burst of 5 miles (say) of ‘leccie that can be carried in the boot, on the back of a two truck, to get a power stranded EV up the road to a charger?

I assume the answer is either a diesel engine or nowt, given that shorting enough power to actually charge an EV would kill but is this so? And anyway, who cares, just think of the stock price!

So, a science question

We’re all aware that smallpox went one way in the Colombian exchange, syphilis the other (no, don’t tell me it didn’t). Populations entirely unused or exposed to either died in their droves.

We also know that populations free of measles (say, Faroes) die in their drifts when it finally arrives.

So, colds and ‘flus. Making the distinction between the two. Clearly these have been around a long time. But then so also have human populations been very split for a very long time. So, did the European cold kill lots of Americans? The European ‘flu? The American versions lots of Europeans?

A case wouldn’t have survived the length of the early voyages and getting variolation to do so for smallpox required significant planning. But at some point the American pop would have been exposed to these common European diseases and vice versa. What then happened?

My assumption is that two different effects happened. One, that old diseases are, as these things go, less virulent. But also, old diseases in one population can hit a population that’s never been exposed to a close variant and so has much less immunity. What actually happens then depends upon the size of the two effects. Is a cold so lightweight that not much, or is it so different from the separately evolved one over 13,000 years that a lot happens?

Anyone know?