Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Seven Hurricanes, Three Perfect Guitar Solos Predicted For 2008 By Weather Office

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

The forecast calls for some scintillating riffs!

Weather forecasters had mixed news for the American public on Tuesday, predicting that seven hurricanes could hit the continental United States in 2008, but also that three monstrous guitar solos would reach objective perfection.

“We’ve been predicting hurricane activity for the past 35 years — recently the National Hurricane Office has recalibrated its field machinery to detect crunch-a-licious guitar solos spawned in our country and use that information in our annual predictive reports,” explains NHO chief Jimmy Page.

2007 saw a slight decline in hell-freezing fuzzbombs, with only one perfect guitar solo detected at a Collective Soul performance in Jimmy D’s Foodbag in Des Moine, Idaho on March 27.  Experts are expecting the three-fold increase due to a number of contributing factors:

  •  a possible Led Zeppelin reunion tour will cause many dormant guitar gods to reclaim their cherry axes and posit their mastery of music
  • the aging population and a resulting demographic shift may attract many new creatures to try their hand at playing music (most notably, a previously unidentified species of marsupial who has developed opposable thumbs and an insatiable rock wail)
  • and, a controversial photo of Nick Carter making love to a honeybee hive will sound the death knell of pop-based musical formats

As forecasting is an inexact science, the NHO office advises the public to be prepared for any guitar solo scenarios — the annual record is 12 perfect rump-busting tongue-monkeys.  Just as people are advised to have a hurricane emergency kit in their house, federal officials want everyone to be prepared for jump-humping heaven-smashers, which can crop up spontaneously.

“We advise everyone to have a kit ready with Bose headphones, three hits of acid, a tattered T-shirt, and a bandanna that faintly smells of vomit,” says Page.

Popularity: 5% [?]

Scholars Confirm Nostradamus Correctly Predicted Overcast Weather in Cleveland

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

Yesss.... people will wear... sweaters!

The academic world was abuzz late Friday with the news that another prophecy of the 16th Century French Apothecary Nostradamus has been confirmed as totally legitimate and inarguably accurate.  On Friday, an overcast day in Cleveland provided the clearcut evidence that Nostradamus enthusiasts were waiting for.

In his book of long-term predictions published in 1555, The Prophecies, the French seer penned the following passage in the 15 Quatrain of his 5th Century of forecasts:

Dans la ville des têtes Brunes
où le cuir de jet d’Indiens à leurs ennemis
une ombre de journée sera moulé
par le grand masque divin

Which loosely translates in English to:

In the city of the Brown heads
where Indians throw leather at their enemies
a daytime shadow shall be cast
by the great divine mask

“I’d like to see how the skeptics can deny this one,” laughs University of London Professor Jack Handy.  “Here we’ve got a guy who predicts that there will be clouds over 450 years in the future in a city that he didn’t even know existed.  I mean that’s absolutely incredible.  It’s like me predicting that someone will urinate in Europe in the year 2460 — and what are the odds of that happening?  Not good…”

Nostradamus’ prophecies have been reputed to predict everything from the Great Fire of London to the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th, 2001.  However, a large movement exists that believes modern scholars are hastily applying ‘retroactive clairvoyance’ to the original manuscripts.

“Yeah, clouds in Cleveland, what a surprise,” quips skeptic Norman Mailer, “that’s not something that a retarded monkey who’s just been in a car accident and set on fire could predict, is it?  Ok, I predict that after I say this sentence Earth will not have exploded and my body will continue to perform cellular respiration as a means to obtain energy and release waste products………. See?  I’m a fucking genius!”

Popularity: 23% [?]

Wild Pug Habitat Threatened Due To Global Warming

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

They need to watch dirty films to procreate

Citing the affect of global warming, the World Wildlife Fund and the American Kennel Club jointly placed Pugs on their endangered species lists today, claiming that the lovable animal is under siege in its natural habitat. Deforestation, increasing migration distances, human encroachment, and competition with the Boston Terrier are all to blame, according to a joint statement.

Originating in China over two thousand years ago, the Pug has in recent years become one of the most lovable pets in homes worldwide — its wild forbearer, however, has seen its ecological niche trampled on by a conspiracy of environmental circumstances. Known for its cunning pack hunting, aggressive breeding positions, and ferocious eating habits, the Wild Pug’s natural range has collapsed into a pocket of protected jungles and forests.

“The Wild Pug’s worldwide population today is dwindling to numbers not expected until at least 2050 just a few years ago,” said State University of New York Ecologist Ralph Nader. “If you remember, they were hunted mercilessly in Africa in the 19th Century for their curly tails, which were used in necklaces as quite a fashion statement in Victorian England. Global Warming and human intervention have cooperated to send this natural icon to the highest threats of extinction.”

Scientists estimate that there may only be 170 individual Wild Pugs left in the wild. 18 are currently being held in captivity in zoos worldwide, with 15 of those on loan from the national government of Albania. Wild Pugs are notoriously hesitant to breed in captivity, as they usually bark at eachother’s feet and lick the ground for extremely odd periods of time. Videos portraying other Wild Pugs mating have been shown, but participating animals tend to stare at the screens blankly, before running into adjacent doorways.

The WWF is calling for governments worldwide to protect the Wild Pug by law, along with the following recommendations to encourage their numbers to grow:

  1. Hiring a horde of retarded clowns to traipse through the countryside to keep the Pugs happy
  2. Planting thousands of aid packages in the wild, consisting of human-worn underwear and socks
  3. Hiring social aid workers to train Wild Pugs in marketable skills, like word processing and photocopying
  4. Organizing a Pug-only ‘Superdog’ touring show, where their only discernible public skills would be urinating and falling over at top speed

Even with these measures in place, experts predict that the Wild Pug’s chances of replenishing their numbers to reclaim their original natural range are startlingly bleak. “There’s only so many pig ears to go around,” suggests dog clairvoyant Cesar Milan.

Popularity: 55% [?]

Archaeological Evidence Confirms Jesus Drove An SUV

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Talk about a pimp-ride!

An archaeological excavation near Galilee has confirmed environmentalist evangelicals’ worst fears: Jesus actually did drive an SUV. This finding is expected to instantly bilk the humour from millions of bumper stickers worldwide, and to force historians to rethink the timing of the industrial revolution with an event that predates the invention of the automobile by approximately two millennia.

The dig site, supervised by University of Jerusalem Professor Eric Smith, has produced a large cast-iron chassis, along with chrome remnants of what’s believed to be bumpers and rims. A variety of organic material suspected to be customized leather was found, consistently monogrammed with the vernacular “J/Chriz”, leading scholars to the conclusion that this was the vehicle of the Christ.

“Jesus was above all practical,” explained Professor Smith, “and at the time, Roman horse-feed surcharges had forced people in the Middle East to innovate like never before. Why pay the Romans a King’s Ransom, when you could ride like the rap superstars of the future? And with an ever-expanding cadre of disciples, Jesus needed something that could carry his entire krew.” Professor Smith explicitly misspelled crew in his remarks, ostensibly because of his enormous street cred (as in credibility).

Theologians around the world were questioning why Jesus would choose an SUV as his transportation mode of choice. “Really, what advantages are gained by an SUV over, say, a GT snow racer, or a train?” mused a local right-wing Jesus-type. “You’d expect the Son of God to not fear injury in a crash scenario… maybe he had a bad experience with a subcompact early in his life.”

To commemorate the discovery, all three Detroit automakers are planning special ‘Jesus’ editions of their SUV lineups. Ford will release the Ecclesiastical Explorer in time for the 2009 model year, while Jeep is readying a Commander Crucifix for their late 2009 line-up. Models will feature navigation systems with flat earth maps, detection systems on the passenger side bucket seat to determine if the occupant is still a virgin, and free CD copies of Creed’s entire discography permanently affixed inside the car’s stereo system CD changer.

Popularity: 24% [?]

Lies, Damn Lies, and Noah’s Ark

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

You're telling me he got Blue Whales on the Ark?

Today I had the pleasure of watching a documentary on modern-day searches for Noah’s Ark. A long imagined destination has been Mount Ararat in Turkey, the final resting place of the ark according to scripture. The far left and right photos feature geological ‘anomalies’ in the Ararat region, which followers of Biblical inerrancy (the literal word of the Bible) have touted as potential sites of the Ark.

There has been some recent news on this story, as researchers from the University of Richmond have created a 3-dimensional model of the main ‘Mr Ararat Anomaly’. The Ararat site itself is very inhospitable, and until recently was under restricted access by the Turkish government. This gives believers in literal interpretation the ammunition they need to keep their hopes alive from afar.

But, let’s look at the facts, courtesy of my favourite thing on the planet, Wikipedia:

The many associated questions include whether eight humans could have cared for the animals while also sailing the Ark, how the special dietary needs of some of the more exotic animals could have been catered for, how the creatures could have been prevented from preying on each other, questions of lighting, ventilation, and temperature control, hibernation, the survival and germination of seeds, the position of freshwater and saltwater fish, the question of what the animals would have eaten immediately after leaving the Ark, how they traveled (or were gathered) from all over the world to board the Ark and how they could have returned to their far-flung habitats across the Earth’s bare, flood-devastated terrain, and how two or a few members of a species could have provided enough genetic variety to avoid inbreeding and reconstitute a healthy population.

Sounds pretty convincing, no? But here’s my question: the ark was supposed to be 300 cubits in length, roughly 450 feet. The longest wooden boat in recorded history was the schooner Wyoming (launched 1909), which was about 330 feet in length, and required extensive iron bracing in its construction to counteract extreme warping of the hull. How the hell could one dude have constructed a boat to lengths 36% longer than modern shipbuilders ever achieved at the extremes of their craft?

He was supposed to have collected two of every species on the plant, which in made-up creationist terms, must also have included the largest animal of all time, the Blue Whale. Even though it might make sense NOT to take marine species in a flood, the scripture talks about two of EVERY animal! OK, a) how did he capture a Blue Whale, b) how could he fit two of them in his boat (Blue Whales can grow to 110 feet, meaning two of them would have used over half the area of his ark), and c) how could they have survived 150 days laying motionless without a specialized diet? Not possible.

Sometimes, it makes a lot more sense to interpret the stories of the Bible as just that, stories. It’s a tale of morality, perseverance, loyalty, and servitude and should be appreciated on its moral merits, rather than its scientific ones. With the last word, is Penn and Teller’s take on the tale of Noah’s Ark.

Popularity: 9% [?]

Ebola Is Not Cool, Doctors Suggest

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Ebola hurts humans and gorillas, but not Fruit Bats

Since its first public outbreak in 1976, Ebola has proven to be more than your mother’s Filoviridae. Taking its toll mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ebola is a ruthless killer:

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is potentially lethal and encompasses a range of symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, general body pain, internal and external bleeding, and fever. Mortality rates are generally high, ranging from 50% - 90%, with the cause of death usually due to hypovolemic shock or organ failure.

Sounds uncool. All the more reason to be alarmed at reports of a new outbreak of the disease in the Congo:

At least 167 people have died in the affected region over about four months and nearly 400 have fallen ill, said Jean-Constatin Kanow, chief medical inspector for Congo’s Kasai Oriental Province. Kinshasa, the capital, is 430 miles northwest of the area.

Now, Ebola is not airborne (cannot be transmitted easily through the air), and its actually a fairly bad candidate to wipe out the human race, only because it manifests and kills the hosts so quickly. Victims can be quarantined and the virus can be localized without much problem. However, unlike Smallpox — which was certified as eradicated from the Earth in 1977 — this disease is not just possible in humans, infecting and killing most any animal it comes into contact with. Even more disturbing is that the animal reservoir has not been found; that is, the animal that can carry it without dying. This animal must exist, as the virus would become extinct without a carrier. An early candidate is the Fruit Bat… I always knew thems bats were no good!

The closest this killer has come to our neck of the woods was an outbreak of a related strain in monkeys imported to Alice, Texas in 1996. No human was infected, and the monkeys involved perished and were disposed of. I remember thinking at the time about where I’d evacuate to if it traveled up into Canada… ahh, back when I was more paranoid than I am now!

Authorities are scared that terrorist groups might try to cross-breed Ebola with a virus with a longer gestation period, which when combined with Ebola’s lethality, would pose a significant bio-weapon threat. In the meantime, just be glad that this freaking disease isn’t on our side of the pond, and feel bad for those people that will die with blood coming out of every orifice.

Now, a video about Ebola hurting gorillas, the coolest primate:

Popularity: 14% [?]

Alberta Flirts With Nuclear Power

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Alberta nuclear power?  Seriously?

Through all the drunken rig-pigs, dynastic political parties, and random stabbings during Stampede week, I harbour a self-admitted soft spot for my home province of Alberta. It’s a place of unparalleled natural diversity and beauty, as the title image suggests. For the last year or so, I’ve followed the debate on whether the province should explore nuclear options to power Alberta’s growth. With development at the Oil Sands exploding to regurgitate the 2nd largest oil reserves on Earth, there is an obvious energy infrastructure crisis looming to provide the vast amounts of steam required to process the sticky bitumen.

The chief player in this story is one Energy Alberta Corporation, created with the expressed intent of building a nuclear plant in the province’s northern regions to provide the Oil Sands with its crack-rock. Founding the company are Calgary entrepreneurs Hank Swartout (CEO of Precision Drilling Corporation) and Wayne Henuset (co-Owner of Willow Park Wines and Spirits). One might wonder what the crunch Mr. Henuset knows about nuclear energy production, but I can vouch for his liquor store having a seriously dope collection of imported scotch whiskeys. Thinking of these two running a $6 Billion power plant conjures up images of Mr. Burns and Mr. Smithers holding down the fort at the Springfield Plant during a labour strife.

On the surface, it seems like a good idea: currently 50% of the energy that hits the provincial grid comes from coal-fired plants while another 40% comes from natural gas-fired plants. The rate of growth at the Oil Sands is such that by 2025 it’s projected to gobble up every drop of natural gas coming from the Mackenzie pipeline project. With a nuclear plant hitting the grid by 2016, we could keep that natural gas for much more important uses, like keeping those aesthetic fireplaces burning brightly at Christmastime!

But reputable thinktanks like the Pembina Institute have been long-standing detractors of nuclear power, for the finicky reason that it contaminates any ground and water it comes into contact with until the end of time. Provinces with current widespread nuclear facilities (see: Ontario), haven’t even figured out what to do with the presumably neon green material. (Aside: why not just launch it into space? It would only add to our potential gifts to extra-terrestrial life, along with radio broadcasts of Right Said Fred).

The proposed site for the facility is 30 kilometers west of Peace River, and would expect to produce about 2200 megawatts of energy for the province. Local groups are a bit twitchy about the idea of hosting a technology with a checkered past, but Energy Alberta is partnering up with Atomic Energy of Canada, the providers of made-in-Canada CANDU reactors, with all the old-fashioned gumption implied by that acronym. The CANDU system, underpinned by use of heavy water, has a good international reputation for safety and reliability. Six-shootin’ Premier Ed Stelmach has shown guarded interest in the idea, and is promising that any regulatory decision will have full input from Albertan citizens.

So what do I think of a Nuclear Alberta? I honestly think that there are a lot better options out there to satiate Alberta’s growth, like sustainable wind, solar and biomass solutions. These all have a low global warming impact, like nuclear, but don’t irretrievably harm the environment in which they serve. I mean, there has to be a less elaborate way to turn turbines than by splitting the freaking atom. Why not hire a pack of enthusiastic Border Collies to turn wheels, or maybe a project to get 10 million hamsters to run around their wheels — hook it all up! I just hate the idea that Alberta will take all of its fat-cat royalty revenues from the sale of oil, and plough them back into some $6 Billion boondoggle, when it could be using that windfall to create a true sustainable energy solution for not just the province itself, but all of Canada.

To settle the debate, here is a pretty sweet mini-documentary on the subject:

Popularity: 6% [?]

Fernando’s Condition is Giving Him Ulcers!

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

Fernando overlayed against chronic ulcerative colitis

So recently I was reading up about the upcoming Oiler season and the recent challenges therein (yes, I’m a fan of the Oilers. I’ll accept your gratitude with leftover Boris Mironov hockey cards). No sooner had the Hockey News selected the Oilers to finish 13th in the Western Conference that 2006 Stanley Cup playoff hero Fernando Pisani was reported to be suffering from a mysterious illness and would be out indefinitely. After properly sedating myself, I calmed down and did some research into the culprit, Ulcerative Colitis.

Like Crohn’s Disease, it’s an illness of the digestive tract, though UC is concentrated solely on the large intestine. However, its intensity and level of impairment can vary widely, with some people recovering after a few days, and others requiring surgery to remove their entire colon (the only known cure). UC can afflict someone for their entire lives, alternating between periods of symptom free living and periods of 6 times a day blood craps.

Hockey message boards have been busy with postings from supposed friends and acquaintances, and the general consensus is that Fernando is having extreme symptoms of the disease right now, having problems getting out of bed and living his life, let alone making it to the rink. The Oilers have a fairly large hole on the right wing to fill for the foreeseeable future, while Mr. Pisani may need to change his bedsheets 3 times a day. Once again, the Creator has the last laugh against the Oilers and their brethren. Stay patient Oil fans, it could be a long season with out Fernando and his ABBA post goal celebrations.

Popularity: 6% [?]