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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

*cracks knuckles out in front of himself* wow, been a while since I stepped inside this blog – curse you facebook, twitter etc, and now Google+ for distracting me for so  many years 😛

So, social media – where is it going? Are you all bored with it? Feel you’ve been made so addicted that you can’t live without but secretly want to be able to? Is it the bain of your existing haunting your thoughts – even using “going to the toilet” as an excuse to quickly log on and sneak a peak at whether your friend has moved from current location? Or perhaps it’s a new lease of life, creating new avenues of information, friendship and a place where you finally feel like you belong?

How ever your feeling, the term “Internet Fatigue” is growing and growing and I’m curious to know, after all this time has past – for new comers and internet old timers how as social media affected you?

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Looks like we might have to say goodbye to wheat products if the fears of a group of scientists are realized. These products include bread, cereals, cakes, and biscuits. A fungus that infects common wheat, Ug99, appears to be spreading around the world fast, and might quickly kill off one of the world’s largest cash crops if something isn’t done to stop it. According to the article in the LA Times:

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico
estimates that 19% of the world’s wheat, which provides food for 1
billion people in Asia and Africa, is in imminent danger. American
plant breeders say $10 billion worth of wheat would be destroyed if the
fungus suddenly made its way to U.S. fields.

Scientists have perhaps managed to breed a strain of wheat that is resistant to Ug99, but it would mean replacing and propogating this new breed across the world.

It highlights a larger problem with world cash crops in general: they’re highly prone to sudden attacks from a single source, purely because, through farming methods, genetic diversion isn’t happening anymore. Bananas are a very good example of a crop that is in danger of being wiped out as a human-consumable food. This is the precise reason, for example, that Australian immigration is very tough on what comes into the country.

So enjoy your breads while you can!

[Link: LA Times – A ‘time bomb’ for world wheat crop]

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Do you know your lightning varieties? No? Check out this handy chart that describes the various types of lightning that can occur. So if you get hit by one, you can describe it to the police when you file for “assault”.

[Link: Wired – In the Strike Zone]

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And of course it’s the wit and wisdom of Jeremy Clarkson, the host of the ever funny Top Gear. This time around, Clarkson reviews the Honda Insight Hybrid car, and if you’ve ever watched Top Gear before, you’d know that Clarkson isn’t a fan of Hondas, and believes that they’re cars for “old people”. So, of course, this isn’t going to be one of Jeremy’s favorites. How bad is this car?

It’s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It’s the first car I’ve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn’t have to drive it any more.

That’s….pretty darned bad. The review descends into a rant about green cars as a whole, but that’s been a sticky point for Jeremy for a long time, so I guess it was to be expected. Still, the entire article is pretty funny, and worth a read.

[Link: Times Online – Jeremy Clarkson Honda Insight 1.3 IMA SE Hybrid review]

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Stumbled across this BBC article just now – a seven year old boy went on a rampage at an Australian zoo yesterday, killing 13 rare and mature reptiles in 30 minutes. He snuck into the in the early hours of the morning, and proceeded to bash the animals to death with rocks and hurl them into the crocodile penn. Children under the age of 10 cannot be held accountable for their actions in Australia’s Northern Territory so the zoo is considering suing the boys parents.

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APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) has an awesome picture today–an artists rendition of a black hole (right) devouring one of the stars in the Cygnus constellation. You can find out more about this pic at the link, or find out more about black holes at Wikipedia (I think I just wasted a couple of fascinating hours researching black holes!)
To cap it off, here’s a list of fascinating facts about black holes:
  1. Black holes, strictly speaking, aren’t holes – they’re actually spheres of tightly condensed matter. Think of a sun, just not as burny. Or as bright. Or as sucky. And because they’re not holes, they don’t actually lead anywhere.
  2. Black holes might not let light escape, but it’s not exactly true that nothing “escapes” a black hole – as a side effect of black holes sucking in matter, they emit radiation, usually X-rays.
  3. Black holes don’t have to be permanent – the radiation that black holes emit take energy; energy that they usually obtain from stuff they suck in. If the radiation that they give off exceeds the energy they pull in, the black hole evaporates. Ok, it’s more complex than that, but you can go read a more detailed answer elsewhere.
  4. Matter in a black hole is super dense – a teaspoonful of the stuff would weigh around 90,000 tons. Give or take.
  5. Most galaxies have a supermassive black hole in their centers – theoretically, at least. The existence of black holes are still not 100% confirmed, but the Milky Way seems to exhibit the signs of possessing a supermassive black hole at its center.

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I think we need an Austria tag–so many insane things happen there. A man in Austria wants reparation when hailstones started flying out of his toilet.

“I heard the pipes rumbling a bit, and suddenly hailstones the size of golf balls started exploding out of the toilet like it was a popcorn machine,” said Martin Bierbauer.

Allegedly, the hailstones eventually filled the entire building, forcing residents to flee. According to experts, freak weather conditions are responsible.

I’d be quite upset too if I got shot off the throne in such an unceremonious manner. So why do so many strange things happen in Austria??

[Link: iol.co.za – He just wanted quiet time on the toilet]

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