Great white shark's predatory behavior captured by underwater drone video
A team of marine biologists discovered that great white sharks ambush prey from the ocean's dark depths, as they attacked drones recording their movements
February 7, 2016
Chain Mail Cast Iron Cleaner
From Cool Tools:
"A small net of interlocking steel rings, [chain mail] works as well as steel wool but doesn't scratch or mar the cast iron cure."
More: "It's a bit pricey but I expect I'll only ever have to buy one, and if you use cast iron cookware every day, it's well worth it."
February 6, 2016
Through Google Glass: Two deer out back this morning at 7:03 a.m., apparently comfortable at 27°
My YouTube caption: "I muse during this video about how it is that deer spend the entire winter outside with not very much insulation against the cold, yet they seem perfectly comfortable."
I only realized after watching the video on YouTube that 1) The deer are tiny as seen through Google Glass from inside my house, and 2) My white t-shirt is reflected in the glass of the patio door window, making deer visibility even more problematic.
Hey, I went to U.C.L.A. medical school, not film school — I'm doing the best I can with what I've got left.
What is it?
Answer here this time tomorrow.
Hint: fits inside a bread box.
Another: has no place in the baking space.
A third: not intended for nor usable in combat.
February 5, 2016
From threadbase: "We washed, dried, measured, and weighed 800 of the most popular men's t-shirts available online. The shirts included a wide variety of price points ($5-$50), sizes (XXS up to 6XL) and fits ('slim,' 'tall,' 'relaxed,' etc.). We thought we'd share some of the data that has surfaced from our project so far."
Caption for the figure above:
T-Shirts Widen and Shorten Over Time
T-Shirts change in consistent ways over time. Each time a T-shirt is washed it shrinks, and each time it is worn it expands. The expansion in the chest is almost 2x more than the expansion in the length and most of that expansion happens in the first two hours of wear.
What surprised us was that over the course of many wash cycles, the chest and waist will drift wider and the length will drift shorter. The figure above shows the evolution of 10 different t-shirts over 16 washes, averaged to one line.
Caption for the figure above:
It's the Dryer, Not the Washer, That Shrinks T-Shirts
One thing you hear everywhere is that washing clothes in hot water will cause them to shrink. While hot water may cause shrinkage in wool garments, for cotton and polyester T-shirts the washer settings don't make a big difference. The biggest determinant of shrinkage is whether the shirt went in the dryer or not. (We wash and dry all t-shirts using a warm wash and normal/warm dry cycle).
The threadbase website is a treasure trove of T-shirt information and facts you won't find anywhere else.
Fair warning: There goes the day.
February 4, 2016
Mt. Fuji Highball Tumbler
This is perhaps the most "Japanese" glass you could imagine.
Handmade by Tajima Glass, the award-winning Edo Glass Mt. Fuji Tumbler has attracted so much media attention that there is currently a long wait for orders.
But it's definitely worth it.
Just pour a drink into the glass and instantly see Mt Fuji appear in the base "lit" up in a reflection of the liquid.
Of course, depending on the drink the color of Mt. Fuji changes.
Try with orange juice, wine, tea, beer, tomato juice, and more.
And as Fuji is famously symmetrical the results are always nothing less than spectacular.
Each glass is prepared individually by the Tajima workshop in east Tokyo using special Edo Glass.
Features and Details:
• Size: 3.0" x 5.9" (7.6cm x 15cm)
• 12.8 fl. oz. (380ml) capacity
• Wooden gift box
• Made to order: please allow around one month for delivery
February 3, 2016
Shark v Drone — Video of the Ultimate Battle
From The Guardian:
Great white sharks appear to use darkness and depth to ambush prey, marine biologists have learned, thanks to unprecedented footage by an undersea drone that was attacked nine times by four sharks.
In the 13 hours of footage, the sharks cruise low above the sand, swim up to the robotic vehicle and inspect it from all sides, bump it curiously, and burst out of the blue to seize the drone in their jaws.
In research published last December in the Journal of Fish Biology, the scientists described the first great white predatory behavior filmed from under the surface.
"Most of what we know from white sharks is from electronic tagging, or from what we see at the surface," Greg Skomal, a biologist and lead author told the Guardian. "But when these sharks disappear, what they're actually doing at depth, where they spend their time — we don't have a sense of that."
He said automated unmanned vehicles (AUVs) like his team's let humans observe marine life in comprehensive detail, rather than what scientists can see in the fleeting shark breaches, or their encounters at the surface or through electronic tracking.
From the waters off Guadalupe, an island off Mexico where Pacific white sharks congregate, the scientists observed 10 different individuals, including the 20-foot female named Deep Blue and a local shark nicknamed Bubba.
Skomal said that the behavior captured by the drone cameras supports the idea that white sharks dive down as far as 200 meters in order to use light to their advantage.
"If the shark hangs down at a great depth, in the darkness, then its prey swims above it silhouetted and the shark reduces its own likelihood of detection," Skomal said.
"The remarkable new observations indicate that [my colleagues'] hypothesis is correct, and the sharks ambush from the darkness."
Most surprising to the researchers, Skomal said, was that "the hunter would become the hunted — the AUV was viewed by the shark as potential prey and aggressively attacked."
Some sharks did not bite but rather bumped the drone, nudging the vehicle with their snout in what the researchers call an "agonistic" behavior — an aggressive or even defensive thump, but not anything like a committed attack.
At other times the sharks simply approached the drone to look at it, before moving on along their way.
February 2, 2016
It's out of Japan (why are we not surprised?).
But I digress.
From The Verge:
... sake-flavored KitKat will be available in Japan beginning February 1.
NariNari says the new bar will mix "chocolate with the mellow body and smooth aftertaste of sake."
While Americans have to survive with generic KitKats, KitKat White, and KitKat Miniatures, Japan enjoys a seemingly endless bounty of new flavors.
Strawberry, Purple Sweet Potato, Pear, Edamame, Bean Cake, Cinnamon Cookie, European Cheese, Matcha-Green Tea, and others, including region-specific flavors like Exotic Sakura.
But why is this particular chocolate bar so popular in Japan?
Time Out Tokyo takes a guess: "It could have something to do with the fact that it's seen as a good luck charm, because 'Kit-Kat' sounds similar to 'kitto katsu,' which means 'you will surely win.'"
February 1, 2016
Video of 1820 jewel-studded mechanical robot caterpiller
From BoingBoing: "Swiss watchmaker Henri Maillardet created the 'Ethiopian caterpillar' in 1820 (or thereabouts) for a wealthy Chinese collector. It's covered in gold and encrusted in jewels and pearls. It was sold at Sotheby's in 2015 for $262,000."
From the Oddment Emporium:
When the automaton movement is engaged, the caterpillar crawls realistically, its body moving up and down simulating the undulations of a caterpillar by means of a set of gilt-metal knurled wheels. The automata work is composed of a barrel, cam, and two levers all working together to create the motion.
January 31, 2016
Dog commandeers toboggan
A real hoverboard, at long last
Good news bad news.
Good news: this one actually does what it says.
Bad news: It'll cost you $19,900 (an ultra-fast charger that tops up the batteries in 35 minutes instead of the six hours it would otherwise take is an additional $4,500).
From The Economist:
Ever since Marty McFly arrived in 2015 in "Back to the Future Part II" and discovered a levitating skateboard, people have tried to make one for real.
But the film's prediction, made in 1989, never quite came true.
Although so-called hoverboards have created quite a public splash this Christmas they do not really count.
They use a wheel (or wheels) to do their "hovering," with fancy electronics and stabilizers keeping them upright.
A few boards that really do hover, employing magnets for the task, have been demonstrated—but these work only over appropriate metal surfaces.
Various lash-ups, including one powered by four leaf-blowers that seems more hovercraft than hoverboard, have also appeared.
Film of hoverboarders gliding across a car park in Los Angeles turned out to be an elaborate YouTube hoax.
As 2015 turns into 2016, however, something resembling the real thing is going on sale.
The ArcaBoard (pictured above) does, admittedly, look like a giant iPhone case rather than a skateboard.
But it truly does hover.
It is 57 inches wide x 30 inches across (145cm x 76cm), is built from composite materials, and contains 36 high-powered electric ducted fans of the type used to fly model jet airplanes.
The fans are run by a pack of 72 lithium-polymer batteries, which provide just over 200 kilowatts of power.
That, the manufacturers claim, is sufficient to lift and carry someone weighing 180 lbs. (82kg).
In the ArcaBoard's current configuration it can do this for six minutes.
A beefed-up version is able to lift heavier people, but its flight duration drops to three minutes.
The ArcaBoard has been developed by ARCA Space, a Romanian aerospace company founded in 1999 that recently moved its headquarters to Las Cruces, New Mexico.
The firm has built a number of rockets and high-altitude drones, and has worked with the European Space Agency.
The hoverboard arose from a discussion among the firm's engineers about whether such a machine was possible, says Dragos Muresan, one of ARCA Space’s vice-presidents.
They built a prototype and successfully rode on it.
As enthusiasm for the idea grew, the company decided to put the device into production.
The first hoverboards should be delivered in April.
The rider steers the board by shifting his body weight to provide yaw, but a built-in stabilization system makes things easier.
This uses a gyroscope and an accelerometer, connected to a computer, to keep the board level.
It adjusts the thrust of individual fans in order to control the other degrees of freedom of movement, pitch, and roll.
A proximity sensor on the board's underside ensures it stays 11.8 inches (30cm) above the ground and a speed-limiter keeps its rate of progress below 12 mph (20kph).
Before adding such a hoverboard to next Christmas's wish-list, however, you will want to consider the price: $19,900, plus an extra $4,500 for a fast-charger that can top up the batteries in 35 minutes rather than the six hours it would otherwise take.
The gold-plated tag is hardly surprising, considering the hoverboard is made by rocket scientists using what they readily admit is pricey aerospace technology.
Nevertheless, they hope to get the price down.
The first mobile phones, after all, began as clunky, costly devices with limited performance.
Now they are cheap enough for billions to own one.
Imagine if (genuine) hoverboards went the same way.
January 30, 2016
Returning home from a nocturnal visit to the gym — through Google Glass
This video is the concluding half of my excursion this past Wednesday night to the gym.
I'm trying to make the narration interesting enough that you'll stay with it even when the video's a bit static.
Practice makes perfect.
Is day-old kale salad less nutritious than fresher kale?
Now there's a question that's been keeping me up late at night for weeks.
Q. Does day-old, leftover kale salad have less nutritional value than kale that is fresher?
A. Technically, yes. There is a gradual loss in nutrient content in kale or any fresh fruit or vegetable from the moment it is picked. But the decrease is so minor that the overall health benefits of consuming the leftover salad would still be quite high.
Unless you're picking kale straight from your garden or buying it at the farmers' market, it has most likely already spent days in transit and on display. The additional day in your crisper will make virtually no difference in nutrient levels. And, kale is quite hardy. While we tend to treat it as a salad green, it’s actually the same type of cruciferous vegetable as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. So you may notice it stores far longer than lettuce or spinach.
To retain nutrient value, temperature is the critical factor. Whether the leftover kale is raw or cooked, dressed or not, it's important to keep it refrigerated. One study found that after six days of refrigeration, leafy vegetables lost only 10% of their vitamin C content (versus 20% in just two days at room temperature).
"I definitely would hope that doesn't deter someone from eating the kale salad," said Jackie Armstrong, a nutritionist at Stanford University. "It's still packed with nutrition."
It also helps to chop the kale yourself, as close to meal time as possible.
"As soon as you chop that kale, you're basically breaking the cell walls, and that begins the oxidation process," Ms. Armstrong said. "Processing the kale" by chopping increases "the rate at which the nutrients degrade."
Whereas most minerals retain their value at any temperature, vitamins can be more sensitive, especially the B vitamin folate. "In our studies, we found it's the thing that goes the fastest," said Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
If, like many people, you don't enjoy day-old salad, cook with it instead. "Whatever kind of dressing is on there, like Asian ginger soy sesame dressing, take that as a theme and put it in a stir fry," said Anne-Marie Gloster, a nutritional sciences lecturer at the University of Washington. "The flavors will blend." If it's an Italian dressing, try it in spaghetti sauce or lasagna; for a sweeter dressing, like raspberry poppy seed, toss it in a smoothie.
Cooking kale may even boost its health benefits. Sautéing the vegetable in olive oil, for example, may help your body absorb some of its nutrients more easily. Heat also breaks down the fiber in kale in a way that, when it interacts with bile in the digestive tract, may help to lower levels of bad cholesterol in your blood, Dr. Gloster said.
*Sophie Egan is the director of programs and culinary nutrition for strategic initiatives at the Culinary Institute of America. She is the author of the forthcoming book "Devoured: From Chicken Wings to Kale Smoothies — How What We Eat Defines Who We Are."
January 29, 2016
A nighttime drive to the gym — through Google Glass
This past Wednesday (two days ago) I decided to road test Glass at night.
You'll note tons of snow still piled along the roads even though the storm ended last Saturday.
Got Ants? Terro Liquid Ant Bait is the Antidote
ANTidote. Get it? Hahaha.
But I digress.
Have you ever had an anxiety attack? One of those full-blown panic freakouts: Your hands are tingling, your head is swimming, your skin is crawling and — my God — you want to run away, but you can't, so you crumple wherever you are, even if that means at your desk, in front of your entire office. How long does it last? Hours, days. Maybe it dissipates for a time and then you bolt upright sweating at 3:17 a.m., gulping for air in the darkness. Eventually it retreats, but never completely. Somewhere in the recesses of your mind, anxiety is still tucked away, quietly at work, plotting its next strike.
If you don't suffer from anxiety, an ant infestation is a great substitute. Ants, like anxieties, come in two quantities: one and infinity. An ant, like a single preoccupation, is a manageable thing. Breathe, call a friend, walk around the block, pop a benzo. But when all your anxieties descend at once? It’s like having an ant queen inside your chest, sending her minions forth to colonize your brain.
Picture this: It’s morning. You've wandered sleepily into your kitchen. You reach for the coffee maker next to the sink, and you see two ants cruising around on the counter to your right. You figure them to be scouts, so you dispatch them with a squish, and wipe down the counter, just in case. You reach again to fill the carafe when movement in the corner of your eye draws your attention to another few ants on the counter to your left. Ugh, you think, as you squish and wipe again, and that’s when you see it: the trail, stretching along the counter and down the wall, a superhighway of tiny soldiers marching inexorably onward in either direction. It's coming from inside the damn wall, this seething black torrent of insects, who replenish their numbers faster than you can kill them. You squash and wipe and spray Windex and squash and wipe and spray, but with each purge, you can feel their compatriots crawling on your hands, arms, neck, face. They are everywhere. What if there is no end? Will you have to burn down your own home?
There's no shortage of suggestions on the Internet for how to manage anxieties and ants. Try these herbs! Consider juicing! Get over it! Oh, you mean ants? Try peppermint oil, lemon juice, coffee grounds. Sprinkle cinnamon. Draw chalk lines. Spray Raid and then wonder what’s in Raid and whether you should be inhaling it. Beg the ants to move into your neighbor’s house. None of this works.
But one thing seems to: Terro Liquid Ant Bait. This is not your usual trap — those black plastic ant yurts no self-respecting ant would ever enter. Terro comes in a plastic rectangle with two compartments, which together make up a minimalist slaughterhouse. One side is filled with a syrupy liquid, a sugar solution with borax. The other forms a small ramp leading into the solution.
Of the remedies that have been suggested for coping with anxiety, no one ever mentioned "wreaking death and destruction." But I have to admit that I found it an unlikely meditative place, in part because Terro's peculiar mode of destruction forces you to confront your fears immediately.
The first time you use the bait, it will be awful. You’ll think it's not going to work, not in a million years. Because initially, you'll attract even more ants into your home. It's like ordering 100 pizzas from the best place in town, telling one or two co-workers, then standing in the break room to watch. (On Amazon, where 77% of reviewers give Terro a perfect five-star rating, one referred to it as a "kegger for ants.") That's what the boxes look like for the first few days. The ants are drawn to the sweet sticky solution and ingest the borax. That chemical wreaks havoc on the digestive system of an ant, but it acts slowly, allowing the ant to leave a trail of pheromones to the trap, luring yet more ants into its grasp.
Sometimes Terro works very slowly. It can take weeks to make a noticeable dent in your infestation. When I deploy a Terro box to kill another tranche of ants, I know I cannot kill all of them, at least not right now. Not in Berkeley, where we have Argentine ants — a small, invasive species that lives in shallow nests but also takes over other, larger ants' nests. There is a single Argentine ant colony, a megacolony, that stretches 560 miles up the California coast. Even if I destroy a nest in the wall of my house or one in the backyard, more ants will soon arrive to take their place. Each time I patiently breathe through another onslaught, I feel as if I’ve learned to live with them, if not peacefully then a little more easily. I give it time, and do a lot of deep breathing. I try to be patient. And I’ve found that this discipline has made me better able to sit and wait in other anxious situations.
Ants are a problem that can't be fixed in one go. Like anxiety, they will come and go and probably come again. The trick with both is to remember how you handled the situation last time. Rather than panicking, you must calmly walk through a set of practiced steps, even if they seem as if they'll never work. They do, and they will — and that’s the only way out.
Not convinced? Watch the video (below).
The device is sort of like a Uncle Milton's Ant Farm, but with a Hotel California ending.
Although if you think about it the endings are pretty much the same — the Terro's just comes faster.
I've used Terro and it worked for me — very well in fact.
Wait a sec... what's that music I'm hearing?