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April 15, 2005

Cone Head Water Cannon — Fun with physics!


I don't know about you but it's been a while since I had dealings with the Venturi Effect.


U.S. Patent No. 4,925,181 was awarded to this ingenious creation, which lets you take your toy, fill it with water, pull it down quickly over your head and shoot a one-inch jet of water with accuracy over 30 feet through the air: we have impact!

A bookofjoe Design Award to the Cone Head: no moving parts swings the deal.

$19.95 for a set of two — one purple and one green (above) here.

Doubles as a dunce cap if you've been bad.

Now go to your room.

April 15, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stratellite™ — 21st-century communication hub?


Sanswire Networks calls it "a revolution."

Well, they would, wouldn't they, since they created it?

A Stratellite™ (above and below) is an unmanned helium-filled airship (you call them blimps on your planet) with solar-powered engines.

It will hover in place 65,000 feet (about 13 miles) above the surface of the Earth.


Specs: 245 feet long, 145 feet wide, 87 feet high; volume = 1.3 million cubic feet; dual envelopes, both made of Kevlar; outer envelope covered with photovoltaic (solar) cells; payload capacity = 3,000 pounds; maximum altitude = 70,000 feet; held in position by 6 onboard GPS units connected to the ship's engines; line-of-sight capability = 300,000 square miles; wireless capability = a circle with 200-mile radius; controlled by earth stations on the ground.

The company's initial plan is to put one over every major U.S. metropolitan area.

What can the machine do?


It will enable high-speed two-way broadband communication for voice, video and Internet access to and from every square millimeter of the country.


The company unveiled its prototype this week.

Flight testing begins later this year.


Major Tom to Ground Control: "Beam me up."

April 15, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: As if computer viruses weren't enough, now come computer bacteria — and these can kill you


No joke: Dr. Gary Noskin of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago earlier this week presented a paper at the annual scientific meeting of the Society for Health Care Epidemiology in Los Angeles which demonstrated convincingly that two potentially lethal strains of bacteria — methicillin-resistant Staphlococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), both found primarily in hospitals — can survive and continue to grow on computer keyboards for over 24 hours.


The drug-resistant bacteria are then transmissible to the fingers, bare or gloved, of subsequent nurse and doctors who use the keyboards.

Making the finding even more disturbing is the fact that increasingly, the trend toward electronic record keeping and computerized order entry means that in more and more hospitals, computers are in each patient's room, providing a potentially devastating route for infection transmission.


The only solution is the old one: washing one's hands before and after every patient encounter and now — every computer interaction as well.

April 15, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Simply sensational: A tricycle that morphs into a bicycle — on the fly!


Talk about original: American designers Scott Shim, Ryan Lightbody and Matt Grossman last month won the grand prize in a bicycle design competition held by the Taiwanese government.

Their Shift bicycle (above and below) is a children's training bike with paired back wheels that splay when the bike is at rest.

When the bike is moving an articulating hub draws the wheels inward to mimic a single wheel and "make the aesthetics cool," said Shim in Bradford McKee's short piece on the bike that appeared in yesterday's New York Times.



[via Bradford McKee and the New York Times]

April 15, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (42) | TrackBack

What you look like after eating a Twinkie a day for 64 years (and counting)


Above, Mr. Louis Browning of Shelbyville, Indiana.

In 1941, when he was a little boy, he started enjoying a daily Twinkie or two and just never stopped.

Now retired from his job as a milkman, he's consumed over 22,000 of the delectable delights and even appeared on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

Which is more than I can say for myself.

Twinkie manufacturer Hostess, recognizing the magnitude of Browning's achievement, has generously provided for a lifetime supply for the Twinkie's greatest fan.

You do realize, of course, that this month marks the 75th anniversary of the Twinkie.

Why else would Candy Sagon's story about the iconic treat have been featured on the front page of this past Wednesday's Washington Post Food section — above the fold — along with pictures of both Mr. Browning and Twinkies?


• Back in 1930, James Dewar, manager of Chicago's Continental Bakery, wanted to find another use for the company's shortcake pans. He decided to fill the small, oblong cakes that resulted with banana-cream filling and named them after the "Twinkle Toes" shoes he had seen advertised on a billboard in St. Louis.

From such serendipitous associations do wonderful things result.

• Twinkies debuted as part of the Hostess baked-goods line, selling two for a nickel.

• During World War II, when there was a banana shortage, the filling flavor was changed to vanilla.

• The Twinkie has been manufactured in the same Chicago factory since 1930.

• Chicago also happens to be the city with the highest per capita consumption of Twinkies.


• Hostess turns out 1,000 Twinkies every minute, which amounts to 500 million — yes, half a billion — Twinkies every year. And sales are increasing.

• The cakes are baked for 10 minutes, then the cream filling is injected through three holes in the top, which is browned from baking. The cake is flipped before packaging so the rounded yellow bottom becomes the top.

• Roger Bennatti, a science teacher at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, Maine, kept a Twinkie perched atop his chalkboard for 30 years. "It's rather brittle, but if you dusted it off, it's probably still edible," he told the Associated Press when he retired last year.

• Theresa Cogswell, who calls herself "the Twinkie guru," is vice president for research and development at Interstate Bakeries Corp., the parent company of Hostess. She says she wouldn't want to eat Bennatti's 30-year-old Twinkie. "You can eat older Twinkies, but they're just not as good as when they're fresh. Then they're awesome." [Agreed. So stipulated. In fact, I've gotten such a hankering for one I'm stopping for a moment and taking a short trip down to the 7-11 for a package — or three]

• OK, where was I? Oh, yeah, Twinkie FunFacts.

• Cogswell stated that the shelf life of Twinkies is 25 days.

• Twinkies contain no dairy-based ingredients that could quickly go bad; they are basically flour, sugar (three types), oil, eggs and chemicals (preservatives and stabilizers).

• Twinkies contain 150 calories each — but what superb, exquisite, finger-licking good ones!

Twinkies fascinate me.

I have written about them three times previously in the past eight months: on September 5, December 7, and December 31 of last year.

The proof of the filling is in the reading.

After this post goes up I'm going to email Google with the link and request a Twinkie Google icon for sometime in the next two weeks.

I bet they do it.


Keep your eyes peeled, what?

[via Candy Sagon and the Washington Post]

April 15, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Nike Mary Jane


Kind of cool: Mary Jane-style sneaker in metallic gold leather with breathable mesh and Nike Air technology plus a waffle sole.

Velcro closure, leather lining, padded insole, rubber soul.

Made in Italy.

$135 here.

April 15, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Atomic Testing Museum — Now open in sunny Las Vegas, Nevada


The museum (below) opened in February of this year.


It's the result of a decade of effort by the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation.


928 nuclear devices were exploded in the Nevada desert, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, between 1951 and 1992.

As Gerard J. DeGroot observed in his book, "The Bomb,": "There are few other places in the United States where a 50-kiloton bomb has little noticeable effect on the landscape."


• The Boy Scouts gave a merit badge in atomic energy (below)


• Fiestaware had to stop making its red pottery because the U.S. needed the uranium used to produce the color (check out your collection with a Geiger counter: you might be surprised)

• Civilian uses for nuclear explosions were explored: in 1962 a 104-kiloton blast moved more than 6 million cubic yards of earth. When radioactive iodine turned up in the milk supply of Salt Lake City, further plans were shelved

• In 1988 a Russian visit to the site for inspection resulted in the Soviet flag flying above the site during those days


• Though the 1992 ban on atomic testing marked the end of testing in Nevada, the site is maintained and ready should the U.S. decide to resume testing

[via Michael J. Ybarra and the Wall Street Journal]

April 15, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bracelet Buddy


OK, so it looks tacky as all get out but who the heck cares when you're running late and trying to fasten the clasp on your bracelet and there's no one around?

Bracelet Buddy holds the ringlet end in place so you can fasten the clasp.

"No more struggling with a chain that keeps slipping off your wrist as you try to fasten it."

Sure, it's just an alligator clamp on a stick but I don't notice anything like it in your jewelry box.

Go ahead — for $8.50 it won't kill you.


Do not try to carry this device on board a plane.

April 15, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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