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June 27, 2008

Puzzles: Simple Groups at Play

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This feature accompanies an article (which for the moment at least is free to read or download) in the new issue (July, 2008) of Scientific American about a new set of puzzles inspired by Rubik's Cube.

Play the M24 (pictured above) here.

Play the M12 puzzle here.

June 27, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What is it?

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Answer here this time tomorrow.

June 27, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Science subdues smelly socks — sweet citrus scent solution

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Finally.

Portuguese chemical engineers from Porto University led by Alirio Rodrigues have developed lemon-scented microcapsules which, when applied to wool and polyester fabrics, show good performance in terms of prolonged fragrance release and durability.

The scientists point out, in a paper published in the current issue of the journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, "... that microcapsules, or microscopic shells, have been used to deliver fragrances in products such as scratch-and-sniff stickers. But these microcapsules are made with formaldehyde, which is toxic," wrote Clive Cookson in a story in today's Financial Times.

He continued, "Instead the Portuguese researchers used polyurethane-urea, a less harmful plastic that is compatible with textiles. Their microcapsules contain limonene, the main component of lemon scent."

Here's the abstract of the scientific paper.

    Microencapsulation of Limonene for Textile Application

    Polyurethane−urea microcapsules with limonene oil as the active agent were produced by interfacial polymerization, and their suitability for textile applications was studied. Experimental conditions for the textile substrates impregnation were based on industrial requirements and set up at laboratory scale using a mini-foulard. The success of the polymerization reaction leading to the formation of the polyurethane−urea shell was checked by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Particle size distributions and morphology of the microcapsules were studied using a particle size analyzer (Coulter LS230), optical microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. The effectiveness of the textiles impregnation and the durability of the impregnation effect were evaluated by scanning electron microscopy and by headspace/GC/FID. Under the present research, a product was developed and its performance, in regard to industrial requirements, was successfully tested.

....................

Really feeling your oats today, eh?

OK, then.

For you, the article in its entirety, including figures, tables, references, the whole kit and kaboodle — right here.

June 27, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Retractable iPod Earphones

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That's different.

From the website:

    Retractable iPod Earphones + Armband

    Keeps wires from getting in your way

    Just slide our Earphone Reel over your arm, then slip your iPod or iPhone into the clear protective sleeve.

    Perforated band allows your arm to breathe; adjustable strap fits all arm sizes.

    Clever earphone reel lets you pull out just the length wire you need to reach your ears so you won't be flagellated by annoying cables while you run.

    Headset detaches from the armband so you can use with your iPod when not exercising.

    Fits iPod Touch, iPhone, iPod Classic, and iPod Video.

....................

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$29.95.

For iPod nano (3rd generation):

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$29.95

For iPod shuffle (3rd generation):

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$24.95.

June 27, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Olafur Eliasson — Waterfalls of New York

All four went live yesterday (above and below, Brooklyn Bridge).

Below,

the artist himself tells you what it's all about.

He elaborates here in a more in-depth video.

A slide show of the four waterfalls is here.

Finally, a detailed guide to viewing the waterfalls is here.

That oughta be enough to get you started, what?

June 27, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

El Caminito del Rey (The King's Pathway) — Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Jerry Young, who last evening sent me a link to this video, wrote, "Someone sent me this video yesterday. I don't know who to forward it to so I guess I will send it to you. There is a full screen button on the video (to the left of the speaker symbol above). That is the way you want to watch this. I rather enjoyed it, but there is a balancing act near the end that makes one wonder about the sanity of the filmmaker."

Accompanying the video was this from "Pete": " El Caminito del Rey (The King's Pathway) is a walkway, now fallen into disrepair, pinned along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Álora in Málaga, Spain. The walkway has gone many years without maintenance, and is in a highly deteriorated and dangerous state. It is only one meter in width above a 700-meter fall, and over time it has also lost its handrail. Some parts of the walkway have completely collapsed and been replaced by a beam and a metallic wire on the wall. Many people have lost their lives on the walkway in recent years. After four people died in two accidents in 1999 and 2000, the local government closed the entrances. However, adventurous tourists still find their way onto the walkway. The view and the music are almost like being in a video game ... very cool!

"Oh yes ... once you get to the website and click the "Play" button — you must go full screen!!"

June 27, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Is it better to run on a treadmill or pavement?

Anahad O'Connor's May 6, 2008 New York Times "Really?" column concludes that both surfaces have pluses and minuses.

Humphrey (above) has made his choice — what's yours?

The Times piece follows.

    The Claim: Running Outdoors Burns More Calories

    The Facts: Pavement or treadmill? Most avid runners have a strong preference for one or the other, but how do the two differ in producing results?

    According to several studies, the answer is not so simple. Researchers have found in general that while outdoor running tends to promote a more intense exercise, running on a treadmill helps reduce the likelihood of injury, and thus may allow some people to run longer and farther.

    A number of studies have shown that in general, outdoor running burns about 5 percent more calories than treadmills do, in part because there is greater wind resistance and no assistance from the treadmill belt. Some studies show, for example, that when adults are allowed to set their own paces on treadmills and on tracks, they move more slowly and with shorter strides when they train on treadmills.

    But other studies show that treadmill exercisers suffer fewer stress injuries in the leg. One study published in 2003 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, for example, analyzed a group of runners and found significantly higher rates of bone strain and tension during pavement running than during treadmill running, particularly in the tibia, or shinbone. This increased strain can heighten the risk of stress fractures by more than 50 percent, the study found.

    The Bottom Line: Studies suggest that running on pavement generally burns slightly more calories, but also raises the risk of stress fractures.

June 27, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Crumb-Collecting Breadboard

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From the website:

    Breadboard

    This walnut breadboard is designed so that the crumbs fall through into the hollow areas below, collecting there until the top is removed and the crumbs can be easily cleaned up.

    16.5"L x 8"W.

$45.

June 27, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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