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Mental Floss: 29 early sports rules

Ok, I didn’t knew the early sport rules were no rules at all. Some of the games would be played in any way you could. For example, soccer, the real football I mean, would be played with a ball, but you could grab it with the hand too to move it where you wanted.

Or boxing. You would box the other guy until death. Or american football or rugby as we call it in Europe: deadly too. And the best part of those games? They were using animal guts, like intestines and pork stomach all over the time. Must have been great times back then :))

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Exploring the Universe: we’re made of star stuff

Crash Course Big History #2, with John Green, takes us from the time of Big Bang and up until now, and tells us that we are made of star stuff. Actually, Carl Sagan was the first to put it that way in these exact words.

In any case, the heavy elements we see in our bodies come from supernovae as regular stars only have hydrogen, helium up to iron. It is amazing to think that the atoms that make us could be from several different stars that exploded billions of years ago. Cool, eh?

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Will you lose your memory when you get older?

The short answer is YES. The longer one is maybe. It all depends on what you actually do. If you just there work, go home, then go back to work and do not do any brain work-outs, then you’re bound to lose memory year in year out.

But, if you use that brain of yours and learn often something new, then you will make sure to keep your memories intact for longer times. The brain plasticity allows you to develop new neuron to neuron connections so that, even in old age, you can still build memories like its nobody’s business.

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Tech stuff in short bursts: processor manufacturing, Intel X99 chipset, and Nvidia GTX 980 vs Ati R9 290x

Linus explains in the video form above why the computer industry manages to keep the prices almost the same year by year but are able to double the capacity and power of the processors once every two years. The secret? They are able to use more and more transistors on the same chip which makes manufacturing processes cost almost the same in regards to resources. That new chip will provide more power and will consume less energy than the previous ones.

Thanks Intel and AMD and the others. Keep on doing great stuff out there.

Now, you may want to know what has Intel done recently. It has released the X99 chipset, which means that the motherboards that use this chipset, like ASUS X99 Deluxe, Gigabyte X99 Gaming 5, and MSI X99S Gaming 7, will let you:
– use an i7 processor on LGA2011-4 socket – motherboards are not backwards compatible
– you can use up to 128 GB of DDR4 RAM overclocked (OC) to up to 3333Mhz
– several PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots
– a ton of USB 3 ports
(check ASUS X99-DELUXE and MSI X99S Gaming 7 for more details. I like NewEgg as it offer a ton of details as opposed to Amazon).

Here is the video:

And now for the Nvidia GTX980 vs Ati Radeon R9 290x comparison:

It seems that the Nvidia GTX980 beats the R9 290x and it is cheaper than the ATI one.

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The physics of space battles

Joe Hanson, from Its Okay To Be Smart, tried to imagine a real space battle in light of physics. It turns out that a space battle would not be in any way similar to those that you see in Star Wars.

First off, you don’t hear any sound in space. Shoooo. Then, once you have a given speed, you won’t need to use the thrusters unless you change direction. Also, using lasers will make aiming hard. Using nukes would be a better idea.

In any case Joe Hanson does not remind us of one thing: if a war needs to be waged in space, be sure that the human kind will find ways to fight in there too. Several physics issues aside, a combat space shuttle would be possible even today and you could make it quite versatile. You have computers that can handle a lot of the things you would need to handle. You just need to use the joystick and push the buttons.

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Good old myth about fluoride in water debunked

One of my favorite doctors, Sean Carroll, from Health Care Triage, explains why a recently circulated study about fluorinated water being bad is just a myth. First of all, look at the origin of the study: China and Iran. Not the most trusted sources in regards to anything. They make good copies of everything, though 😀

When it comes to fluoride in water, it was a necessary addition in US and the doze is very small, about 1.2 mg/L in NY as opposed to 11.2 mg/L int he China study. Also, using fluorinated water decreased tooth decay by about 50% in adults and children. The studies conducted in US did not show any issues for the general population.

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How to slow down time in the lab

It is a known fact that due to space-time relativity the time flows slower when you move faster and that the time also slows down the moment you get closer to a center of gravity. This is called time dilation and it has been measures in GPS satellites or when people flew with the airplanes and now even in the lab.

For example, at 20 000 km altitude, where the GPS satellites are, they fly with about 3.8 km/s and time should slow down due to this speed, but because they are so far away from the center of gravity, Earth, it means that it will flow faster. With about 8 microseconds faster, that is.

This is why the GPS satellites have atomic clocks which are then reset based on the clocks on Earth. A 8 microsecond faster time reported by the satellites means that you will be sent by the GPS receiver a few miles away from your destination. Not good at all.

So, now that we know that this effect is real, measured over and over again, how could we make time slow down in the lab?

Ars Technica reports that researchers from Germany, a whole bunch of them, accelerated Li+ ions to 40% of the speed of light and then using lasers and Doppler effect they were able to calculate by how much did the time slow down for those ions.

Well, that is pretty cool. The study can be read here at Physical Review Letters, 2014, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.120405

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The uncertainty principle is about our measuring instruments, not about the particles themselves

You got to love physics at smaller levels. While the math is daunting and the phenomenon is hard to understand, we need to know at least some basic things, like the uncertainty principle. that principle tells us that if you try to find the position of a particle you won’t be able to know exactly its velocity and vice-versa.

The formula is something like this:
dx * dp >= h/2 , h is Planck’s constant, dx is the position, dp is momentum and it means we can’t measure precisely both together.

The uncertainty principle, which Nick want to call as “randomness principle” is more about the fact that we will never be able to predict either position or momentum perfectly and also that if the chances of predicting one go up, the chances of predicting the other go down.

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Why do leaves turn brown or yellow in fall?

Leaves have a lot of chlorophyll and thus they have a greenish color due to this substance. This substance takes carbon dioxide from the air and with the help of light generates oxygen and glucose. When fall comes there isn’t that much light around and trees start to generate less chlorophyll. Also, by this time a compund from inside chlorophyll called porphyrin breaks down in smaller chunks and thus chlorophyll also breaks down and loses its color.

When the chlorophyll breaks down it allows two other types of pigments to take control of the leaves coloring: carotenoids and flavonoids, which make the leaves turn yellow, brownish or read altogether. These pigments are actually created with the help of glucose stored in the leaves: red is given off by anthocyanin, yellow by carotenoids, and brown by tannins.

Also, since we’re at the chemistry lesson here, let’s learn something about raspberriesThe-Chemistry-of-Raspberries:

Raspberry smell is given off by raspberry ketone, which has the chemical name 4-(4-hydroxyphenyl)butan-2-one), but they also have a ton of other substances in them and along those substance is ethyl formate, which gives off a smell of rum. Yummy.

About raspberry ketone: around 1-4mg of raspberry ketone can be extracted from a kilogram of raspberries and the study done onf mice that indicated that mice that eat this substance f=lose fat was never tested on humans, so don’t fall into the trap of buying any crap supplements that tell you the raspberry ketones will help losing fat. simply don’t.

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The history of Tattoos: they are called ‘tatau’ in Tahiti

Tattoos have a 8000 year old story and they were always meant to mean something to the weaver. Some tattoos were meant to be done right at the start of adulthood and it was painful to have them painted on you. Right now the process is easy enough and it does not hurt that much. We use now a tattoo machine invented by Samuel O’Reilly in 1899.

Tattoos were used for slaves, to indicate their status, on warriors or in mafia gangs to indicate where they belong too. Tattoos are a form of expression that will live long years from now on. Also, a tattoo is called ‘tatau’ in Tahiti.