Archive for the 'Science' Category

His Noodly Appendage

June 14th, 2008

His Noodleship

I have seen the light. I am now a born-again Pastafarian and follower of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I worship at His online church.

For those of you who have never heard of His Noodleship, the FSM is the creation of a man named Bobby Henderson. During the infamous attempt by a Kansas school board to introduce Intelligent Design into science courses he wrote them an open letter which is well worth reading.

In it he expressed the belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster and, on the basis that this was at least as likely as ID, insisted that FSM should also be taught. He offered a wonderful example of correlation as causation noting the fact that as piracy declined the global temperature increased. He also explained awkward C-14 dates by letting us know that the FSM changed the results with His Noodly Appendage.

It is a piece of satire worthy of Jonathan Swift. Moreover, it seems to have taken on a life of its own. FSM t-shirts, samplers, birthday cakes and sundry other manifestations have proliferated. One follower has even spotted the FSM in an organic molecule. It’s all on the website.

I’m not completely sure why it should be so popular but as soon as I read it I was a convert. It must the mixture of humour, imagery and the brilliant refutation-by-absurdity of the travesty that is Intelligent Design. ID deserves the derision of Christians and Scientists both and I am pleased to see the FSM doing His bit.

Henderson proposes in his letter that science should be taught as follows: One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.

All hail his Noodliness!

Posted in Science, World | Comments Off on His Noodly Appendage


April 10th, 2008

I was standing with a dozen or so other people waiting for my coffee this morning as the woman behind the counter called out “regular latte”, “long black” and so forth. As I stood in my pre-caffeinated blur I hoped that no one else wanted a large capuccino because I couldn’t cope with fighting over whose it was. No one did. In fact, it hardly ever happens so I started thinking about the numbers.

There are about 15 different types of coffee/tea/hot chocolate on offer in various combinations. Some are only available in small size or only without milk and so forth so I am going to assume that for any different combination, two thirds of the previous set will apply. An arbitrary amount but probably not too far out. So I work it out like this:

Basic combinations 15
times 1.6 for large/small 24
times 1.6 for white/black 38
times 1.6 for skim milk 61
times 1.6 for soy milk 98
times 1.6 for sugar 157

This ignores people who ask for two or more sugars, or extra milk or some other combination I haven’t thought of. Then there are people who buy two or more coffees at the same time for which there is also no confusion.

I know the figures are a serious fudge. For instance, I think there might be a problem with the way I work out white/black/skim/soy but, even so, it is far more amazing that I have encountered a case of the same order than the reverse.

Just goes to show – we have a poor intuitive understanding of probability. Add to that in my case poor mathematical skills (see the above calculation) and no caffeine it is hardly surprising I got it wrong.

I need more coffee.

Posted in Science | Comments Off on Bistromath

I barf in your general direction

March 17th, 2007

I discovered in New Scientist (17th March 2007 pg 20) the existence of Antheraea polyphemus, a type of silk moth. Apparently, during its caterpillar phase, it makes little clicking noises as a warning to potential predators.

Now, you wouldn’t expect caterpillars to have much to threaten predators with but this little fellow has a secret weapon. It can barf up a gob of stuff so disgusting that they run away. Even ants will avoid any food on which this stuff has landed and ants will eat just about anything.

Our friend polyphemus must be a Monty Python fan. What he is saying is obvious:

Go away or I shall barf in your general direction!

You silly English predators.

Posted in General, Science | Comments Off on I barf in your general direction

Healthy and wealthy and wise

February 14th, 2007

Over the last year or so, New Scientist has been publishing a lot of stuff on what affects health. I thought I might provide a summary for those who can’t be bothered to read it all. Broadly speaking:

  • – Eating healthy food is good for you
  • – Moderate exercise is good for you
  • – A moderate amount of sunlight is better than none or too much
  • – Taking drugs is bad for you
  • – Getting a decent amount of sleep is good for you
  • – Having more money is good for you
  • – Stress is bad for you
  • – Growing up in a supportive family with your natural parents is good for you

Or, in other words, be a good boy, eat your greens, go outside and play but stay out of the hot sun, don’t get drunk, relax, be back in time for bed and we’ll give you your pocket money because we love you.

Who’d have thunk it?

Posted in And furthermore..., Science | Comments Off on Healthy and wealthy and wise

October 2018
« Apr