Monthly Archives: December 2012

Pool Pee OK? Science says YES, I say NO!

Michael Phelps was right – relieving yourself in the pool is fine

It may not be what everybody wants to hear but the swimming star Michael Phelps was right when he said it was OK to relieve yourself in the pool, claim scientists.

Michael Phelps was right – relieving yourself in the pool is fine

Phelps argued that it was OK as the chlorine killed any germs Photo: GETTY

By Richard Alleyne and Hannah Furness

6:30AM GMT 28 Dec 2012

Phelps, the most successful Olympian ever, caused ripples of concern during London 2012 when he admitted that many swimmers “pee in the pool” especially during long training sessions.

But he said that it was OK as the chlorine killed any germs.

The revelation may have been slightly distasteful but now scientists have confirmed that at least his facts are right.

Sense About Science (SAS), a charity which aims to dispel commonly held myths, especially those promulgated by celebrities, congratulated him on being scientifically correct.

Stuart Jones, biochemist, said: “In fact Michael, urine is essentially sterile so there isn’t actually anything to kill in the first place.

“Chlorine just prevents bacteria from growing in the pool.

“So you’re basically right, peeing in a swimming pool, even if all swimmers do it simultaneously, has very little impact on the composition of the pool water itself.

“An Olympic size pool contains over 2 millions litres of water and a single urination is somewhere in the region of 0.2 litres.

“To have any significant effect on the overall composition of the pool water you’d need a serious amount of peeing!”

Phelp’s statement was one of the few accurate statements picked up by SAS during 2012.

Less convincing were claims made by Simon Cowell, who admitted to breathing pure oxygen to reduce tiredness, stress and ageing.

Kay Mitchell, Centre for Altitude Space and Extreme Environment, said far from being good for you it could be damaging.

She said that while it can be seen to help athletes under controlled conditions to make quicker recoveries more research was needed to confirm this effect.

“Doctors are also concerned about the damage caused by oxygen levels that are too high,” she said.

“This oxygen toxicity can cause cell damage leading to cell death, particularly in lungs where oxygen levels are highest, and so breathing pure oxygen can cause collapse of lung air sacs.

“This could make you susceptible to lung infections.”

Last year celebrities who extolled the virtues of detoxing and cleansing were also slammed by scientists.

Among them, Gwyneth Paltrow wrote on her blog Goop: “I have gooped about Dr Alejandro Junger’s Clean programme before because it gave me such spectacular results; it is really just the thing if you are in need of a good detox – wanting some mental clarity and to drop a few pounds … Here’s to a happy liver and an amazing 2011!”

Dr Christian Jessen, a GP and TV presenter said that, though everyone tried to start the New Year with good intentions for a healthy lifestyle, a detox plan was not the answer.

“Your body has its own fantastic detox system already in place in the shape of your liver and kidneys. Much better to drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet, get plenty of sleep, and let your body do what it does best.”

Tracey Brown, managing director at SAS, said there was no excuse for celebrities promoting fad diets and treatments.

“Celebrity comments travel far and fast, so it is important that they talk sense about issues like dangerous dieting and medical treatments,” she said.

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Antarctic Search for Life Ends

Search for life in buried Antarctic lake called off

By Becky Oskin

Published December 27, 2012

OurAmazingPlanet

  • British-camp-deep-field.jpg

    The Union Jack flies over a field camp at Lake Ellsworth. In the background are the Ellsworth Mountains, the highest range in Antarctica. (Neil Ross/University of Edinburgh)

After fighting with the Antarctic ice for 20 hours through Christmas Eve, a British Antarctic Survey team has reluctantly called off its mission to retrieve water samples from an ancient subglacial lake.

The decision to halt drilling through the ice down toward Lake Ellsworth came after the team failed to connect the project’s main and secondary boreholes, Martin Siegert, the lead investigator for the project, said on the project’s blog.

Lake Ellsworth lies under 2 miles of ice and has been sealed off from the outside world for up to 1 million years. Scientists with the survey have been engaged in a 16-year attempt to drill down and take water samples from the lake. They say that if microbes and other forms of life are living in the frigid water, away from sunlight, those life forms may help researchers better understand the origins of life on Earth and the possible forms life could take on other planets.

The scientists were trying to connect the boreholes via a cavity located 300 meters below the ice surface. The cavity recirculates water from the main borehole and would have equalized pressure had the drill penetrated Lake Ellsworth.

Running low on supplies

‘This is, of course, hugely frustrating for us.’

– Martin Siegert, the lead investigator for the project

The camp has been on the ice since Nov. 22, and drilling started on Dec. 13, using a specially designed hot water drill. The effort to establish the connection took so much hot water and fuel that the scientists must now return to the United Kingdom and regroup for next year. [Extreme Living: Scientists at the End of the Earth]

“For reasons that are yet to be determined, the team could not establish a link between the two boreholes at 300 meters depth despite trying for over 20 hours,” wrote Siegert, a glaciologist at the University of Bristol. “During this process, hot water seeped into the porous surface layers of ice and was lost. The team attempted to replenish this water loss by digging and melting more snow, but their efforts could not compensate. The additional time taken to attempt to establish the cavity link significantly depleted the fuel stocks to such a level as to render the remaining operation unviable. Reluctantly the team had no option but to discontinue the program for this season.

“This is, of course, hugely frustrating for us, but we have learned a lot this year,” Siegert said. “By the end the equipment was working well, and much of it has now been fully field tested. A full report on the field season will be compiled when the engineers and program manager return to United Kingdom.”

Drilling in extreme conditions

The harshness of the Antarctic environment and the complete darkness of winter there mean that the team can be at the site only during the comparatively mild months of austral spring and summer, from November through January.

This was not the first snag in the project. A circuit used in the main boiler that supplies hot water to the drill burned out twice earlier this month, forcing the team to await resupply.

At the time, Siegert noted that such difficulties are not unusual when working in Antarctica. “It’s a very hostile environment; it’s very difficult to do things smoothly,” he said on the project’s blog.

The drill would have crunched through the ice to the fresh lake water, then sent 24 titanium canisters through the borehole to take water samples. When the drill first started up, the team had to shovel snow in shifts for three days and three nights to melt enough for the needed 15,850 gallons of water, according to the project’s blog.

Race to find life

The British group is one of several teams racing to recover water samples from lakes trapped beneath the Antarctic ice.

A group of Russian scientists is drilling down into the waters of Lake Vostok, the largest of Antarctica’s buried lakes. The team reached the lake’s waters during the last drilling season, on Feb. 5, but the few microbes it found in the retrieved samples were all contaminants from the drilling apparatus.

However, another group of scientists has found a thriving community of microbes in Lake Vida, another buried Antarctic lake that is thought to have been isolated from the rest of the world for about 2,800 years.

In early 2013 an American team is planning to drill to hidden lakes in West Antarctica.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2012/12/27/mission-to-drill-into-buried-antarctic-lake-called-off/?intcmp=trending#ixzz2GNst0c7n

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The Fiscal Cliff Explained

I don’t usually post political stuff here because it just gets people riled.  However, I thought this was amusing, true, and sad at the same time.  If it makes you feel better out there, all political parties and the whole Washington beltway atmosphere is responsible, so this is not meant to single out anyone.  Just to portray a “crappy” situation, as you will see:

Click to enlarge picture if you cannot read it well

Click to enlarge picture if you cannot read it well

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Plasma Gas Hand Cleaner

This little black box cleans your hands with plasma gas

This little black box cleans your hands with plasma gas

The idea of plasma gas may have you thinking twice about sticking your hand in this box, but at room temperature and pressure and in the controlled environment its in, it can get your hand — from your skin to under your fingernails — entirely sterilized in under four seconds. It’s so effective, in fact, that researchers found it could get rid of said Athlete’s Foot without the patient ever having to remove a sock.

The technology is geared toward hospitals, hotels and the service industry, where cleanliness is key. Plasma-cleaning itself isn’t new as it’s been used to sterilize medical instruments for years, but to use it on human tissue several advancements in both the way plasma gas is handled and the technology behind industrial hand sanitizers had to be made.

In the future, the plasma gas sanitizer could open up new areas elsewhere, such as being used in air conditioners to purify air. In other words, get ready to see all those ion air purifiers at Sharper Image replaced by plasma ones.

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Going Out in Style

This is one of the stranger posts I have made, which is saying quite a bit…  I found this Facebook site, and find it eerily captivating for its unusual content.  You see, it is all about hearses and vehicles for conveying the dead.  A celebration of going out in vehicular style.  Here is the Facebook page, Grim Rides.

https://www.facebook.com/grimrides/photos_stream

Here are a collection of photos that are a small sample of what they have:

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Helping Homeless Children

I am helping the Pappas Kids Schoolhouse Foundation to raise money to help homeless children with education, healthcare and special needs.  Many homeless children are the result of parents in jail, drug abuse or domestic violence.  They may move from various foster care organizations, domestic shelters and to and from family members.  Providing education and healthcare to them so they do not fall through the cracks is essential.  Please join me in supporting this effort.  Your donation of a dollar, or more if you can spare it, will truly help this organization.  The foundation has a volunteer board and only one employee.  All the rest of the money, the vast majority, goes directly to helping the thousands of children out there who need their support.  Many kids are getting quality education and healthcare ONLY because of their efforts.

pappasKidsSchoolhouseFoundation

Here is the PayPal link to make a donation:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=FML3PNKMHNNV2

The organization is a 501(c)3 charitable organization and your donation counts as a charitable donation for tax purposes.

Thank you for your consideration.

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12 of the World’s Most Annoying Technologies

12 of the World’s Most Annoying Technologies

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