Oh no she ‘DINT!
Yes I did… hear me out:
I’m respectful of people’s personal beliefs, but that’s just the thing: beliefs are personal, or at least they should be. I would NEVER criticise someone’s convictions simply because they stood in stark contrast to my own, no matter how daft they might seem to me. But, have you ever noticed that the most ardent and overzealous of discriminatory attacks come from religious people? Why is that? THEY have a book that tells them how to lead virtuous lives. Atheists don’t. So why do many (and unfortunately, it’s the majority rather than the minority) of religious people tend to doll out more judgement, discrimination and prejudice than anyone else?
It is in the spirit of common sense and all that is rational that I’m allowing myself this one small rant to relieve the tension that builds in my bones over this issue. Julia Sweeney, one of my new favourite authors, comedians and actors, waxes lyrical about the incredible gifts that come with NOT believing in God: not taking life for granted being one of them.
I think we can ALL benefit from that message, whether you’re religious or not (and I’m serious about that)…
Just when I thought the Japanese had really cornered the market on all things strange and fetish, I come across this insane video. From a robot that makes omelettes from scratch to watermelons that are grown in square shape for ease of packing and decoration (they’re not even edible)… here are 10 bizarre Japanese inventions!
If you’ve been on the fence with regards to your opinion of rap, be prepared to forever hate the genre. Rapper B.o.B. of “Airplanes” fame actually believes the world is flat and that we’ve all been lied to and deceived, in his very words. It started on January 24th, when B.o.B. posted the following tweet…
He followed up this grievously stupid Tweet with the following drivel:
“I’m going up against the greatest liars in history.”
“You’ve been tremendously deceived.”
Okay. WHAT?? I didn’t know people still believed the world was flat and the fact that more than 2,000 people LIKED his Tweet is seriously concerning! Unfortunately, today’s society is more influenced by people like rappers than they are by scientists, so our children (and the simple-minded) are at a real risk of buying into this prehistoric notion.
Enter the coolest guy alive: astrophysicist and curator of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson. In this video, Neil presents the facts in pure poetry, calling B.o.B. out for the simple fool he is – but, you know, in a totally intellectual and non-offensive way. So if you were feeling a little slow today and struggling to get your brain into gear, take solace in the fact that there are people out there who are far more ignorant than you are. It just sucks that many of them are millionaires *coughdonaldtrumpcough*
It is literally nature’s most disgusting creature and there are few people – men and women alike – who are unbothered by it coming within close proximity: the cockroach. And yet, the cockroach is an extraordinarily successful creature on planet Earth and one that will easily survive any apocalypse: mad-made or natural.
And so, in this fascinating TED Talk video, Dr. Robert Full (Director of the Poly-PEDAL Laboratory at Berkeley University) shows us just how amazing these creepy crawlers are in their ability to move through, up, around and over any obstacle or terrain. He and his team have applied the various laws of mechanics and modes of stabilisation they learned from the cockroach to the fabrication of robots, which are cute in a weird and creepy way.
Video Source: TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) at YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekUh9AW1hKg
Why is this research prudent? Because getting into tiny spaces, travelling over very rough terrain, pulling off gymnastic maneuvers in air and getting around impossible obstacles could be extremely useful in delivering aid to people trapped in disaster situations, such as earthquakes, tornado or hurricane swept areas. Robots such as these could also be the future of unmanned planetary exploration.
Prestige aside, watching cockroaches move around in slow motion is super interesting!
Internet Memes: A Definition… or Approximation Thereof
For those of you who don’t know what a meme is, it’s a kind of visual or graphical internet trend or fad. Each of the above pictures is commonly used to express some sort of humorous comment or quip. The veloceraptor, for example, is often referred to as ‘hypothesaurus’ or better still ‘philosoraptor’ and says things like: “If practice makes perfect, and nobody’s perfect, why practice?”
The white cat, on the other hand always looks clever while making really bad yet somehow funny science jokes such as (and this is the worst I could find): ” would’ve gotten you flowers, but I never botany.”
*insert tumble weed into the desolate wasteland that is your sense of humour*
So now, if you haven’t learnt something about the scientific method, you’ve found out what a meme is, which makes you just that little bit cooler in the eyes of your 15-year old niece.
Diamonds have been getting men out of trouble for hundreds of years. They have also been getting men into trouble for hundreds of years. So, what’s so special about diamonds? They’re really pretty, they’re really strong, they have a great pair of tits…
Sorry, that’s Lara Croft.
DIAMONDS are really pretty, they’re really strong and they’re really RARE. They are also the gemstone of choice when it comes to getting hitched because, just like Shirley Bassey sang, diamonds are forever.
Diamonds are Forever… No, Really, They Are!
Aside from their unparalleled resilience and durability, diamonds are spectacular-looking rock minerals. Cut into a complex and intricate array of facets and planes, their refractive light properties send out a kaleidoscope of colour which spans the visible light spectrum, even though the gem itself appears totally translucent and colourless.
What are diamonds? What are they made of? How are they formed?
Yeah, yeah… what you REALLY want to know is what it takes to bake your own diamond so that you can become super rich and super lazy just like Paris Hilton. Well, just like everything else on this planet and in our universe really, diamonds are made of tiny, tiny building blocks. A closer look into their crystal structure tells us just how these highly coveted stones are formed.
Diamond, which is derived from the ancient Greek word adámas, meaning ‘unbreakable,’ is made from one of the most common elements here on planet Earth. It’s in the soil we walk on, in the air we breathe and in the food we eat. Here’s another clue: you’re made from it.
It’s the same black crap your science teacher created from burning sugar, the same black crap the graphite in your pencil is made of and the same black crap shown in the picture above. Oh, how unromantic!
Surely such a rare and highly prized stone would be constructed from something equally as exotic and just as rare? Alas, my friends. It is not the building blocks of diamonds that make these stones so special, but rather the conditions under which they are forged. It’s like baking a cake: at the right temperature and with the right cooking time, the cake will come out beautiful, spongy, moist and delicious. At the wrong temperature and cooking time, the same batter will come out black, bitter, inedible and more appropriately used as a bludgeoning weapon.
Carbon + Contaminant = Colour!
We’ve established that diamonds are made from carbon. Actually, they’re made from a carbon allotrope, just so that you geology geeks don’t get a kick out of correcting me. But for all intents and purposes, diamonds are essentially made out of carbon. And carbon is abundant. So, theoretically, you should be able to make your own diamonds! Just don’t tell anybody about it or you could throw a major spanner in the traditional works and symbolism of marriage, just like those pesky homosexuals who want equal rights. I mean, who do they think they are?
Hold on a minute! All it takes is carbon? Then what gives some diamonds their colour? Well noted, my avaricious rapscallions! Diamonds don’t ONLY come as colourless, expensive globules of carbon. Interestingly enough, the unique and very rigid arrangement of carbon atoms in the crystal structure of a diamond (cubic to be exact) makes it difficult for other chemical elements to infiltrate it, causing impurities. This explains why the insides of most diamonds look so beautifully pure and translucent.
Most, but not all.
Diamond, actually, is quite snobby. It only allows very particular elements into its crystal lattice and then again, it only does this on the rare occasion. To give you an idea of just how fussy diamond is, it is estimated that for every million atoms of well-behaved carbon, there is a single alien atom infiltrator. The result: a fantastic analogy for opening your heart to different races, creeds, genders and nationalities.
The colour of a diamond can have a huge influence on the amount wealthy housewives get their husbands to pay for them. Blues and greens are exceptionally rare, so they will fetch a high price. Yellows and browns are more common. And there’s nothing like a brown diamond to make you feel REAL special.
Now, gather your cooking implements and turn the oven on… HOT.
What You’ll Need:
- A choice of chemical impurity or radioactive element (for colour)
- Titanium metal
- A shovel
- A degree in town planning
Step 1: Take carbon and mix in desired chemical impurity, or pilfer local science laboratory for radioactive element*.
* If you want to bake a blue diamond like the one Rose threw into the ocean at the end, you need to add boron to your mix of carbon. If you want to bake a yellow diamond, you’ll need nitrogen. If you want your diamond to turn a more exotic shade of purple, pink, red or orange, then make sure you bury it close to a radioactive element, such as plutonium or uranium. Other colours, such as black, brown and sometimes even red and pink are caused by structural flaws that harbour dark impurities that only make them appear the colour they are.
Step 2: Put ingredients into an air-tight and incredibly durable box.
Step 3: Phone NASA for left-over titanium to build said box. If you struggle to get past some power-tripping secretary, you can always melt down your brother’s professional tennis racquet; a legacy from the days he actually thought he’d be a professional at anything. If THAT fails, dental implants are made from titanium, but whatever you do, don’t get caught at the morgue.
Step 4: Bury carbon-filled box at a depth of between 140 and 190 kilometres, or 85 to 120 miles, where there exist conditions of immense pressure and temperature. An ambient temperature of at least 1,050 deg Celsius is what you’re aiming for.
Step 5: Bake for at least one billion years, but it could take as long as three billion years. This is where patience comes in handy.
Step 6: Wait for a super-deep volcanic eruption to bring the box of crystallized carbon to the near-surface of the Earth.
Step 7: Plant a flag at the location, build a town, exploit the native inhabitants as your labour force and dig a big hole in the ground to retrieve your creation.
Step 8: Allow to cool before eating.
Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message
It’s probably better to buy a diamond than make your own.
This aside, the next time you walk past a jewellery store or stare lovingly at your own engagement/wedding ring, you should look – really look – at the diamond. Know that the real beauty of these radiant gems transcends the price tag affixed to them. Diamonds are approximately half the age of the Earth, they will last your lifetime and millions more like yours and they’re composed of carbon, the very same building blocks as you and me.
The very same material that is forged in the hearts of dying stars.