Never let the flame go out, on relighting an extinguished candle

Tuesday, 26 May, 2015

I have seen this party trick before… someone snuffs out a candle, and then relights it by hovering a burning match very near to, but not on, the candle’s wick. I’ve never known why that happens though. Magic, maybe?

In fact there’s no hocus pocus involved, as this ultra slow-motion video of the phenomenon goes to show, but I won’t spoil it for anyone who doesn’t yet know.

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An absence of life on Earth would mean… smaller continents

Tuesday, 28 April, 2015

If Earth were devoid of life, despite its abundance of the likes of water and oxygen, it’s possible the continents we’re familiar with may be far smaller than they are today, this largely on account of an absence of the erosion that results from the presence of plants, animals, and humans.

Plant life, for example, can root its way through rock, breaking rocks into sediment. The sediments, like milk-dunked cookies, carry liquid water in their pores, which allows more water to be recycled back into Earth’s mantle. If not enough water is present in the mantle about 100 to 200 km deep to keep things flowing, continental production decreases.

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Seen but no longer heard, Leo the MGM lion

Tuesday, 14 April, 2015

A lion named Leo has been the centrepiece of the distinctive Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer logo, that features at the beginning of movies produced by the US film production and distribution company, since 1957, even though the logo itself has undergone a number of alterations in the last fifty-eight years.

While Leo had a number of lion predecessors, he must be the longest serving to date, even if the roar we now hear isn’t his anymore… an electronic version was created some time ago.

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New centuries that start on Mondays, what brilliant planning…

Monday, 6 April, 2015

If you abide by the convention that the current century began in 2001, rather than 2000, and the mathematics aside, I know there are plenty of people who don’t, then conceivably centuries will only ever start on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday, not any other day of the week.

This arrangement is down to the way the Gregorian calendar was drawn up in the sixteen century. Big, heartfelt, thanks to whoever decided that Monday be one of these days though.

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Pop it in the oven for a few minutes, one way to repair laptops

Tuesday, 31 March, 2015

I’d say your mileage would vary to say the least, but in certain circumstances, placing the motherboard of your laptop computer in a heated oven, may be one way to effect certain repairs, in this case a graphics chip that would run so hot, it’d detach from the motherboard when the solder holding it in place melted.

Believe it or not, baking the laptop was actually the easy part. Successful reports from internet forums all said pretty much the same thing: set your oven to 320-350 degrees, prop the mobo up on a casserole dish (or a few carefully placed balls of aluminum foil) and cook each side for 2-4 minutes each. Allow it to cool and serve in its original chassis for best results.

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The best sort of science fiction novel? A fix up of course

Wednesday, 25 March, 2015

A “fix-up” is a science fiction book, or novel, written by an author who has created the work by stitching together a number of their earlier shorter stories. Some of these fix-up titles are in fact quite well known:

The “fix-up” is a novel that’s constructed out of short stories that were previously published on their own. And a lot of classic science fiction novels were “fix-ups.” Asimov’s I, Robot and Foundation were both published as groups of short stories before becoming books. There’s Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, too. There’s also Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth, and Leigh Brackett’s Alpha Centauri or Die!.

I dare say fix-ups are not limited to sci-fi writing though.

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Why on Earth do clocks move in a clockwise direction?

Thursday, 5 March, 2015

How did it come to be that the direction of clockwise movement came to be from left to right? Now that’s a good question. Why indeed? Why not right to left? Donn Haven Lathrop, who is an expert on American clock towers, among, I’m pretty sure, other things, offers some suggestions:

Clockwise and counter-clockwise as we now know them seem to have derived from an accident of – as the real estate dealer said – location, location, location. In the Northern Hemisphere (in what is now Iraq), where the cradle of our civilization was rocked and the first written records were kept some 4,000 years ago, the early thinkers and teachers noted that their own shadows moved from left to right, as does the shadow of a stick or a sundial gnomon move from left to right during the course of the sun across the heavens.

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Why I do look the fairest of them all in the bathroom mirror?

Wednesday, 28 January, 2015

Ever wondered why you seem to look different, that is to say, better, when looking at your reflection in a bathroom mirror, as opposed to other reflective surfaces, and even photographs? It could be that hand basins, or vanity counters, have rather a lot to do with it.

This may go someway to explaining why many selfies are taken in bathrooms.

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What’s in your name, an indication of your profession?

Friday, 23 January, 2015

If your given name determined one’s career or job, then I would be a golfer or a race car driver… sort of, that would likely be the case if I went by the name Johnny. How about you? Does your name match with your occupation?

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Champagne has external use as well it seems

Friday, 16 January, 2015

Did you end up with a magnum or three of champagne, as gifts perhaps, over the holiday break, but worst of luck, aren’t a fan of the bubbly brew? Not to worry, champagne seemingly has a number of other applications, such as a being a cooking aid, or helping to bring out the shine in freshly polished leather shoes…

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