Saturday, January 29, 2011

Split brain

I saw this YouTube video in my Psychology class a few days ago. We are talking about brain function and the importance of the corpus callosum, which is the bridge between the left and right brain. It's what makes communication between the two halves possible.

This guy in the video, Joe, had severe seizures and to help get rid of them he has the corpus callosum snipped. Now his brain is basically two parts that are independent of each other. His left side and his right side can't communicate. This neuroscientist in the video does some interesting experiments to show how this affects Joe. Check it out:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How to draw the "cool S"

You all know what I'm talking about. These cool S's were all the craze in the 90's. People called them "Stussies" but I don't think the brand "Stussy" ever used them. You could see them drawn all over a kid's binder, Trapperkeeper, or backpack. In case you missed that awesome phase of your life, I will now share my secret knowledge of how to draw the awesome "s" with 14 straight lines. Follow these simple steps and you will become the King of 3rd Grade.

Step one: draw three lines.
Step two: draw three more lines right below the first.

Step three: this is the hardest part. If you mess this up, your "S" will be backwards. Connect the top left line to the middle bottom line, and then the middle top line to the bottom right line. Got it? Sweeeeeeeeeeeet.

Step four: draw a little short line from the top right to the middle, and then again from the bottom left to the middle.

Step five: connect the top and bottom sides.

Step six: repeat until your entire binder is full of them.

Pretty awesome! Here's what has to say about the "Super S Stussy":

The “Super S” or “Stussy” symbol was drawn by kids worldwide in the 1990’s. Origins of the symbol are generally unknown but some have suggested it is related to the “Stussy” clothing line (although some say they never used this font style). It was a worldwide meme reaching countries all over the world, primarily drawn at school on binders or notebooks. There is a technique in drawing the symbol (which consists of 14 lines) which was regarded as a kind of special knowledge. In some schools it was later banned because it was thought of as being a gang symbol. Multiple S symbols are referred to as “stussies”.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Toilet bowl wind speed

You learn some funny things by taking a plumbing class at BYU. Did you know that you can estimate the wind speed outside by looking at your toilet? It's true. This is how:

This is what your toilet bowl looks like with no wind outside:

And this is what it looks like when it's really windy outside:

Did you notice the lower water level? When it's really windy outside the water level is lower in your toilet. This is because of Bernoulli's Principle. Fast wind speed lowers the outside pressure, thereby sucking the water out of the bowl. You can visualize it this way:

Pretty neat, huh? You could calibrate it if you found the actual wind speed during a windy day, then mark that point on your toilet. The you could fill in the blanks by dividing out the remaining spots.

...Well, that's assuming that the relationship between wind speed and water level is linear, which is probably isn't given the fact that the toilet is curved. So you would have to know how the bowl curved to actually do it. But still, it's a neat concept.

Jenga gun

It's been weird and nice not having to write everyday. The problem is that I keep thinking about great ideas to write about, so my topic list keeps getting longer and longer and the only outlet is for me to write more.

We were playing Jenga the other day and I really wished I had one of these guns for the impossible shots. It looks pretty sweet.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Common Misconceptions

I found this page on Wikipedia today and it's mind-bending. The page in Wikipedia is called "List of Common Misconceptions" and it ranges in topics from history to transportation. Here are some great passages:

  • Napoleon Bonaparte was not especially short, and did not have a Napoleon complex. After his death in 1821, the French emperor’s height was recorded as 5 feet 2 inches in French feet. This corresponds to 5 feet 6.5 inches in modern international feet, or 1.686 metres. There are competing explanations for why he was nicknamed le Petit Caporal (The Little Corporal), but few modern scholars believe it referred to his physical stature. Another explanation is that Napoleon was often seen with his Imperial Guard, which contributed to the perception of him being short because the Imperial Guards were above average height.
  • Elephants are not afraid of mice.
  • Humans have more than five senses. Although definitions vary, the actual number ranges from 9 to more than 20. In addition to sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, which were the senses identified by Aristotle, humans can sense balance and acceleration (equilibrioception), pain (nociception), body and limb position (proprioception or kinesthetic sense), and relative temperature (thermoception).Other senses sometimes identified are the sense of time, itching, pressure, hunger, thirst, fullness of the stomach, need to urinate, need to defecate, and blood carbon dioxide levels.
  • Eating less than an hour before swimming doesn't increase the risk of experiencing muscle cramps or drowning. One study shows that a correlation between alcohol consumption and drowning, but there is no evidence cited regarding stomach cramps or the consumption of food.
 There are many, many more.

And now I bring you this comic from xkcd:

Monday, January 17, 2011


I used the rest of my Christmas book money today! I got a book called Sum by David Eagleman. I've wanted to read this book for months now. I've checked the Provo City Library and the BYU library, but neither had it. I first heard about this book from Radio Lab. They have David Eagleman on their show every once in a while. He's a neuroscientist, I think ... but his book Sum is a work of fiction. It's actually 40 short stories about the afterlife.

Here's one of the short stories. It's called Sum, just like the title of the book. Radio Lab had an actor read it. It's really interesting.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Real Life Super Hero

A Real Life Super Hero (RLSH) is someone who dresses us in a costume and goes around trying to do good things in their neighborhood. These people really exist. It just reminds me of the beginning of Spiderman where Peter Parker dresses up in a costume ad gets the living tar beat out of him.

Here's one RLSH that calls himself Phoenix Jones:

And here is a RLSH online manual.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


After working in the library for almost 2 years, I have written down literally thousands upon thousands of ISBNs for books. After a while I noticed that books from the same country or from the same publisher had similar ISBNs. This made me curious, so I did a little research last year and found out how books are assigned their respective ISBN. It's kind of neat.

Here is how the number is broken out:

It's always 13 numbers long. The first three digits are always 978. I'm not sure why. Sometimes people leave off this prefix to have a 10 digit ISBN, but that practice is being phased out. The next section codes for the language the book is written in. The third section is the publisher, the fourth is the title (assigned by the publisher), and, finally, the last digit is the check digit.

The language number is kind of neat:

Here are the numbers that are assigned in the language section. The only things I've personally ordered with a language code of 4 are some comics for the Sampler section of the library. I guess there's not a lot of demand for other Japanese stuff...

Now let's look at the check digit.

The check digit is just a complicated math formula to make sure you didn't mix up your numbers when you wrote them down. You multiply the numbers by either a 1 or 3, add them all up, divide by 10, subtract the remainder from 10, and there's your digit. If the number is 10, then just write a 0.

If you don't want to do all the math, you can just use this website, which does it all for you. I use this quite often because people don't realize that the check digit changes when you add then "978" prefix to the ISBN.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why I have Usher stuck in my head

Ever since Saturday I've been humming Usher's song "OMG" to myself at random times. The weird thing is that I have only heard about a 5 second clip from the song. And I blame public radio. I heard about this on Wait Wait, and then I found a You Tube video.

Basically, Usher ripped off Homer Simpson.

See for yourself:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cool Tools

I know, I know. I don't have to write today, but I thought I would to share this cool blog. If you ever read Boing Boing regularly, you know about Cool Tools. Basically, they recommend cheap and awesome tools. They aren't in it for the money or advertising. They are honest and only write about neat things that they like personally. Some tools that stick out to me are:
Here's the link.


Here's a little flowchart that I made on Paint for you to enjoy. Thanks for reading!

Click to enlarge!
Also, don't worry about me not writing ever again. I'll still write regularly, but I might not write EVERY day. So we'll keep in touch.

Thanks again, my loyal fans.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Boardgame Remix

I found this the other day and thought it was pretty sweet. Basically, it's a guide for how to make AWESOME games from old games buy mashing them up. All you need is a copy of Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, and Cluedo (or Clue, if you're American) to make some great games like a zombie invasion in a haunted mansion, word battles with Scrabble tiles, and lots of other insanely fun (I presume) games. Here's a link to the sample PDF.

Out of Context Science

This is a pretty funny blog that plucks a sentence from a peer-reviewed science paper that sounds pretty funny on its own. For example:

--It seems that really active black holes are rare but not antisocial

--[A] noticeable percentage of flies… ended up with bizarre and random abnormalities such as legs growing where eyes should be

--The stimulus material consisted of the first 43min of the movie Bridget Jones Diary

Here's the link.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tiny Art Director

Katie gave me some money for Christmas for me to use to buy books and I decided to get a book called the Tiny Art Director. I'm super excited to get it. And he has a blog too! It's really funny. You should look at it. Basically, this dad asks his daughter what he should draw and then she critics his work...sometimes very harshly.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New vs. Old Toothbrushes

When I was in third grade, a kid in my class told me that Michael Jordan was so rich that he used a toothbrush only once and then threw it away. I asked him why he would do that and he said that new toothbrushes are way more effective than ones that have even been used once. I tried looking up "Michael Jordan" and "toothbrush" on Google, but all I came up with was Jordan's new toothbrush mustache, also known as the Hitler mustache.

But I found this paper, along with some others, that did a study to compare the effectiveness of a brand new toothbrush and a 3-month-old toothbrush. Manufacturers recommend that you replace your toothbrush every 3 months, and these people wanted to see if it really made a difference how old the toothbrush was.

Result: there's not much of a difference.

I guess the big issue is how well your technique is when you brush your teeth. The thing that grossed me out the most is that they had the people not brush their teeth for 48 hours and then they measured the amount of plaque that was removed by brushing their teeth. The gross part is that they only removed on average 34% of the plaque on their teeth, regardless of the condition of the toothbrush. I guess that's why it's important to floss, too.