Jun 26, 2015

Happy Friday

Happiness is more to your mind than sound is to your ears.

I can be perfectly quiet while enjoying a Happy Friday!

Set Your Clocks Back

Tuesday June 30 is the day to adjust your clocks back by one second. At 2359 Greenwich Mean Time on June 30, or 9.59am US EST on July 1, the world will experience a minute that will last 61 seconds. It is called the leap second. That is when timekeepers adjust high-precision clocks so they are in sync with earth’s rotation, which is affected by the gravitational tug of the sun and moon.

The last modification, on June 30, 2012 was disruptive for many internet servers, including Qantas’ online reservation system, which went down for several hours. The leap second is not something that needs to be added to your watch, your stove, the clock on your nightstand, etc.

Canada Day

The birthday of a country is a special day for the citizens of that country. Canada Day was first celebrated on July 1, 1867, commemorating the Constitution Act, 1867, which integrated three colonies into one country named Canada. It was initially called the Dominion Day, but with the approval to pass the Canada Act, it was renamed in 1982. Various activities at the Canada Day include parades, festivals, fireworks, musical performances, and more.

The Calgary Stampede is scheduled for July 3 to 12, 2015, Calgary Stampede is an exciting outdoor show held in Calgary, Canada. It is an annual exhibition and rodeo that helps people re-live the era of cowboys. Over one million people attend this annual festival that features First Nations exhibitions, a parade, rocking stage shows and concerts. The Calgary Stampede is famous for rodeos, and chuck wagon racing, along with competitions.

Horsehoe Crabs and Spiders

Horseshoe crabs were misidentified as crabs hundreds of years ago. They spend most of their time crawling on the sea floor and have a crab-like shell roughly resembling a horseshoe. However, they are grouped with arachnids.

Horseshoe crabs date back 500 million years as a species. These prehistoric survivors, who perhaps never evolved to flourish on land like the rest of their cousins, can grow up to 0.6 meters (2 ft) wide and use their long tails as a tool to dig for food or to turn over. The horseshoe crab has 10 eyes on its back and sides, can replace lost body parts, and has blue blood. The blood is medically valuable and is used to detect bacteria, for cancer research, diagnosing leukemia, and vitamin B12 deficiency.

What's in a Name, Bidet

A bidet is a low, basin-like bathroom fixture, usually with spigots, used for bathing the genital and perineal areas. It is also the French name for a small saddle horse originated during the early 1600s.

The modern bidet that resembles a toilet was developed in the 19th century, and the very popular bidet seat came about in the 1960s, with one of the most popular invented by an American, Arnold Cohen.

Bidet use greatly reduces the need for toilet paper, which in North America is over 36 billion rolls per year.

Incidentally, over 2.6 billion people (40% of the world’s population.) have no access to a toilet.

Take That Gig

Do you have some extra time and want to make a few bucks? Gigwalk is a company with an app that you can use to find work in your area. Some take minutes, like checking a product placement in a local store, to longer ones, such as doing an inventory of a product line. The platform gives brands and retailers on-the-ground visibility and allows them to take action to drive more in-store sales. There are gigs available in sixty cities so far with more to come in the future.

Workers (gigwalkers) look up opportunities on their phone and decide if they are interested. Each individual Gig is represented by a pin on the map in the mobile application. Gigs can take anywhere from 5 minutes to a few hours to complete and pay from $3 to $100. It pays directly to your Paypal account. Here is a LINK to the main site.

New York City Stats

New York City uses more energy, sucks down more water, and spews out more solid waste than any other mega-metropolitan area. There are about 20 million residents, speaking over 800 languages, in the 6,000 square miles that comprise the city’s greater metropolitan statistical area. It pumps out over 33 million tons of waste a year. The next closest offender is Mexico City, which generates 12 million tons of trash.

There are at least 26 other megacities around the world, which, according to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, account for 9 percent of the planet’s electricity use, drain 10 percent of its gasoline, and create 13 percent of its trash. There were 27 megacities, worldwide, as of 2010. In 2020 there will be closer to 40. According to the study, New York is more wasteful per capita, than all of them.

"The New York metropolis has 12 million fewer people than Tokyo, yet it uses more energy in total: the equivalent of one oil supertanker every 1.5 days,” according to study author Chris Kennedy, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Toronto.

Butt Biometrics

A team of engineers in Japan is working on a device that can recognize your butt.

A few years ago, a mechanical engineer named Shigeomi Koshimizu, along with his team at the Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology in Tokyo, designed a biometric cover for car seats. The sheet of fabric, with 360 embedded sensors creates an individual profile of each driver’s bum, based on size, shape, weight distribution, and pressure points. That profile could be stored in the car’s computer system, and only drivers with registered bums would be able to start the car.

The sensor sheets recognized drivers correctly about 98% of the time in lab tests. Koshimizu had also considered using facial recognition or palm scanners on the steering wheel to identify drivers, but found those methods “overbearing,” according to the Wall Street Journal. It will likely be a few years before they would be ready for a commercial product.

Lefties and Digits

Kangaroos prefer to use one of their hands over the other for everyday tasks in much the same way that humans do, with one notable difference, generally kangaroos are lefties. A study found that wild kangaroos show a natural preference for their left hands when performing particular actions, such as grooming the nose, picking a leaf, or bending a tree branch.

Psychologist Eliza L. Nelson observed several monkeys using individual fingers to grab food. The spider monkeys also were able to insert one or two fingers into a tube to grab a serving of peanut butter. It is the first time this type of independent digit control has been reported for this species.

The unexpected observation occurred during Nelson's research study evaluating measures of handedness in nonhuman primates, the tendency to use one hand more naturally than the other. Spider monkeys' hands have four fingers and no thumb. "We collected a large number of data points on each measure to allow for analyses. The team analyzed reach and coordination, both of which are difficult for spider monkeys given their unique hand structure. Comparing results of both tasks is critical for understanding the evolution of hand-use preferences in primates.

Contrary to predictions and previous findings, Nelson's research shows multiple measures are needed to fully characterize the concept of handedness as a single handedness test cannot effectively predict hand preference in nonhuman primates. The findings were recently published in the journal Animal Cognition.

Infants who exhibit a consistent right hand preference are more likely to develop advanced language skills by age two, according to another study by Nelson. The findings were recently published in the Journal of Developmental Psychology.

In the study, Nelson measured handedness in different ways according to the age-appropriate motor level. She looked at how infants used their hands to pick up toys and compared it to how they used their hands in combination to manipulate toys as toddlers. The study results suggest there may be an advantage to having consistent hand preference as an infant. Results showed children who had clear early hand preference performed better on language skills tests than those who did not develop handedness until toddlerhood. Those who were inconsistent in their hand use as infants, but developed a preference for the left or right hand as toddlers, had language scores in the typical range for their age. We should give her a hand for these interesting studies.