In a world where you’re dessicating corpse can be mixed into a coral reef, fired into low earth orbit or transmuted into a diamond (okay, fine, a cubic zicronium) settling for a standard ‘set me ablaze or plant me in the ground’ burial is just soooo 20th century.
And if you’re thinking of shuffling off this mortal coil anytime soon – or are just the sort of benighted soul who prefers to be prepared for every eventuality – of late, there are two brand new ways to dispose of your withered earthly remains. And both of them seem like they’re right out of the mad scientist’s lab.
First up, liquefaction which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Liquefaction chambers, like the one recently installed in Florida, work pretty much like cremation chambers. Except instead of scorching your corpse like the main course of a barbecue, it melts the flesh from your bones in a bath of pressurized water and caustic industrial base, preparing your skeleton for it’s last, more traditional trip through the good old cremulator.*
Which is neat, if you’ve ever wanted to be 86ed in truly James Bondian fashion. And really, who hasn’t? But what if you’d rather go out like Han Solo?
Don’t fret – Sweden has you covered. Courtesy of Susanne Wilgh-Masak, your body can soon be frozen in carbonite liquid nitrogen before being pulverised into a fine dust. The process, called promession, is on it’s way to being legal and regulated in Sweden, which means that soon, you won’t even have to piss off a solar system spanning crime lord to get the treatment.
And I guess both of them are good for the environment or something. Sure, great.
*It’s the thing that crushes your bones into dust after cremation, and is uncomplicated. It’s basically a reinforced clothes dryer filled with ball bearings.
The Chinese government has a long history as a repressive, totalitarian regime that stifles freedom of religion, expression, and access to information. And for the most part, let’s face it – we’ve been kind of okay with that.
But this has officially gone too far. China has released an official statement discouraging television producers from portraying fantastic elements on TV. According to CNN, this includes a new stance against time travel on television, meaning that movies like Terminator and Back to the Future may no longer be welcome on Chinese TV.
But there’s something more troubling about this than a generation of Chinese kids being the denied the brilliance of Doc Brown.
And that’s that while China has moved to nix time travel on television, they’ve made no move to ban it in real life. Kind of makes you wonder – what do they know that we don’t?
On March 6, bike riders from across New York City gathered to remember their own, riding to the sites of 20 crashes where bicyclists lost their lives in crashes in 2010. On their way, riders left flowers, notes, and ghost bikes – bicycles painted bright, primer white – at crash sites across the city. In addition to reading a prepared statement, bicyclists spoke about the culture of fear that has taken hold in biking circles. Even as more bike lanes have been added and fatality rates have dipped in the past few years, most bicyclists expressed a sense that they were at risk every time they took to the road.
To hear the voices of cyclists on the current transportation, start the SoundSlide below. And go past the jump for a map of where bicycle deaths occurred in New York City in the past year.
For most of my life I’ve been assuming my coffee problem – and yes, I’m prepared to call 4 or 5 cups a day and an irregular heartbeat a problem – was something of my own doing. Between living in a place where vitamin D is replaced by caffeine supplied by some of the bestroasters in the universe and living a lifestyle that’s not conducive to regular human sleepytimes, I just figured I had turned myself into a coffee junkie/snob of my own volition.
Turns out, that’s not so. As with most of our personality defects, a wicked caffeine habit may just be the responsibility of our parents faulty genetics. The snob thing, though? I guess that’s still on me, at least until we find the gene that determines snootiness.
PLoS Genetics study is offline for the moment, but ScienceDaily’s breakdown is here. And really, who felt like wading through methodology this morning anyhow?
Judges for the 2011 Wellcome Awards have spoken, declaring the 21 best images from the world of science and medicine in the last year. A few larger photos aside, the gallery represents some seriously kickass microphotography, showing how beautiful even things like beetle legs and plaque bacteria can be when viewed from the proper angle. Extra special big ups to the folks who managed to make the ruby wasp so stunning that, for just a second, we forgot that it is a stinging insect and we need to kill it.
Since the dawn of mankind, human beings have dreamed of landing on the moon. Then we did that, like, forever ago, freeing up our greatest scientific minds to pursue the rest of humanity’s equally noble but less dramatic dreams. Like the dream of being able to smell distant things in great detail.
While it brings to mind one of our favorite sci-fi gadgets, The Nasal Ranger acts less like a telescope and more like like a decibel meter,except instead of sound, the Ranger measures stench. The device allows users, through a series of exceedingly sensitive filters, to determine not only local levels of air pollution, but also pinpoint the type and source of the pollution. While we don’t imagine that monitoring industrial pollution by nose is anyone’s idea of a dream job, it’s good to know that someone’s looking out for us. To the good folks who are using these nifty gadgets to track gas emissions for pig farms in real time, you have our appreciation.
Hey, everybody, it’s Robert Broadus! Apparently he’s a guy who was running for Congress, but didn’t get elected, and so retreated to do what most failed congressional candidates do in their spare time – crazying it up at public meetings.
Broadus’ particular brand of crazy, though is worth mentioning. It’s not that he dislikes homosexuals – though he does seem to consider them a separate species from humans, which is a thing he was taught in junior high, I guess? But he believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, because otherwise, shit will get all bananas and pretty soon we’ll all be marrying our sexbots!
Which is patently ridiculous, of course. I mean, the whole point of having a sexbot is that YOU NEVER HAVE TO MARRY IT! Why would you even program a sexbot to want to marry you? That’s just sick.
Jeez, Robert Broadus – get with it. Oh and also please stop dragging poor Data into your arguments against gay marriage. You will hurt his highly advanced artificial feelings with your senseless hatred of Android-Americans.
Yes, animals cuddling with people is adorable. One would have to be a fool or a monster to argue otherwise. But that’s not to say that even the most seemingly innocuous actions are without consequences. And while sleeping with the dog, cat, or family goldfish at the foot of the bed is a time honored tradition, it is also kinda gross. Kinda real gross.
According to a recent study, doggy kisses and whatever sort of icy, vaguely threatening affection cats deliver can transmit diseases like worms, MRSA, and bubonic plague to their unsuspecting owners.
So big ups to scientists working in Colombia, who went searching for one species of toad – the maybe extinct Mesopotamian beaked toad – and instead found two different toads and a frog, all three of which were previously unknown to science.
Any other week, this would be the coolest news about newly discovered species. But today, scientists working in Cambodia announced the discovery of a new variety of carnivorous pitcher plant, which not only consumes the flesh of prey that is still alive while it’s digesting, but it also drought- and fire-resistant. Try and burn it to death, and it will spring up from it’s enormous underground tuber (giggle) and resume eating bugs like it ain’t no thing.
Granted, tiny frogs and toads are cuter, more poisonous, and make for better pictures, and thus are getting more love in the news of the day. But personally, we’re hard pressed to think of anything more bizarre and kick-ass than plants that kill and eat things and have +5 fire resistance, which has to be the neatest set of qualities in a carnivorous plant since the ability to carry a tune and boss around Rick Moranis.
But at least they’re the only two newly discovered creatures in the running for ‘Most Awesome’ this week – unless you count this 2 1/2 foot-long bioluminescent squid that lives in the underwater mountains of the Indian Ocean. Which you pretty much have to.
Unable to just leave a good story alone, a team of Danish archeologists over the weekend exhumed the corpse Tycho Brahe in the interest of learning what actually killed of famed 16th-century astronomer. Or reanimating his ghoulish, silver-nosed remains as the world’s first and most frightening Zombie Scientist since Zombie Feynman. Either one is good.
The official story is that Brahe died of a bladder infection, which seems pretty boring until you take into account the origins of this infection. This is that Brahe found himself badly needing to pee at a state dinner, but was unwilling to rudely leave the table to use the restroom. Instead, he held it.
And held it.
And held it. And while Brahe’s admirable resolve never broke, his bladder eventually did, rupturing and releasing a flood of bodily toxins that would eventually kill him. While Brahe’s sense of decorum and dedication to manners is laudable, we’ll leave it to experts to determine whether letting your bladder explode at the dinner table is actually more polite than simply excusing oneself to the little astronomer’s room.
One Archeologists and forensic experts will put that theory to the test in the coming weeks as documentary filmmakers look on, Space.com reports.