Dec 14,2007 00:00
"Electricity is of two kinds, positive and negative. The difference is, I presume, that one comes a little more expensive, but is more durable; the other is a cheaper thing, but the moths get into it."
- Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock (1869-1944)
Why are these words in this order?
BASH, ALE, ABLE, EAR, BONY
3 million: Estimated number of air hand dryers installed in restrooms throughout the United States
30: Time, in seconds, that most of these machines run per use
100: Average number of times each machine is used daily
690 billion: Watts of electricity used daily to operate nation's hand dryers
280,000: Estimated number of homes that could be operated for a full year on the same amount of power
0.5: Estimated amount of greenhouse gases, in ounces, produced by using an air hand dryer once
16: Ounces of greenhouse gases produced by driving the average car one mile
Sources: Slate.com; World Dryer Corp.; Climate Conservancy
ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 10
Fisheries in the northwest Atlantic Ocean are in decline, with commercially popular species like cod, haddock and flounder becoming increasingly hard to find in large numbers.
But a handful of fish species appear to be enjoying boom times, either maintaining their historical numbers or even increasing as they take up new roles as dominant scavengers, predators and bottom-dwellers. Jason Link, a marine biologist at the National Marine Fisheries Service in Woods Hole, Mass., was curious why and investigated. In a paper published in the journal Ecological Applications, he offers one explanation:
"They're ugly," he says.
But being visually repulsive might not be enough, Link warns. As other species become rare, ugly fish like skates, goosefish and sculpin may begin looking good to commercial fishermen.
In India, a sorcerer could injure an enemy by muttering the Arabic spell "Ya khe ha ro" 10,000 times a day for 21 days. The name of the enemy was then written on an unbaked brick, and three more spells uttered: the first a single time, the second 41 times and the last 1,000 times.
After every 10 repetitions, the brick would be hit with a shoe, the victim and intended target supposedly feeling every blow.
For gentlemen who like to mix their styles - say, wearing slacks with contrasting sports coats - here's the next step: mixable pants. Inventor Allison Andrews patented the idea in 1999. The mix 'n' match trousers consist of two legs attached at the crotch by a hidden zipper. That allows wearers to separate and combine different leg patterns, mixing, for example, one leg of twill with another of wool.
SURELY YOU'RE JOKING
A physicist, a biologist and a chemist went to the ocean for the first time.
The physicist was fascinated by the waves. He said he wanted to do some research on the fluid dynamics of waves and walked into the ocean. He never returned.
The biologist said he wanted to investigate the flora and fauna inside the ocean, and walked into the water. He too disappeared.
The chemist stood on the beach, waiting. After a while, he wrote in his notebook, "Physicists and biologists are soluble in ocean water."
POETRY FOR SCIENTISTS
King Kong, that colossal gorilla,
Once battled the mighty Godzilla.
The lizard fought well,
But fell prey to the smell
From Kong's armpit; that is, his axilla.
- Pamela Greene
BRAIN SWEAT ANSWER
If you place the first five letters of the alphabet in front of these words, you will get new words:
A-BASH, B-ALE, C-ABLE, D-EAR, E-BONY.
WHAT IS IT? ANSWERThe head of a water scavenger beetle larva, magnified 100 times. Taken by Charles Krebs of Issaquah, Wash. Photo courtesy of Nikon Instruments Inc.