Search Results for “Oxide”

November 20, 2015

Red Mercury

mercury by Hussain Ismail

Red mercury is a hoax substance of uncertain composition purportedly used in the creation of nuclear bombs, as well as a variety of unrelated weapons systems. It is purported to be mercuric iodide, a poisonous, odorless, tasteless, water-insoluble scarlet-red powder that becomes yellow when heated above 126 °C (258 °F), due to a thermochromatic change in crystalline structure.

However, samples of ‘red mercury’ obtained from arrested would-be terrorists invariably consisted of nothing more than various red dyes or powders of little value, which some suspect was being sold as part of a campaign intended to flush out potential nuclear smugglers. The hoax was first reported in 1979 and was commonly discussed in the media in the 1990s. Prices as high as $1,800,000 per kilogram were reported.

November 30, 2014


Lu Yu

Caffeinated drink

Caffeine is a naturally occurring chemical found in various seeds, leaves, nuts, and berries. It serves a dual function in plants: as a toxin against unwanted pests, and as an enticement to pollinators, who are stimulated by it. Common sources of caffeine include coffee seeds (beans), tea leaves, kola nuts, yerba mate leaves, and guarana berries. It is extracted from the plant by steeping in water, a process called infusion. Chemically caffeine is an alkaloid, a non-acidic, nitrogen containing compound. A number of alkaloids are produced by flowering plants (e.g. cocaine from coca, nicotine from tobacco, morphine from poppies) to reduce or avoid being eaten by herbivores.

Specifically, caffeine is a xanthine alkaloid, an organic (carbon-based) compound from which many stimulants are derived. It is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug, but unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world. Part of the reason caffeine is classified by the FDA as ‘generally recognized as safe’ is that toxic doses, over 10 grams per day for an adult, are much higher than the typically used doses of under 500 milligrams.

November 3, 2014

Near-death Experience

heaven help us by Alex Eben Meyer

Near-death experiences (NDE) are associated with several common phenomena such as feelings of detachment from the body, levitation, serenity, security, warmth, dissolution, and bright light. These sensations are usually reported after an individual has been pronounced clinically dead or has been very close to death. With recent developments in cardiac resuscitation techniques, the number of reported NDEs has increased. According to a 1992 Gallup poll, approximately eight million Americans claim to have had a near-death experience. Popular interest in the topic was initially sparked by psychiatrist Raymond Moody’s 1975 book ‘Life After Life,’ in which he interviewed 150 people who had undergone NDEs.

In 1981, the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) was founded and the following year began publishing the ‘Journal of Near-Death Studies,’ the only peer-reviewed journal in the field. Research from neuroscience considers the NDE to be a hallucination resulting from one or more of several conditions including cerebral anoxia (insufficient oxygen to the brain), hypercarbia (elevated carbon dioxide in the blood), or damage to the temporal lobes (which are responsible for giving meaning to events). Spiritual thinkers and an parapsychologists have long pointed to NDEs as evidence for an afterlife and mind-body dualism.

October 30, 2014

Maraschino Cherry

Maraschino Cherry


In the US, a maraschino [mar-uh-skee-noh] cherry is a preserved, sweetened cherry, typically made from light-colored sweet cherries such as the Royal Ann, Rainier, or Gold varieties. In their modern form, the cherries are first preserved in a brine solution usually containing sulfur dioxide and calcium chloride to bleach the fruit, then soaked in a suspension of food coloring (usually Red 40), sugar syrup, and other components.

Maraschino cherries are an ingredient in many cocktails, giving them the nickname: ‘Cocktail cherries.’ As a garnish, they often are used to decorate frozen yogurt, baked ham, cakes, pastry, parfaits, milkshakes, ice cream sundaes, and ice cream sodas. They are frequently included in canned fruit cocktail. They are also used as an accompaniment to sweet paan (an Indian preparation of herbs for chewing), and sometimes, along with some of the maraschino “‘juice,’ put into a glass of Coca-Cola to make an old-fashioned or homemade ‘Cherry Coke.’

October 29, 2014

Nitrogen Narcosis


Nitrogen narcosis [nahr-koh-sis] (also known as ‘raptures of the deep’ and the ‘Martini effect’) is a reversible alteration in consciousness that occurs while diving at depth. It is caused by the anesthetic effect of certain gases at high pressure. The Greek word ‘narcosis’ is derived from ‘narke,’ ‘temporary decline or loss of senses and movement, numbness,’ a term used by Homer and Hippocrates. Narcosis produces a state similar to intoxication caused by drinking alcohol or inhaling nitrous oxide. It can occur during shallow dives, but usually becomes noticeable at depths greater than 30 meters (100 ft).

Except for helium and probably neon, all gases that can be breathed have a narcotic effect, although widely varying in degree. The effect is consistently greater for gases with a higher lipid solubility (the ability to diffuse directly through the fatty part of a cell membrane), and there is good evidence that the two properties are mechanistically related. As depth increases, the mental impairment may become hazardous. Divers can learn to cope with some of the effects of narcosis, but it is impossible to develop a tolerance. Narcosis affects all divers, although susceptibility varies widely from dive to dive, and between individuals.

May 27, 2014


Joseph Priestley

The phlogiston [floh-jis-tuhntheory is an obsolete scientific theory that postulated a fire-like element called phlogiston, contained within combustible bodies, that is released during combustion. The name comes from Ancient Greek: ‘phlóx’ (‘flame’). First stated in 1667 by German physician, alchemist, and adventurer, Johann Joachim Becher, the theory attempted to explain burning processes such as combustion and rusting, which are now collectively known as oxidation.

Phlogiston theory permitted chemists to bring clarification of apparently different phenomena into a coherent structure: combustion, metabolism, and configuration of rust. The recognition of the relation between combustion and metabolism was a forerunner of the recognition that the metabolism of living organisms and combustion can be understood in terms of fundamentally related chemical processes.

March 24, 2014

Paperless Office


paperless office by slug signorino

A paperless office is a work environment in which the use of paper is eliminated or greatly reduced by converting documents into digital form. Proponents claim that ‘going paperless’ can save money, boost productivity, save space, make documentation and information sharing easier, keep personal information more secure, and help the environment. The concept can be extended to communications outside the office as well.

Traditional offices have paper-based filing systems, which may include filing cabinets, folders, shelves, microfiche systems, and drawing cabinets, all of which require maintenance, equipment, considerable space, and are resource-intensive. In contrast, a paperless office could simply have a desk, chair, and computer (with a modest amount of local or network storage), and all of the information would be stored in digital form. Speech recognition and speech synthesis could also be used to facilitate the storage of information digitally.

June 12, 2013

False Balance

false balance

Power Balance

Today, false balance is used to describe a perceived or real media bias, where journalists present an issue as being more balanced between opposing viewpoints than the evidence actually supports. Journalists may present evidence and arguments out of proportion to the actual evidence for each side, or may even actually suppress information which would establish one side’s claims as baseless. False balance is also often found in political reports, company press releases, and general information from organizations with special interest groups in promoting their respective agendas.

An example of issues sometimes handled with false balance are pseudoscience, as when a national nightly news program in the US gave coverage to a backyard inventor who claimed to have invented a perpetual motion machine; the program presented scientific authorities to explain why such a device was impossible, but since they gave equal time to the claims of the inventor, it may have created a false impression with audiences that his claims were credible, although they were not. ‘Objective coverage’ of lynching in the 1890s by US journalists failed, ‘to recognize a truth, that African-Americans were being terrorized across the nation.’

June 4, 2013

Nathan Myhrvold

modernist cuisine

nathan myhrvold

Nathan Myhrvold (b. 1959), formerly Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft, is co-founder and 40% owner of Intellectual Ventures, a patent portfolio holding company.

Myhrvold, usually with coinventors, holds 17 U.S. patents assigned to Microsoft and has applied for more than 500 patents. In addition, Myhrvold and coinventors hold 115 U.S. patents assigned mostly to The Invention Science Fund I, LLC.

April 22, 2013



Rust is a type of corrosion (the breakdown of materials due to reactions with their surroundings). Normally, when a material corrodes it becomes weaker, however some forms of high temperature corrosion can lead to the formation of protective compacted oxide layer glazes. Iron corrosion is called rusting. When exposed to air or water for a long time, iron slowly decomposes into other chemicals, because of a reaction with oxygen molecules (air and water contain oxygen). Many other metals undergo equivalent corrosion, but the resulting oxides are not commonly called rust.

Almost all metals rust, but they can be protected with paint. Alloys such as stainless steel, rust much slower than simple metals like pure iron. When a piece of metal rusts, it becomes a different color (for example, iron becomes red or brown), and the metal eventually decays (iron cannot be used or reused once it rusts). Some metals, such as aluminium, titanium, and stainless steel form a very thin coating of corrosion on the metal, which isolates the rest of the metal from environmental oxygen. This is why aluminium keeps its shine. It also makes aluminium seem very unreactive, even though it can react with water.

March 9, 2013

Shaken, not stirred

shaken not stirred

Shaken, not stirred‘ is a catchphrase of Ian Fleming’s fictional British Secret Service agent James Bond, and his preference for how he wished his martini prepared. The phrase first appears in the novel ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (1956), though Bond does not actually say the line until ‘Dr. No’ (1958) but says it ‘shaken and not stirred’ instead of ‘shaken, not stirred.’ It was first uttered in the films by Sean Connery in Goldfinger in 1964 (though the villain Dr. Julius No offers this drink and utters those words in the first film, Dr. No, in 1962).

It was used in numerous Bond films thereafter with the notable exceptions of ‘You Only Live Twice,’ in which the drink is offered stirred, not shaken (Bond, ever the gentleman, ignores his host’s gaffe, telling him the drink is perfect), and ‘Casino Royale,’ in which Bond, after losing millions of dollars in a game of poker, is asked if he wants his martini shaken or stirred, and snaps, ‘Do I look like I give a damn?’

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February 13, 2013

Head Shop

psychedelic shop

A head shop is a retail outlet specializing in drug paraphernalia, as well as counterculture art, magazines, music, clothing, and home decor. 


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