Archive for August 10th, 2010

August 10, 2010

Beer Boots

beer boot


The custom of drinking beer from a boot-shaped glass is common in German themed bars, beer gardens, and the like. Machine pressed beer boots range in size from a shot glass up to 1 litre. The more popular mouth blown beer boots are typically 1 and 2 litres in size.

There are several different origin stories for the boot of beer. One tradition holds that a Prussian general swore to his troops that he would drink beer from his boot dependent on the successful outcome in a coming battle. When victorious, the general ordered a glass fashioned in the shape of a boot to fulfill his promise without, ‘having to taste his own feet.’ Another tradition holds that the boot began when German soldiers during World War I having nothing else to drink from instead passed around an actual leather boot of beer before heading into battle. They would flick the boot before drinking from it for good luck and again after drinking to wish the next soldier good luck.

August 10, 2010

Quantum Entanglement


alice and bob

Quantum entanglement is a property of physics where two particles will act together and become a system. They behave like one object, but remain two separate objects. It is as if they now sit on the same teeter-totter seesaw. No matter how long the seesaw is, even if it is one million miles long, if one end is down the other end must be up, and this happens instantly. Even though each particle can tell what the other is doing, they do not send messages back and forth. There are no messages between the particles saying, ‘I’m going down, therefore, you must go up’ and waiting for the particle to receive the message. Yet, the particles are always connected and can behave as one.

Quantum Entanglement is one of the concepts that led Albert Einstein to dislike the theory of Quantum Mechanics. Along with his colleagues, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen, Einstein used entanglement to try to disprove quantum mechanics. Einstein called entanglement ‘spooky action at a distance.’ Years later, however, John Bell proved with his theorem that entanglement is real and actually happens to tiny particles. Bell’s theorem was experimentally verified for the first time in 1980 by the French physicist Alain Aspect. Although one can probe a nearby particle to instantly affect its partner particle, it is impossible to control how they end up. In other words, probing the particle will influence its partner particle, but it is impossible to choose how to influence them. Therefore it is impossible to use quantum entanglement to send messages.

August 10, 2010




In economics, a monopsony [muh-nop-suh-nee] is a market form in which only one buyer faces many sellers. It is an example of imperfect competition, similar to a monopoly, in which only one seller faces many buyers. As the only purchaser of a good or service, the ‘monopsonist’ may dictate terms to its suppliers in the same manner that a monopolist controls the market for its buyers.

The term was first introduced by Joan Robinson in her influential book, ‘The Economics of Imperfect Competition.’ Robinson credits classics scholar Bertrand Hallward of Peterhouse College, Cambridge with coining the term. A single-payer universal health care system, in which the government is the only ‘buyer’ of health care services, is an example of a monopsony. It has also been argued that Wal-Mart, in the United States, functions as a monopsony in certain market segments, as its buying power for a given item may dwarf the remaining market. The Canadian Wheat Board, established by the Parliament of Canada in 1935 as a producer marketing system, is a monopsonistic buyer of wheat and barley.

August 10, 2010

Higgs Boson

The Higgs Boson [boh-son] is a very small particle, which interacts with a field called the Higgs Field. This field creates a ‘drag’ on particles, and this drag gives the particles mass. An easy way to think of it is that this field grabs onto many other particles, giving them a resistance to being moved. This resistance is observed as the particle’s mass. This field only interacts with particles that have mass, which is why some particles can go the speed of light like photons and some cannot, like neutrons.

As it is much smaller than other particles, it is difficult to detect. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is the tool that scientists are now using to try to find it. Its existence is required in the Standard Model of particle physics, but it is the only particle in that model which has not yet been observed. If the the results of the work at CERN cannot show that the Higgs Boson exists, then a rewrite of our entire understanding of physics will be required.

August 10, 2010

Bearer Bond

bearer bond

A bearer bond is a debt security issued by a business entity, such as a corporation, or by a government. It differs from the more common types of investment securities in that it is unregistered – no records are kept of the owner, or the transactions involving ownership. Whoever physically holds the paper on which the bond is issued owns the instrument. This is useful for investors who wish to retain anonymity. Recovery of the value of a bearer bond in the event of its loss, theft, or destruction is usually impossible.

Bearer bonds have historically been the financial instrument of choice for money launderers, tax evaders, and those just generally trying to conceal business transactions. In response, new issuances of bearer bonds were banned in the United States in 1982. All the bearer bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury have matured. They no longer pay interest to the holders. As of May 2009, the approximate amount outstanding is $100 million.  Bearer bonds are still used in some parts of the world, notably in Central America.

August 10, 2010


A caltrop is an antipersonnel weapon made up of two or more sharp nails or spines arranged in such a manner that one of them always points upward from a stable base. They may be thought of as the landmines of antiquity, useful to shape the battlefield and force the enemy into certain paths and approaches, or to provide a passive defense as part of a defensive works system. Caltrops served to slow down the advance of horses, war elephants, and human troops. They were said to be particularly effective against the soft feet of camels. In more modern times, caltrops are used against wheeled vehicles with pneumatic tires.

August 10, 2010

Van Eck Phreaking


Van Eck phreaking is the process of eavesdropping on the contents of a CRT or LCD display by detecting its electromagnetic emissions. It is named after Dutch computer researcher Wim van Eck, who in 1985 published the first paper on it, including proof of concept. Phreaking is the process of exploiting telephone networks, used here because of its connection to eavesdropping.

Information that drives the video display takes the form of high frequency electrical signals. These oscillating electric currents create electromagnetic radiation in the RF range. These radio emissions are correlated to the video image being displayed, so, in theory, they can be used to recover the displayed image. In a 2009 test of electronic voting systems in Brazil, Van Eck phreaking was used to successfully compromise ballot secrecy as a proof of concept.

August 10, 2010

Soldier Bear

Wojtek (1942–1963), was a Syrian brown bear cub adopted by soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps. During the Battle of Monte Cassino, Wojtek helped move ammunition. The name Wojtek is Slavic and has two meanings: ‘he who enjoys war’ or ‘smiling warrior.’

The bear was fed with fruits, marmalade, honey and syrup, and was often rewarded with beer, which became his favourite drink. He also enjoyed eating cigarettes. As one of the officially enlisted ‘soldiers’ of the company, he lived with the other men in their tents or in a transportable wooden crate. After the war, Wojtek was given to the Edinburgh Zoo. There he spent the rest of his days, often visited by journalists and former Polish soldiers, some of whom would toss him cigarettes. Wojtek died in December of 1963, at the age of 22.

August 10, 2010

Sadie Hawkins Dance

lil abner

In the United States, a Sadie Hawkins Dance is usually a less formal dance sponsored by a high school, middle school or college, in which female students invite male students. This is contrary to the usual custom of male students inviting females to school dances such as Prom, in the spring and Homecoming, in the fall.

The Sadie Hawkins dance is named after the Li’l Abner comic strip character Sadie Hawkins, created by cartoonist Al Capp. In the strip, the unmarried women of Dogpatch got one day a year to chase the bachelors and ‘marry up’ with the ones they caught. The event was first introduced in a daily strip which ran on November 13, 1937.

August 10, 2010

Capgras Delusion

The Capgras delusion is a disorder in which a person holds a delusion that a friend, spouse, parent or other close family member has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor. The Capgras delusion is classed as a delusional misidentification syndrome, a class of delusional beliefs that involves the misidentification of people, places, or objects. It can occur in acute, transient, or chronic forms. 

The delusion is most common in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, although it can occur in connection with a number of conditions, including brain injury and dementia. It occurs more frequently in females by a ratio of three for every two men. Although the Capgras delusion is commonly called a syndrome, because it can occur as part of, or alongside, various other disorders and conditions, some researchers have argued that it should be considered a symptom, rather than a syndrome or classification in its own right. The condition is named after Joseph Capgras, a French psychiatrist who first described the disorder in 1923.

August 10, 2010


ned ludd

The Luddites [luhd-ahyts] were a social movement of British textile artisans in the nineteenth century who protested – often by destroying mechanized looms – against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution. It took its name from Ned Ludd, a proletariat folk hero, who was credited with being the first to fight back against mechanization. The principal objection of the Luddites was to the introduction of automated looms that could be operated by cheap, relatively unskilled labour, resulting in the loss of jobs for many skilled textile workers. The movement began in 1811 when mills and pieces of factory machinery were burned by handloom weavers, and for a short time was so strong that Luddites clashed in battles with the British Army. Measures taken by the British government to suppress the movement included a mass trial at York in 1812 that resulted in many executions and penal transportations.

The action of destroying new machines had a long tradition before the Luddites, especially within the textile industry. Many inventors of the 18th century were attacked by vested interests who were threatened by new and more efficient ways of making yarn and cloth. Samuel Crompton, for example, had to hide his new spinning mule in the roof of his house at Hall i’ th’ Wood in 1779 to prevent it being destroyed by the mob. In modern usage, ‘Luddite’ is a term describing those opposed to industrialization, automation, computerization or new technologies in general.