Archive for December 1st, 2010

December 1, 2010

Jury Nullification

bernhard goetz by david levine

Jury nullification occurs when a jury reaches a verdict contrary to the weight of evidence. Widely, it is any rendering of a verdict by a trial jury contrary to the letter of the law—that is, of an official rule, and especially a legislative enactment. Jury nullification need not disagree with the instructions by the judge—which concern what the law (common or otherwise) is—but it may rule contrary to an instruction requiring the jury to apply the law to the defendant in light of the facts in evidence.

A jury verdict contrary to the letter of the law pertains only to the particular case before it; however, if a pattern of identical verdicts develops in response to repeated attempts to prosecute a statutory offense, it can have the de facto effect of invalidating the statute. A pattern of jury nullification may indicate public opposition to an unwanted legislative enactment.

December 1, 2010

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living

hirst shark front

hirst shark side

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living is an artwork created in 1992 by Damien Hirst, an English artist and a leading member of the ‘Young British Artists’ (YBA). It consists of a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde in a vitrine. It was originally commissioned in 1991 by Charles Saatchi, who sold it in 2004, to Steven A. Cohen for an undisclosed amount, widely reported to have been $8 – 12 million dollars.

Due to deterioration of the original 14-foot tiger shark, it was replaced with a new specimen in 2006. It is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City until 2010.

December 1, 2010



The Pickelhaube (from the old German pickel, ‘point’ or ‘pickaxe;’ and haube, ‘bonnet’) was a spiked helmet worn in the 19th and 20th centuries by German military, firefighters, and police. Although typically associated with the Prussian army, the helmet enjoyed wide use among uniformed occupations in the Western world. It was originally designed in 1842 by King Frederick William IV of Prussia, maybe as a copy of similar helmets that were adopted at the same time by the Russian military.It is not clear whether this was a case of imitation, or parallel invention.

December 1, 2010

Pith Helmet

The pith helmet (also known as the safari helmet, sun helmet, topee, sola topee, salacot or topi) is a lightweight cloth-covered helmet made of cork or pith (typically pith from the sola Indian swamp growth). Designed to shade the wearer’s head and face from the sun, pith helmets were once often worn by Westerners in the tropics.

Crude forms of pith helmets had existed as early as the 1840s, but it was around 1870 that the pith helmet became popular with military personnel in Europe’s tropical colonies. The Franco-Prussian War had popularized the German Pickelhaube, which may have influenced the distinctive design of the pith helmet. Such developments may have merged with a traditional design from the Philippines, the salakot. The alternative name salacot (also written salakhoff) appears frequently in Spanish and French sources; it comes from the Tagalog word salacsac (or Salaksak).

December 1, 2010


Pith is a substance that is found in vascular plants. It consists of soft, spongy cells, and is located either in the center of the stem or the center of the roots in flowering plants. It is encircled by a ring of xylem (woody tissue), and outside that, a ring of phloem (bark tissue). In some plants the pith is solid, but for most it is soft. A few plants, such as walnuts, have distinctive chambered pith with numerous short cavities.

The word comes from the Old English word piþa, meaning substance, akin to Middle Dutch pit, meaning the pit of a fruit. The modern word pithy (concise and forcefully expressive) derives from it. The inner rind of citrus fruits and other hesperidium is also called pith. The pith and the peel are where about three quarters of the nutrients of an orange are. The pith itself is bitter and is usually added to marmalade or otherwise prepared to be eaten.

December 1, 2010

Lençóis Maranhenses

Lencois Maranhenses

The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is located on the coast of northeastern Brazil; it is an area of low, flat, occasionally flooded land, overlaid with large, discrete sand dunes. It encompasses roughly 1000 square kilometers, and despite abundant rain, supports almost no vegetation. The park was created on June 2, 1981. The National Park is quite extensive and has no access roads. Because of the nature of the park’s protected status, most vehicles are not permitted access. Entrance to the park is made exclusively by 4-wheel drive trucks.

Lying just outside the Amazon basin, the region is subject to a regular rain season during the beginning of the year. The rains cause a peculiar phenomenon: fresh water collects in the valleys between sand dunes, spotting the desert with blue and green lagoons that reach their fullest between July and September. The area is also home to a variety of fish which, despite the almost complete disappearance of the lagoons during the dry season, have their eggs brought from the sea by birds.

December 1, 2010



teetotal pledge

Teetotalism [tee-toht-l-iz-uhm] refers to either the practice of or the promotion of complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages. A person who practices or advocates teetotalism is called a teetotaler (plural teetotalers or teetotalli). The teetotalism movement was first started in Preston, England in the early 19th century. Some common reasons for choosing teetotalism are religious, health, family, philosophical, or social reasons, and, sometimes, as simply a matter of taste or preference.

Contemporary and colloquial usage has somewhat expanded teetotalism to include strict abstinence from most recreational intoxicants (legal and illegal). Most teetotaler organizations also demand from their members that they do not promote or produce alcoholic intoxicants.

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December 1, 2010



The NatureMill is an automated, indoor composter. Powered by about 10 watts of electricity per month, it heats and mixes food scraps every four hours. Steady aeration and low heat accelerates the composting process; it takes two to the three weeks to convert waste into usable soil.

Natural compost cultures consume waste quickly, without odors. They produce a mild aroma like sourdough, mushrooms, or straw. Sawdust and baking soda reduce acidity, and a fan draws air into the machine, providing oxygen to the cultures. A powerful carbon filter removes any lingering odors. The NatureMill Pro costs $399. Maximum input is 120 lbs. per month. Bones and peach and avocado pits will not compost in a NatureMill, and acidic foods like citrus, tomatoes, and grapes will only compost in limited quantities.

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December 1, 2010

Asteroid Mining

Planetary Resources

Asteroid mining refers to exploiting raw materials from asteroids and planetoids in space, especially near-Earth objects. Minerals and volatiles could be mined from an asteroid or spent comet to provide space construction material (e.g., iron, nickel, titanium), to extract water and oxygen to sustain the lives of prospector-astronauts on site, as well as hydrogen and oxygen for use as rocket fuel. In space exploration, these activities are referred to as in-situ resource utilization.

A relatively small metallic asteroid with a diameter of 1 mile  contains more than $20 trillion US dollars worth of industrial and precious metals. The gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, nickel, palladium, platinum, and other metals that we now mine from the Earth’s crust, and that are essential for economic and technological progress, came originally from the rain of asteroids that struck the primordial Earth. Earth’s massive gravity pulled all such siderophilic (iron loving) elements into the planet’s core during its molten youth more than four billion years ago. Initially, this left the crust utterly depleted of such valuable elements. Asteroid impacts re-infused the depleted crust with metals.

December 1, 2010

Landfill Mining


Landfill mining and reclamation (LFMR) is the excavation and processing of solid wastes which have previously been landfilled to reduce the amount of landfill mass encapsulated within the closed landfill and/or to remove hazardous materials. In the process, mining recovers valuable recyclable materials, a combustible leachate (liquid that, in passing through matter, extracts solutes, suspended solids or any other component of the material through which it has passed), soil, and landfill space.

The aeration of the landfill soil is a secondary benefit regarding the landfill’s future use, and the combustible leachate is useful for the generation of power. The concept was introduced as early as 1953 at the Hiriya landfill near the city of Tel Aviv, Israel. Waste contains many resources with high value, the most notable of which are non-ferrous metals such as aluminium cans and scrap metal. The concentration of aluminium in many landfills is higher than the concentration of aluminum in bauxite from which the metal is derived.