Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spaghettification (Not a Red Hot Chili Peppers Album)

Suppose you find yourself in a very very strong gravitational field (think white dwarf, neutron star, black hole, etc.) and you aren't already dead from ebullism, hypoxia, hypocapnia, temperature extremes, exposure to many fun wavelengths of radiation, or the huge numbers of energized subatomic particles bombarding your body... what would you die of? The answer is spaghettification --- the stretching of an object into a longer, thinner shape caused by tidal forces within the object itself, which are a result of the gravitational attraction between the exterior attracting body and particles within the object itself. In short the gravitational field is so strong that (assuming you are moving towards the attracting body feet-first), your feet are closer and therefore being attracted more strongly than your head, thus spaghettifying you. In reality these tidal forces would create so much friction that you would die from being slightly too warm before you got very spaghetti-like. If the heat didn't bother you though, eventually you would get so long and thin that you would snap in half. then those halfs would take turns getting spaghettified further, possibly snapping themselves. This process would continue until what is left of you crashes into or is swallowed by the thing that started all of this trouble in the first place. Although very different than Californication, something tells me that Anthony and Flea would think this is still cool.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Supercede has occurred as a spelling variant of supersede since the 17th century, and it is common in current published writing. It continues, however, to be widely regarded as an error.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Rice accounts for 20% of all calories consumed by humans.

Smith, Bruce D. The Emergence of Agriculture. Scientific American Library, A Division of HPHLP, New York, 1998

Saturday, July 2, 2011

How are important are you?

Paleodemography is the study of ancient human mortality, fertility, and migration. A subfield of paleodemography studies approximations of how many homo sapiens have ever lived. The generally accepted number is 106 billion. Given that the current human population is about 6.93 billion, approximately 7% of all humans who ever lived are alive right now. There you have it. Now that you know today's UFOD, if you want to feel more special about yourself today, your contribution to this is approximately 0.000000000943%. Good job, you are important!