27 July 2011

The coconut meat rap

The white 'flesh' of a coconut is called 'meat'.  A work colleague couldn't believe it is called 'meat' for something that isn't of animal origin.

Being also a talented rap musician, he also wrote the following ditty

Go loco for Coco, the Coconut /
sweet is the meat when you split the nut /
it's not like beef, nor pork my friend /
it's a fruity meat, a treat till the end /
slurp on the juice, white crumbly flesh /
combine it with peanut meat, now that's somethin' fresh /
Coconut meat, Aroy-D all in the can /
when you eat the cocomeat well you da man /

There you go. Lyrics above © copyright by D'Opus & Roshambo

24 July 2011

Light travels at the speed of light.

Hong Kong researchers have published in the prestigious Physical Review Letters from the American Physical Society that the photon precursor cannot travel faster than the speed of light. Abstract
Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 243602 (2011)
Optical Precursor of a Single Photon

Shanchao Zhang, J. F. Chen, Chang Liu, M. M. T. Loy, G. K. L. Wong, and Shengwang Du*
Department of Physics, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China

Received 31 March 2011; published 16 June 2011

We report the direct observation of optical precursors of heralded single photons with step- and square-modulated wave packets passing through cold atoms. Using electromagnetically induced transparency and the slow-light effect, we separate the single-photon precursor, which always travels at the speed of light in vacuum, from its delayed main wave packet. In the two-level superluminal medium, our result suggests that the causality holds for a single photon.

URL: http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.243602
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.243602
PACS: 42.50.Gy, 32.80.Qk, 42.50.Dv

The press release from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology of 19 July 2011 was titled "HKUST Professors Prove Single Photons Do Not Exceed the Speed of Light". Excerpt
A group of physicists at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) led by Prof Shengwang Du reported the direct observation of optical precursor of a single photon and proved that single photons cannot travel faster than the speed of light in vacuum. HKUST's study reaffirms Einstein's theory that nothing travels faster than light and closes a decade-long debate about the speed of a single photon.

Prof Shengwang Du, Assistant Professor in HKUST's Department of Physics, and his research team have published their study in Physical Review Letters recently. Co-authors include three postgraduate students Shanchao Zhang, Jiefei Chen and Chang Liu, Chair Professors Michael M T Loy and George K L Wong. This is the fifth time in the last two years that Prof Du's team published their optics research in Physical Review Letters, one of the most prestigious scientific journals in physics, and the second time their papers were selected as editors' suggestion for reading. This research was also highlighted as a Physics Synopsis by American Physical Society with a title "Single photons obey the speed limits."

Prof Du's study demonstrates that a single photon, the fundamental quanta of light, also obeys the traffic law of the universe just like classical EM waves. Einstein claimed that the speed of light was the traffic law of the universe or in simple language, nothing can travel faster than light. HKUST's team is the first to experimentally show that optical precursors exist at the single-photon level, and that they are the fastest part of the single-photon wave packet even in a so called 'superluminal' medium.
Read more.  This was also reported by AFP via France 24, which made a rather assertive conclusion
Hong Kong physicists say they have proved that a single photon obeys Einstein's theory that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light -- demonstrating that outside science fiction, time travel is impossible.
Read more. Surely a single experiment proving that light (photon as a light particle) cannot travel faster than light would not rule out faster than light travel by other types of particles. In any case, there are other time travel theories that are not predicated on travelling at faster than the speed of light.

23 July 2011

football - round 18

North Melbourne    4.7 8.10 12.15     17.20 (122)      
Brisbane Lions         4.0  8.5  10.6      11.11 (77)

North Melbourne: Pedersen 3, Petrie 3, Harper 2, Edwards 2, Wells 2, Bastinac 2, Goldstein 2, Warren
Brisbane Lions: Cornelius 2, Karnezis 2, Clark, Polkinghorne, Black, Power, Rockliff, Hawksley, Banfield

North Melbourne: Bastinac, Harvey, Ziebell, Swallow, Petrie , Adams, Edwards, Goldstein, McMahon
Brisbane Lions: Black, Rockliff, Redden, Raines, Leuenberger, Adcock

Reports: Michael Firrito (North Melbourne) reported for striking Simon Black (Brisbane Lions) in the second quarter.

Umpires: Dalgleish, Chamberlain, Pannell
Official Crowd: 20,809 at Etihad Stadium

It was a promising start for the Brisbane Lions and there was a slight chance until the third and fourth quarters. In the end, the Lions couldn't deliver. Match report by Jennifer Witham.

James Polkinghorne (photo: Andrew White/Slattery Media)

Jack Redden flies for a mark (photo: Mark Dadswell/Getty)

Brent Staker (photo: Andrew White/Slattery Media)

Simon White (photo: Sean Garnsworthy/Slattery Media)

A contested (pack) mark (photo: Robert Prezioso/Getty)

20 July 2011

Shop window dummies. Alive.

Reported by AFP via France24 on 18 July 2011, Italy's union Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro (CGIL) has expressed displeasure at Milan department store Coin for displaying live models in place of shop window dummies claiming to "protect workers' decorum and customers' intelligence" against the 'commodification' of the body.

In turn, the models have also protested the union's claims holding signs saying "Anche fare il modello è un lavoro".

See also Corriere della Sera on 15 July 2011, which suggests the union won with Coin withdrawing the models.

One would think that in the prevailing economic circumstances in Italy, the union would be supportive of young people being employed.

19 July 2011

Dear Chaps, it's not the Olympiad.

The seventh Chap Olympiad, hosted by The Chap magazine was held on Saturday, 16 July 2011.  Reported by AFP, excerpt
LONDON — Wearing their finest tweeds, stroking their sideburns and filling the air with pipe smoke, competitors and spectators gathered for The Chap Olympiad, an annual celebration of the classic English gentleman.

Hundreds of "chaps" and "chapettes" descended on a leafy square in central London on Saturday for the sporting social occasion, where regular pastimes are overlooked in favour of smoking pipes, ordering butlers about and swilling cocktails.

The event is the annual summer bash of The Chap, a bi-monthly magazine celebrating the English gent, his eccentricity, courteous behaviour, impeccable dress and devotion to facial hair. In its 12th year, it now has 10,000 readers.

"It's a sports day for people who don't like sport," said organiser Gustav Temple, The Chap's editor.

"It's unfair that chaps who spend most of their time filling their pipes, pressing their trousers and mixing dry Martinis don't get a chance to compete," he told AFP.

The 10 events include the pipeathlon -- sauntering, bicycling and being carried by servants while smoking a pipe -- butler baiting, ironing board surfing and moustache wrestling.

Read more.

See also reporting in The Independent and The Chap and see flickr gallery.

When members of the House of Lords aren't sleeping in the chamber, they may possibly be engaging in similar antics at the Palace of Westminster.

17 July 2011

football - round 17

Geelong                     3.4      9.4      13.8    20.13 (133)
Brisbane Lions          4.6      8.8      13.11  15.14 (104)

Podsiadly 8, Hawkins 3, Corey 2, Christensen 2, Stokes, Johnson, Hunt, Varcoe, Bartel
Brisbane Lions: Banfield 4, Clark 3, Karnezis, Hawksley 2, Rockliff, McGrath, Power, Sheldon

Podsiadly, Bartel, Corey, Christensen, Taylor, Stokes
Brisbane Lions: Leuenberger, Black, Banfield, Raines, Hanley, Rockliff

Brisbane Lions:
Brown (face)

Simon Hogan replaced by Steven Motlop in the third quarter
Brisbane Lions: Jonathan Brown replaced by Ryan Harwood in the third quarter

Umpires: Kennedy, Bowen, Pannell
Official crowd: 19,906 at the Gabba

Unfortunately, this game was not broadcast live across most of Australia and the free-to-air channel and subscription satellite service showed the same Sydney game instead. Live reports via Twitter showed that Brisbane Lions were certainly playing well for the first three quarters and led on the scoreboard for much of that time. While it was a loss, Brisbane Lions held well, particularly during the absence of Mitch Clark and captain Jonathan Brown following a ground collision. Match report by Michael Whiting.

'Goose' Matt Maguire (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

Patrick Karnezis (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

Joel Patfull (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

Brent Staker praying after the game (photo: Chris Hyde/Getty)

16 July 2011

wasting food 6

I've previously written (a number of times) about wasting food.  Sweden's The Local (in English) has reported that Swedes throw away a large amount of food every year and malformed vegetables do not even reach human consumption stage.
Swedes throw away food for 20-40 billion kronor ($3-6 billion) every year and the food tossed aside by households, stores and restaurants is just the tip of the iceberg. A new report from the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) reveals that vegetables considered unattractive never even reaches stores.

"A lot of carrots get thrown away because of their looks, and that just feels completely wrong considering today's debate about the environment," carrot farmer Tanya Hultman, outside Piteå in northern Sweden, told The Local on Thursday.

Carrots that don't make the cut are among the unappealing foodstuff most often rejected, according to Sveriges Radio (SR). Too small, too crooked, too big - none of these vegetables will see grocery stores.

Hultman is disappointed by this blatant discrimination, pointing out that there's nothing wrong with the carrots apart from looking insufficiently appealing.

According to the Swedish Board of Agriculture, as much as a fourth of all the carrots farmed are rejected by stores.
The Local also reported that one third of all food produced is not even eaten. Read more.  Full report from Jordbruksverket, Hållbar konsumtion av jordbruksvaror linked here (pdf document in Swedish).

Surely, unattractive vegetables would have been used in food processing.  The high levels of food wastage in affluent nations is unacceptable given so many in the world have barely enough to eat.

14 July 2011

Has he lost his noodles?

Reported by BBC News (14 July 2011),
An Austrian atheist has won the right to be shown on his driving-licence photo wearing a pasta strainer as "religious headgear".

Niko Alm first applied for the licence three years ago after reading that headgear was allowed in official pictures only for confessional reasons.

Mr Alm said the sieve was a requirement of his religion, pastafarianism.

Later a police spokesman explained that the licence was issued because Mr Alm's face was fully visible in the photo.

"The photo was not approved on religious grounds. The only criterion for photos in driving licence applications is that the whole face must be visible," said Manfred Reinthaler, a police spokesman in Vienna.

He was speaking on Wednesday, after Austrian media had first reported Mr Alm's reason for wearing the pasta strainer.

After receiving his application the Austrian authorities had required him to obtain a doctor's certificate that he was "psychologically fit" to drive.
Read more. Earlier reporting by AFP in France24 (12 July 2011), Der Spiegel (13 July 2011).

(photo from Niko Alm blog)

See also Niko Alm's blog. His press release
Eine kleine Pressemitteilung.


Morgen 8.30 Ad hoc PK: Die Nudelsieb-Affäre. Die Hintergründe.

Eine Beweisführung darüber, wie absurd Kirchenprivilegien heute sind. Mit Niko Alm und seinem Nudelsieb.

(Wien 13.7.11,) Wie es kam, dass ein Führerschein-Foto des Unternehmers Niko Alm mit Nudelsieb auf dem Kopf von der Behörde akzeptiert wurde – Niko Alm, Atheist und Mitinitiator des Volksbegehrens gegen Kirchenprivilegien, ist bekennender Pastafari und hat 3 Jahre lang um sein Recht auf einen Identitätsausweis mit Nudelsieb am Kopf gekämpft. Der Pastafarianismus wurde 2005 vom US- Physiker Bobby Henderson gegründet, Gottheit ist das Fliegende Spaghettimonster. Niko Alms Führerschein hat dieser Tage großes mediales Aufsehen erregt. Allerdings kann jeder das Privileg einer konfessionellen Kopfbedeckung am Passfoto in Anspruch nehmen. Niko Alm möchte aufzeigen, dass religiöse Privilegien vielfach aus dem Mittelalter kommen, oft skurril sind und im 21. Jahrhundert endlich beendet werden müssen.

Alles über das Recht aufs Nudelsieb und den seit heute laufenden Wettbewerb “Pimp your Head” – zeig die kreativste konfessionelle Kopfbedeckung, präsentiert von den Initiatoren des Volksbegehrens gegen Kirchenprivilegien.

Pressekonferenz und Fotoshooting:
morgen Donnerstag, 14.7., 8.30h

Niko Alm, Unternehmer, Mitinitiator Volksbegehren gegen Kirchenprivilegien,
Univ. Prof. Heinz Oberhummer, Physiker und Wissenschaftskabarettist, Mitinitiator des Volksbegehrens gegen Kirchenprivilegien

Café Prückel
Stubenring 24 (Luegerplatz)
A-1010 Wien


FJ PUKARTHOFER PR, Jakob Purkarthofer, +43-664-4121491, info@purkarthofer-pr.at
Strangely, it's not a bad look. Fitting that the appropriate headwear for worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is one that is used to drain spaghetti.

09 July 2011

Birth of a nation: Republic of South Sudan

At the stroke of one minute past midnight on 9 July 2011 (local time), the new Republic of South Sudan came into existence. See video news reports

UK Daily Telegraph




See also reporting by France24.

Flag of the Republic of South Sudan

It is a great day for the South Sudanese people who have struggled through five decades of civil wars. In Australia, which has one of the largest South Sudanese populations outside of Africa (some 30,000), community celebrations are being held across country.

See websites of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the  Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan in Washington DC.

A good primer from PBS

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

football - round 16

Hawthorn            5.2   6.5   10.8   16.9   (105)
Brisbane Lions    1.2   4.4    8.5    9.9      (63)

Franklin 3, Hale 3, Whitecross 2, Puopolo 2, Hodge, Smith, Shiels, Hale, Osborne, Guerra
Brisbane Lions: Brown 3, Redden 2, Karnezis 2, Power, Sheldon


Gibson, Hodge, Mitchell, Franklin, Whitecross, Bailey, Ellis, Hale
Brisbane Lions: Rockliff, Black, Redden, Hanley, Karnezis, Brown, Power


Brisbane Lions:
McGrath (lower leg), O'Brien replaced in selected side by Bewick

Milne subbed on for Young (leg) in the fourth quarter
Brisbane Lions: Bewick subbed on for Retzlaff in the third quarter

Umpires: Kennedy, Grun, Pannell
Official crowd: 14,604 at Aurora Stadium

Hawthorn were a much better team. Despite defeating them in the past at this ground in Launceston, they were far too good. Match report by Stu Warren.

Jed Adcock (photo: Hamish Blair/Getty)

Pearce Hanley (photo: Hamish Blair/Getty)

Ash McGrath (photo: Hamish Blair/Getty)

Matt Maguire (photo: Sean Garnsworthy/Slattery Media)

03 July 2011

football - round 15

Brisbane Lions        4.1      7.3      13.5    15.9 (99)
Port Adelaide           4.2      8.5      13.6    13.10 (88)

Brisbane Lions:
Brown 4, Power 3, McGrath 2, Sheldon 2, Karnezis 2, Bewick, Stiller
Port Adelaide: Schulz 7, Ebert 2, Cassisi, Gray, Rodan, Phillips

Brisbane Lions:
Black, Power, Brown, McGrath, Adcock, Raines
Port Adelaide: Schulz, Hartlett, Cassisi, Gray, Boak

Umpires: Chamberlain, Hay, Ryan
Official crowd: 17,276 at the Gabba

Finally a win for the Sunday afternoon game though notwithstanding the fact that Port Adelaide, like Brisbane Lions, had only won two of their last 13 games, and sitting towards the bottom of the ladder.  It was still a terrible game to watch.  Match report by Michael Whiting.

Niall McKeever (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

Jack Redden (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

James Polkinghorne (photo: Chris Hyde/Getty)

Joel Patfull (photo: Chris Hyde/Getty)

02 July 2011

A marathon of a bridge

Built by Shandong Gaosu Group or Shandong Hi-Speed Group Corporation (SDHS) 山东高速集团有限公司, the world's longest sea bridge opened to traffic on 30 June 2011. From SDHS
On June 30, 2011, the world longest cross-sea bridge Shandong Hi-speed Jiaozhou Bay Bridge which is invested and operated by SDHS is officially open to traffic. Jiang Yikang, the secretary of the CPC Shandong Provincial Committee and director of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of Shandong Province, Jiang Daming, the deputy secretary of the CPC Shandong Provincial Committee and governor of Shandong Province, general Wang Dengping, the political commissar of North China Sea Fleet, Li Qun, member of the Standing Committee of CPC Shandong Provincial Committee and secretary of CPC Qingdao Municipal Committee, Sun Liang, the Party secretary and chairman of board of SDHS as well as other members of the leadership lineup of SDHS are present at the opening ceremony.

At 10:08 in the morning, accompanied by the martial music, the opening ceremony of Shandong Hi-speed Jiaozhou Bay Bridge grandly begins. Sun Liang and Li Qun deliver speeches in succession. At 10:30, Jiang Yikang announces the bridge is open to traffic. Immediately, the fireworks rise from all directions with doves flying into the sky. The cordial atmosphere floats over Jiaozhou Bay.

As the longest cross-sea bridge in the world, Shandong Hi-speed Bay Bridge is 41.58 Km long, whose opening to traffic realizes the dream of the people over the years in Qingdao, Huangdao and Hongdao and safeguards the economic development of Qingdao City. In addition, the construction of the bridge shows the strenth of SDHS and promotes the awareness and influence of SDHS.
No doubt, the Chinese language version sounds even more 'official' and 'lofty'.

(photo from SDHS)

Some interesting facts from UK Daily Telegraph
Length: 26.4 miles (almost 3 miles longer than the previous record holder)

Width: Six-lane expressway

Capacity: Expected to carry over 30,000 cars a day

Tensile strength: Able to withstand earthquakes of 8.0 magnitudes on the Richter scale, strong typhoons and the impact of a 300,000 tonne vessel

Made up of: 450,000 tonnes of steel and 2.3 million cubic metres of concrete, supported by 5,200 columns

Built by: More than 10,000 workers

Built in: Four years

Importance: Reduces the distance between Quingdao city and the Huangdao district by around 18 miles
Further information from SDHS on construction features and other details.

Channel 4 News

Crossing 41.58km (26.4 miles) in open sea above the water? It might seem like running a marathon.