Science Project

Mad? Mad Genius?

Who can say for sure?

The Saturday night show was set against a backdrop that called to mind the confluence of a carnival sideshow and a burlesque theater. There was a Thumbelina-size woman in jeans and a nearly transparent blouse and a gentleman in yard-long, auburn dreadlocks who looked like a Rastafarian Rumpelstiltskin. Redheaded twin girls wore complementary gold party dresses. The models, as always, were chosen for their unusual physical attributes. But instead of selecting only aberrantly tall young women who weigh 110 pounds, there were beanpole men, tiny old folks, models with jet-black skin and others almost as pale as an albino. The extremes of humanity were drawn together in a celebration of diversity. It was fashion taking on some of its worse biases: fat, old and ugly.

And it was uncomfortable.

The audience laughed. One woman in the audience jerked fitfully back and forth, she was so overwhelmed with amusement. Some people pointed and howled in hysterics. Others applauded appreciatively, offering the models encouragement for stepping into the spotlight — a daunting task even for those who do it five or six times a day.

A single-page handout left on each seat underscored Galliano’s intention, printed with the lyrics to a song familiar to anyone who’d ever been to Sunday school: "Jesus loves the little children / All the children of the world. / Red and yellow, black and white, / They are precious in His sight. / Jesus loves the little children of the world."

Regardless, Galliano will never be accused of subtlety.

Mad? Mad Genius? Read More »

Possum Trot Triangle* Boy Makes Good

Don’t you just love it when your sister tells funny stories about almost killing you when you were kids? Especially if you just won a Nobel prize? The AP picks up a localized story from Paducah:

"We made mud pies, and I remember one time I almost killed him," she said. "We were playing in a sandbox and he made me eat some sand. So I then made him eat it, and he almost choked."

Berry didn’t detect anything special about her brother, Robert Grubbs, or have any hint that he’d win a Nobel Prize.

But, Grubbs did just that. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Wednesday awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry to Grubbs and two others for their development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis.

*Grubbs was born in the Howard’s Grove community of Marshall County, which he described as part of the Gilbertsville-Calvert City-Possum Trot triangle.

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Honest Abe Lincoln’s Zombie Contingency Plan

From the NYT story on the recreation of the Great Influenza pandemic strain:

But Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger, chief of the molecular pathology department at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, had an idea for finding that ancient virus. He recalled that his institute had a warehouse of autopsy tissue, established by President Lincoln.

Dr. Taubenberger investigated and found tissue from two soldiers who died of the 1918 flu, one in Massachusetts, one on Long Island. The tissue was snips of lung soaked in formalin and encased in little blocks of wax. In that tissue was the virus, broken and degraded, but there, untouched for nearly 80 years.

This just in: Lincoln planned to raise army of zombies.


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To Planet or Not a Planet

From a story in today’s NYT on evolving definitions of planethood:

Not only did the panel members disagree on the definition of a planet, at last report they could not even agree, it seemed, on whether they were making progress. Within the space of a few minutes the other week, I received one e-mail message from Dr. Marsden saying he was optimistic and another from Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Washington complaining that his morning e-mail gave him no sense that they were close to bringing the issue to a close.

In another e-mail message, Dr. Boss described the process as "like trying to shovel frogs into a wheelbarrow – they keep jumping out again."

Scientists are so cute when they bicker.

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THEY ARE COMING FOR YOU, Pt. 2 (updated)

First giant squids, now zombies:

There has been a small outbreak of “zombism” in a small town near the border of Laos in North-Eastern Cambodia.

The culprit was discovered to be mosquitoes native to that region carrying a new strain of Malaria which thus far has a 100 percent mortality rate and kills victims in fewer than 2 days.

After death, this parasite is able to restart the heart of its victim for up to two hours after the initial demise of the person where the individual behaves in extremely violent ways from what is believed to be a combination of brain damage and a chemical released into blood during “resurrection.”

(Thanks, Melissa!)

Updated: By the way, April Fool’s! I got you early this year. (Actually, I’m completely gullible and believe anything that looks vaguely like a news story that is emailed to me. But I still love this story.)

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Natalie Angier weighs in on the human proclivity for cursing in a lengthy essay in the NYT:

"The Jacobean dramatist Ben Jonson peppered his plays with fackings and "peremptorie Asses," and Shakespeare could hardly quill a stanza without inserting profanities of the day like "zounds" or "sblood" – offensive contractions of "God’s wounds" and "God’s blood" – or some wondrous sexual pun.

The title "Much Ado About Nothing," Dr. McWhorter said, is a word play on "Much Ado About an O Thing," the O thing being a reference to female genitalia.

Even the quintessential Good Book abounds in naughty passages like the men in II Kings 18:27 who, as the comparatively tame King James translation puts it, "eat their own dung, and drink their own piss."

?*&! Read More »

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