I Love My Beardhead

Here in Kansas (and really most of the United States), the winter doesn’t look to be leaving anytime soon.  For years, I’ve tried to combat what I consider the worst part of cold weather: the burning, searing chill it leaves on my face.  Finally, I have found a solution: Beardheads!  Designed to mimic the manliest of beards (i.e. full), a Beardhead is perfect for anyone out there like me who can’t stand regular ski masks.  The soft, partly wool fabric is extremely comfortable and warm, the faux-beard keeps the chin and neck toasty, and perhaps the greatest innovation of all, the interchangeable mustache does a fantastic job of keeping my lips from drying out.  You should also be prepared to receive complements on your Beardhead every time you wear it as its charming design can’t help but bring joy to everyone involved.

Beardheads come in a variety of colors for men and women.  Also available are some tasteful viking and spartan helmet options for the modern pillager in need of something a little insulating.  Unfortunately, we both know how totally inaccurate that viking helmet is.

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F#&king Particle Accelerators, How Do They Work?

You’ve probably heard some vague information about Particle Accelerators. You’ve probably heard that they smash atoms together and make science happen, but have you ever wondered how exactly they accelerator particles to near light speed?  With the video above, you can have the process demonstrated to you step-by-step by a very intelligent sounding man.  And in case the video doesn’t make it clear, that giant magnetic ring is massive.  Or maybe just large, seeing as they called it the Large Hadron Collider (pictured below).  The diameter of the larger circle is 17 miles.

Still curious about these atom obliterating magneto-donuts?  Perhaps wondering just what would happen were a person to come into contact with one of these high energy particle beams?  Well, as it turns out, there is one man who could answer that question: Anatoli Bugorski.

This unlucky Russian scientist had what could be called one of the worst days in history when he went to fix some malfunctioning equipment in the Soviet Particle Accelerator, also known as the U-70 Synchrotron (which I think is a way cooler name than Large Hadron Collider).  Apparently all of the built in safety mechanisms were malfunction as well, because when Anatoli stuck his head into the part of the accelerator where particles are moved to a faster part of the contraption, he got blasted by a beam of super fast protons.  He reported feeling no pain, but did see a flash ‘brighter than a thousand suns’.  Anatoli was incredibly lucky to survive the 200,000 Rads of radiation that pulsed through his skull (500-600 is supposed to be lethal).  His health problems were many, but surprisingly minimal considering he was struck by particles moving near the speed of light.  Immediately after the accident the left side of his face swelled up considerably.  That side also hasn’t aged since the accident after becoming paralyzed from nerve damage.  He also lost hearing in his left ear, becomes much more fatigued by mental work, and now suffers from a rare type of seizure.  He is still alive to this day and lives with his wife and son.

The accident never game Anatoli Bugorski the super powers he needed to become Proto-Man, smasher of atoms.

Snowstorm

Satellite picture of yesterdays friggin’ gigantic blizzard.  You can click on that image to see it full sized and look at more pictures of the storm here.

In The 70s…

People had cooler hair and PBS stations used better music.

(Via Boing Boing)

I Didn’t Even Know These Animals Could Exist

Here on planet earth, we have a pretty diverse biosphere.  I’m always interested in learning about newly discovered animals.  But despite how new and unusual animals like a bat that resembles Yoda and neon pink millipedes are, I never would have thought they couldn’t exist.  Like that slug pictured above.  It’s unlike any other animal we’ve discovered on Earth because it practically sits in two taxonomic kingdoms.  That green hue isn’t just camouflage: it’s chlorophyll, the stuff that plants use to synthesize energy from sunlight.  Technically, baby slugs of the species must consume at least one meal of algae in order to carry out photosynthesis, but it’s still the closes I’ve heard to an animal/plant hybrid.  Read can read more about it here.

Speaking of hybrids, the above goat is also a one-of-a-kind mix.  Like all mammals, goats are normally warm-blooded creatures.  But warm-bloodedness requires quite a bit of energy to keep up with constant growth rates and this dwarf goat species found itself on a little island in the Mediterranean (see the map below). With little food to eat, the entire species had to either drastically alter its metabolism or face extinction.  And for a few thousand years, that worked. By aping reptiles’ ability to slow down metabolism until food was actually available, the goats could survive on the limited food supply.  Of course, this also meant they had small brains and moved sluggishly, making them very easy prey for the humans who eventually made their way to the island.

Hooray Kansas’ 150th Birthday!

I made this timeline today for a story on the 150th anniversary of  Kansas’ statehood that will be running on the Daily Kansan website tomorrow. I’d embed it right here, but WordPress is very picky about what widgets can embed into their blogs so you’ll have to follow that link.

Intrepid Museum

The Intrepid Museum in New York City is a decommissioned aircraft carrier retrofit into a museum.

They have some great aircraft on display, including one of the few Concordes.

A Blackbird spy plane was also on display and seemed surprisingly small.