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Comment Re:Using the potty. (Score 1) 151

What if he touched poo-poo to his nose? Gross

[Shrug] you've never had to wipe your parent's shit off their bum?

Don't worry, you too are eligible for this joy. Because you may have no children whose shit you'll have to wipe up, but you sure as hell have had parents, and there's a good chance that you are going to live long enough to see them in their incontinence.

Paying some one less rich than you to wipe up your parent's shit is simply transferring your problem to someone else.

Comment Re:Blindfold Anyone? (Score 1) 151

You're assuming that your "light-proof envelope" is a light-proof envelope, and that your darkroom is completely dark. The envelope is hard to check, but I've never been in a darkroom that was completely dark (though I've never been in a commercial darkroom ; only ones built by amateurs). After an hour or two, you can see the light seeping around the door frames, the key hole cover, etc. A dark room doesn't need to be completely dark, just dark enough to not significantly affect your film or papers. Of course, you keep your materials in black heavy-duty polythene bags inside heavy cardboard boxes, themselves normally in a closed cupboard. And even that won't keep the cosmic rays out - which will eventually fog your film (or paper).

I'd expect that commercial dark rooms do exactly as caves do : lots of right angle turns between daylight and the victim, and thick walls of stone. Close-fitting doors and black paint in the angles help, but you still need several sets of right angles to get to the point that you need your full half-hour or so of dark adaptation to be able to see the leaks.

Comment Re:Overkill (Score 1) 151

Most people probably haven't experienced total darkness. I experienced it while working late at a campsite (astronomy camp).

Speaking as a person who has been a student on astronomy camps, a photographer back in the days when you loaded your own film into the cassettes in the dark, and a caver : you didn't experience total darkness then.

For a start, it would have taken your eyes 20 minutes to a half hour to achieve dull "dark adaptation" to reach full sensitivity to light.

Comment Re:Testing (Score 1) 151

I think that it's that he's willing to use himself as a test subject before inflicting it on others, fairly rare today.

While that is fairly uncommon today, that's not the case here. Isolation experiments have been carried out in various forms for a long period of time. Some have used volunteers (e.g. the ones I describe above), some have involved literal torture, but the field is definitely not short of prior experimentation. The precise question which this researcher wants to answer may not have been addressed, but the broad limits of reasonable volunteer safety are reasonably established.

Comment Re:This is called Kaya Kalpa in yoga (Score 2) 151

By his account he said that after some days he started to experience mind-created visions and that he lost the notion of time. He said that the 49 days seemed to be, in the end, like twelve days.

That is pretty standard for isolation. If you're out of the normal day-night cycle, most people tend to drift round to a longer-than-24 hours circadian rhythm. A forend of mine did a number of experiments on this in various cave systems in Yorkshire in the 1960s, where he'd have light from lanterns he controlled, and food / water dumps would be left in the cave at irregular intervals (to remove circadian prompting). His body clock went up to something in excess of 30 hours.

Of course, since he had lanterns (OK, miner's light) to turn on, he wasn't experimenting on "resetting" his visual cortex, but on removing the circadian prompt. But relevant.

Anyone who has been a caver and has been waiting for several hours for the rest of the party to come back (or catch up), will have turned the lamp off to save the battery. (Of course, the wise troglodyte carries spare lights. but you still keep your system-level redundancy.) And the colours come and the patterns happen. and you hear the water getting louder and you wonder about whether it's raining up top. Some people freak. Most people turn the light back onto the low power setting.

Comment Re:Erdogen is an Islamofascist (Score 1) 144

The Turks you have met, and the Turks voting for Erdogan, are likely disjoint sets.

Very possibly true.

You have most likely met people from Istanbul, or the Western Coast. The people voting for Erdogan are mostly from rural Anatolia.

Having spent much of the last 6 months working in Turkey, I've been meeting a fair number of Turks from all over the country. While most of them have, in fact been quite nice and personable people (including the ones who really didn't want to be there), I couldn't draw a geographical line separating different factions. I suspect that it's more of a social class (caste) difference, since most of the Turks I was working with were degree-educated and middle-class (or aspirants).

If Turkey schisms into a civil war - a low but non-zero possibility - it's not going to be easily solved like regional wars (the Kurdish 3-way mess from 1920, for example), but is going to be a real brother-against-brother job. Very bloody.

Comment Re:This is called Kaya Kalpa in yoga (Score 1) 151

mushrooms will probably get you there and they're not dangerous.

Some mushrooms are not dangerous (and are hallucinogenic). Others are dangerous (and hallucinogenic). And still others are dangerous (and are not hallucinogenic).

Generalising, it is not safe to rely upon generalisations about the safety of mushrooms.

Comment Re:And? (Score 1) 148

Your first assertion.

There are bacteria and eukaryotes that have been found consuming plastic in the ocean.

Your purported support :

"The study is the first to document the biological communities living on the tiny particles of debris known as microplastics, and recorded many new types of microbe and invertebrate for the first time.

"Biological communities" living ON particles is one thing, similar to people living ON the coast ; people CONSUMING the coast is a different thing to people CONSUMING a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.

And for reference, the Discovery channel is not a peer reviewed journal for publication of scientific reports. I'll grant that there is probably more science in the average hour of Discovery Channel than the average hour of ... well things like the Italian film that my wife is occupying the TV with at the moment ... but it's still pretty thin soup.

Following up from your link, the article seems to be a re-presentation of "Marine Plastic Pollution in Waters around Australia: Characteristics, Concentrations, and Pathways" Julia Reisser and 6 others, Published: November 27, 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080466 Abstract Plastics represent the vast majority of human-made debris present in the oceans. However, their characteristics, accumulation zones, and transport pathways remain poorly assessed. We characterised and estimated the concentration of marine plastics in waters around Australia using surface net tows, and inferred their potential pathways using particle-tracking models and real drifter trajectories. The 839 marine plastics recorded were predominantly small fragments (âoemicroplasticsâ, median length = 2.8 mm, mean length = 4.9 mm) resulting from the breakdown of larger objects made of polyethylene and polypropylene (e.g. packaging and fishing items). Mean sea surface plastic concentration was 4256.4 pieces kmâ'2, and after incorporating the effect of vertical wind mixing, this value increased to 8966.3 pieces kmâ'2. These plastics appear to be associated with a wide range of ocean currents that connect the sampled sites to their international and domestic sources, including populated areas of Australia's east coast. This study shows that plastic contamination levels in surface waters of Australia are similar to those in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Maine, but considerably lower than those found in the subtropical gyres and Mediterranean Sea. Microplastics such as the ones described here have the potential to affect organisms ranging from megafauna to small fish and zooplankton.

Nothing there about organisms digesting plastics, though the original reportage from Discovery (sorry, it's not original - it's re-hashed from Agence France Presse, I think) does talk about the effects of organisms ingesting plastic particles, and I also pick up implications form Discovery's writers that the plastics then get caught up in the faeces of the organism, and the faecal pellets then sink to the sea bed, hopefully taking the plastic out of the system. Which might work, but if the pooh is re-eaten on the seabed, all bets are off.

Well, I don't see anything in that which goes beyond vague hints of mechanical erosion of plastic debris in the guts of marine organisms. Which is very definitely NOT digestion of the plastic in any chemical sense. (There is a mechanical sense used in the ore-processing industry where "digestion" includes mechanical reduction, but there is normally chemical digestion going on there as well.) I don't think you've made your case.

Comment Re:Sensationalistic (Score 1) 613

Second, this is carbon dating, and we are talking about drama involving a couple decades.

It is plain that between the actual science and the reporting, there is a weak link (or several), in the reporters.

TFS gives an age range, which if not qualified is probably as you say, a 95% confidence interval. That alone makes it a non-story, really. Their C.I. for the age of the parchment goes before the (nominal) date of birth of the purported author. Non-issue on the face of it, even before you bring up issues like palimpsests.

If I wanted to, and given a reasonable amount of funds, I could start to make parchment tomorrow which would, when prepared, give a carbon date of, say, 200AD. If you used similar techniques to prepare a suitable ink ... I reckon we could have Mo's hand-written note that " Khadijah, I've discovered a really great con trick that'll get us all killed, or make us rich", with a solid RC date of 600-610 CE (calibrated). Between preparing the parchment, the ink, and finding a calligrapher who do the squiggly lines, I reckon we could possibly have the forgery ready for 2021. Are you game?

The technique for preparing the parchment would be to grow a lot of grain in a greenhouse using CO2 from coal manufacture, combined with natural ventilation. The coal-derived CO2 would dilute the natural C-14, as it has essentially no C-14. We want 1400 years of depletion, so that would be about 1/4 coal-derived CO2 to 3/4 natural ventilation. (We might need to filter for N-14 and nuclear-test derived nucleotides, so it might be easier to go with straight coal-derived CO2 and add a source of C-14.)

C-14 depleted grain in hand, we grow a small herd of C-14 depleted sheep or goats. We'd need to check they're genetically similar to ones in the area. Just buy some local goats and we can breed up our beasts.

How to make the ink ... I'd have to do some more research. We might need to grow some C-14 depleted chickens to make C-14 depleted egg for a binder.

And I've got other things that I've got to do. Is the general plan clear? Are you up for it?

Comment Re:Doesn't Predate Mohammed (Score 1) 613

Its not at all uncommon to find ancient handwritten texts using reused paper (or parchment or whatever was used).

"Palimpsest" is the term.

If it dated to much *younger* than the traditional date of the Koran, that would be news.

No it wouldn't. You've got the logic flipped.

Compare this with "The Bible", which actually does not exist as a single thing anywhere,

... not since I last ran out of toilet paper.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll