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Project Status Update Part 2

Hello dear reader,

Thanks for coming along for the ride of random learning! If you poke around this site you’ll see that there are two components – this blog that you’re reading, and a talk show (hosted on YouTube).

Each time on the blog I feature (At least) 3 new random facts or ideas, and talk a bit about them. When I do episodes of the talk show, I bring one of these sets of facts to present to the guest.

Last year I was doing blogs weekly and talk show episodes bi-weekly, but I’ve had to slow down on that pace. I will still be doing one of each every month.

I hope you enjoy the project, and if you want to tell me about the latest cool/interesting thing that you learned, you can email me at mostinterestingproject@gmail.com and I may feature it on the blog (and thus might end up in an episode of the talk show)!

It is currently winter here in Canada, but once the weather improves I hope to head outside and do some street interviews for the YouTube channel. There may also be some other fun, exciting development on that side of things.

You can also download the “theme song” for the Talk Show for free. And while you’re here to learn, you can also check out my other project:

Until next time, stay curious!

Russia and Timezones, Lazarus Syndrome, The Opposite of Helium

It’s that time again! Time for 3 new random facts!

Space, Time, and People

So, I’m starting out with an obvious statement this time: Russia is big. REALLY big. (“how big is it?” the audience chants)

Well, according to this tourism video, Russia spans 9 timezones (nine!), has 83 different regions, and is home to over 180 nationalities. That’s a whole lot of time, space, and people!

Canada (my homeland), which also sits at the top of the planet, only has 5.5 timezones, 13 regions, and at least 29 different nationalities (according to statistics Canada).

Time zones are interesting, if you look at a map (like this) of how they fall, there’s a lot of non-alignment, and then you consider daylight savings time and who does or doesn’t observe it.

You Can’t Kill Me, I Have Lazarus Syndrome!

In a return to health related topics here at The Most Interesting Blog, despite doing a fair bit of research on miscellaneous medical conditions last year, I stumbled separately upon this very rare but real condition – Lazarus Syndrome.

Lazarus syndrome, also known as autoresuscitation after failed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is the spontaneous return of circulation after failed attempts at resuscitation. Its occurrence has been noted in medical literature at least 38 times since 1982. It takes its name from Lazarus who, in the New Testament of The Bible, was raised from the dead by Jesus.

Occurrences of the syndrome are extremely rare and the causes are not well understood. One hypothesis for the phenomenon is that a chief factor (though not the only one) is the buildup of pressure in the chest as a result of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The relaxation of pressure after resuscitation efforts have ended is thought to allow the heart to expand, triggering the heart’s electrical impulses and restarting the heartbeat. Other possible factors are hyperkalemia or high doses of epinephrine.

The best part – you come back to life without a nasty appetite for human brains!

No matter how many episodes of House MD I watch, stuff like this always fascinates me. Human bodies are strange and miraculous  things.

Good Low Vibrations

As you probably know, if you inhale helium, your voice will raise in pitch temporarily. This is because helium is lighter than air so when you speak, you’re exhaling helium which moves over your vocal chords more easily. Less friction = less resistance so more vibration and more vibration = higher pitch.

But as you might be able to guess, the opposite effect is also possible to achieve with a different gas – Sulfur Hexflouride.

Similar idea – Sulfur Hexaflouride is heavier than normal air, so when you exhale it, it has more friction with your vocal chords, slowing their vibration, lowering the pitch.

I should warn you, it’s not considered the healthiest thing to go breathing in a bunch of gas that isn’t normal air/oxygen, so I don’t recommend you go doing it frequently for fun, but it is kind of fun every once in a while. As someone who kind of wishes they had a slightly deeper voice (my range sucks), I’d like to try this one day (and do my best Vin Diesel impression).

That’s all for now, back with more later. Stay tuned for another episode of the Talk Show as well!

Project Status Update

Hello dear reader,

Just wanted to take a moment to say the project is on a short hiatus, and will be resuming in the new year. New guests are being booked for the Talk Show, and new blog posts are being researched.

I have been spending some time as of late working on my other main project – The Curiosity Guide Series of ebooks. It is a series of (mostly free) ebooks on a variety of topics meant to either inform the reader or help them learn something.

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While you wait for new content, check out the trailer for the first “season” of the talk show (and get the theme music):

Stay tuned!

Talk Show Episode 10: Breathing Efficiency, and Real Life Zombies

In this episode of the Most Interesting Thing Talk Show, Adam talks to Katie, a copywriter and fellow “do all the things-er”. They do topic roulette which leads to a discussion about how efficient our lungs actually are, and Katie shares a factual story about real world zombies!

Blog Post Referenced:
http://www.mostinterestingproject.net/2016/08/28/week-11-sensor-pucks-infefficient-lungs-microsleep/

Patreon:
http://www.patreon.com/AdamEmanon

My website(s):
http://www.adamemanon.com
http://www.twitter.com/adamemanon
http://www.twitter.com/mosintproj
http://www.instagram.com/adamemanon
http://www.medium.com/@adamemanon
https://www.facebook.com/MostInterestingProject/
https://www.facebook.com/AdamEmanonOfficial/

Theme music:
http://adamemanon.bandcamp.com/track/the-bronze-age

References for things talked about in the episode:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fore_people
http://www.normalbreathing.com/patterns-oxygen-extraction.php

Contact Katie:
katie.wordsmithstudio@gmail.com

#MIB – Enduring Olympians, Mohs Scale, and Deep Holes

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The format is changing slightly here at the Most Interesting Project, but don’t worry, you’re still going to get a regular dose of interesting new tidbits! More on the format change soon, in the meantime, here’s your serving for this round.

Enduring Athletes and Olympians

You might be able to think of a few examples of athletes who’ve been around a long time, perhaps much longer than is typical for someone in their sport. A current example of this from the sport I’m most familiar with is a hockey player named Jaromir Jagr. He is a Czech hockey player who will turn 45 during the current 2016-2017 NHL season. Very few hockey players continue playing professionally past the age of 40 (or even 37+), either because of injuries, or just a rapid decline in their speed/performance. Jagr is an exception, and this is thanks in part to the fact that he maintains a rigorous training and endurance routine to this day.

But I recently learned of another example from a sport I’m not familiar with:

Oksana Chusovitina is [like Jagr] for women’s gymnastics. She first competed for the Soviet Union in 1991 [age: 16], then competed in the ’92 Olympics as part of the Unified Team, then competed for Uzbekistan after the Soviet Union broke apart, then her son got cancer and she worked out an agreement to compete for Germany in exchange for a living wage and treatment for her son, and recently went back to competing for Uzbekistan after having helped Germany build a decent national gymnastics program.

She’s attended 7 Olympic Games under three different flags, including Rio where she made the vault finals at the young age of 41 (twice the average age of the other finalists).

That’s quite something!

 

How Hard Is It?

No, we’re not talking about how hard that math test in school was, or how hard it is to not snicker when someone slips on a banana peel, in this case we’re talking literally how hard are things physically. There’s an app for that! Actually, no, but there is a scale of measure invented by a scientist, which is like an app from the past, right?

The Mohs scale of mineral hardness is a qualitative ordinal scale that characterizes the scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of a harder material to scratch a softer material. It was created in 1812 by the German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs. The method of comparing hardness by seeing which minerals can visibly scratch others, however, is of great antiquity. While greatly facilitating the identification of minerals in the field, the Mohs scale does not show how well hard materials perform in an industrial setting.

Despite its simplicity and lack of precision, the Mohs scale is highly relevant for field geologists, who use the scale to roughly identify minerals using scratch kits. The Mohs scale hardness of minerals can be commonly found in reference sheets. Reference materials may be expected to have a uniform Mohs hardness.

The Mohs scale of mineral hardness is based on the ability of one natural sample of mineral to scratch another mineral visibly. As the hardest known naturally occurring substance when the scale was designed, diamonds are at the top of the scale.

The hardness of a material is measured against the scale by finding the hardest material that the given material can scratch, and/or the softest material that can scratch the given material. “Scratching” a material for the purposes of the Mohs scale means creating non-elastic dislocations visible to the naked eye. Frequently, materials that are lower on the Mohs scale can create microscopic, non-elastic dislocations on materials that have a higher Mohs number.

The Mohs scale is a purely ordinal scale. For example, corundum (9) is twice as hard as topaz (8), but diamond (10) is four times as hard as corundum.

So, now you can figure out how hard your pet rock is!

 

Deep Holes With Jack Drilly

Sorry if that reference is a bit obscure (it’s a play on “Jack Handy’s Deep Thoughts”), I was trying to be clever.

If you had to guess, how deep would you say the deepest human made (artificial) hole in the earth was? 5,000 metres? 10,000?

How about over 12,000?

The Kola Superdeep Borehole is the result of a scientific drilling project of the Soviet Union in the Pechengsky District, on the Kola Peninsula (Russia). The project attempted to drill as deep as possible into the Earth’s crust. Drilling began on 24 May 1970. A number of boreholes were drilled by branching from a central hole. The deepest, SG-3, reached 12,262 metres (40,230 ft) in 1989 and still is the deepest artificial point on Earth.

In terms of true depth, it is the deepest borehole in the world. For two decades it was also the world’s longest borehole, in terms of measured depth along the well bore, until surpassed in 2008.

The Kola borehole penetrated about a third of the way through the Baltic continental crust, estimated to be around 35 kilometres (22 mi) deep, reaching rocks of Archaean age (greater than 2.5 billion years old) at the bottom.

To scientists, one of the more fascinating findings to emerge from this well is that no transition from granite to basalt was found at the depth of about 7 km, where the velocity of seismic waves has a discontinuity. Instead the change in the seismic wave velocity is caused by a metamorphic transition in the granite rock. In addition, the rock at that depth had been thoroughly fractured and was saturated with water, which was surprising. This water, unlike surface water, must have come from deep-crust minerals and had been unable to reach the surface because of a layer of impermeable rock.

The project was closed down in late 2006 because of a lack of funding. All the drilling and research equipment was scrapped. The site has been abandoned since 2008.

Pretty cool, huh?

 

Video of Note: Dancing With Light

I found this video the other day and it really mesmerized me so I wanted to share it.

 

That’s all for now, stay tuned for more!

Talk Show Episode 9: Cockroach Milk, and The Full Footprint Initiative

In this episode of the Most Interesting Thing Talk Show, Adam talks to Victoria, a fellow entrepreneur and do-all-the-things-er. They start by playing topic roulette, and then talking about some of the work that Victoria does.

Blog Post Referenced:
http://www.mostinterestingproject.net/2016/08/20/week-10-military-technology-pogs-and-cockroach-milk/

Patreon:
www.patreon.com/AdamEmanon

My website(s):
www.adamemanon.com
www.twitter.com/adamemanon
www.twitter.com/mosintproj
ww.instagram.com/adamemanon
www.medium.com/@adamemanon
https://www.facebook.com/MostInterestingProject/
https://www.facebook.com/AdamEmanonOfficial/

Theme music:
http://adamemanon.bandcamp.com/track/the-bronze-age

References for things talked about in the episode:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FMBSblpcrc – Paper Towel TED Talk
www.catalystsx.ca
www.careerskillsincubator.com
www.fullfootprint.org
www.torontotoollibrary.com
www.curiosityguides.com

Talk Show Episode 8 – Bluetooth Origins and Emotional Regulation

In this episode of the Most Interesting Thing Talk Show Adam and guest Chris Prendergast (a science teacher and renaissance person) talk about the origins of bluetooth technology (how it got its name and logo), and Chris talks about the importance of managing how you feel.

Blog Post Referenced:
http://www.mostinterestingproject.net/2016/08/07/week-8-bluetooth-breastfeeding-and-curling/

Patreon:
www.patreon.com/AdamEmanon
*If you become a patron, you will get early access to new episodes as well as other bonuses!

My website(s):
www.adamemanon.com
www.twitter.com/adamemanon
www.twitter.com/mosintproj
ww.instagram.com/adamemanon
www.medium.com/@adamemanon
https://www.facebook.com/MostInterestingProject/
https://www.facebook.com/AdamEmanonOfficial/

Theme music:
http://adamemanon.bandcamp.com/track/the-bronze-age

References for things talked about in the episode:
https://jamstack.io/welcome
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1784954.The_Knowledge_Book?from_search=true
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12158480-why-nations-fail?from_search=true

 

Week 13 – Season Shifting, Lemons, and New Antibiotics

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Here on the blog we serve up 3 new tid bits of knowledge each time. Here’s this week’s serving.

Sharing Equipment to Fight Snow and Fighting Fire

As you may or may not know, there are some countries (and cities) that don’t get snow very often, but occasionally they do and because people there aren’t used to it it tends to be pretty disruptive. It doesn’t make sense for those cities to pay to own snowplows that might get used once every few years, so they will rent snowplows when needed from more consistently slow-afflicted places that aren’t terribly far away. I’ve heard about this before, because I live in Canada, where snowy winters are the norm, so we need our snowplows every winter.

But this week I learned that a similar thing happens in the summer, not with snowplows, but with waterbombers – the big airplanes that scoop up water from lakes and dump it on forest fires.

Turns out that in this case the sharing isn’t between a place that has them and a place that very occasionally needs them, but rather between two places that both need them annually, but whose summers do not normally overlap – that being Canada and Australia. The northern and southern hemisphere nations share waterbombers for their respective summers.

Unfortunately, with climate change happening, Australia’s summer is stretching longer and running over into Canada’s summer. This is meaning that when forest fires are an issue in the late spring in Canada, we don’t have all our waterbombers back yet to deal with it. This in part contributed to the disaster of the Fort McMurray wildfire. This might also start to become more of an issue as more places that don’t normally as get much snow or rain may start to get a lot more and not be equipped to handle it. Climate change is bad news y’all.

 

When Life Doesn’t Give You Lemons…

There’s a lot of hysteria over genetically modified organisms/foods, but it’s interesting to note that the process of cross breeding two organisms/foods was happening before humans did it, we just used science to figure out how to do it faster and with better results.

You might be surprised to learn that lemons were not a naturally occurring thing before we had anything to say about it. Lemons have been traced back to a crossbreeding between bitter/sour oranges and citrons, before the first century AD.

As a clever denizen of the internet put it “so when life doesn’t give you lemons, you make them yourself”.

[side note, I just got curious about the difference between citizen and denizen, and the difference is that denizen is the more general “inhabitant of a particular place” whereas citizen is designated to specific cities or nations]

 

Once You Give It Away, You Can’t Teixobactin

Good news on a subject we’ve discussed before – the problem with over-use of anti-baterial cleaning agents. A new anti-biotic has been discovered that does not create resistant superbugs. It’s called Teixobactin:

Since humans started making antibiotics for ourselves in the 1940s, bacteria have evolved to counteract our efforts. They are now winning. There are strains of old foes that withstand everything we can throw at them. Meanwhile, our arsenal has dried up. Before 1962, scientists developed more than 20 new classes of antibiotics. Since then, they have made two.

More, hopefully, are coming. A team of scientists led by Kim Lewis from Northeastern University have identified a new antibiotic called teixobactin, which kills some kinds of bacteria by preventing them from building their outer coats. They used it to successfully treat antibiotic-resistant infections in mice. And more importantly, when they tried to deliberately evolve strains of bacteria that resist the drug, they failed. Teixobactin appears resistant to resistance.

Bacteria will eventually develop ways of beating teixobactin—remember Orgel—but the team are optimistic that it will take decades rather than years for this to happen. That buys us time.

That’s some good news! Also, i’m surprised to learn that we have only been making antibiotics for about 70 years. If you stop and think about how many things we’ve only discovered or invented within the last 100 years, it’s quite startling. World War I only happened about 100 years ago!

 

Video of the Week

Speaking of cross pollination, here are some interesting hybrid fruits, not all of which were manually created. Nature can be pretty wacky itself!

Until next time, stay curious! And don’t forget if you want to submit some interesting facts to the site you can send them to mostinterestingproject@gmail.com.

Talk Show Episode 7: Singing Robots and Gender Discrimination in the Olympics

In this episode of The Most Interesting Thing Talk Show, Adam talks to Jessamyn, an engineer and programmer. They talk about something cool that NASA did, and something not so cool that the IOC does.

Blog Post Referenced:
http://www.mostinterestingproject.net/2016/08/14/week-9-pronouns-singing-robots-battery-myths/

Patreon:
www.patreon.com/AdamEmanon
*If you become a patron, you will get early access to new episodes as well as other bonuses!

My website:
www.adamemanon.com

Theme music:
http://adamemanon.bandcamp.com/track/the-bronze-age

References for things talked about in the episode:
http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta/Touchdown!_Rosetta_s_Philae_probe_lands_on_comet
http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2015/08191059-curiosity-self-portrait-history-belly-pan.html
https://www.quora.com/Are-the-Curiosity-and-Opportunity-mars-rovers-scheduled-to-meet-each-other
www.artscisalon.com
http://artscisalon.com/next-artsci-salon-culture-and-genes-wed-april-23-fields/
http://www.omarestrada.com/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2016/08/15/women-athletes-gave-up-gonads-and-more-to-continue-olympic-competition/
http://sportsconflict.org/racial-segregation-american-sports/
http://eggvan.com/did-sports-end-racial-segregation-in-america/
http://breakingmuscle.com/functional-fitness/gender-inequality-the-ugly-truth-about-female-sponsorships
https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/07/31/why-the-olympics-cant-figure-out-who-is-a-man-and-who-is-a-woman.html
https://www.buzzfeed.com/azeenghorayshi/sex-testing-olympians?utm_term=.xmMqNd7qJ#.frpeDwQej
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/03/magazine/the-humiliating-practice-of-sex-testing-female-athletes.html?_r=0

Week 12 – Constitutions, Clean Energy, and Fetishes

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Happy Labour Day! Seems like a great day for some new tidbit of learning!

South African Constitution Sets A First

I recently learned that the Constitution of South Africa is the first one in history to protect the human rights and freedoms of it’s citizens in the most possible ways:

Section 9: everyone is equal before the law and has right to equal protection and the benefit of the law. Prohibited grounds of discrimination include race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.

I learned this from a man who is originally from South Africa, and is himself a member of the LGBTQ community. He was proud of his country for setting this precedent, and it is indeed a great step forward in history.

 

Clean But Dangerous Power?

I recently learned, much to my surprise, that nuclear power is actually safer than solar power. This is for a variety of reasons. I also learned that modern nuclear power plants are now using fuel that has a much shorter half life than before (meaning it takes much less time to decay to safe levels). Cesium 137, which is the fuel that was used in Fukushima, has a half life of just 30 years. By comparison, Plutonium 239 has a half life of 24,100 years.

But I was surprised to hear of any deaths related to solar power, as it’s just converting light into energy.

As you may know, coal is both the dirtiest, but also most dangerous type of energy produced in the world, but nuclear is actually the least. Solar actually ranks around the middle.

Nuclear radiation also fades pretty quickly as it turns out:

The levels of radioactive fallout drop by 90% for every 7-fold increase in time, so if the level at 1 hour post-blast is 1,000 rads/hour, then after 7 hours, it will be about 100 rads/hour, and after 2 days and an hour, 10 rads/hour. By 2 weeks and 7 hours, it’s down to 1 rad/hour, and by 100 days, 1 hour, it’s at 100 millirads/hour. After a little under 2 years, it’s at 10 millirads/hour.
Source

I dug up an article that investigates the mortality rate associated with these two types:

Nuclear power is probably the power source most people associate with grave danger, but as you can see in the chart above, it’s hardly killing anybody. The most deaths come not from meltdowns, but from the uranium mining process; miners are prone not only to cave-ins and accidents, but a higher possibility of lung cancer. The CDC found 371 such deaths among uranium miners between 1950 and 2000.

Most recently, the disaster at Fukushima can likely be said to have led to a few nuclear-related deaths, but before that, fatal accidents in the industry were few and far between. The only fatal accident that can be attributed to nuclear power in the United States was the explosion at the Stationary Low-Power Reactor Number One, an experimental army facility in 1961. Three men were killed. Besides the tragedy at Chernobyl, which Russia claims killed 31 (and watchdogs say killed dozens more), there have been relatively few fatalities with nuclear power over the years.

Nuclear power is also clean-burning, generating no harmful emissions. It’s only other harmful export, radiation from meltdown fallout, has only proved to be a significant danger across the Ukraine, where Chernobyl cast its shadow—crops are contaminated for generations, and genetic mutations in the population persist today. The World Health Organization estimated that 4,000 people may eventually die from that fallout. But radiation levels at Fukushima are already registering as quite low.

Then:

There are very few deaths in the utility-scale solar industry, but there are some in the rooftop solar panel installation industry. There have been at least three deaths of rooftop solar installers in California since 2009, where the industry is booming. Most construction and roofing deaths result from falls, and the same is true of the solar installation industry. The Next Big Future estimates that there are 100-150 deaths in the solar roofing industry worldwide each year.

Deaths are also likely to be more frequent as occupational regulations remain relatively poorly defined for the young industry. Meanwhile, the silicon solar panels are made from silica, which also must be mined. Exposure to the metal can cause silicosis, a serious respiratory illness. It’s hard to attribute a number of deaths specifically to the solar industry, though, because silica is widely used in numerous other industries, too.

Once the panels are up and running, there are no emissions or harmful side-effects beyond occasional maintenance.

Personally I would still be happy to get solar panels installed on my roof (if I owned a house and could afford the installation), but this has helped make me less leery of nuclear power. Thanks to the few great disasters/tragedies the industry has seen, safety regulations and maintenance do seem to have been really ratcheted up, and now that they’re using fuel that decays within just a few decades, that’s much easier to manage into the future. It’s clear that coal and gas (vehicle emissions) are not good for the planet and need to be reduced as much as possible, so fortunately we have a few clean alternatives that are safer by comparison.

 

A Totally Different Way To Think About Attraction

This one might be a bit of a thing to wrap your head around. You might be familiar with the concept of a fetish. Here’s the formal defintion:

A fetish is an extremely strong devotion to something. There are sexual fetishes and nonsexual fetishes: both are obsessive interests. The most common use of the word fetish is probably the sexual meaning.

You might be used to hearing of fetishes for things like leather, ropes, or whips, pretty typical “BDSM” stuff, but as the definition above says, a fetish is simply an extremely strong devotion to something, and that something can be pretty much anything. I have heard fetishists say that a “true fetish” can bring someone to climax without any touching or intercourse.

It may surprise you to learn, as it surprised me, that your sexuality/gender preferences are technically a fetish:

Androphilia and gynephilia are terms used in behavioral science to describe sexual orientation, as an alternative to a gender binary homosexual and heterosexual conceptualization. Androphilia describes sexual attraction to men or masculinity; gynephilia describes the sexual attraction to women or femininity.

Technically, regardless of your own gender identity, if you are attracted to women, you have a fetish for “gynephilia”, and if you are attracted to men, you have a fetish for “androphilia”.

When it’s framed in that context, it really changes things doesn’t it? Instead of thinking of it as this innate, hardwired thing, you can think of it kind of like an aesthetic that you like. This also helps separate the person from their physiology/gender expression.

I had a discussion with some queer and transgender friends about this and they clerified that the “men” and “women” in the definitions above do not specifically refer to genitalia, they literally refer to the person’s identity. So attraction to men and masculinity does not specifically mean “attraction to penises and masculinity”. After all, men can be feminine, and women can be masculine, and both are completely valid and acceptable.

So there you have it, you’re a little bit wiser now!

As always, you can support the project via Patreon, and send in your own submissions via mostinterestingproject@gmail.com.