October 26, 2008

Emergency! Emergency! Everybody to get from street!

I wish I had a Cyrillic keyboard.*

My ILP this year is at Drexel University. High school students can enroll in one course per quarter/semester through the Pennoni Honors College, and I am taking Russian 101.

My Russian knowledge is vast and deep. I can say such illustrious phrases as "That is a cat." and "Where is his magazine?"

Sarcasm aside, I love Russian. Though I can't quite read Dostoevsky in its original language, hey, I'll get there one day. I have mastered the alphabet! Almost!

I wander the streets muttering possessive pronouns, counting street lamps, identifying objects and greeting my imaginary friends.

I can count from один to десять. And backwards.

I can mind my p's and q's.

And I can say fuck your mother. Yeah, I have my priorities in order.

*Are there any applications or something that will let me type in Cyrillic letters? Please contact me!
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October 17, 2008

Coal Waste Poisons Water

I think it has been well established that coal mining is not all that great for the environment. Coal waste gets dumped in creeks and other water bodies, even though there are currently laws against doing just that. There is a reason for those laws: people drink that water.

A recent study published last Tuesday “found more lung cancer deaths, overall hospitalizations and overall deaths in coal-producing counties compared to other parts of the region and to the nation as a whole” (The Charleston Gazette ). Adjusted for smoking and other factors, the numbers were still higher than normal. A major reason for all of the sickness and deaths is the water. Coal waste contaminates Appalachian water. It makes it smell bad, according to the little girl in the video below, and it can tarnish a penny in mere minutes.

Coal waste is a general term. Here’s what it means: when coal is mined, it is not pure. Rock is mined along with the coal, and there are other substances in there as well. Coal companies “wash” the coal with water and chemicals to separate just the coal from the rock and other materials. They then take the coal and sell it. But, they’re left with a huge amount of waste. Coal waste is a mix of rock, water, and highly toxic chemicals such Aniline, Benzidine, Pyrene, and many others that I can’t even begin to pronounce (Sludge Safety Project ).

People are drinking toxic waste.

October 13, 2008

Tell Me Something Smart

how about the Diving reflex?

what's that?

It's interesting


but seriously
it's mostly seen in marine animals (not surprisingly)
When, say, a dolphin goes under water for an extended period of time, it can shut down some of its body processes, like its digestive track or its reproductive system.
It does this because excess processes, like digesting food or creating and maintaining gametes, are not necessary for the life of the animal at that point, so it can save energy for more important processes, like keeping the heart pumping and the brain thinking.
You can think of it like turning off the lights in the rooms in your house where no one is.
The real interesting part about the Diving Reflex is that humans also posses it to some extent.
If someone falls into freezing water, their body processes slow down in order to keep their heart and brain alive.
And as such, people can be "brought back to life" after seemingly drowning in a freezing lake.

It sounds like it's more of a temperature thing than a water thing.

It's actually a brain thing.
It helps show that humans and dolphins are distantly related.

But, the trigger that tells the brain processes to shut down seems like temperature or pressure, not the water...

In humans, yes.
Dolphins can do it, even in warm water.
We have to be shocked into doing it.
Actually, I just remembered that some people don't have to be shocked to trigger their Diving Reflex...
Have you ever heard of "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome"?
It's really the same thing.
Except unexpected.

/Today's Daily Learning.