Archives for category: Science

When filmed at 1200 fps with the new Casio Exilim EX-F1 camera, the familiar Diet Coke & Mentos reaction takes on a whole new look


A tick-box for the rationalists, ‘The Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense‘, lists all things non-scientific, loopy, and daft from Big Foot to Exorcism, Mothman to Poltergeist, etc. It’s all here, except for maybe Reality Television and the ‘X-Factor’, but it all kinda make sense, even if it does take the fun out of things.

Click on the above picture to see the full Table or try here.

This animation by Isao Hashimoto shows the number and spread of nuclear explosions carried out between 1945 and 1998. During that time, there have been 2053 nuclear detonations across the globe.

America conducted 1,054 nuclear explosions, between 1945-92. These tests took place mainly at the Nevada Test Site and the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands. There have been 10 other tests in the US at various locations, including Alaska, Colorado, Mississippi, and New Mexico.

The Soviet Union conducted 715 nuclear tests between 1949 and 1990, mainly at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan and the Northern Test Site at Novaya Zemlya. Other locations include, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

France conducted 210 nuclear tests between 1960-1996.

Britain has held 45 tests, mainly in Australian territories.

The People’s Republic of China conducted 45 tests.

India conducted 4 tests.

Pakistan conducted 2 tests.

It was a charwoman, Sophia Bishop, who uncovered the truth about Dr James Barry.  Her discovery proved a great embarrassment to the distinguished members of the medical profession, who had failed to guess the doctor’s secret, despite their former colleague’s diminutive stature and smooth complexion.

An embarrassment indeed, considering Dr Barry was one of the most outstanding doctors of the Victorian age, a celebrated surgeon who pioneered new treatments, and performed one of the first Caesarean sections.

It was only after the doctor’s death in 1865, as his body was laid out that Sophia Bishop could see Barry was a ‘perfect female’.  She also noticed what appeared to be stretch marks on Barry’s stomach indicating the doctor had once been pregnant.

As the news of this discovery spread, press speculation reached a fevered pitch in a bid to uncover the truth about Dr Barry’s identity.

The Medical Times reported that although the Army had failed to order a post-mortem to settle the matter, their sources said the facts about both Dr Barry’s sex and her maternity were true.

Other witnesses also commented on the late doctor.  The Dean of McGill Medical School in Canada, who had treated Barry for a chest infection, explained his ignorance of Barry’s sex by stating the bedroom had always been in almost total darkness when he paid his calls and this was why he had failed to notice anything unusual.

Staff Surgeon Major Dr McKinnon, who had described Barry as male on her death certificate, admitted he hadn’t been sure whether Dr Barry was male, female or hermaphrodite, but that he had no purpose in making such a discovery.

Dr James Barry was born Margaret Ann Bulkley in Ireland in 1792.  A highly intelligent child, Bulkley desired to study at university, something that was forbidden for women at that time.  However, in 1809, she travelled with her mother to Edinburgh, where she enrolled under the name of James Barry as a student of Medicine and Literature.  From existing correspondence, it is obvious Mrs. Bulkley was complicit in her daughter’s subterfuge.

Barry proved a brilliant student and qualified as a Doctor in 1812 – the first woman to ever do so in Britain.  It is impossible to guess just how isolated James Barry must have felt, not just in her student days but also throughout her entire lonely, single-minded existence.  Her secret was shared by so few, the burden of deception must have been heavy.

Barry then moved to London, where she qualified at the Royal College of Surgeons, and in 1813, was commissioned into the Army as Regimental Assistant.

Bulkley continued with her disguise as a man and may have served at Waterloo, before travelling to India and then South Africa, where she served as a military doctor and personal surgeon to the Governor of the Cape, Lord Charles Somerset.  It was while serving as Somerset’s physician that the first rumours spread aboout Barry’s gender, and it is believed Barry and Somerset were lovers, and it was here she gave birth to a child.

Despite her diminutive stature, Barry was a fine duelist, and is said to have successfully duelled for a leper colony built.

For the next 40 years, Barry served as an Army Surgeon, eventually reaching the position of Inspector General H. M. Army Hospitals.

In 1864, Barry reluctantly retired, and returned to England, where she died in 1865, her body was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.

Even by today’s standards, Dr. Barry’s career was remarkable.  Prodigiously talented and dedicated, her work on hygiene and preventative medicine was pioneering; her concern for the welfare of prisoners, lepers and inmates of the lunatic asylum was revolutionary.  Dr Barry agitated for better medical care for the common soldier and long before the advent of antiseptic and anaesthetics, she performed the first successful Caesarean sections ever carried out by a British doctor, saving the life of both mother and child.

Dr Barry’s life story is one of the best-kept secrets in medical history; a story of prodigious talent and dedication versus bigotry and sexism; a story we should celebrate and never forget.

Take a Seat‘ was Jelte Van Geests design concept for a rather neat robotic chair, presented at the Openare Bibliotheek, Eindhoven, in 2007.

With thanks to Joannie Anderson

Rob Spence, a Toronto based film-maker lost his eye in a shooting accident when he was a teenager.  Nearly twenty years later, Spence has replaced his eye with a miniature camera that records all that he sees.

The protoype eye was named by Time magazine as one of the best inventions of 2009.  Spence calls himself ‘Eyeborg Guy‘ and blogs about his experiences.

Spence uses the electronic eye not for sight, but to record and document what he sees.

This brings to mind Bertrand Tavernier‘s superior, 1980 film ‘Death Watch’ (‘La Mort en Direct’) based on the novel ‘The Unsleeping Eye‘ by David G Compton.

In the film, Harvey Keitel played Roddy, a man who has a camera implanted in his eye, in order that he may film a documentary about a terminally ill woman, Romy Schneider, who he follows, for a top rated TV show called ‘Death Watch’, in her day-to-day existence as she prepares to die.

Shot on location in a grim and foreboding Glasgow, ‘Death Watch‘ has withstood its initial poor reviews to remain a highly relevant and important film for our age. Long before Ob Docs and Reality TV, this darkly moving and disturbing movie, has proved itself far more prescient in its criticism of media intrusion into our lives than any contemporary film.