Ever wanted to make the perfect snowball, win the Christmas cracker novelty every time, and impress your festive guests by creating snowflakes indoors? Science correspondent Richard Gray asks the experts who can show you how…
HOW TO WIN WHEN PULLING A CRACKER – WITHOUT FAIL
As demonstrated by the weapons experts at QinetiQ, the defence agency which, when they’re not developing technology for the MoD, like to experiment with Christmas table decorations.
* Hold your end lower than the other person’s, so the cracker tilts downwards towards you.
* To prevent the cracker tearing, use a firm, two-handed grip.
* Apply a slow, steady pull, rather than a swift tug, which will only compromise the integrity of your section of the cracker.
* Avoid twisting, as this will add stress to the cracker wrapping. For the same reason, avoid laughing too hard at Uncle Bob’s annual ‘joke’ about ‘pulling a cracker’.
Read more at The Telegraph (Thanks @ferkle)
“A Brit man is set to fulfill his desire of marrying his Christmas tree.
Andy, also known as Mr Christmas, has admitted many will think he’s had too much sherry but that hasn’t stopped him drawing up plans for the ceremony.
“I love my Christmas tree more than anything else, so that’s why I want to marry it,” the Sun quoted the 47-year-old divorcee from Melksham, Wilts, as saying.
“I’ve already got a ring, although I’m not sure yet which branch I’ll want to hang it on. The only problem seems to be finding a vicar who is willing to do the ceremony,” he said.
He said that although he’d only had the plastic tree for two years, he felt it was like “his best friend” and he never tired of seeing it sitting in his living room.
“I can’t see why we can’t be joined in matrimony. I’ve heard of other people marrying their pets and so on, so why can’t I get hitched to my tree?” he added.”
Read more at Sify News
“The McGurk effect is a compelling demonstration of how we all use visual speech information. The effect shows that we can’t help but integrate visual speech into what we ‘hear’.”
“The table is so small that a million of them could be replicated on a typical post-it note.
Experts from the University’s Nottingham used a sophisticated combination of ion beam writer and electron microscope to carve the symbol of all 118 elements into the strand of hair. The team also used the same nano-writing technique to engrave the words “Merry Christmas” on a snowflake.
“Although writing on a snowflake is on one hand a bit of seasonal fun, it’s also a neat demonstration of the powerful capabilities of the tools that scientists use in the lab on a day-to-day basis,” says physics professor Philip Moriarty. The strand of hair used to create the periodic table was taken from the head of professor Martyn Poliakoff, an expert in green chemistry. His colleagues gave him the printed strand as a birthday present.”
“THE world’s first xenotransplantation treatment – where animal cells are transplanted into humans – has been approved for sale in Russia.
The treatment, developed by Living Cell Technologies in New Zealand, is for type 1 diabetes. It consists of insulin-producing pig cells coated in seaweed, says Bob Elliott of LCT.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed. Insulin is vital in controlling blood glucose levels, so people who lack the cells need daily insulin injections.
However, injecting the wrong amount of insulin can cause blood glucose levels to swing dangerously, causing fainting, and cardiovascular and nervous effects. These can reduce a person’s life span, Elliott says.
LCT’s treatment involves surgically implanting the replacement cells into the pancreas. The “seaweed” coating is alginate, which prevents the immune system from attacking the foreign cells.
In Russian trials, eight people with type 1 diabetes received the treatment in June 2007, while continuing to have daily injections of insulin. After a year, six showed improved blood glucose control and were able to lower their daily dose of insulin. Two of them stopped injections entirely for eight months. One person left the trial and another showed no improvement, which LCT believes was due to problems inserting the cells into the pancreas.”
Read more at New Scientist (Thanks Shaun H)