Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Olympics Mascots Emblazoned Watermelons

The cube-shaped watermelon, with the five 2008 Beijing Olympics mascots Fuwa emblazoned on its five sides is sold at a supermarket in Xuchang, central China's Henan province. The eye-catching watermelons have been produced using steel molds. The price tag of 398 yuan (US$52) each is definitely too expensive to most Chinese citizens. Source: Tjdailyfuwa watermelonTwo more pictures from Gznet. cube fuwa watermelon cube fuwa watermelon

World's First $1 Million Ice Cream Cone Made of Gold and Diamonds

Bruster's Gold and Diamonds $1 Million ConeAmerica's premium ice cream retailer Bruster's sold this world's most expensive ice cream for the charity.

Bruster's waffle cone masterpiece was created by renowned diamond manufacturer, Lazare Kaplan International Inc., and consists of nearly 20 troy ounces of 18k white and yellow gold, 548 round Lazare Diamonds, 87 Lazare square emerald cut diamonds, and one breathtaking 5.63 carat Fancy Intense Yellow radiant cut diamond. The 152.16 carat total weight one-of-a-kind piece has a retail value of $1 million and is for sale!

Link via SN

Gourd-shaped Tortoise

Gourd-shaped tortoise in ChinaThis gourd-shaped tortoise appears at Qugou Township Ornamental Fish Market in Huaibei, east China's Anhui Province, June 24, 2007. Although businessmen there contributed a gene mutation to the aberrance, I rather think it as an abused animal by being banded an iron wire or something alike during its growout. Link to Anhuinews

Monday, June 25, 2007

Colored Potatoes

Those weird potatoes were grown at 3,950-meter-above-sea-level Andes by farmers in Huancavelica, southern Peru. They also have weird names like "best black woman," "best red woman," "makes the daughter-in-law cry," "like a deer's white tongue," "red shadow" and "like an old bone". Ou, I didn't anticipate that the potato can have so many varieties. Link

Georgia Brown, a genious toddler

Georgia Brown, a 2-year-old toddler from Aldershot, Hampshire in UK, scored 152 points on the IQ test, which put her in the same intellectual league, proportionate to her age, as physicist Stephen Hawking (in the top 0.2 per cent of the population).

She has been invited to join Mensa, the High IQ society whose members have IQs in the top 2 per cent of the population. Georgia now is one of only 30 Mensa members under the age of ten.

Check out the full fabulous story about this gifted girl on Dailymail. (via SN)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ashera, 22 000$ cat

The pricey pet is said to have been produced by cross-breeding an African Serval and an Asian Leopard Cat with a domestic feline. While Lifestyle Pets admits this type hybrid breeding has been done before, "the Ashera is unique in that genetic monitoring is used to standardize breeding and ensure that the defining features and size of the [animal] remain exceptionally consistent." And like most other super-luxury items, the company says it will sell only 100 Asheras per year worldwide, with only 50 being sold to U.S. customers
And after dropping 22 large, potential buyers should also be prepared to budget for a big supply of Fancy Feast, as the company says the Ashera can grow up to weigh 30 pounds.

It's no great shock that cat lovers can get little excessive when it comes to their feline friends. But one company, banking on the fact there are more than a few prospective pet owners willing to part with some serious money for a kitten, is selling a designer breed of cat that costs $22,000.

The Ashera, bred by Los Angeles-based Lifestyle Pets, "is a new ultra-exotic breed of domestic cat that already has wealthy animal devotees paying to get on the waiting list," the company press release claims.
The pricey pet is said to have been produced by cross-breeding an African Serval and an Asian Leopard Cat with a domestic feline. While Lifestyle Pets admits this type hybrid breeding has been done before, "the Ashera is unique in that genetic monitoring is used to standardize breeding and ensure that the defining features and size of the [animal] remain exceptionally consistent." And like most other super-luxury items, the company says it will sell only 100 Asheras per year worldwide, with only 50 being sold to U.S. customers

Ashera possess tiger stripes and leopard like spots. You can see the gallery of this Ashera cat on the Lifestyle Pets site

The photos alone make one wonder about the agility of the cat unlike other domesticated cats. According to Lifestyle pets, the Ashera grows up to 30 pounds. They claim it gets along with other pets and children and takes well to being walked on a leash.

The Ashera however will not be mass produced will be available in limited quantities, 100 per year. The Lifestyle Pets boasts it already has two clients, one, a family in Beverly Hills and another, a Russian client in Moscow.

Another California company, San Diego based, said last year that they created a hypoallergenic kitten for people who sneeze and wheeze in the presence of cats. The Allerca cat cost $3,950.

If you want one of the Asheras, you have to put a deposit of $6,000 to get premium placement and also hasten delivery within 4 to 6 months.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bush's Watch Stolen?

Watch this video very carefully; it's President Bush working the crowds in Albania. At 0.50 minutes into the clip, Bush has a watch. At 1.04 minutes into the clip, he had a watch.

The U.S. is denying that his watch was stolen:

Photographs showed Bush, surrounded by five bodyguards, putting his hands behind his back so one of the bodyguards could remove his watch.

I simply don't see that in the video. Bush's arm is out in front of him during the entire nine seconds between those stills.

Another denial:

An Albanian bodyguard who accompanied Bush in the town told The Associated Press he had seen one of his U.S. colleagues close to Bush bend down and pick up the watch.

That's certainly possible; it may have fallen off.

But possibly the pickpocket of the century. (Although would anyone actually be stupid enough to try? There must be a zillion easier-to-steal watches in that crowd, many of them nicer than Bush's.)


Monday, June 11, 2007

Culinology and Molecular Gastronomy

With changes in how we cook and eat the fields of culinary arts and culinary science appear now to be merging into one. Many famous restaurant now have cooking and food laboratories on their premises, while universities and colleges around the country are beginning to offer degrees in culinology ( a degree program that blends food science and technology with culinary art).

Interest in food science has grown in recent years because of the increasing awareness of the vital role of food in the health, well-being, and economic status of individuals and nations and people's curiosity and desire to try new and innovative food dishes. Food science is the study of the chemical composition of food and food ingredients; their physical, biological and biochemical properties and and the interaction of food constituents with each other and their environment.

What is Molecular Gastronomy?

Molecular Gastronomy is the application of scientific principles to the understanding and improvement of small scale food preparation. The term was invented by the Hungarian physicist Nicholas Kurti in a 1969 presentation to the Royal Institution called "The Physicist in the kitchen", and popularized by his collaborator the French scientist Hervé This.

Heston Blumenthal, 38, is presently at the forefront of this radical style of cooking (molecular gastronomy). His triple Michelin starred restaurant The Fat Duck serves dishes like sardine-flavored sorbet, pasta made out of Jello, snail porridge, or a puree of mango and Douglas fir. At El Bulli, the restaurant of Ferran Adria in Spain another molecular gastronomist dishes consist of monkfish liver with tomato seeds and citrus or barnacles with tea foam, or a parmesan cheese ice cream. During the six months his restaurant is closed, Adrià works on new recipes in a laboratory near the Barcelona market.

At restaurant Arzak in San Sebastian, Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena experiment with their chefs on a daily basis. Upstairs from the restaurant you will find a small food laboratory with pH meters, sonicators and liquid nitrogen.


From restaurante Arzak

"Everyday we experiment and investigate with the flavours, textures and elaboration's processes."

Besides the investigation's kitchen there is a "Flavour Bank", that contains more than 1000 products and ingredients we use to their investigations and for the new creations -- -- Juan Mari Arzak

Pino Maffeo of Boston's Restaurant L uses liquid nitrogen, emulsifiers and an arsenal of equipment typically found in scientific laboratories, Maffeo creates what he calls "one-bite wonders." "If science can make my cuisine better, then I'll use it," he said, while putting ravioli made from mango and dry cured ham on skewers alongside aloe vera and muscato grape juice gelatin cubes.

To create unusual and original recipes -- such as pairing fried calamari with watermelon and cantaloupe -- Maffeo analyzes the molecular make-up of the ingredients with an infrared spectrometer nuclear magnetic resonance machine, equipment usually used by synthetic chemists and physicists. He believes foods with similar composition pair well together. He meets weekly to discuss projects with Angela Buffone, a visiting professor of organic chemistry at Suffolk University and partner in Maffeo's culinary experiments. For his signature dish, seared foie gras with a 24 carat golden egg, MDDWO uses liquid nitrogen to flash freeze an airy meringue that has been dipped in lightly whipped cream to create a texture resembling an egg shell. Then using a syringe he injects mango sauce into shell. See full text article by Mark Wilson

Experimental Chefs and restaurants

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Daniel Tammet - Brain Man (Savant)

Part 1





A genius explains

Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant. He can perform mind-boggling mathematical calculations at breakneck speeds. But unlike other savants, who can perform similar feats, Tammet can describe how he does it. He speaks seven languages and is even devising his own language. Now scientists are asking whether his exceptional abilities are the key to unlock the secrets of autism.

Interview by Richard Johnson

Optimnem Blog: The Blog of Daniel Tammet

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Amazingly simple home remedies

1. When choking on an ice cube, simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat. Presto! The blockage will instantly remove itself.

2 Avoid cutting yourself slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold while you chop.

3. Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by using the sink.

4. To treat high blood pressure: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

5. A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

6. If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives, then you will be afraid to cough.

7. You only need two tools in life: WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

8. When confused, remember- everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

Quotes (Can't live with them, can't live without them)

'I recently read that love is entirely a matter of chemistry.That must be why my wife treats me like toxic waste.'David Bissonette

'After marriage, husband and wife become two sides of a coin; they just can't face each other, but still they stay together.'Hemant Joshi

'By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.'Socrates

'Woman inspires us to great things, and prevents us from achieving them.'Dumas

'I had some words with my wife, and she had some paragraphs with me.'Anonymous

'Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.'Henny Youngman

'I don't worry about terrorism. I was married for two years.'Sam Kinison

'There's a way of transferring funds that is even faster than electronic banking. It's called marriage.'James Holt McGavran

'I've had bad luck with both my wives. The first one left me, and the second one didn't.'Patrick Murray

'Two secrets to keep your marriage brimming:1. Whenever you're wrong, admit it, 2. Whenever you're right, shut up.'Nash

'A good wife always forgives her husband when she's wrong.'Milton Berle

Our Eyes

Seeing things (vision) is one of the most amazing things you can do. You may well think that you see with your eyes, and that’s true - you do. But that’s not the whole story, because you also see with your brain. Without your brain, you wouldn’t be able to see at all.

To see, you also need light. Light is reflected off objects and enters your eyes. The eyes then focus the light (a bit like a magnifying glass does) and turn it into a message that they send to the brain. So it is inside the brain that we actually see things.

The way we see things depends on where the reflected light is coming from. If it’s coming from exactly where you’re looking, you see things sharply and in detail; this is called our "central vision". If it’s coming from somewhere off-centre, it falls within our side vision, or "peripheral vision".

Both central vision and side vision are important. Without central vision, we couldn’t read, recognise faces or look at things directly. Without side vision, it would be very difficult to move around without bumping into things!

If you only have one eye, it can be hard to judge distances, or depth. With two eyes, what you see appears in three dimensions (3D) and you can tell roughly how far away things are. To test this, try catching a ball with one eye closed. You can probably still do it, but it’s quite a bit trickier!

The Eye

The eye is one of the most incredible parts of your body. When your eyes are working well, they can see the hairs on a spider’s legs or galaxies that are billions of miles away.

The eye is about the size of a squash ball, but with a bulge at the front. Look at a friend’s eyes - the bit you can see is where the bulge is. You’ll also see a black spot in the middle, called the pupil. This is where light gets inside the eye. Around the pupil is a coloured ring, called the iris. This might be brown or green or blue, or even a funny browny-greeny-grey! Everyone’s iris is different, which means that no-one has eyes just like yours - you’re unique! The iris is actually lots of tiny muscles. As these muscles contract or relax - become tighter or looser - your pupil gets bigger or smaller, to let in more or less light.

To understand how this works, imagine a group of friends arranged in a circle, all pulling (gently!) with one finger on a rubber band. As they all pull, the hole in the middle of the rubber band gets bigger. In the eye, the hole in the rubber band is the pupil and your friends’ fingers are the tiny muscles in the iris.

This is a diagram of the eye that is shown in cross section (so you are seeing the eye from front to back) with the eye looking to the left. It has the pupil (a small black circle in the centre of the eye that is an that lets light in, the iris (the coloured part of your eye that forms a ring around the pupil) and the retina (this is a layer at the back of the eye that can change the lighjt into a message for the brain to tell it what is there).

The pupil gets bigger when it needs to let more light into the eye, for example when it’s dark. It gets smaller when your eye needs less light, for example in bright sunshine. To see this work, get a friend to cover their eyes for 30 seconds, then open them and look directly at you. When they do, you’ll see their pupils get smaller as they adjust to let in less light. It doesn’t take long though, so you’ll have to be quick!

Once light has gone through the pupil, it is focused to give a sharper picture, first by the cornea, then more precisely by the lens. It then reaches the part of the eye at the back called the retina. The retina then changes this light into a message that it sends down the optic nerve to the brain.


Have you ever wondered how we see in colour? Most of you take colour for granted, but none of the Pups, a lot of other animals and even some humans, can't see in colour the way most of you can.

Our ability to see colours depends on the retina - the part at the back of the eye which is a bit like a curved cinema screen. Images that are focused by the cornea and lens land on the retina. The retina has lots of cells in it that are sensitive to light. Some of these are called rods and the others are called cones.

The rods are arranged around the edge of the retina and are sensitive to dim light. Next time you’re outside at night (and it’s not cloudy!), notice how some stars seem to disappear when you look directly at them, but reappear when you look slightly to one side. This is because their dim light can only be picked up by the rods in your eye, which aren’t right in the centre of your retina.

The cones are sensitive to bright light and, importantly, colour, and are positioned right in the centre of your retina. That’s why when you want to see what colour something is, you look directly at it. It’s much more difficult to tell what colour something is if you can only just see it out of the corner of your eye.

You have a lot more rods in your eye than cones. There are about 120 million rods and 6-7 million cones (so you can imagine how tiny they all are!). So you don’t get them mixed up, remember, c is for cones and colour!

This is an image of the rods and cones of the eye. They come of the retina (the layer at the back of the eye) They are shaped as their names would suggest; rods are long cylinders and cones become pointed towards the end - just like an ice cream cone.

Some people’s cones don’t work properly, and some of these people are totally colour-blind, which means they can’t see colour at all. Fortunately, that’s quite rare, but much more common is a form of colour-blindness where greens and reds get mixed up. About seven men in every hundred and four women in every 10,000 have this kind of colour-blindness, but it doesn’t usually cause them any major problems.

Imagine the world with no colour. Traffic lights might be confusing and rainbows wouldn’t be nearly so impressive! This test show how colour-blindness can effect your vision. Individuals with normal colour vision will see a 5 revealed in the dot pattern. An individual with Red/Green (the most common) colour-blindness will see a 2 revealed in the dots.

Optical Illusion

What we see doesn’t just depend on our eyes. It also depends on how our brains interpret the images our eyes pick up. What we see is actually our brain’s translation of what it thinks is most likely to be there. This is why we sometimes think we’re seeing one thing when the reality can be quite different - our brains have been tricked.

Optical illusions are one way of tricking the brain, and they show - often in quite startling ways - how what we think we see may not actually be the same as what’s really there at all!

You'll never believe your eyes!

Try bending your brain by ogling one of these optical illusions

Herman grid

Impossible trident

Fraser spiral

Does size matter?

An apparition

Colour contrast

Stroop effect

Necker cube

Optical illusions and explanations kindly supplied by atBristol. To find out more, visit http://www.youramazingbrain.org.uk.

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