Day 321 – Tenuous

It’s Day 321 of the SA lockdown. And so Ted Rogers’ bizarre 1980s game show “321” (secondary presenter Dusty Bin – a er… bin) has been invoked.

Part quiz show, part game show, part variety show, it had the weirdest riddles with the most tenuous connections. e.g. 


Still, if you’re looking for really tenuous links, then come right back to the present day, with this gem (which apparently still needs explaining to some people).

Oh dear.

Day 311 – The Slabs

Another Danny MacAskill video (see here for others). And this one is nuts.

I’m going to let it speak for itself, save for three comments:

1. The incredible drone work. Absolutely amazing.
2. The music: Arcade Fire’s No Cars Go. Singularly appropriate.
3. That bit from 4:20 (snigger) onwards. The control. The scale. Wow.

I will never not love this format of video.

Day 310 – Another poo mystery solved by science

Via Brian Micklethwait, here’s another one from the category “Who the hell asked?”

Just what we all needed to know. I can finally sleep easy tonight.

Apparently, it’s all to do with the last metre of the intestine and not the shape of the extrusion point. Although, presumably the extrusion point must also be that sort of shape though anyway because isn’t there something about a square peg in a round hole or something?

Ag, it’s actually fine. I really don’t need to know. Really.

There are some delicious little comments in the article, such as the name of the journal in which this study was published: Soft Matter.

It’s not all about shit, either. I was enthralled to read about Phase transition characterization of poly(oligo(ethylene glycol)methyl ether methacrylate) brushes using the quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation by Guntner et al., and really enjoyed the incredible work of Hoeger and Ursell at the University of Oregon, demonstrating Steric scattering of rod-like swimmers in low Reynolds number environments. Who knew?

Anyway, what is the reason that wombats have cube-shaped poo?

Asked why wombats have this feature, Carver said one theory was that wombats, with their strong sense of smell, communicate with each other via faeces and that the cube shape helps prevent the faeces from rolling away.

The researchers also found that cube-shaped faeces on an eight degree slope rolled far less than spherical-shaped models.

Well, I’m glad someone has done the hard research yards and discovered that cubes roll less than spheres. Absolutely groundbreaking stuff. Dice manufacturers will be livid when they read that.
All this time and they’ve been wasting their time working with cubes instead of prolonging our anticipation by using spherical-shaped models:

“Will it be a three…? Will it…? Will it…? Ah. It’s not really stopping.
I might just go and grab a quick drink while we wait until it’s done.
Hang on! There! It’s a two!


And it’s also a six.”

Actually, perhaps not.

But if it was so very important for your poo to stay where you left it, why would you evolve:

…big changes in the thickness of muscles inside the intestine, varying between two stiffer regions and two more flexible regions… in addition to the drying out of the faecal material in the distal colon.

Anyway. The paper is here should you wish to read further:

Of course they do.

All your questions will be answered there, aside from the huge, gaping omission: which way do they face when they are doing it?

Day 290 – More Star Stuff

After yesterday’s astonishing star size facts, here are some more astonishing stars from the chilly Isle of Man, courtesy of FOTB Chris Wormwell (you may remember him from such posts as CJ Wormwell still making lovely photographs and Chris’ PoA sky & lighthouse p0rn).

This one is a timelapse of the Milky Way, taken from The Phurt, down in the North of the Isle of Man.

Lovely stuff, and almost difficult to remember (because of the tholtan and the bush remaining static), that’s it’s actually us that is spinning and the galaxy that’s standing still.

You can see the rest of Chris’ Youtube channel here (he recently got a drone) and his Flickr is here.