Posts

A Prelude to the Origin of Life on Earth

I was looking to do a deep dive into the origin of life on Earth, a topic that has always intrigued me. Two main schools of thoughts today generally revolve around creationism or abiogenisis. Before engaging in serious research however, I came across this interesting post . Scientists theorize that Earth's oceans may have been 'delivered' by comets during massive collisions. It was comets and not asteroids because of specific amounts of iridium found in Greenland's rocks. In case you are wondering, here are the common differences between comets and asteroids: Comets display comas and tails due to sublimation of water and ejection of dust particles from solar radiation. Comets have more eliptical orbits than asteroids around the sun. Comets may become asteroids when they run out of watery particles. This article is exciting because it opens up a whole new perspective on the origin of life. It is commonly believed that life first formed in bodies of water. Is it po

Finally, Something Good from Global Warming

The words global warming are often frowned upon. Amid the negative press, can this article help turn the tide? Scientists claim that climatic changes due to global warming has seen increased rainfall in parts of the Sahara Desert. More islands of green are beginning to show, especially in the southern borders. In time, these areas can be reclaimed for agricultural activities. So why the phenomenon? One theory suggests warmer air being able to hold more moisture, which in turn creates more precipitation. However, it is too early to cast your vote. There are other competing climate models that predict decreased rainfall, pointing the finger at global warming. The split is virtually a dead heat. - PTS

SaaS is Green

I usually keep my day job within the 9 to 5, but couldn't help thinking about a recent advertising campaign from a Software as a Service (SaaS) company with which I am intimately familiar. NetSuite has claimed that a company going SaaS will save an average $10 300 USD per year in energy bills. These savings result from removed server and ventiliation costs. With over 6 000 customers, total savings are $61 million per year. This is equivalent to 595 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually, or nearly 423 000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or 1 million barrels of oil, or the average electricity consumption of 56 000 homes a year. For the sake of the environment, wouldn't you turn off your servers and let NetSuite host your business? For me, it takes a little more than those numbers alone. However, I commend the company for shrewd advertising! Perhaps future green energy subsidies in the US will tip the scale. Regardless, this is a very interesting topic given my vested interest i

Profanity for Pain Relief?

Thanks to this recent study , now we all have an excuse to swear! According to the findings, cursing not only is an expression of agony, but also a means to pain relief. I must admit my reservations about the experimental results. In a race to see who could keep their hands in uncomfortably cold water, subjects were allowed to mutter an expletive of their choice or use a neutral word. IMHO, the free use of profanity in the experiment -- as opposed to any social situation -- could have created intrigue or amusement in the swearing subjects, which in turn swayed the results in thier favour. However, I did like Steven Pinker's theory that "swearing taps into the defensive reflex in which an animal that is suddenly injured or confined erupts in a furious struggle, accompanied by an angry vocalization, to startle or intimidate an attacker." What's the verdict? Cursing is good for you if you mean it with vengeance. Don't over do it though, as the soothing eff

Whale Watching Gone Wrong

Image
Let me be the first one to tell you that relocating for work is not for everyone. The amount of time and effort required is unbelievable, as you can judge from my lengthy lay-off on this blog. Now that my wife and I are ready to explore Sydney , we took to the sea in whale watching. It turned out that whale watching like relocation, is also not for everyone, especially those with weak stomaches. I ended up seeing a whale tail for three seconds, but paid the price with three bags of vomit to go with four hours of seasick nausea. In my defense, I have never been sick at the sea. This time was different though as practically everyone else had at least a bag-full in his hand. Fortunately, the tour operator offered us a 50% refund and a free second trip. I suppose many people had complained after the ill-fated voyage. Missing out on humpbacks and blues the first time around, I am determined to sign up for round 2. As for my wife? Suffice to say she will never set foot on a whale watching

Relocating to Down Under

I have agreed to a job in Australia starting May. No, it's not the coveted dream caretaker gig in the Great Barrier Reefs. Instead, I will be going to Sydney, which is not a bad choice. Regardless, this means I will be extremely busy over the next few months. Time to start packing.... -PTS

Behind an Extraordinary Memory

By now, most of you should know that I am a die-hard fan of Scientific American. Here is yet another interesting article about extraordinary minds . The interviewee, Daniel Tammet, is special in his own right. He is a mildy autistic linguist who can recite the first 22 514 decimal places of the mathematical constant Pi . Here are a few takeaways from the interview: Visualization improves memory. Instead of treating numbers as boring static strings, view them in dynamic, multi-dimensional shapes and forms. This technique also works beautifully with learning vocabularies. Clustering also improves memory. If you break a series of numbers into smaller chunks (of 3 or 4), your brain can better handle them. This is why telephone numbers are hyphenated. Creativity further improves memory! When you throw in creative imagery to the above formulas, your memory becomes super-charged. In fact, the more exaggerating the imagery, the better the results. In Daniel's words, he used to "da