Posts Tagged ‘history’

The Physics of Beer

March 17, 2011 Leave a comment

So it is St. Patrick’s day. A day which we all use an excuse to get drunk in the middle of the day and pretend there is nothing wrong with that.

Since I have gone out for lunch with my boss who felt it prudent to feed us all drinks for 2 hours, I am in no condition to describe the physics of ANYTHING to you good folks right now.

But, I do have a treat. I did track down a couple of cool videos for you. The first describes the science and physics of beer bong. The second describes (a bit dryly, I admit) the physics of the age old party trick of picking up an olive and putting it in a martini glass without using your hands. It also describes the physics of beer bong, in a more ‘chalkboard’ type fashion.


Happy Birthday Hockey!

March 3, 2011 1 comment

While the exact origins of the greatest game on the planet (and Canada’s national game) are very much disputed, the very first organized hockey game took place 136 years ago today!

According to a media missive written by Earl Zukerman in The Globe and Mail today, the  first game was played at Victoria skating rink in Montreal on March 3, 1875.

Fancy Ball at the Victoria Rink, Montreal, 186...

Fancy Ball at the Victoria Rink, Montreal, 1865 - Image via Wikipedia

It was also the very first game which used a wooden puck instead of a rubber ball. Yet another claim to fame of the game is it was the first instance of a hockey brawl, at least according to Wikipedia:

This fighting was not between the on-ice combatants, rather, it was between the hockey players and spectators and members of the Skating Club. Members of the Skating Club were opposed to the use of the skating rink for hockey as it took away hours from other skating activities and it damaged the ice quality.

Whenever I write about a topic that is not quite science related, I find a very vague way to link it to something scientific; because science is, of course, all around us! (possibly the nerdiest thing a person can say). So I actually found this article published today that does a pretty decent job explaining some of the physics of ice skating. It’s actually quite a complicated system, with many different concepts playing a role.

Regardless of when and where it originated exactly, hockey remains Canada’s undisputed national pastime.

Go Leafs!

Ancient Humans Ate Eachother Then Took The Day Off

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Several examples of bent ends of bones chewed by Koi people. From the Journal of Human Evolution

The results of this study, to be published in January in the Journal of Human Evolution, were derived from experiment to identify patterns in teeth marks on bones after chewing.

The authors actually had 4 groups of people chew and gnaw the bones of barbecued short ribs and boiled sheep, as well as some raw pork rib bones and sheep leg bones. They also studied the chewing patterns of Koi people from an experiment done in the 1960s, and studied the patterns of the bite marks on the bones.

The study claims that there are several types of markings left on bones after chewing. A certain combination of markings is indicative of human chewing. The results of the study state:

The main traits that characterize a pattern of human chewed bones from this experimental study are ends of bone bent, crenulated edges of bone or chewed ends, and punctures and linear marks on the bone surfaces.

The results from these experiments, i.e. the pattern of chewing thought to belong to humans, was then compared to fossils to determine if the bite marks are human, or if they belong to some other animal. And in a couple of cases, they were a match.

So why would ancient humans want to eat each other? From Discovery News,

“Think that a member of your group dies,” Fernandez-Jalvo told Discovery News. “The body can give one day off from hunting, which was always dangerous at that time, and what to do with the dead body that may attract other dangerous carnivores that may attack the group.”

“This could be a good solution,” she added, reminding that cannibalism does not always mean the cannibal killed the consumed individual.

So this was more about an efficient means of getting nutrition and disposing of a body that could potentially attract predators, than any kind of ritualistic killing of fellow tribe members.

Dinosaur Found in Sewer by My House!

August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Yup, its totally true.

A city worker in Edmonton, Alberta (not far from yours truly) was having a regular, shitty day at work in the sewer. Thats gonna be my only sewer joke, I swear.

So this young man named Aaron Krywiak found what he described as “an interesting shaped rock.” Well that rock turned out to be the tooth of an Edmontosaurus. But thats not all.

Aaron Krywiak

Upon further investigation, Aaron found a “motherlode” of dinosaur bones belonging to Edmontosaurus and Albertosaurus.



I love living here. Its pretty cool to be so close to such world class dinosaur research and sites.

I still haven’t made it to the Royal Tyrell Museum though, which is where these fossils are going to be taken. Not to worry, I’ll get there soon and you’ll be sure to hear about it!

Whats Better Than a Wine Cellar? 180 Feet of Baltic Sea

July 19, 2010 Leave a comment

I like wine. I drink it often.

Can’t say I’ve ever had a very old wine though. Mostly I just buy whatevers on sale at the Co-Op.

But something really cool happened to a case of champagne that may have belonged to King Louis XVI.

A team of Swedish divers found, in an abandoned shipwreck in the Baltic Sea, a case of 30 bottles of Veuve Clicquot, a very fancy brand of champagne. The pitch darkness and lack of oxygen preserved the champagne perfectly. Sweet.

That makes it roughly 230 years old. By far the oldest bottle of (drinkable) champagne in the world.

230 year old bottle of Veuve Clicquot

Evidently, if the bottles truly did belong to King Louis XVI, they could each be worth a few million dollars at auction.

The location of the wreck is being held secret, and only one bottle has been brought to the surface. As for how it tastes, “There’s a lot of tobacco, but also grape and white fruits, oak and mead,”

I dunno about you, but I can never taste anything that the label says the wine is supposed to taste like. Think I need a wine tasting lesson.

Leave Galileo’s Remains Alone

June 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Hasn’t he suffered enough?

After fighting the Catholic Church (and losing), only to die in 1642 and have Catholic authorities refuse him the right to be buried on consecrated ground (i.e. in a Basilica), our poor friend Galileo Galilei now has two of his fingers and one tooth ON DISPLAY at a museum in the Italy.

In 1737, after 95 years of his body being in a storage room, Galileo was (finally!) moved to the Basilica of Florence’s Santa Croce.

But it would seem his followers decided it would be a great idea to remove two of the fingers from his right hand (how did they decide which?) and one of his teeth before finally laying him to rest in the Basilica. I’m not sure I would want to keep a piece of one of my dead friends, but that’s just me.

These remains were passed down to family members until 1905, when all traces of them were lost.

But last year, an unaware collector purchased a wooden case at a museum auction which had a bust of Galileo on it. Imagine this lover of antiquity’s surprise when he opened the case and found a glass vase with two fingers and a tooth inside!

The remains were later identified to be those of none other than Galileo Galilei.

These remains are currently on display at the newly re-named Galileo Museum in Florence, Italy.

I say: leave Galileo alone! Putting his remains on display is macabre and in poor taste. This pioneering scientist deserves a respectful and honorable resting place and burial, not to have his fingers and teeth put under glass as some sort of science exhibit.

I feel that this is wholly different from viewing other remains such as mummies. We have much to learn from mummified remains about the culture, practices, and religion of ancient Egypt. Conversely, we have written records and many other means of learning about the 1600-1700s without placing Galileo’s remains on display. They’re presence in the museum serves absolutely no purpose.

Decapitated Gladiators Found in U.K.!

June 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Everybody loves Gladiators! Although modern day hand-to-hand combat doesn’t involve swords or shields (or lions or tigers), we all have that little bit of blood lust that makes watch UFC, and even the WWE.

It seems archeologists working near York in the U.K., a town roughly 300 km north of London, believe they have found a “Gladiator Graveyard”.

The site has yielded 80 skeletons in the past 10 years. Many of those buried were decapitated prior to being buried. Some of the archeologists believe this is evidence that the skeletons were gladiators, as being decapitated was often an act of mercy for gladiators suffering serious injuries during combat. One skeleton even shows evidence of a large animal bite, such as a lion.

The skeletons date back to between the 1st century and the 4th century A.D., when this area was one of the largest settlements of Roman Britain. Gladiators would periodically travel the area to put on combat shows.

It is not totally conclusive that all these skeletons are Gladitors. Some believe they could be remnants of an army. But the evidence is starting to mount that this is indeed a resting place for a large number of Gladiators.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m going to wrap up this blog post and go watch Russell Crowe decapitate some opponents in the Collosseum…