Archive for the ‘lisapicks’ Category

sound of silence…

In gene pool, lisapicks on 04/11/2007 at 2:43 pm

Genetic wallflowers have their day.

It took all this time to finally prove what we gals (um.. some of us anyhow:) have always known, that it’s the strong silent types you have to watch out for… well it turns out same applies at the genetic level. Download some vintage S&G pour yourself a cup of tea and Enjoy…

Scattered throughout the human genome are thousands of mutations that biologists have treated mostly as footnotes. They’re hardly few in number—in coding regions of the genome, there are as many as 15,000—but biologists regard them as mutations that simply don’t change the way a cell functions. Both in name and effect, they have been accepted as “silent.” Now, however, new discoveries are showing that silent mutations appear to play an important role in dozens of human genetic diseases, a fact that is forcing biologists to discard a long-held evolutionary theory and to reexamine the very rules governing the transfer of information from DNA to proteins.
To understand the importance of this realization, it’s necessary to review how information is transfered from genes to proteins. During protein synthesis the two strands of the double helix unravel, and the DNA template, composed of four nucleotide bases, is transcribed into messenger RNA (mRNA). Essentially, the information encoded in DNA is preserved in the alphabet of mRNA, which in turn is translated into amino acids, the basic building blocks of proteins. In this process, each group of three mRNA bases, called collectively a codon, signals for the addition of a particular amino acid to the growing protein. As this chain elongates, the protein spontaneously begins to fold into its final, three-dimensional conformation—a step that is essential for it to be biologically active.

A simple mutation within a gene, such as the substitution of one nucleotide for another (a “single nucleotide polymorphism,” or SNP), can modify which amino acid gets incorporated into the protein, altering the way it folds and functions. Though there are an estimated 30,000 SNPs in the human genome, which account for the genetic variation among humans, most are not harmful. Biologists consider these harmless mutations “neutral” because they do not affect the fitness of an organism.

Silent mutations are a subset of SNPs. They have no impact on the amino acid sequence of proteins and, therefore, were not expected to change their function. This belief has been a central tenet of biology for decades, but new research is eroding that orthodoxy. And an article in Science this past December substantially overturned it. Dr. Chava Kimchi-Sarfaty and her colleagues at the National Institutes of Health were trying to understand why certain silent mutations occurred with unusual frequency in a gene called multidrug resistance 1 (MDR1), found in human cancer cells. MDR1 codes for a protein that sits in the membrane and pumps chemotherapy drugs out of cells, rendering the cancer cells resistant to the drugs. The team discovered that a variant of the MDR1 gene, containing certain common silent mutations, made the cells even more effective at expelling cytotoxic drugs. The question was, how?

After further investigation, the team showed that the silent mutations in MDR1 were actually slowing down the protein-making process. And since the folding of a protein into its three-dimensional shape is partially speed-dependent, these mutations were able to alter the structure—and biological function—of the protein without changing its basic building blocks. Through a series of elegant experiments, the team put to rest the idea that silent mutations were neutral.

This mechanism, which they call “translational pausing,” is actually just one of several ways in which silent mutations have very recently been shown to affect protein function—and, more broadly, the fitness of an organism. It turns out that silent mutations can also change the stability of mRNA, one of the important intermediates in the transfer of information from DNA to proteins, and disrupt gene splicing, the process by which the DNA that contains genes is trimmed away from the rest of the genome.

Remarkably, it has now been shown that there are at least 40 silent mutations that cause disease in humans by changing the way a gene is spliced. One such example is CFTR, the gene that is linked to cystic fibrosis. Another example is FBN1, a gene linked to a common connective-tissue disorder called Marfan Syndrome. With this new understanding, we can now reexamine the basis of many inherited conditions for which no underlying cause has been identified.

Most fundamentally, the involvement of silent mutations in disease undermines the neutral theory of molecular evolution. This theory, posited by Motoo Kimura in the late 1960s and a powerful influence ever since, asserted that the vast majority of mutations were neutral, having no effect on the fitness of an organism, and spread through a population by chance. The fact that silent mutations are not harmless anomalies of nature means that they are not neutral. In contrast, some, if not all, silent sites must be subject to the forces of Darwinian natural selection.

—Lindsay Borthwick is a writer living in Toronto.


when bad is good…

In lisapicks, love on 02/22/2007 at 1:37 am

Why We Love Bad News

The bias of negative news over positive. Negative news has a stronger impact on our minds than positive news. Here’s the lowdown on how this “brain bias” impacts our daily emotions, and why it exists in the first place.

Why do insults once hurled at us stick inside our skull, sometimes for decades? Why do political smear campaigns outpull positive ones?

The answer is, nastiness makes a bigger impact on your brain.
And that, says Ohio State University psychologist John T. Cacioppo, Ph.D., is due to the brain’s “negativity bias”: your brain is simply built with a greater sensitivity to unpleasant news. The bias is so automatic that it can be detected at the earliest stage of the brain’s information processing. In studies he has done, Cacioppo showed people pictures known to arouse positive feelings (such as a Ferrari or a pizza), those certain to stir up negative feelings (like a mutilated face or dead cat) and those known to produce neutral feelings (a plate, a hair dryer). Meanwhile, he recorded electrical activity of the brain’s cerebral cortex that reflects the magnitude of information processing taking place.

The brain, Cacioppo demonstrated, reacts more strongly to stimuli it deems negative. That is, there is a greater surge in electrical activity. Thus, our attitudes are more heavily influenced by downbeat news than good news. Our capacity to weigh negative input so heavily evolved for a good reason—to keep us out of harm’s way. From the dawn of human history our very survival depended on our skill at dodging danger. The brain developed systems that would make it unavoidable for us not to notice danger and thus, hopefully, respond to it.

All well and good. Having the built-in brain apparatus supersensitive to negativity means that the same bias also is at work in every sphere of our lives at all times.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that it plays an especially powerful role in our most intimate relationships. Numerous researchers have found that there is “an ecology of marriage,” an ideal balance between negativity and positivity in the atmosphere between partners.

Psychologist John Gottman, Ph.D., at the University of Washington is one. He finds that there seems to be some kind of thermostat operating in healthy marriages that regulates the balance between positive and negative. For example, when partners get contemptuous—that is, when they fight by hurling criticism with the intent to insult the partner, which the partner rightly perceives as especially hurtful—they correct it with lots of positivity—touching, smiling, paying compliments, laughing, and other such acts. They don’t correct necessarily right away, but they definitely do it sometime soon.

What really separates contented couples from those in deep marital misery is a healthy balance between their positive and negative feelings and actions toward each other. Even couples who are volatile and argue a lot stick together by balancing their frequent arguments with a lot of demonstrations of love and passion.

Because of the disproportionate weight of the negative, balance does not mean a 50-50 equilibrium. Gottman, for example, as part of his research carefully charted the amount of time couples spent fighting versus interacting positively. Across the board he found that a very specific ratio exists between the amount of positivity and negativity required to make a marriage satisfying.

That magic ratio is 5 to 1. As long as there is five times as much positive feeling and interaction between husband and wife as there is negative, the marriage was likely to be stable over time. In contrast, those couples who were heading for divorce were doing far too little on the positive side to compensate for the growing negativity between them.

Other researcher have found the same thing. It is the frequency of small positive acts that matters most, in a ratio of about 5 to 1. Interestingly, occasional large positive experiences—say, a big birthday bash—are nice, but they don’t make the necessary impact on our brain to override the tilt to negativity. It takes frequent small positive experiences to tip the scales toward happiness

By:Hara Estroff Marano
Psychology Today

good logic vs bad logistics

In lisapicks, logic on 02/01/2007 at 10:09 pm

Deconstructing Mr. Spock: “It’s illogical to call Mr.Spock logical.”

This is another great basics topic, and it’s also one of my pet peeves. In general, I’m a big science fiction fan, and I grew up in a house where every saturday at 6pm, we all gathered in front of the TV to watch Star Trek. But one thing which Star Trek contributed to our vocabulary, for which I will never forgive Gene Rodenberry, is “Logic”. As in, Mr. Spock saying “But that would not be logical.”.

The reason that this bugs me so much is because it’s taught a huge number of people that “logical” means the same thing as “reasonable”. Almost every time I hear anyone say that something is logical, they don’t mean that it’s logical – in fact, they mean something almost exactly opposite – that it seems correct based on intuition and common sense.

If you’re being strict about the definition, then saying that something is logical by itself is an almost meaningless statement. Because what it means for some statement to be “logical” is really that that statement is inferable from a set of axioms in some formal reasoning system. If you don’t know what formal system, and you don’t know what axioms, then the statement that something is logical is absolutely meaningless. And even if you do know what system and what axioms you’re talking about, the things that people often call “logical” are not things that are actually inferable from the axioms.

Logic, in the sense that we generally talk about it, isn’t really one thing. Logic is a name for the general family of formal proof systems with inference rules. There are many logics, and a statement that is a valid inference (is logical) in one system may not be valid in another. To give you a very simple example, most people are familiar with the fact that in logic, if you have a statement “A”, then either the statement “A or not A” must be true. In the most common simple logic, called propositional logic, that’s a tautology – that is, a statement which is always true by definition. But in another common and useful logic – intuitionistic logic – “A or not A” is not necessarily true. You cannot infer anything about whether it’s true or false without proving whether A is true or false.

To give another example: the most common logic that we use in arguments is called first order predicate logic (FOPL). FOPL is a very useful logic for things like geometric proofs. But it’s absolutely awful at talking about time. In FOPL, there’s no good way to say something like “I won’t be hungry until 6pm tonight.” that really captures the temporal meaning of that statement. But there are several kinds of logic that are very good at that kind of statement – but they’re not particularly useful for the kinds of things that FOPL is good at.

So what is a logic? A typical formulation would be that a logic is a formal symbolic system which consists of:

A way of writing a set of statements (the syntax of the logic); and
A system of rules for performing mechanical inferences over those statements.
The easiest way to get a sense of this is to look at one familiar logic: the first order predicate logic (FOPL). The first order predicate logic is the most common logic that we really use; it’s the one that we’re generally using implicitly when we write things like proofs in geometry.

Logicians tend to use a very strange method of describing the syntax of logical statements. I’m going to ignore that, and just walk through the syntax informally. FOPL has five kinds of basic things that are put together to form statements. As I go through the syntax, I’ll give some examples based on reasoning about my family.

A constant is a particular object, number, or value which can be reasoned about using the logic. In reasoning about my family, the constants will be the names of members of my family, the places we live, and so on. I’ll write constants as either numbers, or quoted words.
A variable is a symbol which represents a value. Variables can be used in the logic to reason about things like universal properties – if every object has a property (like, for example, every person has a father), there’s a way of using a variable to say that in the logic.
A predicate is something which allows you to make statements about objects and variables. A predicate is written as an uppercase identifier, with the objects it’s talking about following inside parens. For example, I can say that my father is Irving using a predicate named “Father”: Father(“Irving”, “Mark”).
Quantifiers are things that introduce new variables. For a statement to be valid every variable in that statement must have been introduced by a quantifier. There are two quantifiers in FOPL: ∀ (for all, the universal quantifier, which is used to make statements about all possible constants); and ∃ (there exists, the existential quantifier, which is used to make statements that there is some constant for which a statement is true).
An operator is something that modifies or connects sentence(s). There are five operators in FOPL. Four of them connect pairs of statements: (A ∧ B (and), A ∨ B (or), A ⇒ B (implies), A ⇔ B (if and only of). The fifth one negates a statement: ¬ A.
The meanings of the statements are:

Predicate Statement
A predicate with its parameters filled in with either constants or variables.
And statement
Two sentences joined by ∧. A ∧ B is true if/f both A and B are true.
Or statement
Two sentences joined by ∨. A ∨ B is true if/f either A or B is true.
Implication statement
Two sentences joined by ⇒. A ⇒ B is true if/f when A is true, B is also true, and when B is false, A is also false.
If/f statement
Two sentences joined by ⇔.A ⇔ B is true if/f (A ⇒ B) ∧ B ⇒ A) is true.
Universal Statement
A sentence preceeded by the universal quantifier and a variable: ∀x:A(x). A universal statement is true if any constant substituted for the variable will result in a true statement.
Existential Statement
A sentence preceeded by the existential quantifier and a variable: ∃x:A(x). An existential statement is true if there is at least one constant that can be substituted for the variable that will result in a true statement
Parenthesized Statement
Any statement surrounded by parens. The only meaning of parens is grouping.
The meanings of the different statements can be briefly described as follows:

Each constant represents some specific entity or object which the logic is going to be reasoned about. So, for example, if I wanted to do reasoning about my family, the atoms would be me, my wife, my children, etc.
A predicate statement expresses a property of the atoms that are its parameters. Continuing with the example of my family, I could write statements like Father(“Mark”,”Aaron”), Father(“Mark”,”Rebecca”), Spouse(“Mark”,”Jennifer”).
∧ statements combine two statements; they’re true when both of the member statements are true. Spouse(“Mark”,”Jennifer”) ∧ Father(“Mark”,”Aaron”) ∧ Mother(“Jennifer”,”Aaron”).
The ∨ connector works in basically the same way as ∧, except that it’s true when either of its component statements are true. Father(“Mark”,”Aaron”) ∨ Father(“Jennifer”,”Aaron”)
¬ is logical negation: ¬X is true when X is false. ¬Father(“Jennifer”,”Aaron”).
⇒ is an implication statement: A ⇒ B means that if A is true, then B must be true; if B is false, then A must also be false. (Note the reversal there – if A is false, it says nothing about whether or not B is true, and if B is true, it says nothing about whether or not A is true.) For example, Spouse(“Mark”,”Jennifer”) ⇒ Spouse(“Jennifer”,”Mark”) (If Mark is Jennifer’s spouse, then Jennifer is Mark’s spouse.)
∀ and ∃ statements are where it gets interesting. ∀ is read “For all”, and ∃ is read “there exists”. For example, ∀c : (∃p : Father(p,c)) (For every person, there is a person who is their father.); ∃f: Father(“Mark”,f) (There is someone whose father is Mark.)
What I’ve gone through so far is not yet a logic. It’s just a language for writing statements. What makes it into a logic is the addition of inference rules, which give you a way of using statements that are known to be true, and using them to infer other true statements. I’m not going to go through the entire set of inference rules allowed in FOPL in detail, but I’ll give you a couple of examples, followed by the full list of rules.

If we know that P(x) ∧ Q(x) is true, then we can infer that P(x) must be true.
If we know that P(x) ⇒ Q(x) is true, and we also know P(x) is true, then we can infer that Q(x) is also true.
If we know that ∀x: P(x) is true, and “a” is a constant, then we can infer that P(“a”) is true.
If x is a constant, and we know that P(“a”) is true, then we can infer that &exists;x:P(x) is true.
The rules are divided into two groups. One is a set of equivalences – if you know something on one side of the ≡ sign, then you can infer whatever is on the other side. The second set of rules is implications: if know you know the left side, then you can infer the right.

The equivalence rules are:

¬∀x:P(x) ≡ ∃x:¬P(x)
¬∃x:P(x) ≡ ∀x:¬P(x)
∀x:(∀y: P(x,y)) ≡ ∀y:(∀x:P(x,y))
∃x:(∃y: P(x,y)) ≡ ∃y:(∃x:P(x,y))
∀x:P(x) ∧ ∀x:Q(x) ≡ ∀x:P(x)∧Q(x)
∃x:P(x) ∨ ∃x:Q(x) ≡ ∃x:P(x)∨Q(x)
And the implication rules are:

∃x : ∀y: P(x,y) → ∀y : ∃x: P(x,y)
∀x: P(x) ∨ ∀x: Q(x) → ∀x: P(x) ∨ Q(x)
∃x:(P(x) ∧ Q(x)) → ∃x:P(x) ∧ ∃x:Q(x)
∃x:P(x) ∧ ∀x:Q(x) → ∃x:(P(x) ∧ Q(x))
∀x:P(x) → P(c) (where c is a constant)
P(c) → ∃x:P(x) (where c is a constant, and x is not an unquantified variable in P(c))
To reason with a logic, you start with a set of axioms – that is, a set of statements that you know are true even though you don’t have a proof. Given those axioms, we say that a statement can be proven if there is some way of applying the inference rules to generate the statement.

So, once again with an example from my family. Here’s a set of axioms about my family.

1: Father(“Mark”,”Rebecca”)
2: Mother(“Jennifer”,”Rebecca”)
3: Father(“Irving”,”Mark”)
4: Mother(“Gail”,”Mark”)
5: Father(“Robert”, “Irving”)
6: Mother(“Anna”, “Irving”)
7: ∀a, ∀b:(Father(a,b) ∨ Mother(a,b)) ⇒ Parent(a,b)
8: ∀g,∀c : (∃p : Parent(g,p) ∧ Parent(p,c)) ⇒ Grandparent(g, c)

Now, suppose we want to prove that Irving is Rebecca’s grandparent.

Since we know by statement 1 that Father(“Mark”,”Rebecca”), we can infer Parent(“Mark”,”Rebecca”). We’ll call this inference I1.
Since we know by statement 3 that Father(“Irving”,”Mark”), we can infer Parent(“Irving”,”Mark”). We’ll call this inference I2.
Since we know by I1 and I2 that Parent(Irving,Mark) and Parent(Mark,Rebecca), we can infer Parent(Irving,Mark)∧Parent(Mark,Rebecca). We’ll call this inference I3.
Since by I3, we know Parent(Irving,Mark)∧Parent(Mark,Rebecca), using statement 8, we can infer Grandparent(Irving,Rebecca)
That chain of inferences is a proof in the first order predicate logic. A very important thing to notice is that the proof is entirely symbolic: we don’t need to know what the atoms represent, or what the predicates mean! The inference process in logic is purely symbolic, and can be done with absolutely no clue at all about what the statements that you’re proving mean. It’s all a mechanical process of working from the premises using the inference rules. Given the right set of premises, you can prove almost any statement; given a choice of both logics and premises, you can prove absolutely any statement.

So when someone says, a la Mr. Spock, that something is logical, the correct thing to do is to whack them in the head with a logic textbook for saying something nonsensical.

thanks mark 🙂

Magical memories of the past merely an illusion?…study shows

In lisapicks on 01/07/2007 at 2:40 am

Your brain may get a kick out of remembering the good old days, but it may be for the wrong reasons

If this season’s turkey seemed less succulent, the carollers not as cherubic and the family more irritating than in years past, don’t despair — it’s all in your head.

A new Canadian study shows that nostalgia is basically a trick of the mind: We mistake the satisfaction our brains derive from successfully calling up information for joy in the memories themselves.

“You might mistakenly think this Christmas is not anywhere near as magical and wonderful as the ones from your past, but that’s not because that’s true,” says Jason Leboe, an associate professor in the psychology department at the University of Manitoba and co-author of the study, published in the current issue of the journal Emotion.

“Remembering is playing that trick on you.”

The brain gets a small positive jolt whenever it does something right, he says, citing as an example the experience of shouting the correct Jeopardy! answer at the TV. When we’re able to recall vivid memories and images from the past, we get a rush of pleasure, a physiological response that leads to a perpetual — but often incorrect — feeling that the past was better than the present.

Researchers tested this effect by having volunteers look at a list of words — some they simply read and some they were told to imagine in detailed scenes. Then the volunteers looked at the same words paired either with positive words such as “candy” or negative ones like “murder.”

When the volunteers were again shown the original list of words and asked to identify which they’d seen in a positive light, they showed a bias toward those they’d crafted an image of — that is, those they remembered more clearly — regardless of whether they were seen in a positive context.

It may be no more than an illusion, but the warm-and-fuzzy tug of nostalgia is strong, especially around the holidays.

But if your Christmas didn’t turn out like a Little House on the Prairie episode this year, that doesn’t mean you won’t be waxing poetic about it someday, Mr. Leboe says.

Out-of-the-ordinary events, like the year the turkey goes up in flames or the tree goes down with a drunken uncle, tend to stick in our memories most clearly, he says. Those become the events that families talk about for years to come, and even the most disastrous festivities become idealized with time.

“If something really inconvenient or bad happens, the saying is, ‘We’ll laugh about it later,’ ” Mr. Leboe says.

“What you get later is just that vivid experience that you remember, which produces the positive emotion, so you don’t get all the irritation you’re getting at the time when you have to order out for KFC.”

Shannon Proudfoot, The Ottawa Citizen

Speaking of illusions, try this optical teaser:

which square is darker, A or B?

to confirm your correct response (are you sure?) click on this link and go to illusion 1

Totally Useless… part I

In lisapicks on 09/11/2006 at 5:20 am

These are some useless facts that I’ve collected over some length of time. Enjoy. P.S. It’s really long, so it will kill some time at work. LOL.
The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time television was Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
Coca-Cola was originally green.
Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the US Treasury.
City with the most Rolls Royces per capita: Hong Kong.
State with the highest percentage of people who walk to work: Alaska.
Percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28%
Percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%
Barbie’s measurements if she were life size: 39-23-33.
Cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven: $6,400
Average number of people airborne over the US any given hour: 61,000.
Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
The world’s youngest parents were 8 and 9 and lived in China in 1910.
The youngest pope was 11 years old.
First novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.
The San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments
Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history. Spades – King David, Clubs – Alexander the Great, Hearts – Charlemagne, and Diamonds – Julius Caesar.

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321 !

If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle; if the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle; if the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn’t added until 5 years later.
“I am.” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.
The term “the whole 9 yards” came from W.W.II fighter pilots in the South Pacific. When arming their airplanes on the ground, the .50 caliber machine gun ammo belts measured exactly 27 feet, before being loaded into the fuselage. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, it got “the whole 9 yards.”
Hershey’s Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it’s kissing the conveyor belt.
The phrase “rule of thumb” is derived from an old English law, which stated that you couldn’t beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.
The name Jeep came from the abbreviation used in the army for the “General Purpose” vehicle, G.P.
The cruise liner, Queen Elizabeth II, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.
The only two days of the year in which there are no professional sports games (MLB, NBA, NHL, or NFL) are the day before and the day after the Major League all-stars Game
The nursery rhyme Ring Around the Rosy is a rhyme about the plague. Infected people with the plague would get red circular sores (“Ring around the rosy…”), these sores would smell very badly so common folks would put flowers on their bodies somewhere (inconspicuously), so that it would cover the smell of the sores (“…a pocket full of posies…”), People who died from the plague would be burned so as to reduce the possible spread of the disease (“…ashes, ashes, we all fall down!”)
Q. What separates “60 Minutes,” on CBS from every other TV show?
A. No theme song.
Q. Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of what?
A. Their birthplace.
Q. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name requested?
A. Obsession
Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter “A”?
A. One thousand
Q. What do bullet proof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers and laser printers all have in common?
A. All invented by women.
Q. This is the only food that doesn’t spoil.
A. Honey
Q. There are more collect calls on this day than any other day of the year.
A. Father’s Day
Q. What trivia fact about Mel Blanc (voice of Bugs Bunny) is the most ironic?
A. He was allergic to carrots.
40% of all people who come to a party snoop in your medicine cabinet.
An apple, onion, and potato all have the same taste. The differences in flavor are caused by their smell. To prove this you can pinch your nose and take a bite from each. They will all taste sweet.
The estimated number of M & M’s sold each day in the United States is 200,000,000.
Grapes explode when you put them in the microwave.
Wine will spoil if exposed to light, hence tinted bottles.
A hard-boiled egg will spin. An uncooked or soft-boiled egg will not. (I’m going home to boil an egg tonight)
Domestic cats hate lemons or other citrus scents.
Every citizen of Kentucky is required by law to take a bath at least once a year.
Parker Brothers prints about 50 billion dollars worth of Monopoly money in one year. (which is more than real money printed in a year)
203 million dollars is spent on barbed wire each year in the U.S.
No word in the English language rhymes with “month”.
If you put a raisin in a champagne bottle, it will rise and fall continuously.
The letter J does not appear ANYWHERE in the periodic table of elements.
In Canada, if a debt is higher than 25 cents, it is illegal to pay it with pennies.
Impotence is grounds for divorce in 24 states in the United States.
Federal law forbids recycling used eyeglasses in the United States
If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in U.S. coins without being able to make change for a dollar
If you are hedenophobic, you have a fear of pleasure.
“Almost” is the longest word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.
If you toss a penny 10,000 times, it will not be heads 5,000 times, but more like 4,950. The heads picture weighs more, so it ends up on the bottom more often.
The longest word that can be typed solely with the left hand is stewardess
There is only ONE word in the English language with THREE CONSECUTIVE SETS OF DOUBLE LETTERS…. Bookkeeper
Cleveland spelled backwards is “DNA level C.”
The # symbols is often referred to as a “number sign” or “pound sign.” Its actual name is an octothorpe
The letter “W” is the only letter in the alphabet that doesn’t have just one syllable – it has three.
The letters in the abbreviation e.g. stand for exempli gratia – a Latin term meaning “for example.”
Women blink nearly twice as much as men do.
This one is deep…think about the cultural impact this could have: NO WAR HAS BEEN FOUGHT WHERE BOTH COUNTRIES HAD A McDonalds
For the “wrong handed” people…Over 2500 left handed people a year are killed from using products made for right handed people! That means DEATH to Lefties
The sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.” uses every letter of the alphabet!
The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is “uncopyrightable”!
A cockroach can live several weeks with its head cut off – it dies from starvation.
The state of Florida is bigger than England!
The youngest person to give birth was a five-yr. old tribal girl (C-Section of course)

thanks jeanPaul:)

sex vs. smarts….

In lisapicks on 08/01/2006 at 11:22 pm

While pondering merits of regular vs. seedless watermelons at our cafe today the topic somehow evolved into an unquestionably related question of convenience vs. taste, and how much of latter we were willing to forego as tradeoff, when just like that, discussion turned into a heated all-in debated over.. you guessed it, size vs. matter… NOT, as one might expect, brains size vs. grey matter, but ahem.. ball size vs. grey matter (blush).

We gals ain’t prudes by any means but frank talk aside, it just seemed deliberately confrontational and mysogynistic to correlate gonad size to greater intelligence. Obvious question aside of all those of us without a pair, we blush to admit that most of talk centered around the rather indelicate question of methodology, as in.. fluctuations aside, wouldn’t bigger body basically mean bigger everything? a 6’3′ typical male would likely have bigger balls(we really should use a more refined word ‘testis’), bigger everything than a 5’2″ male. It’s well documented that males have larger brains than slighter female or a midget. And unless we are prepared to make an assertion that males are smarter than women and short people, it seemes to be a dead end.

Well, not so fast.. first off here is a tidbit from mssrs Willerman, Shultz, Rutledge and Bigler(we don’t make this stuff up:), all pretty brillant braindocs from University of Texas at Austin, Austin Neurological Clinic..

” It was widely believed that human brain size and intelligence are only weakly related to each other. Using magnetic resonance imaging, we show that larger brain size (corrected for body size) is associated with higher IQ in 40 college students equally divided by high versus average IQ, and by sex. These results suggest that differences in human brain size are relevant to explaining differences in intelligence test performance.”
Just as we are trying to digest that, along comes this shocker from our research editor ;

Sex vs. Intelligence: Bigger balls mean smaller brain
In a recent study of bats, Scott Pitnick, professor of biology at Syracuse University, found that testis size is inversely related to brain size. In other words, the bigger the balls of a bat species, the smaller its brain.
(time to time, we gals at brainwash have been unfairly accused of male bashing. We would simply ask you to note that the above inverse correlation is a scientific study conducted by dr. Scott Pitnick, a male 😉
Comparing brain size and testis size for 334 species of bats, Pitnick’s team looked to explore the contribution of sexual selection to brain evolution. Specifically, the research tested and confirmed two theories: larger testis are found in males with smaller brain size, and relative testis depends on female promiscuity.

Pitnick and his team showed that among bat species, those with promiscuous females have relatively smaller brains than species with females that are faithful to their mates. The study also found that male infidelity, by contrast, had no evolutionary impact on relative brain size. (huh?!! HOW is it, we ask politely, that men get away with this shit.)
Yes, we do note that all this has only hypothetical implication to human males, after all bats aren’t anything like guys. Unfortunately this does not let males of human species off the hook entirely. The finding is consistent with research conducted on primates, our umm..second cousin… Promiscuous primates like chimpanzees, where any individual male’s sperm will have to compete with the sperm of a number of other males, (but not to worry guys we women would never do that) have large testis to produce bigger amounts of sperm whereas less promiscuous species, like gorillas and orangutans, produce less sperm and have smaller testis-, and penis-, size since females are unlikely to mate with more than one male during a breeding season. For humans — considered moderately promiscuous for a higher primate — the testis to body weight ratio falls between that of chimps and gorillas. Did we understand that right? Basically men will get bigger balls if their mates cheat often.. evolutionarily speaking, of course:))

and Was all this worth the effort? hmm funny you should ask…
“We’re excited about these results, as they may stimulate more research into the correlated evolution of brains, behavior and the extravagant and costly ornaments and armaments favored by sexual selection.” Dr.Scott Pitnick

Well, we are glad someone is excited… however we did in fact get moderately scintillated with the following little bit of data…
Biggest balls, bat category
The testes of African yellow-winged bat make up 0.11% of its body weight, while the Rafinesque’s big-earred bat is endowed with balls that represent 8.4% of its body weight. For a 180-pound (82 kg) man, this would be equivalent to 15 pounds(7kg). (now that would really excite us ;)

Also involved in the research were Dr. Kate Jones of the Institute of Zoology at the Zoological Society of London and Dr. Jerry Wilkinson of the Department of Biology at the University of Maryland. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation. The full results of Pitnick’s study have recently been published in Proceedings B (London), a biology journal of the Royal Society.

This article used excerpts and quotes from a news release (“SU biology professor: big brain not key to evolutionary success in bats”) written by Carol Kim at Syracuse University.

umm.. did you say Fast Sex Slow Car..??

In lisapicks on 07/31/2006 at 7:29 pm

When time is of the essence, as in the wild (and no we are not talking Crescent st. & Ste Catherine;) where predators roam and lifespan is short (ie., like the mayfly, that live but only ONE HOUR) there isn’t much room for niceties of courtship, and understandably more emphasis for the duration of their sexual encounters.
Of course much of the big hurry has nothing to do with pleasure and everything to do with ensuring survival of the species by making certain its genes are propagated so to speak. Now before we all start comparing our guyfriends and fuckbuddies to an unrealistic standard, try these hard facts on for size ;))
Beavers spend about 3 minutes copulating. Ducks takes 2 minutes for the whole thing.
Whales and Elephants take about 30 seconds. But lest you Human males begin to feel superior, it should be noted whales also hold the record for having the biggest.. yes, p e n i s. In large Rorqual whales the penis can be up to 10 feet long, with a diameter of up to one foot. It takes male chimpanzees 10-20 seconds to reach climax. For mice in the wild, the sexual encounter is over after a mere 5 seconds. Sex for mosquitoes lasts all the way up to whopping 3 seconds. Our guys must be feeling pretty good about themselves by now, aren’t they? WAIT… we speak too soon.
Cockroaches have been known to have coitus for up to an unbelievable 6 hours (thereby coming pretty close to matching stamina of a typical mcGill male’s coitus uninterruptus ;). Unfortunately, that admirable length of time is not completely voluntary on the part of some participants. It seems this duration is due, in part, to the fact that many insect penises (as well as the organs of some reptiles) lock within the female, making withdrawal difficult. Sometimes withdrawal isn’t possible at all, and the penis breaks off,(hmm.. we always did kinda wonder..) thus giving an entirely new meaning to the term “one night stand.” 😉

size still matters…

In lisapicks on 07/26/2006 at 10:33 pm

brainwashed 60sec. iQ test… #11

In lisapicks on 07/22/2006 at 4:02 pm

Task here is simple, just decipher what the ensuing 5 lines in blue are about. give yourself 200 points if you solve it in 30 seconds or less, 160 points if it takes full minute, and subtract 5 points for every minute over… 😉

F U N E M ?
S V F M .
F U N E X ?
S V F X .
O K . M N X .

iQ Scores & Ratings
What is a good iQ score? What is a high iQ score? What is a low iQ score? These are common questions we receive daily here at brainwashcafe, particularly after someone finds out their score from our infamous 60sec. iQ tests.
Genius iQ is generally considered to begin around 140 to 145, representing ~.25% of the population (that’s 1 in 400 for all of us math challenged). Here’s a rough guide:
115-124 – Above average (e.g., any university student or a typical McGill security guard)
125-134 – Gifted (e.g., post-graduate or a typical McGill student)
135-144 – Highly gifted (e.g., intellectuals or a typical McGill student)
145-154 – Genius (e.g., professors or a typical McGill student)
155-164 – Genius (e.g., Nobel Prize winners or a typical McGill student)
165-179 – High genius (e.g., a typical McGill student)
180-200 – Highest genius (e.g., a McGill student or brainwashcafe blog reader)
>200 – “Unmeasurable genius” (hmm… sounds like a zen koan, as in “invisible homework”)
More notes on High IQ and Genius IQ:
Einstein was considered to “only” have an IQ of about 160.
Mensa is a society for people with high IQ, in the top 2% (1 in 50).
In 1926, psychologist Catherine Morris Cox published a study “of the most eminent men and women” who had lived between 1450 and 1850 to estimate what their IQs might have been.
Go to Estimated IQs of the Greatest Geniuses.

hmmm… we need reasons?

In chocolate vs. men, lisapicks on 06/17/2006 at 5:15 am

Chocolate is rich dark and satisfying
You are never disappointed when you open the wrapper
Chocolate doesn’t care how many you have eaten before
Chocolate always hits the spot
Chocolate doesn’t secretly want to be eaten by your best friend
Chocolate doesn’t think shopping chanel is stupid
Chocolate always smells good
Chocolate won’t ask “Am I the best?” or “How was it?”
It doesn’t sulk if you don’t want it first thing in the morning
Chocolates are easy to pick up
Chocolate satisfies even when soft
You can suck on chocolate in front of Mom
Chocolate never leaves a bad taste in your mouth
Chocolate never minds what time of the month it is
You don’t mind brown stains left by chocolate
With chocolate, size doesn’t matter, it’s always good
Chocolates do not wear white socks
Chocolate doesn’t mind when you crunch the nuts
With chocolate you don’t have to pretend you’ve never eaten one before
“If you love me you’ll swallow that” has real meaning with chocolate
You can have more than one a night without ruining your reputation
Chocolate doesn’t just think it’s smooth
Chocolates aren’t into rope or leather
You can tell just by looking at it, it hasn’t been in anyone else’s mouth
Hard chocolate is easy to find


Great Chocolates are always available.

speaking of time passing…

In lisapicks, tempus fugit on 12/04/2005 at 8:37 am