BetR2 Scroll The Globe Awards – Vote for the next winner

BetR2 Scroll The Globe Awards – Vote for the next winner

For our second Betr2 Scroll The Globe Award we would like to give you a chance to choose from, and enjoy, the nominees. You get to review them and vote for your favourite.

And the Nominees are:

1. “Shoot the messenger why don’t cha? Don’t care if Hitler said it, it’s the truth”

Ford on hemp misquote

The first nominee is a comment made on a quote from Henry Ford that had been manipulated to support the hemp legalisation movement. Not that I’m for or against that movement, the useful material or the higher THC , but misquotes reduce the case rather than boosting it. The fact that Henry Ford didn’t say this talks volumns on the commenter and even the person who posted without checking the story.

There is some confusion about what is meant by the word hemp.  All hemp does not contain levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which creates the effects of the drug form of the plant – commonly called cannibis, weed, grass, etc. Find out more on Wikipedia – click here.

For those that wonder about the actual quote, here it is:

“I foresee the time when industry shall no longer denude the forests which require generations to mature, nor use up the mines which were ages in making, but shall draw its raw material largely from the annual produce of the fields. I am convinced that we shall be able to get out of yearly crops most of the basic materials which we now get from forest and mine.”

Close but no cigar (or preferred smoko).

2. “If you are going to stand on the roadside asking for {boobs}, you’d expect some knockers”

While discussing body image issues among children and young people, the segment “Kochie’s Angels” on Sydney’s Channel 7 morning show, reported on yet another young woman who stood on a roadside begging for money for breast implants by carrying a sign that said, “Not Homeless, Need Boobs”.

The story starts at 5.35 (3.09 for the whole topic) and the quote is at around 6.05 minutes on the sunrise video.

Apart from the funny yet very sad world where this occurs, or even the fact that this makes the news even though it is just a copycat of the last sad young woman that did this, I was dumstruck when one of the panellists came up with this quote. (she might be a good actor, but it appears to have been a slip rather than a scripted comment. You can decide.)

Here is the story about the boob bludge:

3.  “No one: however smart; however well-educated; however experienced, is the suppository of all knowledge.”

Someone needs to explain the meaning of the word suppository to the Rhodes Scholar who is currently the opposition leader in Australia and is the Man Who Would Be King – well, Prime Minister – in only a few short weeks. Honestly what are they teaching them in Rhodes these days? (that was tongue-in-cheek, please don’t tell me the degree in from Oxford University)


The quote is at about 47sec to 1min on the reporter’s short follow up on Tony Abbott’s day including this gaffe. Sadly this week was gaffe-a-day week for Mr Abbott who turned the pollie campaign trail habit of kissing babies into kissing the back of baby’s mother’s head; Abbot Kissing the Back of Mother's head instead of the baby oops

He also couldn’t think of anything better to compare a female canditate, Fiona Scott, to Jackie Kelly (who won the seat of Lindsay for the Liberal Party in 1996) than, “They umm are young, ummm feisty and ummm, I think I can say, have a bit of sex appeal”. One would think that attributes that suit them to political life could rate a mention, Mr Abbott.

Abbott describes candidate as having sex appeal

And you think you’d like to be the Prime Minister? Reaaalllyyy?

4. “Monsanto”

Now, far be it from me than to deny that Monsanto may be behind many of the ills of this world, but this comment – “Monsanto” – was on a post by Science is Awesome – on Facebook – that showed a water bottle which was labelled using the proper chemical name of water and some wordy terminology for sweating, urination and hydration. Monsanto might try to patent most things on the planet, don’t think they’ve tried for water … yet.

Most comments were along the lines of, “LOL” and, “Where do I get one” or even, “H2O”. Though some planted the tongue securely into the cheek with comments like, “yer, scary! if this stuff gets into your lungs, it can kill” – maybe they deserve the nomination, instead?

water bottle labelled with big words

5. “Do you need a couch to lay down on?”

Our final nomination is a comment made during a prank on the Mornings show on Channel 9 Sydney. David Campbell dressed up as a chair and Sonja then interviewed all their favourite guests. One after another they came and sat on the not-so-comfortable chair and started to answer questions only to jump out of their skins when David gave them a cuddle.

When Michael Usher (at 2.35 minutes on the video) was surprised he said, “I need to lay down”, to which the chair said, “do you need a couch to lay down on?”

I thought that was funnier than the prank itself. Well played, David Campbell.

Who do you think gets the Scroll The Globe Award? You can vote on the poll or simply leave a comment.

Of science and sand; misled to learning

Of science and sand; misled to learning

An interesting day: misled by a ‘scientist’ who did not check their sources, put back on track by a ‘speculative fiction author’ and amazed by the workings of nature and of man in several fields of interest.

A page on facebook shared someone else’s picture and suggested it depicted a formation caused by a lightning strike; it didn’t:

That is not fulgurite It is a sand castle

That is not fulgurite It is a sand castle

I am no scientist (although I have dabbled in science at a university level), but I do think twice before passing others work or statements along, just on the off chance that they might have no idea what they are on about. In this social media driven world it is very easy to just click ‘share’ and add to the massive misinformation flow. Even if errors are picked up the information has already passed on to others and the mistake is made again, ad infinitum.

After finding out that the formation to which Milky Way Scientists incorrectly referred, was fulgurite I was able to make my own investigations. It is wonderful how social media allows others to expand on misinformation by adding factual details to the tale, both confusing and assuring viewers that the original item is, indeed, correct. A person commenting on the post contributed a concise explanation of something not portrayed in the picture at all.

Remembering that I was, at this time, quite unaware that my supposedly scientific friends were mistaken, I pursued a deeper knowledge of this phenomenon. I had never heard of it before and was quite awe struck. The picture was quite incredible if it depicted a natural occurence. Could this be an example of natures instant glass sculpture?

As for these rather unique sand castles, sandcastlematt has a great set of photos on flickr and even a step-by-step picture tutorial on how to create them.

Having solved the problem of the misinformed share, I continued my search as I had no idea what fulgurite actually was.

Googling, as a stating place, I came across Michael Offutt’s blog post “Who could have predicted that Sweet Home Alabama would make fiction writers obsess over fulgurite for more than a decade”. Very unscientific way to gain knowledge, but an interesting and thought provoking post anyway – with a link to the full video of Sweet Home Alabama, just in case you are into that sort of thing. I watched the first two minutes, until the lightning struck…maybe one rainy day I’ll watch the rest. While I’m digressing, the casting of a girl to play a young ‘Reece Witherspoon’ is fantastic. She has the right quirky expressions.

However, this particular rainy day was spent on activities other than watching romantic comedy. I went to Wikipedea (I did say I am no scientist) and, after getting an idea of the basic ‘what is’ of fulgurite, scrolled to the bibliography and began looking at some of the source material. Not only did I find out what a fulgurite is – natures glass sculpture, indeed – but I also found some interesting lightning facts and even discovered that humans (artists and scientists, mostly) are harnessing lightning to do a little DIY fulgurite creation. Very cool stuff.

To begin, here is the Wikipedia description of fulgurite:

Fulgurites (from the Latin fulgur meaning thunderbolt) are a variety of the mineraloid lechatelierite. They are natural hollow glass tubes formed in quartzose sand, silica, or soil by lightning strikes.[1] They are formed when lightning with a temperature of at least 1,800 °C (3,270 °F) instantaneously melts silica on a conductive surface and fuses grains together; the fulgurite tube is the cooled product.[2] This process occurs over a period of around one second,[3] and leaves evidence of the lightning path and its dispersion over the surface.[4] They are sometimes referred to as petrified lightning.

Here are some pictures of this amazing, naturally occurring, phenomenon:

white fulgurite

hollow fulgurite

world record fulgurite

These fairly fragile structures usually occur below the ground (certainly unlike that supposedly huge thing spiking out of the beach sand in that first misguided post). They have been excavated and preserved and are even used in jewellery. I have not included pics of jewellery here as I was doubtful that some of these pics were examples of natural occurring items, or even fulgurite, at all. Unsure, so I reserve my opinion.

What I did find out was the lengths some people go to to make their own fulgurite pieces. Especially, an artist, Allan McCollum joined with scientists to create one such piece. This piece was then copied by moulding and an exhibit of thousands of identical pieces was displayed. The original fulgurite was created in Florida during a joint effort between the artist and the International Center for Lightning Research and Testing.

Allan McCollum THE EVENT - Petrified Lightning from Central Florida

Allan McCollum THE EVENT – Petrified Lightning from Central Florida

Man-made Fulgurite

Man-made Fulgurite. This one was created by passing electic current through a barrel of sand.

To find out more about this project and the comprehensive published articles that accompanied it, click here for a list of links provided by Allan McCollum.

Effect of lightning on grass at golf courseI found this on Page 18 of a pdf named LIGHTNING IN ACTION
by F. BARROWS COLTON. You might like to peruse the rest of the article, too.

On a related topic, the picture above shows another special effect created by lightning.

What a powerful source of energy and cause for fear, delight and awe lightning is.

There are tales of DIY fulgurites for the layman, but I can’t support the notion of leaving rods around in storms unless the whole project is supervised and innocent people are not likely to accidentally wander into the zone. There would definitely be consequences and dangers for anyone attempting this in suburbia. At best, these ideas would be best left for the desolate desert, not your local dunes, so I feel no need to provide links.

So, at the end of the day, I am thankful for the information and the misinformation received for, without it, I would never have learned all the amazing things I learned today. If I go by the old adage that we should learn something new every day, I could probably have a few days off learning now as I have learned enough today.

Update 3rd July 2013: I am glad that I wrote this post as it has helped to clear up misinformation on the other side of the globe. Welcome to new friends who have visited to assure themselves that, “That is not fulgurite. That is a sand castle”. I hope some have also learned with me or been motivated to find out more. All misinformation cannot be undone, but anything that slows the spread, at least.

Living and learning together is what it is all about.

A Particularly Attractive Subject – Cleaning Penguins with magnets

A Particularly Attractive Subject – Cleaning Penguins with magnets

Very impressed with development of technologies to help our seabirds and other sealife survive our stupidity.

Magnetic Particle Technology developed at Phillip Island Research Centre

Magnetic Particle Technology developed at Phillip Island Research Centre

A local TV show in Australia (The Project on Channel 10) ran a segment on Magnetic Particle Technologies being applied to cleaning seabirds and wildlife affected by oil spills. The link for the episode is below and the segment commences at 1.39minutes on the video (there are a few ads you’ll have to watch before being able to view). I think it is worthwhile to watch, once you get past their silly introduction to the story, as it shows Dr Dann from Phillip Island Research Centre demonstrating the technique.

There are several publications on the Phillip Island website if you are interested in finding out more about the research side of this technology.