Towse: views from the hill

June 27, 2007

And as long as we’re discussing pain and fashion

Filed under: health,news,science — Towse @ 3:29 am

On Your Feet by January W. Payne (yes, no kidding, payne) Washington Post Staff Writer. Subtitled: How do shoes affect your feet? Is there a good way to walk in heels? Want to know about Morton’s neuroma? How about hammertoe and pump bumps?

A quick snippet from the middle:

One of trendiest shoes this season is YSL’s platform “Tribute” — with a tottering 5 1/2 -inch heel. Often painstakingly selected to complete outfits, shoes like these put stress not just on feet, but on ankles, knees and backs, contributing to the approximately $3.5 billion spent annually in the United States for women’s foot surgeries, which cause them to lose 15 million work days yearly.


(mentioned in the comments tail of the previously mentioned aetiology post)

The things women do for beauty–or, beware the bikini wax

Filed under: health,news,science — Towse @ 2:58 am

The things women do for beauty–or, beware the bikini wax

Tara C. Smith, an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, University of Iowa, creates a post with serious ewww factor.

Here’s the background: A woman with untreated Type 1 diabetes (making her susceptible to infections) gets a bikini wax. … She comes down with a fever, swelling and pain where the bikini wax works its magic, waited another week to find a doctor. … and …

She presented to the ER with not only “grossly swollen” external genitalia, and pain so extreme that she had to be put under general anesthetic just so her physician could perform a gynecologic exam. She was so swollen that, according to the legend to Figure 1 (which you can find online, as the article is freely available), “she was unable to pass urine, and the vaginal space was obliterated by edema.”


The patient also had a rash over her chest and neck. From these clinical signs and the subsequent isolation of S. pyogenes from a urine culture and sample of the vaginal discharge, she was diagnosed with streptococcal cellulitis and toxic shock syndrome, and was also found to have an active herpes simplex virus type 1 infection.


Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ….

[via pharyngula. Thanks for the intro to Dr. Smith and aetiology, a blog that discusses “causes, origins, evolution, and implications of disease and other phenomena.”]

June 13, 2007

RIP Mr. Wizard

Filed under: science — Tags: — Towse @ 11:24 pm

RIP Mr. Wizard.

During the 1960s and 1970s, about half the applicants to Rockefeller University in New York, where students work toward doctorates in science and medicine, cited Mr. Wizard when asked how they first became interested in science. [ref: International Herald Tribune]

more articles

Symptoms Found for Early Check on Ovary Cancer

Filed under: health,news,science — Towse @ 10:34 pm

Symptoms Found for Early Check on Ovary Cancer – New York Times

Published: June 13, 2007

Cancer experts have identified a set of health problems that may be symptoms of ovarian cancer, and they are urging women who have the symptoms for more than a few weeks to see their doctors.

The new advice is the first official recognition that ovarian cancer, long believed to give no warning until it was far advanced, does cause symptoms at earlier stages in many women.

The symptoms to watch out for are bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and feeling a frequent or urgent need to urinate. A woman who has any of those problems nearly every day for more than two or three weeks is advised to see a gynecologist, especially if the symptoms are new and quite different from her usual state of health.


Take note. Read the rest of the article too.

Robot Scans Ancient Manuscript in 3-D

Filed under: books,culture,science,URL — Towse @ 7:28 pm

The amazing world of the Web.

Robot Scans Ancient Manuscript in 3-D by Amy Hackney Blackwell

[Action takes place in Venice at the Public Library of St. Mark.]

After a thousand years stuck on a dusty library shelf, the oldest copy of Homer’s Iliad is about to go into digital circulation.


To store the data, the team used a 1-terabyte redundant-disk storage system on a high-speed network. The classicists on duty backed up the data every evening on two 750-GB drives and on digital tape. Blackwell carried the hard drives home with him every night, rather than leave the data in the library.

The next step is making the images readable. The Venetus A is handwritten and contains ligatures and abbreviations that boggle most text-recognition software. So, this summer a group of graduate and undergraduate students of Greek will gather at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C., to produce XML transcriptions of the text. Eventually, their work will be posted online for anyone to search, as part of the Homer Multitext Project.

Brilliant use of technology.

June 5, 2007

[URL] a playground for thinkers

Filed under: science,URL — Towse @ 11:59 pm

OK. This site is just plain mind-stretching. I came to it from the discussion of Olbers’ paradox.

Subtitled “a playground for thinkers,” this site has articles ranging from science to philosophy to bumperstickers to programming. The index is a breeze to use. The site is full of fascinating stuff.

Dip in:

Olbers’ Paradox: Why is the Sky Dark at Night?

Filed under: science — Towse @ 11:55 pm

Why is the Sky Dark at Night?

In 1826, the astronomer Heinrich Olbers asked, “Why is the sky dark at night?” By his time, physicists had learned enough to realize that, in a stable, infinite universe with an even distribution of stars, the entire universe should gradually heat up. Think about it — if there are stars generating energy throughout the universe (energy sources), and if there is no way ultimately to dispose of that energy (energy sinks), then all the objects in the universe must rise in temperature, in time achieving the temperature of the stars themselves.

Scientists and physicists had to learn quite a lot about the behavior of energy before they were even prepared to ask Olbers’ question. In fact, for millennia the dark night sky provided an answer to a question no one thought to ask.

In these pages you will learn the simple physics behind Olbers’ question, some of the answers that have been proposed, and the currently accepted answer. You will also discover the connection between a rubber band, your refrigerator, and the universe.

(Found while looking for information on Olbers’ Paradox, natch.)

[URL] HyperPhysics

Filed under: science,URL — Towse @ 11:35 pm

HyperPhysics, “a continually developing base of instructional material in physics.”

Amazing collection of physics-related information.

(Found whilst looking for information on The Michelson-Morley experiment, which drove a stake into the heart of the theory of a luminiferous aether|ether back in 1887.)


Filed under: history,science,URL — Towse @ 11:07 pm

John Jenkins’ SparkMuseum

Welcome to my “virtual” radio and scientific instruments museum where I display the radios and other items I have collected over the past 35+ years. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I’m always interested in early wireless, radio, scientific and other electrical items up to about 1920 (including books and other publications)

Highlights of Jenkins’ collection.

This site is amazing. A prime example of Web sites offering up a treasure trove of information simply because someone (in this case Jenkins) has a passion for a subject.

(Found whilst searching for information on Geissler tubes.)

June 2, 2007

[URL] Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages

Filed under: food,science,URL — Towse @ 6:58 pm

Web wandering brought me to Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages.

I’d had the brilliant idea two days ago of creating a Web site called where, f’rex, if I wanted to know where I could find Long Life Tea in San Francisco, I would go to and type in my request.

Handy helpful w2.0 folks would swarm the site, providing searchers with solutions.

Alas. I went to and every single wherecanifind.* has been snapped up, except .mobi and …

Well, another brill idea up in smoke.

But I still wanted to know where I could find Long Life Tea in San Francisco, so I searched and came across the San Francisco Herb Company down on 14th St. which had not only a HUGE inventory but also a small retail operation. (A later post.)

Rambling through the SFHCo site, I came across a reference to Nigella sativa, which I used to have growing in our old front yard. SFHCo was selling it as a cooking spice. Who knew you could use the seeds for cooking? (I always saved them to scatter the next spring …)

But was the Nigella sativa really the one I’d been growing in my front yard?

Check Google images!

No. Turns out I’d been growing Nigella damascena AKA Love in a Mist.

Ah, well. Still curious, though, a further search took me to Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages where he gave me the lowdown on N.s. in great and gory detail.

What a site. Depth and breadth about spices.

solid information on (currently) 117 different spice plants. Emphasis is on their usage in ethnic cuisines, particularly in Asia; furthermore, I discuss their history, chemical constituents, and the etymology of their names. Last but not least, there are numerous photos featuring the live plants or the dried spices.

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