By Ben Marriott.
Whilst doing a little research on our friend, Isaac Newton, I cam across this lovely piece of trivia. Long story short: on Wikipedia, you can go from “Pet Door” to “Isaac Newton” in one click.
In an apparent early modern example of urban legend, the invention of the pet door was attributed to Isaac Newton (1642–1727) in a story (authored anonymously and published in a column of anecdotes in 1893) to the effect that Newton foolishly made a large hole for his adult cat and a small one for her kittens, not realizing the kittens would follow the mother through the large one. Two Newton biographers cite passages saying that Newton kept “neither cat nor dog in his chamber”. Yet over 60 years earlier, a member of Newton’s social circles at Trinity, one J. M. F. Wright, reported this same story (from an unknown source) in his 1827 memoir, adding: “Whether this account be true or false, indisputably true is it that there are in the door to this day two plugged holes of the proper dimensions for the respective egresses of cat and kitten.”
Text via Wikipedia.
This would have been something else, if it came to pass.
“In an anonymous letter to the London Times in 1825, Thomas Steele of Magdalen College, Cambridge, proposed enshrining Isaac Newton’s residence in a stepped stone pyramid surmounted by a vast stone globe. The physicist himself had died more than a century earlier, in 1727, and lay in Westminster Abbey, but Steele felt that preserving his home would produce a monument ‘not unworthy of the nation and of his memory’”
Text and via Futility Closet.
I love this. To do with these 8 asteroids, and explained in full at the always brilliant futility closet*.
DARWIN AS SANTA (A.K.A. ONE WAY DARWIN COULD JUMP THE SHARK)
See other Ways Darwin Could Jump the Shark
“Sporting his full white beard, Darwin is hired to impersonate Santa Claus at the local mall. He initially does well in this job, looking the part, being punctual, amicable, and knowledgeable about reindeer. However, he soon begins to insist on teaching children words like “invertebrate.” He also starts giving out stylish feces beads instead of candy canes. Later, he gets in an argument with another Santa Claus in another mall over biologically sound explanations for Rudolph’s glowing nose. The “Darwin vs. Santa Claus” fistfight goes viral on YouTube.”
By David Ng via McSweeney’s. Image: Source Unknown.
(see more of Popperfont’s Sciencegeek Advent Calendar Extravanganza here)
Well… by way of the country the Nobel Laureate belongs to… (p.s. this is tongue in cheek, but good as a slide to talk about the old correlation versus causation issue)
“Dietary flavonoids, abundant in plant-based foods, have been shown to improve cognitive function. Specifically, a reduction in the risk of dementia, enhanced performance on some cognitive tests, and improved cognitive function in elderly patients with mild impairment have been associated with a regular intake of flavonoids. A subclass of flavonoids called flavanols, which are widely present in cocoa, green tea, red wine, and some fruits, seems to be effective in slowing down or even reversing the reductions in cognitive performance that occur with aging. Dietary flavanols have also been shown to improve endothelial function and to lower blood pressure by causing vasodilation in the peripheral vasculature and in the brain. Improved cognitive performance with the administration of a cocoa polyphenolic extract has even been reported in aged Wistar–Unilever rats.
Since chocolate consumption could hypothetically improve cognitive function not only in individuals but also in whole populations, I wondered whether there would be a correlation between a country’s level of chocolate consumption and its population’s cognitive function. To my knowledge, no data on overall national cognitive function are publicly available. Conceivably, however, the total number of Nobel laureates per capita could serve as a surrogate end point reflecting the proportion with superior cognitive function and thereby give us some measure of the overall cognitive function of a given country.”
By Franz H. Messerli, M.D. from Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates (October 10, 2012DOI: 10.1056/NEJMon1211064), via New England Journal of Medicine.
By DAVID NG
A stage of some sort.