Sunday, May 18, 2008

Gesundheit! The Power of a Sneeze

A sneeze is quite a powerful event. In fact, a sneeze may produce exit velocities in excess of 650 miles per hour (mph) (290 meters/second). (Even the lower estimates of sneeze velocity, in excess of 95 mph (42 meters/second) are quite high.) To put this in perspective, the current Enhanced Fujita Scale defines EF3 tornadoes as having wind speeds between 136 and 165 mph, and EF5 tornadoes (the maximum intensity) as >200 mph. Category 5 hurricanes have winds greater than 155 mph. Thus, a typical sneeze produces wind velocities equal to or in excess of the winds produced in a major storm (tornado or hurricane).

This leads to the potential for great damage to the sneezer if the sneeze is not expelled; i.e., the sneeze is "internalized" or kept contained within the sneezer's air passages. There are several potential methods through which the "internalized" sneeze can lead to significant injury:
  • The lungs may be exploded; this generally leads to difficulty breathing, which can result in death.
  • The diaphragm (the muscle that compresses the lungs like an air pump to allow breathing) can have the lungs forced through it, which leads to difficulty breathing, which can result in death.
  • The diaphragm may become "vapor locked" - this is similar to a hydraulic lock situation, in which the forces (or fluids) on either side of a membrane (in this case the diaphragm) are in equilibrium without room for expansion, locking the membrane into a fixed, immobile position; in the event that the diaphragm becomes locked in place, this leads to difficulty breathing, which can result in death.
  • In rare cases, the head may explode, either internally or (more rarely) externally, which nearly always results in death.
In all these cases, difficulty breathing can (and often will, unless immediate medical attention is received) result in death (very few humans are able to live without breathing; in fact, we are currently aware of only one, but we think he was actually cheating and breathing without anyone's knowledge). This is why you should never hold in a sneeze! In fact, recent archaeological discoveries have determined that "sneeze inhibition" has caused the death of at least one species of humanoid in earth's history.

Many readers will be familiar with Neanderthal Man. This was a humanoid species (Homo neanderthalensis or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) that lived between 130,000 and 30,000 years ago. While their disappearance has typically been explained by extinction, cross-breeding with modern Homo sapiens, or that they actually never were a different species from modern Homo sapiens and simply transformed into modern human form, new discoveries have identified "sneeze inhibition" (holding in their sneezes) as the actual cause for demise of the species.

A recent discovery of frozen Neanderthal remains in a remote region of Siberia includes a significant number of near-complete individuals, who, through the sub-freezing temperatures, were found encased in a layer of ice, preserving their soft tissues. Autopsy has revealed that these Neanderthals suffered from a range of the previously mentioned maladies that may occur as a result of sneeze internalization, primarily the "exploded lung" issues (although the two diaphragm issues did occur in lower percentages: about 75% of those found had exploded lungs consistent with "internalized sneeze injuries," 15% had vapor-locked diaphragm issues, 8% had lungs that had punctured the diaphragm, 1.3% had internal head explosions, 0.3% had external head explosions, and 0.4% had other injuries, some of which could be explained by internalizing a sneeze, while others indicate externally applied injuries, such as being hit in the head with a large club).

Nearby caves had early cave drawings consistent with Neanderthal stories, but with some interesting images never before observed (see example image to the right). These images have been interpreted by leading scholars to indicate that the Neanderthal community had achieved a higher social system than previously believed, and that the "sneeze" was considered a vulgar expression. Apparently the potential to spread disease was recognized early in this society. Additionally, the larger size of the nose of Neanderthal man must have made the sneezes much more violent than modern man. Together, this must have led the Neanderthals to the desire to avoid expelling their sneezes at all cost; unfortunately, the "at all cost" eventually cost them their race, as the entire species was wiped (so to speak) from the face of the earth, with the exception of a small remnant that has recently been featured in Geico insurance commercials (unfortunately mis-labeled "cave men" instead of "Neanderthals" or "Homo neanderthalensis").

In short, you should take a lesson from our long-lost brethren: don't hold in your sneeze! It's not worth the potential damage that the tornadic-force winds can wreak on your body.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A new perspective on anthropogenic global warming

Although this article may seem like an interruption in the "solar system colonization" series, you will see that this actually fits in very well.

In evaluating available temperature data, a new correlation has been found. In the graph to the right (click to enlarge), you will see the world population (human only, not including animal life) plotted (in red) along with the global average temperature anomalies (in blue) from approximately 1850 until the present day (the data is available at the Climatic Research Unit and the UK Met. Office Hadley Centre web site). The temperature data represents the "anomalies" vs. the arithmetic mean over 1960 - present (2007). The population data (available at the US Census Bureau web site) is the world population divided by 10 billion (i.e., plotted in tenths-of-a-billion) in order to fit on the same scale plot as the temperature anomaly data. Note the correlation - this is remarkable evidence in support of the conclusion that the world is being overpopulated, leading to rising global temperatures. (This theory, overpopulation leading to rising global average temperature, has recently been proposed by Ted Turner, who completed part of the requirements for a degree in economics, thus qualifying his statements on the topic.) This is in contrast to the many available charts of CO2 level vs. global average temperature, which do not show a high correlation (the reader is left to research this topic on his own).

The area of the graph marked with the yellow arrow corresponds to roughly 1960, where the average rate of temperature rise seems to outpace the population rise. Researching this time period, we noticed that the World Wildlife Fund was started in 1961. Part of the work of this organization is to help prevent extinction of endangered species. It would seem that, as the human population increases, the population of other species tends to decrease, thus the total global population (human and non-human) remains relatively stable. However, the WWF (note: this is the World Wildlife Fund, not the World Wrestling Federation) seeks to offset this natural balance in the overall world population by preserving the species that otherwise would have dwindled or gone extinct. This leads to even more "creature-heat" being supplied into the environment, thus causing the global average temperature to increase even more.

We need to find a solution to the earth's overpopulation problem; this leads to the series on solar system colonization. As previously mentioned, prior Venus inhabitants apparently also had a runaway population issue, combined with the desire to preserve all species of creatures on the tropical paradise (at the time) planet, and failed to realize the fate they were going to endure. We should look into these possibilities to alleviate anthropogenic global warming:
  • find alternate places to house the excess population (such as colonies on other bodies throughout the solar system; it has not been studied whether this would lead to "solar system warming" or not)
  • reduce the population (we refer the reader to the Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" - apparently he saw this issue back in 1729 and came up with an ideal solution which also offers a solution to world hunger issues; this would preclude the cannibalism that Ted Turner says will follow once the population and temperature increases reach catastrophic levels, in essence being a "controlled cannibalism" in order to make population adjustments in an orderly fashion instead of out-of-control, willy-nilly fashion)
  • disband the WWF (World Wildlife Fund; however, in this case, the suggestion may also apply to the World Wrestling Federation, as their actions tend to cause high levels of energy expenditure that may be impacting the environment negatively as well; in fact, the WWF - World Wrestling Federation - has been known to impact the environment negatively even without taking anthropogenic global warming into consideration - we'll consider this in a future article); the reduction of the animal population in opposition to the increasing human population should help to reduce the impact on global average temperatures; however, we would need to catch up on nearly 50 years of sub-optimal animal extermination very quickly, and even surpass the intervening numbers of animals that were saved since we need to reduce the global average temperature; endangered species would be the first targets since they would be quick to eliminate and thus mitigate their reproduction as well, while the remainder could be more quickly reduced in numbers
Note: the animal elimination method would not impact the global food chain, since we would not seek to eliminate animals that are farmed for human consumption (chickens, cows, pigs, fish, crabs, dogs, etc.). For those who are concerned about the potential downfall of species elimination, when all the "fur" animals (seals, rabbits, foxes, etc.) are extinct, humankind would wear either textile or leather coats. Fur would become a highly-valuable commodity, of course, and this would open a new market for commerce and trade.

However, whichever method we take, we need to decide and move quickly before the earth turns into Venus II.

This is not intended to be an invitation to eradicate species of creatures from the earth, although the author wouldn't mind if mosquitoes and tics were eliminated (we can send them to Jupiter if someone really doesn't want to make them completely extinct - and whether it's the person or the pests we send to Jupiter, I don't really care). It is intended to show how easy it is to correlate data that doesn't necessarily indicate a causal relationship, which unfortunately seems to be the case with a lot of the touted "anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming" data these days. Yes, the earth is warming, but it's not due to anything that humans have done - we're on the upside of an ice-age, so temperatures will tend to warm; in addition, the sunspot cycles recently have been above average, which tends to correlate with periods of increased temperature as well, and the recent low sunspot activity seems to have coincided with a sudden reduction in temperature over the last year. Don't let anthropogenic global warming activists scare you - or tell you what you think - go out and look at the data yourself and make up your own mind. We hope to bring you more data in the future regarding this hot topic (sorry, but yes, that was an intentional pun).

Saturday, May 3, 2008

How to Colonize the Solar System, Part II

In the last article, we looked at the moon as a potential colonization spot. This location would make an ideal staging point for further solar system (and eventual possible galactic) colonization due to the low escape velocity (i.e., ships could attain higher velocities more quickly when embarking on interplanetary missions). This time we will look at our nearest neighbor (discounting the moon, of course), Venus. (See also the Wikipedia article on Venus.)

Some will wonder if there's any possibility of colonizing a planet whose surface temperature is over 460 degrees Celsius (860 degrees Fahrenheit); which has a surface air pressure equivalent to being about a kilometer (over 1/2 mile, about 3300 feet) below the earth's ocean; which has an atmospheric density so thick that a human could actually swim through the atmosphere at the surface; whose atmosphere consists primarily of Carbon Dioxide with the remainder being mainly Nitrogen; and which has large amounts of sulfur dioxide clouds which create sulfuric acid rain. While initially daunting, there exist several possibilities for the potential colonization of this seemingly uninhabitable world. Several ideas have been proposed for the terraforming of Venus (see generic terraforming article at Wikipedia). We will eventually look at these concepts and ideas, but there is another possibility that provides a more immediate chance for colonization of this environmentally hostile world. That is a "floating colony."

The atmosphere of Venus varies in its temperature and pressure over its distance from the surface. Of particular interest is the area approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles) above its surface, as at this location the atmospheric pressure is approximately 1 bar (i.e., the same as the earth's surface air pressure). In addition, the temperature at this height varies between 0 and 50 Celsius (32 and 122 Fahrenheit). These conditions are near identical to earth's temperature and atmospheric pressure. Also, a breathable-air mixture (79-21% Nitrogen-Oxygen mixture) would be a lifting gas in the Venusian atmosphere (similar to Helium in the earth's atmosphere), so a large "balloon" of human-breathable gas would simply float at that height in the Venusian atmosphere. Since the atmospheric pressure would be the same both inside and outside the vessel, any damage to the vessel could be repaired before losing a large amount of the interior breathable gas (there would be no great rush either into or out of the vessel). This type of "floating colony" would likely consist of several to many of these vessels, each being a localized "city" within the Venusian floating colony.

These floating colonies would provide the opportunity to perform additional research on Venus, as well as providing the opportunity to research and attempt terraforming of the Venusian environment. However, it also provides the opportunity to experiment on a world where global warming has gone to the extreme, where runaway greenhouse warming is the highest in the solar system. It is believed that Venus used to be earth-like in its atmosphere and temperature, but that prior inhabitants failed to take action against the Venusian-induced global warming until it was too late, and the planet was unable to cope with the effects that its inhabitants wreaked on it. Thus the pleasant Venus turned into what we have today. And it happened in only a couple of years, which should be a warning to us here on earth. However, what was unfortunate for the previous inhabitants of Venus turns out to be a blessing for us on earth, since we now have the opportunity to test various theories and methods for dealing with the potential runaway greenhouse effect here on earth.

There are additional benefits of floating Venusian colonies as well, including marketable enterprises. For instance, the high carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere would make creation of carbonated beverages a very easy task. Instead of having to force the carbon dioxide into the water, as is done on earth, water could simply be lowered into the higher-pressure, lower atmosphere on Venus, uncovered (which would cause the water to absorb the carbon dioxide), covered, and retrieved. This carbonated water could then be made into various carbonated beverages to be used on the floating colonies and exported back to earth. While initially this would seem to be a cost-prohibitive effort (the cost of transportation of water from earth to Venus and carbonated water from Venus to earth would seem to outweigh the cost savings of the carbonization process on earth), this effort could be sidelined onto the regular transport of supplies (and possibly personnel) between Venus and earth and could help offset the base cost of the scientific mission and resupply efforts. In addition, this would help the terraforming efforts by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the Venusian atmosphere, since the atmosphere will need to be reduced in amount (due to its high surface pressure) as well as changed in composition.

Once the floating colonies are in place, terraforming efforts could be undertaken. One of the greatest challenges would be the day/night periods. Venus rotates slowly relative to its orbital period, causing "day" on Venus to last for about 117 earth days. While humans are incredibly adaptive creatures, most people would be unable to stay awake for 156 days and then sleep for 78 days (that's an equivalent 16/8 split of the typical 24-hour day on earth applied to a 234-day day on Venus). There are several methods to attacking this daylight problem, for instance:
  • Setting up "sunshades" that orbit the planet, creating artificial 24-hour day/night periods by casting large shadows on the planet; these would unfortunately likely be cost-, material-, and construction-prohibitive.
  • Setting up "sunshades" that float in the atmosphere, again creating artificial 24-hour day/night periods; these would be simpler, smaller, and cheaper, but would likely not create a full "night" period due to inefficiencies and atmospheric reflection of sunlight.
  • Changing the orbital period of the planet; while this might seem like a daunting task, it could be accomplished by causing asteroids to be slung in paths near the planet which would alter the rotational frequency. (This is somewhat like the proposal to use asteroid fly-bys to alter the earth's orbit in about a billion years to avoid having the earth engulfed by the expanding sun.)
  • Ignore it; people near the poles of the earth experience long periods of light and darkness and simply adapt by following regular patterns of awake and asleep times.
Other challenges involve altering the composition and volume of the atmosphere such that humans could survive on the surface. Presumably the temperature would fall in line once the atmosphere was "corrected" to earth-like properties. At this point, we would have a "second earth" which would be available for the next 7 billion humans (the approximate current world population). We would also been able to figure out how to combat the global warming problem on earth (which, as you know, will end all life on earth within the next three years; in other words, we need to get working on this Venusian colony before it's too late).

The next installation of this colonization series will look at one of the most talked about worlds in our solar system, Mars, which has long been supposed to be already occupied by little green men. In addition to the potential of colonization, we will discuss the possibility that the planet is already populated and the impact this would have to our human colonization efforts. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 28, 2008

How to Colonize the Solar System, Part I

In this article, we'll be looking at potential spots for human colonization in our solar system. This article will be split into several posts, so stay tuned if your favorite potential extraterrestrial spot is not listed. We'll be discussing the advantages, disadvantages, risks, challenges, potential rewards, and other topics related to colonizing various celestial bodies .

The first, and nearest, neighbor is of course the moon. Lunar colonization has been a frequent topic of discussion among science fiction writers for decades (and perhaps even tens of years). When Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, his famous words were, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." You can listen to the recording at the Wikipedia article, but we will not reproduce the recording here since we have not been authorized by Neil (he is very protective of the rights to the recording of his voice; according to the article, Hallmark Cards used the recording without permission in a Christmas ornament, and they were sued, with the undisclosed settlement amount being donated to Purdue; while we are not currently making any profit from this publication, we do not want to become entangled in a legal battle with one of the most famous and finest of all great astronauts).

Lesser known were his following words*: "Hey, this is kind of nice. I could put a lunar rock garden over there, the kids wouldn't need a trampoline, and you never have to worry about air polution!" But there weren't any real estate agencies around, and he was unable to locate any earth-bound realtors with property available on the moon. However, modern lunar real-estate agencies abound, including these obviously reputable firms**:
These organizations will gladly take your money, and in return you'll get some paper that declares your rights to lunar property. However, note that, in most cases, air is not included. (Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon? Great food, no atmosphere.)

Lunar colonization isn't as far off as you might think, though. The Artemis Project has as its goal a fully functional, self-sustaining lunar community. The basis for their colonization is self-sustenance through the mechanism of tourism. The bulk of the funding, at least initially, is through tourism and entertainment. You can find their anticipated long-term revenue streams outlined here.

There are obvious technical challenges to supporting a lunar colony. For one, humans breath air, and there isn't any significant atmosphere on the moon. Thus, any colonies would require air scrubbers (for purifying the air) and a periodic renewal of oxygen (this is not much different from the requirements of a space station, however). Meteors would be a potential hazard, since there are obvious signs of meteor impact on the moon's surface (you know, those crater things you see that remind you of a man's face, or a rabbit, or giant holes in a huge rock orbiting the earth). Radiation is another hazard, since there is virtually no atmosphere to block the exorbitant amounts of solar radiation unleashed by the uncontrolled, giant fusion reactor at the core of our solar system (this is commonly referred to as "the sun," although it is also occasionally referred to as "that giant yellow orb in the sky," "Ra," "night deterrent," and "my eyes, my eyes! why did I look at that?"). Power sources remain another challenge due to the long periods of darkness, although this could be overcome by placing solar power grids at the poles of the moon (in places where the sunlight is nearly continual), although that would lead to potential power transmission issues (it's difficult enough to have a reliable power grid on earth, where we can get out and inspect the transmission lines and equipment on a regular basis; who would you call if your power went out on the moon?).

However, there are definite advantages to having a lunar colony. One, it would not take very long to send supplies (the trip to the moon, back in the late 60s, took only a few days; modern technology should only have added a few more days to the trip, mainly due to additional paperwork involved, newly imposed intrasolar speed limits, and the EPA requirement of low vehicle emissions on all outbound rocket propulsion systems, which have caused power to decrease while the cost of fuels and engines have increased; however, some might attempt to rebuild some old Saturn V rockets which, due to their original year of manufacture, are not required to meet the modern emission regulations, similar to my 1967 Mustang which is not required to have catalytic converters; of course the fuel available may not be as suitable to the old Saturn V engines, but at the cost of a moon trip, rebuilding the engines after a round trip probably isn't all that out of the question). And if you get homesick, it's only a few days' journey back to your mom's house. Radio communications don't lag as much as would be the case with other bodies in our solar system (e.g., Venus or Mars, which will be covered in later installations of the "How to Colonize the Solar System" series of articles, or more distant bodies, such as Britney Spears, whom recent attempts at communication have still failed to reach).

The lunar colonies would be good places to perform research, such as the effects of long-term low-g (low-gravity) on humans and other species (such as cats and dogs, which could be extrapolated to determine the effects on animals such as cows and goats, which might be used in colonization missions to other worlds, since cows and goats are good sources of milk and steaks). Lunar based colonies would also provide ideal locations for jump-off points for missions to other bodies in the solar system due to the decreased gravity (thus requiring less fuel to reach escape velocity). And the moon might be an ideal place to mine specific elements, such as Helium-3 (He-3), a variant of Helium that is very rare on earth, but found in abundant quantities on the moon. He-3 is a possible candidate for a sustainable fusion reactor, which would create clean nuclear power. Swiss cheese is, of course, another potential lunar export, although it has not been confirmed that 84% of the moon's surface is made of this material.

A lunar observatory would be a very good investment as well, as the lunar sky is free of most of the problems associated with earth-based observatories. The Hubble Space Telescope has demonstrated the positive aspects of an extraterrestrial observatory (one that is free from earth's atmospheric interference), but its maintenance costs are very high since it requires visits from a spacecraft for typical maintenance. A lunar-based observatory would allow the maintenance personnel and materials to be maintained on-site, allowing near-constant maintenance to keep the observatory in top functional condition. Having this financed by tourists with lots of money and a sense of adventure would offset the cost of the scientific investment significantly.

A final advantage of a lunar colony would be simply the "cool factor" - who wouldn't like to say, "My dad works on the moon?" Of course, you'd probably be part of the lunar colony at that point, as the colonists would likely be in teams of family participants, so pretty much every other kid in your school would have parents with the same type of occupation. Still, that's pretty cool.

For additional material related to lunar colonization, we will direct the reader to these two articles:
Please visit our future articles on Solar System Colonization, where we will tackle other bodies such as Venus (which may provide a good place to test anti-global-warming tactics), Mars, and even more remote bodies such as Saturn's moon Titan (question: why was the Saturn V rocket used to go to the moon instead of Saturn? We're not really sure, but maybe after only a few trips they realized they'd named the rocket after the wrong solar system sphere and terminated the project, hoping no one would notice the blunder).

* Obviously we made up these words; they are not really the words of Neil Armstrong. Neil Armstrong is one of our heroes, a pioneer of the astronaut genre; his dedication to his work, his post-astronautic ethics (such as no longer signing autographs because they are being used for undeserved profit), and his sticking to his ideals are testimonies of his unwavering conscience. We apologize if we have offended anyone, Neil Armstrong in particular.

** Obviously it is silly to send money to any firm that will "sell you a deed to property on the moon." We humbly request that, if you are planning to send money to these outfits, you kindly consider sending your money to the editors of not-tional geographic instead - we promise we'll put it to at least as good a use as those other bozos, and we'll even send you a piece of paper indicating you own some portion of the moon if that's what you really want, too! And for a limited time, for a donation of $100 or more, we'll even throw in a thermos full of breathable air you can take with you on your first trip to your new property!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Honda releases global warming vehicle

Our editors have recently become aware of a new Honda vehicle apparently designed to destroy the earth* [please visit the footnote, especially if you are offended by any content in this article], the FCX Clarity. This is a new breed of automobile, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. The way this works is that hydrogen is combined with oxygen inside the fuel cell, resulting in the production of electric power (the desired product) and by-production of water vapor and heat. These two components, water vapor and heat, are hazardous to our environment.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of human-induced global warming, the basic idea is that human impact on the environment is causing an excess of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (that is, either creation of gases in higher quantities than the earth's ecosystem would have before human influence, or reduction of the greenhouse gas sinks that would otherwise balance out the increased production of greenhouse gases). It should be noted that water vapor (and not carbon dioxide) is the largest contributor to greenhouse heating of the earth, causing between 36 and 70% of the greenhouse effect our planet experiences. If fuel cell vehicles become a major component of our transportation system, water vapor emissions will cause the amount of water vapor in the earth's atmosphere to increase. In addition, the heating of the atmosphere (heat is another byproduct of the fuel cell reaction) will allow the atmosphere to retain a higher level of water vapor, resulting in a positive-feedback effect on the potential runaway greenhouse effect (that is, it will amplify the greenhouse effect being caused by other human induced greenhouse gas increases, to the point that the change will become irreversible).

It should be noted that Honda's initial commercial test run is being performed in a limited number of cities in southern California. Presumably this will allow additional environmental testing in the area to ascertain the effectiveness of the fuel cell powered vehicles on increasing both local temperature and atmospheric water vapor levels before a world-wide release that would be designed to further impact the environment and increase global warming. Apparently the Japanese need more inhabitable land area due to their population and, having failed to increase their land area during WWII, have decided that defrosting the northern island by increasing its average temperature through global warming will allow more people to comfortably inhabit the area (the increased temperatures of the southern islands will be combatted by increased air conditioning usage - including the use of old-fashioned R-12 freon, which will help with the scheme of increased global warming - and the installation of giant fans to provide a continual breeze across the whole land area).

* Yes, this is absurd. It is meant to be. But is it really any more absurd than the idea that humans really have the potential to cause earth-climate-changing effects? Stay tuned for more articles on the "hot" topic of global warming (pun intended).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Global Warming Contributors Revealed

Recent studies* have revealed additional contributors to the human-induced global warming issue. Two unlikely culprits, Taco Bell (and other Mexican-style food restaurants) and sodas, are huge contributing factors to man's impact on the environment. One scientist (an anonymous imaginary friend of the author) said, "This has gone unnoticed far, far too long; why didn't anyone else take this into account?"

Yes, increased intake of Mexican-style food (particularly "refried beans" which are a staple of a large number of Taco Bell's offerings) is causing the earth's temperature to rise. Everyone knows that Methane, CH4, is one of the greenhouse gases that is causing the recent surge in the earth's temperature (which obviously is human-induced, not at all related to the earth's cycle of coming out of an ice age). When you eat food like beans, you get gas, and you fart. And farts contain methane. Increased farting leads to increased levels of methane in the atmosphere, which leads to the earth's temperature increasing, of course (the earth, having been around for however long it's been here, couldn't possibly regulate itself in these amounts of greenhouse gases). In addition to beans, it is surmised that fried foods and onions also lead to flatulence; for some suggestions on eating habits that would help curb flatulence, see the wikiPedia article here.

Another leading contributor that has heretofore gone unnoticed is the invention of the soda. Sodas make use of carbonated water, which is water into which carbon dioxide (CO2) has been added (by dissolving under pressure or other means). Carbon dioxide is another greenhouse gas. The increasing consumption of carbonated beverages (in the US and in the world in general) lead to increased amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere (both from carbonated water "losing" its fizz to the atmosphere and through ingestion in humans, where it can cause carbon dioxide related flatulence), which in turn leads to increased global warming.

Since humans breath in oxygen (O2) and breath out carbon dioxide (CO2), the increasing population of the world must have some effect on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, too.

Thus, there are three things that we can all do to help mitigate our impact on our giant earth and its atmosphere (all 5.1361×10e18 kg of it):
  • eat less Mexican-style food
  • drink less carbonated beverages
  • die (of course, this also would entail decomposition after death, which would produce gases, including methane and carbon dioxide; further study is needed to ascertain whether the decomposition process would be more or less destructive to the environment, but of course since everything's going to eventually decompose anyway, not-dying may just be a stalling course of action, and the alive-breathing contribution to the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide will be allowed to continue for a longer period of time)
While I'm sure you'll be less than pleased with the last suggestion, the first two may actually make you healthier as well. (They would for the author.)

*Note: no actual studies were conducted; instead, this is a summarization of the author's thoughts and research based on readily available resources, and it sounds better to say "recent studies show." The reader is suggested to conduct his own research into the publicized topic of "human-induced global warming" - for example, consider this article, these news stories, and this site's information.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Brief History of Turquoise

The Turquoise were a little-known Indian tribe offsprung from the more well-known Iroquois Confederacy. Back in prehistoric American times (i.e., before recorded history in America), a group of Turks (info on Turkey, the nation), fed up with the constant invasions and power struggles due to their strategic location ("Who picked this land, anyway?" one was quoted as saying, but in the original Turkish, of course), decided to migrate east ('cause everyone knew what upstarts and snobs those westerners were!). Not finding suitable places to inhabit (this land's too hot! This land's too cold! This land doesn't have enough fast-food joints!), they kept going. Eventually reaching the Pacific ocean, this group of Turks decided they didn't want to inhabit the land where Communism would thrive, and kept going. It's unclear whether they made their way across land or ice bridges over the Bering strait, or simply sailed on makeshift rafts crafted from empty Tupperware containers that had long since been emptied of food and were simply being carted around because 1) Ralph the Turk was a packrat; and 2) they couldn't find a suitable recycling center and didn't want to strew the non-biodegradable Tupperware all over the Asian continent (primarily it was #1 that kept them around; if/when they found usefulness as makeshift rafts, Ralph the Turk's wife begrudgingly agreed that it was in fact fortunate that he'd kept them all this time as they traipsed all over Asia, but since we don't know for sure whether they were used as rafts or whether the group crossed the Bering strait on a land or ice bridge, I guess we'll never know whether Ralph the Turk was justified over his pack-rattiness).

Anyway, they eventually made their way across to Alaska, but it was too cold. And in Canada they were a bit confused as to their national language, and it was too cold. Eventually, they decided they wanted to settle in a little place called Illinois, but since there were no people there, it hadn't been called Illinois yet, so they kept going.

Upon reaching New York, they found a group of several Indian tribes known as the Iroquois Confederacy. The Turks were welcomed by the Indians, partly because of the jovial nature of the Indians, but mostly because the Turks still had some Tupperware containers which proved excellent in keeping the buffalo meat from spoiling when it wasn't used immediately. (Remember, at this time, Buffalo were widespread across America, and in fact had their headquarters in a little place now known as Buffalo, NY, also settled by one of the Iroquois Confederacy tribes. It is unfortunate that the Buffalo were subsequently hunted nearly out of existence, to the point that only 9 remained in North America. Due to the conservationist group's swift and decisive activities, though, the Buffalo now number in the thousands, although, with all the inbreeding, those are some seriously retarded buffalo, and they no longer have the wits to organize themselves and attempt to retake Buffalo, NY as their HQ.) Primarily, it would be assumed that the Tupperware was the main reason for their acceptance (and not the jovial nature of the Iroquois Indians), since the name "Iroquois" is believed to have been derived from a Basque-based pidgin word, "Hilokoa," meaning "murderers."

So it was that the Turks intermarried with the various Iroquois Indians (apparently some of the Indians understandably take offense to the term "Iroquois," so be careful when retelling this tale). And thus were born the Turquoise Indians, who subsequently resettled in the land known as Illinois (which they, now being of sufficient number, were capable of naming themselves and not requiring any additional population to assist them). However, after relocating to Illinois, the Iroquois got rather perturbed with their neighbors, and subsequently began attacking them (presumably because the former Turks took all their Tupperware with them, and had unfortunately left the secret to creating Tupperware back in Turkey, where it was lost because of all the fighting and political upheaval until it reappeared in America in 1945, brought back by man named Earl Silas Tupper. It is unclear how Mr. Tupper came across the magical secret of Tupperware, or if he managed to have an original idea that someone else already had, but he made a bunch of money off the product and eventually bought an island in Central America, giving up his US Citizenship to avoid taxes. Anyway, the Turquoise Indians kept renaming themselves (refer to the link about Illinois and its history to see the various assumed names of the Turquoise Indians) to try to avoid the continual bullying by the Iroquois Confederacy, although it rarely worked. They looked the same, after all, and maybe the Iroquois just decided to beat up anyone living in the area.

The Turquoise Indians supported the "new" America during the Revolutionary War, as well as supporting Abe Lincoln during the Civil War (refer to the link about Illinois for more info), because they wanted to be free and to have rules saying the Iroquois couldn't beat them up anymore. Or something like that. As it stands, the single greatest contribution of the Turquoise Indians to society was probably a light-bluish-green color, which was originally a botched royal blue when someone ran the garment washing machines (they always provided pre-washed garments to avoid shrinkage after purchase) with chlorinated water siphoned from the neighbor's swimming pool to avoid the large water bill associated with pre-washing their garments. The chlorine, of course, bleached the royal blue color, leaving it the faded turquoise color, which the Turquoise Indians quickly named, patented, and sold worldwide. However, it was determined that the patent was invalid, since the color seemed to match a similarly named stone, and the Turquoise Indians went bankrupt. Most of them committed suicide upon learning the news that they were broke after having made it all the way across the world and starting a new race of people, but a few were a bit more strong willed and decided to not give up. Unfortunately, those few were killed in an industrial accident at the turquoise coloring plant back in the 1920s, and the Turquoise Indians subsequently dropped from the minds of people everywhere, and are rarely even mentioned in any historical texts today (although their assumed names, as resident Indians of Illinois, strangely live on).

And there you have it - a brief history of the Turquoise Indians. Have a great day!

Note: any accounts, personalities, and references in this document are primarily fictitious, the wild imaginings of the author, and are not really meant to represent any factual or historical events, people, nations, tribes, companies, products, or anything else even remotely resembling reality. If you want reality, look elsewhere (such as the links provided in the narrative). Some semblance of truth probably was used in the rambling, but the reader is left to his/her own discretion as to which parts to believe, and it is highly recommended that you research the info yourself (such as at the links provided, history books, encyclopedias, your neighborhood library, the history channel, your elementary school teachers, etc.).