Thursday, March 31, 2011

Das erste Wiener Gem├╝seorchester

The Vegetable Orchestra (also known as Das erste Wiener Gem├╝seorchester, The First Vienna Vegetable Orchestra or The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra) is an Austrian musical group who use instruments made entirely from fresh vegetables. They are the world's foremost (and perhaps the only) exponents of this genre.

The group, founded in February 1998, consists of ten musicians, one cook, and one sound technician. The members of the ensemble are all active in various artistic areas (for example trained musicians, sound poets, sculptors, media artists, designers, and architects) and have worked together on conceptualizing and carrying out their project. The interdisciplinary approach is a crucial factor in researching and further developing the vegetable music. The intention is to create a sonorous experience which can be perceived with all senses. All their pieces feature various forms of graphical notation and are exclusively composed for live performance.

Their instruments, which are all of their own invention, include carrot recorders, clappers made from eggplant, trumpets made from zucchini, and numerous others, which are amplified with the use of special microphones. The instruments are made from scratch just one hour prior to each performance using the freshest vegetables available, then all ninety pounds of vegetables are cooked into a soup following the performance.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Anesthesia Awareness

Anesthesia awareness, or unintended intra-operative awareness occurs during general anesthesia, on the operating table, when the patient has not been given enough of the general anesthetic or analgesic to render the patient unconscious during general anesthesia.

Large trials have demonstrated that around 1 to 2 per 1000 patients experience some form of awareness. The majority of these do not feel pain although around one third did. The most traumatic case of anesthesia awareness is full consciousness during surgery with pain and explicit recall of intra-operative events. The patient may feel the pain or pressure of surgery, hear conversations, or feel as if they cannot breathe. The patient may be unable to communicate any distress because they have been given a paralytic/muscle relaxant. A fully paralyzed patient is unable to move, speak, blink the eyes, or otherwise respond to the pain. If anesthesia awareness does occur, about 42% feel the pain of the operation, 94% experience panic/anxiety (sometimes because they cannot breathe), and 70% experience lasting psychological symptoms. Currently, the anesthesia provider community accepts that anesthesia awareness occurs yet is in denial about its frequency. Most studies show its incidence is 1–2%.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Michel Lotito

Michel Lotito was a French entertainer, born in Grenoble, famous for deliberately consuming indigestible objects. He came to be known as Monsieur Mangetout ("Mister Eat Everything").

His performances involved the consumption of metal, glass, rubber other materials. He disassembled, cut-up, and consumed bicycles, shopping carts, televisions, a Cessna 150, and other items. The Cessna 150 took roughly two years to be "eaten," from 1978 to 1980. He began eating unusual material as a child around 9 years of age and performed publicly from 1966.

Lotito did not often suffer ill effects from consuming the materials, even after consuming materials usually considered poisonous. When performing he consumed around a 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of material daily, preceding it with mineral oil and drinking considerable quantities of water during the meal. He said, however, that bananas and hard-boiled eggs made him sick. It is estimated that between 1959–1997 Lotito had eaten around 1 ton of metal.

Lotito died of natural causes on June 25, 2007, ten days after his 57th birthday. He is buried at Grenoble Cemetery.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

List of common misconceptions (Part 2 of 2)

Poinsettias are not highly toxic. It is true that they are mildly irritating to the skin or stomach and may sometimes cause diarrhea and vomiting if eaten.

It is not harmful to baby birds to pick them up and return them to their nests, despite the common belief that doing so will cause the mother to reject them.

Bulls are not enraged by the color red, used in capes by professional matadors. Cattle are dichromats, so red does not stand out as a bright color. It is not the color of the cape that angers the bull, but rather the movement of the fabric that irritates the bull and incites it to charge.

According to the California Academy of Sciences, around 41% of U.S. adults mistakenly believe humans and dinosaurs coexisted. However, the last of the dinosaurs died around 65 million years ago, after the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, whereas the earliest Homo genus (humans) evolved between 2.3 and 2.4 million years ago.

Glass manufacturing in older eras was a slower process, which often resulted in unevenness and impurities when finished in its solid state. Varying thickness throughout older window panes is the result of these impurities, not due to movement of the glass over time. Glass is not a high-viscosity liquid at room temperature: it is an amorphous solid.

Different tastes can be detected on all parts of the tongue by taste buds, with slightly increased sensitivities in different locations depending on the person, contrary to the popular belief that specific tastes only correspond to specific mapped sites on the tongue.

There are not 4 but 5 primary tastes. In addition to bitter, sour, salty, and sweet, humans have taste receptors for umami, which is a savory or meaty taste.

Humans have more than five senses. Although definitions vary, the actual number ranges from 9 to more than 20. In addition to sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, which were the senses identified by Aristotle, humans can sense balance and acceleration (equilibrioception), pain (nociception), body and limb position (proprioception or kinesthetic sense), and relative temperature (thermoception). Other senses sometimes identified are the sense of time, itching, pressure, hunger, thirst, fullness of the stomach, need to urinate, need to defecate, and blood carbon dioxide levels.

Shaving does not cause terminal hair to grow back thicker or coarser or darker.

Hair and fingernails do not continue to grow after a person dies. Rather, the skin dries and shrinks away from the bases of hairs and nails, giving the appearance of growth.

Hair care products cannot as such "repair" split ends and damaged hair. They can, however, prevent damage from occurring in the first place, smooth down the cuticle in a glue-like fashion so that it appears repaired and generally make hair appear in better condition.

Sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children. Double-blind trials have shown no difference in behavior between children given sugar-full or sugar-free diets, even in studies specifically looking at children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or those considered sensitive to sugar.

Alcohol does not make one warmer. The reason that alcoholic drinks create the sensation of warmth is that they cause blood vessels to dilate and stimulate nerve endings near the surface of the skin with an influx of warm blood. This can actually result in making the core body temperature lower, as it allows for easier heat exchange with a cold external environment.

Alcohol does not kill brain cells. In fact, alcohol has positive health benefits when used moderately and new brain cells are generated on a daily basis.

People do not use only ten percent of their brains. While it is true that a small minority of neurons in the brain are actively firing at any one time, the inactive neurons are important too.

Waking sleepwalkers does not harm them. While it is true that a person may be confused or disoriented for a short time after awakening, this does not cause them further harm. In contrast, sleepwalkers may injure themselves if they trip over objects or lose their balance while sleepwalking.

Eating less than an hour before swimming does not increase the risk of experiencing muscle cramps or drowning.

The Coriolis effect does not determine the direction that water rotates in a bathtub drain or a flushing toilet. Most toilets inject water into the bowl at an angle, causing a spin too fast to be significantly affected by the Coriolis effect.

A penny dropped from the Empire State Building will not kill a person or crack the sidewalk. Due to terminal velocity the speed of a falling penny cannot exceed 30–50 miles per hour regardless of the distance from which it is dropped.

Photographic or eidetic memory refers to the ability to remember images with extremely high precision – so high as to mimic a camera. However, it is highly unlikely that photographic memory exists, as to date there is no hard scientific evidence that anyone has ever had it.

Book of GenesisThe forbidden fruit mentioned in the Book of Genesis is commonly assumed to be an apple, and is widely depicted as such in Western art, although the Bible does not identify what type of fruit it is.

The historical Buddha was not obese. The "chubby Buddha" or "laughing Buddha" is a tenth century Chinese folk hero by the name of Budai.

The Immaculate Conception is not synonymous with the virgin birth of Jesus, nor is it a supposed belief in the virgin birth of Mary, his mother. Rather, the Immaculate Conception is the Roman Catholic belief that Mary was not subject to original sin from the first moment of her existence, when she was conceived.

George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter, though he reputedly discovered three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds more for soybeans, pecans, and sweet potatoes.

Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb.

Henry Ford did not invent either the automobile or the assembly line. He did help to develop the assembly line substantially, sometimes through his own engineering but more often through sponsoring the work of his employees.

Guglielmo Marconi did not invent radio, but only modernized it for public broadcasting and communication. No single person was responsible for the invention of radio.

The United States Interstate Highway System was not designed with airplane landings in mind. A common urban legend states that one out of every five (or ten) miles of highway must be straight and flat to allow emergency (or military) airplane landings, but this is not the case.

Toilet waste is never intentionally dumped overboard from an aircraft. All waste is collected in tanks which are emptied on the ground by special toilet waste vehicles. Passenger trains, on the other hand, have historically flushed onto the tracks; however, modern trains usually have retention tanks on board the train.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

List of common misconceptions (Part 1of 2)

There is no evidence that iron maidens were invented in the Middle Ages or even used for torture, despite being shown so in some media, but instead were pieced together in the 18th century from several artifacts found in museums in order to create spectacular objects intended for (commercial) exhibition.

Christopher Columbus's efforts to obtain support for his voyages were not hampered by a European belief in a flat Earth. Sailors and navigators of the time knew that the Earth was spherical, but (correctly) disagreed with Columbus's estimate of the distance to India, which was approximately one-sixth of the actual distance.

Marie Antoinette did not actually use the phrase "let them eat cake" when she heard that the French peasantry was starving due to a dearth of bread. The phrase was first published in Rousseau's Confessions when Marie was only 10 years old and most scholars believe that Rousseau coined it himself, or that it was said by Maria-Theresa, the wife of Louis XIV.

George Washington did not have wooden teeth. According to a study of Washington's four known dentures by a forensic anthropologist from the University of Pittsburgh (in collaboration with the National Museum of Dentistry, itself associated with the Smithsonian Museum), the dentures were made of gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth (including horse and donkey teeth).

The signing of the Declaration of Independence did not occur on July 4, 1776. The final language of the document was approved by the Second Continental Congress on that date, it was printed and distributed on July 4 and 5, but the actual signing occurred on August 2, 1776.

John F. Kennedy's words "Ich bin ein Berliner" are standard German for "I am a Berliner". An urban legend has it that due to his use of the indefinite article ein, Berliner is translated as jam doughnut, and that the population of Berlin was amused by the supposed mistake. The word Berliner is not commonly used in Berlin to refer to the Berliner Pfannkuchen.

Entrapment law in the United States does not require police officers to identify themselves as police in the case of a sting or other undercover work. The law is specifically concerned with enticing people to commit crimes they would not have considered in the normal course of events.

Mussels that do not open when cooked may still be fully cooked and safe to eat.

Microwave ovens do not cook food from the inside out. Microwave radiation penetrates food and causes direct heating only a short distance from the surface.

Placing metal inside a microwave oven does not damage the oven's electronics. There are, however, other safety-related issues: electrical arcing may occur on pieces of metal not designed for use in a microwave oven, and metal objects may become hot enough to damage food, skin, or the interior of the microwave oven.

It is commonly claimed that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the Moon. This is false.

The notion that goldfish have a memory of only three seconds is false.

Lemmings do not engage in mass suicidal dives off cliffs when migrating. They will, however, occasionally unintentionally fall off cliffs when venturing into unknown territory, with no knowledge of the boundaries of the environment. The misconception is due largely to the Disney film White Wilderness, which shot many of the migration scenes (also staged by using multiple shots of different groups of lemmings) on a large, snow-covered turntable in a studio. Photographers later pushed the lemmings off a cliff.

Bats are not blind. While most bat species do use echolocation to augment their vision, all bat species have eyes and are capable of sight.

According to urban myth, the daddy longlegs spider (Pholcus phalangioides) is the most venomous spider in the world, but the shape of their mandibles leaves them unable to bite humans, rendering them harmless to our species. In reality, they can indeed pierce human skin, though the tiny amount of venom they carry causes only a mild burning sensation for a few seconds.