Youtube Video: Flat Earth OR Why Do People Reject Science? | Philosophy Tube

Phil O´Sofy Toobe is great leftist channel. I do not agree with everything in his videos, but that is not because I disagree with him on principle – I disagree with him on practicality. In short, I think we are fucked beyond hope, because human race as a whole is irredeemable and this prevents sensible implementation of leftist policies on greater scale.

In this video he tackles some of the whats and whys behind science denialism. I recommend many of his other videos – and there realy are many. I still haven’t seen them all.

YouTube Video: A Super-Material You Can Make In Your Kitchen (Starlite?)

Today a bit of chemistry and engineering that took my fancy. I have read about Starlite before, and I always wondered what it was made of. It would be swell if it could be made to actually work on big scale.

There are other materials that have similarly amazing insulating properties – aerogels – but they are brittle and a pain in the arse to make at home (i tried, and failed).

I am already thinking about how to use this in knifemaking.

Oh and sorry for being so quiet, but I was away for almost a week without internet and I am still catching my breath after getting back to work after.

Funeral Care is Changing and Becoming Green

 

There’s a growing movement to wrestle death care away from the needlessly expensive hands of the Funeral Industry and to return to simpler methods of care and burial of the dead. The Order of the Good Death is an international organization committed to helping people find safe, green, affordable and natural options for burial. The Order is young, but growing quickly in part as a response to the startling statistics about our modern burial practices.

“American funerals are responsible each year for the felling of 30 million board feet of casket wood (some of which comes from tropical hardwoods), 90,000 tons of steel, 1.6 million tons of concrete for burial vaults, and 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid. Even cremation is an environmental horror story, with the incineration process emitting many a noxious substance, including dioxin, hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, and climate-changing carbon dioxide.” via Just How Bad is Traditional Burial?

One of the primary chemicals used in embalming fluid is formaldehyde, making all those gallons of embalming fluid highly toxic. Practitioners are required to wear full body and face protection and the chemicals aren’t always safely contained in our modern sealed caskets and concrete vaults. Flooding, earthquakes and even simply shifting ground can allow embalming fluids to leach into the soil and ground waters.

Cremation isn’t much better, releasing many dangerous pollutants into the air. There is, however, a new technology available called Aquamation which chemically breaks down a body using Alkaline Hydrolosis. The process is simple and transformative according to green funeral director Jeff Jorgenson

The AH process is that of heating a solution of water and sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or potassium hydroxide (KOH), which breaks down the complex molecules that make up the soft tissue of a body. In most human AH machines, this solution is pressurized and heated well above the boiling point of standard atmosphere. This high pressure/high temperature accelerates the breakdown of these complex molecules to a liquid. What remains are just the bones of the deceased, which is the same result you see with cremation. The process in human machines takes around three hours. Most animal AH machines however, this one included, do not use pressure for the process and thus, the temperatures used in the process are far lower, and that equals a longer processing time. This longer process means that you must perform multiple aquamations in one cycle to make it viable…

The water at the end of the cycle then gets discharged into the sanitary system like all other waste water. I would like to take a moment to explain that the liquid that is discharged is nutrient rich and safe enough to use in the garden for all of your vegetables. In cremation, all the tissues and liquid are vented up the chimney in the form of particulates and steam. In the both cremation and AH, what is returned to the family is simply bone and trace materials.

Aquamation is new technology and it may take some time before it becomes widely available and accepted. For those who want a more natural disposition of their dead there are green cemeteries popping up where bodies are simply buried in the soil with only a natural shroud or a biodegradable coffin. There are also now burial suits that turn bodies into clean compost. Decomposition is natural and safe. There is also a growing number of funeral directors who will assist you to be involved in the care of the body at your own level of comfort. That may be as simple as helping to wash and dress the dead or as complex as keeping the body at home and arranging for transport and burial. It is not a legal requirement that bodies be embalmed and it is perfectly safe to keep a body at home for several days with simply ice packs to slow down decomposition. 

A home funeral is what used to be called”a funeral,” since all funerals took place in the family home. Nowadays it means choosing to keep a body at home after death, as opposed to having the body immediately picked up by a funeral home. It is a safe and legal choice for a family to make!

Now, an important caveat is that each US state (for instance) has different laws – some states require you to hire a funeral director to file a death certificate or to transport a body.  This won’t effect the keeping the body at home part, but the funeral director will need to be involved in the process.

To find out what the home funeral requirements are where you live, you can find more detailed information here.

And if you’re interested in the requirements around embalming, burial, and cremation, read your consumer rights listed by state.

I encourage you to visit the Order of The Good Death. The site is full of resources and interesting articles about this growing trend in after death care. They also have information to help you begin conversations about planning for death and advanced directives. Death is a natural and inevitable part of life. There’s no need to fear talking about it.

I’d also like to thank Avalus for prompting me to write about this. His photographs of mushrooms in a natural burial cemetery peaked my curiosity. We’ll be sharing Avalus’ mushroom photos daily over the course of this week and I encourage you to check them out, too.

 

 

 

Making Kitchen Knives – Interlude 1 – The Little Great Polishing Experiment

I will share with you a proper analysis of the acquired data, but I just finished a little experiment and I am too eager to share the results.

Without too big analyzing of anything, it is clear at even a casual glance that polishing is the most time-consuming part of the job. It is also the most boring part, in my opinion, because not much can be done and the opportunities for a mess-up are numerous. It is necessary to go through the laborious process for fancy knives, like Ciri’s dagger, but for a kitchen knife without any ribs or facets it is a waste of time.

For over twenty-five years, ever since I read about the technique in ABC as a kid, I wanted to try a process that goes under many names, “tumbling”  being probably the most known one. I have even mentioned the device for it in the article “The Handmade Dilemma” as a “polishing drum”. It is a technique that has been in use for thousands of years, literally – for example Bohemian Crown Jewels contain precious stones that were polished this way. And it has been tried and used for knife finishing both on commercial and hobby scale. All that it takes is having the polished things in a rotating drum where they tumble over each other, sometimes with the help of a polishing medium, sometimes without. A very simple machine, and had I lived by a stream I would build a water powered one years ago. Unfortunately I do not live near a stream and wind is too unpredictable so I am stuck with using electricity, and I have not got my hands on a motor with the right properties yet.

But I got lucky, my colleague has bought small toy tumbler for his son when he was little and they do not need it anymore, so he lent it to me a few months ago. As you can see, it is not big enough to hold a knife, not even a small one, so after I let it run with a few pieces of unhardened steel with very mixed and generally unsatisfactory results, it has collected dust again.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

But here was the second stroke of luck – I have bought a slab of high-carbon tool steel and I started to make myself a set of better hardness measuring gauges than the impromptu ones I have made from an old saw blade. I have already ground and hardened these little chisels to HRc 62,  and I only cleaned the two big facets and sanded them up to 150 grit – that is the grit up to which the grinding and polishing is relatively quick and the blade does not heat up too much. I was not intending to high-polish these, since that would be silly. But I remembered the lent tumbler and checked if they fit in – and the did!

So I chucked the blades into the polishing drum with a spoon of jeweler’s rouge and half filled it wiht crushed walnut shells, mixed it all up and let it run for one day. Bugger – it got blocked after unknown time and I only found out next day. So I started it again for one day. And the change in surface was remarkable. It was not polished, but the perpendicular sandpaper scratches were no longer visible and the surface has got a very nice satin sheen to it. But I like my blades mirror-polished, so I started it for another day. I took another chisel out and subjectively there was no change against the first day, so I assumed that this is as good as it gets (but I will let it run for one more day). But I also assumed that since there are no visible perpendicular scratches anymore, I can quickly buff it to mirror polish with the three buffing wheels that I have  – and I was correct.

Here you can see four pictures taken with my digital microscope (courtesy of our quality department who tossed it away because they lost the installation CD – so I took it home and downloaded free software). Each picture represents a section approximately 10 mm wide in reality.

After 150 grit belt – parallel scratches perpendicular to the blade are very clearly visible.
©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

 

After one day, scratches from the sandpaper are no longer visible with the naked eye, but they are still visible under the microscope.
©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

 

After two days, the scratches from sandpaper are no longer visible even under the microscope unless you really look for them.
©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

And after just a few minutes with the set of buffing wheels the scratches are no longer visible and the surface is so polished that the microscope photographs itself.
©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Anatomy Atlas Part 21 – Heart

Heart. An organ whose importance was known throughout the history, but whose real function was not.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The one interesting fact about heart that springs to my mind is that one of the most important discoveries into how it actualy functions was done by a Czech anatomist Jan Evangelista Purkyně who discovered the specialized impluse-conveying neurons in 1837 (but I had to look that date up, since I have terrible memory for numbers). They bear his name “Purkynje fibers”.

I wonder whether kids in other nations around the world get to hear his name when learning about heart.

Reconstructing the fearsome Haast’s eagle.

A comparison of the huge claws of Haast's eagle with those of its close relative the Hieraaetus morphnoides, the "little" eagle. Image / Bunce M, Szulkin M, Lerner HRL, Barnes I, Shapiro B, et al.

A comparison of the huge claws of Haast’s eagle with those of its close relative the Hieraaetus morphnoides, the “little” eagle. Image / Bunce M, Szulkin M, Lerner HRL, Barnes I, Shapiro B, et al.

With a wingspan reaching as wide as 3m and huge claws that could crush bone, the Haast’s eagle was one of the most fearsome creatures ever to stalk New Zealand’s prehistoric wilderness.

The largest eagle known to have existed anywhere, its demise quickly followed that of its much-larger prey, the moa, which was hunted to extinction by early Maori settlers around 1400 CE.

Now a top international scientist and Kiwi collaborators hope to shed more light on the lost giant, in an innovative study that could help conserve those endangered predatory birds that remain today.

An artist's depiction of a Haast's eagle attacking two moa. Image / John Megahan.

An artist’s depiction of a Haast’s eagle attacking two moa. Image / John Megahan.

You can read more here, thanks to David for letting me know about this.

Flowers of the Sky.

Depictions spanning almost a whole millennium – in chronological order – of comets, meteors, meteorites and shooting stars. (My choices here aren’t in order!)

Leonid Meteor Storm, as seen over North America on the night of November 12-13, 1833, from E. Weiß’s Bilderatlas der Sternenwelt (1888) – Source.

Leonid Meteor Storm, as seen over North America on the night of November 12-13, 1833, from E. Weiß’s Bilderatlas der Sternenwelt (1888) – Source.

Astronomy: a meteor shower in the night sky. Mezzotint, after 1783 – Source.

Astronomy: a meteor shower in the night sky. Mezzotint, after 1783 – Source.

Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch, Folio 52 (erschrocklicher Comet, 1300) – Source

Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch, Folio 52 (erschrocklicher Comet, 1300) – Source.

You can see many more wonderful depictions at The Public Domain Review.

Making a Rondel Dagger – Interlude 2 – Measuring the Hardness

I am not done with the “Behind the Iron Curtain” series, but right now my mind is way too focused on other things.

One such thing was the conundrum of measuring hardness of steel. There is no way I can spend thousands of € on measuring equipment. And the cheapest “sort of” evaluation of hardness is a set of five needle files that costs over 200,-€. I would rather spend that money on materials, but I do not mind spending a few hours of work.

So yesterday I had my first shot at this issue.

First thing I have done was to find in my scrap pile old and damaged hack saw blade. I have heated it piecemeal with handheld propane torch to orange heat and quenched it in a bucket of water. Since it is uniform thickness, the water does cause no cracking this way and quenches the steel very nicely and without flames or stink.

After quenching each segment I broke it off (it breaks really easy) and proceeded further, untill there was no unhardened steel left. After that I broke all the pieces into much smaller pieces until I had a nice little pile of extra hard steel shards.

These I have dunked straightaway in a pot with about 1 cm of sunflower seed oil and proceeded to my kitchen. There I was heating the oil very slowly to temper the steel whilst measuring the temperature with my IR thermometer. The higher the temperature, the lower the steel hardness, so I had  temperature steps predefined at which I took a few pieces of steel out of the oil bath.

For that I have found this site on the Interwebs that was kind enough to post a table of  hardness versus tempering temperature with not only the silly units the USA uses but also the sensible units the civilised world uses¹, so I could actually understand what temperature ranges we are talking about. I wrote the temperatures from the table on pieces of paper and put them into small receptacles in which I have placed the tempered shards. I did try to hold the temperatures for about 15 minutes, but for a steel this thin that is not completely necessary.

At 260°C I stopped, because after that the oil could ignite, and I made the remaining temperatures on a fireclay brick with handheld torch. For these soft rangers I do not need much precision anyways.

With all the shards tempered and hardened I have cut ten pieces of hardwood from old spokes from my crib.  They are a bit too thick, but I had no wooden dowels of the right thickness in my pile and I did not want to use wood set aside for arrows. I cut a groove in each piece and marked the pieces 1 to 10 with roman numerals (because those are easy to carve with a knife).

After that I glued one shard in each groove with fast healing epoxy. The softest one in the I and the hardest one in X. Once the epoxy has healed, all that was left was to sharpen the shards on my belt grinder and I was done.

I have tried whether the hardness progresses from I to X and it does. 10 is able to scratch everything, I scratches nothing, and each higher number seems to scratch the one below but not the one above. Here they are (one is missing in the picture, I do not know why, how typical of me to miss-lay things in a matter of seconds).

I measured the dagger on the tang where it is hardened but will not be visible later on. VIII scratched, VII almost scratched, VI did not scratch at all. The hardness should be therefore somewhere around 58 HRC. That is hard enough to keep an edge, but not so hard as to shatter or break easily or eat sharpening stones.

As a proof of concept I would call it a definitive success. I have a set of tools that allows me to estimate the hardness of steel from about 40 to 65 HRC. Not with great precision, but well enough to be useful. After I get my hands on some suitable high carbon steel (about 1% is needed) of thickness about 2-3 mm, I will make better ones, chisel-like, with not only a tip to scratch, but also an area to be scratched.

A little backyard scientist project.


1 – I hate that USA insists on using the silly units and infests half the internet with that nonsense. Finding well written articles on the internet that are not in English is difficult and when something is written in English, it is often US-centric. As if USA did not spread enough misery as it is, it has to keep poisoning sciences and engineering with this utter garbage.

Amsterdam: Below The Surface.

Peter N. sent this amazing project to me, and it’s absolutely fascinating!

In Amsterdam there’s a public works project going on which has involved draining a river. Archaeologists have been able to search through many feet of sediment for artifacts – which date back 800 years. There’s a wonderful website which describes the project in detail here: https://belowthesurface.amsterdam/en/pagina/de-opgravingen-index

… and one of the pages is a catalog of over 11,000 finds, with beautiful photos and descriptions, arranged in chronological order: https://belowthesurface.amsterdam/en/vondsten

It just thrills me to think that every single one of those objects comes with a story, which, unfortunately, is lost forever – a lovers’ quarrel, a picnic, a flood, a missed arrow shot…

I feel the same way  as Peter. Seeing small pieces of history always makes me wonder about all the people and their lives. Peter chose one particular piece for me, and was spot on, I love it!

I’m going to be spending some time gawking at all the amazing things found in this streambed archaeology!

Song Ci: The Washing Away of All Wrongs.

Nomenclature of human bones in Sòng Cí: Xǐ-yuān lù jí-zhèng, edited by Ruǎn Qíxīn (1843).

Nomenclature of human bones in Sòng Cí: Xǐ-yuān lù jí-zhèng, edited by Ruǎn Qíxīn (1843).

Song Ci (Sung Tz’u) is considered to be the founder of forensic science. In 1247, Song Ci wrote Collected Cases of Injustice Rectified or The Washing Away of Wrongs.

Different versions of the book exist, but the earliest existing version was published during the Yuan Dynasty, containing fifty-three chapters in five volumes. The first volume describes the imperial decree issued by Song Dynasty on the inspection of bodies and injuries. The second volume contains notes and methods on post-mortem examinations. The third, fourth, and fifth volumes detail the appearances of corpses from various causes of death and methods of treatments to certain injuries of a wounded person.

Song Ci ruled regulation about autopsy report for court, how to protect the evidence in the examining process, the reason why workers must show examination to public impartiality;how to wash dead body for examining the different reasons of death. At that time, the book had given methods to distinguish suicide or pretending suicide.

The particulars of each case must be recorded in the doctor’s own handwriting. No one else is allowed to write his autopsy report. A coroner must not avoid performing an autopsy just because he detests the stench of corpses. A coroner must refrain from sitting comfortably behind a curtain of incense that masks the stench, letting his subordinates do the autopsy unsupervised, or allowing a petty official to write his autopsy report, otherwise any potential inaccuracy is unchecked and uncorrected.”

He also said:

“Should there be any inaccuracy in an autopsy report, injustice would remain with the deceased as well as the living. A wrongful death sentence without justice may claim one or more additional lives, which would in turn result in feuds and revenges, prolonging the tragedy. In order to avoid any miscarriage of justice, the coroner must immediately examine the case personally.” [Source]

Medievalists has a list of ten observations Song Ci made when it came to discerning murder, and different types of murder.

Last year, photographer Robert Shults did a photographic series called The Washing Away of Wrongs, all taken at a forensic research facility in Texas.

Robert Shults, photograph from The Washing Away of Wrongs, with flowers from a nearby tree fallen across a donor’s body (courtesy the artist).

Robert Shults, photograph from The Washing Away of Wrongs, with flowers from a nearby tree fallen across a donor’s body (courtesy the artist).

You can read all about that, and see more too, at Hyperallergic. There are some graphic photos, so have a care.

No. That’s Just Wrong.

I was happily lost in The Public Domain Review the other day, and came across High Frequency Electric Currents in Medicine and Dentistry from 1910. I know there was great excitement over electricity, and there were phases of “miracle cures” where it was concerned, but in this case, it was the photos which got my attention, including one which just about had me screaming, and I’m not even a parent:

The text reads:

Plate XXII. – This beautiful picture (as exquisite as Manet’s “Boy with the Sword” which is one of the classics of the Painting Art), sets forth this boy bringing his pocket “Tesla” for the enjoyment of his beloved tonic. His sturdy strength at the age of three is a tribute to the efficacy of high frequency currents, for at the age of three days, when his treatment with them was begun, he was an illy-thriving and frail infant with but the feeblest hold on life. Look at him well, and think how many myriads of pallid children – of all ages – need the same remedy.

There is So. Much. Wrong. there, it just leaves me sputtering. Applying electrical currents to a three day old infant? All I can think is how very easily that could kill said infant. As for the photo being as exquisite as Boy with a Sword, let’s see:

L'Enfant à l'épée'' par Edouard Manet, 1861.

L’Enfant à l’épée’ par Edouard Manet, 1861.

Yeah, I don’t think there’s any honest comparison there at all. There are other questionable and frightening photos to be seen with the magical Tesla wand, but have a care, there’s some nudity, so NSFW.

“Going to the Dogs?”, Workshop.

“Going to the Dogs” Workshop #2 brought together scholars from England, Scotland, and Poland to discuss the various and complex intersections of disability- and animal-studies research. Discussions centred on talks delivered by Rachael Gillibrand (Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds), Dr Ryan Sweet (School of English, University of Leeds), Dr Andy Flack (Department of History, University of Bristol), Dr Neil Pemberton (Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester), and Dr Justyna Włodarczyk (Department of American Literature, University of Warsaw). The talks covered topics including the animal assistants of disabled people in the late-medieval West; nineteenth-century representations of animals with prostheses; connections between historical understandings of animals that live in darkness and vision-impaired people; the role of the caress in 1930s America human-guide-dog partnerships; and current controversies surrounding emotional-support animals in the US.

-Via Medievalists.

The full set of workshop videos.

The Smithsonian Presents Interactive Androids.

Pepper saying hello to staff at the Smithsonian Castle. (all photos courtesy Smithsonian).

Pepper saying hello to staff at the Smithsonian Castle. (all photos courtesy Smithsonian).

The next time you visit a Smithsonian museum, the first greeting you get may come from a gleaming, four-foot-tall android extending their hand. This would be Pepper, one of 25 humanoid robots that were introduced two days ago to six Smithsonian spaces, from the Hirshhorn Museum to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Donated by their engineers at Softbank Robotics, the platoon of Peppers is intended to enhance the visitor experience and ensure that daily operations run smoothly.

Pepper, which was designed to interact with humans, is the first bot capable of recognizing our emotions. These models already work in an array of industries around the world, serving as receptionists in Belgian hospitals and even as priests in Japan that lead funerary rituals. While the robot has been on display in museums, the Smithsonian now represents the first museum complex to actually use these wide-eyed automata for their services.

“We see them as a new tool for the docents to use, especially since they are always paired with a person,” a spokesperson for Smithsonian told Hyperallergic, noting that the Peppers are “absolutely not replacing docents.”

Softbank Robotics donated the Peppers for an experimental, pilot program intended to help the Smithsonian solve problems, from boosting visitorship to “under-attended galleries” and encouraging greater engagement with artworks. While the robots can provide helpful information by answering commonly asked questions, they can also indulge in more lighthearted activities for which human docents do not always have the time (or patience); visitors can ask Pepper to dance, play games, and even pose for a selfie. While the robots currently do not have captioned speech, the Smithsonian said that it is working to caption images that appear on their screens and “will continue with our software partners to make Pepper as accessible as possible.”

Very cool! I’d like to meet Pepper. You can read and see much more at Hyperallergic.