Is it possible to detect a lie?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pinocchio.jpgDid you eat my last chocolate chip cookie?
No.
Did you eat my last chocolate chip cookie?
No!
Stop lying! I know you did it!
You have no proof!

Lying is fun and useful. There are many kinds of lies: big lies, small lies, white lies and ‘oh my God we’ve killed someone’ lies. You can also lie through your teeth, although I’ve tried it and it’s very hard to emit anything other than saliva while clenching down your jaws. We all lie everyday about all kinds of things. We lie about being happy, about our health, about liking someone or not, and we lie about what we like behind closed doors under the sheets.

You could argue about the ethics of lying but I say go for it. As long as it doesn’t get you in jail or ends up hurting someone, you should have some fun! But what about if you suspect someone else lying to you? Well now the tables have turned and we don’t like that!

There are several ways used to tell if someone is lying. Probably the most famous is the polygraph machine, or lie detector. These things measure the physiological stress while the subject answers some questions. Any spikes in the squiggly line supposedly indicate a high amount of stress and therefore a lie. Of course the validity of these lie detectors is questionable at best, given the fact that they have been fooled on several occasions and any person being interrogated will automatically stress his pants off. Still, like many other scams, lie detectors are still in use today.

Another well-known method of weeding out the lies is the reading of body language. Paying attention to any facial expressions, movements and speech may help to detect a lie, though once again accuracy is a problem. When someone looks to the left, then to the right and says ‘no’, then you can be damn sure he’s a lying scoundrel! But in most cases the signals are very subtle if present at all, and can easily be misread.

Finally we have torture. While not very humane, beating someone into a bloody pulp can make them very cooperative. Usually you threaten to probe their lower region with a sharp object, which will make the average person share his most awkward secrets, but the good interrogator will know to carry out the threat just to be sure. While perhaps satisfying to some, torture is not a surefire way of detecting lies because people will say anything to stop the pain. A famous account of forced confessions can be found in the history of the Knights Templar.

So, is there a way of detecting lies without flaw? Yes, there is. It’s called the guilt trip. When you are absolutely certain that the thieving bastard has stolen your chocolate chip cookie, you must forgive him. Be gentle, tell him it’s ok. And if he had stolen your chocolate chip cookie, you wouldn’t be mad but disappointed, because you trusted him. Then you put a paint bomb in the cookie jar and take a walk.

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The art of seduction: flirting 101

Marilyn_Monroe_and_Cary_Grant_in_Monkey_Business_trailer_3

Your hair is looking good. You got a minty fresh breath. You’re rocking your best outfit and your mojo is boiling. The music hits and you swagger your way to that good-looking piece of meat on the dance floor. Time to turn up the heat with some sex appeal.
“Hey baby, wanna dance?”
“Sorry, I’m not into you.”
Wait, what? How did this happen? What’s going on?!

Not to fear, science is here! Stop wasting your time with superficial accessories to attract a mate. What you need is a bit of physics 101 to put you back on the map. The first thing you need to do is ease your way into their personal space. You may want to make sure their viscosity level is low enough to penetrate, so have a stick ready to poke. When you’re up close, ride their body to the beat, going faster every couple of seconds. The friction you create will increase the heat between you two and spark a flame. Of course you don’t want to lose that heat, so build a container with thermally insulated walls to create an adiabatic process to contain it. The rise in temperature may increase their resistance. What you want to do then is to wrap them up in copper or aluminium to allow the electrical current to pass easily from your body to theirs.

If you’ve come this far then there is little that can ruin your chances, save perhaps chaos theory which is always unpredictable. You can help Fate seal the deal by taking charm quarks instead of mints, though where you’ll buy them is beyond me. And then of course there are the magical words that anyone should know before stepping up to the plate. “Hey baby, you must be packing a lot of mass because I’m feeling some attraction between us!” If that doesn’t get them, this will:
“Did it hurt?”
“Did what hurt?”
“When the stars exploded and hurled your fabulous atoms across the galaxy to Earth.”

There. I’ve done all I can to help you. If you don’t succeed now you’re just plain old ugly!

 

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Earth-like planet discovered

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

Today the Griffith Observatory has announced that they have spotted a planet that is eerily similar to Earth. It is believed that this planet, 74N-45GX, contains large bodies of water on the surface and shows signs of geothermal activity. This means that it may not only contain some form of life, but also that it could be our future home. As we continue the space race and plan to build colonies on the Moon and eventually Mars, the day will come that we leave our cozy solar system and depart for 74N-45GX. As for the name, the Griffith Observatory has issued out a challenge to come up with a good one to replace the temporary label. If you want to join in on this competition, visit their site here.

Edit: April Fools’ Day of course!

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Stop people from whining

Sound waves

You’re watching TV on a saturday night in your underwear with the remote in one hand, and a cold drink in the other. You’ve had a rough week behind you and now it’s time to relax and enjoy the precious spare time you have. But there’s always someone to ruin it for you. “Take out the trash. Do your homework. I want some attention. Do this. Do that. Whine, whine, whine.” Some people just don’t know when to shut up, so now I will teach you how to stop that white noise from spoiling your weekend.

It won’t surprise you that the key factor here is sound, or rather the propagation of sound. In more or less technical terms, sound is a mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid or gas. So, what we eventually hear in our ears is nothing more than the vibrations of the air molecules. Sound can be visually represented as a line going up and down (sinusoidal waves) at various frequencies. When the peak of a single wave is high, so is your voice, when it’s low and outstretched, you sound like James Earl Jones.

The propagation of sounds is affected by three things: density of the medium, motion of the medium and viscosity of the medium.

Density
Simply put, sound waves travel by tapping molecules and passing the message along. Each molecule taps the next in a chain of molecules, until the sound reaches your ear. The denser the medium, the faster the waves will go. This is because in a dense medium the space between each molecule is smaller, making it easier to tap the next molecule in line. It’s like being at a crowded party, it’s much easier to grope people.

Motion
If the medium itself is moving, like wind, the sound waves within it will travel along, going further than they normally would. If the wind is going in the opposite direction as the waves, the sound can drown out if the wind is louder. This can be shown in numbers: if you have -1 coming from the left, and +5 from the right, they will smash into each other and combine to form +4 going to the left.

Viscosity
Finally, there is viscosity. This is the measure of the resistance of a fluid when you throw something into it. Honey has more viscosity than water and will offer more resistance to the sound waves, thus limiting their range.

Well that was a long lecture wasn’t it! But it was worth it because now your weekends will once again be sacred. All you have to do is stop the molecules from moving, or introduce a vibration of your own to counteract the nagging. And if all else fails, you can always try earplugs.

Fun fact: the speed of sound in dry air at 20 °C is 340 metres per second, or 1,236 kilometres per hour (768 mph).

 

 

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Calculating your chances of succes

Equation for the Density metric used in the co...

Are you wondering what will get you the most profit? Do you want to know the likelihood of completing a difficult task? Or are you just curious about what will happen if you stick your tongue in a power socket? Then you’ll probably want to master the art of equations!

Equations are mathematical statements that assert the equality of two expressions. Expressions can pretty much be anything, from numbers to squiggly lines, as long as they have a meaning. They have to follow rules though, much like language. If you said something like: The sheep the in at for my kitty kat, I would slap you across the room for breaking the syntax rule, not to mention for speaking in tongue. So an expression cannot be 14+/²,// because you are using symbols that have a set meaning, and 14 plus divided by squared comma divided by divided by, makes no sense. A proper expression would be something like 14xyz², in which case the letters usually stand for numbers you have to insert.

Now to make an equation you need an expression on either side of the equal sign “=” to denote their equality. If we take a simple equation, like A=lw (where A stands for the surface area of a rectangle, l for length and w for width), we can analyze it to understand the components. Simply put, this says that if you take the length and multiply it with the width, you get the surface area. Let’s insert some numbers and see if it works: take 10 for l and 5 for w, then you get 10 times 5 which equals 50. According to the equation, which says that the left side is equal to the right side, A must be 50 because l times w is 50. To see that this is true, you can take a rectangle with a length of 10 and a width of 5, and you will also see that the surface area is 50.

Obviously I took a very simple example to explain equations. If you do proper maths or physics, you will encounter equations that will look like mumbo-jumbo and make you poke out your eyes with a pen. Most of them will contain a series of symbols (by which I mean anything but numbers) that usually stand for the answer of smaller equations.

The really fun part is that you can make equations of your own and test them. Let’s try it, shall we? You want to calculate your chances of success at trying to woo a suitable mate. So let’s take S (SCORE), h (how’s my hair?), t (did I brush my teeth?), l (am I feeling lucky?), n (how much of a nerd am I?) and finally g (how much does she hate my guts?). In proper form this will be: S=h+t.l-n/g². If the answer is anything above the square root of a dolphin, you’re gonna get lucky tonight!

 

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How to create gold

 

Relativity-formulaWhat do you want to be when you grow up? Rich! That’s the only answer that counts, and if you agree with that then you’re in luck. Today you will learn how to create gold by using what you already have. No, I’m not talking about investing or gambling, that’s child’s play! This is about the only thing you will ever need – science!

In my first post I talked about Einstein and time dilation. This time I’ll be talking about something that will sound familiar to just about anyone. E=MC². Yes, the famous Einstein equation that most people associate with the atomic bomb, but it has other uses than blowing stuff up. Basically, the equation means that mass is equivalent to energy and vice versa. If you write out the equation you get: energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. Actually the complete equation is
E=MC² divided by √1-(V²/C²), but when an object is at rest, V is 0 which means you get E=MC². Sorry if this is all too nerdy, but science is cool so deal with it!

Where was I? Ah yes, mass and energy are equal. This does not imply that mass can be converted into energy, but it does allow matter to be converted into energy. So if you have energy, you can convert that back into matter, or an object, with the same amount of mass.

Right now you are foaming at the mouth: how does this make me rich?! I’ll tell you! Get two of your most heavy possessions and SLAM them together at the speed of light. The collision will release an enormous amount of energy that you can shape back into matter. The amount of gold you can make depends on the mass you started out with, so it’s really up to you. Oh, if you find out how to shape all that energy into something valuable, let me know, because I have no idea!

 

 

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3-D TV falls flat

Parallax Barrier

It has come to my attention that several companies are working on a 3-D TV for which you don’t need those stupid glasses. I’m talking about the glasses with thick plastic frames that make your nose itch and your eyes hurt. They also seem to dull the colours, which in my opinion doesn’t make the 3-D experience any better. Before I explain some of the upcoming technology, let me try to summarize the history of 3-D technology.

Time warp! In the late 1890s William Friese-Greene filed a patent for a 3-D film process. The idea was to project two films side by side on a screen, while the viewer looked through a stereoscope to converge the two images. This kicked off the race for the crap we have now. How’s that for a summary? While 3-D films have been shown in various forms since 1915 and have resurged in the 1950s, 1980s and 1990s, it wasn’t until Avatar in 2009 that 3-D films have claimed a permanent spot in people’s hearts (not mine, I hate it). Since then, cinemas have been displaying 3-D films non-stop, perhaps in a way to combat the illegal downloading and streaming of films online. While I understand their need to attract more visitors and would hate to see cinemas go down, I hate 3-D even more.

There is existing technology that allows you to see 3-D without those glasses. This is referred to as autostereoscopic displays, developed by Sharp. There are mainly two ways of autostereoscopic displays, lenticular lenses and parallax barriers. They redirect incoming imagery to several viewing regions at a lower resolution. You have to get your head in the “sweetspot” so that each eye sees a different image, giving you the illusion of 3-D. I would say this is a major improvement over those stupid glasses, but we can take it even one step further.

Japanese researchers have developed a technique to create holograms with colour. The main difference with current 3-D technology is that holograms are actually in 3-D, meaning you can walk around it. The quality needs much improvement, but you can compare it with the holograms in Star Wars, which is pretty cool. Perhaps someday we’ll be able to build life-size holograms like in Star Trek, although I doubt we’ll be able to make them tangible. Imagine a hologram that you can actually touch and programme to do whatever you want it to … Like you haven’t thought about it either!

For those of you who like 3-D films, there is one upcoming about the deep-sea adventure of James Cameron. It’ll be showing his discoveries in the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the world’s oceans. I even dare to say I might go see it myself, though you can be sure I’ll be missing out on the rerelease of Titanic 3-D.

What are your thoughts on 3-D? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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