Archive for the ‘Mainstream Media’ Category

Nocera on BBC Horizons

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Nice…

 

Of course, it’d be even nicer with safety glasses.

Also, beautiful new labs. Yum.

Today’s Unit Conversion Error: Poop in Pools

Friday, May 17th, 2013

A friend on Facebook brought my attention to a very interesting article from NBC News:

People always worry about pee in the pool, but number two is the No. 1 problem, government health experts say. They found plenty of evidence that someone’s pooping in the pool. It’s not only disgusting, but it’s evidence that people are not following basic hygiene rules, says Michele Hlavsa, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Swimming Program.

“It is time to stop treating the swimming pool as a toilet,” Hlavsa told NBC News. “Nowhere else except for the pool is it acceptable to poop in public or pee in public. In other places if we did this in public, we’d be arrested.”

The pool-poo expert went on to say:

“The average person has about .14 grams of feces on their rear end,” Hlavsa said. “If that rinses off into the water, the amount from one person might not be that much. But as more and more swimmers introduce it that much, it does become an issue.”

She’s actually done the math.

“Let’s imagine 1,000 kids go to a water park. They have as much as 10 grams of feces on their rear ends,” she said.  “We are now talking about 10,000 grams or 10 kg. That translates to 24 pounds of poop in the water.”

I am willing to grant Hlavsa’s obscenely high estimate of 10 grams of poo per bottom—which does lead to 10 kg of poo per 1000 bottoms—but that does not equate to 24 pounds! The correct conversion factor for poo (or any other substance at the surface of Earth) is 2.2 pounds per kg.

I am immensely relieved her hypothetical pool contains only 22 lbs. of poo.

Radio Prank: Dihydrogen Monoxide in the Water

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

I was amused by a news story out of Florida, where a pair of disc jockeys were suspended after going on the radio Monday (April Fools’ Day) and reporting that the local water supply had dihydrogen monoxide in it. Unaware that dihydrogen monoxide is H2O, and H2O is water, many residents went crazy:

Click for Video

As if we needed any more evidence that science education in this country is absolute crap.

What’s more, the DJs might face felony charges. From a legal standpoint, I’m interested in seeing how this one turns out. I haven’t heard any direct quotes from the broadcast, but can you charge someone with a crime for stating a scientific fact? I’m assuming they were careful and said something along the lines of “there’s dihydrogen monoxide in the water” as opposed to “the water is poisoned with dihydrogen monoxide.” Anyway, I suppose the DJs went in with a fair amount of mens rea; what else did they expect to happen?