In the Know #16

19 01 2008

January 20, 2008

Today is the Republican Presidential Primary in South Carolina.’s Word of the Day

adventitious \ad-ven-TISH-uhs\, adjective:
1. Added extrinsically; not essentially inherent.
2. (Biology) Out of the proper or usual place; as, “adventitious buds or roots.”

In the news:

– Canada has added the United States to a list of countries in which foreigners risk torture and abuse.

– Israel closes border crossings at the Hamas-controlled (Hamas insignia pictured) Gaza Strip after a surge in cross-border attacks this week.

Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton win the Nevada caucuses. John McCain edges out Mike Huckabee to win the South Carolina Republican Primary.

Today in History, according to Wikipedia:

250 – Emperor Decius begins a widespread persecution of Christians in Rome.

1892 – At the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, the first official basketball game is played.

1920 – The American Civil Liberties Union is formed.

1968 – The Game of the Century takes place (Houston’s Elvin Hayes shooting over Lew Alcindor, a.k.a. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, pictured), becoming the first regular season NCAA basketball game broadcast nationwide during prime time.

1986 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is observed as a federal holiday for the first time.

Today’s Famous Births:

1929 – Glenn “Fireball” Roberts, American race car driver

1930 – Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, astronaut, Lunar module pilot of Apollo 11 (moonwalk pictured)

1956 – Bill Maher, American actor, comedian and political analyst

Today’s Category – The Ig Nobel Prize Ceremonies

~ The Ig Nobel Prize is a parody of the Nobel Prize awarded for ten achievements that “first make people laugh, then make them think.”

~ There are ten prizes awarded each year.

~ The theme for the 2007 Ig Nobel Ceremony was “chicken” (2007 Award pictured).

~ Those who take place in the ceremony are called “Ignitaries”.

~ Awards have been given to eaters of SPAM (for 54 years of undiscriminating digestion), to the inventors of the scent strips on magazine pages, to the inventor of the plastic pink flamingo lawn ornament, to the man who patented the comb-over hairstyle and to the scientists who studied the validity of the five-second food rule.

~ Until 2006, paper airplanes were thrown onto the stage by the audience.

~ Go here to see a full list of Ig Nobel Prize winners.

I always wondered…
…how a laser works…

Laser is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”. A basic laser (pictured) is made up of a flash lamp (similar to a camera flash), a rod of the material to be lased (solid, liquid or gas) and two mirrors (one of which is only partially reflective).

Lasers use intense light flashes to “pump” up atoms of a solid or gas so that the atoms release photons. The photons are released in all directions, but only the photons traveling perpendicular to the mirrors will become the laser beam. As photons pass other atoms, more photons are spontaneously created from the other atoms. These photons will travel in the same direction and have the same phase and wavelength as the original photon.

Some of the photons pass through the partially reflective mirror as a concentrated beam of light. The laser light can have many uses from simply acting as a pointer to reading the information on a CD or DVD to cutting through hard materials. The strength of a laser is determined by the wavelength of the emitted light.

Lasers are classified into four broad areas based on the potential for biological damage (Laser warning symbol pictured). Class I lasers do no biological harm, though Class IA lasers are “not intended for viewing”. Class II lasers rely on the human aversion to light to protect eyes. Class IIIA lasers are harmful to human eyes if the beam is projected directly into the eye. Most laser pointers are Class IIIA. Class IIIB lasers are moderately-powered. Class IV lasers are the most powerful lasers and are a fire hazard and skin hazard. Class IV lasers have very strict regulations for usage.

[“” reference:]
[All references from unless otherwise noted]




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