Tuesday, January 03, 2006
- Who knew laundry detergent could be an explosive hazard?
The root of the problem is that consumers want detergent powder to make washed clothes smell nice. However, we do not want to be hit with an overwhelming odour when opening the box. So manufacturers have been encapsulating perfume oil in starch powder. But some of the oil leaks through the starch and spreads thinly over the large surface area of the fine particles. That can create an explosive fuel mix.
[Procter and Gamble]’s researchers found a simple solution...[t]he trick is to mix starch, orange oil and water, and then drive down the pH with citric acid while vigorously vibrating the mix. The result is an emulsion like oil-and-vinegar salad dressing. When this emulsion is sprayed into a hot oven it dries into fine particles with the oil safely trapped inside, eliminating the risk of explosion. [read full article at New Scientist]
- Breaking News! Lake Superior State University 2006 List of Banished Words has been released, a designer breed full of surreal talking points for our community of learners - and 97% fat free, too! Git-er-done, dawg.
- A search for the long-lost quagga [Slate]
- Computer musician R. Luke DuBois has created a fascinating experimental composition called "Billboard" [QuickTime req.], a sort of "Powers of Ten" piece for popular music:
"Billboard" allows you to get a birds-eye view of the Billboard Hot 100 by listening to all the #1 singles from 1958 through the millenium [from Ricky Nelson's "Poor Little Fool" to Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas' "Smooth"] using a technique I've been working on for a couple of years called time-lapse phonography. The 857 songs used to make the piece are analyzed digitally and a spectral average is then derived from the entire song. Just as a long camera exposure will fuse motion into a single image, spectral averaging allows us to look at the average sonority of a piece of music, however long, giving a sort of average timbre of a piece. This gives us a sense of the average key and register of the song, as well as some clues about the production values present at the time the record was made; for example, the improvements in home stereo equipment over the past fifty years, as well as the gradual replacement of (relatively low-fidelity) AM radio with FM broadcasting has had an impact on how records are mixed... drums and bass lines gradually become louder as you approach the present, increasing the amount of spectral noise and low tones in our averages.
- Getting around Illinois just got a little easier, thanks to the new IDOT website of the same name that features interactive maps. live witer road condition and traffic reports, and more. [via Gapers Block]