Friday, September 25, 2009

Crocodile Poo as a Topical Contraceptive

I was participating in an online discussion about an "alternative therapy" for which there's no actual evidence of efficacy. In short, the sellers make wild claims but have no proof of those claims. One person in the forum posted the following as part of their defense of the unproven:

"I find it interesting that so many people are willing to poo-poo something with which they have no experience. Have they actually tried the water and determined that there are no effects or benefits? If they opened their mind enough to get past their prejudice, they might discover life changing enlightenment."

My response:
I could use the same logic to ridicule others for not using crocodile poo as a topical contraceptive. The Ancient Egyptians used it as a contraceptive AND as an anapestic on woulds. How can you ridicule it? Have you spoken to the people who use crocodile poo as a topical contraceptive? You have NO experience with it, so you have NO right to question it!

Clinical evidence? Bah. Who needs clinical proof when I can produce a stack of testimonials from people who did NOT get pregnant when they speared crocodile poo on their genitals before intercourse.

There's a whole list of compounds in crocodile poo that will kill sperm and it's all natural to boot! Who CARES if the arguments made in defense of this therapy are easily dismantled with a few minutes of research and a rudimentary understanding of biology and chemistry? The arguments SOUND scientific and plenty of folks who don't understand chemistry believe them! The very POPULARITY I claim for CrocPoo(tm) contraceptive cream is proof enough that it works, right?

I'm now tempted to create a web site for CrockPoo Contraceptive and use it to parody the ramblings of the ignorant and deluded who are promoting or buying quack remedies.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Few Notes on Water Powered Cars

Let's walk through a quick example of a water powered car.

Let's say you start with 100 Newtons of energy in the battery.

You use that energy to perform electrolysis on water. Let's be wildly optimistic and say you only lose 10% of the energy to heat, noise and friction. That leaves you with 90 Newtons of energy in the form of Hydrogen.

You then use the Hydrogen to power an internal combustion engine. There's isn't some magical way to burn hydrogen that's "better" than internal combustion, even though some water powered car proponents seem to forget this. Again, we'll make wildly optimistic assumptions and assume you only lose 10% of the energy in both powering the car AND recharging the battery. This leaves you with 81 Newtons of Energy in the battery.

On the next cycle, you only have 81 of the original 100 Newtons to work with. This means you'll be able to produce less hydrogen.

Keep in mind, energy is used by moving the car. Even if you found some magical zero loss way to convert the electricity into hydrogen and then combust the hydrogen, you still lose energy in the process of moving the car. That 100 Newtons of energy will get whittled down and on each cycle you'll have less and less energy with which to perform electrolysis and thus less hydrogen to burn.

Water powered car proponents skirt over this simple bit of science and pretend they can magically get more energy out of burning the hydrogen than it took to separate the water in the first place. Doing so would violate one of the most fundamental laws of physics. Anyone who found a way to do this, who managed to unseat a basic principal of the cosmos like the laws of Thermodynamics would sweep away Newton and Einstein as irrelevant footnotes.

Realistically, if you have a charged battery, it makes more sense to drive the engine directly. This allows you to use all the energy that would be lost during electrolysis and combustion.

But don't take my word for it. Popular Mechanics got their hands dirty testing some of these magical perpetual motion engines.

"The Truth About Water-Powered Cars: Mechanic's Diary"

"Water-Powered Cars: Hydrogen Electrolyzer Mod Can't Up MPGs"

"Why Water Won't Improve Your MPG: A PM and Dateline NBC Investigation"

You can also check out "The great "run your car on water" scam" for more detailed information on the con artists selling conversion kits.

Scam artists are using claims of a "Big oil conspiracy" to get people to buy plans for electrolysis devices that don't improve gas mileage. The simple fact is if these devices worked, auto manufacturers would be building them into cars as improved fuel economy is a MAJOR selling point in most markets.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Who am I to God?

I'd currently describe myself as vaguely protestant, ranging from moderate to liberal in my beliefs and views.

I was raised in a conservative home attending churches affiliated with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The 700 Club was on TV daily and my parents were members of said club. I was raised to be suspicious of charismatics, but televangelists like Pat Robertson were OK, even though Pat was a bit liberal at times. I was a Creationist and all around Conservative until College. I even listened to Rush Limbaugh and taped his TV show when it was on the air.

Then that pesky corrupter "knowledge" entered my mind. For example, the more I learned about the Bible, the more I realized that vast swaths of it were never meant to be taken literally by the original authors. Actually meeting people outside the safety zone of my youth allowed me to see that the black and white morality I'd been taught was inadequate for navigating the real world. I soon found myself disgusted with the behavior of many in organized religion and it wasn't until a few years later that I started separating that disgust from my questions about theology and God. My family and I don't discuss religion anymore, not after the last shouting match about sex ed. To give you a frame of reference my Mother still thinks George W did a bang-up job.

In terms of specific dogma and beliefs, I'm still reevaluating that. I haven't really "settled in" theologically speaking. I'm not entirely sure "settling in" is a healthy thing religiously, as most people seem to act like the need to explore and learn has come to an end when they do.