Category Archives: People

how to disappear two nobel medals (and bring them back)

When the Nazis invaded Copenhagen in 1940, physicist Niels Bohr was in possession of two Nobel Prize medals. But they were not his medals. The first belonged to Max von Laue, winner of the 1914 Prize for physics, the second to James Franck, the physics winner in 1925.

Not wanting to attract unwanted attention to themselves, each had sent his medal to Bohr’s lab in Copenhagen for safekeeping. But with Nazis marching through the streets of the city, the medals now posed a particularly serious threat to Bohr. NPR’s Robert Krulwich writes:

Inconveniently, [these medals were] now sitting in Bohr’s building, clearly inscribed “Von Laue”…and “Franck” — like two death warrants. Bohr’s institute had attracted and protected Jewish scientists for years. The Nazis knew that, and Niels Bohr knew (now that Denmark was suddenly part of the Reich) that he was a target. He had no idea what to do.

On the day the Nazis came to Copenhagen, a Hungarian chemist named Georgy de Hevesy (he would one day win a Nobel of his own) was working in Bohr’s lab. He wrote later, “I suggested that we should bury the medal(s),” but Bohr thought no, the Germans would dig up the grounds, the garden, search everywhere in the building. Too dangerous.

So Hevesy’s thoughts turned to chemistry. Maybe he could make the medals disappear. He took the first one, he says, and “I decided to dissolve it. While the invading forces marched in the streets of Copenhagen, I was busy dissolving Laue’s and also James Franck’s medals.”

It was a painstakingly slow process (gold is a notoriously stable element), but Hevesy managed to pull it off; when the Nazis ransacked Bohr’s institute, they found no trace of the medals.
Or rather, they never noticed them. The gold from the two medals had been dissolved into a bright orange, but otherwise unassuming, liquid. A liquid that the Nazis left untouched. A liquid that Hevesey later extracted the gold from and sent back to the Nobel Foundation to have recast into two brand-spanking-new medals.

The moral of the story? Science wins, bitches.

Check out the full story on how Hevesy saved the day, including a video on how to dissolve gold, over at NPR

The Beloved

Dawood (alayhis salam) and his son, Sulaiman (alayhis salam) were not only prophets, but also kings of the people of Israel. They were both known for their strength, wisdom, judgement, and devotion to Allah.

Before Dawood (alayhis salam) became king, Talut (Saul) was the king of Israel. When he set out with his army to fight Jalut (Goliath) and his forces, he tested his soldiers by telling them not to drink from a river which they were crossing. Only a small sip of water out of the hand was allowed. But only a very few men passed the test. With that small band of obedient soldiers, Talut prepared to meet the larger and stronger army of Jalut. The men put their faith in Allah, knowing that size and numbers were no match for a steadfast faith in the power of Allah. Dawood , who was a very young man in Talut’s army, killed Jalut. After that, Jalut’s army fell apart, and the small band of Israelites was victorious.

Dawood (alayhis salam) , besides being brave and wise, was known for his wonderful voice, which he used to sing the praises of Allah. When he sang, the mountains and valleys and all of nature seemed to join in. It was to him that the holy book, Zabur, was given by Allah. It is a book of songs praising Allah.

Allah also showed Dawood (alayhis salam) the art of making iron, so that he was able to make suits of armor to protect his soldiers.

The prophet Muhammad ??? ???? ???? ???? used to say, according to the traditions of Sahih al-Bukhari (Vol. 4: 631), that the most beloved fasting to Allah was that of Dawood (alayhis salam), who used to fast on alternate days. And the most beloved prayer was that of Dawood (alayhis salam). He would sleep the first half of the night; then he would pray for one-third of the night, before going back to sleep for the remaining one-sixth of the night.

Dawood (alayhis salam) was a wise and just judge of disputes which arose in his kingdom, but his son Prophet Sulaiman (alayhis salam) surpassed him in the ability to provide a fair judgement.

In one tradition (Bukhari, Vol.4; 637), there were two women, each of whom had a child. One child was stolen and devoured by a wolf. Each woman claimed that it was the other woman’s child who was taken. They brought the case to Dawood (alayhis salam) and he judged that the older woman should have the remaining child. Then they went to Prophet Sulaiman (alayhis salam). He called for a knife, so that he could cut the child in half and give half to each woman. But the younger woman, who could not bear to see her child cut in half, cried out that the child belonged to the other woman. Prophet Sulaiman (alayhis salam) then gave the child to the younger woman.

In another story, referred to in the Quran (21: 78) a man’s flock of sheep strayed into a farmer’s field at night, destroying the crops that had been growing there. The case was brought before Dawood (alayhis salam), who awarded the flock of sheep to the farmer as restitution for damages. But Prophet Sulaiman (alayhis salam) suggested another solution, which would repay the farmer without ruining the herdsman. Prophet Sulaiman ruled that the farmer would keep the sheep and use their milk and wool, until the herdsman had restored the damaged field to its original condition. When that had been done, the flock would be returned to the herdsman.

Both Dawood (alayhis salam) and Sulaiman (alayhis salam), although powerful and rich, never ceased to acknowledge that all their gifts were from Allah. They remained obedient to Allah and used their power to follow Allah’s will.

You can read about Dawood (alayhis salam) and Sulaiman (alayhis salam) in the Quran 2:249-251; 21: 78-82; 34: 10-14; 38: 17-26, 30-40.

loaded like a freight train

Raja Hussain, 10, still sees flood waters roaring toward his farming village most nights. They sound like a high-speed train.

Monsoon floods hit Pakistan six months ago. Yet, those vivid images still haunt the Pakistani child’s nightmares.

“In the dreams I see myself praying to Allah for help,” said Hussain.

One of the worst natural disasters in Pakistan’s history left about 11 million people homeless, killed nearly 2,000, destroyed millions of acres of crops and hammered the economy.

They also inflicted a heavy psychological toll, and children are most vulnerable.

forecasting the future

the hindsight this man had was nothing short of brilliant. 100 years ago, a newspaper published thomas edison’s musings on the far-off future of 2011. according to the famed inventor, we would have super compressed books that would contain entire libraries in a single volume and would weigh less than a pound. he also foresees the demise of gold as a currency, the rise of steel along with the death of the steam engine. the entire article is below.

What will the world be a hundred years hence?

None but a wizard dare raise the curtain and disclose the secrets of the future; and what wizard can do it with so sure a hand as Mr. Thomas Alva Edison, who has wrested so many secrets from jealous Nature? He alone of all men who live has the necessary courage and gift of foresight, and he has not shrunk from the venture.

Already, Mr. Edison tells us, the steam engine is emitting its last gasps. A century hence it will be as remote as antiquity as the lumbering coach of Tudor days, which took a week to travel from Yorkshire to London. In the year 2011 such railway trains as survive will be driven at incredible speed by electricity (which will also be the motive force of all the world’s machinery), generated by “hydraulic” wheels.

But the traveler of the future, says a writer in Answers, will largely scorn such earth crawling. He will fly through the air, swifter than any swallow, at a speed of two hundred miles an hour, in colossal machines, which will enable him to breakfast in London, transact business in Paris and eat his luncheon in Cheapside.

The house of the next century will be furnished from basement to attic with steel, at a sixth of the present cost — of steel so light that it will be as easy to move a sideboard as it is today to lift a drawing room chair. The baby of the twenty-first century will be rocked in a steel cradle; his father will sit in a steel chair at a steel dining table, and his mother’s boudoir will be sumptuously equipped with steel furnishings, converted by cunning varnishes to the semblance of rosewood, or mahogany, or any other wood her ladyship fancies.

Books of the coming century will all be printed leaves of nickel, so light to hold that the reader can enjoy a small library in a single volume. A book two inches thick will contain forty thousand pages, the equivalent of a hundred volumes; six inches in aggregate thickness, it would suffice for all the contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica. And each volume would weigh less than a pound.

Already Mr. Edison can produce a pound weight of these nickel leaves, more flexible than paper and ten times as durable, at a cost of five shillings. In a hundred years’ time the cost will probably be reduced to a tenth.

More amazing still, this American wizard sounds the death knell of gold as a precious metal. “Gold,” he says, “has even now but a few years to live. The day is near when bars of it will be as common and as cheap as bars of iron or blocks of steel.

“We are already on the verge of discovering the secret of transmuting metals, which are all substantially the same in matter, though combined in different proportions.”

Before long it will be an easy matter to convert a truck load of iron bars into as many bars of virgin gold.

In the magical days to come there is no reason why our great liners should not be of solid gold from stem to stern; why we should not ride in golden taxicabs, or substituted gold for steel in our drawing room suites. Only steel will be the more durable, and thus the cheaper in the long run.

land of the free, home of the brave

— July 2008: A gunman named Jim David Adkisson, agitated at how “liberals” are “destroying America,” walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, killing two churchgoers and wounding four others.
— October 2008: Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.
— December 2008: A pair of “Patriot” movement radicals — the father-son team of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, who wanted “to attack the political infrastructure” — threaten a bank in Woodburn, Oregon, with a bomb in the hopes of extorting money that would end their financial difficulties, for which they blamed the government. Instead, the bomb goes off and kills two police officers. The men eventually are convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.
— December 2008: In Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear “dirty bomb” in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.
— January 2009: A white supremacist named Keith Luke embarks on a killing rampage in Brockton, Mass., raping and wounding a black woman and killing her sister, then killing a homeless man before being captured by police as he is en route to a Jewish community center.
— February 2009: A Marine named Kody Brittingham is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.
— April 2009: A white supremacist named Richard Poplawski opens fire on three Pittsburgh police officers who come to his house on a domestic-violence call and kills all three, because he believed President Obama intended to take away the guns of white citizens like himself. Poplawski is currently awaiting trial.
— April 2009: Another gunman in Okaloosa County, Florida, similarly fearful of Obama’s purported gun-grabbing plans, kills two deputies when they come to arrest him in a domestic-violence matter, then is killed himself in a shootout with police.
— May 2009: A “sovereign citizen” named Scott Roeder walks into a church in Wichita, Kansas, and assassinates abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.
— June 2009: A Holocaust denier and right-wing tax protester named James Von Brunn opens fire at the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.
— February 2010: An angry tax protester named Joseph Ray Stack flies an airplane into the building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. (Media are reluctant to label this one “domestic terrorism” too.)
— March 2010: Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.
— March 2010: An anti-government extremist named John Patrick Bedell walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.
— May 2010: A “sovereign citizen” from Georgia is arrested in Tennessee and charged with plotting the violent takeover of a local county courthouse.
— May 2010: A still-unidentified white man walks into a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque and sets it afire, simultaneously setting off a pipe bomb.
— May 2010: Two “sovereign citizens” named Jerry and Joe Kane gun down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.
— July 2010: An agitated right-winger and convict named Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded.
— September 2010: A Concord, N.C., man is arrested and charged with plotting to blow up a North Carolina abortion clinic. The man, 26-year—old Justin Carl Moose, referred to himself as the “Christian counterpart to (Osama) bin Laden” in a taped undercover meeting with a federal informant.

appeal for help



The pictures above are self explanatory and are taken on August 13th 2001 and August 18th 2010 respectively. Large images are also available, before and after.

The Indus River at Sukkur was at exceptionally high levels on August 18, 2010, when the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured the top false-color image. The upper image shows the Sukkur region on August 13, 2001. Water ranges from dark blue to silvery blue, and plant-covered land is red in the false-color image.

Sukkur is the hub of a crucial irrigation network that brings water to farms throughout the Sindh province. The dark blue canals surround the white-gray city of Sukkur in both images. In the bottom image, the Indus River extends over its banks across many kilometers. Near the city, the river seems to be held in check by the canals and associated structures.

The floods started in late July when intense monsoon rains fell over northern Pakistan. By mid-August, about one-fifth of Pakistan was flooded, affecting more than 15 million people.

Please find it in your hearts to donate some money for relief efforts here.

summa cum laude

if you combine all tv and film characters and generate a university run by them, you get the below. unknown source. i’ve tried to identify most from my own known knowledge. see if you can fill in the rest. what other departments can you think of? who would fill the roles. who are better suited for the roles below? are any of the ones i’ve written below incorrect?

Dean of Science

Professors of Science

Dean of Engineering

Professors of Engineering

Dean of Business

Professors of Business

Dean of Law

Professors of Law

Dean of Arts

Professors of Arts

Dean of Humanities

Professors of Humanities

Dean of Sports

Professors of Sports

dean of dept of science = dr who
comp sci – chuck bartowski, chuck
med sci – house
math – a beautiful mind – john somethin
theoretical physics – lost, daniel faraday
astronomy – dunno
chemistry – walter white, breaking bad
biology – psycho from human centipede
marine biology – steve zissou, the life aquatic
psychology – hannibal lecter, silence of the lambs
para psychology – fox and mulder, x files
paleontology – jurassic park dude
archeology – indy jones
lab maintenance – i forget

dean of engineering – Q, most bond films
mech eng. – tony stark, iron man
astronautical – scotty, star trek
automotive – i think you already know this bit.
nuclear – peter sellers in dr. strangelove or: how i learned to stop worrying and love the bomb
civil – danny day lewis in there will be blood
biological – dude from district 9
practical – angus macgyver
pharmacological – jonathane crane aka scarecrow in batman begins
applied physics – mythbusters dudes
architecture – ?
actuarial – ?

dean of business – gordon gecko from wall street
capital restructuring – various similar roles
public speaking – the tv ad infomercial guy who just died
mergers and & – american psycho or bruce wayne, could be either
corporate raiding – ?
marketing – jon hamm playing don draper in mad men
economics – ?
hostile takeover – hans, die hard
business management – tony soprano
transitional bm – ?
practical bm – steve carrell in the office

dean of law – john saul, breaking bad
corporate law – arrested development lawyer
criminology – ?
criminal justice – robocop
forensics – dexter
ethics – kiefer sutherland playing jack bauer in 24
business ethics – arrested development psycho dad
tactical litigation – kirk or law and order, take your pick
maritime law – sean connery in hunt for red october
tort – ?
bird – ?
habeas corpus – john mclane, die hard

dean of arts – bob ross, the joy of painting
graphic – mad men- bryan batt playing romano
film – ?
theatre – arrested development
fashion – zoolander
photography – hitchcock, rear window
painting – ed harris doing jason pollock
culinary arts – gordon ramsey
literature – ?
music/band – john williams
choir – nph, dr. horrible’s sing along blog
dance – river tam, firefly

dean of humanities – i forget,
journalism – ?
diplomacy – bond
theology – ?
philosophy – the dude, the big lebowski
political science – lolita?
womens studies – hank moody, californication
world languages – hans landa, inglorious basterds
linguistics – philleas fogg?
american history – deadwood
ancient history – ?
medieval history – mad max?
african american history – ?

dean of sports – gene hackman in hoosiers
golf – adam sandler, happy gilmore
hockey – the mighty ducks, emilio esteves
track and field – forrest gump
boxing – sly stallone, rocky
football – oj simpson
baseball – field of dreams
weightlifting – 300?
soccer – bend it like beckham

steely dan

Almost thirty years ago, stuntman Dar Robinson leapt from the crown of the CN Tower with no parachute, no airbag, and only a thin wire looped around his torso to keep him from splattering on the sidewalk below. Today, we can relive that jump thanks to this excellent documentary video?uploaded by YouTube user Retrontario and posted at 1?T.O.?which, for no apparent reason, is narrated by Chuck Norris.

Robinson jumped from the CN Tower on two separate occasions. The first, in 1979, was for an action movie called Highpoint, in which Robinson was doubling for Christopher Plummer. Robinson wore a parachute for the original jump. It was, at the time, the highest such leap by any stuntman.

The second jump, in 1980, is the one shown in the video above. It was staged not for a movie, but for a documentary on Robinson, that eventually aired on ABC. According to Toronto Star articles from the time, Robinson received $250,000 to do it.

The video above is not from the 1980 documentary itself. It’s a segment on the MAKING OF the original documentary, from a second, completely separate documentary on Robinson, filmed in 1987. The occasion for the second documentary was Dar Robinson’s death, in 1986, after he (unintentionally) rode a motorcycle off a cliff during a routine stunt for another now-obscure eighties action movie.

Here, with more information on Dar Robinson’s untimely demise, is another YouTube clip?which, for no apparent reason, is hosted by Bill O’Reilly: