Whale Ranch

Agriculture experts have teamed up with scientists and engineers to develop the first ‘whale farm’, an enterprise that seeks to increase the population of whales with breeding programs, protected migration, controlled slaughter and even milking.

“The husbandry is similar to land-cattle. We are enlisting the help of engineers that specialise in aquatic environments to help design the equipment and machinery required,” says Brennan Horswich, head of the program based on the Ivory Coast ‘Ranch’, “It is a real team effort. [The venture] is expensive, yes, but worth it. Just think of the benefits such a program would bring!”

Logistics is not the biggest hurdle, he says, even though tracking and driving a pod of whales across the expanse of the ocean is a feat in itself. Problems lie in how to artificially inseminate whales, or, if this proves too difficult, to encourage the right bull to mate. Further issues arise in predator control, health checkups, birthing and ensuring that the whales are happy.

“There are three main economic benefits that will come of this. First, there is the tourism for eco-watchers. Secondly, we aim to be able to harvest the milk of the cows (female whales) in the same way as we do cattle. Thirdly, the meat, bones, skin and especially the blubber is amazingly valuable,” says Brennan Horswich, “Tourism is easy. For milking, we are creating launches that will act similar to a suckling whale and float gently underneath. The milk is very rich, very nutritious.”

Once the milk is harvested, it goes into great, cooled vats to be pasteurised and processed. While the taste is not to everyone’s palate, efforts are underway to provide cooking techniques and examine ways to filter unwanted flavours.

He goes on to say that until a painless and reliable slaughtering technique is devised, his team will concentrate on the tourism and milking aspects.

“In any case, with proper breeding and farming practices, we will end up with more whales, and healthier whales, than what we started with and this, we can all agree, is the greatest benefit of all.”ChesterLogoSmall

Global Warming Linked to Earthquakes

A team of Japanese seismologists and meteorologists have joined efforts to determine whether ambient temperature fluctuations have a bearing upon tectonic activity.

“It came as a surprise. We decided to compare [data from separate studies] on a whim, just to see if there was any link,” says Professor Yamato, Head Meteorologist in the study, “There is no direct correlation, not in a perfect sense, however we did see that the patterns of environmental fluctuations were followed, after the order of several years, by deviations in tectonic activity.”

In layman’s terms, it appears that there is a 14 or 15 year shift between extreme temperatures on the Earth’s crust manifesting and subsequent tectonic activities. Extreme cold and hot years cause a rippling effect, a contraction and expansion on a global scale, that disrupts the motion of tectonic plates.

“Think of it like metal fatigue. Thermal fluctuations cause ultra-long scale oscillations. Rapid expansion and contraction, and when I say rapid, I am talking about the order of years in this case, can loosen the macroscopic bonds, freeing up plates so that they move more easily.”

Professor Hiro, Head Seismologist, is more cautious when it comes to the claims.

“I will not accept that a hot spell ’causes’ earthquakes,” he says, “For that would be going too far. I will [accept that] there is a distinct and uncanny correlation between the two if we perform the time shift.”

He states that the Earth has a natural, complex cycle and that while his team’s research is potentially revolutionary, causality cannot be established with any confidence given the current research.

“More research is required, specialised and particular, and it will take many more years, I am afraid. I would hesitate to jump to any conclusions.”

An application for further research is expected to be submitted in the coming months.ChesterLogoSmall

18 Holes or 40 Winks?

Watching paint dry is more mentally stimulating than watching a match of golf, according to a report released by Neufchatel Research Insititute.

Candidates were given various interactive tasks, such as playing games or reading books, while others were given passive tasks such as watching television or, in some cases, watching paint dry. Each wore a calibrated cap hooked up to an EEG to record the activity of the brain.

While it may come as no surprise that passive tasks produced brain patterns closely resembling sleep, what scientists were not expecting is that watching golf produced similar results.

“In fact the brain was demonstrating cycles akin to phase 2 sleep in the ‘golf’ subjects. They had effectively switched off. The ‘paint’ subjects actually had a higher level of brain function,” says Renee Curvelle, member of the research team.

Delving into the possible causes of the result proved insightful.

“It seems that in a minority of candidates, watching the sport elicited an excited response. For the majority, though, their brain went through stages of annoyance, boredom, then active imagination to relieve that boredom, finally reaching a quiescent acceptance, at which point it shut down. The ‘paint’ watchers, in contrast, did not exhibit the acceptance stage and remained in the imagination stage,” Renee says.

The study hopes to shed light on sleep disorders related to over-stimulation of the brain and develop non-drug alternatives.

“It is possible that, in the future, rather than prescribing sedatives, we might find doctors prescribing a comfy chair and watching mundane sports like golf.”ChesterLogoSmall

The Best Medicine

Forget laughter as a cure-all, unless it’s part of a romp in the sheets. A new study reveals that the exercise and reproductive hormones that come as part of a sexually active lifestyle actually contribute greatly to health.

“The study was so conclusive,” says Jim Barker of the National Administration of Drugs and Procreation, “We were all shocked at the result. Sure, there is the obvious exercise and endorphin, but it’s more than that. Thirty minutes of sex, twice a week, had a more positive effect on the body’s overall health than daily, hour long exercise regimes.”

Scientists measured resting heart-rate, blood sugar and fat content, cortisone, salt and fluid levels, along with less tangible elements such as mood, alertness and cognitive ability. When compared to the control, candidates who did little or no exercise and did not engage in sexual activities, a sexually active lifestyle far outshone a lifestyle of exercise.

Other factors, including alcohol and tobacco consumption, age, level of education and the subject’s demographic were taken into consideration. Interestingly, these factors had little bearing on the overall results when it came to those who regularly made love.

“It’s like chalk and cheese. It’s easy to see how anecdotal evidence spawned this research. Those who had regular sex performed better across the board. They were less stressed at work, enjoyed life more and were fitter both mentally and physically. I wouldn’t be surprised if a doctor were to prescribe it as a precautionary measure.”

He stresses that maintaining a healthy diet and performing regular exercise outside of the bedroom is still recommended, despite the research.

He laughs, “Think of it as a super-food, a booster for your general well-being. Please, by all means, keep eating kale and carrots and going for runs, but, every now and then, drop the dumbbells and start playing sack races.”ChesterLogoSmall

The costs of fads – Pokemon Go

With fads such as “Pokemon Go” hitting smart-device screens, social researchers at Wisconsin Society Administration have evaluated the indirect costs. The figures are alarming.

“If we take the first level of indirection – lower productivity – we see that this, in the Wisconsin area alone, comes to an average of just under 30 minutes per working day lost to ‘screen time’. This comes out to the order of over 15 million dollars per day in lost productivity,” says Sarah Erstman, fellow at the WSA, “That it alarming by itself. We deliberately ignored time off for accidents caused by looking inattention, since the causality for this would be too hard to associate with our study, yet you can consider this figure to rise if we included it.”

She goes on to say that there are many knock-on effects, such as a drop in the quality of work, unsafe workplaces resulting in higher rates of liability and time off for employees. She says to expect higher incidents of food poisoning along with neck, hand and eye complaints, rises in personal liability premiums and telecommunication bottlenecks.

“The figure (of 15 million per day) is conservative. If we include level two factors, the cost can be estimated at somewhere between 40 to 50 million. This is a significant loss and the effects will be felt for years to come,” she says, “We are still waiting on the official results from our sister study, based upon traffic flow, but the current consensus is that trains and busses are being delayed, traffic is more congested. I would expect to double that figure for tertiary effects.”ChesterLogoSmall

Radiation Link Crystal Clear

The wealthy who have more crystal glasses, pitchers and chandeliers in their house are less affected by background radiation and therefore have fewer health problems, says Doctor Merkel Van Der Gerber of Trondheim Medical Research Centre.

In a study involving data from over two hundred households, his team demonstrated that those houses with more lead crystal had consistently lower readings of Beta and Gamma radiation. In some cases, those households without crystal could have as much as 700% higher readings than those with.

“It is surprising to me. I would not have thought that such a correlation would be so apparent. We have seen previous studies that look at the air-conditioning units and how those with higher air-flow have more heavy elements, leading to higher levels of background radiation, but simply having the presence of crystal seems to be a significant factor,” he says, adding a warning, “But this is no substitute for clean living. We still advocate dusting regularly to remove dust-borne metals, and to keep air-conditioner use at a minimum.”

The type of crystal is significant, he adds. Higher lead content has a better blocking capacity. Glass with heavy metals like Uranium glass also contribute. The lower radiation reveals a lower rate of radiation related illnesses among the inhabitants.

“You can imagine that your crystal acts like a kind of sponge, soaking up high energy particles and isolating them. As a result of this study, I will certainly be investing in a crystal cabinet not only for looks but for my health as well.”ChesterLogoSmall

Man, it’s hot today!

“It wouldn’t be so bit if it were a dry heat. It’s the humidity that does it.”

The only thing more annoying than a rhetorical complaint is an unwarranted response according to Social Ventures researcher, Jackie Marzden. While designing a new ‘annoy-o-meter’ for their social science research, they developed a system to test it, and came up with various scenarios that people find annoying.

“It’s very difficult to quantify how annoying someone or something is. Quite often the results are skewed depending on the environment, context, people and situations. For example, someone clicking their nails abstractedly might not bother someone on any other day but, given that they recently gave up smoking, their response can be overwhelming,” she says, “The scale is logarithmic in nature, which comes as no surprise. The real challenge lies in getting test subjects to feel annoyance.”

Jackie says that social niceties and politeness masks the true level of irritation a person feels. To mitigate these factors, her team lets the participants score their annoyance anonymously. The early results are interesting.

“The overall level of irritation is like a leaky bucket. The more refreshed, relaxed and comfortable a person is, the holes are in the bucket to allow irritation to dissapate. If someone is sleep deprived, undergoing major stresses or in an unfamiliar environment, their irritability increases exponentially, despite what their outward disposition is like.”

More than this, her team showed that annoying factors have a compounding effect and that ‘irritant-combos’ are exponentially more effective at annoying a subject than any single source of irritation.

Jackie explains, “We found that even the most severe irritants, such as being sneezed upon, scored a less than a combination of lesser irritants. For example and unhelpful complaint, such as those about the weather, scored about a 1 on our ire-scale, while an unhelpful response to that complaint drew an ire of 3, which is 100 times more annoying than the original irritation.”ChesterLogoSmall