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House 60 Race

Republican Party to elect replacement candidate

A Call has been issued for a meeting of the Republican Party of Sandoval County Central Committee to be held Thursday evening, August 5, 2010. The location is 1909 Grande Boulevard. The purpose of this meeting is to select a candidate for State Representative, District 60, to replace Tonia Harris who has withdrawn from the race. Sign-in begins at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will start at 7:00 p.m.

On Wednesday, July 21, Tonia Harris, the Republican candidate for House District 60 in Rio Rancho, submitted her letter to the County Clerk to withdraw from that race. Her decision comes after her daughter, Ally, came to her and asked her to drop out. “Every day it was something—a meeting, fundraisers, luncheons,” Harris said. “We’ve had a really tough year. She’s never asked me for anything. This is something I need to do for her,” Harris continued.

County Chairman Charles Christmann said, “Tonia was a very strong candidate; she was on track to win that House seat.”

By New Mexico State Law 1-8-8, the County Central Committee is tasked with filling the vacancy on the ballot.

The regular August 12 meeting is canceled. The next regular meeting will be held on September 11.

A press conference is being planned for August 6 to introduce the new candidate to the public.

Strange, but true

—Bill Sones and Rich Sones, Ph.D.
Q. What do “worm grunters” know that you may not about scaring up fishing worms by the hundreds or even thousands? Would waiting for a good downpour do it?

 A. The rain strategy turns out to be folklore. New experiments have verified the approach of these professional bait collectors in Florida’s Panhandle, says Kenneth Catania in Scientific American magazine. They’ve mastered the art of getting worms out of their burrows to be collected and sold as bait. The practice has been handed down for generations and today celebrated with annual worm-grunting festivals, worm-grunting tee shirts, and the crowning of a worm-grunting queen

Ground vibrations are used to drive worms to the surface via pounding a wooden stake into the soil and then rubbing it with a flat piece of metal called a rooping iron. Studies have shown that the worms feel the ground vibrations and interpret them as a predatory mole coming from below and so out they crawl—at a lighting speed for worms. (A single mole will eat an estimated 7,000 worms per year.) So effective is grunting that the National Forest Service (NPS) in Florida, worried about possible overharvesting of the large earthworms (Diplocardia mississippiensis), now requires a yearly permit for operating in the area

Q. “Water water everywhere and too many drops to drink,” with apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. But how much water is too much?

A. There are 332,500,000 cubic miles of water on the Earth’s surface, though less than one percent of it is fresh and accessible, says Rebecca Coffee in Discover magazine. Lately, even more water has been identified in vast reservoirs BENEATH the ocean floor, perhaps even more water under the oceans than in them

Although it’s been advised that people drink eight glasses of water daily, scientific evidence for this is lacking. A 1945 report recommended that Americans consume about “one milliliter of water for each calorie of food,” amounting to about 8-10 cups a day, but the report added that much of that water can come from food—a nuance many of us apparently missed. Drinking significantly more than is needed might actually prompt a call to “waterholics anonymous,” since this can lead to “water intoxication” and perhaps even cause fatal cerebral pulmonary edema. “Amateur marathon runners have died this way,” cautions Coffee

Q. How long can someone survive without food or water?

A. In theory, when you run out of body fat, protein, and carbohydrates, your energyless body shuts down, says Jessica Hamzelou of New Scientist magazine. But clinician Jeremy Powell-Tuck, who fed American magician David Blaine after his 2003 44-day starvation stunt in London, says you die well before that. Fat people would be able to survive longer only if they had enough vital water-soluble B vitamins to help metabolize fat stores. So it is possible for a person to die of starvation and still be obese

One of the longest starvations on record was by Irish hunger-striker Kieran Doherty in 1981, who died after fasting for 73 days. Supplied with vitamins and water, people have been known to survive more than a year without eating. With vitamins but with no water, survival drops. A human can go for weeks without food, but without water, the volume of blood in the body drops and with it blood pressure, explains Michael Sawka of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. “Blood becomes thicker and stickier, making it harder to pump around the body, so the heart rate increases to compensate. Even in a cool environment, a person wouldn’t last for more than a week without water.”

Q. Imagine you and your calculator were somehow transported back to 1811 and were competing in a calculation contest against Zerah Colburn, the seven-year-old son of a Vermont farmer. How do you think you’d fare?

 A. Even before he could read, Colburn (1804-1839) could multiply any two numbers in his head up to 100, impressive enough that his father took him on tour to finance the boy’s education in London and Paris, say Alfred Posamentier and Ingmar Lehmann in Mathematical Amazements and Surprises. When Colburn was asked to calculate the number of days and hours from the time of Jesus to that day in 1811, it took him 20 seconds to respond: 661,015 days or 15,864,360 hours. (An online calculator gives 661,090 as the answer.) Questioned about the number of seconds in 11 years, he answered correctly within four seconds: 346,896,000 (assuming no leap years)

Similarly, the British novelty George Parker Bidder (1806-1878) went on tour with his father at age nine. One year later, he solved the square root of 119,550,669,121 as 345,761. In 1818, he and Colburn competed in a face-off, and Bidder won. Bidder later went on to study engineering, while Colburn “abandoned his lightning fast calculating skills and became a Methodist minister.”

 Q. Where do you have to go to hear your voice coming out of you at Mach 3 instead of the normal Mach 1 (the speed of sound)?

 A. To a friend’s party, where you inhale a little helium from a party balloon, says astronomer Bob Berman. Whereas sound usually travels at 760 mph (1225 km/h) in air, your munchkin voice will go at a weird, screaming 2,175 mph (3,500 km/h) through helium

Q. In golf’s early days, why did weekend duffers outdistance aristocratic swingers in drives off the tee?

A. Because the affluent used smooth balls and routinely discarded them after the first signs of wear, says John Eric Goff in Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports. Other golfers settled for the used balls and before long noted that the ones with nicks and cuts went farther. Today, based on myriad analyses by aerodynamic experts using wind tunnels, golf balls are made with dimples that simulate this roughened surface. Without them, the 300+ yard drives (274+ meters) of pro golfers wouldn’t make it half as far.

Though it might seem contradictory, balls with surface roughness experience LESS air drag than smooth ones, something not really understood until the turn of the twentieth century. Because of the greater surface friction on the spinning ball, a “boundary layer” of air forms that keeps incoming air from reaching the ball’s surface. In fact, most sports balls have some type of surface imperfection, such as the prominent stitches on a baseball or football. “It’s doubtful that the first person to stitch up a baseball had fluid mechanics in mind. But were it not for those wonderful 108 double stitches on a baseball, home runs in today’s parks would be almost nonexistent.”

Q. Estimating animal populations is tricky, in part because different species require different methods. What are a few of these?

A. In the case of blue whales, biologists tally the number spotted along a stretch of ocean, then extrapolate to larger populations, says Science Illustrated magazine. With the mark-release-recapture technique, they “mark” whales by photographing them, then estimate the entire population from the ratio of marked to unmarked whales in a later census. Latest count: 6,000.

African elephants are counted from the air, though some can be missed, especially in forested areas. So researchers supplement aerial surveys by estimating dung density for a designated area, even using DNA samplings to compile lists of individuals. Latest count: 550,000.

Because endangered Siberian cranes exist exclusively around Poyang Lake in southeastern China, it’s fairly easy to get a count from airplanes. Ground tallies can round out the process. Latest count: 3,500.

Researchers count Atlantic puffins during the birds’ breeding season, when mated pairs and their nests can be observed. For small colonies, each nest might be counted; in larger sites, extrapolating from manageable 300 square- foot sample areas works well. Latest count: 12 million.
For countless other species, latest count: Unknown

Q. Maybe you’re not a millionaire, but if you were one, flush with single dollar bills, could you count them all?

A. Do you have some time on your hands? On average, it takes about one second to speak out a two-digit number and about five seconds to say a six-digit number, say Alfred Posamentier and Ingmar Lehmann in Mathematical Amazements and Surprises. So let’s use an average of four seconds per count. Supposing you begin your dollar-counting exercise right now, 24 hours per day, 60 minutes per hour, 60 seconds per minute, you would reach 1,000,000 in about 46 days. But that’s without any breaks. Are you hungry yet?

At least for this exercise, let’s just hope you haven’t gotten into business and become a billionaire because now you’d have to count 1,000 times as long. By this measure, only you “super-centenarians” could ever hope to complete the 130-year task!

Q. As researchers study Earth’s creatures more and more, what adjective might they be tempted to append to “the wild kingdom”?

A. Make that the BRAINY wild kingdom, affirms David G. Myers in Psychology: Ninth Edition. A baboon knows the voices of every other baboon within its 80-member troop. Sheep can recognize and remember individual faces. Great apes and even monkeys can form concepts. When monkeys learn to classify cats and dogs, certain frontal-lobe neurons fire in predictable cat or dog regions. Even “birdbrain” pigeons can sort pictures of cars, cats, chairs, and flowers; when shown a picture of a never-before-seen chair, pigeons will reliably peck a “chair” key.

Forest-dwelling chimps know to break off a stick, strip it of twigs and leaves, then use it to “fish” for termites. They even select different tools for different purposes—a light, flexible stick for fishing, a heavy one to puncture holes. “One anthropologist, trying to mimic a chimp’s deft termite fishing, failed miserably.” In their tool use, chimps also adopt “local customs,” with one group slurping ants directly from the stick and another plucking them off individually. Or picture this actual lab experiment: Chimpanzee B observes Chimpanzee A sliding or lifting a door to get food. Then B imitates A’s behavior, C imitates B, and so forth. “Chimp see, chimp do,” unto the sixth generation, says Myers.

Q. You figure fanciers know that squaring the number 3 yields 9 (3 x 3 = 9), squaring 5 yields 25 (5 x 5 = 25), and so on. Other numbers when squared equal themselves, such as the number 0 (0 x 0 = 0) and 1 (1 x 1 = 1). But what happens when you square the number 11, or 111, or 1111, etc? Get ready for a ripple of astonishment.

A. Grab a calculator, and note that 11 x 11 = 121; 111 x 111 = 12321; 1111 x 1111 = 1234321; 11111 x 11111 = 123454321; 111111 x 111111 = 12345654321; 1111111 x 1111111 = 1234567654321; 11111111 x 11111111 = 123456787654321; and finally, 111111111 x 111111111 = 12345678987654321! The answers here are sequential and also palindromic—reading the same both forward and backward.

Q. How many legs does a dog have if you call a tail a leg?

A. “Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.” This famous question-and-answer was attributed to Abraham Lincoln by George W. Julian, a congressman during Lincoln’s administration, noted Allen Thorndike Rice (1853-1889) in his book, Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of His Time. Lincoln, according to Julian, was speaking of his Emancipation Proclamation and of how “proclaiming the slaves emancipated did not make it so.” (Lincoln actually referred to a calf and not a dog.)

Q. If you dug a hole down through the center of the Earth and out the other side and then jumped in, how long would it take you to fall the entire 8,000 miles?

A. Ignoring air resistance in the calculation, you’d reach the center in about 45 minutes and then continue on, going slower and slower until you reached the rim of the opposite opening in another 45 minutes, says Bob Berman in Astronomy magazine. So that’s 90 minutes to fall through Earth’s diameter. Ninety minutes is also the approximate orbital period of the space shuttle and the International Space Station. Bottom line: You could fall around our planet or through it in the same amount of time.

But beware: If you failed to grab the hole’s rim on the opposite side and fell back through the Earth a second time, again ignoring air resistance, you’d go all the way, back and forth, forever.

Q. Is God a mathematician?

A. Certainly the universe seems to be reliably understood using mathematics, answers Clifford Pickover in The Math Book. Nature is mathematics. Many of the loveliest things in Nature follow strict mathematical patterns, such as the light rays forming a rainbow or the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower. This arrangement can be understood using Fibonacci numbers, where each term from the third onward is the sum of the previous two: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and so on. Sunflower heads, like those of other flowers, contain families of interlaced seed spirals—one winding clockwise, the other counterclockwise. The number of spirals in such heads, as well as the number of petals in flowers, is very often a Fibonacci number.

Mathematics is process and order, the architecture of all that there is, from smallest to biggest. Yet, big as a “googol” is (1 followed by 100 zeroes, which is more than the number of elementary particles in the universe) or even a googolplex (1 followed by a googol zeroes), these human numbers are only the puniest of pikers compared to infinity.

Q. What do the phrases “jumbo shrimp,” “cruel kindness,” “pretty ugly,” “deafening silence,” “found missing,” “sweet sorrow,” and “peace force” have in common?

A. They’re all oxymorons, phrases that combine contradictory words, says Paul McFedries in IEEE Spectrum magazine. Appropriately, the term “oxymoron” is itself an oxymoron, from the Greek roots “oxys” for “sharp” and “moros” for “dull,” meaning “pointedly foolish.”

Many of us use oxymorons in everyday speech, such as “bittersweet,” “fine mess,” and “make haste slowly.” But keep in mind, adds Mark Davidson in Right, Wrong, and Risky, that you risk ridicule if you compose an oxymoron unintentionally, as did the newspaper headliner: “Law Students Start Drive for Mandatory Volunteerism.”

Q. He’s been called “the rarest of baseball players”—a pitcher who needs a special glove with two thumbs. What is his particular uniqueness?

A. He is Pat Venditte, formerly of Creighton University, ambidextrous to the point where he can pitch to right-handed batters with his right hand and then switch to face left-handed batters with his left hand, says David G. Myers in Psychology: Ninth Edition. After one switch-hitter switched sides of the plate, Venditte countered by switching pitching arms, prompting the batter to switch again and so on. “The umpires ultimately ended the comedy routine by applying a little-known rule: A pitcher must declare which arm he will use before throwing his first pitch to a batter.”

Q. In the past, the study of the dead was integral to the education of young physicians. So why has the number of autopsies plummeted from nearly 50 percent before 1950 to around 6 percent today?

A. “Autopsy” comes from the Greek “to see for one’s self,” says pathologist Darin L. Wolfe in American Scientist magazine, who developed his early understanding of malignant tumors from the procedure. During one autopsy of a cancer victim, said Wolfe, “I felt honored to be the only one to lay eyes and hands on the very substance of the disease that had brought this woman to her death.”

Autopsy remains the gold standard for assessing causes of diseases and traumas and for evaluating the accuracy of diagnoses. This wealth of information has been prized by medical schools, so much so that years ago bodies became scarce, driving up prices and leading to body snatching from graves. In fact, says Wolfe, perhaps the key reason for the decrease in autopsies is financial: Much time and paperwork are required, and reimbursement is lacking. Only the future can answer “if the autopsy again becomes a central tool of medicine or is allowed to become a relic of medical history’s storied past.”






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