Stories tagged identification

Nov
11
2008

If anything, sir, you're making it worse: You can wring out the sweat, but not the stink.
If anything, sir, you're making it worse: You can wring out the sweat, but not the stink.Courtesy The Michael
Yeah. Sorry. I don’t make the rules—y’all just have your own weird odors, and there’s nothing you can do to change them. Frowny face.

But, today of all days, try to get past your own problems (though they are disgusting and abounding) and be grateful to the men and women who have fought for your country. Or think about Armistice Day, and the moment on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year 1918, when the bloodiest war the world had ever seen finally came to an end.

No? That’s not doing it for you? Still stuck on yourself? Fine. We’ll deal with that first.

Oh, by the way, the statement about your having a unique, personal stink is predicated on my assumption that you’re all mice. Not figure-of-speech mice, but actual little rodents. Who have computers and can read. (And, really, what illiterate mice are going to have computers? It just goes to show that you won’t be getting ahead without an education.) Even if you aren’t mice, however, I suppose there’s a decent chance that the personal odor think applies to you (you might not be conscious of it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there).

There are all kinds of things that can affect your stank. You should know that by now. Bacteria, for one, love eating your excretions and covering you with effluvia of their own. It smells bad. And your excretions aren’t necessarily a walk in the rose garden in the first place. Depending on what you eat, you can end up smelling like the dumpster behind a German restaurant (I’m thinking onions, garlic, and red meat here) or the dumpster behind a South Asian restaurant (ah, sotolon). Really, you could smell like any number of dumpsters across the globe, depending on your tastes.

But it turns out that no matter what stank you might give yourself with all that coffee and garlic pizza, you’ve got a unique stank that’s all your own, and there’s nothing to be done to change it.

See, scientists have been watching little mousies, and they’ve found that although body odors brought about by diet can be confusing to mice in identifying other individuals by their odor, there remains a unique, identifiable, genetically-influenced smell in each mouse, despite the particulars of its diet.

That was a long and bad sentence. What I meant to say was this: no matter what you eat, it seems that you have an unchangeable, unique smell. It says so here. And in far fewer words here.

What’s the upshot of this? First of all, it’s like I said: you’re hopeless, Oldspice. However, the research also suggests that someday technology could be developed that would identify individuals by their unique odor “fingerprints.” A personal odor database could be developed. Think about that—you put your fist through a bakery window just once, and the fuzz has your stink on file forever. Or maybe you wouldn’t have to show your passport to get on a plane—a robot could just sniff you. Another robot, anyway.

A brave new future, huh?

If you haven't spent any time surfing the "What's that Bug?" website, you must do it now. Really. "Carnage, "Bug Love," plus insect identification and links... It's the best.

Sep
02
2006

Iron pyrite: Photo by Art Oglesby
Iron pyrite: Photo by Art Oglesby

Best mineral ID website

We get a variety of rocks, minerals, and crystals from traders at SMM's Collector's Corner. Sometimes we need reference books or use the internet to identify specimens. Webmineral.com has the most comprehensive mineral image library on the web. Their pictures of over 2,700 different species represents 60% of all known minerals. This mineral database contains 4,442 individual mineral species.
To differentiate minerals, several properties need to be identified.

The section on crystallography has a tool that allows you to see crystals from any angle by using the computer mouse. Another section gives chemical composition, or to see all minerals that contain a certain element. The search tool allows one to enter several properties with the most relevant finds placed first in the results.

Another Collector's Corner

The "Collectors Corner" of the Mineralogical Society of America features an excellent, on-line, mineral identification key by Alan Plante, Donald Peck, & David Von Bargen. Their identification key is also based on simple mineralogical tests such as luster, hardness, color and physical description for the most common minerals an individual is likely to encounter.

May
18
2005

Scientists at the University of California, Berkley, are saying that the plates that line the back of dinosaurs such as Stegosaurus and Tuojiangosaurus. are just a display that allows animals to recognize other members of their species. They even go so far as to say that many of the unusual characteristics of many dinosaurs - the horns of the ceratopsians, the helmet-heads of the pachycephalosaurs or the crests of the hadrosaurs or dinosaurs such as Monolophosaurus or Dilophosaurus also likely served little function other than to help the animals recognize members of their own species. The scientists are stating that their studies of dinosaur bone histology is leading them to this conclusion.

There have been a number of other ideas proposed for the purpose of the Stegosaur's plates in the past. Some scientists compared them to the ears of elephants - designed to help cool or warm the animal. Other scientists proposed that perhaps they are for protection or for mating displays.

What do you think was the purpose of the plates of the Stegosaur and similar dinosaurs?