Sound So Loud It Circled the Earth Four Times | Nautilus

In general, sounds are caused not by the end of the world but by fluctuations in air pressure. A barometer at the Batavia gasworks 100 miles away from Krakatoa registered the ensuing spike in pressure at over 2.5 inches of mercury. That converts to over 172 decibels of sound pressure, an unimaginably loud noise. To put that in context, if you were operating a jackhammer you’d be subject to about 100 decibels. The human threshold for pain is near 130 decibels, and if you had the misfortune of standing next to a jet engine, you’d experience a 150 decibel sound. A 10 decibel increase is perceived by people as sounding roughly twice as loud. The Krakatoa explosion registered 172 decibels at 100 miles from the source. This is so astonishingly loud, that it’s inching up against the limits of what we mean by “sound.”

via The Sound So Loud That It Circled the Earth Four Times – Nautilus

Is the battle in eastern Ukraine at a turning point?

A few weeks ago, the separatist militias appeared to be under the gun. In the last few days, the Ukrainian forces have been melting away in an apparent stunning reversal.

The western narrative puts this down to recent direct Russian intervention. Maybe, but there seem to be real grounds for doubt.

At Sic Semper Tyrannis (SST), one of their contributors with a deep military and intelligence background suggests a very different narrative may be called for. While Russia has almost certainly been covertly supplying materials and intelligence to the militias throughout the conflict, there seems little or no credible evidence that they’ve become directly involved. Instead, the separatist forces (with indirect Russian assistance) may have survived the Ukrainian onslaught and, through a mixture of luck, pluck and smart manoeuvring (and, probably, Russian intelligence), turned the tide. Continue reading

Nut consumption reduces risk of death | Harvard Gazette

According to the largest study of its kind, people who ate a daily handful of nuts were 20 percent less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period than those who didn’t consume nuts, say scientists from the Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Their report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, contains further good news: The regular nut-eaters were found to be more slender than those who didn’t eat nuts, a finding that should alleviate fears that eating a lot of nuts will lead to overweight.

via Nut consumption reduces risk of death | Harvard Gazette

Letter to Obama | You coulda been a contender

Maybe you still sleep easy. Who knows what dreams you had back in 2008, or how they stack up alongside today’s reality. All I know is the dreams you peddled.

Maybe it was just a pitch. Maybe, like the best salesmen you managed to convince yourself too. For a while, anyway. If so, it was a nauseatingly good one.

On the other hand, maybe you believed some of this stuff. You know: openness; transparency; the rule of law; a smarter, friendlier, more cooperative America that the rest of the world might be able to fall in love with again. If so, I guess you’re kind of disappointed.

Back in those early, heady days, you must have felt just how badly people wanted to believe. Not just because of what had gone before but because the times suddenly felt pregnant with possibility. I was one of them, despite my scepticism about politicians. I managed to convince myself you were for real. Continue reading