Saturday September 17, 2005
Welcome to Bad Science, where we catch, dissect, and then publicly flog the fools and frauds who talk nonsense about science. From cosmetics adverts, to alternative therapists, to flaky journalists and their groundless scare stories, we’ve had them all in the back of our big black van, and the bodybags are all lined up nicely at Badscience.net
So now we’ve been moved to the cold reality of the news pages, I’ve been told the rules are different: apparently we can’t count on you to know all the geeky stuff like we used to in the science section. So first we need to calibrate your level of knowledge.
Let’s start with a quote from the Wall Street Journal, sent in by Neil Forshaw: “SBC’s Internet-TV boxes will be smaller than a typical cable box. Cable boxes need to be big enough to store all channel programming at once, but because internet-based boxes stream only one channel at a time, they don’t need the extra space.”
I’m assuming at some stage you’ve picked up on the idea that the stuff on the screen doesn’t actually exist inside the box; and I’m guessing the general understanding lies somewhere between, firstly, recognising the importance of not licking your fingers and sticking them in the socket, and secondly, thinking it’s pretty clever and weird how moving pictures are beamed from one place to another.
Next up: in last week’s Metro they were talking out of their arses (via Eamonn Day): “Poo Power,” they begin. “The answer to the world’s energy crisis could lie with cows. Half a litre of rumen fluid – liquefied feed taken from the largest chamber of a cow’s stomach – produces almost enough voltage to run an AA-sized battery.”
Ignore the practicality issues for walkman users for one moment. “While the fluid won’t be used for power, some of the micro-organisms found in it are also contained in cow manure. Which means the more a cow eats, the more it poos, the more energy it creates.”
So again: I’m kind of counting on you to understand that cows can’t really create energy, except in certain theoretical circumstances under which you might not usefully describe them as cows any more. But more generally, if you correctly identified the quote as meaningless, pointless, senseless, lazy garbage, we should get on fine. We can talk about alternative therapies later.