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Friday, December 5, 2014

Video: How Bourbon is Made

I've always found the history of various alcoholic drinks to be kind of fascinating, largely because it's usually all about limitations imposed by various authorities - left to your own devises, you could make various alcoholic drinks out of anything.

Gear Patrol visited 12 whiskey distilleries (including Buffalo Trace, Maker's Mark, and Jim Beam) to find out how bourbon is made. 

Physicists create a new kind of pasta, and it explains why your Christmas lights are tangled

It’s time to say hello to “anelloni” – a new kind of pasta created by two physicists from the University of Warwick in the UK. Consisting of giant loops, it’s the brainchild of Davide Michieletto and Matthew Turner, who invented the pasta in an attempt to demonstrate the complicated shapes that ring-shaped polymer molecules can adopt.
Here's a seasonal example of tangling
With its name derived from anello – the Italian word for “ring” – the new pasta is exclusively unveiled in an article that Michieletto and Turner have written in the December 2014 issue of Physics World magazine, which also contains their secret recipe for making it.
The two researchers created the large loops of pasta using just two eggs and 200 g of plain flour. When cooked and thrown together in a bowl, the pasta rings get hugely tangled up, in much the same way that real ring-shaped polymers become massively intertwined with each other.
Read more here, and/or watch the video:

More here on the physics of string-tangling:

Plus this: Physicists finally explain why your earphones are always tangled.

via David Thompson

Read this at Weekly Standard: The Benghazi Report

The Benghazi Report: Long and a bit inside-baseball, but describes why Mike Roger's go-it-alone "intel panel" report that the mass media is characterizing as definitive is seriously flawed.
The report seeks to bring an end to the committee’s work on Benghazi, but it’s clear that in this, too, it fails. A spokesman for Devin Nunes says the incoming chairman “is looking forward to cooperating with Representative Gowdy’s select committee, which will be the definitive report on the events surrounding the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi.” 
Defenders of the Obama administration have suggested that the intelligence committee’s report makes the work of the select committee unnecessary, but a senior Republican leadership aide, reached on the day the intelligence committee’s report was released, made the opposite argument. 
He said: “Rogers proved today why we needed a special committee.”
Related: The Motives Behind The November Rogers/Ruppersberger “House Intelligence Panel” Report On Benghazi Part 1 and Part 2.

Want to know everything there is to know about Benghazi? Here’s The Full Benghazi Brief from Conservative Treehouse.

Upcoming Simpsons opening sequence: The Couch Gag Before Christmas

The opening sequence for this Sunday's Simpsons episode, including the “obligatory Frozen reference”. 

Heh - Bart's blackboard writing: Reindeer meat does not taste like chicken. You may have to watch it a couple of times to catch everything.


Couch gags from two crossovers this season: one with Futurama, the other with Family Guy.

Compilation Of Every Video Game From The Simpsons

Funny signs from The Simpsons (and links to lots more).

Friday links

9 unusual and unique flying cars.

Tomorrow (December 6) is the feast day of St. Nicholas of Myra, aka Santa Claus.

Is it art or is it science? Vanishing Spirits – The Dried Remains of Single Malt Scotch

More science: Different Traits of Early Birds Versus Those of Night Owls.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include modifying baseball bats into a zombie-killing weapon, a working Lego particle accelerator, and the science behind (pun intended) why dogs sniff other dogs' butts. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

DNA Evidence Casts Doubt on Richard III's Claim to the Throne

Per CNN: Richard III was blue-eyed, blond, but should he have been king? DNA puzzle:

DNA reveals a break in the royal lineage. According to the BBC, this could cast doubt on the Tudor line or Richard III’s claim to the throne.

The BBC and Nature Communications delve deep into all the nitty-gritty biological reasons for this, but to summarize quickly: Scientists were able to match the maternal side of Richard III’s DNA (the X chromosome) to two living relatives of Richard’s eldest sister, Anne of York. Both Michael Ibsen and Wendy Dulig, 14th cousins and descendants of the House of York, have the same extremely rare genetic lineage as the skeleton found in the parking lot. 

The male side (the Y chromosome) is where things get tricky. 

The skeleton’s DNA does not match the Y chromosomes of living heirs of the fifth Duke of Beaufort, a descendent of John of Gaunt (all the aforementioned men are descendants of Edward III—you can find a helpful family tree here). The Tudors also descend from John of Gaunt. The lack of Y chromosome consistency between the DNA in the skeleton and of the Duke of Beaufort’s heirs means that, somewhere down the line between Edward III and Richard III, there was a “false paternity event”—aka, an act infidelity. If this event happened along either the Richard III or Henry Tudor (later known as Henry VII) branches of Edward III’s family tree, their lineage’s claims to the throne could be false.

Lots more at CNN, BBC, via Mental Floss.