Nanotech Breasts

Saw this online today:


It intrigued me. I do try to keep up with Sciencish stuff, and consider myself to be pretty well-informed. I hadn’t heard of the wonders of nanotech being applied to bust enhancement, though. Were carbon nanotubes being used to sculpt breasts now?

So I clicked the link. It led to the website of some slimming agency with a couple of pretty generic weight-loss/bigger-breast programmes. I looked around for anything to do with nanotech, and to my disappointment found this little piece of nonsense:


Arguably, it is nanotech they’re using in the sense that the “particles” are in their “nano serum” probably are in the nano scale, but frankly it’s just nonsense science-terms being thrown into a marketing proof to make it sound more convincing. That said, I’m impressed someone in their marketing department actually bothered to make the rough calculations that ~2000 times smaller than skin pores is about 25nm, which is about right for “nanotechnology”.

Other than that, though, none of their technology is anywhere near what is commonly understood to be “nanotechnology”. In fact, considering nanotech is the domain of the very small, it almost seems incongruous to see it mentioned in an ad for gigantic bosoms.

I hate to stereotype, but I guess if you’re the kind of woman who goes for bust enhancement you’re probably in the marketing segment that’s likely to fall for this kind of claptrap anyway…

Even thinking about money makes people more individualistic

The mere reminder of money can make people behave differently, research shows. Just having someone remind you of money before an activity can reduce altruism.

How can this not be a good argument against market-driven charities?

I’m also pretty certain it works in Sales too. As any good salesperson or insurance agent will tell you, never mention the price until you’ve got the sucker hooked. People are much more likely to buy if the question of money doesn’t enter their minds first.

Of course, I never found this to be particularly useful advice–how can anyone buy anything without having money constantly floating around in his or her mind? In fact I find it incredibly annoying when people don’t talk money with me. Cost is an up-front thing for me, really.

Scientists reinvent millenium-old toy?

Was rather confused when I read this article about a mono-monostatic object – an object that can right itself to a single equilibrium position no matter its starting position – discovered by Hungarian mathematicians.


Watching a demonstration on their website, it struck me that I’d seen something a little bit like this – and suddenly remembered a little song we used to sing in Primary School about righting yourself after you fall, just like a ä¸å€’翁.

If you can’t read Chinese, Wikipedia’s English Page describes it as a “Daruma Doll“, a self-righting doll. It’s been around in China more than a millenium, though it appears not to have penetrated into the West.

So now I’m a little confused as to what the big fuss about the Gomboc is. Unless homogenous Daruma Dolls can’t right themselves (which in my mind seems entirely likely), the Gomboc just seems like that US multi-million-dollar-pen project (vs the Russian pencil). But if so, then the last paragraph of the NYT article doesn’t make much sense:

Yet the scientists now say that Mother Nature may have beaten them in the race after all. They have noticed that the Gomboc closely resembles the shell of a tortoise or a beetle, creatures whose round-shelled backs help them right themselves when flipped over. “We discovered it with mathematics,” Domokos notes, “but evolution got there first.”

Because we know that turtles definitely aren’t homogenous. They contain intestines and stuff.

Anyone any wiser?

Update: turns out that the traditional Chinese toy, in fact, is only able to right itself because it is not made of a uniform material (usually hollow or weighted). The Gomboc, on the other hand, is a mathematical marvel because it is of a uniform material and thus will work with any material. This article on explains all (but is unfortunately in Chinese) and also points out that the Hungarians know how to have fun with Maths – they invented the Rubik’s cube too.

Intuition begone!

Banana plants “walk”

Watched an episode of QI where Sean Lock mentions that Banana plants “walk” (about 2:14 in the clip below). Steven Fry confirms it a little later, according to a “little voice in his head”.

(aside: I’m beginning to think it was scripted, because I found the transcript of an interview he gave for the Science Show where he says something about reading about Malayan dendrology and walking banana plants, so Steven must have known about the moving plants–but perhaps they thought people would believe Sean more)

It’s been haunting me ever since, because I simply cannot imagine how a plant can walk. There’s the issue of roots which make walking tautologically impossible, aren’t they?

So of course being the internet-savvy-type that I am, I queried Wikipedia, and got this:

… the individual stools or planting sites may move slightly from their original positions as lateral rhizome formation dictates. Latin Americans sometimes comment that the plants are “walking” over time.

Aha! I proudly thought – so banana trees DO walk! I MUST tell absolutely everyone I know!

I’m not sure why the question came back to haunt me today, but it did, and I puzzled over the long cab ride home why no one had ever taken a capture of a banana tree walking. Surely a horizontally moving plant would be YouTube fodder or at least of some interest to the Discovery Channel?

So I did a bit more research and now I’m ready to kick myself in the ass, because I’d actually been given all the information I needed to connect the dots, but didn’t. There doesn’t seem to be a ready internet answer to this, so in apology to the people I may have given erroneous information to, here’s an attempt at a reconciliation of the facts.

My basic assumption in thinking that “banana trees can walk” was entirely false – the fact that bananas are trees at all. They aren’t. Bananas are herbs. What that means is that the thing you see sticking out of the ground with the leaves and fruit (the pseudostem) only comprises a part of the banana tree. The actual stem of the banana tree (the corm) is underground (think of ginger).

Banana plant

The pseudostem “matures” in 6 – 8 months, producing fruit and then dying. Usually, another smaller pseudostem will have simultaneously started growing at the same base of the original pseudostem, which will then take over the job of photosynthesis and any other pseudostem roles and responsibilities. The new pseudostem will be, of course, slightly displaced from the position of the old one (see image). Because a banana plant can be cultivated for 25 years and the pseudostems have a relatively short lifespan, as pseudostems die and get replaced it can look as though the plant has “walked” whereas in fact it is the change in position of pseudostems as they replace each other. The only thing that has really “walked” is the position at which the banana corm grows its pseudostem.

In fact I should know this from experience, because I’ve tried to cut down a banana plant and remove its roots (as I thought then) before, and do remember thinking to myself that they extended a bloody long distance and were ridiculously thick. I guess being in a jungle sweating it out with a parang and spade don’t incline you towards pondering the oddness of Nature.

So there you have it. Banana plants don’t walk, not in the slightest. The illusion that they “walk” is due to the withering and resprouting of pseudostems from the underground stem. I’ve learnt something new today (thanks to QI) and I hope you have too. Now go forth, and spread your newly-found wisdom!

But do remember to make use of the air quotes.

Trying to be funny

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own
Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments

Old study about the inability of sucky people to tell just how sucky they are, and the general tendency for humans to overestimate themselves.

I was reading Study 1 on humour, where the a bunch of students are ranked based on the correlation of their scores against the average of a bunch of comedians. What was funny about this study was that althought the majority of the comedians were agreed on what was funny, there was one who gave completely contrary answers, with a ridiculous beta.

And I thought–isn’t that just like a comedian?

Wikipedia obviousnesses

From the Wikipedia article on Castration.

Castration prevents male pattern baldness if it is done before hair is lost, however, castration will not restore hair growth after hair has already been lost due to male pattern baldness.

And the punchline:

Castration is never recommended by medical doctors as a way to prevent or treat hair loss.

Why anyone had to put that in is beyond me.


So I was reading this article on nanoglue and how it can potentially be used one day to create a Spiderman-type web shooter, when it occurred to me how terrible it would be to be shot with it.

I mean, Spiderman uses his web’s bonding power to stop trains. That’s a level of stickiness that’s pretty impressive.

Supervillians just seem to shrug off the strands like thread, but in reality those things should be taking off pieces of skin or hair as they come off–have you ever tried to remove bubblegum from hair? Painful.

An alternate use would be in beauty parlours as a fast, efficient wax treatment.