Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Holding your breath underwater...

According to the Guinness Word Records the longest anyone has ever held their breath underwater is 8 min 32.59 sec and was achieved by Karoline Mariechen Meyer (Brazil) at the Racer Academy swimming pool, Florianopolis, Brazil, on 10 July 2009.

Name: Karoline Mariechen Meyer (Brazil)
Time: 18 min 32.59 sec
Where: Racer Academy swimming pool, Florianopolis, Brazil
Date: 10 July 2009

(Source: Guinness World Records)

I also found this amazing short film showing "base jumping under water" - it would have taken a large amount of breath-holding despite presumably being shot in a number of different takes:

Monday, 14 June 2010

Colourblind Bulls...

Does the flag have to be red to anger a bull? No. Bulls are colourblind so it doesn't matter what colour the flag is - it just annoys them that you're waving a flag at them. It would probably annoy me too.

Other information: Since the seventeenth century fighting bulls have been bred on bull ranches and apparently they go through several selection processes during their first three years. Only those with the best physical appearance, stamina and courage are selected. They have no training so as to keep them "virginal" when it comes to fighting, and because of their excellent memory experienced bulls could start to use tricks that would be dangerous to the matadors.

Friday, 11 June 2010

How Dolphins Sleep...

Background: I had often wondered how air-breathing mammals were able to sleep without drowning. Today I decided to do some research...
Main Source: http://whale.wheelock.edu/whalenet-stuff/sleeppage/
Backup Source: http://www.ntra-net.com/2008/09/18/dolphins-sleep-with-half-of-the-brain-awake/
Topic: Animals/Biology

Details: Unlike humans, for dolphins breathing is a voluntary action, rather than being involuntary. Since they breath air and live in water they need to consciously head to the surface to fill their lungs. Dolphins, like any other mammal need to sleep, and rather than lying at the surface, which could leave them open to attack from all manner of predators - they have evolved a rather amazing way of sleeping. With one eye closed, they are able to disconnect one half of their brain from the other and sleep one half at a time.

In laboratories scientists have measured dramatically decreased activity in the sleeping half, whilst the opposite eye is closed. After about 20 minutes or so this is reversed. Dolphins apparently rest this way on and off throughout the day and during these periods, everything inside the dolphin slows down, and the mammal moves very little.

Someone once said to me that dolphins didn't seem very clever to him because all they did all day was play around in the sea. To me that seems VERY clever...

Thursday, 10 June 2010

The Last Ever Lecture...

How I Heard About This: A friend of mine sent me this. Very powerful.
Main Source: http://www.gurteen.com/gurteen/gurteen.nsf/id/X0022B066/
Topic: Lifestyle/Philosophy

Details: There is a tradition at Carnegie Mellon University that lecturers are asked to give a hypothetical "last ever lecture". They are requested to give a talk as if it were their last, and pick the topic accordingly. Prof. Randy Pausch (23rd October 23 1960 – 25th July 2008) gives his lecture on the Oprah show in the US, what's notable is that this really will be his last lecture as he is about to die of pancreatic cancer. In his 10 minute lecture he talks about life, love, parenthood and living your childhood dreams. Very uplifting.

Here is a link to the original full length Carnegie Mellon lecture (1hr16mins) and is worth a watch if you have the time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo