The More You Know

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How rice cooker works?

Rice cooker is an amazing tool to get you rice just right easily, but do you know how it decides when to stop cooking?


Of course, there are more complex rice cookers which may not follow this principle, right know I’m talking about the cheap and simple rice cookers.

It working principle is simple and brilliant: it simply checks temperature

As long as there is water, the temperature won’t rise above 100°C / 212°F, because that is when water start boiling. A part of the water will evaporate, and the rest will be absorbed by the rice itself. Once the water is all gone, the cooker bottom will heat the rice, which will go above the water boiling point, the rice cooker can measure this temperature and it knows there is no more water, and that rice should be cooked, assuming you have put the right amount of water!



The commonly used map of the tongue, showing the 4 tastes is wrong and creates a bad idea of how taste work. As noted in The Tongue Map: Tasteless Myth Debunked, there is not much known about the sense of taste, a lot more information have been gathered on hearing and vision. It may be due to the fact that this sense is apparently not primordial for survival. It is indeed more important that it may seems as allows us to detect spoiled and unripe food.

Of course, in modern society, it is far less useful in day to day life than vision or hearing.

There are 5 different tastes identified:

  • sweet
  • sour
  • bitter
  • salty
  • umami

And some are wondering if there may be sixth kind of receptor for the fat.

Umami is the least known one, it is very common in Japanese cuisine, and can be tasted through the receptors for glutamate. It is said to be a lasting one, that will let you with an delicious aftertaste. From the Wikipedia article:

Umami has a mild but lasting aftertaste that is difficult to describe. It
induces salivation and a sensation of furriness on the tongue, stimulating the
throat, the roof and the back of the mouth.

That rises a new important point, we always associate taste with the tongue, but in fact, taste buds are present on more places:

  • tongue
  • soft palate
  • upper esophagus
  • epiglottis

This taste buds contains the taste receptors that will react to the chemical component we associate with a given taste, and transmit the information to the brain.

Last, but not least, the smell is tightly tied to taste, we all know when we have a cold taste changes, and can sometimes feel like gone. Both smell and taste are analyzing the chemical compounds of what we smell and eat.

You can read more about taste and smell ties at BrainFacts.

The Largest Vehicles in the world

There are various type vehicles and there are therefore various record holders, so lets summarize that a little.

Largest two-axle

The most known, huge two-axle is the Caterpillar 797:


But it is quite close to the Liebherr T 282B:


And the Bucyrus MT6300AC:


This beasts are haul trucks of 400 short ton capacity, with quite impressive dimension, with no clear winner

dimension 797F T282B mt6300ac
height 7.44 m 7.32 m 7.92 m
width 9.53 m 9.09 m 9.70 m
length 15.09 m 15.32 m 15.57m
weight¹ 623700 kg 596900 kg 603300 kg

¹: this is Gross Machine Operating Weight

Depending of the criteria you use, you can give the prize to the 797F aor the MT6300AC, knowing the T292B is always close.

Largest mobile artillery weapon

The Gustav Gun, is the name used for the two German 80cm railway guns. You read that right, 80cm, is the caliber, the diameter of the ammunition if you prefer. They were named Schwerer Gustav and Dora, here is a picture of a model version of Dora:


This were developed in the late 30’s and were 47.3 meter long and weigthed 1490 short tons (to stay in the same measures as previously used in this article).

The Schwerer Gustav Wikipedia page contains more information, and nice pictures for scale, of the gun itself, and its ammunition.

Largest construction vehicle

The Terex RH400 is caterpillar track vehicle that is apparently a bigger than our two axle beasts we saw before, you can see it filling a 797B:


You can have a look at its specifications by yourself, but here is a little summary:

  • height: 10.17 m
  • width: 8.6m and that’s the tracks, the body is even larger
  • shovel can reach 20.2 m up

Largest terrestrial vehicle

This is, by far, the Bagger series, the most known is the Bagger 288:


This behemoth is a bucket-wheel excavator thas weight 13500 tons, its length can go up to 220 m and it goes as high as 96 m for a with of 46 m.

And yes, it is a vehicle and can move up to 0.6km/h, not the fastest, but movies 13500 tons at this speed is already quite amazing. Even with the preparation needed to allow it to move, it was moved in 2001 by 22km, this was told to be less expensive than tear it apart and rebuild on the second location.

Bagger 288 is one of a group of similar sized and built vehicles, such as Bagger 281 (built in 1958), Bagger 285 (1975), Bagger 287 (1976), Bagger 293 (1995).

Largest ship

If the Bagger 288 is the behemoth of man-made vehicles, the Seawise Giant was the leviathan.


This supertanker was 458 m long, just for the references

  • for french: Montparnasse tower is 210 m high, Eiffel Tower is 324 m
  • for New Yorker: Empire State Building is 443 m, One World Trace Center is 541 m
  • For Tokyo-Jin: Tokyo Tower is 333m

There are other building taller of course, I just named a few for scale (no banana here).

It was benched in january 2010, nowadays the largest floating ships are the Maersk Triple E class:


It is 400 m long by 59 m wide (some villages are smaller than that...). At this time there are 6 in service and 10 others are in said to be in construction with ever more ordered.

One of its interesting spec, is that it is a lot more efficient than comparable ships, and has an announced carbon footprint 50% smaller than same sized ships.

Bases, binary, hexadecimal, ascii

You may have heard that computers use binary, but why is that? Simply because in electronic, if you want to keep it simple, components have two possible state: on or off -> 0 or 1. The hardware is easier to design this way.


When we normally count, in what we call decimal, is actually base-10, which means we use 10 numbers: from 0 to 9

So if you count:

0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9...

And then what? 10 of course, but why is that: you reached the end of your base, thus increment the second digit, and loop back to beginning for the first digit, you could use this notation to see it better:

08, 09, 10...

Another way to think of it is to use the calculation behind it, we use base 10, so each digit is number * base ^ rank, with the rank starting out at 0. Lets use 42:

(4 * 10¹) + (2 * 10⁰)
(4 * 10) + (2 * 1)

Any bases are possible, as long as you define what needs to be used to represent it, of course, some are more common than others, especially in computer science.


Given the previously explained on/off paradigm in electronic, it was chosen to use binary, or base-2 in computers. We so have 2 numbers to count: 0 and 1

If you apply the same as earlier:

0, 1

And that’s it, you reached the end of the base, so increment next digit:

0, 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111...
0  1   2   3    4    5    6    7...

And as of 42:


0 * 2⁰ + 1 * 2¹ + 0 * 2² + 1 * 2³ + 0 * 2⁴ + 1 * 2⁵
0      + 2      + 0      + 8      + 0      + 32
= 42

In computer, the number of bits you may have heard about, is the number of binary digit used to represent the number. The byte which is used to compute volume of data, is 8 bits, which allows for values up to 255.

To identify we sometimes use prefix 0b:



To avoid the need to read binary all the time, it is actually easier given the data is grouped in bytes in computers to represent values in hexadecimal rather than binary or decimal. Hexadecimal is base-16, we use numbers from 0 to 9, and letters form A to F, and the prefix 0x:

0x1, 0x2, 0x3, 0x4, 0x5, 0x6, 0x7, 0x8, 0x9, 0xa, 0xb, 0xc, 0xd, 0xe, 0xf

Applying the same technique as before:

0x0e, 0x0f, 0x10, 0x11

And for 42:


a * 16⁰ + 2 * 16¹
10 * 1 + 2 * 16
= 42


Aka American Standard Code for Information Interchange, is the basic representation of characters used in computers, using numbers up to 128 to encode characters representation. It was later extended in various different versions to suite more languages.

For example A is 0x41 (65), and following capital letters are following in order, and a is 0x61 (97) and so on.

In binary, this means:

0x41 -> 0b01000001
0x61 -> 0b01100001

You may notice that the left hand bit is 0 in both case, as said, ascii is limited to 128, thus never using the bit of rank 7. The various extended versions make use of it, but have to be a different version for different languages as this still is quite limited.

Later, the unicode, and UTF variations where created, but this is a vast topic, which I will not talk about in here.


Cinemagraph sometimes called cinegraph are (quoted from wikipedia): still photographs in which a minor and repeated movement occurs.


This image is from here and belong to its author.

The moving part is normally contrasting with the stillness of the rest of the image, this is why most, the description is talking about minor movement.

This phenomenon has become quite popular lately, and can be absolutely mesmerizing when correctly done.

They are mostly distributed in gif, gif always play in loops, but a cinemagraph should be made so the loop point is almost unnoticeable.

If you like this, you can jump into it:

All about Garlic

Not really a spice, not really a vegetable, the garlic is part of the onion genus, and we will now have a look at more information about it.


Choice & preservation

A quality garlic is easily spotted, head should be well rounded, and by a single touch you should feel the firmness of the cloves in it.

To keep it longer, do not put your garlic in the fridge, this would reactivate its germination and its development. The ideal place to store your garlic should be:

  • dry
  • out of direct sunlight
  • room temperature

When well stored, you should be able to keep it up to few months.


  • What is the head: it is the bulb (on the right)
  • What is the clove: these are the part inside the head (on the left)
  • What is the tunic: the skin of the bulb, surrounding the cloves
  • Its scientific name is Allium sativum.


The garlic smell is due to the allicin it contains.

Its effect on breath can generally be reduced by removing the central sprout, that can often be found inside cloves, plus this part generally have a bitter taste and can have an impact on the final taste of your recipe.

To lighten you breath, a tip is to bite a strong coffee bean, if you don’t have any, menthol candies and chewing-gum are still the best way to go.

On your hands, the best way to go are the Stainless steel soap.

Garlic in kitchen

There are various way to consume garlic:

  • Unpeeled garlic: once cooked, it softens, and becomes creamy
  • Cooked garlic smell is less marked and less persistent
  • Garlic smell is released when chopped
  • Made in puree, it can mix easily with sauce

To make garlic flavored vinaigrette, you can marinate garlic in oil, and then use the oil for your vinaigrette, or make a puree and mix with vinegar.

To flavor your meat with garlic, like a roast beef, cut the cloves, pinch hole in meat and slide the piece of clover in it, you should put them at regular distance in your meat, and then cook like this.

Finally, you can rub garlic on some food, like toasted or hard bread, to make garlic croutons.


Not all the facts about garlic and health have been proved or explained, but it does contains various compounds that have good properties for your health, lets have a quick tour.

  • Positive effect on blood pressure, this may be due its blood thinner effect due to its compounds: fructan, magnesium and adenosine, and prevent fat deposit in arteries.
  • Ease digestion, as vitamin B1 help build enzymes that ease transit.
  • May help get rid of a cold, because allicin will help destroy viruses and bacterias.
  • Contains a lot of anti-infective agents: allicin, vitamin C, iodine, magnesium, and sulfur.
  • Contains antioxidant which may act on aging (on Senescence

The Brain, Imagination, and Memories

Did you know that when you imagine doing a movement for example, you activate the same areas of your brain as if you were actually doing the said movement?

This gives a tremendous power to the brain on your body, I’ll try to show you how far all this extends, it may be a bit lengthy, but bear with me, this is worth it.

A common example is a tennis player thinking about how he serves before a game, repeating the movements in his mind to be sure to remember every details. Well, while he does this, his brain is actually using the same process as if he was actually serving.

The same goes for senses, if you use your memory to think about a smell you liked, you can trigger your brain in the same way as if you were actually smelling it. And as the brain works a lot in association of things, that is where your brain will also triggers associated memory, that is why a lot of us have memory of smell, or taste of cookies, or other treats we loved in our childhood that are associated with given moments of our life, of the presence of someone familiar, a mother, a grandmother for example.

This is actually used in some cases of hypnotherapy and in Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) like the one called Anchoring.

Anchoring is a very good example, as it makes you associate a state suited to face a situation, to an action. An example would be best:

Assume you are someone with too much anxiety, you can try to remember a moment of you life when you were perfectly calm and felt safe, think about this, and try to feel every feeling associated, the sounds, the taste, the smell, what you saw at this moment, the touch of the wind, or of a warm good old sweater on your body. If you do this properly, your brain should feel like it was at this moment, it will tell your body: everything is alright, and you should feel that way.

But doing the whole process in the case of a panic attack is not possible, that is why once you get to this state, you will choose a simple given action like joining your index and thumb for example, doing this in full conscience, concentrated on your action.

Because of the state you were in, and the act you just did, your brain will associate the two. For a good anchoring it may be required to do this multiple times. But once this anchor is properly set, you should be able to trigger the state you were in, simply by doing the associated action.

This power of the brain is pretty amazing and has quite a lot of possible uses, I actually discovered the basics of this principle in the following video. I find it pretty interesting although, Martin L. Rossman does talk about the Triune Brain which apparently has been unanimously rejected by the scientific community (found in the NLP french wikipedia page). Anyway, even if the principle of the three parts of the brain explained there are not completely accurate, the principle stays the same, and does work.

I suggest you have a look at the video, if you have some time in front of you:

In my opinion (I don’t claim I’m right about this), relaxation, part of meditation, of hypnotherapy and NLP, and probably much more, are all taking advantage of this same capacity of our mind to gets their benefit, and I’m pretty sure there is still a lot more to learn about the subject.

Lethal Doses

A well known fact about alcohol, is that it should be consumed in reasonable quantities. You probably have legal warning in advertisement for drinks in your country. If that is of interest, you can have a look at Health Warning Labels for various countries.

But that’s not the point here, what I want to do, is to list the amount of some common things we do intake regularly, and that can be lethal in higher quantities, and try to relate it to the quantity of beverage or food we would have to consume in order to reach this amount.

Obviously, this would have to be absorbed quite fast, as the body would try to eliminate as much of it as fast as it can.

Remember that this are assumed lethal doses, serious problems will arise far earlier! Please do not assume you can safely go to half of this without any issues, plus all this is only theoretical.


The generally admitted lethal dose is of 0.4% Blood Alcohol Content.

It seems that sums up from 5 to 8g per kilogram for an adult. So if we take the lower limit, and a person weighting 60kg, this means 300g of alcohol.

  • A bottle of Żubrówka is 700ml at 40% = 280g -> 1.07 bottles
  • A bottle of red wine of 750ml, at 13% = 97.5g -> 3.07 bottles
  • Beer in between at 6.5% in 33ml bottles = 2.145g -> 139 bottles


In human, the dose is estimated to be 150 to 200mg per kilogram. For an average adult, Wikipedia tells us that this means 80 to 100 cups of coffee.

That will obviously depends on the type an preparation of the coffee, but it will still be quite hard to drink this much coffee in a short span of time. But there are a lot of pills and candy with caffeine (some of you may know ThinkGeek’s Food & Caffeine section), which may take you to the danger zone faster.


As I earlier shared on G+, potassium can be lethal too, and common source of potassium are bananas: everything is explained right here, but to sum it up, you would need 195000mg of potassium, or about 487 bananas: Good luck with that!


Ok, this one may not be one you’ll have to worry too often about in your life, but I love the fact that after all the “Eat your vegetables, you need your vitamins!”, we can die from too much of one of these vitamins.

Having too much of a given vitamin is known as Hypervitaminosis which you can apparently have for vitamins A, D, E and maybe K.

  • Vitamin A: Liver contains a lot of it, mostly in polar bear, seal, walrus, moose and husky. Polar bear are the most known about this because explorer of the Arctic regions came back with lot of illness due to it. Its toxicity levels are kind of complex.
  • Vitamin D: It does seem that the only source to have more of it are supplement orally taken.
  • Vitamin E: There is not much information about it... Wikipedia page page is quite short, and there are not a lot of other sources online.

Unfortunately for the kids, you won’t be able to tell your mom you’ve had enough and she’s putting you at risk, finish your plate of broccoli!

There are quite a lot, and I won’t dive myself in all the drugs lethal doses, but if you have more info, feel free to add information in the comments or on G+ :)


Tickling is kind of odd, it is extremely hard to control for most people, and yet, you can’t really tickle yourself.

The reaction you encounter when tickled is actually a panic and anxiety reaction, it is a form of defense against possible crawling insect that may be poisonous for example. So the body needs to react quickly to avoid any risk.

So why can’t I really tickle myself? Well that is because you won’t feel in danger knowing you are the source of the tickling and that you control it.

Interesting enough, the reaction is not the same if you are tickled by someone you actually are OK with tickling you, or not, probably based on the level of confidence you have toward this person, thus adjusting the level of danger your body feel and the reaction to the tickling.

Blood and its color(s)

We, as most mammals, have red blood. This is due to the presence of iron in our blood, which when oxidize turns reddish.

But why is this iron there?

Well we all know we need oxygen in our body, that’s why we breathe, but we may not realize that most of our cells requires oxygen to live, all over the body.

In order to propagate oxygen to our body we need hemoglobin, it will provides a mean to transport oxygen throughout our tissues so our cells can stay alive.

So there is iron, and there is oxygen, which lead to redox, hence the red color.

But my veins are blue

Yes, we do see them blue, but its not blue. Some people will tell you otherwise, but blood is never blue in human. Why we do perceive the veins blue does seem to be a question without perfectly proven answer.

One of the most likely reason is the light and its energy that the blood and skin will reflect and absorb. If you want to know more about this particular topic, I invite you to read this article which covers the topic pretty well, while providing more interesting links on the subject.

Why is this post titled color(s)?

We do have have red blood, but there are other blood colors that exists, not in humans through.

Bluish blood

Lobsters, squids and horseshoe crabs (amongst others) have a bluish blood, as their blood contains hemocyanin where we have hemoglobin, and use copper (vs iron in human) as a medium of transport.

You can have a look at pictures of horseshoe crabs and their blood, but while you’re at it read more about the use of their blood to test drugs, and how it probably saved a lot of people!

Green blood

The skink lizard have green blood. Apparently, it seems that a high level of bile molecules are present in their blood, but also in other tissues, and even in bones apparently.

More on this on National Geographic

Yellow blood

Insects such a beetles are known to have yellow colored blood. Really, pure blood should be clear in insect, they get color because of what is in it.

Insects don’t have lungs and the need to transport oxygen like us, they breathe through their skin, and for most parts, blood does not carry oxygen and therefore does not have hemoglobin on its equivalent, but it does carry nutrients and hormones, so most of the time, their blood color is related to what they have been eating.

There is a bit more in here.