Earwax? What’s That All About?

What Is Earwax?

I’ve often wondered what is earwax all about but never specifically investigated it. Well today I just happened across this article on the BBC News website in the Health section and now I am the wiser.

It’s entitled: ‘Secretion secrets: things you didn’t know about earwax’. It discusses the following five issues:

  • How it gets out of an ear.
  • It’s anti-microbial properties.
  • It matters where your family is from.
  • A vacuum rather than a syringe might help clear it out.
  • It can be a pollution monitor.

I expect people with earwax problems may find section 4 of interest since it says ears can be cleaned with a specialised vacuum cleaner. See example below:

earwax

It goes on to describe how this is a more pleasant and more efficient procedure than syringing. If you haven’t seen it here is the featured image of the cross section through a human ear.

WARNING: Do not try using a domestic vacuum cleaner for cleaning ears.

Dry Ice In Water

Observing The Reaction Of Dry Ice In Water

I always wanted to try this (put dry ice in water) and last year I got the opportunity. When I bought some meat from Donald Russell it was delivered packed in dry ice (frozen CO2) i.e. solid carbon dioxide. This dry ice was used to keep the meat cool in transit. The meat and dry ice are transported in a polystyrene box which provides lots of insulation. However the heat does percolate a package like this and the dry ice sublimates, but usually there is some left on arrival. If not the meat temperature may rise too high. So I had a source of dry ice.

The first thing I wanted to do as soon as the meat was stored in a cool place was put the dry ice in water and watch it bubble away and the vapour flow out and down the side of the container. I caught it on video below:

Heating May Make Us Fat!

The title ‘Heating May Make Us Fat’ has no spelling mistake.

Check out this article at the BBC where Dutch researchers at the Maastricht University Medical Centre recommend heating homes to no more than 19°C (66°F) because:

Heating May Make Us Fat.

Below that temperature (19°C) they say our bodies continue to burn calories to keep us warm.

Interestingly the same article suggests, further on, that heating above 23°C (73°F) also causes us to burn calories by sweating to keep cool.

Spilling Juice From Cartons or ‘Tetra Paks®’

Introduction

This post contains instructions on how to avoid spilling juice from cartons or Tetra Paks®, with a rectangular cross-section, while opening or lifting them. It’s quite natural to grip cartons by the easiest method (the broad sides) while opening them, or lifting them when they’re still full, causing the contents to pour or squirt out inadvertently. Cartons with a square cross section are indifferent to the sides that are gripped when lifting or pouring.

Situation

You go to the refrigerator and take out a new cool carton of juice. You hold it firmly and take off the seal and juice spurts out at you and runs down the side of the carton, or you pick it up after removing the seal and juice pours out as you grip it. Before you’ve got it in a glass you’re in a mess. This is usually caused by the way you grip the carton. Continue reading “Spilling Juice From Cartons or ‘Tetra Paks®’”

Tin Whiskers in a Wireless Thermostat Receiver

Tin Whiskers are a crystalline growth made of the element tin.

Tin whiskers often form on lead free solder used to fix components to circuit boards since lead was banned.

They are in the form of a very thin straight hair with one end attached to the tin from which they are formed. In my case they have grown on a piece of tin plated steel used to screen electronic components which are part of a central heating wireless thermostat radio receiver. This receiver has developed an intermittent problem and doesn’t switch on my central heating when it should. I suspect there is an electrical fault which may be caused by a tin whisker growing inside the component screening box until it touched some electrical connection.

Since I have not completely dismantled the item to find out for sure I don’t know if that is correct but as you can see from the pictures the Tin Whiskers that I have found on the outside of the screening box (see featured image) are up to 2mm long. Although I already knew about Tin Whiskers these are the first I have seen in 50 years of handling electrical or electronic devices. I have used a USB connected microscope to photograph them but I have had a lot of difficulty. They are so thin they are hardly visible with a watchmakers eyeglass with 10x magnification. Continue reading “Tin Whiskers in a Wireless Thermostat Receiver”

Flipping Heck It’s A SmartInversion

Introduction

It’s an unusual flying object – this SmartInversion – that propels itself by flipping inside out. Created by engineers at Festo in Esslingen, Germany. It was originally reported in a New Scientist blog in April 2012 which is no longer online. I decided to investigate it further and found it in the Festo archives.

What I’ve Found

At the time it didn’t appear to have a name  so I called it a Flipping Heck as in, “Flipping heck what is it?” Festo did give it a name apparently. It’s called a SmartInversion. I understand it’s filled with helium to keep it afloat so maybe it’s a Flipping Balloon.

Here is a video of the SmartInversion:

Some parts of the video are speeded up. In reality it only moves slowly. Here is a link to Festo’s article.

Venus Transiting the Sun on 5th-6th June 2012

In the feature image you can see Venus transiting the sun on 8th June 2004 – the first transit since 1882

Venus Transiting the Sun on 5th-6th June 2012 won’t happen again until 2117. Remember not to look directly at the sun and focus the sun onto a white card with a telescope/lens. Unfortunately for us in the UK this transit will be nearly over when we can see it which will be at dawn. People in America, Asia, the Middle East and the Arctic Circle will be able to see it during their evening or day time. Now on 6th June we are getting close to midsummer’s day so the sun will rise in the north east at 04:45 BST in London and at dawn there are usually a lot of buildings in the way of the sun. So you will need to be in flat country, on a hill, in a sky scraper or in a plane to see the sun at dawn. Also you won’t want any clouds in the way.

Reference


Addendum

Since the event, Venus Transiting the Sun on 5th-6th June 2012, Many articles have been written and many photos were taken through telescopes all over the world as you can see from this Google search request.

Further Reference