10 Answers To Questions You Always Wondered About

March 4, 2015 | No Comments » | Topics: Answers, Interesting

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Did we stop natural selection by keeping everyone alive? Or is it part of evolution? Is it meant for us to do this?

“Meant for us to do” is kind of a loaded term. Evolution and natural selection don’t really have an endgoal. What we’re “meant” to do, from an evolutionary perspective, is make more of us. Nothing more, nothing less. If keeping everyone alive makes more of us, then that’s what we’re meant to do. If we make too many and the environment can’t handle us, we’ll starve until we’re back below our limit.

As for whether nature will get sick of us, that’s assigning some kind of agency to nature that doesn’t really exist. Nature doesn’t “get sick” of species. Things either adapt and survive or they die out. Nature doesn’t care how they do it. There are several forces that oppose survival, such as changing environments, diseases, lack of resources, etc. Humans are unusual in that we’ve been able to assert a lot of control over many of these opposing forces. We can eradicate diseases. We can farm, which allows more people to live on less resources. We can create tools to allow us to survive in harsh environments. We can pass exact knowledge down to future generations. Even though we do things that are detrimental to our environment, we can predict the changes and create a means to survive the new environment. Every species up to this point has relied on genetic mutation to adapt. Humans, on the other hand, rely on engineering, which provides solutions in months and years rather than generations. I hate to sound like I’m making more of humanity than it deserves, but from an evolutionary perspective, we really are a tough species to beat.



Why do auctioneers need to speak the way they do? It seems like 99% incomprehensible gibberish with some numbers in between.

They want to tap into your impulse buying habit. They don’t want you to think which your mind can’t do as well when it’s trying to process the auctioneer. It’s also a way to increase the speed and thereby increase the pressure on you.



What’s the difference between Horsepower and Torque?

Torque is “rotational force”. It’s how hard you can twist something, in this case, the drive shaft. Power is the amount of work done per unit time. Work is the product of force times displacement (not the cylinder displacement, but the motion of the car) – the distance through which the force acts.

Think of it this way: if you push really hard against a mountain, you have a lot of force you’re applying, but exactly 0 power, since you’re not moving anything. The displacement term is 0. If you blow on a feather and get it to move really fast, that’s a lot of power for very little force. Kind of a poor example, I know, but hopefully gives you the right mental picture.

Extending this to cars, a sports car has a lot of power, because it can move itself really fast (the time part is really small). A semi truck has a lot of power, because it can haul heavy things (the work part is really big). The semi truck, however, likely has a lot more torque, because it has to work harder to get itself moving.

The relationship between torque and power tell you a lot about a vehicle: high torque tends to result in high power, but the load on the vehicle, and the way that it moves, make a big difference. This is why, for instance, tractors and light construction equipment often have power ratings of under a hundred horsepower. In this case, the engines are built to be strong and slow. The Bugatti Veyron has a little more than 1000 horsepower engine, which it uses to get to 270mph. The crawler transporter that brought the space shuttle and Saturn V’s to the pad only has about 5 times more, at 5500 hp, but a top speed of 2mph unloaded. It just needs a crap ton of torque to haul its load of up to 15 million pounds.



How is my brain able to go into this zoned-out “auto-pilot” state while I’m driving, yet I get to my destination safely with no real recollection of the trip?

This happens for essentially the same reason that you Can “zone out” while you’re walking around, not stumbling or colliding with things. These tasks are called “steriotypic repetitious movements” and they are actually controlled by a different part of the brain after you’ve fully learned the skill! When you start to learn any skill, like riding a bike, your cortex is the part of the brain doing the work of figuring out how to coordinate your muscles appropriately. Its complicated at first, and it involves your full attention, just like when you learned to walk. However, over time your cortex figures out exactly which muscles need to coordinate in exactly the right way, and it basically “saves” that motion in memory. When you go to do that action again after its already been learned (or saved) a cool thing happens, the cortex isn’t nearly as involved anymore, now it’s more subcortical (aka below the cortex, so deeper in the brain) regions that control the movement. The result? Now you perform an action while your cortex is free to think (or not think and “zone out”) and forget you’re actually doing anything complicated at all.




With all the lawsuits going around where companies can’t be sexist when hiring employees how is Hooters able to only hire big breasted women?

Legally, it’s what’s called a “bona fide occupational qualification” that hooters waitresses must be female. The federal law that protects from employment discrimination says that you can refuse to hire someone based on their gender if their gender is that specific to the job. HOWEVER, Hooters has to be willing to hire male cooks, busboys, etc, because those jobs are “behind the scenes” and so are not protected by the Hooters = women thing. Basically, it works because Hooters’ entire brand is based on hiring women as waitresses. Doesn’t mean they can get away with never hiring men for OTHER jobs, and doesn’t mean any restaurant could get away with it.

If I had a restaurant that was 100% branded to be all about hot guys, I could legally hire only hot guys. But if I had a regular coffee shop that wasn’t marked as a hot guy coffee shop, I could not legally refuse to hire women.



Is there a physical difference between someone that can sing and someone that cannot? 

When you’re talking about classical singing, there is absolutely a difference.

Yes, anybody can find a way to coordinate the neuromuscular actions necessary to produce sound. With enough practice, anyone can make the lungs and the diaphragm work with the muscles of larynx to make sound, but it doesn’t mean they’ll have a pleasing tone. That tone – the warmth, the color, all those subjective things we think when we hear an excellent singer – are innate, and many of them can’t be taught. They’re the product of a very distinct set of traits, including laryngeal shape, muscle elasticity, muscle thickness, size and shape of the body’s resonators, and a number of other small details inherent to a person’s physical build.

When it comes to popular music, we as listeners aren’t as concerned with tone, except that it’s pleasing – or, failing that, unique. The voice can be a vehicle for a great many things, and it doesn’t need to be pretty or perfect to be outstanding to listen to. I believe that anyone can manage to sing popular music well and be very entertaining while doing it, given a commitment to the art.

I often differentiate, when talking about singers of all stripes, whether or not I think they’re good singers or good artists. There are some singers I’ll listen to all day who I wouldn’t call “good” or “pleasing”, but who nevertheless make awesome music. It’s not a slight on them that I don’t think they have a beautiful voice. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.



How is it possible that people still live in Hiroshima & Nagasaki, even though atomic pollution is supposed to stay for thousands years

The short explanation is that because the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were airbursts (that is, they were detonated high above the ground), they did not produce significant long-term contamination on the ground.

The long explanation requires a little more exposition:

There are two types of radioactive threats from nuclear weapon.

The first is known as “prompt” radiation. This is a bright burst of radiation that fires out immediately when the bomb detonates. It consists of neutrons and gamma rays. If you get too many of these, you get very sick and die of radiation poisoning within a few weeks. If you get a pretty high dose but don’t die, you have an increased long-term cancer risk. If you get a low dose, you get a slightly elevated long-term cancer risk. For bombs on the order of those at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you basically have to be within 2 km of where the bomb detonated to be seriously affected by this radiation. It is worth noting that if you are within such a radius you have a much higher chance of getting killed in some other way (such as from the heat or the blast effects). About 20% of the total deaths of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are attributed to prompt radiation effects.

The second are residual radiation effects. These are caused by two things. The first is the aforementioned blast of neutrons. Neutrons have the special property of being able to make other elements radioactive (induced or artificial radioactivity). So some of the things those neutrons hit become a bit radioactive. The level of radioactivity from such a thing is not especially high except maybe near the very epicenter of the bomb blast, and even then it is the sort of thing that would be cleared out in not too long. So people walking immediate through the epicenter area might have been exposed to radiation that way.

The other way is what is known as “fallout.” Atomic bombs work by splitting up of atoms of uranium or plutonium (nuclear fission). Those split halves, known as fission products, are the remaining parts of the reaction, are very radioactive. The range from being “so radioactive they will kill you almost instantly” to “radioactive enough to give you cancer over several decades.” Keep in mind that the more radioactively energetic a substance is, the less time it sticks around. So the “so radioactive they kill you quickly” stuff is around for a week or so at most. The “will give you cancer” stuff can be around for decades and decades. Some of the elements are truly long-lived by human scales (e.g. plutonium has a half-life of 24,000 years) but remember that this means that it is not extremely radioactive. You don’t want chronic exposures to low-levels of radioactivity — e.g. in your food or water supply, or embedded in your bones — but short-term exposures will not affect you much.

So the atomic fireball, as it detonates, contains these very radioactive fission products, as well as unreacted nuclear fuel (uranium or plutonium, both long-term radioactive contaminants). This radioactive fireball, however, rises very high into the air — forming the head of the familiar mushroom cloud.

Which gets us to the important point: there are two very different possibilities here. If the fireball does not touch the ground, this hot, radioactive ball of death goes up very high — into the stratosphere — within minutes. It then cools considerably, and looks like a cloud, but is still pretty hot, both thermally and radioactively. The winds blow it over a vast area, but its heat, and the lightness of the particles, keep it in the area for several weeks. After several weeks, it “falls out” down to Earth, but by that point it has been dispersed over thousands and thousands of square miles, and many of the hottest radioactive by-products have already decayed. From a health standpoint it is near negligible — at most a statistical cancer increase in a large population, probably indistinguishable from background sources.

But if the fireball touches the ground, it is a very different situation. If the fireball touches the ground, it will suck up a huge amount of dirt and debris into that radioactive flame. This has the effect of making the dirt and debris radioactive, both from induced radioactivity and because the fission products will attach themselves to the dirt particles. These particles are relatively large — you could view them with a microscope, sometimes even with the naked eye — and they are heavy (compared to regular fission products and debris, which are vaporized atoms and thus very tiny indeed). So they “fall out” within hours. This produces the kinds of fallout plumes we have come to associate with nuclear testing: swathes of the ground which are made quite radioactive indeed, producing short-term hazards for people who live there as well as long-term contamination problems.

All of which gets us to the answer to your question: the fireballs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not touch the ground. The weapons were detonated high above the ground — not, mind you, because it reduced the radioactivity, but because the ideal blast height to destroy civilian structures is as an airburst. The side-effect, though, is that there was essentially no fallout of significance, and as a result, no serious radioactive contamination of the city.




Why aren’t cops trained to shoot the leg or a non fatal area? These seem to always go for kill shots.

Shooting is hard. Even a well trained marksman still won’t be able to hit a moving leg most of the time. If you’re shooting someone, you better be prepared to kill them because while most bullets aren’t fatal even if they aren’t in the leg, it’s basically impossible to choose whether your shot will kill or not. And if you’re planning on shooting someone, you’ll have the best chance of hitting if you shoot towards the bigger target- their chest.



If “Classic” cars are so desirable/good looking, why don’t they make more just like them? 

For two a couple of reasons:

Styling of Cars

Because it simply isn’t possible anymore, there is a lot of red tape. As well crash tests modern cars have to pass. For example in order to pass the frontal crash test of today, the front of a car must have a crumple zone – metal in the car that is designed to be crushed in a crash to absorb energy so that the force of a crash does not deform the passenger compartment and crush the occupants. This therefore limits the way cars can be styled as well as it adds a lot of weight to cars. I’ll talk about weight later. As well as this, there is side crash test small overlap crash test, and crash tests for pedestrian safety. All with their own indirect sets of restrictions on styling because of the way the metal must be shaped to accommodate the shape of the crumple zones and stronger side pillars etc. You can read more about the American tests here.[1]

There are also 1 million different little regulations different governments set on cars sold in their country. For example cars cannot car from factory as low anymore, the headlight must be a minimum height for road safety. As well as the rear hazard lights must be able to still flash if the trunk/hatch/boot of the car is open. This is so that if the car is stopped on the side of the road and the trunk is open to access a spare tire or something, drivers can still see the lights flashing.

There are many different laws in many different countries covering different subject like this one, each imposing little restrictions on styling that add up.

Sports Cars

With regards of older sports car, other than the aforementioned styling, the reason why they are so much more sought after is because they have certain qualities that modern cars lack because of changes in technology and what the modern car buyer wants.

The modern car buyer want comfort, technology, safety, ease of use, and the government wants higher emission & safety standards in every car. While sports cars of old have little to none of those qualities. Weight is a big factor here. Sport cars (generally) used to be a lot lighter because of the lack of these features. No comfort features, at the maximum you’d get air con, and a radio. Or safety, lack of airbags and crumple zones etc. That’s it. Everything thing else adds weight. As well as the lack of computers, and electronic systems. Lower weight means the car handles better (can get around a corner quicker), can accelerate faster, and brake faster as well with the same power and the same brakes, because there less weight to move or slowdown.

Lower weight also helps with another factor: fun Cars that weight less feel much more fun than heavy cars because of certain handling characteristics, they turn in fast, and feel more responsive to your inputs, a lighter objects changes direction easier, people who drive “enthusiastically”, notice these characteristics. A car that’s fun to drive feels like it’s immediately responding to you and is communicating to you though the steering and pedals which is explained bellow.

Another benefit of the lack of technology in older cars is the way the steering feels. Not all cars have this, especially brand new cars, but most cars older than 3-4 have something referred to in the auto industry called steering feel. When you turn the wheel of your car, you can feel little vibrations coming through the wheel and can tell what the front wheels are doing, and you can feel the road beneath you when driving “enthusiastically” or turning normally depending on the car. If you’ve driven a car with it you know what I mean, most people know what I’m talking about.

Feeling these sensations as well as the feeling of the car going over the road in a sports car with a harder ride, makes the driver feel as if s/he is connected with the car and not just there driving it from point A to B it can be quite a lot of fun.

Steering feel usually increases with speed, so the faster you go the more you feel, but with a car with good steering feel you feel more sensations at slower speeds. Older sports cars especially, this was a key focus, back in the day, to have a lot of steering feel. There was no traction & stability control, the feel of the steering wheel would tell you what the front wheels were doing as the feeling of the entire car in general would tell you the limits of the car (what’s the fastest speed I can go around this corner without spinning out?)

Modern cars lack this almost totally. Modern steering systems (electric power steering) kill feel totally almost across the board, older cars have either hydraulic power steering (some cars have hydraulic power steering but with little feel), or no power steering at all which would make steering very heavy, but make the sensations coming through the wheel fantastic. It’s difficult to describe, but the difference is massive, the steering feels crisp and clear you can feel the road though the wheel. (Toyota has used electric power steering in there cars exclusively for a while now, all there cars had power steering in the 90’s which is why a lot of there cars are seen as very boring in the enthusiasts eyes.)

Modern cars lack most sensations because they’re not necessary anymore, with stability control and traction control, unless you have no idea what you’re doing you won’t crash, and its almost impossible to spin out unless you’re driving on ice. While you can drive fast, however it doesn’t as feel fun because the feeling is too refined, it feels like you’re just sitting here telling the car what to do. To get more feeling from a modern sports car, one must drive faster. Which is illegal and dangerous in different ways compared to a old car with no traction/stability control.

In fact these systems are better for an asshat who has no idea what they’re doing because its much harder for them to crash, but in the process of this, it kills fun for the person who has the common sense to learn the limits of there car while driving fast.

The everyday car/driver

However for the average modern car buyer, like the one mom or dad drives to soccer practice and takes to work, modern cars are infinetly better, there much safer, and are much less harmful to the environment and people around us. They are loaded with tech and comfort features But for the enthusiastic driver, there’s nothing like an older car. Think about this for a second, all points that make classic sports cars so desirable, decrease comfort, or safety, or they aren’t necessary anymore because of computer systems. There aren’t as many people who want to buy sports cars like that anymore, so the people who do, buy old ones.

Other reasons for desirability



How do you correctly use an equalizer?

Here’s what those levels are adjusting:

16Hz – 60Hz = SUB BASS This is the super low-end that can be felt physically by your body on a good subwoofer/sub-bass system. Sounds with these frequencies are the most powerful ones, and they will take up a lot of room in the mix. Use this range to fatten up your kick drums or sub-bass patches. Too much volume in this range makes your mix sound «muddy.»

60Hz – 250Hz = BASS This is where basslines and kick drums have their most important sounds. A common problem is that the bassline and kick cancel each other out due to PHASE problems (easily demonstrated when DJ-ing, if you play two tracks and have them beatmatched, it’s important to cut one of the tracks’ bass level or else the kick drums will cancel each other out and the overall bass level is lowered). A useful trick then is to try PHASE INVERSION on either the bassline or the kick drum, compressing the kick and bass together and/or avoiding to place a bass note on top of a kick drum. This range should also be lowered in most other sounds like guitars, synth lines and vocals so they don’t interfere with the kick and bassline. Too much volume here makes the mix sound «boomy.»

200Hz – 400Hz Too much volume here will cause vocals to sound muddy and unclear. Cut this to thin out drum parts like snares, hi-hats, percussions and cymbals, boost to make them sound warmer or more «woody.»

250Hz – 2kHz = LOW MID or MID-LO Most instruments have their «darkest» parts here; guitars, piano, synthlines. Boosting around 500Hz – 1kHz can sound «horn-like» while boosting 1kHz – 2kHz can sound metallic.

400Hz – 800Hz You can reduce some of these frequencies on the master mix to make your overall bass level sound tighter. Boost or cut here to fatten up or thin out the low end of guitars, synthlines and vocals.

800Hz – 1kHz Here you can also fatten up vocals and make them sound warmer, in a different way than the previously mentioned method. Boosting around 1kHz helps add to the «knocking» sound of a kick drum.

1kHz – 3kHz This is the edgy part of a sound, boost (gently!) here to define guitars, pianos, vocals and add clarity to basslines. Cut here to remove painful mid-frequencies in vocals. This frequency range is very hard on the ears, so be careful not adding too much volume here!

2kHz – 4kHz = HIGH MID or MID-HI Vocals have a lot of sound in this area, the sounds «B», «M» and «V» lie here.

3kHz – 6kHz = PRESENCE Plucky, fingered guitars and basslines can be more defined by boosting in this range. Cut in the lower part to remove the hard sound of vocals. Cut in the upper part to soften/round off sounds, and boost to add more clarity or presence to a sound. Boosting here helps defining most instruments and vocals.

6kHz – 10kHz = HIGH Boost this area to add more air and transparency to a sound. Crispness and and sparkle can be added by boosting this range on guitars, strings and synth sounds. Snares and bassdrums also benefits from boosting this area. In vocals, cut some of these frequencies (a de-esser plugin does this easily) to remove the hissing sounds. The sounds «S» and «T» lies between 6kHz and 8kHz and too much volume there will make the vocals stressful on your ears.

10kHz – 16kHz = HIGH This frequency range is where the crispness and brightness of sounds lie, and hi-hats and cymbals are the dominant drum parts. You can boost here to add even more air and transparency to sounds, and cut here to remove noise and hissing sounds which is unwanted in a bassline, for example. Pads and atmospheric sounds benefits from a boost in this range to make them sound brighter. Be careful not to boost too heavily, or else the mix will sound noisy.


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