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Sat, Feb. 26th, 2005, 12:37 pm
theweeklyguy: The Weekly Award, Week Four

This weeks Weekly Award goes to fire!
Since the dawn of civilization, man has wielded fire! For good and for bad, fire can do many things, but let's find out just what fire is!

Fire is a self-sustaining chemical reaction that produces heat and light, as well as several byproducts. As such, any chemical reaction that produces heat and light can be considered fire – for instance, most of us would agree that the Sun is on fire. However, the nuclear fusion that occurs naturally in the sun is much different than the chemical reaction that takes place when we light a log on fire! Burning a fuel source, such as a log, is referred to as oxidation. Nuclear fusion in the Sun involves atoms of hydrogen combining under intense pressure to create helium. Oxidation involves a fuel source, heat, and oxygen, to create different types of gas byproducts and ash. For the remainder of this article, where fire is mentioned, it refers to oxidation.

A fuel source for fire can be any element that will react with oxygen under heat, and the type of byproduct created by fire depends on the fuel. When carbon is burned, such as in organic substances, carbon dioxide is produced, and, if the fire is inefficient, carbon monoxide as well. And you may be surprised to know that when you burn hydrogen, which is also found in organic substances, it produces steam! So whenever you burn a piece of wood, you are producing vast amounts of H2O in it’s gas state, which would smother the flames rather well if it were a liquid! Another byproduct of fire is ash, which is simply all the unburnable material from the fuel source.

Because fire is a self-sustaining reaction, it can be very difficult to put out. You can either remove the oxygen from the fuel source, or cool it down enough to stop the chain reactions. Pouring water on a fire is a typical method, which both smothers the flames and cools them down, and a typical fire extinguisher uses compressed carbon dioxide. However, most people understand that it is unwise to throw water onto a grease fire. This is because a grease fire is typically so hot, the water vaporizes on contact, carrying numerous small grease particles with it. The airborn grease particles therefore have much more surface area to gain contact with oxygen, and the result is a more intense fire. Not quite what you were trying to achieve!

There are four different types of combustible materials, and four different types of fire extinguishers to deal with them. Using the wrong type of extinguisher can be disastrous, just as using water to put out a grease fire will only result in a more intense flame. Every fire extinguisher is labeled either class A, B, C, or D. Class A is for ordinary combustibles, such as paper or fabric. Class B is flammable liquids; gasoline, oil, oil-based paint, etc.. Class C is for electrical fires, where using water would again be disastrous, and class D is for combustible metals, such as magnesium and sodium. It is important to know what kind of fire you are dealing with before reaching for your nearest extinguisher. There are also multi-purpose fire extinguishers, suitable for class A, B, and C fires.
You should only consider using a fire extinguisher if the flames have not spread out of control.

Can a fuel source really spontaneously combust? Many home owners who have left oily rags or paint thinner sitting in their garage will tell you they can. Spontaneous combustion occurs when a substance oxidates very slowly in a poorly ventilated area. Because oxidation produces more heat than it takes in, the heat slowly builds, until finally the flash point is reached, and the object suddenly combusts. But have you ever heard stories of spontaneous human combustion? The truth is, there have been no accidental fires involving human remains that have not been easily explained by investigators. The flash point of a human being is simply too high for spontaneous human combustion to occur. With the reasons for spontaneous combustion given above, a person would have to sit in a poorly ventialted room long enough for their temperature to raise considerably. There is no evidence for any internal causes of spontaneous human combustion, either; fire victims always burn from the outside in, and often leave completely intact internal organs.

With the ability to control fire man has benefited greatly. We are able to keep warm in cold climates, see after the sun has set, scare deadly predators away, and we can cook our meat to make it easier to digest. If ever out of control, fire is a deadly and formidable opponent; the larger a fire gets, the harder it is to extinguish, and the more damage it can cause. Fire can also release dangerous chemicals into the air, such as carbon monoxide, poisoning humans. Make sure you have all the proper safety equipment before starting a fire. If you find a box of matches or a lighter lying around, bring it to an adult, so they can put it in their toolbox.

Congratulations, fire! You've won The Weekly Award!

Who will win the next Weekly Award? Only a week will tell!

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Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005, 07:47 pm
theweeklyguy: The Weekly Award, Week Three

This weeks Weekly Award goes to milk!
As far as tasty beverages go, milk is one of the most commonly found in North American households and other nations around the world!

Milk is the beverage of mammals. Every mother produces it, and every baby drinks it. Milk can be considered a "perfect" food – if you're a baby. This is because a mother's milk contains all essential nutrients – water, carbohydrates, fat, protein, minerals, and vitamins - in all the right proportions to keep a baby healthy and alive. In humans, children can live off nothing but milk for the first six months to two years. And once we are weaned off a mother's milk, most of us become introduced to cow's milk.

But why cows? The reason is cow's milk is the most similar to human milk. You may also have heard of people drinking goat's milk, which is also similar. Either way, from udder to you, milk usually goes through two separate processes – pasteurization and homogenization.

Pasteurization was developed by Louis Pasteur in the mid-1800s in order to prevent the spread of disease through milk. It's the same as any sterilization process – milk is heated up in order to kill bacteria, in such a way that does not reduce quality too much. Milk can be heated to 62.8° C for 30 minutes, or 72.8° C for 15 seconds. There is also a process called Ultra High Temperature sterilization, where milk is heated to 141° C for 1-2 seconds, completely sterilizing it.

Homogenization is just what it sounds like. It refers to the fat globules found in milk, which will rise to the top along with some protein to form a cream if the milk is left to sit too long. Homogenization forces all of the fat globules to the same size and spreads them evenly throughout the milk, so you can leave it sitting in your refrigerator all night without worrying about all the cream rising to the top.

Do you know someone who can't drink milk because they are lactose intolerant? Lactose is the name of the carbohydrate, or sugar, found in most milk. Only milk made by some marsupials contain a carbohydrate other than lactose. For someone to be able to digest lactose, they must have a special enzyme called lactase, which is responsible for breaking lactose down into simpler sugars our body can use, glucose and galactose. Someone who is lactose intolerant can not produce this enzyme, and thus can not digest the lactose in milk.

Milk is an excellent source of calcium, and drinking lots of milk is a good way to increase bone mineral density. The irony is that drinking excessive amounts of milk, or consuming too much calcium in general, will actually heighten your risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. This is because excess calcium levels increase the activity of osteoblasts, cells responsible for building new bone matrix. This increased activity causes more of them to die, meaning you will have a smaller supply of them later in life, because they can only reproduce themselves a set number of times, just like every other cell in your body. So while the short term effects are mostly okay, the long term effects include rapidly aged bones and risk of osteoporosis.

The truth is, we don't need milk to help us grow up big and strong. While having high bone mineral density may sound nice, it is certainly no indication of healthy bones. If your calcium intake is more than your body needs or can filter, calcium is merely stored in your bones as a method of removing it from the bloodstream, not as a method of building their structure. Your body will simply remove the excess calcium later, again requiring increased activity from specialized cells, shortening their supply later in life.

Milk is still a delicious beverage, and as long as you avoid over-consuming, there's nothing like a tall glass of the cold stuff to start the day off fresh, or a warm cup of it to put you out at night. Milk can be flavoured with syrup or powder and still retain all of it's nutritional value. It comes in bags, bottles, jugs, and cartons; skim, whole, 2%-1%, and homogenized. You can put it in your coffee, and the British have it in their tea (because tea used to be too expensive by itself). And just think about it, without milk, our children would probably have to live off regurgitated food for the first six months. There truly is no honest substitute.

It is important to note that it is not cows, Louis Pasteur, the mid-1800s, or osteoporosis that is winning the Weekly Award, only milk.

Congratulations, milk! Through delicious goodness and cold refreshingness, we award you with The Weekly Award!

Who will win next weeks Weekly Award? Only a week will tell!

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Wed, Feb. 9th, 2005, 09:15 pm
theweeklyguy: SPEECH! SPEECH! SPEECH!

I have recently received an e-mail from yawning! It seems it caught wind (though we are not sure who passed it) that it won last weeks Weekly Award, and wishes to deliver an acceptance speech. Very well, yawning! We at The Weekly Award would be honoured to allow you to present!

And so, without further explanation, allow us to present yawning!


Congratulations again for winning The Weekly Award, yawning!

See you this Friday!

Fri, Feb. 4th, 2005, 12:03 am
theweeklyguy: The Weekly Award, Week Two

This weeks Weekly Award is awarded to yawning!
As far as unexplained involuntary reactions go, yawning is one of the strangest!

We all know what a yawn looks like, and we all know what it looks like when someone is trying to stifle a yawn. To yawn, an animal stretches it's mouth wide open whilst inhaling deeply, followed by a somewhat prolonged exhalation during which the jaw muscles continue to be stretched. It is often a very satisfying experience, unless one is talking with someone one does not wish to offend. Humans yawn, and of course we are quite familiar with the yawns of cats, hippos, even alligators and crocodiles. But all sorts of animals from all walks of life yawn - even some animals who can't walk at all! Birds, reptiles, even sharks and whales yawn, and most mammals yawn as well. So just what is it about yawning that's got us all bent out of shape?

The truth is, we're not really sure. There are numerous theories as to why we yawn, but since nobody has ever complained that they yawn, not much research has actually been done on the subject. We do understand which parts of the brain play key functions in yawning, however. The paraventicular nucleus, part of the hypothalamus, has been identified as "yawn central". It uses several chemical messengers to tell us when to yawn, such as dopamine, glycine, oxytocin, and the adrenocorticotropic hormone (or ACTH). ACTH happens to surge at night and just before we awaken, inducing pandiculation; the act of yawning and stretching.

Have you ever heard that yawns are contagious? They are. In fact, just reading or thinking about yawning may cause you to yawn. For the blind, just hearing someone else yawn is enough to do it. Yawns become contagious in humans after one to two years of life, although we begin yawning independently after just eleven weeks of development. I have not been able to find any evidence suggesting that yawns are contagious outside of humans; I tried yawning in front of my cat several times, but he seemed much more interested in my hair, and decided to attack it instead of paying attention to my strange behaviour.

The fact that yawns are contagious in humans, at least, has been enough for many scientists to consider that it might be some ancient form of communication. Something causes you to yawn, which causes everyone around you to yawn, synchronizing everyone's behaviour and perhaps preparing you for a group task. This feature of yawning does not appear to play any role in modern society, however, and would be considered vestigial, a relic of our evolutionary past.

Another theory, making the common sense guess that yawning serves simply to decrease carbon dioxide levels in the body, is easy to disprove. People yawn just as often during exercise as they do both before and after exercising. It doesn't even matter if you're breathing pure oxygen or regular air, yawning does not seem to be related in any way to a build-up of carbon dioxide. Our bodies don't even have a method of sensing carbon dioxide levels in the first place! Obviously, yawning is more mysterious than it appears at first glance.

Whatever the case may be, it does not seem as if anything can stop this mysterious force of nature. From the time we are not even born, right up until the day we die, our yawns will just keep coming; offending some, infecting others, and mystifying those who stop and try to understand them. We may never know what purpose yawns serve, but one thing is for sure – nothing is quite as satisfying as a really, really good yawn.

Who will win the next Weekly Award? Only a week will tell!

Fun Facts!
-I yawned forty-two times during the preparation of this article
-The average yawn lasts six seconds
-Teenage kids watching educational documentaries yawn more often than they do watching MTV

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Fri, Jan. 28th, 2005, 12:04 am
theweeklyguy: The Weekly Award, Week One

Hello, and welcome to the very first edition of The Weekly Award!
We'll be kicking things off today by paying a special tribute to a very special award. No, it's not The Weekly Award! It's one you have almost definitely heard of before. Now let's get started!

This weeks Weekly Award is awarded to the Nobel Peace Prize!
As far as awards that are given to people who actually did something - as opposed to entertainment awards, which go to people who pretended to do something - The Nobel Peace Prize is by and far the most widely recognized!

The Nobel Peace Prize is just one of six awards given out annually in Stockholm, Sweden. The other prize categories include Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, and Economics. The Nobel Prizes were founded by Alfred Nobel, whose final will, signed November 27th, 1895, provided the outline and funding for these famous awards. As follows:

"The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind." (excerpt from Alfred Nobel's last Will and Testament)(source)

Interestingly, an earlier will signed by Nobel called for only one award, to be given to those "who through writing and actions can succeed in fighting the strange prejudices which both nations and governments still have against the creation of a European peace tribunal." It seems the Nobel Peace Prize has been overshadowing it's four siblings right from the start! The award for economics was only introduced in 1969, and is thus overshadowed by all of the original awards.

The first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1901, on the fifth anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death. The prize was shared by Henry Dunant, founder of the Red Cross, and Frédéric Passy. The prize is awarded by The Norwegian Nobel Committee, consisting of five members appointed by the Norwegian Storting (Parliament). Other recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize include Bertha von Suttner, Henri La Fontaine, Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King Jr., UNICEF, and Kofi Annan.
To view a complete list of Nobel Peace laureates, click here!

The prize consists of a gold medal, personal diploma, and a cool 1.3 million USD (shared equally among the laureates, should there be more than one). The gold medal was designed by Gustav Vigeland for the first ceremony in 1901. The front bears the likeness of Alfred Nobel, along with an inscription reading, "For the peace and brotherhood of men" (translated from Norwegian). 'Prix Nobel de la Paix" (Nobel Peace Prize), the year the medal is awarded for, and the name of the laureate are all engraved along the side. The backside depicts three men forming a "fraternal bond".

Alfred Nobel invented dynamite in 1866 after experimenting with nitroglycerine for six years. He did not, apparently, find his involvement with the war materials industry in contradiction with his activism for world peace. He was once quoted saying, "Perhaps my factories will put an end to war sooner than your congresses: on the day that two army corps can mutually annihilate each other in a second, all civilised nations will surely recoil with horror and disband their troops." Oh, Alfred, if only you had lived to see World War One!

The Nobel Peace Prize has most recently been awarded to Wangari Maathai.

It is important to note that it is not Alfred Nobel, nor any Nobel Peace laureates that are receiving The Weekly Award, merely the Nobel Peace Prize itself. Alfred Nobel and all Nobel Peace laureates are still eligible to win their own Weekly Award.

Congratulations, Nobel Peace Prize! We at The Weekly Award can only hope our award grows to be even a fraction as successful as you have been!

Who will win the next Weekly Award? Only a week will tell!

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Tue, Jan. 25th, 2005, 01:41 pm
theweeklyguy: The Weekly Award begins Friday, January 28th!

Have you ever asked yourself, "If only there was an award for that!"? Well, now there is!
The Weekly Award is the Award that is awarded every week. Anything and everything is eligible to win The Weekly Award!
To win The Weekly Award, you must be something that is very good at being what it is!
If you think you know of something that deserves to win The Weekly Award, please, feel free to nominate it in the nominations thread!

The Weekly Award begins this Friday! Who will win the next Weekly Award? Only a week will tell!

Sat, Jan. 1st, 2005, 12:00 am
theweeklyguy: The Nominations Thread

Do you know of something that deserves to win The Weekly Award? Wondering if there's a way to let us know about it? There is!

If you have a nomination for The Weekly Award, please let us know in a comment to this entry!

Criterion for nominations are as follows:
->Nominations must be good at being what they are
->Nominations must excel in excellence
->In two sentences or more, you must tell us why you think your nomination deserves to win The Weekly Award
->That's it!

If you have a link to information about your nomination, please include it with your comment!

Here is an example nomination!
"I hereby nominate time zones for The Weekly Award! Time zones are very good at seperating time into geographical zones so the Earth does not plunge into darkness! Without time zones, people in some parts of the world would have their noon at midnight! Crazy!
Here is a link to information about time zones. link"

Get nominating!