Dan's Data letters #165Publication date: 4 May 2006.
Last modified 23-Aug-2012.
The Hutchinson Effect has to be bullshit. It must be bullshit.
It's bullshit, right?
Because towards the end it shows what kinda looks like a milkshake falling up, out of its cup. How the hell did they fake that?
How about by filming it upside down? That'd work for me.
I didn't see anything in that video that I couldn't duplicate, given a lazy week. All of the things bobbing and then shooting up into the air, for instance, could be done by filming upside down with a magnet holding the things in place through a piece of plywood. There's nothing there that couldn't have had a matching magnet concealed in it, and moving the holding magnet to and fro, then away completely, would create the initial bob before the "climb".
(Note, by the way, that I'm not saying that was how the tricks were done. Debunkers of weird claims often advance some theory to explain the evidence, and then new evidence comes out that makes clear that that particular theory is wrong. Then the true believers say "Aha! See! You're wrong and we're right!", when all that's actually been proved is that the mind reader's volunteer from the audience wasn't actually on the mind reader's payroll, reducing the number of mundane ways the trick could have been done to only 27.)
The alleged "Hutchinson Effect" has been around for a long time, but nobody but Hutchinson has ever been able to do it. So, in the absence of further evidence, it's obviously just magic tricks. Maybe Hutchinson really has, as he says, done demonstrations for scientists and Defense Department types, but so have various other scam artists. If he's got... well, anything really, he should have filed patents and made it public long ago.
Wikipedia has more info here.
Eric (Ph.D., DABT)
Ridiculous, and not even original.
"Oxygenated water" is a popular scam. The overworked regulators in various civilised countries play Whac-A-Mole with the people selling it, but since it's always completely harmless, more regulatory attention is (rightly) given to quacks selling dangerous substances.
The stuff is always just water, often with a bit of salt, as the Sports OxyShot "What Is" page almost admits. "An aqueous water and saline solution", eh? Well, "aqueous" means water, and "saline solution" means salty water, so they freely admit to selling a bottle of water, water, water and salt... plus "diatomic oxygen".
(Some oxygen-water concoctions also allegedly contain a bunch of vitamins, minerals and/or plant enzymes. They work every bit as well as the plain versions.)
There'll always be some oxygen in these concoctions, of course; any time water exposed to the air hasn't been boiling hard for a few minutes, there'll be significant amounts of oxygen in it, which is good news for fish. "Significant" doesn't mean "useful in any way to humans", of course. As can be proven.
Dissolved oxygen in sea-level water exposed to air at 25 degrees C will stabilise at 8.6 milligrams of O2 per litre of water. Chill the water and you can cram more oxygen in, but not even twice as much; expose the water to pure oxygen and you might be able to get as much as 75mg/l, at a smidgin above zero degrees C. I don't know if you could actually do this, but 75mg/l looks like a good very charitable ceiling value to me.
The atomic mass of oxygen is almost exactly 16 grams per mole; the molecular mass of ordinary diatomic oxygen is thus 32 grams per mole, and so 75 milligrams of oxygen is 0.00234375 of a mole. One mole of an ideal gas at STP (conveniently, also zero Celsius and sea level...) takes up 22.4 litres, so 75 milligrams of oxygen will take up 52.5 cubic centimetres. A normal human uses about 400 litres of oxygen per day (depending a lot on activity level and rather less on body size), so 52.5ccs of the stuff will keep you going for a whole, oh, eleven seconds or so.
Assuming you can breathe through your stomach, which you can't.
But wait! The magic of Sports OxyShot means it contains 15% oxygen by volume, or so they say!
In that case, a litre of the stuff would actually contain a whole 150 cubic centimetres of oxygen. That'd be good for a whole half-minute!
Or, if you're exercising and using more oxygen, about eleven seconds. Again.
Of course, the recommended dose is only 20ml of the special water per day, giving you around 0.6 seconds worth of oxygen. But that will only cost you $AU4.36.
Some water quacks actually take the time to come up with new utter bullshit, but most don't. You'd think the oxygenated-water crowd would make clear that they're not attempting to supplement your breathed oxygen with their products, since that's clearly ludicrous. They should, instead, come up with some palaver about alternative biochemical pathways that are fed by their "supplements" but not by the lungs. That's what I'd do, anyway.
Regrettably for those who wish to retain some small shred of faith in human intelligence, oxy-water quacks never seem to bother with such creativity, yet they still sell plenty of their useless products. The Sports OxyShot people, like all the rest of them, bang on about how important oxygen is to the human body (like, duh), and then simply claim that their piddly bit of oxygen delivered to the wrong part of the body will help with all of the systems that already draw their oxygen from the lungs via the blood. It's like saying that since apples are healthy, pouring a teaspoon of apple sauce in your ear every day must also be a good idea.
On the rare occasions when actual members of the reality-based community look at these products - a decision, on their part, only mildly more sensible than checking to see whether a reindeer-drawn sleigh really can visit all the world's children in 24 hours - they of course find that they don't do a damn thing even if you exceed the recommended dose by a factor of 75 or so.
About all you can say in favour of the oxygenated water scams is that their product is harmless - unlike some other "oxygen" quackery.
Here's a whole page about this balderdash.
As you say, various athletes do indeed appear to be happy to provide testimonials for Sports OxyShot. Those exacting courses in critical thinking we insist all of our athletes take just don't seem to be working, do they?
(Please don't tell any of the kickboxers I'm making fun of them, though. Or that Luke Wood dude. Holy crap.)
I know you're getting to be a bit of a quack story magnet, but here's another local-ish one that I thought you might enjoy.
Reminds me of a time I was getting some springwater on the way home just a few (ok 30 or so) kilometres away from the place mentioned in the story and wondered aloud about where the water came from. A local said "It just comes out of the ground", so I tactfully suggested that maybe it had to come from one of the high altitude lakes a couple of hundred k's away via a long old aquifer. He looked at me, shocked, and said "no, its a spring, the water just comes out of the ground".
And his was the sperm that won the race. Sigh.
The "clustered water" thing is another standard piece of modern quackery, though magic waters of one kind or another have been around since the first time someone soaked their aching body in hot stinky volcanic spring water, felt better, and decided it must've been the stink that did it.
"Clustered water" is about as common as "oxygenated water", and similarly effective; the site I linked to above has lots of info about the cluster-claims, too.
Incidentally, on the subject of springwater, it should be noted that a lot of people have the idea that groundwater flows in "underground rivers", an idea that seems to be supported by those odd spots where it just pops out of the ground as a babbling brook.
Underground rivers do exist, but only in cave systems of one kind or another. Most groundwater is just soaked into the dirt of the ground, spreading out like the seawater under the sand at the beach. Wikipedia has a good explanation of how aquifers actually work.
I mention this not because I think you necessarily subscribe to the subterranean-river theory, but because that theory is almost always advanced by people who think you can dowse for water. The truth - that in most parts of the world, you'll find water wherever you dig, though a bit of geological knowledge will increase the chance that you'll dig in the right place to find cleaner water closer to the surface - doesn't go over well with the forked-stick brigade.
Could you please do a article on MatrixView? It's a public Australian company that claims to have compression technology that can compress a file up to 30 times, lossless. Naturally this would be incredible if it's true, but I cannot tell.
On the negative side: Apparently compression like this is mathematically impossible, but I cannot understand why or how.
You are quite good at reviewing scam products and exposing them as what they are, but crucially you can explain why in layman's terms. This is what I need for MatrixView, not just a debunking but one that most people would understand.
If you could do an article on MatrixView that would be totally awesome.
I don't yet know whether there's any merit to ABO. There've been reports that their technology is just a bundle of ripped off GPL stuff, and other comments on the unimpressiveness of their breakthrough technique as described in their patents - the denizens of comp.compression are, as you'd expect, not terribly impressed.
There's nothing I'd describe as rock solid either way, though, largely because MatrixView's tech is pretty much secret.
Given that this is the same path that umpteen previous compression "innovations" that've turned out to be scams have followed, though, you'll forgive me if I'm not running out to convert my car to be powered by this particular perpetual motion machine.
One of the ideas at the core of information theory is the basic, and when you think about it quite straightforward, concept that there's a minimum amount of space into which any given piece of data can be encoded, and you can tell how much space that is.
Some forms of data are quite "airy". It's easy to losslessly compress text, for instance, because text is a data format that's optimised for human reading, not minimal storage-space consumption. The closer you get to the minimal number of bits required to encode a given chunk of data, the more the encoded data, viewed directly, is going to resemble random noise.
When new and allegedly amazing compression formats are lossy, there's a bigger plausibility margin for extraordinary claims. We've already got a pretty good understanding of how to remove data from sound and images in ways that're minimally perceptible, but there's room for improvement.
When the new compression method claims to be lossless, though, it slaps straight into a simple information-theory barrier. You can calculate exactly how many bits of information there are in a picture (for instance), and it is literally, utterly, impossible to encode that picture as a smaller file without throwing data away. Anything that appears to get under the limit without discarding data is a cheat.
It is, of course, trivial to demonstrate the validity of a real lossless 30:1 picture compression scheme. Hand someone a floppy disk with an image file on it that can't be saved smaller than 30Mb in (say) TIFF format, and another floppy with the decompressor on it, and a CD with a TIFF version of the file. If the two floppies between them can generate a pixel-identical version of the TIFF, you're all done and deserve your trillion dollars.
So, let's all wait for that, shall we?
MatrixView would indeed seem to have secured numerous contracts with governments, hospitals and such - and a buttload of people invested in Enron. ABO has indeed been looked over by Ernst & Young - The Tolly Group said the Adams Platform worked.
Maybe MatrixView have got a compressor for ultrasound images that works noticeably better than near-zero-loss JPEG, as E&Y say; that's not all that incredible a claim, though, as there are often big gains to be made when you know you're only going to need to deal with one particular subset of the great big world of possible images. JPEG is a lousy choice for compressing noisy monochrome images, which is exactly what ultrasounds are; no big surprise there.
You're never going to see a real review of MatrixView technology from me, because they're never going to send me anything to check out.
I would like to buy 20 scanners but can’t figure out how to. Your web site is cool but for those over 30, it doesn't work.
I pointed out to Fred that, one, I'm over 30, and, two, I don't sell things, which is presumably the source of his problem.
Usually, people who ask me this kind of question aren't native English speakers, or are just scam artists bombarding a spam list with orders for hundreds of CPUs. Fred's an American business executive, though.
Anybody want to guess what business Fred's in?
Take a bow if you said "marketing".
Love your site, which I came to when trying to find out whether or not magnetic wine collars were an elaborate hoax or not.
Have you heard of the Clef du Vin?
I have one and have an opinion too (J) but would be interested in yours, if you have tried it.
Yes, I've heard of the "Wine Key", but I haven't tried it. I'm also not likely to waste my time doing so, for the same reason that I'm not crazy about evaluating more than one brand of magic sticker to make batteries work better.
On the one hand, something like the Wine Key that actually comes into contact with wine obviously has more potential to alter its molecules than something that just magnetises it. Given time (or just enough surface area), there are plenty of metals that'll affect the taste of wine, though I strongly doubt any of them will do it any good.
Along with the usual collection of testimonials, as used by scam artists down the ages, the Wine Key people provide a grand total of one Lab Test Report (PDF). It says, if I'm picking my way through the French correctly, that there's some guy at the University of Bordeaux (+1 Credibility), who's an "analyst" for a Council that I can't track down and which bears his initials (-3). That guy confirms that the stuff I presume the Clef is made of did something to some test solution that was not wine.
Uh, OK, great. What we need is a simple independent double-blind test, costing very little and very easy to do, which they of course have not done.
They make weaselly claims for the Clef, anyway. It's supposed to tell you if a wine will mature well, by... making it taste better, which is what the maturing is meant to do anyway. But for some reason you're not meant to just dip the Clef every time you drink some wine - you're meant to lay the wine down for years anyway. This, of course, provides a handy several-year buffer before the Clef claims can be proved wrong.
So far as I can tell, whatever success this product has enjoyed is more likely to be further evidence that there are gullible people in the wine industry (no!) than that it actually does anything.
Can you direct me to a web site or something to get some information on a "Bates Chip". Supposedly, it gets you better gas mileage and quicker takeoff.
Nope - never heard of it. But it sounds like a scam to me.
If it's a one-size-fits-all untuned chip available for various cars' ECUs, it is very unlikely to do much of anything. Even tuned chips for modified engines are unlikely to give better power/torque and better mileage, for fairly obvious reasons.
If it's some device that you put somewhere other than in the engine control computer, it's a total scam. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of these sorts of things around - fuel "magnetisers", things that "swirl" the fuel air mixture, things that heat this or cool that - and they're all, basically, magic talismans for your car. Just as someone wearing a "magic" amulet can sincerely believe it makes them more healthy or protects them from witches or whatever, people commonly believe that useless gizmoes make their car faster or improve mileage or prevent tyre wear or whatever. Nothing is really happening, though; if they had the same belief about a magic pebble to keep in the glove compartment, they'd get the same "results".
This site is an excellent source of information about automotive snake oil.
re: The 'Avoiding Electrocution' page of your website, www.dansdata.com
We do not understand the point that this page is trying to make. The title is a ridiculous start anyhow - avoid contact with electricity if you do not know what you're doing! There...no need for all that useless content!
Your opening line 'People don't understand electricity' is a sweeping statement, is it not? Which people...non-electrically trained types? Well there's a surprise! Or do you include these too....such as the electrician you mention? You actually include yourself don't you? After all...you are into electronics and therefore you SHOULD know what you're talking about, right?
What we have here is a website where the blind leads the blind! Actually, it is much more serious than this as here we are dealing with a killer...electricity! You are potentially (or maybe intentionally) leading people into believing that it is safe to make oneself a part of a series car battery circuit. Do not deny it sir...you have mentioned it on your site! You are attempting to make people feel safe with electricity because of their internal body resistance. You should be making people RESPECT electricity and its dangers!
You state that a particular electrician was clueless with comments that were not found to be in the slightest bit humourous - on a page all about avoiding electrocution! You then mention that the electrician was right in his (her?) statement that amps and not volts kill - so he isn't clueless then?
The remainder of the page, to be frank, then consistently points out that it is indeed current that is responsible for killing people and not volts! This is absolutely right and is undeniable. 1000 volts placed solely across a man for 10 seconds will not guarrantee his death. 1000 amps being drawn through a man for, again say, 10 seconds WILL guarrantee his death! As you did almost state, death is always dependant upon the amount of current drawn.
So, the electrician was NOT clueless and in fact, we're sure in line with his training, couldn't have been further from the truth! Your page then reflects this, contrary to your statement of him being clueless! Your photograph (we're glad you provided us with an identification of yourself) convinces only morons that you are firstly holding wires with both hands, holding the contacts of the wires in both hands, that the other ends of the wires are actually connected to the battery on the work top and, finally, that this battery is a charged battery!
It is the very fact that you tell us that you sent this photo to the electrician in order to try to convince him of the safety of connecting oneself to a car battery that tells us of your combined lack of seriousness and lack of care. The page (the entire site hasn't yet been investigated) can be one of humour only - humourous only to yourself and, maybe, other unfortunate low-intelligenced individuals until they electrocute themselves from being in series with a car battery - as my father accidently almost did when I was young and has feared electricity ever since!
My suggestion only is that you remove the web page from the Internet and revise the rest of your site for seriousness, care and forethought. Don't try to impress people with your knowledge via the Internet - you are competing with the vast numbers of users of the Internet and there are at least a few people out there who are more knowledgeable than you!
Lastly, do you intend to help protect people or mame them? When do you hope any significant number of people will drop a few coins into your PayPal account? Food for thought...just trying to help!
You may reply to this email address but please do not expect a response to your reply. Thank you.
And whaddaya know, I didn't get a response to my reply.
Anyway, it is safe to "make oneself a part of a series car battery circuit". Absent contacts stabbed into your body, just plain grabbing the terminals of a car battery (can't get more direct than that!), or "making oneself a part" of the circuit that drives the starter motor, is 100%, perfectly, safe. Wash your hands afterwards.
The photo's real, of course. I'm not entirely sure that "A B" is for real, too, but the letter's comedy gold so I'm going to assume he or she is.
A (may I call you A?), think for a second about the implications of your belief. If you could die by putting 12 volts across yourself, don't you think there might possibly be some sort of warning label on car batteries mentioning as much? Might the contacts be, I don't know, shielded somehow? Would not clumsy mechanics often be found slumped over the engine of the car, presumably smoking in an entertaining Wile E. Coyote sort of way?
Your misapprehension is the same one my electrician correspondent had. It may be analogised as the fear that turning on the tap in your kitchen may suddenly cause millions of litres of water from the municipal reservoir to blast through your house.
I'm not sure what your father did, but it wasn't what you think he did.
He may have shorted a car battery, which will make the shorting object (screwdriver, wrench, wristwatch, whatever) very hot very quickly, and can also weld the shorting object to the battery terminals, in which situation the best course of action is to retreat at speed and enjoy the fireworks.
This is because, by definition, a "short circuit" is a very low resistance between two points in a circuit. Human bodies have quite a high resistance, and so not much current flows through them unless there are plenty of volts to push it.
Your father might also have taken a zap from the ignition coil, which outputs some thousands of volts and can deliver several tens of milliamps, and therefore does pose a real risk to life and limb if you manage to get a belt across the chest. It's pretty difficult to do that, of course; stick a finger into the end of a spark plug cable and all you'll zap is the end of your finger.
But, as far as car battery terminals go, you can touch them with your hands, feet or buttocks, and you'll feel nothing at all. Unless some leaking sulfuric acid gives you a rash on your bottom.
(I will, of course, still be very sad if anybody gets "mamed" as a result of my advice.)