"He's only mostly retired. See, there's a difference between being mostly retired and all retired."
Question #71443 posted on 03/12/2013 3:06 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Will you make a map that overlays Vatican City on BYU campus, with the center of the Vatican over the center of campus (maybe the quad between the library and JFSB)? I'm trying to get a perspective about how small it really is. For bonus points, you could do the same with other microstates in Europe, like San Marino, Monaco, and Liechtenstein.

-A Loud American

A:

Dear Loud,

This isn't exact, but the relative sizes should be accurate to within a few percent:

Vatican_City_Composited.jpg

If you want to look yourself, here are Google Maps links to BYU and to Vatican City. They're at the same zoom level, but the scales are slightly different due to being at different latitudes (it has to do with the map projection being used). So this isn't an exact comparison, but it should be quite close, especially since you just want to get a feel for how big they are. BYU has a total area of 2.3 km2, while Vatican City has a total area of 0.44 km2, so Vatican City is just about 1/5th the size of BYU campus.

San Marino is quite a bit larger than BYU (61.2 km2, or 27x larger), so I overlaid BYU onto it, instead of the other way around; I chose to start at 900 E and 1700 N as my northeast corner, then down to 900 N and west to 700 E, down to 800 N and west to 150 E / Canyon Rd., all the way up to 1650 N, and back over to 900 E. So it includes all of main campus and some of off-campus housing, but it leaves out Wymount, the stadium, and a few other buildings. (It just seemed overly complicated to try to trace it all exactly.) Anyway, here's a Google Map for San Marino, and here's my overlay:

San_Marino_Composited.jpg

I used the same method for Liechtenstein, which is 160km2, or 70x bigger than BYU:

Liechtenstein_Composited.jpg

And for Monaco, which is actually slightly smaller than BYU (2.02 km2, or 89% of BYU's size), but is more awkwardly shaped (though keep in mind that again, my outline of BYU is leaving out a lot of outlying buildings and such):

Monaco_Composited.jpg

—Laser Jock

Question #71438 posted on 04/01/2013 4:28 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Board Question #66370

(R)

-blast from the past

A:

Dear blast from the past,

Were you looking for another play of this text-based adventure? Because if you were, you're awfully lucky that Bring Back The Retired Writers For A Week So We Can Have An Excuse For D.A.R.E. To Write Again Because We Love His Answers Week came around when it did.

Alright, friend. Let's do this.

You are in a DESERT. You see a CACTUS with a BIRD sitting on it. Your visible exits are NORTH, WEST, and SOUTH.

>TAKE CACTUS

You tried that last time, and it didn't work. You decide you'd better leave the cactus alone.

>GO NORTH

You are in the middle of the desert with sand dunes surrounding you on every side. They're not so tall as to make escape impossible, but it would probably be difficult. You're starting to get a little thirsty.

>LOOK

You look at the desert. Sure is a lot of sand around here. You see something shiny in one of the sand dunes.

>LOOK AT SHINY THING

You look at a large sand dune to the north and see a flash of something silver. A needle! You reach for it, but some of the sand shifts and covers it. You'd better hope that it wasn't an important item, or else you're going to spend an awful lot of time digging for it.

>USE MAGNET

Silver's not magnetic, pal, and you don't have one anyway.

>DIG

You start to comb through the sand with your hands, hoping to find that needle, but it's harder than finding a needle in a sandstack. It's really getting hot out here, and the sand is drying you out.

>DIG SOME MORE

You keep digging. You're starting to get frustrated, and you punch the sand in anger when you feel something sharp. Hooray, the needle! And all you had to do was embed it in your hand!

>TAKE NEEDLE

You take the needle, along with a healthy amount of your blood. Here's hoping the blood isn't too important, either.

>USE NEEDLE

You triumphantly hold up the needle. You look like a bit of an idiot. What did you think was going to happen?

>GO NORTH

You clamber up the sand dune, which wasn't quite as hard as you thought it would be, since you dug away most of it looking for your needle. You make it to the top and see an oasis at the bottom. Water sure sounds good right now; you're really quite thirsty.

>DRINK WATER

You run to the oasis and start scooping handfuls of water into your mouth. I say water, but of course it's sand, because the whole thing's just a mirage. Haven't you played one of these games before? There were beautiful bikini models that were actually cacti, too. You'd think they would have tipped you off. Boy, now you're really thirsty.

>LOOK

There's not much here, other than the sandfuls of hand [STET] you poured into your mouth and spat out and the bikini catcus. Did I mention you're really thirsty? You're really thirsty.

>PUT ON BIKINI

I... look, it was a mirage, okay? There's not really a bikini here, just a cactus that you thought was a bikini model. And if you get your kicks from wearing cactus bikinis you find in the desert, then you might be playing the wrong sort of game, buddy.

>YELL FOR HELP

I don't know how to do that.

>CALL FOR HELP

I don't know how to do that.

>HELP

Ah, so you want help? You can type 'INV' to see your inventory, 'LOOK' to look around at your surroundings, 'GO' to move in any direction, 'USE' to, well, use something, and 'TAKE' to, get this, take something.

>INV

You've got that needle you dug up, and a bunch of your blood. You've also got a couple canteens full of water. Good thing you thought to check your inventory, huh?

>USE CANTEENS

You open the canteens and confidently pour their contents out, which evaporate almost instantly. Because you're an idiot, probably. Probably should have typed something like 'DRINK WATER FROM CANTEENS' or something like that, genius.

>DIE, I GUESS

You lay down next to the bikini cactus and await the sweet release of death. As you feel the cool, clammy hands of Death taking you, you hear the sound of a bell ringing, followed by a sliding door. A convenience store! Perhaps you should go there and find sustenance instead of dying.

>GO TO CONVENIENCE STORE

A Seven-Eleven, no less! You walk in and feel the sweet caress of conditioned air on your neck. Mmmm.

>ORDER A JUMBO GULP, OR WHATEVER THE BIGGEST DRINK THEY HAVE IS

You order up a 256 oz soda. We'll say it's Diet Coke so as not to upset our kind sponsors. The clerk asks for payment.

>UHHHH

Ah, you didn't think about that, did you? There's no wallet or any other form of payment in that inventory of yours.

>ENTER INDENTURED SERVITUDE AT THE SEVEN-ELEVEN

You work for years to pay off that Jumbo Gulp. Between the rare visits from customers (it's a desert, after all), you wonder what the next step in your quest will be, but after a while, you start to think that maybe working at the Seven-Eleven isn't so bad. You could make a career out of this someday. If you keep up the hard work, maybe you can become an assistant manager. Or even own your own franchise! Heady with the thoughts of future success, you pour out a Slurpee to drink during your break. Sadly for you, there's a strict policy against sampling the merchandise while you're at work, and it's enforced by the cobra living in the Slurpee tank. It bites you. You lose 8,000,000 HP. Again. Dang snakes.

You lose the game. You scored 7/150 points.

(A)bort, (R)etry, or (F)ail?

- D.A.R.E.

Question #71279 posted on 03/02/2013 9:46 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

You know that awesome PBS show called Zoom? I used to love that show. My favorite Zoom-er was always Zoe, the cute blonde girl with the glasses.

What happened to the cast? I mean, I would assume they all grew up, but where are they now?

-Mint, who also had glasses and counted on Zoe to reassure her that they were kinda cool.

A:

Dear Mint,

I was able to track down all but a couple of the Zoom kids. For the most part, I won't be citing my sources here in the interest of preserving privacy; however, if you're really curious, you can probably find everything I've found through a couple simple Google searches. I got the full list from Wikipedia; here's what I've been able to find.

Zoe Costello attended NYU and was part of a comedy troupe called "Britanick."

Jared Nathan attended Juilliard. He was a student there when he was killed in a drunk driving accident in 2006. He is the only Zoom alumnus with his own Wikipedia page.

Keiko Yoshida was teaching Spanish in Connecticut as of 2006.

Pablo Velez has worked as production assistant on several movies and TV series.

Alisa Besher also attended NYU and apparently worked with film.

David Toropov, if I'm not mistaken, writes for several web sites and also works as a stage technician.

Lynese Browder graduated from Pine Manor College in 2008, according to this Yahoo! Answers page (which I used as a source for several other individuals as well).

Ray MacMore attended Brooklyn College and was part of a hip-hop group called USRS. From this page, it appears that he's still involved in acting.

Caroline Botelho works at ATETV and her biography can be read on their web site here.

Jessie Ogungbadero is a product manager for a web site and lives in San Francisco.

Kenny Yates has been a crew member of several movies, most notably The Help.

Frances Domond, if I found the right person, is working in Los Angeles.

Rachel Redd appeared in an episode of a TV series in 2010. I couldn't find any other information on her.

Eric Rollins studied acting at Emerson College and has appeared in several films.

Kaleigh Cronin, according to her web site, is an actress, singer, and dancer.

Buzz Barrette attended Boston University.

Garrett DiBona is a logistics account manager in Florida.

Francesco Tena is studying at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.

Cara Harvey attends the University of Connecticut and is an intern with Warner Bros. Records/Atlantic.

Tyler Garron may be studying at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Kyle Larrow plays baseball at Harvard and appeared in the team's famous Call Me Maybe video.

Kortney Sumner may be attending Skidmore College.

I couldn't find any reliable sources on Mike Hansen, although one person claimed that he had dropped out of high school at age 17. Likewise, I couldn't find any post-high school information on Claudio Schwartz, Aline Toupine, Matt Runyon, Estuardo Alvizures (except that he has apparently returned to Guatemala), Shing Ying Shieh, Maya Morales, Nick Henry, Noreen Raja, or Emily Marshall.

Finally, as an added bonus, here are two videos with recent pictures of most of the Zoom kids, courtesy of Tally M.

-yayfulness

Question #71146 posted on 03/12/2013 10:24 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board and especially MSJ,

I am working on a photo/story book for my toddler about how she was adopted. I hope it will serve as both a letting-her-know tool as we read it together and also something she can refer to later for the basic story and a reminder of how much we love her. I just wondered, do you have any tips for me about what ideas to include or not include in the book? One example: I can say her birth mom loved her, but the birth dad was, let's just say, not involved and not supportive, so do I just leave him out of the story altogether? What have you found yourself reflecting on, when looking back on your own adoption story? I really appreciate your insights.

-Yellow Ochre

A:

Dear Nutmeg,

I've actually been thinking a lot about this as I've been asked to speak on a lot of adoption panels lately and adoptive parents are always asking what they can do with their kids to discuss adoption and birth parents and I'm on panels with people closed adoptions and open adoptions and everything in between.

I can't tell you how much I love the book idea. I desperately wish I had something like that growing up and here's why. Growing up is hard enough trying to belong places and knowing I was adopted, even though I knew my family loves me and I love them, I always felt something was missing. I didn't realize until after I met my birth families and asked them questions what things were important to me (and this seems to be universal among the adoptees I've talked to).

  • Who I look like - There's something so magical about seeing genetics at work that I think people take for granted (like I just got off a phone call where someone was light-heartedly complaining that he looks just like his brother and people are always mixing them up). When you're adopted, you don't really get that. My favorite thing from my birth family has been seeing pictures and having them point out whose features I have. I especially love visiting with my paternal grandparents and having them tell me just how much I look and act like my great-grandmother. I've never met the woman, but I'm thrilled that I look like someone. Finally! I have a friend with closed adoptions say, "I have a picture of my mom holding me, but it doesn't show her face, just her hands. We have the same hands. I wish I could see if we had the same face." If the birth father is a little cooperative or the birth mother can get pictures of him or his family, I'd say include it! You don't have to talk about how good or bad people are when it's just about features.
  • Family interests and hobbies - At the last adoption panel I spoke on, one of the girls recently read a letter from her birth mother and she said, "It answered so many questions! Mostly why I love being outdoors and doing sports when my family has no interest in those things!" It's kind of cool to realize something you love may be genetic. When I e-mailed my birth mom for the first time to tell her about me, I said I liked reading, art, music and theater and she said that made her laugh because I could be describing any one of her other three daughters. I love pictures, so I would include pictures of your daughters birth parents doing things they love, or stories of what they love. I'd also let her know that it's okay to like things her birth families like even if your family doesn't like them as much (for example, my friend with hiking and sports).
  • Letters - Definitely include a letter from the birth families (if they'll comply - even if her birth father isn't involved, maybe his parents would like to get in on that) saying how much they love your daughter and all their hopes and dreams for her (happiness, that she'll love her parents, that she'll grow up well, that kind of thing). The letter I have from my birth mother says something about how she hoped I would learn to play the piano or at least love music. My parents never gave me the letter (my mom was always threatened by the idea of my birth mother, which I wish she wasn't) and I discovered it by accident when I was much older. I wish I'd had it all my life. Can there ever be too many people telling your child they love her and hope for her to accomplish great things? And do not forget letters from you about how much you love her and wanted her.
  • Stories - I love stories. Adore them. I would have loved in my book stories about my birth families (cute things they did growing up kind of things) as well as stories about my adoptive family. But that's only because I think it's fun to hear about things my parents (biological and adopted) did when they were growing up.
  • Birth story - Again, I love stories. I wish more than anything I had my birth story. I have friends who know theirs and I can't get my birth mom to tell me more than a few things. I wish I had the entire story. I just think it's an interesting thing to know about yourself.
  • Family Traditions - I'm a little on the fence about this one, since you may not want to include it, but as I get to know my birth family, I find little things they do that are special to them (like reading a children's Christmas book on Christmas Eve) that I wish my family would have adopted as well and then they could say, "We got this tradition because your birth dad's family does it." They also have more expensive traditions like going to Mackinac Island every summer and my grandparents take their grandchildren to Chicago for a lunch and shopping day; obviously these are traditions we will not be incorporating. I think adding little things to your family is a great way to say, "Hey, your birth family has good things and we love accepting new things!" But, I know people who might disagree with me, so I'll leave that up to you.

As for the birth dad not being involved. I think I may have mentioned before, my birth parents knew each other for maybe a month while my birth mom worked at Yellowstone and my birth dad was driving through on his way to California. Obviously by the time she knew she was pregnant, she had no idea how to contact him and spent the 21 years until I met her thinking he was the biggest jerk on earth. She told me his name and to not contact him because he was a horrible, self-involved person. Then I called him anyway and it was a wonderful decision. My birth dad's family is actually more involved in my life than my birth mom's family -- enough that I have very little contact with her and know comparatively little about them (by her choice, not mine). Which is just a long way of saying, I don't think the way a person acts now is the way a person will act 20 years from now (hopefully!). I'd include what you can about him (pictures, stories) while understanding there will be a lot more about her birth mom. When she's older, she'll probably ask about him and you can say he wasn't around much, but as long as they aren't statements about him being a horrible person, I think open discussion is great and he should have the chance, in however many years, to prove that he's not the uncaring person he was when he was younger. 

My mom disagreed with that last point. She said she'd leave him out of the book entirely and wait until your daughter asks questions herself since it probably won't be right away. But she does agree that you shouldn't say he's not supportive and didn't want to be involved and give him the benefit of the doubt that perhaps his age and the experience made him act in a less-favorable fashion. Since we assume you've never met him, you can just tell her you don't know him and don't know his situation.

For the record, I debated between the term, at least for my family, of "adoptive parents" vs "real parents." If people ask, I use the term "real" over "adoptive" because "adoptive" seems impersonal and doesn't reflect my feelings for my family. I went with "adoptive" here for the sake of clarity, but, in case there was any worry (because this was a worry for my mom), I can have my birth families in my life and still know who my "real" parents are.

I really applaud your project. I hope your daughter realizes how lucky she is!

-Marguerite St. Just

Question #71118 posted on 03/07/2013 2:40 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

In honor of 2012 DA14, I wish to ask a question about the fate of humanity. What do you think is the likelihood of each of the following happening in the next thousand years?

1. The Earth gets used up and mankind . . .
a. leaves the solar system to colonize habitable exoplanets.
b. terraforms Mars or Venus for colonization.
c. builds a glass bubble colony on the Moon.
d. tries to frantically pump resources into their space program at the last minute, only to fail to accomplish any of the above with meaningful results.

2. Mankind reverses the trend of polluting and switches to only reusable energy. Instead of expanding into space, they farm the oceans and build ever upwards like the Jetsons.

3. A disaster strikes from space which we are unable to stop in the form of . . .
a. an asteroid
b. a supernova explosion
c. a solar flare
d. a gamma ray burst
e. Nemesis
f. Nibiru

4. A united world government controls the number of births and the lifespan of all humans.

5. Humanity is decimated by _____ and the few survivors live primitively.
a. war
b. disease
c. zombies

If this is too much, you can just speculate what you think the first of these to occur will be and talk about which sci-fi novel/tv show/movie is the most likely to happen or just your favorite.


-Large Talons

A:

Dear Large Talons,

I did not realize I was such a geek about this until I started researching. So, thank you for asking this; it's been fun to discover yet another way that I'm hopelessly geeky. I'm going to talk a bit about each scenario you suggested, and give it a rating on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being "as surely as River Tam would be to defeat me at hand-to-hand combat."

If you don't want to read the entire thing, just read the stuff in bold. Also, I just wanted to share this comic with everyone.

1. The Earth gets used up and mankind...

a) leaves the solar system to colonize habitable exoplanets: 3/10

Currently, scientists have found 15 planets whose orbits are entirely within the "habitable zone," or the area around stars that could theoretically support human life. Although scientists theorize that a significant percentage of stars will have Earth-sized worlds in their habitable zone, the current techniques for finding extrasolar planets don't work very well for finding Earth-like worlds. This is because exoplanets are currently observed by measuring the Doppler shift of the hosting star's spectral lines. 

Obviously, within 1000 years, scientific technique for finding exoplanets will improve. However, there are significant hurdles to colonizing an exoplanet, even when we've found a specific planet that is theoretically habitable. The first problem is that "habitable" doesn't mean "colonizable." The current definition of "habitable" essentially means that liquid water is able to form or exists on the surface of the planet. This excludes all planets that are either too close or too far from its star. However, there are a lot of other factors that influence whether we could live on the planet, such as gravity. For example, the star Gliese 581g is technically classified as a "habitable" star, despite the fact that its gravity is almost two times as great as the gravity on Earth. As a result, it would be extremely difficult to even just walk around, and your cardiovascular system would be under constant stress. Furthermore, its increased size would also mean an extremely dense atmosphere, which would make movement and breathing even more difficult. So in able to be colonizable, a planet has to be similar in size to Earth. Additionally, it would also be really, really helpful if it had a similar elemental makeup. Being able to support liquid water is nice, but if we have to bring in nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur, etc., that just makes the planet that much more impractical. Finally, the planet must have a manageable flow of energy at the surface. If it's all the same temperature, there's too much thermal inertia to be able to do any practical "work" in terms of physics. On the other hand, if the planet experiences completely insane storms, that's another hurdle to overcome.

But we have 1000 years, you say. Maybe medicine will improve to the point where we can biologically engineer humans to withstand extreme conditions, engineering will make it possible to alter the atmosphere or stimulate Earth-like gravity, our knowledge of space will allow us to mine for other elements to bring to the planet, and we'll be able to use our advanced science to overcome the weather problems. Well, if our science is as good as all that, why wouldn't we just use it to fix Earth, or terraform planets within our own solar system? It would be less costly, and much less difficult.

Finally, even if we found a colonizable planet and for some reason wanted to go through all the unnecessary effort of applying this technology to a planet that was light years away, the planet would still be light years away. I discussed some possible means of travel in Board Question #69668, but basically, any travel across such distances is going to require massive amounts of energy, which again would make colonizing exoplanets much less feasible from an economic or logical standpoint than using our own solar system first.

b) terraforms Mars or Venus for colonization: 6/10

Terraforming Mars or Venus offers a couple of immediately obvious advantages over exoplanets: we already know how to get to them and we know they exist.

The main problem with Mars is its low gravity. While low gravity is less problematic than high gravity, since it would offer ease of motion and also not pose a problem for spacecraft taking off or landing, low gravity has potential long-term health effects that are not yet fully understood. However, I think it's likely that by the time we're ready to terraform Mars, medicine will have access to sufficient data to understand the effects, and also have sufficient motivation to work something out. However, another problem with low gravity is that it prevents Mars from retaining a sufficiently thick atmosphere. In order to continue breathing, we would either have to continuously replenish Mars' atmosphere (which is an impractical long-term solution), create artificial barriers or bubbles (which would be catastrophic if they failed), or develop some impressive new technology to fix the problem. In my opinion, such technology may very well be within reach in 1000 years.

One possible means of retaining Mars' atmosphere is creating a magnetosphere, although there are many examples of planets that have maintained thick atmospheres without one. In any case, it would be necessary anyways to protect Mars from solar wind. Mars would require a magnetosphere of about 30 µT.

Because Mars is so far from the Sun, it would require more greenhouse gases than Earth in order to maintain life. This could actually be an advantage; if we could somehow collect Earth's greenhouse gases, we could ship them to Mars, use it to start the atmosphere, and make both planets more habitable. Furthermore, Mars already contains many of the necessary elements to be able to support life, albeit not in the exact molecular forms that are necessary. However, Mars also conveniently contains some chemicals that can assist in these processes, such as perchlorate to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Mars also has a large amount of frozen water, which would be extremely convenient if we could just warm the planet up enough to melt it. However, Mars would require a large amount of inert gas, such as nitrogen or argon, to be imported in order to create a proper atmosphere. Furthermore, the atmosphere would probably be thin and low in oxygen, which creates long-term health effects, similar to those experienced by climbers on Mount Everest. Other options for heating Mars' surface and thickening its atmosphere include using large mirrors to heat the planet, and inducing asteroid-like impacts to produce dust clouds to create a greenhouse effect. 

Scientists currently suggest that terraforming Mars could take several millennia. However, while humanity might not be finished terraforming Mars in 1000 years, I think it's quite likely that people would at least have started it. In fact, some optimistic (or possibly off-the-wall) scientists think it could be done within a few generations. After all, it's argued that we technically already have the technology to do most of what's required. And as I said before, Mars is a much more practical first step before we try something as radical as exoplanets.

There are ethical implications that argue against terraforming Mars, such as disturbing potential alien microbes or whether it's right to go mess up another planet after we've ruined this one. Based on humanity's typical responses to such positions, however, I'm going to guess that terraforming Mars will go ahead anyways.

Venus, on the other hand, is way too hot. This is partly due to an extreme greenhouse effect caused by the dense carbon dioxide atmosphere, and partly because it's closer to the sun. To fix the proximity-to-the-sun problem, a couple of solutions have been proposed. These mainly center around some form of solar shade in space, or reflective objects in the upper atmosphere. While current technology is still a ways away from solar shields, I definitely think it's achievable within 1000 years. Reflective mirrors in the atmosphere take advantage of existing technology, but wouldn't make as much of a difference because Venus' clouds are already highly reflective, so this strategy wouldn't have a huge impact on the albedo effect.

Meanwhile, the carbon dioxide on Venus needs to be severely depleted. The main problem I see with this is that if we develop the technology to make Venus habitable, it would mean that we would almost definitely have the technology to fix many of the pollution problems on Earth, so why would we bother terraforming Venus instead? However, let's assume that we have already used the technology on Earth, but due to overpopulation or other problems, we still want to terraform Venus. In this situation, there are several ways to deplete the carbon dioxide. While genetically engineered bacteria have been proposed, it was later discovered that Venus did not have enough hydrogen, and that the atmosphere was too dense to convert via biological processes before the carbon was converted to carbon dioxide again due to the temperature. Instead, it would be more efficient to simply bombard Venus with hydrogen. In order to produce graphite and water from hydrogen and carbon dioxide via the Bosch reaction, we would have to use about 4 x 1019 kg of hydrogen! It's possible that we could get this amount of hydrogen from harvesting comets, but that technology is at least a few centuries away. On the plus side, once this reaction was complete, the atmosphere would be largely nitrogen without making further alterations, which is an improvement over Mars. Alternatively, the carbon dioxide could be sequestered using alkaline carbonates, but the amount of refined material required is on the order of magnitude of a 300-mile-wide asteroid. It would take an incredible amount of mining to produce this. Finally, while directly moving the carbon dioxide has been proposed, scientists have yet to come up with a credible idea of how to do this.

Additionally, Venus also lacks a magnetosphere, which would be important to induce in order to prevent solar wind-related problems in terms of atmosphere depletion, cosmic rays, and other problems. Unlike Mars, however, Venus is a similar size to Earth, which means that there would be no gravity-related issues. On the other hand, some scientists have pointed out that it would be nice if we could speed up Venus' rotation, since one day on Venus is as long as 224 days on Earth. This would result in the nights being very cold, and the days being extremely hot; it would be more difficult to keep the temperature from swinging to wild extremes.

It's difficult to say whether Mars or Venus would be more difficult to terraform. On one hand, Mars doesn't really have an atmosphere, while Venus has proven that it can hold onto one. Furthermore, Venus is closer to Earth and has a similar gravity, but Mars has a more reasonable day/night cycle. Both planets would require vast quantities of elements to be mined and added to the planet. For a more extended treatment of Mars vs. Venus, you might be interested in this website. Personally, I'm inclined to say that Mars would be terraformed first, partly because of the technological considerations, but also because it's widely agreed that it's the project that scientists take more seriously.

c) builds a glass bubble colony on the Moon: 8/10 

Basically the only advantage of colonizing the Moon is that it's a lot closer. As a result, getting to the Moon is cheaper and faster, which is an important consideration, especially if option (d) comes true and we have to get off the planet in a hurry. Furthermore, if a Moon mission went wrong, emergency help or rescue from Earth would be a valid option. This makes it a much safer alternative than settling Mars, especially when colonization technology is in its infancy and is largely unproven. Because of this, I think it's pretty likely that the Moon will be colonized first, either as a trial run for Mars, a political stunt, or because a private foundation became rich enough to fund it.

Current technology is actually pretty close to being able to colonize the Moon; we could probably do it some time this century if we felt like it. Maybe not in a glass bubble, since the lack of atmosphere means that the Moon is subject to many more meteorite impacts than Earth, but there are valid options on the table. Lunar caves are a great initial source of shelter, for example. These settlements would have to be pressurized and also shielded against solar wind and radiation. Russian scientists have recently discovered a vast network of volcanic tubes under the surface, which would be a great starting point for colonization.

Ice deposits have been discovered on the Moon, which could make a moon colony self-sufficient in terms of water. Meanwhile, as food crisis technology on Earth continues to drive new GMO crops and techniques like hydroscopic farming, it's quite plausible that the colonies could grow their own food, which could have the added benefit of making them oxygen-sufficient as well. Nanotechnology is also growing closer to food replication and building improvements, which could protect against the meteorite problem I mentioned earlier. Technologies like 3D printing also make it easier for the Moon to be self-sufficient, as the settlers could create replacement parts and objects on demand, requiring only a regular shipment of raw printing materials from Earth.

However, the Moon is a much worse long-term option than Mars or Venus. Because it is significantly smaller than either of them, it would be difficult to create a permanent atmosphere around the Moon. This would mean that the colonies would always have to be pressurized and self-contained. Over the long term, the risk of a leak or other technical failure makes the idea impractical. Also, the small size of the moon means its gravity is about 17% of Earth's. While adults could live on the Moon for long periods of time, they would experience a loss of bone density and muscle atrophy. However, children would experience significantly more serious effects; without significant medical intervention, a long-term lunar colony simply could not sustain itself if the next generation couldn't survive to be healthy adults. While the Moon may someday offer mining, tourism, and scientific opportunities, as well as being a technological stepping-stone to colonizing other planets, it would not make a good long-term home. Unless scientists can create artificial gravity, my guess is that most people who live on the Moon will only do so for a part of their lives, spending their developmental years on Earth. On the other hand, Moon colonization would provide extremely valuable insights about how humans would cope in the low-gravity environment of Mars.

The combination of the long lunar night (354 hours) and the lack of atmosphere also leads to temperature extremes, which would be inconvenient to deal with. The lunar night would also disrupt plant growth and prevent solar power from being an effective means of generating energy. These disadvantages are similar to Venus, but are not present on Mars.

Aside from the scientific reasons why colonizing the Moon is possible, there are also significant political incentives, which I believe make it more likely. We already have Russian scientists and Newt Gingrich talking about moon colonies. If we have a whole millennium to talk about it and have our technology make it increasingly possible, eventually some country or another is going to make a serious bid for it, even if it's just for a short-term scientific research station. Because the Moon has no atmosphere, it makes a significantly better place for an observatory than Earth, especially as light pollution and greenhouse gases increase. And once one country has an observatory on the Moon, other countries are going to want to compete in order to not be seen as falling behind. Assuming we don't kill ourselves off first, I think we'll almost definitely colonize the Moon.

d) tries to frantically pump resources into their space program at the last minute, only to fail to accomplish any of the above with meaningful results: 4/10 

We hear a lot about NASA's budget cuts. And yeah, it's true that in the current state of things, we wouldn't be able to get off-planet sometime this century if we were to suddenly suffer a disaster that made it necessary. However, as I discussed above, we already essentially have the technology to form a lunar colony. And while NASA may be experiencing budget cuts, private enterprises, Russia, and China are continuing to fund manned space exploration. Ultimately, progress is still being made. It's my personal opinion that if things got bad enough that we had to evacuate Earth, we would probably discover this in time to divert our remaining resources into a lunar colony that would be reasonably likely to work.

Meanwhile, NASA is still working on space exploration. The same technology used to deposit Curiosity on Mars could easily be used to deposit supplies for an outpost, and eventually to land humans on Mars, which NASA still talks about doing within the next couple of decades.

Finally, although the Constellation program's cancellation may appear to limit the future of manned space exploration, that isn't actually the case. Instead, NASA will continue to use probes like Curiosity to further explore the Moon, Mars, and other planets. Essentially every probe NASA has sent to these locations recently has included finding water and evaluating the habitability of the area as one of its objectives. At the same time, NASA is looking at sending astronauts on long-term missions to Lagrange areas, which are points in space where gravity from different bodies essentially cancels out. This would allow NASA to evaluate the long-term effects of living in space or low-gravity areas, and mean that medicine could come up with solutions to any potential problems. And because manned exploration is still a long-term goal that captures the public imagination, NASA has continued to look at different theoretical possibilities for colonization.

The upshot of it is, I think that our knowledge and understanding of other planets is going to progress to the point where we will be able to colonize the Moon in an emergency, assuming the emergency is something like "We're going to experience a runaway greenhouse effect/giant asteroid/etc. in a decade" and not something like "Oh hey, the Earth is getting destroyed in a week" like we always see in movies. In the very least, we should be able to establish a lunar colony large enough to sustain the human race. While it wouldn't be able to support the entire Earth the way a completely terraformed planet would, I would still call that result meaningful.

Furthermore, a lot of the technological advances I've talked about would also allow us to prolong Earth's ability to sustain us. I feel like we would definitely be able to stretch it out to a few more centuries or even millennia, and I feel like that's plenty of time to get space exploration going. Think for a moment about the scale of a thousand years. A millennium ago, we hadn't even crossed the Atlantic Ocean (with the possible exception of the Vikings); look how far we've come since then. On a similar note, we put a man on the moon barely half a century after the airplane was even invented. Technological progress moves at an awesome pace. It wasn't so long ago that we doubted that anyone would even reach the moon. I'm pretty sure that with 1000 years, we'll see some pretty amazing advancements that would allow last-minute space programs to have a pretty good chance at success. And, as I've discussed above and will discuss more below, I think we'll be able to keep the Earth habitable and disaster-free for long enough to see it happen.

2) Mankind reverses the trend of polluting and switches to only reusable energy. Instead of expanding into space, they farm the oceans and build ever upwards like the Jetsons: 10/10

I gave these options a solid 10 because not only are they inevitable, but they are also already happening.

First of all, take renewable energy. Within the next 1000 years, we are going to run out of coal and oil, and some sources suggest that could be as early as the next 50 years. Even before the world is literally stripped of every extractable drop, the price crunch will mean that oil has effectively become unavailable for many people. So what happens then? Well, in the book A Thousand Barrels a Second, Peter Tertzakian gives a fascinating account of the history of energy resources. According to him, whenever society has switched from one dominant energy source to another, due to lack of availability, the process of making the shift takes about fifty to one hundred years. So, by 2150 at the latest, I predict that we will have moved on from non-renewable resources. It's possible that nuclear fission, or even nuclear fusion, will make up a large percentage of this, but nuclear power is impractical for transportation, and the dangers of fission mean that many regions will prefer to avoid it. Therefore, the only available option is going to be renewable energy. This will probably take many forms, including solar power, wind, hydro, biofuel, nanotechnology, geothermal, and the efficient use of waste heat. The obvious problem is that green energy isn't as energy-dense as fossil fuels, and so it doesn't work quite as well. Furthermore, it's not just the technology that needs to be developed; it's the infrastructure. Tertzakian points out that one of the reasons for Edison's success is that he was able to thread the wiring for lightbulbs through the already existing pipelines for gas lighting in the first communities he wired. Similarly, even if something like a hydrogen fuel cell car becomes affordable, gas stations will need to be outfitted to refuel them before the technology can really take off. This won't be economical until we reach a real oil crunch, which will probably happen within our lifetimes.

Some countries are already taking initiatives to make renewable energy a significant part of their infrastructure. Germany, for example, derived 25% of its electricity from renewable energy in 2012, as opposed to 6% in 2000. However, the technology isn't perfect; electricity prices have increased and power outages have become more common. Nevertheless, the country recognizes the value in moving forward with renewable energy production. Similarly, countries with strong coastal tides, such as Norway and Canada, could derive much of their energy from hydroelectric power. In areas with extremely low population density, solar power is already a better resource than traditional fuels, because the settlements can be self-sustained and off the grid, reducing overall costs.

Obviously, some areas will face significant challenges in implementing renewable energy, and it's currently not developed enough to substitute for fossil fuels, even if there weren't economic and infrastructure issues in the way. However, because fossil fuels will definitely run out, renewable energy is going to become the next dominant energy source whether we like it or not. Nuclear fission may increase for a while, but the extreme waste and danger of plants, combined with the fact that I'm pretty confident that we'll work out fusion plants within the next millennium means it will probably be phased out too.

Secondly, ocean farming will become an important means of producing food, due to the eventual limits of GMO technology, the necessity of developing land due to a growing world population, and the fact that that growing population will continue to need food. It's estimated that ocean farms could produce enough nutrition for the entire world population using an area the size of Washington state. Obviously, this could not only solve the current world food crisis, but it could also support the world population for hundreds or even thousands of years at that rate. Currently, approximately 90% of the ocean is unproductive due to the lack of nutrients for phytoplankton activity, leading to a plateau in fish harvesting in 1989. By increasing phytoplankton activity, not only could we feed the world, but we would also create a huge greenhouse gas sink, combatting pollution at the same time. China and other Asian countries currently see seaweed farms as a crucial strategy in offsetting their carbon emissions. Additionally, while even the most eco-friendly land-based farms require fresh water (another resource that will become increasingly scarce), deforestation, and fertilizer, land farming isn't a sustainable long-term solution to world hunger.

So if ocean farming is so great, why haven't we done it on a large scale yet? Well, for one thing, ocean farming previously succumbed to the same faults as industrial land farming, flooding monopopulations of fish with chemicals and creating huge amounts of pollution and waste. Current proposals for ocean farming would create biological habitats that mimic the natural order, eliminating the need for both chemical stimulants and waste management. The other huge hurdle is that it's difficult to economically profit from ocean farming due to current laws and regulations surrounding the fishing industry. Seeding the oceans with chelated iron to produce phytoplankton blooms isn't going to produce a return on your investment if the fish simply swim away and get fished by someone else. However, countries as diverse as New Zealand, the Marshall Islands, Canada, and the USA are implementing new "individual transferable quotas" and privatizations of fishing areas, making ocean farming increasingly economical.

Nevertheless, ocean farming can't sustain the world indefinitely. The resources required to create ocean farms, such as iron, still have to be mined, manufactured, and distributed. As a result, it would theoretically become necessary for iron to eventually be mined from space, meaning that colonizing the Moon or other planets wouldn't become completely unnecessary, although ocean farms could delay the importance of creating extraterrestrial settlements.

Finally, futuristic skyscrapers are already being developed in countries with high population densities, such as Japan. (Is there any way this question could not eventually reference Japan? I don't think so.) While some of their concepts seem pretty science-fiction-y, it's an undeniable fact that areas that face high population density begin building upwards instead of outwards. For instance, after the government of Ontario passed a law prohibiting urban sprawl, Toronto began the construction of 147 new tall buildings. The real question is whether we'll wait until we've developed virtually all the land on Earth before we build upwards, or if we'll voluntarily turn to skyscrapers before we destroy the entire environment. After a thousand years, though, I think either of those situations will long since have come to pass.

Furthermore, a lot of skyscraper concepts are meant to do double-duty as energy producers or waste cleaners. Some concepts propose cleaning the ocean, producing energy from towers of waste, being movable in case of disaster, doing double-duty by restoring areas destroyed by mining, or storing water in case of drought. Others include recycling centers that are self-powered by wind turbines, towers built into the ground to house the dead, and towers that harvest lightning power.

Many of these concepts are obviously unrealistic, meant merely to inspire possibilities. For instance, this proposal will probably never come to pass, but it raises intriguing questions about prefabricating skyscrapers, integrating them into transportation hubs, coating the walls with photovoltaic cells or carbon dioxide sinks, and installing heat-recapturing technology to minimize waste. In fact, it's suggested that skyscrapers could become energy-neutral or even energy-producing, by integrating biofuel cells and wind turbines. These wind turbines could also be used to capture moisture and produce drinking water for the residents. This skyscraper proposed for Dubai could pay off its energy debt in 20 years, and would power the municipal grid for decades to come.

Meanwhile, the technology surrounding skyscrapers is continuing to make them taller and safer. For instance, the Shanghai Tower, scheduled to open in 2014, will be the second-tallest tower in the world, and contains innovations that will make skyscrapers safer and even more common. It has a layered, interlocking structure to make it more stable, and two glass facades that essentially turn the tower into a giant Thermos, drastically reducing the energy needed to heat and cool it. Not only are its elevators the fastest in the world, but their ability to regenerate electricity make them extremely efficient. Furthermore, because the tower twists one degree per floor, it directs and slows wind currents, reducing lateral wind forces by 24%, a key innovation in an area where typhoons are common.

There are many other innovations in skyscraper technology. Instead of the classic steel framework, a structural system called the "tube" makes the outside of the building the strongest part, which helps it to reduce wind. However, the height of the building also requires increasing the base width using this technique. New ideas, such as the "stayed-mast" and "buttressed core," feature a strong central core. Meanwhile, the height of these buildings is pushing the limits on conventional cabled elevators. Last year, MagneMotion unveiled an elevator that is driven by magnets, much like a vertical bullet train. Seemingly unrelated technologies, such as 3D printing, allow for rapid modeling of wind effects. Finally, improvements in materials technology allows us to create lightweight building materials that can withstand huge compressive forces. Ironically, our research on the nanoscale level is fueling the creation of the largest structures in all of human history.

Additional innovations include rerouting earthquake waves around skyscrapers instead of attempting to absorb them, creating escape harnesses to make the upper floors safer, and harvesting energy during demolitions by using gravitational potential energy to generate electricity.

Alternatively, some people are even proposing "waterscrapers" that would be entirely self-sufficient for food and energy. While such a thing is clearly quite a ways off, could we sit it within 1000 years? I think so.

However, it's important to consider that even if the world was sustained by 100% renewable energy, we would still produce other forms of waste, such as garbage and sewage. Furthermore, while skyscrapers can reduce urban sprawl, we still can't cover the entire Earth in buildings like Coruscant because of the total destruction of the environment that such a thing would imply. In other words, while I think everything in the option will definitely happen, I still think we're going to end up looking at space colonization at some point in time.

3. A disaster strikes from space which we are unable to stop in the form of... 

a) an asteroid: 2/10 

The Earth experiences impacts from space debris every day. Most of it burns up in the atmosphere, but some of it reaches Earth. Many of these impacts are relatively small. However, we experience impacts from sizable chunks, about 10 m across, approximately once a decade. We just don't hear about it much because so much of the Earth's surface is uninhabited. Even if our population explodes dramatically, however, such an impact wouldn't be a disaster large enough to threaten mankind. As it happens, meteors large enough to destroy a city (about 100 m across) hit Earth once or twice every thousand years or so, although the odds of it actually hitting a city still make it an unlikely event in the next millennium. And even if we lost a city, the human race would still be fine.

In order to threaten the global climate, an asteroid would have to be at least a kilometer wide. To cause mass extinctions, the asteroid would have to be even larger: about 5 kilometers. The kinds of asteroid impacts occur a couple times in a million years, so it's hypothetically possible. The (extremely small) odds are raised by the fact that many comets approach this scale; if a long-orbit comet will eventually be on a collision course with Earth, we could very well not know about it yet. In order to prevent this, organizations such as the Spaceguard Survey have been paying close attention to near-Earth asteroids. Currently, the most interesting threat they've identified is a 270 m asteroid named Apophis, which will pass close enough to Earth to hit communication satellites in 2029. It's possible that this will shift its orbit enough to place it on a collision course in 2036. Again, though, the odds are small - about 1 in 250,000 - and the asteroid wouldn't be able to wipe out mankind anyways, although it would be a pretty big catastrophe. Currently, scientists have identified about 400 asteroids large enough to cause regional damage, which they estimate is probably about 10% of how many there actually are. Nevertheless, such asteroid wouldn't cause an apocalypse.

So why did I rate this category so low? Because in the extremely unlikely event that such an asteroid would be on a collision course with Earth, we would probably be able to stop it. Astronomers are getting better and better at identifying potential threats every day, and as our space program continues to expand as discussed above, we will be even more capable of dealing with them. Current proposals include drilling a hole and dropping a nuclear bomb into it, or using spaceships and/or bombs to knock the asteroid off course.

According to Discovery Magazine, an asteroid impact is the #1 most likely doomsday scenario. However, their analysis was not confined to the next 1000 years, and it didn't factor in the possibility of stopping it. Compared to the other options in scenario (3), an asteroid impact is more preventable.

b) a supernova explosion: 0.0001/10 

The nearest star that could go supernova, Betelgeuse, is 640 light years away. Because the energy of a supernova dissipates exponentially, and a star must be 100 light years away to pose no threat to Earth, it's not really a big deal if Betelgeuse goes supernova, let alone all the other stars that are even further off. How close does a supernova have to be to destroy Earth? Well, if a supernova went off 50 light years away, this would probably shear away the ozone and destroy Earth's magnetic field, rendering our planet completely uninhabitable. In a more dramatic scenario, a star 1 light year away would rip our entire solar system to shreds. (The nearest star is Proxima Centauri at just over 4 light years, but it's impossible for it to supernova any time within the next 1000 years, or even the next billion or so.)

However, the Sun is constantly moving throughout the galaxy. It's theoretically possible that because our solar system is entering the Orion arm, dangerous supernovae could become more frequent than the current one in 240 million years we currently experience. Furthermore, because the most dangerous type of supernovae, Type 1a, occur in the common white dwarf star, it's possible that an unpredictable supernova could occur in a solar system that is not well studied. Nevertheless, this possibility is pretty remote. They would have to be less than 33 light years from Earth, and any known candidates for such an event will have been carried further away than that by the time the star could go supernova. The hype is greatly overblown by poorly researched articles that neglect to recognize that stars over three thousand light years away, which will not explode for over 10 million years, are not going to threaten us.

Basically, NASA says it's not going to happen. The three closest stars that will next supernova are both too far away, and aren't going to explode for millions of years. While it's possible that a superluminous supernova could cause chronobiological problems, the negative effect of such an event still couldn't wipe out life on Earth. I didn't rate a supernova explosion as zero, because it's still hypothetically possible, but everything we know about science suggests that it won't.

c) a solar flare: 0.00000000000000000000000000001/10 

According to NASA, the sun is not physically capable of producing a solar flare that destroys earth. While the most powerful type of solar flare, coronal mass ejections (CME's), can disrupt electric grids and GPS units, this would not "end the world," although it would be a temporary, regional natural disaster. I think the most recent pop culture example of a solar flare destroying the earth is from that horrible movie 2012, which had science of a quality that matched its plot. Basically, there are several types of radiation that the sun can emit. During a normal solar flare, the sun emits x-rays, which take about 8 minutes to reach earth and are absorbed by the ionosophere. The sun cannot and will not release enough x-rays that the ionosphere can't handle it. During CME's, the sun can emit alpha and beta particles, which take about 40 minutes to reach earth and are also absorbed by the upper atmosphere. While these particles could be damaging if Earth's magnetic field were to get all wacky (which is totally possible, by the way, but you didn't ask me about that), it's not a problem as long as the magnetic field holds. In 2012, they decided to make the scenario even more ridiculous for some reason by having the killer particle be neutrinos, which are totally harmless and neutral. Millions of solar neutrinos pass through your body every day. It's fine. Potato potato potato just checking to see if you're still paying attention.

I don't really have much else to say about this one; it's just not possible. However, if you want the odds of the magnetic field failing or flipping within the next 1000 years, I'd be willing to give that doomsday scenario a 3/10. Earth's magnetic field flips every couple hundred million years, and we're actually overdue for a flip. Some scientists predict that this could happen within the next 500 years. While the magnetic field always restores itself, the process of changing its polarity means that for a period of time, the field won't cover the Earth in the same way, and we'll be vulnerable to solar flares during that time. It's totally possible that this scenario could wipe out life on Earth. Honestly, I think that of all the natural disaster doomsday scenarios, this one is the most likely. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that we would be exposed to enough radiation to kill us; it's also possible that we would simply have no magnetic north, access to satellites, or reliable electricity grids. While that would set civilization significantly back, we would still be alive at the end of it. It all depends on how long we're unprotected, and scientists simply don't know the answer to that. The field could take thousands of years to completely flip, or it could take a few weeks.

d) a gamma ray burst: 1/10 

Supernova events, or the collision of black holes or two neutron stars, can cause gamma ray bursts, the most powerful electromagnetic event in the universe. They can have up to 0.05% as much energy as the Sun would if its entire mass was instantaneously converted into energy, which, if you're having trouble visualizing it, is a LOT of energy. However, gamma ray bursts occur very rarely, and they would have to be within six thousand light years of Earth in order to cause mass extinctions. These mass extinctions would primarily occur due to the ozone layer being destroyed, allowing massive amounts of cosmic radiation to reach Earth and kill pretty much all the things. Fortunately, GRBs only occur every 100,000 years at maximum, and only a small percentage of these would be aimed towards Earth. NASA estimates that GRBs that have the potential to affect life on Earth occur every five million years or so, and that a GRB may have caused the Ordovician-Silurian extinction event.

The most dangerous type of star that could cause a gamma burst is a Wolf-Rayet star, which are extremely hot, massive stars that are losing mass rapidly. These are at high risk to supernova and cause a GRB. For example, WR 104 could deplete 25% of Earth's ozone layer and hit the near side of Earth with enough lethal radiation to instantly kill some people. However, WR 104 isn't going to have a supernova event within the next 1000 years, and even if it does, it's not guaranteed that it would even have a GRB, or that it would be aimed towards Earth if it did.

In a less extreme scenario, it's possible that a GRB could create an excess of nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere, creating a photochemical smog that causes a cosmic winter effect. This could also deplete the ozone layer and cause more cosmic radiation to reach Earth. However, because this effect would occur over time, and it's already unlikely to happen, I'm going to postulate that if it did happen in 3000 AD or something, we would be able to come up with technological solutions to save at least some of the life on Earth.

However, remember the star T Pyxidis from the supernova section of the question? While the supernova wouldn't kill us, T Pyxidis is close enough to Earth that a GRB aimed in our direction totally could kill us. Fortunately, it shouldn't happen for about 10 million years.

Interestingly, scientists are discovering evidence that suggests that a GRB may have hit Earth in the 8th century. Obviously, it was too far away to cause mass extinction events, but it's kind of comforting to know that GRBs have hit Earth while humans lived on it, and we came through it just fine.

e) Nemesis: 0/10

I'm going to say this once: Nemesis doesn't exist. The odds of us being destroyed by something that doesn't exist are...wait, let me get my calculator...zero.

f) Nibiru: 0/10

Nibiru doesn't exist either. At least Nemesis started out as an outside-the-box scientific hypothesis; Nibiru is the brainchild of a science fiction writer and a psychic.

(Yeah, my answers to these two sections were lame and short, but my geekiness is limited to science, not conspiracy theories.)

4. A united world government controls the number of births and the lifespan of all humans: 2/10

I don't really see a united world government being able to wield even a fraction of the power required to control something like that. Multi-national government is way too weak and dysfunctional. Exhibit A; Exhibit B.

Besides, let's consider what would have to happen to give rise to a truly united world government. Based on how opposed the USA is to the UN, I think we can safely say that America will never willingly agree to give up sovereignty to a world government, and I don't really see America trying to actually take over the world. So, in order to have a world government, the USA would have to be severely weakened somehow. If this happened through war (i.e., a hostile nation or terrorist group trying to take over the world), I can't imagine that the opposing side would come out of the conflict without sustaining significant and devastating damages from fighting America. This group wouldn't be in any sort of position to force their attempted takeover of the world, especially since a lot of other nations would also put up resistance. Similarly, if the USA was devastated by some sort of natural disaster or calamity, I imagine that the rest of the world would be similarly devastated. Again, there wouldn't be the resources to form and enforce a totalitarian world government. Even if the USA was selectively decimated by a natural disaster, leaving the rest of the world relatively intact, I don't see that motivating any other countries to suddenly try to take over the world. (Except Canada. This entire answer is part of our secret plot to lull the world into a false sense of security, while giving the impression that we're weak and powerless. Then, right when you're least expecting it...bam! Everyone has to wear a toque.)

As far as population control goes, while I don't anticipate a united world government, we've already seen individual governments attempt to control the number of births. In a study by David Pimentel, a professor of ecology at Cornell, it was suggested that the world population must be reduced to about 2 billion people in order to promote a sustainable level of living at the equivalent of a moderate European lifestyle. This could be accomplished within 100 years if each couple restricted themselves to only one child. Obviously, not every government is going to try to enforce something like this. Generally, population control is supported by increasing the availability of contraception and increasing women's education. In Iran, family planning education is mandatory for both males and females before a marriage license can be obtained, which is credited with the drastic reduction in birth rates that it has seen. India uses other incentives to promote population control, such their law that makes anyone with more than two children ineligible for elections to Gram Panchayats, or local governments.

The most obvious example of enforced population control is China's one-child policy, which makes exceptions for twins, rural couples, ethnic minorities, and couples who are both only children themselves. This policy has been largely controversial due to the increased number of female abortions and female infanticide that has contributed to China's extreme gender imbalance. Many advocacy groups oppose the policy based on human rights violations, such as forced abortions. Furthermore, the policy has created other problems, such as the fact that one adult is now solely responsible for the care of two parents and four grandparents, without any available help. In my personal opinion, the difficulty that China has had with the one-child policy suggests that it's very unlikely that this will be widely adopted. This would be unconstitutional by the standards of many countries, and other countries don't have a strong enough totalitarian state to enforce it to the same degree as China.

While many countries have dabbled in compulsory sterilzation, most countries seem to have abandoned it in recent decades, with the notable exception of Uzbekistan. It, too, seems to be on its way out.

I see two possible scenarios for lifespan control. In one scenario, science has extended the average human life by a moderate amount, and so governments choose to cap the human lifespan at some arbitrary age, despite that everyone will eventually die of old age (even if old age is now 150 or 200 years old). Considering how controversial abortion, capital punishment, and other associated issues are, I can't imagine that any democracy would agree to such a thing. I can hypothetically see a totalitarian nation attempting to implement such a policy, but they would face extremely heavy international condemnation, and it would probably be even less successful than compulsory population control.

In the other scenario, science has invented some sort of procedure or pill that allows humans to live far longer than their natural lifespan, possibly making them immortal. In this situation, I can hypothetically see different countries enacting various sorts of proposals that would make this unavailable to anyone above a certain age, effectively killing them. However, this would lead to a huge black market for lifespan. Poor people would sell some of their "life" to rich people in order to buy food, send their children to college, or pay for other basic necessities. The disparity between nations who could afford it and nations who could not would become extreme. Dictators could ultimately rule forever, forcing changes in foreign policy when it comes to dealing with them. It would be total chaos.

Fortunately, I don't think such a thing will be developed within the next 1000 years. While some creatures, such as the hydra and planarian worms, can be biologically immortal, there is currently no research being done about applying this to humans. While anti-aging products exist, Concealocanth does a great job of explaining why they're bunk in Board Question #68832. Although it may be possible to eventually grow human organs in a lab, I'm having a hard time to imagine a future where you can literally replace every single tissue in your body as it ages. Even if that became a reality, you'd probably still end up with some pretty old tissue in you. As you age, your risk for cancer increases, so I basically think everyone would just die of cancer in a couple hundred years. So what if we cure cancer? Well, I think we're getting into the realm where people require so many different treatment requirements that we're essentially back to my first scenario, where the government restricts certain treatments below a certain age.

Basically, I don't think there's going to be a magic bullet that makes humans immortal. If we do come up with a method of rejuvenation, I think that it would bear so many similarities to cancer (again) that it would take awhile before everyone started truly living for decades and centuries beyond their natural time. And in that situation, we could still die of other diseases, accidents, and murder. Maybe we'd see some government sneaking poison into nursing homes or something.

Really, the sociological implications of medicine that can make humans functionally immortal are too broad to accurately predict. In the case that this happens, I'm sure that some governments will resort to unethical methods of dealing with the situation. At the same time, we have to consider the fact that such developments in technology will also come at the same time as the developments I talked about in part (1) and (2) of this question, which would reduce the pressure a non-aging population would cause. Maybe non-aging individuals would be better candidates for space exploration and settlement, and governments would instead begin a race to see who could build the best non-aging population in order to get a leg up on the space race. Who knows?

Finally, it's proposed that we could one day find a way of transporting our consciousnesses into computers, living forever as cyborgs. While this could lead to all kinds of crazy scenarios, like cyborg armies and increased competition over precious metal resources, it would also serve to reduce the strain of feeding a growing human population. On the other hand, the energy requirements would probably accelerate the Earth's pollution, and the other resources necessary to build a bunch of cyborgs would still lead to population challenges. So while computer people is a pretty cool and far-fetched idea, I think it would come with essentially the same pressures as any other means of gaining immortality.

5. Humanity is decimated by _____ and the few survivors live primitively.

a) war: 7/10 

So we're going to have more wars in the next 1000 years, and some of them will be major ones. History and the current state of the world today makes that abundantly clear. So now the question is, will any of these wars be large enough to decimate humanity? I can think of three possible scenarios where this happens: WWIII, biological warfare, and nuclear warfare.

I'm having trouble thinking of a specific situation right now that's likely to lead to WWIII, but a thousand years is a really, really long time. Within the last thousand years, we've had conflicts from the Crusades to WWII. I kind of just see it as a given that at some point in the next 1000 years, there will be numerous situations where the world could erupt into war, and I also see it as pretty likely that it would happen. (So basically, today we've learned that Zed thinks space travel and science is awesome, the universe is fine, but humans are idiots.) I read a great point in this discussion that essentially says that wars erupt when one power bloc thinks it can prevail against another. The Cold War didn't erupt into global fighting because the USA and the USSR perceived each other to be too equally matched to start an open war. However, as China increases in power, NATO and other traditional Western alliances decline, terrorist groups gain supporters, and developing nations like Iran and North Korea gain power, new power blocs are emerging. It's pretty likely that one of these might perceive themselves as being in a position to make a strike against another bloc. So, I think WWIII will happen within 1000 years. However, like the previous wars, I don't think a conventional war will decimate humanity. A lot of people will die and some countries may be reshaped, but overall, humanity will be fine.

So, under what conditions could war decimate humanity? Well, the obvious one is nuclear warfare. This apocalyptic scenario has been so thoroughly rehashed, and has been such an object of fear for so long, that I think some people tend to downplay the risks these days. After all, the Cold War is over, so it would seem that the world has taken a step back from nuclear warfare. However, a study by Stanford University warns that the risk of nuclear warfare with China is actually higher than most people think. While China has a strict policy of not striking first with nuclear weapons, and the military power of the US makes them unlikely to resort to such extremes, there are other factors that could precipitate nuclear warfare. For instance, if China perceived conventional attacks to be an attempt to sabotage their nuclear capabilities, or if they thought they were a precursor to a nuclear strike, they might break their rule. Similarly, China's military policy is specifically designed to create uncertainty in the US about their plans, under the idea that this will prevent the US from taking swift action. However, this strategy obviously also creates the potential for the US to believe that China is going to use nuclear weapons. Some conventional Chinese missiles are on the same bases as nuclear missiles, and some rockets are even able to carry either type of missile. Finally, the US does not find China's no-first-strike policy to be credible, which could also result in misunderstandings leading to war.

Meanwhile, Stanford engineer Martin Hellman believes that the chances of a child born today suffering death from nuclear warfare to be 10%. That's 10% in our lifetime, let alone in the next 1000 years. His risk analysis approach looks at the rate of possible initiating events, the probability of these events turning into major events, and the probability of these crises leading to the use of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the situation in Iran and North Korea adds complexity to his consideration; nuclear terrorism isn't even included in his assessment, which means it's actually conservative.

The outcomes of a nuclear winter should be well-known to most readers, but for the sake of completeness, I'll summarize. The aftereffects of the bomb would pollute the atmosphere so thoroughly that major climate change would occur, leading to famine and drought. This could possibly lead to even more fighting and conflict. Furthermore, global nuclear war would be more likely to target major cities, which would destroy more technology, power grids, and communication systems, further leading humanity into a pre-technological state. Along with nuclear warfare, it's possible that high-altitude magnetic pulses would be used to sabotage militaries, destroying our computer systems. Meanwhile, radiation would kill many people outright, and lead to greatly increased rates of cancer. We all know why nuclear warfare is bad. And according to scientists, there's a great chance of nuclear warfare in the next 1000 years than there is of any natural disaster on the list.

Finally, biological warfare wouldn't even require a major, worldwide conflict to decimate humanity. As we all learned from the Jurassic Park movies, life will find a way. No matter what kinds of controls the biological engineers think they've built into their weapon, living things can mutate, reproduce, and quickly move beyond the ability of their creators to control. There are many non-apocalyptic examples of this; for instance, look at what the cane toads have done to Australia. While bacteria can be genetically modified to only act within a narrow environmental range, bacteria mutates all the time; that's why you have to get a new flu shot every year. Similarly, even things that don't directly kill you, like anti-agriculture agents, can be easily spread by migrating animals, water runoff, or weather patterns.  

Currently, the USA, Russia, China, and South Africa definitely have biological weapons. The UK, France, Iraq, Israel, Iran, Syria, and North Korea probably have biological weapons, and other countries, such as India, Pakistan, and Libya, are seeking biological weapons. Not only are these a lot of powerful nations that tend to disagree with each other, but some of these nations also provide terrorists with close access to biological weapons. While nations themselves would presumably use biological weapons carefully, and with all the safeguards they could put on them, terrorists have no such inhibitions. It only takes one terrorist to release a powerful biological weapon, and humanity could be decimated. Biological warfare has a long history of being used, so it's not like it would be a first-time thing. The difference is, today's superior technology makes it that much more dangerous to the entire world, and the increase in global travel makes it more communicable than ever.

For more information on biological weapons, the NIH has a great collection of articles on the different types here.

b) disease: 4/10 

In contrast, I don't think a pandemic is likely to have such an effect that it truly decimates the human race. The only time that's happened in history is when smallpox wiped out 90% of the Massachusetts Bay Native Americans, and that was confined to a specific ethnic population that had considerably less access to medicine than we do today. While there have been many, many pandemics in human history, none of them actually wiped out civilization. In modern times, SARS, avian flu, and swine flu were all contained and caused minimal deaths. Historically, there's not a lot of basis to think that pandemics tend to decimate humanity as a whole.

On the other hand, there are modern differences that could change this. For one thing, the speed of global travel makes pandemics more transmissible; in the past, particularly potent pandemics were typically confined to small regions, because they killed off their hosts faster than the disease could spread. Now, we lack a good global system to respond to pandemics in a way that reduces transmission of the disease. Along with the speed of global travel, we now have less time to react to the situation, and it can be difficult to get aid effectively to the afflicted, especially when the pandemics begin in developing areas. Furthermore, most pandemics do begin in developing areas, due to the fact that conditions are more favorable for disease to develop and fester. And although modern medicine is better able to treat disease, viruses can develop and spread faster than vaccines can be developed and deployed to counteract them. As a result, it's very probable that we will see a significant pandemic within our lifetime – much more probable than nuclear warfare or biological terrorism. The difference is, a naturally occurring pandemic isn't going to decimate humanity; it will kill a lot of people, but civilization will recover fairly quickly. The odds of a pandemic actually destroying civilization are still significantly lower than the odds of war destroying civilization. Most likely, it will cause a recession and maybe up to 20% of people will die. I don't think it will cause us to return to a primitive state.

However, there's another disease threat that could also have a significant impact on humanity: antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics don't kill all bacteria; they only kill most of them. The bacteria that are left have mutations that make them resistant to that antibiotic, and when they multiply, all of those bacteria will also be resistant. Our usage of antibiotics, such as pumping them en masse into animal feed, quitting the medication once we feel better even though we still have a few days left that we're supposed to take it, and insisting on being prescribed antibiotics for problems that aren't even caused by bacteria all lead to the overexposure of bacteria to antibiotics, accelerating the problem. This has created significant problems in treating diseases that could previously be treated with "weak" antibiotics; for instance, antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis has been popping up with increasing frequency. Furthermore, superbugs such as MRSA also threaten to become an increasingly common disease, with few good treatment options.

Meanwhile, research on new antibiotics is slowing down, due to the fact that antibiotics research isn't very profitable for pharmaceutical companies. Other alternatives are being developed; for example, Professor Savage's research group at BYU has been looking at a synthetic version of a natural anti-bacterial found in other microorganisms. I can't seem to find my o-chem notes on this, but because of the way it disrupts the bacteria, they can't grow immune to it. However, alternatives to the antibiotics we already have aren't being developed quickly enough.

To realize the impact of this, stop for a moment and think about how often we use antibiotics. When was the last time someone you knew died of strep throat or scarlet fever? We take antibiotics for pretty much everything; while people used to die of septic shock because they cut their finger, that isn't even an issue today. Furthermore, think of all the surgeries we do today, both elective and necessary. The rates of post-surgery complications have gone down enormously since antibiotics were developed; in a very real sense, losing our ability to fight bacteria with antibiotic agents could return us, if not to a "primitive" state, at least to a state where health care and life expectancy are drastically reduced. Overall, we won't live primitively, and we'll probably find a solution within 1000 years. However, this could become a very real and serious problem for quite some time.

c) zombies: 0/10 

So I don't really believe that a zombie apocalypse is possible, but the subject is one of my favorites. M and I joke about who's going to cause the zombie apocalypse all the time. (Hey look, I made it like 10,000 words before bringing up M! New record!)

First, let's talk about some ways the zombie apocalypse could be created, and then we'll talk about why it would fail.

In this video, the possibility of a "rage virus" is discussed – the dead aren't reanimated, but the infected humans develop qualities of rage and the insatiable desire for human flesh. In order to do this, the virus must be specific to the brain areas that cause these symptoms, while leaving the rest of the brain intact so that the zombies can move around and stuff. The virus could enter the olfactory neurons through retrograde axonal transport in order to affect the ventromedial hypothalamus, which regulates hunger; the amygdala, which regulates emotion; and the frontal cortex, which regulates morality and inhibiting impulsive actions (like biting people). You end up with super hungry, aggressive, brain-dead beings who can't recognize family and friends or control their own actions. Alternatively, a similar effect could be created by attaching a prion to a virus and causing brain damage, but you would then have to induce metabolic alkalosis to prevent the prion from completely destroying the brain, and prions can't really be attached to viruses anyways.

Furthermore, there are parasites, like Toxoplasmosa gondii, that can induce zombie-like symptoms; neurotoxins, like those used in Haiti to produce real-life, zombie-like people, and brain stem cells or nanobots, which would some day be used for brain surgery, only for things to go horribly wrong.

So let's suppose zombies begin to roam the Earth. We're all doomed, right? Wrong. So wrong. Why? Well, for one thing, zombies have no sense of self-preservation that allows us to avoid natural predators. They would be eaten alive by dogs, cats, and wolves, decomposed by maggots and flies, and even mauled by deer and bears. Furthermore, their lack of self-preservation and higher thought processes would make it super easy for the military to outwit them.

Oh yeah, the military. Why doesn't the military ever win against the zombies in these movies? Seriously, you have some lone protagonist with makeshift weapons taking on a dozen at once, yet the American military is somehow defeated? Really? This makes no sense. Even if they could somehow overpower the military with brute force, I find it difficult to believe that we couldn't out-strategize them; a simple doorknob would probably cause their non-functioning brains to overload.

Additionally, they can't heal from injuries, or even normal cellular wear and tear. Leg broken? They can't chase you anymore. Tendons degrade? They fall into a heap of animated corpse-flesh that can't hurt anybody. Seriously. We can all just lock the doors, throw rocks at their ankles, and wait it out for a couple of weeks.

And then you have to consider the effects of weather. Zombies aren't smart enough to find shelter. If it was warm out, they'd dry out and desiccate under the sun, or they'd start rotting and dissolve into rancid, putrid flesh. Have you ever left meat out in July for a few days? No, because you have a functioning frontal cortex. The zombies would just be destroyed. And it's not like cold would be any better for them; they'd freeze solid. Grab a hammer, smash some zombie ice cubes, and the problem is solved.

Also, remember how I talked about diseases like SARS and swine flu not overrunning us? Well, those diseases were highly transmissible through airborne contact. Most zombie folklore agrees that zombies must bite you in order to infect you. This is a terrible way to spread disease. How did zombies even get enough numbers to pose a threat to the local policeman, let alone the American military? Seriously, if you knew there were zombies running around biting people, would you get close to strangers? When was the last time you contracted rabies? Hmmm? The only scenario where a zombie outbreak could occur quickly enough to infect a large amount of the population too quickly to control would be a virus more potent than any we've ever seen before.

Finally, if a zombie attacks you, just get in a boat. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a zombie that could swim? Brain-dead creatures can't climb or navigate obstacles nearly as efficiently as you or I could. If worst comes to worst, we could all go find a nice building with exposed pipes, toss a rope over them, climb up with a good supply of food and water, pull the rope up after us, and wait for the zombies to decompose as previously stated.

And if worst comes to worst, we can all flee to Canada, where the government has devoted actual government time to discussing preparations for the zombie apocalypse. Which raises this question: what if the zombie apocalypse is engineered by Canadians so we can feel special and needed for once?

-Zedability

Question #70936 posted on 02/12/2013 3:52 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Which letter of the alphabet is the most popular to begin baby names (first names) with? Second most popular? Top 5? Can you do it for 2012? Last 100 years cumulatively?

My guesses: 1-J, 2-K, 3-M, 4-R, 5-N

Thanks,
Cleph

A:

Dear Cleph,

I was pleased to find that the Social Security Administration makes available a list of all names given to babies born since 1880, along with how many people had each name. (They do exclude names with fewer than 5 people in a given year, to protect privacy, so a very small percentage of names aren't counted below.) I downloaded the national set and went to work with Python.

I wasn't sure if you'd be more interested in a year-by-year breakdown, or just an overall lumped-together result, so I did both. Here are the lumped-together results, corrected for total number of names in a given year. (Far fewer names were in 1880 than in 2011, but I calculated what percentage of names each year started with a given letter and then averaged the percentages, to keep from biasing toward years with larger populations.)

 

total_adjusted.png


If you want an unweighted result, here it is; there are a few small differences, but it looks substantially the same.

 

total_raw.png

 

These are fine, but personally, I found the results more interesting if I broke them down by year. Here are the results for each year, ranked from 1 to 26; the top three spots (1, 2, 3) get special colors (green, yellow, orange), and anything else fades from red (#4) to blue (#26). This spoils the smooth fading (most changes occur gradually over decades), and draws perhaps undue attention to the first three places, but I felt like it was more interesting. First, females:

 

female.png

 

I blame the reign of "M" to the overwhelming popularity of Mary during that time period. (It was often double or triple the next-closest female name.) "M" is back in second place currently due to names like Madison and Mia. "A" took over due to names like Abigail, Ava, Ashley, and Alexis, all adding up. Now males:

 

male.png

 

Wow. For the guys, I did not expect this. "J" has been the most popular first letter for every single year since 1880. John, Jacob, James, Jeffrey, Jack, Jason, Joseph, Jonathan...the list goes on. I think the other most interesting thing here is the steady decline of "W". It was #2 for decades, thanks mostly to William (with an assist going to Walter). William is still pretty popular, but it's just outgunned by the other letters these days. Finally, the overall results:

 

all.png

 

Looking at both genders together, we just get a mix of the above results, about like you'd expect.

It's kind of fun to look at the patterns in these charts. You can take a closer look at the top names for a given year by going to the Social Security Administration's baby names site; scroll down a bit and you can pick any year you like (in case you're curious why "E" used to be so popular for girls, or what happened to "H" in the 1910s for girls).

—Laser Jock

Question #70935 posted on 02/16/2013 12:16 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Which person has the most medical terms named after him/her?

-Turkey

A:

Dear Turkey,

Surely it's not a coincidence that this question was asked mere hours after I pondered the same question in a Facebook post? Heh. I made some guesses in that post, but since it's an official Board Question and everything now, I decided I needed something a little more authoritative than my hunches and the lame, abbreviated lists of medical eponyms on Wikipedia.

Fortunately, my med school library had a convenient copy of Stedman's Medical Eponyms (2005), so I spent most of my study breaks over the last few days flipping through allll 900 pages, looking for anyone with more than a few eponyms listed under their name. As a disclaimer, the book listed tons of surgeons who have dozens of surgical implements named after them, and anatomists who have a bunch of teensy structures in the body named after them, but I excluded both of those categories from my list. It is very impressive to have fifteen different kinds of forceps named after you, but that's really an engineering feat, not a medical one. Likewise, it's impressive to have ten different strings of fascia and pockets of tissue named after you, but the fact is that most purely anatomical eponyms have fallen so far out of favor that they haven't been considered a part of correct anatomical nomenclature for decades and decades, and it felt disingenuous to pretend that more than a few of them have actually been enduring.

In summary, I'm interpreting "medical eponyms" to cover only medical syndromes, diseases, tests, or pathologic or physiologic findings.

Our number one winner: Jean-Martin Charcot, with 20 medical eponyms. He was a French neurologist, and is considered among many to be the "founder of modern neurology." His biggest eponymical claims to fame are Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (a form of muscular dystrophy) and Charcot foot, a complication of diabetes.

Next up is Sir James Paget, an English surgeon and pathologist with 13 medical eponyms. He's best known for Paget's disease of bone and Paget's disease of the nipple, a sign of underlying breast cancer.

In third place is Sir Percivall Pott, with 11 medical eponyms. He was an English surgeon in the 1700s, and his most famous contribution is probably Pott's disease, a description of arthritic tuberculosis of the spine.

Fourth place goes to Rudolf Virchow, a German physician and pathologist who is considered "the father of modern pathology." He has 10 medical eponyms, the most famous being Virchow's triad (a description of the pathophysiology behind venous thromboembolism) and Virchow's node (a specific lymph node whose enlargement and hardening is often the first sign of a gastrointestinal cancer).

Rounding out our top five is Sir Jonathan Hutchinson, an English jack-of-all-medical-trades (seriously, he's listed as a surgeon, ophthalmologist, dermatologist, venereologist, and pathologist) who actually studied under Sir James Paget. Hutchinson has 10 medical eponyms, the most famous of which are Hutchinson's pupil, an ocular finding seen with large intracranial masses, and Hutchinson's triad, used to diagnose congenital syphilis.

After writing this answer, I feel like I should give all of these physician-scientists a round of applause or something. Seriously, imagine how groundbreaking and thorough your work would have to be to get just one finding named after you—and then think how amazing these people must have been to have made double digits' worth of that kind of accomplishment. Seriously, wow.

- Eirene

Question #70927 posted on 02/09/2013 11:46 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

You know how on mystery shows when someone gets murdered the coroner always examines the stomach contents and says something like, "He had cereal for breakfast, approximately three hours before he died."

How thoroughly would I have to chew my food in order for someone to not know what I ate if I was murdered? Would it depend on the type of food? How much would the amount of time between eating and death play in (assuming I eat on a regular basis and am not going without for long periods of time)?

Thanks!
- Not planning on being murdered

A:

Dear Not,

I think you're going to be interested in the slideshow from the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory entitled "Case Studies and Methods in the Identification of Food Microtraces Derived from Vomit and Gastric Contents." It basically describes the methods of post-mortem gastric content analysis, and also describes some of the limitations with the process.

From that slideshow, here's the basic gist of what goes on: they first visually inspect the gastric contents to see if they can identify large particles (like non-food items, or undigestible things like corn husks or seeds). Then, they separate out the gastric contents by size, using various sieves, and they look at the different sieved fractions under the microscope. Under the microscope, they may be able to identify partially-digested foods if they can see recognizable structures (like bits of plant leaves, or whole oat kernels). They can also use special stains and comparisons with known foods to attempt further analysis.

The slideshow gives a lot of really interesting examples of what various leafy plants, spices, potato starch, and muscle fibers (from meat) would look like under microscopy. Using this process of forensics, they can sometimes get really specific (for example, they might be able to identify oatmeal or bok choy), but even when the pieces are too small to be very specific, they still might be able to identify more general contents like "unprocessed wheat starch, unprocessed corn starch, unprocessed rice starch, wheat, processed potato starch (fried potatoes), and skeletal muscle (beef, poultry, vertebrate fish)."

They can then use things like restaurant receipts, contents of the home, or statements from witnesses to narrow down what, exactly, someone ate. If they've identified what someone ate, they might be able to estimate when the last meal was eaten before death. Interestingly, they don't really use the particle size to determine the timing of the meal. According to Forensic Medicine: Clinical and Pathological Aspects, they estimate the size of the last meal, determine what fraction of the meal remains in the stomach, and then use that fraction to figure out exact times.

So to answer your questions, if things were chewed up really well, they might not be able to tell the difference between wheat bread and wheat crackers, or between vanilla ice cream and vanilla pudding, but they can get a pretty good idea of the general composition of the meal, as well as identifying some specific kinds of plants, grains, and meats someone ate before death. Then, if they can identify what the meal was and estimate the size of the meal, they can use the weight of what remains in the stomach to estimate how long ago the meal was eaten.

- Eirene

Question #70868 posted on 02/06/2013 10:40 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What does this question look like from the Board Writer's perspective? In other words, I'm dying to see what the Writer's 100 Hour Board site looks like. If you don't want to let me take a gander at a print screen, then could you describe its much awesomeness for me please?

-squirrel

A:

Dear there's not much to see really,

It looks pretty much the same as when it posts, except for a few minor differences, which I'll explain below.

question look like 2.png
A) We have an hour counter in the corner that tells us how old a question is. There's also a little colored line next to the hour to indicate the status of the question. Your question has an orange line in this picture because it's in the process of being answered, but is not yet complete.

B) This box gets checked once a question is sufficiently answered. 

C) When a writer finishes an answer they have to mark it as complete by checking this box. Once it's been proofread, approved by another writer, and approved by an editor, those boxes will appear checked.

D) These are options to edit or delete responses we're working on. Also, if a writer sees a problem with someone else's answer they can flagette it and leave a message.

E) If there's a problem with a question (offensive, self-promoting, not really a question, etc.) writers can flag it for review and the editors decide whether to reject it or allow it to post. 

F) When a question appears on the home page it displays the time and date it posted, but questions in the inbox show the time and date they were asked.

G) Questions can be assigned different categories from this drop-down menu to make them more searchable. Only two of our writers ever bother to do this.

The end.

-Genuine Article

Question #70806 posted on 02/04/2013 10:10 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Have more people won Best Actor Academy Awards for portraying someone with mental disability/handicap/illness or Best Actress Academy Awards for films in which they appeared nude/semi-nude in the generally accepted definition of film nudity? What are the totals?

-Dennis Swanberg

A:

Dear Dennis Swanberg,

I looked up all my information from IMDB, so if anything is wrong, it's probably because IMDB was ambiguous. In some movies, there was significant nudity from characters who were not the Academy Award winner; these are marked by asterisks.

Year Actor/Actress Film Nudity Mental Disability Both Neither Comments
1927-28 Emil Jannings The Last Command       1  
    The Way of All Flesh       1  
1928-29 Warner Baxter In Old Arizona       1  
1929-30 George Arliss Disraeli       1  
1930-31 Lionel Barrymore A Free Soul       1  
1931-32 Wallace Beery (tie) The Champ       1  
  Fredric March (tie) Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde   1      
1932-33 Charles Laughton The Private Life of Henry VIII       1  
1934 Clark Gable It Happened One Night       1  
1935 Victor McLaglen The Informer       1  
1936 Paul Muni The Story of Louis Pasteur       1  
1937 Spencer Tracy Captains Courageous       1  
1938 Spencer Tracy Boys Town       1  
1939 Robert Donat Goodbye, Mr. Chips       1  
1940 James Stewart The Philadelphia Story       1  
1941 Gary Cooper Sergeant York       1  
1942 James Cagney Yankee Doodle Dandy       1  
1943 Paul Lucas Watch on the Rhine       1  
1944 Bing Crosby Going My Way       1  
1945 Ray Milland The Lost Weekend       1  
1946 Fredric March The Best Years of Our Lives       1  
1947 Ronald Colman A Double Life   1      
1948 Laurence Olivier Hamlet       1  
1949 Broderick Crawford All the King's Men       1  
1950 José Ferrer Cyrano de Bergerac       1  
1951 Humphrey Bogart The African Queen       1  
1952 Gary Cooper High Noon       1  
1953 William Holden Stalag 17       1  
1954 Marlon Brando On the Waterfront       1  
1955 Ernest Borgnine Marty       1  
1956 Yul Brynner The King and I       1  
1957 Alec Guinness The Bridge on the River Kwai       1  
1958 David Niven Separate Tables       1  
1959 Charlton Heston Ben-Hur       1  
1960 Burt Lancaster Elmer Gantry       1  
1961 Maximilian Schell Judgment at Nuremberg       1  
1962 Gregory Peck To Kill a Mockingbird       1  
1963 Sidney Poitier Lilies of the Field       1  
1964 Rex Harrison My Fair Lady       1  
1965 Lee Marvin Cat Ballou       1  
1966 Paul Scofield A Man for All Seasons       1  
1967 Rod Steiger In the Heat of the Night *     1  
1968 Cliff Robertson Charly * 1      
1969 John Wayne True Grit       1  
1970 George C. Scott (declined) Patton       1  
1971 Gene Hackman The French Connection *     1  
1972 Marlon Brando (declined) The Godfather *     1  
1973 Jack Lemmon Save the Tiger     1   I decided to interpret the flashbacks as PTSD, hence the mental illness being a "yes"
1974 Art Carney Harry and Tonto       1  
1975 Jack Nicholson One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest * 1     He only pleads insanity, but it does take place in a mental institution
1976 Peter Finch (posthumous) Network 1       IMDB was ambiguous as to which character showed nudity
1977 Richard Dreyfuss The Goodbye Girl       1  
1978 Jon Voight Coming Home 1       IMDB was ambiguous as to which character showed nudity
1979 Dustin Hoffman Kramer vs. Kramer *     1  
1980 Robert De Niro Raging Bull   1     He doesn't have a diagnosed mental illness, but the film summary makes it clear he has significant emotional problems
1981 Henry Fonda On Golden Pond       1  
1982 Ben Kingsley Gandhi       1  
1983 Robert Duvall Tender Mercies       1  
1984 F. Murray Abraham Amadeus *     1  
1985 William Hurt Kiss of the Spider Woman       1 There is a homesexual sex scene, but IMDB seemed to suggest that no explicit nudity was shown
1986 Paul Newman The Color of Money *     1  
1987 Michael Douglas Wall Street *     1  
1988 Dustin Hoffman Rain Man * 1      
1989 Daniel Day-Lewis My Left Foot *     1 Physical, but not mental, disability
1990 Jeremy Irons Reversal of Fortune *     1  
1991 Anthony Hopkins The Silence of the Lambs     1    
1992 Al Pacino Scent of a Woman       1  
1993 Tom Hanks Philadelphia 1       IMDB unclear if Hanks was the nude man
1994 Tom Hanks Forrest Gump     1    
1995 Nicholas Cage Leaving Las Vegas *     1  
1996 Geoffrey Rush Shine * 1     IMDB unclear if Rush is the man who appears nude
1997 Jack Nicholson As Good as It Gets * 1      
1998 Roberto Benigni Life is Beautiful       1  
1999 Kevin Spacey American Beauty     1    
2000 Russell Crowe Gladiator       1  
2001 Denzel Washington Training Day *     1  
2002 Adrien Brody The Pianist       1  
2003 Sean Penn Mystic River       1  
2004 Jamie Foxx Ray       1  
2005 Philip Seymour Hoffman Capote       1  
2006 Forest Whitaker The Last King of Scotland 1       IMDB not clear if Whitaker is the nude man
2007 Daniel Day-Lewis There Will Be Blood       1  
2008 Sean Penn Milk 1       IMDB unclear if explicit nudity is shown
2009 Jeff Bridges Crazy Heart *     1  
2010 Colin Firth The King's Speech   1     Wasn't sure whether to classify a speech impediment as a mental handicap
2011 Jean Dujardin The Artist       1  
               
  Actor Totals   5 9 4 68  
               
1927-28 Janet Gaynor Seventh Heaven       1  
    Street Angel       1  
    Sunrise       1  
1928-29 Mary Pickford Coquette       1  
1929-30 Norma Shearer The Divorcee       1  
1930-31 Marie Dressler Min and Bill       1  
1931-32 Helen Hayes The Sin of Madelon Claudet       1  
1932-33 Katharine Hepburn Morning Glory       1  
1934 Claudette Colbert It Happened One Night       1  
1935 Bette Davis Dangerous       1  
1936 Luise Rainer The Great Ziegfeld       1  
1937 Luise Rainer The Good Earth       1  
1938 Bette Davis Jezebel       1  
1939 Vivien Leigh Gone with the Wind       1  
1940 Ginger Rogers Kitty Foyle       1  
1941 Joan Fontaine Suspicion       1  
1942 Greer Garson Mrs. Miniver       1  
1943 Jennifer Jones The Song of Bernadette       1  
1944 Ingrid Bergman Gaslight   1      
1945 Joan Crawford Mildred Pierce       1  
1946 Olivia de Havilland To Each His Own       1  
1947 Loretta Young The Farmer's Daughter       1  
1948 Jane Wyman Johnny Belinda       1 Physical, but not mental, disability
1949 Olivia de Havilland The Heiress       1  
1950 Judy Holliday Born Yesterday       1  
1951 Vivien Leigh A Streetcar Named Desire       1  
1952 Shirley Booth Come Back, Little Sheba       1  
1953 Audrey Hepburn Roman Holiday       1  
1954 Grace Kelly The Country Girl       1  
1955 Anna Magnani The Rose Tattoo       1  
1956 Ingrid Bergman Anastasia       1  
1957 Joanne Woodward The Three Faces of Eve   1      
1958 Susan Hayward I Want to Live!       1  
1959 Simone Signoret Room at the Top       1  
1960 Elizabeth Taylor Butterfield 8       1  
1961 Sophia Loren Two Women *     1  
1962 Anne Bancroft The Miracle Worker       1 Physical, but not mental, disabilities
1963 Patricia Neal Hud       1  
1964 Julie Andrews Mary Poppins       1  
1965 Julie Christie Darling 1        
1966 Elizabeth Taylor Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?       1  
1967 Katharine Hepburn Guess Who's Coming to Dinner       1  
1968 Barbara Streisand (tie) Funny Girl       1  
  Katharine Hepburn (tie) The Lion in Winter       1  
1969 Maggie Smith The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie *     1  
1970 Glenda Jackson Women in Love 1        
1971 Jane Fonda Klute 1        
1972 Lisa Minnelli Cabaret       1  
1973 Glenda Jackson A Touch of Class       1 There might be nudity based on the plot, but I couldn't find any information
1974 Ellen Burstyn Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore       1  
1975 Louise Fletcher One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1        
1976 Faye Dunaway Network 1        
1977 Diane Keaton Annie Hall       1  
1978 Jane Fonda Coming Home 1        
1979 Sally Field Norma Rae       1  
1980 Sissy Spacek Coal Miner's Daughter       1  
1981 Katharine Hepburn On Golden Pond       1  
1982 Meryl Streep Sophie's Choice       1  
1983 Shirley MacLaine Terms of Endearment       1  
1984 Sally Field Places in the Heart       1  
1985 Geraldine Page The Trip to Bountiful       1  
1986 Marlee Matlin Children of a Lesser God       1  
1987 Cher Moonstruck       1  
1988 Jodie Foster The Accused 1        
1989 Jessica Tandy Driving Miss Daisy       1  
1990 Kathy Bates Misery   1      
1991 Jodie Foster The Silence of the Lambs *     1 I don't thiiiiiink she has nudity, but I didn't feel like reading the description too closely
1992 Emma Thompson Howards End       1  
1993 Holly Hunter The Piano 1        
1994 Jessica Lange Blue Sky     1    
1995 Susan Sarandon Dead Man Walking       1 IMDB was unclear as to whether explicit nudity was shown
1996 Frances McDormand Fargo 1       Unclear as to whether McDormand herself is nude
1997 Helen Hunt As Good as It Gets 1        
1998 Gwyneth Paltrow Shakespeare in Love 1        
1999 Hilary Swank Boys Don't Cry 1        
2000 Julia Roberts Erin Brockovich       1  
2001 Halle Berry Monster's Ball 1        
2002 Nicole Kidman The Hours       1  
2003 Charlize Theron Monster     1    
2004 Hilary Swank Million Dollar Baby       1  
2005 Reese Witherspoon Walk the Line       1  
2006 Helen Mirren The Queen       1  
2007 Marion Cotillard La Vie en Rose 1        
2008 Kate Winslet The Reader 1        
2009 Sandra Bullock The Blind Side       1  
2010 Natalie Portman Black Swan     1    
2011 Meryl Streep The Iron Lady *     1  
               
  Actress Totals   15 3 3 66  
               
  Overall Totals   20 12 7 134  

So basically, more male actors portrayed mental illness than nudity, and more female actors featured nudity than mental illness. Overall, nudity was more commonly shown than mental illness.

-Zedability

Question #70762 posted on 02/15/2013 12:46 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

How high above New York City would a nuclear bomb have to be detonated not to affect the inhabitants?

What would happen if one set off an nuclear bomb in space? On the Moon? On Jupiter (at the surface of, I suppose)? At the surface of the Sun?

-Peter Petrelli

A:

Dear Peter Petrelli,

First of all, you might be interested in this website, which models the effects of different nuclear bombs at different detonation sites. Unfortunately, the site could only model detonations at ground level. So I went back to the site where the developer got the original equations, and looked at those.

Now, the effect partly depends on the size of the warhead. According to the website, strategic warheads are commonly hundreds of kilotons or greater. I chose a 500 kiloton warhead to model. The definition of a "destructive radius" is defined as enough heat to cause 3rd degree burns, a 4.6 psi blast overpressure, and a 500 rem radiation dose.

rthermal = (500/2.5)0.41 = 8.78 km

rblast = (500/2.5)0.33 = 5.75 km

rradiation = (500/2.5)0.19 = 2.74 km

So according to those equations, as long as you were at least 8.78 km away, you wouldn't feel any immediately fatal effects. The tallest building in New York City is the Empire State Building, at 381 m. This means that the bomb would have to be set off at least 9.161 km above New York City for the blast to be guaranteed to not immediately kill anyone. This would place the blast in the top end of the troposphere. As a result, much of the radiation would be injected into the stratosphere - even when nuclear reactions do not occur 9 km up, the fireball in blasts above 100 kilotons is usually large enough to inject a significant amount of radiation into the stratosphere. When radiation is in the stratosphere, it doesn't get brought down to the surface by weather, and has the opportunity to harmlessly decay instead of being brought to the surface while it's still radioactive. Furthermore, because the bomb is exploding in the air, it doesn't vaporize anything on the land. This means that far fewer radioactive isotopes are produced, which further decreases the chances of radiation sickness. However, some fallout would still reach New York, and while very few people would immediately die of radiation sickness, there would probably be a greatly increased risk of cancer and other radiation-associated health problems.

Also, while air bursts decrease the severity of the initial shockwave, they also increase the area that experiences the shockwaves. Furthermore, while a blast at 9.161 km above New York City wouldn't give anyone third-degree burns, a lot of heat would probably still reach New York. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything that let me calculate alternate thermal radii. Based on these uncalculated factors (particularly the effect of altitude on radioactive particle distribution), I decided that a bomb would probably have an affect on New York City until it was firmly in the stratosphere. Height of the troposphere varies depending on where you are on the planet, so let's play it safe and say that the bomb would have to be at least 17 km up to have no significant physical affect. (The political and emotional affect, however, would probably still be quite large.)

Approximately to-scale diagram:

new york.png 
(clip art source)

However, you've got to be careful. Above 30 km, high-altitude nuclear explosions can disrupt satellites and lead to the collapse of the power grid. Computers, cell phones, and a great deal of infrastructure would be severly compromised. Depending on the severity of the pulse, some people theorize that the entire civil structure of the area would be severly threatened. So if you're a superhero trying to save New York, I'd recommend letting the bomb go off betwen 17 km and 30 km.

Alright, on to the rest of your question.

When a nuclear bomb is detonated in space, the lack of atmosphere means that the radiation does not attenuate the same way; that is, it stays potent longer. The radius of radiation can be 8 to 17 times larger than the radius at sea level. This means that the lethal radius can be over hundreds of miles, which is one of the primary differences when nuclear weapons are detonated in space. Furthermore, detonating nuclear weapons in space can lead to satellite disruptions and other problems, as discussed above. To see what a nuclear explosion looks like in space, check out this video.

Believe it or not, the question of detonating a nuclear bomb on the Moon was actually investigated during the Cold War. The detonation itself isn't too different, except for the fact that the low gravity would mean that the resulting dust cloud would be quite large. If it were detonated near the perimeter of the moon, the cloud would be plainly visible from Earth.

The question of detonating a nuclear weapon on the surface of Jupiter led me in several interesting directions. The first thing that came to my mind was the effect on Jupiter's atmosphere. As anyone familiar with the Great Red Spot knows, Jupiter has some awesome hurricanes. So what happens when you set off a nuclear bomb in a hurricane? Well, it turns out that enough people have asked this question that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a page specifically devoted to that question. Just enjoy that fact for a minute: enough people thought "Hurricanes? Why don't we just nuke 'em?" that they actually wrote up a detailed, serious answer to that question.

Anyways, a hurricane releases heat energy at a rate equal to that of a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. For reference, the bomb I modeled above was 0.5 megatons. From a strict energy standpoint, a bomb wouldn't be able to disrupt a hurricane at all. Furthermore, a nuclear explosion doesn't actually change the barometric pressure. So nuclear bombs have no effect on hurricanes on Earth, and Jupiter's storms are even bigger. Basically, a nuclear bomb detonated on Jupiter would look a lot like a nuclear bomb detonated on Earth, except for the fact that the atmosphere is less dense, so the radiation radius would be a great deal wider.

The other thing that this question turned up was an amusing theory about the Galileo probe. When Galileo's mission was over, NASA decided to crash Galileo into Jupiter, instead of allowing it to continue to orbit and possibly crash into one of Jupiter's moons, which could theoretically support life. Because of this, NASA didn't want to accidentally contaminate Europa. However, some people thought that NASA was secretly plotting to use Galileo as a fission bomb in order to kick-start a fusion reaction and make Jupiter a star. Unfortunately, while Jupiter has an abundance of hydrogen, it's the wrong isotope for a fusion reaction. Furthermore, Jupiter is simply too small to become a star, even if Galileo could act as a fission bomb, which it couldn't. It was an interesting tidbit to dig up, however.

Finally, detonating a bomb on the surface of the sun would have absolutely no effect whatsoever. First of all, it would be really difficult to get the bomb to the sun without it being destroyed by the heat long before it arrived. However, even in the event that you did get a nuclear bomb to the sun, even the largest nuclear weapon would be thousands of orders of magnitude less powerful than the sun. It would be a bit like throwing a pebble at a steam engine; the train just has too much momentum for the pebble to make a difference. 

I think you might also be interested in this article about detonating a nuclear bomb at the bottom of the sea.

-Zedability

Question #70687 posted on 02/11/2013 1:10 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I have this strange knack for knowing WAY more hymns in the hymn book than anyone else. As a result, I often pick hymns to sing that no one else knows, even though I think they're common. As a result, I come to you:

If you had to categorize each hymn based on it's commonness, with 1 being super common (i.e. Spirit of God) to 5 being arcane (i.e. #126, Lord, We Come Before Thee Now), how would the list break down?

I'll get you started (at least, how I think it would go)

#1--The Morning Breaks -- 2/5
#2--The Spirit of God -- 1/5
#3--Now Let Us Rejoice -- 1/5
#4--Truth Eternal (is this even right? I'm going by memory) -- 4/5
#5--High on the Mountain Top -- 1/5
etc. etc.

--I understand if this questions goes over, and look forward to Editor's Choice quality work.

A:

Dear yep, you called the timeline on this one,

We decided a 340-row table would be a bit excessively long to post, so we made the Google Doc public. Happy hymn-singing!

-Zedability, Anne, Certainly, Gimgimno, No Dice, Art Vandelay, and Eirene

Question #70678 posted on 02/20/2013 6:46 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

My roommate and I were wondering whether BYU has the most out-of-state students of any university in the United States, not as a percentage but as an actual number. After searching Google for a while, we haven't had a breakthrough. Can you help us figure this out?

-BYU Utahn

A:

Dear BYU Utahn,

I think the reason you were having trouble finding solid numbers is because (prior to me writing this question, of course), those numbers didn't exist in any one spot on the Internet. I had to pull my information from multiple sources.

My methodology for this question was first, to look at all the degree-granting, not-online, not-military universities in the country in order of full-time undergraduate enrollment. I chose to only include undergrads, since grad students tend to be a different population altogether. It was also important to only look at full-time undergrads, since otherwise, you get a bunch of community colleges claiming they have over 50,000 undergrads, when only a fraction of those are active, full-time students. To find the official rankings for numbers of undergraduates, I used the National Center for Education Statistics' searchable database.

Unfortunately, that database doesn't contain information on in-state and out-of-state students, so I had to go elsewhere to find those numbers. Many universities participate in the Common Data Set program, which is basically an unfunded initiative asking colleges to provide answers to a standardized ~20 page survey about admissions, student demographics, financial aid, and student life at their university. The good news was that the Common Data Set conveniently asks about the percent of out-of-state undergraduate students. The bad news was that there's no single, searchable database for the Common Data Sets, so to find those percentages, it was a matter of Googling the most recent Common Data Set for each university in question.

Then, I calculated the number of out-of-state students for each one, based on the full-time undergraduate enrollment (from the NCES database) and the percent of out-of-state students (from each university's respective Common Data Set).

This first table includes all degree-granting, non-online, non-military universities in the country that are at least as big as BYU. As you can see, no university that is at least BYU's size has anywhere near as high of a percentage of out-of-staters. In terms of raw numbers, BYU still has the highest number of out-of-state students of all of these universities. The runners-up, Arizona State University and Pennsylvania State University, are much larger institutions but still only have about 2/3 the number of out-of-state students that BYU has. We can definitely conclude that out of universities at least BYU's size, BYU has the highest percentage of out-of-state students, as well as the highest raw number.

Institution Name Full-time Undergraduate Enrollment Percent Out of State Number Out of State (rounded down to nearest human)
Arizona State University 50,484 23 11611
Ohio State University 39,234 12 4708
Pennsylvania State University 37,347 30 11204
University of Central Florida 37,271 4.5 1677
Texas A&M 36,507 3 1095
University of Texas-Austin 35,608 5 1780
Michigan State University 33,412 9 3007
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 31,311 9 2817
Indiana University-Bloomington 31,093 28 8706
University of Florida 30,343 2.5 758
Purdue University-Main Campus 29,998 31 9299
Rutgers University-New Brunswick 29,752 7.3 2171
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 29,194 25.8 7532
Florida State University 28,864 12.3 3550
Brigham Young University 28,005 65 18203

At this point, the only way that another college could have a higher raw number of out-of-state students than BYU would be if it had at least 18,203 students and a higher percent of out-of-state students than BYU. I identified a few possible contenders by looking at schools with at least 18,203 undergraduates that were likely to have a high percentage of out-of-state students (including private universities and well-known public universities).

Institution Name Full-time Undergraduate Enrollment Percent Out of State Number Out of State
Temple University 24,593 18 4426
New York University 21,327 65 13862
University of Massachusetts Amherst 20,254 21 4253

Of universities smaller than BYU, New York University is the only one that could come close; it had an identical percentage of out-of-state students, but a smaller undergraduate student body overall, giving it about 3/4 as many out-of-state undergrads as BYU.

After looking up all of these numbers, I think it's very safe to conclude that your hunch was correct, and BYU does have the highest number of out-of-state students of all US degree-granting universities that are not online and not affiliated with the military. It also appears to have a relatively high percentage of out-of-state students, though there are a number of much smaller universities with a higher outright percentage (for example, it's 85% at Harvard and 93% at Yale).

- Eirene

Question #70656 posted on 08/07/2013 5:04 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What city/town/village/human settlement is the furthest from an LDS temple? (If it's the research station in Antarctica, I'd like to know the furthest point excluding Antarctica too, please.)

- Optimistic.

A:

Dear Optimistic.,

Well, the long-awaited day has finally arrived. To answer your question, I created a globe with ArcGIS displaying all of the temples worldwide and using buffers to show distance.

Here is the video.

I'd just like everyone to appreciate that I did this almost entirely from scratch, meaning I had to log the names and coordinates of every temple in the world manually before I could manipulate the data. (Yes, I probably could have found the data online somewhere, but I really needed the practice.) Also, because I could not find access to any computer with both ArcGIS and audio recording capabilities in a reasonably noise-free environment, I had to record the audio and the video separately.

If any GIS users would like a copy of my files, email me and I'll get them to you.

Finally,

-yayfulness

A:

Dear Optimistic.,

I took a somewhat different approach than yayfulness (great answer, by the way!). I got PostGIS set up and imported a map of the LDS temples (and added in some recently-announced ones). I also imported data on all of the "populated places" tracked by the NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency), which included 2.9 million places in foreign countries; and I imported data from the USGS (United States Geological Survey), which included 200,000 places in the United States.

From there, it was relatively simple to calculate the closest temple to each human settlement, and find the settlement with the greatest distance. The furthest human settlement from any temple, including ones that have only been announced (but not completed yet) is Hitadu, in the Maldives. (I've also seen it spelled Hitaddu and Hithadhoo.) It's 5128 kilometers (3186 miles) from the nearest temple, which is the Hong Kong China temple.

However, if you count only actually operational temples, the furthest human settlement from any temple is Minni Minni, a British Indian Ocean Territory, a bit south of Hitadu. It's 5143 kilometers (3196 miles) from the nearest temple, which is the Johannesburg South Africa temple. (The announced Durban South Africa temple, when completed, will bump it down slightly and make Hitadu the "winner.")

Antarctica

Temporary research bases and the like don't seem to be included in this data, which makes sense. As a result, Antarctica wasn't even in the running. However, just to check, I pulled in the locations of all Antarctic research stations and found their closest temples. One of the more well-known stations, McMurdo, is actually closer to a temple than either Hitadu or Minni Minni; it is 4475 kilometers (2781 miles) from the Hamilton New Zealand temple. However, several are further than either of the above, and the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station is (unsurprisingly) the furthest from a temple, at 5809 kilometers (3610 miles) from the Melbourne Australia temple.

Bonus Round

As a bonus, what about meetinghouses? Which populated place is furthest from a meetinghouse? (Excluding Antarctica again.) I managed to get the locations of all meetinghouses (nearly 18,000 of them), and ran the numbers. And it turns out that the settlement furthest from any LDS meetinghouse is Port-aux-Français, far south of both Hitadu and Minni Minni. It's 3367 kilometers (2092 miles) from the nearest meetinghouse, in Taolagnaro, Madagascar (home of the Tanambao branch and Amparihy branch).

And finally, which meetinghouse is furthest from the nearest temple? That's the Goa meetinghouse (home of the Goa branch), on the southwestern coast of India, which is 4295 kilometers (2669 miles) from the Hong Kong temple. (It's the furthest away including both operational and announced temples.)

Visuals

I wanted to find a good way to present all of this visually, and ended up creating a heat map. Here's a small version; click through for a full-screen, interactive version, showing all temples whether built or announced. The rough distance to the nearest temple for the spot the mouse is pointing to is shown in the lower-right (the mouse location is accurate to the nearest degree of latitude/longitude). Using the controls in the upper-right corner you can change the opacity of the distance overlay or turn the layers on and off, and switch between Google and OpenStreetMap.

temple_map_screenshot.png

I think it's interesting that you can see traces of the Thiessen polygons that yayfulness talks about around some of the temples (check out the Pacific, and crank up the opacity). Also note that this is using a Mercator projection, since that's what Google Maps and most other online maps use, which is why things start looking pretty stretched out toward the north and south extremes.

If you're interested in other Church-related maps, check out the award-winning atlas Mapping Mormonism: An Atlas of Latter-day Saint History, which came out last fall. (There's also an accompanying website, mappingmormonism.byu.edu, which seems to be down a lot in the last couple of days when I've been trying to access it, but when it's up it has some maps you can explore online.)

—Laser Jock

Question #70653 posted on 01/26/2013 1:46 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

A lot of time in movies people say, "oh, you know those Irish Catholics," or "he's an Italian Catholic," or "she was raised French Catholic/Mexican Catholic/Brazilian Catholic," etc. What do these mean? Are there really such distinctions between the practices of the same faith in different countries? What are some of those distinctions that would set them apart?

-Jack Donaghy

A:

Dear Jack,

Opening/Apology:

So, first, thanks for asking this - I'm actually taking a Religious History class right now, so this question let me do some research in a related field.

Second, let me apologize: This answer is not very simple or very clear cut. As I searched this, it became apparent that the background of religious development into these different groups is not an easy thing. So, sorry if this is totally not what you were looking for - hopefully it will be informative anyways.

Getting started:

In speaking to BYU's religious librarian (thanks to him for his help on this!), he compared the different ethnic strains of Catholicism to those in Mormonism. He commented that while the Church is still the same, you may find differences in culture affecting religion, like Tongans wearing lava-lavas to church rather than the western-traditional pants.  In the church, we speak of "Utah" Mormons. As someone from outside of Utah may assert, they can be pretty different - not because the sacraments, doctrines, or ordinances of the faith are different, but because the culture mixed into the religion is. 

However, like all LDS wards and branches, all Catholics belong to the same church. All have the same pope, the same official doctrine and canon. What will vary from nation to nation is the "flavor" of that religion, which will inevitably be influenced by the development of the church, pre- or co-existing religions, and other cultural factors.

Let's take a look at two large "branches" of Catholicism to get an idea for how Catholicism develops differently in different times and places.

Irish Catholics:

In a 2012 Catholic Almanac, Ireland is listed as being 76% Catholic.1 The almanac goes on to explain that the nation was initially introduced to Catholicism through the efforts of St. Patrick in the 5th century, though full conversion took "until the seventh century or later." The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia explains that following the conversion of Ireland

Because the Western Roman Empire had dissolved into chaos, Irish Christianity established itself in great isolation, and adapted itself to a considerable degree to the patterns of civil society. The most distinctive feature of this society was that it was based on the extended kin grop rather than on territorially-defined units. In consequence, the territorial ecclesiastical units ... remained weak, while the strong unit was the monastery because it was more closely linked to the kin group.2

The Encyclopedia goes on to explain that even after Norman conquest, "The island was so fragmented that complete conquest [and the institution of centralized government] was difficult ... It settled down as a country of two cultures, Gaelic and Norman with a Church inter Hiberno [Irish] and a Church inter Anglos." Eventually, "The Irish were the only European people not to follow the religion of their civil ruler. ... the sheer weight of Catholic numbers made it possible to organize the Church on a ... territorial basis." 

The Encyclopedia comments both on the eventual rebellion of Irish Catholics who were for a long time refused religious rights and political rights (based on their religion) as well as the "rigorous religious observance [developed by the poor Irish Catholics during the Great Famine] that owed at least as much to a determination to preserve the family farm intact as to any precepts inculcated by the clergy". Many of these poor Irish Catholics would end up emigrating to America, where they would be able to retain ties to their homeland through their family-connecting religion.

Given the religious division between the rest of the British Isles (Anglican) and Ireland (Catholic,) the Encylcopedia's assertion that religion and politics were very intertwined for Irish Catholics makes sense. So, here we have a group of Catholics whose Catholicism has become inextricably linked with their own culture.

I looked up some Irish Catholic stereotypes to see what kind of thing people mean when they make comments about Irish Catholics. Interestingly, it seems to me that people seem to conflate Irish people with Irish Catholic people when stereotyping. Given the tight interweaving of Irish Catholicism with Irish culture in general, this perhaps should not be too surprising. One website characterized prevailing stereotype of Irish Catholics (historically) as being a group of "lazy, drunken, and proliferate." 

I think that today, such stereotypes are falling, though there appears to still be some stereotyping about the size of Irish Catholic families (which makes some sense, given that Catholic religion rejects artificial birth control methods and that many people probably still associate Irish people with Catholicism).

As to differences in practice, I found the USA Irish Apostolate, which explains that there are some unique traditions Irish Catholics have (such as outdoor "mass rocks" used for Mass celebrations during times of religious oppression, the idea of "Station mass" held at someone's house in the absence of church availablity, but now continued out of tradition and because of the social aspect. Irish "wakes" (services for the dead), are also listed as a specifically Irish tradition, rooted "in the strength of the Irish family and community." So, we have individual traditions that evolved because of local circumstances, but ultimately Irish Catholics are a part of the same universal Roman Catholic religion.

In sum: Things that make Irish Catholicism unique

1. Its initial organization as more of a family-based religion than a structure-based religion.

2. The opposition, oppression, and antagonizing it faced from other religions.

Irish Catholicism is very intertwined with Irish culture. This means that stereotypes about Irish people in general, (often constructed by unsympathetic non-Irish people) can easily be applied to "Irish Catholics" through conflation of the two groups. Irish Catholics do have unique traditions and "flavor."

Brazilian Catholics:

Once again, a brief bit of history/background. So, the Enclopedia of Catholicism explains that "Brazilian Catholics donstitute the largest body of Catholics in the word. Catholicism first came to Brazil in 1500."3 The New Catholic Encyclopedia further elaborates, explaining that Jesuits and Franciscans were active parts of the conversion of Brazil, "[creating] crude grammars and catechisms in the so-called 'lingoa geral,' a sort of lingua franca more or less understood by most of the native people in the region," and that "in 1533, the Jesuit general superior in Rome separated the missions of Brazil from Portugal and founded an independent province of Jesuits in the new land."4 Jesuits encouraged natives to live in a system of "village mission settlements" known as "aldeiamento."5 In these missions, Brazilian natives and Portuguese Catholics learned to communicate. Eventually, "native peoples were gathered into new strategically placed villages [with] catechetical instruction morning and evening for all." So, semi-forced conversion in the name of "civilizing" natives is at the foundation of Brazilian Catholicism.

Eventually Brazil became independent of its former colonial masters. Catholicism did not leave with the departure of formal Portuguese political control, though; the New Catholic Encyclopedia claims that Brazil remains "overwhelmingly Catholic," though "only 20 percent of all Catholics regularly [practice] their faith." In modern times, Brazilian Catholicism has flirted with "Liberation theology," a religious relationship between freeing the physically poor and oppressed in society and the ideas of liberation present in Christian theology. This liberation theology aspect of Brazilian Catholicism has caused some strain with the Vatican, but Brazilian Catholicism remains formally united with Roman Catholicism despite such cultural differences. Catholicism in Brazil has thus also been intertwined with local politics of a rising nation.

And that's without even getting into Japanese-Brazilian Catholicism or Afro-Brazilian Catholicism. Essentially, recall that Brazil is a place of diversity with natives, European immigrants, Asian immigrants, and imported African slaves that have all been influenced by and influenced Catholicism for hundreds of years.

Recently, as expressed in this article, Brazil has experienced something of an evangelical revolution, and Catholicism in Brazil is moving in that direction in order to keep members. "Charismatic" Christianity - faith that focuses on the manifestations of spiritual gifts - is on the rise in Brazil, and that is influencing Brazilian Catholicism.

In Sum: Things that make Brazilian Catholicism unique

1. Imposed Catholicism given as a "civilizing" method to Brazilian natives by Portuguese Catholics.

2. A continuing culture of Catholicism among diverse individuals (if not intense religious practice of the religion) and its role as an institution of change/reform/etc. I'm not going to go into research about syncretism with native religions, African religions, etc., but I'm sure that's been relative as well.

3. A movement in Brazil towards evangelicalism, Protestantism and charismatic religion.

Some unique Brazilian Catholic traditions/observances can be found at this site.

So what? Closing thoughts:

As you can see, the idea of [Nationality/Country] Catholicism is real. Catholicism cannot exist in a vacuum; all religions are affected by their political and social surroundings and by the history of the people adopting them. Each sub-culture within the Catholic church will depend upon the context in which it exists. Additionally, someone on Yahoo! Answers asked a similar question to you, which you may be interested in. Answers here point out things like local traditions and saints, traditional relations between groups, etc.

So, given all these sources and my knowledge, what I can give you is this: When someone makes a comment about "Brazilian Catholics" "French Catholics" "Irish Catholics" etc., they are bringing up an entire cultural history and a congregation/group distinguished by the unique identity that history creates. 

Whew! Religion is complicated stuff. If you're interested in Catholicism in a specific region, I'd recommend coming to the HBLL and looking over the articles in Catholic Encyclopedias (of which BYU has several) regarding Catholicism in that country or even just doing a google search for "Unique traditions [X] Catholic" or some such. Best of luck if you decide to continue research!

~Anne, Certainly

1 Erlandson, Greg. Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Almanac. 2012 Edition. Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2012. 314. Print.

2 Glazier, Michael, and Monika K Hellwig. The Modern Catholic Encyclopeida. Collegeville: Order of Saint Benedict, 2004. 414-415. Print.

3 McBrien, Richard P. The HarperCollins Encyclopedia Of Catholicism. 1st ed. New York: HarperOne, 1996. 194. Print.

New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. 10. Washington D.C: Gale, 2003. Book 2, 587-599. Print.

New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. 10. Washington D.C: Gale, 2003. Book 1, 244-245. Print.

Question #70552 posted on 01/23/2013 1:40 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

A hypothetical BYU student gets caught by non-BYU police in Utah County with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. First time offense. This hypothetical person will appear in the future to plead guilty.

First, any ideas of that this sort of thing usually leads to, legally? Suspended sentence, fines, community service, suspended drivers license?

Second, does BYU search through the public record to find students with convictions, and if the Honor Code Office were to find out, what would be the possible ramifications. The hypothetical person is currently in their last semester before graduating.

- worried hypothetical

A:

Dear hypothetical,

Well, once again the 100 Hour Board makes my Google search history a more random place. 

The bad news:

The charges and penalties for marijuana/paraphernalia possession vary. This table, taken from Rasmussen and Miner's website, shows the Utah penalties and charges for possession of marijuana (assuming a first time offense):

Amount in Your Possession Charge Possible Penalties
Possession of 1 oz of marijuana or less Class B Misdemeanor Penalties include incarceration for a period of up to 6 months with a fine of $1,000
Possession of between 1 oz and 1 lb of marijuana Class A Misdemeanor Penalties include incarceration for a period of up to 1 year with a fine of $2,500
Possession of between 1 lb and 100 lbs of marijuana Third Degree Felony Penalties include incarceration for a period of up to 5 years with a fine of $5,000
Possession of greater than 100 lbs Second Degree Felony Penalties include incarceration for a period of 1 to 15 years with a fine of $10,000

The same attorney's site states that possession of paraphernalia is a Class B Misdemeanor and that "Penalties include incarceration for a period of up to 6 months and a fine of $1000.

Another problem you may run into is that "your driver's license will be suspended for six months if you are convicted of any marijuana-related charges."

Another attorney website, Sharifi and Baron, point out that if you were pulled over in a drug free zone, your charges could be elevated from the typical possession charges.

Now, Rasmussen's site also points out that it's possible they could help you get punishments reduced through plea bargaining or what have you. It's important  to recognize that lawyers want you to realize that you're in a bad spot (so you'll hire them) but also convince you that they really can help you to do damage control. 

An official (non-commercial) source for these penalties can be found here.

Remember; the 100 Hour Board does not offer legal advice or remove the need for a licensed attorneys. 
 
Now, the potentially good news:

One of the things brought up on a website I perused was that judges often consult sentencing guidelines, considering these forms when sentencing. Assuming you have no prior anything (including before reaching adulthood), your location on this matrix is likely to be within the area suggested for probation rather than imprisonment.

So, legally speaking:

There are some serious potential ramifications from this type of arrest. You may wish to consider engaging the services of a lawyer; you have a right to counsel and it may be a good time to exercise it (if you were charged with a felony, you will likely also have the right to have counsel provided for you if you cannot afford it.)

 Effects at BYU:

I contacted the BYU honor code office with a details-removed version of this question, and received the following response.

Thank you for your email regarding students who may have been involved in a misdemeanor with the police off campus. [Note: I assumed that you'll only be charged with misdemeanors, ie that you didn't have at least a pound of marijuana or intent to distribute.] Violation allegations come from many sources. BYU students have a responsibility to represent the Church and BYU in all their dealings by abiding in their Honor Code commitment both on and off campus and between semesters. When misconduct becomes public knowledge and involves a BYU student, the Honor Code Office may receive reports from people who are aware of the incident.

Off campus police departments generally do not provide reports to the HCO. However, if there are concerns that the incident may affect the community or other students, they may choose to make a report. The consequences for breaking the law are handled by the police and the courts.

A BYU student should take responsibility for their misconduct with the University when they have violated principles of the Honor Code. One of these principles is to obey the law and all campus policies. This is a part of the contractual agreement they entered into when they signed the Honor Code and committed themselves to abide in the principles of the Honor Code.

We hope this information is helpful.

So, that's the official word from the HCO. 

~Anne, Certainly

Question #70540 posted on 01/21/2013 9:58 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

A recent petition on the whitehouse.gov site to re-start the process of ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment got me wondering.

Apparently, the Church was heavily involved in fighting against the ERA, similar to the Prop 8 thing in California a few years ago. My question is: why? Why would the Church be opposed to "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged ... on account of sex"?

- Binary Search Tree

A:

Dear Binary Search Tree,

I found a very thorough-looking Ensign article from 1980: "The Church and the Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: A Moral Issue", which you may want to read to get the full story. However, I'll summarize and explain why the Church was opposed before. (Please note that although some of these reasons may still apply today, others make more sense when considered in the context of their time period. Also, this was not an official statement by the Church, but rather an attempt to explain the issue by the staff of the Ensign; since the Ensign is a Church publication I feel like this was still fairly official, but there is a difference.)

Although the Church is (of course!) in favor of equal rights for women, they didn't feel like the ERA was the right way to go about it. They pointed out that sex discrimination was already Constitutionally prohibited (and had been the subject of further laws), and that a Constitutional amendment wouldn't magically erase any current inequities: Congress would still need to get laws passed (or overturned, as the case may be), just they're already doing.

Then they get to what I feel like are their main reasons: the ERA would force gay marriage to be allowed, would defeat any chance of overturning "abortion on demand" (which was fairly recent in 1980, since Roe v. Wade was only in 1973), and would pose threats to what we consider God's plan for the family (as stated more recently in the Proclamation on the Family, for instance).

The issue of gay marriage is fairly obvious, I think: a woman can marry a man, so under the language of the ERA, a man should be able to marry a man as well (and likewise for women marrying women). The issue of abortion was less clear to me, but after a little searching I found this brief explanation. Basically, the state of New Mexico has passed its own version of the ERA (as have a number of other states), and in a decision in 1998, New Mexico Right to Choose/Naral v. Johnson, the New Mexico Supreme Court addressed the issue of taxpayer-funded abortion and found unanimously that a state ban on tax-funded abortions "undoubtedly singles out for less favorable treatment a gender-linked condition that is unique to women." It seems likely that a similar decision would be reached on a national level if the ERA were passed; the logic seems pretty straightforward. (They give more reasoning in their decision in the paragraphs around the line I quoted, which you may or may not be interested in.)

The family point may also need a little clarification. Again based on other states that had passed their own versions of the ERA (on a state level), it looks likely that the ERA would "make it more difficult for wives and mothers to remain at home because it could require the removal of legal requirements that make a husband responsible for the support of his wife and children" (quoting from the Ensign article). In other words, things like child support and alimony may be struck down, which would make it riskier for women to stay at home rather than working. This might discourage those women who wish to remain at home and raise their family. Another quote from the Ensign sums it up:

Therefore, it is with this understanding of God’s instructions that we have noted the negative impact that ERA could have on present laws protecting mothers and children from fathers who do not accept legal responsibilities for their children, and on present laws protecting family structure and relationships between husbands and wives. The proposed ERA challenges this entire scriptural understanding, brings ambiguity to relationships where ambiguity need not exist, and portends tragic consequences for individuals and society.

Finally, they include some points that I think could be very convincing even to people who don't share the LDS views on issues like abortion, gay marriage, and the family. First of all, although the language of the ERA is very simple, a number of additions were suggested and struck down, including clauses that state the ERA (a) wouldn't impair laws that protect or exempt women / wives / mothers / widows; (b) wouldn't impair laws that impose upon fathers responsibility for support of their children; (c) wouldn't affect laws that "secure privacy to men and women, boys and girls"; and (d) would at least allow distinctions "based on physiological or functioning differences between [males and females]". Why does what they didn't say in the ERA matter? The Ensign points out that "Should the ERA be ratified, the courts will look to this legislative history as they seek to determine the intent of the lawmakers. The lawmakers clearly voted for no distinctions or exceptions on the basis of sex."

For people who are states' rights advocates, the ERA would continue the erosion of states' rights. As already pointed out, a number of states have already passed their own versions of the ERA, so that is clearly an option on a state by state basis. Also, because the language of the law is so vague, it would give a huge amount of power to (nonelected) judges as to how to interpret it, rather than letting the (elected) legislatures make the decisions.

The ERA could have interesting effects on school sports. As of 1980, both Pennsylvania and Washington had rulings that all school sports must be open to students of both genders. (I don't know, but I would guess there have been other rulings since then.) If taken to its logical conclusion, this would reduce the opportunity for as many girls and women to participate in school sports, since in many sports, men have physical advantages as a result of biology.

I should point out that it appears that just like with Proposition 8, the Ensign article stated that the Church allowed members to support the ERA without effect on their temple recommend or membership in the Church. However, actively denouncing the Church itself was, of course, an issue that could lead to excommunication.

Thanks for asking an interesting question. I've been vaguely aware of the ERA for a few years now, but I had no idea why the Church opposed it or some of the surprising effects it would likely have.

—Laser Jock

Question #70513 posted on 01/15/2013 12:28 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I was browsing the stacks in the HBLL when I happened upon a peculiar book. Inside the front cover is the signature of Joseph F. Smith. The book was published during his lifetime, and there's a date written in the same handwriting as the signature indicating a date during his life.

So, if I took it to Special Collections or something, would they be able to tell me if that's really his signature? Do you think they would want to put it in Special Collections?

Also, are any of you library ninjas who know what book I'm talking about based on the little information I've included here?

-Cassiodorus Biblothecarius

A:

Dear You,

I appreciate the lack of call number, title, author, or even subject. It was quite the adventure to walk into the library and say, "I am looking for a book. It has Joseph F. Smith's signature in it and it is not in Special Collections." You know what they told me? "Ask the 100 Hour Board." So then I thought to myself, "Tink, you're part of the 100 Hour Board. Where is the book?" And then I was like, "Nope, still don't know."

I headed down to the good old Special Collections anyways, to ask the the first two questions, at least. At first, they said that if it had Joseph F. Smith's signature and it was in the stacks, it was probably a fake. But then, another librarian said it was quite possible that it was his signature, and to bring it in to compare, but it didn't need to be moved to Special Collections permanently.

I  had the answer to the question, but I was still out of luck on the book. I really wanted to find it, so the librarians did a special search and came up with four possible book titles. I found the books, and there was no signature. So I went back to Special Collections. They said that there wasn't anything else to be done, it would have to be found at random again.

Now, I'm a pretty stubborn person. If I wanted to find that book, I was going to find that book. I tried a lot of different keyword searches, and found a function on the library catalog that the librarians in Special Collections didn't even know was there. It allowed me to search for obscure things, such as the book binder, cover designer, dedicatee, or even signer!

There were still a lot of books that popped up as having Joseph F. Smith's signature in them. The problem was, many books had multiple copies in the library; one in Special Collections, and one in the stacks. That is how I ended up looking in so many books that didn't actually have his signature.

A few hours and several frustrated librarians later, I ask you: Is this the book you found?

P1110023.JPG

P1110026.JPG

I took it down to Special Collections, where the librarians and I compared it to a verified signature. I'd say it looks authentic.

P1110030.JPG

I regret to inform you they decided to take the book, and double check that no one wanted it moved into Special Collections. However, I am sure you could go there and inquire about its fate.

-Tink

p.s. Before I found it, the librarian in Special Collections had a very compelling argument as to why the signature was probably real. "If I were going to deface a book, I wouldn't sign Joseph F. Smith's name. That's just weird."

p.p.s. Today's title quote is "It's kind of fun to do the impossible." Yes, Walt Disney, it is.

posted on 01/20/2013 2:22 p.m.
Those are some crazy library skills! Good job! While you didn't find the same book I found, I'm seriously impressed that you were able to find a book signed by Joseph F. Smith.

The book I found is Strikers, Communists, Tramps, and Detectives, by Allan Pinkerton. The call number is HD 5325 .R12 1877 .P45.

The signature in this one is a little different than the ones you found, but it was also signed in 1878, more than thirty years before the ones you found.

I'll go take some pictures to send you guys so you can add them in as a comment or something, and then I'll see what Special Collections has to say about it.

Thanks for the great answer,

Cassiodorus
Question #70269 posted on 01/29/2013 10:46 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I was reading through the archives, and I was wondering, as to the previous writers, "Where are they now?" As in what have they been up to, whether or not the tunnel worms got them, etc., not their exact whereabouts.

-Ninja Lime

A:

Dear Ninja Lime,

A.A. Melyngoch is currently working on a PhD while simultaneously teaching as an Associate Instructor of English.

Ambrosia worked for a few years as a technical writer before becoming a stay-at-home parent to a couple of Bawblings.

Anomalous is living in SLC and working as a reporter.

Baked Alaska graduated from BYU, moved to Arizona, and got married this last spring to the world's nicest guy.

Beemer Boy

Beemer Boy is happily married to a gorgeous, 5'11 green-eyed blond who is his superior in every way. They have three kids who are better than yours. Beemer Boy, still seeking the elusive car that is his namesake, has worked in and around Salt Lake since graduating. He's still an Apple fan and we thought we lost him when the iPhone was announced  in 2007 and he almost went into cardiac arrest from excitement.

Bertie Wooster went to law school and was never heard from again.

Birdy

I graduated! This is really the only update of enough importance to merit a mention on the Board, but exciting nonetheless.

-Birdy

Boolean works as a web developer in SLC.

Branflakes works for Adobe as a network engineer.

Brief

Dear NL,

Here. Stuff.

Brief

Britboy

Dear Neither a Ninja nor a Limey

Now I got t' tell ye, sir, tha' ye really canna be much of a ninja if'n ye dunna know where we are? C'mon now! 'Tisn't like there be a lot o' us or anythin. An ye dunna know enough to be a sailor in the queen's Navy either. Stick to your Yankee infantry.

As fer me, I've settled fer now in the south a the States where it's far too warm right now for December. Anyone else be havin tha problem? I got a whole bin of jumpers up in me closet, but it idn't cold enough. What I'd been doin' is, y'see, I jes came back in from takin' a commendation out to the letterbox for one of me friends. The wee lass is goin off to university already. They grows up too fast.
Bob's your uncle.

An now, I'm feelin' a bit peckish. I'm gonna go an make some bangers n mash t' break me fast. Take care, now!

BritBoy

Brutus

After leaving BYU and The Board in 2007, I moved to Columbus, Ohio to finish my schooling at The Ohio State University.  I finished a BA in German in 2010 and a BS in Chemical Engineering in March 2012.  I currently live and in the Pittsburgh, PA area working as a Measurement Engineer for a midstream oil and gas company.  With hydraulic fracturing (fracking) becoming more mainstream, southwestern Pennsylvania is experiencing a fairly large oil boom and I expect to be here for the foreseeable future.  I miss living in Ohio (where God lives), but I have some family in this area and Pittsburgh is beginning more and more to feel like home.  I update my blog (boardbrutus.blogspot.com) fairly irregularly, but if you have questions about what I am doing, I check it often enough to get back to you. I do, in fact, still have the button, despite anything that Uffish Thought, Lavish, or Optimus Prime may claim.

I sure hope this helps.  Please don’t hate me.

Brutus

Buttercup

Buttercup has a soulless corporate job, so she's applying to grad school right now in an effort to change that. She's currently reading Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor, listening to Underwater by Joshua Radin, and recently re-watched Moonrise Kingdom. All three are absolutely delightful.

CAPCOM is a doctor in the state of Washington.

CATS

It is a break. But can it?? It will have a shining light, unless. Ha Ha Ha Ha...

Conrad is married and living in Pennsylvania.

Castle in the Sky married the Defenestrator, proving that two Boardies can get involved without disastrous results. They have two kids.

Claudio

Dear Ninja Fruit,
 
I'm halfway through my third year of medical school. I almost feel like I know what's going on some of the time. Medical education is....a process. I came into medical school almost sure I wanted to go into gastroenterology, but then I unexpectedly fell in love with surgery. While I haven't made the decision for sure, I'm probably going to apply soon for a residency in general surgery. Someday, dear reader, I may have my hands all up in your guts. We can both look forward to that! I'll bring the knife!
 
Talk about school, check; make really scary side comment to readers, check; ah, it's time to talk about my family! I'm the proud father of three adorable daughters. My girls are 4, 2, and 8 months. My amazing wife stays home with them and keeps all of our lives running smoothly. Now at six-and-a-half years of marriage, I'm more convinced than ever that I made the right choice, marriage-wise. Our oldest daughter was diagnosed as autistic about a year ago, which has been an interesting thing to deal with. Luckily, we have a very supportive family and a good series of occupational, physical, and speech therapists helping her out. Mrs. Claudio has started homeschooling her and is making really good progress with teaching her how to read and the very beginnings of arithmetic.
 
All in all, life is pretty great! I'm on my way to my desired career with my awesome family by my side. Thanks for asking!
 
-Claudio

Cognoscente works as a systems analyst and got married to his missionary in 2010. They have a dog, a cat, and two guinea pigs. 

Commander Keen will be at BYU for a little while longer. He got married just a few months back.

Cuddlefish

I've escaped the cold winters of Idaho and moved to a burning desert, where I now am a large arms dealer.  Missiles and the like. That's about all I'm up to.  Have a lovely Christmas!

de novo

Benvolio and I (Kassidy) are specializing in little girls; we had our third in October. Benvolio is practicing law. I'm staying home raising our girls and playing my French horn in local musical groups. To this day, if either of us don't know the answer to a question, we look it up. 100 Hour Board habits die hard.

Democritus

Dear Citrus-no-jutsu,

After departing Provo with the aspirations of making real money, I found myself wishing I could have stuck around just a little bit longer to get my master's thesis fully squared away. Needless to say, when I was working a full-time job and still trying to do research and write papers in my spare time, I couldn't keep up the board life. Somehow in the middle of it all, I met a Lovely Lady who pitied me for my plight and politely accepted my company whenever I had the opportunity. After weeks of cloistering myself in my one bedroom office, I finished my degree and asked Lovely Lady to marry me. I promptly took a trip around the world without her, realized my mistake and returned to her, and got married.
 
And now I have a fine trench coat.
 
-Democritus
 
democritus trench coat.jpg

Dinomight, I can only assume, is working as a programmer somewhere.

Dr. Smeed is currently a US Army Signal officer stationed in Georgia. He is the father of two strong and handsome boys.

Dragon Lady is a full-time mom of two girls. She remains an authority on all things gardening, Harry Potter, and Jerusalem.

Duchess

Dear Ninja Lime,

How nice of you to ask. Since leaving the Board in 2006 a lot has happened in my life. I've changed employment 4 times, careers 3 times, and moved from Provo to Draper to Salt Lake. I earned an MS degree in Technical Communication from Utah State University (though I never lived in Logan, thank goodness, as it is way too cold there). I've always worked in some sort of communications position, but now I'm working in documentation. Let's face it, I used to write user manuals for the Board writers just for fun, and I think they all thought I was nuts. If that didn't do it, compiling the entire Board history (as still posted on the Board's website) was probably a close second. I spend a lot of time traveling and being the best aunt in the world to my 3 nieces and 2 nephews.

I actually still associate with a lot of Board writers. I keep up with Branflakes, Pa Grape, Benvolio & Kassidy, the Mighty Quinn, Katya, Ambrosia, Mynamyn, Lavish, and others. And interestingly enough, the world is still pretty small because I now work with Yellow! Let me tell you he was as surprised to see me as I was to see him, if not more so. (I'm sorry to break it to everyone, but we work for the best company ever.)

When I have time I come down to BYU football and basketball games—I was at that St. Mary's game and totally missed that last shot that lost the game for us! Campus has changed a lot since I was a freshman as DT no longer exists, The Cannon Center has been completely remodeled, Heritage Halls is in transition, and all that's left of the Morris Center are my memories of treks for IBC Root Beer. But the Board is still here. And I hope that the current and future Board writers can maintain the standard of excellence that the original Board creators set up so long ago in 1995—or whenever it really got started—and keep it going for many more years to come.
 
Keep learning,

Duchess

Eowyn

I'm homeschooling a strangely increasing number of children, chugging through hubby's pursuit of a PhD while I polish my shiny longest-B.S.-ever diploma on the wall, and planning to attend midwifery or ND school when these children stop showing up at my house constantly.

FCSM

I'm living in Utah County working from home as a software developer, putting Mr. Socks through school.  No cats or kids.... yet ;)  I developed an unexpected passion six years ago for healthy cooking and other domestic activities, which leads to me saying weird things like, "I'd rather be programming or baking!" 

fine print is living in Arizona with her husband and three children, the youngest of which arrived just last month.

Foreman is living in the DC area with his lovely wife Stargirl and is enrolled in a Master's program.

Fractile lives in Colorado where he works for EDUCAUSE, and, as of October of last year, is married.

Fsyod is married with two boys and a girl, and last I heard had plans to move to North Carolina.

Geo Prism got married, graduated, had a baby, and moved to the Pacific Northwest. She likes to sew, read, and do other nerdy things.  

habiba is currently living in Massachusetts.

Hobbes

I'm working as an editor for a company that teaches students foreign languages through the Internet. I married a beautiful, intelligent woman and got a house and a husky--I'm all domesticated! I still have two parakeets, and they're scared of my husky.

I'm still diligently writing eight hours a week and trying to get published. My life is in a pleasant state of equilibrium and I miss the wild adventures the Board provided sometimes.

Horatio currently works for Skullcandy in Park City.

Humble Master

I wrapped up my PhD program and I now teach English at a church owned university (where I share an office with the Mrs. who teaches in the Psychology department).  Lil' Master has been joined by Lil'er Master, who are both freaking adorable in my unbiased opinion.  I've published academic pieces on comic books and/or tv shows, and I'm currently editing a series of essay collections on various superheroes and how they have evolved to reflect changing attitudes and issues in American society. So feel free to purchase essay collections such as, oh I don't know, The Ages of Superman: Essays on the Man of Steel in Changing Times  (or similar collections on Wonder Woman, the X-Men, and the Avengers which will be coming out in the next year or so).  I wouldn't mind that at all.

Hypatia left us to go study in the Great White North.

Il Guanaco is a paramedic in the great state of Texas, despite his great love for the state of Virginia. He used to have a hedgehog, but she died of old age. As of right now he's still single, still searching, and is watching Battlestar Galactica. 

Just Another Cassio

JAC lives in Salt lake City and spends his days helping companies go paperless and his nights strengthening the Utah theatre community. His experience at The Board led to a statewide theatre review site (www.UtahTheaterBloggers.com) that in the past 3 years has reviewed over 600 shows ranging from city plays to Broadway tours.

Katya the Physics Chick is still librarian-ing it up, and may soon be coming to a library near you. 

Kicks and Giggles graduated from BYU, and then stayed in Provo for a handful of years to work. She now lives in SLC and works for the editing department of the corporation that resides in Utah's tallest building. When asked about her love life, K&G responded that she's still as single as ever, but she's okay with it "BECAUSE MY VALUE ISN'T DEPENDENT ON BEING ATTACHED TO A MAN, DAD!" 

Killer Uno Addict lives and works in Illinois, and is currently getting her second Masters in Library Information Science.

krebscout lives with her husband and two kiddos in California. In addition to being a full-time mom she owns her own business and works as a freelance illustrator. She successfully rode a bicycle for the first time in forever, which is a really big deal.

L'Afro, despite being female, is a contributing writer at Modern Mormon Men. She recently moved across the country with her husband and toddler son, while simultaneously working on her portfolio, studying her brains out for the GRE, and preparing for the birth of her second child. She has applied to a very prestigious writing program and we will be shocked if she is not accepted.

la bamba

Hi!

I was recently on a nationally-televised game show and won a lot of money (more than $60K, less than $600K)  
Wink.
I live on the East Coast with my husband and read The 100 Hour Board every day.

-la bamba  

Latro moved to Florida after leaving BYU, but has since relocated to Maryland, where he works for the Air Force. 

Lavish got married, moved to San Francisco, moved back to Utah, finished school, and settled down in a townhouse with her husband and two cats.

Leibniz is currently a BYU faculty member. Guess which one.

Lexi Khan is married and living in Washington, D.C.

Marzipan graduated from BYU in 2012 and is still ridiculously awesome.

Mico is a "plain old grad student" who is currently learning how to knit and wishes she were more interesting.

Mighty Quinn

Mighty Quinn here. I know what you're all wondering. And I don't think it coincidence that a question about my life and whereabouts has come at a time of year reserved for joy and celebration: yes all you fit women out there, I'm still single. Yes, the abs are still like titanium. Yes, if we ever meet in person I'll let you touch them...but only softly.

Misaneroth got a degree in Biochemistry from BYU, then went to U Penn for a second, better degree in Biochemistry.

Miss Scarlett is an Academic Advisor at BYU.

Mojoschmoe worked in Utah as a dietician for two years, then moved to Minnesota to pursue an MFA in Musical Theatre Performance. She hopes to end up in Seattle.

Nike lives in Arizona.

No Dice

No Dice is a first-year law student on the West Coast somewhere. He manages to do most of his assigned reading with the help of copious amounts of saltine crackers and fruit snacks. Mrs. Dice stays at home with Baby Dice, who likes to do lots of baby stuff like eat Oreos and bonk his head on furniture. He keeps the Dices busy and sane. Here's a picture of him being a complete goofball on his first birthday, since--let's face it--babies are cuter than big people.
 
baby dice 2.jpg

Cheerio, all. 
 
No Dice
 
Novel Concept moved to Pennsylvania so her husband could go to grad school, but they and their two children have since relocated to Illinois. Since retiring as a writer Novel Concept has taught high school physics and World Civilizations.

Olympus

Dear Ninja Lime,

Heyyyy. Since I retired, I worked for a diversity magazine in my hometown and then decided to move out of my hometown so I would someday have half a chance of meeting Mr. Olympus. I met him within three weeks of the move (and also saw The Golden Mean in the same place I met Mr. Olympus!) After building an origami lighthouse that lights up with conductive ink and getting disqualified from a No-Rules Pinewood Derby for interfering with other cars, we decided to get married and go to Harry Potter World for a honeymoon. Now, we live in an inner-city ward in the Bay Area, CA, and have zero children. I own nearly 600 books and a superrad bookshelf I made. I teach piano lessons, and I am taking prerequisite classes for ASL interpreting and Speech/Language Pathology grad programs. I have a time-intensive calling right now. I am going to Disneyland for Christmas. I watch "Stargate" and scrapbook and read academic papers on The Collected Works of Joss Whedon and I just learned to play chess. I made awesome Christmas presents for my family, but they're all still secrets. Also I still answer questions periodically when Marguerite St. Just asks really nicely.
 
-Olympus

Optimus Prime lives and works in Texas where the weather is freakishly warm year-round. He enjoys photography, taking trips with his family, and recently got LASIK surgery. He and his wife are expecting their fourth child later this year.

Optimistic. graduated from BYU, grew a beard waiting for his wife to graduate, and finally moved to the northwest to attend the UO. He's currently working on his thesis and has plans to graduate in June. When he's not reading up on translation theory he's watching his beloved Blazers, Rockies, and Canucks lose. More than anything else in the world, he loves watching Puddles, the UO mascot, caper around. If he had one wish it would be to have Puddles speak at his graduation.

Othello

Der Berliner/Othello got a doctorate in chemistry at UC Berkeley.  While in Berkeley he and his wife adopted two children and had one through traditional methods. He is currently a chemistry/physics teacher at a high school in central Washington, and has added a fourth child to the family.

Oz is...elusive, to say the least. I've tracked him as far as Rexburg, where his wife attends BYU-I, but there the trail goes cold.

Pa Grape lives with his wife and three kids in Colorado, where he has a private practice.

Petra graduated from BYU, moved to Indonesia for a year, then moved to California to start a PhD in Linguistics. She has since gotten married, traveled the world, and read a lot of books. She eventually decided to leave her PhD program, and is currently working for Facebook.

PEZkopf got married last June, and that is all I know about him.

Phoenix lives in Provo and works for BYU OIT.

Pilgrim

Dear Ninja,

I wrote you a haiku:
 
My life now entails
Adventures! Philadelphia! 
Back to my studies
 
--Pilgrim/Hamilton/Eliot Rosewater/Pi

Portia of Belmont spent some time working as a tutor in SLC, and has recently re-enrolled at BYU.

Pseudoname

Pseudoname lives in Las Vegas, where she has a full ride to the law school at UNLV. She reports that torts are stupid, and when she tried to explain what torts were to the Black Sheep, the Black Sheep felt stupid. Pseudoname has worn her Perry the Platypus shirt to law school at least once with zero shame.

Quandary is living in Washington and working as an actuary.

Saint Sebastienne

Saint Seb seems to be pretty much the same: still in Provo, still liberal, still trying to decrease suck in the world however she can, still loves food, still a crime-fighting space professor.

--Saint Seb

Saurus is a business analyst at an engineering firm. He is expecting his second child in February.

St. Jerome is married with four children, works in academia, and attended last year's Society of Biblical Literature conference with his wife.

steen has two little boys, a photography business, and started teaching at BYU this semester.

Tangerine served a mission, got married, and lives in Logan where her husband attends USU.

The Black Sheep

The Black Sheep lives in Salt Lake and is a children's case manager at an addiction treatment facility that also specializes in reuniting mothers with their children. She will probably finally go to grad school in the fall to pursue a  master's in social work. Her cat continues to look as depressed as ever.

The Cleaning Lady

The Cleaning Lady/Madame Mimm is expecting child #4 in a few months. She spends the bulk of her days caring for the 3 Prime/Cleaning kids, teaching piano lessons, occasionally freelancing in clothing design and editing, and of course, cleaning.

TheGoldenMean lives in Palo Alto and works in San Jose as a middle school teacher and cross country coach.

The Heartless Siren married Curious Physics Minor, moved to the west coast, and retired as our fearless proofreader last October when her lovely daughter was born.  

The Right Reverend Rusky Roo, after telling of his post-retirement exploits in BQ#66308, hasn't been heard from.

The Smurfs are in a comedy troupe in Provo.

Thor

My wife and I are living in Las Vegas. We have 4 year old twins, and 4 week old twins. It's a magical conglomeration of torture and joy. I have an insurance agency to pay the bills, and teach SAT & ACT prep classes to feed my soul. I'm also in the process of starting a tutoring agency. Sure miss The Board!
-Thor

Toasteroven

I married a cute hot grammarian hot girl. BAWB and Ambrosia can confirm.

--Toasteroven 

Traviesa is married with two kids.

Uffish Thought recently completed her student teaching and became licensed to teach high school in the state of Utah. She remains the world's foremost expert on P.G. Wodehouse, throwing great parties, and rock climbing. No man will ever love her.

Unlucky Stuntman

Unlucky Stuntman fell into a vat of toxic waste last year, rendering her with superpowers and purple hair. That's actually a lie, minus the bit about her purple hair (which is glorious). Right now, she is on a medical leave of absence from the BYU Master of Social Work program, while she acts as caregiver to her husband who had a stroke in 2011. She is the proud momma to one human baby and one rat terrier.

Vampiress is divorced, lives in Georgia, and manages a 220-unit apartment community.

Waldorf and Sauron live in LA, where Sauron is working on his PhD. In his spare time Sauron enjoys growing his beard and collecting Star Wars figurines.

Wallace

I'm still at UVU, though aviation didn't work out quite the way I had hoped. Let's just say it's on the back burner for now. I'm studying Entrepreneurship and loving it.

Wilhelmina Wafflewitz is married with two kids and a dog.

Whistler

Whistler is now a videogame journalist living in Utah. She helps edit Nightmare Mode and studies Japanese kanji every day at Wanikani. She married Hobbes's brother in 2010.

Xanadu is a lawyer in Boise.

Yellow is doing iOS development and helping his wife raise two extraordinarily nerdy children.

I regret that I do not have any information as to the whereabouts or activities of the following writers: Aspen, Cartridge, Dragonboy, ECDC, Ghetto Superstar, Hermia, Holbein's Skull, Inconveniently Willful, Ineffable, Iris, Knut the Great, Krishna, Les Frogs, Motionite, MrPhil, Mynamyn, Paperback Writer, Queen Alice, Resilient, Sharky McAllister, She Who Must Not Be Named, Skippy DeLorean, Tao, The Captain, The Defenestrator, The Franchise, The Great Deflector, and The Meanest Flower.

-Genuine Article

posted on 01/30/2013 10:36 a.m.
Also, I, Hermia, am living in Ogden, attending graduate school, and doing my best to instill an appreciation for literacy in seventh graders. I still read the Board regularly.

~Hermia
posted on 01/31/2013 9:24 a.m.
The Defenestrator married Castle in the Sky, graduated from BYU, and is a stay-at-home mom of two adorable children. They currently living in Virginia. She may occasionally still want to throw things out the window, but her yoga routine keeps her somewhat calm even when her children won't take naps!

~The Defenestrator's Mom
Question #70228 posted on 12/16/2012 9:40 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

When do you project that the 100,000th question will be asked based on historical question asking trends? The 250,000th? The 1,000,000th?

-I dibs the 100,000th

A:

Dear no calling shotgun until you can see the car,

The timing of your question was actually great, since it coincided with me studying linear regressions for my stats final. In order to answer it without spending crazy amounts of time, I took a small sample of past questions (all of them asked after Katya went through the archives and assigned question numbers to questions asked before question numbers were instituted) and recorded the month and year that they were asked. Limiting myself to nine questions and rounding the time to the nearest month means that this regression won't be as accurate as it could be, but I claim finals week as a legitimate excuse. Also, this measures when questions were posted, not when they were asked (which is what determines their question number), but since I'm already rounding to the nearest month, I'm going to work under the reasonable assumption that that doesn't have more than a trivial effect. Here's the data I used:

 Question number (x)   When the question was asked (y) 
 38000  September 2007
 42000  January 2008
 46000  June 2008
 50000  February 2009
 54000  October 2009
 58000  June 2010
 62000  February 2011
 66000  January 2012
 70000  December 2012

To make calculations easier, I did a couple transformations. I divided each of the question numbers by 1000, and converted the months and years into only months (with zero representing December 2006). Here's what that looks like:

 Question number (x)   When the question was asked (y) 
 38  7
 42  13
 46  18
 50  26
 54  34
 58  42
 62  50
 66  61
 70  72

With that information, I was then able to do the linear regression.

And I could tell you exactly how I got the linear regression, but I've already taken the final and I feel lazy now, so we'll just pretend I did it on my calculator. Based on the linear model y = ax + b, I got the following results:

a = 2.016666667
b = -73.011111111

Cutting off some of the repeating digits, that makes the linear model y = 2.0167x - 73.0111. The r2 value, which I may have improperly computed but don't feel like redoing now that it's Christmas break, is approximately .988; a value of 1 indicates that the model fits the data points perfectly.

Once I had that regression, I plugged 100, 250, and 1000 (remember, I divided x by 1000 earlier) into the equation. Here are the results, transformed back into months and years:

Board Question #100000: August 2017
Board Question #250000: November 2042
Board Question #1000000: November 2168

So, if you feel like making a note in your calendar for four years and eight months from now, you just might be able to ask the one hundred thousandth question!

-yayfulness

Question #70200 posted on 12/17/2012 2:10 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

My siblings and parents and I are pretty sure my sister-in-law has either somatization or somatoform disorder (benefit of the doubt that it isn't factitious disorder). It is waging a very, very heavy toll on my brother and their children. My brother does not see it, however, choosing (probably subconsciously) to believe and accept that his wife is battling any number of complaints at any given time (polycystic ovarian syndrome, chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, thyroid disorder, migraines, carpel tunnel, etc). She is always in need of some sort of procedure or medication. Truly a month does not go by without hearing of some new need.
The most troubling part of this is the need she seems to have for medical attention/approval, and the spillover onto the kids. She takes them to the doctor when they aren't sick, and has expressed a need to have them medicated in order to deal with them (as in, she is certain her 4 year old has ADHD, though her regular pediatrician rejected that idea, and refused to prescribe for it and she had to 'doctor shop' to get the meds).
So, my question is, how likely is it that we are all just heartless and seeing things? How likely is it that she actually has some sort of medical attention problem? How likely is it that she really is that sick all the time, and that her kids really need the meds she has them on? They live close to her family and to ours, and it seems her family (especially her mother) are enabling her. They think we are just being mean.


- Any insight is welcome

A:

Dear Any,

What a tricky situation. I agree that it's definitely unusual, though not impossible, for a young person to have that many seemingly unrelated medical problems, and I also agree that doctor-shopping to obtain medications is generally not good. We learned a little bit about somatoform and fictitious disorders last year, so I'll try to share some of the information I got from that lecture.

First of all, for readers who don't know, factitious disorder involves fabricated or feigned symptoms that are produced due to a psychological need to assume the "sick role," with ensuing pity, attention, and so forth. Factitious disorder can also happen "by proxy," meaning that a parent or caregiver feigns symptoms in another person in order to assume the role of "long-suffering caregiver." It's important to remember that people with factitious disorder don't feign symptoms out of malice or ill will, but out of a genuine psychiatric problem that requires its own treatment.

On the other hand, somatoform disorders involve real, physical symptoms that cannot be explained by any medical or physiologic problems, and these symptoms are not intentionally produced or under voluntary control. There are a number of different somatoform classifications, and these disorders occur in 1-2% of adults. The most important difference between somatoform disorders and factitious disorders is that the artificial symptoms of factitious disorder should not be treated, while the symptoms of somatoform disorder should be treated to whatever degree is possible.

I'm going to talk mostly about somatoform disorders, because although I wouldn't rule out factitious disorder if I saw your sister-in-law as a patient (judging by your brief snippet about the situation), I know a lot less about dealing with that purely psychiatric disorder. Unless I specify otherwise, most of what I'm about to say will apply to somatoform disorders.

In Western thought, we have this idea that there's a difference between "physical" health problems and "mental" health problems—the difference being that when we have a physiologic, scientific explanation of an illness, then it is real and physical, but when we do not have that explanation, then it's just a mental problem that's "all in someone's head." There are a lot of problems with this mode of thinking. First of all, it sets up a false dichotomy between "medical" and "mental," when in reality, there can be a lot of overlap. Additionally, the whole idea of saying a problem isn't a real, physical disease relies on us having a perfect understanding of all diseases, which we definitely don't have. There can also be some pretty subjective decisions regarding "medical" problems versus "psychiatric" problems. Basically, it's important to avoid being dismissive of symptoms that can't be medically explained—yes, sometimes medically unexplained symptoms are fabricated, as in fictitious disorder or malingering, but in general, not having an explanation for the symptoms doesn't make them less real.

The foundation for treating either somatoform disorders or factitious disorders is an accurate diagnosis. One of the hardest things about this whole issue is that you, yourself, are not qualified to make the diagnosis. It would be AWESOME if one of her doctors would talk to her about this, or if her husband or family would encourage her to a psychiatrist, but...it doesn't sound like that's going to happen in the near future. So what can you do in the meantime?

You might be able to plant a non-judgmental, helpful seed that could push her or her family to considering counseling. "I've heard of conditions that cause multiple painful symptoms, especially painful symptoms that can't always be explained, like some kinds of back pain or fibromyalgia. Do you think that might describe you/your wife/your family member?" or "I heard that a lot of people with chronic pain symptoms benefit from talking to someone about it, even if they don't have any real psychiatric problems. Have you ever thought about that?" or "I've heard that doing cognitive-behavioral therapy with a psychiatrist or counselor can be really helpful for dealing with chronic pain. Have you ever thought about that?" You don't have to say, "Hey, you have a psychiatric problem and you need to see a doctor," but you can say the people in her condition often find therapy helpful in learning to manage the pain and rehabilitate themselves, which is absolutely true, and which might get her one step closer to a somatoform or factitious disorder diagnosis, if she does have one of those disorders.

In the meantime, you can try to support their family, in general ways and in specific ways regarding your sister-in-law's illness. It's difficult, because you don't want to reinforce negative behavior, but it's also important to remain kind and empathetic, and to act in such a way that nobody would ever accuse you of being "mean." Poor communication, failure to show empathy, challenge to the reality of symptoms, and dismissing fears are all things that make somatoform disorders worse, and it's important to avoid those things.

In somatoform disorders, it's also important for the family to stop being the "protectors" and start being the "life coaches." These disorders aren't diseases to be cured, but rather challenges to overcome. It's likely that the symptoms and the disorder will be present for a very long time, and since there's no medical explanation, there often isn't very much to be done in terms of procedures and medications. This means that rehabilitation will be the best thing to do.There are lots of options for cognitive-behavioral therapy that can help minimize pain and regain function. Even if you can't get her to consider whether she might have a somatoform or factitious disorder, and even if you never end up being able to convince her to see a psychiatrist or therapist, you can help her by being a "life coach" for her and by encouraging her to do a lot of the goals that she might have done in therapy. Encourage her to follow her usual routines and functioning even when she doesn't feel like it, and help her plan rewarding activities even if she feels unmotivated to do so (I'm thinking of things like joining a community choir or orchestra, joining a book club, volunteering locally, and so forth).

There are other self-management strategies for chronic pain: relaxation training, biofeedback, and self-hypnosis, for starters. Maybe you can find a way to do these things with her? Or you could start doing some and invite her to come with you?

The slides I have from the lecture go into a bit more detail, although it's mainly geared towards the physicians of these patients, not necessarily the family members. If you'd like me to send you the slides, though, just shoot me an email and I'd be happy to send them along to you.

- Eirene

Question #70144 posted on 01/06/2013 11:46 a.m.
Q:

Dear yayfulness and the 100 Hour Board,

I'm pleased to hear you are focusing on events that are far more likely than a velociraptor attack.

What are your (and your roommate's) plans to survive a zombie outbreak? How have you incorporated tunnel worms into your strategy?

-Worldwide Oligochaetological Restoration Mission (zombie tunnel worms would be a catastrophe!)

A:

Dear WORM,

I would hope that I was at home for Christmas.

First off, you have to know that my home state has a population density of less than 15 people per square mile. My family lives close to a town, but it's still a good mile or so to the nearest truly urban population. So we're already at a bit of an advantage, since we're not going to be right next to any major sources of zombies.

Next, my house is largely surrounded by terrain that looks like this:

SAM_1366.JPG

I'm not saying it's impossible to navigate, but it's not exactly zombie-friendly. This limits the areas that the zombies can approach from. Also, you'll notice that everything is covered in snow. During the winter, temperatures are usually below freezing, which is another thing that is not very friendly to zombies. In all likelihood, they'd freeze before they could even come close to reaching us.

Even if they did somehow manage to reach us, the zombies would have to deal with all the things we have sitting around the house. With enough of a warning, we could mount a pretty successful defense. For instance, we have the following:

SAM_1370.JPG

Admittedly not the best arsenal ever for dealing with zombies, but it's a lot better than nothing. And most of the neighbors are similarly (or better) armed. Failing that, we also have some more basic tools, such as this:

SAM_1364.JPG

And this:

SAM_1367.JPG

And even these:

SAM_1369.JPG 

I should point out, though, that the stereotype of disabling zombies with chainsaws would actually be really horrible in practice. I used those chainsaws to cut trees over the break, and it was hard enough to manage them effectively when the thing I was cutting wasn't trying to eat my brains.

There's one thing that I think would be particularly effective, though. Here it is:

SAM_1365.JPG

It's a de-limber. Basically, a chainsaw on a very long pole.

We have plenty of other things around the house that could very easily be used to defend against zombies. However, let me just show you another picture for emphasis:

SAM_1368.JPG 

It is COLD in the winter. Usually below freezing. Zombies freeze solid in the cold. All we'd have to do is wait a couple days and then go frozen zombie smashing, and problem solved.

If, on the other hand, I were in Provo, the solution would be simple: Retreat to the tunnels, seal them off, and wait it out. Our secret lair is well-stocked in preparation for just such an event.

And if that didn't work, I'd probably die, since my zombie apocalypse expert roommate decided to go get married or something and not be my roommate anymore, and I don't actually know anything about zombies except what he taught me.

-yayfulness

Question #70137 posted on 12/11/2012 4:28 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What time of day are the most questions submitted to this all knowing board?

What time of day do most the board members answer questions? (not necessarily when they are posted.. just looking for what time of day the answer gets written)

-Just asked an unrelated question, so I submitted this as a separate question.

A:

Dear Questioner,

As of shortly after you asked this question, here's the data on when every question waiting to be posted was asked. I divided it into questions at under 100 hours (an independent and identically distributed sample) and questions at over 100 hours (not IIDbasically, skewed towards harder or more obscure questions).

 time

 <100 hours      >100 hours      total 
 12 AM      1  2  3
 1  2  0  2
 2  0  0  0
 3  1  0  1
 4  0  0  0
 5  0  0  0
 6  0  2  2
 7  3  1  4
 8  6  2  8
 9  4  0  4
 10  5  2  7
 11  2  2  4
 12 PM  5  1  6
 1  4  0  4
 2  4  2  6
 3  5  5  10
 4  5  4  9
 5  4  1  5
 6  3  0  3
 7  6  3  9
 8  7  0  7
 9  3  2  5
 10  3  1  4
 11  6  3  9

I then took that information and turned it into a graph. In order to compare the two (basically, to see if harder questions get asked at a different time of day), I graphed them by percent of the total questions asked in a given hour. Red represents questions at under 100 hours, and green represents questions that have passed 10 hours.

le board graph.png

As you can see, the questions at under 100 hours as of the collection of this data were asked at a fairly constant rate from 7:00 AM to 1:00 AM, although they drop off a bit after midnight. Because I love overkill, I calculated the mean and standard deviation of the number of questions asked per hour from 7:00 AM to 1:00 AM.

Mean: 4.11
Standard deviation: 1.55

Adjusting the range to be from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM, the statistics are as follows.

Mean: 4.41 
Standard deviation: 1.33

And, since I love overkill, I decided to take a look at it in a different way. Here are the three-hour averages for every three-hour interval from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM.

7:00-9:00:      4.33
8:00-10:00:    5
9:00-11:00:    3.67
10:00-12:00:  4
11:00-1:00:    3.67
12:00-2:00:    4.33
1:00-3:00:      4.33
2:00-4:00:      4.67
3:00-5:00:      4.67
4:00-6:00:      4
5:00-7:00:      4.33
6:00-8:00:      5.33
7:00-9:00:      5.33
8:00-10:00:    4.33
9:00-11:00:    4

So, while there does appear to be a slight bump upwards in the evening, it looks like the rate is fairly steady throughout the day. With time and patience, I could probably get a much more accurate picture, but I don't think it's worth holding your question over hours. (I did take a look at the questions asked between when I started and finished this answer, and while I didn't bother analyzing them in depth, a quick look over them suggests that, when combined with the data presented here, they tell more or less the same story.)

For a variety of reasons, the data on over-hours questions is much less likely to paint an accurate picture; however, it does seem to agree in general with the rest of the data.

As for the other part of your question... I can't speak for the other writers, but I tend to do the bulk of my work in the evening or just after midnight, since I'm usually doing it to procrastinate take a break from homework or avoid going to bed get it out of the way before going to bed.

-yayfulness

Q:

Dear Donna!Ten

I just finished a research paper on military involvement in genocide, and I'm curious to know some writers' positions.

1) Are you for or against military involvement in cases of genocide? Why?
2) Is the U.S. morally obligated to intervene in cases of genocide?
3) Is any country morally obligated to intervene in cases of genocide?

-Tally M.

P.S. You guys are magnificent. Just saying.

A:

Dear Tally,

I need to apologize for two things. First, I have kept this answer on hold for a very, very, very long time. A... very... long time. I am sorry. Second, I ended up being extremely long-winded and sounding very pessimistic or jaded in this answer. I would just like to assure you all that I am not such a pessimist, even in the realm of international politics. However, I do hope that my answer to this question gives you at least a small glimpse of how thoroughly complicated of a field it is. Rarely is anything presented in black and white, and often there simply are not any completely satisfactory solutions.

So with that, on to my answer!

This is a fairly simple question, but the answers are incredibly complex. I can't pretend to give you a scholarly opinion; this is just my own thought. However, as a former International Relations major, it's something I've thought about quite a bit, so hopefully some of those thoughts prove worthwhile.

The first issue that your question brings up is the definition of genocide itself. While ideally it would be the kind of thing where "you know it when you see it," often, that is simply too precise and the line between genocide and less-severe war crimes is very indistinct. A generally accepted definition of genocide (quoted on Wikipedia) is "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group." It's a good, simple definition for understanding what genocide is; however, it leaves extensive ambiguity as to the application of the term genocide in practical situations. A better legal definition, from a UN convention and quoted in the same article, is "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group." For our purposes, this is a very good definition, but it's important to remember that it is subject to interpretation.

So who, then, is responsible for interpreting the definition of genocide and determining what qualifies? Whether we pick the United Nations, the victimized group itself, another country, or a nongovernmental organization, there will always be questions of bias and reliability. What qualifies as a part of a group? To what degree is central leadership necessary for killing to qualify as systematic? These are not just academic questions.

Another important consideration is the availability of information. In a highly developed country in the Internet Age, we're used to being able to instantaneously learn anything about anything. However, there are many parts of the world where, especially in the chaos of war, reliable information simply is not available. Accounts by the two sides in the conflict will always be inherently biased, and third-party observers often do not have consistent or comprehensive access to the conflict zone and its actual conditions. There is a certain amount of guesswork inherent.

It is also sometimes an open question which side is the victim. It takes two parties to engage in warfare. While it is true that there are many cases in which a powerful group unilaterally oppresses a weaker group, many other cases are far less black and white. Often, the two parties in combat have been similarly brutal to each other; the fact that one is committing genocide against the other may say more about their relative military might than about their relative moral right. For that reason, exclusively supporting one side at the expense of the other may in fact be incredibly unjust.

I do not say these things in order to convince anyone that armed international intervention in genocide is a bad thing. Rather, my intent is to give you some idea of just a few of the challenges that any leader must face in determining whether to take action in any situation. These cases are very rarely cut and dried.

For the sake of argument, though, let's imagine that there is a case that is cut and dried. One group, through no fault of its own, is being systematically and brutally destroyed by another. How, then, should the international community respond?

A philosopher, whose identity I do not know, once gave this analogy. Suppose a man is committed to non-violence. While traveling, he is attacked by murderous robbers. It is completely within his right to allow himself to be beaten and killed in the name of non-violence. However, suppose that rather than being attacked himself, this man encounters another man who is in the process of being murdered, and the other man cries out for help. Would it be just for the first man to say "I do not believe in violence, so I am going to do nothing and allow you to die?" The philosopher was of the opinion that it would be unjust. I'm willing to see a bit more nuance than that; however, in the world of international politics, I do not know of any state that is so committed to nonviolence that it would allow itself to be conquered without offering any resistance, so for all intents and purposes it is a moot point. Anyone willing to defend himself ought to be willing to defend someone else.

I temper that statement with the recognition that "it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order." If one state's intervention to prevent genocide in another state would simply result in that first state's destruction without alleviating the genocide at all, then there is no sense whatsoever in intervention.

However, I think that to a great degree, the morality of international intervention in cases of genocide depends greatly on the nature of that intervention. It can be done well, and it can be done poorly, and sometimes, if done poorly, it's an open question whether it was better off being done at all.

First, I believe that intervention should only occur in cases in which either the intervening state has a direct interest in the conflict or in cases in which international approval has been given for intervention. I recognize that there is some weakness here; powerful interests in the United Nations (such as the United States or China) may block UN approval, and direct interest does not correlate to impartiality. However, unsanctioned unilateral intervention by an uninterested party goes so far beyond the usual recognition of state sovereignty that I suspect it could be damaging to the international system as it currently stands; furthermore, such an international savior risks provoking profound resentment, and not just from one side in the conflict.

Second, I believe that intervention should only be attempted if it has a significant chance of success. If one weak power is committing genocide against another weak power and a third weak power intervenes, it's quite possible that all this does is expand the scope of the war without resolving anything. In order for intervention to be worthwhile, it has to be achievable. The intervening power or coalition has to have the military strength to overcome the offending power. Otherwise, the death toll will rise and nothing else will change.

Third, I believe that intervention must absolutely have limited objectives, and these objectives must be clearly defined from the outset. When the United States intervened following North Korea's invasion of South Korea in 1950 (not genocide, to my knowledge, but it's enough of an analogous case for our purposes here), both of the first two conditions were fulfilled--it was done under UN auspices, and the US military had more than enough strength to turn back the invaders. The intervention was a resounding success, as long as it was limited to the repulsion of North Korean forces from South Korea. However, when it became obvious that the US intention was not only to repel the invasion but to overthrow the North Korean government, China was provoked into intervention and overt hostilities ceased three years later in a stalemate. Would it have been a good thing for the North Korean government to have been overthrown and the Koreas to have been united? I am firmly convinced that it would have been. But, however desirable such an outcome may have been, it was quite simply impossible. Limited, acknowledged objectives prevent the kind of misunderstandings that led China to surprise the United States with its intervention, and they protect the intervening powers from the temptations of victory.

Fourth, I believe that the intervening power must take responsibility for its actions. If intervention destabilizes a country, the intervening power cannot simply abandon the country to chaos. However, the intervening power is also obligated to respect the country's right to self-determination and not exert undue influence. If this seems like a nearly impossible balance, that is because it is.

This isn't a comprehensive or authoritative list by any means; I've drawn on things I've learned in classes and readings, but these are my opinions and should be treated as such. To summarize, I do believe that states have the obligation to internationally intervene in cases of genocide, but only under certain conditions. These cases will always be dirty and gray-scale; there are no perfect answers, and in some cases, there may not even be any good answers.

Finally, I'd like to treat your second question--does the United States, specifically, have the responsibility to intervene in cases of genocide? Now that we're leaving the world of generalities and beginning to deal with cases involving one very specific element, the story gets much more complicated.

The United States is a uniquely powerful country. It could be described as a hyperpower--a superpower so dominant that it has no serious rivals, and no other world power has the capability to unilaterally overpower it in military or economic terms. The power of the United States, especially in military terms, is almost unimaginably overwhelming. This may seem like an advantage, and in many cases, it is. However, especially when it comes to US intervention in foreign affairs, it is far too easy for our incredible power to turn to our disadvantage.

It's also important to understand the concept of political capital. To borrow an analogy usually used in interpersonal relationships, the relationship between any two countries can be compared to a bank account. A country can contribute capital to that account through its helpful or otherwise positive actions towards another country, and it can withdraw capital from that account through selfish or harmful actions. To complicate things, these accounts are, to a certain extent, public--everyone can see when one country deposits or withdraws capital from that account.

If the United States had a history of truly benevolent interventions, of simply depositing capital into its international relationships, perhaps we could have the leeway to intervene wherever and whenever necessary. However, as a matter of actual history, this has been anything but the case.

The United States has been directly or indirectly involved or alleged to be involved in regime change or attempted regime change in the following countries during the Cold War: Syria, Iran, North Korea, Guatemala, Indonesia, Tibet, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, the Dominican Republic, South Vietnam, Brazil, Ghana, Chile, Afghanistan, Turkey, Poland, Nicaragua, Cambodia, Angola, Grenada, Libya, and Panama. Please note that I'm not arguing that all of these interventions were immoral or unjustified. However, in each case, the US chose to support one side at the expense of the other, thus alienating the other side; in some but not all cases, it could be convincingly argued that the US acted out of pure self-interest to the detriment of the country where the intervention occurred. What I'm trying to say here is that for all the international capital the US has deposited, there is a long and detailed history of the US withdrawing international capital, and it has led to an atmosphere of distrust in many parts of the world. Again, I'm not passing moral judgment here. I'm simply attempting to recount things as they actually are. (I'm also including alleged interventions because, regardless of whether they actually happened, they have an effect on political capital merely because enough people believe that they happened.)

What does this mean for US international interventions? I think the single most important lesson here is that in order for the United States to militarily intervene in another country's affairs and be afforded any level of international sympathy, the intervention must come as the result of a direct attack on the United States or with full UN approval. Simply put, we don't have enough international capital to intervene in another country's interests without international approval. We're too powerful, and our history is too long, for the international community to trust us to be acting in others' best interests if we do so purely on our own initiative.

Again, there is a lot of nuance here that I am ignoring. However, I believe that this is a good general statement.

-yayfulness

p.s. Before parting ways with this answer, I'd like to leave you with some food for thought in the form of a film I watched at a meeting of Students for International Development last year. If you skipped the rest of my answer because it was absurdly long, read this postscript. It is called Pray the Devil Back to Hell, and recounts the successful overthrow of both Libyan dictator Charles Taylor and also his opponents in a brutal civil war, carried out by an alliance of Christian and Muslim women dedicated to achieving peace for their own country. It is absolutely worth your time if you have any interest at all in genocide, civil war, international development, or African affairs. It deals very directly with a brutal civil war, including rape and violence, and is not suitable for children. I feel like I've sounded like a pessimist or at least a bit of a jaded realist in this answer; I present this film as a counterargument and as my model for how to successfully oppose genocide.

Question #69814 posted on 11/15/2012 7:08 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Some friends and I are going to sell handmade cards at a craft fair, but can't determine how much to charge. We have both 5x7 and 4x6 cards. It takes between 15-45 minutes to make a card, depending on the complexity.

The booth cost us $20. The materials cost us about $70. What's the best way to determine how much to charge?

-Crafty

A:

Dear Crafty,

The equation for retail pricing, as stolen from Etsy.com is as follows:

Materials + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail

To simplify things I made a spreadsheet that you can tinker with. Here are some screenshots for reference:

card pricinf spreadsheet 4.png

So, what I've done here is divide your cards into two categories (4X6 and 5X7) based on the assumption that the larger the card is, the more you'll want to charge for it.

card pricinf spreadsheet time.png

Then, within those two categories I made sub-groups based on time spent making a card. The more intricate the card, the longer it took to make, the more you should charge for it. A 4X6 that took 45 minutes to make will be priced differently than a 5X7 that took 15 minutes to make. I suggest you go through your cards and classify each as a 15, 30, or 45 minute card. (Also, you can change those amounts to whatever you want. Perhaps you have a lot of cards that took 20 minutes.)

card pricinf spreadsheet number of units.png

Count those up and enter them into the unit column. This will tell you how much of your up front cost is tied up in each category of card, which isn't vitally important, but I still think is neat to know. What is vitally important is knowing what your average unit price would need to be in order to break even, which you get by dividing your overall cost by your total number of cards. In my example of 185 cards you'd have to sell all of your cards for at least 49 cents to earn back the $90 you spent and break even. 

card pricinf spreadsheet wage.png

Enter an hourly wage so you can be paid for the time it took to make the cards. I put $8 as a placeholder, but you can change it to whatever you think is fair.

card pricinf spreadsheet profit.png

Now enter the amount of profit you'd like to make per card. This is money that doesn't go toward reimbursing you for your time or the cost of supplies; it's just pure profit, assuming you sell all of your cards. This number is completely arbitrary, but the higher it is the sooner you'll break even. 

card pricinf spreadsheet egads prices.png

Lastly, take a look at the final price and ask yourself if it's reasonable. Personally, a card would have to made out of Faberge eggs for me to shell out $15 for it, but that's just me. It's up to you to figure out a good price based on supply and demand. You have to feel out the buyers and figure out what they're willing to pay. If things aren't selling, consider cutting your prices. You can sell your cards at wholesale prices (which look pretty reasonable to me) and still make a profit; just remember where the bottom line is.

I've set up the spreadsheet as an open-access Google document, so just click here and you should be able to access it. If you can't access it, it isn't working, or something doesn't make sense, email me. If you try it out and like it, shoot me an email and I'll transfer ownership of it over to you. Best of luck to you in your crafting endeavors.

-Genuine Article