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Things To Do Before You Die 675

Lu Xun writes "A group of British scientists has brought some meaning to our lives by providing a list of 100 scientifically-oriented things to do before you die. The suggestions include 'joining the 300 Club at the South Pole (they take a sauna to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, then run naked to the pole in minus 100 F) or learning Choctaw, a language with two past tenses - one for giving information which is definitely true, the other for passing on material taken without checking from someone else.'"
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Things To Do Before You Die

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  • Riiight ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by spellraiser ( 764337 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:14AM (#10952662) Journal
    The suggestions include 'joining the 300 Club at the South Pole (they take a sauna to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, then run naked to the pole in minus 100 F

    'Things to do before you die' is a very apt term for this, I think.

  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:16AM (#10952689) Homepage Journal
    on the whole donating your car to crash tests thing? (It was listed as one of the things that you can decide to have done to your corpse after you leave this realm) What kind of research do they do with actual corpses as opposed to crash test dummies? Are the corpses that much more useful? Who has to mop up after the test is done?
    • by Aumaden ( 598628 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .relliM.C.noveD.> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:32AM (#10952853) Journal
      The dummies can show how bones will behave in a crash and possibly to some extent internal organs. They cannot show how the skin will respond (eg, will the airbag give you a split lip or facial abbrasions).
    • I work at a medical college which has a ton of research going on. The program I work for has a weekly research seminar in which we had a presentation titled: "Whiplash Injuries: Cervical Kinematics Leading to Commonly Reported Symptoms"

      What these researchers had done was created a sled like device which they then placed cadavers on (they had cut the bodies at about mid-shoulder and mounted them on this sled) They then had implanted the spine with various sensors. They then basically sent the sled into a
    • by robathome ( 34756 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:52AM (#10953044)

      Cadaver studies are done in many interesting fields where trauma to the human body needs to be explored. In automotive crash tests, they don't usually strap a corpse into the driver seat and run the Nash Rambler into a wall.

      Human cadavers are used for two purposes: calibrating test instruments and assessing traumatic effects of measured forces. The first use is simple - you can measure a force, but what exactly does that mean? Is it enough to crush a ribcage, or to fracture an average skull? Test dummies are designed to mimic tolerances determined by cadaver studies, and research with corpses continues in order to further development on the next generation of dummy and computer models. The second use is more medical - what happens to a joint, bone, or other tissue when subjected to a massive impact or torsional force? How does the body fail, and what methods can be used to repair it?

      Current automotive cadaver studies are frequently being done with limb prosections, not the whole body. Automotive engineering protects the body trunk pretty well, to the point where previously fatal accidents are frequently survivable. Nowadays, the focus is on crippling injuries to the extremities - people are surviving, but are being left with crushed legs, hands, arms, etc.

      An absolutely fascinating book is Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers [amazon.com].

  • Choctaw (Score:3, Funny)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:16AM (#10952690) Homepage Journal
    or learning Choctaw, a language with two past tenses - one for giving information which is definitely true, the other for passing on material taken without checking from someone else.'" - I think /. moderators already speak in Choctaw, too bad most of them only learned the second past tence.

    • Re:Choctaw (Score:5, Informative)

      by AhtirTano ( 638534 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @12:25PM (#10953359)
      The description of the Choctaw facts in this article are misleading.

      Choctaw does have two past tenses, but they are not differentiated in the way claimed. The regular past tense, written -tok (or -tuk in older orthogrophies) is used for completed events ranging back about a year. The other suffix -ttook is for events that were completed more than a year ago. Furthermore, events that happened within the past few minutes and are still relevent for the current situation are often marked as "present" (-h).

      Choctaw, and a huge number of other languages in the world, also have what are called evidentials. These are suffixes that indicate how you know the statement is true. In Choctaw, there is a first-hand knowledge suffix -hlih, used when you have direct evidence of the claim (you saw it, heard it, smelled it, etc). There is also the suffix -ashah which indicates that you are guessing that it is true -- you have some indirect evidence, such as hearsay, or very circumstantial evidence.

      Tense and evidentiality are definitely distinct, as you can find tense and evidentiality marked at the same time on the verb.

      Checkout the papers by a Choctaw expert: Aaron Broadwell [albany.edu].

  • by savagedome ( 742194 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:17AM (#10952694)
    "Threesome with Japanese twins"

  • Getting first post on a Slashdot comments page.

    Looks like I can't die yet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:18AM (#10952715)
    Where's "get laid by 2 hot chicks at the same time"? Hello?
    • Where's "get laid by 2 hot chicks at the same time"? Hello?

      Whoa! This is /. Let's start slowly, like cracking the password to a porn site.
  • by ibpunk03 ( 676151 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:19AM (#10952723)
    IIRC, Korean has "two present tenses" for certainty - one for events that the speaker knows to be true, and on that they are not 100% certain of. IANAKS (I am not a Korean speaker)
  • by koi88 ( 640490 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:19AM (#10952725)

    take a sauna to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, then run naked to the pole in minus 100 F

    Introduce the Celsius system to the US
    • by xs650 ( 741277 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:30AM (#10952840)
      Somehow the "166 2/3 club" lacks the pizzaz of the "300 Club"

    • There are only two scientifically-useful measurements of temperature - the Kelvin (same scale as Celcius, but 0K is absolute zero) and the Slashdot (100 Slashdots = temperature that servers melt)
  • Become a diamond (Score:5, Informative)

    by amigoro ( 761348 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:20AM (#10952734) Homepage Journal
    Become a diamond. LifeGem of Chicago, Illinois, the book reveals, will take a few grains of your cremated remains, subject them to high pressure and temperature, and you will emerge from the process, 18 weeks later, as a sparkling one-carat diamond

    Here's there website [lifegem.com]

    From the site:

    What is a LifeGem?

    A LifeGem is a certified, high quality diamond created from the carbon of your loved one as a memorial to their unique and wonderful life.

    The LifeGem provides a way to embrace your loved one's memory day by day. The LifeGem is the most unique and timeless memorial available for creating a testimony to their unique life.

    We hope and believe that your LifeGem memorial will offer comfort and support when and where you need it, and provide a lasting memory that endures just as a diamond does. Forever.

    Moderate this comment
    Negative: Offtopic [mithuro.com] Flamebait [mithuro.com] Troll [mithuro.com] Redundant [mithuro.com]
    Positive: Insightful [mithuro.com] Interesting [mithuro.com] Informative [mithuro.com] Funny [mithuro.com]

  • 137 (Score:5, Funny)

    by T-Kir ( 597145 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:20AM (#10952737) Homepage

    and solve the mathematical mystery of the number 137

    To join that 'elite' group you need to insert another 3 in the middle.


    • Re:137 (Score:3, Informative)

      by P-Nuts ( 592605 )
      and solve the mathematical mystery of the number 137
      To join that 'elite' group you need to insert another 3 in the middle.

      Or add ".03599976" [wolfram.com] to the end, although those last two or three digits may be subject to change.

  • by tacokill ( 531275 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:21AM (#10952742)
    Good luck learning to speak Choctaw. If you look *real* hard, you might find someone who speaks Choctaw -- but chances are, they are too busy running the casino to teach you anything useful.

  • by Jakhel ( 808204 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:21AM (#10952746)
    Pick of the list

    Extract your own DNA by spitting gargled salt water into diluted washing-up liquid and slowly dribbling ice-cold gin down the side of the glass. Spindly white clumps which form in the mixture are, basically, you

    You know, there are easier, and much more fun, ways to create clumps of white goo that contains your DNA.

  • by LittleGuy ( 267282 ) * on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:22AM (#10952752)
    ... I plan to discover the Secret to Immortality.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:22AM (#10952755)
    Use your excreta to enter the amazing world of the dung beetle. Much more basic but just as fascinating for some. If you are ever caught short in the open, says New Scientist, turn the accident into an opportunity by lingering nearby and watching what happens. "It won't take long for the beetles to appear, scuttle boldly up to your deposit and begin rolling balls of it away, head-butting it and pushing it with their forelegs." Reassuringly, it gets used as food and a beetle breeding nest

    I tried this in the food court at my local mall, but security showed up before I saw any beetles.
  • The method to extract DNA seems pretty neat. Can anybody explain what the gin is doing?
  • I'll do all that after I die.
  • Choktaw (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:26AM (#10952803) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how this shapes the thinking of a native Choktaw speaker - for example, if George tells Fred something using the "definitely true" tense, will Fred be more likely to swallow it without thinking than if the "uncheck third-party" tense were used?

    And if so, would that mean that an unscrupulous person would be more likely to use the "definitely true" tense?

    Would marketing types use it exclusively?

    • Re:Choktaw (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anne Honime ( 828246 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @12:11PM (#10953238)
      I wonder how this shapes the thinking of a native Choktaw speaker - for example, if George tells Fred something using the "definitely true" tense,...

      How do you spell "weapon of mass destruction" in Choktaw ?


  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:30AM (#10952835)
    If you sit over the wing of most jets, you may get to see the shockwave that forms during high-speed flight (above about Mach .8 or so). It is visible in one of two ways. First, if the sun angle is just right, the shockwave will cast a shadow on the wing that is a faint span-wise line of darkness and brightness. Second, if you are sitting in just the right location (about in the middle of the wing) you can see the shockwave by looking for visual disturbances (like a fault line in your vision). Sighting along a line of rivets or the edge of the wing or the wingtips, you can sometimes see a cleft that wavers. (For extra credit, one can also find a smaller shockwave on the engine nacelle about 6" to 12" back form the leading edge by sitting in line with the front of the engine and watching for a visual fault line in the ground scenery passing just above the engine.)

    As the plane goes faster, the shockwave is pushed back toward the trailing edge. As the plane slows, it moves toward the leading edge. And during turbulence, the wave will flutter.
  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:35AM (#10952883)
    '...assisting at the birth of an animal. "This is one of life's most surprising and moving experiences..."'

    I grew up in a rural area where my uncle raised cattle. Consequently, I've "pulled" calves on numerous occations. My first experience, the cow projectile-shat all over me. Surprising? yes; moving? I'm not so sure.

  • What I wanted... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:37AM (#10952900) Homepage
    I've dreamed of standing on the moon, looking at the Earthrise. I've wished to stand inside a dome on the bottom of the ocean, watching sharks swim above. I've longed for a time machine so that I could watch dinosaurs; then finished with that, I'd journey as close to the Big Bang as I could. I want to chat with an Artificial Intelligence before I die. I want to stand in a world powered by the sun or the wind or clean fusion. In 2470, I want to walk within the ruins of a 20th century city, near the aforementioned solar powered, glittering metropolis, and tell the people around me about Times Square Stores and Broadway. I want a flying car, the sporty model, that I can fly along the New Miami skyline. Tired of that, I want a submarine to visit old Miami; zipping along South Ocean watching the sharks swim by.
    • Unless I'm very much mistaken, if you were standing on the moon, the earth would appear to be fixed in place in the sky. If you start from the far side and then run towards the near side, you'll see an earthrise. Run backwards to see an earthset.
      • Sorta ... the Earth does move in the lunar sky due to libration, but not much. From a position on the moon where the Earth is near the horizon the Earth will appear to rise and fall over a 29 day period. I'm not sure if it moves enough for the entire disk of the Earth to be completly above or below the horizon.
        Hope this makes sense!
      • To Spin the Moon? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by krysith ( 648105 )
        Maybe digitalhermit dreams of someone giving a spin to the moon? Sure, it's a lot of energy and angular momentum, but are time machines which can visit the Big Bang any less possible?

        Besides, who knows what boondoggle projects the Solar Congress of 2470 will be involved with? Properly terraforming Venus might involve speeding up the planet's rotation. If you consider changing the rotation of a planet to be impossible, calculate the relative magnitudes of the angular momentum of its spin, and of its orbi
    • Re:What I wanted... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Technician ( 215283 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @12:18PM (#10953296)
      I've wished to stand inside a dome on the bottom of the ocean, watching sharks swim above.

      Visit the Bahamas. I don't remember the exact location (visited on a cruise) where you take an elevator down to the seafloor and then you can watch the reef life and sharks. Contact a sales rep for the Norwegan Cruise Line. They may have a brochure. Been there, done that. I personaly prefer to take a sub. The ones in the Cayman Islands were great (before Ivan pitched one ashore).
  • by gspr ( 602968 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:43AM (#10952953)
    ...you see, I'm going to live forever, or die trying!
  • by Anders Andersson ( 863 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:48AM (#10952999) Homepage

    From the article:

    The Earth's rotation causes a 20-kilometre bulge at the equator, making Chimborazo volcano in Ecuador the highest mountain above sea level.

    Above sea level? Since the Earth's oceans form part of that 20-kilometer bulge, "sea level" isn't a constant distance from the center of the Earth either, and Mount Everest is still the highest mountain above sea level (while there is no actual sea right below either Mount Everest or Chimborazo, the shape of its hypothetical and non-spherical extension around the globe, called the geoid, can be determined mathematically).

    What they mean is that Chimborazo is the place on the surface that is most distant from the Earth's center.

  • by oexeo ( 816786 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:49AM (#10953014)
    Star in your own Murder mystery:

    Your demise is inevitable, why not make good fun of it:

    - Pick a handful of suspects to frame for your "murder"

    - Plant, and contrive evidence to implicate the "suspects" in your death

    - Secretly make silent calls from suspect's phones, nearing the night of your demise. When questioned they will deny any knowledge of such phone calls further raising the suspicion

    - Intentionally accuse potential suspects of plotting your death, say things like "I know what you're doing, you won't get away with it!," just load enough to be overheard

    - Change your will to benefit the suspects, but don't make them aware, they'll deny any knowledge of the change the in the will. But it gives them a motive

    Watch the hilarity ensue
  • by Anne_Nonymous ( 313852 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:57AM (#10953098) Homepage Journal
    of 100 nerdly things to do before you die.

    43. Get a FP on /.
    44. Modify a computer to look like something else
    45. Contribute some code to an open source project
    46. "Daydream" about two chicks at the same time
    47. Reference the movie Office Space 400 times in a single day
  • The Mystery of 137 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by reverseengineer ( 580922 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @12:00PM (#10953141)
    Feynman on the fine structure constant:

    There is a most profound and beautiful question associated with the observed coupling constant, e the amplitude for a real electron to emit or absorb a real photon. It is a simple number that has been experimentally determined to be close to -0.08542455. (My physicist friends won't recognize this number, because they like to remember it as the inverse of its square: about 137.03597 with about an uncertainty of about 2 in the last decimal place. It has been a mystery ever since it was discovered more than fifty years ago, and all good theoretical physicists put this number up on their wall and worry about it.) Immediately you would like to know where this number for a coupling comes from: is it related to pi or perhaps to the base of natural logarithms? Nobody knows. It's one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the "hand of God" wrote that number, and "we don't know how He pushed his pencil." We know what kind of a dance to do experimentally to measure this number very accurately, but we don't know what kind of dance to do on the computer to make this number come out, without putting it in secretly!

    The real mystery to this number, which the article hints at, is that it can be defined in a variety of interesting ways, including as (charge of an electron)^2 over (4 pi epsilon-naught h-bar c)- a formula that involves quantum mechanical (Planck's constant), relativistic (c) and mathematical (pi) constants produces a dimensionless number in the neighborhood of 1/137. The number itself is not so important (except to a bunch of people who have applied numerological methods to its study, most notably Arthur Eddington); rather, the issue figuring out the relationship between the fundamental constants that pop up everywhere in calculations (like h, c, and pi) and the universe that these calculations describe.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @12:02PM (#10953151) Homepage Journal
    Choctaw has taint() [developer.com]! Just goes to show how failing to rely on the "-T" flag can allow your entire nation to be conquered by European invaders, overflowing your treaty buffers with cannon.
  • by AviLazar ( 741826 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @12:12PM (#10953246) Journal
    then going from 200 degrees farenheit to -100 degrees will probably kill you.
  • by Rubikon ( 218148 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @12:16PM (#10953275)
    As a member of the Choctaw Nation (my great-grandfather was an original enrollee), I'm proud that the language has been recognized as worth learning.

    If you are interested, here is a link to Chahta Anumpa (Choctaw Language) classes via the Internet. [choctawonline.com]

    You can click here for more information about the Choctaw Nation. [choctawnation.com]
  • Choctaw pedantry (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kahei ( 466208 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @12:20PM (#10953309) Homepage

    1 -- The distinction between direct and reported speech is not one of tense
    2 -- Choctaw has _three_ past tenses

    This pedantry brought to you by Pedant's Revolt (tm)

  • Linguistic Silliness (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dpm ( 156773 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @12:51PM (#10953631)
    That's just pathetic -- so-called scientists passing on the rubbish about Choctaw. That's about on par with the Eskimo words for snow thingy (besides, as other posters have suggested, they didn't even get the Choctaw part right).

    Every language I've seen so far has some way to indicate doubt or lack of authority about what you're saying. For example, many Indo-European languages use the subjunctive mood (also called "conjunctive") rather than a separate tense for that purpose, and even English still uses the past subjunctive to indicate a condition that is contrary to fact: "if I *were* god" (but I'm not). We also use the subjunctive for something that someone else wants to happen: "I insist that he *go*" (the indicative would be "goes").

    Perhaps those scientists could find something more useful to do with their time, such as encouraging people to send postcards to a dying boy.
  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @12:57PM (#10953686)
    I've seen Galileo's midddle finger. What I want to do before I die is help the fellow have one last posthumous laugh, and orient the finger so it faces towards the Vatican. :)

Science may someday discover what faith has always known.