March 4, 2013 11:14 am
For the rest of the world, soccer (football, excuse me) is a big deal. A really big deal. So big that they actually have heart attacks about it. Seriously. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at just how many heart attacks occurred in Germany during the World Cup they hosted in 2006. What they found might shock you. During the World Cup, for both men and women, “the incidence of cardiac emergencies was 2.66 times that during the control period.” The authors conclude that watching a soccer game actually doubles your risk of a heart attack.
Now, it doesn’t matter necessarily whether your team wins or loses, the authors say. A stressful win could trigger a heart attack just as much as a stressful loss. An earlier study showed that when a national team loses a penalty shoot-out, the number of heart attacks goes up. And this study shows that even when they win, that number goes up.
Quartz writes about another curious trend in the data:
Interestingly, the only match that didn’t cause a spike in heart attacks was the third-place game against Portugal, confirming that once a team has been knocked out of contention for the World Cup title, nothing really matters. That semifinal loss to Italy, a team that has long tormented Germany and went on to win the tournament, left Deutschland quite literally with its hearts broken.
The study was also able to break down the risks and rates to different parts of the game. The authors write:
Averaged over all seven games involving Germany, the incidence of events increased during the several hours before the match, the highest incidence was observed during the 2 hours after the start of the match, and the incidence remained increased for several hours after the end of the match.
So it really is the stress of watching game play that can push people’s hearts over the edge from die-hard to defibrillated.
More from Smithsonian.com:
February 1, 2013 8:37 am
In October 1941, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover received a strange bit of war intelligence in a classified document, the Appendix details. The correspondence warned that a secret German airbase had gone up deep in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. In a note quickly sent to the Assistant Secretary of State, Hoover warns:
“As of possible interest to you, information has been received from a reliable confidential source that there are rumors current in Brazil as to a German air base, reported to exist in the Rio Negro district of the upper Amazon. Additional information will be furnished you concerning this when it is received.”
Particularly concerned about an attack on the Panama Canal, the FBI began collaborating with Brazil’s secret police.
In December, another worrying message came through. The suspected culprits behind the scheme were a colony of German monks. The FBI wondered if these forest-dwelling worshippers may be preparing for a secret base for the Luftwaffe, the airborne arm of the German military.
The following July, Hoover received another piece of evidence. Large amounts of fuel had been spotted traveling upriver in Bolivia. Given that gasoline was very much in short supply given the world war, the numerous canisters raised suspicions. The FBI worried that the fuel could be headed to the secret jungle airbase, still yet to be discovered.
In the end, though, military leaders concluded that stockpiling enough supplies deep within the jungle would not be possible. The would-be Nazi monks were left to live their own quiet, solitary lives in nature.
Here’s the monk memorandum, for closer examination:
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December 13, 2012 2:05 pm
At the close of World War II, Nazi scientists led by the pioneering Horten brothers, Walter and Reimar Horten, designed, built, and tested what was likely the most advanced aircraft to exist at the time: the Horten Ho 229, a jet-powered flying wing that historians believed to have been the first stealth fighter.
A few years ago, a team of engineers from Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defense company, re-created a model of the craft. In Hitler’s Stealth Fighter, a documentary that tracked the effort, the team found that the Horten Ho 229 did indeed employ some basic stealth technology.
Nearly 70 years on from this first foray into stealth aircraft design, the basics of veiling a ship from detection remain unchanged, says David Axe for Wired‘s Danger Room. Innovations made over the years have remained the closely-guarded secrets of a few advanced militaries:
It’s no secret how America’s stealth warplanes primarily evade enemy radars. Their airframes are specifically sculpted to scatter radar waves rather than bouncing them back to the enemy. Somewhat less important is the application, to select areas, of Radar Absorbing Material (RAM) meant to trap sensor energy not scattered by the plane’s special shape.
In short, the four most important aspects of stealth are ”shape, shape, shape and materials,” to quote Lockheed Martin analyst Denys Overholser, whose pioneering work resulted in the F-117 Nighthawk, the world’s first operational stealth warplane.
In a descriptive list, Axe lays out some of the advanced tricks used by the American aircraft engineers to keep U.S. warplanes out of sight, everything from strict procedures on radio silence, to custom sensor packages, radar-absorbing paint jobs and intricate cooling systems.
Airplanes generate a lot of heat. And even if you completely mask a plane’s radar signature, it might still give off telltale infrared emissions, especially around the engine exhaust but also from electronics, moving parts and surface area exposed to high wind friction.
The B-2 and F-22′s flat engine nozzles spread out the exhaust to avoid infrared hot spots, but to save money all 2,400 planned U.S. F-35s will have a traditional, rounded nozzle that spews a lot of concentrated heat. The Spirit, Raptor and Joint Strike Fighter apparently all feature gear for cooling hot leading edges such as the fronts of wings. They also boast systems that sink much of the heat generated by the on-board electronics and actuators into the fuel.
But just like the Nazi-era Horten Ho 229, the most advanced technologies of the day are likely masked from view.
Perhaps the most remarkable quality of America’s stealth warplanes is their continuing ability to escape public notice during years or even decades of development, testing and initial operations.
…Today the Air Force is apparently designing or testing at least two new, radar-evading drones plus the new Long Range Strike Bomber, an even stealthier successor to the now-25-year-old Spirit. But the only evidence of these classified programs is oblique references in financial documents, vague comments by industry officials and the occasional revealing commercial satellite photograph. Who knows what new qualities the next generation of stealth planes might possess in addition to those of the current armada.
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November 23, 2012 9:20 am
Naturalists in Berlin celebrate over recent news: farmers spotted a pack of wolves in a village 15 miles south of Berlin for the first time in more than 100 years. The wolves seem to have moved into a deserted former Soviet army military exercise area, the Independent reports.
The wolf pack includes both adults and pups, which the World Wildlife Fund is now excitedly monitoring with infra-red night vision cameras.
Germany’s “last wolf” was reputed to have been shot and killed by hunters in 1904. In 1990, a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the animals were declared a protected species and the population began to grow again. Wolves were sighted in remote areas of eastern Germany after they entered from neighbouring Poland.
Though the wolves are living quite close to the German capital, the area they call home largely consists of uninhabited forest with plenty of dear and wild boar.
“In principle, the whole of Brandenburg is attractive for wolves. Anywhere that a wolf finds peace and quiet and food offers the animals good living conditions,” the WWF commented.
Meanwhile, due north, Norway is singing a different tune. In a meeting Wednesday between the Swedish and Norwegian governments, the latter announced that it planned to cull any wolves that wander into its territory, even if those wolves were born and breed in Sweden. Not everyone in Norway is a wolf hater, The Guardian points out, but unfortunately the dominant political party at the moment is of that persuasion. The Guardian explains:
Politics in Norway tend to be local in character. For people who possess an almost religious aversion to wolves, the persistence of the species is an election issue. But those who like wolves tend to vote as most people do, on issues such as the economy, tax and, perhaps, broader environmental policy.
The Centre party (which is well to the right of centre) currently holds the environment brief in the ruling coalition. It has been chasing the votes of sheep farmers and hunters. It appears to see the wolf – and the international obligations to protect it – as an issue of Norwegian identity: if we want to kill them we damn well will.
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November 9, 2012 12:35 pm
Whenever some fancy new robot or robot-related advancement gets bandied about, you’re sure to be greeted with a few cries of “Ahh! Robot Apocalypse!” Most of those cries are just for fun and even a bit tacky (probably). And most of the fears are unwarranted (hopefully). But a new report by the BBC—that NASA and the European Space Agency have just successfully tested their ability to use a shadow internet to control a robot on Earth from up in space—could leave a person shaking his head and muttering, “Come on people. What are you thinking?”
The technology, known as Disruption-Tolerant Networking (DTN), is just like the internet, only hardier and meant for transmitting data over long distances through somewhat less hospitable conditions. In late October, says the BBC, ”[International Space Station] Expedition 33 commander Sunita Williams used a laptop with DTN software to control a rover in Germany.”
The goal of the project is to have a more robust way of controlling our rovers and satellites as humanity continues to push into the next frontiers of solar system exploration. According to NASA, the space-controlled robot rover was made of LEGO, which makes the whole thing harmless and fun.
Robot apocalypse fear mongering bonus points, courtesy of the BBC:
The DTN is similar to the internet on Earth, but is much more tolerant to the delays and disruptions that are likely to occur when data is shuttling between planets, satellites, space stations and distant spacecraft.
… The system uses a network of nodes – connection points – to cope with delays. If there is a disruption, the data gets stored at one of the nodes until the communication is available again to send it further. This “store and forward” mechanism ensures data is not lost and gradually works its way towards its destination.
Which means it can’t be stopped.
More from Smithsonian.com:
Robot Apocalypse Inches Closer as Machines Learn To Install Solar Panels
Why You Should Stop Worrying About the Robot Apocalypse
Don’t Trust Robots? The Pentagon Doesn’t Either