1 Comment »Posted on Sunday 3 May 2009 at 5:00 pm by Jacob Aron
In Health & Medicine, Inventions & Technology, Weekly Roundup

Hand-drawn holograms

This video from William Beaty, the self-styled Science Hobbyist, demonstrates a rather interesting concept: hand-drawn holograms.

Holograms are traditionally created using lasers, but these ones use just a compass and some copper. There appears to be some debate about whether they are really holograms, but I think they’re too cool to worry about silly definitions.

How much sugar?

It’s interesting how simply communicating things in a different way can change their meaning. If I tell you that a can of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar, what does that mean to you? Probably not much. If I show you this picture however, you might think twice before reaching for a Coke:

That's a lot of sugar!
That's a lot of sugar!

You can find this image along with many more at Sugar Stacks, a website dedicated to revealing the “hidden” sugar in drinks and snacks. It’s US focused so there are a lot of things I don’t recognise, but you get the idea. I wouldn’t snack on one sugar cube, let alone the 10 in a single can of Coke, so perhaps I’ll avoid the stuff from now on!

Compulsory bicycle helmets might hurt more

An Australian mathematician has concluded that legally requiring cyclists to wear helmets could actually increase healthcare costs.

Piet de Jong of Macquarie University in Sydney reasoned that requiring helmets leads to a decrease in the number of cyclists, so more people miss out on the health benefits of cycling.

There is a bit of debate around this, with various figures for the increased health costs and reduced number of cyclists being thrown about. To solve the problem, de Jong created a model that could be adjusted for a variety of values.

It was only under extreme circumstances that mandatory helmet laws resulted in a net benefit. Head injuries must make a up a large proportion of cycling accidents, a small number of people must stop cycling due to helmet laws, and the benefits of cycling must be low.

With that in mind, de Jong hopes that this model will lead to more informed policy, but he doesn’t discourage the use of helmets:

“I go to Holland and places like that, and I don’t wear a helmet,” he says. “I used to live in London, and I wore a helmet all the time.”


  1. One Comment

  2. It might be worth considering that if you hit your head and die, that’s zero health care costs—much less than if you get a concussion.

    By Nathaniel on Monday 4 May, 2009 at 9:23 pm

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