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Research Day

From now on I'm going to jot down questions as they occur to me, look 'em up on Google, and post my findings on the 15th of each month. And I shall call it: Research Day!

What's the origin of the phrase "Soup to Nuts"? According to this Straight Dope column, traditional British meals began with soup and were followed with port and nuts. Thus, "soup to nuts" came to mean "everything, and then some." (Bob concurs: "They're the courses in a (Victorian?) formal banquet. Soup is the first course, and the nuts are served with the brandy and cigars as the gentlemen retire to the billiards room.")

Why is is easier to maintain your balance on a moving bicycle than on a stationary one?: This is actually something I've been wondering for, oh, a couple decades now. And here, at long last, is the answer. In a nutshell: it's not easier in the short term. Upon a stationary bicycle, if you tilt in one direction and will just fall over; on a moving bicycle, however, you tilt one way and the whole bicycle moves in that direction (pulled by your weight) and gets under you again, thereby restoring your balance. The faster you are moving, the quicker the bicycle gets under you again, the more you feel un-topple-able.

Will a woman who has not just given birth begin to lactate if she allows an infant to nurse over the course of a few days/ weeks?: This question arose after I told The Queen that I thought infants adopted by lesbian couples must be totally psyched (because twice the feeding stations meant no waiting), and she announced that it didn't work that way. The answer, according to this article, lies somewhere in the middle: yes, a woman will start to "produce drops of milk after two to four weeks," but probably never enough to completely sate a newborn.

How long would would I have to search Google to find photos or an account of a couple that exchanged wedding rings engraved with the Elvish inscription on Sauron's ring?: Ready ... go! Sixty seconds -- Found this: "The tengwar Quenya inscriptions on the rings ... are very closely based on the style of Tolkien's own Ring inscription (indeed the Tengwar text was not handwritten, but a cut-and-paste job made from photocopies of Tolkien's inscription)." Close, but I want the inscription on the actual One Ring. 140 seconds -- closer: "My wedding ring is a replica of the One Ring, complete with Elvish script inside (although what it says is much more benign than the Black Speech inscription and is in Quenya)." 150 seconds, closer still: "The rings read: One ring to show our love, one ring to bind us / One ring to seal our love, and forever to entwine us." (Damn, that page has photos and everything, and is probably about as good as I'm going to get. Well, I'll keep looking a for another minute or so ...). 200 seconds: E-weddingbands.com sells One Rings, so I ought to be able to find some couple that exchanged them. 230 seconds: Got bored, declared the "One ring to seal our love" guys the winner.

Should I eat chili for lunch and then go to the gym in the afternoon? I did a little inadvertent research on this subject yesterday, and discovered the answer to be a resounding no.

Posted on January 15, 2003 to Research Day


Then why can cyclists ride on those roller things where they don't actually go anywhere, but don't fall off, either?

Posted by: Eric on January 15, 2003 4:22 PM

It's also my birthday. I think the whole research aspect puts a damper on my special day. Can't you pick on someone else. Maybe a day on which no one celebrates a birthday, so that way they won't associate their day with what must be a very arduous day for you.
By the way, my boss just asked me if I wanted a small cake. It turns out that a co-worker shares the same birthday. His boss and the department are getting him a large cake. What the !?! do I want a pathetic small cake to go along with his. Did I get second place in the loser contest?
Really, you know what, on second thought can you just name your research day after me, it beats the second place cake.

Posted by: ryan on January 15, 2003 4:44 PM

I'm gonna have to disagree on your bike explanation -- the wheels don't actually move under you when you lean. The wheels are acting as gyroscopes, and as such resist changes to their axes of spin, which is what helps keep you upright.

Here's a site that explains it:


Posted by: rich on January 15, 2003 4:48 PM

Of course upon re-reading my post, I realize that yes, yes I do indeed deserve the second place cake. I apologize. It won't happen again.
I really don't like working in a 3 sided corporate cubicle.
I really don't like working at all.

Posted by: ryan on January 15, 2003 5:06 PM


> It's also my birthday.

Your birthday is the 15th of each month?! That fuckin' rules.


> I'm gonna have to disagree on you ...
> here's a site that explains it ...

I'll read this on the bus this evening. Expect a ruling in the morning.

Posted by: Matthew on January 15, 2003 5:20 PM

DY is right, as usual. Gyroscopic forces have very little to do with keeping a bicycle upright. It's all about the steering geometry, what with rake angles and such. Here's a link that expains it, in too much detail:
They even mention an experiment where somebody made a bike that canceled out the gyroscopic forces, and it still behaved the same. Have you ever tried to ride a bike backwards, for instance drifting backwards down a hill? It's nearly impossible to stay upright, gyroscopic forces be damned!
[Insert witty summary here]

Posted by: Mr. Big Business on January 16, 2003 6:59 AM

i think there are drugs now that can allow a women who has not carried a baby to lactate at least to some degree.

Posted by: Sean Meade on January 16, 2003 11:13 AM

I think there are also drugs that allow a woman who has not carried a baby not to care if she is lactating.

Posted by: boomratt on January 16, 2003 12:17 PM

I want some of those drugs

Posted by: rob on January 16, 2003 1:20 PM

I know some women that can drive me to drugs that make me lactate.

Posted by: Cowboy Kahlil on January 17, 2003 1:39 AM

I should really masquerade as a man when I tell you this: some women can lactate under all kinds of non-reproductive situations - piercings, doctoral qualifying exams, sleep deprivation (someone already said drugs)... Certain ill-informed doctors will attribute it to "overstimulation," and snicker. And the girl will say "Dude. Don't you dare jack off to that thought later."

Oh and: next month, you can go into your experiments prepared.

Posted by: Jessica on January 17, 2003 10:07 AM

only goats milk is good...are goats marsupials?

Posted by: spookydook on January 19, 2003 6:02 PM

Who gives damn about all that geometry and gyroscopes. Simple rule: You lean when you're not moving, you fall off. simple as that.

Posted by: Jason on January 23, 2003 6:39 PM