Ask A Guru

February - April 2005

How does hypnotism work as in how does the process suspend you and what is going on in your brain as it happens and why do you obey the commands of the hypnotizer? - Zach Griffin (2005/04/22)

Many people have seen movies where a person becomes hypnotized and does whatever they're told; dances like a chicken, quits smoking, listens to Kenny G without vomiting, etc. This is a Hollywood creation, and just like most Hollywood creations, the real version is a lot less exciting.

Psychologists disagree as to whether hypnosis is legitiment. Some claim that it can be a useful tool for helping people, others say that it exists, but is too unpredictable to be of any real use, while others claim that it is simply a matter of the hypnosis patient's expectations based on pop culture and the desire to please the hypnotist.

The first person involved with hypnosis in the scientific community was Franz Mesmer in 1770. He used the term "mesmerize" which was later change to hypnosis named after the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos.

People can be put into a state of hypnosis from many different methods. Focusing on an inanimate object, a moving object, a strobe light, or even just concentrating hard are all possible methods.

Unlike most altered states of consciousness, hypnosis does not alter the brain waves very much (others, like sleep, create an obvious change). The brain waves of someone who is hypnotized look similar to someone who is concentrating very hard. Hypnosis is more commonly viewed as a state of mental and physical relaxation where it becomes easier to focus on a particular thought and ignore others. During a state of hypnosis it is supposedly easier to focus on thoughts like "you have the power to quit smoking", or "you will feel no pain from me sawing off your arm".

When used for suggestion, results vary. Some people go along with the suggestion, others go along with it, but later say they only did it because they were expected to, others refuse all together. With memory regression many people claim that they were able to remember lost memories, but some of these memories turn out to be false.

As you can see, hypnotism is a difficult topic at best to talk about. There is no doubt it can have helpful results, but that may be the pragmatic fallacy in action.

Oh Wise Guys, how come cockroaches and other insects can walk up side down and vertically? Can I achieve the same? - Jerome Wijesundra (2005/04/13)

That's -mister- wise guys to you bucko!

It's not just insects that can cling to walls, some amphibians, reptiles, and really light horses can do it as well. The strange thing is that they even seem to adhere to nonporous surfaces like glass. How do they do this? There are several methods.

Most creatures are able to stick to walls thanks to very tiny hairs that grow on their feet and hands. These hairs give them ability to stick to walls and ceilings. Even smooth surfaces like glass have microscopic fissures and bumps that these hairs are able to grip to. Some insects grow tiny hooks, called tarsal claws, on their legs that can attach to porous surfaces. Others secrete oils from on their hair that make sticky pads called arolia or pulvilli. These pads will stick to most surfaces. Also, the small size of these creatures is also a factor because they are able get so close to the surface they can create a tiny vacuum effect on their bodies that will help them to stick.

You can replicate this by shrinking yourself about 99.9% of your current size, losing 99.9% of your body weight, and surgically implanting micro hairs into you hands and feet. However, that might be a bit impractical. You could always emulate Alain Robert, AKA Spiderman.

What is the difference between DVD+R and DVD-R? - Ryan Hall (2005/03/30)

One has a plus the other has a minus. Wow, we figured that would be pretty obvious. You must be really stupid. Oh, oops! Sorry about that, you are probably referring to the differences in the DVD technologies not just the syntax.

There is actually little difference between the two technologies. They both spin at the same speed while playing, they both store the same amount of data, and they both look shiny in direct sunlight.

The major difference between DVD-R and DVD+R is how standard they are. DVD-R is approved by the DVD Forum (the organization in charge of creating universal standards for DVDs) and DVD+R is not. So DVD+R is not an official format, but does it matter? Not really. When DVD burning first came out DVD players and burners could only handle one or the other, but any decent DVD player or burner these days supports both formats. Just make sure before you buy it.

DVD+R is endorsed by the DVD Alliance. But why was DVD+R even created if it wasn't going to be an official standard? Because it offers several features that are not available on DVD-R. DVD+R tends to burn at faster speeds, it can record new data while formatting, it has better support for files, titles, and multi-session writing, and built in defect management.

We hope that by the time blue laser comes out this won't be a problem anymore, but the thing about industry standards is that there is no standard for setting standards about who sets standards on standards.

Simple questions, simple answers, part 4 (2005/03/22)

Once again, your simple questions get simple questions.

Q: Does the Linux operating system work with Windows XP? - Ryan Hall
A: You're not a computer science major are you? There are certain standards shared between the two (e.g. TCP/IP, JPEG, HTML), but as a whole they don't play well with each other because they're both OSs, and trying to run two OSs at the same time on the same computer on the same hard drive in the same block of memory will cause your computer's brain to explode. It is possible to run Linux -on- Windows, not with it, by using coLinux.

Q: Why do kamikazes were helmets? - KC-BUG
A: So that they will be in perfect health when they kill themselves.

Q: What is a bamboo steamer? - Dallas Girard
A: It is an Asian cooking instrument (often with multiple tiers) made from bamboo that allows you to steam food.

Q: Why is water wet? - Viv
A: Because it isn't dry. Duh.

Q: You turn me on, why is that? I wanna be just like you! You beast. - Daniel Price
A: This is a common problem amongst most males, we get them all hot and sexy. We can't help it, we're just naturally provocative. Take a cold shower and then read a set of encyclopedias. If you're concerned that you might be gay, let us assure you, you are.

Two full moons in a month is a blue moon, but what is it called when you have two new moons in a month? - Brill (2005/03/04)

We're still a little mad after finding out that the moon isn't really made of cheese, but I suppose we'll swallow our pride and answer this question about our lunar adversary.

As you pointed out, two full moons in a month is called a blue moon. Actually, the term "blue moon" can also refer to the moon appearing blue due to our atmosphere or the much older definition, the third of four full moons in one season. However, the most common definition for a blue moon is two full moons in one month.

Most modern people don't care about the phases of the moon and don't bother with coming up with silly names for them. Few people notice when two full moons occur in one month and even fewer notice when two new moons occur (for obvious reasons).

But there are plenty of people who watch the moon carefully and they like to have names for different events. So what is the name of two new moons in one month? Although there are several lesser known names, the most common name for two new moons in one month is a black moon. This term has roots in modern witchcraft and supposedly the energy of nature becomes more powerful than normal during a black moon.

It should be noted that the concept of a month is a human creation, which begs the question, why would nature become more powerful during an event created by people? Even the guru's are stumped by that one.

Why do we call them APARTments if they are all together? - Angela France (2005/02/17)

Back when apartments were first built, when the construction was complete, the builders used to rip off all the limbs of a virgin and scatter them around to appease the evil housing project gods. The virgin is said to be taken "apart" when their limbs were ripped off, thus the name of the buildings were called apartments. It's a horribly gruesome history that most people have forgotten. Of course, in this modern age we no longer believe in the terrible housing project gods, but we still enjoy as good limb ripping ceremony.

Okay, perhaps that's a little far fetched (they didn't have to be virgins). Actually, the word apartment has quite a history behind it. The English word apartment comes from the French word "appartement". Appartement, comes from the Italian word "appartamento". Appartamento comes from the older Italian word "appartare". Appartare means "to seperate" and comes from the Italian word "apart" which means "to the side". Apart comes from the phrase "a parte", which in turn comes from the Latin diminutive of "pars", which is "part".

Anyway, the whole thing basically means that while yes, apartments are all close together in the same building, but the people inside of them are kept -apart- from each other by lots of good old fashioned walls. And if you've ever lived in an apartment you pray to whatever god you believe in that those walls are as thick and soundproof as possible.

Whose bright idea was it to pop cocaine into old-recipe coca-cola and why is it, or any drug for that matter, illegal? - Ryan Fuhst (2005/02/10)

And what a bright idea it was! What better way to get people to buy your product than by making it addictive? Just ask the tobacco companies, they know all about it.

The brains behind the Coca-Cola came from John S. Pemberton. He made it in 1886 from coca leaves and kola nuts, hence the name. Cocaine is derived from cola leaves, which is where the cocaine came from. However, as it seems, Coca-Cola was originally marketed as a medicine, not a soft drink, giving a valid reason to have cocaine in it. The drink wasn't very successful until Asa Griggs Candler bought the product from Pemberton and marketed it like crazy, getting plenty of people stoned in the process.

Now in the defense of the Coca-Cola company, at the time, cocaine was legal and most people then didn't know that it is harmful. Also, when the damaging effects of cocaine were brought to light Coca-Cola had removed as much cocaine from their product as they could and by 1929 Coca-Cola was totally cocaine free. We bet there were plenty coke-heads who were a tad bit upset by this. Of course, the company has since switched from cocaine to caffeine, another addictive drug, but not as powerful, so they don't seem too concerned with our well being.

Why are drugs illegal in the first place? Have you ever seen a stoner trying to tie their shoes and just give up because it's too difficult? Then there is always the humor of watching a crack-head selling their body for a mere hit off the pipe. No problems with society there. Of course, you can always go the land of no laws, Amsterdam, to smoke your joints, blunts, and fatties.