Fun_People Archive
7 Dec
WhiteBoardness 12/6/95

Date: Thu, 7 Dec 95 12:28:20 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: WhiteBoardness 12/6/95

Excerpted-from: WhiteBoard News for December 06, 1995

Helsinki, Finland:

Rats Charles and Conrad slam-dunked their way through a basketball game as
Finnish researchers displayed the rodents' talent for learning.

A crowd of children cheered as the 6-month-old tame rats vied over a
miniature ball, snatching it from under each other's snouts and scampering
to their respective goals on a rat-sized court to drop it neatly into the

"They're real stars," said trainer Katja Luostarinen at the Finnish Science
Center, where the rats have been training one hour a day for three months.
"But actually, the girls Francine and Jane are better.  They're quicker,
and they learn faster."

The rats were trained with a ball filled with nuts and rewarded with a scrap
of food every time they netted the ball at the correct end of the court.
The ball they play with now is empty, but they still earn a tidbit for every

Psychologist Sini Paananen, who organized the program, said the rats clearly
enjoy the sport.  She pointed to their shiny fur and alert manner.

"It can't be much fun just being a rat waiting for food in a cage," she

"They wouldn't play if they didn't like it."

The scientists no longer keep score in each game, but the spectators decided
Charles had won, 11 goals to 9.

Cape Canaveral, Florida:

A problem-plagued $30 million orbiting lab has produced the world's purest
semiconductor chip, using a vacuum 500 times stronger than found on Earth,
scientists said Monday.

The chip, grown during a flight of space shuttle Endeavour last September,
is so pure that scientists are having a hard time figuring just how much
better it is than similar chips grown on Earth.  The chip will be used for
research rather than for electronics.

The chip is a raw version of a semiconductor, which -- once altered a bit
-- is the brain of all modern electronics.  The purer the semiconductor,
the faster it is.  The faster the semiconductor, the smaller the electronics
can be.

But at what cost?

September's mission was the second time the lab was flown in space.  Called
the Wake Shield Experiment, the device is released from the shuttle arm and
allowed to continue its own orbit where in its wake, some of the purest
vacuum ever known is developed.

It costs $400 million for each shuttle flight.  Added to the $30 million
cost of the laboratory and that one crystal cost $830 million.

Fast News Forum:

Hugh Miller was 24 when he followed General John Pershing into Mexico to
try to capture the bandit Pancho Villa.  Now, at 103, he's been awarded a
special coin honoring his ventures with the 16th Infantry.

The city of New York is recalibrating its 3,550 subway turnstiles after
learning that a small South American coin worth 2 cents gains entry as well
as the new $1.50 token.

Game Warden Joseph Dedrick charged himself with hunting quail out of season
after a buddy in Fredericksburg, Virginia, proved to him that the season
didn't start for another week.  "It's embarrassing," he said.

The United Parcel Service will "free Willy" free of charge.  UPS will fly
Keiko, who starred in the movie "Free Willy," from Mexico City to his new
home at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon, on January 7.

Ali Burke, 25, was recently arrested and charged with disorderly conduct at
a McDonald's in Somerset, Pennsylvania, after he squirted ketchup on the
nose of the Hamburglar and licked it off.

To subscribe to WhiteBoard News email: (Joseph Harper)

[=] © 1995 Peter Langston []