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July 22 2011 6 22 /07 /July /2011 14:33

Optical illusions, also known as a visual illusions, are images that are perceived by the viewer but differ from objective reality. There are three main types of optical illusion: literal optical illusions, physiological illusions, and cognitive illusions. This article will tell you more on how optical illusions work.

How they work

In very simple terms, an optical illusion works as the information gathered by the eye is processed in the brain to give a perception that does not tally with a physical measurement of the stimulus source.

The cognitive processes hypothesis

The hypothesis claims that visual illusions occur because the neural circuitry in our visual system evolves by neural learning, to a system that makes very efficient interpretations of usual 3D scenes based in the emergence of simplified models in our brain that speed up the interpretation process but give rise to optical illusions in unusual situations.

In this sense, the cognitive processes hypothesis can be considered as a framework for an understanding of optical illusions, as the signature of the empirical statistical way vision has evolved to solve the inverse problem.

Different types of Illusions

There are four types of optical illusions.

Ambiguous illusions

Ambiguous illusions are pictures or objects that elicit a perceptual 'switch' between the alternative interpretations. The Necker Cube is a well-known example of this.

Distorting illusions

Distorting illusions are characterised by distortions of size, length, position or curvature. A striking example is the cafe wall illusion.

Paradox illusions

Paradox illusions are generated by objects that are paradoxical or impossible, such as the famous impossible staircase. The final type of illusion are fictional illusions which are defined as the perception of objects that are genuinely not there to all. These are more properly called hallucinations, and can be very scary.

The Herman grid illusion

Biological approach

The Hermann grid illusion is one of the most famous and cool illusions, and is best explained using a biological approach. Basically, the receptive field of the retina - light and dark receptors in the eye - compete with one another to become active. This has been used to explain why we see bands of increased brightness at the edge of a colour difference when viewing Mach bands.

Once a receptor is active, it inhibits adjacent receptors. This inhibition creates contrast, highlighting edges. In the Hermann grid illusion, the grey spots appear at the intersection because of the inhibitory response which occurs as a result of the increased dark surrounded.

Bulging Bricks
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Published by James Hughes - in Physics
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July 22 2011 6 22 /07 /July /2011 09:27

The London Borough of Ealing is a large city located in West London. It is identified as one of the major metropolitan areas in the London Plan and serves the city of London as a key suburb for providing transport, commuters and other financially beneficial services to the British capital. This article provides you with an overview of the London Borough of Ealing.

History of Ealing

Archaeological findings suggest that people have been settling in the Ealing area for over 7,000 years. Iron age pots have been discovered in the area which takes the area back to these times. The earliest recording of the area in the Saxon period occurred when it was known as 'Gillingas.'

Overview of Ealing

Interestingly, the earliest surviving English census comes from Ealing in 1599, and lists Ealing as a village with only 85 households. It gives the names and occupations of each of the residents. In the 1800s, more affluent residents began moving in to the Ealing district as the Uxbridge road was developed giving the district a direct access to London City centre. As this road became busier, overnight inns and pubs were set up and the area grew both economically and in population. Because of this great access to London, Ealing was dubbed the 'Queen of The Suburbs'.

Present-day Ealing

In the present-day, Ealing is still known as 'Queen of The Suburbs' because of its fantastic transport links into central London. Earling is served by the overground station of Ealing Broadway which connects Ealing on main train lines stretching along the M4 corridor and to the north.

Underground stations and film studios

The area has three underground stations: North Ealing, South Ealing and Ealing Common. These three stations are all a part of the Picadilly line. As well as being a commuter district, the

present-day Ealing is well-known for its film studios which are the oldest in the world. Most recently, these studios have produced the films 'Notting Hill' and 'The Importance of Being Earnest.'

Local interests

Ealing has fifteen churches and one giant abbey, known as the 'Ealing Abbey' for the Christian community. There are also two well-established synagogue's for the prominent Jewish community that exist within the area.

Sports team

Despite its large area size, Ealing does not have its own registered professional football team, but the teams of Brentford and Queens Park Rangers exist within the area. Ealing also has a successful local running club which is the home of the double Olympic gold winning runner Dame Kelly Holmes.

Ealing Council
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Published by James Hughes - in Geography
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July 22 2011 6 22 /07 /July /2011 09:11

Drawing cartoon people can be simple and easy when you know how to go about doing it. This article explains in simple step-by-step instructions how to do this.


When drawing anything, it is always a good idea to draw out guidelines first. Make sure that you draw these out in pencil so that you can erase the lines out when required. When drawing a cartoon person, it is important to draw symmetrical guidelines. First of all, draw a centre line down the centre of the page followed by a stick man. The man's body should form the basis of the centre line, with the arms leg and head coming out of it. Make sure that it is just a simple stick man and it will be easy to follow.

Hands and feet

Next come the hands and feet. When drawing a cartoon character, remember that drawings of people do not have to be realistic. Therefore, we can keep the hands and feet simple. So, start off by drawing simple circle shapes. Keep them in proportion with the stick person and keep them symmetrical with the arm and leg line coming directly in to the middle of the circles.

The body

Now, it's time to draw the body and turn those sticks into a body, arms and legs. Go over each of the four lines that make up the body of your stick person by drawing rectangles of equal size and positioning them directly over each line. Continue drawing the rectangles or any other shapes over the lines of the stick person or anything else that may have been included in the picture.Think of it as adding the muscles and organs on top of a human skeleton.

Completing the body

In order to make this stick man look like a proper cartoon character, you now need to join up the rectangle shapes to form one big shape. Now that this has been done, you can erase the centre line and go over the other lines using a pen in order to make them permanent.

Finishing off

Now finish the cartoon man off by adding your own unique element to it. Draw your own facial expressions in and add clothing if you wish. The best way to do this is by choosing your own colours when colouring in and deciding on different colours for each item of clothing.

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Published by James Hughes - in Art & Design
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July 21 2011 5 21 /07 /July /2011 08:38

Document destruction is a key policy for most workplaces as well as homeowners in order to protect their security. There are many benefits to document destruction which many of them revolving around secruity. Here are some of them:

Why destroy your documents?

Many documents which are thrown away from households and from businesses contain very important personal information. This could be financial information such as details about bank accounts or personal identification but it could also be things that you would not even think about. For example, details of which school your child goes to detailed on letters which are sent home or even which supermarket you shop at which could be given away by statements or vouchers sent to you should be destroyed. All of these documents give away personal information about yourself which could be used by others for their own game.

Once a document is in the bins on the street, it becomes public property. This means that it can be accessed and kept by anybody who may come across it. It is illegal for somebody to go through your bins to find this information but this does not mean that it could not happen. It is not worth taking risks.

The paper shredder

There are many different methods of destroying documents. One of the most popular is the paper shredder. Paper shredders are frequently used around offices for office shredding as well as at home. The benefit of having a paper shredder is that once the paper has been shredded, it would be virtually impossible for anybody who came across the shredded scraps of paper to piece it together again. This means that any documents that you have thrown out will almost certainly be safe. Cross shredding (shredding horizontally as opposed to vertically) is a good method for shredding because this makes it even harder to piece paper back together.

Wet the paper

A cheaper, though much messier method of disposing of paper documents securely, is to fill your sink up with water, place all of your documents in to the sink and then mash them up. Not only will the paper be destroyed but the ink will also run with not much evidence of a document remaining. However, as already mentioned, this can leave quite a mess and will need clearing up.

Paper shredder
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Published by James Hughes - in Outdoor activities
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July 21 2011 5 21 /07 /July /2011 07:24

The Mystery Hunters is a Canadian documentary series which sees the Mystery Hunters team investigate reports of real-life mysteries. It is aimed at a young audience and the show puts emphasis on using scientific rigour to try to find plausible explanations for the sightings and eye-witness accounts that trigger their investigations.

The hunters

The Mystery Hunters are led by teenage hosts Araya Megesha and Christina Broccolini along with the third member of their team Doubting Dave, the scientist who is played by real-life scientist David Acer. The two hosts are the only two who go to a wide variety of locations when investigating.


In most Mystery Hunters episodes, they go to seperate locations in order to gain more information. However, sometimes they do go to the same place. Meanwhile, Doubting Dave stays in the science lab and appears in two segments in each show.

The first segment sees him answer questions that are sent to him by fans of the show whilst the second segment usually sees him conduct some sort of experiment that is relevant to the show's topic.

Mysteries investigated

The Mystery Hunters investigate reports of a wide number of things. These include, ghosts, legendary creatures, monsters, vampires and UFO's. These include mysteries such as Bigfoot, who was featured in the very first episode, as well as Loch Ness, the Bermuda Triangle and many UFO sightings.

Programs popularity

Since the program was first aired in 2002, it had aired seventy eight episodes (as of July 2011) and ran through four different seasons.

First DVD

The program's first DVD was released in Canada in 2007 under the title, 'Mystery Hunters: Beatly Beings and Monsterous Mysteries.' This DVD release was followed up by a second DVD in 2008 entitled, 'Gotcha, 18 amazing ways to freak out your friends.'


The program has also been made into its own online game that was released towards the end of 2010. The game was published in a comic book style format mainly featuring puzzle games that need solving in order to advance through thirteen stages.

A final word

The show is also aired in the U.S and in Japan where the original Canadian footage is used but then dubbed over into Japanese.

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Published by James Hughes - in Television
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July 20 2011 4 20 /07 /July /2011 08:12

Sponge Bob Square Pants is one of the most popular children cartoon characters and is fairly simple to draw. This article explains how you can draw pictures of Sponge Bob and impress all of your friends and demonstrate that you don't need to know how to sketch in order to be able to draw Nickelodeon cartoons.


It is always advised when drawing a picture of a cartoon character, or anything for that matter, that you have a picture of what you are drawing in front of you in order to follow it as a template.

Start off by drawing guidelines for Sponge Bob. These should be drawn in pencil so that they can be rubbed out later on. Fairly obviously, start off by drawing a rectangle box shape followed by a line directly down the middle of the box.

Then add two lines to form the basis of his legs.

The face

Draw big round circles either side of the line that you have drawn down the middle of the box. Make them nice and big and have them both joining the line.

At the bottom of the legs, draw long circles for Sponge Bob's feet followed by long circles at the side of the box for Sponge Bob's arms.

The eyes

In order to develop the eyes, draw two smaller circles within the circles that you have already drawn to form Sponge Bob's pupils.

Then, add a finger shape pointing out to the left followed by a crescent shape just below the nose to form Sponge Bob's nose.

Make the crescent in the shape to look like a smile.

Facial detail

Draw a larger crescent below the first crescent to form the mouth followed by two squares directly at the top of the mouth for Sponge Bob's teeth.

At the corners of the mouth, draw two half circles to form Sponge Bob's cheeks in order to enhance the look of the smile.

Finally for the eyes, add three short lines at the top to make Sponge Bob's eyelashes

The 3D look

To add the 3D look, add three further lines at the back of the box with the line at the back of Sponge Bob joined up by two slightly slanted lines at the top and bottom of Sponge Bob.

Follow these by wobbly circular shapes to make the box shape look like a sponge whilst making the previous guidelines for the box wobbly.

Last step

Finally, we need to draw in Sponge Bob's suit. All you have to do is to draw a tie and his collar followed by a little bit for Sponge Bob's shorts. This can be matched to the picture of Sponge Bob that you were using as a template.

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Published by James Hughes - in Art & Design
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July 19 2011 3 19 /07 /July /2011 14:08

Mystery is the stage name and alter-ego of the Canadian author and entertainer Erik Von Markovic. He is most famous for starring as the main character of the book, 'The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of pickup artists' as well as starring on the VH1 reality TV series, 'The Pick-Up Artist.'

Early days

Mystery was born Erik James Horvat- Markovic on 24 September 1971 in Toronto, Canada. Before moving in to the role of a pickup artist, Markovic worked as a professional magician and earned his money from it, stating the world famous magician David Copperfield as his idol.

Markovic made a success of this line of work and was earning up to $1500 a night performing at big corporate events, even appearing on TV. In order to become more of a success, Markovic moved from his home in Toronto to LA in the United States in order to try and land himself into a major television spot. This did not work out and he was forced to move back to Toronto, totally broke.

A pick-up artist

A pick-up artist is somebody who is an expert in picking up girls. By this, we mean he is a master of seduction. Whilst broke, Markovic began trawling the bars and clubs of Toronto, gaining knowledge and skills as to how to pick up women.

He used his experience as a magician to impress girls with tricks and jokes in order to get their attention and he soon found out that this method proved to be very successful. His first indulgence as an advisory pickup artist came when he advertised his live services to men.

Five students picked him up on his offer and paid $500 each to receive live, audio instruction from Markovic when approaching women in clubs.

Fame and success

Markovic's first mainstream exposure came following his contribution to the book, 'The Venusian Arts Handbook' in which he detailed some of his 'mystery methods.' He continued running seminars and boot camps about pick-up artistry but his fame hit heavy heights when he starred in his own VH1 reality TV series, 'The Pickup Artist' in 2007.

Along with this, came his 'Mystery' alter ego and the show and after a disappointing start, it became immensely popular in the U.S. The show saw Mystery take on eight inept men and teach them the art of becoming a pick-up artist.

The show followed these men as they learned the tricks of the trade and became more confident when it came to chatting up women.

A final word

Today, the show is no longer running but Mystery does continue to run his seminars and boot vamps in LA and he is a minor celebrity.

the rose for san valentine day
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Published by James Hughes - in Celebrities
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July 19 2011 3 19 /07 /July /2011 12:01

Volusia County is a county located to the east of the state of Florida. It's biggest city is the Deltona, though the county's most famous city is probably Daytona beach, home of the Daytona 500 in NASCAR racing.

History of the state


Volusia county was founded in 1855 and was named after the port of Volusia on the east bank of the St. Johns river which runs through the county.

Early inhabitants

The land was previously inhabited by the indigenous Timuca Indian tribe before they were wiped out by disease and war following the arrival of the European settlers.

Another local tribe, the Seminoles also camped in the Volusia area as they resisted relocation attempts.

Sugar plantation

A very large sugar plantation had previously existed in the state before it was burned to the ground by the Seminolan tribe during the second Seminole war between 1836 and 1842.

Fort Florida was established in 1836 by General Winfield Scott on the east shore of the St. Johns river.

Present day

Population census

Volusia County is situated fifty miles to the north east of modern day Orlando and sixty miles north of the Kennedy Space centre. As of the 2010 census, the population of Volusia county stands as just under 500,000 people.

As of the 2000 census, there was 86.6% white people and 9.29% black people and African American with Asians making up the biggest proportion of the remaining percentage.

Daytona International Speedway

The county's main attraction is probably the Daytona International Speedway, home of the famous Daytona 500 NASCAR race which is one of the most prestigious races in the sport.

The track was built in 1958 by William France Senior and opened in 1959. It does not just house NASCAR racing but also has a motorcycle course as well as a 180 acre infield lake which hosts power-boating.


At present, it has a capacity of almost 170,000 and along with the Daytona 500, it also hosts prestigious races such as the Coke Zero 400, the Budweiser shootout and the Gatorade dual.

The main track is made of standard asphalt and runs at 3.5 miles in distance with twelve turns. The 'Tri- Oval' track runs at a mile less with only four turns.

NASCAR Canadian Tire series practice
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Published by James Hughes - in Geography
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July 19 2011 3 19 /07 /July /2011 06:18

Science experiments are a great way of making science become fun for kids. Here are some fun experiments.

Make an egg float

For this experiment, you need an egg, water, salt and a tall drinking glass.

Firstly, pour the water into the glass until it is about half full.

Then, stir in about six tablespoons of salt and then carefully pour in plain water until the glass is nearly full (be careful not to disturb or mix the salty water with the plain water).

Finally, gently lower the egg into the water and it will float when it hits the salt water. This because salted water is more dense than the egg, which means that it rests on top of it.


Quick sand is a fascinating substance and you can make some of your own and experiment on a safe scale. For this experiment, you will need one cup of cornflour, half a cup of water, a large plastic container and a spoon.

Firstly, mix the cornflour and water thoroughly in the container to make your own instant quick sand.

When showing other people how it works, stir slowly and drip the quick sand to show it is a liquid. Stirring it quickly will make it hard and allow you to punch or poke it quickly (this works better if you do it fast rather than hard.)

When you add the correct amount of water, the cornflour becomes very thick, thus giving it the quicksand effect.

Home-made eruption

One of the most popular experiments of modern times is the Diet Coke and Mentos Geyse eruption. For this one, you will need a large bottle of Diet Coke, about half a pack of Mentos and a Geyser tube.

Take this experiment outside to avoid mess and set up the coke bottle vertically.

Put some sort of funnel or tube on top of it so that you can drop half a pack of Mentos in at the same time.

When the Mentos hit the coke, it will fizz up and spray out through the funnel. The record spray reached an incredible 29 feet high!

Fake snot

For this experiment, you need boiling water, a cup, gelatin, corn syrup, a teaspoon and a fork.

Fill half a cup with boiling water and add three teaspoons of gelatin to the boiling water.

Let it soften before stirring with a fork and add a quarter of a cup of corn syrup.

Stir the mixture again with your fork and look at the long strands of 'snot' that have formed. As the mixture cools slowly, add more water, small amounts at a time.

Be safe!

Remember, when conducting these experiments, always be careful and be safe!

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Published by James Hughes - in Chemistry
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July 18 2011 2 18 /07 /July /2011 11:38

In English culture, Alfred the Great is most famously known for letting a peasent woman's cakes burn whilst he was meant to be keeping an eye on them. The truth is that Alfred earnt his title as 'The Great' for a reason. He has been worshiped by many for his achievements during his lifetime and is without doubt the most famous English king to have ruled in the centuries prior to William the Conqueror.

King Alfred was from the House of Wessex which is the royal family which ruled most of England for about 400 years up until William the Conqueror won the throne at the Battle of Hastings.

He was born in 848, the son of King Ethelwulf of Wessex. He took over as king in 871 after both of his older brothers had already reigned and died. In the early days, it was said that instead of fighting the, at the time, ever invading Danes, he would pay them not to attack England - not a very great trait!

Despite this, Alfred suffered early defeat at the hands of the Danes and lost much of his kingdom to them. Despite battling back, Alfred was forced to flee the previous strong hold of Chippenham after it had been invaded and this is where the legendary cake story comes form. Whilst hiding out in the woods in Somerset, Alfred sought shelter in a tiny cottage owned by a peasent woman. She agreed to let him stay, not recognising him as king, as long as he looked after her cakes.

It was after this that Alfred earned his high status. He recouped his army and took back Westbury before regaining Chippenham by starving the Danes in to submission. As part of the take over, Alfred even had the Danish king and his men convert to Christianity and Alfred went on to once again reign supreme over a majority of England though the Danish king was given East Anglia.

Alfred was a hero and, despite a few minor attacks from the Danes and the Vikings, Alfred led a fairly peaceful life for the rest of his reign before he passed away in the former capital city of Wessex, Winchester, in 901 though it is not known exactly how he died. A statue of King Alfred still stands in Winchester City centre today.

King Alfred
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Published by James Hughes - in History
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