569 - Germany’s Equators
In the two decades since German reunification, the German government has spent up to €1,6 trillion on upgrading the defunct economic infrastructure of the communist East to match that of the capitalist West. Yet differences, and associated resentments, between the former BRD and DDR  persist:
But the gaps are closing. Indicators for health and wealth are slowly converging. And slowly re-revealing that the real divide in Germany is not between East and West, but between North and South. As is frequently the case elsewhere. Curiously, intra-national differences in diet, culture, dialect, and religion often seem more obvious on a latitudinal axis rather than a longitudinal one.
For examples discussed previously on this blog, see #24, listing a few of Europe’s North-South divides; #193, for a discussion of the unofficial ‘border’ between North and South in England; or #317, describing the availability or not of sweet tea as a litmus test for the “separation of northern and southern cultures in the United States.”
And so it goes in Germany, where this map describes some of the borderlines separating Germany’s North from its South.
The discrepancy between both versions of the latter equator indicates the elasticity of concepts like ‘North’ and ‘South’, even with all the ready-made cultural stereotypes at our disposal. Or maybe because of them. We never recognise ourselves in the crude types others use to cast us. We have less of a problem applying equally crude characterisations on others, further away. For Hamburgers (the people, not the food), South Germany starts at the Main, while for the Hessians who live there, only Bavaria (and Baden-Württemberg) qualify as ‘South’.
Thus caught up in between different definitions of North and South is a corridor from Frankfurt to the Czech border, where people can switch their allegiance between either side as they please, taking into account internal factors such as personal heritage and preference, or external ones like: Which football team is winning? Which side is ‘cooler’?
Alternatively, they too can construct a cultural identity of their own - the Middle. Germany probably has a lot more equators than these...
 Bundesrepublik Deutschland, a.k.a. West Germany, and the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, a.k.a. East Germany.
 The ‘new federal states’, an alternate description for former East Germany. These states are: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia. This description does not include East Berlin, which was reunified with West Berlin. The Bundesland Berlin thus is only half-new...
 The 1919 Treaty of Versailles explicitly forbade Germans form calling their sparkling wine ‘champagne’, so they called it by another, informal name: sekt (from the Latin siccus, ‘dry’). In 1975, the European Court of Justice annulled Germany’s attempts to reserve ‘sekt’ as the term for sparkling wine produced in German-speaking countries.
 Lobith is the proverbial locality where the Rhine enters the Netherlands, but man-mande shifts in the course of the river mean this is no longer so. Spijk is the first town on the Rhine, but only its right bank. Millingen aan de Rijn is the first locality where both banks are Dutch. Although technically, because this transnational stretch of water is known as the Bijlandsch Kanaal, the Rhine doesn’t flow across the border at all…
 To be precise: towards the remarkable Czech salient containing the towns of Aš and Hranice. This geopolitical peninsula marks the Slavic world’s westernmost extremity. Coincidentally, the Weissbier-Äquator’s western terminus is near metropolitan France’s easternmost extremity, at Lauterbourg, on the left bank of the Rhine.
 Short for Es grüss’ dich Gott, ‘May God bless you’. The meaning of the verb grüssen has since come to mean ‘to greet’ rather than ‘to bless’.
 Could it be that Karl Albrecht loved Schafskopf, while Theo hated it?
 One of the more shocking pieces of royal trivia to surface in the course of the British Queen’s recent Diamond Jubilee was the informational tidbit that her consort Prince Philip’s nickname for Her Majesty is Sausage.
 The hamburger, although possibly named after the North German port city, was probably invented and definitely popularised in the United States.
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It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.
In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.
Image from the study.
As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.
Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.
"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.
It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.
Image by authors of the study.
Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.
The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.
“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."
Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
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