January 26, 2007

LinkNews Digest [01/26/2007]

Microwaves and Sponges

Earlier this week, the University of Florida released a study that claims that Microwaving your scrubber sponges on high for two minutes eliminates over 99% of the germs that might be on it.
"People often put their sponges and scrubbers in the dishwasher, but if they really want to decontaminate them and not just clean them, they should use the microwave," says Gabriel Bitton, a professor of environmental engineering who led the study.

Writing in the Journal of Environmental Health, Bitton and colleagues say they soaked sponges and scrubbing pads in raw wastewater containing faecal bacteria such as Escherichia coli, viruses, protozoan parasites and bacterial spores.

Then they used a common household microwave oven to heat the sponges. It took 4-10 minutes to kill all the spores but everything else was killed after 2 minutes, they say.
However, the U of F scientists quickly released a follow-up advisory:
"To guard against the risk of fire, people who wish to sterilize their sponges at home must ensure the sponge is completely wet. Two minutes of microwaving is sufficient for most sterilization. Sponges should also have no metallic content. Last, people should be careful when removing the sponge from the microwave as it will be hot."
This after some folks left out the crucial step of wetting the sponge first:
"Just wanted you to know that your article on microwaving sponges and scrubbers aroused my interest. However, when I put my sponge/scrubber into the microwave, it caught fire, smoked up the house, ruined my microwave, and pissed me off," one correspondent wrote in an e-mail to Reuters.

"First, the sponge is worthless afterwards so you have to throw it out instead of using it. And second your entire house stinks like a burning tire for several hours, even with windows/doors open," complained another.

New Reality Show: Smarter than a 5th Grader?

PASADENA, Calif. - Every parent's nightmare - being exposed for not knowing what's in your kid's school textbook - will soon play out on national television.

Fox announced Saturday that it is making a new game show, "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" that will air sometime later this year, perhaps as early as the spring.

Adults will compete in a quiz based on questions from elementary school textbooks. Actual elementary school students will be on hand as "experts" for the adults to consult with.

"While most game shows measure how smart you are, this is a show that will measure how dumb you are," said Peter Liguori, Fox entertainment president.

Fox won a competition with other networks to buy the idea from Mark Burnett, executive producer of "Survivor," perhaps because Liguori - not too modestly - said he was the only chief network television executive to answer all six questions from the show correctly.(LINK )

Muppets Take Another Shot at PrimeTime

While the Jim Henson Company works away on film and TV projects, we've been constantly teased with the promise of a new Muppet series. The last time this happened was with the short-lived Muppets Tonight in the '90s. Attempts to bring the gang back to television haven't come to fruition, including a pilot in 2004 for America's Next Muppet that was never picked up as a series.

Now, a brand new pilot for a Muppet mini-series is being passed around Disney, a spoof on mockumentary series like The Office that has the Muppet gang getting back together to put on a new show after venturing off on their own to find new jobs. That plot actually sounds very similar to The Muppets Take Manhattan. Word has it that the mini-series, if successful, could spawn a brand new primetime Muppet series. (LINK )

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