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Archive for the 'Medicine' Category

Slow Motion Lightning

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

After watching this video of slow motion lightning, I wonder how fast of a camera you would need to catch it. The first few seconds of the video are the coolest where it looks like the electricity is trying to sort out a path.

I’ve seen a number of photos and video of the recent solar eclipse. Most of them weren’t that impressive. Here is an interesting collection. I particularly like the last shot.

Speaking of striking photos, this bug covered in dew is a pretty amazing shot.

I’m not sure why someone would want to camp in the city like this but all you need is a tent that looks like a car cover.

I suppose camping in the city would be a healthier experience if you paved the roads with concrete which purifies the air.

I wonder how long it will be before you can just get a replacement organ grown for you. MIT engineers are taking tissue engineering to the next level.

And finally, you guessed it, another cute kitten photo.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

I didn’t realize the main bottleneck in splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen efficiently are the catalysts used in the design of the electrodes. One of the problems with using solar power has been storing the energy for night use. If you could efficiently generate hydrogen during the day, then you could use a fuel cell to turn the hydrogen back into electricity at night. Apparently researchers at MIT have solved this problem. It’s pretty interesting how the catalyst works.

The new catalyst marks a radical departure from earlier attempts. Researchers, including Nocera, have tried to design molecular catalysts in which the location of each atom is precisely known and the catalyst is made to last as long as possible. The new catalyst, however, is amorphous–it doesn’t have a regular structure–and it’s relatively unstable, breaking down as it does its work. But the catalyst is able to constantly repair itself, so it can continue working.

If you didn’t catch it there was also an apparent breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease recently. I can’t imagine how frightening it would be to be diagnosed with that affliction. Read more here.

This was an interesting article. Couch potatoes can rejoice as researchers have found taking a pill can provide some of the benefits of exercising. We aren’t really go-to-the-gym kind of people. In the summer, we get most of our exercise gardening, playing golf, or camping. In the winter, there isn’t much to do outside. Especially for the last 5 years or so when there isn’t enough snow to do anything snow related.

The other day I linked to an article about someone who clipped a portrait of the Mona Lisa into their yard. This takes that to an extreme, where people actually exposed plots of grass to light through a photographic plate to produce a picture using grass.

I’ll probably never make it to Norway but Trolltunga looks like a really nice place to visit.

A trick to traveling faster than light? Make the ship stand still and have space move underneath it instead.

I’ve been making 3D objects on the computer for many years. I have yet to actually have one turned into a real physical object. Shapeways uses a 3D printing process to create 3D objects out of plastic for consumers. I’m going to have to try it.

And finally, check out this picture of a dog who adopted tiger cubs at a Kansas zoo.

That DNS Bug

Monday, July 28th, 2008

If you haven’t heard, there is a nasty flaw in the internet that can redirect you to a page which may look like the place you thought you were going but isn’t. Here is an article at Wired and here is a follow up article. I don’t think I’ll be browsing to any financial institutions for a while. If you read the article, there was supposed to be a month for service providers to patch their software before the details of the exploit were released. Unfortunately the details were leaked.

Here is an interesting article about an aging study done at Stanford.

Some tortoises lay eggs at the age of 100, he points out. There are whales that live to be 200, and clams that make it past 400. Those species use the same building blocks for their DNA, proteins and fats as humans, mice and nematode worms. The chemistry of the wear-and-tear process, including damage from oxygen free-radicals, should be the same in all cells, which makes it hard to explain why species have dramatically different life spans.

I guess I wouldn’t mind being young again but without all the restlessness and drama. I suppose one goes with the other.

I’ve linked to video of non-Newtonian fluids before but this one is really creepy. It looks like cornstarch and water which is what is most commonly used. In this case, someone is holding down a pan which is placed on a vibrating surface. When they poke a hole in the fluid, it looks like a scene from the remake of The Thing.

Here is a funny article from the New York Times. A passenger whose last name was Gay was supposed to give up his seat on a plane but there was a misunderstanding.

I had heard some of these stories before. I knew penicillin was discovered by accident and how microwaves were invented. I had not heard the one about Saccharin but it amazes me any chemist would not wash his hands before eating. Here is an interesting article about serendipity.

This is a pretty elaborate piece of art. I noticed while it is scrolling by, the perspective changes slightly making me wonder how it is done.

Speaking of art, someone clipped a picture of the Mona Lisa into their yard. I have a vague memory of coming home from vacation when i was a kid and the neighbor had used a lawnmower to write something in our long grass.

They call it the world’s highest swing but actually at first it looks more like bungee jumping. I didn’t listen to the sound but when I showed it to my wife, she did, and there is some adult language, so turn off the sound if you need to. I noticed most of the people didn’t jump but were pushed off. I suppose if you were running it you wouldn’t want people to hesitate. I’m pretty sure I’d have to be pushed too. Here is the link.

This is another collection of high speed photographs. I’ve never really tried doing this and it doesn’t seem like it would be difficult. I guess I do have some pictures of my nephew playing with a garden hose where the water looks cool.

Speaking of photography, here are more aurora pictures, rock balancing pictures, and a really creepy thing on a guy’s arm.

As a guy who took enough math classes I probably could of had a degree in that too, I’m embarrassed to admit I have played the lottery. This is an interesting study on why people play the lottery, and in particular, poor people.

This is bizarre. It’s a robotic elephant. I wonder what kind of mileage it gets?

And finally, check out tigers are just cute big cats.

ET Is Out There

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

The company my wife works for encrypts her computer now. She has been having problems with it since she got back from Denver. Normally I would just fix it for her but now I just have to put up with the fact that she isn’t getting much done and she is not a happy camper. Here another one of those lists of tools to help troubleshoot a PC. Also when I went to try to work on her computer, my friend Matt told me about Knoppix. It’s a version of Linix which fits on a CD and is bootable. My spell checker is complaining about the word bootable. Anyway even if you have never run Linix or Unix, the desktop is pretty much windows-like and easily figured out. It comes with a browser, text editor, and a lot of basic tools you would need. It’s free and can be downloaded from a number of sources so just Google it.

I was pretty amazed to read this article about 6000 new species being found in the Smokey Mountains. It’s not like the Smokey Mountains are some distant unexplored area. Speaking of strange critters, check this thing out.

This article about a cancer vaccine reminds me of a Star Trek episode where they come up with a cure for something in a day or so. Talk about personalized medicine! They take the patients tumor and clone it and then grow proteins on tobacco. The irony here is tobacco providing a cure for cancer.

I thought this piece on light phenomena was kind of interesting. Some of the pictures are pretty nice.

Who doesn’t enjoy a good pirate story? Here is a list of 5 treasure islands. It makes a good story but I have a problem with the idea a guy discovered treasure because his compass started spinning when he stood over chests of gold.

It’s one thing when someone claims aliens are out there but when it’s Dr Edgar Mitchell Apollo 14 astronaut, it makes you wonder. I suppose there would be a number of reasons governments would want to keep that information from the public but seeing as though it would be one of the greatest discoveries ever, I hope they would tell us. I liked this line in the article.

Chillingly, he claimed our technology is ‘not nearly as sophisticated’ as theirs and “had they been hostile”, he warned ‘we would be been gone by now’.

Really, Captain Obvious, they are capable of interstellar travel and have more sophisticated technology?

And finally, I have a cat who tries to drink beer. We stop her but it can be embarrassing if you have a guest over and they set a beer where she can get to it, which is just about anywhere. Check out this beer drinking weasel.

Put On Your Thinking Cap

Monday, July 21st, 2008

It’s time to put on your thinking caps. Amazingly, exposing your brain to infra-red light could reverse the effects of aging. I think I needed one of those today.

T Boone Pickens is an oil man who is building a huge wind farm in Texas. As he points out on his website we are sending 700 billion dollars a year to other countries for oil. His suggestion is we replaced the portion of electricity generated using natural gas with renewable resources and then burn the natural gas in transportation.

I had never heard of Shelby Super Cars. They claim to have the world’s fastest production car. Now they are getting into electric vehicles. I read this on their website today.

Other automakers have sacrificed aesthetics and performance in exchange for hybrid power plants, but the Ultimate Aero EV will deliver a pollution-free, engineering marvel with an exotic Supercar exterior. The drive train under development will feature a revolutionary power source allowing for extended time between charging intervals with the possibility of several years between charging.

I’m not sure what they are saying. It’s a hybrid so presumably there is some kind of fuel. Then again, I knew right after I spent money on a new gasoline powered car, someone would make it obsolete.

As long as I’m talking about fuels here is another article about a breakthrough in converting biomass into biofuel.

This is one of those sites that explains science in the context of everyday life.

It’s not available yet, but they have created a robot that can take a whole bunch of pictures and then knit them into a huge panorama shot.

I got a chuckle out of this.

And finally, check out this talented dog.

A Sense of Adventure

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

This article where scientist discover an area of the brain which rewards a sense of adventure made me think about discussions I’ve had with non-campers about backpacking. It does seem kind of silly to strap a bunch of stuff on your back and head out to live in the woods for a while. The reward is seeing what is around the next bend in the path or finding the perfect spot for the night. It’s funny what some people say like they couldn’t go that long without a shower. We shower regularly when we camp and except for forgoing cold beer or fresh milk, we really don’t rough it. I suppose surviving an occasional scary moment just adds to the sense of adventure. Once we surprised a rather large black bear while hiking on an old logging road which was overgrown with chest high brush. The bear stood up about 30 feet away from us and there was a moment where we just looked at each other. Then it disappeared into the brush snorting and moving quickly. Once we realized it was moving away and caught our breath, we thought it was cool to have seen a bear.

Speaking of wildlife, try to spot the animals in these pictures. Most of them aren’t that hard but there are a couple of tricky ones.

I found this article about curing cancer amazing. It’s not just the potential for a cure but the fact that they are harvesting blood cells from people who have a super ability to resist cancer.

While we are on the subject, here are 9 extraordinary human abilities.

We are in the process of buying a car and if we decide to go with a new one it will come with OnStar free for a year. I’m not sure but I believe I read my car would be sending me an email once a month telling me how it’s doing. As if that isn’t bizarre enough, the idea of buying a car that has a kill switch capable of rendering it inoperable really seems strange. I’ve never had a car stolen and usually keeping them running is hard enough. It just seems like another thing to go wrong. Perhaps it keeps you insurance cost lower. The Pentagon wants kill switches installed on airplanes. Then a terrorist wouldn’t even need a bomb or be on a plane to take it down, they could just activate the switch. I’ve got to say I agree with this article written by Bruce Schneier at Wired; I’ve Seen the Future, and It Has a Kill Switch.

I’ve always thought the superhighway system should be more like a train. You accelerate to cruising speed and then link up to something. This guy had the opposite thought, what if trains never stopped?

Here are some nice pictures of crazy weather in Nebraska.

And finally, you guessed it, another silly cat video.

Universal Theory of Humor

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

It seems like I’m always seeing claims that someone has invented a car that runs on water. The problem is, you can break water into hydrogen and oxygen but it takes as much energy to do it as you would get burning the hydrogen. On the other hand, we are about to buy a gas burning car and I joke right after we do, someone will invent one that runs on urine.

Check out these pictures of astronauts working in space.

There are more than 750 cancer therapies currently in development. This article is about cancer stem cells and a possible cure.

Speaking of stem cells, researchers are on the verge of making old muscle young again.

Want to live in million dollar houses for free? Here is how to do it.

I really prefer it if these pictures were just presented in a cross-view format. Here are some old pictures presented in 3D using the wiggle vision approach.

This is pretty strange. Extreme ironing is people ironing in unusual places.

It’s not an easy read but; Is the Universe Actually Made of Math?

This article about the first universal theory of humor isn’t very funny. It is interesting though.

Amusing childish games such as peek-a-boo and clap hands all exhibit the precise mechanism of humour as it appears in any adult form. Peek-a-boo can elicit a humorous response in infants as young as four months, and is, effectively, a simple process of surprise repetition, forming a clear, basic pattern.

For some reason it made me think of that silly Monty Python skit; The funniest Joke in the world.

There is a full moon tonight. For years I thought the moon looked larger when it rises because of some atmospheric distortion. It’s actually all an illusion.

And finally, here is a cute story of a cat and bear who are best friends.

Inflatable Cars?

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Yeah, you read that right. Just recently I joked about the nerf car of the future. A company called XP vehicles is planning on selling a car made from the same materials used to protect the Mars rovers when they landed. They also have a power system which would allow the car to travel an astonishing 2,500 miles on a single charge. Here is an article about it. Here is the link to the company.

We went car shopping yesterday. What a disappointment! My legs are so long there was only one I would have even thought about driving, and it had adjustable pedals, and a telescoping steering wheel. I’ve been doing some research and the cars with the most leg room are the Nissan Maxima (44.8 inches), the Scion XB (45.3 inches), and a Lexus which I can’t afford. The Scion XB is a really boxy looking thing but it gets good mileage.

I thought this was kind of interesting. It’s a list of the top ten scientists killed or injured by their experiments. Even a long time ago you would have thought a chemist would know not to taste his experiments.

In the first steps to us becoming cyborgs London scientists are developing artificial veins and arteries.

It seems like 3D displays are finally starting to become reality. I wonder how long before they are affordable? Here is one called the HoloVizio.

The Casimir effect is an attraction between two plates that essentially arises from nothing. It really only takes place at extremely close distances but is a problem for people working in nanotechnology. Now a group of scientist claim to have the ability to reverse that force allowing for levitation. Here is the article although it doesn’t explain it much. When do we get our flying skateboards?

Quite some time ago I posted about a machine called RepRap. It’s a 3D printing machine which could duplicate itself. Well it finally has and you can now buy the electronics for it. Apparently if you want to buy the parts for the whole thing you will have to wait until Christmas.

Here is a cool picture of water droplets.

Green housing is finally going prefab.

There is a narrow space between my garage and our privacy fence. On cool days we sometimes sit on a wooden table back there when the sun is just right. Last fall I was back there and I saw one of these creatures. I took some pictures of it but I just didn’t have the lens to capture it. Here are some more photos of crab and other interesting spiders. This one is blue.

Dan sent me this link; Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green. I think it’s ironic the Chinese are doing so much to advance sustainable living. But when you hear about all the major pollution disasters they have, it makes sense. I suppose if I had kids it would make sense to try to buy up cheap land somewhere where it’s very cold (for now). New nuclear plant designs are really much safer than the old ones in terms of melting down. As far as the waste, maybe we will just have to deal with it. I still think solar power will become so cheap so fast no one will bother generating power any other way.

Check out this amazing picture of sting ray migration.

And finally, I will leave you with this nice collection of flower pictures.

Science Show

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I woke up to my UPS beeping again this morning. That makes it 3 times in 10 days we have lost power, although the first time wasn’t weather related. The news said the group of storms that knocked it out the other day had dropped softball sized hail on Illinois. According to this personal account of a hail storm at a wedding in Minnesota, the world’s largest hailstones are baseball size.

There was also another tornado last night but not that near to us. Here are two short videos from bank cameras of the EF-5 tornado in Iowa on May 25th.

There was a science show in New York last week and the turn out was pretty impressive.

Every event at the four-day science festival was sold out — more than 22,000 tickets in all — according to Ben Austin, the festival’s vice-president of marketing and communications. After the free science street fair began Saturday, Mr. Austin said, police had to close four extra blocks to traffic because so many people showed up — 100,000, by the police’s estimate. And that was on a day with intermittent thunder, lightning and torrential rain.

“I don’t think we ever expected to see 800 people in an auditorium about the weirdness of the quantum world, but we got that — and another 400 people were lined up outside waiting for overflow seats,” Mr. Austin said. “That kind of thing happened over and over again.”

If you read this blog you know I write about quantum weirdness a fair amount. Of course I don’t know if people read that stuff or just skip over it.

I’ve written about Ray Kurzweil before. He has some pretty optimistic predictions about the future. This article covers basically the same thing in more detail but there are interesting comments at the bottom. I think he is right about solar energy because of Moore’s law. Also, I think some technologies will grow even faster. Take this article about Lithium-ion batteries. They aren’t talking about a doubling of performance; they are talking about a battery which is twenty times as powerful!

Cisco is sponsoring a game where the winner gets $10,000. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m guessing any teenager would be faster than I am.

Years ago I worked in a lab which had an electron microscope. When they used to look at chips under them you could actually watch them run because the charged areas repelled the electron beam causing them to “light up”. These photos are from 2003 but they are still pretty cool.

Here is a really creepy article about zombie caterpillars.

More strange animal news; marked up birds become sexier.

I got a chuckle out of this; the definition of irony.

Lost? Here is a collection of funny road signs.

Still lost? You are here. If you can’t see us it’s about 3/4ths the way down, in the middle.

I also got a laugh out of this opinion piece about ‘Deficit Attention Disorder!’

This is a pretty cool collection of ancient inventions. Some of them like the tumbler lock were around well before I would have guessed. I also liked the ship shaker.

The ten deepest lakes on earth.

And finally, check out this silly cat.

A Big Storm

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

Last year was dry so it’s been a while since we had one of those really intense thunderstorms. On Friday evening, the sky put on one heck of a show and we had tornadoes nearby. I kept thinking it was a really good opportunity to try some lightning photography, but couldn’t get up the courage to go out there. When it seemed like the worst of the storm had passed, I turned on my computer only to have the power go out before it had finished starting up.

Cisco demonstrated on-stage telepresence holography recently. Here is the link but the talk is somewhat boring. You get the idea in the first few moments. I think I would have at least opened with some sort of magic trick. It’s going to be cool when we can get these in our homes.

Here is yet another video of an exoskeleton. I can’t imagine what I would carry if I could take 200 pounds backpacking. I wouldn’t be eating dehydrated food, that’s for sure. I messed up my back over Memorial weekend pushing my van out of the mud. I could sure use one of these.

This article is about ‘fountain of youth‘ pills already in clinical trials. I wonder if people will be more concerned with sustainable living if they are going to be around longer. On one hand, it would be nice to have the energy I had in my youth, on the other hand, I was awfully fidgety.

Of course, if you want to live longer you could just take up golf.

In other medical news, scientists are developing drugs to grow your brain. How long before employers require you to take it?

Back on the subject of sustainable living, here are five people who’ll make you feel good about the future.

This is a new energy source. No matter how many times I read through it, it doesn’t make much sense to me.

Here are some nice photographs of Angel Falls and other waterfalls.

Can you ride a bike here? I don’t think I would. It reminded me of the walkway of death I posted about the other day.

Check out these amazing sand sculptures.

And finally, strange unseen animals is one of those collections of mythical creatures created using computers.