Testing testing…

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Is this thing still working?

Apparently…

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Surreality

Two videos with a different beat than what one usually watches on YouTube:

Promotional videos for Douglas Coupland’s newest novel, The Gum Thief. From the story told the book seems to be true to the little man vs big bad (corporate) world theme of his previous books.

Discovered here.

Poetry smelling of cherry blossoms meets animated Dalieqsue animals in these serene (and trippy) animated shorts from Kunio Kato, The Diary of Tortov Roddle

Found here; another longer segment here.

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Christmas present for your nemesis?

Amazon.com sells (real) uranium ore

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Object-oriented databases

…since I knew nothing about this until just now, chances are that you also could be in the dark when someone slips in “I am developing object-oriented databases” during the next cocktail party.

In an object oriented database, information is represented in the form of objects as used in Object-Oriented Programming. When database capabilities are combined with object programming language capabilities, the result is an object database management system (ODBMS). An ODBMS makes database objects appear as programming language objects in one or more object programming languages. An ODBMS extends the programming language with transparently persistent data, concurrency control, data recovery, associative queries, and other capabilities.

A good primer on the advantages on OODBs versus traditional relational DBs can be found here.

Hat tip to Pia

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And then overweight was healthy again

As recently reported, overweight has been listed as a top cancer risk, the news today is that being a bit on the chubby side actually might not increase your risk of cancer and in fact protect you better from pneumonia, emphysemia and various other infections. The abstract to the article in JAMA also pries into the future:

…reductions in activities of daily living (ADL) impairment observed for nonobese older individuals did not occur in those who were obese. Over time, declines in obesity-related mortality, along with a younger age at onset of obesity, could lead to an increased burden of disability within the obese older population.

Via Reason

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Finally a social networking site for megalomaniacs

The right place for anyone striving to achieve world domination to hang out and plot the demise of their enemies.

Hatebook is an anti-social utility that disconnects you from the things you hate. In your profile you can specify such important facts as your Hate-Motto, Quotes that suck, Movies that bother, Brands you hate, Music that suck and so forth; with the map detail you can even find fellow plotters in your own city. Never has villainism been easier.

Facebook, go sleep with the fishes–or else…

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Plastic steel

Three hundred layers of synthetic mother of pearl…

U-M research: New plastic is strong as steel, transparent

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—By mimicking a brick-and-mortar molecular structure found in seashells, University of Michigan researchers created a composite plastic that’s as strong as steel but lighter and transparent.

It’s made of layers of clay nanosheets and a water-soluble polymer that shares chemistry with white glue.

Engineering professor Nicholas Kotov almost dubbed it “plastic steel,” but the new material isn’t quite stretchy enough to earn that name. Nevertheless, he says its further development could lead to lighter, stronger armor for soldiers or police and their vehicles. It could also be used in microelectromechanical devices, microfluidics, biomedical sensors and valves and unmanned aircraft. (more…)

The scientists solved a problem that has confounded engineers and scientists for decades: Individual nano-size building blocks such as nanotubes, nanosheets and nanorods are ultrastrong. But larger materials made out of bonded nano-size building blocks were comparatively weak. Until now.

Via The Speculist

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News from the Cancer Front

Two snippets from the world of cancer research

Amateur invention works as chemo therapy alternative – human tests in 3-4 years

John Kanzius–himself a cancer victim–has invented a device using radio waves instead of radiation to kill tumors, which has proved successful in clinical trials on rabbits. The device is a radio-wave generator which heats nanoparticles and destroys the cells.

The theory behind the therapy is that radio waves are, for the most part, harmless to living tissue, but that the waves do heat up certain metals. If, in theory, nanoparticles of carbon or gold were to bind to cancer cells, and only cancer cells, then radio wave exposure would heat the cancer cells to a desired temperature and destroy them, while ignoring and not affecting neighboring healthy cells. This process is being called in Kanzius’ patent applications “RF-induced hyperthermia“. The problem is targeting only the cancer cells. More specifically, the problem is finding a way for the nanoparticle targets to bind only to the cancer cells while ignoring healthy cells. The theory is that the nanoparticles would carried through the bloodstream by a targeting molecule, binding only to the cancer cells, the targeting molecule ignoring the healthy cells.

There is still some development left on guiding the particles to the cancerous cells only, but researchers are optimistic and human trials are estimated to begin in 3-4 years.

Diagnosed with leukemia in 2002, Kanzius (63) had no medical training, and describes the idea as a “pipe dream”, having created the first model during sleepless nights in his garage:

Using pie pans, spare parts from ham radios and know-how from his days as a radio engineer, he invented the first generation of what would become a machine that uses radio waves — not radioactivity — to fight cancer.

Top ten list

The World Cancer Research Fund has just released a comprehensive study on the causes of cancer, and has released a list of what to avoid. These lists – or bits and pieces of them – pop up from time to time, so take this one as a summary that has involved 200 cancer experts and taken 5 years to compile.

The list is ranked – body fat seems to be given more weight as a risk factor, and the intensity of physical exercise will be a challenge for many.

What we’re saying is that young adults should try not to put on weight throughout their adult life. They should stay as lean as possible,” measurement-wise this means having a BMI in the lower end of the 18.5-25 ‘healhty’ range.

Everyone should have at least half an hour of exercise a day – but the panel says it should be vigorous, not moderate exercise. If the exercise is moderate, it should last for an hour a day.

The harsh reality continues–

  1. Stay as slim as possible
  2. Take half an hour’s vigorous exercise a day
  3. Avoid sugary drinks and fast food
  4. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day and cereals/grains/pulses with every meal
  5. Eat no more than 500g of red meat a week and no processed meat
  6. No more than one drink a day for a woman and two for a man
  7. No more than 6g a day of salt
  8. Dietary supplements (vitamin and mineral pills) not recommended
  9. Breastfeed exclusively for six months
  10. Cancer survivors also to follow these recommendations

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Zeppelins relaunched

A future form of recreational travel? Like a leisurely train-trip taken to three dimensions, here’s a nice dream from BBC – cruising from London to Rome in 24 hours while enjoying the sights along the way at 450m altitude, wining, dining and sleeping well along the way.

Airships have been out of fashion since the Hindenburg, which is rather sad considering that they are a very safe and comfortable way of traveling.

Some companies produce airships today – The Zeppelin NT flown in the article above being the most accessible recreational option. Another prototype airship is Dynalifter, which is slightly heavier than air and intended for cargo loads of 160 tons with a speed of over 150 km/h.

Size matters, and with continuous improvements in materials technology, building larger, lighter and stable structures becomes cheaper over time (and while we’re at it, let’s cover them in solar panels) and while airplanes will still take care of the most time sensitive travel, it is not at all impossible that a new generation airships may mark the skies in the not too distant future. The cruise-in-the-sky idea is really more about marketing as the technology has been here for more then 100 years, so where is the first billionaire to grow tired of building brains, sailing 47-meter raido controlled boats, or the ol’ stop AIDS or play RL Championship Manager, to come help us all live the dream?

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Mars needs Space has women

Pamela Melroy (46) commands the Space Shuttle mission that lifted off today, and when docking with the International Space Station she will be greeted by a crew which is led by Peggy Whitson (47) – the first time women lead both the manned space programs. Melroy is on her third shuttle flight while Whitson is on her second assignment to the space station.

Go space babes

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