Showing posts with label Research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Research. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

There is But One Use For Graphene




If you make an innovative, game-changing scientific advancement in anything, always remember one thing:

In addition to its potential uses in electronics, graphene might have applications in water treatment, oil spill clean-up and even in the production of thinner condoms.

It's all about whether or not your product can be commercialized for widespread use by people who just haven't found a condom thin enough for their own personal comfort.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Space Rays and Mutant Cherry Trees




Holy cow. What's going on here?

To everyone’s surprise, however, a few of these seeds did sprout into saplings, at least one of which grew to a height of around thirteen feet in just four years—another surprise, say the botanists. “It is difficult for us to judge why this has happened, but one reason the tree has grown so fast may be related to space rays,” Kaori Tomita-Yokotani, a scientist at the University of Tsukuba, told the South China Morning Post. The tree was starting to sound like the arboreal version of the Fantastic Four, who acquired their own amazing powers during a ride aboard a rocket ship. Some suggested that the tree’s premature blossoming, as well as the fact that its flowers have only five petals each (the parent tree’s flowers typically have thirty), had similarly sci-fi explanations.

Keep those space rays away from lizards, I guess. I don't understand how such a mutation could happen and not cause people to panic, but there you have it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Space Program Dies a Little More




Another day, another stupid political struggle between adversaries, and space exploration takes yet another hit.




It would be encouraging if the Russians and the Americans could establish a single agency, independent of their own governments, and accept private and public investment in developing the kinds of technologies that emerge naturally from the space program. They could accept fees for putting satellites in order or for repairs and other missions. And this agency could continue to work their governments at home fall apart.

Oh well.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rich Lowry Gets it Right




I don't think I have ever agreed with Rich Lowry (in the New York Post!) about anything, ever, but I agree with him about this:

In a feat that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago, the anti-vaccine movement has managed to breathe life into nearly vanquished childhood diseases.


It took all the ingenuity and know-how we are capable of to find safe, effective ways to dramatically diminish diseases like measles and whooping cough in the developed world; it took all the hysteria and willful ignorance we are capable of to give them a boost. A developer of the measles vaccine, Dr. Samuel Katz, says the question “is not whether we shall see a world without measles, but when.”


Not if Jenny McCarthy has anything to say about it. The former Playboy model and current co-host of “The View” is a leading light of the anti-vaccine movement. She has a boy with autism-like symptoms that she is convinced were caused by the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). You can credit her passion for her child, sympathize with her heartbreak — and still cringe at her wholly irrational cause.

Now, Lowry does not go so far as to decry the anti-intellectualism and anti-science buffoons in the conservative movement, but that's okay. The shocking thing here is that you have a conservative pundit attacking from the position of believing in science. So, about that whole climate change thing...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hating Science Will Only Make Your Kid Sicker




There isn't anything surprising about this story. The return of diseases that we stamped out long ago is not exactly how the 21st Century was supposed to go. I figured that, by now, at least, we'd have dispensed with the anti-science and anti-vaccination arguments. Guess again.

When people who think they are smart are exposed for being dumbfucks, this is what they do. They double down and they don't care if their kids get hurt. That's a megalomania that has driven the world forever. Catching someone doing something dumb makes them either admit it or enter into denial and self-delusion. These are the times of self-delusion, and the irresponsible people who tout anti-vaccination ideas are always going to win a certain skeptical percentage of the population.

Facts and evidence aren't worth much anymore.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Fatwa Against Going to Mars




Even though Islam has no central authority, someone is going to take this the wrong way:

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- The Oscar-nominated film "Gravity" traces the harrowing tale of astronaut Ryan Stone after a mission goes horribly wrong. She's lost in space and struggles to try to make her way back to Earth.


"Gravity" is just a film. Imagine a similar real-life scenario: Would there be any chance of survival?


That's a concern for the General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments, or GAIAE, the United Arab Emirates' religious watchdog, for anyone who wishes to travel to Mars. The GAIAE has issued a fatwa, or an official Islamic ruling, to warn Muslims against a Mars mission.


So far, the UAE has supported space travel. Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments teamed up with Richard Branson's Virgin group to create Virgin Galactic to provide spaceflights for tourists, starting this year. But a mission to Mars, it seems, is one step too far.


Religion should not have anything to do with who goes to Mars and whether or not they will be punished for following their dreams. My opinion is that there won't be any actual "one way" trips to Mars because people will get there and, once bored, will suddenly pine for home and plead for a "rescue mission." The general consensus will be, "let's go get the poor sucker who didn't know what he or she was in for." And then, a trillion dollars later, some confused person will breathlessly tell us what it was like to go on a one-way trip to Mars and come back.





Or something stupid like that.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Are You Dumber Than Andrea Peyser?




Have you heard? Al Gore is fat.

Andrea Peyser is convinced that because it has been cold, there is no global warming.

Forget about trying to explain how climate change has nothing to do with whether or not the weather is unpleasant right now--you just cannot get past the fact that some people are stupid on purpose. If the climate all over the globe has been thrown for a loop and if things have begun to fundamentally shift in varying directions, then the data would seem to indicate the climate is changing. The permafrost in Alaska is melting and the glaciers in Europe are disappearing. This was the summer to be in Greenland. Oh, and the jet stream shifted, making the world's climate shift with it.

Why any of this is about Al Gore is beyond me. There really is no debate--it's well past time to start thinking about alternatives to turning the planet into a greenhouse where everything begins to shift and change in response to human activity.

Peyser is proof you can get a job in the media--at America's most ridiculous newspaper, The New York Post--and know nothing at all.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Jade Rabbit Says Goodnight to Humanity




The Jade Rabbit is the Chinese rover sent to study the moon. It was supposed to last for a few more months but it has shut down and said a heartfelt "goodnight" to the people of Earth. In other words, the damned thing has quit working.

This is all being handled with the weirdly poetic (and probably poorly translated) prose of the Chinese space agency and the press handlers that are trying to put a positive spin on the demise of this expensive piece of hardware. To my way of thinking, when a totalitarian government tries to work with poetry and human emotions, it all comes out sounding like someone has been allowed to empty their bizarre ideas into exactly the wrong forum for discussion.

Perhaps I am expressing a preference for the hard-assed coldness of NASA, which abandoned anything imaginative two generations ago, but still. The Chinese are being rather strange about their contribution to the space junk race.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Ice Bound Icebreaker




I've been following the story of the various icebreakers, research ships, and whoever else is stuck in the ice off the coast of Antarctica for over a week now and I never see answers to the one question that I have:

Is any of this worth risking lives over?

As soon as it became apparent that there were going to be issues, why didn't they just get the people out of there and head home until the Southern Hemisphere's version of warmer weather arrives? Leave the damned thing there and come back and get it later.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Floating Plastic Gyre




I can specifically remember being told that we, as humans, needed to stop throwing shit into the oceans. That was in the 1970s, and it was not that long after a thing called Earth Day.

Apparently, we haven't been paying attention.

Someone, somewhere, needs to invent something that can go out in the ocean, suck up all of the plastic, and then turn it into magical ocean-renewing pixie dust. We need to turn loose a vast army of ships to go and clean up this mess and I can almost guarantee you, someone somewhere is smirking about how it's not really a problem and that Obama sucks! that's why.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Function Over Inspiration




This article details the liftoff of a supply capsule that has been sent to the International Space Station.

Sorry, but, *yawn.*

Our modern space program has abandoned sending people into space unless they're going to stay in the International Space Station. No one is going to Mars and no one is going to the moon anytime soon.

Where's the adventure? Has it been replaced with boring functionality and budget realities?

No wonder no one pays attention anymore.