Gongol.com > Archive > 2005 > March 2005
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Gongol.com Archives: March 2005
Brian Gongol

Iowa (3.22.2005)
Putting Corn to Work in Plastics
Continued effort, as with ethanol, to replace petroleum with corn

Science and Technology (3.22.2005)
Researchers Figure Out How to Build a Fuel Cell Without a Membrane
Basically, it removes a part from the process, making the whole system potentially more reliable and better-performing

Science and Technology (3.22.2005)
NIH Concludes It's Spending Too Much Time Telling Researchers What to Do
Acknowledgment that they need to loosen up the rules and let scientists start experimenting more a welcome conclusion

Science and Technology (3.22.2005)
Research Says Humans Can Handle About Four Variables at a Time
More than that, especially when it's a new or unfamiliar task that prevents us from grouping variables together, and we're just not able to do it. Get up to five variables and your chances of getting things right are virtually no better than throwing darts.

Science and Technology (3.22.2005)
Summary of American Chemical Society Annual Meeting
Highlights: Using bacteria to create drugs, apples as heart-health tool, recovering broken vocal cords, using herpes simplex (cold sores) to treat cancer

We All Need a Little Humor (3.22.2005)
Interview with Bob Moog
Creator of the Moog Synthesizer

Socialism Doesn't Work (3.22.2005)
Government Promotes Study Saying College Drinking is a Big Risk to Public Health
Unfortunately, their conclusion calls for "greater enforcement of the legal drinking age of 21 and zero tolerance laws, increases in alcohol taxes," and other measures. The problem is that those only reinforce the prohibitionary approach to alcohol that clearly doesn't work. What's really needed is a smarter approach to raising kids to think of alcohol in a certain framework of relationships and responsibilities. A policy that says "don't even think about it until an arbitrary age three years beyond the date at which you are qualified to vote" doesn't make a lot of sense. What of introducing kids to alcohol in moderation under parental supervision well before it becomes a tantalizing treat unto itself? If prohibition really worked so well, the US would do itself a lot of good to make math illegal -- then all the kids would be trying to learn some.

Computers and the Internet (3.22.2005)
Yahoo Plans to Offer 1 Gb Mailboxes Starting in April
Will put them in head-to-head competition with Gmail. Google's spam-filtering is considerably better for now.

Weather and Disasters (3.22.2005)
Seismologists Worried that More Big Quakes Could Hit Indian Ocean

Computers and the Internet (3.22.2005)
E-Mail Authentication as Solution to Spam

Science and Technology (3.22.2005)
Do You See the Light?
Blues Brothers line comes to astronomy; researchers detect glow coming from planets around other stars. We found the first planets outside our solar system just a decade ago; the count is now almost 150.

Socialism Doesn't Work (3.22.2005)
Utah Law Appears to Make ISPs Liable for Content They Don't Create
If the characterizations are true, it's a bad move and a step away from thinking of the Internet like a bookstore in a free society

Computers and the Internet (3.22.2005)
Yahoo Buys Flickr; May Be Planning Challenge to Google
By investing in meta-tags and community organization of data, Yahoo may be betting on human categorization of the web in a way that Google's automated algorithms can't top. But there also might just be far too much Web to handle. The return to hand-managed data is a throwback to the old days of Yahoo. Meantime, others are trying to put search technology to work on resumes, and IBM researchers are trying to figure out how to make computers think like living organisms by copying the natural structure of the brain.

Science and Technology (3.22.2005)
DNA May Be Able to Skip Generations
If the analysis is correct, Mendelian genetics could be feeling the same pinch that Newtonian physics did when Einstein put pen to paper. Purdue researchers find that about 10% of the offspring of a certain mutated plant "fix" the mutation, even though they're purebred genetically to contain it. Initial hypothesis suggests it could be related to deep-encoded RNA templates.

Computers and the Internet (3.22.2005)
Microsoft Funds Study Saying Microsoft is More Secure for Web Servers than Linux
Whether the research is fair or not misses a much larger point: Large-scale networks (like the Internet) can only be truly secure if there are at least two or three major operating systems sharing the market. Homogeneity among networks that are in extremely close and frequent contact would be like raising millions of people from the same small gene pool, then putting them all in a very small confined space: Once something goes wrong (the right virus, for instance), the results turn catastrophic in a hurry. Some level of diversity is urgently needed to build in a certain set of safeguards against cataclysm.

Science and Technology (3.22.2005)
Some European Countries, On Average, Fatter than US
Some obesity rates in places like Greece, Finland, Germany, Czech Republic are above the US rate (from Future Pundit)

News (3.22.2005)
What Regional Press Say About Lebanese Situation
Lots of worried language -- especially concerns that politics may spill over into violence

We All Need a Little Humor (3.22.2005)
"Total Eclipse of the Heart" Using Appliances for Drums
(Video) There are times when one can only wonder how people can do some things and keep a straight face throughout
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Gongol.com -- posted 3.2005