Modernism plugs on...
Dean Kamen, the engineer who invented the Segway, is puzzling over a new equation these days. An estimated 1.1 billion people in the world don't have access to clean drinking water, and an estimated 1.6 billion don't have electricity. Those figures add up to a big problem for the world—and an equally big opportunity for entrepreneurs. To solve the problem, he's invented two devices, each about the size of a washing machine that can provide much needed power and clean water in rural villages. "Eighty percent of all the diseases you could name would be wiped out if you just gave people clean water," says Kamen. "The water purifier makes 1,000 liters of clean water a day, and we don't care what goes into it. And the power generator makes a kilowatt off of anything that burns."
VisiCalc creator Dan Bricklin is developing WikiCalc, which will make it possible for anyone to enter spreadsheet data and for anyone else to edit that data and have those edits be reflected on everyone's computers...
Astronomers searching for advanced life beyond Earth should focus their attention around beta CVn, a binary star roughly 26 light years away that resembles our Sun. The recommendation comes from a shortlist of likely life bearing systems compiled by Margaret Turnbull, at the Carnegie Institution, who adds that researchers looking for any kind of life – including basic forms that could not send communications to Earth – should take a particularly close look around another star, epsilon Indi A.
LiftPort Group has built a cable for a space elevator stretching a mile into the sky and tethered on balloons, enabling robots to scrabble some way up and down the line. To make the cable, researchers sandwiched three carbon-fiber composite strings between four sheets of fiberglass tape, creating a mile-long cable about 5 centimeters wide and...
On March 1 there will be two new Brin essays at www.amazon.com/shorts...
Oh, I gotta share this from Karl Rove, our master of Culture War: “As people do better, they start voting Republican - unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing.” Aha... unless... a little knowledge is a dangerous thing? This really is fascinating at several levels. And disturbing.
Speaking of excess education. Are any of you experts in ancient heiroglyphics? In the egyptian stamp set that my kids have, there is a symbol whose glyphic meaning is “unknown” (while others are obviously birds and reeds and water waves). It is a dark circle with horizontal lines across it. Not a big problem since the SOUND it is supposed to make is known. (It’s the “th” sound.) But is it a representation of the Earth, with latitude lines superposed? Or maybe something like you see at www.att.com??
The following items come from many sources, including the Arlington Institute and The Globalist.
Quote" If you introduce a new challenge like chemical contraception, initially it devastates the population. But some individuals are resistant to it. Perhaps because of religious or philosophical reasons, perhaps because they just love kids and long for a big family. Anyway, even though the contraceptives are there, they chose not to use them.
End result: If any of that choice is heritable then these trends will be accentuated in the next generation. In time resistance of one form or another to contraception will emerge. There is no difference here between contraception and the effects of a new insecticide or antibiotic. In time you will get resistance." (I mentioned this years ago, and fairly recently on this blog.) http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp/2006/02/selection_at_work.php
Web Suicide Pacts Surge in Japan -- (BBC -- February 9, 2006)
The number of Japanese who killed themselves in suicide pacts made over the internet rose sharply last year. Police said 91 people died in the pacts in 2005, compared to 55 in 2004 and 34 in 2003, when the records started. Alarm at the rise has led to increased vigilance by internet service providers, who now report suspected suicide pacts to the authorities.
The United States and its Muslim community and Muslim communities in Europe differ significantly.
In Europe, Muslims tend to be isolated, while American Muslim communities are more likely to be integrated into society, argue Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, co-authors of “The Next Attack.” They warn, however, that there are ominous signs pointing to a radicalization among Muslim youth in the United States.
Stars Hum Themselves to Death -- (ABC -- February 10, 2006)
Milliseconds before a giant star dies in a spectacular explosion, it hums a note around 'middle C', astronomers say. The discovery could prove to be the "missing link" in understanding what makes stars explode. Until now scientists had assumed that the spectacular explosion in a star's dying moments was due to the star's outer shell bouncing back off the core, But none of the models of exploding supernovae to date had supported this theory.