FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT–
- An e-based font designed to assist dyslexic readers has been released as an open-source application.
- Homeland Security has developed an underwater drone.
- The ecoATM kiosk gives cash for electrical trash.
- A papyrus fragment judged authentic refers to Jesus� wife.
by John L. Petersen
Craig Siska Coming to Berkeley Springs
Landscape architect and earth energy expert Craig Siska is coming to Berkeley Springs to give a presentation as part of the Transition Talks series. Siska, with over 30 years� experience in site and landscape design also has studied a variety of esoteric disciplines that give him a unique perspective on how to look at, experience and work with land. For the last 15 years, Craig has been deeply involved with: Native American approaches to working with landscapes, Biodynamic Agriculture (the BD Preparations), and new modalities of energetic land clearing, based upon French practices of Vibratory Frequency Radiesthesia/Micro-Physics (resonance and the electromagnetic spectrum), Egyptian BioGeometry and Sacred Geometry.
His talk will be very practical, addressing how to use this broad-spectrum approach to explore:
- new ways to approach landscape & site design
- living forces at work in Nature/ correcting geo-pathic stress and EMFs.
- energetic land clearing and rebalancing
- classic horticulture/ local food / intensive growing
If you garden or farm or are at all interested in living in more harmony with the land, you should make your way up for our Friday night presentation on the 26th of October. It will be a very interesting event.
Get more information here.
Words from Silent Ben
One of the nice things about publishing a newsletter like this is that readers often send me books and other things that they have written. I get far too many to mention here, but there are some of these publications that turn out to be really wonderful.
Some time ago, Ben Teeter, from San Diego, sent me a note and a copy of his book of poems, �Words From Silent Ben�. It�s a fascinating little book � everything is a poem: the table of contents, acknowledgements, forward, notes on the back cover . . . and then none of his poems have titles or any other differentiating indication (except for the page numbers).
So, you just read them . . . and they�re sweet and sensitive and great.
Here are a couple —
Focus, refine, propel forth your
Fiercely will the battle, toward
Your complete surrender.
Fight hard for the most total,
Create, assemble, fabricate a
Give the biggest possible
Harden yourself in your
Write out, unceasing,
Act in all possible stillness,
Throw the spear of your own
In hostility, huge, of
Don�t be dragged
Off through Death�s door,
Bleating as at slaughter.
Take her hand.
Have a chat.
Walk with her as a friend.
Become her son or daughter.
Feel even now
The flying feeling
Of your skin and bones,
Drifting off, soft, sure,
Back among the stars, into a wind.
Nice. You can find Words From Silent Ben here.
Seven Ways Mobile Phones Have Changed Lives in Africa – (CNN – September 14, 2012)
A little over a decade ago there were about 100,000 phone lines in Nigeria, mostly landlines run by the state-owned telecoms behemoth, NITEL. Today NITEL is dead, and Nigeria has close to 100 million mobile phone lines, making it Africa’s largest telecoms market, according to statistics by the Nigerian Communications Commission. Across the rest of the continent the trends are similar. During the early years of mobile in Africa, the Short Messaging Service (SMS) was at the heart of the revolution. The next frontier for mobile use in Africa is the internet. Cellphones are fast becoming the PC of Africa. Last October, for the first time ever, the number of Nigerians accessing the internet via their mobiles surpassed the number of desktop internet users. The trend has continued since then. The article goes on to enumerate seven ways – some expected, some surprising – that mobile phones have changed African lives.
Can Computers Cure PTSD? � (BBC News � September 27, 2012)
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have dramatically increased the number of troops who are now suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Roughly 300,000 US troops are estimated to be affected. The US military has been experimenting with new technology to help ease the transition from the battlefield back to life at home. Smart phones allow service members to carry a calming device with them at all times, while virtual reality tools help recreate and process traumatic memories. Article has video clip of the US military tele-health technology lab in Washington State.
Measuring the Universe�s ‘Exit Door’: For the First Time, an International Team Has Measured the Radius of a Black Hole � (Science Daily � September 27, 2012)
The point of no return: In astronomy, it’s a region in space where the pull of gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape. Black holes that can be billions of times more massive than our sun may reside at the heart of most galaxies. Such supermassive black holes are so powerful that activity at their boundaries can ripple throughout their host galaxies. Now, an international team, led by researchers at MIT’s Haystack Observatory, has for the first time measured the radius of a black hole at the center of a distant galaxy — the closest distance at which matter can approach before being irretrievably pulled into the black hole.
Mars Rover Finds Evidence of Water � (Science Daily � September 27, 2012)
NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, dispatched to learn if the most Earth-like planet in the solar system was suitable for microbial life, has found clear evidence its landing site was once awash in water. Curiosity, a roving chemistry laboratory the size of a small car, touched down on August 6 inside a giant impact basin near the planet’s equator. The primary target for the two-year mission is a three-mile-high mound of layered rock rising from the floor of Gale Crater. Scientists suspect the mound, known as Mount Sharp, is the remains of sediment that once completely filled the crater. Analysis of a slab of rock located between the crater’s north rim and the base of Mount Sharp indicate a fast-moving stream of water once flowed there. Images taken by Curiosity show rounded stones cemented into the rock, which rises like a piece of jack-hammered sidewalk from the planet’s surface. The stones inside the rock are too big to have been moved by wind, said Curiosity scientist Rebecca Williams, with the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
Fabricate Biocompatible 3D Microstructures in Seconds � (mi2g � September 16, 2012)
Nano-engineers at UC, San Diego, have developed and demonstrated an innovative technology that can fabricate three dimensional (3D) micro-structures out of soft, biocompatible hydrogels in a matter of seconds. In the near term, the 3D microstructures technology which is now being pioneered, could lead to better systems for growing and studying cells, including stem cells, in the laboratory. Medium term, the goal is to be able to print smaller biological tissue patches for regenerative medicine. For example, in the future, doctors may be able to repair the damage caused by heart attacks by replacing damaged tissues with newly printed biocompatible synthetic tissue. In the long term scientists hope to see this new technology, or indeed an evolution of this technology, used to actually print complete tissues and organs, ready for implanting into patients.
Melt-in-the-Body Electronics Devised � (BBC News � September 27, 2012)
Ultra-thin electronics that dissolve inside the body have been devised by scientists in the US and could be used for a range of medical roles. The technology has already been used to heat a wound to keep it free from infection by bacteria. The components are made of silicon and magnesium oxide, and placed in a protective layer of silk. It is part of a field termed “transient electronics” and comes from researchers who have already developed “electronic tattoos” – sensors that bend and stretch with the skin. Getting the electronics to fade away in a controlled manner relies on two scientific developments – getting the electronics to dissolve at all and using a shell to control when that happens.
Genetic Sleuthing Uncovers Deadly New Virus in Africa � (Science Daily � September 27, 2012)
An isolated outbreak of a deadly disease known as acute hemorrhagic fever, which killed two people and left one gravely ill in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the summer of 2009, was probably caused by a virus scientists have never seen before. the new microbe has been named Bas-Congo virus (BASV) after the province in the southwest corner of the Congo where the three people lived. One odd characteristic of the Bas-Congo virus is that while a number of other viruses in Africa also cause deadly outbreaks of acute hemorrhagic fever, e.g. Ebola virus, Lassa virus and Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever virus, the new virus is unlike any of them. Genetically it is more closely related to the types of viruses that cause rabies, which are known to infect people with a very different sort of disease�a neurological illness that is uniformly fatal if untreated but may take months to develop.
MIT Researchers Devise Technique to Clean Up Oil Spills Using Magnets – (GizMag � September 12, 20120
Oil isn�t magnetic, but suspending magnetic nanoparticles within the oil turns it into a magnetic liquid known as a ferrofluid. Previous research efforts using ferrofluids typically involved pumping a water-and-ferrofluid mixture through a channel with magnets on the outside directing the flow of the water one way and the flow of the ferrofluid another. However, this technique will work only if the concentration of the ferrofluid is known beforehand and remains constant � neither of which is possible in water contaminated by an oil spill. For their approach, the MIT researchers made two modifications to the existing method. Shahriar Khushrushahi, lead author on a paper describing the approach says the technique provides excellent separation between oil and water. Additionally, its simplicity makes it feasible for large scale manufacture and deployment at sea for days or weeks a a time, where electrical power and maintenance facilities are limited. However, the team is yet to determine the most practical way to remove the oil from the magnets in an actual oil-recovery system.
Drastic Fluctuations in Ice Accumulation Reported at Both Poles � (Extinction Protocol � September 21, 2012)
Over the last 33 years aggregate global sea ice volumes have remained steady, but there are fluctuations between the two polar areas from year to year due to shifts of ocean currents and wind patterns, rather than temperatures. Antarctic ice is much more important than that of the Arctic. The area of its sea ice in Antarctica is a million square kilometers larger than the highest value ever recorded in the Arctic. However, the Antarctic is an entire continent, with more than 90% of the earth�s glacial ice. Mr. Barry Brill, chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, said, �It is appropriate that this record should occur in a week that The Listener carries a cover story featuring the winter low point of Arctic ice, along with multiple pictures of calving glaciers and forlorn polar bears. The magazine has little to say about the Antarctic apart from complaining that it is �poorly understood�.�
Record Ocean Temperatures Recorded off New England Coast � (Nation of Change � September 23, 2012)
Federal ocean scientists said this year�s sea surface temperatures along the northeast coast of the U.S. set all-time records, with as-yet unknown consequences for marine ecosystems. Above-average temperatures were found in all parts of the ecosystem, from the ocean bottom to the sea surface and across the region, and the above average temperatures extended beyond the shelf break front to the Gulf Stream, according to an ecosystem advisory issued by NOAA�s Northeast Fisheries Science Center. The warm waters led to the earliest, most intense and longest-lasting plankton bloom on record, with implications for marine life, from the smallest creatures to the largest marine mammals like whales. Atlantic cod continued to shift northeastward from its historic distribution center.
Plastic Islands Being Used to Restore African Lake � (GizMag � September 21, 2012)
Located in Kenya�s Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha was crystal clear 30 years ago. Since then, a 20-fold increase in the local human population, along with foraging activity by water buffalo native to the region, have resulted in massive clearing of the lakeshore papyrus plants. Like other aquatic plants, papyrus serve a vital role. Acting as biofilters, they trap suspended sediments, plus they remove toxic substances and excess nutrients from the water. Unfortunately, the destruction of much of the lake�s papyrus plants has led to a marked decline in its water quality. The restoration project will introduce a new population of papyrus to the lake, at a spot where silty water from the Malewa River enters into it. Those papyrus will be planted on a series of BioHaven Floating Islands, made from recycled polyester drink bottles by North Carolina-based Floating Island Southeast.
ecoATM Kiosk Gives Cash for Electrical Trash � (GizMag � September 16, 2012)
Beginning as a wooden-box prototype that required a person on hand to ensure fair trades, the ecoATM can now identify individual electronic devices from a database containing images of more than 4,000 devices with 97.5% accuracy. The system also learns from any mistakes made when attempting to identify a device and grades the condition of a device to help determine its market value. ecoATM co-founder and National Science Foundation (NSF) principal investigator Mark Bowles said, “We were warned by leading machine-vision experts that solving the inspecting/grading problem � with an infinite variety of possible flaws � was an impossible problem to solve. Yet with our NSF support, we solved it through several years of research and development, trial and error, use of artificial intelligence and neural network techniques.” Once the device is connected to the ecoATM network, its value is determined based on the company�s real-time, worldwide, pre-auction system. Kiosks have been stationed in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and other areas along the east coast. The company plans to have more than 300 kiosks operating in shopping malls and large stores across the U.S. by the end of the year.
FTC Settles Spying Charges on Rent-to-own Computers � (Register � September 26, 2012)
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has settled a case against a software vendor and seven rent-to-own PC sellers over charges that they illegally spied on customers. According to the settlement, software company DesignerWare sold an application for sellers of rent-to-own PCs that would enable them to brick computers that were stolen or if the user stopped making rental payments. It also included a feature called “Detective Mode” which would log keystrokes, allow remote use of a webcam, or record the geographical location of systems. The software is installed on around 420,000 computers in circulation in the US, and seven PC rental companies named in the suit used it on their systems. The sheer depth of data such systems recorded unsettled the FTC, as it included user names and passwords for email accounts, social media websites, and financial institutions; Social Security numbers; medical records; private emails to doctors; bank and credit card statements; and webcam pictures of children, partially undressed individuals, and intimate activities at home. The specific rental companies are named in the article.
OpenDyslexic Font Gains Ground � (BBC News � September 27, 2012)
A free-to-use font designed to help people with dyslexia read online content is gaining favor. OpenDyslexic’s characters have been given “heavy-weighted bottoms” to prevent them from flipping and swapping around in the minds of their readers. A recent update to the popular app Instapaper has adopted the text format as an option for its users. The font has also been built into a word processor, an ebook reader and has been installed on school computers. The app’s developer Marco Arment said he had first looked for a dyslexia-optimised font two years ago, but had failed to find one until he discovered OpenDyslexic. “Given what Instapaper does – capture any web page and present it in a consistent, adjustable, customer-controlled environment – it’s a natural fit for bringing improved accessibility and legibility to anyone who needs it.”
Prefab Home Produces Twice the Energy It Consumes � (GizMag � September 12, 2012)
A team from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics has developed the Odooproject, an innovative solar-powered prefab home. The design features an open central area, complete with a summer kitchen. This central zone creates a private terrace that allows its occupants to spend a large amount of their time in the open air, while also taking advantage of the sun�s energy. The south-facing wall is entirely fitted with photovoltaic panels. The house generates twice as much energy in Hungarian conditions and three times as much in Madrid as the house itself spends, the Odooproject team states. This is enough to provide a 70-kilometer (43.5-mile) long travel distance � daily � for an electric car. Article includes 22 images.
Suburban House to Demonstrate Net-zero Energy Usage � (GizMag � September 14, 2012)
With a completely conventional appearance, a new house constructed in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is special. Built for the U.S. Commerce Department�s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the typical-looking suburban home is designed to provide researchers with a place to test various high-efficiency and alternative energy systems, materials and designs. As a result, the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF), as it is known, is expected, over the course of a year, to generate as much energy as a family of four living in it would consume in that period. Built to U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum standards using almost entirely U.S.-made materials and equipment, the NZERTF is a two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath house that incorporates energy-efficient construction and appliances, as well as solar water heating and solar photovoltaic systems for energy generation.
High-performance Bulk Thermoelectrics with All-scale Hierarchical Architectures � (Nature � September 19, 2012)
Thermoelectric materials offer ways to transform heat to electrical energy and vice versa. Here, the authors tailor the architecture of a bulk thermoelectric material, the semiconductor lead telluride, to maximize thermoelectric performance. They achieve phonon scattering on three different length scales. Atomic-scale doping, nanometer-scale endotaxial precipitation and mesoscale grain-boundary structures were introduced to the material to drastically reduce its thermal conductivity and subsequently achieve a very high thermoelectric figure of merit. These advances could aid in the design of advanced thermoelectric materials that can be used to recover waste heat.
Bacteria Turns Waste to Fuel in Single Stage Process � (Waste Management World- (September 17, 2012)
Paris-based sustainable biotechnology developer, Deinove and its partners have isolated and optimized a strain of Deinococcus bacteria able to generate biofuel from wheat-based biomass and wastes. The company said that with the production of an alcohol content of more than 3%, it has exceeded its goal for the proof of concept project. According to the company its Deinococcus bacteria can degrade complex biomass residues into simple sugars and convert them into ethanol, all in a single process and without additives such as enzymes, yeast or antibiotics.
The People�s Car Project: Hover Car � (You Tube � May 7, 2012)
Volkswagen has been gathering ideas from the people of China to help innovate future cars. They took one girl’s idea for a maglev hover car and made it into reality. Her hometown, Chengdu, China is geophyisically unique: it has a very high concentration of underground minerals. The maglev car reacts with the minerals to float. (Editor�s note: As far as we can tell, this one prototype actually exists and can perform as shown�but only in Chengdu.)
Vertical Farm Grows on Top Level of Downtown Vancouver Parking Lot � (Journal of Commerce � September 9, 2012)
Alterrus Systems is installing North America�s first Verticorp vertical farming system in the middle of downtown Vancouver. The firm is installing a 6,000 square foot greenhouse on the top floor of an underused five-story parking lot. Video included in article discusses the challenges and advantages of building a greenhouse in an urban environment, as well as the steps needed to adapt to uneven but paved ground and factors such as wind resistance. Verticorp technology suspends plants from a conveyor system. Once the greenhouse is up and running, it will be able to supply between 150,000 and 200,000 pounds of leafy greens per year.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
F-35 Deputy Sees Challenges Ahead � (Center for Public Integrity � September 21,2012)
Very recently, the Pentagon�s F-35 program got a new deputy manager, and a few days ago, he gave a candid �outsider�s� appraisal of the most costly weapons program in history � one that was noteworthy for its appraisal of how poorly the troubled aircraft program was run during the past decade and its criticism of the chaotic way that the Pentagon has been buying such high-tech weapons. Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, a seven-year Air Force acquisition veteran who last managed the KC-46 tanker program, warned an Air Force Association audience on Sept. 17 at National Harbor, Maryland, that �some of you may cringe at what I say.� Then he disclosed that the F-35�s buggy software �scares the heck out of me,� that its computer-driven logistics system is �frightening,� and that the relationship between the Air Force and the plane�s lead contractor Lockheed Martin is �the worst I�ve ever seen.�
Robot Tuna Joins Homeland Security Arsenal � (Tech News Daily � September 21, 2012)
Tuna capable of swimming tirelessly in the Earth’s oceans have inspired the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to fund a lookalike robot for underwater patrols. The “BIOSwimmer” robot features faithfully replicated fins and a flexible tail to pull off quick maneuvers like the real-life fish. It is designed for missions such as exploring the flooded areas of ships, inspecting oil tankers or patrolling U.S. harbors for suspicious activity. The robot will be able to squeeze into tight spaces such as the flooded bilges and tanks of ship interiors � not to mention fit in well with surrounding marine life. Humans can control BIOSwimmer’s activities through a laptop, but the unmanned underwater vehicle also carries its own computer for navigation, processing sensor data and communications with the home base. (Editor�s note: In essence, the BIOSwimmer is an underwater drone.)
Five Lessons from the De-listing of MEK as a Terrorist Group �(Guardian � September 23, 2012)
The Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), or People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, is an Iranian dissident group that has been formally designated as a terrorist group for the last 15 years by the US State Department as a “foreign terrorist organization”. Its inclusion on the terrorist list has meant that it is a felony to provide any “material support” to that group. Nonetheless, a large group of prominent former US government officials from both political parties has spent the last several years receiving substantial sums of cash to give speeches to the MEK, and have then become vocal, relentless advocates for the group, specifically for removing them from the terrorist list. They include Democrats Howard Dean, Ed Rendell, Wesley Clark, Bill Richardson, and Lee Hamilton, and Republicans Rudy Giuliani, Fran Townsend, Tom Ridge, Michael Mukasey, and Andrew Card. Other prominent voices outside government, such as Alan Dershowitz and Elie Wiesel, have also been enlisted to the cause and are steadfast MEK advocates. In February, NBC News reported, citing US officials, that “deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by [MEK]” as it is “financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service”. NBC also cited “unconfirmed reports in the Israeli press and elsewhere that Israel and the MEK were involved in a Nov. 12 explosion that destroyed the Iranian missile research and development site at Bin Kaneh, 30 miles outside Tehran”. The MEK’s prime goal is the removal of Iran’s government.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Amazon Starts a Shopping Site for the Environmental Crowd � (New York Times � September 26, 2012)
Amazon.com is going after the environmental crowd with a new site called Vine.com for buying green products. Vine will sell everything from cleaning supplies to baby accessories, beauty supplies and clothes � as long as they are green. Products must fall into one of the following categories: they must be designed to remove toxins, energy-efficient, natural, organic, powered by renewable energy, reusable, made of sustainable materials or water-efficient. It won�t be obvious on Vine.com that shoppers are buying from Amazon, just like on other e-commerce sites that Amazon owns, including Zappos.com, Shopbop.com and Woot. Vine is part of Quidsi, the company that Amazon bought in 2010 that also runs sites like Diapers.com (baby stuff), Wag.com (pets) and YoYo.com (toys). It is another instance of Amazon�s spider-like reach in the online retailing world in its quest to sell people anything they want to buy.
Work, Mahjong and Tea: Hong Kong’s Secrets to Longevity- (Agence France-Presse � September 17, 2012)
Covered in smog and cramped apartment towers, Hong Kong is not usually associated with a healthy lifestyle. But new figures show that Hong Kongers are the longest-living people in the world. Hong Kong men have held the title for more than a decade and recent data show women in Hong Kong overtaking their Japanese counterparts for the first time. Hong Kong women’s life expectancy rose from an average 86 years in 2010 to 86.7 years in 2011, while Japanese women’s longevity was hit by last year’s earthquake and tsunami, falling to 85.9 years, census figures reveal. So what is Hong Kong’s secret to a long life? Experts say there is no single elixir, but contributing factors include easy access to modern health care, keeping busy, traditional Cantonese cuisine and even the centuries-old Chinese tile game of mahjong.
Religious Intolerance Is on the Rise Worldwide �(Guardian � September 20, 2012)
Three-quarters of the world’s human population of seven billion live under strong government curbs on religion, or among serious “social hostilities” involving faith issues, find researchers. The US and UK, say the researchers, are among countries showing a worrying rise in religious discrimination. Those were the findings of a research project conducted by the Pew Research Center. The analysis of 197 countries and territories identifies a sharp rise in religious limits globally and a 6% increase in restrictions in the four years 2006-2010. The survey, The Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion, is the second successive one by Pew to note increasing intolerance worldwide. The project notes an acceleration in intolerance, reporting a 63% rise from mid-2009 to mid-2010 in numbers of countries that increased government restrictions, in comparison with Pew’s last survey that had noted a 56% rise.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
NASA Wants to Send Astronauts Beyond the Moon � (Orlando Sentinel � September 22, 2012)
NASA officials have picked a leading candidate for the Agency�s next major mission: construction of a �gateway spacecraft� which would hover in orbit on the far side of the moon, support a small astronaut crew and function as a staging area for future missions to the moon and Mars. NASA hopes to build the small outpost�likely with parts left over from the $100B International Space Station�at what�s known as the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2, a spot about 38,000 miles from the Moon and 277,000 miles from Earth. At that point, the combined gravities of Earth and Moon reach equilibrium, making it possible to �stick� an outpost there with minimal power required to keep it in place.
Human Settlement of Mars in 2023 � (Mars One � no date)
Mars One is a private, apolitical organization whose intent is to establish a colony on Mars through the integration of existing, readily available technologies from industry leaders world-wide. Unique in its approach, Mars One intends to fund this decade-long endeavor through an interactive, reality TV style broadcast from astronaut selection to robotic construction of the outpost; from the seven month flight through the first years on Mars. Before the first crew lands, Mars One plans to have established a habitable, sustainable settlement designed to receive new astronauts every two years. To accomplish this, Mars One has developed a precise, realistic plan based entirely upon existing technologies. The organization believes that its plan is both economically and logistically feasible, through the aggregation of existing suppliers and experts in space exploration. Video clip shows an artist�s rendition of the concept.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Real-world Levitation to Inspire Better Pharmaceuticals � (Argon National Laboratories � September 12, 2012)
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy�s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a way to use sound waves to levitate individual droplets of solutions containing different pharmaceuticals. While the connection between levitation and drug development may not be immediately apparent, a special relationship emerges at the molecular level. At the molecular level, pharmaceutical structures fall into one of two categories: amorphous or crystalline. Amorphous drugs typically are more efficiently taken up by the body than their crystalline cousins; this is because amorphous drugs are both more highly soluble and have a higher bioavailability, suggesting that a lower dose can produce the desired effect. Getting pharmaceuticals from solution into an amorphous state, however, is no easy task�and that�s where levitation comes in.
New MakerBot: Introducing Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer � (MakerBot � September 19, 2012)
The Replicator 2 introduces the world of prosumer 3D printing: stronger, faster, and finer than the original Replicator, and optimized it to work with MakerBot PLA Filament. MakerBot also blew up the build volume without making the machine itself any bigger. The Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer is, as the name suggests, a desktop machine, not a it-needs-its-own-room machine. It�s going to fit nicely where you need it and look amazing while it works. Article includes video clip and equipment specs.
Earthworms Extract Heavy Metals from Biowaste � (Waste Management World � September 17, 2012)
Earthworms could be used to extract toxic heavy metals, including cadmium and lead, from solid waste from domestic refuse and waste from vegetable and flower markets, according to researchers at Pondicherry University, in Puducherry, India. Three species of earthworm, Eudrilus eugeniae, Eisenia fetida and Perionyx excavates can be used to assist in the composting of urban waste and to extract heavy metals, cadmium, copper, lead, manganese, zinc, during subsequent processing. In India much of this waste is currently dumped on the outskirts of towns and cities and is causing serious pollution. It also represents a considerable wasted resource. The team claimed that up to 75% of the various heavy metals can be removed by the worms from solid waste, such that the heavy metal content of the waste is reduced to levels significantly below the permissible safe limits. According to the researchers various enzyme-driven processes then seem to lead to assimilation of the metal ions by the worms so that they are locked up in the organism’s tissues rather than being released back into the compost as worm casts or vermicompost. The separation of dead worms from compost is a relatively straightforward process allowing the heavy metal to be removed from the organic waste. (Editor�s note: What is then done with the dead worms so that the heavy metals don�t find their way back into the food stream?)
Time Banks Help Spaniards Weather the Financial Crisis � (NPR � September 22, 2012)
Time banks originated in the 19th century in America and Europe among socialists who emphasized the direct link between their labor and what they could get for it. Every person�s time has the same value; one hour of work can be �banked� and subsequently exchanged for one hour of any other work. Most time banks now operate online. You register for a profile � sort of like a Facebook page � that lists your work skills, and then lists the tasks you’re looking for someone else to do for you. With Spanish unemployment near 25%, many people have more time than money to spend. So in the past two years, the number of time banks in Spain has doubled, to nearly 300. Most have anywhere from 50 to 400 members, and some even print their own currency. Amid constant government cutbacks, the time bank gives people much-needed work, and also a sense of purpose.
New Study Calls for Eliminating Bail Bonds � (Nation of Change � September 2012)
If a person has been arrested in Kentucky, Wisconsin, Illinois, or Oregon, or other jurisdictions such as Washington, D.C.; Broward County, Florida; or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, finding a bail bonds agency and the sufficient funds to make bail is not a concern. That�s because according to the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), a national nonprofit law and justice advocacy and research organization, these locations have eliminated money bail. In a series of JPI studies released this month, the organization is calling for all states to end for-profit bail bonds practices. Two new studies suggest that for-profit money bail is a problematic policy that is especially harmful to the poor and communities of color, and call for it to be eliminated. Instead, JPI offers solutions such as using pretrial services, which would include a risk assessment � an evaluation that would determine if the individual poses a danger to the community, conducted by judges to determine who to release and how to release. Those released would undergo mediation as well as frequent monitoring and supervision. Depending on their charges and the results of their risk assessments, they can be released with, for example, weekly visitations from a probation officer, a tracking device, and drug testing and rehabilitation when applicable. Significantly, the current bail bond practice does nothing to asses the public safety based on releasing accused individuals; it�s strickly a pay-and-go system.
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.
A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus� Wife � (New York Times � September 19, 2012)
A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: �Jesus said to them, �My wife …� � The fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, �she will be able to be my disciple.� The provenance of the papyrus fragment is a mystery, and its owner has asked to remain anonymous. Until recently, Dr. King had shown the fragment to only a small circle of experts in papyrology and Coptic linguistics, who concluded that it is most likely not a forgery. Dr. King repeatedly cautioned that this fragment should not be taken as proof that Jesus, the historical person, was actually married. The text was written centuries after Jesus lived, and all other early, historically reliable Christian literature is silent on the question, she said. But the discovery is exciting, Dr. King said, because it provides further evidence that there was an active discussion among early Christians about whether Jesus was celibate or married, and which path his followers should choose.
Mammoth Fragments from Siberia Raise Cloning Hopes � (MSNBC � September 11, 2012)
Scientists have discovered well-preserved frozen woolly mammoth fragments deep in Siberia that may contain living cells, edging a tad closer to the “Jurassic Park” possibility of cloning a prehistoric animal, the mission’s organizer said. Russia’s North-Eastern Federal University said an international team of researchers had discovered mammoth hair, soft tissues and bone marrow some 328 feet underground during a summer expedition in the northeastern province of Yakutia. Expedition chief Semyon Grigoryev said it would take months of research to determine whether they have indeed found living cells.
JUST FOR FUN
Astronomy Picture of the Day � (NASA � date unknown)
From the official NASA website, the first photo of water on Mars. And now for something completely different. This You Tube clip is taken from the IMAX movie “Roving Mars” from 2006. (While the first photo may have made you chuckle, this clip is jaw dropping.) It recreates the succession of stages by which Spirit, MER-A (Mars Exploration Rover — A), reached Mars. Spirit was one of two rovers of NASA’s ongoing Mars Exploration Rover Mission. It landed successfully on Mars January 4, 2004, three weeks before its twin, Opportunity (MER-B), landed on the other side of the planet. The rover became stuck in late 2009, and its last communication with Earth was sent on March 22, 2010. The rover completed its planned 90-sol mission. Aided by cleaning events that resulted in higher power from its solar panels, Spirit went on to function effectively over twenty times longer than NASA planners expected following mission completion. Spirit also logged 7.73 km (4.8 mi) of driving instead of the planned 600 m (0.4 mi), allowing more extensive geological analysis of Martian rocks and planetary surface features.
A FINAL QUOTE–
If it’s green, it’s biology. If it stinks, it’s chemistry. If it has numbers, it’s math. If it doesn’t work, it’s technology.— Unknown
A special thanks to: Kenton Anderson, Bernard Calil, Napier Collyns, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Kurzweil AI, Diane Petersen, Petra Pieterse, Bobby Rohn, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy, Kermit Weeks and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.
Edited by John L. Petersen