Archive for April, 2007

approximations of approximations

April 26, 2007

How To Tell Stuff To A Computer – The Enigmatic Art of Knowledge Representation:

Anyone who looks closely at the way we currently store and use information with computers will find that our methods are, at best, still rather crude


Maybe someone in Chicago could help them

April 26, 2007

Political party in north India campaigns for rights of the living dead – MSN-Mainichi Daily News:

A small political party in northern India is pushing for the reinstatement of the legal rights of people who have been declared dead by unscrupulous relatives trying to steal their assets.

This kind of thing happens in the US as well, either by accident or malice, but without the connivance of government officials, so usually it’s just an inconvenience.  40,000 people.

April 21, 2007

San Jose Mercury News – Mercury mystery in Bay Area oil refining:

Hundreds of pounds of mercury from Bay Area oil refineries are unaccounted for and could be flowing into San Francisco Bay every year, poisoning fish and threatening public health, state water regulators said Monday. Until now, old mercury mines in the hills of San Jose and the Sierra Nevada were considered the bay’s main sources of mercury – a neurotoxin that builds up in fish and can cause brain damage in children. But new research by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board has concluded that roughly 3,700 pounds of mercury a year are coming into the five Bay Area refineries in crude oil – and nobody knows where it goes after the oil is refined into gasoline.

April 20, 2007

BBC NEWS | Health | Key to breast cancer spread found:

Turning off all four genes at once dramatically reduces the ability of breast tumours to spread – or metastasise – a study in mice showed. Reporting the results in Nature, the US team said they were planning clinical trials of drugs known to target two of the genes in the set.

April 20, 2007

ScienceDaily: Strawberry Daiquiris: The Extra-healthy Cocktail?:

While exploring ways to help keep strawberries fresh during storage, researchers from Thailand and the US discovered that treating the berries with alcohol led to an increase in antioxidant capacity and free radical scavenging activity within the fruit. While such a boost helped the berries resist decay, the same compounds would also be expected to make the strawberries healthier to eat.

Make up your own punchline. Er.

April 20, 2007

Uncertain Principles: Dorky Poll: Science In Your Lifetime:

This is actually a really interesting exercise for showing how rapidly the world has changed in the last N years. I’m not all that old– to put it in pop-culture terms, the Beatles broke up before I was born– but when I try to think about the landscape of science since then, it’s astonishing how much the world has changed:

April 20, 2007

Orphan Copyright Statement:

In response to the Copyright Office’s call for comments on Jan. 26, 2005, seeking ways to handle the “orphan copyright problem” regarding works where the owners can’t readily be located, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) formed a committee and called for comments from the SFWA membership regarding their experiences with orphaned works.

Immune booster for depression?

April 18, 2007 – Depressed? Go Play in the Dirt:

Results from the new study are similar to those from a medical trial a few years ago in which human cancer patients treated with the bacteria reported significant increases in their quality of life.

Because, y’know, improved quality of life really isn’t important.

Really, what more do you need to say?

April 18, 2007

BBC NEWS | Europe | Russia making floating atom plant:

“in the worst-case accident, with damage to the radioactive zone, civilian protection measures will not be needed beyond a one-kilometre radius around the plant”.

April 11, 2007

The Examining Room of Dr. Charles:

Many doctors are hesitant to prescribe sleep aids, partly because of their often habit-forming nature and potential side effects. Sepracor’s letter discussed labeling changes approved by the FDA. The new labeling will include warnings about severe allergic reactions that may occur during sleep, and sleep-driving or other complex behaviors (e.g. preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex) with associated amnesia for the event.