Friday, May 30, 2008

crazy mechanical watches

For you wrist watch lovers out there (and you know who you are!) I couldn't pass up this article on insanely complicated, obscenely expensive watches.  Just think of wearing a Ferrari on your wrist, you'll be pretty close.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How sloppy journalism hurts society.

Technology BAD!  Nature Gooooood.
This is the extent of cranial processing I see these days in a lot of science reporting.  No matter the subject, if us eeeevile Humans would just leave things alone and go back to the horse and buggy, everything would be perfect and beautiful. Little fairies would flit from flower to flower scattering fairy dust on us all, as we recline in the bosom of Gaia and smoke dope together in harmonious wonderfulness.  sigh.

Case in point.

How buckyballs hurt cells

Yep, that's the title of the press release on Eurekalert today. 

First sentence:
A new study into the potential health hazards of the revolutionary nano-sized particles known as ‘buckyballs’ predicts that the molecules are easily absorbed into animal cells, providing a possible explanation for how the molecules could be toxic to humans and other organisms.

Seeing that, you'd think the guys were biochemists who had done a breakthrough study in toxicology, showing that

A) buckyballs are toxic, and
B) how they are toxic.

But, you'd be wrong!  Because they didn't observe "that the molecules are easily absorbed into animal cells".  They modeled it.  On a computer.  Its a simulation.

The LAST sentence in the article finally quotes the guy.
“Buckyballs commonly form into clumps that could easily be inhaled by a person as dust particles,” Tieleman said. “How they enter cells and cause damage is still poorly understood but our model shows a possible mechanism for how this might occur.
So what we have is a computer simulation of a hypothesis, not an observation of an actual occurrence.  AKA, its a movie.  It might be true, it might not.  We don't even know IF they enter cells, because the toxicity mentioned in the article has to do with Fullerenes as a class including nanotubes, not buckeyballs as in C-60 which as I understand it is damn near completely inert chemically.

A little more than half way down the article the idiot journalist mentions that C-60 occurs naturally "from lightning strikes", to which I'll add it occurs profusely in SOOT, particularly from carbon arc lamps such as are used in movie projectors, spot lights, plus anywhere else a carbon electrode is used.  Oh, plus welding soot from torches, they get hot too.  There's been no plague of projectionists and welders dropping dead these last hundred or so years, so you know what?  It can't be that bad.  Maybe you might not want to eat it by the handful. Snorting lines of it like coke could be contra-indicated as well

But what do I get from reading the article?  This super duper high tech stuff which irresponsible bastards are building into products I use every day is gonna hurt my cells.  Nanotechnology is gonna give me BRAIN CANCER!!!  AIEEEEE!!!!  Kill the scientists!

That's not journalism, that's Big Lie disinformation.  Just thought y'all should know.

The Disinformed Phantom

Oh, so THAT'S why. No wonder!

Ever notice how hard it is to save money?  Almost impossible, right?  Ever wonder why that is?

To be precise, for an average two-person family earning $83,700, income tax in 2007 accounted for more than a third of all taxation. (Those in lower income groups paid a smaller share.)

But the bigger surprise comes when all forms of taxation are taken into account. And boy, taxation can take a whole lot of forms.

The same average family paid -- get ready for it -- 46.5 per cent of its income in taxes.

Now, this calculation is for two wage-slaves making a measly $42k each.  Should you be one of the fortunate "wealthy", who make some REAL dough, you don't pay no steeenkin' 46%, no sir!

Your damage is probably up north of 50%, heading for 60%.

So the next time you look at your bank account and wonder where the hell that raise you just got has vanished to, you can stop wondering.  The government TOOK IT FROM YOU.  And you voted for those sons of bitches, you idiot.

What you should start wondering about is how to defeat them and vote in somebody who will stop stealing all your damn money.  Start small, maybe with the city.  Tax cuts at the city level, there's a concept for you eh?

The Phantom

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

This is SO clever!

I just love these kinds of brilliant things, they're so ingenious!
As microchips shrink, even tiny defects in the lines, dots and other shapes etched on them become major barriers to performance. Princeton engineers have now found a way to literally melt away such defects, using a process that could dramatically improve chip quality without increasing fabrication cost.
In the most basic terms, they put a quartz crystal plate over the chip and blast it with a laser. The metal lines on the chip melt and flow a little, which fixes any breaks or jagged edges. How fricking simple is that?
Chou's method, termed Self-Perfection by Liquefaction, achieves this by melting the structures on a chip momentarily, and guiding the resulting flow of liquid so that it re-solidifies into the desired shapes. This is possible because natural forces acting on the molten structures, such as surface tension -- the force that allows some insects to walk on water -- smooth the structures into geometrically more accurate shapes. Lines, for instance, become straighter, and dots become rounder.
Here's a picture of how well it works.

Now that's impressive!

The Phantom