Not To Be Too Obvious, But

biotoHow better to state the obvious than by saying so. As Yogi Berra might have put it, addiction is habit-forming. Don’t giggle, we’re all addicted to something. Breathing oxygen, for a trivial example. But, in addition to [O.sub.2], we also aspirate in our everyday air mix a nitrogen component that comprises three-quarters of the atmosphere and which has no known biological function in its gaseous state except as a narco-clathrate. It can be addictive. This low-level nitrogen narcosis was the underlying theme of my 1995 book, Raptures of the Deep (Cahners: Chicago).

Caffeine is addictive; witness those of us who almost wish for a morning intravenous infusion of coffee. Nicotine is certainly addictive; been dangling a pipe myself for the past 50 years as both a trademark and a once socially acceptable thumb in the mouth. Never tried any of the more exotic blends.

Addiction can also take the form of conditioning, by being constantly told that some things …

Hard Drive Recovery Tips For Beginners

hhrtpsHard drive recovery can be easy only if you have the experience and expertise to do it. However, there are those people who are just fresh from training and will have to repair a few hard disks before they gain experience. Do not panic just because you have been given your first hard drive to recover. Start by identifying the hard drive type. Different hard drives will require different methods of recovering them. Always make sure that you are using the right tool during the hard drive recovery process. The wrong tool might damage the screws or the disks which can all but kill important information. Experience is something that you will gain with time. Make sure that you take on many recovery challenges as possible for them to sharpen your skills.

There is no crime in asking for help during the hard disk recovery process. Professional companies like Hard Disk Recovery Services can save you lots of time. Asking …

Interesting Innovations Abound: A Look Back

irestginnnsWhile regular readers no doubt know my strong bias against pseudoscience, I also strongly feel that viable forums most assuredly should exist for unpopular or non-mainstream thought. Above all, independent thought and hands-on personal experiments definitely must be encouraged. One place where that happens is at The International Tesla Society’s ExtraOrdinary Science Conferences in Colorado Springs, where bunches of highly controversial alternate-energy and non-traditional medical papers and workshops are encouraged. Some of the more technical papers are listed in Fig. 1.

Anyway, I’ve belatedly sat down and gone through their entire last year’s video set, and thought I would share several of my impressions with you. To be honest, after blearily wading through lots of tape, I didn’t find all that much here to get excited about. There was nothing even remotely in the same league as the real science carbon nanotubes (Rodriguez in the Hydrogen de Fuel Cell Letter, Feb, 97) or the photosynthesis metalloradicals (Hoganson in Science, Sept …

Innovation Has Blossomed In A “Virtual Environment”

vtualEnvtAt the Ford Research Laboratory in Dearborn, Michigan, Chaitanya Narula is trying to find new catalysts to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from diesel engine exhausts. His strategy is to take the best catalyst, platinum; form it into minute clusters; and attach these uniformly to support particles (in this case, titanium dioxide). Ford’s facilities can be used for making and joining the clusters and their support particles, but not for characterizing their individual sizes and pattern of joining. Yet the individual sizes and joining pattern are of critical importance to turning Narula’s concept into a viable commercial product.

Fortunately for Narula’s research, Ford has entered an agreement that permits its researchers to gain remote access to advanced microscopes at three national laboratories and a major research university, which are joined in the DOE2000 Materials Microcharacterization Collaboratory (MMC). Narula could therefore send the sample to the High Temperature Materials Laboratory at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, …

Neuroscience Changes The Way We Think

neoscFOR more than three decades, Tom Wolfe has been an astute observer of the rise and fall of contemporary fashions, heroes, and mores. In the 1970s, he wrote about hippies. In the 1980s, he wrote about Wall Street stockbrokers. In the 1990s, though, he has written about neuroscientists.

Neuroscience is “hot.” Even Larry King recently called the Nineties “the decade of the brain.” Are neuroscientists the new Masters of the Universe? They certainly enjoy great prestige, and for many good reasons. Their research has led to dramatic and more humane treatments of persons suffering from mental disease, depression, and physical injury to the brain and nervous system. Alzheimer’s disease may be cured within the next decade. Paralysis as the result of trauma to the spinal chord has been made less common. As I learned in my work as President Bush’s drug czar, neuroscience has taught us a great deal about addiction; about, for example, the effects of cocaine on dopamine …

Thank God For Metrication!

tgfgmenThe metre is now defined in terms of fundamental constants of physics such as the speed of light and one of the vibrational frequencies of the cesium atom.

The charge levelled against metrication as a “Stalinist” imposition by the scientific establishment on the public is easily dismissed. It is worth stepping back for a moment and understanding how modern science has chosen its units of measurement. There are seven basic units in the so-called International System, known in scientific circles by its French acronym SI. These are the metre, kilogram, second, ampere, kelvin, candela and mole. They measure, respectively, length, mass, time, electric current, temperature, luminous intensity and amount of substance in terms of its atomic weight. Then there are the secondary units derived from these and also forming part of the SI, such as volt to measure voltage, newton (force), joule (energy), watt (power) and so on. The units may be combined to form compound units, such as metre …

Testing Astrology With Science

asgywscRegardless of their attitude to sun signs, we invited astrologers and scientists to devise a test for each of the following hypotheses:

* Sun sign forecasts are sufficiently valid for ethical use.

* Sun sign delineations are sufficiently valid for ethical use.

Our invitation was to devise tests, not to perform rests, so nobody had to leave their armchair. We chose the terms “valid” and “ethical” because their dictionary definitions are clear and unambiguous (valid = accurate, ethical = responsible), but respondents were welcome to use their own definitions (none of those proposing tests did so). Tests had to cover all twelve signs Aries through Pisces, had to include full instructions, and had to be feasible, for example they could not require samples too large to be reasonably collected. Respondents had to specify the results they would accept as disconfirming each hypothesis. We offered no prizes because our invitation was not a competition. If respondents wished, they could send …

Fighting Ignorance With Science

ftigwscDoes this ignorance matter and, if so, what can be done to remedy it? I believe that it does matter because people ignorant of science and technology cannot place themselves in physical context, just as the parallel ignorance of history and geography prevents them from placing themselves in temporal and spatial contexts. They literally don’t know what is going on around them and inside them and form judgments only on the basis of raw emotion or wrong and often absurd notions. They are also more open to manipulation and are unable to evaluate new technology, including the personally important medical technology. Most obviously, a scientifically illiterate population is a threat to Australia’s future as an advanced, knowledge-based economy.

What causes this state of affairs? We can dismiss out of hand the notion that it is due to poor communications skills of scientists or their desire to be high priests of science. While most scientists are indeed miserable communicators and are …

Radiation Imaging Continues To Astound

rdiimagingThe Radiation Imaging Group at the University of Surrey is one of the leading European academic centers for radiation detector development. Its research is focused on the development of new sensors and systems for radiation imaging. The group’s goals are primarily to image the growth and development of plant seeds in order to understand and breed newer and better plants for use in developing countries. Its research has far-reaching implications for industries as varied as forestry, ecology, entomology, agronomy, environmental science, pharmaceuticals, and process control engineering.

“The ability to non-destructively image a cross-section through a sample is a very powerful technique” said Dr. Paul Jenneson, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Radiation Imaging Group. “The potential users for such a system are too numerous to mention individually.”

The Radiation Imaging Group was also the first organization to visualize the germination of a wheat seed in its native ferrous soil. “We don’t want to interfere with the environment, and we want …

Computational Chemistry: What Do You Know About It?

cpwindOxford Molecular offers DGauss, a powerful quantum mechanics package, on Compaq’s Professional Workstation 8000. The software uses quantum mechanics to predict properties of molecules containing hundreds of atoms. It takes advantage of the multiple processors in the Compaq workstation to increase the reliability of the property predictions without unduly long computation times.

“Our ability to offer DGauss on the Compaq workstation is a great example of the migration of a software tool from one available only to a few highly-skilled computational chemists, to one that is accessible to thousands of laboratory chemists,” continued Purvis. “The performance on the Workstation 8000 is comparable to that on workstations costing four times as much. This is truly a significant advancement for scientists.”

Desktop Applications

Computing advances have not been limited to high end workstations. PCs have jumped by leaps and bounds in their capabilities as well. RAM capacity and hard drive space have increased dramatically and are so inexpensive that they are no …