Winds of Discovery: 2005-01-28

Welcome! This is the 5th edition of “Winds of Discovery”, a report by Larry Ice of Correct-Amundo! that will take you on a wild ride across the spectrum of science and discovery.

Topics this week include: Cleveland; Brain Function; Stroke Effects; Tiny Propellors; Photovoltaic Film; Photovoltaic Polymers; Extreme Memory; Sun Patents; Humane Interface; Lab Silk; Dark Matter; Methane Rain; Hubble Scrapped; Titan Life; Smart-1; Douglas Adams; Petrified Wood; Global Warming; and 2 new ways to generate Hydrogen

If YOU have a link suggestion send it to discovery, here Regular topics include:

* Biotech & Medical
* Nanotech
* Invention & Discovery
* Space
* The EnvironmentBIOTECH & MEDICAL

* Cleveland has the upper hand in a bid to secure funding from the National Cancer Institute for a five year study of nanotechnology and its uses to diagnose and treat cancer.

* Scientists have discovered the specific regions of the brain that determine whether someone will look you in the eye or look away.

* Scientists discover that it’s not so much the Calcium ions that get into cells during a stroke, it’s the ones that don’t get out of the cell that cause the most damage.


* Scientists have created a chemically powered nano-propellor.

* This company is using the nanotechnology to develop large sheets of photovoltaic film.


* Scientists in Canada are developing a spray on polymer based film that they claim will convert 30 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity. Current solar cells can only convert 6 percent of the suns energy into electricity.

* Rambus is pushing a new eXtreme Data Rate Memory into the market. Will it repeat the strategic mistakes it made with the introduction of RDRAM a few years ago?

* Sun Microsystems has place 1600 patents related to Open Solaris in the Public Domain. This follows their opeing up the their source code earlier in the week.

* Jef Raskin has recieved funding for work on the Humane Interface, a way for computers to work with people, not the other way around. Expect something good from one of the original Apple employees who helped design the Mac.

* Hate spiders? Stay out of this lab – Scientists have spun the first lab-made spider silk/a>.


* A new study suggests that Dark Matter may have played an important role in the formation of the cosmos.

* It doesn’t quite have the ring of the Weather Girls song, but it’s raining Methane onTitan.

* The BBC is reporting that the federal budget does not include funding for the Hubble Rescue Mission.

* Scientists are studying the results of a Gas Chromatography Experiment on the Huygens Probe to determine the source of all that methane on Titan.

* Europe’s Smart-1 probe has started snapping some incredible pictures using its “Arnie” camera. Yeah, I know, we’ve seen pictures of the moon before. But that was with 35 year old technology, not the latest digital technology. Check them out.

* Astronomers have named an asteroid for Douglas Adams, the author who penned “The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy”.


* Scientists have successfully created Petrified Wood in the lab. Thank god, I was worried we’d run out.

* Scientists running a global climate model using shared time on volunteers PC’s have seen some alarming results.

* Scientists have found a way to use half the energy previously used in high temperature electrolisis, a breakthrough in hydrogen production for fuel cells. Too bad it’ll take new nuclear plant construction to supply the electricity we’re going to need to make all that hydrogen.

* Fortunately, other scientists are working on ways to use sunlight to generate Hydrogen. If successful, this is a lot less expensive way to do it.

Please check back soon for another exciting edition of Winds of Discovery!

6 thoughts on “Winds of Discovery: 2005-01-28”

  1. A nit I’ve noted before:  Garden-variety solar cells are quite a bit more efficient than 6%; silicon hits 15% pretty easily and gallium-arsenide is above 30% if I recall correctly.  However, even 15% would be a remarkable advance for a spray-on photovoltaic coating.  At 30%, we could all drive hybrids skinned with the stuff and get much of our daily mileage from the sunlight falling on them while they’re parked.

  2. But let’s also remember that a large proportion of those higher-yielding solar cells are made from crystalline silicon, which is the scrap and waste byproduct of the larger semiconductor industry. Once you get past the volume that can be supplied as byproduct, and have to grow GaAs or Si specifically for photovoltaics, the economics deteriorate, one of the reasons for things like amorphous Si cells, which are cheaper to produce.

  3. I’d like to suggest some links about turning technology and science into reality. I am currently loosely “working” with these folks and hope for a closer association.

    “Rockford Area Ventures”: Lots of venture capital links. Nick is a very interesting guy. Spiritual. Economically savy. A uniter. He has also done “LZ Peace”: and “VietNow”: we talked about my drug/PTSD theories and he is pretty much down with my ideas.

    “Eigerlabs”: This was sponsored by our Congressman Don Manzullo. Now generally I am not in favor of government programs because of the waste (this is no different). What is different is that they see themselves as catalysts. They have reviewed some of my ideas and put me in touch with Rockford Area Ventures.

  4. Climate change predictions are all over the map.

    Some think what we see currently is due to solar forcing.

    Others think that men burning wood have prevented the onset of an ice age (the earth in past cycles spends about 80K years in an ice cycle and 20K years in a warm cycle).

    In other words predictions aren’t worth the electrons they are computed with.

    “I have a few more words and some links here”:

  5. “Jerry Pournelle”: talks to a climate scientist.

    He is a skeptic.

    > But when there was a paper doing a Bayesian analysis of the problem
    > with the conclusion that what was needed was money for more data to
    > reduce uncertainties, rather than ever larger sums for remedies in the
    > despite of uncertainties, the paper got almost no publicity — I think
    > I was the only member of the press who attended its reading — and
    > oddly enough none of the AAAS officers thought it important that this
    > be included in the press conferences.
    > I assume that previous states of the Earth, particularly those which
    > happened in historical times, are of no concern to climate scientists
    > because I never hear them talked about, and I certainly don’t see
    > explanations of how those conditions came about included in the models
    > that keep being put forth. The models so far do not seem able to take
    > the initial conditions of 1900 and get us to the year 2000 with any accuracy whatever.
    > But they sure can take the conditions of 2004 and tell us about the
    > year 2020!

    He thinks the models have a lot of holes and that there is more politics than science.

    You will note the BBC article says the purpose of their effort is more to enlist political troops than to find out what is really going on.

    In addition the models used produce a wide range of outcomes. Any where from 2C (within historical limits) to 11C (DISASTER!!!!). You can’t base policy on such wild numbers. What you might want to do for 5C is much different from what you would want to do for 10C at least in so far as time scales are concerned.

    It is also possible that because of SO2 haze that if we stop burning coal all at once we might get a huge temperature spike.

    Coal burning may be preventing excess global warming.

    In other words we have no clue.

    Now who favors spending tens or hundreds of trillions with no clue about the outcome?

    Only the ignorant.

  6. My mentor at the Inventor’s Club says that the #1 reason inventors do not get their ideas accepted is that there are no intermediaries between the inventor and the potential user.

    This is the cause of numerous legal problems which makes business wary.

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