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Science

The miracle of the modern world (or at least multiple buffers)

This is going to be a weird sort of post but i just wanted to mention that as i was working on my comics project this past weekend i utilized two minor technological wonders that i wanted to publicly appreciate.

The first regards file transfers. I had some files in multiple folders on one hard drive that i wanted to transfer to multiple folders on a different drive. So i grabbed the first set of files and dragged them to the first folder on the other drive. Then, in the same explorer window, i navigated to the other set of files and dragged them to the second folder. And my pc just dutifully started up a second window tracking the progress of the second file transfer. Think about how crazy that is. In DOS (i know, i'm old), you would have to start a file transfer and just sit there and wait for it to finish before you could do anything else. With Windows and multiprocessors you could start your file transfer and then do other things in other windows. I don't know when it first became possible to trigger multiple file transfers at once (maybe it always was possible in Windows but i sure wouldn't have felt confident enough to try it in Windows 98) but that's a really sophisticated thing. And i could do all that and still go back to working in another window with no slowdown or anything. It's pretty amazing. It would be one thing if it just queued the second transfer. But to do both at once, without losing track of the original files and destinations, is really impressive. I've done this many times before but it's the first time it struck me how cool it was.

The second is that i was typing in one text box in my browser, and i realized that earlier i had screwed something up in a different text box. So without even thinking about it, i selected the other text box and hit Control-Z until it reverted back to what i wanted. And it worked! If hitting Control-Z reverted my most recent changes in the text box i had last typed in, i wouldn't have been the least bit upset. I would have said "Duh, what made me think i could do that?". But it worked! Which means that a separate undo history is being kept for each text box. Again, pretty amazing.

These are the unappreciated sort of small things that don't really get touted with new releases. And so when we upgrade to Windows 7 or Firefox version 20 or whatever, we're kind of like, "Yeah, this is fine but i don't see why they constantly put out upgrades.". Again, i don't even know when these things became possible. But if you took them away from us, put us back on Windows 98 and IE 3 or whatever, we'd be freaking out.


By fnord12 | April 23, 2013, 11:04 AM | My stupid life & Science | Comments (0)| Link



Suck on That, Meat Eaters!

Lean steak is low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein -- qualities normally considered healthy. But eating a lot of it can still cause heart disease. Researchers have now laid the blame on bacteria in the human gut that convert a common nutrient found in beef into a compound that may speed up the build-up of plaques in the arteries.
...
Tests showed that consuming l-carnitine [found in red meat and dairy products] increased blood levels of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), a compound that, evidence suggests, can alter the metabolism of cholesterol and slow the removal of cholesterol that accumulates on arteries' walls.

But even when they took l-carnitine supplements, vegans and vegetarians made far less TMAO than meat eaters. Fecal studies showed that meat eaters and non-meat eaters also had very different types of bacteria in their guts. Hazen says that a regular diet of meat probably encourages the growth of bacteria that can turn l-carnitine into TMAO.

Link

Meat - delicious, but deadly...


By min | April 15, 2013, 12:08 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



That's a Horoscope, Not a Time Machine

When i saw this headline this morning - "Iranian scientist claims to have invented time machine" - i got excited thinking about how we could go back in time and stop Marvel from sucking everything up.

But then i read the article, and it's way less exciting than it sounds.

"My invention easily fits into the size of a personal computer case and can predict details of the next five-eight years of the life of its users. It will not take you into the future, it will bring the future to you," he said.

The Telegraph reports Mr Razeghi is the managing director of Iran's Centre for Strategic Inventions, and that he has another 179 inventions registered in his name.

That is not a time machine! A time machine is something that can take you back in time to steal Blackbeard's treasure, but then it turns out you're Blackbeard.

"The reason that we are not launching our prototype at this stage is that the Chinese will steal the idea and produce it in millions overnight."

Oh, the Chinese are totally going to steal your idea and mass produce it. It's what they do, man.


By min | April 12, 2013, 8:31 AM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



Don't Be a Flight Attendant

Cause not only do you have to deal with obnoxious people who insist their giant piece of luggage will fit in the overhead compartment and get whiny when told to turn off their electronics, you're more likely to get cancer than the general populace.

Although no one knows if flame retardants or other chemicals play a role, flight attendants are more likely to have cancer and miscarriages than the general public.

Female flight attendants have a 29 percent higher risk of all cancers, including more than an 11-times greater risk of melanoma and a 35 percent higher risk of breast cancer than the general public. The longer a flight attendant has been working, the greater the risk of cancer, research suggests.

They also have a 62 percent higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth than the general public, according to 2010 study, which says these risks "have been poorly studied in a limited number of investigations." The Association of Professional Flight Attendants says that their flight attendants are allowed to fly during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.

The triggers of these health problems are still under investigation, and researchers are studying a number of possible culprits, such as radiation.

More than likely, it's not just one thing that's the cause. There's the flame retardants, the radiation, the ozone, other people's germs, and the stale, recycled air, just to name a few, and they prolly all contribute to the problem. But, like one flight attendant said, short of quitting, what can they do?


By min | April 11, 2013, 12:59 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



The Cloaking Device that Defeats Daredevil

They can cloak objects from sound.

Scientists' recent efforts to render objects invisible to the eye are based on the fact that our perception of the world depends on the scattering of waves. We can see objects because waves of light strike them and scatter. Similarly, the Navy can detect faraway submarines because they scatter sound waves (sonar) that hit them.

So for the last several years scientists have been developing cloaks that prevent scattering by steering light or sound waves around an object.


By min | April 4, 2013, 10:49 AM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



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