Do yourself some good – get a flu shot!

Dr. Thomas Bollyky, Director Global Health Program
Council on Foreign Relations

Essentially, the Doctor says – if you’re sincerely concerned about health, get a flu shot. On average, about 30,000 Americans die every year from flu strains – and we do a mediocre job of getting our families vaccinated.

No surprises. Just common sense from a knowledgeable source.

New images of Mars north polar icecap


Mars northern polar cap, showing the spiral troughs in the ice
Mars Global Surveyor/Malin Space Science Systems

The European Space Agency recently released an image of the red planet’s north polar region and its stunning ice caps…The image, taken by the Mars Express orbiter, highlights some of the natural processes that shape the planet’s surface…

Scientists think that this unique pattern is formed by katabatic winds, that carry higher-density air to lower elevations. On Mars, these winds ferry cold, dense air from the regions’ glaciers down to lower elevations containing valleys and depressions…At the same time, Mars is rotating (just like the Earth) creating another cool phenomenon called the coriolis effect, which manifests as the spiral pattern we see in the image.

Enjoy this brief article. Commenters seem agreed Elon Musk will get folks there sooner than NASA. Even with an administration [sooner or later] that understands science better than one relying on bigotry and ignorance to operate.

Will Any Crap We Put into Graphene Increase Its Electrocatalytic Effect?

Stop the Madness!

‘It seems that whatever “crap” we put into graphene, electrocatalysis increases.’ That’s according to Martin Pumera, University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague, Czech Republic, and colleagues, whose experiments prove their point.

Pumera’s team has added bird droppings to graphene electrodes, and in doing so improved the efficiency of splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen electrochemically…But the invention is not intended for serious use. Instead, it’s a final attempt to draw attention to how meaningless studies are that try to improve graphene’s electrocatalytic efficiency by adding other elements. They stress that there are up to two million combinations for any four of the 84 reasonably stable elements from the periodic table. They question the value of such studies. ‘Stop this never-ending doping madness,’ says Pumera…

Pumera now says that this is ‘the final point of my decade with graphene’…‘My goal was to inspire people to be more critical in general and I hope I at least in part succeeded.’

‘Nuff said! RTFA.

Yo-yo crystals from a new kind of material

The crystals are formed from two concave discs attached to a central axle. From the side, the discs look like flowers with clearly defined petals. These flowers have a slight spiralling arrangement, meaning that the yo-yos have a chiral structure. Despite their complex shape, they are single crystals – confirmed by x-ray crystallography…

The yo-yo crystals are made from achiral components – they’re grown from a solution of copper nitrate and a pyridine-based organic ligand. The mixture forms a continuous network, with four ligands making a propeller-like shape around each metal centre. The material initially forms achiral, cylindrical crystals. However, after aging these cylinders for two days, they spiral out forming the green yo-yo-like precipitate…

The crystal structures belong to the highly unusual P622 space group. The Cambridge Crystallographic database, which recently logged its one millionth structure, only contains seven other examples of P622 structures.

Way cool…

NC town rejects solar panels — fear they “suck energy from the sun”

Members of the public in Woodland, North Carolina, expressed their fear and mistrust at the proposal to allow Strata Solar Company to build a solar farm off Highway 258.

During the Woodland Town Council meeting, one local man, Bobby Mann, said solar farms would suck up all the energy from the sun and businesses would not go to Woodland, the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald reported.

Jane Mann, a retired science teacher, said she was concerned the panels would prevent plants in the area from photosynthesizing, stopping them from growing…

She also questioned the high number of cancer deaths in the area, saying no one could tell her solar panels didn’t cause cancer.

Yes, there are plenty of folks throughout the whole United States as ignorant, backwards and foolish as the citizens of Woodland, North Carolina. Still, the Solid South remains a leading candidate for out-of-date, out-of-time, out-of-the-running for the advancement of any business or project that’s progressed beyond a 19th Century skillset.

Brake dust as bad for your lungs as diesel exhaust


Kristian Buus/Getty

Brake dust in urban areas currently makes up around 21% of traffic air particulates, but this is set to rise as regulations on diesel vehicles come into effect. With this information, a team led by Ian Mudway from King’s College London in the UK collected brake dust, produced under conditions representative of modern urban life, to investigate its effects on the immune function of human lungs. The team exposed lung cells to both diesel exhaust and brake dust particles to compare the toxicity of each. Their data showed that both pollution sources increased inflammation markers and impaired the ability of immune cells to ingest bacteria (called phagocytosis), which is the body’s primary mechanism for protecting the lungs against infection.

The study highlights how exposure to vehicle-derived pollution decreases the lungs ability to prevent infection and may be why such infections are more common in urban environments.

There’s good news and bad news in the article. From one of my favorite new tech sources.

Any guesses how they spend their Sunday?


Click to enlarge

Aside from football or baseball on TV…of course.

Gallup Poll says 40% of Americans believe Earth and modern human beings all created by their God 10,000 years ago. I wish there was “Reality TV” about paleontology, geology. Might make a difference – if folks got past commercials for pillows, glue and wrinkle cream.

Scientists Find the Oldest Material on Earth — it ain’t from here!


Click to enlargeMurchison Meteorite

Earth formed alongside the rest of the solar system roughly 4.6 billion years ago. The oldest rocks we’ve found to date are about 4.03 billion years old, but the oldest earth minerals ever discovered were actually found in lunar samples and date to about 4.1 billion years.

Now, scientists believe they’ve discovered the oldest material ever found on Earth: microscopic specs of dust pulled from meteorite dated at 7.5 billion years old, according to research published January 13 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…

The meteorite in which the grains were found is one of the most well-studied meteorites on Earth. The 220-pound Murchison meteorite plummeted to Victoria, Australia on September 28, 1969. (There were witnesses, too—a rare treat for studied meteorites.) It’s a type of meteorite called a carbonaceous chondrite…

The scientists took a small sample of the extraterrestrial rock and crushed it into a fine powder for analysis. They then turned it into a paste, which, according to the BBC, smells like rotten peanut butter. The grains were then dissolved out and dated using an isotope of the element neon, Ne-21.

RTFA. A milestone.

Confirming my wife’s theory there are 5 – not 4 – basic elements to the universe. Air, earth, fire, water…and peanut butter.

First living robots created from frog stem cells


XenobotDouglas Blackiston

Researchers in the US have created the first living machines by assembling cells from African clawed frogs into tiny robots that move around under their own steam…

These are entirely new lifeforms. They have never before existed on Earth,” said Michael Levin, the director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. “They are living, programmable organisms.”…

Roboticists tend to favour metal and plastic for their strength and durability, but Levin and his colleagues see benefits in making robots from biological tissues. When damaged, living robots can heal their wounds, and once their task is done they fall apart, just as natural organisms decay when they die.

Their unique features mean that future versions of the robots might be deployed to clean up microplastic pollution in the oceans, locate and digest toxic materials, deliver drugs in the body or remove plaque from artery walls…

Wow! A dramatic start to an entirely new genre of bio-engineering.

Yes, there’s a chunk of space at the end of the article dedicated to ethical considerations – which may be relevant in a few decades. I’ll leave the navel-gazing to academics. They’ll have enough to deal with – certainly, in the GOUSA, with religious nutters.