Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Drugs create 'marathon mice' who can run for more than two hours

But instead of building muscles, like steroids do, the drugs appeared to "reprogram" the slow-twitch fibres within the muscle, needed for endurance, allowing them to work for longer without feeling tired.

Scientists believe that both drugs, neither of which are available commercially, could be used to treat muscle wasting conditions, such as muscular dystrophy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Matt Damon concerned about Sarah Palin

Real life Hancocks: homeless heroes

When Portland police officer, Matt Tobey, got into difficulty, only homeless Clinton Whitman came to help. Tobey's head hit the ground again and again as the man on top of him, swearing and grunting, kept hitting him. Whitman, 53, described by Tobey as 'a blessing' and who had been living in a 1977 Lincoln Versailles, parked in a lot, stepped in and pulled the perpetrator from the officer.

Origins of familiar phrases

Meaning: Torrential rain.
Origin: In the days before garbage collection, people tossed their trash in the gutter - including deceased housepets - and it just lay there. When it rained really hard, the garbage, including the bodies of dead cats and dogs, went floating down the street.

Affluent whites moving back into the city

Why has demographic inversion begun? For one thing, the deindustrialization of the central city, for all the tragic human dislocations it caused, has eliminated many of the things that made affluent people want to move away from it. Nothing much is manufactured downtown anymore (or anywhere near it), and that means that the noise and grime that prevailed for most of the twentieth century have gone away.

Most bizzare patron saints

#3. Saint Fiacre: Patron Saint of People with STDs:
As a sacred healer he could cure blindness, leprosy, tumors and more, all by touch. "More" also includes venereal disease. His patronage was assigned to the ailments he healed which means a lot of happy endings for 7th century dongs.

Division of labor more important than comparative advantage

Third, and most importantly, specialization directly increases the rate of technological growth. The more familiar someone gets with a production process, the more likely that person can find a way to improve the production process. This can be anything from finding a more efficient way to line up the machines in a factory to a technological breakthrough in the literal sense.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Expermental drug, Rember, shows promise to halt Alzheimer's progression

Clearing up the clumps?

Two types of brain scans were available on about a third of participants, and they show the drug was active in brain areas most affected by tau tangles, Wischik said.

“This is suggestive data,” not proof, Wischik warned. The company is raising money now for another test of the drug to start next year.

Viva Calaca -- animation celebrating Mexico's Day of the Dead

Commuto -- trade and swap stuff within your community

You can also create your own community and invite all your friends to join. Trading movies, games, books or any other items you may have has never been easier.

MIT breakthrough in storage of electricity

The key component in Nocera and Kanan's new process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces valuable hydrogen gas. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity -- whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source -- runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.

Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.

The new catalyst works at room temperature, in neutral pH water, and it's easy to set up, Nocera said. "That's why I know this is going to work. It's so easy to implement," he said.

How the movie WarGames developed

You could get all the hacker geekiness you wanted just by standing on the set. We were dealing with things like when Matthew sits at the computer, we've got an actor who can't even type. I'd say, "No, I just really want him to type in 'David' and have him get on." They said, "No! You can't do that! You have to go through all these elaborate sequences!" I said, "No, we're not doing that. Audiences will have left the theater by the time he logs into the computer one time."
Interview with director John Badham only here.

Inefficient non-market structures inside corporations sustained by government

But—again—the state’s intervention in the market raises almost insurmountable barriers to this form of organization. The state artificially promotes hierarchy at the expense of markets by subsidizing the input costs of large-scale enterprise and by protecting large corporations against the competitive ill effects of inefficiency. It subsidizes long-distance transportation and thus artificially inflates market and firm size. Its differential tax advantages for corporate debt and capital depreciation (or more accurately, its differential tax penalties on those not engaged in such activities) encourage mergers, acquisitions, and excessively capital-intensive forms of production with high entry costs. Its cartelizing regulations, in addition, limit competition in product features and quality. Thus the boundary between hierarchy and market is artificially shifted so that the dominant firms are far larger, more hierarchical, and more vertically integrated than they would be in a free market.
Argument of harm by intellectual property too.

Tiny mistakes that led to huge catastrophes

On losing a B-2:

... it's just a $1.4 billion aircraft, not like they could have ever guessed it would be flown in a place where there was humidity. We always go to war with dry countries...
When another bomber pulled into Guam earlier this year, on presumably an equally humid day, a different maintenance crew left the wet sensors the way they were. As it turns out, those air sensors feed data to the Stealth Bomber's flight control system. Important data. The kind that keeps Stealth Bombers in the air...
The malfunctioning sensors resulted in a premature take off, a 30-degree nose-towards-the-sky ascent, and...

Using microRNAs rather than proteins to detect cancers

They have found that scraps of genetic material - called microRNAs - that turn genes on and off are released by cancer cells to circulate in the blood, where they can be detected more easily than proteins...
Current technology for developing tests to measure microRNAs in clinical samples is quite advanced, whereas the bottleneck for developing protein-based biomarkers is the slow process of generating assays for measuring specific proteins...