April 14, 2005

Can I get a one-way ticket to Mars: (plus Echoes, Fish and Oil)

Somebody stop the planet, I wanna get off...

Next Stop Mars -
premium content @ The Scientist - was a look at some of the problems (and solutions) facing any long-term space missions, such as an effective radiation shielding - there was a funky diagram showing how high power interlacing megnetic fields or something would do the trick.

Shuttle hits comeback trail - News@Nature - Over two years since the Columbia shuttle calamity, NASA is letting its shuttles off the ground again. Discovery, one of three shuttles grounded since the accident, was towed to the launch pad on 7 April, taking 11 hours to set up. Its expected to launch sometime in late May, being the 114th shuttle mission, Discovery's 31st.

Reef Racket helps fish find home - News@Nature - Exactly how much noise is made in an octopus' garden? Obviously a lot - hopefully not an endless beatles loop though. Tuna larvae apparently zone towards reefs that make the right sort of noise - so the idea is to artificially pump up this noise to help attract fish. This is supposedly being done under "conservation" --- but how is attracting fish from safe sheltered isolated waters, to heavily populated commercially fished reef conserving? Seems like capatilistic exploitation at its worse - and deceit as well!

Brass jugs polish off disease
- News@Nature - This may explain Ghastly's "Plastic is not Hygeine" sign in India (then again maybe not... "cloth as their cousin" -WTF)... anyway... water-borne disease is a very big issue in developed countries - especially when a centralized treated water dispensing system is not in place - so news such as "plastic containers bad - brass good" is kidn of important. The alleged key is the copper, which interrupt microbes' vital processes making all sorts of lethal diarrheoas less likely to be dwelling in your water.

A probe not an echo
- University of Southern California via BiologyNews - most medical imaging (X-Rays, MRI etc) relies on beaming something onto the target and than seeing what gets reflected back. The new HUTT (High ultrasonic transmission topography) system works more on a shadow technique, by working out what goes through the person, not what comes back. Don't be misdirected, this technique is actually much better as it can have resolution of 0.4mm, compared to 2.0mm of existing techniques. And it works well on soft tissue - such as cartilage, or even skin (ie. malignancies!) --- however I can see this as being a problem - by meaning that people used to hazy solid images, will now have to deal with looking at a very noisy picture which actually shows a whole lot more going on inside a person than they are used to.

News of the week. In response to rising fears of oil shortage --- which in turn cause oil price hikes --- which raise fears of oil shortage --- which in turn cause oil price hikes --- which raise fears ...
Anyway, on the Spark Notes Current Events board - I was met with the fallacious argument that there is no need for panic - because we are always inventing new ways to detect oil... *erngk* wrong answer...
I'm in Australia, the land of "No worries... she'll be right, mate" --- its not a very clever philosophy when dealing with factually limited non-renewable resources - like coal and oil. It makes alternative fuels seem like a waste of time - which is dangerous to the future, if not the immediate present.

Anyway, I'm going to keep quietly under my hat (by making it news ofteh week) that a German-US collaboration are adapting NMR to a hand-held technology that could be used as a portable oil detector.
READ: Portable scanner scoops chemical clues -

PS - Fine Eyes, Indeed


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