Thursday, December 31, 2015

Practical Learning

This article lists 9 things that should be included in a good practical education.

1. How to file your taxes.
2. How to navigate the world of office politics. 
3. How to build credit. 
4. How to be confident in yourself. 
5. How to maintain your car. 
6. How to manage your money. 
7. How to cook. 
8. How to deal with breakups.
9. How to clean. 

SpaceX's Successful Landing

Earlier I reported on the success of Jeff Bezos' Blue Origins booster stage landing and said it was a pretty big deal. I want to make note that now Space-X has done it with a completed orbital launch. This is a bigger deal. In the not too distant future, such booster returns will be routine and the high cost of orbital missions will drop dramatically. Many opportunities and potential problems can be expected with the exponentially cheaper access to space.

Evidence That Strong Gun Laws Work

A new study finds that states with stricter regulations on firearms see a lower rate of shooting deaths. While the CDC is prohibited from studying gun violence statistics in terms of public health and safety, other organizations have been gathering data. States were scored on the strength of their gun laws and instances of accidental shooting, homicides, and suicides involving firearms were counted. This is just a correlation, not a causation. Other factors like poverty and education were not considered.

But the fact of it is that there are variations in the shooting death rates. It certainly makes sense to look into what work to reduce the rate and what can be eliminated that increases that rate.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Future Exploration

Perhaps my grandchildren will live to see a mission to this destination. It's a potential earth-like planet only 14 light-years away. Imagine the possibilities.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Reversing Age-related Damage

A common substance that has been used to stain bacteria in microscope slides appears to 
reverse cellular aging. In studies on progeria, methylene blue seems to return affected cells to normal function.

Plant Compound Increases Brain Connections

You can keep the parsley, thyme, and chamomile but bring on the red pepper. A compound found in these herbs improves neuron formation and strengthens the connections between brain cells, new lab research demonstrates. It has the potential to treat schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's.

How India’s Nuclear Industry Created A River Of Death

India's nuclear industry operates under the arm of their military. As in the US, the military demands have generated such major problems that it makes it very difficult for the nuclear power industry to thrive.

Crazy Things in China

China is having to do some strange acts to keep its economy going. It can't afford to have the value of its currency rise nor can it afford it to inflate. So what is the solution?

China has been printing money to prevent its currency from going up, and then telling banks they have to sit on this new money to prevent inflation from going up. 
Just crazy. And how long can it last?

Parity for Guns and Abortions

This would be nice to see, but not bloody likely to happen. But it makes sense to me to force gun purchasers to wait a while before they can buy and to require them to watch some good propaganda films. Oh, and don't forget to have only one place in the state where gun can be obtained.

Thinking about ISIS

ISIS is not unique. We have seen groups like this before. And we should be using some of those lessons from the past to deal with the current threat.The territorial occupation is not strongly connected to the clandestine group embedded in the West. Actions in the territorial realm will not have a significant effect on the clandestine activities, regardless of how good it makes us feel. The fighting on the ground is governed by local circumstances and counter-insurgent tactics are what works there. But stopping the clandestine stuff has to be done with good intelligence and police work. Let's not think that either of these approaches affects the other target.

Interesting Tool

It is designed to make it easy for drones to pick up objects, but I think it would be a cool tool to have around even without a drone.

Friday, December 04, 2015

How IUDs Really Work

No, they don't terminate pregnancies. Just like spermicide in a diaphragm, they inhibit the activity of sperm. Perhaps a new day in the prevention of unwanted pregnancy can dawn. 

After all, Planned Parenthood facilities prevent hundreds of thousands more abortions than so-called pro-life activists.

Richland Areva In the Small Reactor Business

Work on small modular reactors comes to Richland. The local AREVA nuclear fuels plant has signed a contract to provide fuel assemblies for Nuscale's SMR. Regardless of the lack of specific government incentives, Richland is on the map as participating in the future of nuclear power.

New Science About Radiation

The regulatory world has always assumed that radiation was bad at any level. Years of studies have failed to prove that. In some cases we found that some low levels of radiation may, in fact, be beneficial. There has been a demand that regulators ease radiation restrictions. With a saner standard we could avoid things like the Fukushima evacuation that led to an estimated 1,600 deaths in an area where there were no immediate deaths and the likelihood of additional cancers will be undetectable. 

In fact radiation from coal ash is much more a hazard that a nuclear power plant.

Reinventing the Wheel

File this under appropriate technology. In developing countries which have poor roads, lives could be greatly enriched if people could get their more of their goods to market than they can carry on their heads. This young man has come up with a promising design for a wheel system than dynamically changes its footprint. It can get wide and fat for the rough, uneven spots or go narrow and tall for the smooth parts.