Archive for April 30th, 2009

It's Always Better with Lasers

Fastest Camera Ever Built Uses Lasers


The camera works by illuminating objects with a laser that emits a different infrared frequency for every single pixel, allowing them to custom-amplify a signal that would otherwise be too dim to see.

Oh Tee Yay!

Rush Holt (physicist, congressman) on reviving the Office of Technology Assessment

Op-Ed: Reversing the Congressional Science Lobotomy

Among the 535 members of Congress, there are three physicists, one chemist, six engineers, and one microbiologist. Most members of congress avoid science at all costs, and the handful of trained scientists cannot and do not try to inject the scientific thinking on the particulars of every issue.

What Congress needs is its own science advisors. We need not look far for a model: Until 1995, Congress could rely on the Office of Technology Assessment.

While members of Congress do not suffer from a lack of information, we lack time and resources to assess the validity, credibility, and usefulness of the large amount of scientific information and advice we receive as it affects actual policy decisions. The purpose of the OTA was to assist members of Congress in this task. It both provided an important long-term perspective and alerted Congress to scientific and technological components of policy that might not be obvious.


Despite its importance, new leaders in Congress successfully defunded the OTA in 1995, which as one former member put it, was like Congress giving itself a lobotomy.

I think we (in the US, and true elsewhere, too) are all better off if our political policy is based on facts rather than ideology. IOW, on how nature actually behaves rather than how we want it to behave, or think it should behave. More goes into the policy equation, for certain, but factual information is a necessary place to start.


I Totally Missed It

Happy Hairball Awareness Day!

(It was on Monday. Dang)

Hairballs aren’t just for cats anymore

Beware: Falling Ear Rocks

Inner Ear ‘Rock Slides’ Lead To Vertigo

Experts who treat dizziness estimate that about 20 percent of all dizziness is due to loose crystals — or ear rocks — in the inner ear.