Archive for March, 2010

Gambled and Lost

White, well-educated and wealthy parents spread measles risk

839 people were exposed to the disease, which sickened 11 other children, 8 of whom were unvaccinated, apparently due to parental fears of adverse vaccine effects or the misguided belief that “natural lifestyles” would confer protection (the other three were too young to have been vaccinated).

Take What You Can. Give Nothing Back.

The Somali Pirates’ Business Model

A basic piracy operation requires a minimum eight to twelve militia prepared to stay at sea for extended periods of time, in the hopes of hijacking a passing vessel. Each team requires a minimum of two attack skiffs, weapons, equipment, provisions, fuel and preferably a supply boat. The costs of the operation are usually borne by investors, some of whom may also be pirates.

Awesome Business Cards

Cardonizer: The Best of Business Card Design

Not all are cards, per se. But many are ingenious.

NASA Mission Posters

NASA mission posters

I think I will print out the STS-124 poster, because those are the ones who visited my lab.


Why ‘chemical’ has become a dirty word

Obviously, when dealing with more than 50 million known compounds, each requiring a unique name, complex terminology has to enter the picture. Chemists are thankful for the systematic nomenclature that has been worked out, but to the public, complex chemical names are frightening and tend to conjure up images of doom.

Some marketers try to capitalize on this fear by advertising “chemical-free” products. So we have “chemical-free” cosmetics, cleaning agents and, believe it or not, books about “chemical-free kids.”

The message is that chemical-free means safer, healthier, greener. Given that it is a nonsensical term, what are these products all about? Mostly, “chemical-free” refers to being free of synthetic chemicals. This insinuates that synthetic chemicals are more problematic than natural ones, an inference that is not valid.

This Sucks

Pressure demo: suction

Technically, things don’t suck. Everything else blows.

The Fermi Lack-of-a-Paradox

As always, should any of your forces be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions click the link to go to xkcd, where you can read the hover tag.

Did William Tell?

Apple Shooter

Miss Low. It’s worth it.

Paging Professor Eppes

Fighting crime with math: Model explains hot spots of illegal activity

Using a decade of data from the Los Angeles Police Department, UC Irvine criminologist George Tita and colleagues developed a mathematical model of how urban crime hot spots form and spread. It reveals two distinct types of areas that respond differently to suppression tactics.

Illegal activity follows a discernible pattern, Tita says: “Criminals forage for opportunities to commit crimes, much like bees search for pollen or butterflies for nectar. Foraging patterns are predictable, whether you study human or insect behavior.”

Take That, DuPont Circle

Vortex Junction: The Next-Gen Roundabout

Roundabouts work great in low traffic volume areas because the number of vehicles in the intersection at one time is low. They eliminate traffic stops like signs or lights and allow traffic to move smoothly. When they’re installed in high traffic areas, roundabouts can become a nightmare. The trouble with roundabouts, especially big ones, is drivers are always jockeying for position along the outside lane since there are always vehicles entering into, in the intersection and attempting to exit along the outer diameter. This is a problem the Vortex Junction solves.

I don’t know if this is the answer, but it’s an interesting idea.

Traffic circles in and around DC, especially DuPont, should have been mentioned in Dante’s Inferno. High volume, poor signage, modifications that render them even more problematic (through lanes on the diameter and traffic lights) and inconsistent right-of-way protocols (some places people in the circle have the right-of-way, for others it’s those entering the circle. WTF?)

I avoid DuPont circle like it’s made of toxic broccoli.

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