Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

July 16th, 2008:

Odd Lots

  • A reader wrote to tell me that I am “MSG blind,” (see my entry for July 14, 2008) which means that MSG does not affect my taste chemistry—and that people who are MSG blind are generally the people who react badly to the chemical. Alas, I can't find anything about this online, but it's an interesting idea.
  • Screw the polar bears. The big downside to Global Warming™ is now kidney stones. Ouch.
  • I hadn't heard much about the Casimir Effect recently, but courtesy Frank Glover, here's a good article on modifying nanoscale structures to minimize “stiction” due to Casimir forces. More speculative but lots more fun are some links at the end describing projects attempting to harness Casimir forces in various ways, many or most of which still seem a little whiffy. (I made enthusiastic use of vacuum energy in my novel, The Cunning Blood.)
  • The Washington Post suggests that we strap engines on the ISS and send it to the Moon, to act as an orbital station to help stage travel to a lunar base. Maybe a little far fetched, but only a little—and we're not doing much with the damned thing where it's sitting right now.
  • And as if NASA didn't have enough to worry about, now, well, scientists are telling them that they had better establish an officially sanctioned 200-mile-high club.
  • The acronym is unfortunate, but Sandisk's write-once read-many (WORM) SD card has an application that isn't even mentioned in the press release: A unit for mounting a hack-proof operating system instance. No mention what the access time is (I'm guessing slowwwww) but it's an approach that many people have been calling for for some years.
  • Finally, as a proud godfather of two nieces who are big for their ages but still very small, this video made me cringe a little. (Don't parents have enough to worry about?) Quick, how long would it take you mechanical engineer types to devise a sheet-metal flap valve to fix this problem?