Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for August 25th, 2009

White House Sharply Increases Projections of Future Deficits

Posted by Anonymous on August 25, 2009

slide15The federal deficit will soar to nearly $1.6 trillion this year, miring the nation in the deepest pool of red ink since the end of World War II, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the White House reported Tuesday. – washpost

The White House and the Congressional Budget Office released new estimates on Tuesday of the scope of federal budget deficits and the health of the U.S. economy.The Obama administration raised its projection for the budget deficit between 2010 and 2019 to a total of about $9 trillion, while the nonpartisan CBO, Congress’ budget analyst, lowered its estimate for the 10-year budget deficit to $7.14 trillion.

… Already mired in controversy, President Barack Obama’s drive for sweeping healthcare reform could take yet another hit. Opponents say that with the U.S. economy in recession and budget deficits at record levels, now is not the time for Washington to take on another expensive program.The coming economic reports are “more likely to have an effect on preventing things from happening than causing things to happen,” said Robert Bixby, executive director of Concord Coalition, the nonpartisan group dedicated to eliminating federal budget deficits.Obama and many of his fellow Democrats in Congress stress that any healthcare reform bill that is enacted will have to pay for itself. But some critics say reforms that reduce the cost of the Medicare program for the elderly or raise taxes on the wealthy, for example, should go toward deficit-reduction and not for expanding the availability of health insurance.

via Reuters

What are some ways to profit from this?

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Arm dentists with a new kind of laser

Posted by Anonymous on August 25, 2009

I’ve had good results going to laser dentists over the years, but this laser is for detecting cavities, not for cutting teeth or gums.

Shiny teethYour dentist’s verdict on the health of your teeth could be made more accurate, thanks a new physics-based technique developed by scientists in Australia and Taiwan. Developed by a team led by Simon Fleming at the University of Sydney, the technique involves using laser-generated ultrasound to probe tooth enamel elasticity without needing to scratch the surface of teeth. Writing in Optics Express, the researchers say that their method could also detect decay at an earlier stage than your dentist would by just peering and poking in your mouth.

In Fleming’s new technique, an area of tooth is illuminated and heated with a laser, which causes it to rapidly expand and initiate an ultrasonic surface acoustic wave (SAW) that then propagates outwards. The SAW vibration only penetrates around one wavelength deep into the material, and the velocity at which it travels along the surface is governed by the material’s elasticity. The elasticity of a tooth, which indicates its level of mineralization, and hence its healthiness, decreases as the tooth decays. Therefore, measuring the speed of the SAW vibration in a tooth can indicate how healthy it is.

Laser sound

Fleming concedes that at first he had his doubts that this technology would be suitable in dentistry. “I asked myself, ‘Are we really going to fire lasers into someone’s mouth and make their teeth ring like a wine glass?'” he said. However, after carrying out a series of trials, the researchers soon realized that the technique would be safe. “As a remote, non-destructive technique it is applicable in vivo and opens the way for early diagnosis of tooth decay,” he added.

The introduction of a non-destructive technique for probing teeth is likely to be warmly welcomed by squeamish patients. At present, the most commonly used method for measuring enamel elasticity, called “nano-indentation”, involves scratching the surface of teeth to gauge the mechanical response of the surface layers. Although the SAW method has only performed on extracted teeth, Fleming and Wang hope to develop the technique to make it suitable for use in the mouth. “We’re envisioning a probe about a centimetre in diameter,” Fleming said.

To test their technique, the researchers fired 266 nm ultraviolet light from a solid-state laser through a cylindrical lens at two teeth. The beam pulses once per second for 5 ns, creating an ultrasonic SAW vibration. Wang measured the changes in SAW velocity by shining a second laser at the tooth up to 10 mm from the original beam. The laser interacts with the SAW and then a proportion of light reflects back into an optical fibre, where it is collected and used to evaluate the properties of the surface.

“The ability of this technology to provide quantitative information and detect changes in the re-mineralization of enamel provide a unique opportunity not available using existing technologies in the dental clinic,” said Michael Swain, a dental and biomaterials researcher at the University of Sydney, who was also involved in the research.

- via physicsworld

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Home remedy test for raw itchy feet: What really works?

Posted by Anonymous on August 25, 2009

UPDATE 4/19/2011:

My dreaded foot itch is back.  I’ve used Lamisil, terbinafine hydrochloride 1% for a week and while it provides some relief, the fitch over all seems to slowly spread. Thumbs down. Going for the Miconazole nitrate 2% and hydrogen peroxide treatment.


Miconazole nitrate 2% worked best for me long term and sitting for 5 minutes with a paste made of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda on the itchy area provided instant relief as did soaking in Hydrogen Peroxide, 3%. Total cure took about 2 weeks but was much improved after the first four  days of treatment.

UPDATE 9/1/2009:

Day 11 of itchy feet. Added Miconazole nitrate 2% to my twice daily attack. Also using Tolnaftate 1% twice daily. Starting to get results.

Got perscribed Fluocinonide USP 0.05%, but since over use can cause your skin to become thin and die, I’m not going to use it.


I must have picked up some kind of foot fungus… but I can’t see it. My feet look normal, but they itch like hell.

I asked pharmacist what would be best three days ago. He said “Lamisil” (active ingredient = Terbinafine Hydrochloride 1% – anti fungal).  So I tried it. It got better at first… then worse! Perhaps the three times a day I tried to use it was too much, since it says use once per day for a week, but the itch was just too bad so I had to try using it more often.  It does say “Stop and ask a doctor if too much irritation occurs or gets worse.” I’m checking with my doc tomorrow… but meanwhile…

Tonight I was just about to go completely freaking nuts, and the itch was spreading the more I scratched.. when I found a Yahoo! Answers page with some foot itch remedies.

The first thing I tried is baking soda. I grabbed a styrofoam ice chest, filled it foot high with water and dumped a huge amount of baking powder in there.

So, as I type this, my feet are soaking in baking soda water.  10 minutes so far, no itch! Fantastic. After taking them out and drying them off, the itch starts to return, so I make more Baking Soda water, this time with added sea salt.

Here are all of the tips from “Go Green”:

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. Add baking soda into a bit of water. Make it into a past and rub it on the affected area and between your toes. Let it sit for five minutes, then rinse, clean and dry. Repeat this process daily until your foot condition is gone.

Results:  ***** Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Instant relief!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Autonomous underwater robot reduces ship fuel consumption

Posted by Anonymous on August 25, 2009

Autonomous underwater robot reduces ship fuel consumptionThe US Office of Naval Research recently conducted tests with a developmental ship hull grooming robot, called the Robotic Hull Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming (HULL BUG) tool. The HULL BUG is similar in concept to a autonomous robotic home vacuum cleaner or lawn mower and incorporates the use of a biofilm detector that utilizes modified fluorometer technology to enable the robot to detect the difference between the clean and unclean surfaces on the hull of a ship. Credit: US Navy

As the U.S. Navy minimizes its dependence on foreign oil, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is a front runner in supporting and bringing forth innovative solutions to fuel consumption challenges.

“One of the avoidable costs in fuel for the Navy is related to marine fouling such as barnacles that accumulate on ships,” says ONR Program Officer Steve McElvany. “They create increased drag as these ships move from port to port across the world’s oceans.”

Known as a “hard fouler” for ships worldwide, colonized barnacles and biofilms on the hull of a Navy ship translate into roughly 500 million dollars annually in extra maintenance and fuel costs that are required to keep ships free of barnacles, oysters, algae and other marine life. …

the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Carderock (NSWCCD) estimates that biofouling reduces vessel speed by up to 10 percent. Vessels can require as much as a 40 percent increase in fuel consumption to counter the added drag.

via Autonomous underwater robot reduces ship fuel consumption (w/ Video).

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Research pinpoints conditions favorable for freak waves

Posted by Anonymous on August 25, 2009

Research pinpoints conditions favorable for freak wavesStories of ships mysteriously sent to watery graves by sudden, giant waves have long puzzled scientists and sailors. New research by Assistant Professor of Geosciences Tim Janssen suggests that changes in water depth and currents, which are common in coastal areas, may significantly increase the likelihood of these extreme waves.

Janssen’s wave model simulations show that the bending and interaction of waves by shoals and currents could increase the likelihood of a freak wave by as much as 10 times. Although scientists cannot predict the occurrence of individual extreme waves, Janssen’s findings help pinpoint conditions and locations favorable for giant waves.

Extreme waves, also known as “freak” or “rogue” waves, measure roughly three times the size of the average wave height of a given sea state. Recorded monster waves have exceeded 60 feet — the approximate size of a six-story building. Janssen’s research suggests that in areas where wave energy is focused, the probability of freak waves is much greater than previously believed.

Wave focal zones are particularly common in coastal areas where water depth variations and strong currents can result in dramatic focusing of wave energy. Such effects are particularly well known around river mouths and coastal inlets, restricting accessibility for shipping due to large, breaking waves near the inlet, or resulting in erosion issues at nearby beaches. Extreme examples of wave interaction over coastal topography include the Mavericks off the northern California coast and such world-class surf spots as Cortez Banks in California. The identification of freak wave hot spots is also important for shipping and navigation in coastal areas, and the design of offshore structures.

“In a normal wave field, on average, roughly three waves in every 10,000 are extreme waves,” Janssen said. “In a focal zone, this number could increase to about three in every 1,000 waves. …

via Research pinpoints conditions favorable for freak waves.

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Rewriting general relativity?

Posted by Anonymous on August 25, 2009

Does an exciting but controversial new model of quantum gravity reproduce Einstein’s theory of general relativity? Scientists at Texas A&M University in the US explore this question in a paper appearing in Physical Review Letters and highlighted with a Viewpoint in the August 24th issue of Physics (http://physics.aps.org).

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” sums up fairly well how many scientists have viewed Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The theory, which Einstein developed in the early 20th century, says that matter curves spacetime, and it is this curvature which deflects massive bodies – an effect that we interpret as the influence of gravity. The theory has been tested to extremely high accuracy and without it, our satellite global positioning system would be off by about 10 km per day.

Despite the success of general relativity, one of the most important problems in modern physics is finding a theory of quantum gravity that reconciles the continuous nature of gravitational fields with the inherent ‘graininess’ of quantum mechanics. Recently, Petr Hořava at Lawrence Berkeley Lab proposed such a model for quantum gravity that has received widespread interest, in no small part because it is one of the few models that could be experimentally tested. In Hořava’s model, Lorentz symmetry, which says that physics is the same regardless of the reference frame, is violated at small distance scales, but remerges over longer distance scales

The team at Texas A&M, which includes Hong Lu, Jianwei Mei and Christopher Pope, report their investigations into how the modifications proposed in Hořava’s theory will broadly affect the solutions of general relativity.

via Rewriting general relativity?.

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Lower-cost solar cells to be printed like newspaper, painted on rooftops

Posted by Anonymous on August 25, 2009



Solar cells could soon be produced more cheaply using nanoparticle “inks” that allow them to be printed like newspaper or painted onto the sides of buildings or rooftops to absorb electricity-producing sunlight.

Brian Korgel, a University of Texas at Austin chemical engineer, is hoping to cut costs to one-tenth of their current price by replacing the standard manufacturing process for solar cells – gas-phase deposition in a vacuum chamber, which requires high temperatures and is relatively expensive.

“That’s essentially what’s needed to make solar-cell technology and photovoltaics widely adopted,” Korgel said. “The sun provides a nearly unlimited energy resource, but existing solar energy harvesting technologies are prohibitively expensive and cannot compete with fossil fuels.”

For the past two years, Korgel and his team have been working on this low-cost, nanomaterials solution to photovoltaics – or solar cell – manufacturing. Korgel is collaborating with professors Al Bard and Paul Barbara, both of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Professor Ananth Dodabalapur of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. They recently showed proof-of-concept in a recent issue of Journal of the American Chemical Society.

PhotoThe inks could be printed on a roll-to-roll printing process on a plastic substrate or stainless steel. And the prospect of being able to paint the “inks” onto a rooftop or building is not far-fetched.

“You’d have to paint the light-absorbing material and a few other layers as well,” Korgel said. “This is one step in the direction towards paintable solar cells.”

Korgel uses the light-absorbing nanomaterials, which are 10,000 times thinner than a strand of hair, because their microscopic size allows for new physical properties that can help enable higher-efficiency devices. …

“If we get to 10 percent, then there’s real potential for commercialization,” Korgel said. “If it works, I think you could see it being used in three to five years.”

He also said that the inks, which are semi-transparent, could help realize the prospect of having windows that double as solar cells. Korgel said his work has attracted the interest of industrial partners. …

For more information on Korgel’s work, go to: www.che.utexas.edu/korgel-group/

via Lower-cost solar cells to be printed like newspaper, painted on rooftops – Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.

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Researchers Find Saying ‘I’m Sorry’ Influences Jurors

Posted by Anonymous on August 25, 2009

http://www.thatsfunny.org/Jokes/Political/US_Apology_to_China.jpgApologizing for negative outcomes—a practice common even with children—may lead to more favorable verdicts for auditors in court, according to researchers at George Mason University and Oklahoma State University. The results of the study will be available in a forthcoming issue of Contemporary Accounting Research, published by the Canadian Academic Accounting Association.

Assistant accounting professors Rick Warne of Mason and Robert Cornell of OSU found that remedial tactics such as apologizing or first-person justification can result in lower frequencies of negligence verdicts in cases against auditors when compared to a control group receiving no remedial tactic. Apologies allow the accused wrongdoer to express sorrow or regret about a situation without admitting guilt. Alternatively, a first-person justification allows the accused to indicate the appropriateness of decisions given the information available when decisions were made.

“We found that apologies reduce the jurors’ need to assign blame to the auditor for any negative outcomes to the client,” says Warne. “It also appears that a first-person justification influences the jurors impression that the auditor’s actions were reasonable and in accordance with professional standards.”

The researchers administered several versions of a mock trial involving a lawsuit against an auditor whose actions had negative consequences on a client. In the scenario utilized by the researchers, the auditor performed an appropriate audit, yet the audited company eventually went into bankruptcy. The researchers examined whether a defendant making an apology, offering a justification, utilizing both techniques or remaining silent led to the most favorable verdicts.

Research in psychology, management and medicine concludes that remedial tactics are effective when expressed directly to injured parties. However, Cornell and Warne’s research expands upon prior findings by examining the effects remedial tactics have on jurors who are indirectly involved and cannot directly forgive the accused.

“We know victims often respond favorably to an apology, but our findings suggest that even unharmed jurors react in a similar manner,” says Cornell. “Offering an apology though is not synonymous with admitting guilt.”

Approximately 30 states have some form of ‘apology law’ that prevents an apology from being used against a defendant as evidence in court. According to the researchers these laws encourage the use of apologies when disputes arise.

via Researchers Find Saying ‘I’m Sorry’ Influences Jurors – Media and Public Relations – George Mason University.

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Why “thick” blood protects from a heart attack

Posted by Anonymous on August 25, 2009

“Thick” blood can cause heart attack and stroke, but also prevent them. Scientists at Heidelberg University Hospital have explained the mechanism of this clinical paradox for the first time on an animal model. Mice with a greater tendency to form blood clots have larger plaques in their vessels, but they are more stable. Thus, there is less risk that these plaques will rupture and obstruct circulation. The results of the study have been published in the prestigious journal Circulation.

In principle, the more blood coagulates, the greater is the risk of vascular obstruction. Anticoagulants protect against these complications. But clinical studies have thus far not proven that an increased clotting tendency also has a detrimental effect for plaque development. …

Caution advised when prescribing anticoagulants

“Our findings were made on mice, but they confirm the results of clinical studies on humans,” says Dr. Isermann. “In addition, in vitro studies show that human cells react similarly to mouse cells.” The team assumes that the results can be transferred to humans and recommends weighing the advantages and disadvantages of anticoagulants carefully before administering them to a patient.

via UniversitätsKlinikum Heidelberg: Why “thick” blood protects from a heart attack.

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Satellite Imagery Shows Typhoon Vamco Has a Huge 45-mile Wide Eye

Posted by Anonymous on August 25, 2009

http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/380836main_vamco_tmo_2009232_lrg.jpgSatellite Imagery Shows Typhoon Vamco Has a Huge 45-mile Wide Eye

Typhoon Vamco is being as stubborn in its quest to live in the Pacific Ocean as Bill is in the Atlantic Ocean this week, and NASA satellite data confirmed that the large storm has a huge eye, about 45 miles in diameter!

NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over Typhoon Vamco early today, Monday, August 24, and infrared imagery from Aqua’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument clearly showed Vamco’s 45-mile in diameter eye. Around the huge eye, AIRS showed Vamco’s cold high thunderstorm cloud temperatures were colder than minus 63 Fahrenheit. That’s an indication that the storm is still strong, and it is still a category one typhoon.

Also on NASA’s Aqua satellite, the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument captured a stunning look at Typhoon Vamco’s clouds at 0255 UTC (August 23 at 10:55 p.m. EDT).

On August 24, Vamco was 990 miles northwest of Wake Island, near 32.1 north and 155.0 east. It was moving north near 12 mph and had sustained winds near 85 knots (97 mph) creating 25 foot-high waves in the open ocean. Typhoon Vamco is maintaining strength and will start to weaken later as upper-level winds start to batter the storm.

… Typhoons are the same as hurricanes, but known as “typhoons” west of the International Dateline. Vamco is now category 2 typhoon on the Saffir-Simpson Scale and is forecast to be a category 4 typhoon by Thursday evening, Eastern Time.

… Fortunately no land masses are threatened however, shipping interests in the northern Pacific should this keep apprised of this storm. The storm is headed in a northerly direction.

via NASA – Hurricane Season 2009: Hurricane Vamco (Pacific).

Posted in Earth | 1 Comment »


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