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This appeared in the corridors of the Rittenhouse Laboratory at Penn without explanation. As my brother said, "Note the charged pumpkin seeds coming off at a curved trajectory under the influence of a magnetic field."

large pumpkin

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I am going to this on June 6. I have a couple extra tickets because the tickets were cheap and I thought I could probably get a couple-three friends to go.

Tour of marine hall! Evolution of dolphins and apes and their minds! Two countem two rock bands including the fabulous Mountain Goats! A DJ whom I should probably know about but I know nothing about DJs!


Start over

Mar. 12th, 2008 12:01 pm
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Subject: Women Drivers on Mars
Date: March 12, 2008 11:20:42 AM PDT

NASA Science News for March 12, 2008
To celebrate Women's History Month, an all-female team of scientists and engineers has taken control of Mars rover Spirit. Is Mars exploration different with women calling the shots? Find out in today's story from Science@NASA.

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Joe Hall takes pictures of auroras and other beauties of the North. Special attention [ profile] pbd.
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The liberal nazis and moonbats must have got to him, because the CEO of Shell Oil predicts peak oil in seven years, worries about a global scramble for scarce assets, advocates international cooperation to reduce consumption, and describes global warming as a "critical global issue."
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I'll try to get pics.
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A year and a half ago I made fun of the Karma Chip. The chip is said by its creator to heal miraculously with its presence.

The scam itself is unremarkable. My dogma ate it.

The post has had great follow-ups. Its inventor replied to the post himself in defense and got an unsympathetic response.

Another commentor remarked that two good things have come out of Yorkshire and that this is not one of them. There has been one endorsement of the chip, and another ambiguous one that links to the Museum of Hoaxes.

Finally today one very annoyed [ profile] andy2020 responded with a great story about the road show for this thing. Thanks, Andy. Wow.

As for [ profile] karmasingh, I don't think he's a very nice person. Really, not at all.
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  1. There is no force, however great
    To pull a wire, however fine
    Into a horizontal line
    That shall be absolutely straight

    -- Unknown
  2. Stone walls do not a prism make
    They're better made of glass
    If you had studied Science
    You would not be such an ass

    -- My father
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My doctor and I are changing the medications I take to make my brain behave better. This is probably a good thing, and I'm game. Especially since I'm not working right now I can afford to take some chances in order to improve things. Plus: SCIENCE!

The first thing we're doing is switching out Wellbutrin for a drug called Lamictal. As the "ictal" in the name suggests, this stuff is used to reduce seizures. It's also given to people with bipolar disease, which I don't have. However, the problems I do have include some things that bipolar people get too like racing thoughts and mood swings. And this drug is also good for plain old depression, which is one of my symptoms. The other benefit of Lamictal is that part of the plan calls for dumping the Lexapro too, and that is apparently much easier with this stuff added. I applaud that because I tried to quit Lexapro before and the discontinuation symptoms were just as bad as the recurring depression. Ecch.

Lamictal is also a tricky drug. You have to start it very slowly. This is mostly because one of the (rare) side effects is a rash. If you get the rash you stop taking the stuff right away, because it can be lethal. Therefore the FDA requires that you start with a very small dose so that you'll know to stop it before you take enough to make yourself sick. Good call. Another problem is that Lamictal acts weird with other drugs, much more so than most of its colleagues. A quote from the always useful and amusing site: "Will interact with medications you aren't even taking." Apparently it can also give you headaches. I'd notice that for sure because I never get headaches.

If I don't get a rash and/or die and if it seems to be treating me well at full dose, then we're going to phase out the Lexapro. The likely next step is that I will take one of a class of drugs called MAO Inhibitors (MAOI). These have been recommended to me before because of my particular symptomatology. They are very powerful and useful in a lot of cases. Unfortunately, they also come with dietary restrictions. They mess with a digestive enzyme and certain foods become toxic. A lot of good foods: real cheese, red wine, real beer. It's a huge pain in the ass and a big quality of life hit. I'd also worry that I would just forget and eat the wrong thing and die.

The good news is that one of them is now available here in a patch. The patch makes the dietary problems way less, especially at low dosages, because it's not mixing up with food in the gut. So I might be able to get the benefit of the MAOI without dying or giving up lots of foods.

The whole business is tricky and complicated. I trust the guy who's working on it to know about as much as anyone in the field does, but everything is a science project in psychiatry especially when there are multiple drugs going on. No matter what it seems that I'm likely to be on four separate neurologic or psychiatric medications for quite a while, and I wonder if anyone even knows what's going on.

Here we go...
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The Anthropic Principle is the most ridiculous thing I have seen produced by real grown-up scientists.

It's fascinating in a train-wreck way to watch geeks reinvent wheels. Clearly there wasn't any need to stay awake during Philosophy 10, much less do any reading on the subject later on when they got big ideas about the place of humanity in the universe.
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The SF Chronicle reports the gloomy bullet points from a doomy official state report about climate change in California.

Without serious reduction in emissions:
California will become significantly hotter and drier by the end of the century, causing severe air pollution, a drop in the water supply, melting of 90 percent of the Sierra snowpack and up to six times more heat-related deaths in major urban centers, according to a sweeping study compiled with help from respected scientists from around the country.

The weather -- up to 10.5 degrees warmer by 2100 -- would make last month's heat wave look average. If industrial and vehicle emissions continue unabated, there could be up to 100 more days a year when temperatures hit 90 degrees or above in Los Angeles and 95 degrees or above in Sacramento. Both cities have about 20 days of such extreme heat now.
substitute: (phrenology head)
Theodore Berger, a USC biomedical engineer, is working on an artificial hippocampus. The microchip goes in the brain and routes traffic properly to improve patients with Alzheimer's, strokes, epilepsy etc.

Crazy shit. Right now they have a test bed for a "cortical prosthesis", and Berger estimates implant use in 10-15 years.
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The Geologic Evolution of North America has been mapped out in great detail by Ron Blakey at Northern Arizona University. Matt Perry took the images and made a historically animated image (7.5 meg .gif file) so you can see the continent wiggle and fall apart and freeze and join up again through the eons. Fascinating stuff.

via the Map Room blog
substitute: (lysenko)
If you can't be part of the solution, there's always money to be made inventing a new problem. That's how we got new diseases like halitosis and ring around the collar. There's a product, so let's create a need: a disease is a good one.

Our enemies—waxy buildup, salmon going red in the can, the invisible filth on our faces—can only be defeated with the help of heroic product managers. This is an old story.

If what you're selling is the absence of something, the task is a little easier. Best way is to launch a crusade of health and morals against your target. I recommend just lying like crazy 'cause it works great. Today's example:

The caffeine-free products industry now has its own Reefer Madness, in which the most harmless and beneficial of stimulants turns out to be the worserest thing you can do! Just ask this scientician!

There's trouble in River City...

thanks to [ profile] salome_st_john for this
substitute: (phrenology head)
Scientific American Mind: Train Your Brain
Mental exercises with neurofeedback may ease symptoms of attention-deficit disorder, epilepsy and depression--and even boost cognition in healthy brains.
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A thick bank of fog blankets California’s Central Valley. The fog is bracketed by the Cascades to the North, the Coastal Range to the West and the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the East. These high elevation areas are a vibrant green in this image, as they are home to the largest tree species on the planet. Coastal redwoods (Sequoia semperviren) are the world’s tallest trees, reaching over 112 meters (367 feet). They are mostly found in valley bottoms, where fog in the summer occurs on a regular basis and contributes to soil moisture. This particular type of winter fog, or Tule fog, occurs at night when the surface cools quickly; it happens during the rainy season and can persist for weeks. Essentially, all types of fog are clouds that are in contact with ground and can reduce visibility to as little as 3 meters (10 feet) or even to zero in extreme cases. Therefore it is not surprising that Tule fog is a major hazard to navigation and is the leading cause of weather-related accidents in California.

From Modis, which has bigger hi-res versions of that picture.
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About 7% of the human genome has changed in the last 50,000 years. One of the big external changes was culture. Did we domesticate ourselves?


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