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No CTDL isn’t dead

I’ve been re-assessing how I want to approach this blog. Expect more stuff here before long.

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Posted By: Charles

Expansive Ignorance

As I’ve been remiss in keeping CTDL updated for various reasons, I thought I’d point you to a blog which will stretch your mind far more than any of mine do. To demonstrate this I’ll quote a single sentence to request that you think on.

In other words, science is a method that chiefly expands our ignorance rather than our knowledge.

[From Kevin Kelly -- The Technium]

Now go and read the archives of The Technium.

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Posted By: Charles

CTDL 228: All they need now is colored syrup to make a slushy

I’m back from vacation and will put up a few more “dump” posts with all the links I’ve accumulated, and then something a little different. I’m going to ditch the numbering system, and probably change up things a bit more. Stay Tuned.
This is an old story, but I’d love somebody out there to update with a summary of what else we’ve found on Mars since we found water Ice.

from the Mars Phoenix Lander’s Twitter at 5:15 p.m.: “Are you ready to celebrate? Well, get ready: We have ICE!!!!! Yes, ICE, *WATER ICE* on Mars! w00t!!! Best day ever!!” It was just two days ago that media outlets were reporting that there were no signs of water yet.

Then nine minutes after that: “Whoohoo! Was keeping my eye on some chunks of bright stuff & they disappeared! Sublimated! So it can’t be salt, it’s ice.”

[From LAist: Water Ice Found on Mars]

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Posted By: Charles

CTDL 227: Modified budgeting

CTDL may be on hiatus in a week or two while I’m on vacation, though I might back-log a bunch of posts for my 2 readers. I think I’ll be dropping the numbered system soon and re-designing the site.
This is not very sciencey but educational, or at least thought provoking. I like the idea of putting ALL the housing casts under the same category, utilities and mortgage are both going to the same “thing” so it makes sense to group them together.

When I was designing the structure of my categories, the first change I had to make was to get rid of a top-level category for insurance. Instead, I put insurance expenses where they belong: auto insurance under transportation, health insurance under medical, and homeowner/renter insurance under housing.

I also eliminated a top-level category for utilities. I put the power bill under housing. (I’d put heat, water, garbage, sewer, etc. there too, but those items are included in the rent where I live right now.) I put the cell phone and internet charges in a new top-level category for communications, and put postage there as well.

[From Refactor your budget categories | Wise Bread]

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Posted By: Charles

CTDL 226: Spiders using UV to paint

Originally found on Boing Boing, this is an interesting evolutionary trait to use UV light to woo the prey into the webs.

The crosses, zigzags, and spirals woven by some spiders have long puzzled web watchers. But those seemingly superfluous decorations may be traps that use light to lure prey, a new study of Australian spiders finds

[From "Artistic" Spiders Trap Prey With Light, Study Finds]

Fascinating how things/traits/behaviors we can’t see with our naked eye are still being discovered. I know it often times feels (to me) like all the “big” discoveries have been made, all the important technological advances done, but our knowledge is still so incomplete.

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Posted By: Charles

CTDL 225: Cholesterol Genes?

Nothing to add to this, except I hope I have these genes.

A third of the population have genes that could help them in the fight against heart disease, say scientists.
A study of 147,000 patients suggests that certain types of the CETP gene might increase the levels of so-called “good” cholesterol.
UK and Dutch research, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found a 5% cut in heart attacks for those with the key types.
A UK geneticist said it could point to drugs which help many more people.

[From BBC NEWS | Health | Cholesterol genes 'protect heart']

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Posted By: Charles

CTDL 224: The Perfect Gadgets

Boing Boing Gadgets has great run down of “perfect” gadgets, ones that can’t really be improved on in largely significant ways. As a Unix dork I only take marginal offense at the comment below about keyboard layouts.

The Keyboard

Forget about Dvorak for a moment: no one’s talking about keyboard layouts here. There’s a surprising number of tattooing patterns for the flat protrusions of the modern keyboard… some better for different countries, some better for Unix dorks.

But isn’t that, in itself, some sort of wonderful commentary on the conceptual purity of the keyboard? That the only bickering going on is in the way alphanumeric keys are arranged… but not the base technology of the device?

[From Top X: 10 Perfectly Pure Gadgets - Boing Boing Gadgets]

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Posted By: Charles

CTDL 223: Buying a DSLR Lens

Macworld has a nice (not reliant on Mac) primer on buying DSLR lenses.

If you purchased your digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) as part of a kit, you already have a basic lens that takes pretty good pictures. However, part of the attraction of this type of camera is that you can switch out lenses to get the best shot in any situation. From powerful zooms that get you up close to high-speed lenses that specialize in low-light settings, you have plenty of options for your second lens. While some lenses may go for more than you spent on your camera, you don’t have to pay a lot to get a great lens. The real question is: how do you find the right one for your needs?

[From Macworld | How to buy a camera lens]

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Posted By: Charles

CTDL 222: Dear Diary; Mars isn’t terribly crowded

Interesting bit of diary from the latest Mars mission. If you’re into reading a robotic interplanetary lander’s diary

Nasa’s Phoenix lander touched down on Mars at the end of May for a mission planned to last three months.
The robotic lab is investigating the region’s climate and geology and could determine whether the planet was capable of supporting life.

[From BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Phoenix diary: Mission to Mars]

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Posted By: Charles

CTDL 221: Pile O Links V2.0 for today

Yet again I had a huge backlog of links even after the last post, so I’m putting together even more of them into a smorgasbord of interesting articles. Enjoy!

“Her methods probably are finer, but our conclusions are very similar.”
He also criticised the emphasis placed by the McGill University researcher on the “low” figure of 350kg, when her analysis suggests the rodent’s body mass could have been as great as 1,534kg, or one-and-a-half tonnes.

[From BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Biggest rodent 'shrinks in size']

UK researchers have pinpointed a protein on immune cells which they hope will help them harness the body’s defences to attack a tumour.
A vaccine designed to “home in” on the protein would deliver a message to the immune system to attack the invading cancer, they said.

[From BBC NEWS | Health | Cancer vaccine target pinpointed]

Experts are to investigate whether magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners can damage health.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) study is likely to focus mainly on the impact on health workers who regularly operate the machines.

[From BBC NEWS | Health | Study into health impact of MRI]

More than half of the world’s ocean-going sharks are at risk of extinction, a new analysis concludes.
Specialists with IUCN (formerly the World Conservation Union) found that 11 species are on the high-risk list, with five more showing signs of decline.
Sharks are particularly affected by over-fishing as they reproduce slowly.
The scientists are calling for global catch limits, an end to the practice of removing fins, and measures to minimise incidental catches (bycatch).

[From BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Sharks swim closer to extinction]

The WikiProfessional project (like Wikipedia, but for narrow and deep exploration of highly specialized domains) just launched with its first beta wiki: WikiProteins is a place where biologists can collectively annotate an enormous database of proteins, a database culled from the best open science journals in the field.

[From WikiProteins: a collaborative space for biologists to annotate proteins - Boing Boing]

The 380 million-year-old specimen has been preserved with an embryo still attached by its umbilical cord.
The find, reported in Nature, pushes back the emergence of this reproductive strategy by some 200 million years.
Until now, scientists thought creatures from these times were only able to develop their young inside eggs.

[From BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Fossil reveals oldest live birth]

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Posted By: Charles