Democrats & Liberals Archives

Science and Technology Links for Week of March 1st

Once again, I’m bringing back this feature. In this week’s links, those of us with a political interest in these subjects will find a lot to chew on. Broadband policy is one such issue, with subjects including why other countries are surpassing us in average speed to citizens, and Google’s recent offer of hooking up a whole city with fiber optic connections included. Other issues include what havoc solar storms could wreak on our civilization, and US cybersecurity plans.

As always, I will caution readers that this is a non-partisan venture here. If it seems like a lot of political issues show up, it will be for the simple reason that politics is all about how we manage our society, and our kind of civilization develops and changes as our society advances in scientific understanding and technological know-how. Our options will grow and shrink, become feasible or infeasible as technology changes the way we interact, the way we build our cities and our devices, the way something like our increasing dependence on electronic devices, for example, changes our vulnerability to something like a solar flare event, or the way a legacy web browser lingers on company computers.

For me, politics that doesn't touch on these issues, that isn't aware of these issues, is politics doomed to irrelevance at best, and catastrophic failure at worst. Let's not have our politics here, whatever our affiliations, be a politics only applicable to the world as it was in the past, if that. So, without further ado:

Popular Science-

New Answer to 80-Year-Old Question Makes Computer Modeling 100,000 Times Faster

MIT Stumbles on a Way to Print Flexible Coatings Made of Micromachines

LED Shortage This Year Could Keep TV, Device Prices High

Skinput Turns Any Bodily Surface Into a Touch Interface

NASA Finds Millions of Tons of Water Ice in Lunar Craters, No Moon Bombing Necessary

Inside the Excruciatingly Slow Death of Internet Explorer 6

Massive Solar Storms of the Future Could Reap Katrina-Scale Devastation

Discover Magazine-

Spacecraft-Collected Comet Dust Reveals Surprises From the Solar System's Boondocks

Tattoo-Removing Lasers Also Remove Grime From Classic Works of Art

Physicists Shoot Neutrinos Across Japan to an Experiment in an Abandoned Mine

An Iceberg the Size of Luxembourg Breaks Free From Antarctica

More Watery Eruptions, and More Heat, on Saturn's Moon Enceladus

Scientific American-

Is ARPA-E Enough to Keep the U.S. on the Cutting-Edge of a Clean Energy Revolution?

Gut bacteria gene complement dwarfs human genome

Shift happens: Will artificial photosynthesis power the world?

Scientists observe protein folding in living cells for the first time

Stroke victims aided in motor function recovery by playing home video games

Artificial arthropod hair makes for top-notch waterproofing

Surprised? How the brain records memories of the unexpected

Popular Mechanics-

Anatomy of Toyota's Problem Pedal: Mechanic's Diary

The Future For UAVs in the U.S. Air Force

Suborbital Safety: Will Commercial Spaceflight Ramp Up the Risk?

How Transformers Can Explode

The World's 18 Strangest Airports

Technology Review-

Scaling Up Solar Power

Reinventing the Commercial Jet

Faster Optical Switching Through Chemistry

Touch Screens that Touch Back

Loan to Kick-start U.S. Solar Thermal Industry

Material Traps Light on the Cheap

Bloom Reveals New Fuel Cells

Ars Technica-

The end of analog: Blair Levin on the National Broadband Plan

Case closed: why most of USA lacks 100Mbps 'Net connections

Obama admin declassifies major cybersecurity plans

Desperate cities beseech St. Google: bless us with thy fiber

Piezo-rubber creates potential for wearable energy system

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at March 6, 2010 6:15 PM
Comment #296920

Stephen, I think most people here look to their own links for technology info.

Posted by: gergle at March 8, 2010 8:55 PM
Comment #296940

I don’t mind, I’m just putting this stuff out there.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 9, 2010 7:00 AM
Comment #296955

Something that is pissing me off lately is the Toyota acceleration deal.

Having just read about the guy in California, it makes me wonder how someone can climb into a car and be so ignorant as to how to operate it.

While I’m glad that Americans are finally waking up from the delusion of superior Japanese engineering, that may have been true in the eighties, it seems to me that these “accidents” are less Toyota’s fault and more the absolute stupidity of the driver’s involved. Perhaps we need to put basic mechanics on driver’s tests.

It just boggles my mind when so called educated people have no clue about the world about them. It jibes with the idiocy we see in voting and people killing themselves with generators, and thinking Sarah Palin has a clue. What next? Someone will probably think it’s cool to swim with Killer Whales.

Posted by: gergle at March 9, 2010 3:58 PM
Comment #296956


Darwin Awards.

Posted by: Christine at March 9, 2010 5:55 PM
Comment #296957

The Toyota thing … Just makes me wonder, at risk of soundling like a crackpot (which i prolly already am).

It just seems like so much smoke thrown up about it.

The recent Chevy recall seemed to only be a blip on the radar for the 1.3 million recalled due to failures in their power assist steeting.

I don’t recall the Ford/Firestone tire inflation mislabeling being covered as strongly either, nor even the older ones where the Chevy trucks had their gas tanks outside the frame rails and were exploding on side impacts. Or the Crown vics exploding from rear end hits (was too young to notice when the Pinto problems were going on also).. Only one i can recal reading (was before my time ) was back when Nader was making his stand on the Covair and the making standard of automotive controls.

It just makes me wonder since Toyota was selling better than GM, is it a way to knock them down a notch to focus the soptlight on them, or could it be because Toyota is nonunion?

Posted by: Rhancheck at March 9, 2010 6:46 PM
Comment #296959

So what do you think about that guy’s article in Popular Mechanics?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 9, 2010 7:20 PM
Comment #296961

It seems reasonable, but I doubt the first complaints were simply lawsuit related. I think the people involved were probably incredibly dumb, and panicked. The police officer death was actually a distracted driver who ran into another car that was stopped turning left.

The recent one is much more suspicious. I just can’t imagine calling 911 to solve such a problem.

Posted by: gergle at March 9, 2010 8:30 PM
Comment #296968

The expectation that cars should be made safer so that drivers can be less wary or concerned, is an exercise in futility. A lady crashed this morning while shaving her bikini line behind the wheel. She and her ex survived. No big deal. Next time she will collide with some kid while texting on her cell-phone. Cars are pretty dingogone safe, so no worries, mate!

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 9, 2010 9:51 PM
Comment #296971

David R. Remer-
I heard about that. What makes that more interesting is that her ex-husband was taking the wheel while she was shaving, and that they were heading for her date with another guy.

There are two possiblities I think, relating to all that: either the guy’s really right, or thre’s some sort of unforseen effect caused by some unknown electrical or software problem.

But I do think the article guy’s point should be taken into consideration by consumers: a lot of this stuff is built to be failsafe. The issue is, sometimes the world is more complicated than the failsafes are equipped to handle.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 9, 2010 11:04 PM
Comment #296972

For a laugh,

Posted by: gergle at March 9, 2010 11:47 PM
Comment #296993

I’d bet the California Prius driver would fail a lie detector test.

Posted by: Schwamp at March 10, 2010 10:58 AM
Comment #296999


You think he was looking for his ‘fifteen minutes’? The cop who put his own life in jeopardy did not think so, and neither did the 911 operator. Anything is possible, but I think it unlikely this man pulled a stunt.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 10, 2010 12:00 PM
Comment #297160

Here’s an article with some new info:

Posted by: gergle at March 12, 2010 6:42 PM
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