Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Pergelator

Silicon Forest

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Still Looking for that Missing Airliner

INDIAN OCEAN (April 14, 2014) Operators aboard the Australian navy vessel ADF Ocean Shield move U.S. Navy's Bluefin-21 into position for deployment. Using side scan sonar, Bluefin will descend to a depth of between 4,000 and 4,500 meters, approximately 35 meters above the ocean floor to spend up to 16 hours at this depth collecting data. Joint Task Force 658 is supporting Operation Southern Indian Ocean, searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Blair/Released)

4,500 meters is almost 3 miles deep. That won't get you to the very deepest part of the ocean, which is more like 7 miles, but it's pretty darn deep, and still deeper than most conventional submarines.

Bluefin is now owned by Batelle, a not-for-profit research outfit headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived when I was in Junior High School. There is a similar outfit in San Antonio, Texas, which is just down the road from Austin, called the Southwest Research Institute. They are called non-profits now, but when I first ran into them they were called not-for-profit. I took this to mean that they could make money from what they were doing, but it was all plowed back into their organization or research, not distributed to stock holders, because there aren't any stock holders.

Quote of the Day

The crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe. -
Seb also wrote a short article titled On the New Age Bullshit Generator and parodying woo that is well worth reading. Via Comrade Misfit.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pic of the Day

Russian submarine presumably in the Arctic Ocean, North of Siberia.

The Google translation of the page I found this on mentions a submarine named Losharik. I'm pretty sure this isn't it. Wikipedia has this to say about Losharik:
Losharik (Russian: Лошарик) is the nickname of a Russian submarine. The official name for this submarine type is "Project 210". It is powered by a nuclear reactor and is believed to be able to operate at a depth of 1000 m due to the unique spherical construction elements.
1000 meters (3300 feet) is pretty durn deep for a big sub.

Infection

How a Bacteriophage (a Virus) infects a cell with its genetic material.
T4 bacteriophages targeting E. coli bacteria.
Bacteriophages are small viruses that infect bacteria and kill them by multiplying and essentially filling the bacterial cell to bursting.

My father-in-law suffered a burst appendix when he was younger. My friend Jack's father also suffered a burst appendix back in the 1920's. They both survived, obviously. This was in the days before antibiotics. It's something of a miracle that they survived. In Jack's father's case the doctors deliberately infected him with a normally life threatening disease (typhoid, perhaps) in the belief that this new infection would prompt his body to run a fever and so eliminate the infection in his abdomen. They repeated this "treatment" several times over a course of days or weeks. It prompted his body's temperature to climb to 105 degrees, but it eventually cured his infection.
    In Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, the nominal hero of our story, Half-Jack Shaftoe, is infected with syphilis, which is normally a fatal disease that ends by attacking the brain and driving people mad. At some point he contracts a fever which lasts several days and sends him into a delirium. After he recovers from the fever there is a period of time when there is some doubt whether his wits are still intact. His wits, of course, are fine, or we wouldn't be hearing about him. Presumably this kind of cure was a rare occurence.
    I tried to find any kind of reference to this sort of thing on the net, but I didn't have any luck. Not surprising since it doesn't jibe with our current science-knows-best world view. I did find a couple of interesting articles on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website.
    The first is Treatment of War Wounds: A Historical Review. It's a long story, but just the first couple of pages make some interesting reading all by themselves.
    The other is Phage treatment of human infections.Western civilization is only now starting to get onboard the phage train, probably because we're all from Missouri and it's only been recently that we have been able to see these boogers.

If you have ever been to India, or heard tales from people who have been there, you might wonder, like I did, why everybody there isn't dead. The Ganges river has to be the most unsanitary river in the world, but people live their entire lives with it. It's their bathtub, toilet and funeral parlor. I don't know if anyone actually drinks out of it, but at this point nothing would surprise me. Wikipedia also has something interesting to say about the Ganges and phages:
Since ancient times, reports of river waters having the ability to cure infectious diseases, such as leprosy, have been documented. In 1896, Ernest Hanbury Hankin reported that something in the waters of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India had marked antibacterial action against cholera and could pass through a very fine porcelain filter.
Makes me wonder whether there might be something to that business about the great cycle that seems to be at the heart of Indian mysticism.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Really


Current Pergelator word cloud. At least "really" is no longer front and center.

A while back, when "word clouds" were all the rage, I thought I would put one up on my blog. When I did this one word appeared front and center and that word was REALLY. I don't know what I was hoping to see, but that was definitely not it. I didn't post the word cloud.
    At our gang's Thursday Lunch there is one fellow who shows up intermittently. He has an annoying habit of saying "really?", or "oh, really?", in response to whatever you might tell him. It makes him sound like a dolt. However, because of the company he keeps, and his varied interests, I suspect he is not. His use of "really" might be similar to mine - protective coloration in 'Marika. He also, at one time, pointed out that I talk like I write. At the time I didn't really understand what he was on about.
    Since then I have noticed that my conversational style, such as it is, does not mesh well with the rest of my family. They don't have conversations so much as they banter. Words fly back and forth, nary a complete sentence is ever heard, but they all seem to understand each other fine. I have only a vague idea of what they are talking about, and when I do understand I do not find it that interesting. It seems to be more about adding on to the conversational thread rather than trying to communicate "a complete thought".
     My friend Jack tells me about another friend of his who is even more extreme than I am. When I am relating a story I may ignore interjections or continue talking right over the top of them. Randy gets annoyed if he is interrupted during his recital.
     Older son often complains that I will say something provocative, like "bees are vicious" or something equally blue sky, and then fall silent. He sits quietly waiting for me to continue but when the seconds stretch on he gets impatient for me to finish my thought. I now realize this happens when I am trying to formulate a new story. Once I have managed to complete the thought, the retelling goes much smoother.

P.S. Blogger is out to lunch this morning. The "word cloud" at the top of this post is supposed to be centered above the text. When I posted it, the image showed up on the right hand side and the text started at the top on the left hand side. Stupid Blogger.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Buell


Saw a motorcycle parked outside a store the other day. What caught my eye was the day-glo orange coily-cord running down to the lock on the front disk brake. A clever idea methinks. The lock has a pin that goes through a hole in the disk which prevents the wheel from rolling, and the orange coily-cord reminds you that you haven't removed it.


The bike is a 500cc single-cylinder Buell. Belt drive, mag wheels, single rear shock, radial tires (!?!?!). Looks like fun. Buell was on offshoot of Harley-Davidson that was eventually reabsorbed, shut down, and is now making a comeback as Harley's racing division, or something.

DMV

Went to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) Friday to get my driver's license renewed. There is a short line at the front counter where the ring master verifies that you are in the right place for what you want and that you have all the necessary papers in hand to accomplish that. While I am standing there he makes an announcement on the PA system asking people to return their clipboards as he has run out. Within a minute his desk is awash in clipboards.
I get to the counter, he inspects my documents and issues me a clipboard and a number: 189. They are "currently serving" #125. I fill out my form, turn in my clipboard and notice that the number hasn't advanced. There are 70-odd people waiting and a half dozen or so people working, so it's going to be a while. It's a nice day, so I decide to walk around the building. It's a biggish strip mall; it takes me five minutes to walk around the building. We are still on number 125. Gah, there must be a clog in the system. I take another lap around the block. We're up to 130. Okay, I see how this is going. It's going to be two hours before my number is called. I go home, get some lunch, check my email, pick up a book and hustle back, because you know as soon as I walked out the door the clog became unstuck and they processed the next 50 people in fifteen minutes.
   Actually, no. They are progressing about one number every two minutes. I sit down and read a chapter in my book, but I'm not in the mood for reading so I get up and go exploring. There is a Harbor Freight store a couple of doors down as well as a Dollar Tree. I take a tour of both, but I don't really need anything, so I wander back. Eventually they call my number and I get to discuss my application with a pleasant young woman. Turns out I didn't really need two pieces of ID like they claim. My expired driver's license (which could hardly be considered valid, I mean, it's expired) and my passport were sufficient.
    Now the paperwork is done, all I need is my picture taken which entails another wait. This one is short, no more than five or ten minutes and then I'm all done. Elapsed time: two and quarter hours.