The Wave of the Future

Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.
Thomas A. Edison—inventor

I have been a bit remiss in posting in the Ooz, spending too much time in my poetry blog I guess, but an article I read in the Mail Online today, demands every bit of coverage it can get.

The quote from Thomas Edison, printed above, is also quite apt. Edison believe that an invention should be useful, something the people wanted, would use, and most importantly, something many people would pay for.

The fact that there is a tiny pool of gullible people who will buy anything was not relevant. Of course, in his day, there was not a larger pool of politicians waiting to spend other peoples’ tax dollars on any kind of tomfoolery, which might buy them another vote.

Published in: on February 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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This is a reposting of a post I made in my other blog I have never done this before, because they are radically different in their purposes. This theme, however, does fit with what I place in the St. Louis Ooz, so here goes.

I haven’t mentioned it before, but I’m kind of a science freak. I read several science blogs everyday when I’m not writing poetry.

Yesterday the news was full of panic because a chemical used in giving cola drinks their brown color has been found to be a carcinogen. Such stories should always be taken with a grain of salt, and anything from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), is ALWAYS suspect.

We’ve known since Paracelsus in the 1500’s that the poison is in the dose, and as a former police detective, I enjoy researching things that grab my attention. A little digging led to the fun of writing a rather offbeat poem. It was written quick and dirty, and needs serious editing, but it isn’t destined to become a classic, so I think I’ll let it ride.

by Mike Patrick

Flickr image by Jose L. Pedroso

A startling thing I read today:
Coca Cola should be feared.
Cancer causing chemicals
Have suddenly appeared.

But when one reads the fine print
It seems not all is lost.
Only rodents are in danger
In the many lives it’s cost.

Massive doses the rats were fed
Of chemicals quite rare.
The truth is not in the news release.
Why must they always scare?

150,000 cans a day
A man would have to drink
To equal what the rat just took
To put it on the brink.

Everything causes cancer
Yet the cancer rate still drops.
It’s time to be a skeptic
Until all this lying stops.

Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sweet Subsidies

Did you ever wonder about the return one gets for tax dollars? There is a bit of a sad story at the Examiner of a bio-fuel plant closing down. It is an example of what we get for our subsidy dollars.

Range Fuels built a cutting-edge refinery, to turn wood chips into fuel. Net cost to the taxpayer: $162,000,000, and private investors added another $100,000,000. $262 million and the amount of bio-fuel they produced: zero. The realization that the taxpayers and green investors were taken for a ride: priceless.

Don’t worry. We are still subsidizing bio-fuel, and the farmers are doing somewhat better than Range Fuels, but bio-fuel costs more to make than it is worth. The same goes for wind generated electricity and photoelectric cell electricity, but what the heck. It’s only taxpayer money. Do you suppose it’s too late to jump on the investment wagon?

The Intellectual Elite

To sustain longevity, you have to evolve.
Aries Spears—actor

Perhaps we are spending too much time trying to fix the schools, which fail to prepare graduates for college. Time may be better spent evaluating the product we receive from the colleges.

There is an interesting post today in a blog called hauntingthelibrary, see I seem to find myself at hauntingthelibrary more and more here lately.

In today’s blog, they comment on a BBC article on a new book by a:

Dr Spencer Wells is a geneticist, anthropologist and explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society.

While reading the above blog and article, I was rolling on the floor. Never have I read anything with such a lack of common sense. This man says mankind’s biggest mistake was agriculture. If not for agriculture, we would not have global warming, obesity, diabetes and many of the other health problems related to age that plague us today.

What he did not mention is, by remaining hunter-gatherers, we would have a life expectancy of around thirty years–if the species had survived at all. There would be no age-related health problems.

Published in: on January 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm  Comments (2)  
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Cannot be Replicated

We don’t devote enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.
Bill Watterson-cartoonist

Today in Watts Up With That (WUWT), Anthony Watts printed excerpts from a New Yorker article on the failure of scientific research results, see It had to do with the replication of research results. It seems that MOST research results, in every scientific discipline, cannot be replicated.

The actual New Yorker article,, is a relatively long read (five whole pages—doh), but it is worth the time. It is one of the best articles I have read in a long time.

I mention these items because of one of my pet peeves. We, the people, are too quick to accept any information from respectable-sounding organizations as the gospel truth. Somewhere along the line, we decided to abdicate our thinking to whatever authority was handy. It seems that the general population believes thinking is hard work, better to accept whatever junk is placed before us than do the work.

Well, thinking can be hard, or at least trying to find and verify data can be very difficult. For instance, I used to have a source I went to for information on health matters, see (still an excellent site to spend a few informative hours). It is a blog by Sandy Scwarc. She posted articles on the scientific medical studies we read about all the time: the ones on obesity, longevity, diabetes, junk food, cholesterol, and things like that. But she did it differently from most folks. She did not post her opinions; she went directly to the research papers and posted excerpts from the studies . . . including the study conclusions. Oddly enough, most conclusions are diametrically opposed to the results placed in the news releases. Then she showed how these studies were combined in dredge analysis reports to prove or disprove almost anything, oftentimes with the same report being used to prove both sides of an issue. For some reason, Sandy Scwarc has not made a posting for over a year. I fear for her health and hope she is okay.

The reason I point this out, is that we need to stop believing everything we read. Sandy only pointed out the inequities of the research so that the readers could make their own evaluations. We need to question authority. We need to verify the science before using it to make policy—in healthcare, global warming, on what is taught in schools, and anything else that is going to affect our lives or the lives of our progeny. We need to think for ourselves. When did we lose this ability?

Published in: on January 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm  Comments (1)  

Habitable, hmm?

Rocket scientists agree that we have about reached the limit of our ability to travel in space using chemical rockets. To achieve anything near the speed of light we will need a new energy source and a new propellant. Nuclear fission is not an option.
Wilson Greatbatch-inventor

Have you heard about the “habitable” planet, Gliese 581g, astronomers have discovered 20 light years from Earth? At first blush, it sounds like we should be lining up at NASA to get our colonization tickets. Because I am fascinated by science and space exploration, news of a habitable planet caught my eye and I did a little research.

First, for those who have a problem with interstellar distances, and that is just about everyone, 20 light years is around 189,085,099,109,760,666 miles. Beings how the fastest manmade craft to date was Helios 2’s 150,000 mile per hour orbit around the sun, if you plan on a visit, probably ought to take a snack. At Helios 2’s speed, will take you 143,900,380 years to get there.

Second, the only way this planet is habitable depends on what your definition of “is” is.

• The astronomers estimate Gliese 581g to have a mass three to four times that of Earth, they figure the gravity is only 1.1 to 1.7 times that of Earth. I am not sure how the scientist reconcile 3 to 4 times the mass with such a small increase in gravity unless the planet is hollow or made of lightweight materials. Even at that, 1% to 7% additional weight would add 13 to 91 pounds to a female weighing 130 pounds on Earth. Because I do not know a single woman who would willing put on 13 to 91 pound, that should eliminate the need for female bathrooms on the ship; however, the scientists say a person would be able to walk around easily. I guess that would depend on what one’s definition of “easily” is.

• You might also want to take a jacket on your trip, because they estimate the “average temperature” is between -24 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and in this case, “average” is a little deceptive. The planet has a tidal lock with its sun, just as our moon has a tidal lock with the Earth. We only see one side of the moon, and Gliese 581g always has the same side facing its sun. As one might expect, that creates a substantial differential in temperature between the sides. The temperate -24 to 10 degree region would be a narrow band between the sunlight and the shadow. With year-round temperatures being close to freezing, growing crops may prove to be a problem.

• Gliese 581g is orbiting a red dwarf sun, and it makes an orbit every 37 days. Here, my ignorance is showing. I do not know if a visitor would need sunscreen or a tanning bed, but it is sure to be different from what we have here. I also do not know what impact a new year starting every 37 days would have. I guess a person who lives to be 78 on Earth would live to be 769 on Gliese 581g. That is a good thing, isn’t it? Unless that greater gravity thing cuts a few years off.

I’m thinking neither the habitability of Gliese 581g, nor the technology for 20 light-year travel is ready for prime time yet. Give it another 300 to 500 years, Earth years that is, then . . . .

Published in: on October 1, 2010 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment