Archive for the 'Science' Category

To sleep: perchance to dream

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

It’s funny, I’d jotted down a note to write about sleep earlier today then suddenly came across an article in Psychology Today, Stirring Sound of Stress:

Ever wake up five minutes before your alarm rings? This mysterious phenomenon isn’t just bizarre coincidence. We are all equipped with our own internal alarm clocks and, best of all, they even have snooze buttons.

But how can we set our own wake up calls? “I am convinced that eventually there will be a psychological technique to strengthen the ability to set the internal alarm clock,” Born says. Cognitive self-instruction, in which a person drills himself in his plans for the next day, may wind the alarm, he says. For now, however, hang on to that little dream machine beside your bed.

I’ve always done this; just before dropping off to sleep I’ll decide what time I want to wake and bingo, I wake at that time, no matter how late I get to bed.

And I wondered, does anyone else do this?

No, no, no

Thursday, March 11th, 2004

CNN reports possible advertising in the night sky:

MOSCOW, Russia (AP) — Orion, the Big Dipper and Andromeda could be joined in the heavens by ads for soft drinks and cigarettes if a Russian inventor’s device catches on.

Alexander Lavrynov, a spacecraft designer, said he has patented a device for putting advertising into space that would be seen from Earth, Interfax news agency reported Wednesday.

“Space commercials could embrace huge areas and a colossal number of consumers,” he said. “This would literally be intercontinental coverage.”

He said the satellites would be visible in the night sky by employing sunlight reflectors, with multiple satellites linked together to create a message large enough to be seen.

“People would be able to see writing in the skies from the Earth no worse than they see the stars,” he said.

[Thanks to Ed for the link.]

Two “science” links in one week?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2004

Blame Karan for this one.

Within a few years we could be using genetically engineered plants to warn of landmines:

The genetically modified weed has been coded to change color when its roots come in contact with nitrogen-dioxide (NO2) evaporating from explosives buried in soil.

Within three to six weeks from being sowed over land mine infested areas the small plant, order a Thale Cress, will turn a warning red whenever close to a land mine.

According to data compiled by Aresa, more than 100 million land mines have been spread out in 45 countries, hidden killers that often remain for years after a conflict is over.

Oestergaard said the problem of sowing the seeds in a potential land mine could be overcome by clearing strips through a field by conventional methods or by using crop planes.

Currently land mines are mostly removed by putting a stick into the ground to locate the mine, then removing it and detonating it. Dogs and metal detectors are also often used.

An eye for an eye A tooth for an eye

Saturday, January 24th, 2004


Dog News has a link to a fascinating story from the Singapore Straits Times:

The complex procedure, which has to be performed by both eye and dental surgeons, involves transferring to the eye the root of a tooth and part of the bone and ligament surrounding it. A canine* is used as it has a single root.

The technique was pioneered in Italy about 40 years ago, but most attempts in the first three decades failed. In the last three years though, the procedure has been improved tremendously by surgeons in Britain, who reported 100 per cent success with 16 people. Only surgeons in these two countries and Germany have attempted the procedure. Singapore could be the fourth. It is believed that Japan and India are also interested.

Professor Tan said that teeth are used in the operation because the root of a tooth and its surrounding bone are the only medium that can hold a tiny plastic cylinder and adhere it to the eye. The cylinder is inserted into the cube. It channels light to the retina and allows the person to see. The procedure is done in two stages, about two to four months apart. Each operation lasts four to eight hours and involves both eye and dental surgeons. In the first operation, a tooth and part of the jaw are taken from the patient. This is shaped into a tiny cube with a hole in the centre – a tricky procedure as it cannot be allowed to crack – and the plastic cylinder is implanted into the hole. The whole thing is buried in the person’s cheek to encourage it to grow blood vessels. A couple of months later, it is removed from the cheek and placed in the eye, from which part of the cornea, iris and lens has been removed. If successful, the sight they gain is likely to be good enough for them to get a driver’s licence, although their field of vision will be about a third of that of people with normal sight.

What a shame that so much of money is being thrown at drilling for oil on Mars instead of medical research.

* Please tell me that I’m not the only one to picture a dog’s tooth rather than a human canine?

Wet hairy thoughts

Friday, July 18th, 2003

A post by pixeldiva:

According to Lush (via the BBC) the best place to wash your hair is in Scotland.

Well no shit sherlock.

When I lived in Glasgow I never ever used conditioner, and my hair was always shiny and in good condition. Since moving down to London I find I have to use conditioner every time I wash my hair, otherwise I look like something that’s been dragged through a hedge backwards.

Still, it looks like Lush have the right idea – regional shampoos, rather than just by hair type. Shiny clean hair for all!

reminded me of a conversation many years ago when I clumsily tried to explain to a group of English friends that my hair was much nicer when I washed it at my parents’ home (in Wales). The water feels “wetter” (cue much hilarity), it absorbs into your skin and hair in a way that English hard water never does. In a very hard water area the water can almost bounce off your skin.

I’d never heard of limescale until I moved to England. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened a kettle for the first time. ‘Course now I know all about lovely water filters so it’s rarely an issue.

So now it’s official. And I still love washing my hair in Wales.

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