Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Levi's: All-American or Neo-Communism

It seems that everywhere I go recently, I see these massive Levi's billboards along the side of the road. At first, I thought nothing of them. After all, they're just billboards, right? Plus Levi's is an all-American company, right? Visually, these ads are quite striking; mostly black and white, and quite crisp. Stark may be an even better word to describe their look, almost like an homage to depression-era life.
But when I saw the below billboard, I took notice. My opinion changed:
"Everybody's work is equally important"!?
Hmm...does that sound familiar to any of you? It sure sounded familiar to me...and in a sick-to-my-stomach kind of way. This idea is one of Karl Marx's own. In fact, one site even cheerfully refers to these ads as having, "Karl-Marx-approved slogans" [1]. This theme is one that is very much front and center in communism; this idea that we must all be equal, economically. In fact, one way to define communism [2] is as follows:
"Everyone shares everything. No one has more or less money than anyone else. The idea is that everyone deserves to have an equal part of wealth because everyone's work is equally important."
Here are a few snippets from a New York Times article [8] with their take on Levi's ad campaign:
"The “Go forth” campaign is replete with Americana imagery, in keeping with research indicating that teenagers and 20-somethings are patriotic and optimistic about the United States. Those elements include the poetry of Walt Whitman [4], flags, paeans to the pioneering spirit, declarations of independence, salutes to hard work and, in the star-spangled tradition of Madison Avenue, copious amounts of nubile flesh.
"Ads scheduled to run this week in newspapers -- alongside or near reprints of the Declaration of Independence for the Fourth of July -- will echo the style of help-wanted classifieds in seeking “independent minds for a small writing project with long-term publishing possibilities.” “Must have talent for revolutionary thinking,” the ads continue. “Rabble-rousing experience a plus.” On the Levi’s Web site, young computer users will be asked to “take up your pen, you general of the new revolution” and contribute to “the New Declaration of the United States of America.”
"New Declaration of the United States of America"!? Where is this all coming from!?
You may have heard of Walt Whitman -- and maybe you haven't -- but the entire Levi's campaign is based upon his poem, "Pioneers! O, Pioneers!" [3]. Using Whitman as our jumping-off point, here's a brief excerpt about Whitman from the book, "To Walt Whitman, America" [4] by Kenneth M. Price:
"In August, 1938, the Boston Globe reported that a trunk of personal papers belonging to Walt Whitman had been discovered and excitedly urged its readers to master Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" and "Complete Prose" because his "fecundity, breadth of soul, passion for beauty and strength and democracy have made him a symbol of American idealism at its noblest." These claims provoked one outraged reader to lament that Whitman's work was not banned and to assert that he is a "notorious communist."
"Two months later, Ben Shahn elicited similarly heated responses when he planned to quote from a Whitman poem in a federally funded mural, "Resources of America," in the Bronx General Post Office. Shahn's use of an excerpt from "Thou Mother with Thy Equal Brood" in a preliminary sketch was decried as "irreligious," "pagan," expressive of "Asiatic" philosophy, and as "background for two false and fatal pseudo-messianic movements," Bolshevism and Nazism.
"The outraged Globe reader, A. Maurice Farrell of Cambridge, argued that "Walt Whitman is a notorious Communist, and his writings have been for years denounced by respectable and eminent authorities, from both pulpit and press, as vile and unspeakable maunderings. His so-called "poems" were suppressed for years in this very city by the public authorities. It is unfortunate that a lazy and careless public have permitted this well-merited ban to be lifted of recent years."
"Though simplistic, Farrell's labelling of Whitman as a communist was understandable. Whitman had served as an icon for American Leftists for decades: Horace Traubel, Emma Goldman, Newton Arvin, Mike Gold, Langston Hughes -- these were only some of the intellectuals intent on constructing him as a semi-miraculous father figure who, in Gold's words, "rose from the grave to march with us." [4]
And so it would seem that Whitman was, in fact, a communist in philosophy...which, when combined with the imagery and phrases in the Levi's ads, makes these ads a clear-cut case of Communist propaganda. Take, for example, the ad at right: this picture is in-set in the NY Times article. Beneath it, NY Times author Stuart Elliot, has written, "Phrases in the print ads suggest an aesthetic grounded in common sense during tough times."

"Let the average man be divine"!?
Elliot calls that "grounded in common sense"?
No, this is grounded in communist propaganda. And it's urging America's youth to "strike up for the new world" and to "take up your pen, you general of the new revolution."

And with an ignorant youth -- a youth with no sense of our true history; a history littered with the deaths of millions upon millions at the hands of communism -- this is a scary idea. This is when democracy slides toward tyranny. This is when the Liberty to Tyranny cycle [5] becomes complete.
Check out this still shot from the Levi's TV advertisement, below-left, in comparison to Stalin's communist propaganda, below-right:

That hand gesture look familiar? Hitler used it, as did Stalin and's the communist salute, and it's hidden in plain sight within the Levi's TV commercial. 
First, let's take a look at why democracy always slides into communism and tyranny. Factually speaking, the overwhelming majority of people are average: average intelligence, average ambition, average income...just average overall. However, like everything in life, there is a small percentage of the population that excels. They're smarter, they're driven to succeed and they prosper more than the average person. This group, though wealthy and successful, make up but a small percentage of the population.

With that said, you may be wondering why I'm picking on democracy. Why do I believe we can thank our democratic form of governance for our lowly socio-economic reality? Well, quite simply because in a democracy, the majority rules. The group that outnumbers his foes wins. Might equals right. And with average people making up the majority, those who excel are punished in a democracy. With propaganda controlling the minds of the masses, poor decisions are made; decisions that may feel good at the time, but whose promised results (communist utopia) will never come; decisions that lead to communism.

Never will communism achieve equality for all; never will it feed every mouth or clothe every person; never will it create the Utopia promised to its believers by its prophets. It will create a tiny group of rich, powerful oligarchs and a massive population of serfs. History tells the tale.

Free markets and individual liberty have created the most prosperity for the most people the world over. This fact is undeniable, though the powers-that-be wish we'd believe otherwise.

In a Constitutional Republic, if the majority of people say that we must tax the rich more than the average family, this is simply not possible. In such a place -- as we used to be -- there are rules we live by that keep us free from the desires of the majority. Our Constitution, until the 16th amendment, deemed a progressive federal income tax illegal.

But once the 16th amendment was passed, the communistic progressive federal income tax was imposed. It was easy for the powers-that-be to convince the average person -- who, as I said, makes up the majority -- of the need to tax the rich for the benefit of themselves. Legal theft is, after all, quite tempting. Something for nothing always is. Hence the reason government taxes the rich more: everyone agrees it's acceptable; desirable, even. Strange logic considering that by default of making more money, they'd be paying more even at the same tax rate as everyone else. Yet somehow, our twisted sense of self-serving logic deems it morally sound to steal from a person simply because they earn more.

This CNN poll is the perfect example of this morally-bankrupt logic:

Ever since the 16th amendment was signed into law, the whole thing has been propagated via class warfare. Society's puppet masters create the divisive environment in the media; the one that drives us to clash with one another over who deserves what.

Today, class warfare has been renewed! It's was breathes life into these Levi's ads. Everyone hates Wall Street, which is currently the emotional foundation upon which government makes its case to steal yet more of our liberties. The march toward tyranny continues...

Communism always works its way into a society based on this notion that the rich are evil; that they're holding us all back; that somehow, by getting rid of the rich, we'll all get a piece of that pie.

But how illogical is that!?

Who, then, would be creating? Who, then, would be innovating? What would our motivation for betterment and real progress (not progressivism) be? Who would become the driving force of the economy to create the prosperity promised us by communism? Would it be the government, with their innumerable failed agencies and endeavors? With their failed Social Security, their failed Medicare, their failed Amtrak, their failed USPS and their corrupt, corporatist ways? Would that work for freedom and equality? For fairness?

No. It would lead to true poverty. Then who's left to blame?

Ourselves, in our infinite ignorance.

Why does no one realize that there's a group of oligarchs who run, not just the US, but the world economy? As James Garfield once said, "He who controls the money supply of a nation, controls the nation." Don't forget, one of the two main planks upon which the rest of Communism is built is the progressive income tax. This partially allows for the theft of the masses by the banks and those who enable their power over us within government...but only when paired with the other main plank of communism, which is a central bank. In the US, ours is called the Federal Reserve [6].
With a central bank and a progressive income tax, those in power can loot each and every one of our piggy banks without us having a clue, through a process known as "Inflation." This is the true nature of communism:

Believe it or not, the US actually hits on all ten of the planks in Karl Marx's, "Communist Manifesto" [7]. We're very close to true tyranny, unless we wake up to the truth about government: that they cannot secure us or save us; that they can only oppress us. True salvation and security can only be created through individual liberty and self-determination, and by embracing our desires for personal betterment. Our founders intended for our government to simply protect our individual liberty, not protect or care for us.

Today, powerful men control us. And I'm not talking about the wealthy small business owner or the average wealthy corporate exec. I'm referring to those who seek wealth and power; those who flip-flop back and forth between the public and private sector; those who would gain control if the revolution these Levi's ads call for were to occur. Control would not fall to the would fall to a small group of men. And they would give you a leader, like Mao or Che or Stalin or Mussolini or Hitler.

Is that what we want?

There is a difference between wealthy and powerful. The powerful vilify the wealthy as a means to an end. By pointing at the wealthy people, blaming them for what ails this nation, those truly in charge can convince the average -- the masses -- that it is the wealthy who are at fault. Then, when it all falls down in a bloody revolution, the powerful will be there to seize complete control.

Here's the Levi's TV commercial. See if you can spot even more subversive or blatant communist propaganda in it:

And here's a mash-up of a bunch of Levi's ads, from billboards to magazine ads:


[Source Truth Offering, Matt Gordon]

Supercomputer That Sees Like Humans Could Drive Robotic Vehicles

A new supercomputer that "sees" the world very much like humans do could allow cars to drive themselves someday, researchers say.

The supercomputer, dubbed NeuFlow, is based on the mammalian visual system and mimics its neural network to quickly interpret the surrounding environment.

NeuFlow is embedded on a single chip, making the system much smaller and yet more powerful and efficient than a full-scale computer.

"The complete system is going to be no bigger than a wallet, so it could easily be embedded in cars and other places," said Eugenio Culurciello, an associate professor of electrical engineering Yale University who has helped develop NeuFlow.

In order to be able to recognize various objects encountered on the road – such as other cars, people, stoplights, sidewalks, not to mention the road itself – NeuFlow processes tens of megapixel images in real time.

The system is also extremely efficient. It simultaneously runs more than 100 billion operations per second using only a few watts, or less than the power that a cell phone uses, to accomplish what a bench-top computer with multiple graphic processors needs more than 300 watts to accomplish.

"One of our first prototypes of this system is already capable of outperforming graphic processors on vision tasks," Culurciello said.

Beyond autonomous car navigation, the system could be used to improve robot navigation into dangerous or difficult-to-reach locations, to provide 360-degree synthetic vision for soldiers in combat situations, or in assisted living situations where it could be used to monitor motion and call for help should an elderly person fall, for example.

Culurciello presented the results Sept. 15 at the High Performance Embedded Computing (HPEC) workshop in Boston, Mass.

[Via Tech News Daily]

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

SkyLifter, a Flying Inflatable Saucer, Could Carry Entire Buildings

A new airship that is part flying saucer and part blimp could soon carry entire buildings and offer airgoers a fresh way to travel and explore.

Called the SkyLifter and currently in development by an Australian company  of the same name, the concept airship relies on a lighter-than-air chamber for its buoyancy, just like a blimp or a balloon. But rather than a standard spherical, cigar, or "bomb" profile for its air-filled envelope, or aerostat, the SkyLifter has a flat, disk shape.

This innovative, flying saucer-esque configuration does not catch the wind like a sail as much as some other airship designs, and in effect gives the craft greater directional control even in gusty conditions, its designers said.

As a bonus, its discus shape means the SkyLifter does not have a "front" or "back" and can therefore cruise to a destination or maneuver in tight quarters regardless of its orientation.

The flying saucer-shaped aerostat also doubles as a stabilizing parachute when the SkyLifter is vertically setting down cargo. This payload is suspended well below the hovering aerostat for balance, somewhat like a light weight on the end of a balloon string.

So-called Voith Schneider propellers placed around the aerostat and the flight deck pod above the payload module provide both thrust and steering. Solar panels placed across the top of the aerostat and biodiesel engines power the aircraft.

As drawn up by its engineers, the SkyLifter should have an airspeed of about 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour, giving it a range of about 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) in a day, an expected operational period. The dirigible could be set up for low, ground-swooping or for higher atmospheric flight.

The aerostat itself spans some 492 feet (150 meter) in diameter, or about twice the length of a double-decker, wide-body Airbus A380 airplane. Given this setup, SkyLifter's designers said it can carry more than seven times the payload of today's heavy cargo helicopters.

That rounds out to a payload of 165 tons (150 tonnes), enough to transport good-sized, prefabricated buildings, for example, into a rural area. In this way, the SkyLifter could serve as an airship for disaster relief, floating in tons of supplies, or a mobile hospital capable of airlifting out 1,200 people in a single run.

Regular, non-emergency construction purposes, of course, could also be well-met by such a craft, and recreational possibilities abound. (The company has already hinted at a luxury "SkyPalace" module that could stand in for oceanliners.)

For investor reasons, Skylifter is mum when it comes to costs, but the company plans to offer leasing and licensing for its vehicles similar to standard helicopter business agreements.

SkyLifter continues ramping up toward a full-scale production model. A miniature remote-controlled prototype dubbed Betty with 10 foot- (three meter-) diameter aerostat has carried a payload of a about one pound (500 grams) in the lab. A tethered outdoor version called Vikki with a saucer span of 60 feet (18 meter) is being put through its paces.

Next up is a 75 foot (23 meter) aerostat-craft – Nikki – that would leave its moorings for test flights, and in several years, a complete airship nicknamed Lucy might just usher in the era of the SkyLifter.

For more info check out: Sky Lifter

[Via Tech News Daily]

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stem cell posible cure for HIV?

Three years after receiving a stem cell transplant, one man no longer has HIV. However, scientists caution that this procedure can only be replicated in certain circumstances and merits further study. 
In a new study, German researchers have confirmed that an American man living in Berlin was successfully cured of his HIV infection after having received a blood stem cell transplant in 2007.
"In conclusion, our results strongly suggest that cure of HIV has been achieved in this patient," the researchers write in the abstract to their paper, which was published last week in Blood, a medical journal.

The new paper is a follow-up study by the same German team to one they had published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2009. That study found "the patient remained without viral rebound 20 months after transplantation and discontinuation of antiretroviral therapy."

"We weren't able to find HIV in his cells," said Dr. Gero Huetter, a hematologist and professor at the University of Heidelberg, and a co-author of the new paper, in an interview with Deutsche Welle. "The new cells have a natural resistance against HIV."

Three years ago, Timothy Ray Brown had been an HIV-positive leukemia patient. Prior to receiving the stem cell transplant, he underwent intense chemotherapy to completely replace his immune system.
However, the new stem cells that he received had a rare genetic mutation - found naturally in just one percent of Caucasians in northern and western Europe - that causes certain cells to lack a particular receptor, known as the CCR5 receptor, which HIV binds to. At the time Huetter specifically was looking for bone marrow stem cell donors that contained the rare CCR5 deletion.

Since his treatment, the so-called "Berlin patient" has been effectively cured of AIDS and its disease-causing virus, HIV, but also leukemia. This likely makes him the first, and so far, only person ever to have been cured of HIV, out of more than 30 million currently infected people worldwide.
Scientists have previously seen a very small number of cases where the virus does not replicate inside the host and therefore does not cause AIDS. However, these so-called "non-progressives," represent an extremely small percentage of known HIV patients around the world.

An "intriguing" step, AIDS researchers say.
In the wake of the new German paper, AIDS and HIV researchers around the world are starting to take stock of this important finding.
"It's intriguing that this patient does not have a rebound of the HIV replication," said Jens Lundgren, an AIDS researcher and professor at the University of Copenhagen, in an interview with Deutsche Welle. "They have certainly proven the case that there is no apparent residual infection in this person, and the HIV had multiple opportunities to replicate."
Another German AIDS researcher, Dr. Jan Van Lunzen, of the University Hospital Eppendorf in Hamburg, agreed with this assessment.
"It seems that so far, this patient is one that we could call cured from HIV," he said in an interview with Deutsche Welle. "This is the only known case, so far."
But Lundgren cautioned that researchers cannot claim that they have cured AIDS or HIV as this was only one, very particular case.

"We cannot really make statements on cure rates based on a single patient," the researcher, who was not part of the study, added. "This has to be looked at much more comprehensively, and this raises the issue of who wants to undergo a stem cell transplantation? This is not a procedure that you want to do on a whim, if you're otherwise healthy."

Huetter and his colleagues, however, say that the CCR5 technique has a good chance of becoming a new method for treating, or perhaps even curing HIV in the future.
"Probably in five, 10 or 20 years there will be techniques and procedures which can knock down CCR5 in a more complete way and will substitute this current medication of antiretroviral therapy," he said.

[Source: Dw-world]

A more secure smart power grid

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is on the front lines of securing the emerging smart power grid against potential security threats.

Located in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the laboratory recently won about $7 million in Department of Energy solicitations to develop safeguarding systems against outages caused by nature or manmade threats such as computer hacking.

The smart grid -- a system in which home and municipal utility meters are run through a central hub and monitored and operated over the Internet -- has been a cause of some concern for security experts because of the large scale damage that could arise if it was corrupted.

"A stable electric grid is of huge importance now and will become even more important in the future as we move toward electrification of our transportation system," said Tom King of ORNL's Energy Efficiency and Electricity Technology program.

To that end, ORNL will put its money towards developing several security technologies, including a system for automated software vulnerability detection. Carnegie Mellon University and EnerNext Corp. are partners on that project.

ORNL will also pursue an advanced radio technology called the Next-Generation Secure, Scalable Communications Network. The radio is inherently secure, and will replace the current wireless technology used in smart grids. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Virginia Tech, and Kenexis and Opus Consulting will partner on that research.

[Source: Tech News Daily]

Monday, December 13, 2010

Electric car charging stations coming to select Best Buy stores

Folks looking to get eco-friendly with an electric car—or at least put part of their carbon footprint out of sight over the hills—will soon have one more place they can drive their ultra-quiet vehicles: Ecotality has announced a deal with electronics retailer Best Buy to install Blink EV charging stations at 12 Best Buy locations in Arizona, California, and Washington by March 2011. The pilot program is part of The EV Project, which is seeking to develop an infrastructure for supporting electric-only vehicles. The projects at Best Buy will analyze how EV customers
use the charging stations and develop best practices for creating future EV infrastructure in a variety of locations.

“As the private sector will ultimately drive consumer electric vehicle adoption, our goal has been to establish a charging network
that is conveniently placed in familiar places to meet consumers’ needs,” said Ecotality CEO Jonathan Read, in a statement. “In order for EV infrastructure to be a success, it is essential that private enterprises take an active role. Best Buy has shown true leadership as becoming a launch partner for The EV Project and exemplifies how corporate responsibility initiatives can directly benefit the customer experience, environment and society.”

The EV charging stations will roll out at Best Buy locations in Tuscon, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle. The locations will take into account things like distance from other existing charging stations, proximity to interstates and other major routes, and population density. Electric cars might have their advantages, but one of them is not usually range: for instance, the Nissan Leaf can operate for about 80 to 100 miles between charges, meaning most residential users can’t go much further than 40 or 50 miles from home…unless they know where they can hook up to a charging station along the way. Nissan believes most people will want to charge their electric cars at home overnight, since a complete charge takes several hours, but Blink says its commercial chargers will be able to deliver a “meaningful” charge in as little as 15 minutes.

The commercial Blink Network EV chargers feature color touch screens and connect to a Web-based portal that shows a vehicles’s charge status, history, stats, and billing information, along with a bunch of payment options.

The EV Project, managed by Ecotality, hopes to install some 15,000 commercial and residential charging stations in 16 cities across six states.


[Source: Digital Trends]

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Researchers find mathematical patterns to forecast eathquakes

Researchers from the Universidad Pablo de Olavide (UPO) and the Universidad de Sevilla (US) have found patterns of behavior that occur before an earthquake on the Iberian peninsula. The team used clustering techniques to forecast medium-large seismic movements when certain circumstances coincide.

"Using mathematical techniques, we have found patterns when medium-large earthquakes happen, that is, earthquakes greater than 4.4 on the Richter scale," said Francisco Martínez Álvarez, co-author of the study and a senior lecturer at the UPO.

The research, which will be published this month by the journal Expert Systems with Applications, is based on the data compiled by the Instituto Geográfico Nacional on 4,017 earthquakes between 3 and 7 on the Richter scale that occurred on the Iberian Peninsula and in the surrounding waters between 1978 and 2007.

The scientists applied clustering techniques to the data, which allowed them to find similarities between them and discover patterns that will help to forecast earthquakes.

The team concentrated on the two seismogenic regions with the most data (The Alboran Sea and the Western Azores-Gibraltar fault region) analysing three attributes: the magnitude of the seismic movement, the time elapsed since the last earthquake and the change in a parameter called the b-value from one earthquake and the other. The b-value reflects the tectonics of the region under analysis.

A high b-value means earthquakes are predominantly small in size and, therefore, the land has a low level of resistance. In contrast, a low value indicates that there are a relatively similar number of large and small seismic movements, which implies the land is more resistant.

Successful Forecast Probability Greater than 80%

"We have discovered the strong relationship between earthquakes and the parameter b-value, recording accuracy rates of more than 80%," Antonio Morales Esteban, another of the co-authors of the study and a senior lecturer at the US highlighted. "After the calculations had been performed, providing the circumstances and sequences we have determined to be forerunners occur, we obtain a significant success probability."

The technique summarises the forecasts in two factors: sensitivity (probability of an earthquake occurring after the patterns detected occur) and specificity (probability of an earthquake not occurring when no patterns have occurred).

The results reflect a sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 82.56% for the Alboran Sea region and 79.31% and 90.38% respectively for the seismogenic region of the Western Azores-Gibraltar Fault.

That is, there is a high probability of an earthquake in these regions immediately after the patterns discovered occur (high sensitivity) and, moreover, on most of such occasions, they only occur after the patterns discovered (high specificity).

At present the team is analyzing the same data using their own algorithms based on "association rules," other mathematical techniques used to discover common events or those which fulfill specific conditions within a set of events.

"The results are promising, although I doubt we will ever be able to say that we are capable of forecasting an earthquake 100% accurately," Martínez Álvarez conceded.

[Source: Science Daily]

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

NASA Tells Us That Life As We Know It, Isn't

Image from Rosemary Bliss on Flickr
This post was written by contributing writer Noel F. Gayle

Above is one of the many pictures of Mono Lake in California that will be popping up across the internet in the next few days. It was here that Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a geomicrobiologist and NASA Astrobiology Research Fellow and colleagues found the organism that would bear out their theories. The previously assumed six essential elements of life are Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Phosphorus and Sulphur (CHNOPS). Phosphorus and Arsenic are back to back on the periodic table and are so close that Arsenic is able to piggy back on the systems that phosphorus uses, injecting itself into cells and leading to cell death. Wolfe-Simon believed them to be close enough that one should be able to be substituted for the other within the workings of the cell, despite Arsenic's extreme toxicity to living organisms.

Mono Lake is an Endorheic or closed basin, having no outlet or connection to the ocean and being the end of the line for water runoff in its local watershed. Any salts dissolved in the runoff end up there and stay there, leading to the very high levels of salinity present in the lake. All organisms living in and off of the lake are adapted to these conditions. It was here that Wolfe-Simon and colleagues came seeking her organism.

"Wolfe-Simon and her colleagues collected mud from the lake and added the samples to an artificial salt medium lacking phosphate but high in arsenate. They then performed a series of dilutions intended to wash out any phosphate remaining in the solution and replace it with arsenate. They found that one type of microbe in the mix seemed to grow faster than others."

This organism, designated GFAJ-1, apparently flourished despite its isolation from phosphate, an integral ingredient for energy transfer within an cell. Upon closer inspection, the arsenic was found to be present in all the areas they would have expected to see phosphorus, in similar amounts.

This has shaken up the scientific community, who now have to come to terms with the possibility that their belief that CHNOPS, the acronym of the six elements mentioned above, was at the basis of all life. Wolfe-Simon has hailed this development as essential to understanding "the essential flexibility of life." Phosphorus is an essential part of energy transference within a cell, as well as being the primary ingredient of the backbone of our DNA.

Many are skeptical about the announced findings, suggesting a range of theories to explain how arsenic could appear to be substituting itself  for phosphorus without actually doing so. Others suggest that the cells might only be using the Arsenic in specific places, not the widespread integration that the findings might suggest. Whatever the outcome of that debate, Wolfe-Simon herself acknowledges that there is a lot of work still to be done. "We still have 30 years of work ahead to figure out what's going on."

[Sources: ,]

Bloom Laptop - transforms/disassembles down to recycleable materials

A new laptop designed by students may not self-destruct in 30 seconds, but it can be disassembled in about that amount of time, which makes it easier to safely dispose of when it’s time to throw it out.

A group of seven graduate students, from Stanford University and Finland’s Aalto University, created a prototype of a recyclable laptop as a project for a corporate-sponsored mechanical-engineering class.

The invention, called the Bloom laptop, is made mostly of materials that can be recycled alongside ordinary household items, like metal, plastic, and glass. Materials like LCD screens and circuit boards, which need to be sent to specialized recycling facilities, can be easily separated in a few steps.

“I think where the group really nailed it on the head is where they tried to understand how to modify consumer behavior in a way that would promote green thinking,” said John Feland, who leads the Stanford class involved in the project. “If the design of the computer involves the consumer in the process of changing the environment, it becomes easier for people to do the right thing.”

The group was one of 10 teams in the Stanford engineering design class that received a challenge from a corporate sponsor, Autodesk. The company wanted a completely recyclable consumer-electronics product. However, the choice of the product was completely up to the students.

Aaron Engel-Hall, a Stanford mechanical-engineering graduate student and one of the group members, said making that decision took nearly nine months for the group. Through testing, the group discovered that it took them an average of 45 minutes and 120 steps to dismantle an ordinary laptop.

The students were also intrigued by the relatively short life of a laptop, averaging around two years, since that short life span increased the pace that waste entered the environment. These discoveries, Mr. Engel-Hall said, inspired the group to focus their attention on simplifying the laptop deconstruction process by designing pieces that could slide or snap apart, resulting in an end-product that Mr. Feland calls “where origami meets electronic engineering.”

In addition to encouraging recycling of old laptops, Mr. Feland said the Bloom design could also be both a more economical and greener laptop in other ways. The design makes it easier for consumers to replace the parts themselves, rather than scrap it if something goes wrong, he said.

Mr. Feland acknowledged that there are some minor technical hurdles in the design that need to be overcome before it can be produced for a wider market—such as the prototype’s size and weight.

The design has yet to be embraced by any laptop manufacturers, but all of the ideas are openly available through Autodesk’s Web site. Mr. Feland said corporate-sponsored classes have been a part of Stanford for 45 years, because they allow students to work on solutions for real problems companies are facing with the opportunity to experiment and fail—a luxury he said the real world doesn’t provide.

[Source Chronicle]