The very name ‘permafrost’ implies permanently frozen, but thanks to global warming, that’s changing…the permafrost is melting. Why should you care? Because frozen within is a very, very large amount of greenhouse gasses (methane AND CO2). Scientists estimate that the gasses released from permafrost will eventually be about 15% of that produced by our human activities. So, not exactly mind-blowing, but when you consider that we’re already failing to reduce emissions to the levels necessary to avert catastrophic global warming, this will make it just that much harder for us to do so.
Face it. We, as a species, lack the will power, resolve, and courage to change our habits and avert the global warming that most scientists believe will happen. It’s the sad truth that I’ve become resigned to, unless we can find a source of energy that is so cheap as to make fossil fuels outrageously expensive by comparison. Greed and fear are some of the most basic human motivators; fear of a warming climate is insufficient, so we must appeal to peoples’ greed and provide a clean, renewable, zero emission energy source that is incredibly cheap. Solar and wind are interesting, but both require large capital expense up front so don’t meet the ‘cheap’ criteria (payback needs to be in a matter of months, not years!).
Yesterday I wrote about the dangerous of evolving antibiotic resistant bacteria. I’m convinced that globally, we won’t be able to decrease the usage of antibiotics enough to prevent the evolution of those bacteria, so instead we need to focus on technologies to fight them. One cool one is a new metal alloy, that adds silver, nitrogen, and carbon to the surface of a stainless steel alloy. The result is metal that helps prevent the spread of any bacteria (well, until they become resistant to that…!). Read more here.
A similar approach uses a special coating (paint-like), applied to any surface, that kills MRSA bacteria. It uses a special enzyme to directly target MRSA. The applications are probably pretty limited for now, but it illustrates one way that technology will likely be used in the future to combat this problem.
Antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ are perhaps one of the scariest byproducts of our modern lifestyle and society. The gist of it is, bacteria, like any living organism, evolves to survive in its environment. When exposed to antibiotics, some bacteria may have traits or mutations that help them survive longer than others; this can be passed on to future generations if they survive. Over time and with more exposure to antibiotics, they can grow stronger and stronger. NDM-1 is a new bug in the wild that appears resistant to ALL antibiotics, MRSA is another (though MRSA can still be treated, to some extent). Antibiotic use in cattle is believed to be a big cause of the creation of superbugs like these, so it’s a bit of a surprise lately that the FDA announced it will no longer regulate the use of antibiotics in cattle! This is in spite of studies showing a large percentage of meat samples (~50%) had MRSA. A letter from a group of medical and health professionals stated,
The evidence is so strong of a link between misuse of antibiotics in food animals and human antibiotic resistance that FDA and Congress should be acting much more boldly and urgently to protect these vital drugs for human illness.
The issue is serious enough that there’s even a lawsuit against the FDA, claiming the agency is not doing enough about this health threat.
If you care about issues like these, go read the full article at the New York Times for yourself. This issue is not confined to the FDA or cattle, this is about the use of antibiotics globally. We’d be fools to expect human behavior to change enough to eliminate this problem; rather, we need to recognize the changes we are creating in our environment, and pursue technologies that can help alleviate the problem we’re creating.
Lenovo’s CEO was recently quoted as saying that iPads are a niche market. I sit here, myself and my wife both checking the news on separate iPads. Our PC (iMac) sits alone upstairs. Lenovo either doesn’t understand tablets, or is realizing they’re screwed. Or both.
I’ve written previously about advances in AR (Augmented Reality), and one critical part of this is how the information is transmitted to the user – having to look at a smartphone screen will doom this technology to failure. Companies like Lumus are great examples of what will be the first major breakthrough in AR – overlaying information on a user’s field of view using eyeglasses (next step will be contact lenses, then direct neural interface). Lumus’ latest technology offers HD video (720p) in a transparent lens. For a video review from Engadget, hit the ‘more’ link below to see the rest of this post. Continue reading “AR glasses”
Unless you’re one of the few who have been raised on a Mac since the diaper days, you’ve dealt with buying a new PC and all the software that it comes pre-loaded with (well, unless you’ve bought a high-end workstation from HP or similar companies, those I’ve found to be thankfully free of that junk!). The software shipped on consumer PCs is sometimes helpful, but more often than not, just slows down your computer and becomes an annoyance with pesky popups asking you to upgrade. With the arrival of the Microsoft Store comes ‘Microsoft Signature‘, a fancy way of saying they’ll sell you a computer the way they originally intended. Just the OS, none of the garbage. Well not quite…it does include Zune software, Microsoft Live Essentials, and other software that Microsoft wanted to ship you. So in that respect it’s a lot like what a third-party computer company would sell. However, I do think you’re better off…I’ve seen a lot of crap come from those third party computer companies and dealt with plenty more that wanted to install itself when I’d upgrade my computer. It’s more in line with what Apple does, they provide software that is typically better integrated than third party solutions. Check it out here.