13 June 2004
Habit is the assassin of experience.
A one-point program for lifelong growth and spiritual enlightenment:
Eschew thy comfort zone.
- Josh Mitteldorf
12 June 2004
Warning of a Coming Epidemic
Symptoms of Inner Peace
Be on the lookout for symptoms of
inner peace. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed
to inner peace and it is possible that people everywhere could
come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a
serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable
condition of conflict in the world.
If you have some or all of the above
symptoms, please be advised that your condition of inner peace may
be so far advanced as to not be curable. If you are exposed to
anyone exhibiting any of these symptoms, remain exposed only at
your own risk.
- Saskia Davis
11 June 2004
Do you enjoy interlocking-ring puzzles? Presented with a structure like this one, how would you pull it apart? Or, how could you assemble it out of 3 separate rings?
Study the picture for a moment, and it's clear that it can't be done. The 3 rings are essentially interlocked, though no 2 of them are interlocked in the
absence of the third.
This structure was in the news this week, as chemists reported success in creating it out of atoms! The structure self-assembles out of 12 cleverly designed chains of C, H, N and O atoms.
(Nineteen years ago, chemists first reported the discovery of a molecule shaped like a geodesic dome. It is a form of C60 , affectionately named a "buckyball", for the late Buckminster Fuller. Since then, they've learned to build these molecules around an un-bonded atom, which is locked inside the sphere.)
10 June 2004
Colonel Stanislav Petrov had his finger on the button. His
orders were to watch the radar over Siberia, and to launch a full
nuclear retaliation against the United States should there ever be
a confirmation of missiles entering Soviet air space. There were
five blips on the radar screen. All available information
confirmed that this was the real thing. If Col Petrov didn’t
launch his missiles now, it might be too late in 15 minutes.
It was 1983, and tensions between the Soviet Union and the US
were as high as they could be. But Col Petrov made a lonely
decision to disobey orders. He would not be responsible for starting World War III.
Much later, the signals indicating the presence of US missiles
were determined to be a computer glitch.
Awesome responsibility in the hands of one man, who did the
Petrov was finally honored last month.
9 June 2004
And if I drink oblivion of a day,
So shorten I the stature of my soul.
- George Meredith
Easy gene therapy
Gene therapy holds great promise to correct birth defects and
genetically-based diseases, and possibly to improve our health in
ways that go beyond this. Medical researchers have known this for
decades, but the prospect of adding a gene to every cell in the
body has been considered a major obstacle. The standard idea is to
infect the body with genetically engineered viruses, designed not
to create disease but to cure it. The technique is fraught with
Last week, Jon Wolf of the Med School at U of Wisconsin
announced that it’s easier than anyone imagined to add
functional genes to the body. He has had remarkable success with
mice simply introducing DNA into the bloodstream with a standard
intravenous injection. If this is borne out, it’s a medical
bonanza for all of us.
How does it work? The technique involves making miniature loops
of active DNA called plasmids, that lack the usual
protective protein jacket. Without the protein jacket, plasmids
slip right into muscle cells. In Dr Wolff’s experiments with
mice, the genes persist in the target cells up to six months, and
have been shown to be translated into proteins just as if they
were in the mouse genome.
|7 June 2004
Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting over lost days.
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
– John Anster, paraphrasing Goethe's Faust *