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Hometown: Alabama
Member since: Fri Sep 9, 2005, 07:39 PM
Number of posts: 35,624

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Wow, talk about jumping to conclusions from minimal evidence.

These are both MUCH simpler molecules than any nucleic acid heterocycles, or all but the simplest amino acid (glycine). The first is just the dimer of hydrogen cyanide, found pretty much wherever HCN is found. This fad of reporting "MOLECULES OF LIFE FOUND IN SPACE!" has gotten really old. There is a very long and improbable path between such spaceborne molecules and all but the simplest amino acids or nuclear bases. In contrast, the formation of these molecules under planetary conditions is well documented. The main difference is simply concentration -- the probability of two molecules reacting with each other is proportional to the concentration of each of the molecules involved, which is much, much lower in instellar space than in planetary atmospheres/hydrospheres. I wish these scientists would try harder to formulate plausible hypotheses, rather than going for the most spectacular hypothesis in the hopes of greater fame -- which is evidently what is driving this fad.

Posted by eppur_se_muova | Thu Feb 28, 2013, 10:50 PM (0 replies)

An H. L. Mencken quote to start your week ...

"The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair."
Posted by eppur_se_muova | Mon Nov 26, 2012, 12:04 PM (3 replies)

LOL -- there's a whole wiki entry in the works on this ...


Posted by eppur_se_muova | Fri Oct 19, 2012, 08:55 PM (1 replies)

Several Presidents tried for a third term. Only FDR succeeded.

And that was largely because the country didn't want to change leaders in the middle of a war, which was a good decision.

Voters don't need to be "protected" from their decisions. They have chosen well enough without the 22nd Amendment. The only President who could have been elected to a third term since was Clinton -- and wouldn't that have been BETTER than W? Even if Clinton had lost, he could have run again in 2004 -- how do you think THAT would have turned out? Think how different our recent history would have been without the 22nd Amendment -- maybe no 9/11, certainly no Iraq War, maybe warning signs on Wall Street would have registered in time. No, I don't think Presidential term limits have done us any good at all, and quite a bit of harm.
Posted by eppur_se_muova | Sun Sep 30, 2012, 11:46 AM (0 replies)

I'm actually against them.

Given the population turnover in any given district, the people who vote for a candidate the third time are not all the same people who elected him/her the first time. Should the new voters be denied the right to choose the representative they want just because someone else -- who may no longer reside in the district -- voted for them before ?

Remember, the limit on Presidential terms was legislated by vengeful R's after FDR's fourth victory. GOP presidents get to be too old (or too incriminated) for a third term; without the 22nd Amendment, only Clinton could have won a third term since, and we weren't better off with his successor. Most Presidents who sought a third term failed; no further "protection" is really needed. FDR probably won a fourth term largely because it was a wartime election. Personally, I'd love to see the 22A repealed just to get Obama (at least) one more term. The 22A seems to say that you can't give the voters what they want. I'd rather trust the voters to make the right decision.
Posted by eppur_se_muova | Sat Sep 29, 2012, 01:43 AM (0 replies)

Ancient forest lies 10 miles off the Alabama coast (video, gallery) (al.com)

Published: Sunday, September 02, 2012, 5:34 AM
By Ben Raines, Press-Register

Sixty feet beneath the green waves of the Gulf of Mexico, ten miles from the nearest land, stands an ancient forest of giant trees.

Covered in dense carpets of sea anemones, crawling with spidery arrow crabs and toadfish, the sprawling stumps of massive cypress trees spread across the seafloor.

Unmistakable to eyes that have seen the cypress growing today in the swamps of the Gulf Coast, the trunks bear the jagged, craggy outline that is the hallmark of the species. Away from each stump lies another clue, a telltale ring of cypress knees, the knobby wood outgrowths believed to help the trees survive in the soupy mud of the south’s river deltas.

The trees run along a small drop off along the Gulf’s bottom south of the Fort Morgan peninsula. For hundreds of yards, the stumps follow the lazy meanders of what appears to be an ancient river channel that runs to the north, toward the modern day Mobile-Tensaw Delta, which drains Alabama and portions of Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi.

Drifting along the river channel, floating over the edge of a sunken forest rendered in the blues and greens of the deep sea is enchanting.

more: http://blog.al.com/live/2012/09/ancient_forest_lies_10_miles_o.html

Please pardon the hyperbolic title seen in the video ...
Posted by eppur_se_muova | Sun Sep 9, 2012, 05:48 PM (10 replies)

I haven't seen a movie in years ...

ironically, one of the signs I was having problems (though I didn't realize it at the time) came when I went to see an old 50's 3D movie. I had to watch the movie for a long time -- say half an hour? -- before the 3D effect worked for me. That was a sign my binocular vision was failing, but I didn't realize it.

The main therapy consisted of viewing red/green or polarized anaglyphs (trademarked as Tranaglyphs ™), while the therapist adjusted the separation between them. Since my left eye was turning outward, at first I could only fuse the two images when they were widely separated. With repeated exercises, over several weeks, I was finally able to fuse the images at normal separation. After each session, I could tell that my vision was taking on a little added depth -- and an hour or two later I would get a real hammer-between-the-eyes headache. After the whole therapy sequence was finished, it still took some time to re-adapt to full binocular vision, and my eyes tended to tire easily.

A big prerequisite to successful therapy, in my case, was having my lens prescription reduced by a doctor who was very careful not to over-prescribe the lens strength. Many ophthalmologists tend to over prescribe, and if you are young and nearsighted, your eyes will adapt to the overcorrection. Over a period of many years, I had accumulated quite a lot of overcorrection in one eye, causing that eye to suffer so much fatigue that it would stop focusing properly and my brain would simply suppress the image from that eye. It was a real shock to discover one day that I could cover my left eye and leave my vision almost unaffected -- the image from that eye was not being processed much at all. Some doctors routinely check for overcorrection, others -- not so much.

Sue Barry's book describes some of the other treatments used. She had been stereoblind her whole life, unlike me, so her doctor started her off with more basic therapy than I needed. I thought the bead-on-two-strings would have been a good home exercise for me, but I didn't learn about it until after I no longer needed therapy.

Surprisingly, it is not ophthalmologists, but optometrists who are the leaders in diagnosing and treating problems with stereovision, especially in children. See http://www.covd.org and http://optometrists.org/public_eye_care.html
Posted by eppur_se_muova | Fri Jul 20, 2012, 01:48 PM (1 replies)

**SIGH** Again ?

How many times has this idea been proposed ?



Posted by eppur_se_muova | Fri Jun 8, 2012, 02:38 AM (0 replies)

Reminds me of a joke I heard years ago ...

A Greek king and a Persian king got into an argument over man's "natural" language. The Greek king insisted that it was Greek, of course, and the Persian king insisted that it was Persian. So they proposed an experiment -- the kind that only kings could get away with. They took a newborn baby boy from its mother and carried him off to be raised by a hermit high in the hills, far away from any other people. The hermit -- who was a deaf-mute -- provided the baby with goat's milk and raised him to the age of twelve. At that time, the two kings stopped by to see how their experiment had turned out. When they knocked at the door of the hermit's cabin, the boy answered the door. The two kings silently glanced at each other, and then nervously waited for the boy to speak. Finally, the boy opend his mouth and gave voice to: Baaaaaaaah!

(This is a fun joke to tell, if you can do a convincing goat bleat. )
Posted by eppur_se_muova | Wed Mar 28, 2012, 05:24 PM (1 replies)

A qualified yes. The process for making carbon fiber is indirect and somewhat expensive ...

There is no direct conversion of graphite to carbon fibre which is practical on a large scale, though graphite "whiskers" can be produced this way on a very small scale -- more of a laboratory technique than a process suitable for production.

Carbon "nanofibres" can be grown from hydrocarbon precursors such as methane, and methane can be made from CO2 and H2. So if the H2 is "green", you've got a way to convert CO2 to CH4 to carbon fibre, but the conversion will be many, many times slower than the production of CO2, and consume quite a bit of energy as well.

Currently, carbon fiber is made mostly by pyrolysis (high-temperature decomposition) of carbon-containing precursors such as polyacrylonitrile. Acrylonitrile is made from propene, ammonia, and oxygen, with propene coming mostly form petroleum, so either one needs to find a competing process, or find a way to convert CO2 to propene. Some propene has been made from methanol, but I don't have details of this (it's probably safe to assume it's the methanol-to-gasoline process invented by Mobil a few decades ago) -- presumably a mixture of products is formed.

It's quite conceivable one could obtain propene from agricultural byproducts (which are just captured CO2) such as acetone (obtained by starch fermentation); but currently it is cheaper to go the other direction, and make acetone from propene, because of the artificially low cost of heavily-subsidised petroleum.

IF we can recover the CO2 economically, and IF we can obtain enough H2 in a renewable and economically competitive fashion, then CO, methane and methanol derived from CO2 will become just another stream of simple precursors to feed into the process streams built around inputs of coal, natural gas, and petroleum. The problem at this point is that the deck is stacked in favor of petroleum-based inputs.

Bear in mind that only a few percent of petroleum goes to make materials -- the majority is burned as fuel. So even industrial-scale conversion of CO2 to materials would only offset a tiny part of CO2 production from burning fossil fuels. Probably it would be better to convert CO2 into fuels such as methanol or dimethyl ether, which would at least form a closed carbon cycle when burned, without the need to bring more fossil carbon to the surface.

Also, if you're thinking of building "big stuff", keep in mind that carbon fiber is combustible -- you might want to think twice before using it in buildings, bridges, etc. in place of non-flammable steel and concrete.
Posted by eppur_se_muova | Mon Feb 20, 2012, 08:28 PM (1 replies)
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