Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 9th, 2007

Sounds good—too good to be true?

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A new battery technology:

Millions of inventions pass quietly through the U.S. patent office each year. Patent No. 7,033,406 did, too, until energy insiders spotted six words in the filing that sounded like a death knell for the internal combustion engine.
An Austin-based startup called EEStor promised “technologies for replacement of electrochemical batteries,” meaning a motorist could plug in a car for five minutes and drive 500 miles roundtrip between Dallas and Houston without gasoline.

By contrast, some plug-in hybrids on the horizon would require motorists to charge their cars in a wall outlet overnight and promise only 50 miles of gasoline-free commute. And the popular hybrids on the road today still depend heavily on fossil fuels.

“It’s a paradigm shift,” said Ian Clifford, chief executive of Toronto-based ZENN Motor Co., which has licensed EEStor’s invention. “The Achilles’ heel to the electric car industry has been energy storage. By all rights, this would make internal combustion engines unnecessary.”

Clifford’s company bought rights to EEStor’s technology in August 2005 and expects EEStor to start shipping the battery replacement later this year for use in ZENN Motor’s short-range, low-speed vehicles.

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Written by LeisureGuy

9 September 2007 at 6:23 pm

RFID implants and cancer

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Interesting post from Boing Boing:

VeriChip — and other vendors — have been busily implanting radio-frequency ID (RFID) chips in human and animal subjects ever since the FDA approved the process. But a series of studies conducted from 1996-2006 noted a high incidence of dangerous tumors arising at the sites of RFID implants — something the FDA apparently did not consider when it approved the procedure.

Cancer or no, I wouldn’t go near an RFID implant. These things don’t have off-switches. They don’t have disclosure policies. They don’t have logs, or even notifiers. That means that you can’t stop people from interrogating your RFID, you can’t choose who gets to interrogate your RFID, you can’t see who has polled your RFID — and you can’t even know when your RFID is being read. You wouldn’t carry normal ID that behaves this way, but from London’s Oyster Card to the DOT’s FastPasses to the new US passports, these things are being stuck to our person in ever-greater numbers.

And while manufacturers claim that these things have inherent security because they can only be read from a few centimetres away, hackers have already ready them at more than 10m distance.

Leading cancer specialists reviewed the research for The Associated Press and, while cautioning that animal test results do not necessarily apply to humans, said the findings troubled them. Some said they would not allow family members to receive implants, and all urged further research before the glass-encased transponders are widely implanted in people.To date, about 2,000 of the so-called radio frequency identification, or RFID, devices have been implanted in humans worldwide, according to VeriChip Corp. The company, which sees a target market of 45 million Americans for its medical monitoring chips, insists the devices are safe, as does its parent company, Applied Digital Solutions, of Delray Beach, Fla.

Link

Written by LeisureGuy

9 September 2007 at 5:00 pm

Bookcase chair

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One peculiarity: unless the photo’s been flipped, the lamp is on the left. Great for left-handers, but right-handers want the lamp on the left so that their hand does not cast a shadow on what they’re writing. Still: it would be nice.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 September 2007 at 4:58 pm

Free Windows applications

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40 of ‘em.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 September 2007 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Software

Dark chocolate: 99% cocoa

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Just what it says. I want a bar.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 September 2007 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Daily life, Food

Pay attention in biology class

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To save yourself later embarrassment:

If you have raised kids (or been one), and gone through the pet syndrome, including toilet flush burials for dead goldfish, the story below will have you laughing out LOUD!

Overview: I had to take my son’s lizard to the vet.

Here’s what happened:

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Written by LeisureGuy

9 September 2007 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

How the US should prepare for the decline

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Good piece by David Rieff in the LA Times today:

In Washington these days, people talk a lot about the collapse of the bipartisan foreign policy consensus that existed during the Cold War. But however bitter today’s disputes are about Iraq or the prosecution of the so-called global war on terrorism, there is one bedrock assumption about foreign policy that remains truly bipartisan: The United States will remain the sole superpower, and the guarantor of international security and global trade, for the foreseeable future. In other words, whatever else may change in the decades to come, the 21st century will be every bit as much of an American century as the 20th.

This assumption rests, in turn, on two interrelated beliefs.

The first is that because no country or alliance of states has shown any great desire to challenge U.S. preeminence — or demonstrated the means of doing so — no country is going to. China’s interests are regional at most, the argument goes, and the European Union is too divided, too unwilling or too weak to rebuild its once-formidable military machine. As for Russia, believers in the durability of a world order anchored in Washington insist that its declining population and excessive reliance on its energy wealth will in the long run preclude it from playing a central role in global affairs.

The second is that the world needs the U.S. and appreciates the role it plays. (In some versions of this argument, the world needs the U.S. far more than the U.S. needs the world.) If there have been no serious challenges to American hegemony to date, it is asserted, it is because the U.S. provides what are referred to by foreign policy analysts as “global goods”: It maintains political and economic stability around the world, it guarantees a democratic capitalist world order and, by virtue of its unparalleled military strength, it acts as a world policeman of last resort.

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Written by LeisureGuy

9 September 2007 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Government

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