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Free Time November 22, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff.
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I used to write these posts here about Stuff I Like during my lunchtime before a number of Bad Things happened to me. The Bad Things got steadily worse for awhile, and I got out of the habit of writing frequently. I haven’t posted much in the last few years because of timing issues, moving twice, taking eighteen months off work (partly related to the aforementioned Bad Things) to travel and generally letting writing fall onto a back burner. Don’t forget, this blog started out as just an example for my sister to follow to monetize her medical experience without having to have an actual job; I just got a little carried away.

Well, every once in a while I get enthusiastic enough to rise from my pit of despair to write up more Stuff I Like…like this little gem:

This gent has taken the longest possible route to boot his PC. The writeup is fairly detailed, with GitHub sources and self-mocking humor. I would say more, but I’m only just a little bit out of my pit of despair and I’m not charming nor am I witty lately.

COVID-19 Cracked by A.I. November 7, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brain, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Mutants, Science, Star Trek Technology.
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The Summit computer at Oak Ridge has looked at scads and scads of data about Covid and pretty much figured out what Covid is and what to do about it therapeutically. There is an excellent writeup of it on Medium.com which I am not going to plagiarize, but tell you all to read right here.

Finally! November 2, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Geek Stuff, Star Trek Technology, Toys, Video.
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It’s about damn time.

Mmmmm… September 20, 2020

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Best Movie Trailer Ever August 16, 2020

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Novel and Effective HSV Treatment July 30, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Science.
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Alex Evilevitch of Lund University has published a paper in PLOS Pathogens describing an effective treatment for HSV using chemical moieties to block replication. Not a cure, but a treatment that works by not allowing the injection of DNA into cells targeted by the virus. He, with the help of preclinical studies at the National Institutes of Health in the United States, has identified small molecules that are able to penetrate the virus and “turn off” the high pressure (20 atmospheres! No wonder injection is so easy) in the genome of the virus without damaging the cell. These molecules proved to have a strong antiviral effect that was several times higher than the standard treatment against certain herpes types with the drug Aciclovir, as well as against resistant herpesvirus strains where Aciclovir does not work. The approach prevented viral infection.

The University of Lund has a nice news announcement covering this.

Homework: Pressurized DNA state inside herpes capsids—A novel antiviral target, Alberto Brandariz-Nuñez, Scott J. Robinson, Alex Evilevitch 

A Great Truth July 29, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Webcomics.
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3D Printed Layer Strength Fixed! May 14, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Applications, Awesome, Star Trek Technology.
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One of the many problems with the gee-whiz near-Star Trek technology of 3D printing is the sometimes poor adhesion between layers of deposited plastic; sometimes they just don’t bond as strongly as desired, resulting in a weaker part than an equivalent injection-molded part. In a paper dropped in Nano Letters, scientists at Texas A & M have found that carbon nanotubes in the mix under a plasma stream heat just the surface layers of the plastic and insure a good weld, as it were, between them. Naturally, they said it in a much more flowery way: “a dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) plasma electrode mounted concentrically around the nozzle of an ME 3D printer for in situ welding of thermoplastic parts.” That’s just the abstract; I’m sure they managed to make it sound like they earned their pay in the full document.

 

Homework: C. B. Sweeney et al, Dielectric Barrier Discharge Applicator for Heating Carbon Nanotube-Loaded Interfaces and Enhancing 3D-Printed Bond Strength, Nano Letters (2020). DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b04718

H@ck Skool Security Training April 21, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Geek Stuff, Toys.
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For all aspiring script kiddies security researchers: the demo site for web vulnerabilities from OWASP, OWASP_Broken_Web_Apps_VM_1.2, is available on SourceForge. Set it up as a virtual machine using VMWare or VirtualBox (if your mom’s purse doesn’t have a few hundred bucks in it company doesn’t have a budget for VMWare), run it as a website inside your box, then set up Kali Linux as another virtual machine and attack it.

Fun for all.

Game-changing engineered PET enzyme to break down and recycle plastic bottles April 13, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Mutants, Science.
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Nature published a paper by researchers at Carbios and Université de Toulouse describe an enzyme that breaks down PET plastics (the kind in those clear water bottles that everyone uses…and throws away–like 800 billion tons, which is only an estimate) really, really fast and efficiently. They made the protein which “achieves, over 10 hours, a minimum of 90 per cent PET depolymerization into monomers, with a productivity of 16.7 grams of terephthalate per litre per hour (200grams per kilogram of PET suspension, with an enzyme concentration of 3milligrams per gram of PET)” with good, old-fashioned genetic engineering to solve a recycling problem two generations in the making.

Carbios plans to begin testing its enzyme in 2021 in a demonstration plant near Lyon, France.

The paper is available at Nature (not just the abstract, if using the link below), and is fairly readable by a layman.

Homework: An engineered PET depolymerase to break down and recycle plastic bottles:V. Tournier, C. M. Topham, A. Gilles, B. David, C. Folgoas, E. Moya-Leclair, E. Kamionka, M.-L. Desrousseaux, H. Texier, S. Gavalda, M. Cot2, E. Guémard, M. Dalibey J. Nomme, G. Cioci, S. Barbe, M. Chateau, I. André ✉, S. Duquesne ✉ & A. Marty

 

Concatenation March 31, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Uncategorizable, Video.
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Electric, Adjustable Waterproof Glue March 6, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Geek Stuff, Science.
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The title is quite a promise, isn’t it? Bruce Lee, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Michigan Tech, is a part of the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Young Investigator Program (YIP) and showed how to use pH to make smart underwater adhesives (similar to mussels’ adhesives). He and Saleh Akram Bhuiyan developed a new method using an electrical current to turn off the adhesion of a catechol-containing material.

For extra coolness the adhesive turns red when it’s shut off.  For ultimate coolness, they can turn it back on.

Homework: Md. Saleh Akram Bhuiyan et al, In Situ Deactivation of Catechol-Containing Adhesive Using Electrochemistry, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2020). DOI: 10.1021/jacs.9b11266

3D Printed Topological Map February 27, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Applications, Awesome, Publishing Tools.
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One of the more retentive members of Silicon Valley 3D Printing Meetup has printed a very complex and beautiful rendering of (some of) the Earth’s topological features in glorious PLA. Thirty-two tiles, ranging in print time for four hours to twenty-two(!) hours for the taller elevations, each “pixel” is 10 KM on a side.

 

New Aussie Fusion Technology February 25, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Science, Star Trek Technology.
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The lateral-thinking Australian fusion start-up HB11 (from the University of New South Wales) patented a unique new fusion technology. Interestingly, this laser-driven technique uses no radioactive fuel(!), and much lower temperatures than “traditional” approaches employed by most fusion researchers involving heating deuterium and tritium fuel up to 15 million C.

I don’t need to tell you that method hasn’t worked yet, do I? Fifty-something years and no joy yet. I wonder why in an industry arguably filled with geniuses or at least Really Smart People that someone hasn’t said, “Hmmm…maybe we should try something new.”

UNSW Emeritus Professor of theoretical physics Heinrich Hora did. His research is being commercialized by HB11, which uses hydrogen-boron fusion wherein two lasers to push  atoms of hydrogen into boron. The lasers use “Chirped Pulse Amplification” technology, which won Gérard Mourou, Arthur Ashkin and Donna Strickland the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics(!).

One laser creates the magnetic containment field for the plasma and the second laser triggers the ‘avalanche’ fusion chain reaction. The alpha particles produced by the reaction would create a positive electrical flow that can be channelled almost directly into the existing power grid with no need for a heat exchanger or steam turbine generator, and no chance of blowing the whole thing to atoms leaving a smoking crater.

The simplicity is pretty compelling…if it works. Time will tell.

 

Artificial Intelligence Finds an Antibiotic February 20, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Science, Star Trek Technology.
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In a news flash from M.I.T. scientists announce the discover of a (potentially) low-toxicity molecule which interferes with bacteriological cell walls’ ability to maintain electrochemical gradients, which are essential to creating ATP, the main energy molecule in, well, everything: the cells would starve. An A.I. was trained on 2,500 molecules and then scanned the Broad Institute’s Drug Repurposing Hub, a library of about 6,000 compounds. The model picked out one molecule that was predicted to have strong antibacterial activity and had a chemical structure different from any existing antibiotics. Using a different machine-learning model, the researchers also showed that this molecule would likely have low toxicity to human cells.

It worked very well in vitro and in mouse models on a bunch of stubborn microbes that are getting to be pretty resistant to everything we have: Clostridium difficileAcinetobacter baumannii, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The drug apparently worked on EVERYTHING they tested, except Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) February 18, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff.
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What happens when you take a slightly-brighter-than-average engineer (Bob) and give him immortality in a starship equipped with extremely advance prototyping machines, then  tell him to set up infrastructure for colonists to follow in a few decades?

In the fertile imagination of Dennis Taylor, Bob takes over guardianship of not only the whole human race but at least two other sentient species, invents FTL communication, planet-movers and nifty full-sense android bodies. It takes  quite a few decades, but Bob has made many, many clones of himself, and they all have all the time in, well, the universe with which to foil the Evil Plans of man, machine and alien.

Well read by Ray Porter with excellent inflection and pacing, all three Bob books skip right along, neatly compressing the decades into digestible chunks and holding a listener’s attention well enough to keep me awake during six-hour drives that end at 2AM…like last night.[0]

The dialogue is interesting, the characters internally consistent and the technology descriptions are pretty darn good. Taylor is very obviously a sci-fi fan and geek, and we should all be glad for this; it lends credibility to his character’s engineering comments and descriptions of space, the choices of star systems (he apparently did some homework) to visit, and the tropes he chooses to infuse with credibility.

In the immortal words of Joe Bob Briggs, check it out.

[0] Goddammit.

Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics February 13, 2020

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by Stan Giblisco is a pretty good solid introduction to the very basics of electronics. An adult could run through a chapter a night while on vacation if his wife doesn’t talk too much (ahem). I’m technically inclined and I read for a living, so maybe that’s too ambitious for most folks? In any case, it’s a good grounding in the basics[0] with tests at various periods[1] to make sure the reading sinks in.

The trouble is, because I was on vacation, I didn’t apply any of the knowledge and so it’s fading fast (in all fairness to me, it was a year-long vacation–not that it took a year; it was only about two weeks, but I didn’t have a workbench to build cool toys on, since I was living in an RV).

What a re-volting[2] development. I’m going ohm.

 

 

[0] See what i did there?

[1] I almost said frequencies but that would be too poor a pun, so I resisted. I am reluctant to subject my readers to puns because of their strong capacity for reactance.

[2] OK, fine! One more.

 

Chrono-synclastic Infundibulum February 12, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words, Photography, Toys.
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IMG_20170721_122016630_HDR.jpg

I texted this picture to my stepdaughter. She wrote back:

“Did it work???”

“Can’t tell; everything is still weird.”

NOTE: it’s funny how you can remember something as strange as “chrono-synclastic infundibulum” and spell it off the top of your head after having read it once in high school, nearly fifty years ago.

View from the back porch February 6, 2020

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Whale Skeleton in the Sahara January 29, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Photography.
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