David Kirkpatrick

June 30, 2009

Percocet and Vicodin staring at ban

Filed under: Business, Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:21 pm

Looks like two favorite painkillers may be off the market soon. This is a tough week for the maker of Vicodin, Abbott Laboratories, since the pharmaceutical company just got hit with a $1.67 billion jury verdict.

From the first link:

A federal advisory panel voted narrowly on Tuesday to recommend a ban on Percocet and Vicodin, two of the most popular prescription painkillers in the world, because of their effects on the liver.The two drugs combine a narcotic with acetaminophen, the ingredient found in popular over-the-counter products like Tylenol and Excedrin. High doses of acetaminophen are a leading cause of liver damage, and the panel noted that patients who take Percocet and Vicodin for long periods often need higher and higher doses to achieve the same effect.

Acetaminophen is combined with different narcotics in at least seven other prescription drugs, and all of these combination pills will be banned if the Food and Drug Administrationheeds the advice of its experts. Vicodin and its generic equivalents alone are prescribed more than 100 million times a year in the United States.

Laureen Cassidy, a spokeswoman for Abbott Laboratories, which makes Vicodin, said, “The F.D.A. will make a final determination and Abbott will follow the agency’s guidance.”

The agency is not required to follow the recommendations of its advisory panels, but it usually does.

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Catch a view of the ISS July 4th weekend

Filed under: et.al., Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:13 pm

This coming weekend is a great opportunity to view the International Space Station from the ground. Think of it as satellite watching on steroids.

The release:

Space Station Appearing Nationwide Over July 4 Weekend

HOUSTON, June 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As America celebrates its 233rd birthday this holiday weekend, there will be an extra light in the sky along with the fireworks. Across the country, Americans will be treated to spectacular views of the International Space Station as it orbits 220 miles above Earth.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

Many locations will have unusually long sighting opportunities of as much as five minutes, weather permitting, as the station flies almost directly overhead.

  To find out when to see the station from your city, visit:

  http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings

The largest spacecraft ever built, the station also is the most reflective. It will be brighter than most stars at dawn and dusk, appearing as a solid, glowing light, slowly traversing the predawn or evening sky. It is visible when lit by the sun while the ground below is not in full daylight. It moves across the sky too fast for conventional telescopes, but a good set of binoculars can enhance the viewing experience, even revealing some detail of the station’s structure.

The station circles Earth every 90 minutes. It is 357 feet long, about the length of a football field including the end zones, and 45 feet tall. Its reflective solar arrays are 240 feet wide, a wingspan greater than that of a jumbo jet, and have a total surface area of more than 38,000 square feet.

An international crew of six astronauts, including American flight engineer Michael Barratt, is aboard the complex conducting research and continuing its assembly. Other crew members are from Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan. For more information about the station, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/station

Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA
   

Web Site:  http://www.nasa.gov/

Improving magnetic memory

Via KurzweilAI.net — It’s going to be very interesting to see where memory and data storage ends up over the next few years. There’s a lot of action across many different types of storage.

I’ve long thought we are heading toward something along the lines of dumb boxes with your personal data, apps, what-have-you containted on some combination of personal storage (think flash thumb drive) and the “cloud.” Right now Google offers a lot of possibilities of running your online life off its storage. At the same time I doublt most enterprise, and many regular users (such as me), are all that comfortable allowing that data to live somewhere else.

Carbon Ring Storage Could Make Magnetic Memory 1,000 Times More Dense
the physics arXiv blog, June 29, 2009

A method of improving storage density by three orders of magnitude using cobalt dimers on hexagonal carbon rings has been developed by researchers at Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research.

 
Read Original Article>>

Franken declared winner

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:05 pm

In a move that should have happened long ago, Al Franken has finally been declared winner of the Minnesota Senate seat up for grabs last year. In carrying on his losing fight for the seat Norm Coleman probably shredded his political future in Minnesota and Governor Tim Pawlenty did likewise.

It has been guessed that Pawlenty was doing some major water carrying for the national GOP to keep an extra Democrat out of the Senate chambers for an extra few months in exchange for remaining a national player. The Franken saga is so ridicoulous, and such a smear on what most Americans consider our democratic process Pawlenty has most likely permanently sullied his political future as well.

From the link:

The unanimous decision was released after a seven-months long battle over the seat formerly held by Norm Coleman.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty had indicated as late as Monday that he was willing to certify Mr. Franken as the winner once the state’s highest court decided the recount and Mr. Coleman’s battle. On CNN on Sunday, Mr. Pawlenty said: “I’m prepared to sign it as soon as they give the green light.”

As long as Mr. Coleman contests this no further, Mr. Franken will become the Democrats’ much coveted 60th vote. That is the number required to avert filibusters, and with both Senators Edward M. Kennedy and Robert C. Byrd absent due to illness, the Democrats have sometimes scrambled to make sure they had lined up enough votes.

June 27, 2009

The no fun league strikes again

Filed under: Business, Sports — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:04 pm

I love pro football. Almost all my sports blogging is on pro football. But — the moniker “no fun league” for NFL is all too fitting. The league is too ready to crack down on players for public relations reasons and far too draconian in its business dealings.

Now the no fun league wants to codify a lower court precedent with a Supreme Court ruling? I doubt the court takes the case and if it does I hope the NFL gets shot down. Sadly the Roberts court — which I had some hope for — might actually take a bullshit case like this.

From the second link:

In the legal equivalent of running up the score, the NFL is going to the U.S. Supreme Court in search of a bigger victory in an antitrust tussle over team merchandise than it already won from a lower court.The Supreme Court could decide as early as Monday whether it will hear the case, which involves American Needle Inc.’s challenge to the league’s exclusive contract for selling headwear such as caps and hats with team logos on them.

American Needle of Buffalo Grove, Ill., also is urging a high court review. Football team owners hope the Supreme Court will issue a broader decision that would insulate the NFL against what they contend are costly, frivolous antitrust lawsuits.

At the heart of the matter is whether the NFL’s teams constitute 32 distinct businesses or a single entity that can act collectively without violating antitrust law.

Update 6/29/09 — The big court is going to hear the case.

From the link:

In taking a case involving the National Football League’s exclusive licensing deal for sports merchandise, the Supreme Court could go beyond caps and give leagues more leeway in areas such as team relocation, legal scholars said Monday.”A broad ruling in favor of the NFL could rewrite almost all of sports antitrust law,” said Gabe Feldman, associate law professor and director of the Sports Law Program at Tulane University in New Orleans.

June 26, 2009

Broadband access news from New America Foundation

Hot from the inbox, here’s a set of links from the New America Foundation on spectrum scarcity (or lack thereof) and broadband access. Lots to ponder from a very useful think tank.

As the FCC begins its year-long process to recommend a National Broadband Plan, one starting point is to unlock publicly-owned spectrum assets that can facilitate ubiquitous, affordable broadband access.  Public policy seems stymied by the myth that spectrum is scarce. In reality, only government permission to access the airwaves (licenses) is scarce – spectrum capacity itself is barely used in most locations and at most times. This underutilized spectrum represents enormous, untapped,capacity for pervasive broadband connectivity.  

  

On Thursday, June 25th, New America’s Wireless Future Program released four new papers outlining several technology and policy reforms to enable dynamic, opportunistic access to these underutilized spectrum resources:

 

The End of Spectrum Scarcity: Building on the TV Bands Database to Access Unused Public Airwaves

By Michael Calabrese, Director, Wireless Future Program

 

This paper recommends that the Obama administration and the FCC make mapping and actively facilitating opportunistic access to unused and underutilized frequency bands a priority as part of any national broadband policy through: 1) A White House-led initiative to conduction an Inventory of the Airwaves that maps how our public spectrum resource is being utilized or underutilized in various bands, by both commercial and government users; 2) build on the TV Bands Database to include frequency bands not being used at particular locations or times;  and, 3) commence a set of inquiries into the technologies, incentives, institutional arrangements and “rules of the road” that can best facilitate a future of more open, intensive and opportunistic sharing of the nation’s spectrum resource.

  

You can read the paper here.

 

Revitalizing the Public Airwaves: Opportunistic Unlicensed Reuse of Government Spectrum

By Victor Pickard and Sascha D. Meinrath, Director, Open Technology Initiative  

 

The paper proposes a “third way” for the airwaves: opportunistic reuse of government spectrum on an open and unlicensed basis.  One-time auctions are no longer the best way to ensure the advancement of new technologies and expanded broadband access for underserved areas. The paper concludes with a series of policy recommendations for implementing opportunistic reuse of government spectrum. By exploring models for spectrum management that take advantage of technological innovations, the paper aims to initiate a policy debate on spectrum reforms with profound implications for the future of communications.  


You can read the paper here.

 

New Approaches to Private Sector Sharing of Federal Government Spectrum  

By Michael J. Marcus, Principal, Marcus Spectrum Solutions LLC 

 

Although the military currently shares radar bands with users of low-power, unlicensed devices, it does so in a overly limited and entirely passive way. Advances in spectrum sharing technologies allow more intensive and efficient sharing of underutilized federal bands with the private sector — and among federal agencies — if only the government would adopt a more affirmative policy and upgrade its technologies and protocols.  Unfortunately, the current federal spectrum management system provides little incentive to allow sharing of existing federal spectrum.    


You can read the paper here.

 

A Potential Alliance for World-Wide Dynamic Spectrum Access: DSA as an Enabler of National Dynamic Spectrum Management

By Preston F. Marshall, Director, Information Sciences Institute, Viterbi School of Engineering, USC and Former Program Manager, DARPA‘s NeXt Generation Communications 

 

The paper describes how Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) technologies can greatly benefit incumbent federal and non-federal spectrum users – and are a win-win for the military in particular. Marshall highlights four erroneous preconceptions about DSA that create unnecessary resistance among spectrum incumbents who could benefit from moving to a more dynamic and networked approach to spectrum access. In particular, while there is tension between the advocates and military authorities in considering sharing spectrum within the United States, there may be mutual interest in obtaining access for DSA devices internationally.  Marshall also urges advocates of dynamic spectrum access to  adopt a more nuanced approach that does not seek to supplant spectrum management nor incumbents.

 

You can read the paper here.

 

The Wireless Future Program also hosted a companion event, with a panel of experts including the above authors, along with Wharton School Professor Kevin Werbach, who co-led the Obama Administration’s FCC Transition review,  and Tom Stroup, CEO of Shared Spectrum Company.

 

You can download audio and video from the event here.

 

 

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New America’s Wireless Future Program develops and advocates policy proposals aimed at achieving universal and affordable wireless broadband access, expanding public access to the airwaves and updating our nation’s communications infrastructure in the digital era. For more information, visit http://www.newamerica.net/programs/wireless_future.

About the New America Foundation
The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.

Bloggers and ethics?

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:25 pm

Who knew.

Here comes the science:

Online ethics and the bloggers’ code revealed

Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC (June 25, 2009) – Whatever their reason for posting their thoughts online, bloggers have a shared ethical code, according to a recent study published in the journal New Media Society, published by SAGE. Key issues in the blogosphere are telling the truth, accountability, minimizing harm and attribution, although the extent to which bloggers follow their own ethical ideals can depend on the context and intended audience.

Creating weblogs (blogs) is often viewed as a form of citizen journalism, open to anyone with Internet access. As it grows in prevalence and influence, communication scholars, news media, governments and bloggers themselves have raised questions about blogging’s ethical implications. Some academics propose that bloggers should follow an ethics code, based on standards journalists follow. But few researchers have examined ethical standards bloggers themselves aspire to, and whether they adhere to their own ethical standards.

Blog tracking site Technorati (www.technorati.com) tracked some 113 million blogs in early 2008, although not all blogs are active or updated frequently. A blog can be a personal journal for family and friends. But many bloggers aspire to reach a wider audience and create non-personal blogs, which cover everything else from commerce or politics to entertainment and technology.

Andy Koh, Alvin Lim and Ng Ee Soon of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore used a web survey of 1224 international bloggers with active, text-based blogs to find out more about bloggers, their ethical ideals and how they put these into practice. Of those surveyed, more than half were male (51%), most were under 30 (65%). Most were well educated, and the majority were from the USA (65%), with no other country accounting for more than eight percent of the participants.

Sharing thoughts and feelings or creating an online diary is the main drive for personal bloggers, who are mainly students (39%) and information technology industry workers (9%). These bloggers often feel they know their readers very well (62%) with many blogging for those they know personally (39%).

Non-personal bloggers are more likely to be male, older, married and better educated. Students (18%) and information technology workers (12%) still make up the largest proportions of this group. The non-personal bloggers’ main reasons for blogging are to make commentary (36%) or provide information (21%). Among their diverse blog topics, government and politics (28%) and news (10%) are most common. Their primary intended audiences tend to be people that they do not know personally (48%), or no particular intended audience (38%). Despite this, almost half still feel they know their readers well.

The researchers identified four underlying ethical principles important to bloggers: truth telling, accountability, minimizing harm and attribution. Truth telling involves honesty, fairness and completeness in reporting. Accountability involves being answerable to the public, bearing the consequences of one’s actions and revealing conflicts of interest, and minimizing harm underlies issues involving privacy, confidentiality, reputational harm, consideration of others’ feelings, and respecting diversity and underprivileged groups. Attribution covers issues such as avoiding plagiarism, honouring intellectual property rights and giving sources proper credit.

The researchers found that personal bloggers valued attribution most, followed by minimizing harm, truth telling and accountability respectively. Non-personal bloggers valued both attribution and truth-telling most, followed by minimizing harm, then accountability. For both groups, attribution was most valued, and accountability least valued. But between these two groups, truth telling was most valued among non-personal bloggers, whereas personal bloggers valued minimizing harm more than non-personal bloggers did.

“This first large-scale survey of blogging ethics revealed no shocking lack of ethics in these areas,” says Koh. But he adds: “Ethics codes may be little more than a set of ideals, unless they have ‘teeth’ in the form of sanctions”.

Attribution was paramount for both groups (non-personal bloggers valued truth-telling as much as attribution). Attribution is vitally important among bloggers for building community. But did they put this into practice? Where the non-personal bloggers were concerned, attribution was practised as frequently as truth-telling and minimizing harm. But despite the importance they placed on attribution, personal bloggers were actually better at minimising harm than at attribution.

Credibility counts. The authors suggest that non-personal bloggers practise truth telling, attribution and minimizing harm with similar frequency because they want their content taken seriously. As in journalism, offering readers sources and providing links makes for more convincing blogging than just telling the ‘truth’ alone.

Accountability was valued and practised least by both groups of bloggers. Some reasons for this may be a belief that bloggers cannot be sued for blog content, or a perception that the social risk of a failed relationship with readers is fairly low compared to a failed face-to-face interaction.

The study also highlights how a personal blog on thoughts and feelings is necessarily more subjective, and so a belief in telling the truth ranks behind attribution and avoiding harm. When your primary audience is more likely to consist of people you know, minimizing harm may be a higher priority than telling the truth.

The present findings revealed no significant difference between personal and non-personal bloggers’ agreement on the need for a blogging ethics. But even a self-imposed bloggers’ ethics code may constrain the free expression championed in much of the blogosphere, or interfere with bloggers’ autonomy to make ethical decisions.

The exceptionally large, diverse and informally linked blogosphere may not be particularly suited to self-regulation. But in reality bloggers profess that they value the principles and adhere to the practices explored in this study. Less ethical bloggers can also expect payback: the blogosphere is more interactive than traditional media, allowing instant and often vigorous feedback to bloggers that violate readers’ standards. This ‘sanction’ on unethical behaviour may replace the need for a formal blogging ethics code.

 

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Doing the right thing online: a survey of bloggers’ ethical beliefs and practices by Mark Cenite, Benjamin H. Detenber, Andy W.K. Koh, Alvin L.H. Lim and Ng Ee Soon is published online today in New Media Society, published by SAGE (2009; 11; 575).

The article will be free to access online for a limited period from http://nms.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/11/4/575

SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students spanning a wide range of subject areas including business, humanities, social sciences, and science, technology and medicine. An independent company, SAGE has principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC. www.sagepublications.com

FDA oversight to kill big tobacco?

I seriously doubt it since big tobacco is not all that displeased about the new heavy taxation and oversight since it figures all the legislative moves will serve to kill off competition in a marketplace artificially altered by government overreach.

Don’t take a drink before reading this release because you might do a spit take and trash a perfectly fine keyboard:

Experts: Big Tobacco dead by 2047, possibly sooner

MADISON – President Barack Obama’s signature on a bill this week to grant the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory authority over tobacco was historic, and represents a step in the march to eliminate tobacco use in this country by 2047, two national tobacco experts said today (June 25).

The pair published “Stealing a March in the 21st Century: Accelerating Progress in the 100-Year War Against Tobacco Addiction in the United States” in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Michael Fiore and Timothy Baker, director and associate director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (UW-CTRI), respectively, chart milestones in beating tobacco addiction and map a battle plan to eradicate tobacco use in the next few decades. The researchers analyzed data from the 1960s, when the first systemic tracking of smoking rates began, until the present.

“Numerous observers have claimed over time that tobacco use has plateaued and progress against its use has stalled,” the authors write. “However, the remarkable decline in rates of tobacco use since the 1960s belies this claim and underscores the remarkable success of tobacco control efforts to date.”

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show adults smoking between 1965 and 2007 dropped by an average of one half of one percentage point per year, from 42 percent to the current rate of about 20 percent rate. While this rate of decline hasn’t occurred each year, the overall decrease has been quite steady.

The two researchers urge a nationwide effort designed to accelerate the rate of decline over the next 50 years through:

  • Substantial increases in federal and state tobacco excise taxes.
  • A national clean-indoor air law.
  • Elimination of nicotine from tobacco products.
  • Funds for an aggressive mass media campaign to counter the tide of tobacco industry ads and sponsorships.
  • A ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • Evidence-based counseling and medication for every smoker who wants to quit.

Protecting young people, particularly those 17 and younger, from starting to smoke. Research shows that a major genetic risk for lifelong nicotine dependence can be suppressed if young people avoid daily smoking prior to age 17.

“The progress made in reducing tobacco use over the last 50 years should in no way temper our commitment to further reductions. Nor should that progress be interpreted to mean tobacco use is less toxic or that tobacco companies are now on the ropes. But, if appropriate steps are taken, a tobacco-free nation can be achieved within a few decades,” Fiore says.

Past success has been born of:

  • Tobacco tax increases.
  • Enactment of clean-indoor air laws.
  • Tobacco industry advertising restrictions.
  • Tobacco product-labeling requirements.
  • Policies that restrict youth access to tobacco products.
  • Mass media campaigns.
  • Increased availability and effectiveness of treatments to help current smokers quit.

In their article, Baker and Fiore called for FDA regulation of tobacco products to spur progress. That bill was signed into law on June 22, along with provisions that would further restrict tobacco industry targeting of kids, strengthen health warnings on tobacco packaging, require disclosure about what’s in tobacco products and ban terms like “light” and “mild” to describe cigarettes.

 

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UW-CTRI is a nationally prominent research center established at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in 1992. The center’s director, Fiore, chaired a panel on behalf of the U.S. Public Health Service to write three successive editions of treatment standards on treating tobacco use and dependence, and chaired the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Subcommittee on Tobacco Cessation of the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health that produced a comprehensive plan for promoting tobacco cessation in the United States. Visit http://www.ctri.wisc.edu for more information.

Cato on Iran’s green wave and Obama’s response

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:02 pm

The libertarian Cato Institute voices approval of Obama’s measured handling of the green wave revolution going on in Iran right now. The United States hand in this process must be very delicate. The despotic leadership in Iran would like nothing more than to blame “the great satan” America for the popular uprising (indeed they are attempting to do so daily along with trying to pin blame on the British as well).

The green wave is about the Iranian people becoming tired of the cheap and false lip service given to democracy by ruling mullahs. The stolen election ripped that falsehood away and exposed the existing Islamacist leadership as little more than cheap frightened thugs.

From today’s weekly dispatch:

Obama’s Cool Response to Iranian Politics Appropriate  
  As the voices of protest to the Iranian election grow louder, many have called upon President Obama to use bolder rhetoric when speaking about the elections in Iran. Last week, Charles Krauthammer and Paul Wolfowitz opined in The Washington Postthat Obama’s reaction has not been nearly enough. Cato foreign policy expert Christopher Preble disagrees, saying that Obama’s calculated reaction is appropriate:

The louder the neocons become in their braying for a free and fair counting of the election results, the less likely it is to occur. In their more candid moments, a few are willing to admit that they would prefer Ahmadinejad to Mousavi.

…It is possible to view President Obama as a more credible messenger, given that he opposed the Iraq war from the outset and has shown a willingness to reach out to the Iranian people. Perhaps a full-throated, morally self-righteous, public address in support of Mousavi’s supporters might have tipped the scales in the right direction.

It seems more likely, however, that Obama’s patient, measured public response to recent events is well suited to the circumstances. As the president said earlier this week, Americans are right to feel sympathy for the Iranian protesters, and we should all be free to voice our sentiments openly. But it is incumbent upon policymakers to pursue strategies that don’t backfire, or whose unintended consequences don’t dwarf the gains that we are trying to achieve. In many cases, the quiet, private back channel works well. And if we discover that there is no credible back channel to Iran available, similar to those employed in 1986 and 1991, then we’ll all know whom to blame.

Cato scholar Justin Logan says that the U.S. government should stay silent on Iran:

President Obama should keep quiet on the subject of Iran’s elections. At least two pernicious tendencies are on display in the Beltway discussion on the topic. First is the common Washington impulse to “do something!” without laying out clear objectives and tactics. What, after all, is President Obama or his administration supposed to do to “support protesters” in Iran in the first place? What would be the ultimate goal of such support? Most importantly, what is the mechanism by which the support is supposed to produce the desired outcome? That we are debating how America should intervene in Iran’s domestic politics indicates the sheer grandiosity of American foreign policy thought.

Nanotech v. medical implant infection

Nanotechnology is proving to have many very useful medical applications.

The release from today:

Implant bacteria, beware: Researchers create nano-sized assassins

IMAGE: Erik Taylor is a graduate student in engineering at Brown University.

Click here for more information. 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Staphylococcus epidermidis is quite an opportunist. Commonly found on human skin, the bacteria pose little danger. But S. epidermidis is a leading cause of infections in hospitals. From catheters to prosthetics, the bacteria are known to hitch a ride on a range of medical devices implanted into patients.

Inside the body, the bacteria multiply on the implant’s surface and then build a slimy, protective film to shield the colony from antibiotics. According to a study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, up to 2.5 percent of hip and knee implants alone in the United States become infected, affecting thousands of patients, sometimes fatally.

More ominously, there is no effective antidote for infected implants. The only way to get rid of the bacteria is to remove the implant. “There is no [easy] solution,” said Thomas Webster, a biomedical engineer at Brown University.

IMAGE: Thomas Webster is an associate professor in engineering and orthopedics at Brown University.

Click here for more information. 

Now, Webster and Brown graduate student Erik Taylor have created a nano-sized headhunter that zeroes in on the implant, penetrates S. epidermidis‘s defensive wall and kills the bacteria. The finding, published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine, is the first time iron-oxide nanoparticles have been shown to eliminate a bacterial infection on an implanted prosthetic device.

In lab tests, Taylor, the lead author, and Webster, associate professor of engineering and orthopaedics, noted that up to 28 percent of the bacteria on an implant had been eliminated after 48 hours by injecting 10 micrograms of the nanoparticle agents. The same dosage repeated three times over six days destroyed essentially all the bacteria, the experiments showed.

The tests show “there will be a continual killing of the bacteria until the film is gone,” said Webster, who is editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed journal in which the paper appears.

A surprising added benefit, the scientists learned, is the nanoparticles’ magnetic properties appear to promote natural bone cell growth on the implant’s surface, although this observation needs to be tested further.

IMAGE: Iron-oxide nanoparticles developed at Brown University target an infected prosthesis, penetrate a bacterial film on the implant’s surface and thwart the colony by killing the bacteria. The nanoparticles also are…

Click here for more information. 

To carry out the study, the researchers created iron-oxide particles (they call them “superparamagnetic”) with an average diameter of eight nanometers. They chose iron oxide because the metallic properties mean the particles can be guided by a magnetic field to the implant, while its journey can be tracked using a simple magnetic technique, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Moreover, previous experiments showed that iron seemed to cause S. epidermidis to die, although researchers are unsure why. (Webster said it may be due to iron overload in the bacteria’s cell.)

Once the nanoparticles arrive at the implant, they begin to penetrate the bacterial shield. The researchers are studying why this happens, but they believe it’s due to magnetic horsepower. In the tests, the researchers positioned a magnet below the implant, producing a strong enough field to force the nanoparticles above to filter through the film and proceed to the implant, Webster explained.

The particles then penetrate the bacterial cells because of their super-small size. A micron-sized particle, a thousand times larger than a nanoparticle, would be too large to penetrate the bacterial cell wall.

 

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The researchers plan to test the iron-oxide nanoparticles on other bacteria and then move on to evaluating the results on implants in animals. The research was funded by the private Hermann Foundation Inc. In addition, Taylor’s tuition and stipend are funded through the National Science Foundation GK-12 program.

What comes after enterprise 2.0?

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:45 am

A CIO.com interview with Andrew McAfee, coiner of the term enterprise 2.0, on the next step in integrating web 2.0 into the enterprise.

From the link:

As people learned it was more efficient, for example, to put shared information into a wiki rather than e-mailing a Word document around to 50 people, the term Enterprise 2.0 was born. Coined by Andrew McAfee, an associate professor of technology and operations management at Harvard Business School, Enterprise 2.0 has yielded a whole industry of start-up and incumbent vendors that sell social software.

As that market meets this week for the annual Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, CIO.com’s C.G. Lynch caught up with McAfee, who recently authored a book on the topic. McAfee gives his take on how enterprises have done at adopting Web 2.0 technologies in the past year, and how the vendor landscape for selling social software to businesses has evolved.

Lithium air batteries

Via KurzweilAI.net — These just sound amazing. I’ll leave it at that.

Waterproof Lithium-Air Batteries
Technology Review, June 26, 2009

Lightweight, high-energy batteries that can use the surrounding air as a cathode are being developed by PolyPlus.

 
Read Original Article>>

News on the stimulus

This is one of those bonus two posts in one.

Up first is an update on the stimulus job guidelines, something the states have been waiting for from the Fed. Sounds like the method for counting jobs created by the stimulus program is a bit fast and loose.

From the link:

From the minute President Obama declared that the $787 billion federal economic stimulus package would save or create 3.5 million jobs, state officials have been confused about how to count those jobs.

Now, four months later, the White House has offered states guidance. The advice includes a description of the programs subject to the job-reporting requirements.

“All we’re asking them (states) to do is a simple headcount,” Rob Nabors, deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told the Wall Street Journal.

In other words, he said, recipients of federal stimulus dollars should use their best guess as to whether a job would have been saved or created if the stimulus plan had not been approved.

Some critics say such leeway could lead to contractors and state officials inflating the job numbers, or undercounting.  They also worry that employers, in reporting to states the number of jobs generated or saved, will not be diligent about including subcontractors.

“It also seems that OMB is not imposing strict rules on how employers measure the number of jobs retained as a result of stimulus funding and is willing to let them lump together jobs created and jobs retained,” said  Good Jobs First, a national jobs policy resource center in Washington, D.C.

Next up is a little analysis on why the stimulus isn’t doing all that much stimulating from Bruce Bartlett.

From the link:

For a program to be stimulative, it must bring forth economic activity that otherwise would not have taken place. The classic example is public works. When a new road or bridge is built, construction companies have to purchase concrete, steel and other materials that create business for other companies. They also employ workers that otherwise would not be working, paying them wages that they will spend, producing jobs and incomes for other workers.

If this works the way it is supposed to, stimulus spending has a multiplier effect throughout the economy. A Council of Economic Advisers study estimated that government purchases of goods and services raise the gross domestic product by $1.57 for every $1 spent. By contrast, tax credits and income transfers are much less stimulative, raising GDP by considerably less than $1 for every $1 rise in the deficit.

Since 60% of the stimulus package had a multiplier effect of less than one, only 40% of the package went to programs like public works that have a high multiplier. Moreover, the programs with a low multiplier were the fastest ones to implement; those with a high multiplier take much more time to come online. According to Elmendorf, by the end of fiscal year 2009, which ends on Sept. 30, about a third of the least stimulative spending will have been spent vs. only 11% of the highly stimulative spending.

June 25, 2009

Booz Allen Hamilton unveils roadmap to corporate web 2.0 success

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:47 pm

A lot of companies are spending a lot of time trying to sort out web 2.0 and web 3.0 and how social networking technology will fit into corporate culture, and improve business at the same time.

Looks like consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton may have stumbled into at least one working solution.

From the link:

If large companies are looking for evidence that a social networking strategy can work, Booz Allen Hamilton may have given them some.

BAH showcased its Hello application — in essence an enterprise version of Facebook — during a presentation at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston Tuesday.

The portal, which incorporates blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds, personal profiles and other familiar social networking tools, was launched in August 2008.

Click here to find out more! While the technologies themselves may not be anything new, Hello’s rate of internal adoption suggests enterprise social networking can indeed become the pervasive force pundits and vendors have long proclaimed it will be.Since the launch, more than 40 percent of BAH’s roughly 20,000 workers have added content to Hello, and the portal contains about 350 subcommunities devoted to various topics, even though participation is voluntary, BAH senior associate Walton Smith said. “We’re excited we’re growing that fast and there’s no mandate.”

June 20, 2009

Revolution and politics

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:20 pm

I can’t shake the feeling that if the events in Iran were occurring under a United States led by the current GOP brand there would be immediate political spin how Republican foreign policy and pressure created the green wave revolution.

It’s a fair guess that the U.S. has almost nothing to do with what’s happening in Iran right now. There’s also a certain amount of evidence Obama’s new year’s address to the Iranian people and his Cairo speech did resonate among the people of Iran, and I’m pleased this administration is taking a very cautious and humble approach to what is playing out right now in the bloody streets of Tehran and other cities.

I also fully expect the Democrats to eventually make political hay out of the green wave if it were to overturn the current despotic Irani regime and look for, and probably get, some foreign policy and security bona fides.

The Irani people have suffered long enough suffering under what I’ve seen characterized (probably correctly) as a “Fascist Islamic Mafia” and deserve our support. They don’t need, and thankfully so far are not getting, our politics.

Live green wave coverage from the Daily Dish

Andrew Sullivan is doing an exhaustive (and exhausting even for me just to attempt to keep up with it all) job of live blogging the green wave in Iran and now today’s crackdown from the despotic ruling regime.

He’s continually adding tweets from inside Iran, embedding video and providing fresh images of the protests and state-issued violence against a democracy seeking population.

Hit the Daily Dish link in my blogroll for his latest posts, and this link goes to “Live-Blogging Day 8.”

From the link:

2.58 pm. good source: Hospital close to the scene in Tehran: 30-40 dead thus far as of 11pm and 200 injured. Police taking names of incoming injured.

Voice from Iran: Shame on a country in which foreign embassies are safer than hospitals 😦

Gunfire Is Hearing From Near Resalat SQ. (East Teharan)

Bloody-woman

2.47 pm. New footage of fighting in the streets. And another protester is shot.

2.31 pm. Canadians, call your foreign office. It’s confirmed Canadian Embassy rejects injured protesters

Australian Embassy reportedly accepting injured

My Friend Wounded At Haft Hooz SQ, No Clinic Is Open!

June 19, 2009

Iran-I-am, a green wave comic

Filed under: Arts, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:07 pm

This is a great comic from the Atlanic Online’s Sage Stossel:

Iran-I-am by Sage Stossel

Iran-I-am by Sage Stossel

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

 

Cloud computing and accounting

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:04 pm

Now there’s a header I didn’t expect to be typing anytime soon. A coupling of one of the buzziest of tech buzzwords going and bean counting. Who knows, maybe the two go together like butter and toast. It’s going to be interesting to watch and see how much of cloud computing is just a lot of hot (and in this case opaque) air, and how much turns into real world applications. For the record, I’m not certain some of the actual applications cited in this article truly relate to current concept of cloud computing.

From the link:

Cloud-based computing is an extension of SaaS. Rather than hosting the client and their data on a specific fixed server, the application provider often has multiple servers in multiple locations, and a user can be actually operating on different computers every time they call.

According to Dr. Chandra Bhansali, chief executive of Hauppauge, N.Y.-based AccountantsWorld, one of the earliest providers of Web-based accountant-oriented applications, “This is the time where accountants are starting to see the promise of cloud computing. The most important benefit the Internet brings is collaboration. There is no other profession where the client works so closely with the service provider.”

A FIT FOR SMALL BIZ

The burgeoning remote trend has become especially appealing to small businesses that often lack the IT resources of their larger counterparts.

For Penny Banker-Mertz, EA, proprietor of Penny Banker Tax & Financial in Bay City, Texas, being able to work remotely, and with clients that also sometimes need the same remote capability, is a big plus. She uses AccountantsWorld’s Accounting Relief product. “I can review accounting from anywhere I have a high-speed connection. I don’t have to be tied to my office. Some of my clients who are also self-employed like this feature as well.”

Collecta, the latest in real-time search

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:52 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net— Twitter has made the idea of real-time search a very hot topic. Collecta is the most recent entry in this web search specialty area. I haven’t tried it yet, but search in general is becoming a very crowded field once again with Microsoft rebranding its search as Bing, Wolfram|Alpha and the rest of the usual suspects.

Google actually already does a pretty good job with real-time searching of blogs and news aggregators. I’m betting we’ll see some type of “real-time” search function that’s highly tied into the back end of Twitter at Google sometime soon. And there the monetization of Twitter will be off to the races.

Collecta Launches *Really* Real-Time Search Engine
BusinessWeek, June 18, 2009

Collecta draws informationstreams from blogs using WordPress, news services, social aggregation sites, Flickr, and Twitter to provide what it claims is the first truly real-time search engine.

 

Keywords: search engines
Read Original Article>>

Khamenei lays down gauntlet

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:59 am

In today’s speech Khamenei seems to have drawn a line in the sand. The question for the thuggish Irani regime is it too little too late. He’s threatened violence on the green protesters if demonstrations continue, but the existing government has been exposed for what it is — a despotic ruling class with no respect for even the nominal democracy previously offered the Irani people.

The next few days will be very interesting. The future of Iran is at stake. Hopefully, as outside observers, we don’t witness a brutal crack-down of the Irani spirit. Khamenei seems to have promised as much. No matter the outcome Iran has fundamentally changed and I don’t see how Ahmadinejad could ever be seen as the legitimate president of the nation if he somehow remains in power.

From the link:

In his first public response to days of mass protests, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sternly warned opposition supporters on Friday to stay off the streets and raised the prospect of violence if the defiant, vast demonstrations continued.

Opposition leaders, he said, will be “responsible for bloodshed and chaos” if they do not stop further rallies.

He said he would never give in to “illegal pressures” and denied their accusations that last week’s presidential election was rigged, praising the officially declared landslide for the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as an “epic moment that became a historic moment.”

June 18, 2009

NASA’s heading back to the moon

A release hot from the inbox:

NASA Returning to the Moon With First Lunar Launch In A Decade

GREENBELT, Md., June 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launched at 5:32 p.m. EDT Thursday aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellite will relay more information about the lunar environment than any other previous mission to the moon.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

The orbiter, known as LRO, separated from the Atlas V rocket carrying it and a companion mission, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and immediately began powering up the components necessary to control the spacecraft. The flight operations team established communication with LRO and commanded the successful deployment of the solar array at 7:40 p.m. The operations team continues to check out the spacecraft subsystems and prepare for the first mid-course correction maneuver. NASA scientists expect to establish communications with LCROSS about four hours after launch, at approximately 9:30 p.m.

“This is a very important day for NASA,” said Doug Cooke, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington, which designed and developed both the LRO and LCROSS missions. “We look forward to an extraordinary period of discovery at the moon and the information LRO will give us for future exploration missions.”

The spacecraft will be placed in low polar orbit about 31 miles, or 50 kilometers, above the moon for a one year primary mission. LRO’s instruments will help scientists compile high resolution three-dimensional maps of the lunar surface and also survey it at many spectral wavelengths. The satellite will explore the moon’s deepest craters, exploring permanently sunlit and shadowed regions, and provide understanding of the effects of lunar radiation on humans.

“Our job is to perform reconnaissance of the moon’s surface using a suite of seven powerful instruments,” said Craig Tooley, LRO project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “NASA will use the data LRO collects to design the vehicles and systems for returning humans to the moon and selecting the landing sites that will be their destinations.”

High resolution imagery from LRO’s camera will help identify landing sites for future explorers and characterize the moon’s topography and composition. The hydrogen concentrations at the moon’s poles will be mapped in detail, pinpointing the locations of possible water ice. A miniaturized radar system will image the poles and test communication capabilities.

“During the 60 day commissioning period, we will turn on spacecraft components and science instruments,” explained Cathy Peddie, LRO deputy project manager at Goddard. “All instruments will be turned on within two weeks of launch, and we should start seeing the moon in new and greater detail within the next month.”

“We learned much about the moon from the Apollo program, but now it is time to return to the moon for intensive study, and we will do just that with LRO,” said Richard Vondrak, LRO project scientist at Goddard.

All LRO initial data sets will be deposited in the Planetary Data System, a publicly accessible repository of planetary science information, within six months of launch.

Goddard built and manages LRO. LRO is a NASA mission with international participation from the Institute for Space Research in Moscow. Russia provides the neutron detector aboard the spacecraft.

The LRO mission is providing updates via @LRO_NASA on Twitter. To follow, visit:

http://www.twitter.com/lro_nasa

  For more information about the LRO mission, visit:

  http://www.nasa.gov/lro

Hope springs eternal

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:23 pm

In an informal web search poll of no import — or is it? — by CIO.com blogger Gary Beach finds either a lot of positive attitude on economic conditions out there, or maybe just a lot of people searching (see what I did there?) for something economically positive to hang on to for a while.

From the link:

Here’s what I found in returns from my search

Economic hope (99,800,000 returns), economic recovery (34,400,000), economic despair (311,000) and economic pessimism (1,350,000). 

What does this mean to your business? Probably not much. But you might want to share the search results with your staff and management to brighten their day and get the team focused on the coming upside!

SBA’s America’s Recovery Capital loans

This Small Business Administration program looks like a boon for Main Street (remember way back when small to mid-sized business was called “Main Street?” Oh yeah, that was just a few months ago … ) as long as banks decide to play nice.

I understand banking’s fear of becoming over leveraged, and the pressures being put on banks by regulators to keep adequate cash reserves. At the same time the stimulus money was injected into the market to, you know, stimulate. Cash on bank balance sheets is stimulating nothing other than possibly some bank managers’ pants.

The program is there, the cash is there so here’s some advice to the banking world — get with it and start stimulating.

From the link:

Struggling small business owners can begin applying next week for an interest-free debt-relief loan through a new Small Business Administration program — if, that is, they can find a bank to process their application.The new “America’s Recovery Capital” (ARC) loan program, authorized by February’s stimulus bill and slated to launch on June 15 after four months of planning, aims to make small, government-backed loans available to viable companies laid low by the recession. (For full details on ARC eligibility and loan terms, click here.) But the loans will be made and managed by SBA lenders, and so far, few have jumped on board.

Before the details of the program were released on Monday, lenders were hesitant to commit, concerned that there wasn’t enough economic incentive for them. Now, with key details about how the program will work finally available from the SBA, many haven’t retreated from their initial wariness.

“While we have received a few requests from our customers, we are still leaning against it,” says John Handmaker, president of Quadrant Financial, a small business lender based in Louisville. “The guidance from the SBA indicated rates and terms, which have provided some clarity, but we’re not 100% certain about what we need to be careful of. We don’t feel we have a solid grasp of the standard operating procedures and rules, and we’re not going to jump in until we really understand it.”

Technology and the Green Revolution

Filed under: Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:29 pm

Technology is playing a huge role in the fight against the coup in Iran. Twitter has especially been a great boon to the Iranians fighting against a corrupt leadership. This is a story that is still very much playing out with no potential end result showing itself with clarity. One thing is certain — Iran 2009 will go down as the first true information age revolution in terms of technology driving getting information to both internal protesters and the outside world.

Here’s a breakdown from CIO.com on some of the relevant tech. Mentioned include Twitter, Facebook, proxies, DDOS, YouTube and Flickr.

From the link:

As political tensions increase in Iran, online communities are ramping up their opposition efforts. The Iranian government continues to restrict access to the Web, but many opposition supporters are still able to share news and information online. In response to the publicity around opposition protests, Iran has reportedly begun the process of restricting the movements of foreign journalists. But when any Iranian citizen carrying a cell phone or camera can become an instant journalist, how important is Iran’s crackdown on foreign media?

Six Flags going green

Filed under: Business, et.al. — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:04 pm

The company may be in bankruptcy court after filing Chapter 11 over the weekend, but it’s taking on new environmentally-friendly policies. 

The release (smoke screen?) from today:

SIX FLAGS LAUNCHES GREEN INITIATIVE

World’s Largest Theme Park Company Committed to Protecting the Environment

NEW YORK, June 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Six Flags, Inc., (OTC Bulletin Board: SIXF) announced today a company-wide green initiative to reduce electricity, fuel use and waste while helping to protect the watersheds and ecosystems across theme park and water park locations.

Already undertaking several innovative efforts to improve the energy performance of park operations, Six Flags is embarking on a groundbreaking pilot program at four parks.  All vehicles and trains that operate on diesel fuel will instead be powered by used vegetable oil generated in Six Flags kitchens.  Additional proactive savings in energy consumption will be achieved through the use of LED lamps and lights throughout each park resulting in reduced indirect green house gas emissions from electricity consumption.

“Six Flags is taking aggressive steps to help protect and preserve the environment for future generations,” said Mark Shapiro, Six Flags President and CEO.  “These programs will help safeguard the planet and create lasting partnerships with the communities where we live and work.”

Six Flags is also committed to dramatic recycling and waste handling.  Collaborating with corporate partner, Coca-Cola, over 3,000 recycle bins have already been placed in all Six Flags parks.

“We envision a world where our packaging is not seen as trash, but as a valuable resource that can be re-used to produce a number of products, from new beverage containers to shirts and bags,” said John Burgess, President and CEO, Coca-Cola Recycling.  “This extensive recycling program is a great way for Six Flags guests and Team Members to help support the environment.”

  Other initiatives include:
  —  The installation of low-flow, high efficiency water fixtures
      throughout the parks
  —  The purchase of fuel efficient vehicles to replace older models
  —  The use of water saving plants and groundcover at all parks
  —  Paper recycling programs at all parks

In addition, Six Flags is launching a comprehensive review of a new solar energy strategy.  By using existing available land surrounding a number of parks, Six Flags would be able to create solar panel farms to supply the parks with clean energy and reduce the amount of electricity purchased.

About Six Flags:

Six Flags, Inc. is a publicly-traded corporation  (BULLETIN BOARD: SIXF)  headquartered in New York City and is the world’s largest regional theme park company with 20 parks across the United States, Mexico and Canada.

SIX FLAGS and all related indicia are trademarks of Six Flags Theme Parks Inc. (R), TM and (C) 2009.

Source: Six Flags, Inc.
   Web Site:  http://www.sixflags.com/

Supreme Court fails DNA testing case

Filed under: et.al. — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:50 pm

In a 5-4 decision (take a guess at the line-up on both sides of that vote), the Supreme Court ruled convicted prisoners do not have the right to DNA testing to attempt to prove their innocence. The majority cited the fact 46 states already allow for DNA testing post-conviction as reason that ability should remain with the states.

If these contentious 5-4 ruling keep happening with the same five siding for the power of statism and corporate interests over individual liberty I’m guessing the Roberts court will be seen as phenomenally regressive.

Many of the current court’s decisions run against popular sentiment and even against the stated judicial views of those deciding in the majority. There is a very real sense of situational justice at play, and that is not the role of the Supreme Court.

From the link:

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a dissent expressing his dismay that the majority had chosen to approve of Alaska’s denial of the evidence sought by the defendant. “The DNA test Osborne seeks is a simple one, its cost modest, and its results uniquely precise,” Justice Stevens said.

Since 1992, 238 people in the United States, some who were sitting on death row, have been exonerated of crimes through DNA testing. In many of those cases, the DNA testing used to clear them was not available at the time of the crime.

But several aspects of the Osborne case did not make the defendant a sympathetic one, so perhaps his case was not the ideal vehicle for those hoping that the nation’s highest court would find a constitutional right to “post-conviction” DNA testing — that is, after the normal appeals have been exhausted.

Here’s Reason mag’s Radley Balko on the case:

Representing the convicted man, the Innocence Project argued that a right to access a simple test that could establish actual innocence would be covered by the Constitution’s due process clause.

I wrote about the case, District Attorney’s Office for the Third Judicial District v. Osborne, for The Daily Beast last March.

Update: via @radleybalko, head below the fold for the Innocence Project’s reaction. (more…)

Cheaper OLEDs

I haven’t had an opportunity to blog about OLEDs in a while, but this looks like a real cost breakthrough. OLEDs have the potential to revolutionize lighting and display technology.

From the link:

Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are steadily making their way into commercial devices like cell phones and flat-screen displays. They’re fabricated with layers of organic polymers, which make them flexible, and they use less power and less expensive materials than liquid crystal displays.

The downside is that because the polymers react easily with oxygen and water, OLEDs are expensive to produce–they have to be created in high-vacuum chambers–and they need extra protective packaging layers to make sure that once they’re integrated into display devices, they don’t degrade when exposed to air or moisture.

MIT chemical-engineering professor Karen Gleason and MIT postdoc Sreeram Vaddiraju have developed a process that aims to solve the problems of high fabrication costs and instability for OLEDs while still maintaining their flexibility. Gleason’s solution is a hybrid light-emitting diode, or HLED. The device would incorporate both organic and inorganic layers, combining the flexibility of an OLED with the stability of an inorganic light-emitting material. “The idea is to have a mixed bag and capture the qualities that allow inexpensive fabrication and stability,” Gleason says.

Turning Buckyballs into Buckywires

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:29 am

Buckyballs are a nanotech that seems to be rarely discussed these days with all the breakthroughs in other areas. Scientists at the University of Cambridge have found a way to turn Buckyballs into Buckywires through polymerization. This steps adds to the utility of Buckyballs considerably. Buckywires should be better than carbon nanotubes in price and possibly performance.

From the link:

The trick that Geng and co have found is a way to connect two buckyballs together using a molecule of 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene–a colorless aromatic hydrocarbon. Repeat that and you’ve got a way to connect any number of buckyballs. And to prove it, the researchers have created and studied these buckywires in their lab, saying that the wires are highly stable.

Buckywires ought to be handy for all kinds of biological, electrical, optical, and magnetic applications. The gist of the paper is that anything that traditional carbon nanotubes can do, buckywires can do better. Or at least more cheaply.

The exciting thing about this breakthrough is the potential to grow buckywires on an industrial scale from buckyballs dissolved in a vat of bubbling oil. Since the buckywires are insoluble, they precipitate out, forming crystals. (Here it ought to be said that various other groups are said to have made buckywires of one kind or another, but none seem to have nailed it from an industrial perspective.)

June 17, 2009

Nonstick nanogold

Cool and useful — “teflon” gold.

The release:

Nonstick and laser-safe gold aids laser trapping of biomolecules

IMAGE: The gold posts in this colorized micrograph, averaging 450 nanometers in diameter, are used to anchor individual biomolecules such as DNA for studies of their mechanical properties. The background surface…

Click here for more information. 

Biophysicists long for an ideal material—something more structured and less sticky than a standard glass surface—to anchor and position individual biomolecules. Gold is an alluring possibility, with its simple chemistry and the ease with which it can be patterned. Unfortunately, gold also tends to be sticky and can be melted by lasers. Now, biophysicists at JILA have made gold more precious than ever—at least as a research tool—by creating nonstick gold surfaces and laser-safe gold nanoposts, a potential boon to laser trapping of biomolecules.

JILA is a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

JILA’s successful use of gold in optical-trapping experiments, reported in Nano Letters,* could lead to a 10-fold increase in numbers of single molecules studied in certain assays, from roughly five to 50 per day, according to group leader Tom Perkins of NIST. The ability to carry out more experiments with greater precision will lead to new insights, such as uncovering diversity in seemingly identical molecules, and enhance NIST’s ability to carry out mission work, such as reproducing and verifying piconewton-scale force measurements using DNA, Perkins says. (A one-kilogram mass on the Earth’s surface exerts a force of roughly 10 newtons. A piconewton is 0.000 000 000 001 newtons. See “JILA Finds Flaw in Model Describing DNA Elasticity” NIST Tech Beat, Sept. 13, 2007.)

Perkins and other biophysicists use laser beams to precisely manipulate, track and measure molecules like DNA, which typically have one end bonded to a surface and the other end attached to a micron-sized bead that acts as a “handle” for the laser. Until now, creating the platform for such experiments has generally involved nonspecifically absorbing fragile molecules onto a sticky glass surface, producing random spacing and sometimes destroying biological activity. “It’s like dropping a car onto a road from 100 feet up and hoping it will land tires down. If the molecule lands in the wrong orientation, it won’t be active or, worse, it will only partially work,” Perkins says.

Ideally, scientists want to attach biomolecules in an optimal pattern on an otherwise nonstick surface. Gold posts are easy to lay down in desired patterns at the nanometer scale. Perkins’ group attached the DNA to the gold with sulfur-based chemical units called thiols (widely used in nanotechnology), an approach that is mechanically stronger than the protein-based bonding techniques typically used in biology. The JILA scientists used six thiol bonds instead of just one between the DNA and the gold posts. These bonds were mechanically strong enough to withstand high-force laser trapping and chemically robust enough to allow the JILA team to coat the unreacted gold on each nanopost with a polymer cushion, which eliminated undesired sticking. “Now you can anchor DNA to gold and keep the rest of the gold very nonstick,” Perkins says.

Moreover, the gold nanoposts were small enough—with diameters of 100 to 500 nanometers and a height of 20 nanometers—that the scientists could avoid hitting the posts directly with lasers. “Like oil and water, traditionally laser tweezers and gold don’t mix. By making very small islands of gold, we positioned individual molecules where we wanted them, and with a mechanical strength that enables more precise and additional types of studies,” Perkins says.

 ###

 The research was supported by a W.M. Keck Grant in the RNA Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and NIST.

* D.H. Paik, Y. Seol, W. Halsey and T.T. Perkins. Integrating a high-force optical trap with gold nanoposts and a robust gold-DNA bond. Nano Letters. Articles ASAP (As Soon As Publishable) Publication Date (Web): June 3, 2009 DOI: 10.1021/nl901404s.

Shape of cobalt nanoparticles affects behavior

Interesting nanotech news from the NIST.

The release:

Shape matters in the case of cobalt nanoparticles

IMAGE: These cubes of cobalt (left/top), measuring about 50 nanometers wide, are showing scientists that, on the nanoscale, a change in shape is a change in property. Unlike smaller spherical cobalt…

Click here for more information. 

Shape is turning out to be a particularly important feature of some commercially important nanoparticles—but in subtle ways. New studies* by scientists at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) show that changing the shape of cobalt nanoparticles from spherical to cubic can fundamentally change their behavior.

Building on a previous paper** that examined the properties of cobalt formed into spheres just a few nanometers in diameter, the new work explores what happens when the cobalt is synthesized instead as nanocubes. Nanoparticles of cobalt possess large magnetic moments—a measure of magnetic strength—and unique catalytic properties, and have potential applications in information storage, energy and medicine.

One striking difference is the behavior of the two different particle types when external magnetic fields are applied and then removed. In the absence of a magnetic field, both the spherical and cubic nanoparticles spontaneously form chains—lining up as a string of microscopic magnets. Then, when placed in an external magnetic field, the individual chains bundle together in parallel lines to form thick columns aligned with the field. These induced columns, says NIST physicist Angela Hight Walker, imply that the external magnetic fields have a strong impact on the magnetic behavior of both nanoparticle shapes.

But their group interactions are somewhat different. As the strength of the external field is gradually reduced to zero, the magnetization of the spherical nanoparticles in the columns also decreases gradually. On the other hand, the magnetization of the cubic particles in the columns decreases in a much slower fashion until the particles rearrange their magnetic moments from linear chains into small circular groups, resulting in a sudden drop in their magnetization.

The team also showed that the cubes can be altered merely by observing with one of nanotechnology’s microscopes of choice. After a few minutes’ exposure to the illuminating beam of a transmission electron microscope, the nanocubes melt together, forming “nanowires” that are no longer separable as individual nanoparticles. The effect, not observed with the spheres, is surprising because the cubes average 50 nm across, much larger than the spheres’ 10 nm diameters. “You might expect the smaller objects to have a lower melting point,” Hight Walker says. “However, the sharp edges and corners in the nanocubes could be the locations to initiate melting.”

While Walker says that the melting effect could be a potential method for fabricating nanostructures, it also demands further attention. “This newfound effect demonstrates the need to characterize the physico-chemical properties of nanoparticles extremely well in order to pursue their applications in biology and medicine,” she says.

 ###

 * G. Cheng, R.D. Shull and A.R. Hight Walker. Dipolar chains formed by chemically synthesized cobalt nanocubes. Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, May 11, 2009, Vol. 321, issue 10, pp. 1351—1355.

** G. Cheng, D. Romero, G.T. Fraser and A.R. Hight Walker. Magnetic-field-induced assemblies of cobalt nanoparticles. Langmuir, December 2005. See Oct. 20, 2007, Tech Beat article, “Magnetic Nanoparticles Assembled into Long Chains”.

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