Thursday, April 16, 2009

Salmonella Vaccine Coming?

According to MSNBC, thanks to experiments on the International Space Station:

A series of experiments conducted aboard the International Space Station may soon lead to a vaccine against food poisoning from salmonella bacteria.

Researchers are analyzing a batch of the bacteria brought back by the shuttle Discovery crew last month. Earlier studies showed salmonella can become more virulent in weightlessness; further investigations proved its virulence can be controlled, toggled on and off like a switch.

Now two groups are working to develop compounds for a salmonella vaccine, said space station program scientist Julie Robinson.

The article goes on to point out:

The salmonella investigations are the most mature of dozens of experiments that have been conducted aboard the space station, which so far has led to 162 publications in science research journals, Robinson said.

In case you were wondering what the space station was good for.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Amazon Kindle

About a month ago, for my birthday, my wife gave me an Amazon Kindle.

Its magical qualities were apparent almost immdediately, and after having used it on a daily basis ever since, I am now convinced that it is an example of Arthur C. Clarke's Third law:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

If you enjoy reading books, then you will love the Kindle. The e-ink screen is easy on the eyes and the Kindle itself feels perfect in my hand, being the size and weight of a paperback book. It downloads new books in less than a minute--even a book as large as The Brother's Karamazov or The Count of Monte Cristo. It's internal memory has enough space to hold 1500 books; so far, I've only got about 79 on it. They take up much less physical space than they otherwise would.

I also have the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times delivered wirelessly every morning. No more lost newspapers, stolen newspapers or soggy newspapers. I actually prefer reading them on the Kindle to reading them in newsprint. The only downside is the lack of comics; but thankfully, the comics are available on the web at places like, so I can still keep up on my favorites.

If you get a Kindle as a gift, you'll be very happy with it if you like to read.