Friday, May 17, 2013
1. Recent astronomical discoveries are challenging
long-held hypotheses about how planetary systems develop.
As of this month, we've discovered 884 planets, 692 planetary systems, 132 of them with more than one planet and, strange to tell, almost none of them look like us.Indeed, the Earth may well be a strange planet in a strange system.
2. David Pogue of The New York Times recently vistied Europe and encountered some clever uses of technology. I liked this one:
And most controversial (to Americans) of all, your room key has to be inserted by the hotel-room door to turn on power and air-conditioning.Pogue likes this one because it's "green", but I am no convert to environmentalism. I could see a mom-and-pop hotel or a budget chain using something like this, even without the perverse incentives of green guilt and fascistic governmental "nudging" that are at play in Europe.
Yes, it means that your room takes a couple of minutes to cool when you return in the summer. But it also means that you can't leave for the day with all lights and chillers blazing. (As a handy by-product, you can't misplace your room key, either.)
Pogue also saw an elegant solution to the problem of switching planes in Helsinki.
3. Even after watching my baby daughter develop for nearly two years, I sometimes find it hard to be completely sure exactly where she is. For example, we've been playing, "I see you" at the park a lot lately. Is she really using a sentence here or are the syllables an imitative noise?
I strongly suspected the former, but got confirmation last night. We're transitioning to me being in charge of Pumpkin's going-to-bed routine ahead of our son's arrival, and I currently rest on a bed nearby while Momma Van Horn does the routine. Pumpkin piped up at one point, "I see Daddy."
4. He died some years ago, but we should all take a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are that Maurice Hillman invented the mumps-measles-rubella vaccine.
For most children, mumps was a nuisance disease, nothing worse than a painful swelling of the salivary glands. But Dr. Hilleman knew that it could sometimes leave a child deaf or otherwise permanently impaired.The Times goes on to note that, "Over his career, [Hillman] devised or substantially improved more than 25 vaccines, including 9 of the 14 now routinely recommended for children."
He quickly dressed and drove 20 minutes to pick up proper sampling equipment from his laboratory. Returning home, he woke [his sick daughter] Jeryl Lynn long enough to swab the back of her throat and immerse the specimen in a nutrient broth. Then he drove back to store it in the laboratory freezer.