8-24-13 Hodgepodge

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Roman Nanotechnology

Smithsonian Magazine describes how it is that the angle of lighting causes a famous Roman goblet to change colors.

The glass chalice, known as the Lycurgus Cup because it bears a scene involving King Lycurgus of Thrace, appears jade green when lit from the front but blood-red when lit from behind--a property that puzzled scientists for decades after the museum acquired the cup in the 1950s. The mystery wasn't solved until 1990, when researchers in England scrutinized broken fragments under a microscope and discovered that the Roman artisans were nanotechnology pioneers: They'd impregnated the glass with particles of silver and gold, ground down until they were as small as 50 nanometers in diameter, less than one-thousandth the size of a grain of table salt. The exact mixture of the precious metals suggests the Romans knew what they were doing--"an amazing feat," says one of the researchers, archaeologist Ian Freestone of University College London.
Their accidental discovery, now understood, may pave the way towards "handheld devices for detecting pathogens in samples of saliva or urine, or for thwarting terrorists trying to carry dangerous liquids onto airplanes".

Weekend Reading

"Elon Musk, you've created a great coal car. Don't stop others from creating a great coal life." -- Alex Epstein, in "With the Tesla Model S, Elon Musk Has Created a Nice Fossil Fuel Car" at Forbes

"In this 'Mother may I?' system, each proposed merger is automatically delayed thirty days--longer if the government requires it--while the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission sift through company documents and emails, compile statistics, run computations, and consult experts." -- Thomas Bowden, in "Justice Department Should Let US Airways & American Airlines Merger Proceed" at Fox News

"Victim-think means assuming that because you are helpless and powerless to force other people to change their behaviors and choices, that you are equally helpless and powerless to do anything about people who annoy you." -- Michael Hurd, in "'Victim Think' Not Good for the 'Victim'" at The Delaware Coast Press

"It saddens me to think of people approaching a psychiatrist or therapist for help, saying, 'I want to move past the trauma,' and being told, in effect, 'The trauma is who you are.'" -- Michael Hurd, in "Is PTSD a Medical Disease?" at The Delaware Wave

"Is it any wonder that the health law's redistribution schemes had to be forced on people, by law? Nobody would choose to spend their own money this way." -- Rituparna Basu, in "Obamacare Is RealIly, Really Bad for You, Especially if You're Young" at Forbes

My Two Cents

It is interesting to consider the fact that, in covering two entirely different topics in psychology, Michael Hurd demonstrates the omnipresence of helplessness -- be it learned or encouraged -- in our culture.

When the Toddlers Run the Kindergarden

Via an email from my mother, I have learned of a very amusing list of ten ways that having a toddler is like being in prison.


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