Wall Street Journal science reporter Robert Lee Hotz posted a funny-cause-it's-true essay about the curious rise in the suffix "-ome" or "-omics," as in foldome, physiome, biome, and sociomics, pharmacogenomics, datanomics, and on and on. In fact, there's even a scientific journal named Omics, and you can track other bio-related omes over at Omics.org. "It sounds futuristic. It sounds computational," said Harvard medical geneticist Robert C. Greenm who studies the incidentalome (seriously!). "When you use the term "omics," it signals you are a new paradigm guy." Futuristic, eh? That's probably why Institute for the Future's exec director Marina Gorbis sent the article out to the whole staff this morning. OK, Marina, we get the hint. Although futuromics does sound cooler than futurism or futurology.
There are some topics that inspire an almost universal fascination—weird animal penises, for instance ... or, more SFW-ly, space food. The question, "what do people eat in space?", quickly leads down a rabbit hole of strange preparation machines, esoteric packaging, and futuristic gels. Decades after we gave up on a 1950s idea of what the 21st century would be like, space food remains this sort of weird holdover, combining modern science with the physical/design sensibilities of a different time.
And there's more to it than just freeze-drying some Neapolitan ice cream. Space menus are highly organized things—a function of limited storage space and long missions to the space station. They're also deeply researched. There's no entree, not even a snack, that reaches the space station without a very good reason for it being there. Caloric intake, nutrient content, every aspect has been thoroughly micromanaged.
At Download the Universe, Veronique Greenwood reviews Space Nutrition, a new NASA ebook for iPad that's available for free download online. The book is written with children in mind, but Greenwood says there's enough detail and behind-the-scenes perspective that adults can get something out of it, as well. The formatting is occasionally frustrating (it only works in portrait mode), but for a free book, it's hard to complain too much.
.. the book's primary charm is in the photographs and asides that you can’t find in a Wikipedia article on the subject. One photogallery is full of snapshots taken by excited Nutritional Biochemistry Lab members as they drive to Kennedy Space Center to pick up astronaut blood samples from the ISS, which they use to determine the effects of space flight on nutrient absorption, bones, and muscles. The shots of the Experiment Payload truck that retrieves the samples and of the little blue NASA duffel bags they are carried home in give the process of space research a refreshing physicality.
And spaceflight seen from a food scientist's point of view is endearingly kooky. Crumbs are a big no-no for space foods—they fly around and clog the instruments. Tortillas that last almost a year, on the other hand, are a very exciting development, the authors write, because you would need three hands to make a traditional sandwich with two slices of bread and a slice of baloney in space. The book's history of manned spaceflight missions reads like no other you'll find. Gemini: Shrimp cocktail, chicken and vegetables, pudding, applesauce. Apollo: bread slices, cheddar cheese spread, frankfurters, fruit juice. Skylab: steak, vanilla ice cream.
Lying is a sin, so I would never bear false witness when it comes to Moral Orel coming back to Adult Swim. Dino Stamatopoulos announced on Twitter not too long ago that his stop-motion show would return for a one-shot prequel special, Beforel Orel, Monday, November 19 at midnight.
According to MTV Geek, the story will focus on how Orel Puppington became such a devout little gent as well as the circumstances of the birth of his brother, Shapey. Why is Shapey something of a mystery? Because he's Orel's half-brother. And since we know that Orel's parents, Clay and Bloberta, have a rather tenuous relationship, this probably means that we'll get a better look at the unholy goings-on outside the Puppington household.
But mostly, it's going to be a ton of fun to see exactly what made Orel become the most dangerously optimistic person ever.
Stone Spray is a promising-looking 3D printer that is intended to produce building-scale structures by combining soil with binder from a spray-nozzle. Unfortunately, all the meaty tech information is locked up in a weird "book" player that doesn't work well on my screen, but you can get a general idea from the video above (I recommend scrolling at 10-20 second intervals and turning off sound).
Here is the headline: United was flying Phoebe as an unaccompanied minor on June 30th, from San Francisco to Chicago, with a transfer to Grand Rapids. No one showed-up in Chicago to help her transfer, so although her plane made it, she missed the connection. Most crucially, United employees consistently refused to take action to help assist or comfort Phoebe or to help her parents locate her despite their cries for help to numerous United employees.
The emergency was finally solved, he says, when the parents reached a United employee who was also a mom, and agreed to help them not as a United employee, but a fellow parent who had empathy.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. military and border-patrol officials are teaming up on a new initiative to bring dozens of surveillance blimps from Afghanistan war zones to the Mexican border.
Over the next few weeks, the military will oversee a test in south Texas to determine if a 72-foot-long, unmanned surveillance blimp—sometimes called "the floating eye" when used to spot insurgents in Afghanistan—can help find drug runners and people trying to cross illegally into the U.S.
The project is part of a broader attempt by U.S. officials to establish a high-tech surveillance network along the border and find alternative uses for expensive military hardware that will be coming back from Afghanistan, along with the troops.
In other words, hardware recycling. Read more: Battlefield Blimps to Patrol U.S.-Mexico Borders (WSJ).
Image: REUTERS. A US military blimp carrying surveillance imaging equipment flies over eastern Afghanistan, September 2011. Devices like this are being tested along the US-Mexico border.
How to compound bad business with bad social media: @Progressive's crummy job explaining the company's legal defense of a policy-holder's killer
Last night, Mark wrote about Matt Fisher's experience with Progressive Insurance, the insurer for his late sister, who was killed in a traffic accident. Progressive tried to deny Fisher's claim (the other driver was underinsured, but Fisher's Progressive policy included coverage for underinsured third parties) In order to collect full benefits, Fisher's family has had to sue the other driver, and, incredibly, Progressive paid its lawyers to defend the driver that killed its policy holder.
Understandably, the Progressive Twitter account has attracted a lot of negative attention. But whomever is running the social media strategy at Progressive has gotten stuck in a loop. No matter what you tweet @Progressive, you get the same bland PR-speak non-answer assuring you that Progressive has looked into it and everything is just fine, nothing to see here.
Wil Wheaton's got an audio interpretation of what the @Progressive account sounds like to him:
As of August 8, 45 more Tibetans have resorted to self-immolation inside Tibet, 35 of whom have died, according to the International Campaign for Tibet. The incidents on Monday would bring the total number of self-immolations since February 2009 to 48. Tibetans in exile have also resorted to self-immolation.
My car was stolen...what the fuck...— will.i.am (@iamwill) August 14, 2012
Jalopnik reports that a bespoke automobile created for (and reportedly designed in part by) will.i.am was ripped off last night while the Black Eyed Pea and entrepreneur/fashion dude/space and science enthusiast was attending a private party at the Avalon hotel in Hollywood.
New, from the makers of Maximum Strength Placebo, it's Nocebo, the product you will almost certainly regret."
Now for the first time, Nocebo is available for sale direct to the general public! Despite containing no active ingredients whatsoever, Nocebo can cause a wide range of undesirable effects, from nausea to diarrhea, that is because it's potency lies entirely inside the human brain! Nocebo merely suggests that it is bad for you, your brain and body does the rest!
Via Steve Silberman