Monday, July 30, 2012

Hybrid Home Power

Someday I want to have a solar powered home, and I've been gathering supplies for it.  I have about 710 Amp Hours worth of batteries, but I keep shying away from buying the panels, which tend to run in the hundreds of dollars.   Obviously, this dream will have to wait.

Or will it?   An electronics engineer has created a system to automatically switch between a solar-battery system and mains power.   Why?   The solar-battery system is free to you once paid for, but it can run down, especially if there's multiple cloudy days in a row or if your need for electricity is high (especially for air conditioning in hot summer home city is technically a swamp.)

The system periodically takes a read of the battery capacity.  If it's full it swaps the entire house over to battery power.   If it's half full, it starts swapping circuits back to mains.   And if it's empty...mains for you while the system recharges.    Once set up, the user of this system could get the most economical power possible at all times.

One issue -- there is a brief cutoff while it swaps electrical systems.   Users of lamps and refrigerators probably won't notice.   Users of computers would have theirs inexplicably reboot.   A UPS (uninterruptable power supply) would be required for all computers in this house.   Preferably with the alarms turned off, as they by default sound an annoying alarm every time there's any issues with the power whatsoever.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Curing AIDS

Since it first appeared in America in 1985, there has been an intensive amount of interest in a treatment of some sort of the Auto ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS.   Other countries may have been interested when first exposed as well.  And according to Slashdot, we may now have it.   Supposedly, 3 people have been completely cured of the disease, which was previously minimally treatable and guaranteed fatal.
This is still tentative and prone to additional testing, since case #1 apparently has some radical differences with cases #2 and 3, covered in the article.   The theory relies upon bone-marrow transfer immunity.   When you receive a bone-marrow transplant, you inherit with it the donors immune system capabilities, including all vaccinations.   In this case, one of the rare people who was completely immune to AIDS (for genetic reasons mostly) donated bone marrow to these two patients, who inherited the immunity. 
If this can be confirmed, this will mean a radical new hope for the world's suffering.  Still no cure for the common cold or herpes, though.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Heart Jellyfish

Via Slashdot, I have learned of the world's first artificial animal -- a jellyfish made of plastic and rat heart cells.   The benefits are surprising and unexpected.
This jellyfish like thing starts to "swim" when exposed to electric currents, just as hearts beat in time to electric currents.   Put this thing in a tank of sugar water and attach a pacemaker, and you have the perfect environment for testing heart drugs.
Traditionally, heart drugs had to be tested by breeding rats with sick hearts, injecting some rats with the drug and some with a placebo (saline solution to make sure that results aren't just some weird side effect of injections in general), and noting their recovery or death.  Then human clinical trials were required because rats don't respond quite the same as humans.  (Doing the original testing with humans would be condemning some humans to die, which people won't put up with.) All of this was expensive and took a lot of time.
So instead, we could make a human heart cell jellyfish, put it in the tank, and expose it to drugs dissolved in the water.   The effects of the drug become apparently relatively quickly, suggesting which drugs, if any, are good candidates for a successful clinical trial.
The rat version?  Proof of concept.

Monday, July 23, 2012


As an IT expert, I am surrounded at all times by whirring fans, except when I am driving, in which case rumbling motors.   These fans are to keep the electronics cool enough to function.   While there are replacements, such as watercooled systems, that are significantly quieter, such systems are always significantly more expensive.
However, sound is ultimately a waveform, and interferes with itself destructively.   A +1 and a -1 waveform will, when put together, combine to form 0.   You can buy noise cancelling headphones that work using basically such a principle -- a microphone records the current sound, a microchip inverts the signal, and this is played into the headphones, cancelling the current sound.   This gave me an idea to make computers quieter.

Instead of one case fan whirring away, there would be two rotating in opposite directions.   The noise they produce would have opposite waveforms, cancelling each other and making the computer very quiet indeed.   A small bubble of space between them would have higher than normal pressure, and a vent would be requires to shove this air out of the way.   The case would then have negative pressure, and slowly suck air from the room.   Filters would be required in the case to prevent dust buildup on the electronics, which is somewhat of a pain in the neck to clean.  (Dust interferes with thermal transfer.)

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