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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

'Flowers for Algernon' author Daniel Keyes dies at 86

Source: LA Times

Daniel Keyes, the author of "Flowers for Algernon," died Tuesday in Florida, the New York Times has reported, from complications from pneumonia. He was 86.

The Brooklyn-born writer published his most famous work first as a novella, which won the Hugo Award, then in 1966 as a novel, which tied for the Nebula Award and sold millions of copies. The story of a mentally disabled man who followed in a test mouse's footsteps to become a genius, only to later lose his mental powers, struck a chord.

"Flowers for Algernon" was made into a television movie and then as the 1968 feature film "Charly"; Cliff Robertson won the lead actor Oscar for his starring role. It was made as a film again in 2000 with Matthew Modine.

Keyes got undergraduate and graduate degrees from Brooklyn College; he taught creative writing at Wayne State in Michigan and Ohio University. He wrote fiction and nonfiction, including the 1999 memoir "Algernon, Charlie and I."

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-flowers-for-algernon-author-daniel-keyes-dies-at-86-20140618-story.html

RIP. FFA was one hell of a story.

This Shape-Shifter Could Tell Us Why Matter Exists

Neutrinos can flit between states effortlessly, hinting at deep new physics.

Neutrino physics is full of unusual characters. There was Ettore Majorana, who disappeared in 1938 without a trace, taking his savings with him. No record of him has ever been found, though there have been numerous disputed sightings of him throughout the years.

Then there was Bruno Pontecorvo. Suspected of slipping nuclear secrets out of England, he vanished while on vacation in Italy in 1950 and reappeared five years later singing the praises of his new homeland: the Soviet Union.

Strangest of all, though, is the neutrino itself. It is electrically neutral, making it invisible to particle detectors, and bizarrely lightweight, at most 0.0004 percent the weight of the next-lightest particle, the electron. Although it is the most numerous massive particle in the universe, it is so slippery that it can pass through a light year of lead as if it wasn’t there. And then there is the matter of the shape-shifting.

Neutrinos come in three flavors: electron, muon, and tau, each named for the charged particle with which it is associated. But the flavors are not pure essences—each is made up of a different combination (or superposition) of three ingredients, or mass states.



SpaceX gets federal clearance for South Texas launch site

SpaceX has received a green light from the Federal Aviation Administration to construct a spaceport in South Texas.

The Environmental Impact Statement (see .pdf of documents), issued by the FAA’s Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation George Nield, concludes with:

The undersigned finds that the Proposed Action is consistent with existing national environmental policies and objectives as set forth in Section 101(a) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

The proposed 56.5-acre launch site at Boca Chica beach would launch up to 12 rockets a year, including two Falcon 9 Heavy rockets, which could begin flying in 2015. These launches would be for commercial (i.e. satellites) as well as possibly NASA purposes.

This statement from the FAA was the key regulatory approval SpaceX had been waiting for before announcing the location of its independent launch site. It is also considering sites in Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico. The company says a final decision has not been made.

However earlier this year the company’s founder, Elon Musk, said Texas would be the choice if environmental clearance were given.



Perfect Book Placement


The Best Argument for Marriage Equality you'll see Today


Toon: American Blood

Single dose of century-old drug approved for sleeping sickness reverses autism-like symptoms in mice

In a further test of a novel theory that suggests autism is the consequence of abnormal cell communication, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that an almost century-old drug approved for treating sleeping sickness also restores normal cellular signaling in a mouse model of autism, reversing symptoms of the neurological disorder in animals that were the human biological age equivalent of 30 years old.

The findings, published in the June 17, 2014 online issue of Translational Psychiatry, follow up on similar research published last year by senior author Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, pediatrics and pathology, and colleagues.

Naviaux said the findings fit neatly with the idea that autism is caused by a multitude of interconnected factors: "Twenty percent of the known factors associated with autism are genetic, but most are not. It's wrong to think of genes and the environment as separate and independent factors. Genes and environmental factors interact. The net result of this interaction is metabolism."

Naviaux, who is co-director of the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at UC San Diego, said one of the universal symptoms of autism is metabolic disturbances. "Cells have a halo of metabolites (small molecules involved in metabolism, the set of chemical processes that maintain life) and nucleotides surrounding them. These create a sort of chemical glow that broadcasts the state of health of the cell."



Conservatives Uncover Obama Plot to Destroy Phil Mickelson

Conservative conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama know no bounds. But the latest incarnation might be the craziest yet. It centers around Obama's alleged plot to destroy pro golfer Phil Mickelson.

At the end of May it was reported that the FBI and SEC were investigating whether Mickelson and bigwig sports gambler and golf course owner Billy Walters had engaged in insider trading using secret knowledge obtained from billionaire investor Carl Icahn. The initial leaks suggested that Icahn may have given advance warning to Walters in 2011 that he was planning a takeover of Clorox, which Walters relayed to Mickelson so he could buy stock in the company right before its value soared.

Mickelson has denied wrongdoing and cooperated with authorities, and further news reports appear to absolve the golfer. (The SEC declined to comment for this story.) Last week, the New York Times reported that Mickelson hadn't traded shares of Clorox, although the probe remains open on Icahn and Walters. But that hasn't stopped conservative blogs from speculating about how the personal politics of Mickelson, Icahn, and Walters are the reason the federal government is investigating their business dealings.

"Our nation is under attack. The Obama Crime Family is at it again," opens a blog post by Wayne Root at Glenn Beck's The Blaze. "They are practicing the art of Chicago thug politics to kill free speech and ban political dissent. And no one is connecting the dots." Root notes that each of the three have supported Republican causes or been critical of Obama. "You think that's a coincidence? Not a chance," he writes. "There is a six-year widespread pattern of conspiracy to take down critics and GOP donors. This is just more of the same pattern."



Phil's doing a pretty good job of torpedoing his season so far. I don't think he needs more help!

Huge backlog in rape kit testing starting to be worked on.

The trucks keep arriving from all over the country at an office park in Northern Virginia, each containing hundreds of envelopes marked with one word written on red tape: “Evidence.”

Just after 9 on a weekday morning, Kim Freeman pulls her hair back from her face and walks from her cubicle to a large storage room. “I’m here for the two,” she tells a desk attendant.

Two envelopes. She put them on reserve the day before, and now she scans one to make sure the contents label is correct. “Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit,” it says.

Another day has begun at the Bode Technology laboratory in Lorton. Another slow excavation of a national problem.

The problem is a backlog of untested rape kits, tens of thousands of them, each representing an alleged assault. In every case, evidence was collected from victims after their attacks, but it was never analyzed. Instead it sat on shelves for years, even decades.



Copper thief shocked, burned at Puget Sound Energy substation

RENTON, Wash. — A man who apparently intended to steal wire was nearly electrocuted early Wednesday when he cut a copper wire on top of a high-voltage transformer at a Puget Sound Energy substation, officials said.

King County deputies first responded to a report of an explosion about 4:30 a.m. at the substation between Renton and Issaquah.

Firefighters removed the injured man and took him to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body, Eastside Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Dave McDaniel said.

The man is in critical condition in the intensive care unit, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.


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