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Comment Re:Bubby? Is that you? (Score 2, Insightful) 859

If they have paid their dues, and they are fully rehabilitated, then why does it matter if they are mentioned by name? After all, they're just normal citizens again.

Clearly there is a disconnect between the theory of rehabilitation and what the public considers to be sufficient stigma for past offenders

Comment Re:radar accuracy coverup (Score 1) 369

The angular accuracy is very poor. It's not designed to pick out just one vehicle from a group.

The ones with which I have some familiarity are designed to report back multiple signals: the fastest signal detected within the spread of the radar, and the largest. So theoretically they can get a signal off one vehicle traveling very fast through traffic, but if you are always traveling slower than people around you, your car will never be reported to the officer.

Comment Re:ion bridges cost? Consumable? (Score 2, Insightful) 128

More important than the cost is the question of effectiveness.

In their diagram, they have this schematic in the critical location:

[Salt water]<----(+)----[Brine]----(-)----->[Salt water]

Chemically, that "equation" just doesn't balance without an input of energy.  It doesn't matter what kind of "ion bridges" they put into place between the brine and salt water reservoirs, or what the concentration of salt exists in the brine or salt water, it will require some energy to offset the entropy increase.

It's possible that they have some active system in place in the bridges, but it's going to take some kind of energy input which is missing from their explanation.

Comment Re:Misleading Summary (Score 1) 168

It did cost a lot of money to do this research, and the taxpayers of the US are likely the ones who funded most of it, a long time ago. The researchers in question here made their living by receiving governments grants.

You could say that since Bayh-Dole basically gives universities the rights to the discoveries, the universities just end up as caretakers of public-held intellectual knowledge, but I don't think they always act in the best interests of the public.

When considering things like biotech, the vast majority of funding is coming from the government, especially for the more pure research.

Comment Re:patents... (Score 1) 168

In practice, that rule has been bent to the point where it no longer has any meaning. You can't patent a DNA sequence, but you can patent the DNA sequence in purified form. Want to check to see if you're the carrier of a particular, naturally-occurring, patented DNA sequence? You had better not purify your own DNA, or you will be violating the patent.

Here's an analogy for you: honey is a naturally-occurring substance, which is usually found mixed in with undesirable materials like wax and live bees. If you applied the same criteria as biological patents, you could patent bottled honey since that's an artificial creation.
Technically you could patent the process of warming honeycomb and letting the honey drip out, just to prove that you invented honey, but it wouldn't be necessary. Just the honey in the bottle would be enough.

And that should be a sickening thought for anyone.

Comment Re:patents... (Score 1) 168

It looks like this whole topic is littered with information, so here are some translations for you all.

We claim:
1. A method of growing a crystal of a 50S ribosomal subunit from Haloarcula marismortui comprising:
(a) isolating a 50S ribosomal subunit from Haloarcula marismortui;
(b) precipitating the 50S ribosomal subunit;
(c) back-extracting or resuspending the precipitated 50S ribosomal subunit to obtain a solution;
(d) seeding the back-extracted or resuspended solution of step (c);
(e) growing a crystal of the 50S ribosomal subunit from the seeded solution of step (d) by vapor diffusion at room temperature;
(f) harvesting the crystal from step (e);
(g) stabilizing the harvested crystal by gradual transfer of said crystal into a series of solution containing high salt concentration of from about 1.2 M to 1.7 M; and
(h) maintaining the crystal under high salt concentration, wherein the crystal (i) is untwinned, (ii) has an average thickness greater than about 15 .mu.m, and (iii) diffracts X-rays to a resolution of at least 2.7 .ANG..

2. The method of claim 1 further comprising: (i) flash freezing the crystal of step (h).

This is definitely a process patent, but not much of it is patentable.
Step (a) uses a centrifugation process that every biochemist knows, and they cite a 1985 paper.
Step (b) is another basic purification step based on selective precipitation, and again is a standard technique.
Step (c) means that they re-dissolved the protein, pretty special...
Steps (d,e) could be unique if they did anything really extraordinary. It's been too many years since I've been a practicing crystallographer, so I can't say if anything in those steps is very unusual. I doubt it: vapor diffusion etc is pretty typical as an overall technique.
Steps (f-h) and (2i) are also just basic crystallography procedures.

In this patent, there's just nothing but crystals and structures, period.

Comment Re:patents... (Score 1) 168

That's BS, and you should know it.

Here are two of the related patents: 1, 2.

They claim the structure itself, which is only possible due the legal loopholes which permit patenting biological information because it was in a "useful form", like purified DNA. By my count, the clock should have started running on that claim back in the 50s. They describe the use of the structure, to work with antibiotic modeling etc, as an embodiment of their invention, but that is not the real focus of the invention.

The patent itself should make it obvious that they aren't patenting a process or antibiotic: in the text check "D. Methods of Using the Atomic Coordinates of the 50S Ribosomal Subunit to Identify and Design Ligands of Interest". They cite tired old references such as "Molecular Modeling on the PC, 1998, John Wiley & Sons" (molecular modeling from 1998?!) and computer software packages like GRID (which could be used as part of an antibiotic design process). There is no specific example in the patent for actually using their structure to produce a particular antibiotic or drug. The text makes it blatantly clear that the processes they describe are nothing BUT prior art, and are only useful with the real focal point of the patent, which is the structure.

It's all just part of the game we play. Raw information is patented as "inventions" because we can, and it looks good on a resume and it's legal ammunition to throw around in this horribly broken system.

Comment Re:I'm not looking forward to going to the US (Score 1) 1040

A DUI doesn't necessarily put you into Canada's "Inadmissible Classes" (their legal term) permanently. If 5 or more years have passed, you can apply for an "Approval of Rehabilitation" that will permanently void the DUI issue.

I know someone that ran into this (unexpectedly, I recall) when he traveled to Canada recently. It delayed him for about a day to have the paperwork processed, which involved getting US police to fax appropriate documentation to the Canadians. In the end he was allowed in.

Comment Re:Tasers are lethal (Score 1) 334

When I get pulled over, I put my hands on the dash, ask the officer what they want me to do, tell them what I am reaching for, where, and what it will look like. I want the officer to be confident they know what is happening. No surprises, nothing unexpected. I don't want to become a victim of bad judgement, knowing it will probably be my own mistake that sets off that series of events.

wow. just...WOW.

What is so surprising or shocking about being courteous? I've got some additional things to add to the normal procedure when pulled over:

Turn on the interior lights, if it's night.

Open the window in advance.

Turn off the car, and remove the keys. Place them where they can be easily seen. In some car's I've had with flat roofs and large rain gutters, I've placed them in the rain gutter over the door. Up on the dash is another decent place.

And follow liquidsin's recommendations for the other stuff. These things won't inconvenience you, they will speed up the whole process, and it will reduce the probability of a misunderstanding with very serious consequences.

My law enforcement friends have informed me that some people as a group already do this stuff: Californians, in particular. I don't know exactly why that is, except that where I live the only CA people are either tourists or students. The local people here do NOT take these kinds of precautions. And while I disagree with the implication from the GP that the person being stopped is responsible for any officer errors, I don't see why it's unreasonable to take some precautions.

Comment Re:point of sale systems? (Score 1) 121

The embedded market is known for its fondness of cheap hardware, and sticking to the status quo. For many years, DOS was a dominant O/S for Point of Sale applications.

I don't have an extensive background on this to be certain, just vague recollections from my father (former IBM systems engineer) and personal experience using such systems, but I'm pretty sure that IBM has long been the dominant company providing POS systems, and DOS has not been the primary OS for such systems.

Unix/AIX was the foundation for POS starting in the late 80s, and many of these systems have been in service for almost two decades now, only being replaced recently. Smaller companies probably made use of more customized (cobbled together?) DOS and Windows POS setups, but big retailers like WalMart have used a server and thin-client model.

Comment Re:Prone to UV light? (Score 2) 32

Most highly-ordered large biomolecules are not "thermodynamically stable", since it takes so much entropy to maintain them (which is to say that the entropy is low). Some exceptions might be nasty molecules like prions or amyloids, which tend to form extended fibers and sheets, with very negative effects.

But kinetic stability can lead to effective thermodynamic stability due to some unique effects. For example, there can be a kinetic barrier to disassembly of a large biomolecule because it's tough to remove that first subunit. Once the first subunit is gone, the "chink in the armor" allows the whole thing to begin to fall apart. But because the whole assembly is stable until the first one leaves, it has the effect of being globally stable.

But getting back to the big picture, DNA can be very stable, as evidenced by recovery of DNA more than thousands of years old. Of course it won't be retaining complex quaternary structures like those developed by the researchers. On the other hand, it's very desirable to have nanostructures with a finite lifetime, especially one that can be controlled. If it's used for drug delivery packaging, you might want it to last only a few days. If it's a template for hard materials (iron-based magnetic structures, for example), you might want to be able to cause it to fall apart intentionally within a few hours. DNA isn't really a good candidate for permanent nanomaterials, since it can be degraded both passively and actively by quite a few different pathways.

Comment Nearly identical to a previous topic (Score 1) 32

Here's the older topic:http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/08/0344248

And the older scientific publication: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v459/n7243/full/nature07971.html

The real difference in this publication compared to the previous one is that these researchers are making really compact bundles while the previous ones have more flexible (probably) hollow structures dependent on key localized interactions. These are more likely driven by the summation of lots of little effects.

Without having read the article yet, it seems to be a common theme of top-down vs bottom-up design, which is a topic that crops up frequently.

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