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Comment Re:Time to restart using antisera. (Score 1) 89

How is antiserum different from vaccination?

Four things:
  - Immunization
  - Innoculation
  - Vaccination
  - Antiserum

An immunization is a challenge to the immune system that looks to it like the target pathogen - often with an adjuvant to do enough minor mischief to convince the immune system that this is a really bad guy that needs a SWAT team response. It might be made out of:
  - pieces of killed pathogen,
  - pieces of killed related pathogen,
  - engineered molecules similar to a target site on the ,
  - live related pathogen (enough like the bad guy to provoke a cross-reaction to the bad guy, but not enough like the bad guy to cause the disease),
  - live attenuated pathogen (an artificially weakened version of the actual disease - essentially an engineered "live related pathogen"
  - the actual, full-bore, pathogen itself - but administered in a way that leads to a less severe (i.e. survivable) case of the disease,
etc.

The immune system has an enormous number of small clones (just a handful of cells) that each produce a different antibody (and can produce one or more of several types of response against a pathogen), and essentially any that produce antibodies against the body itself have already been killed off. When the body signals "I'm being attacked", by either a disease or an imunization (which mimic a disease) those that recognize the antigen go into rapid reproduction, and a fraction differentiate into active forms. This takes about three days - but after that you have a LARGE number of mature immune cells that attack that pathogen, along with a boosted number of not-yet-matured "memory cells". This doesn't stop an original infection. But it cleans up after it, and blocks (or mitigates) future infections by attacking the pathogen as soon as it shows up. If you get another case of the disease - or a booster shot - the memory cells will repeat the process, making the immunity much stronger.

Vaccination is a particular case of a "live related pathogen": One of the (closely related) cowpox or vaccinia viruses, somewhat more distant relatives of smallpox, is used to create a minor infection (generally one scarring pimple, unless you scratch and spread it). This activates the person's immune system against both the vaccine's virus and its relatives, including smallpox.

The Sabin "live virus" polio vaccine works the same way, using a weaker, mutated, version of the polio virus. (Its predecessor, the Salk vaccine, uses the outer coat of killed polio virus.) A live virus actually produces a disease process lasting several days, until the immune system clears it up. This creates a stronger and longer lasting immunity than a simple challenge with dead virus pieces. (It also is contagious: Some people who weren't administered the immunization "catch" the "fake disease" from those who recently were immunized.)

Inoculation consists of deliberately administering the pathogen. In the case of a disease, it means causing the disease, in a way that can be treated or is otherwise is survivable, leaving the recovered person immune. Before vaccination, inoculation was used for Smallpox. If you catch smallpox by inhaling the virus, you're likely to have a severe case, either dying or maybe being horribly scarred. If you catch it by having some pus from an infected person get into a cut in your skin, you're likely to have a mild case, with only localized scarring, and then (as a survivor) be immune. (Unfortunately, while you have the case, you're infectious with the disease, so others can catch it the bad way. That's the biggest reason that vaccination was such a drastic improvement.)

Unfortunately, immunizations are usually too late to protect you against a disease you already have. (A notable exception is rabies, which works its way slowly up the nerves to the brain, giving time to immunize before it becomes acute, incurable, and fatal.) An antiserum works immediately.

One of the ways the immune system attacks pathogens is for the antibody-producing cells to shed the antibodies into the blood and lymph. These antibodies then attach to pathogens, doing things like blocking the active sites, sticking them together into clumps, or otherwise marking them for attack by other immune--system cells.

An antiserum is a big dose of extracted antibodies against the pathogen. It gives you most of the advantages of being immunized (other than producing the antibodies yourself), but RIGHT NOW. So it can be used against a disease that is already in progress.

Comment ORLY? (Score 1) 99

Both FTC and FCC (and EPA and many others) are getting their budgets slashed.

ORLY? Maybe the others. But the FTC? They hardly have any budget to slash.

I'd like to see where you're getting the idea that the FTC's budget is getting the axe.

For starters, it's an ideal tool to spank the media conglomerates which own and control the news outlets that have roasted him. Much of the anti-consumer pathologies the ISPs engage in appear to be directed to giving the content part of the containing conglomerate's operation a competitive advantage.

Antitrust actions to prevent (i.e. AT&T / Time Warner merger blocking, which Trump already favors) or break up existing content transport / content provision tie-ins would let him drive a big screw into the mainstream media under the guise of (actual!) consumer protection activity. B-)

Note that he's appointed Maureen Ohlhausen to head the FTC, and she'd already written a paper on how the FTC and antitrust, not the FCC and net neutrality, is the proper remedy for any consumer-impacting misbehavior of the ISP oligopoly.

(As have I, though we seem to have a difference of opinion on how many competitors are needed before competition is an effective remedy and how well competition doing at the moment.)

Comment Time to restart using antisera. (Score 2) 89

Before antibiotics one could get an antiserum against each of many nasty infections. The rise of antibiotics displaced these drugs - even for some things (such as some forms of meningitis) where an antiserum against the particular organism, did a better job.

This actually made some sense. Antibiotics were broader spectrum, so (even after drug resistant bugs became common) you were likely to find one that worked in time to save the patient. Antisera, on the other hand, were very bug-specific.

If multiple drug resistance makes antibiotics nearly useless, perhaps it's time to revive antiserum use.

We now have the technology to rapidly identify the target organism(s) in a disease process, so we can rapidly select the correct magic bullets. And we also have the technology to make specific antisera by the bucketful.

And without the side-effects of making it by exposing an animal (like a "serum horse") to a pathogen and then (once it's developed an immunity) extracting the (horse-type) antibodies to this - and to everything else its immune system doesn't like - to make the drug. Instead we can make human monoclonal antibodies to just one target.

We can also engineer an immunization by chopping out the DNA for some conserved region snippet of some pathogen's accessible surface markers, splicing it with neighboring coding that will make the immune system take note and building it into an otherwise (and still) harmless bug - either to make an active ingredient for an immunization cocktail or a variola/polio style live-virus challenge. The bug has a very hard time evolving resistance because a conserved region of some component of its molecular machinery is usually conserved because has to be the way it is for it to work.

This is already being done to some extent. Seems to me it's time to stop crying about the end of antibiotics and focus on this set of approaches - which should be very lasting.

Comment But iodine is restricted due to the drug war. (Score 1) 89

It is common knowledge that [iodine] was used widely in hospitals for decades, and supposedly(?) resistance is not built up to it.

But iodine, and most iodine-containing medical preparations, are heavily restricted, due to the drug war.

Seems they're used in one step of turning pseudephedrine into meth. So, though they're not actually BANNED, the drug warriors put so much red tape on them that most chain-store drug stores just dropped them as unprofitable.

(I found this out when the fallout from Fukishima was approaching the US west coast, and I tried to find some iodine supplements for my family to dose up on, to reduce the risk from radioiodine, before it got here. Surprise! None to be had.)

If anybody knows of a chain store in California or Nevada where I can buy potassium iodide supplements or tincture of iodine, over the counter, please let me know.

Comment Wrong agency! FTC, not FCC (Score 4, Insightful) 99

The FCC is not the right agency to review mergers for anticompetitive issues. FCC is about tech, not competition.

The relevant agency is the F *T* C (Federal Trade Commission).

Now maybe they need some legislation to give them a budget bump and/or a juristictional tweak/clarification if they're to (once again) take on the telecom giants over antitrust issues. But if so it's high time that was done.

Comment Re:Heat (Score 1) 203

I would be more interested in this if it worked the other way, warming my house.

There are lots of designs for doing that. Look at any renewable energy bulletin board (such as fieldlines.com).

Common thread is:
  - Black (or otherwise visible light absorbing) target.
  - In an insulated box.
  - With a glass window (that does NOT have an infrared reflective coating)
  - And some way of transferring the heat from the black target to the house air.

Glass is opaque to infrared and passes visible light. Sunlight goes through, is absorbed by the black material, and heats it (to the tune of about a kilowatt per square meter at noon). The material re-radiates, but it is far too cool to re-radiate in the visible spectrum. So it re-radiates in the infrared, which doesn't escape through the glass and is thus re-absorbed.

It's called "The Greenhouse Effect". B-)

In one of my favorite designs the black target is a series of tubes consisting of used aluminum drink cans with the tops and bottoms removed, painted black. They're very good at absorbing light, because it takes multiple bounces down the valley between the tubes, giving the paint many chances to absorb it. A 4" computer fan pumps air through the box to extract the heat.

But there are LOTS of other designs. Including houses with large south or south-east facing windows and overhanging roofs that shade them in the summer but not in the winter (to rough-tune the absorption). The floor, walls, furniture, etc. serve as the visible light absorber.

My ranch house works like that - a little too well. In the afternoon it will git to 90+ degrees when it's single-digit temperatures outside.

Comment Re:Too good to be true. (Score 1) 203

It's a neat idea, but what happens in the winter?

Put a cover over it.

Glass is good. It is pretty much opaque to far infrared. Instead of seeing the cosmic background temperature of a few degrees kelvin, it will see the temperature of the glass - which is about the same as its own temperature. So the radiative heat flow will be just about zero.

But ANYTHING opaque to infrared will do the same.

Another approach: Instead of coating the house, coat a radiative cooler to make chill water, and pump that through a heat exchanger in your forced air heating/air conditioning system. Don't want cooling? Don't pump the water. (Adjust how much you pump it to regulate your temperature.)

That's not "no power", but pumping chill water is very little power, and you need to circulate the air anyhow. Most of the energy cost of air conditioning is refrigeration, and you still get that for free.

Comment RTFA. They DID try it on people. (Score 1) 166

RTFA. Then follow the link to the paper. They DID try it on humans. Worked reasonably well (though the sample was small so it was more "does this maybe work on people, too? Is it worth a big study to check?" rather than "do all the results reproduce in people just like mice or are they quantitatively different in THIS way?").

Interestingly, they used a proprietary commercial boxed Fasting Mimicing Diet - L-Nutra's ProLon (Developed by a team including a USC Davis professor specializing in gerontology and life-extension) - on the human experimental subjects.

Comment Retail Hell, More Proof Cats Are Better Than Dogs! (Score 1) 249

There's a reason people that own one cat go crazy and have brain damage and end up owning more of those things.

The Toxoplasma Gondii requires cats to multiply, so it alters the behavior of its host rodents in order to steer them towards a cat's digestive system.

Now, humans and cats have lived together for millenia; it makes perfect sense that the Toxoplasma Gondii might also have steered us into giving their furry brothels a comfortable place in our homes and our beds... And for the cats, they have two species directly feeding them: Mice and Men. Perfect case of symbiotic evolution.

You'll never see Lassie do anything that smart.

Now, back to the parent post about working at PetSmart:

I've seen coworkers that were normal before become irritable and irrational after getting a cat.

Are you sure that's not just caused by working retail for long enough?

And then there was me, working at Home Depot, wearing the trademark Orange Apron. We had a cat in the store; it ate the mice that lived on the birdseed in the Seasonal Department. As I walked into the lunchroom, about 30 people eating lunch, big shift change time of day...

"Hey Lawrence! I hear you found the store cat!"

"Well, I found part of the store cat..."

Comment Re:Other way? (Score 1) 249

Does mental illness lead to owning a cat, though?

Being a crack dealer seems to lead to owning a pit bull, so why not?

Given the above, I'm proud to be a cat person. We must be nuts... why else would we put up with an egotistical, narcissistic, impatient, violent, snobby creature in our homes?

Better to have such a creature in my home than in the White House.

Comment Misty Water-Colored Memories... Slashdot Oldtimers (Score 1) 86

Great printer, those old Panasonics. Fast, clean, quiet, durable. Also loved the Epson MX-80 and the Okidata ML320.

I had a DEC LA-36 teletype (nb. not a TeleType) attached to my TI-99/4A back in the day... its 7 pin printhead lacked true descenders, so the print matched the text on the TI-99/4A's screen!

By the time I got to the Amiga 1000 and 500, I had a hand-me-down HP LaserJet I. What a tank. A Canon photocopier with HP's modifications, and doubled as a great ozone generator. The printer was connected to the Amiga by a 300 or 1200 baud RS-232 link. Annoyingly, I couldn't print anything from the BBSes while I was online - the Amiga's single serial port was needed for the modem. :)

Nowadays, there's a Unix mainframe in my right front pocket. And I can wirelessly print to a Samsung color laser printer that's 10x faster and 1/4 the weight. Don't even get me started on that Chromecast thing that's smaller than a videocassette and faster than a drive to Blockbuster.

But I do miss the quality of the old stuff. The old HP LaserJet just happened to be the very first (shared with the Apple LaserWriter) of its kind. Cost-reduction was not a goal; quality was. And it showed.

I miss HP.

Nice to meet another Slashdot old-timer...

Comment Market distortions. (Score 1) 491

Thanks to rent control, I'm paying $300 per month less than market rate.

Market distortions can make it financially disastrous to move, as compared to staying in the same place.

Rent control is one.

Another is, for homeowners, is Proposition 13 in California (and similar laws in some other states). Think of it as "rent control on taxes", designed to keep the skyrocketing housing prices from driving people out of their homes:
  - Stay at the old place - get taxed on the price of the house when it was bought (or Prop 13 went into effect) plus a small inflation adjustment.
  - Sell it and buy a new house in CA (or the same state etc.) - get taxed on the new house's CURRENT price, plus a small inflation adjustment - forever forward. Then there's being taxed on the hyperinflated price of the house you sold as if it were a lump sum of income, unless you take the once-in-a-lifetime exemption or one of the other income tax rules for switching houses without being bankrupted. And the new mortgage is at the current rates, too, and on a much pricier home.

Moving used to be much less of a financial hit than it is now.

Comment I'd like to see a Third Amendment defense, too. (Score 5, Informative) 118

Spying on the population was a big driver behind the THIRD amendment:

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

While forcing the colonists to provide housing and upkeep for the soldiers sent to oppress them was an economic issue, there was more to it than that.

A soldier "quartered" in a colonist's house also served as a spy for the crown and its army. He eavesdropped on the conversations of the family and visiting friends. He had the opportunity to view their records when they weren't home (or even if they were). He reported anything suspicious to his unit. His presence inhibited getting together with others to hold private discussions, especially about opposing (by protest or otherwise) anything the government was doing. He was a continuous walking search, fed and housed by the people he was investigating.

It seems to me that law-enforcement and intelligence agency spyware, such as keyloggers and various data exfiltration tools, is EXACTLY the digital equivalent: It is a digital agent that "lives" in the home or office of the target. It consums the target's resources (disk space, CPU cycles network bandwidth) to support itself. It spies spying on the activities and "papers" of the target, reporting anything suspicious (or anything, actually) back to its commander, to be used as evidence and/or to trigger an arrest or other attack. It is ready, at a moment's notice, to forcefully interfere with, destroy, or corrupt the target's facilities or send forged messages from him.

Spyware is EXACTLY one of the most egregious acts (one of the "Intolerable Acts") that sparked the American Revolution. I'd love to see the Third brought back out of the doldrums and used against these "digital soldiers" the government is "quartering" inside our personal and private computing devices.

Comment Enjoy your trip. (Score 1) 136

Last year I spent close on $3,000 in the USA. This year, I'm going to Sri Lanka.

Enjoy your trip.

Meanwhile, Trump will just have ICE deport three more illegal immigrant households, more than making up for the money you might have spent (even if you'd been giving it straight to the US taxpayers, rather than mostly to the megacorps that exploit them.)

Comment Re:Retarded headline... (Score 1) 55

With "buy" using a lowercase "b", it better indicates that "Snap" and "Snap Interactive" are two different entities. Not as good as the quotation marks I just used (which I've no frigging idea if that is a grammatically-acceptable use), but better than it is now.

Officially grammatical or not, putting the quotes around the two company names is how I'd have done it. It nicely clarifies the boundaries of the multiple-word names, making the meaning of the sentence obvious.

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