Archive for May, 2010

Japan Wins Moon Race.

Posted by on Monday, 31 May, 2010



Japan just revealed some of its plans for space exploration including the amazing hope of landing a robot explorer on the moon by 2015 and having an entire base of robots by 2020. –

Email from OldTrekie5: Jesus! The friggin’ Space Shuttle’s shutting down and we don’t have squat to replace it. Are you kiddin’ me? What’s wrong with this country? PLEASE Mister ScienceAintSoBad, you gotta jump on this one.  Thanks. We’re counting on you, man!

MisterScienceAintSoBad answers:

It’s “get real” time, OldTrekie. The national debt is about 13 billion dollars (wanna see how it breaks down?) . Humans in spacesuits do look neat but it’s IRRATIONAL to send people off to Mars and to the moon when we can’t afford to buy ourselves a good oil cleanup.


We humans had our chance to be heroes. It’s the turn of the robots now. Human space exploration isn’t too healthy for the humans doing the exploring (tendency to get nauseous,  irradiated, and, from time-to-time, blowed up) . It’s also super expensive.  And “human friendly” space systems dramatically stretch out the time it takes to get anything launched. So why not turn robots loose on the these projects? Worked on Mars, didn’t it?

A robonaut program would intensify our knowledge of sensors, communications, software systems and robotics, itself. That’s a bad thing?

Hey. It’s not like we have an alternative; we can’t AFFORD our “manned” programs. But I guess we’re gonna shuffle around fer awhile “studying it” till we admit the obvious. Meanwhile, as mentioned above, guess who’s going to the moon with a bevy of beautiful bots? Our Japanese comrades, that’s who.

Kadsuhiko Shirai, President of Waseda University, is the head of a government panel in charge of making us look silly while we’re scratching our butts debating the issue. “SHOULD we send humans to the moon? CAN we send humans to the moon? Whoops! Are those Japanese robots I see walking around on the moon?”

Credit for above photo:

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Oil Spill

I SUPPOSE MisterScienceAintSoBad should have something more to say about the oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico. But he’s as depressed about it as you are. We’re all riding this big wobbly planet together with nobody else to help us if we screw it up before we figure out how to drive it properly. Science is interesting and amusing. But it’s the competition that offers religious salvation. Don’t get TOO snooty. If we keep fouling things up, we may need them.

For this disaster, we’ll leave the blaming and the investigating to others, but if it makes you feel any better, we award the BP disaster in the Gulf Of Mexico a ScienceAintSoBadRating of ZERO .


Our LectricLifter (TM) product’s coming along (slowly, I admit). We’ve actually had a  meeting with the testing lab (for the equivalent of UL listing) and we’re pretty sure we know who will be manufacturing it.

CORRECTION (Thanks, Alano)

The national debt should only BE 13 billion dollars. Make that 13 TRILLION big ones.

The Gulf Spill And Oil Eating Microbes

Posted by on Thursday, 13 May, 2010

Not So Hungry?


If you’re just getting over a coma, first of all, welcome back.  You will be the last to hear this but,  last month, a large oil drilling platform, leased to British Petroleum, exploded and sank,  releasing hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf Of Mexico.  As of now, the oil’s still flowing.

You’re right. This isn’t very good for the ecosystem.


MISTERScienceAintSoBad wasn’t surprised to receive the following letter.

MisterSASB: How ya doin’, Man? I can’t believe those blankety blank Brits, lettin’ their frigin’ oil contaminate our water like that. I contributed my pantyhose and I pretty much sheared my poodle naked for those new oil booms?But here’s my question. What about bugs? Aren’t there bugs that’ll eat that oil? Why don’t we sprinkle them around? I’ll take my answer off the air. – NoCount19


Dear NoCount:

Nice of you to ask me the hard ones.

Sure. There are bacteria that  enjoy eating oil. Good thing too. If there weren’t we would REALLY be in a mess since we human are slobs. This Gulf thing’s an extreme example, but, believe me, the oil chompers in nature don’t go long between meals.

It’s true that bacteria have been cooked up in labs just for this purpose but the varieties of bacteria that live in the wild are hard to beat (article in Science Insider). The best  approach seems to be to spread nutrients around the beaches so the microbes that’re already out there will go crazy. They can do a hell of a job in a few months .

But I don’t want to be MISTERPollyanna here . This amount of oil will hurt the crap out of fish and plants and no hungry bugs’re gonna change that reality. Bacteria and sunlight combine to greatly limit the damage from moderate amounts of oil but an article in National Geographic (Christine Dell’Amore) explains the difference between oil (which nature CAN handle somewhat) and thick layered GOBS of oil which truly has the potential to do terrible damage to our fragile world.


The future could be brighter. Work at the German Research Center for Biotechnology on alcanivorax borkumensis may get “human introduced” microbes back into the game. Alcanivorax borkumensis really thrives on oil. It shows up, after awhile,  in places that are contaminated. Uninhibited by the fact that much of the nitrogen in oil is inorganic, it can get its nitrogen in any form, organic OR inorganic.  This strange bacterium could give us substantial help in living with the side effects of our energy needs.

A Cure For Type 1 Diabetes?

Posted by on Tuesday, 11 May, 2010


Diabetes: cure.


Let’s see what’s new.

Ah.  Here’s a study from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation about a cure for diabetes.

Now I KNOW I’m dreaming!

A new drug, otelixizumab, is in phase III trials. (Phase III trials are the randomized, controlled, multicenter trials where you figure out if the drug really works).

Forty eight  months into the study, the insulin making cells of the eighty “type 1” patients in the study are still OK.

How’re you doin’? Hair standing up on the back of yer neck? Hands shakin’? If not you don’t get it. This is an atomic bomb! This is a breakthrough of a breakthrough! This is.. well… ScienceAintSoBadRating = 10.

MISTERScienceAintSoBad SHOULD know better than to give away 10’s like this. Something this important’s gotta be tested on more than 80 patients. Maybe the head’ll fall off of the 81st one (considered a setback). But DAMN this is neat!

Maybe there IS something to all this science stuff!