Two notes from Caltech of interest:
- Michael L. Roukes’ group at Caltech has produced a NEMS (nanoelectromechanical system) device which can (almost) measure the mass of a single molecule (as opposed to the many tens of thousands (is this the correct amount?) needed in mass spectrometry.) Build a 2 micrometer by 100 nanometer NEMS resonator. Drop a molecule on it. The frequency of vibration of the NEMS resonator changes. Detect this frequency change. Of course vibration frequency also depends on where the molecule lands. So run the experiment about 500 times to get good estimate of the mass. Future (all ready prototyped) work should alleviate the problem of where the molecule lands causing a need for repeated experiments. From the press release:
Eventually, Roukes and colleagues hope to create arrays of perhaps hundreds of thousands of the NEMS mass spectrometers, working in parallel, which could determine the masses of hundreds of thousands of molecules “in an instant,” Naik says.
As Roukes points out, “the next generation of instrumentation for the life sciences-especially those for systems biology, which allows us to reverse-engineer biological systems-must enable proteomic analysis with very high throughput. The potential power of our approach is that it is based on semiconductor microelectronics fabrication, which has allowed creation of perhaps mankind’s most complex technology.”
- Hawaii beats Chile as site of new Thirty meter telescope.
For the past few months I’ve been getting back into shape by running my rear end off. On these jaunts, when I’m not in the mood for KEXP (they stream check them out!) I try to fill my head with something that isn’t mind numbingly dumb (read most radio stations.) Good podcasts include EconTalk where you get to hear about the dismal science. The interviewer, Russ Roberts, has a very strong libertarian (Austrian school) bent, but even when he disagrees he does ask the questions. I think we get to call it the dismal science because a recent interview was on “The Rational Market.” Apparently economists believe that the economy can pass the Turing test! Anyone else have good recommendations for non brain dead podcasts?
Speaking of finance, the Information Processor has two posts up that are worth looking at: Against Finance and Goldman apologia. The lesson of this financial crisis (and LTCM and…) is that when Goldman comes knocking at your door with a deal, run, don’t walk screaming for the door!
Nate Silver has gotten sick of climate skepticism and the daily weather report, and so lays down some money for those who want to bet against average weather statistics. Time to see if I can find a hometown where the weather instruments have been recently changed.