less blood, more robots

Red blood cells fitted with artificial tails

They might look like sperm swimming backwards, but red blood cells have become the first living cells to be fitted with an artificial tail. As the tail whips back and forth, the cell moves tail-first at a cool 6 micrometres per second - about 10 times as slow as sperm swim.

The secret to the cell's motion lies in the composition of the tail - a filament of tiny magnetic beads held rigidly together by strands of DNA. When an oscillating magnetic field is applied to the cells, they move through the fluid as their tails bend to align themselves with the constantly reversing direction of the magnetic field. The microscopic swimmers might one day provide a way to direct medicines through the bloodstream to exactly the right spot.

QuickTime here.

Respirocytes - Designing an Artificial Red Cell

An artificial nanomedical erythrocyte, or "respirocyte" -- intended to duplicate all of the important functions of the red blood cell -- could serve as a universal blood substitute, preserve living tissue, eliminate "the bends," allow for new sports records, and provide treatment for anemia, choking, lung diseases, asphyxia, and other respiratory problems. [...]

The maximum safe augmentation dosage is probably about 1 liter of 50% respirocyte suspension, which puts 954 trillion devices into your bloodstream. You could then hold your breath for 3.8 hours, at the normal resting metabolic rate. At the maximum human metabolic rate, something like a continuous Olympic-class 50-meter dash exertion level, you could go for a full 12 minutes without taking a breath. Afterwards, your entire capacity is recharged by hyperventilating for just 8 minutes - then you're ready to go again. [...]

By sacrificing one entire natural lung to make room in the thorax, a 3250 cm3 nanolung extends oxygen supply to 4-87 hours. A less-conservative nanolung design could allow you to survive for up to 5 days without drawing a breath. [...]

Respirocytes can also relieve the most dangerous hazard of deep sea diving - decompression sickness ("the bends") or caisson disease, caused by the formation of nitrogen bubbles in blood as a diver rises to the surface. These bubbles come from gas previously dissolved in the blood at higher pressure at greater depths. Safe decompression procedures normally require up to several hours. But a small therapeutic dose of respirocytes reconfigured to absorb nitrogen instead of O2/CO2 gases could allow safe and complete decompression of an N2-saturated human body from a depth of 26 meters (86 feet) in as little as 1 second.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein I whine about computers.

Ok, just skip this entry if you don't care about my periodic bitching about computers.

So, the other day I made the mistake of running the software updater on the webcast machines. (FC4 yum.) I have a habit of doing this crazy thing, in the possibly-misguided hope that it will cause me to have the latest round of security fixes and prevent the script kiddies from running roughshod over my machines.

Yet, you may have noticed my use of the word "mistake", because this time it happened to update ALSA (which, laughably, stands for "Advanced" Linux Sound "Architecture".) Now what do you think often happens when ALSA gets updated? If you're guessing "something bad", well, you're right. In this case (and, I think, in every previous case) what it means is that they changed the names of all the parameters of my sound cards. This means something like, some teenager decided that where it said "EMU10K1" it should really have said "EMU10K1 PCM", or some shit like that. Why should I care about this? Well, I shouldn't. Except that this means that the previously-saved configuration file for my sound card NO LONGER WORKS because (I guess?) it has the old names in it. It spits out errors like the following, and doesn't make any music:

    alsactl: set_control:894: warning: name mismatch (Music Playback Volume/Synth Playback Volume) for control #7
    alsactl: set_control:896: warning: index mismatch (0/0) for control #7
    alsactl: set_control:898: failed to obtain info for control #7 (Operation not permitted)

So we lost saturday's webcast. Thank you, anonymous, incompetent teenager.

To fix this, I had to run the confiuguration program that lets you "graphically" reconfigure the sound card. It runs in a terminal. (In another universe, you may know this as "DOS".) It is dead sexy and looks like this:

Aw yeah. So at this point, my task is to conduct an exhaustive search of all these fucking sliders and mute buttons to figure out what they do this time, and which one makes the sound come back on. There are sixty-five of them, and most of them have names that mean nothing to me.

When I do mindless sysadmin bullshit like this, I always write it down. This time, my notes didn't help much.

Last time what I wrote down was:

    alsamixer SigmaTel STAC9708,11:
      Master: 84
      Bass/Treble: 50
      PCM: 100
      Wave: 100
      Wave Capture: 100
      Capture: 33
      AC97 Capture: 100
      EMU10K1 PCM: 100

      Everything else 0/Mute.

This time, the answer is:

    alsamixer SigmaTel STAC9708,11:
      Master: 84
      Bass/Treble: 50
      PCM: 100
      Wave: 100
      Wave Capture: 100
      Line: 0 Rec Mute
      Capture: 33 Rec
      AC97 Capture: 100
      EMU10K1 PCM: 0/0 (the first, stereo one)
      EMU10K1 PCM: 100 (the second, mono one)

Did I leave something out when I wrote it down last time? I'm pretty sure the answer is "no", this shit just changed.

This is exactly the kind of time-wasting bullshit that caused me to give up on running Unix as my home desktop. I switched to MacOSX about four months ago, and I haven't regretted it for a second.

Why am I still running this halfassed teenager-ware called Linux on my servers, you might ask? Well, I believe that the sad thing is that (hardware support aside) I'd still have to run exactly the same halfassed teenager-ware on a Mac to make the webcasts work (e.g., Icecast); it would just all be even less reliable, because it'd be running on a platform that none of the developers use.

In other words, I'm just fuckin' doomed.

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I, for one, welcome our new augmented mecha-pelvis overlords

"Worst. Fembot. Evar."

US Patent 0030181295: Sexy Pelvic Extension Frame:

[0005] With respect to beauty, while the term "a sexy walk" is part of the common parlance, its definition is analogous to the definition of pornography--"I know it when I see it." Catwalk models are trained to walk in such a way as to exaggerate the motion of the pelvis. There is currently no device that can be used to develop a "sexy walk." By visually amplifying the motions of the pelvis, an individual can be trained to exaggerate the movement of the pelvis and thereby develop a "sexy" walk.

[0006] Accordingly, a device, such as the pelvic extension frame disclosed herein, can provide numerous benefits to athletes in a sport-related venue, to patients in a medicine-related venue and to individuals in a beauty-related venue.

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