Jul 18 2009

Selling vacuum cleaners on Mars?

Category: science,spaceharmonicminer @ 2:30 pm

Particle-size dependent bipolar charging of Martian regolith simulant

The intense dust devils and dust storms on Mars are believed to generate large electrostatic fields that significantly alter geophysical and geochemical processes on the planet. The existence of such fields must be related to a mechanism by which charged dust separates by polarity; it has been widely hypothesized that this separation originates from a particle-size dependence of the charge polarity, but this effect has never been demonstrated. To address this issue, we carry out experiments on the triboelectric charging of Martian regolith simulant (JSC-1 Mars), using a fluid flow apparatus wherein only particle-particle interactions occur, as is the case in Martian dust events. Our experiments show direct evidence that smaller particles tend to charge negatively and larger particles tend to charge positively, which provides a mechanism for the charge separation that creates electric fields in Martian dust events.

Translation: Mars dust sticks to stuff and it’s a mess. When you go there, better bring a vacuum cleaner.

In the meantime, the next time you’re in a dirty house, you can say that the occupants have suffered a “dust event.”

Jul 18 2009

Obama vs. Pelosi on the “public option”

Category: government,healthcareharmonicminer @ 11:59 am

President Obama insists that if you like the health care you have now, you can keep it under the nationalized health insurance system the Democrat Congress is pushing. What he isn’t admitting is that he’s talking to employers, not employees. He’s really saying that employers can keep the health plans they currently offer if they want to. He certainly is not saying that employees will be able to keep any healthcare plan that their employers don’t want to continue to fund. Now comes word that the Switch to Public Option attracts Pelosi-backed businesses

Three companies in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her husband are heavily invested say they might switch their employees to a government-run Public Option plan if President Obama’s health care reform passes Congress.

The Public Option is a proposed government-run insurance company that Obama, Pelosi, and most Democrats want to create as part of health care reform. It would receive a large start-up investment from taxpayers and likely pay low Medicare rates to doctors and hospitals, allowing it to undercut private insurers with low premiums. A Lewin Group study found that as many as 131 million Americans would move or be shifted involuntarily into such a plan if it is offered, possibly killing off the private health insurance industry.

Obama has promised repeatedly that Americans will be able keep their present health insurance if they want to, and a Pew poll found that 89 percent of insured Americans are happy with their existing coverage. But most health insurance plans are selected by employers, not employees, so the latter will have very little say if Obama’s plan prompts employers to change it.

The Examiner contacted three businesses in which the Pelosis are heavily invested, according to her congressional disclosure forms. All three said that they would certainly consider switching employees to the Public Option plan, and in some cases would probably do so, provided that it is cheaper and offers roughly comparable coverage on paper.

Obama and Pelosi really need to talk more. He’s probably unhappy with her for letting the cat out of the bag before the closing seam is sewed shut.

Jul 18 2009

Killing for honor

Category: Islam,libertyharmonicminer @ 8:45 am

In Saudi Arabia, the police appear to be complicit in so-called “honor killings,” arresting women for the “crime” of been seen in the company of men to whom they are not related, and then releasing them into the hands of murderous male relatives.

Saudi Arabia’s religious police are being blamed for the death of two sisters who were murdered in what is known as an ‘honor killing’ by their brother after the sisters were arrested for allegedly mixing with unrelated men.
Saudi King Abdullah.

The Society for Defending Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia said the religious police arrested the two sisters, aged 19 and 21, thus putting their lives in danger.

Their brother shot them to death in front of their father when they left a women’s shelter in Riyadh on July 5, according to Saudi news reports.

The practice known as honor killing is a daily occurrence in Saudi Arabia. The incidents are staged to look like a suicide or an accident, Wajeha Huweidar, a Saudi women’s rights activist told The Media Line.

In the meantime, Human Rights Watch seems to think it’s just fine to seek donations from wealthy Saudis for their organization’s campaign against Israel, by highlighting to rich Saudis how much reporting Human Rights Watch has done on “Israeli atrocities.”   That’s probably an easy sell in Saudi Arabia.  One suspects that the Saudi donors must not be feeling very much pressure from Human Rights Watch for their own transgressions, which make Israels’ look like a snide remark at a pre-school.