Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Interesting Science News and Other Cool Stuff

Meanwhile, I've been collecting stories and links, and I'll share a few of the ones I've managed to not lose.

Allergy vaccine: If, like me, you're subject to allergies, have hope: New Scientist reports major steps forward in the development of vaccines for allergies. One group has developed vaccines for dust mites, pollen, cat hair, and bee venom and tested them on cells from susceptible humans. Another study is in clinical trials. (Unfortunately for those of us in the U.S., these studies are in Europe; no word on how long it will take for treatments approved in Europe—assuming they reach that point—to make it to the U.S. But I'm ready to line up to be part of the trials.)

String theory: Can you explain it clearly in two minutes or less, on video? Discover Magazine has a contest underway, to see who can best convey the essence of string theory to a reasonably intelligent nonscientist. String theorist and popularizer Brian Greene will be the judge. Hurry—you've only got until March 16—two minutes!

Desert songs: Have you ever been a beach that made interesting squeaking or scrunching sounds as you walked on it? We have one in our area called Singing Beach, in Manchester-by-the-Sea, north of Boston. Well, there's a guy named Stéphane Douady who has made it his mission to record the sounds of sand dunes. And it's pretty cool. Put on your headphones or play these through a good stereo system. (I first tried to listen on my tinny laptop speakers, and I could barely hear anything. So don't do that.)

Finally, 181 Things To Do On The Moon: you know, in case you find yourself there one day with nothing else on your agenda. NASA has released a list of 181 things worth doing on the moon. This page has highlights. (The full list is in a hard-to-read pdf file. Ah, we can go to the moon, but can we put the reasons into an easy-to-read format that won't crash our browsers or ask for the 2-millionth update to Adobe Reader? Nah....)

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