Weekly Editorials Page
5/31 to 6/6, 2001



6/6/2001:
   A few years ago, someone from NASA Headquarters predicted a petaflops computer within ten years. I thought it was preposterous. He was right and I was wrong. IBM's petaflops Blue Gene machine should be ready by the time NASA is ready for it in 2004 (NASA Climate Modeling Spurs Next Computing Revolution).
    Echelon is the new Intenet surveillance arm of various government agencies, and is apparently raising hackles in some European parliaments (E-mail users warned over spy network) .
    Soy chemical shows promise against prostate cancer is another presentation of the results of soy isoflavones. One word of caution: These isoflavones are estrogen analogs, and have been implicated in another study in promoting uterine cancer. For men, they would up exposure to estrogen-like hormones.
    Era ends as Gordon Moore quits Intel's board contains some interesting remarks by Dr. Moore about the future of computing.
6/5/2001:
    I have the impression--an impression that may be born of my ignorance of the state of psychometric research--that tthere hasn't been much investigation of the subject of the severely gifted. This would be understandable in the light of the scarcity od subjects for such research. Prior to the advent and popularization of the Internet, there may not have been a ready way to gain access to a substantial sample of those in the 4+ sigma range of human intelligence, nor would there have been a convenient way to maintain close communication with them. If this is the case, then there may be major opportunities to investigate a potentially crucial field, with an idea of learning how to make better uese of our potentially most talented individuals. I'm preparing a list of questions to be answered or researched.



* - There are virtually no IQ tests that purport to measure adult IQ's in the 4+ sigma range, and those that do must surely suffer from ceiling effects. For example, the Short Form of the California Test of Mental Maturity was designed to measure adult IQ's up to 200, but the IQ score that corresponds to answering correctly 90% of the questions on the test is only 160, and since this is presumably a ratio-IQ test, scores of 160 probably occur about once out of every 1,000 test-takers, yielding a deviation IQ score of only 150. IQ's above that level may become less reliable, since a test-taker may fail to reach his ceiling on some of the subtests, while topping out on others. Also, it's easy to miss a few problems through careless errors, or a word or two that one doesn't quite know even when one could define much more difficult words. On some individually-administered IQ tests such as the Slossen test, The test continues until the test-taker begins to miss half the questions.
6/2/2001: Important News Item
    Tonight's article, Eat Fatty Fish to Cut Prostate Cancer Risk, joins Is Fish Oil the Key to Schizophrenia? and Dr. Ray Sehelian's recommendations concerning Smart Drugs in complementing what we have known for some time regarding the key role played by the omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) in maintaining cardiovascular integrity. In a 30-year Swedish study, eating fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackeral, herring, sardines, and whitefish rduced the incidence of prostrate cancer among Swedish men by 1/2 to 2/3rds. Addition of fish to the diet relieved schizophrenic symptoms in 22%of the patients in one study and in 43% of the patients in abnother study, without the unwanted side effects. of prescription medications In the latter study, brain damage was actually reversing course as the study progressed. Although the body can synthesize omega-3 fatty acids, supplementation through diet and/or fish oil capsules seems to make a major difference. Could it be that fish oils are analogous to vitamins, and that their absence can act like a deficiency disease?
    Eat more fish!
    It's interesting to note that the Catholic country of Belgium, Belgium Authorizes Free Sale of Morning-After Pill, along with other European countries is promoting aids to population control.
    NASA's upcoming hypersonic plane, no doubt with important military applications, is leading the way toward lower cost to orbit (NASA Unveils Futuristic Aircraft). This SCRAM (Supersonic Combustion RAMjet) will reach Mach 10. Orbital speed is about Mach 25. Still, boosting a rocket to Mach 10 piggybacked onto a hypersonic aircraft should greatly reduce the challenge of reaching orbital speed, particularly since it would be launched above most of the Earth's atmosphere.
    How about that! French Scientists Revive Napoleon Poisoning Theory . We just learned that the Roman emperor Claudius (43-56 AD) was killed with a poisoned mushroom, and now we learn that Napolean was probably poisoned, also. It's enough to make you no longer want to be Emperor.
    Back in 1987-88, Rob Michelson and I worked with each other and traveled a few places together when we were working on unmanned aerial vehicles. Rob was a Branch Chief at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) in Marietta, Georgia, and I was a Group Leader at GTRI in its Huntsville Research Operations. Later, I was transferred to the Unmanned Ground Vehicles Joint Project Office program, and Rob became interested in micro-UAV's, serving as the President of the national Association for Unmanned Vehicles, and here he is in the news with his micro-ornithopter--his electromechanical fly-on-the-wall! (Hi, Rob! Best wishes to you, and to Denise, Matthew, and Christian.)
5/31/2001:
    Today's article, Tessera folds multiple dice into 1-mm package, is mentioned because it relates to a triple-layer, stacked chip that begins to layer multiple flash memory chips in a three-dimensional package. This can best be used for non-volatile memory that dissipates power only when it's being read or written. Individual microprocessor chips generate so much heat that you could fry eggs on them. Styacking them would only make the ohmic heating problem worse.
    Like flash memory, ferroelectric RAM is non-volatile and dissipates power only when it's being read or written, but unlike flash memory, it can be erased and rewritten a quadrillion times, just like . Since it draws no power except when its contents are being read or altered, it can be used as a direct replacement for power-consuming dynamic RAM. However, as the article, Toshiba, Infineon detail plans for 32-Mbit FeRAM, explains, It's very involved and expensive to manufacture, and is currently limited to relatively large cell sizes, and will be used at first for cellphones and other pocket devices. But if it can be improved sufficiently, it or magnetic RAM might eventually be used to replace the conventional, power-hungry RAM in the computer you're using to read this discussion.
    The article, Doctors perform the first heart bypass that does not require surgery, decribes a new technique that not only doesn't require surgery but that uses excess cardiac-vein capacity to reroute arterial blood around a coronary artery blockage.
    The article, Statins... the New Wonder Drug?, explain that the statin-based, cholesterol-reducing medications that some of us are taking have other benefits, including the reduction of Alzheimer's Disease by two-thirds!
    The article, Building a bomb is child's play, explains that one British plant that's designed to manufacture fuels for nuclear powerplants could easily be tapped by terrorists to make a homemade nuclear bomb. One series of science fiction stories in the late 40's and early 50's was based upon a U. S. in which cities no longer existed because it was too easy for various guerrilla factions to manufacture nuclear factions. Cities had been replaced by towns such as Lincoln Gun and Modoc, policed by "Codies". Now and then, a small town would be obliterated by warring factions.
    Are ‘X-Files’ and programs like it fueling increased interest in the paranormal?, refers to the human hunger for mystic beliefs. I have long felt that society is making a big mistake by permitting its media to be profit-driven and allowed to consolidate. I think the media should be required to be non-profit, like universities, so that they don't pander so heavily to sensationalism. Actually, what I really believe is that experiments in government and in institutional changes should be sponsored by governments before instituting them with large populations.
    If an Asteroid May Have Flung Pieces of Earth, Dinosaurs to Moon, Mars, then we might some day find evidence of terrestial DNA on the moon and Mars.
    The Virtual colonoscopy as effective at colon cancer screening as standard invasive colonoscopy would utilize CAT scans to replace painful and dangerous colonoscopies to inspect the colon for polyps.
    As computers become ubiquitous, geeks (intellectuals) have become semi-respectable in their role as ministers to our machines (Geek Studies: Hackers, Freaks, Outsiders-How Science Is Shaping Us).
    A Case of Stolen Identity chronicles the abilityof Internet hackers to steal your identity. (Illegal charges were made to my Visa card a few months ago by a band of thieves in Yugoslavia. I wasn't charged for them, and I now have a new Visa card.)
    Amoebas are responsible for an astonishing array of human ailments, as explained in Undergrad's Digital Model of Amoeba Helps Scientists Study Human Cells.