Nano-yarns, rotating buildings, FireFox tweaks, bacteria mousetrap, boat racing, Twittering

Mar 30th, 2009 | By | Category: This morning's reading

Morning Reading, selected articles of interest from various publications.

Nanotechnology: Cotton fibres coated with carbon nanotubes could be used to make clothing that glows, or detects bleeding
So the aim is to manufacture a light material that can be easily woven but is also highly durable and, in order to transmit information, can conduct electricity.
A team of researchers led by Nicholas Kotov, a chemical engineer at the University of Michigan, has come up with a way in which this might be done by coating cotton threads with carbon nanotubes.
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Engineering: Clever construction techniques could usher in a new architectural era in which entire buildings are capable of rotating
The simplest approach to such a building is what might be called the owl solution—in other words, incomplete rotation. This allows fixed but flexible connections to be used. Some years ago Bill Butler, an amateur architect, used this trick in a house in Snow Creek, California. Water and gas are delivered, and sewage removed, via vertical steel pipes in the non-rotating base. Rubber hoses connect the uprights to their mates in the mobile part of the building. The house’s ability to rotate is thus limited only by the length of the hoses at full stretch.
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A handful of Firefox tweaks that will double your browser speed
By tweaking the way Firefox handles some caching functions, you can dramatically improve page load speed and even prevent Firefox from hogging your system resources while minimized. If you don’t currently have any experience playing with your configuration file, don’t be scared. Just follow the simple instructions, take your time and if you want a security blanket to squeeze, jot down each setting before you change it so you can always restore the default configuration if need be.
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Antisepsis: Miniature traps that catch bacteria might provide a way to tackle the problem of patients becoming infected while in hospital
The device they have come up with is a hollow capsule five microns (millionths of a metre) across. It is made of alternating layers of two electrically conducting polymers, one positively charged and one negatively charged, that have an unusual property: when they are exposed to light they turn nearby oxygen molecules into “singlet oxygen”, a particularly reactive form of the element that is highly toxic to any bacteria inside the capsule.
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“Blood Over Water” book review
“Blood Over Water” stands out from the mass of sporting memoirs thanks to the authors’ open portrayal of their relationship as the build-up to the race intensifies. David, the younger by three years, speaks unashamedly of his struggle to keep up with the high-achieving James, his emotions swinging from pride and love to envy and hate. James dreads failure and is consumed by the fear that his kid brother might beat him at his chosen endeavour. As race day approaches the two opposing camps eat meals at opposite ends of the family kitchen, communication is reduced to curt nods, and the feeling of brotherhood is replaced by one of hostility.
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10 Steps to Terrific Twittering
Guy Kawasaki’s guide to successful twittering.
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