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September 21, 2007

Experts' Expert: A dentist talks about toothbrush selection and care


In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Ellen Byron's "Tricks of the Trade" column featured dentist Nancy Rosen talking about what she looks for in a toothbrush, along with other related tips.


• Brush for two minutes

• Replace your toothbrush every 3 months

• Choose soft bristles rather than medium

• Run the bristles under hot water to further soften them before brushing

Here's the newpaper piece.

    The Right Brush for a Dentist's Own Teeth

    When dentist Nancy Rosen shops the toothbrush aisle, she is often struck by how many options are ill-suited for proper oral care.

    Bristles can be too harsh for teeth and gums, expensive power toothbrushes often boast unnecessary features, and many brush heads are far too big. "I don't know what type of human being can fit some of these brushes in their mouth," says Dr. Rosen, whose patients include actors, models, news anchors and socialites.

    When caring for her own smile, Dr. Rosen, who serves as an occasional consultant for Oral B, says she uses a simple, soft-bristled electric brush that she bought five years ago for about $40. "There are models over $100, with a lot of bells and whistles, but I don't think everyone needs to spend that kind of money," she says.

    Dr. Rosen uses a plug-in brush, rather than one that's battery-operated, because the latter tend to require users to hold down a power button as they brush. She finds that onerous, especially when she's trying to brush for the length of time she prescribes to patients: two minutes. Also, Dr. Rosen doubts many people will replace an old battery in a timely manner. "But if it's plugged into the wall and you just push a button, it is fool-proof," she says.

    Before buying a power brush, check on how easily available its replacement heads are, Dr. Rosen recommends. "You should replace them every three months," she says, noting that manual brushes should be replaced just as often. Bristles shouldn't get so worn that they look like they've been sat on. "Then you're doing more damage than good," says Dr. Rosen, explaining that "you're going to have to brush harder, and that removes enamel and causes gum recession."

    Choose a brush with "soft" bristles rather than the so-called "medium" ones — they're too harsh on teeth and gums, Dr. Rosen says. Before brushing, Dr. Rosen says she always runs the bristles under hot water to further soften them. Size matters, too, Dr. Rosen warns. On both power and manual brushes, opt for smaller heads, which allow for a better brushing technique.

    Good brushing habits are a crucial first step to ensuring an effective whitening procedure, popular with Dr. Rosen's patients. "You can't have bleaching if your teeth aren't clean — then you're just bleaching plaque," she says. "You'll be wasting your money, and sometimes plaque hides other dental problems that you need to take care of before whitening."

September 21, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stealth Wineglass — Episode 2: Price Break


So maybe yesterday's pricey fancypants Riedel crystal iterations left you wishing and hoping.

Well, aren't you in luck — how about $2.95?

Is that good for you?

September 21, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

IndyMogul.com - 'How to make fake rain'

What with the rise of YouTube and its ilk, more and more home video makers are finding the need for special effects.

Enter IndyMogul.

Up top, IndyMogul's take on how to make a zombie.

Ian Mount described the site, which twice a week puts up a new instructional video "on basic filmmaking techniques and what it terms 'BFX' — backyard video effects," in a brief story in the September 15, 2007 Wall Street Journal; the piece follows.

    How to make fake rain and sew a superhero costume

    Staging a stunt fight. Faking a fall from a tall building. Making a realistic-looking human head. These are some of the lessons offered on a new site aimed at home-video makers and aspiring directors.

    Twice a week the site, called IndyMogul.com, hosts a new instructional video on basic filmmaking techniques and what it terms "BFX" — backyard special effects. In a typical recent video, host Erik Beck responds to a video request from a graduate film student looking for a way to create realistic on-film rain. After explaining that cinematic raindrops need to be larger than real ones if they are to appear on film, Mr. Beck demonstrates how to make a $50 "Hollywood rain machine" out of wood, a garden hose, twist ties and eyehooks. The final effect is remarkably realistic.

    IndyMogul is one of the 14 "micro-networks" run by Next New Networks, a New York City-based company whose founders include Herb Scannell, former vice chairman of MTV Networks, and Fred Seibert, a onetime president of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons.

    The 26-year-old Mr. Beck, who until recently worked as a temp in Oakland, Calif., pitched the idea of a do-it-yourself effects site to a Next New employee he met on another film site. Mr. Beck, an amateur video maker, had long experimented with his own special effects.

    Tom Anderson, who teaches special effects at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, says the site's techniques harken back to an earlier age. "Back in the day, a lot of the B filmmakers would be doing things like these," he says.

September 21, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

iLuv iPod/DVD Player


From websites:

    iLuv iPod/DVD Player

    Watch your favorite movies any time with your personal, portable iPod/DVD Player.

    Time really does fly when you're having fun, so make the most of airport delays and long flights with this compact unit that lets you watch movies from an iPod or DVD.

    It has an 8.4" LCD widescreen display for a clear, sharp picture, touch-sensitive keypad controls and a built-in rechargeable battery.

    You can even charge your iPod using the integrated dock.

    At just 6½ x 11¼ x 2¼" and weighing a mere 2 lb. 10 oz., it's easy to carry and provides instant entertainment anywhere.

    Includes an AC adaptor, car adaptor, remote control and AV cable.




September 21, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World Premiere — Cell Wars: Alien Viral Invasion Destroyed By Bacterial Enzyme


Look at the photos above and below.

What do you see?

They're vidcaps from a six-second long film of the first ever real-time capture of a bacterial enzyme destroying invading viral DNA before it could infect the host.

Watch the movie here.


Here's Alan Cane's story from today's Financial Times describing the work.

Enzyme action captured on film


In one of the most remarkable biological sequences ever captured on film, scientists have managed to photograph in real time an enzyme in a bacterium under threat of attack by a virus helping to ward off the enemy by cutting through its genetic material.

The film, recorded in Japan using a device called a fast-scan atomic force microscope, lasts several seconds and clearly shows the enzyme - one of a group of proteins capable of cutting through strands of genetic material - threading through a loop in the virus's DNA in order to break it before it could infect the bacterium. Robert Henderson, leader of the Cambridge University researchers, said it was the first time the process had been seen in real time: "To be able to see these nano-mechanisms as they are really happening is incredibly exciting," he said.


The team used one of only three fast-scan atomic force microscopes so far built to picture these tiny objects. The microscope measures the force between the objects and a finely pointed probe: the analogy is the needle of a record player tracing the grooves in a record. The research is expected to contribute to our understanding of the way damaged DNA is repaired in nature. The film can be viewed at http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/media/pressreleases/video_enzyme_unravelling_dna.html

Here is a link to the abstract of the Henderson group's paper, published on July 23, 2007; the abstract follows.

Fast-scan atomic force microscopy reveals that the type III restriction enzyme EcoP15I is capable of DNA translocation and looping

Many DNA-modifying enzymes act in a manner that requires communication between two noncontiguous DNA sites. These sites can be brought into contact either by a diffusion-mediated chance interaction between enzymes bound at the two sites, or by active translocation of the intervening DNA by a site-bound enzyme. EcoP15I, a type III restriction enzyme, needs to interact with two recognition sites separated by up to 3,500 bp before it can cleave DNA. Here, we have studied the behavior of EcoP15I, using a novel fast-scan atomic force microscope, which uses a miniaturized cantilever and scan stage to reduce the mechanical response time of the cantilever and to prevent the onset of resonant motion at high scan speeds. With this instrument, we were able to achieve scan rates of up to 10 frames per s under fluid. The improved time resolution allowed us to image EcoP15I in real time at scan rates of 1–3 frames per s. EcoP15I translocated DNA in an ATP-dependent manner, at a rate of 79 ± 33 bp/s. The accumulation of supercoiling, as a consequence of movement of EcoP15I along the DNA, could also be observed. EcoP15I bound to its recognition site was also seen to make nonspecific contacts with other DNA sites, thus forming DNA loops and reducing the distance between the two recognition sites. On the basis of our results, we conclude that EcoP15I uses two distinct mechanisms to communicate between two recognition sites: diffusive DNA loop formation and ATPase-driven translocation of the intervening DNA contour.

September 21, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ramp me up, Scotty — Ramp4Paws


Invented by Cathy Trauernicht (above and below), who was so troubled by her black lab Hadley's bilateral sprained front legs incurred by jumping out of the family station wagon 14 years ago that she worked for years to develop a pet ramp she finally put into production last year.

Here's Jura Koncius's story, as it appeared in yesterday's Washington Post.

Ramp Gives Dogs a Leg Up


Hadley, the Trauernicht family's first black Lab, sprained both front legs jumping out of the family station wagon 14 years ago. Cathy Trauernicht became so concerned about dog safety that she spent years developing a pet ramp she finally put into production last year.

"It's dangerous for dogs of any age or breed to jump onto concrete," says Trauernicht of Potomac. "I've talked with many vets about the injuries they see with dogs, especially with SUVs."


She found that most ramps on the market were heavy and cumbersome and did not fold up compactly to store in the car. She worked with an engineer to develop the patented design using lightweight plastic with textured strips to add traction. It rolls up for storage and transport [top].

Ramp4Paws comes in two sizes: $219.95 for SUVs, trucks and station wagons and $159.95 for vans with sliding doors. Both are designed for animals up to 160 pounds. Directions for training dogs to use the ramps are included.


Inquire within.

September 21, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'What is it like to be a bat?' — by Thomas Nagel


His October 1974 Philosophical Review paper just gets better and better with each passing decade.

Around 2030 (±10 years) is when we'll be able to put on a helmet and actually occupy the mindspace of a bat.

Can't hardly wait.

September 21, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stanley Flat Polycarbonate Canteen


From the website:

    Stanley Water Canteen

    The water bottle has been reinvented with the new Stanley Canteen.

    Made from polycarbonate, this uniquely shaped bottle was designed flat so as to fit easily into backpacks, messenger bags and more.


    • Polycarbonate water bottle — will not retain odor or taste

    • Lanyard and carabiner for easy carrying

    • Widemouth opening with screw-on lid

    • 32-ounce capacity


Blue or Green.



But perhaps you don't need a quart of whatever it is you're drinking.

No problema.

For you, there's the 20-ounce size.

In either case, that finger hole is to die for.

Blue, Green or Smoke (below).



But there's always one in every crowd, isn't there?

You insist on Pink.

Well, guess what?

My crack research team knows your type and they've already taken care of it.



September 21, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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