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May 15, 2009

'On July 1, sending or receiving text messages while driving will be banned in both Virginia and Tennessee'

So begins an editorial in today's Charlottesville Daily Progress, republished from a May 6, 2009 editorial in the Bristol Herald Courier.

Wait a minute.

If someone out of the blue sends me a text message while I'm driving, I've broken the law?

If my phone beeps and the little envelope icon for a text message appears on the screen, I'm subject to being fined?

What if the message automatically displays without my pressing any button or saying anything — no exceptions?

The new law makes receiving a text a secondary offense, meaning "... police must see a driver committing a more serious offense to justify the stop."

Does this mean that just having a phone that's turned on while driving indicates intent?

People wonder why there's so much contempt for the law.

It begins with regarding it as silly and laughable, and proceeds from there.

May 15, 2009 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Electric cotton — the rise of smart clothing


A March 5, 2009 article in the Economist's Technology Quarterly supplement featured recent work by Nicholas Kotov's group at the University of Michigan.

They've succeeded in combining cotton with carbon nanotubes to create light, easily woven fabrics that can conduct electricity.

Above and below, the hybrid tubes.

Here's the article.


A Good Yarn

Nanotechnology: Cotton fibres coated with carbon nanotubes could be used to make clothing that glows, or detects bleeding


Many science-fiction stories portray a time when warring generals monitor their forces on computer displays that are linked to special suits worn by their soldiers. Information about any injuries are sent to the command station immediately, so the generals can tell that, say, Sergeant Johnson has a fractured ankle or that Corporal Caley has lost 1.2 litres of blood. Such a day may not be too far off. Researchers have been able to produce cotton fibres capable of detecting blood and of signalling its presence electrically.

Intelligent textiles have a lot of appeal. For both soldiers and doctors, clothing that adapts to changing conditions could provide adjustable levels of protection from such things as microbes, chemicals and radiation. Commercial manufacturers see huge potential in clothes that glow, do not wrinkle or overcome body odour. Materials can already be made to do some of these things, but they are too bulky, rigid or complicated for practical use. 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. These tubes are cylindrical carbon molecules with a unique honeycomb-like arrangement of atoms. They are regarded as among the most versatile nanomaterials available because of their mechanical strength and electrical properties.

Nanotube composites are often made into solid structures or sheets, although flexible versions, such as electrically conductive films and electronic inks, can be prepared from dilute nanotube solutions. Some electronic devices, such as field-emission displays in some flat panels, are made from nanotube yarns. But the weaving of these yarns, which may be only one-thousandth of a millimetre thick, is complicated and expensive. Creating garments with electrical properties has not been considered practical.


However, Dr Kotov and his colleagues have reported in Nano Letters a simple process for coating standard cotton threads with carbon nanotubes. Being much thicker than nanotube yarns, such threads can be woven more easily. The researchers dispersed carbon nanotubes in a dilute solution of a mixture of Nafion, a commercial synthetic polymer, and ethanol. They then repeatedly dipped cotton threads, 1.5mm in diameter, into the solution, letting them dry between each dip. This allowed the nanotubes to cover individual cotton strands and to adhere strongly to the surface of the cellulose fibres in the strands. The process also encouraged the nanotubes to arrange themselves along the axis of the cotton fibres, which increased electrical connectivity. After several dips, Dr Kotov found that the cotton threads were conductive enough that they could be used to wire up a light-emitting diode.

In a further test the researchers added molecules of a material that reacts with human serum albumin, an essential component of human blood, to the dipping solution. Then they immersed more cotton threads. This time they ran an electrical current through the thread while exposing it to different concentrations of albumin. They found that the threads’ electrical conductivity varied according to the level of albumin. The researchers propose that such material could be used to detect bleeding if suitably woven into military clothing—just as the science-fiction writers predicted.


Here's a link to the abstract of Kotov's November 7, 2008 report in Nano Letters; the abstract itself follows.


Smart Electronic Yarns and Wearable Fabrics for Human Biomonitoring made by Carbon Nanotube Coating with Polyelectrolytes


The idea of electronic yarns and textiles has appeared for quite some time, but their properties often do not meet practical expectations. In addition to chemical/mechanical durability and high electrical conductivity, important materials qualifications include weavablity, wearability, light weight, and “smart” functionalities. Here we demonstrate a simple process of transforming general commodity cotton threads into intelligent e-textiles using a polyelectrolyte-based coating with carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Efficient charge transport through the network of nanotubes (20 Ω/cm) and the possibility to engineer tunneling junctions make them promising materials for many high-knowledge-content garments. Along with integrated humidity sensing, we demonstrate that CNT−cotton threads can be used to detect albumin, the key protein of blood, with high sensitivity and selectivity. Notwithstanding future challenges, these proof-of-concept demonstrations provide a direct pathway for the application of these materials as wearable biomonitoring and telemedicine sensors, which are simple, sensitive, selective, and versatile.


A December 12, 2008 Scientific American article has more.



a plain piece of cotton along with nanotube-coated swatches.

May 15, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Pac-Man Oven Mitt


Silicone rubber; 4.5"W x 3.5"H.



[via noquedanblogs and aLOLaday]

May 15, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

bookofjoe MoneyMaker®™© — WeightLess®™© Integrated Handle Luggage Scale


That's two in three days... what's happening here?

I was looking at the latest Magellan's catalog and happened on the page with all the portable luggage scales (top) and the penny dropped.

As always, it's so obvious you wonder how come no one thought of it before.

Long story short: Put a luggage scale into the bag or suitcase handle, such that you never have to look around for it and have it with you wherever you travel.

There it is, all yours.

May 15, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack



"A tie for people who are obliged


to wear one to the office


but don't really want to."

May 15, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

'For me, Microsoft is so last century' — Christine Varney, assistant attorney general of the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice


That'll make Steve Ballmer look around for a chair....

Ms. Varney was quoted thus in Wednesday's Financial Times item by Richard Waters about how Google's become the new trustbuster piñata flavor of the month.

Remember when Microsoft was gonna dominate the world?

What with its stock price leveling off and layoffs — layoffs!? (apologies to Jim Mora) — the once scary übercompany's looking more and more mortal.

May 15, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Meet Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore

She'll be at Bloomingdale's 59th Street store in New York City on 8 from noon to 2 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, May 16, 2009), reading from her new children's book, "Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully."

That's the good news.

The bad news: You only get a copy of her book if you first buy $75 or more worth of Ralph Lauren Childrenswear.


What, you thought there was some kinda free lunch thing going on?

Wake up and smell the durian.

May 15, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

May 15, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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