Some 20-year-old pain medications still work

I’ve long been aware of studies suggesting that some prescription medications can retain their potency for several years past the expiration date shown on their labels (which is typically one year after they were issued to a customer).  I must admit, though, I’ve recently been pleasantly surprised by one prescription issued to me twenty years ago. I recently had a bout with severe, immobilizing back pain, which is slowly easing off (the inevitable result of a partially disabling injury back in 2004, which resulted in a spinal fusion and permanent nerve damage).  The doctor (not my usual one) initially prescribed

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The Holy Grail of the nuclear industry

I note with interest that Lockheed Martin’s experiments with nuclear fusion technology are moving right along. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works is building a new, more capable test reactor as it continues to move ahead with its ambitious Compact Fusion Reactor program, or CFR. Despite slower than expected progress, the company remains confident the project can produce practical results, which would completely transform how power gets generated for both military and civilian purposes. . . . “The work we have done today verifies our models and shows that the physics we are talking about – the basis of what we are trying to do – is sound,”

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I wish we’d had this when I was injured

Back in 2004, I suffered a work-related injury that necessitated two spinal surgeries.  It left me with permanent partial disability, a fused spine, and in pain 24/7/365.  Sadly, once the injury had been suffered, there was nothing that medical science could do but treat its resulting symptoms (rather than their cause), and prop up the damaged spinal structure around the affected nerves.  The nerve injuries themselves, and their permanent effects, could not be healed. Now comes news that future such injuries might be treated in a whole new way. When your body suffers trauma, its fierce army of immune cells go

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Perfectly legal technology, but it makes me nervous

I note the availability of a “TF-19 WASP Flamethrower Drone Attachment“, that is “highly compatible with most cinema/industrial drone platforms with a payload capacity of 5 lbs or more“.  Here’s a promotional video. This is, of course, entirely legitimate technology in a number of industries and activities.  The supplier lists: Clear debris from power lines Pest management and nest elimination Forest fire containment back-burns / pre-burns Remote agriculture burns Nothing wrong with any of those.  However, I can’t help thinking how much damage it could do in the wrong hands. What if a disaffected person got hold of one of

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Poetry in motion – frozen variety

Here’s a time-lapse video of two Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers of the Arktika class, maneuvering in the Arctic Ocean.  The main “actor” is Yamal, with her distinctive shark’s mouth painted on her bow.  She meets up with 50 Let Pobedy (literally, “50 Years of Victory) along the way, and escorts an unnamed merchant vessel through the ice. The video blurb is in Russian, but I fed it through Google Translate and got this: This video was shot in the Arctic Ocean in March 2018. For 7 days the film crew passed through the Barents Sea to Karsky around the Novaya Zemlya archipelago on the nuclear icebreaker Yamal –

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Another electric aircraft to transport paying passengers?

A few months ago, I noted that an electrically powered conversion of the De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver aircraft would soon be flying for Harbor Air Seaplanes.  As far as I know, this will be the first commercial use of electrically powered aircraft in the world. Now comes the news that a brand-new electric aircraft design is set to enter commercial operation in the north-eastern US. Israeli start-up Eviation Aircraft has announced Cape Air as the commercial launch customer for its Alice all-electric aircraft, with the “double-digit purchase option” from a long-established airline helping to validate the in-development design and put the nascent sector on the map. Eviation has not disclosed how

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The world is much more understandable

. . . if we reduce population statistics to a more manageable level.  This video adopts that approach, and does a good job of explaining how the world works. And what if we want to look at the USA alone, rather than the entire world? This video adopts the same approach. Helpful, no?  YouTube has a number of other video clips on the same subject.  I haven’t bothered to look at them all, but I’m sure they don’t agree on all the numbers.  Nevertheless, it’s an interesting perspective on our world. Peter

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A possible solution for kidney stones?

As regular readers know, I’ve been plagued with kidney stones since 2015.  Most recently, they – or, rather, the pain they caused – prevented me from writing from roughly the middle of last year until March this year.  I find the creative part of my brain simply shuts down when the pain level gets too great.  That’s no fun, and it makes putting food on the table a bit tricky, too. I’ve been to several doctors, both general physicians and urologists, to see what could be done.  They uniformly assured me that once kidney stones become established, there are three – and

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The “cashless society” is all very well – until the power goes out

In my articles on emergency preparation, I’ve frequently mentioned the need to have an emergency reserve supply of cash on hand, in relatively small bills, so that if the power goes out, you can still buy what you need.  I’ve referenced a number of real-world examples where this has been a problem. Now Sweden’s government makes it official. Everyone in Sweden has been urged to stockpile coins and banknotes in case the country’s move towards a cashless society leaves them without money in a cyber-crisis. In a move that will sound alarm bells in the UK, Sweden — one of the

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Big balls indeed!

While searching for information about repairing a tool yesterday, I happened to wonder idly what were the largest ball-bearings ever made.  A bit of searching brought me the answer. The Benicia–Martinez Bridge in San Francisco is a triple span affair, with two bridges for traffic in and out of the city and an older railway bridge between them.  The bridges were built at different times, using different then-current state-of-the-art engineering.  In the early 2000’s, while the newest road bridge was under construction, it was decided to upgrade the older road bridge to be more earthquake-resistant.  This included replacing the old bearings (shown

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