Sunday shorts, 1st April 2012. Awards, bullet-proof hard drives and more.

By Grant Jacobs 01/04/2012

(Sorry, no April Fool’s joke here.)

Congratulations to Zoe Hilton for her Unesco-L’Oreal International Fellowship who ’won one of three fellowships awarded to young women in the Asia Pacific region’. Well done! More details are in the New Zealand Unesco news page and the New Zealand Herald.

There’s some wonderful historic quotes in From the Hands of Quacks (great title too). She writes infrequently, but very well. In addition to the recent quips it’s worth reading her account of a complaint in April 1839 by Joseph Toynbee warning Lancet readers of (Toynbee’s words) ’quack curers for the deaf’,

’[H]e sends his advertisement to the public papers,’ Toynbee wrote, ’for an enormous payment gets it inserted as a paragraph…[and] by the aid of the circulation of this puff…deaf people consult Dr. Turnbull; he makes his application, and takes his fee.’[4] Toynbee insisted this was a disgraceful and underhanded maneuver directed towards drawing in patients, who were left vulnerable to potentially dangerous treatments […]

Toynbee goes on to relate that the important element was study.

I’m not picking at Turnbull, whose treatment if attacked here, but rather find it interesting that the general issue of advertorials for ‘treatments’ via newspaper were alive and well back then and that this will have a very familiar right to those with an eye to the present-day equivalents.

Bullet-proof hard drives. Reading the comments following an ArsTechnica article on destroying old backup hard drives (lest someone pilfer the data) I stumbled on this account of trying to destroy one:

So last fall I shot one with a .22 pistol. Would you believe it only dented the case? Not to be thwarted, a friend who went with me shot with a .44. The damned case stopped that too! If you’re ever pinned down by gunfire on a server farm, make a vest out of hard drives and you can probably run away safely.

I’d be a little worried about ricochets myself, but that aside bets for this appearing in a (geeky) thriller in the future? Geeky hero holed up in server farm guts the racks of hard drives, wires up a vest and walks out amid a hail of bullets flying off him (her) in all directions…

Seriously, craigbass76v goes on to write more practically, ’The magnets work awesome on the fridge; my black lab can’t knock papers off with his tail now if they’re held on with a hard drive magnet.’ Must try getting the magnets out of the old crashed HDs myself.

Mutant influenza studies now to be published. Some readers might recall that two papers were withheld from publication over fears that details of the mutations identified to make H5N1 flu’ to become transmitted readily by respiratory transmission might fall in the wrong hands (read: terrorists). Nature has reported that these two papers have now be cleared to be published.

Blogger being sued for complaining about homeopathic product. In Portugal it seems a blogger his being made to have a day in court by a local company over him complaining about their product. (Google translate page; H/T Sandra Porter. Original here.) Luis Grave says (twice!) ’It will be fun!’

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