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CLASSICAL GAS --
SCIENTIFIC GOSSIP

compiled by Stephen Drew

'Wonder Crack'

An intensely addictive new form of crack cocaine has been introduced to the US and Europe in recent months, with an unusually insidious marketing campaign.

Known as 'wonder crack,' the drug is reputed to have an unusual biological property. Many of wonder crack's users believe that it helps prevent the buildup of arterial cholesterol, a major cause of heart disease. Drug dealers, and some holistic chiropractors, are claiming that the substance 'builds strong bodies twelve ways."

The drug may have some health benefits, but is more addictive than most other illegal drugs. Wonder crack is a highly refined form of crack cocaine which has been denatured with iwanuline-450, a chemical derivative of oat bran.


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Otolaryngology Recapitulates Phylogeny

Through the magic of home video, the general public is seeing the creation of a new scientist celebrity. Dr. Rachel Linley Wetmore of the Andover Clinic, who last year was the star of the unexpectedly best-selling videos 'Aerobic Ontology' and 'Physicians Recapitulate Phylogeny,' has a new video that will be available in stores within the month. Called 'Otolaryngology Recapitulates Phylogeny,' it is already topping the sales charts in advance sales to video dealers.


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The View From Above

Spy satellites, prized for their role in surveying the earth's surface, may be replaced by a cheaper, simpler technology. It will soon be possible for an earth-based watcher to visually observe almost any other surface location instantly and at negligible expense.

Meteor burst communications, in which ground-based antennas bounce signals off the long, ionized trails left by meteors entering the upper atmosphere, is proving more adaptable than was first expected. It has long been understood how to transmit radio frequencies using the meteor trails. But last month, for the first time, researchers at Ogletech, Inc. demonstrated a prototype system that works in the visual and infrared frequencies.

The demonstration took place at Ogletech's research facility in Teaneck, New Jersey. On a large-screen television monitor, reporters could clearly see, from above, bathers on a resort beach at Bimini in the Bahama Islands. The real-time images were extremely sharp, and showed an astonishingly high level of detail. Ogletech personnel treated the reporters to a virtual pore-by-pore examination of one youthful couple.

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Whither Marine Radioactive Waste?

After several false starts, the US and Canadian governments have begun actively testing whether barrels of radioactive waste dumped in the Pacific Ocean pose a significant danger.

Newton Goldschlag of the Joint Oceanic Experimentation Council is conducting a $900,000 study that will focus on the estimated 47,500 steel barrels dumped in the Gulf of Farallones (30 miles west of San Francisco Bay) beween 1946 and 1970. The barrels contain waste from the Manhatten Project and from two nuclear laboratories in California, as well as some from the US Navy. It is feared that some of the barrels are in danger of collapsing or corroding and leaking radioactive material.

Goldschlag will break open several of the barrels, and over the next five years will monitor what happens as the contents spread throughout the Pacific. Goldschlag is unsure of exactly what is in the barrels, but believes it may be a chemical mixture that includes plutonium, cesium and mercury.

"This will give us a baseline against which to begin planning a more extensive study of what might be happening as the barrels themselves age and decay," he said.


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Tracer of Lost Socks

It is now possible to reliably locate lost socks. New stockings are being manufactured with special microchips in the instep. Each sock has its own unique identifying code. Socks can be located, to an accuracy of within two meters, by a method of passive communications with an orbiting satellite. The method does not work with old socks which not equipped with the VLSI circuitry.

The SRLS (Satellite Retrieval of Lost Socks) system was developed by J.S. Carberry of Brown University.

Some observers are skeptical about the system, seeing it as an overly elaborate and expensive solution to a problem that, although thus far intractable, might someday yield to a less technically complex solution.

 

This is a HotAIR classical feature. For a complete listing of AIR features, see What's New.


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