Polish Exchange Student’s 6 Months of Hell With Christian Fundamentalists

From Spiegel:

When Polish student Michael Gromek, 19, went to America on a student exchange, he found himself trapped in a host family of Christian fundamentalists. What followed was a six-month hell of dawn church visits and sex education talks as his new family tried to banish the devil from his soul. Here’s his story.

And why did the fundies want a Polish exchange student?

Then, seeing as we were already on the topic of God’s will, the religious zealots finally brought up a subject which had clearly been on their minds for a long time: They wanted me to help them set up a Fundamentalist Baptist church in my home country of Poland. It was God’s will, they said. They tried to slip the topic casually into conversation, but it really shocked me — I realized that was the only reason they had welcomed me into their family. They had already started construction work in Krakow — I was to help them with translations and with spreading their faith via the media.

(via Reddit)

Space Shuttle’s Computer Glitch

I can’t believe this has never been an issue before:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) — Space shuttle Discovery was moved to the launch pad Thursday to await a launch that could be as early as December 6 — an effort to avoid potential New Year’s Eve computer glitches.

The worry is that shuttle computers aren’t designed to make the change from the 365th day of the old year to the first day of the new year while in flight. NASA has never had a shuttle in space December 31 or January 1.

“We’ve just never had the computers up and going when we’ve transitioned from one year to another,” said Discovery astronaut Joan Higginbotham. “We’re not really sure how they’re going to operate.”

Starting December 7, launch opportunities would be available as late as December 17 or 18. With a 12-day mission, that would mean the shuttle is back on Earth before New Year’s Eve.

However, NASA was quick to say that even if the shuttle crew finds itself still in space on January 1, procedures could be devised to make a transition if necessary.

Ontological Paradox

Wikipedia’s definition along with examples from movies, tv and literature:

An ontological paradox is a paradox of time travel that is often used as a convention in science fiction. It is very closely related to the predestination paradox and usually occurs at the same time.

Because of the possibility of influencing the past while time travelling, one way of explaining why history does not change is by saying that whatever has happened was meant to happen. A time traveller attempting to alter the past in this model, intentionally or not, would only be fulfilling his role in creating history, not changing it. The Novikov self-consistency principle proposes that contradictory causal loops cannot form, but that consistent ones can.

However, a scenario can occur where items or information are passed from the future to the past, which then become the same items or information that are subsequently passed back. This not only creates a loop, but a situation where these items have no discernible origin.

The paradox raises the ontological questions of where, when and by whom the items were created or the information derived. Time loop logic operates on similar principles, sending the solutions to computation problems back in time to be checked for correctness without ever being computed “originally.”

(via del.icio.us/pinkheadedbug)

Better Than Blood?

From Popsci:

Oxycyte is the newest product in a family of compounds known as artificial blood. The search for a synthetic substitute for human blood began at least as early as the 19th century, when doctors actually tried using milk to replenish blood loss. With the onset of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s, pharmaceutical companies took on the cause in force, competing to create an artificial substance that could eliminate the problems—including tainted blood and supply shortages—associated with donated blood. The idea was that these substitutes could replace the use of donated blood in transfusions, during surgery, and in patients who had experienced major blood loss through injury.

Two categories of contenders soon emerged. The first was a red-colored substitute made in part from human or animal hemoglobin, the protein in our red blood cells that carries oxygen. The second was a snow-white, completely synthetic substance made from perfluorocarbons, or PFCs, a compound whose chemical makeup closely resembles the nonstick Teflon in your frying pan. PFCs have the highest gas-dissolving capacity of any liquid and, when used with supplemental oxygen, allow blood to carry many times more oxygen than it normally does (and to carry more oxygen faster and more easily than hemoglobin-based substitutes).