Thursday, March 23, 2017

This Tiny Device Could Provide Clean Water for 663 Million People

A tiny, black rectangular device could be the world’s long-term solution for clean water.  The gadget is solar-powered, half the size of a postage stamp, and it disinfects water.

“Our device looks like a little rectangle of black glass,” said Chong Liu, lead author of a paper on the device published in 
Nature Nanotechnology. “We just dropped it into the water and put everything under the sun, and the sun did all the work,” she said.

663 million people in the world not having access to clean water, a device this efficient stands to significantly change many lives. Roughly 800 children die a day due to lack of access to clean water.

The purifier, developed by researchers at the SLAC National Accelerator and Stanford University, contains microscopic layers of “nanoflakes.” When exposed to water and sunlight, they produce hydrogen peroxide, a natural disinfectant. In early testing, the disinfectant killed 99.999% of bacteria before dissipating and leaving behind safe-to-drink water.

“When you see there’s no bacteria growing, it’s really exciting,” said Liu in the report published on Monday. “We didn’t expect it to work that well at first.”

The new device is a substantial improvement over previous solar-powered water cleaning systems. The nanoflakes, which contain industrial lubricant molybdenum disulfide, absorb more than just UV light. Absorbing a wider band of the light spectrum means the nanoflakes utilize 50% of the incoming sunlight’s energy, whereas standard purifiers harness 4%.

The solar-powered reaction should leave the device completely reusable.

Researchers tested the tiny tablet in 25-milliliter vessels containing E. Coli and lactic acid bacteria Enterococcus. It took less than 20 minutes for the water in the container to be cleaned. Larger water tanks can be purified by scaling up the number of tablets used.

For the moment, the still-unnamed device’s ability to clean chemical pollutants like lead is unknown.
Despite the potential limitation, the small rectangle of nanoflakes is a major step forward to providing everyone in water-contaminated areas with a clean source of refreshment.

“As a researcher it’s really exciting for us to see that by developing technologies you have the potential to help a lot of people,” Liu said.

The device will next be tested in real world settings before, researchers hope, being put into commercial production at a price less than $30.

Written by Brandon Blackburn-Dwyer

Brandon is the Managing Editor of Global Citizen. He has lived and worked on 4 different continents and travelled to nearly 60 countries. His first job was with Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy, and he has been working in international affairs ever since. From academia (he was a professor!) to development work to business to work on radio and television he has always been focused on global issues. He also loves college basketball.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

THE TELEPHONE NUMBER - Happy Valentine's Day!



MIKE frantically fingers the contents of his wallet.

Where is that business card?

He holds his wallet upside down, watching the waterfall of its contents cascade to his unmade bed.

It was blue.

For the next half hour he inspects each item, discarding the unnecessary. Still, no blue business card. Despondent, he falls onto his bed; the loss of the card summing up his chaotic life.

Think, Mike. Think.

He closes his eyes and concentrates. The first three numbers lept before him as he'd studied her telephone number countless times. But the last a child repeats the alphabet to reach an elusive letter, so he tried with numbers.

One, two, three... Three!

Scrambling for a notepad, he proceeds until seven digits stared back at him; the telephone number he could swear he'd had all along. His digital clock blares eleven o'clock.

It's pretty late.
(pumping himself)
It's now or never!

As he dials, he visualizes the tall, slender blonde in her slinky, red dress, flirting over a martini.

But I'm not in her league.

While the phone rings, he reminds himself that he wasn't half bad looking, and women even commented on how his glasses made him look just as adorable as Clark Kent.

Just as clumsy, too.

A woman answers the phone.


Hello? Danielle?


Um. This is Mike. You may not remember...

I didn't think you'd ever call, Mike.

(spirits soaring)
Would you like to go out for dinner?
You would? I mean, Saturday? Seven thirty?
Sure, I know where it is. Terrific! See you
then. Good night, Danielle.

He dances victoriously around the bedroom, then collapses onto his bed, soon falling asleep.


Mike rushes haphazardly, changing his Hanes underwear at least a dozen times. He would be late if he didn't step up his already frenetic pace.


Mike follows the maitre d' who escorts him to a cozy table in the dimly lit corner at which sits a lovely, bespectacled young woman.

(adjusting her glasses)

(mimics her)

While the excitement and anticipation hisses from his ego, Danielle grins.

Seems there's been a little mistake.

Her embracing smile emphasizes her gentleness and sweet face.

It doesn't mean we can't make the best of it.
What do you think?

(grins sheepishly)

After ordering, then pouring the wine, he slowly shares what had happened. Danielle's LAUGHTER, both comforting and lilting, eases his self-consciousness. The hours fly by. When they realize they're the last couple in the restaurant, they exchange warm glances.

I'd love to see you again.

I would too, Mike, but under one condition.

What's that?

(holding his hands)
You give me your telephone number.



As they walk into the crisp spring night, DANIELLE's tresses bounce in sync with Mike's newfound spring in his step.

(to himself, glancing at the stars)
Am I glad I lost that business card!


**written by petra michelle (2/16/08)**

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

5 Things That Can't Be Copyrighted

Modern copyright law can feel extremely broad at times. Every creative work made, whether it is a doodle on a napkin, a photograph or a poem, once it is fixed into a tangible medium of expression, the creator holds the copyright to it. No notice nor any further action is required (though registration with the U.S. Copyright Office has many added benefits).
Still, there are many things that can not be copyrighted. They either don’t fall under the jurisdiction of copyright or don’t qualify for its protection. There are also exemptions and that place some content immediately into the public domain.
So if you’ve ever wondered about the things you can’t copyright, here is a short list of five of the more important ones.

1. Titles and Names

Copyright protection does not extend to titles, names, slogans or short phrases, the Copyright Office has made that much very clear. You can not copyright your name, the title of your post or any short phrase that you use to identify a work.
The reason is that copyright is designed to protect works of creative authorship, it is not designed to protect how that work is identified in the marketplace, the same goes for people and places. Furthermore, such short phrases rarely meet the requisite level of creativity to be considered for copyright protection.
Caveat: Titles may not be copyrighted, but if they are used to identify a business, good or service in the marketplace, they can be given trademark protection. If you use a title in a way that might cause confusion in the marketplace, there could be trademark issues. However, if you want to make a post entitled “5 Things That Can’t Be Copyrighted”, you are free to do so.

2. Ideas

Ideas can not be copyrighted because they are not fixed into a tangible medium of expression. For a work to be copyrighted, it has to be written down, saved to a hard drive or somehow otherwise fixed.
For example, if you give a speech but fail to write it down first and it isn’t recorded, there is no copyright protection. Likewise, if you tell an idea to a friend, you don’t receive copyright protection if they run with it and use it for themselves, that is, unless you write it down.
However, even ideas that are fixed do not receive protection in and of themselves. Rather, it is the expression of the idea that is protected. My “5 Things That Can’t Be Copyrighted” post is fixed, but you can certainly write your own post with the same title and idea. However, you can not use my exact words, unless, of course, you follow my CC license.
Caveat: When it comes to derivative works, there can be a lot of gray area between an uncopyrightable idea and an infringing derivative. You can, for example, write your own book about a boy wizard and a wizard school, but you can’t use any of the characters from Harry Potter. Where the line is drawn is often murky and usually decided on a case-by-case basis. Also, in many cases ideas can be patented, such as inventions, but that enters into another area of intellectual property.

3. Works By the U.S. Federal Government

Works by the U.S. Government are placed directly into the public domain as the Federal government is barred from holding copyright in its work. This is why NASA’s images, which are very popular on the Web, can be freely copied and shared and also why laws and statutes can be posted anywhere online.
There are many reasons for this, the first being that taxpayer money is spent on creating the works so it is fair they should be given back to the populace. Also, it’s a freedom of speech issue as the government can not use copyright to stifle criticism.
Caveat: This is not true in all countries. Australia, Canada and the UK all have crown copyright, that enables the government to hold copyright protection to certain works. Also, the U.S. government can hold copyrights in works if they transferred to it, for example by contractors. Also, the government has other laws, such as state secrecy laws, to prevent the distribution of information.

4. Works Without Authorship/Facts

Though the photos that come with your calendar are probably copyright-protected, the calendar itself is not. Likewise, you can’t copyright the lines on a notebook-ruled paper or, sadly for the phone companies, even telephone directories are not protected.
The reason is that a work has to have a requisite level of creativity in order to qualify for copyright protection and if a work is just a repetition of facts without any creativity, it isn’t protected. This is true even if a great deal of effort went into making the product, as with a phone book.
Likewise, facts and information can’t be copyrighted though the expression of those facts often can be.
Caveat: The level of requisite creativity is actually fairly low. A phone book may not be copyright protected, but a top ten list of the funniest names in the phone book might be. Also, other countries, including the UK and Australia, follow a “sweat of the brow” doctrine that says a collection of facts can be copyrighted if the collector underwent a great deal of effort to compile them (and didn’t merely copy from another source).

5. Fashion

This may surprise many, but fashion designers, currently, enjoy no copyright protection in their work. Their designs are not covered under the current code even though architectural and even vessel hulls are protected.
The reason is because fahion pieces are considered useful articles and, as such, only enjoy copyright protection for certain elements and “only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.”
In short, a pattern on a shirt might be copyrightable, but the shirt itself is not. Likewise, an intricate belt buckle design might qualify for protection but not the belt itself.
However, the overall cut, colors and style do not enjoy any protection at all.
Caveat: Fashion designers can, if they wish to go through the time and expense, paten their designs. Also, as mentioned above, elements of a useful article may qualify for copyright protection separate from the work itself. Finally, this is not universally true and legislation is almost constantly being circulated to weigh the possibility of expanding copyright protection to cover fashion. Finally, do note that trademark still protects the names of the companies that make and distribute the clothing.

Bottom Line

Copyright is everywhere. Every video, every picture, every written piece, every audio file, every sculpture, every building design created this year will be copyright protected, at least initially and at least to some degree.
However, there are places that copyright’s protection does not reach and those places are worth noting just as strongly as what it does protect.
Regardless, the next time someone says that everything is copyrighted these days, here are five examples of things that aren’t and, in most cases, likely never will be.
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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sharing Popcorn with God -- Dedicated to Paul Newman

   (January 26, 1925 – September 26, 2008)



GOD and a male ANGEL are relaxing and sharing a bowl of popcorn; enjoying film images on a row of small clouds before them.

This is my favorite part.

INSERT IMAGE: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are on their horses jumping off the cliff into a river.

My favorite too.
(reads the cloud guide)
Looks like there's a marathon today.

What's next?

The Sting.

Engrossed, CRUNCHING popcorn and gun SHOTS break the silence.

They had a full-proof code which helped them get away with the heist.


A sublime sunset engulfs them; they, too absorbed to notice it and the time.

You've seen it all, haven't you?

Not Hombre.

The Angel smiles.

The hypocricies and prejudices!

A fair protrait.

As they begin to reveal themselves, the Angel savors the stars' brilliance, then returns to the guide.

There's a few more in the marathon?
Do you have the time?

I sure could use the day off.
Elizabeth Taylor.

A Cat on the Hot Tin Roof.
(turns to God)
Are you sure you should be watching these?

Are you suggesting I watch PG-13?

No, of course not.
(returns to images)
The Verdict!

I haven't seen it.

It's about a heavy drinking, down-on-his luck lawyer who makes a come back.

Good for him.
(glancing at the next cloud)

The man with the barbed wire soul.

I see we're out of popcorn. I'll make dinner.

The Angel watches the serene figure admiringly as He carefully prepares their meal. Upon His return,

God, thanks for having given me a such a blessed life.

I'd say it was the other way around, Paul.
What's next?

Absence of Malice.


Originally published 10/03/08

**written by petra michelle**