Gongol.com Archives: April 2009
Brian Gongol


April 20, 2009

Health If we could learn from the regenerating salamander, we'd be much better off
The axolotl is a salamander with the curious ability to regenerate virtually everything -- lost limbs, jaws, tails, and even spinal cords. These have been known characteristics for more than 200 years -- but we haven't figured out yet how they do it. One might think this should be a high-priority area of research. In the short term, it could mean replacement limbs for human amputees. In the long term, it could be a major step towards overcoming natural death. Some trees live for thousands of years, in part because parts of those trees can die while other parts continue living. We as humans can't exactly grow new branches, but many of the things that kill us are failures of specific body parts or organs, like the heart or the lungs. If we can figure out how to replace these failed parts without massive trauma, then we might be able to continue living well past the natural "expiration date" on the constituent parts of the body. The accumulation of physical contaminants in the brain, which may be ultimately responsible for killing us even when the rest of the body can continue going on, may even be the kind of thing we could overcome. We've made colossal leaps in extending life expectancy over the last century without the help of regeneration technology. Imagine what we could do with it.

Weather and Disasters 100 scientists and 40 research vehicles will hit the road to study tornadoes this year

Science and Technology New analysis finds that the Great Wall of China is about 55% longer than previously thought

Water News Governor signs new law for Iowa wastewater funding

Agriculture Flashback to a year ago
A year ago this week, the world was far less in a tizzy about the financial markets than about the food markets. Food retailers were even rationing purchases of bulk rice. Is our food security any better today than it was 12 months ago, or is this just more evidence that our news cycles are driven by the word "crisis" rather than by what's really important?

Business and Finance Minnesota state auditor wants state government to quit ethanol subsidies

Computers and the Internet Irish suicide hotline adds texting service
A very appropriate use of technology to helping people, indeed

Business and Finance Checklist for homebuyers
An abbreviated list of things a person might want to consider before buying a house

Broadcasting Podcast: What's the point of the mortgage-interest deduction?
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Broadcasting Podcast: Pizza toppings in North Korea
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Recent radio podcasts