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Top Scientific Breakthroughs of 2009 57

Wired has posted their favorite scientific breakthroughs of the past year. The feats include things like the confirmation of element 114, a cancer-detecting breathalyzer, the power of jellyfish and more. What other discoveries should have made the list and what might we look forward to in 2010? "Also this year, researchers at the University of Washington cured two adult monkeys of colorblindness by giving them injections of a gene that produces pigments necessary for color vision. After the treatment, the animals scored higher on a computerized color blindness test. In the coming years, gene therapy will be tested as a remedy for all sorts of inherited diseases, cancer, viral infections and even high cholesterol."
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Top Scientific Breakthroughs of 2009

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  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Friday January 01, 2010 @01:01PM (#30614746)
    Mirrors do not reverse left-right as was explained most clearly by Richard Feynman. If you turn a book round and then look at it in a mirror, the actual text you see in the mirror is the same way round as it currently is in the book (you can prove this very easily - write in felt tip on a plastic bag and try that. You will see that the mirror writing, and the writing seen through the back of the bag are exactly the same way round

    The answer to the question, why do mirrors reverse left/right and not up/down is simple: they do neither. A few seconds of ray tracing show that they reverse front to back.

  • by mister_playboy ( 1474163 ) on Friday January 01, 2010 @01:52PM (#30615018)

    The US has had a long history of being overly conservative on automotive equipment. A classic example is the amount of time that passed before aerodynamically shaped headlights were allowed on cars in place of flat faced sealed beams. Ever wonder why the headlights on a car such as this Mustang SVO [] or this Mercedes S-Class [] don't blend into the rest of the front end? Silly laws are why.

    The fact that these aerodynamic lights performed their function correctly was irrelevant... they were different in form, and therefore banned in the US for many years after their first appearance.

    Another good example can be found with catalytic converters. It's illegal for a muffler shop to remove it from your car, but it's perfectly fine to drive around with a totally inactive and rusted out one, or to buy a cheap made-in-Taiwan replacement that most likely does very little exhaust scrubbing compared to the (often pricey due to the exotic metal content) factory spec model. Catalytic converters are supposed to be about pollution control, but the actual laws regarding them have nothing to do with their functionality, and only with their apparent presence or lack thereof on a vehicle.

  • by Bluesman ( 104513 ) on Friday January 01, 2010 @01:57PM (#30615048) Homepage

    I don't know the original intention of the legislation, but I use the driver side mirror for its intended purpose -- to remove the blind spot when changing lanes or turning right. I position it so that if a car is passing me on the left, I can see it leave the view of the rear-view mirror and enter the driver side mirror, until I can see it with peripheral vision. I usually have the driver side mirror angled way out.

    There isn't a reason (to me) to see more with that mirror; if I could see cars further to the left of me, it would only be confusing when trying to switch lanes quickly. (Is that car immediately left of me, or is it two lanes over?)

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Friday January 01, 2010 @03:11PM (#30615460)

    Convex mirrors make objects appear further away.

    The passenger side mirror is generally a convex, wide field of view mirror, inscribed with the famous warning "objects in mirror are closer than they appear."

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM