June 29, 2014

Be Your Own Climate Scientist: Just use your brain.

According to WeatherUnderground (dot com), 2013 graced the planet with 41 disasters on the 1-Billion dollar-plus scale. These included flooding, severe weather, hurricanes, winter weather, and drought. Before 2010, this disaster tally was only 18 events per year. As a scientist, broadly trained, I am getting tired of hearing college educated people tell me they think global warming is not real because their congressman, a think-tank created by coal companies, or their Pastor told them so last Sunday. 

Are greenhouse gasses bogus? Many businesses would like you to think so, and lobby to put doubt in your mind, but we cannot deal in "feelings" when it comes to such things. As a scientist who relies on chemistry and mathematical calculations to design experiments, and a former pilot who trusted physics to stay airborne and navigate hundreds of miles over featureless forests and bush, I just want the facts and numbers. 

So in this posting, let me give you the facts, and then you can decide about global warming and climate change for yourself. Wisdom is respected in most cultures, after all. I invite you to read and think for yourself. You are smart. Please read on...

June 28, 2014

Sun in Your Eyes? Cheap Sunglasses, UV-light, and Sales Tricks

Finally, its summer here in Michigan, and the Sun is getting higher in the sky every day. Those little expensive sunglasses stores, with the products ranging from $300-$1000 per pair, are busy talking to potential customers about the importance of special lens coatings to filter out UV-light. The sales associates will tell you many facts about "blocking UV-A and UV-B light", both ultraviolet light that you cannot see. Ultraviolet light causes sunburn of course, and can damage chemical components within your skin cells, such as the DNA. Most of us know that suntanning raises your personal risk of skin cancer (melanoma). Australia has a higher incidence of skin cancer compared to the United States. Sales staff will remind you that you already use sunscreens for your skin and they will quote information telling you that as we age, many of us will suffer from age related macular degeneration and cataracts. As an eye health researcher myself, I can tell you that we do know that people who work outside in Sunlight do have higher incidents of cataracts (clouding lenses of the eye) compared to those who work indoors. This is thought to be caused by more exposure to the UV light from the Sun. However, it is also true that $300 sunglasses may actually be increasing the amount of UV-light getting into your eyes if you use them incorrectly! How? Read on for more details.

June 1, 2014

Android Nearing 80% of Smart Phone Users. Will iPhones be Relevant?

While the iPhone really got the smartphone age started, in less than a decade the proportions of the smartphone pie have completely reversed in favor of Android. Android OS will be on 80% of phones worldwide as we move deeper into 2014. Furthermore, the pie is at least 10 times larger compare to when the iPhone was king. That might not be so bad for Apple"s iPhone and the iOS system if Apple's absolute numbers of users were growing as fast as Android's, but they are not.

You can see an informative graph of smartphone growth in a Business Insider's post from this week at bisinessinsider.com.
While sales of iPhones are very profitable and benefit just one iOS company (Apple), it is also true that many new iPhone sales rely on current users trading in for new models. In a world where smartphones link the work and lives of billions of users, what will be the incentive for developers to make iPhone Apps as well as Android Apps?