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Ask braino Anything!
braino has been a member since February 16th, 2000.
# Asked: 34 -- # Answered: 942
Average: 0.77 -- Average: 4.39
Rank: 161 -- Rank: 101

6.20.00 - "ask braino": as part of my ongoing effort to increase the amount of enlightenment in the world*, i've decided to open an "ask me!" question :)

i've noticed very deep questions in other ask me's. while i would prefer questions like "why is purple THE COLOR OF THE DEVIL??" or "my car is on fire! what should i do??**" because they are more in line with my "qualifications," namely my love of random, mindless nonsense (I mean, namely my gigantic cranium full of knowledge. Yeah...), i will be perfectly happy to answer other questions.

p.s. for those of you wondering about my background or looking for fodder for questions, i am a 3rd year bioengineering student, AZ native, 5th generation rancher getting a good education because cowboying is HARD. obsessions include Beck and politics--one decreases my blood pressure, the other increases it. still a Clintonite, although i am irked that they are normalizing relations with North Korea and not Cuba. hypocrisy bugs me. Gore is a rube. "W" stands for "weiner". devil's advocate. skilled athlete (see braino)

*read "as part of my ongoing effort to increase the amount of attention i get"
**caution! keep in mind that i may not answer immediately! if you are in great peril, it would behove you to ask somebody else for assistance first and then come here and ask me what you did wrong!

1) cyndy: What would a career in bioengineering consist of?

You said "life" and "creating", but it is more like "life" and "manipulating." Bioengineers may be involved in just about anything that has to do with medicine, life support, engineering of organisms, etc. For example, bioengineering applications in medicine range from pacemakers, to artificial limbs, to genetic engineering, to machines that stretch and exercise your leg after knee surgery. We also get to work on artificial eyes and ears. Cloning probably also falls under the sphere of bioengineering. I am very interested in interning for a company with offices here in Phoenix called "Medtronic." They are the largest producer of pacemakers in the world. My bioengineering degree will probably emphasize materials, so it's possible that someday I will work on developing new materials that are less likely to be rejected by the body, or perhaps I will be the guy who picks which material to use for new artificial brains.

Then again, it is possible that I will graduate as a bioengineer and not do squat with the bio part of my degree. I have a very good friend who, like me, is working on a biomaterials degree (she's about 2 years ahead of me, too). She just got a job working for Motorola, working in a semiconductor fab plant. Thus she is using the materials part and not the bio part of her education. Personally, my plan right now is to take the State Department's foreign service exam and try to become an economic advisor so that I can get sent around the world to advise people.

Right now, bioengineering is becoming a hot degree. There are a lot of companies involved in bioengineering industries. Traditionally, they just hired electrical and mechanical and materials engineers, but they are finding that bioengineers are very handy because we also have training in fields like biology, chemistry, and physiology. ASU is one of only a handful of schools that has a strong bioengineering department and that offers graduate degrees in bioengineering.

2) jmkm: what kind of bioengineering excites you? what projects have you worked on?

Personally, if I could work for anybody I wanted to, I would go work for NASA and help design/refine life support systems in spaceships. I'd also love to work on space hydroponics and other stuff, both because of the bioengineering and because of the possibility of becoming an astronaut ;) These are the things that make my heart go pitter-patter.

Projects that I've worked on? Sadly, none. I got lazy and signed up to work as a courier instead of doing some footwork and getting an internship. Next year, I swear....

But I did invent a scheme/device for regulating irrigation water based on daily evaporation and precipitation! In other words, it doesn't water the crops if it rains enough and waters less on cool, moist days than it does on hot, dry days :) I even let my younger bro hijack my invention for a science project. I just hope that none of the people who attended the science fair steal my idea before I get it patented (one of these days....)

3) Lawboy: What are your thoughts on the Contract With America?

It is worthless tripe. I think that the Republicans are embarrassed by it now, since I could find no mention of it on their webpage. I didn't want to trash on it until I had refreshed my memory. I finally, after (literally) hours of searching managed to come up with a copy:

It's mostly a collection of bland, vague, feel-good proposals meant to make the Republicans look like they are weilding a flaming sword of Reform. Which they are not. Hey, I'm not saying the Democrats are either. Both parties spend most of their time attacking eachother because they know that their own platforms are full of meaningless tripe. The Republicans have had control of Congress for a long time, if they wanted to actually reform something then they should have done it by now. Maybe they could have worked on simplifying the 3000 page tax code rather than woring on adding additional weirdness to it in the form of special new tax cuts. Maybe they could have spent some money on wages for the military personel, rather than buying planes and ships that the Air Force and Navy didn't want and specifically recommended against. But we're probably not going to see any reform out of either party until we alter our election scheme. Right now, it favors large parties with vague platforms, because they need be as inclusive as possible. In our legislatures it severely underrepresents all political minorities, whether they are ideological, racial, or religious (for example, it underrepresents Democrats in Arizona). It creates false majorities in some elections. It allows for gerrymandering, the most horrible travesty that can possibly happen. But I will leave a discussion of the pros and cons of our election scheme (Single-member plurality) and the scheme I favor (Proportional Representation) for another time. Anybody interested in having their eyes opened to the real reasons why our country is in a political rut should go out and read a copy of Real Choices/New Voices by Douglas J. Amy. It is very easy to read, and will hold your attention. I thought it would be a typically dry political book, but instead I found it to be very engaging. Read it.
[Updated at 06.23.00 2:57:20 AM]

4) Seedy69: What cmail made the crazy folks at KP HQ laugh so much?

My sources tell me it was a chain letter with a joke involving a walrus, 3 KGB agents, and a "marital aid." I told my sources that I didn't want to know. Sorry :)

5) Heyteach: a) what kind of space experinments are we talking about?

Anything! I just want to be an astronaut :'(My old major was Materials Science because I thought I might get to go to space to make some special crystals in zero gravity or something. Then I found out that I'd just end up working for Motorola, so I decided to change out of it. I'd especially like to work on increasing the amount of time people can spend in space while decreasing the damage that this does to their bodies. My perfect world involves being able to chill in outer space for a year, and then just come back to earth and wander around like it was nothing. That's what it'll need to be like before people can become interplanetary tourists!

b) Would you be a frequent flier? Absolutely.
c) What about your crazy irrigation contraption?

It's still in the 'planning' phase. Maybe one of these days I will actually get around to trying to patent it, but I'm not too worried about it. The thing is, it wouldn't help many desert countries too much. It might really help in places that have widely varying day-to-day humidity, like Arizona. One day, your crops might be drying up and blowing away while the next day they are getting washed away. Thus it might help here to have a system that waters accordingly, rather than just watering ALL THE TIME which is what we do. So it might be useful, but only in certain climates.

6) Tehuti: Are plants evil or are they our friends? Should we fear them? If so, what's the best way to pull the wool over a Venus flytrap's eyes?

a) Plants are never our friends, but then again they are too simple to comprehend "enemy." They only just accept our existence, and even then they have their reservations. Consider them neutral.
b) Nah. We have antidotes for most things that they can throw at us.
c) Still, it can be very comical to trick fly traps!! Just get a pencil or a toothpick and touch the little hairs inside of its mouth, hee hee! What a sucker!! Don't worry, it will realize it's mistake and open back up in a few hours. Then it's play time again!!

7) Swords: How does the rate of evaporation from the Mediterranean Sea compare with that of the water flowing in from the Atlantic Ocean? I think I read somewhere years ago that they are in equilibrium. Is this so? If so, what is the rate at which water flows in per day?

Well, first of all, I am going to go out on a limb and say "yeah, most likely." However, this is not a simple system: there is more going on than just water loss from evaporation and water gain via Gibralter. Some of the other factors which play a part in the amount of water in the Mediterranean include:

-position of the moon (tides)
-time of day. The ocean is probably loosing more water to evaporation during the day than the Straits can replace, but at night it is probably the other way around.
-many rivers empty into the Mediterranean, and also into the Black Sea which feeds the Med throught the Bosporus.

The system must be in equalibrium (or else the net losses or gains must be very small), because the Sea has existed for millions of years while maintaining a fairly consistent average level. The thing is, there are about a million different things to consider to calculate the total flow rates in and the rate of water loss. Unfortunately, I am not patient enough to go research things like the dimensions of the Straight of Gibralter or the Bosporus, nor do I have the mathmatical skill (or a computer like Deep Blue) to find the water loss due to evaporation (it would involve stomach-turningly complicated integration, as the southeastern portion is surely going to lose more in a day than the northwestern portion of the sea, because of the large differences in climate, and shallow waters evaporate more quickly than deep waters, etc, etc). So I'm afraid you are going to just have to take my word for it ;)

8) Cyndy again: After I was in an accident wherein I received a broken back, and pelvis, and a broken, dislocated hip, I was placed in a CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine so the head of the femur didn't begin to fuse with the inside of the ball joint. Would that qualify as "machines that stretch and exercise your leg after knee surgery.", but on the hip? Would a Bioengineer design such machines, or...?

Yes! That is exactly the kind of machine that I was talking about. Traditionally, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers would design such devices, or work with doctors to try and rig something. Today, the medical device community is finding that engineers who are also trained in things like biology and physiology are often better suited for these kinds of design tasks. Bioengineering can include just about ANYTHING, including things like medical imaging (CT scan, X-rays, MRI) which don't seem like obvious areas for bioengineering work. One last hot area that I don't think I mentioned is the creation of things like non-invasive (and invasive) sensors for things like temperature, blood sugar, etc. The non-invasive blood-sugar level tester will be one of the most important devices in years, I am sure that any diabetics out there will agree with me there. Rest assured, there is some major companies devoting huge resources right now towards that very product.

9) obi-wan: Braino, enough of this intelectual crap! When are you going to give up this education stuff and return to touring with your band and making music? I mean,the fans are begging for you, the T-shirt and poster sales are starting to slack due to your extended sabbatical, and the "Braino" action figure no longer is being sold with the Kung Fu grip and the faithful sidekick "Tito". Just remember why you started all of this in the first place, to make music man!

Obi-wan, you knew *this* was my dream! Ok, maybe not, but ever since that fateful night back in '98, with the crazed fans, the harsh lights... the band all ready to play, and, and,... you remember how it was. I just lost it, man :'( Someday... someday, maybe soon, I'll find my muse. Then it will be time to rock and roll. Until then, *sniff*, tell Tito that I had to go away... very far... away....

10) taragl: So, it's the year 2000...where is my flying car? They promised me a flying car! Or at least a levitating skateboard like Michael J. Fox had in Back to the Future II...

It's time the truth was known. The Eisenhower Administration burried the flying car. They felt that the American Public just wasn't ready for such awesome responsiblity. Just think of the chaos: fly by moonings and eggings, making out at 20000 ft in your Cadillac, all of the poor orphaned baby birds when you make some "air-kill". It was too much then, and it's probably still too much now.

As for the flying skateboard, they started to give up on it after they started running low on test pilots. Then, the commies were countering with a "flying shoes" project, which made the whole skateboard idea obsolete.

11) obiwan: Braino, which is your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle? Which one do you pretend to be while you are all alone in your bedroom late at night? Ummm ahh, I pretend to be Donatello, umm don't tell anyone.

I was always partial to Leonardo, but personally I just wanted to cruise around in the Technodrome!

And now, to completely "date" myself:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
Teenage Mutant NINJA TURTLES!
Heroes in a half shell! Turtle Power!

They're the worlds most fiercesome fighting team! (We're really hip!)
They're heroes in the half shell and they're GREEN! (Hey, get a grip!)
When the evil Shredder attacks,
These Turtle Boys don't cut him no slack!!


Splinter's tough and toothy ninja team!
Leanardo leads, Donatello does machines!
Rafael is cool but rude!
Michaelangelo is a party dude!!

Wow! I almost gave up, and then I remembered the second verse! Pretty weird, I can't believe that this stuff is crowding out important stuff (no wonder i am having trouble paying attention in Thermodynamics!!)

12) norris: I personally think orange is THE COLOR OF THE DEVIL. You apparently think it's purple. Convince me, in a well-written argument, that you're right and I'm wrong.

Simple numerology, my dear. First, assign numbers to all of the letters in the alphabet, a=1, b=2, etc. Add the values of the letters in "purple" up. Then compute as follows:

(value of letters) x 2 [number of horns on the devil's forehead]

- 7 [the number of levels in hell]
-42 [the answer to life, the universe, and everything]
+12 [the number of apostles]
- 1 [the number of female popes, to date]
- 3 [symbolizing the trinity]
x 6 [the Universal Evil Constant]

...and voila! The mark of the beast! Now erase your calculator quickly.

But seriously, I think that orange is a far more evil color. I happen to like purple :) I have little faith in number games.

 Braino, you mentioned your brother one time. Please tell me a little about your family.


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