Good news for geeks

BBC News story: Caffeine ‘may cure skin cancer’

Caffeine could one day be used to cure skin cancer, scientists believe. Researchers in the United States have found that caffeine combined with an extract from green tea can kill the disease in mice. They have discovered that rubbing both substances onto the skin of mice stopped the cancer from spreading and killed all tumours.

Couldn’t miss this one with a site name like Quantum Tea.

Spot the rock

Found an update on the February 2019 asteroid at the BBC News site. Asteroid to miss – this time around has some less happy news though.

Astronomers have ruled out an Earth impact from asteroid 2002 NT7 on 1 February 2019 – but they say, as yet, future collisions have not been completely excluded.

2002 NT7, a two-kilometre-wide (1.4 miles) chunk of rock, was discovered on 9 July. Initial estimates of its orbit suggested there was a small chance of it colliding with our planet in 17 years’ time.

Dr Don Yeomans, of the US space agency’s (Nasa) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “We can now rule out any impact possibilities for 1 February 2019.”

Dr Yeomans added: “While we cannot completely rule out an impact possibility for 1 February 2060, it seems very likely that this possibility will soon be ruled out as well.”

Early morning coffee

Story in BBC News:

Scientists have stumbled on a secret weapon against snails and slugs. They have discovered the garden pests are poisoned by caffeine. A strong cup of coffee is enough to send the creatures into a writhing frenzy, followed soon by death. Scientists think caffeine acts as a potent neurotoxin against the pests.

And here’s me about to hit the Frappuccino ®.

Pi day

Today is 3/14/02. Today is Pi day. Pi is 3.1415926535897932384626433832795 and then a whole pile of other numbers on the end, which are as useful in practical terms as a chocolate teapot.


I’m hunting more music to make a sixth coding music CD. Just found a chap from Melbourne, Australian, Turboy with some decent stuff that’ll probably be on there. Arisen is another one, from Scotland.

I cannot understand why one reference to a GridLayout would make a window refuse to appear. It makes no sense. Finally got the SiteConfig window working again. I stripped everything out and put it back one method at a time. Tedious.

Today’s new word is analeptic dating from 1671, a drug that stimulates the central nervous system. Caffeine does nicely. Strange to think that before coffee and tea arrived in Europe, everyone was drinking wine, beer and ale, probably part drunk for most of the working week. Caffeine brought sobriety.

Chocolate, Cola, and Copyleft

According to “The World of Caffeine” (Weinberg and Bealer) Spain was the first European country to drink chocolate, nuns in Mexican cloisters were the first Europeans to make hard chocolate, probably learning it from the locals. Until the French Revolution, chocolate drinks were seen as a convenient way to poison someone, because the strong taste hid the flavour of the poison. No mention is made of what happened to inconvenient people after the revolution. Fascinating book.

In other caffeinated news, OpenCola have released a cola recipe and copylefted it. Copyleft is “a general method for making a program free software and requiring all modified and extended versions of the program to be free software as well” (from the Copyleft page on the Gnu Project site). Not originally intended to apply to drinks, let alone the Secret Cola recipe, but OpenCola are giving it a try. They do software too according to their website.

One of the secret ingredients of their cola recipe is lavender oil. Yuck! I hate the smell of lavender, now I find out I’ve probably been drinking the stuff for years. Orange, lemon and lime oils are fine, but lavender?


Why do they call it a development roadmap, when calling it a feature list would be more accurate? Map sounds more adventurous, you see Terra Incognita and “Here Be Dragons” on maps. Chronicle now has a roadmap, going from version 0.2 (add, update, save and delete entries only) to version 1.0 (config admin, theme admin, site admin, macro admin, installer, invocation script and documentation, an hopefully free of bugs).

The St. Louis Rams football team is going to the 36th Superbowl, after winning the 34th in 2000. The score wasn’t as dramatic as last week, but a win is a win, 29 to the Philadelphia Eagles 24.

Our domain is now registered and live. belongs to us. And I am doing a site redesign for the new address.

Still reading the caffeine book. Tea cannot be traced back any further than China, but it didn’t originate there the same way coffee didn’t originate in the Middle East. Strange to not know completely something that is so well integrated into our lives and culture. It must be very difficult to study caffeine when almost everyone is a little bit addicted to it. It’s even in some headache pills.

Scientific American has an article this month about TV addiction, and defined a heavy “user” as someone who watches 4 hours a day, and a light user as someone who watches two or less. I don’t have four hours a day to spend sat in front of the TV. There’s books I haven’t read yet, jewellery to make, programming, web sites to maintain and extend, housework, laundry, grocery shopping… Four hours a day? How can anyone do that?

Caffeine, coffee, tea and chocolate

Reading The World of Caffeine by Weinberg and Bealer, coffee seems to have mysteriously escaped notice until the 1500’s, despite a reference to it in A.D. 1000. Weirder still, it seems to have been unknown to the Arabs until after they heard of tea, which was grown far further away than coffee. Coffee was growing wild practically in their own back yard, it is said to have originated in Ethiopia. It got very popular in Europe in the seventeenth century, Bach wrote a “Coffee Cantata” in 1732.

Interesting fact #2, chocolate contains a stimulant theobromine, which augments the effect of caffeine, and has a similar pharmacological profile. The book mentions chocolate and cocoa being sold in the coffee houses next to tea and coffee, much like today’s Starbucks coffee shops. Starbucks’ website sells an electric tea kettle for $125, as if it were some newfangled contraption for elite tea drinkers, instead of a kitchen workhorse, advertising it as “Revolutionary water heating technology.”