Chronos is one of the many Smalltalk-related blogs syndicated on Planet Smalltalk

Discussion of the Essence# programming language, and related issues and technologies.

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Drinking every day chases heart disease away in men only: study

If you want or need an excuse for your beer habit, here ya go:

Drinking every day chases heart disease away in men only: study from

Drinking alcohol every day cuts the risk of heart disease among men but women who indulge less frequently enjoy the same benefits, according to a study published Friday in the British Medical Journal.


New Tools for a Nanotechnology Workshop

New Tools for a Nanotechnology Workshop from

Until recently, nanoscale devices could only be crafted through chemical reactions or by pushing components together on a smooth surface. Researchers at the Technical University of Denmark have developed and demonstrated practical tools allowing the precise manipulation and assembly of complex, three-dimensional nanomachines.

If Professor Mølhave and his colleagues continue working at their present pace, the mass production of nanomachines may be closer than we think!

Theoretical blueprint for invisibility cloak reported

Nano World: Invisibility through nano from

Invisibility cloaks that bend light might develop using nanotechnology, experts tell UPI's Nano World.

Scientists Predict How to Detect a Fourth Dimension of Space

Scientists Predict How to Detect a Fourth Dimension of Space from

Scientists at Duke and Rutgers universities have developed a mathematical framework they say will enable astronomers to test a new five-dimensional theory of gravity that competes with Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.


Squeak Relicensed Under APSL2

Craig Latta, speaking for the board of the Squeak Foundation, made the following announcement today to the Squeak-Dev mailing list:

Hi all--

Thanks to long-running efforts by folks at Viewpoints Research Institute, Apple Computer and elsewhere, Apple has given Viewpoints permission to make a release of the original public Squeak system using the Apple Public Source License[1].

Squeak 1.1, with an APSL2 license, is available here:

The Squeak Foundation board would like to thank the above groups for making this happen, and everyone else for being so patient!

And now we live in interesting times. This only applies to the original release of Squeak (version 1.1 of 23 September 1996); we now have a choice between APSL2 and the original Squeak License[2] for that release. We need to decide what to do about subsequent code, and code written by third parties. We might choose to rewrite some things so as to create a better licensing situation. We probably want to have a policy whereby contributors agree to grant a particular license to their work explicitly before we can accept it.

How shall we proceed with future releases of Squeak? Let's discuss it.

thanks again,
your Squeak Foundation board


Craig Latta
improvisational musical informaticist
Smalltalkers do: [:it | All with: Class, (And love: it)]


Old Dudes Who Know Smalltalk

Joseph Moore has some nice things to say about Old Dudes Who Know Smalltalk:

Ah, there it is -- These are Old Dudes! I love Old Dudes! And I really love Old Dudes Who Know Smalltalk! I was nurtured, sculpted, and brainwashed by Old Dudes Who Know Smalltalk from my very first day as a professional programmer, and they universally "get it". Young whipper-snappers out there, take note: if you ever here some Old Dude say the words "in Smalltalk you could blah blah blah" or "In VisualWorks you could yada yada", spend as much time with this person as possible. You will learn more from them about software development than the Young Dude who only wears black and thinks that the bash shell is "too bloated".

And what does "get it" mean? Maybe I'll get into that some other time (it will be ugly, as this is one are where I am very opinionated), but the important thing is this: these guys don't come from the school of web scripting hackery in vi, they come from the land of building real enterprise applications, where real tool support is appreciated. And at this point in the Ruby IDE game, I'd place my bets on them to produce the first a truly usefully development tool.

Joseph mentions that he is an "Eclipse zealot." Eclipse is also a product of "Old Dudes Who Know Smalltalk."

Time for Smalltalk to focus on its future, not its past

Bob Nemec, the new director of STIC, recently made a point in a blog post that echoes a point I made recently on the Squeak-Dev mailing list.

Excerpt from what I said (e-mail sent Wed, 17 May 2006 -0700):

"Those of us `old timers` who went through the learning curve on Smalltalk years ago no longer clearly remember what it was like, nor what the conceptual stumbling blocks were. We have now fully internalized the `Smalltalk way,` and don't really grok why newcomers don't instantly realize why its so superior.

I think our attitude is wrong, even if we're `right.` We absolutely should enable more `traditional` approaches for doing Smalltalk programming. If the Mountain won't come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the Mountain."

Excerpt from what Bob said:
"We had a rare sighting at last night’s meeting: a couple of Smalltalk newbies. One of them, Chris, was very willing to talk about his frustrations in getting into Smalltalk, which he’s been looking at for only a few weeks. He’s a webmaster with an interest in Seaside. In his opinion, the Smalltalk community presents a significant barrier to entry by coming across as arrogant and aloof. It was difficult defending some of his criticisms; in many ways, he was right. I had thought those days were behind us.

He made some very good points. Basically, we don’t provide the baby steps needed to learn our environment. There are virtually no easy to find introduction materials on the web for people poking around with Smalltalk for the first time. The fact that Smalltalk was able to do things 15 years ago that some languages struggle with today is irrelevant to him. He wants to learn, not be preached to."

I would add that educational materials accessible to beginners is only one approach. Another is to enable newbies to use Smalltalk in ways that much more resemble the tools and environments they already understand. Just because we know that such "traditional" tooling is actually inferior is no reason not to provide it--especially when that's one of the main stumbling blocks to early/easy acceptance by newcomers.

Who knows, perhaps we will discover that the "traditional" tooling has certain advantages, and/or that there is a synergistic effect when the traditional Smalltalk approach is combined with the traditional Unix/Windows approach.

But the bottom line is simply that Smalltalk needs to get rid of its "holier than thou" attitude, stop mumbling about all the great forward-looking achievements of its past, and start dealing with the issues of today and planning for its future.


New laser technique that strips hydrogen from silicon surfaces

New laser technique that strips hydrogen from silicon surfaces from

A team of researchers have achieved a long-sought scientific goal: using laser light to break specific molecular bonds. The process uses laser light, instead of heat, to strip hydrogen atoms from silicon surfaces, a key step in the manufacture of computer chips and solar cells.

Selectivity of this kind could provide a way to control the growth of nanoscale structures with an unprecedented degree of precision, and it is this potential that most excites Cohen. "By selectively removing the hydrogen atoms from the ends of nanowires, we should be able to control and direct their growth, which currently is a random process," he said.

Clocking events at the nanoscale

Clocking events at the nanoscale from

As scientists and engineers build devices at smaller and smaller scales, grasping the dynamics of how materials behave when they are subjected to electrical signals, sound and other manipulations has proven to be beyond the reach of standard scientific techniques.


Electric field can align silver nanowires

Electric field can align silver nanowires from

Scientists have discovered how to align silver nanowires in a controlled manner with an electric field. Their technique offers a possible route to sculpting and writing on nanowires, an ability that will likely have applications in industrial manufacturing.


Nanotube bundles could be used as motors for nanodevices

Quote from Nanotube bundles could be used as motors for nanodevices:

“We’re looking at the very fundamentals of machinery in the nanoscopic world and what it takes to move the components of these machines, ultra-fast, super-efficient and with extreme precision” Jiang said. “A nano-motor generating rotational motion, a nano-oscillator (like a piston) generating linear motion forward and backward. We’re looking at how best to generate these motions in a nano-environment.”

Link to full article


Scientist Revs Up The Power Of Microbial Fuel Cells In Unexpected Ways

ScienceDaily reports that Scientist Revs Up The Power Of Microbial Fuel Cells In Unexpected Ways:

"Scientists have boosted the power output of microbial fuel cells more than 10-fold by letting the bacteria congregate into a slimy matrix known as a biofilm. The research, led by microbiologist Derek Lovley of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, suggests that efficient technologies for generating electricity with microbes are much closer than anticipated. Lovley presented the results Wednesday in a plenary meeting of the Electrochemical Society in Denver."

Link to full article


Researchers Look Beyond the Birth of the Universe

Researchers Look Beyond the Birth of the Universe from

According to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the Big Bang represents The Beginning, the grand event at which not only matter but space-time itself was born. While classical theories offer no clues about existence before that moment, a research team at Penn State has used quantum gravitational calculations to find threads that lead to an earlier time.

Biological motors sort molecules one by one on a chip

Biological motors sort molecules one by one on a chip from

Researchers from Delft University of Technology’s Kavli Institute of Nanoscience have discovered how to use the motors of biological cells in extremely small channels on a chip. Based on this, they built a transport system that uses electrical charges to direct the molecules individually.


Light's Most Exotic Trick Yet: So Fast it Goes ... Backwards?

Light's Most Exotic Trick Yet: So Fast it Goes ... Backwards? from

In the past few years, scientists have found ways to make light go both faster and slower than its usual speed limit, but now researchers at the University of Rochester have published a paper today in Science on how they've gone one step further: pushing light into reverse. As if to defy common sense, the backward-moving pulse of light travels faster than light. Confused? You're not alone.


Cutting Calories Slightly Can Reduce Aging Damage

According to the article Cutting Calories Slightly Can Reduce Aging Damage:

Scientists from the University of Florida's Institute on Aging have found that eating a little less food and exercising a little more over a lifespan can reduce or even reverse aging-related cell and organ damage in rats. [From ScienceDaily]

12-qubits reached in quantum information quest

12-qubits reached in quantum information quest from

In the drive to understand and harness quantum effects as they relate to information processing, scientists in Waterloo and Massachusetts have benchmarked quantum control methods on a 12-Qubit system. Their research was performed on the largest quantum information processor to date.


One Big Bang, or were there many?

From The Guardian, One Big Bang, or were there many?:

The universe is at least 986 billion years older than physicists thought and is probably much older still, according to a radical new theory.

The revolutionary study suggests that time did not begin with the big bang 14 billion years ago. This mammoth explosion which created all the matter we see around us, was just the most recent of many.

The standard big bang theory says the universe began with a massive explosion, but the new theory suggests it is a cyclic event that consists of repeating big bangs and big crunches - where every particle of matter collapses together.

Link to rest of article

Learning The Language Of DNA

From ScienceDaily, Learning The Language Of DNA:

An international consortium of scientists, including a team from The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), is a step closer to the next generation of treatments to combat disease, after publishing a comprehensive analysis of the human and mouse transcriptomes.

A senior member of the consortium and IMB researcher Professor David Hume said transcriptome describes all of the information read from the genome by a cell at any given time.

"Essentially, we need to understand the language that cells use to read DNA in order to know how processes in the body are controlled," Professor Hume said.

"This knowledge will be a major resource to the biomedical research community."

Part of understanding the language of cells lies in identifying promoters - the DNA regions at the start of genes that regulate their activity.

"We have identified the core promoters of the large majority of genes in the mouse and human genomes, expanding the number of known promoters by five- to ten-fold," Professor Hume said.

The findings of the consortium have also upended the traditional view that each gene has a single promoter and a single starting position.

The team found that, while genes that are only turned on in a specific tissue or at a specific point in time use the traditional model of a single start site, genes used in many tissues have a broad distribution of start sites.

This new model may help explain why some organisms, such as humans, are much more complex than simple organisms such as worms, despite having a similar number of genes.

If some genes have a broad range of start sites, individual species can differ subtly in the way they control these genes, meaning the genes can evolve faster, and organisms with these genes can become more complex.

The consortium also found that many pseudogenes -- traditionally thought to be "fossils" of ancient genes -- are actually active, and are therefore likely to have some as yet unknown function.

The results obtained by the FANTOM consortium, led by the Japanese scientific institute RIKEN and Genome Network Project, have been published in the current edition of the prestigious journal Nature Genetics in a paper of which Professor Hume is corresponding author and first co-author.


Engineers announce breakthrough in nanoscale semiconductor spin wave research

Engineers announce breakthrough in nanoscale semiconductor spin wave research from

Engineers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science are announcing a critical new breakthrough in semiconductor spin-wave research.

UCLA Engineering adjunct professor Mary Mehrnoosh Eshaghian-Wilner, researcher Alexander Khitun and professor Kang Wang have created three novel nanoscale computational architectures using a technology they pioneered called "spin-wave buses" as the mechanism for interconnection. The three nanoscale architectures are not only power efficient, but also possess a high degree of interconnectivity.


Incredibly short light pulses capture our microscopic world

Incredibly short light pulses capture our microscopic world from

An international collaboration including researchers from Amsterdam, Paris, Baton Rouge (USA) and Lund University, (Sweden), has made a breakthrough which moves some of the mathematics of quantum mechanics off of the blackboard and into the laboratory - from theory to reality. Using extremely short pulses of light, new knowledge about the wave-like nature of matter can be obtained.

IBM Researchers Demonstrate New Method for Rapid Molecule Sorting and Delivery

IBM Researchers Demonstrate New Method for Rapid Molecule Sorting and Delivery from

IBM researchers have demonstrated a new nanoscale method that both rapidly separates very small numbers of molecules and also delivers them precisely onto surfaces with unprecedented control. When fully developed, the new technique has the potential to improve such diverse applications as medical lab tests and future nanoelectronic circuit manufacturing.


"666" sense: Date marked with caution

From the Denver Post:

"While some say June 6, 2006, is a day to fear for its biblical significance, officials see little to dread."

Link to full article.


Bug fixed; New Version of Time Zone Repository Published

Version 2006e of the Olson Time Zone Database has been published. Consquently, version 2006e of the Chronos Time Zone Repository has been generated by the Chronos Time Zone Compiler (from the Olson data,) and is now avaiable from the Chronos web site (download link: Chronos Time Zone Repository.)

Also, I found and fixed a bug that will be encountered if a) you're using a recent version of Chronos, and b) you haven't properly installed the Chronos Time Zone Repository. When the Chronos Time Zone Repository has not been properly installed, Chronos is supposed to complain, but not not present you with an exception traceback. The bug is that you are in fact presented with an exception traceback. The bug has been fixed in version B1.172, which is now avaiable from the Chronos web site.

If you'd prefer to fix the bug without installing a new version of Chronos, just change the source code of the method ChronosResourceRepositoryContext>>invalidateResourcePaths to the following text:

"The resource paths may be invalid. Reinitialize them."

"{ChronosSystemFacade current resourceRepositoryContext invalidateResourcePaths}"

| oldResourcePathPrefix |
self resourcePathsExist ifTrue: [^true].
oldResourcePathPrefix := resourcePathPrefix.
^(self findValidResourcePathPrefix:
[:resourcePathPrefixString |
self resourcePathPrefix: resourcePathPrefixString])
ifTrue: [true]
[resourcePathPrefix := oldResourcePathPrefix.