controversy brews over the merits of breeding plants that glow like a lightning bug. Proponents say
glowing trees could eventually replace electric street
lights, thereby reducing pollution created by generating stations. Opponents say messing around with tree genes
is dangerous and should be disallowed since it could lead to unanticipated environmental ramifications on both
plant and animal species. The unique aspect of this effort is that it is being pursued primarily by genetic
hobbyists rather than corporations - at least for now. There is bound to be a huge financial potential for such
a copyrighted line of plants. My opposition to the concept is primarily a concern for light pollution projected
skyward. Astronomers have a difficult enough time with ever-encroaching sources of ambient light, but a planet
overrun by cross-bred and mutated glowing plants (and possibly animals), especially if they are capable of emitting
levels high enough to replace street lights, would effectively blind billions of dollars of investments in telescopes...
Google's White Spaces
are not many technical realms where Google engineers have not either entered or created. Wireless connectivity
is key to their continued dominance in the information domain, so they understandably have a vested interest
in the "white space" spectrum debate. White space comprises
portions of the electromagnetic spectrum where bands are either unlicensed or where licensed bands are or will
be up for grabs. An example of the former is the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band, and an example of the latter is some
parts of the broadcast television band that is being vacated in areas. Google is working with the FCC to build
a real-time database of what they term "dynamic spectrum" in order to provide useful information to both users
and providers. A separate database is available for fixed and mobile spectrum. Enter your location of interest
and the map zooms into that region. For instance, in my town of Erie, Pennsylvania, there are 21 channels available
as of January...
Ham Etiquette (or lack thereof)
Often in the letters to the editor section of ARRL's
QST magazine there are lamentations about an overwhelming lack of technical knowledge and/or proper etiquette and manners amongst fellow Hams.
One contributor commented, "Today, it's hard to distinguish a radio amateur from a CB operator." DX
operation (long distance) seems to be the most affected aspect, although the problem is fairly
widespread. Most writers blame the problem on the ease with which a license may be obtained these days. Ever since a requirement to demonstrate proficiency in Morse code was removed, ostensibly, the quality of operators has plummeted
(my license was earned in the sans code test era). That may be so, but I propose the problem is
much deeper - it is societal. Every generation whines...