Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts under ‘Technology, science, and math’

Too many kids are not getting vaccinated

We let this happen, thanks to the fervor of a vocal minority. The number of Texans who exempt their children from vaccination for non-medical reasons rose nearly 9 percent last school year, continuing a now 12-year-long trend that public health officials worry could eventually leave communities vulnerable to outbreaks of preventable diseases. The new numbers […]

Want to know how close you live to a polluter?

There’s an app for that. More than two million Texans live within a half-mile of an oil and gas facility, putting them at risk of exposure to toxic fumes, according to a new app released Wednesday by national environmental groups. The online tool — which includes a searchable map — places about a fifth of […]

If we can’t ban it, we’ll BS about it

The “it” in question is of course abortion, with the state of Texas lying to women about its effects and risks. Death and infertility were just two of the risks a doctor described to Kryston Skinner when she chose to have an abortion last year. The 23-year-old knew it wasn’t the right time for her […]

Another bad year for Kemp’s ridley turtles

This does not look good. The nesting season for the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is ending with zero nests found on either Galveston Island or the Bolivar Peninsula for the first time in at least a decade, although the number rose for the entire coast. The decline in nesting on the Upper Texas Gulf […]

First baby affected by Zika born in Texas

Won’t be the last, unfortunately. A baby boy born with microcephaly in Harris County is the first Zika-affected infant in Texas, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced Wednesday. The baby’s mother contracted Zika in Colombia, and the baby was infected in the womb, according Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health. […]

Building a better mosquito trap

I love this story. Harris County officials are teaming up with tech-giant Microsoft to find and research mosquitoes that could carry the Zika virus or other mosquito-borne diseases, the county public health department said Tuesday. As part of “Project Premonition,” 10 traps will be placed across Harris County. Each trap can transmit data on when […]

Our bioscience future

Looking bright. Biotechnology continues to grow in Texas, contributing to the state’s overall economy by adding jobs, making strides in research and innovation and last year attracting $1 billion in federal funding for research, a new report on business development from a biotechnology trade association found. As the Texas economy struggles under the weight of […]

Remembering Buckyballs and the Nobel Prize they won

Twenty years ago, two Rice University chemists won the Nobel Prize for a revolutionary idea about carbon molecules. The discovery of Buckyballs, a new form of carbon that ushered in the era of nanotechnology and won a Nobel Prize, happened largely by accident. In 1985, Rice University chemists Robert Curl and Richard Smalley hosted British […]

Use of abortion pill rises

Until the Lege reconvenes, anyway. There’s been a sharp increase in the number of Texas women who are using the abortion pill to end their pregnancies now that federal officials have eased restrictions on the drug, according to officials at Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. Until recently, the number of women seeking medically induced abortions […]

Here come the drones

Look! Up in the sky! Companies in Austin and Addison on Wednesday became the first two firms to become officially credentialed to operate unmanned aircraft systems under a new training and safety program that officials said promises to boost Texas’ place in the emerging drone market. At a statewide conference hosted by the Texas A&M […]

Anti-vaxxers gain ground in Texas

There’s a lesson in here that we need to learn. On a Friday night little over a year ago, a Texas mother of three was attending a school dance when she got a text message that stopped her cold. A state lawmaker from Dallas had filed legislation taking aim at a provision in state law […]

Find those leaks

I don’t care how. A pair of state and federal government inspectors spent two weeks traveling around northern Colorado’s oil and gas fields in early 2012, filming with an infrared camera. Air pollution was rising in the region, and attention was turning to the rapid increase in drilling activity. The inspectors focused on Houston-based Noble […]

Dan Wallach: 2016 Electric Power Usage Update

Note: From time to time, I solicit guest posts from various individuals on different topics. While I like to think I know a little something about a lot of things, I’m fortunate to be acquainted with a number of people who know a whole lot about certain topics, and who are willing to share some […]

Fighting pertussis

Sure hope these folks can make a lot of progress in their work. Of the more than 30,000 children hospitalized with pertussis in the United States each year, 10 to 20 will die. Worldwide, pertussis infects more than 16 million and causes nearly 200,000 deaths a year. “We need to come up with some therapeutic […]

An app to help the homeless

This is a great idea. A shower. A meal. A place to sleep. Those basic needs come to mind when most think of the homeless. Our Calling, a Dallas nonprofit, has given the homeless an iPhone app. The faith-based nonprofit is using technology to help people who live under bridges, near crack houses and in […]

It’s hard out here on a recycler, part 3

A story in the WaPo about the ongoing struggles of the recycling business. Once a profitable business for cities and private employers alike, recycling in recent years has become a money-sucking enterprise. The District, Baltimore and many counties in between are contributing millions annually to prop up one of the nation’s busiest facilities here in […]

Ambulances and ERs

Very interesting story about the overuse of ambulances in Houston and how the city is trying to deal with it. But in truth little works in a system that has been broken for years. Over the past generation, patients began to see emergency rooms as doctor’s offices, taking ambulances to get there. It’s the most […]

It’s hard out here on a recycler, part 2

As if they didn’t have enough to deal with. As low commodity prices have left recyclers short on cash to invest in technological upgrades, product manufacturers are coming out with new types of packaging that make business even tougher. These products include lighter-weight plastic bottles, resealable pouch containers and other items that are popular with […]

It’s hard out here on a recycler

Whole lot of not so good in there. When Waste Management bought the plant in 2010 and converted it to handle single-bin recycling, commodity prices were high, the city was on board and Houstonians were eager to recycle. As the company introduced single-bin recycling, residents became ever more vigilant about keeping bottles, cans and newspapers […]

Dan Wallach: 2015 Electric Power Usage Update

Note: From time to time, I solicit guest posts from various individuals on different topics. While I like to think I know a little something about a lot of things, I’m fortunate to be acquainted with a number of people who know a whole lot about certain topics, and who are willing to share some […]

Get out of solar’s way

Keep an eye on this. “Hawaii is a postcard from the future,” said Adam Browning, executive director of Vote Solar, a policy and advocacy group based in California. Other states and countries, including California, Arizona, Japan and Germany, are struggling to adapt to the growing popularity of making electricity at home, which puts new pressures […]

A better year for seaweed

Good news for Galveston beachgoers. In a lucky break for Galveston beachgoers and the Gulf Coast’s tourism industry, the masses of seaweed that plagued the area last summer seem to be turning toward the Caribbean and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The mats of Sargassum, now carefully tracked by a NASA app unveiled Thursday, drift in from […]

Diabetes

What happens when you expand access to health care in America? More people with previously undiagnosed illnesses can get the diagnosis and treatment that they need. Putting off visits to the doctor because you don’t have insurance is common, says Dr. Vivian Fonseca, a professor of medicine and endocrinology at Tulane University, in New Orleans. […]

Happy Pi Day!

How are you celebrating this once in a century event? Chances are that unless you teach math, the last time you thought about the number pi was about the same time you stopped crushing on the hot guy in AP English. But it’s time to renew acquaintance with this elegant number because this Saturday is […]

How to deal with anti-vaxxers

It’s a big problem. Certain that they are right, struggling to find ways to get their message across, public health officials are exasperated by their inability to convince more U.S. parents to vaccinate their children. “I think we’re all kind of frustrated,” said Stephen Morse, a Columbia University infectious disease expert. “As scientists, we’re probably […]

Measles

We haven’t had an outbreak in Texas. Yet. Measles has replaced Ebola as the infectious disease threat of the moment, but the only recent case in Texas occurred in Fort Worth in mid-January and was unrelated to the current outbreak that originated in Disneyland. The Houston health department has tested two suspected cases and both […]

Bitcoin art

I confess, I kind of love this. Bitcoin can be a work of art – literally. Troy Fearnow, a resident of The Woodlands, is selling images designed to “store” bitcoin and other digital currencies, which are like digital cash. His goals are threefold: keeping currencies away from hackers, creating collectibles that can be saved, traded […]

Houston gets a Bitcoin ATM

Just what you were waiting for, I’m sure. Houston unveiled its first bitcoin ATM on Wednesday, hoping to attract international travelers and more conventions to the George R. Brown Convention Center. Bitcoin is like digital cash. And this ATM, on the downtown center’s second floor next to a Starbucks, allows users to convert cash to […]

Please get a flu shot

It’s always a good idea, even if it’s more effective in some years than in others. The flu vaccine may not be very effective this winter, according to U.S. health officials who worry this may lead to more serious illnesses and deaths. Flu season has begun to ramp up, and officials say the vaccine does […]

Lawsuit filed against Comcast over residential WiFi hotspots

This ought to be interesting. Two San Francisco-area residents are suing Comcast for plugging their home’s wireless router into what they call a power-wasting, Internet-clogging, privacy threatening network of public WiFi hot spots. The class-action lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court on behalf of Toyer Grear and her daughter Joycelyn Harris, claims Comcast […]

There’s an app for birth control

I’m sure this won’t controversial at all. “Isn’t there an app for that?” Turns out there is, if what you’re after is birth control or a test for a sexually transmitted infection. In the latest example of fast-growing “telemedicine,” video conferencing that virtually extends medical expertise, Planned Parenthood is rolling out a pilot project for […]

Making open data better

Some positive news. Houston leaders in the last year or so have cheered the promise of “civic hacking,” pushing to make the mountains of data the city collects accessible to tech enthusiasts capable of building programs to help citizens better understand and interact with their government. Two “hackathons” and a few dozen “app” ideas later, […]

More on the new Crime Lab boss

Meet Dr. Daniel Garner, the CEO and president of the Houston Forensic Science Center. Daniel Garner was ready to drift quietly into retirement after decades on the forefront in the field of forensic science. The last part of his career had the 66-year-old on the go, traveling to foreign countries for the U.S. Department of […]

911 to text is here

As expected. Text-to-911 service is available now in Harris and Fort Bend counties for Verizon and T-Mobile wireless customers. “This is not to be used just because people like to text, but when people cannot make a voice call,” said Sonya Clauson, spokeswoman for the Greater Harris County 911 Emergency Network. The service for Verizon […]