Date:         Sat, 10 Jun 2000 01:10:35 -0500
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Comments:     Originally-From: Patrick Douglas Crispen

From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
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                         TOURBUS -- 9 June 2000
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    Beyond Silicon / Update: Asbestos in Crayons?
Howdy, y'all, and greetings from beautiful Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  :)
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On with the show ...
Beyond Silicon
Here is a question that could very well make your head hurt: will we
still be using silicon-based computers 10 years from now?  Next week,
the folks at MIT's Technology Review magazine will host "Beyond
Silicon 2000," a one-day symposium and executive conference designed
to answer this and other questions, including:
      - Can silicon continue to increase and sustain the acceleration
        of computer speed that we have seen in the last twenty years?
      - What are the societal implications if technology outpaces
        itself, and how will this affect the global marketplace?
      - Are there limits to how small and how fast computers can
        become, and when will those limits be reached?
My guess is that this conference will be a HUGE media event.  If you
can't make it to the conference in Boston, though, you can still get
a sneak peek at some of the topics that will be discussed at Beyond
Silicon 2000 in the latest issue of MIT's Technology Review magazine.
You can find that issue on the Web at 
Technology Review's latest issue offers in-depth, easy-to read
articles on topics ranging from the obstacles that may doom silicon-
based computing in the not-so-distant future (see "The End of Moore's
Law?" at ) to the
technologies that are waiting in the wings to replace silicon,
including molecular computing, quantum computing, biological
computing, and even DNA computing.  Best of all, the articles on the
replacement technologies even tell you which companies and schools are
currently researching that particular technology.
Neat, huh?  As I said earlier, Beyond Silicon 2000 will probably be a
HUGE media event.  After all, EVERYONE is interested in seeing what
the future of computer chip design will be.  If you want to get a leg
up on the media -- and I'll let you ponder that imagery a little while
before I continue -- I strongly recommend that you read ALL of the
articles in the latest issue of MIT's Technology Review magazine.
You'll get a sneak peek at some pretty exciting stuff that may be
making its way into your computer in the not-too-distant future.
By the way, if you are in the Boston area and would like to learn a
little more about Beyond Silicon 2000, check out .
Update: Asbestos in Crayons?
In my last post we talked about how the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is
reporting the existence of asbestos fibers in tests of three brands of
crayons.  Man, that crayon story generated a LOT of email.  :)
What I forgot to say was that, between you and me, I think this whole
asbestos in crayons thingy is probably a bunch of hooey.  But, as I
did say last week,
      the million-dollar question is "are crayons dangerous?"  The
      honest answer is that no one seems to know.
I stand by that statement.  Admittedly, the chances of wax-encased
asbestos becoming airborne and being inhaled are rather slim.  *BUT*,
children also eat crayons -- I know I did -- and, as our dear friend
Barbara Mikkelson points out in a wonderful article at :
      ... Ingestion -- eating, drinking or otherwise swallowing of
      fibers -- is a less researched route of exposure and is
      discounted by some as a serious threat.
      But in 1987, the Department of Health and Human Services gathered
      a team of experts from EPA, CDC, NIOSH and OSHA and evaluated
      eleven studies on ingestion done over the previous twenty years.
      The interagency report concluded: "The potential hazard should
      not be discounted, and ingestion exposure to asbestos should be
      eliminated whenever possible." In other words, they don't know
      if it's dangerous, but they don't want anyone to take any chances
      with it.
      There are no known reports of anyone getting asbestos-related
      illness from using or making crayons.
      Some experts hold the opinion that swallowed fibers don't present
      the same level of hazard as inhaled fibers and that the amounts
      reputed to be in crayons are too small to constitute a health
      risk. Others say young children are far more vulnerable to toxins
      than adults, so even what appears to be a small peril has to
      be taken quite seriously where the tots are involved. Asbestos-
      related disease can take twenty or more years to show up, making
      it difficult to assess the danger ...
The point of my last TOURBUS post was not to elicit a panic, but
rather to both introduce you to a controversial story that you might
not have heard about and to provide you with pointers to Web resources
where you could learn more about this story and ultimately form
conclusions of your own.
The CPSC expects to publish initial results by 2 June 2000.  I promise
that I will post a summary of those results as soon as they are
released.  :)
That's it for this week!  I apologize for both the tardiness and the
shortness of today's post: your fearless bus driver is feeling a
little under the weather.  :(
    Beyond Silicon / Update: Asbestos in Crayons?
AY-REE-UH (noun).  A geographic region.
Usage: "There ain't a single Steak-N-Shake in this entar AY-ree-uh"
[Special thanks go to ME for today's word]
You can find all of the old Southern Words of the day at 
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