Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rockin' New Particle

Are you as excited about the new Omega b baryon as I am?

I know, right? It's totally awesome. Just last month I was lying in bed worrying about how we'd ever understand how matter was formed, and whether we'd languish for years before finding specific evidence proving the critical success of the quark model, giving us new insight into the strong force that binds quarks together to form larger particles. And POW, it seems like almost no time elapsed before my concerns were addressed.

Wait, was I really wondering that, or did I just totally steal that from the article? Sorry about that. Still, science discovers some pretty weird stuff.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Fat Friends Don't Make You Look Thin

Fat friends make you get fat. Is it any surprise that peer pressure will affect a child's weight, along with everything else? It's not like kids are on the playground saying, "C'mon, Shelly! Eat that donut! What's the matter, are you chicken? Hey, a chicken sandwich would be pretty tasty right now..." However, there's a correlation between a child's weight and the weight of its friends.

I wouldn't call the study groundbreaking based on the overview that I've read, but it looks like they've proven fat kids end up having fat friends. So, if you want your kid to be skinny, keep him from having fat friends. You should probably also keep him from making friends with loose morals.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Nanoships and Nanoshipping

Sure, we've done a lot of studies on how things move around inside the body, but it's about time we got into the game ourselves. UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and MIT picked up the gauntlet, designing nano-sized vehicles (that they adorably call "cargo ships") to move things through the body.

Wy do you need a fleet of cargo ships cruising your body, carousing in their next port of call and collecting stories to tell when they make it back home? Because these cargo ships can deliver all sorts of helpful compounds like medecines and drugs to destroy tumors. The tricky part was keeping the body from attacking the nanoships, but they think they've figured out how to deal with that.

The best part is that I'm absoulutely certain that this technology will only be used to deliver beneficial products to the body parts that need them. There is no way whatsoever that the government could subvert this technology to deliver harmful substances to specific parts of certain troublemakers.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paid Posting Policy Disclaimer

Blogging is fun, but it's also time consuming. As a result, I'm going to start looking into ways to make money with it, and that may include the addition of some paid posts. Given that, it's time for me to adopt a formal policy about accepting payment in return for mention on this blog.

This policy is valid from 27 September 2008.

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact Stanley! (Stanleylnbp At GMail Dot Com).

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. Compensated content, advertising space, or posts will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner of this blog may be compensated to provide an opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

Did I miss anything?

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Addicted Kids Become Addicted Adults

Adolescents are more likely to become addicted to drugs than adults, according to a recent study. Researchers at Rockefeller University found this out by getting mice addicted to powerful prescription painkillers. Hooray, science!

The idea is that due to the still-developing brain chemistry of adolescents, they are more vulnerable to having their mental makeup permanently altered by foreign substances. This can lead to bona fide dependency, actual physical addiction, which stays with them for the rest of their lives.

That's why it's important to keep kids off drugs. Of course, just because you lay down some ground rules early on, that won't keep your kids from developing drug habits as adults. Just ask Rush Limbaugh about that.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Catfights in the Workplace

Are totally hot.

That's why women should report to female supervisors, as has been proven by science. The University of Toronto studied stress in the workplace and found that women working under a female supervisor reported more distress than women working for a male supervisor. I'm sure that when they say "distress," they are referring solely to the tensions that build steadily until they boil over into an explosion of hot girl-versus-girl action.

Guys, on the other hand, find their supervisors annoying no matter what their gender may be. Until the supervisor gets sick of their bad attitude and fires them.

The happiest employees (as relative as "happy" can get on the job, read: employees with lowest distress levels and fewest physical symptoms) were the ones who reported to a pair of supervisors, one male and one female.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Food Network Is Trying to Kill You

Texas Tech studied the Food Network's top chefs, including Rachel Ray, Emeril, and Sandra Lee. They found 460 "poor food handling incidents" and only 118 positive food handling examples.

We're talking about food shows where chefs get their food from unsafe sources, don't use thermometers, use food from the floor (yes, the ten-second rule is scientifically sound, but we don't need to make it the foundation of our cooking techniques), and not refrigerating perishable food, just to name a few. I know that they edit some things out to make for exciting television (who wants to watch two hours of some chef washing dishes the whole time?), but actually showing someone mixing their ready-to-eat foods with their raw food is a bad idea.

It's a shame, because when it comes to food safety, people need more visual examples. All right, accusing the food network of actually trying to kill you is a little harsh, but they're certainly playing fast and loose with the concern for their audience's health.

I guess that they could use it to their advantage, though. Imagine that episode of Iron Chef?

"Today's secret ingredient is... LISTERIA!"

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Teaching You to Lose Weight

UC San Diego is spending an awful lot of effort worrying about the "freshman fifteen". They put out a press release that's all about what college students can do to keep from packing on the pounds. Of course, it wouldn't have been written by their PR department if it didn't casually mention all of the programs specifically offered at UC San Diego to keep students healthy.

I want to know if all this is necessary if parents take steps to teach their children healthy habits at an early age. Sure, college-level programs telling people to eat less and exercise more are useful, but where have we failed as a society when they become necessary?

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Why Stores Don't Want You To Pay Cash

Paying cash means you pay attention, and paying attention means you aren't willing to pay as much. They've proved this with recent studies showing that people spend more when using credit cards or other non-cash forms of payment.
Of course, researchers already knew that shoppers who pay attention end up
spending less. I'm sure that marketers are now working harder than ever on getting us to spend our money without even thinking about it.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

They Really Are Toothless Hillbillies

Not to make light of the impoverished in America, but a dentist studied the oral hygiene of Appalachia, and the results weren't pretty.

445 families from two Pennsylvania towns and two West Virginia counties were studied, and they had shockingly high amounts of gum disease. Fully 80% of adults suffered from severe forms of periodontal disease.

I saw a documentary on moonshiners once, and one of the people they were interviewing had no teeth and talked about how you need to use a lot of sugar when brewing your own liquor. I'd make a joke about it here, but it's just too shocking.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Big News in a few Days

The Association of Space Explorers has been working to protect our planet from asteroid impacts. And on September 25 in San Francisco, they're going to reveal the program that they have developed. It should be interesting. After all, it's taken astronauts and cosmonauts from 33 different countries two years to develop.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Ivy League Napping

Clearly, they're hard at work at Harvard University. Hard at work researching power naps. Seriously. They've even coined phrases like "sleep inertia."

I can't do naps. I close my eyes for a few minutes, and find out I've slept for hours when it's time to wake up. And I don't wake up quickly, either. Napping may be fine for Harvard men (and women), but I like my sleep too much to take it in small doses.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

So Much for Being Sneaky

Sigh. I don't know if you've been following invisbility cloak research (you haven't? What are you, living under a rock?), but it appears to have hit a snag. Not the usual, "this-can't-be-done-because-we'll-never-have-the-technology-or-materials" snag that it has hit so frequently in the past. Rather, the Chinese have figured out how to un-cloak things before we were done figuring out how to cloak them in the first place.

They're calling it an anti-cloak. And actually, it's not as devastating a breakthrough as you might think. It turns out that if you can't see what's behind an invisibilty cloak, what's behind it can't see you, either (kind of like the Bugblatter Beast). This "anti-cloak" might help the invisible side get its bearings.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Just What We Didn't Need More Of

Parasitic wasps. Wasps that lay eggs under the skin of their victims. Researchers-who apparently have nothing better to do-have been studying parasitic wasps that lay eggs under the skin of their caterpillar prey, and have already found them to be a member of one of the most diverse groups of insects on earth, but have now announced that they are even more diverse than they originally thought.

I'm a fan of evolution and all. It can lead to some pretty neat things. But I hate wasps. I mean really, flying sting machines were bad enough, but flying sting machines that lay eggs under your skin? No thank you!

Still, it turns out that these various wasps have become highly specialized. Some species of wasps only prey on one or two specific types of caterpillar, which reminds me of that milkweed that evolved to fight specific types of predators. Weird.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Said I'm Playing Better!

The University of Chicago literally has sports on the brain. According to their research, the same part of your brain that "lights up" when playing a sport also turns on and gets engaged when you are talking about a sport. It's something that doesn't normally happen when talking, and isn't normally associated with language.

I'm always interested in ways to improve my brain without breaking a sweat, since there's no point to exercise. Of course, it doesn't seem like this makes you better at actually playing sports, just better at talking about them.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

That Oil Slick Was Totally Like That When We Got Here

Micronesia is going to hell in a handbasket, what with their submerged oil tankers leaking their oil all over the place. Three oil tankers in Micronesia's Chuuk lagoon hold an estimated 32 million liters of oil. Sorry, I don't have the figure for gallons, since the estimates were done by Australians from Earthwatch, the international environmental charity. I don't know when they'll come to their senses and finally get with the American system of measurement, like all right-thinking folk.

This leaking oil is a problem for more than just the obvious reasons. After all, the oceans are busy absorbing all that carbon from the air. And it's not even like it's cooking oil. I mean, some cooking oil in the ocean wouldn't be a big problem because what with global warming we could get some calamari action going.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

We Can Rebuild Him

Seriously, the future starts now. We now have artificial bone that can attach to tendons or ligaments. This is going to be completely awesome for reconstructive surgery (Good luck paying for it, of course), and even better when they figure out how to make it work for substances stronger than bone, because then an army of indestructible super-soldiers is just around the corner. Thank you Georgia Tech.

Blah blah gene delivery vehicle, blah blah three-dimensional polymer scaffold, blah blah no transcription factor, etc. Bring on the real-life superheroes already. As soon as those boys at Texas A&M figure out how to synthesize a working healing factor in their lab, it's time for a real-life wolverine.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Monkeys! Nothing but Monkeys! They're everywhere!

For my next vacation, I'm going to super monkey island. Not that the monkeys have super powers, just that there are a super lot of them, say more than you'd find on regular monkey island.

Okay, it's not an island. But I wish it was an island, because it makes it much catchier. In actual fact, it turns out that a Cambodian wildlife conservation area has been pretty successful at seeing the population of local monkeys recover. I don't know if they had to adapt any kind of special evolutionary traits to survive, but it would be cool if they did.

I still want to see super monkey island, though. You'd have to get there through some kind of crazy, back-of-the-wardrobe Narnia method, I'm sure.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Medicine That Will Kill You

Great. The internet is a hotbed of plagairism, theft, and now murder. Or at least criminal negligence that will get someone killed.

Over one-fifth of ayurvedic medicines purchased online contain lead, mercury, or arsenic. Worse yet, it was the medicines manufactured in the United States that were more likely to be tainted. Buying any kind of medicine online is sounding more and more like a terrible idea.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

I am so, so sorry.

The Association for Dressings and Sauces wanted you to know that September is National Food Safety Education Month.

Yes, I was able to let you know about National Horseradish Month in time for you to celebrate properly, but here we are almost halfway through September! Quick, before it's too late, celebrate by learning about how your mayonnaise almost definitely contains no deadly salmonella bacteria. Now that's a party.

I'm sorry, it slipped through the cracks. I won't let it happen again.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What do we pay them for?

It turns out that average households are just as good as economists when it comes to predicting inflation. It stands to reason, I guess. After all, wouldn't the people who have to make purchasing decisions every day be just as well-equipped as economists who deal mostly in abstract theories?

So now corporate moguls can just ask their next door neighbors if they should start reading up on how to fire someone.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Health Insurance and Russian Roulette

If you're having trouble paying for health insurance, going uninsured and praying that you don't get sick might seem like a viable option. So might turning to prayer in lieu of medical treatment. Apparently, it's a good idea to pray for treatment if you're trying to be seen at a hospital without medical insurance. And right now, about 47 million Americans are trying to do just that.

The University of Illinois at Chicago studied 3 types of hospitals and how they provided care. They looked at a public hospital, a not-for-profit hospital, and a private hospital to see how they handled self-pay patients. According to the researchers, all three types of hospitals had policies for accepting uninsured patients, but none of their practices matched their policies. In fact, it was often left to the front line staff to decide whether or not a patient would be turned away from care.

It's getting to the point where the only way you can receive competent, affordable healthcare is if you trained to be a doctor yourself. Even then, you'd have to take out student loans for the education.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Won't Some Canadians Think of the Children?

Yes, actually. Canadian researchers have been looking into ways to reduce risky behaviors in teenagers. "Risky behaviors" defined as all the fun things in life that are wholly inappropriate for anyone under age 18.

The catch is that for safer teenagers, you have to make everyone more affluent and make them believe that they live in a safe, trusting, and helpful place. As if that's going to happen anytime soon. So it looks like no matter how many strict rules we lay down for them, they'll still be smoking, drinking, and screwing.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Science of Peacock Tails

Evolution is always weird, but I like it because it offers explanations for how some things ended up the way they are. Like many scientific theories, though, there are still a few areas where it doesn't explain everything perfectly.

Recently, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been filling in some more of the gaps. They have figured out why some male animals have developed showy traits like manes, antlers, and peacock tails. Apparently, this was a problem that caused Charles Darwin a great deal of problems.

I'd say, "In your FACE, Darwin!" except that this study supports his findings in ways that he wasn't able to do himself.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

How to Fire Someone

Okay, you've heard about what to do if you're a new employee. Now it's time to hear from the other side about how to fire an old employee. Old as in establshed at the company, not as in over a certain age, because that would be discrimination. Although I suppose that these tips could be used to fire new employees as well.

The University of New Hampshire felt that it was important to issue a series of suggestions on the most effective ways to fire employees. It's pretty basic stuff, be respectful, be clear as to what's happening, don't create ambiguity, etc. Still, there are some terrible bosses out there who absoultely need that kind of thing spelled out for them.

No matter how you slice it, getting fired is still going to suck for the employee.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Welcome to the 21st Century

No matter how small we make our buses, we'll still have to fuel them. And lord knows that our increased efforts to use biofuel has played hell with the availability of corn.

But a Purdue University researcher thinks that we can get get more biofuel from yeast. Specifically, "mutant yeast." I don't imagine that this will end well. Genetic manipulation, mutants, people rendered into biofuel, SOYLENT GASOLINE IS PEOPLE!

Sorry, got a little carried away there. Still, I'm proud of myself for making it through the entire post without making some kind of monster vagisil joke.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Surgery without Surgery, like Liposuction without Suction

There's a new way to lose weight through a medical procedure that is kind of like the old ways of stomach stapling and gastric bypass, but with some new techniques. Cedars-Sinai hospital was successful in performing a transoral gastroplasty, going into the patient's mouth and down the throat to alter the stomachs of two patients.

The idea is that if the stomach is made smaller, the stomach feels more full after eating less food. This has been around for a while, but they are calling this new method a non-surgical procedure that won't involve incisions. I don't know about you, but if I've got a bunch of doctors ramming specialized instruments down my throat to change the shape of my stomach, I'm sure as hell going to call it surgery regardless of what technicalities they want to use for the definition of the term.

This is similar to the external-incision-free surgery that they have been performing to remove gallbladders, etc. Does anyone else find it odd that they have only been testing this internally invasive procedure on women so far?

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Spanking is a Gateway Abuse

Parents out there still spank, and that's fine. I mean, whatever, who am I to tell you how to raise your kids. They'll just turn out to be sexual deviants, that's all.

Anyway, UNC has studied the link between spanking and physical abuse, and they think that the two are connected. The study, which may make good reading for spanking fetishists, consisted of calling parents anonymously and asking them if they spanked their children, if they spanked their children using an object like a belt or a switch, and if they used harsher forms of corporal punishment (i.e., child abuse). The original survey had intended to include a question as to whether the spankings were administered to dirty little sluts who were asking for it, but they couldn't afford the extra charge of $5.99/minute (ZING!).

I don't know how groundbreaking this survey really is. Some parents admit to spanking their children. Of those parents, some of them admit to going one step further and abusing their children. Well, that was time well spent. I'm glad we were able to clear up such a nuanced issue.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Warfare in the New Millennium: E-mailed Rumors of Homosexuality

Cyber-attacks are the new air-dropped propoganda leaflets. Even countries that aren't officially at war have been bombarding each other with Denial-of-Service attacks and virus-laden e-mails. Recently, the conflict in Georgia touched off attacks that used a combination of high-tech viruses and childish taunts.

Apparently, Russian computers sent e-mails designed to look like they were BBC stories announcing that the Georgian president was a homosexual. This was detected by the "Spam Data Mine" of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The chilling part is that at the time the e-mails were sent, the majority of anti-virus software was unable to detect that anything was wrong.

I guess that you should be careful about following links to weird stories that make improbable claims, like global warming correcting itself.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

7 Ways to Ace Your First Day

In honor of labor day, I thought I'd give some career advice. Hopefully it will be useful. After all 46%, or almost half of all newly hired employees, will fail at their jobs within the first 18 months.

Writing your perfect cover letter, sending in your stellar resume, and keeping focused through your outstanding interview was a lot of hard work to land your new job. Now you have to worry about keeping it! Your first day on the job is important because it is going to set the tone for the rest of your employment. Your boss and coworkers are going to form an impression of you during the first few days that is going to filter their perception of how you are performing as an employee. But don't be daunted! The same focused professionalism that led them to hire you can help you start off on the right foot, as long as you keep these 7 tips in mind:

Be well rested. On your first day, you are going to have a lot of information thrown at you, and you won't process it effectively if you're sleepy. Your boss isn't expecting you to get the hang of your job right away, but it looks bad if you need to be told the same thing over and over again. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can make you 19%-40% less effective at forming memories. Making sure that you're well rested and alert means that you'll be able remember the names and facts that you'll be learning during your orientation, as well as to make connections, and see the complete picture of what your new role will be.

Show up early. This can be tricky, because you don't want to show up for your first day at work two hours ahead of time, but showing up to work late is number one on the list of things not to do on your first day at the job. A good goal to shoot for would be to report for work about 5-10 minutes before your scheduled start time. You should already know your way to your job from your previous interview(s), but you might want to do a test run of the route the day before in case you are nervous. Give yourself more time than you think you'll need, and be prepared to wait in your car or take a walk around the block if you show up too soon. Getting there too early could mean that you show up before your boss is ready for you, or you arrive before the building opens, so it’s important to time it just right. Getting to work slightly early is as important as showing up well rested, so be sure to get to bed on time before your first day.

Dress appropriately for the job. This is especially important in office environments, as problem dress is not discussed until it has become a critical issue. One of the things you do not want to do on your first day at work is to show up inappropriately dressed. Dress conservatively for the first few days until you have an idea for what your coworkers are wearing. You might think that you're getting away with those wrinkled pants or that low neckline just because your coworkers haven't said anything to you, but they might just be saying things to each other. By the time the boss takes you aside to talk about your wardrobe, the damage has been done.

Ask questions. Don’t ask questions for the sake of asking them, but be sure that you clear up any kind of confusion. It may seem childish for you to have to stop what you're doing every few minutes to ask how things are done in your office, but don't worry about looking stupid. You'll look far stupider if everyone's time and effort has been wasted because you didn't speak up earlier during a project. "It's my first day" is an excuse that can only go so far. Don't be the guy (or girl) who can't stop talking to show off how smart you are, but don't be afraid to request clearer instructions.

Repeat things to be sure you understand them. Like the point above, you may feel childish or even stupid to repeat back your instructions, but it is vital to be sure that you and your boss are on the same page. This kind of coordination is expected to happen during your first day on the job, and it's when you'll have the most leeway. Your manager and your peers should respond courteously and professionally when you confirm your instructions with them, and if they can’t behave appropriately, well, isn't that something you'd rather learn about the office sooner rather than later?

Speak up if you are either bored or done with your work. We’ve all been there, and it’s better to take an active role in seeking out your boss and asking for things to do than it is to get caught goofing off on the job. Don’t worry about proving your initiative, or worth as a “self-starter.” You’ll be receiving a lot of guidance as you start your new job, and won’t be expected to develop your own projects to work on until you have some experience under your belt.

Don't gossip. It’s possible everyone gets along at your new job, but it’s far more likely that your first day at work will find you in the middle of a complicated mess of alliances and rivalries that have been developing for years. You also haven’t had a chance to see who is genuinely friendly and who is going to talk about you behind your back. By all means, be friendly with your coworkers (don’t be antisocial when you start your new job), but office related subjects (ESPECIALY your boss, but also other coworkers) should be strictly off limits. Try to get them talking about themselves, and stick to neutral subjects.

Knowing what to do on your first day is just as important as knowing what not to do. Keep this list in mind, and remember that they hired you to do your job because they believed in you. You've got what it takes, so don't let them down!

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The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
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