Liquid Armor reports on a new “liquid body armor” additive for Kevlar vests. The research centers on polyethylene glycol, a “shear thickening” fluid (STF) with unique properties:

[Polyethylene glycol is] non-toxic, and can withstand a wide range of temperatures. Hard, nano-particles of silica are the other components of STF. This combination of flowable and hard components results in a material with unusual properties.

“During normal handling, the STF is very deformable and flows like a liquid. However, once a bullet or frag hits the vest, it transitions to a rigid material, which prevents the projectile from penetrating the soldier’s body,” said Dr. Eric Wetzel, a mechanical engineer from the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate who heads the project team.

Pretty amazing stuff…

New Iraqi Flag

New Proposed Iraq FlagThe Washington Post reports that “the new [Iraqi] national flag, presented Monday after an artistic competition sponsored by the Iraqi Governing Council, appears to have met with widespread public disapproval here – in part because of its design and in part because of the increasing unpopularity of the U.S.-appointed council.” I think one Iraqi shopowner’s response to the flag design summarizes many people’s objections to the new flag: “The flags of other Arab countries are red and green and black. Why did they put in these colors that are the same as Israel? Why was the public opinion not consulted?” More than likely, the similarity in colors to those of Israel’s flag was unintentional, but it still should have been an obvious concern. I can understand wanting to come up with a new design symbolic of the rebirth of Iraq, but I think that departing from the traditional red, green, and black color scheme of other Arab nations might be a mistake. Finally, as Chris Allbritton points out, the flag is just plain ugly, although he also makes several other good points about the design.

It sounds as if this flag might not be a permanent fixture, though, as Hamid Kifaie, the chief spokesman for the Governing Council, says that “We are not imposing this flag on the people; it was chosen by the legitimate representatives of Iraq. When a new national assembly is elected, it can decide whether to keep it or change it.”

Holding Pattern Screensaver

I just downloaded a really cool screen saver called Holding Pattern. It’s basically a combination of a bunch of nice aerial photos that scroll “behind” transparent overlays of internal/external airplane features, making it seem as if you’re flying past the scenery. I can see that I’m not explaining this all that well, so if you’re at all interested, download it and you’ll see what I mean. I know I wasn’t disappointed…

Web-Based iTunes Browser

If you want to see what kind of selection the iTunes Music Store has without having to download the application and its associated baggage, check out iTMS-4-ALL, which lets you search their database in any web browser and listen to the samples (!), as long as you have an appropriate application to do so. I believe the new version of WinAmp natively supports the .m4p AAC files used for the track previews, but if not I know that a plugin is available.

If you like any tracks or albums enough to buy them, you will have to download the iTunes application to buy it through Apple, though. I’ve bought about a CD’s worth of tracks now, and I must admit that on the whole Apple did a good job with their implementation of the store and its interface. The only thing that would make it perfect would be if you could download unrestricted MP3 files, but I guess that’s asking too much.

Update: With the new release of iTunes 4.5, this service no longer works. 🙁


musicplasma is a “music visual search engine” that lets you browse the relations between musical artists and groups, giving you discographies of their work. Pretty cool…