Lunchbreak linkage

Staying in for lunch today, since while I like rain, I don’t necessarily like being rained on.

So I’m websurfing. Here are some of the things I’ve read today!

Asahi: Researchers transplant a human-type immune system in mouse

At the beginning of their experiment, the researchers genetically engineered a mouse and disabled its immune system to prevent an adverse reaction from the transplant.

Human hematopoietic cells were injected into the veins of the mouse within 48 hours of its birth.

The cells took root in the mouse’s bone marrow, and then changed into various types of human immune cells.

The mouse’s own cells remained in the animal.

However, almost all of the T-cells and B-cells, which are primarily responsible for immunization, and the NK-cells, which attack hostile cells like cancer cells, were human.

Mice have various types of immune cells, but because some of those cells are different than human cells, scientists have been unable to come up with results that apply directly to humans.

This problem is believed to be a reason why new drugs, including anti-cancer medicine, can have adverse effects on humans.

Testing the drugs on mice with a human immune system could help to fix that problem.

I found this article really exciting and somewhat disturbing at the same time.

Mainichi: Elderly woman killed by train after bogus barrier malfunction

A 69-year-old woman was fatally hit by a train at a railway crossing after apparently thinking the barriers were down due to a malfunction.

A nearby alarm post was displaying the kanji for “malfunction” at the time of the accident.

Police suspect Sumiko Shibata, 69, from Gamagori, Aichi Prefecture, tried to cross the tracks, despite the crossing barriers on the JR Tokaido Line being down, because she believed they had lowered erroneously.

So the “malfunction” alarm was on “correctly”, but the old woman didn’t know how to interpret it. Sounds like JR needs to rethink the design.

The Surprising Truth About Ugly Websites (via Slashdot)

As Internet professionals, we often forget that a large part of our society is actually afraid of the Internet. Although online shopping is growing, most people still have concerns about online security and the impersonal nature of the web. Most people do not know how to surf efficiently and use only the default tools that are given to them when they take their computer out of the box.

And this is one reason that ugly websites can sell. The lack of professionalism and a polished look leads one to believe that they are dealing with an individual. Websites cannot be trusted, but individuals can be trusted.

You may not believe this, but I have actually thought about this before. Every time I start out to design a slick website, I wonder whether or not it will scare people away. (Hey, it’s a good excuse to be lazy, at least. ;P)

The article goes on:

Although the above theory holds true in many examples, I believe there is more to the success of ugly websites than just conveying trust. Many of the websites that I referenced above have one underlying trait that can be attributed to their success: they are extremely easy to use.

It’s a good piece. (But the author seems to have an aversion to apostrophes.)

And finally, Marie Mockett discusses illustrated travel journals. And they are awesome.

I suppose it is all very well to be able to read and to like words, but after seeing these books, I really wish I could draw. Let me say that again. I really, really wish I could draw!

Well, I can draw, but I don’t do it much. Seeing these books makes me think it would be a good thing to practice.