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Letters to the Editor, August 2005


This a traditional letter column. You are encouraged to write a letter of comment on anything that you find worthy of comment. It will (may) be published in this column along with my reply. As editor I reserve the right to delete material; however I will not alter the undeleted material. E-mail to me that solely references the contents of this site will be assumed to be publishable mail. All other e-mail is assumed to be private. And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication. Oh yes, letters of appreciation for the scholarly resources provided by this site will be handled very discreetly. This page contains the correspondence for August 2005.

Some of it is a little ancient; I'm slowly catching up - very slowly.

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Other Correspondence Pages


From: Dorry Baker
Date: 8/24/2005
Subj: for Richard

Could you tell me something of how you deal with copyright?

I got a BS in Math at NMSU 1965.

Nate Williamson

I'm not quite sure why I got this or who I got it from or even what it is all about. It purports to be from Dorry Baker and is signed Nate Williamson.

I got a BS in math at SDSU in 1965, so I suppose we are in the 1965 cohort of math majors. It's not much, but it's better than being cellmates in San Quentin in 1981.

Anyway, the copyright business. The HTML for the copyright notice is © . Was that what you wanted to know?

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From: John McCaffrey
Date: 8/23/2005
Subj: Story Submission

Attached for your review and consideration of publishing is my short story, Scrooge: Three Days after Christmas and in Psychotherapy. It has some humor, some evolution, and a drunken Bob Cratchet wielding Tiny Tim's crutch as a weapon. Hope you like it.

I like the summary. Alas, I never open .doc files from strangers; instead I delete them unopened. If you're willing to send a plain text version of your story I'll be happy to review it, though I can't promise publication.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 8/19/2005
Subj: Preefrooding

It is abysmally clear that George Flynn never saw your collection of material on your military career. At least not in its current state. There are two many typographical errors.

You quote yourself as having possibly said, "The Air Force is nice if you don't want to be in it a military outfit." The "it" is probably extraneous. Or perhaps "be in" was supposed to be "call". Or perhaps you and Tony were both drunk, and the quote is accurate.

In your report of the Judge's Car you used the word "virtuosly", which probably intended to be "virtuously". It is virtually virtuously but not entirely. Or perhaps you were trying to sneak in some reference to being a sly virtuoso.

Have you considered the possibility that you have been possessed by the spirit of George Flynn. I am anticipating the prospect of receiving messages in Frisian.

I shall forestall this possibility by attending to corrections immediately.

... continued on next rock ...

Too late. Brea, būter, en griene tsiis is goed Ingelsk en goed Fries.

George! You're back.
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From: Roger K. Robins
Date: 8/24/2005
Subj: Error in firearm deathrate Iraqi vs Washington, DC

Where did you get your monthly deaths from firearms per 100,000 per month per Washington, DC? When I looked on the net, I came up with a much lower rate. Could you have used the annual to compare against monthly for Iraq?

Roger K. Robins
Consultant/Advisor Barton County Ethanol Plant Steering Committee, and
VP and Management Consultant
Ultreya Solutions Group

Er, ah, ahem. It's a joke. It circulated in email. I thought it was funny. I put it in my humor column. I am told that the DC rate is the annual rate for all violent deaths. It may be so; I don't know and don't care, but I'll be happy to run a correction somewhere if someone wants to send me one.

BTW, Best wishes in establishing your Ethanol plant. South Dakota Corn growers are on your side.

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From: pascal
Date: 8/19/2005
Subj: test

Do u receive this message, dude ?

Sorry, I didn't get it. I think it went to net_domains.
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From: net_domains
Date: 8/19/2005
Subj: test2

Do u receive this message, dude ? I know, that yes

Sorry, I didn't get it. I think it went to pascal.
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From: Kristina Harter
Date: 8/18/2005
Subj: Harter history

I am looking for Larry Paul Harter. He was a Marine, married to Rosie Yraola, had two sons Paul and Bobby.

Do you know of him?

thank you for your time,

K harter

Sorry, I can't help you. Maybe one of my readers knows who he is.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 8/17/2005
Subj: More older than dirt

I note your correct reply to Robert Carroll. We manufacture dirt here at our farm in North Carolina, in much the same way as your father and those before him did in South Dakota. We put grass, hay and oats into one end of an equine, bovine, caprine or other animal, and get fresh, clean proto-topsoil out of the other end.

Our land was tobacco land before we got it, and all the topsoil had been converted into nicotine or tars, or else washed away in the Cape Fear River to the Atlantic Ocean. Now we are growing perhaps a quarter inch of topsoil in some areas, and we also have a large heap of proto-topsoil. You are welcome to come and buy some of it if you like. Bring your own containers.

You and I are both certainly older than last year's dirt!

Just so. I have read in an unimpeachable source (it cannot be impeached because I cannot remember what it was) that since humanity has taken to razing the landscape that the rate of erosion of soil is approximately 100 times as great as its rate of production. This cannot go on.

The obvious solution is to increase the rate of production of proto-topsoil. Unfortunately the producers of proto-topsoil are also producers of methane, a fearsome global warming gas. What to do, what to do? It is a troublesome problem indeed.

I am familiar with most of the charges against the tobacco habit but it had not previously occurred to me to damn it for the despoiling of topsoil.

Just remember, gardening begins at a cows rear end.

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From: Mindy
Date: 8/18/2005
Subj: Quality link request

Hello,

I found your website www.richardhartersworld.com on Google.

Your website has content related to ours at www.dynastyonline.co.uk. This is a quality website and will be well ranked on Google.

We are happy to upload a link onto this website in any way you request in exchange for a return link. I'm sure you appreciate that this would be of great benefit to us both.

To go ahead with this exchange please upload our link information below to your links page. Then reply to ameet@dynastyonline.co.uk to say where you have uploaded it.

If you would like your return link presenting in a particular way please include this information in your email.

I will then arrange for your link to be uploaded and email you again the let you know.

I seriously doubt that many of my readers are interested in British wedding gowns. Then again, I have been wrong so many times in my life that I may be wrong this time too. It turns out, though, that my links pages are wildly inappropriate. I doubt that you want to appear next to "Heather has two mommies" or nestled in the midst of computer software arcana. The best I can do is for your letter to appear in my correspondence column. It should appear in the August letter column, http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/2005/let05aug.html.
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From: Rory Behrens
Date: 8/13/2005
Subj: Meller drammer

Mr. Harter, my name is Rory Behrens. I am a vocal music ed major at Northern State university in aberdeen, SD. I grew up in the shadow of the black hills, and was told many a tale of the Meller Drammer by my father who worked there in the early 70's. I recently decided to re-open the theatre, in Aberdeen however. I found the blog left on your website by bob frazier in 1999. How weird... anyway, I was curious as to what fond memories you have of that place are. In my research I've also spoken to Mark and Carolyn Moller who used to run the theatre back in 61-62 or so. Get back if you can,

I don't know if you discovered my page on acting. It has a fair amount of material on my summer in the meller-drammer. I did get in touch with Carol Ries a couple of years ago when I discovered that I had a copy of one of her play books. She was (and probably is) still active in theatre. She was at Rockerville for a couple of seasons.

One of the cast members was a guy named John who was from Lubbock Texas. I don't recall the exact reason, but he refused to go down into Rapid City - it had something to do with his ex-girlfriend being there. John objected strongly to the outhouses being called Johns, so they were duly renamed to be the Freds.

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From: Pastor Tom Taylor
Date: 8/2/2005
Subj: bless you

I am a Clergyman.

I do not doubt you for a moment. After all, would a clergyman lie?
Your e-mail address have been chosen to benefit from the church’s charitable activities for the year 2005.
How fortunate for me.
The cash award is US$3,000. This will be made available to you in two instalments upon completion of all necessary registration.
Three thousand dollars is not a large sum, but it will go a long ways towards supporting my vices.
On receipt of this gift, you are also to extend your hand of fellowship to others. By this, God will Bless you more and more this year.
There is a small problem. You seem to have omitted the address where I am to find the necessary registration. No doubt I should take this as a sign that the award should go to someone more deserving (and more gullible) than I.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 8/10/2005
Subj: Further corrections

This is getting to be tedious. I feel as if some part of George Flynn's copious preefrooding mantel has fallen upon me.

The spirit of George lives on in North Carolina?
You corrected your web page, as I had suggested, eliminating the extra prayers, but you failed to test whether or not you had the correct URL in your supposed correction.

Correct URL: http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/2005/rules.html
Wrgong URL: http://richardhartersworld.com/2005/rules.html

You did it on purpose, didn't you, just to see whether I was awake? Shame! Now let me go back to sleep.

Do you think that I would admit to any such thing? Alright, if you insist I shall make the change. At least I will make some change.
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From: Robert Carroll
Date: 8/9/2005
Subj: geezer test

All right , getting 19 out of 20 puts me at 0.2 harters, on the harter scale of zero to ten. But about Princess Summerfallwinterspring, she was a real girl, not a puppet. Tragically, the actress who played her died in a car crash on her honeymoon.

I shan't dignify that 0.2 harters business with a comment. However it did get to thinking about the "older than dirt" tag. If one is and ardent gardener (which I am every other decade) in effect one manufactures dirt by taking native soil and compounding it with compost and sundry other secret ingredients. So it is that the ardent gardener can look at his garden and reflect that he is at least older than his dirt.

Cheerily,
Richard Harter
(Older than dirt)

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From: trihan
Date: 8/17/2005
Subj: is it legal or not, how do u think ?

I mean, that i send this bullshit to u, is it legal or not ? And why ?

It seems likely to me that you are a virus that is exploiting someone's account rather than a real human being. On the off chance that you the rightful owner of the account and may charitably termed human, it is legal for you to send said bullshit to me. As to the reason why, one explanation is that the aliens from Alpha Centauri who beam pornography into your brain made a campaign contribution to George Bush and have received a presidential pardon. There may be other reasons. Perhaps you can think of some.
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From: Ted Samsel
Date: 8/16/2005
Subj: hadn't seen your pages in a while..

Richard,
Just read your r.a.b. posting about bookshelving and went to your page(s). Looks like you've saved a number of "gems".

Paste, every one of them.
&... I'm assuming Highmore, SD is where the old family farm/ranch/hacienda is... but never mind.
It is indeed. I always said that I was going to retire to a third world country. This is the best I could do.
Ilechko's been on the rampage as you can see..
He usually is. I think he was born with a wasp in his mouth.
take care,
Ted

http://home.infionline.net/~tbsamsel/

I like your website.

... continued on next rock ...

re paste gems

The wonders (?) of html.

Indeed. In the good old days historians busied themselves with the succession of kings and noted battles. Nowadays the style is to muck about in the trivia in the lives of peasants and their modern successors. The web ensured that the historians of the future will have an unending supply of trivia to muck about in.

re third world countries

Brenda would approve. She used to live just east of Grand Forks, in Minnesota.. she wants us to visit Winnipeg. I hope it is in the summer..

Our Lady of the Large Black Dog went to school in Halifax when she was a youngling. She talks wistfully about going back. I haven't heard her rhapsodizing about the winter scenery so there is still hope.

re Ted's website

Thanks. I'm editing it some. (Haven't done anything to it in 2.5 years or so..)

A man can only have so many bad habits. Eventually you have to give up some to make way for new ones. Since I have taken up online personal journalism I have become positively virtuous.
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From: Lois Harter
Date: 8/6/2005
Subj: Spiking permits

Because you have a web link on your web site to Highmore's, I believe you owe your readers an explanation of the term "spiking permit" - a term they will discover if they read the Council proceedings. I even had to explain it to our sister Nanci who had never heard of it!

I shall. How is it, though, that I was unaware of what a spiking permit is, and that my sister Nanci didn't know what it was, but you knew right away? Never mind, I fancy that the answer is in the punch line.

BTW, it was your classmate, the famed Our Lady of the Large Black Dog, who illuminated my mind. Need I search far to discover who her source was?

[For those who might be wondering, a spiking permit is a permit to serve liquor at a one time event, e.g., a wedding reception.]

... continued on next rock ...

Ah yes... so many punch lines, so little time...

Indeed.
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From: Peter Neilson
Date: 8/4/2005
Subj: New stuff

Mr. Harter, Sir!
It is the solemn duty of your correspondents to correct you, your morality, and your web pages at every erroneous turn.

http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/#new_stuff contains two entries for http://richardhartersworld.com/cri/2005/praying.html

One assumes that some other portion of humor or wisdom, even more thigh-slapping or head-thwonking, is missing in the spot where praying.html was inadvertently duplicated.

Indeed it was. This matter will be attended to almost immediately. I must thank you for calling attention to this lapse - it galls me to do so but I must do it. In the meantime consult the August table of conents for the link to "Ten Simple Rules For Dating My Daughter". Not that I have one, of course, but if I had one those would have been my rules.
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From: mmurray
Date: 7/28/2005
Subj: test

test

Test received. Did I pass?
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From: Frederic Medina
Date: 8/1/2005
Subj: OOOOOOOOK

I agree with some things you say but if you judge a country by its Mexican restaurants I must say you are not very bright. Let me start with the stereotype...

Are you over 200 pounds? do you know anything else besides the steak, burger and baked potatoes?and do you only raise an American flag after your country has been bombed? I don't think you know anything about the French and that's because of people like you people are stereotyped.

Before looking at the piece of hay in someone's eye look at the tree in yours!!

No hurt feelings.

Thank you for writing; letters such as yours always brighten my day. It took me some thought to figure out what you were going on about. The bit about judging a country by its Mexican restaurants was a little clue, though, and I am guessing that you are talking offense at a piece entitled "The Ugly American In France" that I ran in 1998. Do I get a prize if I guessed right? I feel that I am entitled to something - after all there are upwards of three thousand pages on my web site.

I do wonder, though, how you came across the piece. It is one of hundreds of humor pieces that I have put up on the web over the years. By the way, I'm not the author - it was one of those pieces that circulate in email (the modern successor to tacky xeroxes.) I would expect that most people who find that page find it by going to the humor department and reading one joke after another. I admit that it sounds depraved but people do do that you know. I take it that you stumbled on it in some other way because you don't quite seem to have noticed that it was, ah, a joke.

Be all of that as it may, in answer to your questions, my weight is comfortably under two hundred pounds. I have been known to eat steaks, burgers, and baked potatoes from time to time. I have been known to eat other things too. I even make my own saganaki and my own hummus, to say nothing of baking my own bread. I'm not much of a hand with a roux though. I don't suppose that you are really interested in my dietary preferences, but I have been wrong in the past, and if the subject does fascinate you I would be willing to list a few of them.

I don't quite understand what the bit about the American flag is about. I'm guessing that it has something to do with your politics; to be brutally frank I would prefer not to hear about your politics. I don't even want to hear about mine. In any event, I don't raise the American flag because I don't own one. I reckon that I would if I did, but I don't.

Your sentence about knowing anything about the French might have been more clear if were grammatical - then again, it may be better the way it is. I certainly wouldn't claim to know a great deal about the French. I've been in France a few times (quite pleasantly, I might add) and have read a bit of French literary philosophy. Will you accept that in lieu of knowing a great deal about the French?

Do have a good day.

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From: Norman Stringfield
Date: 8/1/2005
Subj: My site

I am glad I stumbled onto this site. It was a horrible day until then.

By the way, I did a school paper on the Piltdown Man when I was in the 8tth grade. That was about 1957 or 1958. I have never forgotten about him and its driving me crazy

I dunno, some people say that finding my site has driven them crazy. Still it pleases me that my site made your day. Thank you for writing.
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From: bill@earthlink-billing.net
Date: 7/14/2005
Subj: Your Earthlink 823201 account termination!

EarthLink

544006

Dear Earthlink Member:aertlescueartentiotn!

Your Earthlink billing information is invalid or expired!!! It's nessesarry to enter or update your Earthlink billing information.aeltsecurertatetnion!

Members are asked to provide certain information when they sign up for our Services.alretesuceratetniotn!

If you do not update your billing information you may no longer be able to use Earthlink services.aletrscureatetentoin!

Please, click here to enter your information.aerltscureetteatnion!
996982

© 2005 EarthLink, Inc. All rights reserved.282701
Members and visitors to the EarthLink Web site agree to abide by our Policies and Agreements EarthLink Privacy Policy

I get a lot of phishing emails; these phishers are missing a bit of polish.
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From: James Meek
Date: 7/31/2005
Subj: Random vector with constraints

Random vector with constraints
The problem: generate a random array v[n] subject to the following constraints:

1. 0.0 <= v[i] <= 1.0 for all i = 0, 1, ..., n-1.

2. v[0] + ... + v[n-1] = 1.0

3. The method generating the random array v[n] should give a uniform distribution over the space determined by (1) and (2).


Proposed Method

Generate n random numbers v[0] .. v[n-1] between 0.0 and 1.0.

Sum v[0] .. v[n-1], obtaining Sn.

Divide each v[i] by Sn.

That is plausible but it doesn't work. The catch is that the central region of the hypercube will be more likely than the corners. For example, if n=2, the point (0,1) is .7 as probable as the point (.5,.5).
However, I believe that if the numbers are truly random, then they cannot also be uniformly distributed over the space: Truly random numbers must be randomly non-uniform
I'm not sure what it would mean to be randomly non-uniform.

Be that as it may, probability theory standardly distinguishes between probability density functions and random numbers chosen using said functions. As you know, a uniform distribution just means that all numbers in the range are equally likely to occur.

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From: Therese Le Mignon
Date: 7/31/2005
Subj: funny

And you think your are funny!!!!!!

Perhaps I do, and perhaps I don't. What do you think?
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From: Rachel Hanson
Date: 7/24/2005
Subj: Was it your poor child?

I was just rereading an old Agatha Christie favorite, "The Pale Horse," and was struck by the mention of an old woman, sipping a cup of milk, and asking the question, "Is it your poor child?" It stuck out at me as being familiar, but I couldn't recall where I'd heard it before, or if it figured in later with the plot. I did a quick internet search and was interested to see that others had noticed this motif, both in a Miss Marple and a Tommy and Tuppence mystery (which is where I remember it from, I think). Just wanted to mention that this occurs in another Agatha Christie as well.

As it chances I did mention "The Pale Horse" in my article. Agatha Christie is quite a favorite of mine; I have a complete run of her mysteries in well worn paperbacks. I really cannot say why she is a favorite. Certainly it is not because of the mysteries themselves. I have read them all a number of times; when I am surprised by the turn of a plot it is only because my memory has its failings. In truth, I never really concerned myself about solving the mysteries, about ascertaining "whodunnit" by paying careful attention to the clues. It is the fiction itself that I enjoy - in the words of the advertisers, it satisfies.

The whys and wherefores of that satisfaction are a mystery in their own right. One of the academic chaps wrote a book, "A talent to deceive", as a literary biography of Agatha Christie. He struggled with the mystery of her popularity with no great success.

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From: Dr. Dave
Date: 7/25/2005
Subj: http://www.ediacara.org/cri.html Part IX

"Likewise discuss the differences between what was known of the fossil record in 1990 and what was known in 1990."

It's possible that's a joke, but I'm assuming is the first 1990 is a misprit.

Keep up the good work

It's a misprit. It's a copy of the original posting circa some time or another. The goode folks at ediacara.org reprinted it uncorrected. I have a version of it on my site that has it corrected.
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From: Carmen Arendt
Date: 7/25/2005
Subj: Bird Watching

Thanks for the information about the June Harter Production Area-my new husband and I are birders. He has wanted to visit Highmore, so maybe we will make a trip to go bird watching.

As a complete aside, my mom (Louise Arendt) was here for a visit and I brought up your mother since I had just emailed you about it. I asked what she looked like, because I could not remember her by name. It was funny because she looked at me and said, "Oh, Mrs. Harter, she lived south of town, first person who I ever knew who was a birdwatcher."

I've posted an HTML version of the brochure that was handed out at the dedication. The URL is http://richardhartersworld.com/~cri_c/june/brochure.html. The production area is excellent for birding, or so I gathered from the reactions of my sister Nanci who is the compleat birder. We could do with a good old fashioned winter though, one with lots of snow. The past few winters have been dry and the water holes are down.
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From: Harris Chen
Date: 7/30/2005
Subj: how are u today ?

Do u feel comfortable with stolen money ?

Not as a general rule, but in your case I've made an exception.
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From: M. Provod
Date: 7/22/2005
Subj: The identification of explosives

From my empirical research has followed that every substance has its energy, which radiates three energy components creative specific code, by which the substance can be identified. There is not a novelty, but it is other way round. People had used the energy components already before the construction of the first pyramid. All the time we are en rapport with energy components, only we are not conscious of their presence. I will bring in some examples.

At the end of year 2004 the whole world watched the undersea earthquake in South-East Asia and destructive power of water waves tsunami. During the appreciation of wild calamity we were informed that no animal perished in afflicted territories. Some tens minutes before incidence of water waves the domestic elephants were flurried and took flight in the direction of higher positions. The science does not know reasons how animals had obtained in sizable pre-ignition information of danger while people were without any notion. That is impossible to ignore, thereof follows that in contrast to people animals have receptors, which react to as yet unknown energies.

The sensitiveness of thorough-paced dogs is past comprehension, too. Smugglers put drug to iron-plate can and put it to petrol reservoir. Nevertheless the dog will reliably designate the place where the drug has been situated. I am not a specialist upon ability of dogs however I suppose that the smell is something material, which cannot pass through reserved metallic can and the mass of gas. Except the olfactory receptors dogs use probably the identical receptors as well as elephants and other animals.

The relevance of this finding I have reminded after the terror attack in London. In many countries power of the policemen have searched through various places and have looked for hidden explosive. I appreciate the work of policemen because it is everything what they can do for prevention, but they cannot search through shopping bags of all citizens all the time. Their work would be replaced more easily by biochemical sensors, which would designate where any sort of explosive is situated and even its quantity.

Long ago I have tried to construct such sensor, which would respond to code of energy components like receptors of animals. I have persuaded that sensor cannot be electronic but must be biochemical. In our bodies we have plurality of resembling receptors, they function like receptors of warm and cold. In a sphere of biochemistry I cannot experiment, even I have not needful equipment. On www.miroslavprovod.com I have shortly described the course of my research.

I would like if any institution will participate to evolution of biochemical sensor.

It's good to know that the scientist chappies are working on this sort of thing.
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This page was last updated August 25, 2005.
It was moved August 6, 2007

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