News Stories

Car Cancer

While drivers have to worry about speed traps and traffic jams, almost nobody considers the effects of prolonged sun exposure from driving. (NOTE: Subscribers get to chat with David Sereda on August 14!) It's a kind of CARma that happens on the left side of your face. This is important, because the rate of men dying from the deadliest form of skin cancer has doubled over the past three decades.

Dermatologists have found that facial skin cancers were predominantly on the left side, especially in men, who do most of the driving in their families. It's because this is the side of the face that is exposed to the sun when you're behind the wheel. Tinting glass and using UV filters on windows will help reduce the amount of UV rays that reach your skin, as well as (of course) using the right kind of sunscreen.

But you've got more to worry about than remembering to use sunscreen-- The computer systems used to control modern cars are very vulnerable to attack. It's quite easy to kill a car engine remotely, turn off the brakes so the car won't stop or make the instruments give false readings. Could this ability be turned into some sort of terrorist attack? When a team of researchers set out to see how modern cars responded to an attack on their control systems, the results were disappointing. BBC News quotes researcher Stefan Savage as saying, "Our findings suggest that, unfortunately, the answer is 'little.'

"We are able to forcibly and completely disengage the brakes while driving, making it difficult for the driver to stop. Conversely, we are able to forcibly activate the brakes, lurching the driver forward and causing the car to stop suddenly."

In one attack, the team transformed the instrument panel into a clock that counted down to zero from 60 seconds. In the final seconds the horn honks and as zero is reached the car engine shuts off and the doors lock. BBC quotes security analyst Rik Fergson as saying, "Cars benefit from the fact that they are (hopefully) not connected to the internet (yet) and currently are not able to be remotely accessed, so in order to carry out a successful attack you would already need to have physical access to the vehicle, as a break-in or as a mechanic, [which] seem the two most likely scenarios."

Cars need fuel and ever since the BP oil spill, we've been searching especially hard for new ones. What about a vegetable oil that you can cook with and THEN put into your gas tank to run your car?Scientists have created an entirely new kind of vegetable oil that can also run your automobile. They've actually known about it for 50 years, but the burning bush shrub has toxic seeds that prevented anyone from making use of it. But they've found a way to make the oil low calorie, not toxic. It also stays liquid at low temperatures. In LiveScience.com, Zoe Macintosh quotes biologist Michael Pollard as saying, "If you want to use a material as a biofuel, you don't want it to freeze into a solid in the winter." And what makes it low calorie? "When the fats are broken down in your gut, they're re-synthesized and then they're usually shipped off to the fatty tissues, so that's what makes you fat." However, fats that are not re-synthesized are burned off and used as energy. Macintosh quotes Pollard as saying, "There's reason to think this oil has a tendency to be oxidized rather than deposited [as fat]." In other words, it may be the PERFECT fuel--for both cars and humans! (There's no word on whether or not it emits greenhouse gases).

When YOU'RE stuck in traffic, catch up on your conspiracy: Our Dreamland shows feature lots of it and our subscribers can still listen to ALL of these shows, as well as download them to an MP3 disc so you can listen in your car!

To learn more, click here here, here and here.

Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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