business

Window Washing Without The Elbow Grease

Most home-owners would probably rank window washing among the most unpleasant of chores. Glass holds a thin layer of moisture on its surface, which traps dust and grime. Add to this the microscopic irregularities of the material, and it's easy to see how, over time, glass becomes soiled and spotted.

Great Lakes Window Inc., a subsidiary of Ply-Gem Industries Inc., now has help for those fed up with dirty windows. The company is selling windows covered with a polymer coating that does for windows what Teflon does for pans. The coating, applied to regular glass, smooths the surface, making it more difficult for dirt to adhere. That cuts cleaning time by about 50%--and all that's needed is a hose and a squeegee or soft cloth. The coating doesn't crack or peel and lasts indefinitely, according to the company. Developed in Europe, it was first used several years ago at London's Heathrow Airport, where control-tower windows are bombarded with airplane fumes, rain, and soot.

Part 2

Freckles, age spots, and brown birthmarks have one thing in common--they're unwanted by millions of people who have them. But getting rid of these benign lesions hasn't been easy. Occasionally, lasers have been used to remove them. But that method has had limited success because of the danger of scarring or the permanent loss of normal skin pigmentation.

Now, Candela Laser Corp. is shipping a new laser that it says can remove these spots without scarring or loss of skin color. The $160,000 device sends pulses of light that are absorbed only by the color of the lesions, which are just under the skin. This breaks them up, and they're absorbed in the bloodstream. The light goes through the outer layers of skin and cools off before the skin is scarred by color or lesions. In trials, the Candela Pigmented Lesion Laser cleared up 85% to 90% of age spots, freckles, and brown birthmarks. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons charge from $200 to $400 per treatment with the laser--but it could take several treatments before the procedure has the desired effect.

Part 3

Computer-virus infections will soon reach epidemic propor tions. Evidence indicates that if you haven't already been hit by a virus attack, you won't have long to wait. A recent study by the Data Processing Management Assn. found that 26% of approximately 200 companies surveyed had been accosted by some kind of virus in January alone. That's triple the figure for the 1990 first quarter.

Computer viruses are programs that hide within a personal computer and replicate themselves, quietly infecting floppy disks and programs transferred to other PCs. Then, triggered by a date or some other event, the virus erupts into action. Destructive strains such as the Stoned Virus can erase or garble everything stored on a hard disk. Others merely disrupt work. In all, some 500 viruses have been found, and more are popping up every week. To detect and remove viruses before they cause damage, several companies have developed vaccines, including Central Point Software in Beaverton, Ore., Cleveland's Certus International, Parsons Technology in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Symantec's Peter Norton group in Santa Monica, Calif. Prices range from $100 to $130. Free virus-fighting programs and advice can be obtained from computer bulletin boards on both coasts. These are run by the Computer Virus Industry Assn. and Ross M. Greenberg, a New York programmer who has written several antivirus programs.

Part 4

Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is already the world's most popular plastic, accounting for nearly a third of all plastics products--from pipes and house siding to squeeze bottles and food-wrap films. Soon, it could be suitable for an even greater variety of uses, thanks to a chemistry trick from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.

PVC is inherently brittle and stiff. To make it tougher and more flexible, suppliers have to mix in a so-called plasticizer. Trouble is, this additive gradually migrates out of the polymer, so the PVC becomes increasingly brittle again. Now, scientists at Weizmann's Materials Research Dept. have developed a liquid treatment that blocks the plasticizer's escape. Applied to PVC, the solution triggers a chemical reaction, causing polymer molecules on the plastic's surface to "cross-link," or chemically knit together. The molecules close ranks so tightly that the plasticizer has a tough time getting through.

Part 5

If you enjoy a good burger--and also fret about all of the newsprint piling up in landfills--Safari Industries can help you eat well and pollute less without leaving the backyard. The Wichita company now has a barbecue grill that uses newspapers as its fuel. As a result, the Safari Qwik-Cook Grill doesn't produce harmful emissions, as do grills using charcoal and lighter fluid. That's good news especially for barbecue fans in Los Angeles, which has banned the use of ozone-depleting lighter fluid starting in 1992.

To make a burger, place 10 or 12 crumpled newspaper pages in the base of the cooker, and light them. The grill's inverted-pyramid shape controls the air flow so the paper burns slowly but intensely for about 15 minutes. This design is based on a cooking method used by big-game hunters in Africa. A hamburger cooks in about four minutes, while an inch-thick steak takes eight minutes. The $29.99 Safari grill is sold at Sears, Ace Hardware, and ShopKo.

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