Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mysterious Glaciers That Grew When Asia Heated Up

BYU professor Summer Rupper doing field work with Switzerland's Gornergrat glacier. Her newest study details how a group of Himalayan glaciers grew despite a significant rise in temperatures. (Credit: Image courtesy of Brigham Young University)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Aug. 29, 2009) — Ice, when heated, is supposed to melt.

That’s why a collection of glaciers in the Southeast Himalayas stymies those who know what they did 9,000 years ago. While most other Central Asian glaciers retreated under hotter summer temperatures, this group of glaciers advanced from one to six kilometers.

A new study by BYU geologist Summer Rupper pieces together the chain of events surrounding the unexpected glacial growth.

Read more ....

Is Quantum Mechanics Selectively Erasing Our Memory?

Entropy At Work: One liquid diffusing into another is an
example of an increase in entropy, or randomness.

From Popular Science:

In a paper published last week, MIT physicist Lorenzo Maccone hypothesizes that, yes, quantum physics is messing with our minds. The laws of physics work just as well if time is running forwards or backwards. But we all seem to experience time running in only one direction, and in the same direction as everyone else -- a mystery of physics that's yet to be solved.

Read more ....

Man-Made Volcanoes May Cool Earth

The Anak Krakatau volcano

From Times Online:

THE Royal Society is backing research into simulated volcanic eruptions, spraying millions of tons of dust into the air, in an attempt to stave off climate change.

The society will this week call for a global programme of studies into geo-engineering — the manipulation of the Earth’s climate to counteract global warming — as the world struggles to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

It will suggest in a report that pouring sulphur-based particles into the upper atmosphere could be one of the few options available to humanity to keep the world cool.

Read more

Stevenage: The Final Frontier In Space Technology

The rocket and fuel tanks of the Lisa Pathfinder satellite, which will be launched in 2011 and pave the way for new scientific experiments on gravitational wave detection and black holes.

From The Daily Mail:

You might think Nasa is the only pioneer of space technology, but this £200m satellite (below) is being built not in Houston but at a sleepy industrial estate in Hertfordshire.

It's so tantalisingly close, this strange octagonal aluminium box with its shimmery array of circuitry. I see wires coated in silver, connectors of gold, and parts so delicate that even in this temperature-and humidity-controlled, dust-free environment they have to be protected with pink translucent plastic bags.

In two years' time, this box - the inside of a satellite - will be blasted four times further out into space than any human has ever been.

Read more ....

A Latino Astronaut's Remarkable Journey

Photo: Astronaut Jose Hernandez is an American-born son of immigrants from Michoacan, Mexico.

From CNN:

(CNN) -- For astronaut Jose Hernandez, his first space flight, scheduled to be aboard the space shuttle Discovery, marks a remarkable journey from the farm fields of California to the skies.

Hernandez, an American-born son of immigrants from Michoacan, Mexico, is getting plenty of attention at home and abroad for his journey from working the fields to operating some of the most advanced mechanics on the space shuttle.

Read more ....

Why Obama's Dog Has Curly Hair

Portugese water dog. (Credit: iStockphoto/Lee Feldstein)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Aug. 28, 2009) — University of Utah researchers used data from Portuguese water dogs – the breed of President Barack Obama's dog Bo – to help find a gene that gives some dogs curly hair and others long, wavy hair.

It was part of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study – published online Thursday, Aug. 27 by the journal Science – showing that variations in only three genes account for the seven major types of coat seen in purebred dogs. The findings also point the way toward understanding complex human diseases caused by multiple genes.

Read more ....

Microbe Metabolism Harnessed to Produce Fuel

Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) Director Jay Keasling with Rajit Sapar in lab at JBEI with beaker of cellulose sludge. Credit: JBEI//Jay Keasling

From Live Science:

Microbes such as the yeast we commonly use in baking bread and fermenting beer are now being engineered to produce the next generation of biofuels. Jay Keasling, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, is leading a team of scientists in an effort to manipulate the chemistry within bacteria so they will produce fuel from sugar.

At the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), one of three research centers set up by the Department of Energy for the research and development of biofuels, Keasling is utilizing synthetic biology techniques involving chemistry, genetic engineering and molecular biology. Foundational work being done at the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), where Keasling is director, will underpin the research at JBEI. SynBERC is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Read more ....

Sony Sides With Google in ‘Library of Future’ Settlement

From Epicenter/Wired:

n the battle to win readers for the books of the future, Sony has sided with Google over a controversial, proposed copyright lawsuit settlement that lets Google build out the library and bookstore of the future.

That pits Sony and Google against Yahoo, Microsoft and Amazon, all of which have allied in opposition to the settlement. (See’s Google Book Search FAQ to learn more.)

Read more ....

Why Do Muslims Fast During Ramadan?

Muslims pray before they break their fast in a mosque during the Ramadan month in Kabul, Afghanistan. Mohammad Kheirkhah / UPI / Landov

From Time Magazine:

Like more than a billion fellow Muslims around the world, Sulley Muntari began the monthlong fasting ritual of Ramadan on Aug. 22. Abstaining from food or drink during daylight hours is challenging enough for the average person, but for the Ghana-born Muntari, a professional soccer player with Italy's Serie A team Inter Milan, running more than six miles per game on an empty stomach might have proved to be too much. In his first match after the start of Ramadan, the midfielder was removed from the game after just half an hour of play.

Read more ....

Shuttle Lights Up Sky With Spectacular Launch

Space shuttle Discovery roars to life and blasts off on space station resupply mission.
(Credit: NASA TV)

From CNET:

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--Running four days late, the shuttle Discovery roared to life and shot into space overnight Friday, lighting up the night sky with a rush of fire as it set off on a 13-day mission to deliver 7.5 tons of supplies and equipment to the International Space Station.

With commander Frederick "Rick" Sturckow and pilot Kevin Ford monitoring the computer-controlled ascent, Discovery's twin solid-fuel boosters ignited at 11:59 p.m. EDT, kick-starting the crew's eight-and-a-half-minute ride to orbit with a rush of 5,000-degree flame.

Read more ....

Entangled Light, Quantum Money

Photo: Two Nodes of a quantum network that Caltech researchers created by halting entangled photons within two ensembles of cesium atoms housed in an ultrahigh-vacuum system. Temporarily storing entanglement provides a basis for quantum data storage, which might be useful for various applications, including quantum cryptography.
Credit: Nara Cavalcanti

From Technology Review:

A breakthrough explores the challenges--and suggests the financial possibilities--of creating quantum networks.

In recent years, the Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger has bounced entangled photons off orbiting satellites and made 60-atom fullerene molecules exist in quantum superposition--essentially, as a smear of all their possible positions and energy states across local space-time. Now he hopes to try the same stunt with bacteria hundreds of times larger. Meanwhile, Hans Mooij of the Delft University of Technology, with Seth Lloyd, who directs MIT's Center for Extreme Quantum Information Theory, has created quantum states (which occur when particles or systems of particles are superpositioned) on scales far above the quantum level by constructing a superconducting loop, visible to the human eye, that carries a supercurrent whose electrons run simultaneously clockwise and counterclockwise, thereby serving as a quantum computing circuit.

Read more ....

What Country Has More English Speakers Than Any Other Country?

Preaching to the converted: Li Yang, founder of the Crazy English movement, lectures a crowd of students. SEAN GALLAGHER

Crazy English: How China's Language Teachers Became Big Celebrities -- The Independent

This year it will be announced that China now has more English speakers than any other country in the world. And such is the demand for their services that top teachers have become big stars.

"Where are you from? Do you speak English?" It's a familiar phrase near the Forbidden City in Beijing, or along the capital's Nanjing Road, as Chinese people try a standard opening gambit to spark up a conversation with a foreigner. Many visitors baulk at being approached so baldly, and are worried that it could be a scam. Very occasionally it is a con – and tourists should be wary when some nice young people offer to bring them to a tea house – but mostly the youngsters are desperate for access to real live Anglophones who can help them improve their conversational English.

Read more ....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Small Fluctuations In Solar Activity, Large Influence On Climate

Image: Recently published research shows how newly discovered interactions between the Sun and the Earth affect our climate. (Credit: UCAR)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Aug. 28, 2009) — Subtle connections between the 11-year solar cycle, the stratosphere, and the tropical Pacific Ocean work in sync to generate periodic weather patterns that affect much of the globe, according to research appearing this week in the journal Science. The study can help scientists get an edge on eventually predicting the intensity of certain climate phenomena, such as the Indian monsoon and tropical Pacific rainfall, years in advance.

Read more ....

New Theory For Why We Cry

Do we cry because it makes us feel good, or because it cleanses us of stressful chemicals? Or, as Oren Hasson now theorizes, is a good cry just a way to get attention and gain acceptance? Image credit: stockxpert

From Live Science:

We shed tears when in pain, but what purpose does crying have?

A scientist now proposes a new theory for why crying evolved — tears can act as handicaps to show you have lowered your defenses.

"Crying is a highly evolved behavior," said researcher Oren Hasson, an evolutionary biologist at Tel Aviv University in Israel. "My analysis suggests that by blurring vision, tears lower defenses and reliably function as signals of submission, a cry for help, and even in a mutual display of attachment and as a group display of cohesion."

Read more ....

NASA’s Most Awesomely Weird Mission Patches

From Wired Science:

Perhaps the best thing about NASA’s military provenance is that the agency picked up the armed services’ habit of making patches.

We’ve long loved the Most Awesomely Bad Military Patches series that our sister blog, Danger Room, runs. Then, earlier this week, space collectors bid up the accidentally limited edition Stephen Colbert treadmill patch to more than $175 on eBay.

Read more ....

Watermelon Juice - Next Source of Renewable Energy

From Reuters:

Hundreds of thousands of tons of watermelons are tossed every year because they aren't good enough for market. A new study finds that the juice from these watermelons could easily be used to create the biofuel ethanol and other helpful products.

According to a new study to be published in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels, 20% of the watermelon crop doesn't go to market every year due to imperfections, bad spots, or weird shapes. These watermelons are left in the field and then ploughed right back into the ground. According to the authors of the study (Benny Bruton and Vincent Russo from the USDA-ARS, South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, and Wayne Fish), these watermelons could be used to produce the biofuel ethanol.

Read more

Funding "Exciting" Space Research

From The Atlantic:

It's not easy being a NASA researcher. You can spend years of your professional career working on a particular project, only to have it abruptly cancelled because a new Administration takes office or ... well, the country just shifts its sights and priorities. And your particular project no longer fits on the list. It's happened so many times over the agency's 50-year history that it's almost predictable. And the reasons for those shifts are numerous, and sometimes complex.

Read more ....

NASA Fuels Space Shuttle For Another Launch Attempt

The space shuttle Discovery is shown on Launch Pad 39A after mission managers scrubbed a launch attempt because of bad weather at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Scott Audette

From Reuters:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - NASA filled space shuttle Discovery's fuel tank on Friday for a midnight blastoff on a 13-day flight to deliver new laboratory equipment, supplies and spare parts to the International Space Station.

The shuttle and seven astronauts are scheduled for launch at 11:59 p.m. EDT (0359 GMT on Saturday) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Meteorologists predicted a 60 percent chance conditions would be suitable for flight.

Read more ....

Viking Silver Treasure Hoard Worth £1m Unearthed After 1,000 Years

A king's ransom: Silver jewellery buried more than a millennium ago
will now go on display in London and Yorkshire

From The Daily Mail:

An impressive Viking hoard of jewellery has made a father and son metal-detector team £1m, after being bought by two British museums.

The find, which is the 'largest and most important' since 1840, was found in a field in Harrogate, North Yorkshire in January 2007. It had been buried there for more than 1,000 years.

Valued at £1,082,000, the hoard was purchased by the British Museum and the York Museum Trust after two years of fundraising.

Read more ....

Sunspots Linked To Pacific Rain

From The BBC:

A study has shown how sunspots could affect climate in the Pacific.

Writing in the journal Science, the international team detailed how the 11-year sunspot cycle might influence the amount of rain falling on the ocean.

It is hoped the findings will lead to better models for regional climate predictions.

The authors emphasised the findings "cannot be used to explain recent global warming because of the trend over the past 30 years".

Read more ....

Scientists Find 'Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch'

SEAPLEX researchers spotted a large net tangled with plastic in the "garbage patch." (Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Aug. 28, 2009) — Scientists have just completed an unprecedented journey into the vast and little-explored "Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch."

On the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition (SEAPLEX), researchers got the first detailed view of plastic debris floating in a remote ocean region.

It wasn't a pretty sight.

Read more ....

More Wind Power: Not So Simple

From Live Science:

By 2030 the Department of Energy wants 20 percent of electricity produced in the United States to be generated by wind. Wind currently generates less than 1 percent of the country's electricity, so the increase will require the number of new wind turbine installations to jump from 2,000 to 7,000 per year, according to the DOE.

Read more ....

U.S. Senate Bill Will Give Control Of The Internet To The White House In The Event Of A National Security Emergency

Bill Would Give President Emergency Control Of Internet -- CNET

Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.

They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

Read more ....

My Comment: If this does not give you a cold chill down your spine .... nothing will.

In my case, I am dependent on the web for my information and communication. Any interruption will be catastrophic to me professionally as well as personally.

But I know that in the event of a national security emergency .... my concerns will be thrown out the window. I can easily the Government simply cutting off the web to the public and/or severely limiting its use. China already has some form of control over the web for its citizens, and I am sure that Iran wished it had a better handle on its access to the web. For the U.S. .... this control will become fact within a year.

Milk Was The World's First Superfood

Woman drinking milk the first superfood. Photo: GETTY

From The Telegraph

Milk was the world’s first “superfood”, claim scientists, who believe that it helped prehistoric families inhabit harsh northern climes.

British researchers believe that humans first evolved into milk drinkers 7,500 years ago in the Balkans and used the ability to populate northern Europe, including Britain.

At the time, the north was very inhospitable, being cold and damp and covered in forests. Settlers would die if a crop failed.

Read more ....

Apple's Snow Leopard Reviewed

A detail of the Snow Leopard desktop. Photograph: Apple

From The Guardian:

The Guardian's comprehensive review of Apple's new Snow Leopard OS.

Mac OS X 10.6 – aka Snow Leopard – will be released tomorrow. The truth is that it doesn't contain hundreds of big new features to entice you into upgrading – but it does have one that everyone will appreciate: speed.

Snow Leopard is, in fact, blisteringly fast. Booting is quicker, waking from sleep is quicker, and, of course, launching applications is quicker than if you're using Leopard.

Read more

Physicists Successfully Predict Stock Exchange Plunge

Predicting the drop (Image: Sipa Press/Rex Features)

From New Scientist:

WITH 20/20 hindsight, financial crashes seem inevitable, yet we never see them coming. Now a team of physicists and financiers have bucked the trend by successfully predicting a steep fall in the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Their model, which employs concepts from the physics of complex atomic systems, was developed by Didier Sornette of the Financial Crisis Observatory in Zurich, Switzerland, and Wei-Xing Zhou of the East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai. The idea is that if a plot of the logarithm of the market's value over time deviates upwards from a straight line, it's a clear warning that people are investing simply because the market is rising rather than paying heed to the intrinsic worth of companies. By projecting the trend, the team can predict when growth will become unsustainable and the market will crash.

Read more ....

IBM Scientists Take First Close-Up Image Of A Single Molecule

Pentacene, Up Close: IBM Research - Zurich

From Popular Science:

As part of a greater effort to someday build computing elements at an atomic scale, IBM scientists in Zurich have taken the highest-resolution image ever of an individual molecule using non-contact atomic force microscopy. Performed in an ultrahigh vacuum at 5 degrees Kelvin, scientists were able to "to look through the electron cloud and see the atomic backbone of an individual molecule for the first time," a feat necessary for the further development of atomic scale electronic building blocks.

Read more ....

Europe Looks To Buy Soyuz Craft

A Soyuz craft has three seats versus the shuttle's seven.

From The BBC:

Europe is seeking to maintain flight opportunities for its astronauts by buying Soyuz spacecraft from Russia.

The European Space Agency (Esa) has asked Moscow if it is possible to increase the production of the craft from four to five a year.

Esa could then buy its own vehicle, perhaps with the Canadians who are also looking for more seat opportunities.

The expected retirement of US shuttles in 2010/11 means fewer humans will be going into space in the coming years.

Read more ....

‘Peak Oil’ Is A Waste Of Energy

From The New York Times:

REMEMBER “peak oil”? It’s the theory that geological scarcity will at some point make it impossible for global petroleum production to avoid falling, heralding the end of the oil age and, potentially, economic catastrophe. Well, just when we thought that the collapse in oil prices since last summer had put an end to such talk, along comes Fatih Birol, the top economist at the International Energy Agency, to insist that we’ll reach the peak moment in 10 years, a decade sooner than most previous predictions (although a few ardent pessimists believe the moment of no return has already come and gone).

Read more ....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Extrasolar Hot Jupiter: The Planet That 'Shouldn’t Exist'

Artist's impression shows a gas-giant exoplanet transiting across the face of its star.
(Credit: ESA/C. Carreau)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Aug. 27, 2009) — A planet has been discovered with ten times the mass of Jupiter, but which orbits its star in less than one Earth-day.

The discovery, reported in this week’s Nature by Coel Hellier, of Keele University in the UK, and colleagues, poses a challenge to our understanding of tidal interactions in planetary systems.

Read more ....

Rat Race: New Evidence That Running Is Addictive

Serious runners know the feeling, a sense of never-ending endurance that comes on a long run. But is it good for you? The sensation may be addictive, the new study finds. Image credit: Stockxpert

From Live Science:

Just as there is the endorphin rush of a "runner's high," there can also be the valley of despair when something prevents avid runners from getting their daily fix of miles.

Now, researchers at Tufts University may have confirmed this addiction by showing that an intense running regimen in rats can release brain chemicals that mimic the same sense of euphoria as opiate use. They propose that moderate exercise could be a "substitute drug" for human heroin and morphine addicts.

Read more ....

NASA Aborts Critical Rocket Test

The five-segment solid rocket motor for Ares I. Credit: NASA

From Technology Review:

The first full-scale test of the booster for NASA's Ares I rocket was called off because of a power failure.

Today NASA was supposed to conduct the first full-scale test of the motor for the first stage of its future space rocket, Ares I. The test, at NASA partner Alliant Techsystems, was in Utah at 3:00 P.M. EST and was intended to last two minutes. The goal was to obtain data on thrust, roll control, acoustics, and vibrations to aid engineers in designing Ares I. But the test was scrubbed 20 seconds before ignition of the 154-foot motor, which was anchored to the ground horizontally. The problem: failure of a power unit that drives hydraulic tilt controls for the rocket's nozzle, according to a local report. The static firing test of the motor has not yet been rescheduled.

Read more ....

Weather Supercomputer Used To Predict Climate Change Is One Of Britain's Worst Polluters

The computer used 1.2 megawatts to run - enough to power 1,000 homes

From The Daily Mail:

The Met Office has caused a storm of controversy after it was revealed their £30million supercomputer designed to predict climate change is one of Britain's worst polluters.

The massive machine - the UK's most powerful computer with a whopping 15 million megabytes of memory - was installed in the Met Office's headquarters in Exeter, Devon.

It is capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second to feed data to 400 scientists and uses 1.2 megawatts of energy to run - enough to power more than 1,000 homes.

Read more ....

Climate Change 'To Cost More Than £300 Billion'

Oxfam staged an underwater family to highlight the risk of sea rises due to climate change.

From The Telegraph:

The world will have to spend £300 billion, three times as much as previously thought, adapting to the effects of climate change, scientists have said.

The UN originally said it would cost just £25 to £105 billion ($40-170 billion), or the cost of about three Olympic Games per year, from 2030 to pay for the sea defences, increase in deaths and damage to infrastructure caused by global warming.

However a new study by leading scientific body the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London estimated it will cost more than triple that amount per annum.

Read more ....

Laughing Gas Is Biggest Threat To Ozone

From The Telegraph:

It's no joke - laughing gas is now the biggest threat to the Earth's ozone layer, scientists have said.

Nitrous oxide, better known as the dental anaesthetic "laughing gas", has replaced CFCs as the most potent destroyer of ozone in the upper atmosphere, a study has shown.

Unlike CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), once extensively used in refrigerators, emissions of the gas are not limited by any international agreement.

Read more ....

Girls Are Primed To Fear Spiders

Women are more likely to be fearful of spiders (Image: Donna Day/Getty)

From New Scientist:

The sight of eight long black legs scuttling over the floor makes some people scream and run – and women are four times more likely to take fright than men. Now a study suggests that females are genetically predisposed to develop fears for potentially dangerous animals.

David Rakison, a developmental psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, found that baby girls only 11 months old rapidly start to associate pictures of spiders with fear. Baby boys remain blithely indifferent to this connection.

Read more ....

Sunspots Stir Oceans

Image from NASA

From Nature News:

Variations in the Sun's brightness may have a big role in Pacific precipitation.

Computer simulations are showing how tiny variations in the Sun's brightness can have a big influence on weather above the Pacific Ocean.

The simulations match observations that show precipitation in the eastern Pacific varies with the Sun's brightness over an 11-year cycle. However, the model does not indicate a relationship between solar activity and the rise in global temperature over the past century.

Read more ....

Tiny Ancient Shells -- 80,000 Years Old -- Point To Earliest Fashion Trend

Perforated Nassarius gibbosulus from archaeological layers dated to between 73,400 and 91,500 years ago at Taforalt. (Credit: Image courtesy of d'Errico/Vanhaeren)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Aug. 27, 2009) — Shell beads newly unearthed from four sites in Morocco confirm early humans were consistently wearing and potentially trading symbolic jewelry as early as 80,000 years ago. These beads add significantly to similar finds dating back as far as 110,000 in Algeria, Morocco, Israel and South Africa, confirming these as the oldest form of personal ornaments. This crucial step towards modern culture is reported this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

A team of researchers recovered 25 marine shell beads dating back to around 70,000 to 85,000 years ago from sites in Morocco, as part of the European Science Foundation EUROCORES programme 'Origin of Man, Language and Languages'. The shells have man-made holes through the centre and some show signs of pigment and prolonged wear, suggesting they were worn as jewelry.

Read more ....

How to Swat a Mosquito

An Aedes aegypti mosquito feeding on blood. Credit: USDA

From Live Science:

WASHINGTON (ISNS) -- Spring this year was unusually wet in the eastern half of the United States, with heavy rains falling from everywhere from Kansas and Missouri to New York City and Washington, D.C., the National Weather Service reported -- and with those rains has come a bumper crop of mosquitoes.

According to Jeannine Dorothy, a Maryland state entomologist, the wetter than usual spring means more mosquito eggs -- and more of the adult critters to swat.

Read more ....

Listening for Gravity Waves, Silence Becomes Meaningful

Photo: ARMED FOR DISCOVERY: At the LIGO site in Louisiana, a pair of four-kilometer-long arms [one of which stretches toward the top of this photograph] awaits the telltale elongation or compression of a passing gravity wave. A similar observatory in Washington State is also on the case. LIGO Scientific Collaboration

From Scientific American:

The ripples in spacetime predicted by general relativity remain one of the most sought-after prizes in physics, and new research narrows estimates of their prevalence.

Gravity waves spread through space and time like ripples on a pond, warping the fabric of the universe as they pass. The largest waves emanate from the most cataclysmic events in the universe: stellar explosions, mergers of black holes, and the violent first moments of cosmological history. Or so the venerable theory of general relativity goes—although many predictions of Albert Einstein's theory of gravity have been proved, only indirect evidence for gravity waves has been found.

Read more ....

Why Teams In Red Win More

Competitors who wear red win more than those that are dressed in any other colour, according to a study in Germany. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

From The Telegraph:

Competitors who wear red win more than those that are dressed in any other colour, according to a study in Germany.

Researchers found that those who wear red tops, jackets or clothing score 10 per cent more in any competition than if they were in another colour.

Experts believe that red could make individuals and teams feel more confident as well as being perceived by others as more aggressive and dominant.

The findings could explain why Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, have been so successful,. On the other hand, the results could suggest that the success of those teams has given those that wear the red colour more confidence.

Read more ....

Google Book Search: Protecting Privacy As Rhe Library Moves Online

Google's ambition to create an uber-library on the Internet raises some concerns for privacy experts. (ABC News Photo Illustration)

From ABC News:

Google's Plan to Digitize Millions of Books Is Not Without Controversy.

Imagine having online access to virtually any book, at anytime, including millions of books no longer in print. Imagine being able to browse through this extraordinary collection of much of the world's knowledge, search for quotes and key passages, annotate pages with your own thoughts, and share the marked-up page with friends and colleagues.

Now imagine that this uber-library never closes; that it's always just one mouse-click away.

This isn't fiction, it is the ambitious vision of Google Book Search, an online service that stands to revolutionize the way people access and interact with books.

Read more ....

US National Parks Face 'Greatest Threat', Senate Told

Views like this could be lost forever (Image: KPA/Zuma/Rex Features)

From New Scientist:

US national parks could be changed so significantly by global warming that they will be lost forever, senators were warned this week.

"If we continue adding heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere in the way we now are, we could, for the first time, lose entire national parks," Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, National Parks Subcommittee.

Read more ....

Behind the Scenes With the World's Most Ambitious Rocket Makers

SpaceX propulsion chief Tom Mueller examines a spacecraft control thruster.

From Popular Mechanics:

An improbable partnership between an Internet mogul and an engineer could revolutionize the way NASA conducts missions—and, if these iconoclasts are successful, send paying customers into space

In late 2001, Tom Mueller was sacrificing his nights and weekends to build a liquid-fuel rocket engine in his garage.

Mueller, a propulsion engineer at Redondo Beach, Calif.–based aerospace firm TRW, felt like an “unwanted necessity” at his day job. His prolific ideas about engine design were lost at such a large, diverse company. To satisfy his creative impulses, he built his own engines, attached them to airframes and launched them in the Mojave Desert with fellow enthusiasts in the Reaction Research Society, America’s oldest amateur rocketry club. RRS members, many of them employees at aerospace firms, meet regularly in the Los Angeles area to build and launch the biggest and highest flying rockets they can—just as the group has done since it was founded in the early 1940s.

Read more

Test for Nasa's New Rocket Motor

The motor will burn for a full two minutes.

From The BBC:

The first-stage rocket motor that US space agency (Nasa) hopes will launch astronauts in future undergoes its first full-scale test on Thursday.

The static firing will take place at a facility owned by manufacturer Alliant Techsystems Inc (ATK) in Utah.

The five-segment booster is intended to power the early flight phase of Nasa's Ares 1 rocket, the vehicle designed to loft its new Orion crew carrier.

The two-minute burn will give engineers valuable performance data.

Read more ....

The Equilibrium Concept: A Car That Acts Like A Person

The Equilibrium Concept Car: Automotive designer Bob Romkes's vision for the Equilibrium concept is a car that uses artifical intelligence and other technologies to adapt to a driver's needs, and mimics the responses of a living being. Bob Romkes

From Popular Science:

You love your car, but would you want it to be more human? One designer thinks so.

Ask anyone who's ever talked back to their GPS navigation system: Product developers are pretty good at using technology to humanize inanimate objects. But how would you like it if your car responded to your presence -- lighting up with delight or panting like a pet dog? What if, more helpfully, it recognized your touch on the steering wheel, and queued up your favorite MP3s and set your seating position just the way you liked it? Creepy or no? Either way, that's the future envisioned in the Equilibrium (EQ), a concept car by Dutch designer Bob Romkes that uses artificial intelligence to simulate life and the personality of an individual. Imagine rows of faceless sedans parked at the mall suddenly springing to virtual life, each becoming a sort of Tamagotchi with a purpose.

Read more ....

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rewriting General Relativity? Putting A New Model Of Quantum Gravity Under The Microscope

Scientists are trying to figure out to what extent a new theory of quantum gravity will reproduce general relativity -- the theory that currently explains, to very high accuracy, how masses curve spacetime and create the influence of gravity. (Credit: Image copyright American Physical Society / Illustration: Carin Cain)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Aug. 26, 2009) — Does an exciting but controversial new model of quantum gravity reproduce Einstein's theory of general relativity?

Scientists at Texas A&M University in the US explore this question in a paper appearing in Physical Review Letters and highlighted with a Viewpoint in the August 24th issue of Physics.

Read more

Death Calculator Predicts Your Odds Of Kicking The Bucket

From Live Science:

A new web site claims to give the odds on you dying next year, or for whatever period you select, based on a few simple questions.

The site,, is the brainchild of researchers and students at Carnegie Mellon University. It provides answers based on publicly available data from the United States and Europe, comparing mortality risks by gender, age, cause of death and geographic region. Put your info in, and it produces the probable causes of your demise and provides insight on the timing of that unfortunate event.

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GM Monkeys With DNA Of THREE Parents Raises Hope Of Eradicating Incurable Diseases

From The Daily Mail:

Scientists have produced four baby monkeys who each have three biological parents.

They used an IVF procedure designed to stop the spread of incurable inherited diseases.

Scientists believe the breakthrough could lead to the first genetically engineered children within a few years.

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Video: UAV In A Firefight Of A Different Kind

From Autopia:

Unmanned aerial aircraft see a lot of action on the battle front, but not all the battles are in Iraq or Afghanistan. Some firefights are waged on the home front.

Earlier this month in Alaska, a 40-pound Insitu Scan Eagle saw duty fighting wildfires after dense haze grounded conventional aircraft. The UAV is operated by the University of Alaska, which according to university officials is the first entity other than NASA or the Department of Homeland Security allowed to fly an unmanned aircraft beyond the line of sight in civil airspace.

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As Farmland Grows, The Trees Fight Back

A ripening barley field in Bourton on the Water in Gloucestershire, Britain
Tim Graham / Getty

From Time Magazine:

Farms vs. forests — that's the usual dynamic in tropical countries, where the growth of agriculture often comes at the expense of trees. In nations like Brazil and Indonesia — where deforestation is behind the vast majority of carbon emissions — rain forests are not just cut down for logging but also burned to make room for new farms and pastureland. As more people need more food — and biofuels as well — there's a risk that we could see many of our remaining virgin rain forests wiped out completely.

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