Saturday, September 26, 2009

The 10 Most Outrageous Military Experiments

From Live Science:

A super soldier program produces Marvel superhero Wolverine in the movie "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," along with rivals Sabretooth and Weapon XI. Now Live Science looks back on real experiments that the U.S. government ran on soldiers and citizens to advance the science of war.

The military didn't replicate Wolverine's indestructible skeleton and retractable claws. Rather, they shot accident victims up with plutonium, tested nerve gas on sailors, and tried out ESP. While some of the tests seem outlandish in hindsight, the military continues to push the envelope in seeking new warfare techniques based on cutting-edge science and technology.

Read more ....

My Comment: The comments section from this posting by Live Science deserve to be read also.

Real Science Sets Up Surrogates‘ Futuristic Robot Action

From Underwire:

HOLLYWOOD — Taken at face value, Bruce Willis’ new sci-fi thriller Surrogates sports a premise every bit as outlandish as the wig he wears during much of the movie. In the film’s near-future setting, humans have withdrawn from everyday life almost completely. Instead, they hole up in their homes and send robotic versions of themselves, called “surrogates,” into the real world.

The remote-control androids, which look vaguely like the robots from 1973’s Westworld, perform the operators’ jobs and interact with other surrogates. Willis stars as both a fresh-faced surrogate and its worn-out operator, who chafes at the lack of personal interaction in his life.

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Mass Extinction Event Spared Europe (Mostly)

Moment of Impact
An artist's illustration of the comet crashing into the Yucatan Peninsula. The comet impact that wiped out the dinosaurs had little effect on life in Europe, according to a new study of fossil evidence. NASA

From Discovery News:

When a comet crashed into the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, all hell broke loose. Scientists have guessed at the scene: a world enshrouded in ashen darkness leftover from the cosmic impact that left almost nothing -- including the dinosaurs -- standing.

But a new study shows that in western Europe at least, the effects were far less terrifying.

Fossil leaves from four million years after the impact show that plants and insects had made a full recovery.

Read more ....

Veteran Crew Named For Final Space Shuttle Flight

Astronaut Steven W. Lindsey speaks after the STS-121 shuttle mission in 2006. NASA

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON (AP) — NASA's chief astronaut will shut off the lights on America's space shuttle program.

NASA announced Friday the crew for the last scheduled space shuttle mission, targeted for next September. It will be on the space shuttle Discovery and bring equipment to the international space station.

Read more ....

Are You Paid A Pretty Penny? Good Looks Really DO Boost Wages, Researchers Say

Photos: Plainness penalty: Beautiful people, like Birmingham City's MD Karren Brady (left) are paid more than less attractive colleagues, like Ugly Betty (right)

From The Daily Mail:

It is a blow for the Ugly Bettys and Plain Janes - research shows that good looks lead to better pay.

A study of 4,000 young men and women found that beauty boosted pay cheques more than intelligence.

Those judged to be the easiest on the eye earned up to 10 per cent more than their less attractive friends and colleagues.

Read more ....

Has Biodefence Research Made America A Safer Place To Live?

From New Scientist:

Has the massive expansion of biodefence research in the US since the anthrax letters of 2001 made America a safer place, or more dangerous?

That's the burning question among specialists in infectious disease, after a flurry of concerns about safety at labs handling potential bioweapons agents.

Biosafety was already on the political agenda, with the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce having scheduled a hearing for 22 September on government oversight of high-containment biolabs.

But the hearing was given a sharper edge by the revelation that Malcolm Casabadan, a microbiologist at the University of Chicago, had died just days before.

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Judge Delays Google Books Hearing

From BBC:

A New York judge has put Google's vision of creating the world's biggest digital library on hold.

Judge Denny Chin postponed a fairness hearing set for next month that was meant to address a settlement between Google and authors and publishers.

The $125m agreement, worked out last year, has effectively been sent back to the drawing board by the judge.

Read more ....

Scandinavians Are Descended From Stone Age Immigrants, Ancient DNA Reveals

New research suggests that modern Scandinavians are not descended from the people who came to Scandinavia at the conclusion of the last ice age but, apparently, from a population that arrived later, concurrently with the introduction of agriculture. (Credit: iStockphoto/Jean Assell)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 25, 2009) — Today's Scandinavians are not descended from the people who came to Scandinavia at the conclusion of the last ice age but, apparently, from a population that arrived later, concurrently with the introduction of agriculture. This is one conclusion of a new study straddling the borderline between genetics and archaeology, which involved Swedish researchers and which has now been published in the journal Current Biology.

Read more ....

Scientists See Numbers Inside People's Heads

From Live Science:

By carefully analyzing brain activity, scientists can tell what number a person has just seen, research now reveals.

They can similarly tell how many dots a person was presented with.

Past investigations had uncovered brain cells in monkeys that were linked with numbers. Although scientists had found brain regions linked with numerical tasks in humans — the frontal and parietal lobes, to be exact — until now patterns of brain activity linked with specific numbers had proven elusive.

Read more ....

Mercury Ready For A Rare Close-Up

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

From USA Today:

Mercury gets a close look Monday, when NASA's Messenger spacecraft slings 142 miles over the puny planet closest to the sun. For mission scientists, it's a festive occasion.

"A planetary flyby is very much like Christmas morning for the science team. We know there are presents under the tree," says Messenger principal investigator Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "We expect to be surprised and we expect to be delighted."

Read more ....

Take A Virtual Tour Of Ancient Manhattan

From Geek Dad:

New York City is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Yet the rise of the greatest city in the world has obliterated most traces of what the island was like before Henry Hudson sailed into New York Bay.

But now everyone can take a virtual tour of ancient Manhattan, circa 1609. The tour shows Manhattan and the surrounding land in its original shape and topography. They’re all there: the salt marshes, ponds, rivers and native settlements, all available at the click of a mouse.

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Human Ancestors Conflicted on Monogamy

A sculptor's rendering of the hominid Australopithecus afarensis. The short ring finger of this human ancestor hints that it was faithful to a single mate, but that might have been difficult, researchers say, given they likely lived in groups and often lost members to predation. Getty Images

From Discovery Magazine:

When it comes to love, we Homo sapiens are a peculiar breed: We thrill at the thought of torrid affairs while dreaming about the perfect someone with whom we can spend the rest of our lives.

Some of this never-ending tug-of-war for our hearts is certainly cultural, but according to a new study it's also encoded in the finger bones of Neanderthals and the upright walking primate Australopithecus.

Read more ....

Aids/HIV: Where It Came From And How It Spread

From The Telegraph:

Aids is now generally acknowledged to be caused by HIV which was originally transferred to humans from chimpanzees from West Africa.

The first known cases of Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids) occurred in the United States in the early 1980s, among a number of homosexual men in New York and California. At that time, the illnesses were seen as rare, opportunistic and linked to cancer that seemed resistant to treatment. Before long, it became clear that the men were suffering from one illness.

As scientists delved into what had caused Aids, they discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) virus, which is know as a "lentivirus", or "slow virus", because it takes such a long time to produce any adverse effects in the body.

Read more

Update: Aids/HIV by numbers -- The Telegraph

I'm Smarter Than I Look: How A Colony Of Chimps Deep In The African Jungle Have Taught Themselves To UseTools

Human-like touch: Chimps in the rainforest on the outskirts of Bossou, Republic of Guinea, have learnt to crack nuts using stones

From The Daily Mail:

The BBC'S new landmark natural history series, Life, has been three long years in the making.

It is a tribute to the dedication and professionalism of a team of filmmakers prepared to go to the ends of the earth to record the most extraordinary animal behaviour.

Journalist Tom Rawstorne was invited to accompany a film crew to Africa as they filmed a community of chimpanzees who use of every day objects as tools.

Read more ....

How Astronauts Could 'Harvest' Water On The Moon

If the moon's water could be collected, lunar astronauts could use it as drinking water and split it into oxygen and hydrogen to make rocket fuel for their return journeys to Earth (Image: NASA)

From New Scientist:

Newly confirmed water on the moon could help sustain lunar astronauts and even propel missions to Mars, if harvesting it can be made practical. A microwave device being developed by NASA could do just that.

Three spacecraft – India's Chandrayaan-1 and NASA's Cassini and Deep Impact probes – have detected the absorption of infrared light at a wavelength that indicates the presence of either water or hydroxyl, a molecule made up of a hydrogen and an oxygen atom. All found the signature to be stronger at the poles than at lower latitudes.

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Africa's Burning Charcoal Problem

From The BBC:

At a road block in western Tanzania, miles from anywhere, a uniformed official raises a flagged barrier. Nearby is a spill of black, like an oil slick.

This is one of several checkpoints which have been set up around the country in a half-hearted attempt to curtail the largely unregulated trade of charcoal, widely used across the continent as a fuel for cooking.

The guard on duty has confiscated six sacks. They lean against one another and bleed black dust into the sand.

Read more ....

Ahead of Schedule, H1N1 Flu Season Arrives In The U.S.

A dose of flu vaccination is administered at TC Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., on Sept. 11, 2009. Win McNamee / Getty

From Time Magazine:

On the edge of the Western plains, in Spokane, Wash., the reports of significant student sickness started coming in this week. By Thursday morning, nine of the area's roughly 300 schools were reporting absentee rates in excess of 10%. H1N1 had arrived with the end of summer, just as expected.

"This would be comparable to what we would see in a moderate flu season in January or February," says Mark Springer, the Spokane Regional Health District's epidemiologist. "This is just a snapshot in time. We would anticipate increases."

Read more ....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ancestral Populations Of India And Relationships To Modern Groups Revealed

A map showing the groups across India included in the Nature study. (Credit: Photo courtesy of D. Reich, K. Thangaraj, N. Patterson, A. Price and L. Singh)

From Science Daily:

In a study published in the September 24th issue of Nature, an international team describes how they harnessed modern genomic technology to explore the ancient history of India, the world's second most populous nation.

The new research reveals that nearly all Indians carry genomic contributions from two distinct ancestral populations. Following this ancient mixture, many groups experienced periods of genetic isolation from each other for thousands of years. The study, which has medical implications for people of Indian descent, was led by scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, India together with US researchers at Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.

Read more ....

Moon Myths: The Truth About Lunar Effects On You

This photograph of the full Moon was taken from Apollo 11 during its trip back to Earth. The round smooth area just above the center of the disk is Mare Crisium, left of that is Mare Tranquilitatis. The Apollo 11 landing site is along the left side of Tranquilitatis. Credit: NASA

From Live Science:

The moon holds a mystical place in the history of human culture, so it's no wonder that many myths — from werewolves to induced lunacy to epileptic seizures — have built up regarding its supposed effects on us.

"It must be a full moon," is a phrase heard whenever crazy things happen and is said by researchers to be muttered commonly by late-night cops, psychiatry staff and emergency room personnel.

Read more ....

The Big Question: What Might The Existence Of Water On The Moon Mean For Space Travel?

From The Independent:

Why are we asking this now?

The American space agency Nasa announced yesterday that three separate missions examining the Moon have found clear evidence of water there. The discovery has huge implications not only for science, but geopolitics as well.

Water, as on Earth? Water you could float a boat in?

No. We are not talking oceans here, or rivers, or lakes or even puddles. What researchers claim to have found are molecules of water and hydroxyl (hydrogen and oxygen) that interact with molecules of rock and dust in the top millimetres of the Moon's surface – in essence, water-bearing minerals, rather than water that is in any way free flowing. But water is water. And water is the essential element for life on earth.

Read more

No Need For Panic About "Toxic" Shower Heads: Reality Check

(Photograph by stevendepolo via Flickr, shared under a Creative Commons license)

From Popular Mechanics:

Prompted by a study tracing bacterial contamination to shower heads, news outlets across the globe have broadcast panicked reports proclaiming that shower heads harbor a bounty of germs, that shower heads may deliver a blast of bacteria, and that a long, hot shower "can kill you." Really? PM's investigation throws cold water on the claims.

Read more ....

General Electric Gives Gearless Wind Turbines A Big Boost

Gearless Wind Power The winds of change could soon shake up traditional gearbox turbines GE

From Popular Science:

Magnet-based wind turbine tech moves forward with GE investment.

Conventional wind turbines have an Achilles heel in the form of their clunky and expensive gearboxes. But that could change with GE's recent purchase of a company that has developed gearless turbine technology based on magnets.

Gearboxes act as the middleman to convert the slow rotations of wind turbine blades into the faster rotations needed for generators to create electricity. The downside of such gears comes from their high-maintenance requirements due to constant stress from wind turbulence.

Read more ....

Get Nervous: Rusty Soviet Doomsday System Still Turned On

From Gizmodo:

Wired Magazine has a fascinating article on the doomsday system that was built by the Soviets 25 years ago. It was designed to obliterate the US no matter what happened to the USSR—and it still works today. Shiver.

The point of the system, he explains, was to guarantee an automatic Soviet response to an American nuclear strike. Even if the US crippled the USSR with a surprise attack, the Soviets could still hit back. It wouldn't matter if the US blew up the Kremlin, took out the defense ministry, severed the communications network, and killed everyone with stars on their shoulders. Ground-based sensors would detect that a devastating blow had been struck and a counterattack would be launched.

Read more ....

Related Article: Inside the Apocalyptic Soviet Doomsday Machine -- Wired News

My Comment: One thing that I am always trying to do in this blog is to find additional articles/opinions that relate to the main story. But for this story .... I have found nothing. Kudos to the Danger Room/Wired for getting some basic information that gives us a general outline of this "Doomsday Machine" story.

Feathered Fossils Prove Birds Evolved From Dinosaurs, Say Chinese Scientists

Discovery: An illustration of a feathered dinosaur, Anchiornis huxleyi,
the fossils of which have been found in China

From The Daily Mail:

A new species of feathered dinosaurs provides hard evidence the prehistoric creatures evolved into birds, a group of Chinese scientists has claimed.

The fossils represent five different species from two different rock sequences in north-eastern China and all have feathers or feather-like structures.

The new finds are 'indisputably' older than archaeopteryx, the oldest known bird, which scientists claim provides exceptional evidence that birds evolved from dinosaurs.

Read more ....

Asteroid Attack: Putting Earth's Defences To The Test

From New Scientist:

T LOOKS inconsequential enough, the faint little spot moving leisurely across the sky. The mountain-top telescope that just detected it is taking it very seriously, though. It is an asteroid, one never seen before. Rapid-survey telescopes discover thousands of asteroids every year, but there's something very particular about this one. The telescope's software decides to wake several human astronomers with a text message they hoped they would never receive. The asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. It is the size of a skyscraper and it's big enough to raze a city to the ground. Oh, and it will be here in three days.

Read more ....

Making Realistic Skin for Robots

From Technology Review:

Without realistic synthetic skin, robots will never be entirely accepted socially. Yet even measuring what it means for skin to be humanlike is proving tough.

When it comes to building realistic robots, it's not just the way they look that's important. It's also the way they feel to the touch, says John-John Cabibihan at the National University of Singapore and pals. They argue that if robots are ever to be accepted socially, they will need to have humanlike skin so that actions such as handshakes can be made as realistic as possible.

Read more ....

Future Is TV-Shaped, Says Intel

From BBC:

The world's biggest chip maker predicts that by 2015 there will be 12 billion devices capable of connecting to 500 billion hours of TV and video content.

Intel said its vision of TV everywhere will be more personal, social, ubiquitous and informative.

"TV is out of the box and off the wall," Intel's chief technology officer Justin Rattner told BBC News.

"TV will remain at the centre of our lives and you will be able to watch what you want where you want.

Read more ....

Suspected Trojan war-era couple found

The finding is 'electrifying', say experts (Source: Reuters / Ho New )

From ABC News (Australia):

Excavations in the ancient city of Troy in Turkey have found the remains of a man and a woman believed to have died in 1200 BC, at the time of the legendary Trojan war, says a German archaeologist.

Dr Ernst Pernicka, a University of Tubingen professor of archaeometry, who is leading excavations on the site in northwestern Turkey, says the bodies were found near a defence line within the city built in the late Bronze Age.

Read more ....

Superheavy Element 114 Confirmed: A Stepping Stone To The 'Island Of Stability'

Members of the group that confirmed the production of element 114 in front of the Berkeley Gas-filled Separator at the 88-Inch Cyclotron, from left: Jan Dvorak, Zuzana Dvorakova, Paul Ellison, Irena Dragojevic, Heino Nitsche, Mitch Andre Garcia, and Ken Gregorich. Not pictured is Liv Stavestra. (Credit: Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab Creative Services Office)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 25, 2009) — Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have been able to confirm the production of the superheavy element 114, ten years after a group in Russia, at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, first claimed to have made it. The search for 114 has long been a key part of the quest for nuclear science’s hoped-for Island of Stability.

Read more ....

The Truth About Lying

From Live Science:

While American folklore tells us that George Washington never told a lie, the topic of lying on Capitol Hill, at work, or at home is big news.

For instance, President Barak Obama is charged with telling lies. A popular TV show, Lie to Me, conducts a poll that shows the average person lies 42 times a week. And the concept for a new movie, The Invention of Lying, is that no one is able to tell a lie.

Read more ....

Monarch Butterflies Navigate With Sun-Sensing Antennae

From Discover Magazine:

A new experiment has shed light on how the monarch butterfly executes its impressive 2,000-mile migration every fall, and all it took was a lick of paint.

Researchers already knew that the butterflies use the sun to guide them to the exact same wintering spot in central Mexico. But because the sun is a moving target, changing position throughout the day, biologists have long speculated that in addition to having a “sun compass” in their brains, butterflies must use some kind of 24-hour clock to guide their migration []. In a new study, published in Science, researchers determined that the butterflies have a second circadian clock in their antennae, which sense light.

Read more

NASA/Ames-Controlled Moon Mission Will Add To New Discovery Of Water

From Mercury News:

A probe controlled from Ames Research Center that will hit the moon in two weeks may help unlock a major new scientific riddle, following NASA's stunning announcement Wednesday that the lunar surface is laced with water.

LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite), a mission controlled from Moffett Field in Mountain View, is scheduled to smash into a crater near the moon's south pole in the early hours of Oct. 9. Scientists will analyze the resulting debris plume for signs of large amounts of ice that may have persisted for eons in the extreme cold of perpetually shadowed craters.

The LCROSS mission had been about human exploration, trying to answer the question of whether there is enough ice on the moon to aid human exploration. The components of water — hydrogen and oxygen — could be used for life support or rocket fuel, if and when NASA returns astronauts to the moon.

Read more ....

How to Get Your Gadgets Off The Grid

From Popular Mechanics:

PM's October issue is all about how to survive disasters, including tales of off-the-grid homesteaders and stories of men who showed remarkable self-reliance in the face of hurricanes, blizzards and tornadoes. But surviving the aftermath of a major disaster without any electricity sounds pretty boring to PM senior technology editor Glenn Derene—what would he do without his LCD TV, wii, Internet access or power tools? In this “electric cold-beer gadget test,” Derene shows that with a small wind turbine, generator, solar charging kit and two very powerful batteries, you won’t have to abandon your gadgets (or beer fridge) after an emergency.

Read more

India Successfully Launches Seven Satellites With a Single Rocket

India Lifts Off India launches a satellite into space in January 2008. The country's space agency put seven satellites in orbit today, including six from foreign nations. PhysOrg

From Popular Science:

It’s been a busy day for India’s space agency. Underscoring the world’s largest democracy’s desire to become a serious player in the space business, the Indian Space Research Organisation launched seven satellites today, six of which belong to foreign nations.

India’s satellite, Oceansat-2, will enhance the ocean monitoring capabilities of the original Oceansat, which launched in 1999. Four of the other six satellites were German, while one was Turkish and one Swedish. Each of those carries a university-funded payload designed to conduct research on various new technologies.

Read more ....

Russia Hopes U.S. to Extend Shuttle Operations

From ABC News:

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia hopes the United States will extend the deadline to retire its space shuttles beyond 2011 and has heard unofficially it is possible, the head of Russia's space agency was quoted as saying on Friday.

The U.S. space agency NASA plans six more missions by its fleet of aging space shuttles by late next year or early 2011 after the construction of the $100 billion International Space Station (ISS) is completed. The shuttles will then be retired.

Read more ....

The Field Of Gold: How Jobless Treasure Hunter Unearthed Greatest Ever Haul Of Saxon Artefacts With £2.50 Metal Detector

Discovery of a lifetime: Metal detecting fan Terry Herbert found the amazing haul in a Staffordshire field

From The Daily Mail:

It will revolutionise our understanding of the Dark Ages, bring delight to millions and make two men very rich indeed.

Archaeologists yesterday unveiled the largest and most valuable hoard of Saxon gold in history – 1,500 pieces of treasure unearthed from a farmer’s field by a man with a metal detector.

The haul includes beautiful gold sword hilts, jewels from Sri Lanka, exquisitely carved helmet decorations and early Christian crosses.

Read more ....

The World's Best Impact Craters

Also known as the "eye of Quebec", Manicougan Crater in Canada is one the Earth's oldest known impact craters, and is about 200 million years old. Today it contains a 70-kilometre hydroelectric reservoir along its edge. The island in the centre of the crater was formed by post-impact uplift of the land. Also visible in the bottom left-hand corner is the fin of the space shuttle from which this image was taken.(Image: LSTS-9 Crew/NASA/GSFC)

From The New Scientist:

Approximately 150 impact craters are known on Earth, but most are severely eroded or hidden beneath tonnes of rock. Still, a few spectacular examples are visible with aerial photography, satellites or instruments that can peek beneath the surface.

Read more ....

HIV Vaccine 'Reduces Infection'

From the BBC:

An experimental HIV vaccine has for the first time cut the risk of infection, researchers say.

The vaccine - a combination of two earlier experimental vaccines - was given to 16,000 people in Thailand, in the largest ever such vaccine trial.

Researchers found that it reduced by nearly a third the risk of contracting HIV, the virus that leads to Aids.

It has been hailed as a significant, scientific breakthrough, but a global vaccine is still some way off.

Read more

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mutations Make Evolution Irreversible: By Resurrecting Ancient Proteins, Researchers Find That Evolution Can Only Go Forward

Fish fossil. Researchers resurrected and manipulate the gene for a key hormone receptor as it existed in our earliest vertebrate ancestors more than 400 million years ago. Over a rapid period of time, five random mutations made subtle modifications in the protein's structure that were utterly incompatible with the receptor's primordial form. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

A University of Oregon research team has found that evolution can never go backwards, because the paths to the genes once present in our ancestors are forever blocked. The findings -- the result of the first rigorous study of reverse evolution at the molecular level -- appear in the Sept. 24 issue of Nature.

Read more ....

Full Moon Does Not Affect Surgery Outcomes

From Live Science:

While a full moon can tug on ocean tides and make for a romantic setting, scientists have found no reliable evidence that it triggers suicides or hospital admissions, or facilitates conception, the transformation of werewolves or any of a host of other phenomena often blamed on it.

Evidence is mounting, however, for things on which the moon has no impact.

Read more ....

Roaches Hold Their Breath To Stay Alive

Cockroaches hold their breath when they need to stop water loss more than they need oxygen
(Source: Philip Matthews )

From ABC News (Australia):

Australian scientists have discovered another reason why cockroaches might well inherit the earth after humans are long gone.

Animal physiologist Dr Craig White of the University of Queensland in Brisbane and colleagues report their findings in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

"Several decades ago, scientists discovered that some insects hold their breath," says White.

"But it's not been clear why they do this."

Read more ....

NASA Finds Water Ice In Mars Craters

An image by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on the NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows Sawtooth Pattern in Carbon Dioxide Ice on Mars recorded during the month of April through early August 2009. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been studying Mars with an advanced set of instruments since 2006. (University of Arizona/JPL/NASA/Reuters)

From The Christian Science Monitor:

NASA's Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter spotted ice just below the surface that was exposed by fresh meteor crashes, not far from where the Viking 2 Lander looked in 1976.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found water ice much closer to the planet’s equator than scientists believed possible.

And it’s far purer than they expected, suggesting that in the recent past, the planet’s climate was far more humid than models of Mars’s climate history suggested.

Read more ....

The Australian Dust Storm As Seen From Space – Dry lake Eyre Not Global Warming?

From Watts Up With That?

There’s been quite a bit of buzz about the dust storm in Australia that hit Queensland, New South Wales, and NSW city Sydney on September 23rd. Pictures like the ones below have been all over the web.

But it is the photos taken from space that are the most interesting I think. NASA’s Earth Observatory captured a truly amazing photo that shows the dust storm front as it swept across the continent and headed out to sea over eastern Australia where the borders of Queensland and NSW meet.

Read more ....

Quantum Chip Helps Crack Code

Photo: Jonathan Matthews/University of Bristol

From IEEE Spectrum:

Experimental chip does part of code-cracking quantum algorithm.

3 September 2009—Modern cryptography relies on the extreme difficulty computers have in factoring huge numbers, but an algorithm that works only on a quantum computer finds factors easily. Today in Science, researchers at the University of Bristol, in England, report the first factoring using this method—called Shor’s algorithm—on a chip-scale quantum computer, bringing the field a tiny step closer to realizing practical quantum computation and code cracking.

Read more ....

Update: Quantum Computer Factors the Number 15 -- Scheneider Security

Guinness Facts: In Black And White

A pint of Guinness settling

From The Telegraph:

As millions of people toast the birth of the world's most famous stout, members of the Guinness family will remember how a blessed inheritance to their forefather Arthur changed their fortunes.

– Arthur Guinness set up his first brewery in Leixlip, Co Kildare, in 1756 after he was left a £100 inheritance by his godfather, Archbishop Arthur Price.

– He later handed the business to his brother and, in 1759, signed a 9,000 year lease on the St James's Gate Brewery for an annual fee of £45.

Read more ....

iRex Announces e-Reader with Barnes & Noble Catalog, Verizon 3G

iRex Reader

From Popular Science:

With a larger screen and 400,000 more titles, iRex's DR800SG forces a standoff against the Kindle and the Sony Reader.

Barnes and Noble first tipped their hand in July, when they announed their new e-book store and its 700,000 titles would be made available on the iPhone and BlackBerry platforms. Then in August, the bookseller announced a partnership with e-reader maker iRex, in addition to love for Plastic Logic and their devices. And today (drumroll, please) the company officially announced the iRex DR800SG reader, the first e-book reader with access to the Barnes and Noble catalog.

Read more ....

US Dirty Bomb Attack Would Bring Clean-Up Chaos

From New Scientist:

A dirty bomb attack on the US would find the country ill-prepared to clean up the resulting radioactive mess, a government watchdog has warned – and hasty attempts at cleaning up could make things worse.

Building a true nuclear bomb requires expert knowledge and possession of plutonium or enriched uranium, which governments keep under tight security. But more widely available radioactive materials, intended for applications such as medical imaging, could be used to construct a "dirty bomb" detonated a conventional explosives such as dynamite.

Read more ....

Mysterious Ruins May Help Explain Mayan Collapse

This is one of the exceptionally well preserved buildings discovered at Kiuic. This building dates to the Late/Terminal Classic (A.D. 800-1000) and is part of the later major royal Palace discovered at the site.By Bolonchen Regional Archaeological Project.

From USA Today:

Ringing two abandoned pyramids are nine palaces "frozen in time" that may help unravel the mystery of the ancient Maya, reports an archaeological team.

Hidden in the hilly jungle, the ancient site of Kiuic (KIE-yuk) was one of dozens of ancient Maya centers abandoned in the Puuc region of Mexico's Yucatan about 10 centuries ago. The latest discoveries from the site may capture the moment of departure.

Read more ....

Voters choose 'Embracing The Hope' Setting For Famed Diamond

From The L.A. Times:

Last month we mentioned that, as a PR stunt for a Smithsonian Channel documentary, you had a chance to vote on which of three Harry Winston settings the famous Hope Diamond should temporarily reside. And, based on the number of comments All The Rage received (and we weren't even the ones tallying the votes), folks had some pretty strong opinions on the topic -- though most of you said you would prefer it remain in its traditional setting (to which it will return by the end of next year).

Read more ....

Genetic Discovery Could Break Wine Industry Bottleneck, Accelerate Grapevine Breeding

From Science Daily:

One of the best known episodes in the 8000-year history of grapevine cultivation led to biological changes that have not been well understood – until now. Through biomolecular detective work, German researchers have uncovered new details about the heredity of Vitis varieties in cultivation today. In the process, they have opened the way to more meaningful classification, accelerated breeding, and more accurate evaluation of the results, potentially breaking a bottleneck in the progress of the wine industry.

Read more ....

What Seniors Need To Know About The Flu

From Live Science:

Flu season in the northern hemisphere can range from as early as November to as late as May. The peak month usually is February.

However, this coming season is expected to be unpredictable because of the emergence of the H1N1 influenza virus or swine flu. The H1N1 has caused the first global outbreak — pandemic — of influenza in more than four decades.

Read more ....