Saturday, November 14, 2009

Army Corps of Engineers Now Required to Consider Climate Change in All Future Projects

Flood Plans Here's to keeping above water Army Corps of Engineers

From Popular Science:

Worst-case planning never hurt anybody, and certainly not federal water projects that cost millions of dollars and could be easily undone by climate change and rising sea levels. A new policy now requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to plan for future climate change when designing plans for flood control or other projects.

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Can Alternative Energy Save The Economy And The Climate?

Photo: RENEWABLE WINDFALL: Utility companies are investing in diverse renewable energy projects with or without success at Copenhagen. ISTOCKPHOTO/JLGUTIERREZ

From Scientific American:

The "new energy" economy rolls forward even as hopes for an international deal to combat climate change at Copenhagen shift into reverse.

BRIGHTON, Colo. - The low-carbon economy has already arrived on the windy prairie north of this fast-growing Denver 'burb. It's here that Danish wind-turbine giant Vestas converted 298 acres of hayfield into the West's largest turbine factory - and turned Brighton into a magnet for "green" energy companies.

It's part of a $1 billion investment by the company in the United States, what Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter touts as a "new energy economy."

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Watch A 2006 Bugatti Veyron Crash On Video

2006 Bugatti Veyron Crashes On Video, Posted To Facebook -- Christian Science Monitor

Facebook video of a 2006 Bugatti Veyron crash shows the car making a wall of water as it hits a Texas lagoon. No one was injured in the crash.

It’s one of the rarest cars on the road, and Galveston, Tex. medical school student Joe Garza saw it crash on his way to get groceries.

He and a friend were driving off of Galveston Island when they pulled up alongside the $2 million French supercar, believed to be one of just 15 in the US. When they pulled up to the sporty two-seater, Garza whipped out his camera and started shooting. That’s when the unthinkable happened.

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Cocaine And Pepper Spray – A Lethal Mix?

Could be fatal (Image: Miguel Villagran/Getty)

From New Scientist:

DEATHS in US police custody during the early 1990s may have been the result of an interaction between capsaicin, the key ingredient in pepper sprays, and psychostimulant drugs, an experiment in mice suggests.

If the two have a fatal interaction in people then police forces might have to rethink their use of pepper spray as a non-lethal weapon, says John Mendelson of the Addiction and Pharmacology Research Laboratory at St Luke's Hospital in San Francisco, who led the mouse research.

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El Niño Gaining Strength

Click for large image - This image was created with data collected by the U.S./French satellite during a 10-day period centered on November 1, 2009. It shows a red and white area in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific that is about 10 to 18 centimeters (4 to 7 inches) above normal. Image credit: NASA/JPL Ocean Surface Topography Team

From Watts Up With That?

From the “WUWT never reports on anything warm department”, JPL reports El Niño looks like it is on schedule to make a Christmas appearance as “The Boy”. The good news is that it will likely help California’s water situation this year.

From NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

El Niño is experiencing a late-fall resurgence. Recent sea-level height data from the NASA/French Space Agency Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2 oceanography satellite show that a large-scale, sustained weakening of trade winds in the western and central equatorial Pacific during October has triggered a strong, eastward-moving wave of warm water, known as a Kelvin wave.

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Google's Replacement for HTTP Protocol To Make Web Browsing Twice As Fast

Faster Internet Google's Chromium group wants to boost your Internet browsing Google

From Popular Science:

The proposed rewrite of the web's backbone comes with both benefits and caveats.
Google has scarcely stopped for a breather since launching its cloud-based Chrome OS as an alternative to PC and Mac operating systems. Now its Chromium group has announced an effort to replace the traditional HTTP web browser language with a new protocol that supposedly boosts Internet browsing by up to 55 percent.

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Rat Made Supersmart -- Similar Boost Unsafe in Humans?

Scientists have tripled the memory of a rat named Hobbie-J (not pictured) by enhancing a single gene, suggesting that similar therapies may someday aid—or bedevil—humans, according to an October 2009 study. Photograph by Vincent J. Musi, National Geographic Stock

From National Geographic:

By modifying a single gene, scientists have made Hobbie-J the smartest rat in the world, a new study says.

A similar gene tweak might boost human brainpower too, but scientists warn that there is such a thing as being too smart for your own good.

For years scientifically smartened rats have skittered through movies and books such as Flowers for Algernon and The Secret of NIMH. But Hobbie-J is anything but fiction.

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The 10 Weirdest Physics Facts, From Relativity To Quantum Physics

Albert Einstein, who pointed out that the faster you move,
the heavier you get Photo: AFP/GETTY

From The Telegraph:

People who think science is dull are wrong. Here are 10 reasons why.

Physics is weird. There is no denying that. Particles that don’t exist except as probabilities; time that changes according to how fast you’re moving; cats that are both alive and dead until you open a box.

We’ve put together a collection of 10 of the strangest facts we can find, with the kind help of cosmologist and writer Marcus Chown, author of We Need To Talk About Kelvin, and an assortment of Twitter users.

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Dinosaur Discovered In South Africa... And May Reveal How They Grew To Be So Big

Bridging the gap: A graphic released by Australian paleontologist Adam Yates shows the newly discovered dinosaur species - with the fossil bones found by the team marked on the outline

From The Daily Mail:

A new dinosaur named the 'Earth Claw' has been discovered in South Africa.

The discovery of the Aardonyx celestae marks a breakthrough in understanding how creatures began walking on all fours - and why they grew so large, scientists claimed yesterday.

Researchers believe the near-perfect skeleton bridges the gap between the earliest two-legged specimens and those who later walked on four limbs.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Two Earth-sized Bodies With Oxygen Rich Atmospheres Found, But They're Stars Not Planets

Sloan Digital Sky Survey spectroscopy of this inconspicuous blue object -- SDSS1102+2054 -- reveals it to be an extremely rare stellar remnant: a white dwarf with an oxygen-rich atmosphere (Credit: The Sloan Digital Sky Survey)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 13, 2009) — Astrophysicists at the University of Warwick and Kiel University have discovered two earth sized bodies with oxygen rich atmospheres -- however there is a bit of a disappointing snag for anyone looking for a potential home for alien life, or even a future home for ourselves, as they are not planets but are actually two unusual white dwarf stars.

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Humans Still Evolving As Our Brains Shrink

Weighing in at an average of 2.7 pounds (1,200 grams), the human brain packs a whopping 100 billion neurons. Every minute, about three soda-cans worth of blood flow through the brain. Credit: dreamstime.

From Live Science:

Evolution in humans is commonly thought to have essentially stopped in recent times. But there are plenty of examples that the human race is still evolving, including our brains, and there are even signs that our evolution may be accelerating.

Shrinking brains

Comprehensive scans of the human genome reveal that hundreds of our genes show evidence of changes during the past 10,000 years of human evolution.

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Medpedia To Best The More Democratic Wikipedia?

Image: The nearly year-old Medpedia grows up with the addition of three key features. (Credit: Medpedia)

From CNET News:

Medpedia, a collaborative project for medical information launched in February, is getting beyond the medical-data basics as it adds answers, alerts, and analysis.

Founded on the noble and semipractical system of providing free online medical information generated for and by physicians, journals, schools, patients, and more, Medpedia's three stated goals are to be collaborative, interdisciplinary, and transparent. The idea is to maximize knowledge and minimize the kind of screwing around that continually threatens the efficacy of other wiki-based projects. Of course, the extent to which this is successful hinges on the quality, integrity, and transparency of the editors.

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Quantum 'Trampoline' To Test Gravity

From The New Scientist:

IT'S the world's smallest trampoline. Bouncing atoms with lasers could make ultra-precise measurements of gravity.

To test theories such as general relativity, the strength of gravity is measured precisely using ensembles of supercold atoms falling in a vacuum chamber. These ensembles are called "Bose-Einstein condensates".

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How The Brain Hard-Wires Us To Love Google, Twitter, And Texting. And Why That's Dangerous.

From Slate:

Seeking. You can't stop doing it. Sometimes it feels as if the basic drives for food, sex, and sleep have been overridden by a new need for endless nuggets of electronic information. We are so insatiably curious that we gather data even if it gets us in trouble. Google searches are becoming a cause of mistrials as jurors, after hearing testimony, ignore judges' instructions and go look up facts for themselves. We search for information we don't even care about. Nina Shen Rastogi confessed in Double X, "My boyfriend has threatened to break up with me if I keep whipping out my iPhone to look up random facts about celebrities when we're out to dinner." We reach the point that we wonder about our sanity. Virginia Heffernan in the New York Times said she became so obsessed with Twitter posts about the Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrest that she spent days "refreshing my search like a drugged monkey."

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National Security Agency's Surveillance Data Could Fill Two States by 2015

Data, Delicious Data I see you Warner Bros.

From Popular Science:

Where will the NSA house its secret yottabytes?

We always knew that the National Security Agency collects a lot of surveillance data from satellites and by other means, but we never quite imagined it was this much: the NSA estimates it will have enough data by 2015 to fill a million datacenters spread across the equivalent combined area of Delaware and Rhode Island. The NSA wants to store yottabytes of data, and one yottabyte comes to 1,000,000,000,000,000 GB.

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Friday The 13th Superstitions Get Rare Workout In 2009

Traditionally an omen of ill fortune, a black cat crosses a Palermo, Italy, street in an undated photo. Unlike its feline fellow resident of the bad luck hall of fame, Friday the 13th doesn't have nine lives—it can't even exist more than three times a year, thanks to the eccentricities of the calendar. Photograph by William Albert Allard/NGS

From National Geographic:

Today, Friday the 13th superstitions are fraying nerves for the third time in 2009.

Luckily for paraskevidekatriaphobics—people who harbor Friday the 13th superstitions—three Friday the 13ths are the yearly maximum, at least as long as we continue to mark time with the Gregorian calendar, which Pope Gregory XIII ordered the Catholic Church to adopt in 1582.

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Pursuit Of Pleasure Drives Human Decisions

Chemical in the brain plays a key role in choices

From The Telegraph:

The pursuit of pleasure drives the everyday decisions that direct people's lives, research suggests.

Scientists discovered that a reward chemical in the brain plays a key role in choices such as where to go on holiday.

They believe the ''pleasure principle'' may be at the heart of most human decision making.

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There Is More Water On The Moon Than What We Thought

Lunar Impactor Finds Clear Evidence Of Water Ice On Moon -- Wired Science

There is water on the moon, NASA confirmed today, and lots of it.

In the first look at results from the LCROSS mission, which sent a probe crashing into the Cabeus crater near the moon’s south pole, NASA’s main investigator said their instruments clearly detected water, despite the underwhelming plume.

Within the field of view of their instruments, the team measured approximately 220 pounds or about 26 gallons of water. Next, the team will try to understand how the compounds they saw in the plume relate to what’s actually embedded in the lunar regolith at the bottom of the permanently shadowed crater.

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More News On The Discovery Of Water On the Moon

NASA discovers 'significant' amount of water on moon -- Washington Post
NASA sees "significant quantities" of water on the moon -- Ars technica
Splash! NASA moon strikes found significant water -- AP
Water Found on Moon, Scientists Say -- New York Times
NASA Moon Crash Found 'Significant Amount' of Water -- FOX News
Water found on Moon after Nasa 'bombing' mission -- The Telegraph

Rosetta Probe Makes Final Earth Flyby As It Sling-Shots Towards Speeding Comet

From The Daily Mail:

This spectacular image of our home planet was captured by Europe's Rosetta probe as it made its third and final flyby of Earth.

The outline of Antarctica is visible under the clouds in the illuminated crescent. Pack ice in front of the coastline caused the very bright spots on the image.

The Earth image was taken by the-board camera OSIRIS yesterday, from a distance of 393,000 miles.

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Pollination In The Pre-Flower-Power Era

The long, tubular proboscis (arrow, left image) sported by some species of scorpionflies suggests that the insects were pollinating ancient plants including conifers (right) millions of years before flowers evolved. Credit: Photo: Wenying Wu; Illustration: Mary Parrish/National Museum of Natural History

From Science News:

Scorpionflies may have aided plant reproduction long before blossoms evolved.

An obscure group of scorpionflies with specialized mouthparts may have pollinated ancient plants millions of years before flowers evolved, a new study suggests.

Fossils indicate that before flowers evolved about 130 million years ago, most plants with seeds were wind-pollinated. Yet the pollen grains of some plants that lived in the prefloral era were too big to be wind-dispersed, say Conrad Labandeira, a paleoentomologist at Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Also, he notes, pollen receptors were hidden deep within some of those plants and wouldn’t have been readily exposed to windborne pollen.

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ESA Spacecraft May Help Unravel Cosmic Mystery

Cassini-Huygens swings by Earth and accelerates towards Saturn. (Credit: ESA)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 13, 2009) — When Europe's comet chaser Rosetta swings by Earth on Nov. 13 for a critical gravity assist, tracking data will be collected to precisely measure the satellite's change in orbital energy. The results could help unravel a cosmic mystery that has stumped scientists for two decades.

Since 1990, scientists and mission controllers at ESA and NASA have noticed that their spacecraft sometimes experience a strange variation in the amount of orbital energy they exchange with Earth during planetary swingbys. The unexplained variation is noticed as a tiny difference in speed gained or lost during the swingby when comparing that predicted by fundamental physics and that actually measured after the event.

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Friday The 13th: Your Luck Is About To Change

From Live Science:

If Friday the 13th is unlucky, then 2009 has been an unusually unlucky year. But your luck is about to change. Today is the last of three Friday the 13ths you'll have to endure this year.

The other two were in February and March. Such a rare triple-threat occurs only once every 11 years.

The origin of the link between bad luck and Friday the 13th is murky. The whole thing might date to Biblical times (the 13th guest at the Last Supper betrayed Jesus). By the Middle Ages, both Friday and the number 13 were considered bearers of bad fortune. In modern times, the superstition permeates society.

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Tiny Mutation Led To Human Speech

Human speech is thought to have emerged 100,000 to 200,000 years ago, some five million years after chimps and humans took divergent paths on the tree of evolution. Photo: iStockphoto

From Cosmos:

PARIS: Two minute evolutionary changes in a gene that is otherwise identical in humans and chimps could explain why we have fully fledged power of speech while other primates do not.

The findings may also point to new drug targets for hard-to-treat diseases that disrupt speech, such as schizophrenia and autism, said a study detailed in the British journal Nature today.

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Behind The CDC's Soaring H1N1 Death Totals

From Time Magazine:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released on Thursday updated estimates of the number of H1N1 infections and deaths in the U.S. According to the new figures, about 4,000 Americans, including 540 children, have died of H1N1 flu, and 2 million people have been infected since April, when the novel flu virus first surfaced. The new death toll, which encompasses data through Oct. 17, represents a tripling of CDC estimates issued just last week; the number of deaths in children quadruples last week's figures. But the increase does not mean that the disease has suddenly become more deadly or severe, according to health officials, who say they are not surprised by the higher numbers.

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Undercurrent Of Doubt Over Electric Motors

A loophole in EU targets on cutting CO2 emissions means that the more electric cars are produced, the more SUVs manufacturers can sell. Reuters

From The Independent:

Greener power generation needed if electric vehicles are really to reduce emissions.

Electric cars , which emit no carbon dioxide from their tailpipe, are not the answer some people think they are to environmental transport problems, a new report claims today.

The idea that a wholesale switch to electric transport would automatically reduce CO2 emissions and dependence on oil is a myth, says the analysis prepared for the Environmental Transport Association (ETA).

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His Facebook Status Now? ‘Charges Dropped’

Facebook has become more than a diversion for Rodney Bradford. Damiano Beltrami

From The New York Times:

Where’s my pancakes, read Rodney Bradford’s Facebook page, in a message typed on Saturday, Oct. 17, at 11:49 a.m., from a computer in his father’s apartment in Harlem.

At the time, the sentence, written in indecipherable street slang, was just another navel-gazing, cryptic Facebook status update — words that were gobbledygook to anyone besides Mr. Bradford.

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Mars Rover Battles For Its Life

Last chance to lift NASA's spirit (Image: Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

From New Scientist:

NASA's twin Mars rovers have outlasted their planned three-month missions for so long that they seem indestructible. Nearly six years on, their presence on the Red Planet is taken for granted, as if they are immutable parts of the Martian landscape.

But we may soon have to confront a new reality. Spirit, which has always suffered more hardships than Opportunity, is facing its toughest challenge yet. When New Scientist went to press, the rover was set to begin a risky push to free itself from a sand trap it has been mired in for six months. Mission engineers say it may not survive the attempt. "She's in a very precarious situation, and we don't know for sure if we're going to get her out," says rover driver Scott Maxwell of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

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Robo-Negotiator Talks Down Armed Lunatic

You Want My Hydraulic Fluid! Take My Hydraulic Fluid! Via

From Popular Science:

Hostage situations are often described like explosive devices, as ticking time bombs waiting to go off. And just as bomb disposal units have robots to help with their job, now police negotiators have a bot of their own for defusing a different kind of explosive situation.

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Warning Of Extra Heart Dangers From Mixing Cocaine And Alcohol

A man snorting cocaine. Photograph: Andy Drysdale/ADR

From The Guardian:

A third chemical – cocaethylene – builds up in the liver over a number of years among those who mix the two drugs. And this is now having major health consequences.

"I first took coke when I was 18 and at university. I remember two friends who did chemistry told me I should get really drunk first because it would mix into this new chemical in my blood and make me even higher," a 30-year-old woman who works in publishing told the Observer yesterday.

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Great Pacific Garbage Patch Keeps Getting Bigger

In a remote patch of the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from any national boundary, the detritus of human life is collecting in a swirling current so large that it defies precise measurement. Photo: Mario Aguilera/New York Times

From Future Pundit:

We are letting far too much plastic end up in the oceans.

ABOARD THE ALGUITA, 1,000 miles northeast of Hawaii — In this remote patch of the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from any national boundary, the detritus of human life is collecting in a swirling current so large that it defies precise measurement.

In 1804, a little over 200 years ago, the planet had a human population of 1 billion people. Back then the oceans seemed immense and beyond the capacity of humans to change. Yet by 1850 whale hunting peaked due to over harvesting and we've since drastically drawn down the stocks of other ocean-going creatures such as cod and salmon.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

High-performance Plasmas May Make Reliable, Efficient Fusion Power A Reality

Artist's rendering of a tokamak plasma. The plasma is confined by the combination of strong magnetic field in the toroidal direction (around the hole in the "donut" as shown by the black arrow) generated by external coils (not shown) and the magnetic field from a large current flowing in the same toroidal direction. The plasma is held inside a sealed metal structure that is evacuated and lined with special material to keep the plasma pure and handle the heat exhaust. (Credit: Image courtesy of American Physical Society)

From The Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 12, 2009) — In the quest to produce nuclear fusion energy, researchers from the DIII-D National Fusion Facility have recently confirmed long-standing theoretical predictions that performance, efficiency and reliability are simultaneously obtained in tokamaks, the leading magnetic confinement fusion device, operating at their performance limits. Experiments designed to test these predictions have successfully demonstrated the interaction of these conditions.

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Origin of Household Dust Pinned Down

A new computer model that simulates how dust comes into and out of homes found that most indoor dust originates outside. The model may help communities figure out how to best clean up contaminated waste sites. Credit: Stockxpert.

From Live Science:

No matter how much you clean, dust always comes back, and you might have wondered how it all gets there. Now, researchers have created a new computer model to explain what happens.

Most dust originates outdoors and comes in through the air, rather than trampled in on people's shoes, at least in a group of homes in the Midwestern United States, they found.

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U.S. Army Orders Bridges Made Of Recycled Plastic

An M1A1 70-ton tank crosses a bridge made from Axion's thermoplastic composite at Camp Mackall in North Carolina. (Credit: Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army/Dawn Elizabeth Pandoliano)

From CNET News:

Axion International Holdings has won a $957,000 contract to provide the U.S. Army with two bridges made from a thermoplastic composite and recycled plastic, the company announced Wednesday evening.

The two bridges, which are replacing old wooden ones, will be constructed at Fort Eustis in Virginia from a proprietary Recycled Structural Composite (RSC) developed by Axion in conjunction with scientists at Rutgers University.

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Flu Spray vs. Shot: Is One Better?

From Discovery News:

My four-year-old got her swine flu vaccination yesterday. At the time, I was relieved when the school nurse pulled out a spray rather than a syringe.

There were no tears -- or at least fewer than if she had gotten a shot.

But then I started to wonder -- is this really as good as the real thing ... that is, the needle?

Apparently I'm not alone. My neighborhood parent list serve has been peppered with posts from parents wondering the same thing.

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Lithium Clue For Planet-Hunters

Planets grow in the dusty discs that form around infant stars

From The BBC:

Astronomers may have found a way to identify those Sun-like stars most likely to harbour orbiting planets.

A survey of stars known to possess planets shows the vast majority to be severely depleted in lithium.

To date, scientists have detected just over 420 worlds circling other stars using a range of techniques.

Garik Israelian and colleagues tell the journal Nature that future planet hunts could be narrowed by going after stars with particular compositions.

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4 High-Tech Surprises From The USS New York

USS New York makes her way up the Hudson River.

From Popular Mechanics:

The USS New York, commissioned this month in its namesake city, is the Navy's newest warship. It's a Landing Platform Dock ship, which means it brings Marines to wherever they are needed. The 700 marines on the ship travel ready for combat, and that means landing hovercraft (called Landing Craft Air Cushions), attack helicopters, tanks, amphibious vehicles and V-22 Ospreys come along for the ride. The aircraft launch from the ship and are maintained in hangars on and below the flight deck. The New York has the most famous hull in the world—the Navy integrated 7.5 tons of steel from the fallen World Trade Center towers into the bow. But that is not the only interesting detail of this new vessel's design. Here are four high-tech surprises the USS New York has in store for enemies.

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In SUSY We Trust: What The LHC Is Really Looking For

From New Scientist:

AS DAMP squibs go, it was quite a spectacular one. Amid great pomp and ceremony - not to mention dark offstage rumblings that the end of the world was nigh - the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's mightiest particle smasher, fired up in September last year. Nine days later a short circuit and a catastrophic leak of liquid helium ignominiously shut the machine down.

Now for take two. Any day now, if all goes to plan, proton beams will start racing all the way round the ring deep beneath CERN, the LHC's home on the outskirts of Geneva, Switzerland.

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When the DoD's Fantasy Projects Get Real: DARPA Monitors Student Minds, SOCOM Wants Robo-Go-Fast Boats, And More

Robot At The Helm? courtesy of the Department of Defense

From Popular Science:

Three times a year, the Department of Defense (DoD) solicits help from the small business community to transform their high-tech research projects into actual, usable products. While the businesses use this opportunity to fight for some of that sweet, sweet government pork, for us, it's a chance to get a look at the next generation of advanced military gear. With the new solicitations out today, we're counting down the most intriguing projects that the DoD wants to get out of the lab and onto the battlefield.

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My Comment: Everyone comes out of the woodwork for these type of shows .... myself included.

October USA – Temperature 3rd Coldest On Record, Wettest Ever On Record

From Watts Up With That?

Temperature Highlights – October

* The average October temperature of 50.8°F was 4.0°F below the 20th Century average and ranked as the 3rd coolest based on preliminary data.
* For the nation as a whole, it was the third coolest October on record. The month was marked by an active weather pattern that reinforced unseasonably cold air behind a series of cold fronts. Temperatures were below normal in eight of the nation’s nine climate regions, and of the nine, five were much below normal. Only the Southeast climate region had near normal temperatures for October.

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Psychic Spies In The Military

Psychic Spies: Any Truth in 'Men Who Stare at Goats?' -- ABC News

Movie, Book Claim Military Officers Dabbled in the Paranormal

Major Paul H. Smith calls it his "Men in Black" moment.

It was 1983 and he was working as a Middle East analyst at Fort Meade, Md., when a fellow intelligence officer approached him with a highly-classified, so-called "black project."

They couldn't tell him what it was. They just said that as an intelligent, accomplished, open-minded and creative person, he fit the profile.

Intrigued, Smith agreed to take the tests thrown at him. And when the results confirmed his competence for the top-secret task, he was invited to try his hand at a new mission: To uncover details about places and activities around the world without stepping off of a U.S. military base.

"We're basically asking you to become a psychic spy," Smith, now retired, said he was told.

Read more ....

My Comment: The Americans may have extensively studied this field of interest .... it pales when compared to what the Russians were doing.

Receptor Controls Long Term Memory Formation

From Future Pundit:

A drug that turns off the nogo receptor 1 blocks long term memory formation in mice. Imagine a drug that did the same thing in humans. It would have all sorts of uses and abuses.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have discovered a mechanism that controls the brain's ability to create lasting memories. In experiments on genetically manipulated mice, they were able to switch on and off the animals' ability to form lasting memories by adding a substance to their drinking water. The findings, which are published in the scientific journal PNAS, are of potential significance to the future treatment of Alzheimer's and stroke.

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EPA Study Says Mercury-Tainted Fish Found In 49% Of U.S. Lakes And Reservoirs

From The Bloomberg:

Fish with potentially harmful levels of mercury were found in 49 percent of U.S. lakes and reservoirs studied, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

Lakes in almost half of the states had fish contaminated by toxic chemicals such as mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls or pesticides, the EPA said in a statement Tuesday on a study conducted from 2000 to 2003.

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Star Trek-like Replicator? Electron Beam Device Makes Metal Parts, One Layer At A Time

Electron beam freeform fabrication process. (Credit: NASA)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 11, 2009) — A group of engineers working on a novel manufacturing technique at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., have come up with a new twist on the popular old saying about dreaming and doing: "If you can slice it, we can build it."

That's because layers mean everything to the environmentally-friendly construction process called Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication, or EBF3, and its operation sounds like something straight out of science fiction.

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One Key Found For Living To 100

From Live Science:

Scientists have zeroed in on one apparent key to long life: an inherited cellular repair mechanism that thwarts aging and perhaps helps prevent disease. Researches say the finding could lead to anti-aging drugs.

The study involves telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that have been likened to the plastic tips that prevent shoelaces from unraveling. Telomeres were already known to play a key role in aging, and their discovery led to this year's Nobel Prize in medicine.

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Universities Reject Kindle Over Inaccessibility For The Blind

Photo: Kindle DX. (Credit: Amazon)

From The CNET:

The National Federation of the Blind is applauding the decisions of Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison not to's Kindle DX as a textbook replacement.

The universities cited the Kindle's inaccessibility to the blind as the problem.

The federation said Wednesday that while it appreciates the Kindle's text-to-speech feature, the "menus of the device are not accessible to the blind...making it impossible for a blind user to purchase books from Amazon's Kindle store, select a book to read, activate the text-to-speech feature, and use the advanced reading functions available on the Kindle DX."

Read more ....

Super-Sniffing Bees Combat Colony Pest

Government scientists have developed a population of honeybees that can root out the Varroa mite, a main culprit in a honeybee die-off. Getty Images

From Discovery News:

Government-developed honeybees are equipped with a keen sniffing ability to root out a deadly parasite.

In an effort to stem a massive bee die-off, government scientists have developed a population of honeybees that can root out a main culprit in the epidemic -- a parasite that feeds on pupae in nests and spreads viruses within hives.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists hope the population of Varroa mite-detecting honeybees could potentially improve the health of the overall honeybee population.

Read more ....

Sniff Test To Preserve Old Books

From The BBC:

The key to preserving the old, degrading paper of treasured, ageing books is contained in the smell of their pages, say scientists.

Researchers report in the journal Analytical Chemistry that a new "sniff test" can measure degradation of old books and historical documents.

The test picks up and identifies the chemicals that the pages release as they degrade.

This could help libraries and museums preserve a range of precious books.

Read more ....

Will Probe's Upcoming Fly-By Unlock Exotic Physics?

The Rosetta probe will fly by Earth on Friday (Illustration: ESA/C. Carreau)

From New Scientist:

What's causing spacecraft to mysteriously accelerate? The Rosetta comet chaser's fly-by of Earth on 13 November is a perfect opportunity to get to the bottom of it.

The anomaly emerged in 1990, when NASA's Galileo spacecraft whizzed by Earth to get a boost from our planet's gravity and gained 3.9 millimetres per second more than expected. And the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft had an unexpected increase of about 1.8 millimetres per second during a previous fly-by of Earth in 2005.

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The Milky Way As You've Never Seen It Before: The Colourful Centre Of Our Galaxy In All Its Glory

Unprecedented: A beautiful composite image of the Milky Way centre using observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory

From The Daily Mail:

Colourful, swirling clouds of cosmic dust interspersed with glowing star clusters are revealed in this extraordinary image of the Milky Way.

The dazzling image combining reds, yellows, blues and purples, was created by layering stunningly detailed pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory on top of each other.

The Milky Way is at the centre of our own galaxy and this image shows its core. The image was created to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei's first demonstration of his telescope.

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Convicted Murderer Sues Wikipedia, Demands Removal of His Name

From The Threat Level:

Wikipedia is under a censorship attack by a convicted murderer who is invoking Germany’s privacy laws in a bid to remove references to his killing of a Bavarian actor in 1990.

Lawyers for Wolfgang Werle, of Erding, Germany, sent a cease-and-desist letter (.pdf) demanding removal of Werle’s name from the Wikipedia entry on actor Walter Sedlmayr. The lawyers cite German court rulings that “have held that our client’s name and likeness cannot be used anymore in publication regarding Mr. Sedlmayr’s death.”

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The Vatican Joins The Search For Alien Life

From The Telegraph:

The Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding its first ever conference on alien life, the discovery of which would have profound implications for the Catholic Church.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding a conference on astrobiology, the study of life beyond Earth, with scientists and religious leaders gathering in Rome this week.

For centuries, theologians have argued over what the existence of life elsewhere in the universe would mean for the Church: at least since Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk, was put to death by the Inquisition in 1600 for claiming that other worlds exist.

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As Alternative Energy Grows, NIMBY Turns Green

An offshore wind farm in north Wales, U.K. (Credit: Vestas)

From CNET:

Painting the Golden Gate Bridge yellow might cause less fuss than trying to install a wind farm off Cape Cod's historic coast.

But when you're trying to build where the wind is strongest or the sun is brightest, you never know what obstacles you may run into.

In Massachusetts, a proposed wind farm called Cape Wind was dealt a blow last Friday that will delay what would be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. The Massachusetts Historical Commission agreed with local Indian tribes who claim that the location for the wind farm should be considered for listing in the National Historic Register because the Wampanoags' history and culture are "inextricably linked to Nantucket Sound," according to the opinion.

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