Saturday, November 21, 2009

W5 Investigates Intriguing New Theory About MS

Dr. Paolo Zamboniis seen at his research lab at the University of Ferrara.

From CTV News:

A group of doctors in Italy is investigating a fascinating new treatment for multiple sclerosis, based on a theory that, if proven true, could radically alter the lives of patients.

An investigation by CTV's W5 reveals that this treatment appears to stop the disease from progressing. Patients seen in the documentary relate how, after the simple procedure, their MS symptoms suddenly stopped and, in some cases, they were able to resume normal lives.

The Italian research is asking fundamental questions about the origins of the debilitating condition, whose causes have long remained a mystery.

Read more ....

Scientific Scandal Appears To Rock Climate Change Promoters

From The American Thinker:

There's big news for climate change students. A hacker has gotten into the computers at Hadley CRU, Britain's largest climate research institute and a proponent of global warming, and seems to have uncovered evidence of substantial fraud in reporting the "evidence" on global warming; the unlawful destruction of records to cover up this fraud ,conspiracy,and deceit in the entire operation.

While hacking into the institute's records is inappropriate if not illegal, the activities disclosed appear illegal and damaging to science and the economies of the world.

Read more ....

Friday, November 20, 2009

Robotic Spy Planes Go Green

This photo shows the Ion Tiger in flight. The 550-watt fuel cell is show in the box in the lower left corner. Credit: Naval Research Laboratory

From Live Science:

Robot spy planes are harnessing alternative energy to make them more covert and longer lasting than ever.

Such drones could also find use in civilian life to help monitor the earth or wildlife as well, researchers noted.

Increasingly, the military is deploying unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, as eyes in the sky to scan the ground for targets and threats, especially for missions that are too dangerous for manned aircraft.

The problem with using internal combustion engines for these spy drones is how noisy they are.

Read more ....

Hacked: Sensitive Documents Lifted From Hadley Climate Center

From The Wall Street Journal:

Well, this should get interesting.

The Hadley Climate Research Unit in Britain was hacked yesterday, apparently by Russian black hats, and thousands of sensitive documents, including emails from climate scientists dating back a decade, were posted online. More here.

Officials at Hadley, a leading global-warming research center, have apparently confirmed to an Australian a Kiwi publication that the documents are genuine.

Read more ....

Large Hadron Collider Restarted

Large Hadron Collider Photo: PA

From The Australian/AFP:

THE world's biggest atom-smasher, shut down after its inauguration in September 2008 amid technical faults, has been restarted.

"The first tests of injecting sub-atomic particles began around 1600 (01:00 AEDT),'' CERN spokesman James Gillies said.

He said the injections lasted a fraction of a second, enough for "a half or even a complete circuit'' of the Large Hadron Collider built in a 27km long tunnel straddling the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva.

Read more ....

Little Progress In Freeing A Rover On Mars

NASA's Mars Rover Spirit took this image with its front hazard-avoidance camera on May 6. Wheel slippage during attempts to extricate it from a patch of soft ground during the preceding two weeks had partially buried the wheels. NASA

From The New York Times:

The NASA rover Spirit, stuck in sand on Mars, tried to move Tuesday for the first time since May. In less than a second, it stopped.

Cautious mission managers had put tight constraints on the Spirit’s movement to ensure that it did not drive itself into a deeper predicament. Because the uncertainty in its tilt was more than one degree, the rover called it a day. Spirit awaits new instructions.

Read more ....

Norwegian Scientists Detect Mutated Form Of Swine Flu

From The Washington Post:

Norwegian scientists detect mutated form of swine flu.

Scientists in Norway announced Friday they had detected a mutated form of the swine flu virus in two patients who died of the flu and a third who was severely ill.

In a statement, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said the mutation "could possibly make the virus more prone to infect deeper in the airways and thus cause more severe disease," such as pneumonia.

The institute said there was no indication that the mutation would hinder the ability of the vaccine to protect people from becoming infected or impair the effectiveness of antiviral drugs in treating people who became infected.

Read more ....

Mammoth Dung Unravels Extinction

Mastadons and other megafauna left traces of dung in ancient lake beds.

From The BBC:

Mammoth dung has proven to be a source of prehistoric information, helping scientists unravel the mystery of what caused the great mammals to die out.

An examination of a fungus that is found in the ancient dung and preserved in lake sediments has helped build a picture of what happened to the beasts.

The study sheds light on the ecological consequences of the extinction and the role that humans may have played in it.

Researchers describe this development in the journal Science.

The study was led by Dr Jacquelyn Gill from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in the US.

Read more ....

Intel Labs Europe Tackles Large-Scale Computing

From CNET News:

Intel Labs Europe is joining a handful of French institutions to investigate large-scale computing challenges that face today's information technology industry.

The Exascale Computing Research Center will investigate machines that can perform 1,000 times more calculations than today's top supercomputers, Intel said, and the chipmaker is spending millions of dollars on the three-year partnership.

Read more ....

Outlandish Planet Has Wonky Orbit

WASP-17 (pictured) was another planet found to have a weird reverse orbit
in a study published in mid-2009. Credit: ESA

From Cosmos Magazine:

SYDNEY: Astronomers have found an extrasolar planet with an "outlandish orbit" that circles its star either backwards, or at an angle of around 90º to the orientation of the star's rotation.

Planets in our own Solar System orbit in the same plane and direction as the Sun's own rotation. This led astronomers to propose the 'nebula hypothesis' - whereby planets form from a flat, swirling disk of gas around a proto-Sun.

Read more ....

A Few Million Degrees Here And There And Pretty Soon We’re Talking About Real Temperature

From Watts Up With That?

This is mind blowing ignorance on the part of Al Gore. Gore in an 11/12/09 interview on NBC’s tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, speaking on geothermal energy, champion of slide show science, can’t even get the temperature of earth’s mantle right, claiming “several million degrees” at “2 kilometers or so down”. Oh, and the “crust of the earth is hot” too.

Read more ....

Studying A Legend: K.E. Tsiolkovskii, Grandfather of Soviet Rocketry

From The Space Review:

Anyone who has studied the history of the space age has come across the name Konstantin Tsiolkovskii (1857–1935), often under the more common alternative spelling Tsiolkovsky. He is generally credited with the development of the basic mathematical formulae for space travel. Other than that, he is often described as the man who after the revolution inspired a small group of space enthusiasts, including Glushko and Korolev, to begin serious work on rocket technology. The details of his life, as James Andrews explains in his new study of the man, are more complex and far more interesting than the legend.

Read more ....

Pushing The Brain To Find New Pathways

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 19, 2009) — Until recently, scientists believed that, following a stroke, a patient had about six months to regain any lost function. After that, patients would be forced to compensate for the lost function by focusing on their remaining abilities. Although this belief has been refuted, a University of Missouri occupational therapy professor believes that the current health system is still not giving patients enough time to recover and underestimating what the human brain can do given the right conditions.

Read more ....

Mad Science? Growing Meat Without Animals

From Live Science:

Winston Churchill once predicted that it would be possible to grow chicken breasts and wings more efficiently without having to keep an actual chicken. And in fact scientists have since figured out how to grow tiny nuggets of lab meat and say it will one day be possible to produce steaks in vats, sans any livestock.

Pork chops or burgers cultivated in labs could eliminate contamination problems that regularly generate headlines these days, as well as address environmental concerns that come with industrial livestock farms.

Read more ....

Under Pressure: Bathers Duck Weak Shower Heads

Click HERE to Expand the Image

From The Wall Street Journal:

Water Shortages Spur Restrictions and Low-Flow Designs, but Some People Aren't Willing to Sacrifice, and Skirt the Rules

One way to ruin someone's day is to mess with a good morning shower. That was the hard-learned lesson of past campaigns to conserve water -- and a mistake that could be easy to repeat.

Margy Barrett, a store manager in Dallas, will make some environmental sacrifices. She recycles, and she carts reusable cloth bags to the grocery store. But this month, when she couldn't stand her weak shower head any longer, she replaced it with one that sprays hard enough, she says, to help erode "all the stress involved in today's life."

Read more ....

Remembering Dr. Paul Zamecnik

Although Dr. Paul Zamecnik was nominated repeatedly for the Nobel and rumors circulated each year that he would finally receive it, the prize never came. He did, however, win a 1996 Lasker Award, the prestigious American prize that is often a precursor of the Nobel, and the National Medal of Science in 1991. (Mercer Photography / University of Massachusetts Medical School)

Dr. Paul Zamecnik Dies At 96; Scientist Made Two Major Discoveries -- L.A. Times

He discovered transfer RNA, a crucial molecule in the synthesis of proteins in the cell, and antisense therapy, in which strands of DNA or RNA are used to block the activity of genes.

Most scientists are fortunate if they can make one major discovery in their lifetime. Dr. Paul Zamecnik made two, each of which should have won him a Nobel Prize.

Working with Dr. Mahlon Hoagland, he discovered transfer RNA, a crucial molecule in the synthesis of proteins in the cell. Later, he invented the idea of antisense therapy, in which strands of DNA or RNA are used to block the activity of genes -- a concept that is now being turned into a new class of drugs for cancer, HIV and a host of other diseases.

Zamecnik died of cancer Oct. 27 at his home in Boston. He was 96.

Read more

Seeking Wind Energy, Some Consider The Sea

Click Image to Enlarge

From The New York Times:

LAST June in a fjord in southwestern Norway, a 213-foot-tall wind turbine did something large wind turbines normally don’t do: it headed out to sea.

Towed by tugboats, the newly built turbine, with three 139-foot rotor blades and a 2.3-megawatt generator atop the tower, which itself was bolted to a ballasted steel cylinder extending more than 300 feet below the waterline, made its way to a spot six miles off the coast. Once in position it was moored with cables to the seafloor, about 700 feet below.

Read more ....

"Shangri-La" Caves Yield Treasures, Skeletons

Climber Renan Ozturk watches a local Tibetan look at an illuminated manuscript found in 2008 in a cave in the ancient kingdom of Mustang—today part of Nepal. The 15th-century folio is part of a treasure trove of Tibetan art and manuscripts uncovered in the remote Himalayan caves. The team that made the discovery, which is featured in a pair of November 2009 documentaries, thinks the sacred hoard could be linked to the fictional paradise of Shangri-La. Photograph courtesy Kris Erickson

From National Geographic:

A treasure trove of Tibetan art and manuscripts uncovered in "sky high" Himalayan caves could be linked to the storybook paradise of Shangri-La, says the team that made the discovery.

Few have been able to explore the mysterious caves, since Upper Mustang is a restricted area of Nepal that was long closed to outsiders. Today only a thousand foreigners a year are allowed into the region.

Read more ....

'Big Bang' Experiment To Re-Start

The Compact Muon Solenoid is one of two multi-purpose detectors at the LHC

From BBC:

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment could be re-started on Saturday morning at the earliest, officials have said.

Engineers are preparing to send a beam of sub-atomic particles all the way round the 27km-long circular tunnel which houses the LHC.

The £6bn machine on the French-Swiss border is designed to shed light on fundamental questions about the cosmos.

The LHC has been shut down for repairs since an accident in September 2008.

Read more ....

Analyst: Timing Of The Apple Tablet Is Irrelevant

From CNET News:

A new report from Digitimes on Thursday says Apple's anticipated tablet will not be released in the first part of 2010 as originally thought, but rather in the second half of the year. One industry analyst said the timing of the release is irrelevant to Wall Street.

According to Digitimes, Apple will delay the release of the long rumored tablet because it has decided to change some of its components. Citing unnamed sources, the report says Apple will launch a model using a 9.7-inch OLED from LG.

Read more ....

Yawning Is Part Of What Makes Us Human

Chimps do it, dogs do it, lions do it, even babies in the womb do it Photo: AFP

From The Telegraph:

Far from being bad manners, yawning is a sign of our deep humanity, says Steve Jones.

What may become 2010's Conference of the Year has just been announced. The International Congress of Chasmology will take place in June in Paris, and papers are solicited now. Anyone bored by that statement should read further, for the topic to be discussed is not diving but yawning ('chasmology' deriving from the Greek word for the pastime).

Why do we yawn? Dogs do it, lions do it, even babies in the womb do it - but nobody really knows why. Theories abound. We open wide when we are tired, bored, or hungry. Some have suggested that a sudden drop in blood oxygen, or a surge of carbon dioxide pumped out by a tired body, sparks it off – but no, breathing air rich in that gas, or with extra oxygen, makes no difference.

Read more ....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bigger Not Necessarily Better, When It Comes To Brains

Tiny insects could be as intelligent as much bigger animals, despite only having a brain the size of a pinhead, say scientists at Queen Mary, University of London. (Credit: Image courtesy of Queen Mary, University of London)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 18, 2009) — Tiny insects could be as intelligent as much bigger animals, despite only having a brain the size of a pinhead, say scientists at Queen Mary, University of London.

"Animals with bigger brains are not necessarily more intelligent," according to Lars Chittka, Professor of Sensory and Behavioural Ecology at Queen Mary's Research Centre for Psychology and University of Cambridge colleague, Jeremy Niven. This begs the important question: what are they for?

Read more ....

Strange Ancient Crocodiles Swam the Sahara

Paleontologist Paul Sereno and his colleagues unearthed a bizarre bunch of crocodile remains in the Sahara. The crocs sported snouts and other traits that resembled some modern-day animals and inspired nicknames, including SuperCroc (weighed 8 tons), BoarCroc (upper right), PancakeCroc (lower right), RatCroc, DogCroc and DuckCroc. Credit: Photo by Mike Hettwer, courtesy National Geographic.

From Live Science:

From a crocodile sporting a boar-like snout to a peculiar pal with buckteeth for digging up grub, an odd-looking bunch of such reptiles dashed and swam across what is now the Sahara Desert some 100 million years ago when dinosaurs ruled.

That's the picture created by remains of three newly identified species of ancient crocs plus fossils from two species previously named.

Read more ....

The History Of The Internet In A Nutshell

From Six Revisions:

If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you spend a fair amount of time online. However, considering how much of an influence the Internet has in our daily lives, how many of us actually know the story of how it got its start?

Here’s a brief history of the Internet, including important dates, people, projects, sites, and other information that should give you at least a partial picture of what this thing we call the Internet really is, and where it came from.

Read more ....

Movie Popcorn Still A Nutritional Horror, Study Finds

A worker makes popcorn at a Denver theater. A Center for Science in the Public Interest study found that 20 cups of one chain's popcorn contains 1,200 calories, 60 grams of saturated fat, and 980 milligrams of sodium. (Matthew Staver, Bloomberg / October 16, 2009)

From The L.A. Times:

A medium-sized popcorn and medium soda at the nation's largest movie chain pack the nutritional equivalent of three Quarter Pounders topped with 12 pats of butter, according to a report released today by the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The group's second look at movie theater concessions -- the last was 15 years ago -- found little had changed in a decade and a half, despite theaters' attempts to reformulate.

Read more ....

Sounds During Sleep Aid Memory, Study Finds

From The New York Times:

Science has never given much credence to claims that you can learn French or Chinese by having the instruction CDs play while you sleep. If any learning happens that way, most scientists say, the language lesson is probably waking the sleeper up, not causing nouns and verbs to seep into a sound-asleep mind.

But a new study about a different kind of audio approach during sleep gives insight into how the sleeping brain works, and might eventually come in handy to people studying a language, cramming for a test or memorizing lines in a play.

Read more ....

Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out


From Spiegel Online:

Global warming appears to have stalled. Climatologists are puzzled as to why average global temperatures have stopped rising over the last 10 years. Some attribute the trend to a lack of sunspots, while others explain it through ocean currents.

At least the weather in Copenhagen is likely to be cooperating. The Danish Meteorological Institute predicts that temperatures in December, when the city will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference, will be one degree above the long-term average.

Read more ....

Alcohol 'Protects Men's Hearts'

From The BBC:

Drinking alcohol every day cuts the risk of heart disease in men by more than a third, a major study suggests.

The Spanish research involving more than 15,500 men and 26,000 women found large quantities of alcohol could be even more beneficial for men.

Female drinkers did not benefit to the same extent, the study in Heart found.

Experts are critical, warning heavy drinking can increase the risk of other diseases, with alcohol responsible for 1.8 million deaths globally per year.

Read more ....

Yahoo Adds Photos, Tweets To News Search

From CNET News:

Yahoo is adding more context to news searches, bringing photos, videos, and even tweets into its search results page.

Searchers on Yahoo--who are dwindling--will find new results for newsy events Thursday, when Yahoo launches new tabs on the Yahoo News Shortcut. You've long been able to find links to news stories about a given search query through the shortcut, but you can now find other ways of telling the story with the new tabs, said Larry Cornett, vice president of consumer products for Yahoo Search.

Read more ....

Killer Bees: Nasty Sting, Not So Smart

From New Scientist:

Killer bees may be among the most feared of all insects - but they ain't too smart.

A new study has compared the wits of Africanized killer honey bees with those of a more docile European breed.

Killer bees - which result from a cross between African honey bees and a Brazilian variety in the 1950s - have spread from Central American into the southern United States. Increased intelligence had been suggested as one reason for this expansion.

Apparently not.

Read more ....

Are The Earth's Oceans Hitting Their Carbon Cap?

Remi Benali / Corbis

From Time Magazine:

Like the vast forests of the world, which continually suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen, the planet's oceans serve as vital carbon sinks. Last year the oceans absorbed as much as 2.3 billion tons of carbon, or about one-fourth of all manmade carbon emissions. Without the action of the oceans, the CO2 we emit into the atmosphere would have flame-broiled the planet by now.

Read more ....

Your Brain On Books

Photo: Neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene

From Scientific American:

Neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene explains his quest to understand how the mind makes sense of written language.

Stanislas Dehaene holds the chair of Experimental Cognitive Psychology at the Collège de France, and he is also the director of the INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit at NeuroSpin, France’s most advanced neuroimaging research center. He is best known for his research into the brain basis of numbers, popularized in his book, “The Number Sense.” In his new book, “Reading in the Brain,” he describes his quest to understand an astounding feat that most of us take for granted: translating marks on a page (or a screen) into language. He answered questions recently from Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook.

Read more ....

Dozen Lesser-Known Chemicals Have Strong Impact on Climate Change

Chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur and nitrogen fluorides stood out in their warming potential because of their efficiency to trap radiation in the atmospheric window. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 18, 2009) — A new study indicates that major chemicals most often cited as leading causes of climate change, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are outclassed in their warming potential by compounds receiving less attention.

Purdue University and NASA examined more than a dozen chemicals, most of which are generated by humans, and have developed a blueprint for the underlying molecular machinery of global warming. The results appear in a special edition of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Physical Chemistry A, released Nov. 12.

Read more ....

Drilling Into Ice To See Into Earth's Past, Future

Jim White, professor of Geological Sciences and the Director of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder, an expert on global climate change. Credit: Jim White, University of Colorado

From Live Science:

Jim White is a professor of Geological Sciences and the Director of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and is leading research being conducted on the Greenland ice sheet. White is also the director of The Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), which focuses on studying the effects of environmental changes in high altitude and high latitude regions. White's research on the Greenland ice sheet is part of the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling (NEEM) project. Fourteen nations are collaborating in the NEEM research, with the common goal of obtaining samples of core ice from the Eemian Period, which was the last interglacial period, about 120,000 years ago. The samples will help researchers interpret the atmospheric environment present during the Eemian period, and relate those interpretations to the present day atmosphere. The ultimate goal of this research is to learn more about how the Earth's climate functions, and what, if anything, can be done to counteract any adverse environmental conditions. The core ice samples will also help researchers identify the causes behind the Earth's increased warming, including those driven by human activity. Below, White answers the ScienceLives 10 Questions.

Read more ....

Antarctic Temperature Spike Surprises Climate Researchers

Photo: Is Antarctica more sensitive to global warming that we thought? Getty

From Nature:

Polar region was unexpectedly warm between ice ages.

During the warm periods between recent ice ages, temperatures in Antarctica reached substantially higher levels than scientists had previously thought. This conclusion, based on ice-core studies, implies that East Antarctica is more sensitive than it seemed to global warming.

Previous estimates suggested that peak temperatures during the warmest interglacial periods — which occurred at around 125,000, 240,000 and 340,000 years ago — were about three degrees higher than they are today. But a team led by Louise Sime of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK, concludes that Antarctica was actually around six degrees warmer.

Read more ....

The Military Is Looking For A 25-Year Battery

Photo: Nuclear power: The package inside this prototype betavoltaic battery contains layers of silicon carbide and metal foil embedded with the radioactive isotope tritium. When high-energy electrons emitted by the decay of tritium hit the silicon carbide, it produces an electrical current that exits the cell through the metal pins. Such batteries are designed to last 25 years. Credit: Widetronix

From Technology Review:

Long-lived nuclear batteries powered by hydrogen isotopes are in testing for military applications.

Batteries that harvest energy from the nuclear decay of isotopes can produce very low levels of current and last for decades without needing to be replaced. A new version of the batteries, called betavoltaics, is being developed by an Ithaca, NY-based company and tested by Lockheed Martin. The batteries could potentially power electrical circuits that protect military planes and missiles from tampering by destroying information stored in the systems, or by sending out a warning signal to a military center. The batteries are expected to last for 25 years. The company, called Widetronix, is also working with medical-device makers to develop batteries that could last decades for implantable medical devices.

Read more ....

Top 10 Cyborg Videos

From Wired Science:

With each passing year, the boundary between man and machine gets slimmer. Bionic ears have become commonplace, motorized prosthetics allow wounded soldiers to care for themselves, and electronic eyes are just over the horizon.

Neuroscientists have almost jacked rodents into the matrix: They have used electrodes to read signals from individual mouse brain cells as the critters wandered through a virtual maze. Monkeys can feed themselves with robot arms wired directly into their brains. Here are ten clips of inventions that unite nerves with electronic circuits.

Read more ....

Four Ways To Feed The World

From New Scientist:

IT IS humanity's oldest enemy. Despite all our science, a sixth of people in the developing world are chronically hungry. At a summit in Rome this week, world leaders reaffirmed a pledge to end hunger "at the earliest possible date".

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) wanted them to promise to end hunger by 2025, but the delegates declined. They said instead that they would keep trying to meet their previous goal: to halve chronic hunger from 20 per cent of people in developing countries to 10 per cent by 2015 (see graph). But can they? Based on their performance so far, the FAO considers it "unlikely".

Read more ....

Robotic Surrogate Takes Your Place At Work

Anybots "QA" at Work Anybots

From Popular Science:

Having one of those days where even a hearty bowl of Fruit Loops and Jack Daniels can't get you out of bed? A telepresence robot can come into the office for you, elevating telecommuting to a decidedly new level. The somewhat humanoid 'bots, produced by Mountain View, California-based Anybots, are controlled via video-game-like controls from your laptop, allowing you to be "present" without actually being in the office.

Read more ....

Large Hadron Collider Ready To Restart

Nine days after the launch a single electrical splice overheated because it had been badly soldered, and disaster struck Photo: PA

From The Telegraph:

Scientists have repaired the world's largest atom smasher and plan by this weekend to restart the fault-ridden Large Hadron Collider.

The 'Big Bang' machine was launched with great fanfare last year before its spectacular failure from a bad electrical connection.

This time the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, is taking a cautious approach with the super-sophisticated equipment, said James Gillies, a spokesman. It cost about $10 billion, with contributions from many governments and universities around the world.

Read more ....

Insects May Have Consciousness And Could Even Be Able To Count, Claim Experts

A honeybee's brain weighs one mg and contains fewer than a million nerve cells

From The Daily Mail:

Insects with minuscule brains may be as intelligent as much bigger animals and may even have consciousness, it was claimed today.

Having a brain the size of a pinhead does not necessarily make you less bright, say researchers.

Computer simulations show that consciousness could be generated in neural circuits tiny enough to fit into an insect's brain, according to the scientists at Queen Mary, University of London and Cambridge University.

Read more ....

How To Explore Mars And Have Fun

Scientists hope the public's help will have a big impact on research.

From The BBC:

The US space agency needs your help to explore Mars.

A Nasa website called "Be A Martian" allows users to play games while at the same time sorting through hundreds of thousands of images of the Red Planet.

The number of pictures returned by spacecraft since the 1960s is now so big that scientists cannot hope to study them all by themselves.

The agency believes that by engaging the public in the analysis as well, many more discoveries will be made.

The new citizen-science website went live on Tuesday at

The site is just the latest to use crowdsourcing as a tool to do science.

Read more ....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tension On The Grapevine: Trellis Tension Monitoring Offers Accurate Solution For Grape Growers

Trellis Tension Monitoring (TTM) assembly (center) in line with the main trellis wire in a wine grape vineyard. The row in the background also contains a TTM assembly (toward right). The metal post supports the vine at the left edge of the photo and is a normal part of this trellis system. (Credit: Photo courtesy of Julie Tarara)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 18, 2009) — Predictions of grape yields are extremely important to juice processors and wineries; timely and precise yield forecasts allow producers to plan for harvest and move the highly perishable grape crop from vine to processing efficiently. Until recently, wineries and grape juice processors have relied on expensive and labor-intensive hand-sampling methods to estimate yield in grape crops.

Read more ....

Study Paints Sabertooths as Relative Pussycats

The sabertooth cat may have been less aggressive than its feline cousin, the American lion, a new study says. Credit: National Park Service.

From Live Science:

Though their long teeth look fearsome, male sabertooth cats may have actually been less aggressive than their feline cousins, a new study finds.

Commonly called the sabertoothed tiger, Smilodon fatalis was a large predatory cat that roamed North and South America about 1.6 million to 10,000 years ago, when there was also a prehistoric cat called the American lion. The study examined size differences between sexes of these large felines using clues from bones and teeth.

Read more ....

Senate Panel: 80 Percent of Cyber Attacks Preventable

From Threat Level:

If network administrators simply instituted proper configuration policies and conducted good network monitoring, about 80 percent of commonly known cyber attacks could be prevented, a Senate committee heard Tuesday.

The remark was made by Richard Schaeffer, the NSA’s information assurance director, who added that simply adhering to already known best practices would sufficiently raise the security bar so that attackers would have to take more risks to breach a network, “thereby raising [their] risk of detection.”

Read more

My Comment: There is a lot of meat in this story .... read it all.

Robots Perform Shakespeare

From Autopia:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been updated for the 21st Century with seven small robots playing fairies alongside carbon-based co-stars.

Beyond being a cool thing to do, researchers saw bringing ‘bots to the Bard as a chance to introduce robots to the public and see how people interact with them. Their findings could influence how robots are designed and how they’re used in search and rescue operations.

Read more ....

The Race To Build A 1000 mph Car

From New Scientist:

Strapped into a custom built seat, Andy Green prepares for the ride of his life. The pancake-flat desert stretches out for miles ahead. The computer indicates all systems are normal. He eases off the brakes and puts his foot down on the throttle. The jet engine roars into life. In precisely 42.5 seconds he'll be travelling 1000 mph. In a car.

"It's almost impossible to tell the difference between going supersonic in a car and in an aircraft," says Green. He is the only person on Earth who can say that from personal experience. Green was a fighter pilot for the UK Royal Air Force for 20 years, and he is also the fastest man on wheels. In 1997, driving a vehicle called ThrustSSC, he set the world land speed record of 763 miles per hour, becoming the first and only person to break the sound barrier in a car (761 mph under standard conditions). Now, together with the Bloodhound SSC design team, he's attempting to do it all over again, and then some.

Read more ....

Liquid Cooling Bags For Data Centers Could Trim Cost and Carbon By 90 Percent

The Iceotope Water-Cooling Component After the individual bags of coolant pull heat away from the individual server components, a water transfer system moves heat out of the data center, possibly for use in heating offices during cold weather. Iceotope

From Popular Science:

Server farms are undeniably awesome in that they store huge pools of data, enable such modern phenomena as cloud computing and Web-hosted email, and most importantly, make the Internet as it stands today possible. The downside: data centers get very, very hot. Cooling huge banks of servers doesn't just cost a lot, it eats up a lot of energy, and that generally means fossil fuels. UK-based Iceotope hopes to cut those costs by about 93 percent by wrapping servers in liquid coolant.

Read more ....

Women 'Should Bare 40 Per Cent Of Their Bodies To Attract Men'

Liz Hurley wearing her famous 'safety pin' dress Photo: REX

From The Telegraph:

Women should wear clothes that bare 40 per cent of their flesh to maximise their chances of attracting men, new scientific research indicates.

Striking the right balance between revealing too much and being too conservative in how much skin is on show has long been a dilemma for women when choosing the right outfit for a night out.

However, a study by experts at the University of Leeds has come to the rescue by calculating the exact proportion of the body that should be exposed for optimum allure.

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Email Could Be 'Extinct Within A Decade' As Teens Turn To Twitter-Style Messaging

Photo: Email took 20 years to develop but may disappear within a decade, experts believe

From The Daily Mail:

Email could be extinct within a decade as millions of teenagers ditch it as their main form of communication, say researchers.

Youngsters have been shown to favour social networking sites and instant messaging instead.

The report found the electronic form of contact is already becoming 'grey mail' with the most devoted users being pensioners, followed by middle-aged Britons.

Although inboxes are still filling up daily all over the world, experts believe emails are dying out because they are too slow, too inconvenient and simply not fashionable any more.

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PICTURES: The Hunt for Lost WWII 'Samurai Subs'

In this image, the I-401 submarine is shown. The I-401 aircraft-carrying submarine could travel one and a half times around the world without refueling. (Wild Life Productions, National Geographic Channel)

From ABC News:

National Geographic Channel Program Documents Undersea Search for Japanese Super-Submarines.

With more time, military experts say, a fleet of revolutionary Japanese super-submarines could have changed the course of World War II.

Some were designed to launch bombers on kamikaze missions against New York City, Washington, D.C., and the Panama Canal. Others were thought to be twice as fast any other submarine used in the war.

None had the chance to execute their stealth missions against the U.S. mainland or critical targets in the Pacific during the war.

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CSN Editor:
For background information, see History of Submarine Aircraft Carriers -- New Wars

What Would Shackleton's Whisky Taste Like?

From the BBC:

After a century buried in the Antarctic ice, a rare batch of whisky that belonged to the polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton is to be recovered. So what might it taste like?

It's been on the rocks for the last 100 years, buried under two feet of Antarctic ice. Now the two cases of "Rare Old" brand Mackinlay and Co whisky are to be retrieved.

A team of New Zealand explorers heading out in January has been asked by Whyte & Mackay, the company that now owns Mackinlay and Co, to get a sample of the drink. The crates were left behind by Sir Ernest Shackleton when he abandoned his mission to the South Pole in 1909.

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My Comment: I will now formally volunteer to be a taster for any whiskey that is retrieved.

Space Shuttle Has Docked With The Space Station

Shuttle Docks With Space Station -- BBC

The space shuttle Atlantis has successfully docked with the International Space Station, according to Nasa officials.

The shuttle blasted off on Monday with six astronauts on an 11-day voyage to deliver new equipment to the station.

The docking was manually completed by commander Charlie Hobaugh as the two spacecraft travelled towards each other at 17,000 miles an hour.

The astronauts' arrival will be met with a traditional welcoming ceremony.

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More News On the Space Shuttle Mission

Shuttle Atlantis arrives at space station -- Reuters
Shuttle docks at space station, looks 'beautiful' -- AP
Space Shuttle Atlantis Docks at ISS -- Voice of America
FACTBOX: The mission of space shuttle Atlantis -- Reuters
NASA: With Atlantis docked, work begins today -- Computer World
NASA seeks new emblem for shuttle program -- MSNBC

'Vampire Star': Ticking Stellar Time Bomb Identified

The expanding shell around V445 Puppis. (Credit: Image courtesy of ESO)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 17, 2009) — Using ESO's Very Large Telescope and its ability to obtain images as sharp as if taken from space, astronomers have made the first time-lapse movie of a rather unusual shell ejected by a "vampire star," which in November 2000 underwent an outburst after gulping down part of its companion's matter. This enabled astronomers to determine the distance and intrinsic brightness of the outbursting object.

It appears that this double star system is a prime candidate to be one of the long-sought progenitors of the exploding stars known as Type Ia supernovae, critical for studies of dark energy.

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