Saturday, November 28, 2009

Volunteers Wanted for Simulated 520-Day Mars Mission

A special isolation facility hosts the Mars500 study. (Credit: ESA - S. Corvaja)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 28, 2009) — Starting in 2010, an international crew of six will simulate a 520-day round-trip to Mars, including a 30-day stay on the martian surface. In reality, they will live and work in a sealed facility in Moscow, Russia, to investigate the psychological and medical aspects of a long-duration space mission. ESA is looking for European volunteers to take part.

Read more ....

Air America

From Discovery News:

This is pretty stunning, and quite beautiful in its own way.

Aaron Koblin, a graphic artist and game designer has produced a remarkable animation, built using real data, of a 24-hour stretch of commercial air travel into, out of, and within the United States. Watch how the lights, and flights, build with the advance of dawn from east to west.

Read more ....

Pictured: The Moment A Whale Delivers A Deadly 'Karate Chop' Blow To A Killer Shark

Moments before the deadly blow. The raised fin is about to come crashing down like a karate chop on a shark (circled). It has been driven to the surface by the orca before this coup de grace.

From The Daily Mail:

These incredible pictures demonstrate how orca whales use a 'karate chop' to stun and then finish off killer sharks.

In a rare battle of beasts these images show how several populations of skilled killer whales around the world have learned how to overcome huge sharks, that most animals give a wide berth.

Using a combination of superior brain power and brute force, the highly-intelligent orcas are able to catch and eat what many think of as the ocean's top predators.

Read more

Hacker Gary McKinnon To Appeal After Extradition Blow

Photo: Supporters make the point that Gary McKinnon has Asperger's syndrome

From the BBC:

The "devastated" lawyers for computer hacker Gary McKinnon are to challenge the home secretary's decision not to block his extradition to the US.

They said they would make a last-ditch attempt after Alan Johnson said medical grounds could not prevent it.

Glasgow-born Mr McKinnon, 43, who has Asperger's syndrome, is accused of breaking into US military computers. He says he was seeking UFO evidence.

Now of Wood Green, London, he faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.

Read more ....

Google Tests Redesigned Search Page

Google’s new look? The search giant is testing a revamped results page.
Click the image for a larger view.

From Web Monkey:

Google appears to be testing a possible redesign of its iconic search page. Whether or not the new prototype will ever become official remains unknown, but thanks to some clever JavaScript you can check out the new look today.

The Google watchers over at Google Blogoscoped have found a snippet of JavaScript you can paste into your browser’s URL field which will activate the new look. Because the JavaScript code sets a new cookie, you’ll most likely need to log out of your Google account before it works.

Read more ....

Pacific Northwest Earthquakes Could Strike Closer To Home

From Wired Science:

Major earthquakes occurring along the Cascadia subduction zone off the coast of Washington state could strike closer to the state’s urban areas than some models have suggested, a new study notes.

GPS data gathered at dozens of sites throughout western Washington hint that slippage along the interface between the North American and Juan de Fuca tectonic plates could occur as deep as 25 kilometers below the Earth’s surface, says Timothy I. Melbourne, a geodesist at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. That depth, in turn, would place the epicenters of quakes triggered along that portion of the subduction zone — some of which could exceed magnitude 9 —more than 60 kilometers inland, he and CWU colleague James Chapman report online and in the November 28 Geophysical Research Letters.

Read more ....

A.I. Anchors Replace Human Reporters In Newsroom Of The Future

A.I. Anchors Engineers at Northwestern have created an entire newsroom operation using artificial intelligence, even using avatars to anchor the evening news.

From Popular Science:

In the great media reshuffling ushered in by the Internet Age, print journalists have suffered the most from online journalism’s ascent. Broadcast journalists, however, may be the next group to feel technology’s cruel sting. Engineers at Northwestern University have created virtual newscasts that use artificial intelligence to collect stories, produce graphics and even anchor broadcasts via avatars.

Read more ....

Researchers Turn To Artificial Intelligence And Real Data to Improve War Games

Image: VIRTUAL WAR IS HELL University of Maryland researchers are developing a virtual world designed to help intelligence analysts simulate the consequences of their antiterrorism policies. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND

From Scientific American:

University of Maryland researchers have created a virtual world they hope intelligence analysts will use to develop antiterrorism policies.

Virtual worlds such as Second Life and World of Warcraft allow players to adopt virtual personas or engage in combat on digital battlefields, but what if similar technology could let government intelligence analysts play out antiterrorism scenarios that would help with better understandings of the consequences of Middle East policy recommendations? A team of researchers at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., believe they have created just such a virtual world using computational models that mimic terrorist behavior based a variety of factors, including social, political and religious beliefs.

Read more ....

My Comment: I guess this will be the closest that we will ever come to mimicking real war/conflict/terrorism scenarios.

Forget Earth - Let's Move To Mars!

A reconstructed landscape showing the Shalbatana lake on Mars as it may have looked roughly 3.4 billion years ago. AFP/Getty

From The Independent:

If planet Earth becomes too crowded, where else in the solar system could humankind live? Space expert Steven Cutts considers our options.

For decades, the most popular destination for migrants the world over has been the United States. It was in America that the downtrodden and the footloose of this world saw their destiny. But America's ability to accommodate such people has always been finite. Billions of poverty-stricken people today crave the comfort and the affluence of a better world and almost none of them can have it. The increase in global population now exceeds the entire population of the US every five years; if migration is the solution to the problems of mankind then we're going to have to find a different planet.

Read more ....

Bacteria From Mars Found Inside Ancient Meteorite

Mars Photo: GETTY

From The Telegraph:

Martian bacteria arrived on Earth on a meteorite which smashed into the Antarctic 13,000 years ago, Nasa scientists believe.

Their fossilised remains have been found in the rock, which was blasted out of Mars 16 million years ago as the solar system was forming.

The meteorite, called Allen Hills 84001, made headlines in 1996 after fossils were found in it. Scientists believed they were bacteria from Earth that contaminated the rock while it lay in the frozen wastes.

Read more ....

'Solar Tsunamis' Tower On Surface Of The Sun

A solar tsunami can be seen as a dark wave spreading across the surface of the Sun (small sphere on left). The greyed-out band has been enhanced for contrast. The green shows the solar flare or CME that has caused the tsunami. Credit: NASA

From Cosmos:

SYDNEY: Observations from NASA's STEREO space probes have confirmed that vast 'solar tsunamis', taller than the Earth itself, ripple across the Sun for millions of kilometres.

The technical name is 'fast-mode magneto -hydrodynamical wave (MHD)'. The one the STEREO probes recorded reared up to 100,000 km in height, and raced outward at 900 km/h packing as much energy as 2,400 megatons of TNT.

The findings are reported in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. See a video here of a solar tsunami as seen from different angles by the STEREO spacecraft.

Read more ....

First 'Genetic Map' of Han Chinese May Aid Search for Disease Susceptibility Genes

DNA on abstract background. Researchers have published the first genetic historical map of the Han Chinese, the largest ethnic population in the world, as they migrated from south to north over evolutionary time. (Credit: iStockphoto/Andrey Prokhorov)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 26, 2009) — The first genetic historical map of the Han Chinese, the largest ethnic population in the world, as they migrated from south to north over evolutionary time, was published online November 25 in the American Journal of Human Genetics by scientists at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS).

Read more ....

For Football Fans, Almost Losing Is Ideal

From Live Science:

The most exciting football games are those your team almost loses. No big news there. But a new study looked into the complex emotions of being a fan and reached some interesting conclusions.

Researchers studied fans of two college football teams as they watched the teams' annual rivalry game on television. Fans of the winning team who, at some point during the game, were almost certain their team would lose, ended up thinking the game was the most thrilling and suspenseful.

Read more ....

Da Vinci's 'Last Supper' Gets Digital Makeover

The bright, vivid colors of the original Last Supper appear in
this digital reconstruction. Courtesy of Leonardo3

From Discovery News:

Modern methods are breathing new life into this more than 500-year-old masterpiece.

Bright, vivid colors adorned Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, according to a digital reconstruction of the masterpiece at the exhibition "Leonardo da Vinci's Workshop" at Discovery Times Square Exposition in New York.

Painted to provide monks at the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan with something to contemplate during meals, the mural is considered one of da Vinci's greatest works.

Read more ....

Wikipedia Founder Dismisses Claim The Site Is Losing Thousands Of 'Editors'

Photo: Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of the site contested the claim that 49,000 volunteer editors had left in the first three months of 2009

From The Daily Mail:

Wikipedia's co-founder has called into question research which suggests thousands of volunteer editors across the world had left the site thereby undermining its usefulness.

Jimmy Wales contested the claim that 49,000 volunteer editors had left in the first three months of 2009.

'Our internal numbers don’t confirm all the claims made. We do agree that the number of editors has stabilised, as one would expect, since we're already the fifth most popular website on the internet...[however] our own data shows that the number of active editors across all projects is stable – i.e. the new editors are replaced at about the same pace as existing editors are leaving,' he told the Telegraph.

Read more ....

Multiple Sclerosis 'Blood Blockage Theory' Tested

Image: The answer may lie with blood flow

From The BBC:

US scientists are testing a radical new theory that multiple sclerosis (MS) is caused by blockages in the veins that drain the brain.

The University of Buffalo team were intrigued by the work of Italian researcher Dr Paolo Zamboni who claims 90% of MS is caused by narrowed veins.

He says the restricted drainage, visible on scans, injures the brain leading to MS.

He has already widened the blockages in a handful of patients.

The US team want to replicate his earlier work before treating patients.

Read more ....

Is Gene Therapy Finally Ready for Prime Time? / Getty Images

From Time Magazine:

At first it sounded like science fiction, curing genetic diseases by giving people new genes. Then it seemed like simple fiction: while theoretically possible, gene therapy appeared unlikely to become a true therapeutic option, the field having suffered years of complications and high-profile setbacks. But over the past year, a series of small but intriguing advances has suggested that the technique may hold real future potential.

Read more ....

Robo-chefs And Fashion-Bots On Show In Tokyo

A 50cm high Samurai robot performs the Kurodabushi sword dance at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo Photo: AFP

From The Telegraph:

Forget the Transformers and Astroboy: Japan's latest robots don't save the world, they cook snacks, play with your kids, model clothes, and search for disaster victims.

The International Robot Exhibition kicked off this week, showing the latest whirring and buzzing inventions from 192 companies and 64 organizations from at home and abroad.

Many of the cutting-edge machines on show are eye-popping, but industrial robot "Motoman" also put on a mouth-watering performance, deftly flipping a Japanese savoury pancake called okonomiyaki on a sizzling hotplate.

"It is delicious. Please enjoy," said the human-size creation of Yaskawa Electric Corp. in a robotic voice.

Read more ....

Scientists Take The First Step In Unlocking Origins Of Universe

The Cern computer system displays images generated of the
first collisions to take place in the Large Hadron Collider. CERN

From The Independent:

After 10 years – and £6bn – the first particles finally smash into each other in the Large Hadron Collider.

After embarrassing breakdowns caused by bread-dropping birds and hugely expensive repairs, the world's biggest science experiment – the Large Hadron Collider – has suddenly burst into life and smashed together proton beams for the first time.

Scientists operating the giant £6 billion machine at Cern, the nuclear research body near Geneva, said yesterday that they had finally succeeded in making low energy proton collisions, which could eventually provide clues about the first Big Bang and the origins of the universe.

Read more ....

Networked Surveillance Minicopters Can't Be Kept Down

From New Scientist:

The helicopter in this video may weigh only 30 grams, but it carries a compass and motion sensors, can change course and warn fellow craft of obstacles it bumps into, and could even carry a small camera. It can also resist what might be called a King Kong attack – if swatted out of the air the tiny craft soon recovers and takes off again.

Read more ....

Did The NSA Helped With Windows 7 Development?

From Computer World:

Privacy expert voices 'backdoor' concerns, security researchers dismiss idea.

Computerworld - The National Security Agency (NSA) worked with Microsoft on the development of Windows 7, an agency official acknowledged yesterday during testimony before Congress.

"Working in partnership with Microsoft and elements of the Department of Defense, NSA leveraged our unique expertise and operational knowledge of system threats and vulnerabilities to enhance Microsoft's operating system security guide without constraining the user to perform their everyday tasks, whether those tasks are being performed in the public or private sector," Richard Schaeffer, the NSA's information assurance director, told the Senate's Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security yesterday as part of a prepared statement.

Read more ....

More News On The NSA And Windows 7 Development

Windows 7 security courtesy of the NSA -- Biz-Tech
Microsoft Denies NSA Backdoor In Win7 -- Ubergizmo
Microsoft denies NSA backdoor in Windows 7 -- Tech Radar
MS denies Win 7 backdoor rumours -- The Register
National Security Agency beefed Win 7 defenses -- The Register

My Comment: The security experts can deny all that they want that such work was not done .... but we do have an NSA official saying under oath in front of Congress that the NSA did assist in Windows 7 development.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Building Real Security With Virtual Worlds

Advances in computerized modeling and prediction of group behavior, together with improvements in video game graphics, are making possible virtual worlds in which defense analysts can explore and predict results of many different possible military and policy actions, say computer science researchers. (Credit: iStockphoto/Simon Askham)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 27, 2009) — Advances in computerized modeling and prediction of group behavior, together with improvements in video game graphics, are making possible virtual worlds in which defense analysts can explore and predict results of many different possible military and policy actions, say computer science researchers at the University of Maryland in a commentary published in the November 27 issue of the journal Science.

Read more ....

Sight Tests Reveal Advantage Of Hammerheads' Extraordinary Heads

A scalloped hammerhead shark, one of the species given sight tests.
Photograph: Stephen Frink/Corbis

From The Guardian:

The wing-like heads of hammerhead sharks with their widely spaced eyes give the creatures excellent binocular vision.

The bizarre appearance of hammerhead sharks has led generations of marine biologists to ponder the same question: why the wide face?

Part of the answer may now be at hand. Eye tests on species caught off the coasts of Florida and Hawaii show that the wider the head the better the shark's binocular vision, and hence its perception of distance.

Read more ....

A Wild Ride On NASA's Massive Flight Simulator

NASA Ames' Vertical Motion Simulator, the largest-such simulator in the world, has been used since 1980 to help train pilots to fly helicopters, fighters, and space shuttles. Now, it is being used for training on the next-generation lunar lander. (Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

From CNET News:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--There I was, staking my claim to a pilot's slot in one of NASA's next-generation lunar landers, and to be perfectly frank, I think I'd better not quit my day job.

"I think we probably walked away from that," said NASA aerospace engineer Eric Mueller, after one rough touchdown. It was an overly charitable assessment of my performance. I'd hate to know what he was really thinking.

Read more ....

Congress Launches Climategate Investigation

From The New American:

Climategate scientists are under congressional investigation in the wake of information gleaned from e-mails pirated from a global-warming research center in England.

The e-mails revealed evidence that scientists with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been manipulating data to prove their theories of anthropogenic (man-made) global warming (AGW). Senator James Inhofe (R – Okla.) announced on November 24 that he will launch an investigation into the matter, sending letters to the scientists involved and to federal agencies warning them to "retain [related] documents."

Read more ....

Airbus A380 Completes First Commercial Europe-U.S. Flight

Air France Airbus A380 Completes First Transatlantic Flight from Matt Molnar on Vimeo.

From Popular Mechanics:

Air France on Friday became the first European airline to operate the double-decker Airbus A380 in commercial service, completing its inaugural flight from Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

While Air France is actually the third carrier to operate the world’s largest commercial aircraft on U.S. routes—following Emirates and Qantas—this flight marks perhaps the most politically significant milestone the A380 program has achieved so far, connecting the country where Airbus assembles the aircraft to the home of the manufacturer’s archrival, Boeing.

Read more ....

Have The Climate Wars Of Africa Begun?

Kenyans Draw Weapons Over Shrinking Resources -- L.A. Times

Experts fear the conflicts involving cattle, water and land may be just the beginning of climate-driven violence in Africa. At least 400 people have died in northern Kenya this year, the U.N. says.

Reporting from Isiolo, Kenya - Have the climate wars of Africa begun?

Tales of conflict emerging from this remote, arid region of Kenya have disturbing echoes of the lethal building blocks that turned Darfur into a killing ground in western Sudan.

Tribes that lived side by side for decades say they've been pushed to warfare by competition for disappearing water and pasture. The government is accused of exacerbating tensions by taking sides and arming combatants who once used spears and arrows.

The aim, all sides say, is no longer just to steal land or cattle, but to drive the enemy away forever.

Read more ....

Herschel Telescope 'Fingerprints' Colossal Star

From The BBC:

The death throes of the biggest star known to science have been observed by Europe's new space telescope, Herschel.

The observatory, launched in May, has subjected VY Canis Majoris, to a detailed spectroscopic analysis.

It has allowed Herschel to identify the different types of molecules and atoms that swirl away from the star which is 30-40 times as massive as our Sun.

VY Canis Majoris is some 4,500 light-years from Earth and could explode as a supernova at any time.

Read more ....

3-D Renderings Bring Ancient Hominids to Life

From Wired Science:

For decades, paleoartists have told the story of human evolution through sculpture and drawing. Now their tools have evolved, too.

Computers allow a level of detail and control that isn’t possible with other media. Their creations can come closer than ever to bringing our ancestors to life.

Read more ....

50 Practical Tips To Save You Half A Lifetime

From Times Online:

When I was 16 I didn’t want agony-aunt advice on sex and love, but real advice on spots and shaving – like this . . .

Dear Sir. Dear Madam. Dear me.

As a lamentation rather than a greeting, “dear me” occurred as I flicked through a clever book (proceeds to the Elton John Aids Foundation) recommended by my colleague Libby Purves. “Dear Me — a letter to my sixteen-year-old self” is an anthology of letters to themselves from a range of famous people. Some are moving, some self-pitying, some funny, many patronising, and a few verbose. All are intriguing.

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Mass Extinction: Why Did Half Of N. America's Large Mammals Disappear 40,000 To 10,000 Years Ago?

Artist's rendering of a woolly mammoth family. (Credit: iStockphoto/KIM FREITAS)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 27, 2009) — Years of scientific debate over the extinction of ancient species in North America have yielded many theories. However, new findings from J. Tyler Faith, GW Ph.D. candidate in the hominid paleobiology doctoral program, and Todd Surovell, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Wyoming, reveal that a mass extinction occurred in a geological instant.

Read more

Diabetes Cases to Double in 25 Years

From Live Science:

If Americans don't eat better and exercise more, diabetes cases will double by 2034 and costs to care for the patients will triple, according to a new report that paints a bleak picture of the future.

With diabetes, the body fails to metabolize glucose, or blood sugar. Diabetes is the leading cause of amputations, blindness, and end-stage kidney disease.

Read more ....

The Science And Magic Of Breadmaking

Use your loaf: Making bread was surely one of humankind's first chemistry experiments.
Graham Turner/Guardian

From The Guardian:

As winter sets in, warm your senses by baking your own fresh bread. Andy Connelly guides you through the magical process that turns flour and water into heavenly food.

When I think of bread my mind goes back to cold Saturday mornings with ice on the inside of the patio doors and cartoons blazing on the television. My dad would get up early and, after eating his porridge, would begin to make bread.

He would mix all the ingredients in a large ceramic bowl that was crystal-white on the inside and biscuit-brown on the outside. I would watch as the flour became dough and the dough grew and grew in the warm kitchen. I would linger near the oven to smell the earthy fresh bread as it baked, waiting for the treat of eating the crusty end slice of the loaf with a thick slab of butter.

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Trend Watch 2010: Mobile Movies

From CNET:

As we move toward 2010, there is little question that mobile devices and smartphones will continue to have a huge impact on the market. Research firm Nielsen predicts that smartphones will dominate market share by the end of 2011, with the iPhone and Android-based phones taking the lead spots by a wide margin over traditional cell phones.

As devices mature, Wi-Fi connections become more ubiquitous, and 3G networks become more reliable, consumers will start looking for new ways to use their smartphones as replacements for other larger devices, such as PCs and TVs. One area that has been called out for growth is mobile video and TV, as well as streaming movies directly to a mobile device.

Read more ....

Space Shuttle Atlantis Returns To Earth

From Reuters:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Space shuttle Atlantis touched down at its Florida home port on Friday, wrapping up an 11-day mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, one of NASA's final supply runs before the shuttle fleet is retired next year.

Gliding through clear, blue skies, commander Charles Hobaugh circled Atlantis high over the Kennedy Space Center to burn off speed, then nosed the 100-ton space plane toward a 3-mile (4.8-km) concrete runway framed by palm trees and marshlands.

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2011 Ferrari 458 Italia Supercar Test Drive

From Popular Mechanics:

MARANELLO, Italy—Ferarri's new lust-worthy 562-hp supercar hits 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. It's indisputably attractive, but it is also derivative, as though it had been concocted from the best parts of previous great Ferrari designs. Let's see what it can do on real roads.

The Specs:

Ferrari's early cars were dominated by V12 engines. But the Italian sports car maker inherited its first V8 from Lancia in 1955, and its mid-engined V8 sport coupes have been the backbone of the company's model range for the last 35 years. Strictly speaking, the first road-going production-V8 Ferrari was the wedge-shaped, Bertone-designed Dino GT4 of 1973. The most recognizable was of course the Pininfarina-designed 308 launched at the 1975 Paris Motor Salon—a car that starred quite prominently in the hit TV series Magnum PI.

Read more ....

Sea Lions Help U.S. Navy Handcuff Enemy Divers and Sweep Mines

Sea Lion Diver: This mine stands no chance against Navy-trained sea lions BARCROFT

From Popular Science:

What you gonna do when the sea lions come for you?

Californian sea lions have become U.S. Navy recruits alongside dolphins and human divers, as seen in this amazing picture. The Daily Telegraph reports that this particular fellow put on a display for officials at the NATO Underwater Research Center in La Spezia Bay, Italy.

Read more ....

Energetic Gamma Rays Spotted From 'Microquasar'

Material stolen from a young star (blue) forms a disc (red) around a black hole or neutron star in this illustration of the system Cygnus X-3. Strong flares occasionally erupt from this disc (Illustration: Walter Feimer/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

From New Scientist:

After decades of searching, astronomers have confirmed that a gluttonous stellar remnant that glows brightly in X-rays can create high-energy gamma rays as well. The tiny powerhouse could serve as a nearby laboratory to study how particles are accelerated in the universe's biggest black holes.

Cygnus X-3, a pair of objects that sit some 30,000 light years from Earth, has long been a puzzle. The system is thought to contain the dense remnant of a star – either a black hole or a neutron star – that is feeding on a disc of material stolen from a companion star.

Read more ....

Military-Style Drones Set To Patrol Coastline To Spot Drug Smugglers And Illegal Immigrants

Unlike manned police helicopters, which can fly for a maximum of a few hours, the UAS have the capability to stay in the air for up to 15 hours

From The Daily Mail:

Unmanned military-style drones like those used by British troops in Afghanistan could soon be used to help combat illegal immigration and drug smugglers along Britain's coastlines.

The pilotless aircrafts, known as Unmanned Autonomous Systems (UAS), have been used by troops to pinpoint dangers and monitor enemy actions.

Read more ....

UK Plutonium Cuts Strategy 'In Disarray' - Scientists

Photo: Sellafield nuclear plant has the world's largest store of separated plutonium

From The BBC:

The UK's plan to cut its stockpile of separated plutonium is in "disarray", a group of scientists has warned.

The British Pugwash Group (BPG) says the way 100 tonnes of the deadly powder is being stored is "ludicrous".

Its experts fear the stockpile at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria - the largest in the world - could be a target for terrorists.

The government said the plutonium was stored safely and securely but recognised the need to make progress.

Read more ....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ladybugs Taken Hostage by Wasps

Ladybug. Are ladybugs being overtaken by wasps? (Credit: iStockphoto/Klemens Wolf)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 26, 2009) — Are ladybugs being overtaken by wasps? A Université de Montréal entomologist is investigating a type of wasp (Dinocampus coccinellae) present in Quebec that forces ladybugs (Coccinella maculata) to carry their larvae. These wasps lay their eggs on the ladybug's body, a common practice in the insect world, yet they don't kill their host.

Read more ....

Americans Toss Out 40 Percent of All Food

From Live Science:

While many Americans feast on turkey and all the fixings today, a new study finds food waste per person has shot up 50 percent since 1974. Some 1,400 calories worth of food is discarded per person each day, which adds up to 150 trillion calories a year.

The study finds that about 40 percent of all the food produced in the United States is tossed out.

Read more ....

U.N. Finally Draws Link Between Population Bomb And Climate Change

Population is at the root of the problem because more people means more greenhouse gases.
Credit: iStockphoto

From Cosmos:

PARIS: Slowing population growth would help battle global warming, says an unprecedented U.N. report that links demographic pressure and climate change.

"Slower population growth... would help build social resilience to climate change's impacts and would contribute to a reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions in the future," the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) says.

Its 104-page document emphasises that population policies be driven by support for women, access to family planning, reproductive health and other voluntary measures.

Read more ....

The Brain Humanity's Other Basic Instinct: Math

Image: iStockphoto

From Discover Magazine:

New research suggests that math has evolved its way right into our neurons—and monkeys', too.

Numbers make modern life possible. “In a world without numbers,” University of Rochester neuroscientist Jessica Cantlon and her colleagues recently observed in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, “we would be unable to build a skyscraper, hold a national election, plan a wedding, or pay for a chicken at the market.”

Read more ....

4 Wildly High-Tech Military and NASA Research Projects

Redstone Arsenal Base

From Popular Mechanics:

The Redstone Arsenal is an engineers' playground. The massive base hosts NASA and Army researchers involved in spacecraft and weapons-systems testing, from moonbound rockets to America's Army video-game development. During a recent tour, Popular Mechanics was shown—and stumbled across—research tests and demonstrations that highlight the scope of science and engineering that is performed every day within the Huntsville, Ala., secured location.

Read more ....

My Comment: I have made it a point of knowing where every U.S. military research center is .... and a general idea on what they are doing. But Redstone Arsenal is one in which some serious s___ is happening. Therefore .... I am more than surprised that Popular Mechanics was permitted on the grounds.

NASA Scientists Say Martian Meteorite May Have Brought Life to Earth

Allen Hills Meteorite Thar be life? NASA

From Popular Science:

New analytical data supposedly backs the case for Martian life having once existed.

Martians may have already landed on Earth, at least in ancient microbial form. The same NASA team that discovered the controversial Allen Hills meteorite has shared new data that points to a biological origin for structures within the Martian rock, Spaceflight Now reports. NASA headquarters plans to officially address the new findings within days.

Read more ....

Nuclear Fuel: Are We Heading For A Uranium Crunch?

Lack of incentive to invest in more uranium mines
(Image: Robert Francis/Robert Harding/Rex Features)

From New Scientist:

AS THE world prepares for the largest investment in nuclear power in decades, owners of uranium mines last week raised the prospect of fuel shortages. To make things worse, the reliability of estimates of the amount of uranium that can be economically mined has also been questioned.

Volatile oil and gas prices, along with the threat of global warming, have pushed governments to reconsider nuclear energy, partly because it is a low-carbon technology and partly because uranium supplies seem plentiful.

Read more ....

The Amazing Images From The Space Shuttle's Seven-Day Stint At The International Space Station

(Click Photo to Enlarge)
Tools in hand, astronaut Randy Bresnik works on the exterior of the Columbus module of the International Space Station during the Atlantis crew's second spacewalk

From The Daily Mail:

Tomorrow the Space Shuttle Atlantis is due to touch down on Earth after a successful seven-day mission to deliver vital equipment to the International Space Station.

During the past week as astronauts stockpiled the outpost and performed maintenance a series of stunning images were taken which we reveal here.

Read more ....

Spin-Based Electronics Gets Boost

Photo: The effect was shown in silicon, the standby of the semiconductor industry

From The BBC:

The next generation of computers may make use of the "spin" of electrons instead of their charge.

Spintronics relies on manipulating these spins to make them capable of carrying data.

The technique has been shown in a number of materials at low temperatures before.

But researchers writing in Nature have made use of these "spin-polarised" electrons in silicon at room temperature for the first time.

Read more ....

Bioengineers Succeed in Producing Plastics Without the Use of Fossil Fuels

Computer rendering of E. coli bacteria. A newly developed E. coli strain is capable of efficiently producing unnatural polymers, through a one-step fermentation process. (Credit: iStockphoto/Sebastian Kaulitzki)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 26, 2009) — A team of pioneering South Korean scientists have succeeded in producing the polymers used for everyday plastics through bioengineering, rather than through the use of fossil fuel based chemicals. This groundbreaking research, which may now allow for the production of environmentally conscious plastics, is published in two papers in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering.

Read more ....

Top 5 Surprising Turkey Facts

Eastern wild turkeys. Credit: Maslowski/National Wild Turkey Federation

From Live Science:

The average American eats 17.6 pounds of turkey per year, more than double the figure for 1970, according to the National Turkey Federation. To feed the growing appetite, some 273 million turkeys will be raised in the United States in 2009, and a good number of them will be consumed on Thanksgiving, after which many Americans will loll about, overstuffed, sleepy and in many cases intoxicated.

This is not what the Pilgrims had in mind.

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Astronauts Celebrate Thanksgiving in Space on Two Spaceships

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This image from the Space Station looks down over the Russian Soyuz spacecraft and the docked space shuttle Atlantis, with Earth's horizon forming the background. Photo from The Daily Mail


A dozen astronauts in orbit will pause for a weightless Thanksgiving Thursday, despite the fact that they're flying on two different spaceships.

The space shuttle Atlantis, with seven crewmembers onboard, left the International Space Station early Wednesday, capping off a week-long visit to stock the outpost with spare equipment. The orbiter is slated to land Friday at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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The Latest in Spy Tech

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From CBS News:

(CBS) In the final part of our "Somebody's Watching You" series, CBS News science and technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg shared the latest and greatest in hi-tech spy and anti-spy tools.

In fact, Sieberg even wore several surveillance gadgets on his person - a lapel camera pin, a watch camera and a tie remote-controlled camera.

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10 Geeky Things to Be Thankful For

Photo by Steve Voght; used under CC license.

From Geek Dad:

Next Thursday is, of course, Thanksgiving Day in the United States. While we celebrate the holiday with our families, along with turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie (or whatever traditions you may have), many of us like to think of all the good things in our lives for which we’re thankful.

No matter how rough things are for you, you almost surely have some things in your life that make you feel lucky. Whether or not you believe in a deity or deities to whom to give thanks for the good things in your life, it can be good to take a little time out to consider how much you have that makes you happy.

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2009 Hurricane Season Quietest in Decades

From National Geographic:

As the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season comes to an end November 30, it will be remembered as one of the quietest in almost two decades, meteorologists say.

That's because persistent, upper-level winds linked to El Niño—unusually warm waters that sometimes form off the northwestern coast of South America—hampered tropical storm formation. Just 9 storms took shape, instead of an average of 15.

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Russian Space Program Facing Same Issues as NASA

From Daily Tech:

Russian space program must shift gears and begin to seriously think about the coming years
The U.S. space program reportedly isn't the only one that has issues related to research and development, leading to a possible shake up among space nations over the next two-to-three years.

Similar to the current problem plaguing NASA, the Russian space program also has an aging spacecraft, the Soyuz spacecraft, with no specific details of a new next-generation shuttle on the horizon. The Soyuz already is used to transport astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), but will be unable to reach Mars or any other planets at this current stage.

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Air Pollution Maps Of The United States

From The Next Big Future:

Map of coal power by state. Note: about of third of the air pollution can go thousands of miles from the plant. There is more impact on air quality and health of those near the plants. Air pollution has been improved in the USA since the 1950s and 1960s. There is still a negative effect. 24,000 coal impacted deaths and a total of 60,000 air pollution impacted deaths out of 2.5 million deaths from any cause. Cigarette smoking and obesity have larger negative effects, which is seen in West Virginia's health statistics. The bad air pollution states are ending up at or near the bottom of state health rankings.

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