Saturday, January 23, 2010

Last Decade Was Warmest on Record, 2009 One of Warmest Years, NASA Research Finds

The map shows temperature changes for the last decade--January 2000 to December 2009--relative to the 1951-1980 mean. Warmer areas are in red, cooler areas in blue. The largest temperature increases occurred in the Arctic and a portion of Antarctica. (Credit: NASA)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Jan. 22, 2010) — A new analysis of global surface temperatures by NASA scientists finds the past year was tied for the second warmest since 1880. In the Southern Hemisphere, 2009 was the warmest year on record.

Although 2008 was the coolest year of the decade because of a strong La Nina that cooled the tropical Pacific Ocean, 2009 saw a return to a near-record global temperatures as the La Nina diminished, according to the new analysis by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. The past year was a small fraction of a degree cooler than 2005, the warmest on record, putting 2009 in a virtual tie with a cluster of other years --1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2007 -- for the second warmest on record.

Read more ....

Study: Large Earthquake Could Strike New York City

All known quakes, greater New York-Philadelphia area, 1677-2004, graded by magnitude (M). Peekskill, NY, near Indian Point nuclear power plant, is denoted as Pe. Credit: Sykes et al.

From Live Science:

The New York City area is at "substantially greater" risk of earthquakes than previously thought, scientists said Thursday.

Damage could range from minor to major, with a rare but potentially powerful event killing people and costing billions of dollars in damage.

A pattern of subtle but active faults is known to exist in the region, and now new faults have been found. The scientists say that among other things, the Indian Point nuclear power plants, 24 miles north of the city, sit astride the previously unidentified intersection of two active seismic zones.

Read more ....

UN Climate Panel Blunders Again Over Himalayan Glaciers

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

From Times Online:

The chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has used bogus claims that Himalayan glaciers were melting to win grants worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Rajendra Pachauri's Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), based in New Delhi, was awarded up to £310,000 by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the lion's share of a £2.5m EU grant funded by European taxpayers.

It means that EU taxpayers are funding research into a scientific claim about glaciers that any ice researcher should immediately recognise as bogus. The revelation comes just a week after The Sunday Times highlighted serious scientific flaws in the IPCC's 2007 benchmark report on the likely impacts of global warming.

Read more ....

Daredevil Space Diver To Leap Toward World's First Supersonic Free-Fall From 120,000 Feet

Felix Baumgartner: Sven Hoffmann / Red Bull

From Popular Science:

Here’s Felix Baumgartner’s plan: Float a balloon to 120,000 feet. Jump out. Break the sound barrier. Don’t die. Simple, right?

If Baumgartner, a world famous base jumper and skydiver, pulls off the feat, he’ll set the record for the world’s highest jump and become the first person to break the sound barrier with his body alone. During the jump, he’ll also collect data on how the human body reacts to a fall from such heights, which could be useful for planning orbital escape plans for future space tourists and astronauts.

Read more ....

Scientists Launch Search To Find 'Sean Connery Lookalike'

1963 Bond film, which starred Sean Connery as 007

From The Telegraph:

Scientists have launched a search for an 80-year-old man who looks like James Bond actor Sir Sean Connery.

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) said Sir Sean who turns 80 this summer, was internationally admired for his undimmed appeal in old age.

It is aiming to find another ''equally imposing gentlemen who should share the octogenarian limelight''.

Read more ....

Empathy With Robots Depends On Exposure

From New Scientist:

Exposure to robots in the movies and television could affect our ability to empathise with synthetic beings, suggests a study of the brain regions thought to be responsible for our ability to relate to each other.

In humans and monkeys, the mirror neuron system (MNS) – a collection of neurons in various parts of the brain, including the premotor cortex and the primary motor cortex – fires both when you perform an action and when you watch someone else perform a similar action.

Read more ....

Online Music Piracy 'Destroys Local Music'

Photo: Lady Gaga topped the digital download chart of 2009.

From The BBC:

Countries like Spain run the risk of becoming "cultural deserts" because of online file-sharing, the music industry has claimed.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) says that global government legislation is essential to the sector's survival.

It cited Spain as an example of a country which does not have laws in place to prevent illegal downloads.

The sales of albums by local artists there have fallen by 65% in five years.

Read more ....

China Details Homemade Supercomputer Plans

Photo: Enter China: A prototype four-core Loongson 3 will be produced at commercial scale by STMicro starting this year. Credit: Institute of Computing Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

From Technology Review:

The machine will use an unfashionable chip design.

It's official: China's next supercomputer, the petascale Dawning 6000, will be constructed exclusively with home-grown microprocessors. Weiwu Hu, chief architect of the Loongson (also known as "Godson") family of CPUs at the Institute of Computing Technology (ICT), a division of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, also confirms that the supercomputer will run Linux. This is a sharp departure from China's last supercomputer, the Dawning 5000a, which debuted at number 11 on the list of the world's fastest supercomputers in 2008, and was built with AMD chips and ran Windows HPC Server.

Read more ....

Q & A: Is There Life After Death?

ERproductions Ltd / Blend Images / Corbis

From Time Magazine:

Is there life after death? Theologians can debate all they want, but radiation oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Long argues that if you look at the scientific evidence, the answer is unequivocally yes. Drawing on a decade's worth of research on near-death experiences — work that includes cataloguing the stories of some 1,600 people who have gone through them — he makes the case for that controversial conclusion in a new book, Evidence of the Afterlife. Medicine, Long says, cannot account for the consistencies in the accounts reported by people all over the world. He talked to TIME about the nature of near-death experience, the intersection between religion and science and the Oprah effect.

Read more ....

Did Gorillas Teach Humans The Basics Of Fair Play On The Sporting Field?

Good sports: Apes advance the concept of fair play by helping to keep games going and giving younger competitors the advantage

From The Daily Mail:

Gorillas play competitive games just like humans, although they are more likely to also be good sports, say scientists.

Apes advance the concept of fair play by helping to keep games going and giving younger competitors the advantage, psychologists at the University of St Andrews claim.

Their study has helped trace the evolutionary origins of how humans understand each other.

Read more ....

UN Climate Change Expert: There Could Be More Errors In Report

Photo: Rajenda Pachauri, (Bob Strong/Reuters)

From Times Online:

The Indian head of the UN climate change panel defended his position today even as further errors were identified in the panel's assessment of Himalayan glaciers.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri dismissed calls for him to resign over the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change’s retraction of a prediction that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.

Read more ....

Even Small Dietary Reductions In Salt Could Mean Fewer Heart Attacks, Strokes And Deaths

New research suggests reducing salt in the American diet by as little as one-half teaspoon (or three grams) per day could prevent nearly 100,000 heart attacks and 92,000 deaths each year. (Credit: iStockphoto/Donald Gruener)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Jan. 21, 2010) — Reducing salt in the American diet by as little as one-half teaspoon (or three grams) per day could prevent nearly 100,000 heart attacks and 92,000 deaths each year, according to a new study. Such benefits are on par with the benefits from reductions in smoking and could save the United States about $24 billion in healthcare costs, the researchers add.

Read more ....

New App Translates Baby's Cries

From Live Science:

Next time your baby cries, you might want to hold the little one up to your iPhone. A new app could translate those yells into adult-speak, telling you whether it's a cry for food or perhaps a nap.

After 10 seconds of crying, the Cry Translator (patented by Biloop Technologic, S.L.) will light up one of five icons to indicate, the company claims, whether your baby is hungry, tired, bored, sleepy, stressed, or in some kind of discomfort.

Read more ....

Gallery: E-Readers Push Boundaries of Books

From Gadget Lab:

Electronic-book readers are red-hot. After a blockbuster 2009, during which an estimated 5 million devices were sold, a new batch of e-readers are waiting to burst into the spotlight.

The latest generation of devices are easy on the eye, lightweight and packed with some nifty features such as the ability to take notes, make lists and — for some — even watch video. They also offer far better battery life than any netbook or notebook, often come with an unlimited wireless connection for downloading new books, and give you access to libraries of e-books that can top a million titles. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year, there were so many e-readers that they had their own special section carved out on the show floor.

But will the category remain as hot as it is now?

Read more ....

Creating Mobile Apps With A Point And A Click

Break From Code An app made using the PhoneGap development tool Brian Klutch

From Popular Science:

Creating mobile applications for Android and the iPhone isn’t just for code-writing geeks anymore.

Even with the huge number of mobile apps already available, cellphone screens are always awaiting new ideas from innovative developers. If you have your own idea for the perfect app, whether for a wide audience or just your own use, you’re in luck—you no longer need to be a deft programmer to produce it. There are now a number of app-generating tools on the Web that will enable you to bring your concept to life by clicking instead of coding. You may have even downloaded some of the resulting mobile apps already, like Inside Trader, a strategy game built with a tool called PhoneGap, or the Spinal Tap iPhone app, made at The best app-building option will depend on your price range, the platform you prefer (iPhone, BlackBerry or Android) and the functions you want. Some will even navigate the processing of submitting the app for you. Here’s a guide to help you choose the right tool.

Read more ....

Midlife Crisis 'Replaced With Graceful Midlife Transition'

From The Telegraph:

The midlife crisis is being replaced with a graceful "midlife transition" as increased life expectancy and good job prospects take the sting out of ageing, scientists say.

The sudden awareness of mortality that has led many men to exchange their wives and cars for newer models no longer has such a potent effect, it is claimed.

Instead, an increasingly confident and resilient generation are embarking on productive "second lives" as they reach 50, aware that they still have 30 good years ahead of them.

Read more ....

Earth Calling: A Short History Of Radio Messages To ET

Advertising our existence (Image: Jess Alford/Getty)

From New Scientist:

The human race first deliberately advertised its existence on the outer panels of space probes, some of which were engraved with codes and images containing information about itself. These immediately prompted arguments about how much we should give away about ourselves.

However, if we really want to break the ice with our cosmic neighbours, it will probably be by sending messages that travel at the speed of light, not at the speed of a Pioneer probe.

Read more ....

EADS Astrium Develops Space Power Concept

From BBC:

Europe's biggest space company is seeking partners to fly a demonstration solar power mission in orbit.

EADS Astrium says the satellite system would collect the Sun's energy and transmit it to Earth via an infrared laser, to provide electricity.

Space solar power has been talked about for more than 30 years. However, there have always been question marks over its cost, efficiency and safety.

But Astrium believes the technology is close to proving its maturity.

Read more ....

Remarks On Internet Freedom By Hillary Clinton

Remarks on Internet Freedom -- Hillary Clinton, Real Clear World

The Newseum
Washington, DC
January 21, 2010

Thank you very much, Alberto, for not only that kind introduction but your and your colleagues' leadership of this important institution. It's a pleasure to be here at the Newseum. The Newseum is a monument to some of our most precious freedoms, and I'm grateful for this opportunity to discuss how those freedoms apply to the challenges of the 21st century.

Read more ....

500-Year-Old Nostradamus Prophecies Become First French Book To Be Archived On Google

Preserved: A 16th-century edition of predictions by Nostradamus has become the first French book to be digitally archived by Google

From The Daily Mail:

A sixteenth century edition of predictions by Nostradamus has become the first book from France's vast archive of literature to be digitally preserved by Google.

The collection of prophecies is from a vault containing 500,000 classic French books stored at the Municipal Library of Lyon.

Nostradamus is best known for The Prophecies, the first edition of which appeared in 1555 and has rarely been out of print since his death.

France has a 750million euro (£650million) scheme in place to digitise its libraries and museums.

Read more ....

Friday, January 22, 2010

Llama Proteins Could Play A Vital Role In The War On Terror

Two llama ignoring the view of Machu Picchu. (Credit: iStockphoto/Marshall Bruce)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Jan. 21, 2010) — Scientists at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) have for the first time developed a highly sensitive means of detecting the seven types of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) simultaneously.

The BoNT-detecting substances are antibodies -- proteins made by the body to fight diseases -- found in llamas. BoNT are about 100 billion times more toxic than cyanide, and collectively, they are the only toxins in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 'category A' list of potential bioterror threats alongside anthrax, Ebola virus and other infectious agents.

Read more ....

U.S. Babies Are Getting Smaller

From Live Science:

Babies born in the United States are getting smaller, according to a new study. The findings suggest that birth weights in this country have declined during the past 15 years, most dramatically among the least likely group of mothers.

The researchers estimate that birth weights for full-term babies have decreased by an average of 1.83 ounces (52 grams) between 1990 and 2005.

Read more ....

Six Industries Apple's Tablet Could Shake Up

From Popular Mechanics:

Apple's tablet announcement is next week. And like the iPhone before it, the product may well have a power that ripples far beyond its on-sale date. Here are six industries that the Apple tablet could shake up.

Read more ....

This Spring's Hottest New Accessory: A Bionic Limb?

From Popular Science:

As if people weren't worrying enough about advanced prostheses making amputees stronger than normal humans, now we have to worry if they are going to make them sexier, too. The prosthetics industry is growing rapidly, and, according to Hugh Herr, the director of MIT Media Lab's Biomechatronics Group, advanced prostheses will soon become envied in the same way the newest electronic gadget or the hottest car is today.

Read more ....

Daily Pint Of Blueberry Juice 'Could Help Stop Memory Loss', Study Suggests

Those who drank blueberry juice showed a "significant improvement
on learning and memory tests", scientists said.

From The Telegraph:

A daily pint of blueberry juice could help reduce memory loss, according to scientists.

According to the study of pensioners with signs of dementia, the fruit was found to sharpen recall, even when memory had started to fail.

In the first such test on humans, the group of pensioners drank the juice over 12 weeks, which helped improve their memory and recall in a series of tests.

Read more ....

Why Amazon Won't Launch Its Own Tablet, But Will Use Apple's

From ARS Technica:

The Kindle game is up, and Amazon knows it. In 2010, the world plus dog will be hawking an E-Ink-based e-reader, and major distribution and publishing houses like Barnes & Noble, Google, and Hearst will be offering their digital content on everything with a screen. That's why Amazon gave up some royalty money to e-book publishers on Wednesday, and announced a SDK and app store for the Kindle on Thursday.

Read more ....

Mammals 'Floated To Madagascar'

From the BBC:

The ancestors of the current mammals found on the island of Madagascar could have been transported on floating vegetation from Africa, a study says.

Researchers modelled ancient ocean currents and found that favourable conditions existed in the same period as when mammals arrived on the island.

The idea of "rafting" first emerged in 1940, but some argued that a "land bridge" allowed animals to walk there.

Read more ....

China, Google And The Cloud Wars -- A Commentary

Google has threatened to quit China over censorship and cyberattacks. Photo AFP

From Holman Jenkins, Wall Street Journal:

What does Google know about you? What does the Chinese government know about you?

Now you know a less-spoken reason why Google has gone to the mattresses over Chinese hacking. Always in the cards, since the birth of the Web, was the possibility that some great Internet business—a Yahoo or Google or Amazon or Facebook—would be destroyed overnight by a cataclysmic loss of trust in its protection of consumer data.

We haven't seen this phenomenon yet, but it has seemed almost inevitable that sooner or later we will.

Google's response to the discovery that Chinese hackers—likely government hackers—had tried to ransack its servers has been both energetic and obfuscating. "We love China and the Chinese people," said CEO Eric Schmidt. "This is not about them. It's about our unwillingness to participate in censorship."

Read more ....

The Age Of The Killer Robot Is No Longer A Sci-fi Fantasy

You can't appeal to robots for mercy or empathy - or punish them afterwards. CHRIS COADY

From The Independent:

In the dark, in the silence, in a blink, the age of the autonomous killer robot has arrived. It is happening. They are deployed. And – at their current rate of acceleration – they will become the dominant method of war for rich countries in the 21st century. These facts sound, at first, preposterous. The idea of machines that are designed to whirr out into the world and make their own decisions to kill is an old sci-fi fantasy: picture a mechanical Arnold Schwarzenegger blasting a truck and muttering: "Hasta la vista, baby." But we live in a world of such whooshing technological transformation that the concept has leaped in just five years from the cinema screen to the battlefield – with barely anyone back home noticing.

Read more ....

My Comment: The key paragraph in this report is the following, and it sums up perfectly the direction that we are going ....

.... When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, they had no robots as part of their force. By the end of 2005, they had 2,400. Today, they have 12,000, carrying out 33,000 missions a year. A report by the US Joint Forces Command says autonomous robots will be the norm on the battlefield within 20 years. ....

Climate Change Chief Says Sorry For Hot Air Claim Over Melting Glaciers

From The Daily Mail:

The head of the UN's climate change body has been forced to make a humiliating apology over claims the Himalayan glaciers could vanish within 25 years.

Last week it emerged there was no evidence for the warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

After a global outcry, Dr Rajendra Pachauri - chairman of the IPCC - has issued an unprecedented apology.

Read more ....

Rickets Makes Comeback Among Computer Generation

Rickets, where children develop painful and deformed bow-legs and do not grow properly, is a condition linked with Victorian era poverty.

From The Telegraph:

The growth of the computer generation and changing lifestyles among children are leading to a Vitamin D deficiency and a rise in cases of rickets, medical experts have warned.

They said youngsters were spending more time indoors on their computers rather than previous generations who spent time playing outside with their friends.

The two medical experts have called for Vitamin D to be added to milk and other food products.

Read more ....

Rover Gives NASA An 'Opportunity' To View Interior Of Mars

This approximately true-color view of Marquette Island comes from combining three exposures that Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam) took through different filters during the rover's 2,117th Martian day, or sol, on Mars (Jan. 6, 2010). (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Jan. 22, 2010) — NASA's Mars exploration rover Opportunity is allowing scientists to get a glimpse deep inside Mars.

Perched on a rippled Martian plain, a dark rock not much bigger than a basketball was the target of interest for Opportunity during the past two months. Dubbed "Marquette Island," the rock is providing a better understanding of the mineral and chemical makeup of the Martian interior.

Read more ....

Heidi Montag's Plastic Surgery: Obsession Or Addiction?

From Live Science:

When reality TV show star Heidi Montag announced last week that she had undergone 10 plastic surgeries, all in one day, the news was met with some (naturally) raised eyebrows. But she's not alone in her obsession to look perfect by enduring multiple cosmetic enhancements, a phenomenon that has the makings of an addiction, or at least a binge behavior, experts say.

Though Montag, 23, has argued she's not addicted to cosmetic procedures, some psychologists would disagree.

Read more ....

San Andreas Fault: Could Earthquake Happen Sooner Than Expected?

From Christian Science Monitor:

The frequency of a major earthquake along a key stretch of California’s San Andreas fault could be greater than thought, according to studies published Thursday in the journal Science.

The interval between major earthquakes along a key stretch of California's San Andreas fault appears to be shorter than current assessments indicate, according to two related studies published Thursday.

If these results – in the journal Science – hold up under additional scrutiny, they suggest that this section in southern California, which was responsible for the 1857 Fort Tejon quake, may be relatively close to another rupture.

Yet buried within that estimate may be some good news.

Read more

Young People Spend 7 Hours, 38 Minutes A Day On TV, Video Games, Computer

Should toddlers be allowed to watch TV? Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

From The L.A. Times:

Media are a full-time job plus overtime for children 8 to 18, a Kaiser report says. They devote 53 hours a week to those pursuits, an hour and 17 minutes more than five years ago.

Reporting from Chicago - The amount of time young people spend consuming media has ballooned with around-the-clock access and mobile devices that function practically as appendages, according to a new report.

Young people now devote an average of seven hours and 38 minutes to daily media use, or about 53 hours a week -- more than a full-time job -- according to Kaiser Family Foundation findings released today.

Read more ....

Is E-Diplomacy The Future? (Video)

Verizon, AT&T May Carry Apple Tablet

Apple has sent invitations for a Jan. 27 event in San Francisco, where the technology company will unveil its long-awaited tablet device. Apple

From FOX News:

Which wireless carrier will offer Apple's soon-to-be-released mystery device? Will it be Verizon? AT&T? The answer, according to sources at the two companies, is both.

As any well-read geek will tell you, Apple is releasing some sort of tablet device next week, and the rumors about features have been flying as fast and furious as those men in tights at Cirque du Soleil. I'm not going to add to the noise by speculating about unreleased details like the size, shape, color, price and general feature list. Instead I'm going to add the other noise: the network noise.

Read more ....

Amazon Prepares For Apple Tablet With Promise Of Apps For Kindle Ereader

Amazon's Kindle: soon with apps. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

From The Guardian:

Developers are being sought to produce iPhone-style apps as Kindle faces Apple tablet challenge in ebook market.

Amazon is inviting developers to build iPhone-style apps on its Kindle ebook reader, in what is seen as a pre-emptive strike against the expected launch next week of an Apple tablet computer.

Developers are promised the capacity to "build and upload active content that will be available in the Kindle Store later this year". The first developers will be allowed to join a test programme – a limited beta – from next month.

Read more ....

Scientist Creates Intergalactic tube Map Of The Milky Way

Accessible: Samuel Arbesman's map of the Milky Way is based on the London tube map and uses stars and nebula as the 'stations'

From The Daily Mail:

If you thought your daily commute was a time-consuming chore, spare a thought for intergalactic space travellers of the future making their way to work on this 'Milky Way Transit Authority'.

Based completely on the London Underground, a Harvard scientist has released this simplified Milky Way map to display the 'vast and complex interconnections' of our galaxy in an accessible way.

But future passengers won't want to get caught up in intergalactic engineering works as the 'stops' on the map, created by Samuel Arbesman, are thousands of light years apart.

Read more ....

The Truth About Robots And The Uncanny Valley: Analysis

Japan's government sponsored research laboratory, AIST, unveils the humanoid robot "HRP-4C," which has 42 actuators and several sensors on its body. (Photo by Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images)

From Popular Mechanics:

An oft-cited theory in robotics, the uncanny valley, refers to that point along the chart of robot–human likeness where a robot looks and acts nearly—but not exactly—like a human. This subtle imperfection, the theory states, causes people's feelings toward robots to veer from fondness to revulsion. Here, contributing editor Erik Sofge argues that the theory is so loosely backed it is nearly useless for roboticists. For an in-depth look at the human–robot relationship, check out PM's feature story "Can Robots Be Trusted?" on stands now.

Read more ....

High-Speed Brain Scan Used to Diagnose War Vets' PTSD With 90% Accuracy

The Stress Of War Different soldiers sharing the same experiences can react very differently. A research group in Minneapolis believes it has found an objective means to accurately identify PTSD through magnetoencephalography.

From Popular Science:

With so many troops rotating into and out of two different war zones, mental health experts in the U.S. are urgently trying to understand the causes – and a means to assuage or prevent – post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Now, a group of researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis VA Medical Center may have unlocked the secret to objective PTSD diagnosis: a biomarker in the brain that diagnoses the condition with more than 90 percent accuracy.

Read more ....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Theory On The Origin Of Primates

New biogeographic reconstruction of primates, flying lemurs, and tree shrews about 185 millions of years in the early Jurassic. (Credit: Image courtesy of Buffalo Museum of Science)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Jan. 20, 2010) — A new model for primate origins is presented in Zoologica Scripta, published by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The paper argues that the distributions of the major primate groups are correlated with Mesozoic tectonic features and that their respective ranges are congruent with each evolving locally from a widespread ancestor on the supercontinent of Pangea about 185 million years ago.

Read more ....

Ability To Recognize Faces Is Inherited

From Live Science:

Some people never forget a face. For the rest of us, recognizing faces is not so easy. And those with prosopagnosia can't even recognize their close friends.

Now scientists say the ability to recognize faces is inherited and separate from general intelligence or IQ.

IQ is strongly heritable. And one longstanding general thought about IQ holds that if you're smart in one area, you'll be smart in others. But some skills seem distinct. A person can be brilliant with numbers but not good with linguistics, for example. This latter reality supports a modularity hypothesis, in which the mind is like a Swiss Army knife — a general-purpose tool with special-purpose devices, researchers explained.

Read more ....

For Dogs, It's 'Survival Of The Cutest'

From Discovery News:

Look at how cute and adorable Claudia and Johnny are! Don't they just melt your heart?

New research shows that how we value the "cuteness" of our pet dogs could influence a breed's survival, variation and overall evolutionary pattern.

The University of Manchester released a new study today that compared the skull shapes of domestic dogs with those of different species across the order Carnivora, to which dogs, cats, bears, weasels, seals and walruses belong.

Read more ....

Tablet Wars: Amazon Adds Apps to Kindle

From Gadget Lab:

Amazon has announced that it will open up the Kindle e-reader to third party developers, allowing applications, or what Amazon calls “active content”, to run on the device.

What kind of apps could run in the low-fi Kindle? Well, you won’t be getting Monkey Ball, but interactive books, travel guides with locations data, RSS readers and anything that brings text to the device would be a good candidate. This could even include magazine and newspaper subscriptions.

Read more ....

Space Pictures Taken From Garden Shed

Amateur astronomer Peter Shah who has taken astonishing shots of the universe from his garden shed Photo: WALES NEWS SERVICE

From The Telegraph:

An amateur stargazer has stunned astronomers around the world with his photographs of the universe – taken from his garden shed.

Peter Shah, 38, cut a hole in the roof of his wooden shed and set up his modest eight-inch telescope inside. After months of patiently waiting for the right moment he emerged with a series of striking images of the Milky Way.

His photographs of a vivid variety of star clusters light years from Earth have been compared to the images taken from the £2.5 billion Hubble space telescope.

Read more ....

Fish Oil Slows Burn Of Genetic Fuse In Ageing, Say Scientists

Cod liver oil capsules with omega-3. Photograph: Graham Turner

From The Guardian:

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils have a direct effect on biological ageing, US research suggests.

Fish oil may be the true elixir of youth, according to new evidence of its effect on biological ageing. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil preserve the genetic "fuse" that determines the lifespan of cells, say scientists.

The discovery, made in heart disease patients, may explain many of the claimed health benefits of omega-3.

Read more ....

Bad Memory? Forget It!

From The Daily Mail:

Do you have trouble remembering where you left your car keys? Do you struggle to recall people's names? A study from Cambridge University suggests that regular aerobic exercise - such as jogging - can significantly boost memory by triggering the growth of grey matter in the brain. But are there other things we can do to develop our brain cells? We asked eight-times World Memory Champion Dominic O'Brien, author of Learn To Remember and a host of bestselling memory books, for his tips...

Read more ....

Himalayan Melting: How A Climate Panel Got It Wrong

A fast-moving glacial stream rushes down from Rakaposhi Mountain in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province. Paula Bronstein / Getty

From Time Magazine:

Between the undying controversy that was "Climategate" and the near collapse of the Copenhagen summit on global warming, 2009 was not a great year for climate scientists or activists. Less than a month into the new year, 2010 isn't looking much better.

On Wednesday (the day after Republican Scott Brown, an opponent of cap and trade, seized a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts), a new scandal broke over climate science. Faced with criticism of a widely quoted piece of analysis from its 2007 climate assessment that warned that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was forced to admit to relying on dubious scientific sources, apologized and retracted its earlier estimate. That estimate of the rate of Himalayan glacier loss because of warming, which appeared in the same assessment that earned the global body a share of the Nobel Peace Prize, was "poorly substantiated," the IPCC said.

Read more ....

Boeing 747 Marks A Major Milestone

747-100. Photo Credit: Boeing Photo

From L.A. Times:

The first jumbo jet made its maiden commercial flight 40 years ago today. More than 1,400 of the planes with their signature hump have rolled off the Boeing assembly line.

It was the kind of plane that seemed to fit the swinging go-go days with martini-swigging travelers lingering around a bar.

First-class passengers dressed in their Sunday best made their way up a spiral staircase to get to the "flying penthouse," harking memories of private rail cars.

It seemed the epitome of plushness when it made its first commercial flight 40 years ago today. A Times reporter described the cabin as a "luxurious auditorium some genie had wafted aloft."

Read more ....

Electromagnetic Pulse Cannon Could Demo Car-Stopping Power Next Month

EMP Cannon This skewed perspective shows a presumably older version of Eureka Aerospace's EMP car-stopper. PopSci

From Popular Science:

U.S. Marines could deploy the non-lethal weapon if it proves viable.

Stopping a speeding car without killing its driver and passengers with traditional means--bullets--can prove tricky, even if skilled snipers can put a disabling shot in a car's engine block. But a Canadian company could soon demo an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) cannon capable of effectively scrambling a car's chips and other electronics, according to Flight International. The U.S. Marines have lined up as possible, if skeptical, customers.

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The Sound of Saturn's Rings

From Universe Today:

This wonderful video was posted by Jennifer Ouellette on Discovery News, and I just had to share it. The sounds are actual recordings picked up by the Cassini spacecraft. I have heard the eerie audio before, but never had previously seen it paired up with moving images from the mission. The radio emissions, called Saturn kilometric radiation, are generated along with Saturn's auroras, or northern and southern lights. Cassini's Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) instrument takes high-resolution measurements that allow scientists to convert the radio waves into audio recordings by shifting the frequencies down into the audio frequency range.

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Calpain Is Important To Memory Processes After All

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Jan. 21, 2010) — A second high-profile paper in as many months has found an important role in learning and memory for calpain, a molecule whose academic fortunes have ebbed and flowed for 25 years.

USC's Michel Baudry (then at the University of California, Irvine) and Gary Lynch (UC Irvine) first pointed to calpain as the key to memory in a seminal 1984 paper in Science on the biochemistry of memory.

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Embryos Like to Be Rocked Like Babies

To test out a device that keeps embryos in motion, researchers placed early-stage mouse embryos into a thimble-sized funnel, at the bottom of which were tiny channels through which fluids flowed. Credit: University of Michigan.

From Live Science:

Like babies that can be lulled to sleep with swaying, embryos also prefer to be rocked.

By gently rocking embryos while they grew during in vitro fertilization, scientists increased pregnancy rates in mice by more than 20 percent. The same rock-a-bye procedure could lead to more success for in vitro fertilization in humans, the researchers say.

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