Friday, March 19, 2010

U.S. Wind Power Growing Fast But Still Lags

From CNET:

Wind-generated electricity is growing rapidly in the United States but the pace still lags far behind that in China, the organizer of an industry conference in North Carolina said.

"With the right policies in place, we can see explosive growth...It's a global footrace," said Jeff Anthony, business development director of the American Wind Energy Association.

Read more ....

Most Flawless Diamonds Ever Are Meant for Lasers, Not Rings

More Flawless Diamonds Diamonds are a laser's best friend ... at least diamonds better than this Wikimedia

From Popular Science:

Scientists need the diamonds to build the next generation of X-ray lasers .

Powerful X-ray lasers may allow scientists to image tiny drug molecules or even precisely target cancer cells, but the lasers require extremely high-quality mirrors to function well. Now researchers have created a nearly-flawless diamond that can do the job, according to Discovery News.

Read more ....

Soyuz Landing: An Undignified Way To Come Home

From ABC News:

Ooof. This is why NASA designed the space shuttle to land like a plane.

Two space station crew members, American commander Jeff Williams and Russian flight engineer Maxim Suraev, landed their Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft in three feet of snow this morning on the steppes of Kazakhstan, finishing a five-and-a-half-month stay in orbit.

Read more ....

Dinosaurs Did Not Gradually Die Out

From Discovery News:

Non-avian dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago, and now researchers have proven that this die-off didn't happen over a long period of time.

A detailed look at dinosaur bones, tracks and eggs located at 29 archaeological sites located in the Catalan Pyrenees reveals that there was a large diversity of dinosaur species living there just before the fatal K-T extinction event, which many scientists believe was caused by several large meteors hitting Earth.

Read more ....

Dogs Likely Originated In The Middle East, New Genetic Data Indicate

This evolutionary tree shows dog breeds and gray wolves. (Credit: UCLA)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Mar. 18, 2010) — Dogs likely originated in the Middle East, not Asia or Europe, according to a new genetic analysis by an international team of scientists led by UCLA biologists.

The research appears March 17 in the advance online edition of the journal Nature.

Read more ....

The Chilean Temblor: An Earthquake’s Radiating Energy

From Live Science:

Researchers are utilizing new technologies to help predict the strength and impacts of natural disasters. The image above, courtesy of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), depicts the energy radiating from the recent Chilean earthquake as well as the amplitude of the quake's resulting tsunami.

Read more ....

What's The Point Of Nuclear Weapons On Instant Alert?

Nuclear missiles "on alert" could too easily be launched by mistake

From New Scientist:

IN THE next few weeks, President Barack Obama will publish his delayed Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), setting out the role nuclear weapons play in US defence. This is Obama's opportunity to end one of the most dangerous legacies of the cold war: the nuclear missiles the US and Russia keep ready to fly in minutes. The signs are that he is unlikely to take it.

This leaves the questions why does the US keep its nuclear weapons "on alert", and are they really needed?

Read more ....

Report: Google To Leave China On April 10

From CNET:

Google is expected to announce on Monday that it will withdraw from China on April 10, according to a report in a Beijing-based newspaper that cited an unidentified sales associate who works with the company.

"I have received information saying that Google will leave China on April 10, but this information has not at present been confirmed by Google," the China Business News quoted the agent as saying. The report also said Google would reveal its plans for its China-based staff that day.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read more ....

Shortage of Rare Earth Minerals May Cripple U.S. High-Tech, Scientists Warn Congress

Rare Earths Rare earth elements form a crucial part of everyday high-tech products.

From Popular Science:

On the sunnier side, rare earths could power a future generation of clean tech.

All those hybrid and electric cars, wind turbines and similar clean tech innovations may count for nothing if the U.S. cannot secure a supply of rare earth minerals. Ditto for other advanced telecommunications or defense technologies, scientists told a U.S. House subcommittee.

Read more ....

New Password-Stealing Virus Targets Facebook

From ABC News:

Virus Attempts to Steal Banking Passwords, Other Sensitive Information.

BOSTON (Reuters) - Hackers have flooded the Internet with virus-tainted spam that targets Facebook's estimated 400 million users in an effort to steal banking passwords and gather other sensitive information.

The emails tell recipients that the passwords on their Facebook accounts have been reset, urging them to click on an attachment to obtain new login credentials, according to anti-virus software maker McAfee Inc.

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Mysterious 'Dark Flow' May Be Tug Of Other Universe

The galaxy cluster 1E 0657-56 (known as the Bullet Cluster) lies 3.8 billion light-years away. It's one of hundreds that appear to be carried along by a mysterious cosmic flow. NASA/STScI/Magellan/U.Arizona/D.Clowe et al.

From Discovery News:

A structure, possibly another universe beyond the horizon of our own, appears to be pulling at our world.

The universe is not only expanding -- it's being swept along in the direction of constellations Centaurus and Hydra at a steady clip of one million miles per hour, pulled, perhaps, by the gravity of another universe.

Scientists have no idea what's tugging at the known world, except to say that whatever it is likely dates back to the fraction of the second between the universe's explosive birth 13.7 billion years ago and its inflation a split second later.

Read more ....

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Astronomers Discover Most Primitive Supermassive Black Holes Known

This artist's conception illustrates one of the most primitive supermassive black holes known (central black dot) at the core of a young, star-rich galaxy. Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have uncovered two of these early objects, dating back to about 13 billion years ago. The monstrous black holes are among the most distant known, and appear to be in the very earliest stages of formation, earlier than any observed so far. Unlike all other supermassive black holes probed to date, this primitive duo, called J0005-0006 and J0303-0019, lacks dust. As the drawing shows, gas swirls around a black hole in what is called an accretion disk. Usually, the accretion disk is surrounded by a dark doughnut-like dusty structure called a dust torus. But for the primitive black holes, the dust tori are missing and only gas disks are observed. This is because the early universe was clean as a whistle. Enough time had not passed for molecules to clump together into dust particles. Some black holes forming in this era thus started out lacking dust. As they grew, gobbling up more and more mass, they are thought to have accumulated dusty rings. This illustration also shows how supermassive black holes can distort space and light around them (see warped stars behind black hole). Stars from the galaxy can be seen sprinkled throughout, and distant mergers between other galaxies are illustrated in the background. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Mar. 18, 2010) — Astronomers have come across what appear to be two of the earliest and most primitive supermassive black holes known. The discovery, based largely on observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, will provide a better understanding of the roots of our universe, and how the very first black holes, galaxies and stars all came to be.

Read more ....

Giant Redwood Trees Endured Frequent Fires Centuries Ago

A prescribed burn was conducted in July 2001 in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park. The giant redwoods endured frequent fires from the yeas 800 to 1300. Human activity reduced fires in recent decades but now scientists have reintroduced fire to the ecosystem. Credit: Tony C. Caprio

From Live Science:

Ancient trees pack a record of ancient events. And now scientists have used 52 of the world's oldest trees — giant sequoia redwoods in California's western Sierra Nevada — to show that the region was plagued by drought and fire from the year 800 through the year 1300.

Scientists reconstructed a 3,000-year history of fire by dating fire scars on the inland sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park. Individual giant sequoias can live more than 3,000 years.

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Tough Coatings For Airplanes

Image: Paper for airplanes: This paper (top), made from layers of tiny clay discs and a polymer (seen under the microscope at bottom), might be used as a strong, lightweight coating for buildings and airplanes. Credit: Andreas Walther

From Technology Review:

A strong material inspired by abalone shells could be applied over large areas.

For decades, materials scientists have looked to naturally existing composites as inspiration for tough, lightweight materials that could lighten vehicles. Such materials could save on fuel costs, protect airplanes, and be used in engine turbines that run more efficiently. The material that lines abalone shells, called nacre, has been of particular interest: it's lightweight and strong, yet shatter-resistant. But mimicking the microscale structures responsible for its properties has been difficult, and hasn't resulted in materials that can be manufactured on a large scale.

Read more ....

Intel Plans To Turn Its Tiny Atom Chip Into A Big Brand

Brian Fravel of Intel … 'The whole media landscape has changed'

From The Guardian:

Atom processors have become popular in netbooks, but Intel's Brian Fravel is trying to turn it into a brand that will get consumers buying Intel-based interactive TV sets, set-top boxes and lots of portable devices.

Technology can be challenging for brand managers, because "technology is all about change, and brand's all about consistency: there's a constant push-pull between those two things," says Brian Fravel, director of Intel's Brand Strategy & Management.

Read more ....

Bigelow Aerospace: Professional Astronauts Sought By American Space Firm

Only professionals with space flight experience need apply, such as British Nasa astronaut Nicholas Patrick, pictured here holding on to the International Space Station. Photo: NASA

From The Telegraph:

An American space holiday firm, Bigelow Aerospace, has become the first commercial company to advertise for professional astronauts.

The firm, founded by Bob Bigelow, the head of a budget motel chain in the US, wants experienced spacemen working in orbit and on the ground.

Only professionals with space flight experience need apply, which limits the pool of possible applicants worldwide to little more than 500.

Read more ....

First Peek At Weather Inside Jupiter's Giant Red Spot

This visible light image of Jupiter's red spot shows how we would view the region with the naked eye

From The Daily Mail:

Jupiter's great red spot, which is the site of an enormous that could swallow Earth twice over, has fascinated astronomers for centuries.

Now scientists have made their first detailed weather map of the mysterious swirling region, thanks to new ground-breaking thermal images taken by the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope.

The map has linked the storm system's temperature, winds, pressure and composition with its distinctive reddish colour.

Read more ....

Planck Spies Massive Dust Clouds

Planck can see really cold dust sweeping through our galaxy

From The BBC:

Europe's Planck observatory has given another brief glimpse of its work.

The space telescope's main goal is to map the "oldest light" in the Universe, but this data is being kept under wraps until the surveying is complete.

Instead, Planck scientists have released a snapshot of the colossal swathes of cold dust that spread through the Milky Way galaxy.

Such imagery will be very useful to astronomers seeking to understand star formation.

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NASA And U.S. Navy Pledge To Save Silicon Valley's Massive Airship Hangar

Hangar One An old airship home needs a reskin U.S. Navy

From Popular Science:

The landmark Hangar One needs a giant new Teflon skin to replace its toxic siding, but funding is an issue.

Hangar One's behemoth structure once housed airships such as the doomed U.S.S. Macon, and is so large that clouds can supposedly form and rain inside it. Now NASA and the U.S. Navy have promised to replace the hangar's toxic siding with a new Teflon-covered fiberglass fabric skin, The Register reports.

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Hacker Disables More Than 100 Cars Remotely

From Threat Level:

More than 100 drivers in Austin, Texas found their cars disabled or the horns honking out of control, after an intruder ran amok in a web-based vehicle-immobilization system normally used to get the attention of consumers delinquent in their auto payments.

Police with Austin’s High Tech Crime Unit on Wednesday arrested 20-year-old Omar Ramos-Lopez, a former Texas Auto Center employee who was laid off last month, and allegedly sought revenge by bricking the cars sold from the dealership’s four Austin-area lots.

Read more ....

Fake Dark Matter Could Show What Real Stuff Is Like

Can you see it yet? (Image: NASA, ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team/STScI/AURA)

From New Scientist:

The key to understanding dark matter is in our grasp – we've got something here on Earth that works just the same way.

Dark matter is hypothetical, invisible stuff that cosmologists invoke to explain why the universe appears to contain much less matter than their calculations say it should, and some think that it is made up of hypothetical particles called axions. Even though we haven't yet found a genuine axion, however, materials called topological insulators can be used to mimic them, say Shoucheng Zhang and colleagues at Stanford University, California. Magnetic fluctuations in the materials produce a field just like an axion field, his team found.

Read more ....

Russia Could Build Extra Soyuz Capsule For Space Tours

From RIA Novosti:

An additional Soyuz capsule could be built especially for commercial space tourists, the head of Russia's Energia space corporation said on Thursday.

"Construction of an additional Soyuz spaceship could start in the middle of the year," Vitaly Lopota said.

Energia currently manufactures four single-use three-man Soyuz capsules a year, but when the number is raised to five, it could resume space tours that it has put on hold for now.

Read more ....

How Cells Protect Themselves From Cancer

Cascade which activates cell protection programs. (Credit: Graphic by Clemens Schmitt)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Mar. 18, 2010) — Cells have two different protection programs to safeguard them from getting out of control under stress and from dividing without stopping and developing cancer. Until now, researchers assumed that these protective systems were prompted separately from each other. Now for the first time, using an animal model for lymphoma, cancer researchers of the Max Delbrück Center (MDC) Berlin-Buch and the Charité -- University Hospital Berlin in Germany have shown that these two protection programs work together through an interaction with normal immune cells to prevent tumors.

Read more ....

Congress To Address U.S. Rare Earth Shortage

From Live Science:

Members of Congress introduced a new bill this week that would resurrect the U.S. rare earths supply-chain and create a national stockpile for military and tech industry uses.

Rare earth elements have become irreplaceable in clean tech such as hybrid and electric car motors, high-efficiency light bulbs, solar panels and wind turbines. They also play a key role in defense technologies such as cruise missiles, radar and sonar and precision-guided weapons.

Read more ....

The Oldest Trees On The Planet

From Wired Science:

Trees are some of the longest-lived organisms on the planet. At least 50 trees have been around for more than a millenium, but there may be countless other ancient trees that haven’t been discovered yet.

Trees can live such a long time for several reasons. One secret to their longevity is their compartmentalized vascular system, which allows parts of the tree to die while other portions thrive. Many create defensive compounds to fight off deadly bacteria or parasites.

Read more ....

Searching For Another Earth

Photo: Planet finder: The CoRot satellite is operated by the French Space Agency CNES, and its mission is to search for planets outside our solar system. Here it’s undergoing mechanical qualification tests prior to launch. Credit: Alcatel Alenia Space/JL Bazile

From The Technology:

A new discovery advances the hunt for Earthlike planets beyond our solar system.

An international team of astronomers has discovered an exoplanet--one outside our solar system--that has a more Earthlike orbit than any alien planet discovered so far using the same technique.

The planet, called CoRot-9b, was discovered by the French-operated satellite CoRot, which has been in orbit since 2006. The spacecraft detected CoRot-9b by measuring the dimming of its star's brightness as the planet passed in front of it, a technique called "transit observation." The small dip in brightness allows the planet's size to be calculated. By measuring the amount of time it takes the planet to complete its orbit, researchers can determine the planet's distance from its star.

Read more ....

'Mobile Apps Will Outsell CDs By 2012'

Source: Chetan Sharma Consulting

From The Guardian:

Report for app store GetJar forecasts number of downloads will rise from 7bn in 2009 to almost 50bn in 2012.

Mobile app downloads are expected to increase from more than 7bn downloads in 2009 to almost 50bn in 2012, according to a report.

The independent study, carried out by Chetan Sharma Consulting for Getjar, the world's second biggest app store, forecasts that the global mobile application economy will be worth $17.5bn in 2012, more than CD sales, which it predicts will be $13.83bn.

Read more ....

Bubbles In Guinness 'Go Down Not Up' Say Scientists

From The Telegraph:

Bubbles in Guinness really do go down instead of up, according to a study by scientists to mark St Patrick's Day.

As pubs stocked up with extra supplies of the black stuff in preparation for Ireland's national celebrations on Wednesday, scientists offered an explanation for why the famous Irish brew behaves so oddly.

Pour just about any other pint of beer, and the bubbles can be seen to obey the normal laws of physics. Filled with buoyant gas, they rise to the surface and form a frothy head.

Read more ....

Found... The Honey Bees With Built-In Central Heating

Scientists have discovered 'heater' bees who keep the hive warm

From The Daily Mail:

Scientists have long attributed the success of the honey bee to the division of labour within the hive.

But thermal imaging research for a TV series has identified a previously unknown skill performed by a specialist bee that is vital for a colony's survival.

'Heater bees' use their bodies to provide a 'central heating' system, it has emerged.

Read more ....

Team's Quantum Object Is Biggest By Factor Of Billions

Image: The "quantum resonator" can be seen with the naked eye

From The BBC:

Researchers have created a "quantum state" in the largest object yet.

Such states, in which an object is effectively in two places at once, have until now only been accomplished with single particles, atoms and molecules.

In this experiment, published in the journal Nature, scientists produced a quantum state in an object billions of times larger than previous tests.

The team says the result could have significant implications in quantum computing.

Read more ....

Periodic Bursts Of Solar Radiation Destroy The Martian Atmosphere

Come on, Cohaagen! You got what you want.
Give those people air!
Total Recall, via The Warehouse

From Popular Science:

Unfortunately for anyone looking to terraform Mars, a new study shows that powerful waves of solar wind periodically strip the Red Planet of its atmosphere. Scientists had known for years that Mars has atmosphere troubles, but only by analyzing new data from he Mars Express spacecraft were they able to identify the special double solar waves as the specific cause.

Read more ....

Feeling Animals' Pain

From New Scientist:

Jonathan Balcombe believes that we have allowed intelligence to become the measure with which we determine how well to treat animals when what we should be using is how they feel.

It is not a new idea - the philosopher Jeremy Bentham said in 1789 that how an animal ought to be treated should be dependent on its capacity to suffer. It is a question that has recently been overlooked by biologists, who are instead determined to prove that some species have cognitive capacities akin to our own.

Read more ....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Flowering Plants May Be Considerably Older Than Previously Thought

A new analysis of the land plant family tree suggests that flowering plants may have lived much earlier than previously thought. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Mar. 17, 2010) — Flowering plants may be considerably older than previously thought, says a new analysis of the plant family tree.

Previous studies suggest that flowering plants, or angiosperms, first arose 140 to 190 million years ago. Now, a paper to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences pushes back the age of angiosperms to 215 million years ago, some 25 to 75 million years earlier than either the fossil record or previous molecular studies suggest.

Read more ....

Why Do Some Clovers Have Four Leaves?

Four-leaf clovers are a rare variation on the usual three-leafed kind caused
by a genetic mutation. Credit: stock.xchng.

From Live Science:

The leaves of clover plants are said to hold the luck o' the Irish when they sport four leaves. This myth likely arose because four-leaf clovers are rare finds — the result of an equally rare genetic mutation in the clover plant.

There are about 300 species in the clover genus Trifolium, or trefoil, so named because the plants usually have three leaves, or technically, leaflets. The ones you typically find in North America are white clover (Trifolium repens).

Read more ....

How Privacy Vanishes Online

Alessandro Acquisti mined Web data to successfully predict Social Security numbers. Ross Mantle for The New York Times

From The New York Times:

If a stranger came up to you on the street, would you give him your name, Social Security number and e-mail address?

Probably not.

Yet people often dole out all kinds of personal information on the Internet that allows such identifying data to be deduced. Services like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr are oceans of personal minutiae — birthday greetings sent and received, school and work gossip, photos of family vacations, and movies watched.

Read more ....

Plumbing The Depths For Oil

From The Economist:

Inside story: A recent wave of advances is enabling oil companies to detect and recover offshore oil in ever more difficult places.

IN OCTOBER 1947 a group of engineers from Kerr-McGee, an American oil company, drilled the world’s first offshore oil well that was completely out of sight of land. Located 17km (10.5 miles) off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, the project involved a drilling deck no bigger than a tennis court. This platform was complemented by a number of refurbished navy barges left over from the second world war, which served as both storage facilities and sleeping quarters for the crew. A single derrick enabled drilling into the seabed, 4.6 metres (15 feet) below. Kerr-McGee’s offshore drilling gear is still used in the Gulf of Mexico. The reused barges, however, are long gone. Instead, far more elaborate equipment is now being used, and in much deeper water.

Read more ....

China Stands Firm On Internet Security Amid Google Drama

From Xinhuanet:

BEIJING, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- China Thursday insisted its stand for an open Internet under proper regulating following Google's widely-concerned statement of a possible retreat from the country.

"The Internet is open in China, where the government always encourages its development and has created a favorable environment for its healthy development," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular press conference.

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Are Printed Photos Going Extinct?

From ABC News:

The Number of Photos Printed Worldwide Is Dropping by the Billions as Facebook Makes the Glossy Print Old-Fashioned.

The glossy print, it seems, is losing its sheen. According to estimates from IDC, 42 billion photos will be printed worldwide, both commercially and personally, in 2013. That’s a third less than the 63 billion printed in 2008. Meanwhile, about 124 billion photos are on pace to be shared through social networks that year. If it maintains its momentum, Facebook will likely be hosting the lion’s share of these images. The advent of the affordable digital camera circa 2001 was hard enough on the photography industry. People no longer had to buy film, since photos could be stored on memory cards or on a computer hard drive. Now Facebook is slowly but surely turning the nozzle of the industry’s only other real revenue stream: photo printing.

Read more ....

New 'Temperate' Exoplanet Hints At Solar System Like Our Own

An artist's impression shows CoRoT-9b, the first temperate exoplanet to be measured in detail. Scientists say it is about the size of Jupiter and orbits its parent star at about the same distance that Mercury orbits the sun. AFP/ESO

From Christian Science Monitor:

Astronomers have for the first time made detailed measurements of an exoplanet in the temperate zone around its star. Their conclusion: It looks a lot like a planet in our solar system.

Astronomers have discovered a Jupiter-size planet that orbits its host star at a Mercury-like distance – a solar system that begins to look like a topsy-turvy, Alice in Wonderland version of our own.

The discovery has allowed scientists to glean for the first time a wide range of information about an extrasolar planet so relatively distant from its "sun."

Read more ....

Google Working With Intel, Sony, Logitech On TV Technology

From The Wall Street Journal:

Google Inc. has lined up some big partners--including Intel Corp. and Sony Corp.--in the Internet giant's recent quest to move its technology into the living room, people familiar with the situation say.

The joint effort, which is in its preliminary stages, includes software to help users navigate among Web-based offerings on TVs and serve as a platform for other developers to target in creating new programs, these people say. The technology could be included with future TVs, Blu-ray players or set-top boxes, they added.

Read more ....

Solar Storms Create 'Killer Electrons'

A stream of charged particles from the Sun hits Earth's magnetosphere. Credit: NASA

From Cosmos:

SYDNEY: 'Killer electrons' - electrons circling Earth that wreck satellites and can cause cancer in astronauts - are created when Solar storms create shockwaves in the Earth's protective magnetic bubble, scientists said.

The Earth's magnetic field abounds with charged, fast moving particles that orbit up to 64,000 km above the surface. When a severe solar storm - a stream of energetic particles emanating from the Sun - hits the Earth's magnetic field, it creates a shockwave that boosts the number of particles by up to ten times as much.

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The CIA Predictioneer: Using Games To See The Future

Three decades of getting it right (Image: Ethan Hill/Contour by Getty Images)

From New Scientist:

MY HOROSCOPE this week says that now is the perfect time to relocate, or at least de-clutter. I know it's nonsense, but I can't help wishing there was a genuine way to predict the future.

Perhaps there is. One self-styled "predictioneer" believes he has found the answer. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is a professor of politics at New York University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. In his new book, The Predictioneer (The Predictioneer's Game in the US), he describes a computer model based on game theory which he - and others - claim can predict the future with remarkable accuracy.

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Rewriting The Decline (CO2 and Temperature)

Above: Matthews 1976, National Geographic, Temperatures 1880-1976

From Watts Up With That?:

The great thing about old magazines is that once published, they can’t be adjusted. Jo Nova has a great summary of some recent work from occasional WUWT contributor Frank Lansner who runs the blog “Hide the Decline” and what he found in an old National Geographic, which bears repeating here. – Anthony

Jo Nova writes:

Human emissions of carbon dioxide began a sharp rise from 1945. But, temperatures, it seems, may have plummeted over half the globe during the next few decades. Just how large or how insignificant was that decline?

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How Plants Put Down Roots

One week old seed of the thale cress with embryo. (Credit: Martin Bayer / Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Mar. 16, 2010) — In the beginning is the fertilized egg cell. Following numerous cell divisions, it then develops into a complex organism with different organs and tissues. The largely unexplained process whereby the cells simply "know" the organs into which they should later develop is an astonishing phenomenon.

Read more ....

Prehistoric Shark Attack Reconstructed

The skeleton of a dolphin, preserved for 4 million years, shows bite marks across its ribs from the shark attack that killed it. Credit: Giovanni Bianucci

From Live Science:

A shark attack that took place 4 million years ago has just been reconstructed from the extinct hunter's fossilized victim – a dolphin.

Scientists investigated a well-preserved 9-foot-long dolphin (2.7 meters) discovered in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. From the remains, the researchers not only finger-pointed the attacker but also how the thrashing went down, suggesting the shark took advantage of the dolphin's blind spot.

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How Facebook Overtook Google To Be The Top Spot On The Internet

From Fortune/CNN:

What the Hitwise numbers do — and don't — tell us about the coming showdown between the Internet's largest web properties.

Facebook has dethroned Google! Sort of! Well, ok, not really. For the week ending March 13, the social networking site got more traffic than its competitor in the United States, according to a blog post by industry tracker Hitwise. But be careful how you slice your numbers. While many pundits may use this data to validate predictions that Facebook will eventually beat Google (GOOG) at its own game, the social networking startup has yet to pull ahead in any real sense.

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A Supersonic Jump, From 23 Miles In The Air

From New York Times:

Ordinarily, Felix Baumgartner would not need a lot of practice in the science of falling.

He has jumped off two of the tallest buildings in the world, as well as the statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro (a 95-foot leap for which he claimed a low-altitude record for parachuting). He has sky-dived across the English Channel. He once plunged into the black void of a 623-foot-deep cave, which he formerly considered the most difficult jump of his career.

But now Fearless Felix, as his fans call him, has something more difficult on the agenda: jumping from a helium balloon in the stratosphere at least 120,000 feet above Earth. Within about half a minute, he figures, he would be going 690 miles per hour and become the first skydiver to break the speed of sound. After a free fall lasting five and a half minutes, his parachute would open and land him about 23 miles below the balloon.

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Natural Gas: An Unconventional Glut

From The Economist:

Newly economic, widely distributed sources are shifting the balance of power in the world’s gas markets.

SOME time in 2014 natural gas will be condensed into liquid and loaded onto a tanker docked in Kitimat, on Canada’s Pacific coast, about 650km (400 miles) north-west of Vancouver. The ship will probably take its cargo to Asia. This proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant, to be built by Apache Corporation, an American energy company, will not be North America’s first. Gas has been shipped from Alaska to Japan since 1969. But if it makes it past the planning stages, Kitimat LNG will be one of the continent’s most significant energy developments in decades.

Read more ....

China's Internet Users Top 384 Million

From Xinhuanet:

BEIJING, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- China reported 384 million Internet users by the end of 2009, up 28.9 percent, or 86 million, from a year ago, said a report from the China Internet Network Information Center on Friday.

Internet users surfing through mobile phones increased by 120 million to top 233 million, about 60.8 percent of the total Internet population, thanks to expanding third-generation (3G) business, said the report.

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Overcoming Blindness: Other Senses Compensate in Just 10 Minutes

From ABC News:

New Study on 'Neuroplasticity' Shows How Quickly Brain Adapts When Sight, Hearing Cut Off.

Four bikers headed off down a street in Southern California, safely navigating through traffic and past parked cars, and turned onto a narrow bike path leading up a steep hillside. None of them veered off the dirt path, and all safely avoided boulders along the way, always conscious of their surroundings and any possible obstacles.

Read more ....

FCC Broadband Plan Promises High-Speed Internet For 100 Million More Americans By 2015

A Series of Tubes At Terremark's Miami headquarters, undersea Internet cables emerge from the Atlantic and connect to the rest of the country John B. Carnett

From Popular Science:

Today the Federal Communications Commission unveiled its plan to expand broadband Internet access to 100 million more Americans within the next five years. The plan calls both for the expansion of wired networks in under-serviced areas, and for the dedication of more wireless spectrum for Internet use as opposed to television. Largely deficit-neutral, the plan has bipartisan support in the current Congress, in part because contentious issues of net neutrality and privacy were not tackled by the FCC's plan. As you remember, PopSci called for an improvement to the nation's broadband infrastructure last year

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Seven Alternatives To The Apple iPad

From Crunch Gear:

Wait! Stop. Before you hand over Apple your credit card and pre-order the iPad, you may want to check out the other touchscreen options available now and in the near future. The iPad isn’t the only game in town. Sure, it might have a fancy-pants interface, but each of the follow seven tablets win the hardware fight, which is just as important to a lot of consumers.

Of course the hardware only tells part of the story. The iPad has a leg up on all of these options because of the user-friendly iPhone interface, but it’s not like you’re dropping $600+ on a tablet for your parents, right?

Read more ....