Friday, June 8, 2012

The Biggest Cost For Facebook

Data store: Facebook’s data center in Prineville, Oregon, is one of several that will help the company cope with its always growing user base. Facebook

The Biggest Cost of Facebook's Growth -- Technology Review

Running the world's largest social network will be a technical and financial challenge as it grows.

Facebook is the gateway to the Internet for a growing number of people. They message rather than e-mail; discover news and music through friends, rather than through conventional news or search sites; and use their Facebook ID to access outside websites and applications.

As the keeper of so many people's social graph, Facebook is in an incredibly powerful position—one reason its IPO this week is expected to be the largest ever for an Internet company.

Read more ....

My Comment: Those data centers are not cheap.

'Prime Suspect' In Bee Colony Deaths Is Found

Photo: Bee populations have been falling rapidly in many countries, fuelled by a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder

'Prime Suspect' In Bee Colony Deaths Is Found - A Parasitic Mite That Spreads Viruses While Feeding On The Insects' 'Blood' -- Daily Mail

* Study into impact of mite on 'fresh' territory - Hawaii - has revealed devastation it can cause in bee colonies
* Mite carries deadly virus
* It is 'prime suspect' in worldwide colony deaths

Parasitic mites have 'turbo-charged' the spread of a deadly virus that is killing honey bee colonies around the world.

Bee populations have been falling rapidly in many countries, fuelled by a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.

Many suspects have been named for bee colony collapse, including popular pesticides.

Read more ....

My Comment: A parasitic mite has always been the prime suspect. It's good to know that they are now isolating the specific cause.

The U.N. Wants To Tax Web Sites

U.N. Could Tax U.S.-Based Web Sites, Leaked Docs Show -- CNet

Global Internet tax suggested by European network operators, who want Apple, Google, and other Web companies to pay to deliver content, is proposed for debate at a U.N. agency in December.

The United Nations is considering a new Internet tax targeting the largest Web content providers, including Google, Facebook, Apple, and Netflix, that could cripple their ability to reach users in developing nations.

The European proposal, offered for debate at a December meeting of a U.N. agency called the International Telecommunication Union, would amend an existing telecommunications treaty by imposing heavy costs on popular Web sites and their network providers for the privilege of serving non-U.S. users, according to newly leaked documents.

Read more ....

My Comment: So typical of big government bureaucrats .... tax and regulate something that brings enormous benefits to billions of users.

Here Comes 'Big Brother'

Surveillance: The new BRS Labs AISight software is used with devices are installed in places like train stations or public buildings where they scan passers by to see if they are acting suspiciously

New Surveillance Cameras Will Use Computer Eyes To Find 'Pre Crimes' By Detecting Suspicious Behaviour And Calling For Guards -- Daily Mail

* Computerised detectors look for 'abnormal' behaviour
* When suspicious individuals are seen, guards called
* BRS machines have been trialled in numerous locations
* 288 cameras to be installed on subway in Sn Francisco

A new generation of computerised 'Big Brother’ cameras are able to spot if you are a terrorist or a criminal - before you even commit a crime.

The devices are installed in places like train stations or public buildings where they scan passers by to see if they are acting suspiciously.

Using a range of in-built parameters of what is ‘normal’ the cameras then send a text message to a human guard to issue an alert - or call them.

Read more

My Comment: The military - counter-terrorism applications are huge.

New Ways To Hear ET

Despite there being no 'intelligent' signal detected coming from Gliese 581, the new technique could prove useful to future SETI projects (Source: M Kornmesser/ESO)

New Way To Hear Signals From ET's Home -- ABC News (Australia)

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence has a powerful new tool at its disposal, Australian scientists report.

For the first time, a group led by astronomer Professor Steven Tingay from Curtin University have used a sensitive type of radio telescope, known as a very long baseline interferometer, to listen out for radio signals coming from a distant planet.

Read more

My Comment: One planet down .... billions more to go.

Thinking About Wine Can Help You Relax

Just the thought of a glass of wine could be enough to help you relax because of the power of positive thinking Photo: Alamy

Thinking About Wine Can Help You Relax, Scientists Claim -- The Telegraph

Just the thought of a glass of wine could be enough to help you relax because of the power of positive thinking, scientists have claimed.

People are so suggestive that simply believing an alcoholic drink will make us feel better or socialise more easily at a party will greatly raise the chance of making it so, researchers said.

This is because of the phenomenon of "response expectancies", or the way in which we predict how we will behave in different situations.

Read more

My Comment
: I will definitely drink to that.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Quantum Computers Move One Step Closer

Image Caption: SFU physicist Mike Thewalt and grad student Kamyar Saeedi with a sample of highly isotopically enriched silicon - its unique properties could advance quantum computing. Credit: SFU

Quantum Computers Move One Step Closer -- Red Orbit

The quantum computer is a futuristic machine that could operate at speeds even more mind-boggling than the world’s fastest super-computers.

Research involving physicist Mike Thewalt of Simon Fraser University offers a new step towards making quantum computing a reality, through the unique properties of highly enriched and highly purified silicon.

Quantum computers right now exist pretty much in physicists’ concepts, and theoretical research. There are some basic quantum computers in existence, but nobody yet can build a truly practical one—or really knows how.

Read more ....

My Comment: Bottom line .... are are still a long way from having a real quantum computer.

Looking At Nature For Inspiration In Developing New Body Armor

A mantis shrimp in the lab of David Kisailus. (Credit: Carlos Puma)

Armored Caterpillar Could Inspire New Body Armor -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (June 7, 2012) — Military body armor and vehicle and aircraft frames could be transformed by incorporating the unique structure of the club-like arm of a crustacean that looks like an armored caterpillar, according to findings by a team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering and elsewhere published online June 7, in the journal Science.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is interesting science .... but I assume that it will take a long time to develop such discoveries into practical applications.

Bing Signs Encyclopaedia Britannica To Expand Search Results

What the Encyclopedia Britannica search results look like on Bing.
(Credit: Bing)

Bing Plugs Encyclopedia Britannica Into Its Search Results -- CNet

Move over Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica has come to Bing. In a new partnership, the search engine will be linking to query results from one of the world's most trusted encyclopedias.

In the quest for knowledge, Microsoft's Bing announced a partnership with Encyclopedia Britannica today. Now, alongside all other results -- like Wikipedia and Web pages -- users will see a box of information with an image linking to results from Britannica's online encyclopedia.

Read more ....

Update: Bing Gets Smarter, Partners With Encyclopedia Britannica (But It’s No Challenge For Google’s Knowledge Graph) -- Tech Crunch

My Comment: This is a smart move for both sides.

Space Shuttle Enterprise Arrives At The Intrepid Sea, Air And Space Museum.

New Yorkers Turn Out For Docking Of A Space Shuttle — Close Up -- Geek Mom/Wired

There was an impromptu party on Manhattan’s West Side yesterday to welcome the space shuttle Enterprise to its new home aboard New York’s biggest floating attraction, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

Taking advantage of the beautiful spring weather, New Yorkers and tourists alike, flocked to the shoreline on foot, on bicycles, pushing strollers and holding older kids by the hand. They came to watch the Enterprise as it made the final leg of its journey from JFK Airport to midtown. The Enterprise — yes, it was named after the iconic star ship! — was built in 1976 as a prototype. It never flew on its own.

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My Comment: An end to an era.

Getting Ready For A Manned Mars Mission

The Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator Project will test inflatable decelerators and advanced parachutes in a series of rocket sled, wind tunnel, and rocket-powered flight tests to slow spacecraft prior to landing. This technology will allow NASA to increase landed payload masses, improve landing accuracy and increase the altitude of safe landing-sites. (NASA)

Rocket Sled Tests Are Technology Pathway to Safely Land Humans, Habitats and Cargo on Mars -- Mars Daily

Traveling 300 million miles through deep space to reach the planet Mars is difficult; successfully landing there is even harder. The process of entering the Red Planet's atmosphere and slowing down to land has been described as "six minutes of terror."

During the first four minutes of entry, friction with the atmosphere slows a spacecraft considerably. But at the end of this phase, the vehicle is still traveling at over 1,000 mph with only 100 seconds left before landing. Things need to happen in a hurry. A parachute opens to slow the spacecraft down to "only" 200 mph, but now there are only seconds left and the spacecraft is approximately 300 feet from the ground. From there, the spacecraft may use rockets to provide a gentle landing on the surface, airbags to cushion the impact of a free fall or a combination of rockets and tethers to lower a rover to the surface.

Read more ....

My Comment: We are still a long way from flying to Mars, but it is interesting to see how we are preparing for that eventual mission.

Drug Resistant Gonorrhoea Spreading Around The World

Untreatable Gonorrhoea Spreading Around World: WHO -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Drug-resistant strains of gonorrhoea have spread to countries across the world, the United Nations health agency said on Wednesday, and millions of patients may run out of treatment options unless doctors catch and treat cases earlier.

Scientists reported last year finding a "superbug" strain of gonorrhoea in Japan in 2008 that was resistant to all recommended antibiotics and warned then that it could transform a once easily treatable infections into a global health threat.

Read more

My Comment: Untreatable sexually transmitted diseases is a nightmare that the world is not ready for.

Has The Gold-Laden Lost City Of Ciudad Blanca Been Found At Last?

A view of the Honduras rain forest. Laser mapping scientists flew over a remote part of the forest and discovered what appear to be ruins. The next step is to visit the ruins in person to determine their age. The University of Houston and the National Science Foundation's National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping

Did Lasers Find Gold-Laden Lost City Of Ciudad Blanca At Last? -- MSNBC/Innovation

Archaeologists' 3-D digital map peeks under Honduras forest canopy, sees possible ruins

Underneath the thick, virgin rainforest cover in the Mosquitia region of Honduras, archaeologists have discovered ruins they think may be the lost city of Ciudad Blanca. Legends say the "White City" is full of gold, which is why conquistador Hernando Cortes was among the first Ciudad Blanca seekers in the 1500s.

But the method the modern researchers used was a little different from previous explorers' techniques. The modern-day researchers flew over the area in a small plane and shot billions of laser pulses at the ground, creating a 3-D digital map of the topology underneath the trees.

Read more ....

My Comment: I betcha they are thinking/hoping that there is gold there.

'Vampire' Skeletons Found In Bulgaria

People believed the rod would pin the dead into their graves and stop them from becoming vampires

'Vampire' Skeletons Found In Bulgaria Near Black Sea -- BBC

Archaeologists in Bulgaria have found two medieval skeletons pierced through the chest with iron rods to supposedly stop them from turning into vampires.

The discovery illustrates a pagan practice common in some villages up until a century ago, say historians.

People deemed bad had their hearts stabbed after death, for fear they would return to feast on humans' blood.

Similar archaeological sites have also been unearthed in other Balkan countries.

Bulgaria is home to around 100 known "vampire skeleton" burials.

Searchers stumbled across the latest two specimens, dating back to the Middle Ages, in the Black Sea town of Sozopol.

Read more

My Comment: I guess the vampire legends have a little truth to it.

Twitter's Users Tweet Over 400 Million Times Per Day

Twitter's 140 Million Users Tweet Over 400 Million Times Per Day -- MSNBC

I currently follow 159 users on Twitter and I occasionally get overwhelmed by how much they tweet. It's intimidating to imagine that these tweets amount to only a tiny fraction of the 400 million or so tweets generated each day.

Forbes' Tomio Geron reports that Twitter CEO Dick Costolo mentioned the social media network's latest statistics during a talk at a conference organized by the Economist.

Read more

My Comment: Only 400 million times a day? I thought it was more.

Stunning New Footage Of Venus Transit

Nasa Releases Stunning New Ultra-High Definition Footage Of 2012 Venus Transit -- The Telegraph

One of the rarest astronomical events is captured on film in stunning detail as the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, a transit that won't occur again until 2117.

The amazing video was captured by Nasa's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun.

On June 5 2012, SDO collected images of the rarest predictable solar event - the transit of Venus across the face of the sun.

This event happens in pairs eight years apart that are separated from each other by 105 or 121 years. The last transit was in 2004 and the next will not happen until 2117.

Read more ....

My Comment: Cool video.

Cancer: An Interview With The Author Of The Emperor Of All Maladies: A Biography Of Cancer

Self-Guided Bullet

Straight Shooter Trevor Johnston

Rough Sketch: Self-Guided Bullet -- Popular Science

“Our .50-caliber bullet can guide itself to a hit half a mile away”.

For years, people have tried to come up with ways to steer bullets, and everyone has consistently said you can’t do it. And you couldn’t—if the bullet was spinning. A spinning bullet is too stable; you can’t apply enough force to turn it off its axis of revolution. The secret sauce is that our bullet doesn’t spin. It’s kind of like a musket ball, which doesn’t rotate, but with technology added to let us control where it goes.

Read more ....

My Comment:
For snipers .... I guess this is the ultimate weapon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mercedes Embraces More User-Facing Technology

Mercedes Makes the Mundane ‘Magical’ -- Autopia

Leave it to the Germans. Just when you think the most simplistic, mundane bits of a vehicle can’t be improved, they surprise. Such is the case with the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 Roadster, which packs more user-facing technology than this week’s latest and greatest Android device.

But much like the thousands of Android-powered smartphones, Mercedes has a problem with branding. Look no further than the latest technological breakthrough on the SL: Magic Vision Control.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is why Mercedes is one of the top car makers in the world.

A Look At The Most Active And Most Explosive Volcanoes In The Cascade Range

Map of the Cascadia Volcanic Arc by NASA. Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Prelude To A Catastrophe: “One Of The Most Active And Most Explosive Volcanoes In The Cascade Range” -- Scientific American

Imagine being an extraterrestrial geologist in geostationary orbit above the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s. You’re the first explorers to reach Earth (underpants-thieving aliens aside), and you haven’t got a lot of data on this little blue marble. But your own planet has plate tectonics, so you’re familiar with the landforms caused by the process.

You have a look through your sensors, and see a conga line of volcanoes weaving up the continent.

Read more

My Comment: These volcanoes will blow one day .... let us hope that it will not be today.

Apple Has Moved To Ban Samsung's New Galaxy S3 Handset In The U.S.

Apple has moved to ban Samsung's new Galaxy S3 handset in the U.S., saying it infringes two Apple patents

Apple Moves To Ban Samsung's Hit Galaxy SIII Handset In the U.S. - Just BEFORE It Launches -- Daily Mail

* Phone to launch on June 21
* Apple applies for temporary ban on sales claiming it infringes patents
* Apple expected to launch rival 'iPhone 5' in summer

Apple has moved to ban Samsung's new Galaxy S3 handset in the U.S., saying it infringes two Apple patents.

The companies have been locked in a patent battle on several continents for years - but Apple's latest move targets a key handset for Samsung, seen also as a 'standard bearer' for Google's Android operating system.

Read more ....

My Comment: Apple knows that this cell phone is a winner .... hence the legal obstructions.

Instead Of Honoring D-Day, Google Honors The Drive-In Theater

D-Day vs The First Drive-In Theater? Google Picks Theater -- Search Engine Roundtable

68 years ago today was one of the most significant days in America's history - D-Day. But 79 years ago today, the first drive in movie theatre opened. Google picked, as it always does, the fun and light hearted even to celebrate with a special Google logo, aka Doodle.

So get past the fact Google doesn't have a logo for D-Day. There is still the concern for some that Google does logos at all on days like today. That is not for me to decide, just to report based on complaints in the forums.

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My Comment: I cannot be too critical of Google .... they do focus on the "fun and light hearted". But it would be nice to honor the vets from World War II at least once.

The 2,000-Year-Old Antikythera Computer

The Extraordinary 2,000-Year-Old Computer That You've Never Heard Of -- The Guardian

The Antikythera mechanism was designed to predict movements of the sun, moon and planets. Why isn't it better known?

Right, that's enough of the Queen for now. Have you ever heard of the Antikythera mechanism? You have? Well done. If not, I suspect you're in good company and the fact that I learned about it from a fascinating BBC4 programme – the high point of my jubilee weekend – on Sunday night is unlikely to broaden public knowledge as much as we might hope.

Read more

My Comment: The ancient Greeks definitely knew their stuff.

Google Demonstartes New Mapping Technologies

An Android smartphone showcasing the new 3D imagery technology

Google Unveils New Mapping Technologies -- BBC

Google has demonstrated new mapping technologies in an effort to reassert its position as a market leader.

While it boasts one billion users, Google Maps has recently seen defections by some key developers and partners.

Reports suggest Apple may abandon Google Maps next week at its annual developer conference.

They suggest Apple may announce its own mapping application to replace Google Maps on its smartphones and tablets.

Read more ....

My Comment: They must innovate to keep their relevance.

Ancient Man Had A Taste For Sea Food

Catching fish is a practice that goes back thousands of years

World's 'Oldest Fish Trap' Found Off Coast Of Sweden -- BBC

Wooden fish traps said to be some 9,000 years old have been found in the Baltic Sea off Sweden, possibly the oldest such traps in existence.

Marine archaeologists from Stockholm's Sodertorn University found finger-thick hazel rods grouped on the sea bed.

They are thought to be the remains of stationary basket traps.

"This is the world's oldest find when it comes to fishing," said Johan Ronnby, a professor in marine archaeology.

Read more

My Comment: I guess ancient man had a taste for sea food.

Watch The Venus Transit Online

Missed the Venus Transit in 2012? Watch It Online Until 2117 -- PC World

Did you miss the transit of Venus in front of the sun yesterday? Were there clouds in your skies? Stuck in Antarctica? If you didn’t catch this last alignment of our cloud-shrouded planetary neighbor and our closest star until 2115, here are some ways to re-live the transit.

My favorite video was taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, a spacecraft dedicated to observing the sun. You can watch Venus passing in front of the sun and its giant coronal loops, where plasma moves along the sun’s magnetic field lines.

Read more ....

My Comment: Watching it online is not the same as watching it outside.

Boeing Unveils Hydrogen-Powered Surveillance Drone Which Can Stay Airborne For Days

The 'Clean' Spy In The Sky: Boeing Unveils Hydrogen-Powered Surveillance Drone Which Can Stay Airborne For Days -- Daily Mail

A new Boeing unmanned drone that is designed to stay airborne for days has completed its first autonomous flight at Edwards Air Force Base.

The 28-minute flight of the Phantom Eye began at 6:22 a.m. Friday and the aircraft reached an altitude of 4,080 feet (1,244 meters) and a cruising speed of 62 knots (114 kph) before landing at the California desert base.

When the drone touched down, it damaged its landing gear, but Boeing Phantom Works President hailed the flight as beginning 'a new era' of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Read more ....

Update: Video: First Test Flight for Military’s Mega-Drone -- Danger Room

My Comment
: A sign of things to come.

A Rat Is Still Smarter Than Google

Clever - but still learning: Google Navigation, pictured here on an Android phone, is a clever, intelligent-seeming system - but it is still just code, following instructions

Why Google Is Nowhere Near As Clever As A Rat - But One Day, Even Your Smartphone Will Be Smarter Than You -- Daily Mail

* Clever technology such as Google is still powered by rote-learning and pattern-matching, say AI researchers...
* ...But over the next 30 years, super-computers will become smarter, cheaper, and smaller

Google has spent the last 15 years becoming smarter and smarter, learning how to power our lives - from our homes, our cars, our phones.

But - and with apologies to founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin - all of that work is still no match to the intelligence of a common rat.

Or taking it further, even a gnat.

The point was made by artificial intelligence researchers Yann LeCun and Josh Tenenbaum, who were not criticising the search engine, just pointing out how much further we have to go until we can create computers which contain - or at least, perfectly mimic - intelligent life.

Read more ....

My Comment: We have made progress .... but we definitely still have a long way to go before an AI platform is smarter than a rat.

Robot Ethics: Morals And The Machine

Robot Ethics: Morals And The Machine -- The Economist

As robots grow more autonomous, society needs to develop rules to manage them

IN THE classic science-fiction film “2001”, the ship’s computer, HAL, faces a dilemma. His instructions require him both to fulfil the ship’s mission (investigating an artefact near Jupiter) and to keep the mission’s true purpose secret from the ship’s crew. To resolve the contradiction, he tries to kill the crew.

Read more ....

My Comment
: As advancements in robots and drones continue to develop .... the issue on how to manage them will become more important .... especially robots and drones with military applications. But we better move fast .... because that time is fast approaching

iPhone 5 To Offer 4-Inch, 16:9 Screen

Will we see a bigger screen and better camera on the next iPhone? (Credit: Apple)

iPhone 5 To Offer 4-Inch, 16:9 Screen With HD Camera, Says Analyst - CNET

Buyers waiting for the next iPhone could be greeted with a larger screen, higher aspect ratio, and better quality camera, at least if KGI analyst Mingchi Kuo is on the money.

In a new research report detailed by AppleInsider, Kuo said he believes the iPhone 5's screen will measure 4.08 inches, offer a resolution of 1,136 x 640 pixels, and boost the aspect ratio to 16:9.

Read more ....

My Comment:
I prefer a bigger screen .... but it is still the right direction for Apple's iPhone.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Facebook Wants Younger Users

Facebook is reportedly weighing technology that would allow younger users to sign onto the social network. Reuters

Facebook Junior? The Social Network Prepares For Younger Users: Report -- Christian Science Monitor

Facebook is building technology that would allow users under the age of 13 to access the social network, according to a new report.

Facebook could soon allow users under the age of 13 to access the social network, the Wall Street Journal reports today. According to the Journal, engineers out in Menlo Park are in the process of building a kid-safe version of Facebook, which would pack special privacy controls, and allow parents to control how their kids use the site.

Read more ....

My Comment: Even with hundreds of millions of users .... they want more.

Is Our Universe Existing In A Black Hole?

At the center of spiral galaxy M81 is a supermassive black hole about 70 million times more massive than our sun. Image credit: NASA/CXC/Wisconsin/D.Pooley & CfA/A.Zezas;NASA/ESA/CfA/A.Zezas; NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA/J.Huchra et al.; NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA

Every Black Hole Contains a New Universe -- Inside Science

(ISM) -- Our universe may exist inside a black hole. This may sound strange, but it could actually be the best explanation of how the universe began, and what we observe today. It's a theory that has been explored over the past few decades by a small group of physicists including myself.

Successful as it is, there are notable unsolved questions with the standard big bang theory, which suggests that the universe began as a seemingly impossible "singularity," an infinitely small point containing an infinitely high concentration of matter, expanding in size to what we observe today. The theory of inflation, a super-fast expansion of space proposed in recent decades, fills in many important details, such as why slight lumps in the concentration of matter in the early universe coalesced into large celestial bodies such as galaxies and clusters of galaxies.

Read more

My Comment: This is a little too deep for me.

Birds Ended The Reign Of Giant Insects

Photo: This fossil insect wing (Stephanotypus schneideri) from the period about 300 million years ago when insects reached their greatest sizes, measures 19.5 centimeters (almost eight inches) long. The largest species of that time were even bigger, with wings 30 centimeters long. For comparison, the inset shows the wing of the largest dragonfly of the past 65 million years. (Credit: Photo by Wolfgang Zessin.)

Reign Of The Giant Insects Ended With The Evolution Of Birds -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (June 4, 2012) — Giant insects ruled the prehistoric skies during periods when Earth's atmosphere was rich in oxygen. Then came the birds. After the evolution of birds about 150 million years ago, insects got smaller despite rising oxygen levels, according to a new study by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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My Comment: 9-10 inch long insects .... yech.

Robots Go To War

March Of The Robots -- Economist

Robotics: From reconnaissance to bomb-defusal to launching attacks, military robots are on the march, raising knotty ethical quandaries.

IN THE early afternoon of August 18th 2008, a reconnaissance unit of about 100 French paratroopers, accompanied by a small number of Afghan and American soldiers, was ambushed by a similarly sized Taliban force in the Uzbin Valley, not far from Kabul. Ten French soldiers were killed in fighting that continued into the night—France’s biggest loss since it sent soldiers to Afghanistan in 2002. But it might have been avoided had the unit had a single aerial-robot scout, says Gérard de Boisboissel, a specialist on military robots at the French army’s Saint-Cyr military academy. That assessment, shared by many, led to a retooling of France’s armed forces. Today drones, also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), routinely accompany even small French units.

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My Comment: Just an update on military robots.

Google To Warn Users Of State Sponsored Attacks

UPDATE: A senior Senate aide confirmed that this evening he received a warning on his Gmail account that Google suspected he had been the target of a state-sponsored cyber attack. Cable/Foreign Policy

Google Warns Users Who May Be Hack Targets -- Bloomberg Businessweek

Google Inc. (GOOG) (GOOG) said it has started sending warnings to users of its e-mail service who may have been targeted by state-sponsored cyber-attacks.

Gmail users whose accounts are suspected of being the target of such a hacking effort will receive a message stating, “We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer,” Mountain View, California-based Google said on a company blog.

Read more ....

More News On Google Warning Users Of State Sponsored Attacks

Google to warn users of 'state-sponsored attacks' -- The Hill
Google to warn users targeted by state-sponsored attacks -- The Cable/Foreign Policy
Google To Begin Notifying Gmail Users Of ‘State-Sponsored Attacks’ -- TPM
Google Now Warns You About State-Sponsored Attacks -- Gizmodo
Google begins alerting Gmail users to 'state-sponsored' attacks -- ZDNet

Watch Live: Last Transit of Venus

Broadcasting live with Ustream
Watch Live: Last Transit of Venus of Your Lifetime -- Wired

With millions of expected viewers around the world, the Transit of Venus is today’s event to watch. The rare celestial show — the last to occur for more than a hundred years — will be starting just after 3 p.m. PDT. You can join one of the many of the Venus-watching parties across the country or make a simple and safe viewer to see the event from your own backyard.

Read more

My Comment:

Exxon Valdez Remains Controversial Near Its End

Exxon Valdez Remains Controversial Near Its End In India -- L.A. Times

Indian environmentalists have filed a petition to block the Exxon Valdez from entering Alang, India, a graveyard for once-mighty ships.

ALANG, India — For the ship formerly known as the Exxon Valdez, even sailing quietly into the sunset is proving difficult.

Now called the Oriental Nicety, it's floating off India in a kind of high-seas limbo as a court decides whether the vessel that dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's unspoiled Prince William Sound in 1989 can be hacked apart in this forlorn graveyard for once-mighty ships.

Read more

My Comment: Good riddance I say.

The Battle For The Amazon

The Battle For The Amazon Heats Up Again -- Time

The Amazon rainforest is the most important patch of land on the planet. The trees have been called the lungs of the Earth and that's far more than just a metaphor: they absorb more than 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, return oxygen in exchange and help regulate the climate of the Western Hemisphere in the process. The forest itself is the hottest of biodiversity hotspots, home to countless species of plants and animals that we have yet to discover — and even tribes of indigenous human beings who have never been contacted by the outside world. There's a reason that "save the rainforest" became a default slogan for environmentalism in the 1980s; saving the Amazon really did mean helping to save the planet.

Read more

My Comment:
They have been talking about deforestation in the Amazon basin for decades. But it appears that after decades of development .... the impact that is now beginning to be felt everywhere.

NASA Gets Two Ex-Military Satellites For Astronomy

This artwork shows one of the concepts for the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, also known as WFIRST. NASA officials say that the telescopes being made available by the National Reconnaissance Office could address some of the questions to be resolved by the WFIRST mission, including the nature of dark energy and characteristics of extrasolar planets. NASA

US Military Gives NASA Two Better-Than-Hubble Telescopes -- The Register

Double Hubble budget bubble trouble.

In a surprise reminder that NASA is not the only US space program – nor likely the best-funded one – the US military's National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is giving the perennially underfunded space administration two better-than-Hubble-class space telescopes, prosaically named Telescope One and Telescope Two.

One would think that the space boffins would be overjoyed at receiving such delectable crumbs dropped from the military's overstocked table – after all, One and Two are not only equipped with the same 7.9-foot mirrors as is the Hubble, they're also fitted with secondary mirrors that improve focusing.

Read more ....

More News On NASA Receiving Two Ex-Military Satellites For Astronomy

Spy agency's gift could save NASA big bucks on super-Hubble mission -- MSNBC
NASA Adopts Two Spare Spy Telescopes, Each Maybe More Powerful Than Hubble -- Popular Science
Ex-Spy Telescope May Get New Identity as a Space Investigator -- New York Times
NASA gets two military spy telescopes for astronomy -- Washington Post
Spy telescopes could help NASA pin down dark energy -- New Scientist

Will The 'God Particle' Be Found This Year?

Dr Rolf-Dieter Heuer said: 'If the Large Hadron Collider continues to work I know we have enough collisions to produce enough signals to identify the Higgs Boson' Photo: Rex

CERN Director Says LHC Will Find God Particle By End Of The Year -- The Telegraph

The Large Hadron Collider is to be switched off at the end of the year to undergo a major upgrade, but scientists hope to have achieved one of the machine's major goals by the time it does – proving the existence of the so called God Particle.

Rolf-Dieter Heuer, director of CERN where the LHC is based, said he was confident that by the end of the year it will be possible to say whether the Higgs Boson, the particle which is responsible for giving mass to the universe, exists.

The theoretical particle, nicknamed the God Particle due to its central role it has in explaining modern physics, has never been detected and scientists have been working for decades to prove its existence.

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My Comment: The CERN director seems to be very sure of himself.

The Most Incredible Model Ferrari That Took 15 Years To Build

The Most Incredible Model Ferrari In The World Took 15 Years To Build -- Business Insider

Most people are not willing to spend more than a few hours building a model car. But this French man, Pierre Scerri, spent tens of thousands of hours working on a one third scale model of the Ferrari 312 PB.

By his estimation, he spent at least 20,000 hours building the model. That's 833 total days.

The first three years of the project were spent taking pictures and making drawings. The subsequent 12 were spent fabricating every single component of the car from scratch.

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My Comment:
20,000 hours of your life building this model .... talk about patience and dedication.

100 Hottest Cars Of All Time

100. Jaguar XJS (1975–1996)
The successor to the iconic E-Type, the XJS was a great-looking car in its own right. In production for more than two decades, it became one of the most recognizable models from Jaguar.

The 100 Hottest Cars Of All Time -- Popular Mechanics

From open-wheeled, pre-war racers to modern techno-marvels, here's our list of the 100 most attractive cars of all time. The only hard requirement for making the cut: At least one fully drivable example had to have actually been created. The rest is our subjective opinion, but one thing is certain: Each car carries a unique allure that simply can't be denied. Disagree with our rankings? Don't see your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

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My Comment: The comments section for this article in Popular Mechanics is a must read.

Video: Dutch Artist Turns His Dead Cat Into A Flying Quadcopter

My Comment
: Not cool.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Did An Ancient Plague Wipe Out Early Man?

Neanderthal man: The key factor which separated man from our evolutionary rivals 100,000 years ago may not have been language - but instead a mysterious plague

Was A Mysterious Ancient Plague Which Killed All But 5,000 'Pre Humans' The Key To Man's Triumph Over The Neanderthals? -- Daily Mail

* Mysterious plague reduced human numbers to just 5,000-10,000
* Plague related to modern infections
* Man 'bounced back' - and then spread from Africa all over the world

The key factor which separated man from our evolutionary rivals 100,000 years ago may not have been language - but instead a mysterious plague.

The plague ravaged populations of early humans in Africa, until just 5-10,000 were left.

But from that small population, humans emerged - and triumphed over other evolutionary cousins such as Neanderthals.

Read more ....

The Last Transit of Venus in Our Lifetime Will Help Us Find Other Planets Feature

2004 Venus Transit Composite This filtered composite image was captured from Donja Stubica, Croatia, during the 2004 transit of Venus. This time, the planet will cross the sun's northern hemisphere. Andjelko Gilvar/ESO

How The Last Transit of Venus in Our Lifetime Will Help Us Find Other Planets Feature -- Popular Science

Tomorrow's historical astronomical event is not just a beautiful novelty.

Tomorrow, skywatchers the world over will look up to behold a strange sight witnessed just seven times in the past five centuries. The last transit of Venus until 2117 is an occasion for astronomical celebration and historic import — we’ll be watching something the greatest astronomers of any age have traveled the world to see.

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My Comment: Mercury has provided the same data .... but Venus .... because of it's size .... will probably provide more accurate info.

Studying Mosquitoes To Make Better Soldiers

How Military Might Benefit From Study Of Hard-To-Kill Mosquitoes -- Christian Science Monitor

Mosquitoes, it turns out, are surprisingly adept at surviving collisions with heavy raindrops, an ability, say researchers, that could help engineer a new generation of tiny flying drones.

Did you ever wonder what happens to mosquitoes caught in a rainstorm? If a big, fat raindrop smashes into a delicate flying mosquito, the bug is toast, right?

Not if recent experiments by a team of engineers and biologists are any indication. The researchers found that mosquitoes are adept at surviving such collisions, and their work sheds light on why.

That’s good news for mosquitoes, and, say the researchers, it could be useful for humans.

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My Comment: You got to be kidding.

Skydiver Aims To Smash World Record

Skydiver Aims To Smash Record, Sound Barrier In 23-Mile Jump -- Playbook/Wired

Later this summer, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner will ascend to 120,000 feet in a pressurized capsule and, wearing only a spacesuit, jump.

As he plummets 23 miles in the highest skydive ever, Baumgartner will become the first person to break the sound barrier in free fall. That’s the plan, anyway. To even attempt this will expose him to many challenges, including the risk that water in his body could vaporize. But one challenge in particular is foremost in everyone’s mind: What happens when Baumgartner encounters the shock waves that invariably occur when something exceeds the speed of sound?

Read more

My Comment: I wish him luck.

3D Mapping Will Allow Us To Look Inside The Human Brain

The 3D maps will allow us to see 'inside' the workings of the brain for the first time, claim the scientists

Land Of Dreams: Harvard Scientists Map Most Complicated Terrain In The Universe - The Inside Of The Human Brain -- Daily Mail

* Magnetic resonance scanner builds first 3D interior maps of brain
* Could allow treatment of brain disorders
* Scans up until now 'have not shown the real brain,' say researchers

Harvard scientists have developed hi-tech new methods to explore inside the human brain using magnetic resonance scanning.

Professor Jan Wedeen claims that the rainbow-coloured scans offer the first real insight into the pathways of the human brain's 100 billion cells - and how it works.

‘The brain we’ve been looking at with conventional scans all these years is not the real brain,' says Wedeeen. 'We’re just seeing a shadow of its surfaces.’

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My Comment: This is cool stuff.

Venus To Cross The Face Of The Sun Tomorrow

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Venus To Put On Sun Spectacular -- BBC

Planet Venus is set to move across the face of the Sun as viewed from Earth.

The more than six-and-a-half-hour transit, which starts just after 22:00 GMT (23:00 BST) on Tuesday is a very rare astronomical phenomenon that will not be witnessed again until 2117.

Observers will position themselves in northwest America, the Pacific, and East Asia to catch the whole event.

But some part of the spectacle will be visible across a much broader swathe of Earth's surface, weather permitting.

Read more

Update: You'll have to get up early on Wednesday to catch Venus transit across the face of the sun - for the last time in 105 years -- Daily Mail

My Comment: So I will have to wait until 2117 for the next event. Hmmmm .... I have doubts that I will still be around .... better pray for good weather tomorrow.


Meet ROBOT-Rx, The Robot Pharmacist Doling Out 350 Million Doses Per Year -- Singularity Hub

Come to think of it, why do we still have pharmacists? I mean, how hard is it to count by “twos”? I’m just kidding of course. You probably want that extra pair of human eyes to check on your prescription. But after the pharmacist has double-checked the prescription and answered your questions, why not let robots count the pills out for them?

Read more ....

My Comment: It's only a matter of time before 'robot pharmacists' become standard issue.

The Future Of Drone Warfare

A Drone-Eat-Drone World -- Nick Turse, Asia Times

United States military documents tell the story vividly. In the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of West Africa, an unmanned mini-submarine deployed from the USS Freedom detects an "anomaly": another small remotely-operated sub with welding capabilities tampering with a major undersea oil pipeline.

The American submarine's "smart software" classifies the action as a possible threat and transmits the information to an unmanned drone flying overhead. The robot plane begins collecting intelligence data and is soon circling over a nearby

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My Comment: Expect budget cuts to put a damper on this future military/drone environment.

Are Apps The Future of Book Publishing?

(Photo credit: John Blyberg)

Are Apps The Future of Book Publishing? -- Forbes

We’re at the dawn of the tablet era now. Earlier this month, Apple sold 3 million of its new iPad during the opening weekend, with some analysts expecting over 60 million of the tablets to be sold worldwide. What’s more, e-book readers are selling even more briskly than tablets. People are using those e-readers, too. On, books for its Kindle outsell its paper books.

What’s more, the explosion of e-books is putting pressure on publishers between demands for price cuts on one hand, and competition from independent authors like Amanda Hocking, who earned over $2 million selling e-books on her own before signing with a major publisher.

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My Comment: Are apps the future of book publishing .... well .... readers are using them so I would have to assume that the answer is yes.

Touchscreen Troops

The Daily Exclusive: Touchscreen Troops -- The Daily

Soldiers to increasingly tap military apps on Pentagon-issued iPads, smartphones.

Modern warfare? There’s an app for that.

Well, not from Apple, but there are a handful from the Pentagon — and more to come. They’re being downloaded on tablets and smartphones to help combat troops complete their missions.

Right now, in transports and fighters, pilots and navigators are on Air Force-issued iPads, checking their orders and reviewing their flight plans.

And this summer, the Army is putting Droids in the hands of grunts headed to Afghanistan so they can receive streaming surveillance video from drones, scan their surroundings for threats, call for fire support and request medical evacuations. Sailors and Marines are connected, too.

Though not a nuclear warhead or an M-16 rifle, the smartphone and the tablet are indeed weapons — helping the warfighter defeat the enemy.

Read more

My Comment: My only concern with these new developments is on the possibility of information overload. But for the moment .... the U.S. military is gong-ho to push this program.

How Brick-And-Mortar Bookstore Thrives Because Of Amazon

The Man Who Took On Amazon And Saved A Bookstore -- Forbes

Certain business ideas seem doomed to fail. You can walk into a restaurant or retail chain and know instantly that its days are numbered.

That’s the gut sense I had when I learned that someone new had bought the Harvard Book Store – a comforting oasis for bibliophiles and casual browsers – just a few blocks from my office in Cambridge. In a town where independent bookstores have been folding faster than Starbucks can open coffee shops in China, this naïve optimist embarked on his new venture in the dark days of the recession, under the shadow of Amazon, and as e-books began their zenith rise.

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My Comment: An exception in the trend of closing bookstores.

Facebook vs. Google

Sunday, June 3, 2012

US Navy Will Try To Solve The Riddle Of Amelia Earhart's Disappearance

The accepted wisdom was that Earhart's aircraft had simply run out of fuel and crashed into the ocean on July 2, 1937, as she searched for Howland Island

US Navy Prepares Mission To Solve Riddle Of Amelia Earhart's Death -- The Telegraph

Seventy-five years after Amelia Earhart sealed her place in flying history as the first woman to attempt to circumnavigate the world, the US Navy is preparing a mission to solve the riddle of her death in the Pacific.

One of the most enduring mysteries of the annals of aviation, is what happened after Miss Earhart last radioed from her Lockheed Model 10E "Electra" that she was unable to locate an airstrip for landing.

The accepted wisdom was that Earhart's aircraft had simply run out of fuel and crashed into the ocean on July 2, 1937, as she searched for Howland Island.

Read more....

My Comment: I wish them the best.