Saturday, June 16, 2012

U.S. Air Force's X-37B Completes Secret Sapce Mission

Air Force's Secret X-37B Space Plane Lands In Calif. After Mystery Mission -- MSNBC/Space

After spending over a year in space, the secret unmanned craft came home.

The U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane finally returned to Earth Saturday (June 16), wrapping up a mysterious mission that lasted more than year in orbit.

The unmanned X-37B spacecraft, also known as Orbital Test Vehicle-2 (OTV-2), glided back to Earth on autopilot, touching down at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base at 5:48 a.m. PDT (8:48 a.m. EDT, 1248 GMT). The landing brought to an end the X-37B program's second-ever spaceflight, a mission that lasted more than 15 months with objectives that remain shrouded in secrecy.

Read more ....

More News On the Landing of The X-37B

Secret military mini-shuttle lands in California -- Reuters
Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Completes 469-Day Mission -- Bloomberg
Mystery Mini Space Shuttle X-37B Lands in California -- ABC
Unmanned Air Force space plane lands in California -- USA Today/AP
Military space plane returns to Earth after 469-day mission -- Examiner
Video: Secret Space Plane Shatters Orbital Record as Chinese Rival Looms -- Danger Room
Second X-37B completes classified space mission -- Aviation Week

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Would You Live In One Of The Ten Best Homes In America?

The Pierre, French for stone, celebrates the owner's affection for a stone outcropping on her property

Would You Live In One Of The Ten Best Homes In America? Architects Reveal The Spectacular Properties That Have Wowed Them In 2012 -- Daily Mail

* American Institute of Architects handed out its annual awards to projects showcasing the best innovative design

What do Scottsdale, Arizona, Syracuse in upstate New York and the San Juan Islands off Washington have in common? They are all home to some of the most architecturally inspiring addresses in the United States.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has handed out the 2012 Housing Awards to projects at the pinnacle of design, creativity and sustainability.

The jury recognized projects in four categories - custom-built homes for one family, large structures which sleep many individuals in their own apartments and specialized buildings such as community centers.

Read more ....

My Comment: There are some impressive homes (architecturally speaking) in this list. Check it out.

China Plans To Build The World's Tallest Tower In Three Months!

90 days to be the biggest in the world: It's a tall order - but the company thinks it can put other skyscrapers to shame

Ambition Has Never Scaled Such Heights: China Plans To Build The World's Tallest Tower - And Complete It In Just THREE MONTHS -- Daily Mail

If you want to reach the top, you have got to move fast.

This must be the logic of a Chinese consortium, who seem confident that they can bend time and space and build the world's tallest tower - all 838 metres of it - in just three months.

As soon as the 220-storey 'Sky City', in Changsa, the provicincial capital of Hunan, is complete, it will take the mantle of the world's tallest building.

That means it will beat Dubai's current world-beater, the Burj Khalifa - which took five years to build.

Read more ....

My Comment: In three months .... I am skeptical.

The Man Behind Cryptome

The Man Behind The ‘Blue Ball’ Emails Scandal That Snared Brett McGurk -- Eli Lake, The Daily Beast

How a little-known leakster imperiled Brett McGurk’s nomination as Obama’s ambassador to Iraq—and why Cryptome isn’t going away. Eli Lake on the growing business of open secrets.

The scandal embroiling Brett McGurk, the Obama administration’s nominee to become the next ambassador to Iraq, got its start when an anonymous tipster alerted a 76-year-old architect to recent photo uploads on a mysterious Flickr account. The account contained what purported to be images of explicit emails from 2008 between McGurk and Gina Chon, then a Wall Street Journal correspondent in Iraq.

Read more ....

My Comment: Cryptome's website is here. I have been a regular reader of Cryptome since the beginning .... and it is still one of my must reads everyday.

Were Neanderthals The First Cave Painters?

In El Castillo cave, hand stencils join a red disk (not pictured) that may be Earth's oldest cave art. Photograph courtesy Pedro Saura via Science/AAAS

World's Oldest Cave Art Found—Made By Neanderthals? -- National Geographic

"It adds to evidence Neanderthals were not a distinct species," archaeologist says.

Prehistoric dots and crimson hand stencils on Spanish cave walls are now the world's oldest known cave art, according to new dating results—perhaps the best evidence yet that Neanderthals were Earth's first cave painters.

If that's the case, the discovery narrows the cultural distance between us and Neanderthals—and fuels the argument, at least for one scientist, that the heavy-browed humans were not a separate species but only another race.

Read more ....

My Comment:
Cave art that is tens of thousands of years old .... quite incredible when you think about it.

The Greatest Internet 'Landgrab' In History

Here Comes The Greatest Internet Landgrab In History -- CNet

ICANN tomorrow will reveal who is going after what new domain extensions, paving the way for a very different looking Web. Prepare for dot-madness.

Frank Schilling made his fortune in the aftermath of the dot-com bust, buying up thousands of domain names others didn't want. He kept at it, aggressively building a portfolio of more than 320,000 domains that, through a combination of ads and outright sales, have made Schilling a decamillionaire many times over.

Now the 43-year-old domainer is going after what he sees as a far bigger opportunity. He's put up $60 million of his own money to stake his claim on a giant, emerging piece of the Internet -- the opening up of so-called generic top-level domains, or gTLDs, to include pretty much anything. The king of all domain extensions -- .com -- is under attack as never before.

Read more

My Comment: This is big news, and will impact internet use and how money is made on the web for generations to come.

Is Earth About To Face An Ecological Collapse?

Earth Ecological Collapse Approaching? -- Future Pundit

A huge ecological shift headed our way in the 21st century?

Using scientific theories, toy ecosystem modeling and paleontological evidence as a crystal ball, 18 scientists, including one from Simon Fraser University, predict we're on a much worse collision course with Mother Nature than currently thought.

In Approaching a state-shift in Earth's biosphere, a paper just published in Nature, the authors, whose expertise span a multitude of disciplines, suggest our planet's ecosystems are careening towards an imminent, irreversible collapse.

Read more ....

My Comment: Hope not .... but when one looks at what is happening in many places of the world .... you cannot help but feel that the earth's ecology will soon be facing a breakdown.

The Science Of Hypersleep

Prometheus, Alien And The Science Of Hypersleep -- The Telegraph

Ian Douglas looks at a series of experiments that hint at the real possibility of suspended animation.

Noomi Rapace is describing waking up from a two-year sleep. She’s one of the stars of Prometheus, a prequel to the 1979 film Alien, in which long space voyages are accomplished by putting the travellers to sleep in pods, only waking them when they reach their destination.

‘I actually did a detox for a week before. I wanted to drain my body and clean it, and train it a bit. I had an idea that everything should appear sunken. Because it’s hard to imagine, how it is to be sleeping for two years. We talked about it: how groggy are we, how aware are we of the things around us.’

Read more

My Comment: Love the video.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why Does Rock Music 'Bring Out The Animal In Us'?

Why Rock Music 'Brings Out The Animal In Us' -- The Telegraph

Rock music such as Jimi Hendrix-style electric guitar excites us because it recreates the sound of primal distress calls and "brings out the animal in us", scientists claim.

Sudden, jarring changes in pitch and frequency play on the same emotional mechanisms as the signals which animals use to alert one another of danger, a study found.

When animals cry out in distress they force a large amount of air through their voice box very quickly, producing a discordant effect designed to grab the attention and provoke an emotional response in other animals.

Read more ....

My Comment: What does Justin Beiber bring out?

Earth Size Planets Easy, But Life Not So Much

Earth Worlds Are Easy, Life Not So Much -- Discovery News

Planets up to about four times the diameter of Earth form under a broader range of environmental conditions than gas giant planets, a new analysis of data from NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope shows.

Scientists looked at 152 stars hosting planets or suspected planets that are Neptune-sized or smaller. They found that small planets, unlike gas giants, don’t need metal-rich parent stars to form.

Read more ....

My Comment: The only way to be sure is to go there .... but .... traveling great distances is not possible for mankind today.

Apple Ditches Google Maps

Image: Navigation firm TomTom is providing maps for Apple's service

Apple Ditches Google Maps Software In Latest iOS -- BBC

Apple has unveiled its latest mobile operating system, iOS6, at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

The operating system, which runs on its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices, will no longer include Google Maps software.

Apple will instead run its own mapping app, which has a high-quality 3D mode, on the platform.

Google announced its own 3D mapping software last week on its competing mobile platform, Android.

Both companies have used fleets of planes to capture the imagery, drawing concerns from some privacy campaigners.

Read more ....

My Comment: Apple is finally catching up to this market.

What Are The Most Coveted Domains

The Most Coveted Domains, From .app To .home -- CNet

ICANN released its list of top-level-domain applications, and .app appears as the most popular domain. Surprisingly, .sex and .sucks garnered less interest.

In a sea of popular words, who would have guessed .app would be the most sought after domains?

"App" garnered 13 applications for a top-level-domain, also known as a string. The full details on the applications were revealed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Named and Numbers today. The introduction of new TLDs change the way consumers will type in URLs and open up new possibilities for Web addresses.

Read more

Wooly Mammoth Extinction Pattern Has Been Mapped

Mammoth skull and tusks, University of Alaska Museum, Fairbanks. G.M. MacDonald

Wooly Mammoth Extinction Mapped -- USA Today

Good new, folks. Humans were only incidental to the extinction of the Wooly Mammoth.

Once widely roaming across Siberia and North America, the Wooly Mammoth died off more than 10,000 years ago, with a lingering dwarf population lasting on the Wrangel Islands until 4,000 years ago.

In a jumbo analysis of 1,323 wooly mammoth samples, and numerous woodland sample records, a team led by Glen MacDonald of the University of California Los Angeles, reports in the current Nature Communications journal on the gradual disappearance of these remarkable pachyderms.

Read more

My Comment: It must have been an incredible sight to see when they roamed the plains.

A Head Injury Turns A Man Into A Musical Savant

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Less than six years ago, Derek Amato had only mediocre guitar skills. But after suffering a concussion – and never having a lesson – he became a piano-playing sensation. NBC's John Yang reports.

Head Injury Turns Man Into Musical Savant -- MSNBC

When Derek Amato crashed headfirst into the hard bottom of a pool, he was scared about what he might have done to his brain. But amazingly the fallout from that accident wasn’t all bad. Along with the headaches and other post-concussion symptoms, the accident brought Amato an unexpected gift: it turned him into a musical savant.

Although Amato had always loved music, he’d never been serious about playing any instrument before the head injury. Amato dabbled a bit with guitar before the accident but described his musical ability to TODAY as “on a scale of 1 to 10 . . . like a 2.5, close to 3.”

Read more ....

My Comment: Truly incredible.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Meet The Cruise Liner For Ships!

Blue Marlin carrying USS Cole. Wikipedia

Meet The Cruise Liner For Ships! Massive Carrier Craft Can Hold Up To 22 Barges - And Even An Oil Rig - On Its Back -- Daily Mail

When you need to transport 22 barges – each weighing nearly 3,000 tonnes – half way around the world, you're going to need a pretty sturdy boat.

And they don't get much sturdier than the Blue Marlin, one of the most extraordinary crafts ever to sail the seas.

The incredible ship can carry 75,000 tonnes. Rather than the usual cargo of toys, TVs and coffee, it carries other ships and oil rigs.

Read more ....

My Comment: Impressive .... and for the U.S. Navy .... essential.

Steve Jobs’ Pentagon File

Steve Jobs’ Pentagon File: Blackmail Fears, Youthful Arrest and LSD Cubes -- Threat Level

Steve Jobs thought someone might kidnap his daughter in order to blackmail him, according to a newly released Department of Defense document that was filled out in the 1980s when Jobs underwent a background check for a Top Secret security clearance.

That revelation, along with some new details on Jobs’ drug use and a previously unreported arrest as a minor, comes from a questionnaire that Jobs filled out for the clearance investigation, which was acquired by Wired through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Read more

My Comment: Even in death Steve Jobs continues to intrigue people.

7 Great Underwater Finds

A mosaic of the ship's front stern and bow sections, which broke apart and landed separately on the seafloor but here are digitally reunited. (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution/NOAA) 2) Mosaic photograph of the Titanic's prow. (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution/NOAA)

Shipwreck Science: 7 Great Underwater Finds -- Wired Science

Time capsule, detective mystery and adventure story rolled into one, a shipwreck captures the imagination: A few hundred underwater years turns even a simple trading ship into a vessel from a lost world.

Contrasting with that antiquity are the tools of modern marine archaeologists, who use high-powered sonar, submersible robots, image-stitching software and cutting-edge imaging techniques to investigate the wrecks. On the following pages, Wired takes a look at our favorite finds.

Read more ....

My Comment: I am sure that those who discovered these finds were impressed.

Europe To Build World's Biggest Telescope

An artist's impression of the European Extremely Large Telescope on Cerro Armazones, a 3,060-metre mountaintop in Chile's Atacama Desert: For comparison, look at the size of the cars

Europe To Build World's Biggest Telescope Powerful Enough To See Mountains On Planets Beyond Our Solar System -- Daily Mail

A coalition of 15 European countries has announced plans to build the biggest telescope in the world.

The mirror inside the telescope will measure 39metres across - four times wider than today's biggest telescope - and it will be so powerful that astronomers will even be able to observe dark, rocky planets far beyond our solar system.

The European Southern Observatory project is supported by 15 members of the European Union and has the catchy name 'European Extremely Large Telescope'... even if it will be built in Chile, to avoid light pollution.

The twin infrared/optical telescope will sit on top of a 3,060metre mountaintop, giving unparralled views of the sky above, and should hopefully come online in 2022.

Read more

My Comment: OK .... I am very impressed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bugatti Veyron On ‪National Geographic

My Comment: If the Bugatti is your dream car, this is a must see video.

Can Drinking Moonshine Really Make Me Go Blind?

Moonshining Former moonshiner John Bowman (right), explaining the ins and outs of a proper moonshine still. via Wikimedia

FYI: Can Drinking Moonshine Really Make Me Go Blind? -- Popular Science

The short answer: yes, it’s possible to go blind from drinking moonshine. But it’s also possible to go blind staring at the sun. When consuming alcoholic beverages of the DIY variety, the important thing is to let common sense be your guide.

The idea that moonshine or other home-distilled liquors can cause blindness is rooted in truth, but it’s important to separate the causes of said blindness from the alcohol distillation process itself. When homemade spirits cause damage to the optic nerve the culprit is almost always methanol, cousin to the ethanol you consume when you toss back any glass of tipple.

Read more ....

My Comment: I had the unpleasant experience of drinking moonshine in China. I suffered 'white blindness' .... and it was uncomfortable.

4 Drone Sensors That Changed Warfare

4 Drone Sensors That Changed Warfare—and What Happens When They Come Home -- Popular Science

After more than a decade of military surveillance, Afghanistan is among the most closely observed nations in the world. As the war progressed, manned observation aircraft gave way to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which can stay aloft far longer than anything carrying a pilot. Military technology often filters into civilian use. By congressional order, the FAA is preparing to open the skies over the United States to UAVs, making it likely that these sensor-laden drones will be coming home, flying overhead in U.S. airspace.

Read more ....

My Comment: And the next generation of UAVs will probably be just as revolutionary.

The Essential Guns, Gadgets, And Gear Of Spec Ops

Colt M4A1 Carbine with SOPMOD Kit
The M4A1 has been the standard for special operations since its release in 1994. The A1 model has a slightly heavier barrel compared with the standard M4, and full auto capability. The Special Operations Peculiar Modification (SOPMOD) Kit provides additional items such as the M203 Grenade Launcher, a Picatinny Rail System for attachments, forward hand grip, Trijicon's 4x ACOG sight, EOTech's holographic sight, Aimpoint's Close Combat Optic (CCO) sight, Insight Technology's PEQ-2 or PEQ-15 Aiming Laser, and the Insight Flashlight.

The Essential Guns, Gadgets, And Gear Of Spec Ops -- Popular Mechanics

Special operations forces wear body armor made of revolutionary materials, carry armor-puncturing knives, and don visions systems that can combine visual data with infrared and feeds from UAVs overhead.

Read more ....

Does Wine Kept Under Sea Taste Better Than The Stuff Stored In A Chateau?

Photo: Finished product: The 'Neptune' branded wine from Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion which was aged under the sea

The Test Proving Wine Kept Under Sea Really DOES Taste Better Than The Stuff Stored In A Chateau... After 11 Bottles Found In 200-Year-Old Shipwreck Sell For £90,000 -- Daily Mail

* French trio aged two barrels of identical wine for six months - one under sea and the other in chateau cellar
* Lab tests revealed sea wine had undergone different process of osmosis, giving it a mellower taste than traditionally aged barrel
* Comes after 11 bottles of champagne from 2010 Baltic shipwreck sold for £90,000 at auction

Bottles of wine found in shepwrecks often sell for a fortune. But does the sea hold the secret to truly great vintages?

To find out a trio of French wine lovers - a vineyard manager, a barrel maker and an oyster farmer - teamed up to test the myth, above and below water.

Barrels of a 2009 Bordeaux wine were stored in two locations - one was to be kept in chateau cellars, the other sunk among the prized oyster beds of the Bay of Arcachon, on the Atlantic coast.

Read more ....

My Comment: As a wine maker, I find this news fascinating.

Apple Will Unveil First New Products Since Steve Jobs' Death

Last summer: Then-CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iCloud syncing service at the 2011 event

Apple Will Unveil First New Products Since Steve Jobs' Death At Keynote Conference Today - So What Can We Expect To See? -- Daily Mail

During Steve Jobs' last years at Apple, current CEO Tim Cook was often seen alongside his chief.

Now, nine months since the founder's death, today is the day Apple will describe their changes to Apple's operating systems - iOS, which powers the iPad and iPhone range, and the Mac operating system 'Mountain Lion'.

By the end of today's conference in San Francisco, Apple fans and the business world will have been given a good glimpse of how Apple has coped with the loss of its biggest inspiration and evangelist, and the changeover in leadership.

Read more

My Comment: With Steve Jobs gone .... it's not going to be the same.

Flame And Stuxnet 'Link' Found

Source code was shared between the teams making the malware attacks, researchers said

Flame And Stuxnet Makers 'Co-Operated' On Code -- BBC

Teams responsible for the Flame and Stuxnet cyber-attacks worked together in the early stages of each threat's development, researchers have said.

Flame, revealed last month, attacked targets in Iran, as did Stuxnet which was discovered in 2010.

Kaspersky Lab said they co-operated "at least once" to share source code.

"What we have found is very strong evidence that Stuxnet/Duqu and Flame cyber-weapons are connected," Kaspersky said.

Read more ....

My Comment: Here is some interesting news.

Watching Tiny 'Living' Machines Self-Assemble

Vallée-Bélisle and Michnick have developed a new approach to visualize how proteins assemble, which may also significantly aid our understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which are caused by errors in assembly. Here shown are two different assembly stages (purple and red) of the protein ubiquitin and the fluorescent probe used to visualize these stage (tryptophan: see yellow). (Credit: Peter Allen)

Researchers Watch Tiny Living Machines Self-Assemble -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (June 10, 2012) — Enabling bioengineers to design new molecular machines for nanotechnology applications is one of the possible outcomes of a study by University of Montreal researchers that was published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology June 10. The scientists have developed a new approach to visualize how proteins assemble, which may also significantly aid our understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, which are caused by errors in assembly.

Read more ....

My Comment: Faster please.

Most Africans Will Have Smartphones In Five Years

In Five Years, Most Africans Will Have Smartphones -- Joe Evans, Tech Crunch

Feature phones are not the future. Of course that verges on tautology; of course everyone will have a smartphone, until everyone has something smaller and better and even more integrated into the fabric of our lives, like Google Glasses or cybernetic jawbone/retinal implants or whatever Charles Stross dreams up next. But when, exactly?

I’ve spent a good chunk of my life wandering around and writing about the developing world, and as lots of folks have recently argued, that’s still feature-phone territory, and will stay so for the foreseeable future. OK. Fair enough. But when precisely does the foreseeable future end? Because when the smartphone revolution hits the developing world, that’s when things are going to get really interesting, because it will also be their computer revolution and Internet revolution, all at the same time.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is the best news that I have read all day.

Eye In The Sky

Hyper-real: 3D mapping services used by C3 Technologies (as purchased by Apple) will form the main part of the software giant's new mapping service

Beware The Spy In The Sky: After Those Street View Snoopers, Google And Apple Use Planes That can Film You Sunbathing In Your Back Garden -- Daily Mail

Software giants will use military-grade cameras to take powerful satellite images

Spy planes able to photograph sunbathers in their back gardens are being deployed by Google and Apple.

The U.S. technology giants are racing to produce aerial maps so detailed they can show up objects just four inches wide.

But campaigners say the technology is a sinister development that brings the surveillance society a step closer.

Read more

My Comment: Should we be surprised by this development .... I think not. The question that should instead be asked is .... what took them so long.

The Google - China Conflict Escalates

A Chinese national flag flies in front of Google China's headquarters in Beijing on Thursday. Jason Lee/Reuters

Google Fights Back in China -- L. Gordon Crowitz, Wall Street Journal

The company is telling users when 'state-sponsored attackers' are compromising their accounts.

Two giants on the world stage are battling over the future of information. One is an authoritarian regime suppressing access to modern technology. The other is an information company fighting back without support from its home country. The conflict between China and Google is shaping up as the first war of the digital era.

Google recently launched a pair of counterattacks, last week informing Gmail account holders when "state-sponsored attackers" compromise their emails. Gmail users get this pop-up message: "Warning: We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer. Protect yourself now." Users are told how to do so, including with a new login process.

Read more

My Comment:
Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal activist who took refuge in the U.S. Embassy and was eventually allowed to come to the U.S., sums it up best ....

.... "I think even over the last few years as the Information Age has developed so quickly, China's society has gotten to the era where if you don't want something known, you better not do it."