Thursday, September 2, 2010

Double Space Strike 'Caused Dinosaur Extinction'

From The BBC:

The dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago by at least two space impacts, rather than a single strike, a new study suggests.

Previously, scientists had identified a huge impact crater in the Gulf of Mexico as the event that spelled doom for the dinosaurs.

Now evidence for a second impact in Ukraine has been uncovered.

This raises the possibility that the Earth may have been bombarded by a whole shower of space rocks.

Read more ....

My Comment: Regardless if there was one or more asteroid strikes .... it was a bad day for the dinosaurs when the first one happened.

Oxford English Dictionary 'Will Not Be Printed Again'

The second OED was published in 1989 Photo: GETTY

From The Telegraph:

The next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, the world’s most definitive work on the language, will never be printed because of the impact of the internet on book sales.

Sales of the third edition of the vast tome have fallen due to the increasing popularity of online alternatives, according to its publisher.

A team of 80 lexicographers has been working on the third edition of the OED – known as OED3 – for the past 21 years.

Read more ....

Researchers Create Ultra-Sensitive Robotic Nose Using Frog Eggs As An Olfactory Sensor

Detecting Molecules with Frog Eggs

From Popular Science:

Researchers at the University of Tokyo are using frog eggs to enhance what might seem like an unlikely element of robotics: olfactory sensing. By injecting the eggs with the DNA from various insects known for expressing keen senses of smell, the team was able to create a robotic nose that can detect molecules at levels as low as a few parts per billion.

Read more ....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Roots of Gamblers' Fallacies and Other Superstitions: Causes of Seemingly Irrational Human Decision-Making

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Aug. 31, 2010) — Gamblers who think they have a "hot hand," only to end up walking away with a loss, may nonetheless be making "rational" decisions, according to new research from University of Minnesota psychologists. The study finds that because humans are making decisions based on how we think the world works, if erroneous beliefs are held, it can result in behavior that looks distinctly irrational.

Read more ....

My Comment: I guess saying 'the Devil made me do it' is not going to fly.

Massive Mega-Star Challenges Black Hole Theories

This artist's impression shows the magnetar in the very rich and young star cluster Westerlund 1. This remarkable cluster contains hundreds of very massive stars, some shining with a brilliance of almost one million suns. Credit: ESO / L. Cal├žada.

From Live Science:

Astronomers have discovered a massive star that once dwarfed our sun and is now challenging theories of how stars evolve, die and form black holes.

The star is a peculiar cosmic object known as a magnetar. Magnetars are extremely dense, super-magnetic stars that can form from supernova explosions. [Photo of the massive star. ]

Read more ....

My Comment: That is one hell of a big (and heavy) star.

Loud Video: NASA Test Fires Largest-Ever Solid Rocket Motor

From Popular Science:

In Utah today, NASA completed a successful test of the world's largest, most powerful solid rocket motor, the DM-2. For two minutes, the motor, designed to provide up to 3.6 million pounds of thrust, roaringly fired a column of flame, while some 760 instruments monitored its every aspect. Best to turn down your speakers before the countdown in this video hits zero.

Read more ....

Arctic Oil And Gas Drilling Ready To Take Off

Click on Image to Enlarge

From New Scientist:

DRILLING for oil kicked off in Greenland's Arctic waters last week - just weeks after the Deepwater Horizon leak was finally plugged - angering environmental groups. Cairn Energy, based in Edinburgh, UK, is the first company to explore Greenland's waters for oil. It won't be the last.

Interest in the Arctic - which holds 13 per cent of the world's remaining oil and 30 per cent of its gas - is booming, driven by the rising price of oil and a shortage of other places for multinational companies to drill.

Read more

My Comment: Forget about Greenland, it is what Canada, the U.S., and Russia will be doing in the arctic that has the greatest potential on impacting the environment.

Can The Pentagon Be Made WikiLeak-Proof?

Darpa’s Star Hacker Looks to WikiLeak-Proof Pentagon -- The Danger Room

Tomorrow’s WikiLeakers may have to be sneakier than just dumping military docs onto a Lady Gaga disc. The futurists at Darpa are working on a project that would make it harder for troops to funnel classified material to WikiLeaks — or to foreign governments. And that means if you work for the military, get ready to have your web, email and other network usage monitored even more than it is now.

Read more ....

My Comment: Call me skeptical, but unless the Pentagon decides to develop and construct their own independent internet .... hackers and groups like Wikileaks will always be a problem.

Early Man And Cannibalism

A model of a homo antecessor female scooping out the brains of human head

Early Man 'Butchered And Ate The Brains Of Children As Part Of Everyday Diet' -- The Daily Mail

Early cavemen in Europe ate human meat as part of their everyday diet, new research suggests.

A new study of fossil bones in Spain shows that cannibalism was a normal part of daily life around 800,000 years ago among Europe’s first humans.

Bones from the cave, called Gran Dolina, show signs of cuts and other marks which will have been made by early stone tools.

Read more ....

My Comment: Hmmmm ... brains ....

Scheme To 'Pull Electricity From The Air' Sparks Debate

The claim of electricity from the air as a renewable resource is controversial

From The BBC:

Tiny charges gathered directly from humid air could be harnessed to generate electricity, researchers say.

Dr Fernando Galembeck told the American Chemical Society meeting in Boston that the technique exploited a little-known atmospheric effect.

Tests had shown that metals could be used to gather the charges, he said, opening up a potential energy source in humid climates.

However, experts disagree about the mechanism and the scale of the effect.

Read more ....

My Comment: In a time of impending energy shortages (and high cost) .... I would not hesitate to look for alternatives.

Does Langage Influence Culture?

Lost In Translation -- Wall Street Journal

New cognitive research suggests that language profoundly influences the way people see the world; a different sense of blame in Japanese and Spanish.

Do the languages we speak shape the way we think? Do they merely express thoughts, or do the structures in languages (without our knowledge or consent) shape the very thoughts we wish to express?

Take "Humpty Dumpty sat on a..." Even this snippet of a nursery rhyme reveals how much languages can differ from one another. In English, we have to mark the verb for tense; in this case, we say "sat" rather than "sit." In Indonesian you need not (in fact, you can't) change the verb to mark tense.

Read more ....

Silicon Valley’s Dark Secret: It’s All About Age

From Tech Crunch:

An interesting paradox in the technology world is that there is both a shortage and a surplus of engineers in the United States. Talk to those working at any Silicon Valley company, and they will tell you how hard it is to find qualified talent. But listen to the heart-wrenching stories of unemployed engineers, and you will realize that there are tens of thousands who can’t get jobs. What gives?

The harsh reality is that in the tech world, companies prefer to hire young, inexperienced, engineers.

Read more ....

My Comment: Sadly this is true. At 50 .... I know that I am over the hill. But at least I saved for this day when .... sad to say .... I become obsolete.

Use Microsoft Surface to Control a Swarm of Robots With Your Fingertips

Robot Swarm Control Mark Micire/UMass Lowell Robotics Lab

From Popular Science:

A sharp-looking tabletop touchscreen can be used to command robots and combine data from various sources, potentially improving military planning, disaster response and search-and-rescue operations.

Read more ....

Ye Cannae Change The Laws Of Physics. Or Can You?

From The Economist:

RICHARD FEYNMAN, Nobel laureate and physicist extraordinaire, called it a “magic number” and its value “one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics”. The number he was referring to, which goes by the symbol alpha and the rather more long-winded name of the fine-structure constant, is magic indeed. If it were a mere 4% bigger or smaller than it is, stars would not be able to sustain the nuclear reactions that synthesise carbon and oxygen. One consequence would be that squishy, carbon-based life would not exist.

Read more ....

First Clear Evidence Of Organized Feasting By Early Humans

This is a view of excavation area at Hilazon Tachtit Cave, Israel. (Credit: Naftali Hilger)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Aug. 30, 2010) — Community feasting is one of the most universal and important social behaviors found among humans. Now, scientists have found the earliest clear evidence of organized feasting, from a burial site dated about 12,000 years ago. These remains represent the first archaeological verification that human feasting began before the advent of agriculture.

Read more ....

My Comment: I guess this tells us that the 'family get together' has been with us since the beginning of time.

Why Do Hurricanes Often Curve Out To Sea?

From Live Science:

The forecast path of Hurricane Earl, expected to run parallel to the U.S. East Coast before heading offshore, is a typical one for Atlantic storms to follow.

The reason: They are steered away from land by prevailing wind patterns and surrounding environmental flow.

Read more ....

Books Are Better Without Pages

A man browses through books at the Cecil H. Green Library on the Stanford University Campus, Dec. 17, 2004 in Stanford, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

From Global Post:

The paper book is dead. Long live the narrative.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Kindle owners buy twice as many books as non-Kindle owners. Just one of the many signs that while the paper book is dead, the narrative will live on.

If you are saying to yourself, “That sounds horrible. I hope books do not go away,” I ask you to consider the world’s poorest and most remote kids.

Read more ....

My Comment: Alas .... this is true. Hardcover books will only be a novelty item in the next few decades.

Why Music Is Good For You

From Scientific American:

A survey of the cognitive benefits of music makes a valid case for its educational importance. But that's not the best reason to teach all children music, says Philip Ball.

Remember the Mozart effect? Thanks to a suggestion in 1993 that listening to Mozart makes you cleverer, there has been a flood of compilation CDs filled with classical tunes that will allegedly boost your baby's brain power.

Read more ....

My Comment: For me .... when there is a melody that I like .... it gives me a sense of relaxation and peace of mind.

Conduct Virtual Explorations of Mars with New WorldWide Telescope Feature

Screenshot showing Olympus Mons in 3-D using the World Wide Telescope.

From Universe Today:

Love 3-D imagery of Mars? There's now a firehose just for you! The WorldWide Telescope has teamed up with NASA to use images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera to provide a high-resolution 3-D map of the Red Planet. Included are fully-interactive images and the latest and greatest NASA data, which will allow for a virtual way to explore Mars and perhaps to even make your own scientific discoveries. This is the highest-resolution fully interactive map of Mars ever created, and includes guided video tours with two NASA scientists, James Garvin of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Carol Stoker of Ames.

Read more ....

My Comment: So much for my telescope.

Earliest Fossil Evidence Of Humans In Southeast Asia?

Archaeologists excavating Callao Cave in the Philippines.
Armand Salvador Mijares

From Earth Magazine:

Modern humans reached the islands of Southeast Asia by approximately 50,000 years ago, but our ancestors’ journey was not easy. Even during times of low sea level, a voyage to some of these islands would have required crossing open water, leaving many scientists to wonder how humans arrived on the most isolated islands. Now the story is growing more complicated: A group of archaeologists has discovered a 67,000-year-old foot bone that they say represents the earliest-known presence of humans in the northern Philippines and may be among the oldest-known traces of modern humans in all of Southeast Asia — that is, if the bone truly belongs to Homo sapiens. The bone’s small size and unusual features make it difficult to determine exactly which species of Homo it was — Homo sapiens, Homo floresiensis or something else?

Read more ....

My Comment: Makes one wonder why early man migrated here. Climate? Food sources?