Saturday, August 23, 2008

Satellites Track Mexico Kidnap Victims With Chips

Chips are down: AGPS satellite like this one is used to pinpoint where potential hostages are

From Yahoo News/Reuters:

QUERETARO, Mexico (Reuters) - Affluent Mexicans, terrified of soaring kidnapping rates, are spending thousands of dollars to implant tiny transmitters under their skin so satellites can help find them tied up in a safe house or stuffed in the trunk of a car.

Kidnapping jumped almost 40 percent between 2004 and 2007 in Mexico, according to official statistics. Mexico ranks with conflict zones like Iraq and Colombia as among the worst countries for abductions.

The recent kidnapping and murder of Fernando Marti, 14, the son of a well-known businessman, sparked an outcry in a country already hardened to crime.

More people, including a growing number of middle-class Mexicans, are seeking out the tiny chip designed by Xega, a Mexican security firm whose sales jumped 13 percent this year. The company said it had more than 2,000 clients.

Read more ....

Update: Terrified Mexicans splash out on chip implants so satellites can trace them if they're kidnapped -- Daily Mail

My Comment: It is only a matter of time that soldiers, V.I.P.s, and persons of interest will be implanted with this technology. After that .... if you look far enough into the future .... it will be a matter of time before some countries start to have this done to all of their citizens.

Google Continued To Gain U.S. Search Share In July

From Information Week:

Google increased its share by a small amount, while Yahoo and Microsoft had small decreases, according to ComScore.

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) continues to gain search market share in the United States at the expense of its rivals.

In July, according to Internet metrics firm ComScore, Americans conducted 11.8 billion searches at core search engines, a 2% increase from June.

Google sites accounted for 61.9% of July searches, an increase of 0.4 percentage points from the previous month. Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) sites accounted for 20.5%, a decrease of 0.4 percentage points. And Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) sites accounted for 8.9%, a decrease of 0.3 percentage points.

In numerical terms, Google handled almost 7.3 billion core searches (a 2% increase). Yahoo processed 2.4 billion, and Microsoft fielded 1 billion.

Ask Network and AOL saw search market share increases of 0.2 and 0.1 percentage points respectively, giving them 4.5% and 4.2% of U.S. searches for the month of July.

Read more ....

New Drug Approvals By The FDA At An All Time Low (Opinion)

Sick Patients Need Cutting-Edge Drugs
By Gregory Conko -- Wall Street Journal

Anna Tomalis was a bright, pretty, 13-year-old girl who liked horseback riding and soccer. During the last few years, she rarely had a chance to think about those things. Since September 2005, Anna battled cancer. And, instead of wringing all she could out of childhood, this courageous teenager tried to get members of Congress to act like adults.

Anna had embryonal sarcoma, a rare form of liver cancer. Surgery and chemotherapy seemed to work at first, but the tumors came back. In March of this year, doctors told her there was nothing more they could do.

Read more ....

Friday, August 22, 2008

The 50 Best Tech Products of All Time

From PC World:

The Beatles. Citizen Kane. Muhammad Ali. Many have laid claim to being the "best ever" in their respective fields of work, but only one can top the list. And the same is true when it comes to technology.

So what's the best tech product to come out of the digital age? And what qualifies a product as being "best"? First and foremost, it must be a quality product. In many cases, that means a piece of hardware or software that has truly changed our lives and that we can't live without (or couldn't at the time it debuted). Beyond that, a product should have attained a certain level of popularity, had staying power, and perhaps made some sort of breakthrough, influencing the development of later products of its ilk.

So after considering hundreds of products and engaging in many hours of painstaking debate, PC World presents the 50 best tech products. Note that we're looking only at technology that has arisen since the dawn of the personal computer, so don't expect to see the cotton gin and the transistor radio on the list. Instead, you'll find gear that, in all likelihood, you used yourself at one point or another--and, in many cases, products you're still using today.

Read more ....

My Comment: An article from last year, but still appropriate today.

A Prediction Of 1000-Year Life Spans

The Speculist:

Last week, after hearing a prediction of 1000-year life spans from Aubrey de Grey, Roger L. Simon expressed concern about the possibility of living too long.

112 years, say, of retirement doesn't sound exactly enthralling. That's a lot of checkers and parcheesi. One of the scientists interviewed in the article said people are living vigorous lives these days in their 70s. Ho-hum. What about in their 140s? Anybody for120 and over tennis?

I can understand why Roger Simon wouldn't want extra drooling years. The typical response to this concern from life extension advocates is to point out that it's not just life extension, but healthy life extension that is the goal. Bill Quick commented:

Roger. the biggest problem in talking - and thinking - about news like this is shaking the three-score-and-ten mindset. The question is not "120 and over tennis," but, "tennis for 120 year olds who are physically only twenty years old?"

We think of physical debility as the primary handicap of advanced age. The real problems will probably be for those raised to think of themselves as old at seventy who find themselves young at 100.

Read more ....

A Flash Movie Of Planet Earth From the Space Station

Here is a cool flash presentation of Planet Earth from the Space Station. The link is here.

Jump In US Measles Cases Linked To Vaccine Fears

From Yahoo News/AP:

ATLANTA - Measles cases in the U.S. are at the highest level in more than a decade, with nearly half of those involving children whose parents rejected vaccination, health officials reported Thursday.

Worried doctors are troubled by the trend fueled by unfounded fears that vaccines may cause autism. The number of cases is still small, just 131, but that's only for the first seven months of the year. There were only 42 cases for all of last year.

"We're seeing a lot more spread. That is concerning to us," said Dr. Jane Seward, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pediatricians are frustrated, saying they are having to spend more time convincing parents the shot is safe.

Read more ....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Top 5 Mad Scientists of All Time

From Popular Mechanics:

For millennia, legions of mad scientists have toiled in underground laboratories, trespassed on the territory of the gods and cackled madly into the night. This book honors the greatest mentally unstable geniuses of history in true mad science fashion—using the tenets of forensic psychology to mentally autopsy these savants. Beginning with child development and proceeding through adolescence and higher education, we will deconstruct the how and why of their abominable plans and heartless transgressions against man and nature. This is what happens when you coax a mad scientist out of his laboratory and onto the psychologist's couch. Put on your latex gloves, snap on a pair of goggles, and dig out a lab coat that isn't covered in bloodstains, because we're about to walk the corridors of ... The Mad Scientist Hall of Fame.

Read more ....

Special Note: 3 of the 5 are fictional.

Get A Second Wife Or Girlfriend

Is this Guy Happy?

Polygamy Is The Key To A Long Life -- New Scientist

Want to live a little longer? Get a second wife. New research suggests that men from polygamous cultures outlive those from monogamous ones.

After accounting for socioeconomic differences, men aged over 60 from 140 countries that practice polygamy to varying degrees lived on average 12% longer than men from 49 mostly monogamous nations, says Virpi Lummaa, an ecologist at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Lummaa presented her findings last week at the International Society for Behavioral Ecology’s annual meeting in Ithaca, New York.

Rather than a call to polygamy, the research might solve a long-standing puzzle in human biology: Why do men live so long?

This question only makes sense after asking the same for women, who - unlike nearly all other animals - live long past the menopause.

Read more ....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mummified Iceman's Ancient Job Determined

Methods used to crack the dress code of Oetzi, the iceman mummy, seen here in 1998, whose mummified remains turned up in an Alpine glacier almost two decades ago, could be a boon to the clothing industry, a new study showed Wednesday. (AFP/APA/File)

From Yahoo News/Live Science:

Before his body froze and mummified, a now-famous Neolithic guy dubbed the Iceman took his last steps while donned in a coat and leggings made of sheep's fur and moccasins made of cattle leather. That was more than 5,000 years ago.

The 45-year-old man apparently trekked up the Schnalstal glacier in the Italian Alps before dying, and a new study reveals more about how he lived.

The body of the Iceman (also called Ötzi, Frozen Fritz and Similaun Man) was discovered in 1991 by accident by German tourists and made headlines around the world. At first he was thought to have died recently.

Read more ....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Where Is My Warp Ship?

Star Trek Warp Drive Is A Possibility,
Say Scientists -- The Telegraph

Two physicists have boldly gone where no reputable scientists should go and devised a new scheme to travel faster than the speed of light.

The advance could mean that Star Trek fantasies of interstellar civilisations and voyages powered by warp drive are now no longer the exclusive domain of science fiction writers.

In the long running television series created by Gene Roddenberry, the warp drive was invented by Zefram Cochrane, who began his epic project in 2053 in Bozeman, Montana.

Now Dr Gerald Cleaver, associate professor of physics at Baylor, and Richard Obousy have come up with a new twist on an existing idea to produce a warp drive that they believe can travel faster than the speed of light, without breaking the laws of physics.

In their scheme, in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, a starship could "warp" space so that it shrinks ahead of the vessel and expands behind it.

Read more ....

Pandemic! 10 Of The Deadliest Diseases

Policemen in Seattle wearing masks made by the Red Cross, during the influenza epidemic. December 1918.

The Black Plague, Third Pandemic and Spanish Flu wiped out hundreds of millions; they have nothing on today's worst diseases
What makes a disease deadly in the twenty-first century? Medicine has never been more advanced; our understanding of spread and infection, never more sophisticated. And yet, we may be poised for the largest and most devastating pandemic the human race has ever encountered.

Diseases that could have been effectively eradicated decades ago continue to ravage developing nations. In the wake of natural and manmade disasters, cholera, tuberculosis and the like spread even more easily, aided by tenuous medical infrastructures and close living quarters for refugees. Meanwhile, wealthy nations are no less imperiled, their citizens endangered by a massively consolidated food supply and by antibiotics prescribed so indiscriminately as to potentially destroy their efficacy altogether.

But, if medical advancements may be our undoing, they also pose our only salvation. Launch the gallery here to see 10 of the world's deadliest diseases—the contagious monsters that threaten our very way of life—and to learn how science is holding them at bay.

A Cure For The Uncommon Flu

The H5N1 Virus

Scientists Have Succeed In Replicating Flu Pandemic
Antibodies From 90 Year Old Survivors

Ninety years ago the Spanish flu swept across the globe, killing between 50 and 100 million people in only a few months. Since then, the specter of another flu pandemic dealing death and woe around the world has periodically terrified the medical and popular communities. But scientists searching for ways to prevent a similar outbreak in the form of the H5N1 bird flu have found a cure for the deadliest flu in the most unlikely place: nonagenarian immune systems.

A new paper in the journal Nature confirms that a team of doctors has succeeded in isolating pandemic-flu killing antibodies from 90+ year old survivors of the Spanish flu outbreak. To test whether or not the antibodies still worked, the doctors injected the immune cells into mice, and then dosed the mice with preserved copies of the 1918 flu recovered from frozen victims of the Spanish flu that had been buried in Alaskan permafrost. Within those mice, the antibodies and the virus renewed a microscopic battle that had lain dormant for almost a century. The mice that received a high dose of the antibodies lived, while mice that received a low dose of antibody, or none at all, died as expected.

Read more ....

Changes In the Earth's Magnetic Field

The innermost part of the earth. The outer core extends from 2500 to 3500 miles below the earth's surface and is liquid metal. The inner core is the central 500 miles and is solid metal. Credit: John Lahr, USGS Open-File Report 99-132

Sloshing Inside Earth Changes Protective
Magnetic Field -- Live Science

Something beneath the surface is changing Earth's protective magnetic field, which may leave satellites and other space assets vulnerable to high-energy radiation.

The gradual weakening of the overall magnetic field can take hundreds and even thousands of years. But smaller, more rapid fluctuations within months may leave satellites unprotected and catch scientists off guard, new research finds.

A new model uses satellite data from the past nine years to show how sudden fluid motions within the Earth's core can alter the magnetic envelope around our planet. This represents the first time that researchers have been able to detect such rapid magnetic field changes taking place over just a few months.

Read more ....