Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Screaming Mummy" Is Murderous Son of Ramses III?

An Egyptian mummy preserved with a pained facial expression (above) could be Prince Pentewere, suspected of plotting the murder of his father, Pharaoh Ramses III, according to a new analysis.Recent examinations of the mummy, found in 1886 and now located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, have helped archaeologists piece together a story of attempted murder, suicide, and conspiracy. Photograph by Alex Turner/Atlantic Productions

From National Geographic:

An Egyptian mummy who died wearing a pained facial expression could be Prince Pentewere, suspected of plotting the murder of his father, Pharaoh Ramses III, according to a new analysis.

Recent examinations of the mummy, found in 1886 and now located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, have helped archaeologists piece together a story of attempted murder, suicide, and conspiracy.

"Two forces were acting upon this mummy: one to get rid of him and the other to try to preserve him," said Bob Brier, an archaeologist at the University of Long Island in New York who examined the body this year.

Read more ....

Forgotten But Not Gone: How The Brain Re-learns

Store room for future learning: nerve cells retain many of their newly created connections and if necessary, inactivate only transmission of the information. This makes relearning easier. (Credit: Image: Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology / Hofer)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Nov. 22, 2008) — Thanks to our ability to learn and to remember, we can perform tasks that other living things can not even dream of. However, we are only just beginning to get the gist of what really goes on in the brain when it learns or forgets something. What we do know is that changes in the contacts between nerve cells play an important role. But can these structural changes account for that well-known phenomenon that it is much easier to re-learn something that was forgotten than to learn something completely new?

Read more ....

The Reality of Mysterious Medical Maladies

From Live Science:

A recent governmental panel composed of scientists and veterans concluded that Gulf War Syndrome is real, the symptoms likely caused by neurotoxins that veterans were exposed to during the war.

About 60,000 of the nearly 700,000 Gulf War veterans began reporting health problems in the months and years following their military service. Complaints include insomnia, irritability, hair loss, chronic fatigue, muscle spasms, skin rashes, memory loss, diarrhea, headaches, and unexplained aches and pains. Some veterans believe that the disease is also responsible for birth defects and cancer.

Read more ....

Material Slicker Than Teflon Discovered By Accident

A piece of steel (left) coated with a thin layer of the super-slippery material just 2 to 3 micrometers thick - such coatings provide a kind of eternal lubrication to reduce friction and save energy
(Image: US DoE Ames Lab)

From The New Scietist:

A superhard substance that is more slippery than Teflon could protect mechanical parts from wear and tear, and boost energy efficiency by reducing friction.

The "ceramic alloy" is created by combining a metal alloy of boron, aluminium and magnesium (AlMgB14) with titanium boride (TiB2). It is the hardest material after diamond and cubic boron nitride.

BAM, as the material is called, was discovered at the US Department of Energy Ames Laboratory in Iowa in 199, during attempts to develop a substance to generate electricity when heated.

Read more ....

My Comment: The article does not examine the military applications, but its applications from enhancing protective vests to protecting machinery and vehicles from explosives is obvious. this .... if it works out .... has applications that will significantly protect the soldier when in the battlefield.

Extraordinary Speaker Addresses High School Students

When you want to complain, watch this video

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Physics Of Teardrops

Teardrop physics involve viscosity, surface tension and gravity. Now researchers have learned that tear fluid can move across the center of the eye, which was not thought possible. Credit: Dreamstime

From Live Science:

A lot can change in the blink of an eye. In fact, the entire surface layer of your eye changes every time you blink.

In about a quarter of a second, fluid pours into the eye, it is swept over the surface to leave a new, thin coating, and the excess is drained. Though the system may sound simple, the physics gets quite complicated. Scientists now are using mathematical computer models to try to understand how the fluid travels through the eye and leaves as teardrops.

"The reason why we're interested in studying this is because it's a highly dynamical system," said Kara Maki, a mathematics grad student at the University of Delaware. "If we can try to understand and gain insight into tear film dynamics, we can aim at trying to find better treatments for dry eye."

Read more ....

Mysterious Fireball Lights Up Western Canadian Sky

CTV Edmonton security cameras caught the meteor approach and then create a massive flash in the skyline on Thursday evening, Nov. 20, 2008.

From CTV News:

A mysterious fireball has lit up the sky in western Canada and may have been a meteorite which slammed into central Alberta, according to local reports.

While it's still unknown what caused the bright light, residents from northern Saskatchewan to southern Alberta have reported seeing it, the RCMP said.

MyNews user Dan Charrois, who lives about 50 kilometres north of Edmonton, said security cameras set up at his home managed to capture some grainy footage showing a big flare in the night sky.

"It happened so fast I don't think anyone would have had the reaction time to get it," he told, adding that his computer software business has written programs which track meteors.

Though Charrois didn't see the fireball himself, he decided to check the security tapes after his friends and neighbours called him to find out where the light may have came from.

Read more ....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Strain Of Deadly Ebola Virus Discovered

A Medecins Sans Frontieres team takes a blood sample from a man suspected of carrying the Ebola virus in Bundibugyo following an Ebola outbreak in Uganda in 2007. Scientists said Friday an outbreak of Ebola that killed 37 people in Uganda last year was sparked by a hitherto unknown species of one of the world's most notorious viruses. (AFP/Medecins Sans Frontieres /File/Claude Mahoudeau)

From Yahoo News/AFP:

PARIS (AFP) – Scientists said Friday an outbreak of Ebola that killed 37 people in Uganda last year was sparked by a hitherto unknown species of one of the world's most notorious viruses.

The strain -- provisionally named Bundibugyo ebolavirus after the district where the outbreak occurred -- joins four other known species of the pathogen, they said.

More than one in three of patients infected with Bundibugyo died, according to their study, appearing in the US journal PLoS Pathogens, published online by the open-access Public Library of Science (PLoS).

Read more ....

Regenerating A Mammoth For $10 Million

An intact skeleton of a woolly mammoth that is on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. S. C. Schuster

From The New York Times:

Scientists are talking for the first time about the old idea of resurrecting extinct species as if this staple of science fiction is a realistic possibility, saying that a living mammoth could perhaps be regenerated for as little as $10 million.

The same technology could be applied to any other extinct species from which one can obtain hair, horn, hooves, fur or feathers, and which went extinct within the last 60,000 years, the effective age limit for DNA.

Read more ....

How To Save And Purify The World's Water Supply: Experts Weigh In

From Popular Mechanics:

Clean water is one thing that most Americans take for granted. But with aging infrastructure, climate change and an accelerating world population, keeping clean water running from our taps is a growing challenge, both physically and politically. While pumping and purification systems try to keep up, neighboring farms, cities, states and even countries are on the verge of even more contentious battles over water rights. Four water experts came to the Hearst Tower in New York City yesterday, for a panel moderated by PM science editor Jennifer Bogo, to discuss how the country can deal with the water crisis, why global warming will exacerbate the problem and what will happen if we do nothing.

Read more ....

Scientists Take A Step Closer To An Elixir Of Youth

From the Anti-Aging Blog

From The Telegraph:

A naturally occuring substance that can create "immortal cells" could be the key to finding a real elixir of youth, scientists claim.

Researchers believe boosting the amount of a naturally forming enzyme in the body could prevent cells dying and so lead to extended, healthier, lifespans..

The protein telomerase helps maintain the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes which act like the ends of shoelaces and stop them unravelling.

As we age, and our cells divide, these caps become frayed and shorter and eventually are so damaged that the cell dies. Scientists believe boosting our natural levels of telomerase could rejuvenate them.

Read more ....

Evidence Of Vast Frozen Water Reserves On Mars: Scientists

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image released in 2005 shows Mars. NASA scientists have discovered enormous underground reservoirs of frozen water on Mars, away from its polar caps, in the latest sign that life might be sustainable on the Red planet.
(Photo from Breitbart)

From Breitbart/AFP:

NASA scientists have discovered enormous underground reservoirs of frozen water on Mars, away from its polar caps, in the latest sign that life might be sustainable on the Red planet.

Ground-penetrating radar used by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveals numerous huge glaciers up to one half-mile thick buried beneath layers of rock and debris. Researchers said one glacier is three time the size of Los Angeles in area.

"All together, these glaciers almost certainly represent the largest reservoir of water ice on Mars that's not in the polar caps," said John Holt, a geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author of a report about the discovery, which appears in the November 21 issue of the journal Science.

Read more ....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Power Of The Future: A Timeline To Energy Independence

From Live Science:

President-elect Barack Obama has plans to invest $150 billion in clean energy technology over the next 10 years. With similar initiatives in other countries, when might we expect exciting alternative technology to deliver true energy independence?

The predictions are all over the map.

In July of this year, Al Gore made probably the most ambitious forecast: we can get all our electricity from solar, wind and other clean carbon-free sources in just 10 short years.

"This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative," he said.

Many others think it will take longer.

Read more ....

Life’s Amazing Photo Archive On View At Google

The “Migrant Mother,” Florence Thompson. (Credit: Dorothea Lange/LIFE)

From Gadgetwise/New York Times:

For those looking to feed their idle photo printers, one of the most magnificent photo archives of the past century is now available on Google.

It’s the Life magazine collection, some 10 million images all together, from Marilyn Monroe and JFK to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Following the deal between Google and the keepers of the Life archive, a vast chunk is now up on line at Google Image Search.

“Only a small percentage of these images have ever been published” said a statement from Google. “The rest have been sitting in dusty archives in the form of negatives, slides, glass plates, etchings and prints.” A spokeswoman for Time Inc. said that the archives in their entirety would be available in the first quarter of next year.

Read more ....

Supercomputers Break Petaflop Barrier, Transforming Science

From Science News:

A new crop of supercomputers is breaking down the petaflop speed barrier, pushing high-performance computing into a new realm that could change science more profoundly than at any time since Galileo, leading researchers say.

When the Top 500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers was announced at the international supercomputing conference in Austin, Texas, on Monday, IBM had barely managed to cling to the top spot, fending off a challenge from Cray. But both competitors broke petaflop speeds, performing 1.105 and 1.059 quadrillion floating-point calculations per second, the first two computers to do so.

Read more ....

Clump Of Dark Matter May Loom Near Solar System

This handout picture shows scientists launching a balloon from Williams Field in Antarctica in December 2005 that is carrying a scientific instrument that detected possible evidence of so-called dark matter in space. It spotted an unexpected amount of very high energy cosmic ray electrons coming from an unknown source within about 3,000 light years of the solar system -- relatively close in astronomical terms. One explanation is that the electrons may have been spawned as dark matter particles collided with one another, triggering their mutual annihilation. Scientists think perhaps 25 percent of the universe is made up of dark matter, which is invisible and poorly understood. (T. Gregory Guzik/Handout/Reuters)

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A balloon-borne instrument soaring high over Antarctica has found evidence of a possible large clump of mysterious so-called dark matter relatively close to our solar system, scientists said on Wednesday.

It detected an unexpected amount of very high energy cosmic ray electrons coming from an unknown source within about 3,000 light years of the solar system. A light-year is 6 trillion miles (10 trillion km), the distance light travels in a year.

Read more ....

'Oh Great': Astronaut Loses Tool Bag During Spacewalk

In this image from NASA TV, a tool kit bag, center, as seen through the helmet camera of astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, floats away from the International Space Station after she lost hold of it during a procedure during a 6 1/2-hour scheduled space walk outside the space station, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/NASA TV)

From FOX News:

HOUSTON — A spacewalking astronaut accidentally let go of her tool bag Tuesday after a grease gun inside it exploded, and helplessly watched as the tote and everything inside floated away.

It was one of the largest items ever to be lost by a spacewalker, and occurred during an unprecedented attempt to clean and lube a gummed-up joint on a solar panel.

Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper was just starting to work on the joint when the mishap occurred.

She said her grease gun exploded, getting the dark gray stuff all over a camera and her gloves. While wiping off herself, the white, backpack-size bag slipped out of her grip, and she lost all her other tools.

"Oh, great," she mumbled.

Read more ....

More News On Space Shuttle Endeavor

Endeavour astronaut loses tools in space -- AFP
Lost tool bag forces changes to planned spacewalks -- AP
Astronaut loses tools during spacewalk -- The Guardian
When It's Lost in Space, It's Really Lost -- ABC News
Endeavor astronaut loses tools in space -- Space Daily
Lost tool bag forces changes to planned spacewalks -- My Way News

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Indian Space Agency Isro To Roll Out A Rival To Google Earth

Bhuvan will use a network of satellites to create a high-resolution, bird's-eye view of India ? and later, possibly, the rest of the world

From Times Online:

Emboldened by its first mission to the Moon, India is to take on a target closer to Earth: Google.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), which is based in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of the sub-continent, will roll-out a rival to Google Earth, the hugely popular online satellite imagery service, by the end of the month.

The project, dubbed Bhuvan (Sanskrit for Earth), will allow users to zoom into areas as small as 10 metres wide, compared to the 200 metre wide zoom limit on Google Earth.

Read more .....

Hi-Tech Weaponry Battles Piracy On The High Seas

This Saudi Arabian oil tanker, the Sirius Star, was captured by pirates on 16 November 2008, off the coast of Somalia (Image: Caters News / Rex Features)

From New Scientist:

SVEN ERIK PEDERSEN accelerated his 9900-tonne ship to full speed and swung the helm hard over - not the usual way to treat a luxury cruise liner, but then the captain was in an unusual situation. His vessel, the Seabourn Spirit, had just been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. One of his crew had been wounded by shrapnel, 151 passengers were in danger, and heavily armed pirates in two fast motor boats were attempting to board his ship...

If you imagined that maritime piracy died out with Captain Kidd and the other seafaring scoundrels of the 18th century, the recent attack on the Seabourn Spirit should put you straight. And forget silly notions of wooden legs, treasure maps and grog. Modern-day pirates come equipped with supercharged speedboats, large-calibre weaponry and all the radio intercept technology they need to identify and locate valuable ocean-going booty.

Read more ....

British Doctors Help Perform World's First Transplant Of A Whole Organ Grown In Lab

Claudia Castillo underwent an operation to replace her windpipe with a bioengineered replacement after tuberculosis had left her with a collapsed lung (Photo from The Independent)

From The Telegraph:

British doctors have helped to perform the world's first transplant of a whole organ grown from stem cells, signalling a significant medical breakthrough.

Surgeons replaced the damaged windpipe of Claudia Castillo, a 30-year-old mother of two, with one created from stem cells grown in a laboratory at Bristol University.

Because the new windpipe was made from cells taken from Ms Castillo's own body, using a process called "tissue engineering", she has not needed powerful drugs to prevent her body rejecting the organ.

Read more ....

Update #1: The medical miracle -- The Independent

Update #2: Claudia Castillo gets windpipe tailor-made from her own stem cells -- Times Online

Seven (More) Gadgets Killed by the Cellphone

Image from Wired News

From Wired:

Calling a cellphone a mere phone seems a little silly these days. The little pocket wonders now do so much they are really handheld computers. With extras. The process of mashing one or more gadgets together in the same box used to be called convergence, but that approach quietly died as the mobile phone ate up any and every rival device.

So successful has this been that whole product categories have had the life choked out of their twitching bodies by the phone. The following list is an obituary to five of them, plus a look at the cellphone's next victim.

Read more ....

Update: Seven (More) Gadgets Killed by the Cellphone

New Evidence Surfaces Of David's Kingdom

From San Francisco Chronicle:

Khirbet Qeiyafa, Israel -- For 3,000 years, the 12-foot high walls of an ancient city have been clearly visible on a hill towering above the Valley of Elah where the Bible says David slew Goliath.

But no one has ever linked the ruins to the city mentioned in the First Book of Samuel's famous account of the legendary duel and the victory of the Israelites - until now. On Tuesday, Hebrew University archaeology Professor Yosef Garfinkel will present compelling evidence to scholars at Harvard University that he has found the 10th century biblical city of Sha'arayim, Hebrew for "Two Gates." Garfinkel, who made his startling discovery at the beginning of this month, will also discuss his findings at the American Schools of Oriental Research conference hosted by Boston University on Thursday.

Read more .....

Scientists Find Facial Scars Increase Attractiveness

From E! Science News:

Men with facial scars are more attractive to women seeking short-term relationships, scientists at the University of Liverpool have found. It was previously assumed that in Western cultures scarring was an unattractive facial feature and in non-Western cultures they were perceived as a sign of maturity and strength. Scientists at Liverpool and Stirling University, however, have found that Western women find scarring on men attractive and may associate it with health and bravery.

Researchers investigated how scarring might impact on mate choice for men and women seeking both long-term and short-term relationships. They found that women preferred men with facial scars for short-term relationships and equally preferred scarred and un-scarred faces for long-term relationships. Men, however, regarded women with and without facial scars as equally attractive for both types of relationship.

Read more ....

Prehistoric Family Values

Together in death. Genetic analysis suggests that a mother, a father, and their two boys were buried in the same grave. Credit: Photo courtesy of the National Academy of Sciences

From Science Magazine:

When Barack Obama moves into the White House in January, he'll bring his wife and children with him. The nuclear family is not only as American as apple pie but also the cultural norm in most societies across the world. New genetic and chemical analyses of 4600-year-old burials in Germany suggests that family togetherness has deep roots, going back at least as far the beginnings of agriculture in Europe.

Before humans settled down and began to farm, they lived as nomadic hunters and gatherers. Many anthropologists have assumed, based on observations of sometimes polygamous modern-day hunter-gatherers, that the basic social unit of early humans was the band or tribe rather than the family. Figuring out when the nuclear family became central to human social organization has been difficult. Archaeologists have dug up thousands of skeletons at early farming sites across the Near East and Europe, and many of them are buried together in ways that might suggest family ties.

Read more ....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Future Of The U.S. Space Program In Obama's Hands

UP IN THE AIR? Ares rockets, components of the Constellation program, are shown in this artist's conception. Given budgetary and manpower constraints, the future of Constellation, currently scheduled to begin service in 2015, may depend on the future of the space shuttle, which could be retired in 2010. NASA/MSFC

From Scientific American:

A decision must be made by the next chief executive soon on the space shuttle's fate, for starters

As the moments tick away before tonight's scheduled launch of the space shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station (ISS), another countdown is underway: Only a handful of launches remain before the shuttle program's scheduled retirement in 2010. When President-elect Barack Obama takes office two months from now, he and his aides will need to decide quickly whether or not to hold to that date, a determination that will have major implications for the future of U.S. space exploration.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress's investigative arm, has identified the shuttle's future as one of the most urgent issues facing the incoming Obama administration. "NASA has already begun the process of shutting down production and transitioning people, equipment and resources to new endeavors," GAO director of acquisition and sourcing management Cristina Chaplain says. She adds that the longer the decision is delayed, the more difficult it will be to keep operating the shuttle safely and cost-effectively. "Moreover, putting off a decision may hamper the transition itself and keep NASA from pursuing new space transportation development," Chaplain wrote in an e-mail.

Read more ....

Cheating The Angels

Whiskey barrels in the Jack Daniels destillery, Lynchburg, Tennessee.
(Photo from Wikimedia)

From Popsci:

A new plan is raising eyebrows in the conservative whisky industry

At the New York WhiskyFest this week, nobody wanted to talk much about technological innovations in the industry. Most of the whisky professionals I asked assured me that there was no such thing as innovation at their tradition-steeped distillery -- they were doing everything the same way it had been done for generations, thank you very much. Some distillers seemed put out that their companies had recently embraced such cutting-edge twentieth-century technology as labelling barrels with bar codes. The marketing side of the business is innovating to beat the band -- look for a new Irish whiskey called Feckin and a new rye called (rī)1 coming soon to bars near you -- but the production side remains defiantly old-fangled.

Read more ....

It's Unpacking Day For Astronauts At Space Station

The International Space Station's robot arm and an external antenna are seen in the foreground as the Space Shuttle Endeavour closes in on the orbital outpost for docking in this image from NASA TV November 16, 2008. (NASA TV/Reuters)

From International Herald Tribune:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: Astronauts hitched a giant shipping crate full of home improvement "goodies" to the international space station on Monday, a critical step for boosting the population in orbit.

It was the first major job for the crews of the linked space station and space shuttle Endeavour, and highlighted their first full day together.

"We're here to work," the space station's skipper, Mike Fincke, called down. "This is the can-do crew."

More than 14,000 pounds (6,350 kilograms)of gear was stuffed into the 21-foot (6 1/2 meter) container that flew up on Endeavour and was hoisted onto the space station. It held an extra toilet, refrigerator and kitchenette, exercise machine and sleeping compartments, and a new recycling system for converting urine into drinking water.

Read more ....

Gulf War Research Panel Finds 1 In 4 Veterans Suffers From Illness Caused By Toxic Exposure

From E! Science News:

At least one in four of the 697,000 U.S. veterans of the 1991 Gulf War suffer from Gulf War illness, a condition caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, including pesticides and a drug administered to protect troops against nerve gas, and no effective treatments have yet been found, a federal panel of scientific experts and veterans concludes in a landmark report released Monday. The Congressionally-mandated Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses presented the report today to Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake at VA headquarters in Washington.

Scientific staff support to the Committee is provided by the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH). The full report is posted at:

Read more ....

The Energy Debates: Wind Farms

Analysts estimate it would take at least 260,000 turbines, each 300 feet tall, to meet the United States' electricity needs. These turbines are in King City, Mo.
Credit: MU Cooperative Media Group, Steve Morse photo

From Live Science:

Editor's Note: "The Energy Debates" is a LiveScience series about the pros, cons, policy debates, myths and facts related to various alternative energy ideas. We invite you to join the debate by commenting directly on each article.

The Facts

Wind farms harness the wind's energy to generate electricity. Wind energy actually comes mainly from the sun. When solar energy heats up the atmosphere, hot air rises while cooler air swirls down to replace it. This movement results in wind.

Wind turbines possess massive rotors typically 160 to 300 feet (48 to 91 meters) in diameter. A wind turbine inland can generate 1.5 to 2.5 megawatts, while one located offshore amid mighty coastal winds could reach 5 megawatts, although constructing turbines in the water and keeping them up in the face of ocean waves and corrosive seawater presents challenges. Altogether, banks of turbines on a wind farm can produce anywhere from 100 to 800 megawatts.

Read more ....

How Eating Red Meat Can Spur Cancer Progression: New Mechanism Identified

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Nov. 14, 2008) — Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, led by Ajit Varki, M.D., have shown a new mechanism for how human consumption of red meat and milk products could contribute to the increased risk of cancerous tumors.

Their findings, which suggest that inflammation resulting from a molecule introduced through consumption of these foods could promote tumor growth, are published online this week in advance of print publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Read more ....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Once Greeted Warmly, Google Wears Out Welcome

Google's Street View mapping service is available in France, Italy and Spain, but privacy laws threaten its expansion elsewhere in Europe. Image From International Herald Tribune

From International Herald Tribune:

BERLIN: When Google began hiring in Zurich for its new engineering center in 2004, local officials welcomed the U.S. company with open arms. Google's arrival is still bearing fruit for Zurich: 450 employees, about 300 of them engineers, work in Google's seven-story complex in a converted brewery on the outskirts of the placid mountain metropolis.

But almost five years into its expansion into Europe - where it has a headquarters in Dublin, large facilities in Zurich and London and smaller centers in Denmark, Russia and Poland, among other countries - Google is beginning to bump up against a web of privacy laws that threaten its growth and the positive image it has cultivated as a company dedicated to doing good - its unofficial motto.

Read more ....

Dirty Brown Clouds Impact Glaciers, Agriculture And The Monsoon

Pollution in Bangkok. The cities of Bangkok, Beijing, Cairo, Dhaka, Karachi, Kolkata, Lagos, Mumbai, New Delhi, Seoul, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tehran were found to have very high soot levels. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Nov. 16, 2008) — Cities from Beijing to New Delhi are getting darker, glaciers in ranges like the Himalayas are melting faster and weather systems becoming more extreme, in part, due to the combined effects of man-made Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABCs) and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

These are among the conclusions of scientists studying a more than three km-thick layer of soot and other manmade particles that stretches from the Arabian Peninsula to China and the western Pacific Ocean.

Read more ....

The Movies -- The Best Fictional Doomsday Devices

The Death Star (Star Wars)

From Wired News:

America's love affair with the doomsday device is a turbulent one. First popularized in comic books and James Bond movies, then lampooned by Austin Powers, we love them because their ridiculousness makes us feel safe — like the exhilarating false danger of a roller coaster.

Now heightened audience cynicism has forced world-ending devices into the realm of camp, and except for a new breed of superhero movies, they've largely been replaced by natural disasters or apocalyptic sci-fi scenarios in Hollywood films.

Read more ....

Variable Electric Generator Improves Wind Power Efficiency

(Photo form Talking Tourism)

From Future Pundit:

An interesting article in MIT's Technology Review reports on a generator for wind turbines that can harvest electric power over a wider range of wind speeds.

ExRo Technologies, a startup based in Vancouver, BC, has developed a new kind of generator that's well suited to harvesting energy from wind. It could lower the cost of wind turbines while increasing their power output by 50 percent.

The new generator runs efficiently over a wider range of conditions than conventional generators do. When the shaft running through an ordinary generator is turning at the optimal rate, more than 90 percent of its energy can be converted into electricity. But if it speeds up or slows down, the generator's efficiency drops dramatically.

Read more ....

Young Innovators Learn To Pitch Big Ideas

Selling it: At the PopTech conference in Camden, Maine, Manoj Sinha discusses how discarded rice husks can be used to generate electricity. (Courtesy of Kris Krug/PopTech)

From The Christian Science Monitor:

‘Boot camp’ in Maine teaches them how to get their message across in five minutes.

You’ve got a world-changing idea. And a passion to make it happen.

That’s good. But you need a third element: The ability to “pitch” your idea to venture capitalists and others who can help turn your dream into reality.

Budding business tycoons or Hollywood script writers know the importance of marketing themselves and their projects. But those in the nonprofit world, whose goal is altruistic, may never have thought about how to put a dazzling sheen on their quick “elevator pitch.”

Learning what goes into a perfect pitch was just one of the practical skills taught to a group of up-and-coming “social innovators” last month at the 12th annual PopTech conference in Camden, Maine.

Read more ....

The World Has Never Seen Such Freezing Heat

A sudden cold snap brought snow to London in October. Photo from The Telegraph

From the Telegraph:

A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

Read more ....

Astronauts Inspect Spaceship For Any Damage

The U.S. space shuttle fleet, including the Endeavour, seen here as it approaches the international space station in 2001, is set to return to flight by the middle of 2005, more than two years after the Columbia tragedy. NASA file


At least two pieces of debris were spotted Friday night in launch photos

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Space shuttle Endeavour's astronauts unfurled a 100-foot, laser-tipped pole and surveyed their ship for any launch damage Saturday while drawing ever closer to their destination, the international space station.

At least two pieces of debris were spotted Friday night in launch photos, Mission Control reported, and engineers were poring over the images to determine whether anything hit Endeavour. Mission Control told the astronauts there were no obvious signs of damage.

Read more ....

Marine Dead Zones Set To Expand Rapidly

Oxygen content of the world's oceans. Regions with low oxygen are shown in red. IFM-GEOMAR

From Nature:

Rising levels of carbon dioxide could increase the volume of oxygen-depleted 'dead zones' in tropical oceans by as much as 50% before the end of the century — with dire consequences for the health of ecosystems in some of the world's most productive fishing grounds.

At depths between several tens and hundreds of metres, large parts of the tropical oceans are poorly supplied with dissolved oxygen, and are therefore hostile to most marine life. Scientists suspect that these zones are sensitive to climate change, but previous studies have arrived at conflicting conclusions regarding exactly how and why a more CO2-rich world affects oceanic oxygen content.

Read more ....

EBay Seller Gets Millionth Positive Feedback

Fox News:

NEW YORK — If you've ever sold something on eBay, you may have been pleased to receive positive feedback from the buyer. Multiply that by a million, and you can imagine how Jack Sheng feels.

Sheng, 33, owns Los Angeles-based Eforcity Corp., which has been selling electronics accessories on the online auction site since he started his business in 2000 with two childhood friends.

In the past two months, four separate eBay user IDs belonging to Sheng and his company each surpassed more than 1 million feedback points. No one else on eBay has come close.

Read more ....