Saturday, September 19, 2009

Secrets Of Insect Flight Revealed: Modeling The Aerodynamic Secrets Of One Of Nature's Most Efficient Flyers

Smoke visualization in Oxford University's wind tunnel showing the airflow over a flying locust's wings. (Credit: Animal Flight Group, Dept. of Zoology, Oxford University and Dr John Young, UNSW@ADFA)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 18, 2009) — Researchers are one step closer to creating a micro-aircraft that flies with the manoeuvrability and energy efficiency of an insect after decoding the aerodynamic secrets of insect flight.

Dr John Young, from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, and a team of animal flight researchers from Oxford University's Department of Zoology, used high-speed digital video cameras to film locusts in action in a wind tunnel, capturing how the shape of a locust's wing changes in flight. They used that information to create a computer model which recreates the airflow and thrust generated by the complex flapping movement.

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Online Labs Aim to Revolutionize High School Science

Julia Barnathan (standing), curriculum developer for Northwestern's Office of STEM Education Partnerships, assists a student with a lesson in radiation that uses iLabs to access a geiger counter at the University of Queensland, Australia. Credit: Amanda Morris, Office for Research, Northwestern University

From Live Science:

Fifty years ago, a typical high school science fair featured several exploding volcanoes. Today, one would expect a science fair to look far more advanced. The sad truth, however, is that standard high school science has changed very little.

"There is a growing gap between the practice of science the way researchers at Northwestern and other institutions are conducting it and what science looks like in high school," said Kemi Jona, research associate professor and director of the Office of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education Partnerships (OSEP) at Northwestern University. "And that gap keeps getting bigger and bigger."

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Opera Browser Bids For America

From The BBC:

The founder of Opera has said despite its 100m worldwide users, they have a big job ahead conquering America.

In the US, the latest figures by Net Applications showed Opera is 5th in the market with a 2% share behind Microsoft, Apple, Google and Firefox.

But Opera claimed in other parts of the globe it is the most popular browser of choice with growth last year of 67%.

"The reality is that in the U.S. we have some work to do," Opera boss Jon von Tetzchner told BBC News.

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Silicon Valley 'Seeing Revival'

From The BBC:

Silicon Valley is stirring back to life, following a bruising economic downturn, according to industry insiders and start-up entrepreneurs.

The view seems to underscore Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's belief that the US recession has ended.

He told a Washington think-tank that "from a technical perspective the recession is very likely over".

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Jammie Thomas Lawyers File Suit Against Scribd

From CNET:

A legal complaint seeking class action status filed in Houston on Friday accuses social-publishing site Scribd of egregious copyright infringement.

Scribd managers have "built a technology that's broken barriers to copyright infringement on a global scale and in the process have also built one of the largest readerships in the world," the attorneys representing the class wrote in the complaint. "The company shamelessly profits from the stolen copyrighted works of innumerable authors."

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Big Differences Between European Countries In Heart Risks

From Future Pundit:

The big smoker countries in Europe have much higher rates of heat disease death under age 65.

While heart disease remains the leading cause of death in Europe, mortality rates are falling in most (but not all) countries, according to new findings released by the EuroHeart mapping project.(1) However, this detailed research, part of a three-year programme to analyse cardiovascular health and prevention policies in 16 European countries, also reveals huge inequalities among countries both in the rate of cardiovascular mortality and in national prevention programmes.

  • Highest rates of mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD) in men under 65 were found in Hungary (105 per 100,000 population), Estonia (104), Slovakia (74), Greece (50), Finland (48) and UK (44).
  • Highest rates for women under 65 were found in Hungary (28), Estonia (20), Slovakia (19), UK (11), Greece (10) and Belgium (9).
  • Lowest rates for men under 65 were found in France (17), Netherlands (22), Italy (25) and Norway (27).
  • Lowest rates for women under 65 were found in Iceland (3), France (3), Slovenia (5) and Italy (5).
This pattern was also reflected (though not exactly mirrored) in risk factor prevalence, where, for example, Greece (46%), Estonia (42%), Slovakia (41%), Germany (37%) and Hungary (37%) had the highest rates of cigarette smoking.

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America’s Food Revolution

Photo: Cutting-edge molecular gastronomy at Chicago’s Alinea: a sphere of grape foam injected with walnut milk and covered in frozen and powdered Maytag blue cheese. Lara Kastner/SIPA

From City Journal:

Urban revival, globalization, and some world-class chefs have created one of the world’s great culinary scenes.

In a 1769 letter to the naturalist John Bartram, Benjamin Franklin observed that while lots of people like accounts of old buildings and monuments, “I confess that if I could find in any Italian travels a receipt for making Parmesan cheese, it would give me more satisfaction than a transcript of any inscription from any old stone whatsoever.”

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Five Ways To Teach Your Old Phone New Tricks

From The Christian Science Monitor:

This summer was a big season for smart-phone lovers. Apple unveiled a new iPhone with built-in video camera, compass, and online movie rental store. Palm released a worthy rival, the Pre, which lets busy multitaskers flip between e-mail, spreadsheets, and, of course, phone calls. And several touch-screen and next-gen smart phones are on the way.

That’s great news for gadget geeks ready to spend $90 a month (or more) on their cellphones. But what about the rest of us? Even simple mobile phones are capable of a lot these days, thanks to text messaging and a slew of services designed for the average phone. Here are a few tricks to get your plain ol’ cellphone acting like a smart phone.

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Tyrannosaurs Flying F-14s!

The cover of this issue of Galaxy features an unusual space launch concept, but an article inside had more realistic and interesting insights.

From The Space Review:

The comic strip Calvin & Hobbes once ran a classic on a Sunday in 1995. Calvin and his tiger buddy are playing with toy dinosaurs and F-14 Tomcat fighter planes when Calvin concludes that the only thing cooler than tyrannosaurs and F-14s… is tyrannosaurs flying F-14s.

This is a scene that has been repeated throughout the history of human spaceflight, when somebody has come up with some concept for a rocket, spacecraft, whatever, that they decide can be made infinitely cooler by combining it with another concept for a rocket, spacecraft, whatever. Want to explore the icy moons of Jupiter? Let’s combine the most powerful ion engines ever built and the largest space nuclear reactor ever built and the largest rocket ever built. That would be cool. (It will also cost twenty-three billion dollars and never be built.)

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Oddball Stars Explained: New Observations Solve Longstanding Mystery Of Tipped Stars

This artist's conception of the double-star system DI Herculis illustrates the key findings from the new research. Spectroscopic observations showed that the two stars are both tipped over almost horizontally, relative to the plane of their orbits around each other. Because they are rotating rapidly which creates equatorial bulges, the tidal interactions between the two slows down a regular variation in the plane of the orbits, called precession -- a slowing that had been a mystery for three decades. (Credit: Courtesy of Simon Albrecht)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 18, 2009) — A pair of unusual stars known as DI Herculis has confounded astronomers for three decades, but new observations by MIT researchers and their colleagues have provided data that they say solve the mystery once and for all.

It has long been clear that there was something odd going on in this double-star system, but it wasn't clear just what that was. The precession of the orbits of the two stars around each other — that is, the way the plane of those orbits change their tilt over time, like the wobbling of a top as it winds down — seems to take place four times more slowly than established theory says it should. The anomaly is so unexpected that at one point it was seen as possible evidence against Einstein's long-accepted theory of relativity.

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7 Solid Health Tips That No Longer Apply

From Live Science:

Are you taking a daily aspirin or multivitamin to stay healthy? Avoiding eggs and choosing no-cholesterol margarine over butter? Convinced that jogging will ultimately kill your knees? Advice that was once considered gospel truth among the medical community is now being questioned.

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Plugged-In Age Feeds a Hunger for Electricity

(Click Image to Enlarge)

From The New York Times:

With two laptop-loving children and a Jack Russell terrier hemmed in by an electric fence, Peter Troast figured his household used a lot of power. Just how much power did not really hit him until the night the family turned off the overhead lights at their home in Maine and began hunting gadgets that glowed in the dark.

“It was amazing to see all these lights blinking,” Mr. Troast said.

As goes the Troast household, so goes the planet.

Electricity use from power-hungry gadgets is rising fast all over the world. The fancy new flat-panel televisions everyone has been buying in recent years have turned out to be bigger power hogs than some refrigerators.

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How Broadband Is Changing Africa

From The BBC:

Fast broadband will transform Africa, and the rest of the world will change too, says Bill Thompson.

Norman Borlaug, whose work in Mexico and India led to the 'green revolution' in agricultural production, died last week and was widely commemorated for his important work.

While the introduction of new crops and the use of irrigation, fertilisers and pesticides certainly enabled us to feed millions of people, the crops were delivered at a price, and we should not forget that Borlaug's green revolution, like every revolution, had a negative as well as a positive side.

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Warming Arctic 'Halts Migration'

From The BBC:

Milder winters in the Arctic region have led to fewer Pacific brants, a species of sea goose, migrating southwards, say researchers.

A study by the US Geological Survey (USGS) found that as many as 30% of the birds were overwintering in Alaska rather than migrating to Mexico.

Until recently, more than 90% of the species were estimated to head south.

Writing in the journal Arctic, the team said the shift coincides with warming in the North Pacific and Bering Sea.

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VW Redefines ‘Car’ With A 170-MPG Diesel Hybrid

From Autopia:

Volkswagen is redefining the automobile with the L1, a bullet-shaped diesel hybrid that weighs less than 900 pounds, gets an amazing 170 mpg and might see production within four years.

The L1 concept car unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show pushes the boundaries of vehicle design and draws more inspiration from gliders than conventional automobiles. The only question the company’s engineers asked when designing the L1 was, “How would a car have to look and be built to consume as little energy as possible.” Their answer was small, light and extremely aerodynamic. Those guidelines led to a car that requires just 1.38 liters of diesel fuel to go 100 kilometers.

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Chinese Climate Wisdom

(Click image to Enlarge)

From Watts Up With That?:

The Chinese civilization has existed survived intact far longer than any other in human history, and they have records of that civilization that span 2-3 thousand years BC. They’ve seen more climate change than any other civilization.

The Guardian recently interviewed Xiao Ziniu, the director general of the Beijing Climate Center.


A 2C rise in global temperatures will not necessarily result in the calamity predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), China’s most senior climatologist has told the Guardian.

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Superstitions Stay With Us From Childhood

Despite what we may have learned as we grew up, some misconceptions often remain with us as adults, says a new study. Credit: iStockphoto

From Cosmos:

GUILDFORD, U.K.: Superstitious beliefs we hold as adults may be a by-product of the processes we use to make sense of the world around us as children, according to a novel hypothesis.

The research offers an explanation for curious traditions such as crossing fingers or tapping wood, as responses to events that we can't explain in any other way.

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Pentagon Wants ‘Space Junk’ Cleaned Up

From The Danger Room:

The orbit around Earth is a very messy place and the Pentagon’s far-out research arm wants to do something about it. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency put out a notice yesterday requesting information on possible solutions to the infamous space debris problem.

“Since the advent of the space-age over five decades ago, more than thirty-five thousand man-made objects have been cataloged by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network,” the agency notes. “Nearly twenty-thousand of those objects remain in orbit today, ninety-four percent of which are non-functioning orbital debris.”

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Fake Video Footage 'Persuades Half Of People To Wrongly Accuse Others Of Crime'

Fake video footage can persuade almost half of viewers to
accuse innocent people of crimes Photo: GETTY

From The Telegraph:

Fake video footage can persuade almost half of viewers to accuse people of crimes they have not committed, new research suggests.

The study found that exposure to fabricated footage can "dramatically alter" individuals' version of events, even convincing them to testify as an eyewitness to an event that never happened.

The study, by Warwick University, found that almost 50 per cent of people shown false footage of an event they witnessed first hand were prepared to believe the video version rather than what they actually saw.

Read more

Friday, September 18, 2009

Solar Cycle Driven By More Than Sunspots; Sun Also Bombards Earth With High-speed Streams Of Wind

When the solar cycle was at a minimum level in 1996, the Sun sprayed Earth with relatively few, weak high-speed streams containing turbulent magnetic fields (left). In contrast, the Sun bombarded Earth with stronger and longer-lasting streams last year (right) even though the solar cycle was again at a minimum level. The streams affected Earth's outer radiation belt, posing a threat to earth-orbiting satellites, and triggered space weather disturbances, lighting up auroras in the sky at higher latitudes.

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 18, 2009) — Challenging conventional wisdom, new research finds that the number of sunspots provides an incomplete measure of changes in the Sun's impact on Earth over the course of the 11-year solar cycle. The study, led by scientists at the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Michigan, finds that Earth was bombarded last year with high levels of solar energy at a time when the Sun was in an unusually quiet phase and sunspots had virtually disappeared.

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Sea Stars Grow Faster As Water Warms

Purple ocher sea stars prey on mussels. Credit: Dave Cowles

From Live Science:

Climate change will deal clams, mussels, and other marine bivalves a double whammy. Biologists already expect them to have trouble making their shells because elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) levels will acidify seawater. Now it seems they’ll also have to contend with brawnier predatory starfish.

Bivalves are the preferred prey of the purple ocher sea star (Pisaster ochraceus), a familiar denizen of the intertidal zone along the Canadian and American west coast.

Read more ....

Lunar Orbiter Begins Long-Awaited Mapping Mission

In a surprise, high-resolution data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, right, shows indications of hydrogen both inside and outside of permanently shadowed craters. (Credit: NASA)

From CNET:

After two months of checkout and calibration, NASA's $504 million Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was maneuvered into a circular 31-mile-high mapping orbit Tuesday, and scientists said Thursday the spacecraft's instruments are delivering intriguing clues about the possible presence of water ice.

"The moon is starting to reveal her secrets, but some of those secrets are tantalizingly complex," said Michael Wargo, NASA's chief lunar scientist.

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Colossal Apollo Statue Unearthed in Turkey

Apollo, God of the Sun. The bust of the recently discovered statue of the Greek god Apollo appears above. The massive statue, around four meters (13 feet) in height, is one of only about a dozen in existence. Francesco D'Andria

From the Discovery Channel:

Sept. 8, 2009 -- A colossal statue of Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, light, music and poetry, has emerged from white calcified cliffs in southwestern Turkey, Italian archaeologists announced.

Colossal statues were very popular in antiquity, as evidenced by the lost giant statues of the Colossus of Rhodes and the Colossus of Nero. Most of them vanished long ago -- their material re-used in other building projects.

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Blueprint for a Quantum Electric Motor

From Technology Review:

Place a couple of cold atoms in an alternating magnetic field and you've got a quantum version of an electric motor.

How small can you make an electric motor? Today, Alexey Ponomarev from the University of Augsburg in Germany and a couple of pals describe how to do it with just two atoms. Yep, an electric motor made of just two ultracold atoms.

Read more ....

Humanoid Robot Plays Soccer

From Wired Science:

et aside your fears of world-dominating cyborgs and say hello to Hajime 33, an athletic robot who’s about as tall as Kobe Bryant. Granted, this bot plays soccer, not basketball (yet).

Created by Hajime Sakamoto, Hajime 33 is the latest addition to Sakamoto’s fleet of humanoid robots. Powered by batteries, the robot is controlled with a PS3 controller, and it can walk and kick a ball. Hajime 33 weighs in at just 44 pounds while overlooking his creator at more than 6 feet 5 inches tall.

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High-Speed Video of Locusts Could Help Make Better Flying Robots

From Wired Science:

A new study may inspire aeronautical engineers to be more flexible with their designs. That’s because the bends and twists in locusts’ flexible, flapping wings power the insects’ extraordinary long-distance flights, a Sept. 18 Science paper reveals.

Even though researchers have been studying how insects and other creatures fly for a long time, “we still don’t completely understand the aerodynamics and architectures of wings,” comments Tom Daniel of the University of Washington in Seattle, who was not involved in the new study. The new work, Daniel says, uncovers the flight signatures of flapping, flexible wings.

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Mosquito-borne African Virus A New Threat To West

A man walks behind a model of an Anopheles mosquito in the new Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum, in London September 8, 2009. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and Europe face a new health threat from a mosquito-borne disease far more unpleasant than the West Nile virus that swept into North America a decade ago, a U.S. expert said on Friday.

Chikungunya virus has spread beyond Africa since 2005, causing outbreaks and scores of fatalities in India and the French island of Reunion. It also has been detected in Italy, where it has begun to spread locally, as well as France.

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'First Clown In Space' Promises To Bring Humour To Astronauts

Canadian billionaire Guy Laliberte, who owns Cirque du Soleil, is set to become the world's seventh and Canada's first space tourist Photo: REUTERS

From The Telegraph:

The man who plans to be "the first clown in space" has said he will liven up the atmosphere on the international space station by playing pranks on the astronauts.

Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque du Soleil, told reporters he plans to tickle the professional astronauts while they're sleeping, and he's will also bring a consignment of red clown noses aboard.

"I'm a person with a pretty high spirit, who's there to crack jokes and make jokes to those guys, and while they're sleeping, you know, I'll be tickling them," Mr Laliberte said.

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Smoking, High Blood Pressure And Cholesterol Cut Men's Life Expectancy By 10 Years

From The Guardian:

Major risk factors for heart disease are likely to slash 10-15 years off a man's life, a 40-year study shows.

Men with high blood pressure who smoke and have raised cholesterol levels are likely to die 10 to 15 years early, according to a study of men's lifestyle and health over the last 40 years.

The Whitehall study recruited more than 19,000 men working in the civil service in London between 1967 and 1970, when they were aged between 40 and 69. The latest of a number of influential published papers used the health records of the cohort to establish the life expectancy of middle-aged men who had a number of risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

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Scientists Complete First Geological Global Map Of Jupiter's Satellite Ganymede

Top: A global mosaic of Jupiter's moon Ganymede, constructed from the best images collected during flybys of the Voyager 1, Voyager 2, and Galileo spacecraft. Bottom: A few layers of the geologic map of Ganymede, showing the boundaries between light terrain (white) and dark terrain (brown), and the massive number of tectonic features in the light terrain (black lines). The map is being used to analyze stress fields that could have been responsible for ripping apart the surface of Ganymede in the past (red arrows). (Credit: Image courtesy of Europlanet Media Centre)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 18, 2009) — Scientists have assembled the first global geological map of the Solar System’s largest moon – and in doing so have gathered new evidence into the formation of the large, icy satellite.

Wes Patterson, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, led a seven-year effort to craft a detailed map of geological features on Ganymede, the largest moon of Jupiter. Patterson and a half-dozen scientists from several institutions compiled the global map – only the third ever completed of a moon, after Earth’s moon and Jupiter’s cratered satellite Callisto – using images from NASA’s historic Voyager and Galileo missions.

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Why Some People Can't Keep Weight Off

From Live Science:

Studies have shown that people who lose weight and keep it off tend to watch what they eat, whereas those who pack the pounds back on are less meticulous. A new study, albeit a small one, suggests brain differences are at work.

When people who had lost weight and kept it off for years were shown photos of food, they were more likely to engage the areas of the brain associated with behavioral control, compared with obese and normal weight participants.

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Sharks Swarmed on Ancient Sea Monster

Voracious Predator. Cretalamna appendiculata, was an early relative of today's great white shark, shown here. Getty Images

From Discovery Channel:

Sept. 17, 2009 -- Remains of a shark-bitten, 85-million-year-old plesiosaur reveal that around seven sharks likely consumed the enormous dinosaur-era marine reptile in a feeding frenzy, leaving some of their shark teeth stuck in the plesiosaur's bones, according to a new study.

The findings, which will be presented at next week's 69th Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, are the first direct evidence of the diet and feeding behavior of Cretalamna appendiculata, a now-extinct early relative of today's great white sharks.

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Deadly Second Wave Of Swine Flu 'On Its Way', Scientists Warn

Disruption: A woman walks through London with a surgical mask in an attempt to protect her from swine flu (file picture). Scientists fear the deadly second wave of swine flu is on its way.

From The Daily Mail:

A second wave of swine flu could be on its way, scientists warned last night after the number of new cases rose for the first time since July.

The jump, from an estimated 3,000 to 5,000, comes a fortnight after children - key spreaders of the disease - returned to school.

There have been outbreaks at six schools in England, but health chiefs repeated that there are no plans to close schools as it would do little to contain the disease.

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Wide Angle: Supplying The Space Station

The space station needs supplies, and now Japan is helping NASA, Roscosmos and ESA to feed the crew and ferry equipment to and from Earth orbit. However, concerns about the US space agency's funding issues could spell trouble in the future. Credit: JAXA

From Discovery Space:

Regardless of the trials and tribulations going on down here on Earth, the International Space Station continues to orbit the planet. Forget NASA's problems with funding for the moment and remember there are six permanent astronauts and cosmonauts manning this extreme outpost... and they need to eat and drink. How is the space station resupplied? Which nations are ferrying food and water into low-Earth orbit? What plans are there for the future?

In this Wide Angle, we will investigate these questions while learning about the implications the Augustine Commission and how the committee's findings may affect this expensive piece of real estate...

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Real-Time Hackers Foil Two-Factor Security

Credit: Technology Review

From Technology Review:

One-time passwords are vulnerable to new hacking techniques.

In mid-July, an account manager at Ferma, a construction firm in Mountain View, CA, logged in to the company's bank account to pay bills, using a one-time password to make the transactions more secure.

Yet the manager's computer had a hitchhiker. A forensic analysis performed later would reveal that an earlier visit to another website had allowed a malicious program to invade his computer. While the manager issued legitimate payments, the program initiated 27 transactions to various bank accounts, siphoning off $447,000 in a matter of minutes. "They not only got into my system here, they were able to ascertain how much they could draw, so they drew the limit," says Roy Ferrari, Ferma's president.

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Planck Telescope's First Glimpse

Planck maps tiny temperature variations (the mottled colours in the strip) in nine frequency ranges overlaid here. These fluctuations correspond to the matter distribution in the early cosmos. Planck needs six months to complete a full sky map. Esa released more detailed data on the square regions.

From The BBC:

The European telescope sent far from Earth to study the oldest light in the Universe has returned its first images.

The Planck observatory, launched in May, is surveying radiation that first swept out across space just 380,000 years after the Big Bang.

The light holds details about the age, contents and evolution of the cosmos.

The new images show off Planck's capabilities now that it has been set up, although major science results are not expected for a couple of years.

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The 33 Most Deadly Substances On Earth

From The Toy Zone:

Keep well away from the following 33 substances unless you want to end up 6 feet under.

1. Amanitas – Destroying Angel

Location: Europe and in the United States.

In Europe, the blossoms vary in color from pale-green or yellow-olive and along both the east and west coasts in the United States. However, they range from white to light brown in the rest of the United States.

Amanitin can be detected in the blood almost immediately. The first physical symptoms are usually nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. After an early feeling of slight discomfort, there is a sudden onset of extreme stomach pain, violent vomiting, intense thirst, and cyanosis of the extremities. Jaundice of the eyes and skin can also occur if the liver is badly affected. The patient remains conscious almost to the end, with only brief intervals of unconsciousness occurring between long lucid periods before lapsing into a coma followed by death.

Antidotes and Treatments: There are no known antidotes for Amanita poisoning; however, victims have survived after receiving liver transplants.

Read more

Brunel, Locke And Stephenson: The Engineering Giants Who Shaped Our World

Paddington station: designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and opened in 1847
Photo: PA

From The Telegraph:

Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Joseph Locke and Robert Stephenson are past giants of engineering whose legacy remains one hundred and fifty years on, says Michael Bailey.

One hundred and fifty years ago today, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the greatest engineers in history, died at the age of just 53. His funeral in Kensal Green cemetery was attended by several hundred people, including Joseph Locke who, with Brunel, had opened up Britain to the railway. He was buried a year later, also in Kensal Green.

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Colour Blindness Breakthrough In Gene Therapy Experiment

Squirrel monkey Dalton, who was successfully treated for red-green colour blindness. The image on the left simulates what the scene would have looked like to a monkey or human before the treatment. Photograph: Neitz Laboratory

From The Guardian:

Two squirrel monkeys that were colour-blind from birth have had their vision restored after receiving gene therapy.

The experiment paves the way for the treatment of a range of genetic eye disorders in humans, including some that cause full or partial blindness in millions of people worldwide.

Sam and Dalton, two male squirrel monkeys, were able to see the world in full colour five months after being treated, doctors said. The animals were born without an ability to see the colour red.

Read more ....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Patterns In Mars Crater Floors Give Picture Of Drying Lakes

Detailed image of large-scale crater floor polygons, caused by desiccation process, with smaller polygons caused by thermal contraction inside. The central polygon is 160 metres in diameter, smaller ones range 10 to 15 metres in width and the cracks are 5-10 metres across. (Credit: NASA/JPL)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2009) — Networks of giant polygonal troughs etched across crater basins on Mars have been identified as desiccation cracks caused by evaporating lakes, providing further evidence of a warmer, wetter martian past.

The findings were presented at the European Planetary Science Congress by PhD student Mr M Ramy El Maarry of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research.

Read more ....

What Are The Signs of Diabetes?

From Live Science:

This Week's Question: I've been very thirsty lately and someone mentioned to me that this
is a symptom for diabetes. Is that true?

An intense thirst is one diabetes symptom. Here are others: frequent urination, strong hunger, fatigue, unintended weight loss, slow-healing sores, dry and itchy skin, numbness or tingling in your feet, and blurred vision. However, some people with diabetes do not have symptoms.

Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases characterized by high levels of blood sugar. Diabetes can create serious health problems, but diabetics can control the disease.

Read more ....

China Says Will Push Space Programme To Catch Up West

From Breitbart/AFP:

China said Thursday its rapidly growing space programme was the crowning achievement of the nation's high-tech transformation and pledged to continue to develop it to close the gap with Western countries.

"I believe a space programme represents a country's high technology and I believe China has already become a major country in high technology," Vice Minister of Science and Technology Li Xueyong told reporters.

"Our success shows not only the progress of the space programme but also our overall level of science and technology," he said at a press briefing.

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Fossil Find Challenges Theories on T. Rex

The bones of Raptorex were discovered in northern China. Mike Hettwer

From The New York Times:

Paleontologists said Thursday that they had discovered what amounted to a miniature prototype of Tyrannosaurus rex, complete with the oversize head, powerful jaws, long legs — and, as every schoolchild knows, puny arms — that were hallmarks of the king of the dinosaurs.

But this scaled-down version, which was about nine feet long and weighed only 150 pounds, lived 125 million years ago, about 35 million years before giant Tyrannosaurs roamed the earth. So the discovery calls into question theories about the evolution of T. rex, which was about five times longer and almost 100 times heavier.

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Pictured: Three Bald Eagles Lock Talons As They Plunge To The Ground In Mid-Air Battle

The three hungry bald eagles lock talons in a vicious mid-air battle for a fish supper

From The Daily Mail:

Locked in desperate mid-air battle, the three eagles plunge towards the ground in a contest to see who will let go last.

Between their claws lies a gasping fish freshly plucked from an Alaskan lake, now the target of fearsome talons as each eagle grapples for supper.

This is not so much a desperate bid for food - instead it's a macho show of strength between three birds who want to show who's who in the pecking order.

Read more ....

Counting Money 'Makes People Feel Better About Themselves'

Research suggests that counting cash makes people feel better about themselves.

From The Telegraph:

Counting money can make you feel good about yourself – even if it isn't your own, according to a new study.

Just handling and thinking about money can actually lessen pain and even ease the social stigma of having no friends, researchers believe.

The psychological benefits increase feelings of internal strength, fearlessness and confidence.

Read more ....

Pause In Arctic's Melting Trend

Photo: Walrus have been seen on Alaska's north coast in unusual numbers

From The BBC:

This summer's melt of Arctic sea ice has not been as profound as in the last two years, scientists said as the ice began its annual Autumn recovery.

At its smallest extent this summer, on 12 September, the ice covered 5.10 million sq km (1.97 million sq miles).

This was larger than the minima seen in the last two years, and leaves 2007's record low of 4.1 million sq km (1.6 million sq miles) intact.

But scientists note the long-term trend is still downwards.

Read more ....

How Inspired A Scientific Breakthrough

From The Guardian:

I first saw Mendeley pitch two weeks ago – now it is on the way to changing the face of science.

The music radio site is one of the great ideas from the UK during the first dotcom boom. Users can listen to their own songs and other tracks recommended by's algorithms based on their tastes, including iTunes, and those of friends. It could easily have been a one-trick pony. But now a few academics have applied its serendipity to scientific research. Why can't researchers, instead of waiting anywhere up to three years for their papers to jump all the hurdles, be part of a real-time market place – a fusion of iTunes and for science?

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Women Really Can't Keep A Secret: Tongues Start Wagging After Just 47 Hours

Spilling the beans: Women cannot keep a secret for longer than 47 hours

From The Daily Mail:

Ever wondered how long a woman can keep a secret? Well the answer, it seems, is less than two days.

Researchers found that they will typically spill the beans to someone else in 47 hours and 15 minutes.

A study of 3,000 women aged between 18 and 65 also found that four in ten were unable to keep a secret, no matter how personal or confidential the news was.

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Brain Science To Help Teachers Get Into Kids' Heads

Neuroscience is set to bring fresh insight to teaching
(Image: Anne-Christine Poujoulat / Getty)

From The New Scientist:

NEUROSCIENCE could do for schools what biomedical research has done for healthcare. That's the conclusion of the Decade of the Mind (DOM) symposium last week in Berlin, Germany, to discuss how the latest findings could be used to improve education.

"In medicine, we have an excellent system in place to go from basic research to clinical practice, while in neuroscience we have the basic understanding of how the brain learns but still need to figure out how to translate this into the classroom," says Manfred Spitzer of the University of Ulm in Germany, one of the conference organisers.

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Scientists Cure Color Blindness In Monkeys

A test for color blindness showing a "6". Scientists used gene therapy to cure two squirrel monkeys of color blindness -- the most common genetic disorder in people. (Credit: iStockphoto/Thomas Pullicino)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2009) — Researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Florida used gene therapy to cure two squirrel monkeys of color blindness — the most common genetic disorder in people.

Writing online September 15 in the journal Nature, scientists cast a rosy light on the potential for gene therapy to treat adult vision disorders involving cone cells — the most important cells for vision in people.

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Can Robots Make Ethical Decisions?

From Live Science:

Robots and computers are often designed to act autonomously, that is, without human intervention. Is it possible for an autonomous machine to make moral judgments that are in line with human judgment?

This question has given rise to the issue of machine ethics and morality. As a practical matter, can a robot or computer be programmed to act in an ethical manner? Can a machine be designed to act morally?

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