Saturday, October 10, 2009

Classical Chaos Occurs In The Quantum World, Scientists Find

This image shows the kind of pictures Jessen’s team produces with tomography. The top two spheres are from a selected experimental snapshot taken after 40 cycles of changing the direction of the axis of spin of a cesium atom, the quantum “spinning top.” The two spheres below are theoretical models that agree remarkably with the experimental results. (Credit: Image courtesy of Poul Jessen)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Oct. 8, 2009) — Chaotic behavior is the rule, not the exception, in the world we experience through our senses, the world governed by the laws of classical physics.

Even tiny, easily overlooked events can completely change the behavior of a complex system, to the point where there is no apparent order to most natural systems we deal with in everyday life.

Read more ....

'First Bird' Not Very Bird-Like

The bones of the primitive bird Archaeopteryx had flattened and parallel bone cells, one of the signs that this bird grew slowly, more like non-avian dinosaurs, researchers report in the journal PLoS ONE. Credit: Gregory Erickson.

From Live Science:

A feathered beast that lived some 150 million years ago and which is considered the first bird likely grew more like its sluggish ancestors, the dinosaurs.

That's according to new analyses of tiny bone chips taken from Archaeopteryx and detailed this week in the journal PLoS ONE. The study researchers estimate a 970-day period from baby Archaeopteryx to an adult. For comparison, birds reach adult size in a matter of weeks.

Read more ....

Just How Sensitive Is Earth's Climate to Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide?

CLIMATE RECORD: The records preserved in stalagmites and ocean fossilsm, such as those harvested from mud cores drilled by the "Resolution" pictured here, suggest that CO2 levels in the atmosphere have an outsized effect on the Earth's climate. © Science / AAAS

From Scientific American:

Two new studies look far back in geologic time to determine how sensitive the global climate is to atmospheric CO2 levels.

Carbon dioxide levels climbing toward a doubling of the 280 parts per million (ppm) concentration found in the preindustrial atmosphere pose the question: What impact will this increased greenhouse gas load have on the climate? If relatively small changes in CO2 levels have big effects—meaning that we live in a more sensitive climate system—the planet could warm by as much as 6 degrees Celsius on average with attendant results such as changed weather patterns and sea-level rise. A less sensitive climate system would mean average warming of less than 2 degrees C and, therefore, fewer ramifications from global warming.

Read more ....

Word Has It That eReaders Will Open The Next Chapter

From Times Online:

Microsoft and Apple are about to follow the tablet trend.

TRAVELLING between airports has given analyst Jon Peddie lots of time to study tech trends. There was the rise of the mobile, laptops, the iPod, the BlackBerry and the iPhone.

Now Peddie, who runs California-based Jon Peddie Research, sees another change coming: the rise of the eReader.

Laptops are becoming less popular, he reckons, and even netbooks are fading. The new must-have is an eReader.

Read more ....

The Evolving Face Of Social Networks

Illustration: Gennady Kurbat/Getty Images

From The Guardian:

Laura Parker: What can evolutionary graph theory teach us about the spread of ideas on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter?

It seems that everyone is excited about social networks. But not quite in the same way as Harvard graduate student Erez Lieberman, whose evolutionary graph theory is encouraging people to think about social networks in a different way: as an evolving population.

Read more ....

Overrated Optimism: The Peril of Positive Thinking

Tom Stewart / CORBIS

From Time Magazine:

If you're craving a quick hit of optimism, reading a news magazine is probably not the best way to go about finding it. As the life coaches and motivational speakers have been trying to tell us for more than a decade now, a healthy, positive mental outlook requires strict abstinence from current events in all forms. Instead, you should patronize sites like, where the top international stories of the week include "Jobless Man Finds Buried Treasure" and "Adorable 'Teacup Pigs' Are Latest Hit with Brits."

Read more ....

Super-Efficient BMW Concepts Are Simple and Clever

From Autopia/Wired:

BMW, the company that brought you Gina, that wild shape-shifting concept car made of cloth, went even further off the deep end with a pair of wacky concepts making their debut at the company museum in Munich.

The cars, dubbed “Simple” and “Clever” — acronyms that we’ll explain in a moment — are über-small, über-light three-wheelers that are supposed to show just how far down the efficiency road BMW can go. The Bavarians say Simple is “light in weight, low on energy” and Clever gives you “cooperative driving pleasure.”

We say, WTF?

Read more .....

Volcanoes Wiped Out All Forests 250 Million Years Ago

Trees damaged by the effects of toxic acid rain in the highly polluted area known as the "Black Triangle" are seen in northern Czechoslovakia in 1991. A similar treeless landscape full of wood-eating fungi dominated Earth about 250 million years ago, when acid rain from a volcanic eruption killed off most life on Earth. Photograph by Tom Stoddart/Getty Images

From National Geographic:

Massive volcanic eruptions wiped out the world's forests about 250 million years ago, leaving the planet teeming with wood-eating fungi, according to a new study.

The finding confirms that even hardy trees didn't survive the Permian mass extinction, one of the most devastating losses of life Earth has ever known.

Read more ....

The Green Case For Cities

From The Atlantic:

Nowhere has the greening message had a bigger impact than in the building industry. Green or sustainable architecture is all the rage—as well it should be, because buildings use a lot of energy. The construction and operation of residential and commercial buildings consume as much as 40 percent of the energy used in the United States today.

The calculation of a building’s total environmental impact must factor in everything from annual energy consumption to how and where building materials are manufactured and the handling of storm water. This requires some sort of rating system, and there are currently more than 40 of them in use around the world.

Read more ....

NASA's Future of Space Exploration (In Pictures)

NASA's Space Shuttle has been the United States government's spacecraft for human spaceflight missions since the early 1980's, but the Space Shuttle program is scheduled to be retired in 2010. The space agency began eliminating manufacturing jobs in May 2009 with only nine Space Shuttle missions remaining. John Raoux/AP/FILE

Cool Science News Editor: These pictures are from the Christian Science Monitor. To see more, the link is here.

New Way to Tap Gas May Expand Global Supplies

Engineers and geologists are learning how to extract natural gas from layers of shale, a sediment. Matt Nager for The New York Times

From The New York Times:

OKLAHOMA CITY — A new technique that tapped previously inaccessible supplies of natural gas in the United States is spreading to the rest of the world, raising hopes of a huge expansion in global reserves of the cleanest fossil fuel.

Italian and Norwegian oil engineers and geologists have arrived in Texas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania to learn how to extract gas from layers of a black rock called shale. Companies are leasing huge tracts of land across Europe for exploration. And oil executives are gathering rocks and scrutinizing Asian and North African geological maps in search of other fields.

Read more ....

Major Step Forward In Cell Reprogramming, Researchers Report

Lee Rubin, director of translational medicine at HSCI and the other senior author on the research team, said that "our goals were to try to as discretely and specifically as possible guide the cells through the deprogramming process" from the adult state to the embryonic-like state. (Credit: Photograph by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Oct. 10, 2009) — A team of Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers has made a major advance toward producing induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, that are safe enough to use in treating diseases in patients.

“This demonstrates that we’re halfway home, and remarkably we got halfway home with just one chemical,” said Kevin Eggan, an HSCI principal faculty member who is the senior author of the paper being published online today by the journal Cell Stem Cell.

Read more

Computers Faster Only For 75 More Years

From Live Science:

WASHINGTON (ISNS) -- With the speed of computers so regularly seeing dramatic increases in their processing speed, it seems that it shouldn't be too long before the machines become infinitely fast -- except they can't. A pair of physicists has shown that computers have a speed limit as unbreakable as the speed of light. If processors continue to accelerate as they have in the past, we'll hit the wall of faster processing in less than a century.

Read more

Rand Study: It Ain’t The Big Macs That Make The Poor Fat

From Don Surber/Daily Mail:

The city of Los Angeles banned new or expansions to fast-food restaurants in low-income areas as the politicians blamed the food for obesity rather than the mouths.

The whole song and dance is that eating healthy is expensive. It is not. My mother made do raising 5 kids on barely above minimum wage pay.

A study by the Rand Corporation found that far from preying on the poor, fast-food outlets avoid those neighborhoods because of crime and well, the customers don’t have much money.

Read more ....

Pandemic Payoff From 1918: A Weaker H1N1 Flu Today

Past vaccinations and previous infection by interrelated viruses may account for the mildness of the new H1N1 swine flu. Bettmann CORBIS

From Scientific American:

How the legacy of the vicious 1918 outbreak led to today's comparatively tame swine flu.

Although the swine flu outbreak of 2009 is still in full swing, this global influenza epidemic, the fourth in 100 years, is already teaching scientists valuable lessons about pandemics past, those that might have been and those that still might be. Evidence accumulated this summer indicates that the novel H1N1 swine flu virus was not entirely new to all human immune systems. Some researchers have even come to see the current outbreak as a flare-up in an ongoing pandemic era that started when the first H1N1 emerged in 1918.

Read more ....

5 Technologies Missing From The Clean Energy Bill

From Popular Mechanics:

Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., unveiled the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act last week, a bill that aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020. The massive bill—it was 821 pages long—covers a range of programs aimed at cutting U.S. emissions, including clean transportation, waste management, water protection and even the ecological effects of wildfires. A number of emerging technologies show great promise in addressing climate change. The following innovations weren't fleshed out in the new climate bill, but they deserve attention.

Read more ....

Video: Raytheon's Free Roaming Combat Simulator Lets You Feel Getting Shot

From Popular Science:

A new combat simulator lets you toss real flash-bangs and feel the consequences of getting shot by virtual enemies

First-person-shooter video games have nothing on a new combat simulator by defense giant Raytheon. Fully rigged warfighters can roam freely in the real world and engage unseen virtual enemies through their VR goggles, tossing real flash-bang grenades and even shaking off the muscle-numbing effects of getting shot.

Read more ....

Card Counters' Days Are Numbered

From New Scientist:

GAMBLERS who adopt a well-known probability strategy to beat the house at blackjack beware - UK researchers have developed an automated system that will detect card counters before they can cash in.

Card counting, a strategy made famous by the film Rain Man, involves remembering which cards have been played, and which might be likely to turn up. An abundance of low-value cards in the discard pile can tip the odds slightly in favour of the gambler, and a card counter bets big only then.

Read more ....

How 'Superswarms' Of Krill Gather

From The BBC:

When krill come together, they form some of the largest gatherings of life on the plant.

Now scientists have discovered just how these small marine crustaceans do it.

Huge 'superswarms' containing trillions of krill are formed by juveniles not adults, and these swarms are even denser than experts supposed.

That suggests that all krill in the Southern Ocean are more vulnerable to overfishing then previously thought, the scientists warn.

Krill are small shrimp-like crustaceans that gather in huge numbers.

Read more ....

Nasa's Greatest Missions, From Apollo To Voyager

Buzz Aldrin unpacks instruments from the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Photo: NASA

From The Telegraph:

Nasa’s ‘Moon bombing’ LCROSS mission has successfully crashed into the lunar surface. We look back at five of the space agency’s other most important missions.

Without doubt the most important of all: the first time a human being has stood on the surface of another world.

In 1969, eight years after US President John F Kennedy announced that man would walk on the Moon and be returned safely to Earth, two men – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin – did exactly that. Ten more would follow in the next six years.

Read more ....

Can The E-Reader Really Replace The Good Old Book? We Put Them To The Test

Book of the future: A festival goer uses the Sony Reader

From The Daily Mail:

Is this the end of the novel as we know it? Thanks to the ebook - a new generation of mini-computers that allow you to download thousands of books at the click of a button - it seems the answer may be yes. Yesterday, Amazon announced their Kindle e-reader - a device that can download a book from the internet in 60 seconds - will be available in the UK later this month. So, can the e-reader really replace the good old book? LINSEY FRYATT, editor of gadget website, puts them to the test...

Read more ....

Friday, October 9, 2009

Household Robots Do Not Protect Users' Security And Privacy, Researchers Say

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 9, 2009) — People are increasingly using household robots for chores, communication, entertainment and companionship. But safety and privacy risks of information-gathering objects that move around our homes are not yet adequately addressed, according to a new University of Washington study.

It's not a question of evil robots, but of robots that can be misused.

"A lot of attention has been paid to robots becoming more intelligent and turning evil," said co-author Tadayoshi Kohno, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering. "But there is a much greater and more near-term risk, and that's bad people who can use robots to do bad things."

Read more ....

Even Modest Exercise Boosts Self-Image

From Live Science:

Want to feel good about your self? Just get off the couch and do a little exercise. You don't even have to get real serious, a new study finds.

Heather Hausenblas of the University of Florida reviewed 57 intervention studies on the topic of exercise and how it makes people feel, and she concludes that "the simple act of exercise and not fitness itself can convince you that you look better," according to a statement released today by the university.

Read more ....

Cambridge Laboratory of Molecular Biology: The Nobel Prize factory

Cambridge's Laboratory of Molecular Biology

From The Independent:

For the 14th time, the judges have honoured a member of the same lab.

Yesterday at tea time at Cambridge's Laboratory of Molecular Biology, something a little stronger than the usual brew was being glugged by the scientists gathered on the top floor overlooking Addenbrooke's Hospital.

Read more ....

Barnes & Noble To Launch Android-Based Kindle Killer?

From Channel News:

Amazon (NSDQ:AMZN)'s Kindle might have a new e-reader enemy from a familiar source: Barnes & Noble.

Barnes & Noble is reportedly preparing to unveil an e-reader device to compete with Amazon's Kindle and the rapidly expanding field of e-readers. The book retailer is already a force in e-books thanks to its three-month-old eBookstore, but according to reports is prepping an e-reader of its own that will run on Google's Android operating system.

Read more ....

Universe To End Sooner Than Previously Thought

Find The Entropy In This Super Massive Black Hole via Jevin Studios

From Popular Science:

While Robert Frost famously said that he prefers the world to end in fire, physicists have long predicted the universe will end with an icy sputter known as "heat death." Heat death occurs when the universe finally uses up all its energy, with all motion stopping and all the atoms in creation grinding to a halt. And, based on new calculations from a team of Australian physicists, it looks like heat death is far closer than previously thought.

Read more ....

Look Into My Eyes: The Power Of Hypnosis

From New Scientist:

I AM about to have my left leg paralysed, my arm taken over by an alien force and, quite possibly, be made blind. I confess I'm a bit nervous. But also, strangely, I hope it all works.

These insults to my body will not be inflicted with a scalpel, but instead induced using hypnosis. The effects, if they occur, will only be temporary, my hypnotist, David Oakley, reassures me.

Read more ....

Nasa Team Scours Moon Crash Data

The "shepherding spacecraft" will analyse the impact debris

From The BBC:

Nasa scientists have been outlining their preliminary results after crashing two unmanned spacecraft into the Moon in a bid to detect water-ice.

A rocket stage slammed into the Moon's south pole at 1231 BST (0731 EDT).

Another craft followed just behind, looking for signs of water in debris kicked up by the first collision.

Instruments on the second spacecraft identified a flash from the initial impact as well as a crater, but the expected debris cloud was not evident.

Read more ....

Nobel Prize: Ten Most Important Winners

Professor Marie Curie working in her laboratory at the University of Paris in 1925

From The Telegraph:

As the 2009 Nobel Prize winners are announced, we look at ten of the most influential laureates in the history of the awards.

1. Marie Curie

The leading light in a family that between them amassed a remarkable five Nobel Prizes in the fields of Chemistry and Physics. She became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in 1903 when she was recognised, along with her husband Pierre and Antoine Henri Becquerel, with the Physics award for their research into radiation.

Read more ....

Is China Beating The U.S. In Clean Tech?

Credit: Technology Review

From The Technology Review:

The president of NRDC points to a growing investment by China in energy technologies.

China could beat the United States in a race to deploy clean energy technology that can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, said Frances Beinecke, leader of a leading environmental group, speaking this week at MIT.

"I just got back from China, where there is tremendous investment in the clean tech sector," said Beinecke, the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "They have a national renewable energy standard, a national efficiency standard, and China will build more of everything--more coal, more nuclear, more renewables--and they'll invest in more efficiency than any other single country in the world."

Read more ....

Scaling New Heights: Piano Stairway Encourages Commuters To Ditch The Escalators

Music to your ears: The new stairway has proved a hit with commuters in Stockholm

From The Daily Mail:

Apart from the fighting fit, most of us struggle taking the stairs during the morning commute to work... especially if there is an escalator right next to them.

Now Volkswagen has come up with a nifty way of encouraging people to exercise more... by making climbing the stairs a note-worthy experience.

Read more ....

Burning Buried Coal Has 'Potential'

Photo: In the future power stations could use gas extracted from seams of coals deep underground to generate electricity, say experts (Source: ABC)

From ABC News (Australia):

Burning coal underground could be one of the next breakthroughs to increase the world's energy supply, say some experts.

They say the technology could provide access to additional coal reserves that are either too deep or remote to mine.

But the approach is so far untested on a commercial scale, making the initial expense a concern for governments and investors.

Read more ....

Last Time Carbon Dioxide Levels Were This High: 15 Million Years Ago, Scientists Report

Photo: Aradhna Tripati. (Credit: Image courtesy of UCLA)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Oct. 9, 2009) — You would have to go back at least 15 million years to find carbon dioxide levels on Earth as high as they are today, a UCLA scientist and colleagues report Oct. 8 in the online edition of the journal Science.

"The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today — and were sustained at those levels — global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland," said the paper's lead author, Aradhna Tripati, a UCLA assistant professor in the department of Earth and space sciences and the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.

Read more ...

Real Tsunami May Have Inspired Legend of Atlantis

From Live Science:

The volcanic explosion that obliterated much of the island that might have inspired the legend of Atlantis apparently triggered a tsunami that traveled hundreds of miles to reach as far as present-day Israel, scientists now suggest.

The new findings about this past tsunami could shed light on the destructive potential of future disasters, researchers added.

Read more ....

Has Science Found The Cause Of ME?

From The Independent:

Breakthrough offers hope to millions of sufferers around the world.

Scientists say they have made a dramatic breakthrough in understanding the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome – a debilitating condition affecting 250,000 people in Britain which for decades has defied a rational medical explanation.

The researchers have discovered a strong link between chronic fatigue syndrome, which is sometimes known as ME or myalgic encephalomyelitis, and an obscure retrovirus related to a group of viruses found to infect mice.

Read more ....

Canada Invests In Carbon Capture For Oil Sands

The Syncrude extraction facility in the northern Alberta oil sand fields is reflected in the pool of water being recycled for re-use in the extraction process in Fort McMurray, Canada in 2007. Canada will invest 865 million Canadian dollars (821 million US) to capture carbon emissions from its vast oil sands, reviled by environmentalists as hugely polluting, officials said Thursday.
(AFP/File/David Boily)

From Yahoo News/AFP:

OTTAWA (AFP) – Canada will invest 865 million Canadian dollars (821 million US) to capture carbon emissions from its vast oil sands, reviled by environmentalists as hugely polluting, officials said Thursday.

"The most viable emission-reducing technology for fossil fuels is carbon capture and storage," said Canadian Energy Minister Lisa Raitt.

"The government of Canada is backing up our support for carbon capture and storage with substantial investments... (to) reduce greenhouse gas emissions while creating high-quality jobs for Canadians."

Read more ....

NASA Craft Hits Moon South Pole Looking For Water

This artist's rendering released by NASA on Friday shows the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite as it crashes into the moon to test for the presence of water. NASA, via Reuters

In Test of Water on Moon, Craft Hits Bull’s-Eye -- New York Times

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — More than 230,000 miles from Earth, a NASA spacecraft hit a bull’s-eye on the Moon on Friday morning. Actually, two bull’s-eyes.

At 4:31 a.m. Pacific time (7:31 a.m. Eastern time), one piece of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite — LCROSS, for short — slammed into the bottom of a crater at 5,600 miles per hour, excavating about 350 metric tons of the moon and leaving behind a hole about 65 feet wide, 13 feet deep.

Trailing four minutes behind, instruments aboard the second piece analyzed the rising plume and sent its observations back to Earth before it also slammed into the same crater.

Read more ....

More News On NASA

NASA makes as-yet unseen hit on moon with probes -- AP
NASA craft smacks the moon in quest for water -- L.A. Times
Searching for lunar water -- USA Today
NASA probes give moon a double smack -- AP
Nasa Moon bombing: analysis -- The Telegraph

South Pole Telescope Emerges From Dark Winter With Visions Of Unseen Galaxies

The South Pole Telescope with The Milky Way and Aurora Australis. (UPPA/Photoshot)

From Times Online:

The South Pole Telescope emerges from a six-month winter of perpetual darkness having discovered clusters of previously unseen galaxies.

The pole has been called “the most benign environment on Earth” for astronomy because of its altitude — 2,800m above sea level — dryness of air and virtual absence of light pollution.

Read more ....

Animals Survived Apocalypse By Burrowing

Ninety percent of all life was killed during the Permian mass extinction 250 million years ago. But the pig-sized animal Lystrosaurus curvatus and other species apparently survived by burrowing underground. Lunar and Planetary Institute

From Discovery:

When the going gets tough, putting your head in the sand isn't always a bad idea. According to a new study, that's exactly how a group of animals living 250 million years ago survived the worst mass extinction of all time.

In a series of new fossil discoveries in South Africa, researchers have uncovered a slew of petrified burrows, many of them a foot wide and a meter (3.3 feet) or more deep.

Read more ....

The Legacy Of America’s Largest Forest Fire

The forest fire of 1910 ripped through the town of Wallace, Idaho leaving it in complete shambles. Library of Congress

From The Smithsonian:

A 1910 wildfire that raged across three Western states helped advance the nation’s conservation efforts

Here now came the fire down from the Bitterroot Mountains and showered embers and forest shrapnel onto the town that was supposed to be protected by all those men with faraway accents and empty stomachs. For days, people had watched it from their gabled houses, from front porches and ash-covered streets, and there was some safety in the distance, some fascination even—See there, way up on the ridgeline, just candles flickering in the trees. But now it was on them, an element transformed from Out There to Here, and just as suddenly in their hair, on front lawns, snuffing out the life of a drunk on a hotel mattress, torching a veranda. The sky had been dark for some time on this Saturday in August of 1910, the town covered in a warm fog so opaque that the lights were turned on at three o’clock in the afternoon. People took stock of what to take, what to leave behind. A woman buried her sewing machine out back in a shallow grave. A pressman dug a hole for his trunk of family possessions, but before he could finish the fire caught him on the face, the arms, the neck.

Read more ....

War Injury Leads To Advances At Home

British soldiers on patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Photograph: John D McHugh/AFP/Getty images

From The L.A. Times:

The military takes the lead in brain trauma research, giving hope to wounded civilians of a 'silent epidemic.'

A world away from the roadside bombs and combat injuries of Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are suffering the same type of brain injury seen in troops coming home from those war-torn countries. On American roads, at workplaces and on playing fields, more than 11 million have been hurt since the fighting overseas started.

Almost 1 in 5 of these civilians will struggle with lingering, often subtle symptoms -- headaches, dizziness, concentration difficulties and personality changes -- for a year, and often longer. As their memories falter, their work suffers and their relationships fray, many victims of brain trauma don't realize that their cognitive struggles are related to a blow to the head.

Read more ....

My Comment: Explosions, bombings, the noise and concussion of war has consequences that we are only now starting to understand. This research is valuable .... and should be pushed further.

Fresh Impact Risks For Asteroid 'Poster Child'

Still heading our way (Image: Stocktrek Images/Getty)

From New Scientist:

The chances of the asteroid Apophis hitting Earth in 2036 are lower than we thought. But those worried about deep impacts should add a new entry to their calendar: 2068.

When Apophis was first spotted in 2004, the 250-metre-wide rock was briefly estimated to have a 2.7 per cent chance of hitting Earth in 2029. Further observations quickly showed that it will miss Earth that year – but should it pass through a 600-metre-wide "keyhole" in space, it will return to hit Earth in 2036.

Read more ....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Brain-Computer Interface Allows Person-to-person Communication Through Power Of Thought

Dr. Chris James demonstrating brain to brain communication using BCI to transmit thoughts, translated as a series of binary digits, over the Internet to another person whose computer receives the digits. (Credit: University of Southampton)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 6, 2009) — New research from the University of Southampton has demonstrated that it is possible for communication from person to person through the power of thought -- with the help of electrodes, a computer and Internet connection.

Brain-Computer Interfacing (BCI) can be used for capturing brain signals and translating them into commands that allow humans to control (just by thinking) devices such as computers, robots, rehabilitation technology and virtual reality environments.

Read more ....

Proposal Would Turn San Francisco Bridge Into A City

The Bay Line, a proposal for modular housing and other structures bolted to the now-unused San Francisco Bay Bridge. Design by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello

From Live Science:

San Francisco's Bay Bridge is being redone; a large portion of the bridge will remain unused, but in good shape. What can city planners do with this unique, unused space?

Science fiction writer William Gibson thought about the Bay Bridge in his 1993 novel Virtual Light:

"[Chevette] looked up, just as she whipped between the first of the slabs, and the bridge seemed to look down at her, its eyes all torches and neon. She'd seen pictures of what it had looked like, before, when they drove cars back and forth on it all day, but she'd never quite believed them. The bridge was what it was, and somehow always had been. Refuge, weirdness, where she slept, home to many and all their dreams."

Read more

In The Future, All Our Pop Idols Will Be Machines

From Popular Science:

Performing live at CEATEC, everyone's favorite catwalk model bot has been loaded with Vocaloid software (Rin), enabling her to croon sweet pop songs.

Read more ....

Direction of NASA’s Future At An Impasse

From Wired Science:

The committee charged with rethinking American human spaceflight is done thinking, but it’s still unclear what the future of NASA’s astronaut corps might be, and some nagging issues have yet to be resolved.

The U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee — known informally as the Augustine commission, after its head Norm Augustine, former CEO of Lockheed Martin — held its last teleconference today. The ball, or hot potato, will soon be in the Obama administration’s court when the group formally presents its alternatives to the Office for Science and Technology Policy.

Read more ....

Fossils Suggest An Ancient CO2-Climate Link

Mark Pink / Alamy

From Time Magazine:

Some of the best evidence linking rising carbon dioxide levels to a warmer world comes from the coldest places on earth. Samples of ancient air extracted from deep inside the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps make it clear that CO2 is scarce in the atmosphere during ice ages and relatively abundant during warmer interglacial periods — like the one we're in now.

The relationship between CO2 and climate is clear going back about 800,000 years. Before that, however, it gets murkier. That's largely because ice and air that old haven't yet been found. So scientists rely instead on indirect measurements — and these have led to a climate mystery: some episodes of past warming, including a planetary heat wave about 15 million years ago and another about 3.5 million years ago, seem to have happened without a rise in CO2. No one quite understands why. Maybe other greenhouse gases were the cause — methane, for example. Or maybe it had to do with changes in ocean circulation.

Read more ....

Europa, Jupiter's Moon, Could Support Complex Life

Europa, pictured above, may have enough oxygen to support complex, animal-like organisms, according to a new study. NASA

From Discovery:

Jupiter's moon Europa should have enough oxygen-rich water to support not only simple micro-organisms but also complex life, according to a University of Arizona researcher who studies ice flows on the frozen moon.

Judging by how quickly Europa's surface ice is replenished, Richard Greenberg estimates that enough oxygen reaches the subterranean ocean to sustain "macrofauna" -- more complex, animal-like organisms.

Read more ....

The Fatal Consequences Of Counterfeit Drugs

From Smithsonian Magazine:

In Southeast Asia, forensic investigators using cutting-edge tools are helping stanch the deadly trade in fake anti-malaria drugs

In Battambang, Cambodia, a western province full of poor farmers barely managing to grow enough rice to live on, the top government official charged with fighting malaria is Ouk Vichea. His job—contending with as many as 10,000 malaria cases a year in an area twice as large as Delaware—is made even more challenging by ruthless, increasingly sophisticated criminals, whose handiwork Ouk Vichea was about to demonstrate.

Read more ....

PCs Are Best For E-Reading, Microsoft's Ballmer Says

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Microsoft Corporation Steve Ballmer gestures during a news conference to present the new Windows 7 operating system in Munich October 7, 2009. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

From The Reuters:

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (Reuters) - Microsoft has no plans to develop a digital book reader to compete with the fast-growing popularity of Amazon's Kindle or a device that rival Apple is reportedly developing.

Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said Microsoft had no need for its own e-reader, since it already supplies the software that runs the most popular device for electronic reading.

"We have a device for reading. It's the most popular device in the world. It's the PC," Ballmer said on Thursday on the sidelines of television show recording at Erasmus University in the Netherlands.

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NASA Catches Two Black Holes Sucking Face

Black Hole Merger: Two pinpoints of light represent black holes in the center of this combined X-ray/optical image NASA/CXC/MIT/C.Canizares, M.Nowak/STScI

From Popular Science:

The Chandra X-ray Observatory helped discover two merging black holes a mere 3,000 light years apart

Colliding black holes may prove more interesting to scientists than the immovable object versus the unstoppable force. New data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has combined with optical images from Hubble to show off a merging black hole pair in all its glory.

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Why NASA Barred Women Astronauts

From New Scientist:

About 50 years ago, as the US worked towards putting its first men in space, a few people thought there was another option: women in space. The facts about this episode have been somewhat obscured by the myths that have grown up around it.

In 1960-61, a small group of female pilots went through many of the same medical tests as the Mercury astronauts, and scored very well on them – in fact, better than some of the astronauts did. A new study that presents the first published results of their physiological tests shows that much is fact.

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Twitter On The Verge Of Big Search Deals?

From CNET:

Are Microsoft and Google hoping to get into Twitter's treasure trove of real-time information? Yes, says Kara Swisher of AllThingsD, citing sources who indicate that the two companies are separately in talks with Twitter about data licensing deals.

This would involve the exchange of several million dollars plus a revenue-share to "compensate Twitter for its huge and potentially valuable trove of real-time and content-sharing information, generated from the data stream of billions of tweets of its 54 million monthly users," Swisher wrote.

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