Saturday, October 17, 2009

World's Oldest Submerged Town Dates Back 5,000 Years

Underwater archaeologists at Pavlopetri. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Nottingham)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 16, 2009) — Archaeologists surveying the world’s oldest submerged town have found ceramics dating back to the Final Neolithic. Their discovery suggests that Pavlopetri, off the southern Laconia coast of Greece, was occupied some 5,000 years ago — at least 1,200 years earlier than originally thought.

These remarkable findings have been made public by the Greek government after the start of a five year collaborative project involving the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and The University of Nottingham.

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Speed of Thought-to-Speech Traced in Brain

This is a brain scan showing electrodes that surgeons use to find and remove the source of seizures (to cure epilepsy) while sparing the source of mental functions like language. Credit: Illustration: Ned T. Sahin, Ph.D.. Brain Image Reconstruction: Sean McInerney.

From Live Science:

In just 600 milliseconds, the human brain can think of a word, apply the rules of grammar to it and send it to the mouth to be spoken. For the first time, researchers have traced this lightning-fast sequence and broken it down into distinct steps.

Researchers got this rare glimpse into the fine-tuned workings of the brain from the signals sent by electrodes implanted in the brains of epileptics. The electrodes help surgeons locate the parts of the brain that cause epileptic seizures so they can be removed, and also help keep surgeons from removing critical parts of the brain

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Solving The Crystal Maze: The Secrets Of Structure

What makes graphite like this? (Image: Walden)

From New Scientist:

CRYSTALS are objects of true and profound mystery. That's not because they channel occult energies, or hold misty hints of the future in their limpid depths. Their puzzle is much less esoteric: why are they as they are?

It is an incredibly basic question, yet physicists still struggle with it. Can we say why a given group of atoms prefers one particular arrangement over another? Can we predict how a crystal will be structured, and so deduce what properties it will have?

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Barnacles' Sticky Secret Revealed

Inside out, a cross section of a barnacle

From the BBC:

Barnacles are able to attach themselves to almost anything.

They are found clinging to the hulls of ships, the sides of rock pools and even to the skin of whales.

Just how they stick so steadfastly whilst underwater has remained a biochemical puzzle for scientists for many years.

Now researchers have solved this mystery, showing that barnacle glue binds together exactly the same way as human blood does when it clots.

Read more ....

NASA Moon Crash Did Kick Up Debris Plume As Hoped

A satellite camera picks up a plume of debris, circled above, seconds after a rocket smashed into the Cabeus crater. NASA estimates the dust went up about a mile. (NASA)

From The L.A. Times:

Images are released showing that the lunar mission may be more successful than it first appeared. Scientists are 'are blown away by the data returned.'

NASA's recent lunar-punch mission apparently was not the high-profile flop it first appeared.

Officials at Ames Research Center in Northern California, which managed the mission, released images Friday that clearly show a plume of debris from the Cabeus crater shortly after the space agency's rocket plowed into it.

The plume reached an estimated mile above the lunar surface.

Read more ....

The Collider, The Particle And A Theory About Fate

SUICIDE MISSION? The core of the superconducting solenoid magnet at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Martial Trezzini/European Pressphoto Agency

From The International Herald Tribune:

More than a year after an explosion of sparks, soot and frigid helium shut it down, the world’s biggest and most expensive physics experiment, known as the Large Hadron Collider, is poised to start up again. In December, if all goes well, protons will start smashing together in an underground racetrack outside Geneva in a search for forces and particles that reigned during the first trillionth of a second of the Big Bang.

Read more

New Software Could Smooth Supercomputing Speed Bumps

ONE SIZE DOESN'T FIT ALL: Researchers are increasingly turning to computers powered by a combination of graphics processing units (GPUs) and central processing units (CPUs), but they're looking for a better way to write software for these systems. © FOTOIE, VIA ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

From Scientific American:

Researchers turn to the Open Computing Language as a way to get graphics and general-purpose computer processors on the same page for more powerful number crunching

Supercomputers have long been an indispensable, albeit expensive, tool for researchers who need to make sense of vast amounts of data. One way that researchers have begun to make high-speed computing more powerful and also more affordable is to build systems that split up workloads among fast, highly parallel graphics processing units (GPUs) and general-purpose central processing units (CPUs).

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The Dissection: A Home Electric Meter

Electric Meter An unsuspecting electric meter, waiting to be dissected. Vin Marshall

From Popular Science:

A peek inside the simple gears and complicated math that make up one of the coolest devices in your house.

You remember calculus, right? In a time before mechanized computing was performed by computers, complex (or sometimes just clever) machines were used to automate calculations. One example that has always impressed and fascinated me is the wheel-and-disk integrator, a simple machine capable of solving the calculus equations you labored over in high school without breaking a sweat. While this concept was used most impressively in Vannevar Bush's differential analyzer, an analog computer built in 1931, the chances are good that you've seen one in a more mundane application around your house: the power meter. Click on the photo gallery to see inside one and how it works, and follow the jump for more in-depth electro-geekery.

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Digital Rosetta Stone For Digital Storage For 1000 years

From The Next Big Future:

Tadahiro Kuroda, an electrical engineering professor at Keio University in Japan, has invented what he calls a "Digital Rosetta Stone," a wireless memory chip sealed in silicon that he says can store data for 1,000 years.
Currently long term data storage requires: Data typically has to be put on new storage systems every 20 years or less for it to be accessible. The digital migration costs time and money. Storing and maintaining a digital master of a very high-resolution movie, for example, costs $12,500 a year; archiving a standard film costs $1,000 a year.
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Exact Date Pinned To Great Pyramid's Construction?

The setting sun casts a golden hue over the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt in an undated picture. Construction of the Great Pyramid (right), the tomb of the pharaoh Khufu, started on August 23, 2470 B.C., according to controversial new research announced in August 2009. Photograph by Kenneth Garrett/NGS

From National Geographic:

The Egyptians started building the Great Pyramid of Giza on August 23, 2470 B.C., according to controversial new research that attempts to place an exact date on the start of the ancient construction project.

A team of Egyptian researchers arrived at the date based on calculations of historical appearances of the star Sothis—today called Sirius.

Read more ....

More Than 4735 Deaths So Far From H1N1 Flu

Shortage Of Shots As More Kids Die Of Swine Flu -- MSNBC

CDC: H1N1 virus causing unprecedented number of infections for early fall

WASHINGTON - Even as swine flu infections are causing an unprecedented amount of illness for this time of year — and a growing number of deaths, particularly among children — supplies of vaccine to protect against it will be delayed, government health officials said Friday.

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200,000-Year-Old Cut Of Meat: Archaeologists Shed Light On Life, Diet And Society Before The Delicatessen

A bone from the Qesem Cave showing irregular cutmarks. (Credit: Photo by Dr. Mary Stiner)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 15, 2009) — Contestants on TV shows like Top Chef and Hell's Kitchen know that their meat-cutting skills will be scrutinized by a panel of unforgiving judges. Now, new archaeological evidence is getting the same scrutiny by scientists at Tel Aviv University and the University of Arizona.

Their research is providing new clues about how, where and when our communal habits of butchering meat developed, and they're changing the way anthropologists, zoologists and archaeologists think about our evolutionary development, economics and social behaviors through the millennia.

Read more ....

Small Asteroid to Fly Past Earth Tonight

From Live Science:

A small asteroid will buzz the Earth late Friday EDT (early Saturday GMT), flying just inside the orbit of the moon. It should pass safely by our home planet, according to a crack team of NASA space rock trackers.

The space rock, named 2009 TM8, was just discovered Thursday by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. It will get within 216,000 miles (348,000 km) of Earth when it zooms by at a speed of about 18,163 mph (29,232 kph).

"That's slightly closer than the orbit of our moon," NASA's Asteroid Watch team said Friday via Twitter.

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Remembering The Man Who Made Jet Fighters Possible

Richard T. Whitcomb solved a problem that had bedeviled aviation engineers, leading to supersonic flight. He died Tuesday at age 88. NASA

He Sparked Supersonic Flight With A Coke Bottle And File -- Wall Street Journal

Richard T. Whitcomb dreamed up techniques that made supersonic flight possible and innovations that endure on passenger jets today.

Mr. Whitcomb, who died Oct. 13 at age 88, solved a problem that had bedeviled aviation engineers, whose designs couldn't achieve supersonic flight even though they seemed to have enough power. Increased wind resistance at speeds approaching the speed of sound was the problem. Engineers took to calling it the "sound barrier."

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My Comment: We have gone a long way since his techniques made supersonic flight possible .... but he was the first to dream of the impossible becoming possible.

The Moon Belongs To No One – Yet

Making the moon mine (Image: View China Photo/Rex Features)

From New Scientist:

LAST week, NASA bombed the moon. Or rather, it crashed its Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite into the moon's south pole in a bid to discover reserves of water and other resources.

This was the latest in a veritable flurry of moon missions: between 2007 and 2011 there will have been eight: one from Japan, two from China, one from India, one from Russia and three from the US.

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LHC Gets Colder Than Deep Space

The giant Atlas detector will search for hints of the elusive Higgs boson particle

From The BBC:

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment has once again become one of the coldest places in the Universe.

All eight sectors of the LHC have now been cooled to their operating temperature of 1.9 kelvin (-271C; -456F) - colder than deep space.

The large magnets that bend particle beams around the LHC are kept at this frigid temperature using liquid helium.

Read more ....

How Net Activity Boosted 'Paranormal Activity'

From San Francisco Chronicle:

Fueled by a grassroots Internet campaign that included a "Tweet Your Scream" promotion using Twitter, a low-budget horror film titled "Paranormal Activity" has become a surprise box office hit.

Meanwhile, a more anticipated movie, "Where the Wild Things Are," gained 871,000 fans on its Facebook page last week and now has more than 1.5 million eager devotees even before the film hits screens today.

And the official Twitter account promoting next month's sequel to the romantic vampire movie "Twilight" went live Monday and bit into more than 79,000 followers by Thursday. Its Facebook page already had 3.8 million fans.

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Cheetah, Gecko And Spiders Inspire Robotic Designs

From Gadget Lab:

A cheetah can run faster than any other animal. A gecko’s feet can stick to almost any surface without using liquids or surface tension. And some roaches scurry at nearly 50 times their body length in one second, which, scaled up to human levels, can be around 200 miles an hour.

The wonders of the animal kingdom are not just for fans of National Geographic. Robotic designer Sangbae Kim, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is trying to understand how he can take some of the mechanisms animals use and replicate them in robots.

Read more ....

Stormy Times For Cloud Computing?

From Times Online:

Concern over data loss and legal uncertainty may delay the development of cloud computing, experts warned on Monday.

Cloud computing involves the storage of data online, rather than on locally networked servers or machines. The best known services are provided by Google and Microsoft.

Last weekend, Microsoft in the United States was forced to admit that it had irretrievably lost all online data belonging to owners of the T-Mobile Sidekick, a smartphone that backs up its data online, in the cloud.

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British Men Have More Stamina In Bed Than Foreigners, Study Finds

British men last longer in bed than their foreign counterparts, a study has found

From The Telegraph:

British men have more stamina between the sheets than their foreign counterparts – lasting just 10 minutes, a study has found.

Researchers in Holland measured the sexual performance of nearly 500 men from five countries against the clock.

They found that British men had sex for 10 minutes on average before reaching an orgasm.

Read more ....

Andromeda Galaxy Captured In Crystal Clear Detail By Nasa's Swift Satellite

The Swift image has revealed new features not seen in previous composites of M31 (pictured)

From The Daily Mail:

Nasa's Swift satellite has captured the highest-resolution view of our neighbouring galaxy Andromeda.

Also known as M31, it contains an incredible one trillion stars and is the largest galaxy in our small section of the Universe.

Swift, which usually searches for distant cosmic explosions, turned its incredibly powerful ultraviolet telescope onto our celestial neighbour to achieve the shot.

Read more ....

Friday, October 16, 2009

Giant Impact Near India -- Not Mexico -- May Have Doomed Dinosaurs

Three-dimensional reconstruction of the submerged Shiva crater (~500 km diameter) at the Mumbai Offshore Basin, western shelf of India from different cross-sectional and geophysical data. The overlying 4.3-mile-tick Cenozoic strata and water column were removed to show the morphology of the crater. (Credit: Image courtesy of Geological Society Of America)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 15, 2009) — A mysterious basin off the coast of India could be the largest, multi-ringed impact crater the world has ever seen. And if a new study is right, it may have been responsible for killing the dinosaurs off 65 million years ago.

Read more ....

Monkey Drumming Suggests The Origin Of Music

An illustration of a rhesus macaque drumming with cage doors.
Credit: K. Lamberty, PNAS.

From Live Science:

When monkeys drum, they activate brain networks linked with communication, new findings that suggest a common origin of primate vocal and nonvocal communication systems and shed light on the origins of language and music.

In the wild, monkeys known as macaques drum by shaking branches or thumping on dead logs. Similar behavior has been seen in non-human primates — for instance, gorillas beat their chests and clap their hands, while chimpanzees drum on tree buttresses.

Read more ....

Atlantic Salmon Shortage's Ripple Effect

Watch CBS News Videos Online

From CBS News:

(CBS) In Chile's northern Patagonia, in channels sheltered by the Andes Mountains, the salmon are dying, CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.

At fish farms, divers check for signs of a waterborne virus called ISA: Infectious Salmon Anemia.

Harmless to humans and deadly to Atlantic salmon, it's the mostly popular fresh fish to eat for American consumers.

ISA has killed millions of salmon in Chile.

Read more ....

Rocking On With Hot Rocks Geothermal Energy

From NOVA:

The world is getting hotter. This is because of the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due mainly to our excessive burning of fossil fuels. We burn them for the energy that is needed increasingly in our daily life – to drive to school, cool ourselves on hot summer days, blow-dry our hair and listen to our music. The resulting greenhouse gases trap radiation from the sun, preventing it from escaping back into space, causing the planet’s temperature to rise. But not all of the planet’s heat comes from the Sun; some of it is within the Earth; and rather than causing global warming it could help to wean us off fossil fuels.

This heat, geothermal energy, lies in abundance beneath our feet. If the energy stored in hot rocks inside the Earth could be tapped and used instead of fossil fuels, it could help to reduce the threat of climate change.

Read more ....

20 Years After The Bay Area Quake: Are We Better Prepared?

Photo: Repair crews in Oakland, Calif., examine damage to the Cypress Structure during the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. Dave Bartruff / Corbis

From Time Magazine:

The San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics were just about to start Game 3 of the 1989 World Series on Oct. 17 when the shaking began. ABC play-by-play announcer Al Michaels managed to tell viewers, "We're having an earth—" before the signal went dead. The temblor was brief — just 15 seconds — but the damage caused by the 6.9-magnitude quake was impressive. It killed 63 people, injured thousands and caused $7 billion worth of damage throughout California's Bay Area, including major destruction to the Oakland Bay Bridge. "It was a good sized shock," says Peter Yanev, chairman of Risk Solutions International and the author of Peace of Mind in Earthquake Country.

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YouTube’s Bandwidth Bill Is Zero. Welcome To The New Net

From Epicenter:

YouTube may pay less to be online than you do, a new report on internet connectivity suggests, calling into question a recent analysis arguing Google’s popular video service is bleeding money and demonstrating how the internet has continued to morph to fit user’s behavior.

In fact, with YouTube’s help, Google is now responsible for at least 6 percent of the internet’s traffic, and likely more — and may not be paying an ISP at all to serve up all that content and attached ads.

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Are Online Currencies Striking Gold?

Without the gold standard, argues consultant Dave Birch, pounds are no more real than World of Warcraft gold. Photograph: Getty Images

From The Guardian:

Money. The stuff that makes the world go round. Every day we earn it, spend it, exchange it and lose it. But you won't find any Linden dollars, Eve ISK or Facebook credits down the back of the couch.

Virtual currencies like these are used for transactions in online worlds and social networking sites. While real-world currencies are on the slide, many virtual ones are going from strength to strength. In the second quarter of the year the equivalent of $144m (£91m) was traded on the LindeX, the official currency exchange of Second Life, where residents buy and sell Linden dollars for their US counterpart – a 20% increase on the previous quarter, while the US economy shrank by 1%. Trading activity increased by 6% in the last quarter of 2008.

Read more ....

Carbon Dioxide 'May Improve Taste Of Champagne'

It's all in the fizz-sensing cells found in the tongue Photo: GETTY

From The Telegraph:

Carbon dioxide in champagne bubbles may enhance the taste of the drink, scientists revealed today.

A team headed by Charles Zuker, a neuroscientist at Columbia University, found that taste-receptor cells in the tongue respond to carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas that gives sparkling drinks their fizz.

The work showed for the first time that the tongue's fizz-sensing cells are the same taste-receptor cells that detect sourness.

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Seamlessly Melding Man And Machine

Image: Living interface: Muscle cells (shown here) are grown on a biological scaffold. Severed nerves remaining from the lost limb connect to the muscle cells in the interface, which transmits electrical signals that can be used to control the artificial arm. Credit: Paul Cederna

From Technology Review:

Tiny implants that connect to nerve cells could make it easier to control prosthetic limbs.

A novel implant seeded with muscle cells could better integrate prosthetic limbs with the body, allowing amputees greater control over robotic appendages. The construct, developed at the University of Michigan, consists of tiny cups, made from an electrically conductive polymer, that fit on nerve endings and attract the severed nerves. Electrical signals coming from the nerve can then be translated and used to move the limb.

Read more ....

Throwable Robot And Remote-Controlled Mini-Helicopter Unveiled As Latest Battlefield Surveillance Technology

Eye in the sky: The lightweight helicopter has four cameras and can hover over enemy positions giving the operator real-time intelligence

From The Daily Mail:

Soldiers on the battlefield could soon benefit from new state-of-the-art surveillance equipment that can remotely pinpoint snipers, ambushes and explosive devices.

A throwable wheeled robot and a remote-controlled helicopter were both unveiled at a demonstration at the Defence and Equipment Support at Abbey Wood, near Bristol.

Read more ....

New Israeli Battery Provides Thousands Of Hours Of Power

Photo: Prof. Yair Ein-Eli in his Technion lab, where he invented a battery that is potentially as eco-friendly as sand. Photo: Technion

From Jerusalem Post:

A new kind of portable electrochemical battery that can produce thousands of hours of power - and soon replace the expensive regular or rechargeable batteries in hearing aids and sensors and eventually in cellphones, laptop computers and even electric cars - has been developed at Haifa's Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Read more ....

'Magnetricity' Observed And Measured For First Time

The magnetic equivalent of electricity in a 'spin ice' material: atom sized north and south poles in spin ice drift in opposite directions when a magnetic field is applied. (Credit: UCL/LCN)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 15, 2009) — A magnetic charge can behave and interact just like an electric charge in some materials, according to new research led by the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN).

The findings could lead to a reassessment of current magnetism theories, as well as significant technological advances.

Read more ....

Study: Tingle of Carbonation Is Tasty, Too

From Live Science:

Fizzy beverages don't just tickle the tongue. They also rev up taste buds that can detect the drink's bubble-inducing carbon dioxide.

Though this discovery was made in mice, researchers say a rodent's sense of taste is similar to ours.

When a person, or mouse, devours a snack or downs a beverage, taste receptor cells on the tongue (which are clustered into taste buds) detect certain molecules in that food or drink. The receptor cells then send a message to the part of the brain involved in tasting.

Read more ....

A Swim Through The Ocean's Future

As ocean water becomes more acidic, corals and shellfish must spend more energy to make their calcium carbonate shells. Photos courtesy of NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Coral Reef Ecosystem Division, Photo by Benjamin Richards

From The Smithsonian:

Can a remote, geologically weird island in the South Pacific forecast the fate of coral reefs?

I drop the dinghy’s anchor below the red-streaked cliffs of Maug. The uninhabited island group is among the most remote of the Mariana Islands, which are territories of the United States in the Western Pacific. Maug's three steep, parentheses-shaped islands are the top of an underwater volcano.

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Mystery Space "Ribbon" Found at Solar System's Edge

From National Geographic:

In a discovery that took astronomers by surprise, the first full-sky map of the solar system's edge—more than 9 billion miles (15 billion kilometers) away—has revealed a bright "ribbon" of atoms called ENAs.

The solar system is surrounded by a protective "bubble" called the heliosphere.

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Tiny Moon Feeds Largest Ring Around Saturn

This artist's illustration shows a nearly invisible ring around Saturn – the largest of the giant planet's many rings. It was discovered by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Keck

From The Cosmos:

PARIS: Stunned astronomers have discovered a new mega-ring around Saturn and believe its genesis is a small, distant moon.

Phoebe, a Saturnian satellite measuring only 214 km across, probably provides the record-breaking tenuous circle of dusty and icy debris, they report today in the British journal Nature.

The largest ring identified so far in the Solar System, the circle starts about six million km from Saturn and extends outwardly by another 12 million km, within the orbit of Phoebe.

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Banana Marks Seed Bank Milestone

From BBC:

An international seed bank has reached its target of collecting 10% of the world's wild plants, with seeds of a pink banana among its latest entries.

The wild banana, Musa itinerans, is a favourite of wild Asian elephants.

Seeds from the plant, which is under threat from agriculture, join 1.7 billion already stored by Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership.

The project has been described as an "insurance strategy" against future biodiversity losses.

Read more ....

Another Century Of Oil? Getting More From Current Reserves


From Scientific American:

Amid warnings of a possible "peak oil," advanced technologies offer ways to extract every last possible drop.

On fourteen dry, flat square miles of California’s Central Valley, more than 8,000 horsehead pumps—as old-fashioned oilmen call them—slowly rise and fall as they suck oil from underground. Glittering pipelines crossing the whole area suggest that the place is not merely a relic of the past. But even to an expert’s eyes, Kern River Oil Field betrays no hint of the technological miracles that have enabled it to survive decades of dire predictions.

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How Can We Tell If a Country Is Making Nuclear Power Or Nuclear Weapons?

Bombs or Power?: Centrifuges are usually arranged in a triangular cascade; the layout tips inspectors to its purpose. Weapons require heavily enriched uranium, so the triangle is long and narrow; power takes more fuel, so the cascade is short and fat. McKibillo

From Popular Science:

It's all about enrichment.

Just about everyone insists that Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at building weapons. Iran claims it only wants nuclear power. So how do weapons inspectors get at the truth? They study the country’s supply and treatment of uranium, one of the most abundant nuclear materials on the planet.

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Building The World's Most Powerful Laser

Photo: Power up: This laser can deliver a 200-joule pulse of light lasting just 100 femtoseconds. The cables at left pump power to green flash lamps that pump the laser. Credit: Texas Petawatt Laser Project

From Technology Review:

New lasers will be key to making fusion energy and proton therapy practical.

This March, researchers at the National Ignition Facility demonstrated a 1.1 megajoule laser designed to ignite nuclear fusion reactions by 2010. But the facility's technology, which is housed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, cannot yet generate enough energy to drive a practical power plant. So, even as physicists look forward to next year's demonstration, they're working on even more powerful lasers that could make possible a method for a kind of laser-induced fusion called fast ignition.

Read more ....

First Black Hole For Light Created On Earth

The full-wave simulation result when light is incident to the black hole
(Image: Qiang Cheng and Tie Jun Cui)

From New Scientist:

An electromagnetic "black holeMovie Camera" that sucks in surrounding light has been built for the first time.

The device, which works at microwave frequencies, may soon be extended to trap visible light, leading to an entirely new way of harvesting solar energy to generate electricity.

Read more ....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Alien Giant Snakes Threaten To Invade Up To 1/3 of U.S.

Researchers place a radio transmitter inside a 16-foot (5-meter) Burmese python in Florida's Everglades National Park in an undated photo. Native to Asia, the species is already established in the wild in Florida and is taking a toll on Floridian animals. A similar fate could await ecosystems in a wide swath of the U.S. if other non-native giant snake species are allowed to flourish in the country, an October 2009 study says. Photograph courtesy Lori Oberhofer, National Park Service

From National Geographic:

Nine species of giant snakes—none of them native to North America and all popular pets among reptile lovers—could wreak havoc on U.S. ecosystems if the snakes become established in the wild, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) .

Two of the giant snakes are already at home in Florida. One of them, the Burmese python, has the potential to infiltrate the entire lower third of the U.S., the study says.

Read more ....

Wiser Wires -- Smart grids

From The Economist:

Information technology can make electricity grids less wasteful and much greener. Businesses have lots of ideas and governments are keen, but obstacles remain

WHAT was the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century? The motor car, perhaps, or the computer? In 2000 America’s National Academy of Engineering gave a different answer: “the vast networks of electrification”. These, the academy concluded, made most of the century’s other advances possible.

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Youth 'Cannot Live' Without Web

From The BBC:

A survey of 16 to 24 year olds has found that 75% of them feel they "couldn't live" without the internet.

The report, published by online charity YouthNet, also found that four out of five young people used the web to look for advice.

About one third added that they felt no need to talk to a person face to face about their problems because of the resources available online.

The findings were unveiled at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday.

Read more ....

My Comment: I am 50, and I cannot live without the web.

The Other Peak Oil: Demand From Developed World Falling

OIL HALT: Demand for oil in developed countries could be passed its prime.

From Scientific American:

Oil demand in industrialized countries peaked in 2005 and will not reach that high again, a new report predicts.

Demand for oil in developed nations peaked in 2005, and changing demographics and improved motor-vehicle efficiency guarantee that it won't hit those heights again, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates says in a new report.

Reduced petroleum demand in developed nations could make their economic growth less vulnerable to oil price shocks, the report states.

Read more ....

Leaked Barnes & Noble e-Reader Is A Powerful Multitouch Hybrid

Barnes & Noble e-Reader

From Popular Science:

Take a Kindle, and put a multitouch screen where the keyboard and navigation buttons go, and you've got the Barnes & Noble e-reader.

We're still a week away from Barnes & Noble's big e-reader announcement, but we've know they've had something cooking for a while now. And today, our pals at Gizmodo hit the mother load: leaked shots of a forthcoming dual-screen device that is three-quarters e-ink and one-quarter (wait for it) color multitouch.

Read more ....

Natural Gas Changes the Energy Map

Deep drilling: At Range Resources’ site in Washington County, PA, a specially designed rig is used to drill more than a thousand meters down and gradually turn 90° to follow the gas-rich shale deposit. The rig will drill half a dozen wells at the site. Beside it is a pond holding debris and mud from a well. Credit: Roy Ritchie

From Technology Review:

Vast amounts of the clean-burning fossil fuel have been discovered in shale deposits, setting off a gas rush. But how it will affect our energy use is still uncertain.

The first sign that there's something unusual about the flat black rocks strewn across the shore of Lake Erie comes when Gary Lash smashes two of them together. They break easily and fall into shards that give off the faint odor of hydrocarbons, similar to the smell of kerosene. But for Lash, a geologist and professor at nearby SUNY Fredonia, smashing the rocks is a simple trick designed to catch the attention of a visitor. The black outcroppings that protrude from the nearby bluff onto the narrow beach are what really interest him.

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The Supercollider And A Theory About Fate

This was some of the worst damage to the Large Hadron Collider. Credit: CERN

From CNET:

More than a year after an explosion of sparks, soot, and frigid helium shut it down, the world's biggest and most expensive physics experiment, known as the Large Hadron Collider, is poised to start up again.

Before year's end, if all goes well, protons will start smashing together in an underground racetrack outside Geneva in a search for forces and particles that reigned during the first trillionth of a second of the Big Bang.

Read more ....

Time-Travelling Higgs Sabotages The LHC. No, Really

From New Scientist:

Could the Large Hadron Collider be sabotaging itself from the future? That's the suggestion of a couple of reasonably distinguished theoretical physicists, which has received a fresh airing in the New York Times today.

Actually, it's the Higgs boson that is doing the sabotage. Apparently, among the many singular properties of the Higgs that the LHC is meant to discover could be the ability to turn back time to stop its cover being blown.

Or as the New York Times puts it:

"the hypothesized Higgs boson... might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather."

Read more ....

Whatever Happened To Global Warming? How Freezing Temperatures Are Starting To Shatter Climate Change Theory

Sun or sea? The importance of the ocean's cooling and warming cycles are now under serious consideration as a key factor in global temperatures

From The Daily Mail:

In the freezing foothills of Montana, a distinctly bitter blast of revolution hangs in the air.

And while the residents of the icy city of Missoula can stave off the -10C chill with thermals and fires, there may be no easy remedy for the wintry snap's repercussions.

Read more ....

Researchers Discover Mechanism That Helps Humans See In Bright And Low Light

Illustration of human eye cross section. (Credit: iStockphoto/Nurbek Sagynbaev)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 14, 2009) — Ever wonder how your eyes adjust during a blackout? When we go from light to near total darkness, cells in the retina must quickly adjust. Vision scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified an intricate process that allows the human eye to adapt to darkness very quickly. The same process also allows the eye to function in bright light.

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