Saturday, October 24, 2009

Biologically Active 'Scaffold' May Help Humans Replace Lost Or Missing Bone

Composite drug-releasing fibers used as basic elements of scaffolding for tissue and bone regeneration. (Credit: AFTAU)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 24, 2009) — Mother Nature has provided the lizard with a unique ability to regrow body tissue that is damaged or torn ― if its tail is pulled off, it grows right back. She has not been quite so generous with human beings. But we might be able to come close, thanks to new research from Tel Aviv University.

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Bigger Creatures Have Bigger Blood Cells

Largest and smallest species of eyelid geckos appear here in proportion, though somewhat smaller than life size. Credit: Zuzana Starostová & Lukáš Kratochvíl

From Live Science:

When it comes to metabolism, size matters—cell size, that is, according to a recent study.

Small animals have faster metabolisms relative to their body size than do large animals. According to the so-called metabolic theory of ecology, that scaling is responsible for many patterns in nature—from the average lifespan of a single species to the population dynamics of an entire ecosystem. Although scientists generally agree on the theory's fundamentals, they disagree on the reasons for the scaling. One camp thinks metabolic rate is driven by cell size; another thinks it corresponds to the size and geometry of physiological supply networks, such as the circulatory system.

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Recycled Plastic Bridges Can Support Tanks

Heavy Artillery: U.S. Marines clean an M1A1 Abrams main battle tank at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. Bridges made from recycled plastic are not only about to support the weight of this tank, but also can provide a cost-effective alternative to steel and concrete construction. Lance Cpl. Kelsey J. Green/U.S. Marine Corps

From Discovery News:

The U.S. Army may soon be able to recycle today's trash to support tomorrow's soldiers. New bridges made from recycled detergent bottles and car bumpers are strong enough to hold up a 73-ton Abrams tank.

The recycled plastic bridge takes only a month to build, costs 25 percent less than an equivalent wooden bridge and requires no annual maintenance.

Rutgers University professor Tom Nosker began developing plastic bridges, lumber and railroads ties back in the 1980s.

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Spying On A Stolen Laptop

From CNET:

Imagine your laptop gets stolen. Wouldn't it be great to remotely spy on the machine and get it back?

Clair Fleener, chief executive of IT outsourcer InertLogic, got that chance after a laptop belonging to a customer was stolen.

Fleener was instrumental in the investigation that led to the recovery of the laptop, monitoring the activities of the laptop user for two weeks using remote software and sharing the information with law enforcement in Omaha, Neb.

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Sales Of Virtual Goods Boom In US

From The BBC:

Americans look set to spend $1bn (£600m) on virtual goods in 2009, claims a report.

The cash will be spent on add-ons for online games, digital gifts and other items that exist only as data.

Total spend on such items is expected to be up by 100% over 2008 and to double again by the end of 2010, said the analysts behind the report.

In related news, Facebook is updating its gift store so it offers a wider variety of virtual presents.

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Solar Power Cost Decline Steeper

From Future Pundit:

The cost of solar panels dropped almost in half in the last year in Germany.

In the last year — solar panel prices dropped to $2.10 a watt from about $4.10 in Germany — and only about half the global manufacturing capacity is being used, said Steve O'Rouke, an analyst with Deutsche Bank.

"We've seen an awful lot of angst and difficulty," O'Rouke said. "You have to expect some companies to go out of business."

Deutsche Bank is forecasting a structural over-supply in the market until at least 2011.

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Now Playing At A Museum Near You, The “Day After Tomorrow Map”

Click Image to Enlarge

From Watts Up With That?

Here’s the view of the future in a new science museum according to the Telegraph. No mention if NYC’s West Side Highway will be underwater or not. They call it the “Day after tomorrow map”.

The article by Louise Gray says:

The apocalyptic map was launched by Government ministers at the opening of a new exhibition at the Science Museum.

‘Prove it – everything you need to know to believe in climate change’ is aimed at educating the public about the dangers of uncontrollable global warming.

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"Albedo Yachts" And Marine Clouds: A Cure For Climate Change?

SHIP TRACKS: Could ships spraying sea mist to boost cloud reflectivity cure climate change? Already, ship tracks can be picked out in marine clouds, as pictured here, thanks to the interaction of ships' exhaust and water vapor in the atmosphere. Courtesy NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team.

From Scientific American:

A deep dive into one of the least scary geoengineering schemes to control global warming.

Here's an idea to cool Earth: make marine clouds into better reflectors of sunlight. After all, clouds already reflect more of the sun's radiation back into space than the amount trapped by human emissions of carbon dioxide. So why not make them even more effective?

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Flu-Like Illnesses Now Higher Than At Peak Of Seasonal Flu Season

From the L.A. Times:

Federal officials report 8,200 hospitalizations for infections from the H1N1 virus, and 411 deaths. But reports of 1 in 5 kids being infected are wrong, they add.

Influenza-like illnesses are now higher throughout the country than levels generally seen at the peak of the seasonal flu season, federal health officials said Friday. But they dismissed media reports from a day earlier that 1 in 5 children had contracted swine flu during the first weeks of October.

Pandemic H1N1 influenza activity continues to spread throughout the country, with 46 states reporting widespread activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

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Ancient Secrets Of Super-Cement May Lead To A Shield Against Bunker Busters

Super-Concrete Let's see if they can break this Air Force Office of Scientific Research

From Popular Science:

Super-cements similar to those used to build the pyramids could harden bunkers against missiles.

Super-cements similar to the ancient concrete used to build the pyramids might defeat even the U.S. Air Force's largest non-nuclear bunker buster to date.

Wired's Danger Room has a rundown on how French researcher Joseph Davidovits uncovered the chemistry of geopolymers, or super-cements. Davidovits also put forth the theory that the Egyptian pyramids were built using a similar type of geopolymer limestone concrete -- an idea supported by X-ray and microscopic study samples.

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The Case Against Magnetic Screwdrivers

Click Image to Enlarge

From Popular Mechanics:

A reader writes in wondering where he can find magnetic screwdrivers like the one his mechanic has. But PM senior automotive editor Mike Allen thinks that tool is unnecessary. Here is his case against magnetic screwdrivers.

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Is Unknown Force In Universe Acting On Dark Matter?

M63: The Sunflower Galaxy. (Credit: Satoshi Miyazaki (NAOJ), Suprime-Cam, Subaru Telescope, NOAJ)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 23, 2009) — An international team of astronomers have found an unexpected link between mysterious 'dark matter' and the visible stars and gas in galaxies that could revolutionise our current understanding of gravity.

One of the astronomers, Dr Hongsheng Zhao of the SUPA Centre of Gravity, University of St. Andrews, suggests that an unknown force is acting on dark matter. The findings are published this week in the scientific journal Nature.

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What Really Scares People: Top 10 Phobias

From Live Science:

Whether you jump at the sight of a spider or work up a sweat at the mere mention of getting on an airplane, fears and phobias abound. About 19.2 million American adults ages 18 and over, or some 8.7 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have some type of specific phobia, or extreme fear. Here are some of the worst.

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Mars May Have Caves, Scientists Say

Mars colonists could use caves for protection from potentially deadly cosmic rays streaming down from space. (NASA / October 24, 2009)

From The L.A. Times:

Images of ancient lava flows from the Arsia Mons volcano suggest an extensive system near the Red Planet's equator. Caves could one day aid space explorers.

Caves were some of the earliest refuges for human beings on Earth. Could the same be true for future pioneers on Mars?

Glen Cushing, a space scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, thinks so. He said he has found evidence of an extensive cave system among ancient volcanoes at Mars' equator.

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Controversial Moon Origin Theory Rewrites History

Origin Story. A new study challenges the giant impact hypothesis, which suggested the moon formed from a cosmic collision. NASA

From Discovery:

Oct. 22, 2009 -- The moon may have been adopted by our planet instead of descended from it.

If a new twist on a decades-old theory is right, conditions in the early solar system suggest the moon formed inside Mercury's orbit and migrated out until it was roped into orbit around Earth.

The idea flies in the face of scientific consensus, known as the giant impact hypothesis, which holds that the moon formed from red-hot debris left over after a Mars-sized object collided with Earth around 4.5 billion years ago.

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Obama: U.S. Needs To Lead Clean-Energy Race

President Obama speaking on clean energy at MIT on Friday.
(Credit: Martin LaMonica/CNET)

From CNET:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--President Barack Obama on Friday called on the U.S. Congress to pass energy-and-climate legislation, a move he said would stimulate technology innovation and improve the economic competitiveness of the United States.

Obama delivered a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology here after touring student laboratories and before attending a fund-raiser for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

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Epic Humpback Whale Battle Filmed

From The BBC:

It is the greatest animal battle on the planet, and it has finally been caught on camera.

A BBC natural history crew has filmed the "humpback whale heat run", where 15m long, 40 tonne male whales fight it out to mate with even larger females.

During the first complete sequence of this behaviour ever captured, the male humpbacks swim at high speed behind the female, violently jostling for access.

The collisions between the males can be violent enough to kill.

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Panel Calls For Big Detour In NASA’s Moon Plans

NASA artwork traces each phase of a future mission to the moon and back.


Asteroids, Martian moons suggested as alternate destinations.

WASHINGTON - NASA needs to make a major detour in its effort to return astronauts to the moon, a special independent panel told the White House Thursday.

Under current plans, NASA has picked the wrong destination with the wrong rocket, the panel's chairman said. A test-flight version of the rocket, the new Ares I, is on a launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, awaiting liftoff next week for its first experimental flight.

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Will The Pill Be Responsible For The Death Of Humanity?

From Blog Critics:

For years, gays have been looking for a gene that would legitimately give them the right to say nature has turned them into the opposite sex. As a result, they believe same-sex marriage should be a natural thing. To gays, same-sex marriage should be something beautiful, natural, and part of God’s big plan. But the reasons may be anything but natural.

A few years ago, right after the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, a large number of chemical ‘cocktails’ that inhibit the function of the male hormone testosterone were found in United Kingdom rivers.

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Did Dryas Comet Really Kill Off Mammoth?

Did a comet impact really kill off megafauna such as the mammoth,
mastodan and sabre-tooth tiger? Credit: Wikimedia

From Cosmos:

PORTLAND, OREGON: Debate on the existence of a Younger Dryas comet impact, 12,900 years ago, and whether it is linked to mass extinctions of large mammals and early humans in North America reopened this week.

The Younger Dryas was a 1,300-year-long cold snap that affected climate in much of the Northern Hemisphere. In 2007, a team led by Richard Firestone of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in the U.S., argued that it was caused by the impact of a comet.

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Google's Android Allows Soldiers To Put Drones On Buddy List

Phones for Warfighters U.S. Army/Tech. Sgt. Cohen A. Young

From Popular Science:

Defense giant Raytheon has turned Google's mobile operating system into a military application.

Google's Android operating system for cell phones could allow soldiers to track fellow squad members and even unmanned drones in real time on a map -- as long as the humans and robots are on their buddy list.

Read more ....

Friday, October 23, 2009

Scientists Reveals Secrets Of Drought Resistance

Soybean sprouts struggling in dry conditions. Biologists have now solved the structure of a critical molecule that helps plants survive during droughts. (Credit: iStockphoto/Matt Niebuhr)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 23, 2009) — A team of biologists in California led by researchers at The Scripps Research Institute and the University of California (UC), San Diego has solved the structure of a critical molecule that helps plants survive during droughts. Understanding the inner workings of this molecule may help scientists design new ways to protect crops against prolonged dry periods, potentially improving crop yields worldwide, aiding biofuels production on marginal lands and mitigating drought's human and economic costs.

Read more ....

Why Some Men Can't Control Arousal

From Live Science:

Is sex a state of mind? A recent study from the University of British Columbia finds that while most men can regulate their physical and mental sexual arousal to some degree, the men most able to do so are able to control their other emotions as well.

“We suspect that if an individual is good at regulating one type of emotional response, he/she is probably good at regulating other emotional responses,” says Jason Winters, the study’s research head. “This has never been shown before.”

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Tallying The Real Environmental Cost Of Biofuels

William Radcliffe / Science Faction / Corbis

From Time Magazine:

The promise of biofuels like ethanol is that they will someday help the world grow its way out of its addiction to oil. Nine billion gallons of corn ethanol were produced in the U.S. in 2008, while countries like Brazil have already widely replaced gasoline with ethanol from sugar cane and countless start-ups are working to bring cellulosic and other second-generation biofuels to market. The reasoning is that if we use greener biofuels in place of gasoline, it will significantly enhance our effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

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Awakening Paralyzed Limbs

Photo: Monkey think, monkey do: By translating electrical signals from a monkey’s brain into muscle contractions via implanted electrodes, an animal with a paralyzed arm was able to grasp a ball. Credit: Christian Ethier, Lee Miller

From Technology Review:

Brain signals can drive arm movement in a monkey with a paralyzed arm.

A monkey with a paralyzed arm can still grasp a ball, thanks to a novel system designed to translate brain signals into complex muscle movements in real time. The research, presented at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago this week, could one day allow people with spinal cord injury to control their own limbs.

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Space: Most Distant Galaxy Cluster Discovered

The galaxy cluster is a billion light years further from earth than any other discovered.

From The Telegraph:

The youngest and most distant galaxy cluster yet has been discovered by scientists 10.2 billion light years away, a billion further than the previous record.

The JKCS041 galaxy cluster, discovered by combining x-ray data from NASA with optical and infrared telescopes, is viewed as it was when the universe was a quarter of its current age.

Galaxy clusters are the universe's largest collections of items held together by gravity, and scientists hope the discovery of one at such an early stage will help them discover more about how the universe evolved.

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Wildlife Photographer Of The Year 2009 Prize Goes To Leaping Wolf

An Iberian wolf jumps a fence intent on his dinner in this stunning
photo by Jose Luis Rodriguez

From The Daily Mail:

An Iberian wolf strides over a fence, its eyes intent on a tasty meal in the next field.

This stunning image won the Veolia Environement Wildlife Photographer of the Year, organised by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine.

This year was a bumper year with 43,135 entries from 94 countries – up 33 per cent on 2008. The best 100 images in the competition will go on show from October 23 at the Natural History Museum in London.

The competition manager, Gemma Webster, said: 'While the UK and the US remain our major source of entrants, the greatest growth in entries is happening in China and Russia.'

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Unraveling The Brain's Secrets: Humility Required

From Scientific American:

In early October, the Singularity Summit took place on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a conference that highlighted the prospects for abolishing the ravages of aging and disease. So you’ll be able to live forever, unless you get hit by a truck.

Living forever is mainly about preserving brain function. That’s why the cryonicists—the ones who freeze themselves until some hypothetical medical miracle emerges to revive them—often just put the part above the neck into deep storage. The head in the cooler, it is assumed, retains the operating system and all of the applications software needed to resurrect the former self, even if it is ported to some new, cybernetic body. Less real estate and a lower electricity bill means a reduced rate at the cryo farm until you are brought back from the “legally dead.” In essence, bleacher seats for the Singularity.

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Vegas Uses Computers To Nab Card Counters

From Yahoo Tech:

First they start paying out 6 to 5 on natural blackjacks, and now this? The little guy gets the short end of the stick once again, as UK researchers say they've developed a computer algorithm that can analyze how Blackjack players manage their chip stack and bet on each hand, sniffing out card counters inside 20 hands of the game.

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Quantum Computers Could Tackle Enormous Linear Equations

From Science News:

Trillions of variables may prove no match for envisioned systems.

A new algorithm may give quantum computers a new, practical job: quickly solving monster linear equations. Such problems are at the heart of complex processes such as image and video processing, genetic analyses and even Internet traffic control. The new work, published October 7 in Physical Review Letters, may dramatically expand the range of potential uses for quantum computers.

The new quantum algorithm is “head-smackingly good,” says computer scientist Daniel Spielman of Yale University. “It is both very powerful, and very natural. I read the abstract and said, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’”

Read more

Inside Astronaut Boot Camp

Bugging Out: Astronauts test a prototype of a six-legged lunar buggy
at Moses Lake in Washington. NASA

From Popular Science:

What does it take to prep humans for a trip to an asteroid or a martian moon? Starvation? Isolation? Recycling feces for food? NASA's newest astronauts begin a grueling training regimen this fall to find out.

Three test pilots. Two flight surgeons. One molecular biologist. A flight controller, a Pentagon staffer and a CIA intelligence officer. These are the nine people chosen by NASA to be America’s next astronauts. Late this summer they reported to Houston along with two Japanese pilots, a Japanese doctor, a Canadian pilot and a Canadian physicist who will train alongside NASA’s class of 2009. Call them the lucky 14.

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Twin Study Reveals Secrets To Looking Younger

What keeps a woman looking young?
A study of identical twins reveals some surprising answers.


Sun, smoking, alcohol and stress can all add years to your face.

For years, the similarities between Jeanne and Susan were uncanny. Growing up, the identical twin sisters not only were mirror images of each other, but also shared a bunch of preferences and personality quirks. Even now, living 1,000 miles apart — Jeanne in Ohio, Susan in Florida — “we’ll send identical Christmas cards to our parents and choose the exact same gift wrap,” Jeanne says. But they do have some differences, she adds: “We don’t have the same taste in men or in weather.”

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Advance In 'Nano-Agriculture:' Tiny Stuff Has Huge Effect On Plant Growth

Tomato seeds exposed to carbon nanotubes (right) sprouted and grew faster than unexposed seeds (left).

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 22, 2009) — With potential adverse health and environmental effects often in the news about nanotechnology, scientists in Arkansas are reporting that carbon nanotubes (CNTs) could have beneficial effects in agriculture. Their study, scheduled for the October issue of ACS Nano, found that tomato seeds exposed to CNTs germinated faster and grew into larger, heavier seedlings than other seeds. That growth-enhancing effect could be a boon for biomass production for plant-based biofuels and other agricultural products, they suggest.

Read more ....

South Pole Offers Prime Astronomy Real Estate

Image credit: Patrick Cullis, National Science Foundation

From Live Science:

The middle of the world's most remote and inhospitable continent may not seem like an ideal place to conduct complicated scientific research, but this photo shows how the South Pole offers advantages that astronomers and other researchers just can't find anywhere else.

The photo, captured above the new elevated station at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in July 2009, is a 20-minute exposure revealing the southern celestial axis — the white cloudy streak is the Milky Way.

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'Imagineer' Touts Geothermal Energy Invention

Photo: Karl says his portable geothermal generator can power up to 250 average U.S. homes.

From The CNN:

(CNN) -- Hidden under a quaint resort 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, lies a treasure trove of potential energy that's free and available 24/7.

Alaskan entrepreneur Bernie Karl has pioneered modern technology to tap into one of Earth's oldest energy resources: hot water.

Karl, 56, likes to call himself an "imagineer."

Using imagination to fuel his engineering ambitions, this tenacious thinker and self-starter has figured out a way to generate electricity using water that's the temperature of a cup of coffee -- about 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read more ....

Darwin Lives! Modern Humans Are Still Evolving

A. Green / Corbis

From Time Magazine:

Modern Homo sapiens is still evolving. Despite the long-held view that natural selection has ceased to affect humans because almost everybody now lives long enough to have children, a new study of a contemporary Massachusetts population offers evidence of evolution still in action.

A team of scientists led by Yale University evolutionary biologist Stephen Stearns suggests that if the natural selection of fitter traits is no longer driven by survival, perhaps it owes to differences in women's fertility. "Variations in reproductive success still exist among humans, and therefore some traits related to fertility continue to be shaped by natural selection," Stearns says. That is, women who have more children are more likely to pass on certain traits to their progeny.

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Naming The Exoplanets

From Technology Review:

The International Astronomical Union is refusing to name the exoplanets. That seems unnecessarily curmudgeonly.

Since 1995, astronomers have found more than 400 planets orbiting other stars. And yet not one of them has a formal name, other than their orginal scientific designation such as MOA-2008-BLG-310-L b, (a sub-Saturnian mass planet recently detected in the Galactic Bulge). How come?

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Augustine Report: Tough Choices Ahead On Human Spaceflight

The Ares I-X rocket sits atop launch pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Tuesday. (NASA handout/Reuters)

From Christian Science Monitor:

If NASA's Constellation program is going to take astronauts to the moon or Mars, Obama will have to increase its budget, the Augustine report says.

President Obama and Congress face a stark choice on the future of NASA’s human spaceflight program: Either scale back ambitious goals first set out in 2005 or pony up more money to match the ambitions.

That’s the implication of options set out in the final report from the Review of US Human Spaceflight Plans committee, unveiled Thursday afternoon.

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Aah... How To Make The Perfect Gravy (And Soy Sauce Is The Secret)

Photo: Roast of the town: Many would prefer to use gravy granules rather than risk ruining a traditional British dinner

From The Daily Mail:

It can make or break a Sunday lunch.

So much so that many will reach for the gravy granules rather than risk ruining a roast.

But scientists have come to the aid of home chefs across the UK with what they believe should be adopted as the 'standard British method' for making gravy.

The Royal Society of Chemistry turned its attention to the subject as part of its Food Year, a series of events to demonstrate the role of chemistry in providing healthy and sustainable food.

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My Comment: I am posting this story because I tried this recipe last night, and it was hmmm hmmmm good.

How the Internet is Changing the Way We Will Watch TV

Splashlight; Courtesy of Broadway Video Enterprises and NBC Studios, Inc. (SNL icon)

From Scientific American:

The Internet stands ready to upend the television viewing experience, but exactly how is a matter of considerable dispute.

It should not be so difficult. In an age when nearly all forms of media are digital, where broadband signals course through the industrial world as surely (and as critically) as electricity and freshwater, it should be possible to sit on one’s couch, push a button or two, and call up to your television any form of video-related entertainment you desire. New-release movies. Last week’s Lost . The first season of Cosmos . Setup should not require an electrical engineering degree, and you should not be forced to sift through 10 incompatible search functions to find the shows you desire.

Read more

Jupiter Shift Pelted Inner Planets With Asteroids

The Asteroid Belt, found between Jupiter and Mars, may have been the source of ammunition for the Late Heavy Bombardment. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltch/T.Pyle

From Cosmos:

PORTLAND, OREGON: A shift in Jupiter's orbit early in the life of the Solar System dislodged thousands of rocks from the Asteroid Belt, causing them to hit the inner planets, including Earth.

Evidence for this cataclysmic bombardment comes from a reanalysis of lunar rocks brought back by the Apollo astronauts and a careful study of lunar craters, said David Kring, a planetary geologist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas.

Kring presented his findings this week at the Geological Society of America's annual meeting in Portland, USA.

Read more ....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We Are Upgrading Our Computer Network. We Will Be Back Online Friday Morning At 7:00 AM EST

Net Neutrality Is 'Fairness Doctrine For The Internet'

From The Hill:

Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) spoke against net neutrality regulations today at an event put on by the Safe Internet Alliance. Representing the songwriters, singers, actors, producers and other entertainers in Memphis and Nashville, she said the creative community does not want the federal government to interfere with how they are able to get content to consumers via the Internet.

"Net neutrality, as I see it, is the fairness doctrine for the Internet," she said. The creators "fully understand what the fairness doctrine would be when it applies to TV or radio. What they do not want is the federal government policing how they deploy their content over the Internet and they want the ISPs to manage their networks and deploy the content however they have agreed on with ISP. They do not want a czar of the Internet to determine when they can deploy their creativity over the Internet. "They do not want a czar to determine what speeds will be available....We are watching the FCC very closely as it relates to that issue."

Read more ....

'Stealth' Wind Turbine Deployed

From the BBC:

A wind turbine blade that absorbs radar signals has been demonstrated at a wind farm in eastern England.

Wind turbines confuse aviation radar signals, making aircraft in wind farms' vicinities difficult to track.

Defence firm Qinetiq and turbine manufacturing firm Vestas are developing "stealth turbines", with radar-absorbing materials and coatings.

The five-year effort may help many wind farm projects that are on hold because of so-called "radar clutter" concerns.

Read more ....

Lasers Simulate Black Hole In The Lab

An artist's impression of the swirling accretion disc surrounding a black hole.
Credit: David A. Aguilar/CfA

From Cosmos:

BRISBANE: The extreme conditions found around black holes and other very dense objects can be recreated in the laboratory with powerful lasers, physicists say.

The technique may allow them to validate the computer models they use to interpret black hole data collected by space-based telescopes, such as the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, according to a study published this week in Nature Physics.

Read more ....

Ladybugs Swarm Midwest

Swarming Ladies. Ladybugs are seen on cars in Chatham, Ill., Oct. 21, 2009. Around much of the country,legions of Asian lady beetles are making their seasonal appearance. AP Photo/Seth Perlman

From Discovery News:

Pest-control specialist Gene Scholes even gets bugged by them -- legions of ladybugs lately swarming his rural Missouri home and other stretches across the country, exploiting gaps in door and window seals for cozier climes inside.

Bug experts say the Asian lady beetles, considered harbingers of good luck in many cultures, are making their seasonal appearance in droves in search of warmth for the approaching winter.

The beetles are harmless to humans. That doesn't make them any less annoying for folks like Scholes.

Read more ....

What's The Point Of A Fake 500-Day Mars Mission?


From New Scientist:

The European Space Agency is seeking six volunteers to spend 520 days inside a sealed isolation facility to study the psychological effects of a journey to Mars.

The 2010 Mars-500 "mission" at the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow will simulate a round trip to the Red Planet – albeit shorter than the real thing – and follows a similar 105-day study that ended in July.

But does spending a year and a half locked inside a tin can on Earth tell us anything about how humans might behave on a high-risk interplanetary odyssey? New Scientist investigates.

Read more ....

Scientists Find A Precision Clock Logging the Milliseconds Inside Your Brain

Tick Tock Certain neurons in the striatum and prefrontal cortex fire at certain intervals, which MIT researchers have determined to be an internal clock time-stamping sensory experiences for memory just as a digital camera might time-stamp a photo file.

From Popular Science:

Though we do it without thinking, keeping track of time is integral to the brain's function, keeping our senses and our actions ordered in a chronology that we then recall in the form of memory. But important as it is, researchers have never understood the mechanism by which humans index the happenings of everyday life. Now, two macaque monkeys may have helped MIT researchers solve the time tracking puzzle.

Read more ....

Glacial Melting May Release Pollutants Into The Environment

Glacier-fed Lake Oberaar in the Bernese Alps, Switzerland.
(Credit: iStockphoto/Roland Zihlmann)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 21, 2009) — Those pristine-looking Alpine glaciers now melting as global warming sets in may explain the mysterious increase in persistent organic pollutants in sediment from certain lakes since the 1990s, despite decreased use of those compounds in pesticides, electric equipment, paints and other products.

Read more ....

Pollution Turns Leaves Magnetic

This photo, taken with a scanning electron microscope, shows one an iron-oxide sphere of pollution produced by combustion, and collected with a double-sided tape collector. Credit: Rachel Housen, Whatcom Middle School/Bellingham High School

From Live Science:

Tiny particles of pollution that are harmful to human health stick to tree leaves and leave a trace magnetism, a new study finds. More pollution is found stuck to leaves of trees near busy roadways than those in less trafficked areas.

The pollution-trapping leaves could serve as an easy, inexpensive way to monitor pollutant levels, researchers say.

Read more ....

'Double Food Output To Stop World Starving,' Say Scientists

From The Independent:

Royal Society wants green revolution to deal with global population rise of 3 billion.

Global food production needs to be increased by between 50 and 100 per cent if widespread famine is to be avoided in the coming decades as the human population expands rapidly, leading scientists said.

A second "green revolution" is needed in agriculture to feed the extra 3 billion people who will be added to the existing population of 6 billion by 2050.

Read more ....