Saturday, December 19, 2009

Why Does A Human Baby Need A Full Year Before Starting To Walk?

Why does a human baby need a full year before it can start walking, while a newborn foal gets up on its legs almost directly after birth? (Credit: iStockphoto/Beth Jeppson).

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Dec. 19, 2009) — Why does a human baby need a full year before it can start walking, while a newborn foal gets up on its legs almost directly after birth? Scientist have assumed that human motor development is unique because our brain is unusually complex and because it is particularly challenging to walk on two legs. But now a research group at Lund University in Sweden has shown that human babies in fact start walking at the same stage in brain development as most other walking mammals, from small rodents to elephants.

Read more

Happiest States Revealed By New Research

The Happiest States

1. Louisiana
2. Hawaii
3. Florida
4. Tennessee
5. Arizona
6. Mississippi
7. Montana
8. South Carolina
9. Alabama
10. Maine

From Live Science:

Ever wondered if you'd be happier in sunny Florida or snow-covered Minnesota? New research on state-level happiness could answer that question.

Florida and two other sunshine states made it to the Top 5, while Minnesota doesn't show up until number 26 on the list of happiest states. In addition to rating the smile factor of U.S. states, the research also proved for the first time that a person's self-reported happiness matches up with objective measures of well-being.

Essentially, if an individual says they're happy, they are.

Read more ....

15 Cigarettes: All It Takes To Harm Genes

Scientists believe this new insight into the genetics of cancer will eventually lead to new drugs that target the specific changes to the gene that helps to trigger the disease. ALAMY

From The Independent:

Study reveals the genetic mutations suffered by smokers who go on to develop lung cancer.

One genetic mutation occurs on average for every 15 cigarettes that a typical lung-cancer patient smokes, according to a study that has identified for the first time all of the mutations acquired during the lifetime of a cancer patient.

Scientists have completed a full genetic analysis of the genomes of cancer patients, and hope the information will lead to a fundamental understanding of the causes of cancer – and possibly drugs and treatments – by identifying the mutations that turn a healthy cell into a cancerous tumour cell.

Read more ....

Marijuana, Alcohol Addiction May Share Genes

From Yahoo News/Health Day:

FRIDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- The genes that make people susceptible to alcoholism also make them prone to becoming addicted to marijuana, a new study suggests.

Researchers interviewed almost 6,300 men and women aged 24 to 36, including almost 2,800 sets of twins who were part of the Australian Twin Registry, about their use of alcohol and marijuana over their lifetime.

Twins are valuable to researchers in determining the role of genetics in various diseases or conditions because identical twins share 100 percent of their genes, while fraternal twins share 50 percent of their genes, the same as other siblings.

Read more ....

Data Deluge Will Reboot Our Brains

We are being bombarded with increasing amounts of information, although scientists say the brain itself is not under threat. (Pete Saloutos)

From Times Online:

The speed of modern life is 2.3 words per second, or about 100,000 words a day. That is the verbiage bombarding the average person in the 12 hours they are typically awake and “consuming” information, according to a new study.

Through emails, texting, internet surfing, reading and other media, our brains are being deluged with increasing quantities of information. Although we may not actively read 100,000 words a day, that is the approximate number reaching our eyes and ears. Add images, such as videos and computer games, and we are faced with the equivalent of 34 gigabytes of information each day — enough to overload the typical laptop inside a week.

Read more ....

Living In Big Cities 'Makes You Miserable'

Piccadilly Circus, London, UK: Researchers found the popularity of big cities such as London, New York and Los Angeles undermined their attractions by increasing congestion, house prices and air pollution Photo: GETTY

From The Telegraph:

Living in big cities makes you miserable and people are actually more happy away from urban areas, claims research.

Researchers looking at happiness levels found that the popularity of big cities such as London, New York and Los Angeles undermined their attractions by increasing congestion, house prices and air pollution. Only the high wages and exciting jobs offset this lower quality of life.

Read more ....

Google Books Project Found Guilty Of Violating Copyright By French Court

A number of French publishers spent three years fighting
Google's plan to scan and sell their books online

From The Daily Mail:

Google was found guilty by a French court today of violating copyright by digitising books and putting extracts online.

The search engine company initially started scanning books without permission for its controversial online library project. They were forced to strike deals in the U.S and the UK after hundreds of complaints.

In France, major publishers issued a legal challenge arguing the digital service would lead to publishers and authors losing out.

Read more ....

Cooking Is What Made Us Human

From New Scientist:

What was the central mystery of human evolution that you were trying to solve?

I was sitting next to the fire in my living room and I started asking the question, when did our ancestors last live without fire? Out of this came a paradox: it seemed to me that no human with our body form could have lived without it.

Why can't a human exist on the same diet as a chimpanzee?

A chimpanzee's diet is like eating crab apples and rose hips. Just go into the woods and find some fruits, and see if you can come back with a full stomach. The answer is you can't. The big difficulty is that the nutrient density is not very high. This is problematic for humans because we have a very small gut, about 60 per cent of the volume it would be if we were one of the other great apes. We don't have enough intestine to keep low-quality food in our gut long enough to digest it.

Read more ....

Guardian Headline – Low Targets, Goals Dropped: Copenhagen Ends In Failure

From Watts Up With That?

When the Guardian, that champion of everything “green” says it, you know it was a failure.


The UN climate summit reached a weak outline of a global agreement last night in Copenhagen, falling far short of what Britain and many poor countries were seeking and leaving months of tough negotiations to come.

Read more ....

Fake Blood-Clotting Products To Heal Wounded Soldiers

Photo: Immediate treatment can save lives.

From The BBC:

Scientists say they have made a synthetic blood-clotting agent that could help wounded troops and patients.

In the lab, the fake platelets cut bleeding in half compared with having no treatment.

They could offer doctors a limitless supply with a longer shelf life than fresh donor platelets, the journal Science Translational Medicine reports.

The Case Western Reserve University team in the US hopes the product could become available in coming years.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is going to save many lives.

The Known Universe By AMNH (Video)

Hat Tip: Geek Press

Avatar's Moon Pandora Could Be Real, Planet-Hunters Say

This artist's conception shows a hypothetical gas giant planet with an Earth-like moon similar to the moon Pandora in the movie Avatar. New research shows that, if we find such an "exomoon" in the habitable zone of a nearby star, the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to study its atmosphere and detect key gases like carbon dioxide, oxygen, and water. The key is to find a planet that transits its star, and then find a moon orbiting that planet more than one stellar radius away, so that the moon can be studied independently of the planet. Moreover, an alien moon orbiting the gas giant planet of a red dwarf star may be more likely to be habitable than tidally locked Earth-sized planets or super-Earths. (Credit: David A. Aguilar, CfA)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Dec. 18, 2009) — In the new blockbuster Avatar, humans visit the habitable -- and inhabited -- alien moon called Pandora. Life-bearing moons like Pandora or the Star Wars forest moon of Endor are a staple of science fiction. With NASA's Kepler mission showing the potential to detect Earth-sized objects, habitable moons may soon become science fact.

If we find them nearby, a new paper by Smithsonian astronomer Lisa Kaltenegger shows that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be able to study their atmospheres and detect key gases like carbon dioxide, oxygen, and water vapor.

Read more ....

The Shortest Day: The Science Of The Winter Solstice

The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year, when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky.
Credit: Stockxpert.

From Live Science:

You may think Mr. Frost's blustery entrance already occurred, but not officially. The winter solstice, and thus the official start of the chilly season on the astronomical calendar, begins Monday.

More exactly, the winter solstice begins at 12:47 p.m. EST (1747 UT) on Dec. 21.

Here's what's behind the timing:

Read more ....

New Crew Poised To Launch To Space Station

From Yahoo News/

A Russian cosmonaut doctor, a veteran Japanese astronaut and a rookie American spaceflyer are poised to blast off Sunday for the International Space Station.

The three spaceflyers are slated to launch Dec. 20 at 4:51 p.m. EDT (2151 GMT) on the Russian Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They will spend about two days catching up to the space station, where they plan to dock Tuesday.

Read more ....

How High Will The Seas Go In A Warmer World?

Remi Benali / Corbis

From Time Magazine:

Even as negotiators scramble to salvage an agreement at the foundering Copenhagen climate talks, a new study in this week's issue of Nature shows that the consequences of inaction on reducing emissions could be more severe than anyone thought.

By looking back about 125,000 years, to a time when global temperatures were as high as they are expected to be by 2100, a team of scientists from Princeton and Harvard universities has calculated that the oceans were probably at least 26 ft. higher than they are now, maybe as much as 31 ft. higher. That's significantly higher than the 13-ft.-to-19-ft. range scientists have been counting on, and it is, write Peter Huybers of Harvard and Peter Clark of Oregon State University in an accompanying commentary in Nature, "a disconcerting message."

Read more ....

Sky Snake Flexible Blimps Are Bending The Rules On UAV Design

A segmented 76-foot airship during flight testing over Stuttgart, Germany.
(Sanswire-TAO Corp)

From Air And Space Smithsonian:

The blimp—that bloated, egg-shaped thing that blocks out the sun at major public events—remains one of aviation’s oddballs. Think Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the movie Ghostbusters. And it’s a high-maintenance oddball: lots of construction and operating costs relative to the few people it carries. No speed. Huge amounts of hangar space needed to shelter it when nasty weather arrives. How does this thing get work? Other than hoisting cameras above the Super Bowl for 10-second shots during TV commercial breaks, the blimp, or zeppelin as it’s never called anymore, has been a caricature of itself for decades.

Read more ....

New Map Reveals Tsunami Risks In California

Photo: West Coast Risk: Some 350,000 California residents are at risk if a tsunami strikes there. istockphoto

From Scientific American:

The map, released close to the fifth anniversary of the 2004 Sumatran Tsunami, will be helpful in emergency response planning.

SAN FRANCISCO—Just days before the fifth anniversary of the 2004 Sumatran Tsunami, California officials on Thursday released a new map of the state's tsunami hazard, which details how an event could affect 350,000 people who live along the coast and cause tens of billions of dollars of damage.

Read more ....

The (Last and Next) Decade In Gadgets

(Photograph by George Frey/Getty Images)

From Popular Mechanics:

In January 2000, odds are that you didn't own an MP3 player, digital camera or even a cellphone. You certainly couldn't send saliva through the mail to a service (23andMe) to analyze your DNA. Times have changed. Here, Gizmodo's Mark Wilson breaks down the biggest tech breakthroughs of the past 10 years, and predicts where tech is going in the next 10.

Read more ....

Scientists Find Formula For Beautiful Face

Actress Jessica Alba Photo: GETTY

From The Telegraph:

Beauty is not so much in the eye of the beholder as in the measurements between a woman’s eyes, mouth and ears, scientists claim.

Researchers have calculated the ratios of the “perfect” face and claim that celebrities including Jessica Alba, Liz Hurley and Shania Twain have the magic formula.

While being labelled average is rarely regarded as a compliment, they also found that the “golden ratio” matched dimensions of an average woman’s face.

Read more ....

Our Vision Of the Future Of Magazines

Mag+ from Bonnier on Vimeo.

From Popular Science:

Although we believe in a strong future for print media, we’re even more excited about the digital potential for magazines. That’s why we’re thrilled with this initial vision for a future PopSci developed by Bonnier’s R&D group with design firm BERG.

Read more ....

Pictured: Majestic Brown Bears Go Head To Head In Remarkable 15-Minute Duel

The bears fought each other in the middle of stunning Alaskan scenery for 15 minutes before wandering off to catch salmon in a nearby river.

From The Daily Mail:

These two brown bears couldn't have picked a more stunning setting to engage in a spot of rough and tumble.

In front of a spectacular, snow topped mountain range in Alaska, the giant animals took each other to task, with one even taking a crafty low side-swipe.

Despite one of the bears holding a definite weight advantage, the pair grappled and exchanged blows.

Read more ....

Friday, December 18, 2009

New Weapon In Battle Of The Bulge: Food Releases Anti-Hunger Aromas During Chewing

A real possibility does exist for developing a new generation of foods that make people feel full by releasing anti-hunger aromas during chewing. (Credit: iStockphoto/Jan Couver)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Dec. 17, 2009) — A real possibility does exist for developing a new generation of foods that make people feel full by releasing anti-hunger aromas during chewing, scientists in the Netherlands are reporting after a review of research on that topic. Such foods would fight the global epidemic of obesity with aromas that quench hunger and prevent people from overeating. Their article appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Read more ....

New Diet Advice: Curb Weekend Calories

From Live Science:

It's no surprise that holiday feasts often bring expanding waistlines, but a new study finds that weekend eating can also be a cause for concern.

Some people chow down more calories on Saturday and Sunday than on a typical weekday, researchers find. The study also showed that people tend to keep track of how much they are consuming on a daily basis, at least in a rough sense. Specifically, if they skimped on breakfast, they would make up for it by gorging at lunch, more or less.

Read more ....

Dark Liquor Makes For Worse Hangovers

From Wired Science:

A new study may help drinkers pick their poison. In a head-to-head comparison, bourbon gave drinkers a more severe hangover than vodka, report Damaris Rohsenow of Brown University and colleagues in an upcoming issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Read more ....


From National Geographic:

Etymology: from bi (as in “life”) + onics (as in “electronics”); the study of mechanical systems that function like living organisms or parts of living organisms

Amanda Kitts is mobbed by four- and five-year-olds as she enters the classroom at the Kiddie Kottage Learning Center near Knoxville, Tennessee. "Hey kids, how're my babies today?" she says, patting shoulders and ruffling hair. Slender and energetic, she has operated this day-care center and two others for almost 20 years. She crouches down to talk to a small girl, putting her hands on her knees.

"The robot arm!" several kids cry.

"You remember this, huh?" says Kitts, holding out her left arm. She turns her hand palm up. There is a soft whirring sound. If you weren't paying close attention, you'd miss it. She bends her elbow, accompanied by more whirring.

Read more ....

U.S., China, India and Other Nations Arrive at Non-Binding Agreement At U.N. Climate Summit

Photo: UNCERTAIN ACCORD: A draft accord was announced Friday at the United Nations' climate summit, which has nearly concluded in Copenhagen. istockphoto

From Scientific American:

A new draft agreement from both developed and developing countries might prove the key to combating climate change.

COPENHAGEN—The U.S., China, India and South Africa form the core of a growing group of nations that have agreed upon a commitment to combat climate change, concluding a grueling two weeks of negotiations in the Danish capital here as part of the United Nations' climate summit. The so-called "Copenhagen Accord" will not be legally binding but will list in annexed documents, for the first time, commitments from both developed and developing countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Read more ....

Head Games: How Helmet Tech Works In 7 Different Sports

From Popular Mechanics:

It's deep into football season, and players benched because of concussions have begun to seem as common as a turnover. That's because, after a string of damning studies, the relationship between head impacts and brain trauma, leading to cognitive impairment later in life, has become difficult to ignore. Football's not the only sport that puts players' heads at risk, though. From Nascar to skiing and cycling, here's what's considered state-of-the-art headgear.

Read more ....

Ardi - Cousin Of The 'Missing Link' - Named Scientific Breakthrough Of 2009

Breakthrough of the Year Photo: PA

From The Telegraph:

The discovery of a short, ape like creature, that lived more than four million years ago just as humans began walking on two legs was the most important breakthrough of the year, according to one of the most prestigious science magazines.

Ardi - a seven stone, four-foot tall female who roamed African forests 4.4million years ago- was the oldest member of the human family tree found so far, pre-dating the previous ancestor "Lucy" by a million years.

Her discovery, reported in October, sheds light on a crucial period when we were just leaving the trees.

Read more ....

Majority of U.S. Cocaine Supply Cut with Veterinary Deworming Drug

Cocaine Bricks DEA

From Popular Science:

Cocaine's a hell of a drug, and even more so when laced with another drug that's commonly used to deworm opossums. Federal agents have found that 69 percent of cocaine shipments seized entering the United States contain levamisole, a veterinary drug linked to serious weakening of the immune system in humans. Here's the real funny part: no one knows why.

Read more ....

The US Air Force's Holiday Wish List: 2500 PlayStations

Leave your beer and pizza at the door, please (Image: Air Force Research Lab)

From The New Scientist:

The US Air Force Research Lab recently put out a request for 2200 Sony PlayStation 3 games consoles. The military researchers want to wired them up with the 300 or so they already have to make a type of supercomputer never seen before.

But it won't be the ultimate gaming system to teach pilots how to blast enemies out of the sky. Instead it will analyse radar and simulate the workings of brains.

The consoles are desirable because of the unique abilities of the chip at their heart. Jointly designed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM, the Cell chip is designed for the speedy and efficient graphics processing that gaming requires, as well as for number crunching.

Read more ....

Dark Matter Discovered: Scientists Believe They Have Found Elusive Particle That Makes Up 90% Of Universe

This dark matter map was created by the Hubble Telescope by measuring light from distant stars thought to have been deflected by dark matter. The map of half the Universe reveals dark matter filaments, collapsing under the relentless pull of gravity and growing clumpier over time

From The Daily Mail:

Physicists have detected a particle of dark matter for the first time in human history, a number of U.S laboratories announced today.

Should the findings be confirmed it will have an Earth-shattering effect on our understanding of how galaxies form.

Read more ....

Obama Takes On Skeptics In Speech, Tries To Rally Climate Crusaders

From Watts Up With That?

President Barack Obama spoke on the last day of climate talks at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. The President called on all major economies to put forward decisive national actions that will reduce their emissions and turn the corner on climate change.

Read more ....

Mammals May Be Nearly Half Way Toward Mass Extinction

Small herd of buffalo in Utah, U.S. If the planet is headed for another mass extinction like the previous five, each of which wiped out more than 75 percent of all species on the planet, then North American mammals are one-fifth to one-half the way there, according to a University of California, Berkeley, and Pennsylvania State University analysis. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Dec. 18, 2009) — If the planet is headed for another mass extinction like the previous five, each of which wiped out more than 75 percent of all species on the planet, then North American mammals are one-fifth to one-half the way there, according to a University of California, Berkeley, and Pennsylvania State University analysis.

Many scientists warn that the perfect storm of global warming and environmental degradation -- both the result of human activity is leading to a sixth mass extinction equal to the "Big Five" that have occurred over the past 450 million years, the last of which killed off the dinosaurs 68 million years ago.

Read more ....

Human Ancestors Were Homemakers

A basalt handaxe (top) and basalt cleaver (bottom), found at an archaeological site in Israel demonstrating the earliest known living area organization. Credit: Leore Grosman, Computerized Archaeology Laboratory, The Hebrew University

From Live Science:

In a stone-age version of "Iron Chef," early humans were dividing their living spaces into kitchens and work areas much earlier than previously thought, a new study found.

So rather than cooking and eating in the same area where they snoozed, early humans demarcated such living quarters.

Read more ....

Fake Platelets To Stem Blood Flow

Artist's impression of blood flow, including red and white blood cells and platelets (shown here in yellow). Synthetic platelets bind to natural platelets at the site of an injury, speeding up the clotting process. Credit: iStockphoto

From Cosmos:

SYDNEY: Scientists have developed artificial platelets to enhance the natural process of blood clotting, reducing the risk of fatal blood loss on the battlefield and in the emergency room.

Platelets are colourless disc-shaped cells which activate the blood clotting process, helping to form 'plugs' which stop blood flowing from cuts and grazes. However, they are sometimes overpowered by serious injury or trauma, which can lead to fatal blood loss.

Read more ....

The LHC Hits 2.36 Trillion Electron Volts—But What Does it Mean?

From Popular Mechanics:

The Large Hadron Collider is back up and running and already breaking records, with a 1.18-trillion-electron-volt beam. But even the basic definition of an electron volt is Latin to most. So what do the new numbers mean? Here, PM explains the electric insides—the electrons and proton beams, joules, volts and megawatts, created and consumed by the world's most powerful proton accelerator.

Read more ....

Malaria Slows In 1 In 3 Affected Countries

From Time Magazine:

(LONDON) — Malaria cases appear to have been slashed by half in more than a third of countries battling the disease following a renewed push by the United Nations to eradicate it, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

In a new global report on malaria, the U.N. health agency said it was cautiously optimistic the mosquito-borne disease's spread is slowing, even though its information is patchy and based largely on modeling.

Read more ....

Chardonnay Descendant Of 'Peasant' Grape

Chardonnay is still considered an unsophisticated wine and is generally shunned by the middle classes Photo: GETTY IMAGES

From The Telegraph:

Turning your nose up at chardonnay is nothing new claim scientists who found the grape is a descendant of a "peasant" variety banned by nobleman hundreds of years ago.

Despite it being one of the main ingredients of champagne, chardonnay is still considered an unsophisticated wine and is generally shunned by the middle classes.

Now scientists believe that the reason may be historical.

Read more ....

The Big Question: Has A Key Breakthrough Been Made In The Search For A Cure For Cancer?

From The Independent:

Why are we asking this now?

British scientists announced yesterday that they have sequenced a "cancer genome" for the first time. It means they have identified all of the many thousands of genetic mistakes that make a tumour cell different from a healthy cell taken from the same cancer patient.

Not all of these mistakes, or DNA mutations, were involved in triggering the cancer, but some of them – the "drivers" – clearly were. Scientists believe it will be possible eventually to identify these driver mutations and find the genetic faults that led to the changes in a healthy human cell that caused it to divide uncontrollably to form a cancerous tumour.

Read more ....

Davy Jones's Lock-Up

From The Economist:

Underwater robots can help study the world’s shipwrecks, a trove of information about the past, more easily and cheaply.

A SHIPWRECK is a catastrophe for those involved, but for historians and archaeologists of future generations it is an opportunity. Wrecks offer glimpses not only of the nautical technology of the past but also of its economy, trade, culture and, sometimes, its warfare. Until recently, though, most of the 3m ships estimated to be lying on the seabed have been out of reach. Underwater archaeology has mainly been the preserve of scuba divers. That has limited the endeavour to waters less than 50 metres deep, excluding 98% of the sea floor from inspection. Even allowing for the tendency of trading vessels to be coasters rather than ocean-going ships, that limits the number of wrecks available for discovery and examination.

Read more ....

Texting Now More Popular Than Cell Calls

Photo from AP

From CBS News:

(AP) R u kidding me? Americans punched out more than 110 billion text messages last year, double the number in the previous year and growing, as the shorthand communication becomes a popular alternative to cell phone calls.

The nation's 270 million cell phone subscribers each sent out an average of 407 text messages in 2008, according to government statistics released Tuesday by the Census Bureau. That's more than double the 188 messages sent by the average cell subscriber in 2007. The figures did not break down the texting by age, but the overall numbers understate the thousands of texts sent each month by many teens - balanced out by older folks who don't text as much.

Read more ....

Violence Follows Common Patterns

Photo: Armed conflicts show striking statistical similarities.

From The BBC:

Researchers have uncovered common patterns in the scale and timings of attacks across a variety of different violent conflicts.

A total of 54,679 violent events spanning several decades were analysed.

The team searched for statistical similarities across nine historic and ongoing insurgencies including those of Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

The results, published in Nature journal, may offer the hope of reducing casualties in future conflicts.

Read more ....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Close-Up Photos Of Dying Star Show Our Sun's Fate

Chi Cygni, shown in this artist's conception, is a red giant star nearing the end of its life. As it runs out of fuel, it pulses in and out, beating like a giant heart and ejecting shells of material. Observations by the Infrared Optical Telescope Array found that, at minimum radius, Chi Cygni shows marked inhomogeneities due to roiling "hotspots" on its surface. (Credit: ESO/L. Cal├žada)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Dec. 17, 2009) — About 550 light-years from Earth, a star like our Sun is writhing in its death throes. Chi Cygni has swollen in size to become a red giant star so large that it would swallow every planet out to Mars in our solar system. Moreover, it has begun to pulse dramatically in and out, beating like a giant heart. New close-up photos of the surface of this distant star show its throbbing motions in unprecedented detail.

"This work opens a window onto the fate of our Sun five billion years from now, when it will near the end of its life," said lead author Sylvestre Lacour of the Observatoire de Paris.

Read more ....

Geeks Drive Girls Out of Computer Science

From Live Science:

The stereotype of computer scientists as geeks who memorize Star Trek lines and never leave the lab may be driving women away from the field, a new study suggests.

And women can be turned off by just the physical environment, say, of a computer-science classroom or office that's strewn with objects considered "masculine geeky," such as video games and science-fiction stuff.

Read more ....

The Science Behind James Cameron's Avatar

From Popular Mechanics:

It's the year 2154 and humankind has reached out to the stars in director James Cameron's new science-fiction epic Avatar. The movie takes us to an exotic jungle moon called Pandora where humans are the aliens and a clash is brewing with the natives. Cameron, who has served as an adviser to NASA to investigate a camera for a Mars mission, is known for taking the science in his flicks very seriously. So how did he do? Here we check on some of the movie's scientific bona fides with top researchers in their respective fields to see where artistic license and scientific plausibility meld.

Read more ....

The Amalgamated Flying Saucer Club Of America, Headquartered In Los Angeles, Released This Photo, Taken By A Member, Reportedly Showing A Flying Sauce

The Amalgamated Flying Saucer Club of America, headquartered in Los Angeles, released this photo, taken by a member, reportedly showing a flying saucer estimated at 70 ft. in diameter. Bettmann / CORBIS

From Time Magazine:

The year 1969 was a great time for hippies, a bad year for Beatles fans and an even worse year for UFO enthusiasts. Forty years ago, on Dec. 17th, the U.S. Air Force officially shuttered Project Blue Book, the agency's third and final attempt to investigate extraterrestrial sightings and the country's longest official inquiry into UFOs. From 1952 until 1969, more than 12,000 reports were compiled and either classified as "identified" — explained by astronomical, atmospheric or artificial phenomenon — or "unidentified," which made up just 6% of the accounts. Because of such a meager percentage and an overall drop in sightings, officials axed the program and ended the research. So much for the truth being out there.

Read more ....

Flowers Found In Bronze Age Grave

In August a four tonne capstone was removed to reveal a burial chamber
near Forteviot in Perthshire Photo: PA

From The Telegraph:

Grieving relatives have been leaving flowers beside the graves of their loved ones for at least 4,000 years, archeologists have found.

A bunch of meadowsweet blossoms were discovered in a Bronze Age grave at Forteviot, south of Perth.

The find is reported in the journal "British Archaeology", out this week.

Read more ....

Moon Poses Radiation Risk To Future Travelers

Astronaut Edwin E 'Buzz' Aldrin Jr. walks on the surface of the moon. Future lunar travelers face a radiation dose 30 percent to 40 percent higher than originally expected from radioactive lunar soil. NASA/Neil Armstrong

From Discovery News:

Rather than blocking cosmic rays, the moon itself is a powerful source of radiation, measurements show.

Future lunar explorers counting on the moon to shield themselves from galactic cosmic rays might want to think about Plan B.

In a surprising discovery, scientists have found that the moon itself is a source of potentially deadly radiation.

Measurements taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show that the number of high energy particles streaming in from space did not tail off closer to the moon's surface, as would be expected with the body of the moon blocking half the sky.

Read more ....

Military Could Use iPhones To Track Friends, Enemies in War

From The Gadget Lab:

What if the iPhone could be used in war? True, it’s primarily a consumer product, but it’s versatile and always connected to the internet (assuming you have network reception) — so why not?

That’s the idea behind new iPhone apps being showcased by Raytheon, a military contractor, at the Intelligence Warfighting Summit in Tucson. One app called the One Force Tracker will provide live data tracking the location of friends and foes on real-time maps. The app will also be used to communicate with other units.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is just another example on the revolution that is occurring in the intelligence community. The key is to know who are foes and who are not .... and provide this information to the men and women in the field. What was science fiction a few years ago .... is rapidly becoming reality today.

More Homes Seen Dumping Landlines

Photo: From iStockphoto

From CBS News:

Age And Location Biggest Factor In Decisions To Abandon Landlines.

(AP) The number of households with cell phones but no landlines continues to grow, but the recession doesn't seem to be forcing poor cellular users to abandon their traditional wired phones any faster than are higher-income people.

The finding, from data compiled by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggests that when it comes to telephone habits, peoples' decisions are affected more by age and where they live than by their economic situations.

Read more ....

Climate Change Is Nature's Way -- A Commentary

From The Wall Street Journal:

Climate Change Is Nature's Way.

Climate change activists are right. We are in for walloping shifts in the planet's climate. Catastrophic shifts. But the activists are wrong about the reason. Very wrong. And the prescription for a solution—a $27 trillion solution—is likely to be even more wrong. Why?

Climate change is not the fault of man. It's Mother Nature's way. And sucking greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is too limited a solution. We have to be prepared for fire or ice, for fry or freeze. We have to be prepared for change.

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'Jesus-Era' Burial Shroud Found

From The BBC:

A team of archaeologists and scientists says it has, for the first time, found pieces of a burial shroud from the time of Jesus in a tomb in Jerusalem.

The researchers, from Hebrew University and institutions in Canada and the US, said the shroud was very different from the controversial Turin Shroud.

Some people believe the Turin Shroud to have been Christ's burial cloth, but others believe it is a fake.

The newly found cloth has a simpler weave than Turin's, the scientists say.

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Will 2010 Be The Breakout Year For E-Book Readers?

Mike Erickson, of Webster Groves, checks out a Sony Reader an e-book at Best Buy, Friday aternoon. "I'm just waiting to see what other kinds of books will be available." Erickson said. Erickson is at the Best Buy in Brentwood. (Dawn Majors/P-D)

From Stltoday:

When Sheila Effan found a Kindle electronic reader among her gifts last Christmas, one of her first thoughts was whether she'd miss the smell and feel of real paper. She got her answer five months later.

That's when a friend lent her a paperback. She lugged it around for a couple of days before tiring of the burden.

"I got annoyed with it. So I just downloaded it to my Kindle," Effan said. "I thought I would miss books. But I don't."

Oh, how the folks behind's Kindle, Sony's Reader and Barnes & Noble's Nook love the sound of that.

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Climate Change Does Not Always Lead to Conflict

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Dec. 17, 2009) — The climate change that took place in Mesopotamia around 2000 BC did not lead to war, but in fact led to the development of a new shared identity. Although increasing drought often leads to competition and conflict, there seems to be no evidence of this in northern Mesopotamia according to Dutch researcher Arne Wossink.

Wossink studied how the farmers and nomads in northern Mesopotamia -- currently the border area between Turkey, Syria and Iraq -- responded to the changes in climate that took place between 3000 and 1600 BC. He expected to find considerable evidence of competition: as food and water became scarcer the natural result could well be conflict. He discovered, however, that the farmers developed much closer bonds with the semi-nomadic cattle farmers.

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Earth's Upper Atmosphere Cooling Dramatically

New research shows that the outermost layer of the atmosphere will lose 3 percent of its density over the coming decade, a sign of the far-reaching impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. As the density declines, orbiting satellites experience less drag. Credit: ©UCAR.

From Live Science:

SAN FRANCISCO — When the sun is relatively inactive — as it has been in recent years — the outermost layer of Earth's atmosphere cools dramatically, new observations find.

The results could help scientists better understand the swelling and shrinking of our planet's atmosphere, a phenomenon that affects the orbits of satellites and space junk.

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