Saturday, January 16, 2010

How Music 'Moves' Us: Listeners' Brains Second-Guess the Composer

New research predicts that expectations about what is going to happen next in a piece of music should be different for people with different musical experience and sheds light on the brain mechanisms involved. (Credit: iStockphoto/Anna Bryukhanova)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Jan. 16, 2010) — Have you ever accidentally pulled your headphone socket out while listening to music? What happens when the music stops? Psychologists believe that our brains continuously predict what is going to happen next in a piece of music. So, when the music stops, your brain may still have expectations about what should happen next.

Read more ....

Bible Possibly Written Centuries Earlier, Text Suggests

The ancient text shown in this drawing was discovered on a shard of pottery in Israel, and turned out to be the earliest known example of Hebrew writing. Credit: University of Haifa

From Live Science:

Scientists have discovered the earliest known Hebrew writing — an inscription dating from the 10th century B.C., during the period of King David's reign.

The breakthrough could mean that portions of the Bible were written centuries earlier than previously thought. (The Bible's Old Testament is thought to have been first written down in an ancient form of Hebrew.)

Read more ....

$5 Million Will Buy You Your Own Jet Fighter

$5M Buys the Ride of Your Life -- Autopia

The Russian Sukhoi SU-27 has a top speed of Mach 1.8 (more than 1,300 mph) and a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than 1:1. In other words, it can accelerate while climbing straight up. It was designed to fight the best the United States had to offer, and it can be yours for the cost of a mediocre used business jet.

Last week, we told you about a cool DIY jet. If you like the idea of a jet but not the thought of doing it yourself, John Morgan has you covered. He’s got a pair of beautifully restored Sukhoi SU-27 Flanker jets. They’re first-rate pieces of Soviet-era hardware designed to go head-to-head with the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. They’re for sale, joining a very elite group of former military fighter jets offered for private ownership in the United States.

Read more ....

My Comment: My dream has always been to fly a P-51 Mustang. But to fly a SU-27 .... sighhhh .... I will need a lot of Google clicks to get that bird.

Why The Y Chromosome Is A Hotbed For Evolution

From Times Online:

The Y chromosome is often seen as the rotten corner of the human genome — a place of evolutionary decline that is slowly decaying and threatening the end of man. Reports of its imminent demise, however, have been exaggerated.

Research has indicated that, far from stagnating, the male chromosome is a hotspot of evolution that is changing more quickly than any other part of humanity’s genetic code.

Read more ....

Researchers Decry Proposed Rules To Secure Bio Research Labs

In Fort Detrick's new BSL-4 laboratory, a labyrinth of ducts guides air in the lab through banks of powerful filters, each of which removes more than 99 percent of particles larger than 0.0003 mm. Staff say air leaves the building cleaner than it arrives.

From Popular Mechanics:

This week, the White House released a study by the Working Group on Strengthening the Biosecurity of the United States that recommends stricter guidelines for dangerous pathogens and stronger screening standards for lab employees. But the reception of the proposed changes has been frosty among scientists, who worry that the restrictions will hamper their work, without obstructing terrorism.

Read more ....

Chinese Attack On Google Among the Most Sophisticated Cyberattacks Ever, Experts Say

Google Bai Bai AP

From Popular Science:

No one has claimed responsibility, but a U.S. Internet security firm points at the Chinese government.

A Chinese cyber-assault on Google and more than 30 other U.S. companies was the most sophisticated online attack ever seen outside of the defense industry, according to experts from anti-virus firm McAfee interviewed by Wired. Google announced on Tuesday that it would no longer censor information on its search portal per Chinese government rules, and may stop doing business in China entirely.

Read more ....

'Most Beautiful' Math Structure Appears In Lab For First Time

The signature of a mathematical structure called E8 has been seen in the real world for the first time (Illustration: Claudio Rocchini under a creative commons 2.5 licence)

From New Scientist:

A complex form of mathematical symmetry linked to string theory has been glimpsed in the real world for the first time, in laboratory experiments on exotic crystals.

Mathematicians discovered a complex 248-dimensional symmetry called E8 in the late 1800s. The dimensions in the structure are not necessarily spatial, like the three dimensions we live in, but they correspond to mathematical degrees of freedom, where each dimension represents a different variable.

Read more ....

Fire Holds No Fears For Chimps, Says Scientist

Observations of chimpanzees could shed light on when our human ancestors first controlled fire. Andrew Aiken / Rex Features

From The Independent:

But did the early ancestor of Man learn how to control it?

Wild chimpanzees have been observed carrying out a “fire dance” in front of grassland wildfires as part of a suite of unusual behaviours that could indicate an ability of man’s closet living relative to understand and even control fire.

Instead of fleeing the wildfires in panic, the chimps were seen to monitor them carefully, showing no signs of the fear that other animals normally exhibit. Their leader – the alpha male – was even observed performing a ritualistic display while facing the flames.

Read more ....

Arctic Permafrost Leaking Methane At Record Levels, Figures Show

Permafrost in Siberia. Methane emissions from the Arctic permafrost increased by 31% from 2003-07, figures show. Photograph: Francis Latreille/Corbis

From The Guardian:

Experts say methane emissions from the Arctic have risen by almost one-third in just five years, and that sharply rising temperatures are to blame.

Scientists have recorded a massive spike in the amount of a powerful greenhouse gas seeping from Arctic permafrost, in a discovery that highlights the risks of a dangerous climate tipping point.

Experts say methane emissions from the Arctic have risen by almost one-third in just five years, and that sharply rising temperatures are to blame.

Read more ....

The Golden Oldie Gene: One In Five Has Age-Defying 'Centenarian Gene' That Greatly Increases Odds Of Living To 100

Photo: Centenarian: The late Queen Mother at St Paul's Cathedral after a service in honour of her 100th birthday in 2000

From The Daily Mail:

In the genetic lottery of life expectancy, you might think 100 is a pretty lucky number.

Now it's just got luckier.

Scientists have discovered that a gene already known to treble your odds of living to 100 may also ward off Alzheimer's disease.

One in five of us is dealt this genetic hand that promises to extend our lives without the loss of mental agility.

The gene is the first to be identified that actually cuts the odds of Alzheimer's disease rather than raising them.

Read more ....

Diamond Oceans Possible On Uranus, Neptune

When scientists melted diamond under high temperatures and pressure and then resolidified, the solid diamond chunks floated on top of liquid diamond. Getty Images

From Discovery News:

By melting and resolidifying diamond, scientists explain how such liquid diamond oceans may be possible.


* Like ice on water, solid diamond floats on liquid diamond.
* The finding explains possible liquid diamond oceans on other planets.
* Diamond oceans may cause off-kilter planetary tilts.

Oceans of liquid diamond, filled with solid diamond icebergs, could be floating on Neptune and Uranus, according to a recent article in the journal Nature Physics.

Read more ....

New Satellite Maps Of Haiti Coming In

Damage evaluation map based on satellite data over the Port-au-Prince area of Haiti, following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake and several aftershocks that hit the Caribbean nation on 12 January. Map based on data from CNES's SPOT-5, JAXA's ALOS and the U.S.-based GeoEye-1 satellites; processed by SERTIT. (Credit: CNES, JAXA, GeoEye, SERTIT)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Jan. 15, 2010) — As rescue workers scramble to provide assistance to hundreds of thousands of people following Haiti's earthquake, Earth observation satellite data continues to provide updated views of the situation on the ground.

Following the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti on 12 January, international agencies requested satellite data of the area from the International Charter on 'Space and Major Disasters'.

Read more ....

Earthquake Threat Lurks For United States, Too

You have to question your faith, but hopefully not lose it, a Haitian seminarian said of the earthquake that destroyed the Notre Dame Cathedral of Port-au-Prince. (Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times)

From Live Science:

As disaster crews and scientists investigate the havoc wrought in Haiti, questions emerge as to whether such a vastly destructive disaster could happen at home in the United States. In fact, cities are located near dangerous earthquake zones all throughout the country, from the most infamous on the West Coast to potential time bombs in the Midwest and even on the Eastern Seaboard.

Read more ....

U.N.'s World Health Organization Eyeing Global Tax On Banking, Internet Activity

From FOX News:

The World Health Organization (WHO) is considering a plan to ask governments to impose a global consumer tax on such things as Internet activity or everyday financial transactions like paying bills online.

Such a scheme could raise "tens of billions of dollars" on behalf of the United Nations' public health arm from a broad base of consumers, which would then be used to transfer drug-making research, development and manufacturing capabilities, among other things, to the developing world.

Read more ....

Did King Tut's Discoverer Steal From The Tomb?

Howard Carter examining King Tut's sarcophagus. The British archaeologist claimed ancient grave robbers had broken into the boy king's tomb and stolen a number of small treasures. But he had contractual reasons to make up the story. AP

From Spiegel Online:

Howard Carter, the British explorer who opened the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, will forever be associated with the greatest trove of artifacts from ancient Egypt. But was he also a thief?

Dawn was breaking as Howard Carter took up a crowbar to pry open the sealed tomb door in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. With shaking hands, he held a candle to the fissure, now wafting out 3,300-year-old air. What did he see, those behind him wanted to know. The archaeologist could do no more than stammer, "Wonderful things!"

Read more ....

More Evidence That China Is Nervous About The Power Of The Inrternet

China Begins Monitoring Billions Of Text Messages As Censorship Increases -- The Telegraph

China has started scanning text messages in the latest move in the country’s increasing censorship.

Customers of China’s two largest mobile phone networks, China Mobile and China Unicom, have had their texting service blocked after sending risqué messages, the state media claims.

The disclosure comes as the country is embroiled in a dispute with Google. On Tuesday the internet giant said it could quit China because of concerns over censorship. The Global Times, a government-run newspaper, said: “Everyone seems to be under watch.”

Read more ....

My Comment: Talk about paranoia .... but China has always been like this throughout its long history.

Pixel Qi: The LCD Screen That Could Finally Kill Paper For Good

Pixel Qi : Mary Lou Jepson's hybrid computer screen blends the best aspects of both laptop and e-reader displays John B. Carnett

From Popular Science:

Mary Lou Jepsen has created massive holograms and cheap laptops for the developing world. Now she’s rethinking the LCD screen, leading the way to the next great gadget: an e-reader to replace your laptop.

For Mary Lou Jepsen, getting an MRI is not unlike getting a massage—a relaxing ritual, a rare slice of time when no work can possibly be done. I’m accompanying Jepsen to her doctor’s appointment at Massachusetts General Hospital because it’s the only few hours she can fit me in.

Read more ....

Male Chromosome Evolving Fastest, Study Shows

A scanning probe microscope image of human chromosomes.

From The Telegraph:

The Y chromosome is evolving far faster than the rest of the human genetic code, according to a study by scientists in America.

The research compared the Y chromosomes - which determine a man’s sex - from humans and chimpanzees, man’s nearest living relatives, and showed that they are about 30 per cent different.

That is far greater than the two per cent difference between the rest of the human genetic code and that of the chimpanzee’s. The changes occurred in the last six million years or so, relatively recently when it comes to evolution.

Read more ....

Why Did The Collapse Of Old Europe Bring A Shift From Female To Male Power?

Female Figurine (Front), Fired Clay. Marius Amarie

From The Independent:

The exhibition "The Lost World of Old Europe," in New York, has raised some very interesting questions about prehistoric societies and how they changed. David Anthony, guest curator of the exhibition and a leading anthropologist specializing in prehistoric Europe, Eurasia, and North America, raised a particularly powerful issue - why did the collapse of a highly sophisticated, matriarchal culture in what is now Bulgaria, Romania, and Moldova, lead to a shift of power to men?

Read more ....

Electromagnetic Manufacturing: It's A Knockout

From The Economist:

Engineers find a new way to punch holes through steel.

ELECTROMAGNETIC pulses (EMPs) are usually associated with warfare. The idea is to use a blast of energy to fry the enemy’s computers and telecommunications gear. One common way proposed to do this is with an atomic bomb. In a less extreme fashion, however, EMPs have peaceful uses. They are already employed industrially to shape soft and light metals, such as aluminium and copper. Now a group of researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology in Chemnitz, Germany, has found a way to use an EMP device to shape and punch holes through industry’s metallic heavyweight—steel. This could transform manufacturing by doing away with the need to use large, heavy presses to make goods ranging from cars to washing machines.

Read more ....

Analyst: Apple Tablet 'In Full Production'

Photo: Tablets on display last week at the Consumer Electronics Show. (Credit: Brooke Crothers)

From CNET:

An analyst at AVI Securities said Friday morning that the Apple tablet is "in full production" and a research note stated that Apple "NAND" flash chip requirements may be increasing because of the tablet.

The Apple tablet information comes from "a maker of components going into the Apple tablet," according to analyst Matt Thornton. "It's been in the supply chain for a while and entered full production this month. A couple of suppliers actually had weaker Decembers than they would have expected because production was pushed back a little bit," he said in an interview.

Read more ....

Friday, January 15, 2010

Neural Thermostat Keeps Brain Running Efficiently

A 'neuronal thermostat' keeps our energy-hungry brains operating reliably and efficiently while processing a flood of sensory information, new research has found. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Jan. 15, 2010) — Our energy-hungry brains operate reliably and efficiently while processing a flood of sensory information, thanks to a sort of neuronal thermostat that regulates activity in the visual cortex, Yale researchers have found.

The actions of inhibitory neurons allow the brain to save energy by suppressing non-essential visual stimuli and processing only key information, according to research published in the January 13 issue of the journal Neuron.

Read more ....

Lost Sleep Can't Be Made Up, Study Suggests

From Live Science:

If you think staying in bed on the weekends will make up for a weeks' worth of sleep deprivation, think again. A new study finds that going long periods without sleep can lead to a sort of "sleep debt" that cannot simply be undone with a little extra snoozing from time to time.

The study involved a small number of participants, however, so further research would be needed to verify the results.

Read more ....

Space Station Needs 'Extension To 2020'

Europe's Columbus science module was attached to the ISS in 2008

From The BBC:

Europe wants a decision in 2010 on an extension to the life of the International Space Station (ISS).

At the moment, no programme for its use nor any funding has been put in place to support the platform beyond 2015.

But the European Space Agency's (Esa) Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, told the BBC the uncertainty was undermining best use of the ISS.

Read more ....

Longest Solar Eclipse For 1,000 Years Turns Sun Into A Blazing Ring Of Fire

The skies over Hongdao, China, where the spectacular 'ring of fire' could be seen. The eclipse was annular, meaning the Moon blocked most of the Sun's middle

From The Daily Mail:

Millions of people were plunged into darkness today as the longest solar eclipse for 1,000 years turned the Sun into a blazing ring of fire.

Such a spectacle will not be seen again until December 23rd, 3043.

Unlike eclipses which block out the Sun entirely this one was annular meaning the Moon blocked most of the Sun's middle, but not its edges, causing it to look like a circular band of light.

Read more ....

U.S. Military Terminates Several Robotic Warriors

MULE Gone to the robot junkyard in the sky Lockheed Martin

From Popular Science:

Budget cuts focus attention on smaller, more flexible drones and bots.

Judgment Day has come for the machines, or at least two robotic warriors once slated for the U.S. military's arsenal. The budget cut casualties include a mine-sniffing, six-wheeled transport called the MULE, and an autonomous helicopter called the Fire Scout, according to The Hill.

Read more ....

Tiny Wasps 'Could Work Better Than Pesticides'

Nasonia wasp: The wasps, which all fall in the Nasonia genus,
also offer promise for genetic research. Photo: DPA

From The Telegraph:

Tiny parasitic wasps could be used as pesticides to protect crops after researchers carried out the most detailed ever study of the creatures.

A group of scientists who sequenced the genomes of three parasitic wasp species say their work has revealed that the tiny insects have features useful for both pest control and medicine, and could even improve understanding of genetics and evolution.

Read more ....

Did A Thirst For Beer Spark Civilization?

Patrick McGovern in his laboratory, examining and "sniffing" out a 3,000-year-old millet wine, which was preserved inside a tightly lidded bronze vessel from an elite tomb at the Shang Dynasty capital of Anyang in China. Photograph courtesy of P. Kosty, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

From The Independent:

Drunkenness, hangovers, and debauchery tend to come to mind when one thinks about alcohol and its effects. But could alcohol also have been a catalyst for human civilization?

According to archaeologist Patrick McGovern this may have been the case when early man decided to start farming. Why humans turned from hunting and gathering to agriculture could be the result of our ancestors’ simple urge for alcoholic beverages.

Read more

E-Readers: The Compatibility Conundrum

Just as iPods replaced your record collection with a click wheel and a pair of white headphones, e-readers now want to digitize your bookcase. The problem is: they all want to do it in different ways. Rich Clabaugh/Staff

From The Christian Science Monitor:

With the Kindle, Nook, a raft of new e-readers comes an issue well known to early adopters: what’s next?

At this month’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the biggest tech convention of the year, attendants found a trove of e-reader devices.

Just as iPods replaced your record collection with a click wheel and a pair of white headphones, the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook, and untold others now want to digitize your bookcase.

However, they all want to do it in different ways.

Read more ....

Google, China And A Wake-Up Call To Protect The Net

Action is needed at the global level to ensure that cyberspace doesn't slip
into a new dark age. AFP/Getty Images

From The Globe And Mail:

Action is needed at the global level to ensure that cyberspace doesn't slip into a new dark age

Google's announcement that it had been hit by cyberattacks from China and that it's reconsidering its services in that country has smacked the world like a thunderclap: Why the drastic move? How will China respond? Will other companies with interests in China, such as Microsoft and Yahoo, follow suit? What does it mean for the future of cyberspace?

Some may be puzzled. How does Google's decision to end censored search services in China relate to the attacks on its infrastructure, the theft of intellectual property and access to private e-mail accounts? Well, there are connections. Censorship, surveillance and information warfare are part of an emerging storm in cyberspace in which countries, corporations and individuals are vying for control.

Read more ....

My Comment:
According to TNR, Google's actions may not be that altruistic .... Gathering Clouds: Google’s reasons for leaving China aren’t as pure as they seem.

Mars Rover Spirit's Days May Be Numbered

Artist's concept of the Spirit rover on Mars (before getting stuck in a sand trap).
(Credit: NASA)

From CNET News:

One of NASA's seemingly immortal Mars rovers might soon be at the end of its days.

The Spirit rover had been cruising around the Red Planet, along with its companion, Opportunity, since they both arrived six years ago this month. (Spirit landed on January 3, 2004, while Opportunity landed on January 24 of that year.) Their mission to send back photos and data about the Martian surface was expected to last a mere 90 days. Instead, the two traveling research bots blew away all expectations, continuing their treks year after year.

Read more ....

Poker Paradox: The More Hands You Win, The More Money You Lose

From Science A Gogo:

Analyzing more than 27 million hands of No-Limit Texas Hold'em, a Cornell researcher has found that the more hands players win, the less money they're likely to collect - especially when it comes to novice players. The study was published in the Journal of Gambling Studies.

Cornell's Kyle Siler hypothesizes that the multiple wins are likely for small stakes, and the more you play, the more likely you will eventually be walloped by occasional - but significant - losses. "[The finding] coincides with observations in behavioral economics that people overweigh their frequent small gains vis-à-vis occasional large losses, and vice versa," Siler explained. In other words, players feel positively reinforced by their streak of wins but have difficulty fully understanding how their occasional large losses offset their gains.

Read more ....

Second Smallest Exoplanet Spotted: Discovery Highlights New Potential for Eventually Finding Earth-Mass Planets

Astronomers have detected an extrasolar planet with a mass just four
times that of Earth. (Credit: L. Calcada, ESO)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Jan. 14, 2010) — Astronomers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and other institutions, using the highly sensitive 10-meter Keck I telescope atop Hawaii's Mauna Kea, have detected an extrasolar planet with a mass just four times that of Earth. The planet, which orbits its parent star HD156668 about once every four days, is the second-smallest world among the more than 400 exoplanets (planets located outside our solar system) that have been found to date. It is located approximately 80 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Hercules.

Read more ....

Airport Security Unlikely To Spot Hard-to-Find Weapons

Human psychology could be making an airport screener's job even harder,
a new study found. Credit: StockXpert

From Live Science:

When airport screeners don’t expect to find a gun in your bag, they likely won’t, suggests new research that shows that when people think something will be difficult to find, they don't look as hard as when they think they're likely to see what they're searching for.

Call it the needle-in-the-haystack effect: Humans aren’t adapted to finding rare things.

"We know that if you don't find it often, you often don't find it," said cognitive scientist Jeremy Wolfe of Harvard Medical School. "Rare stuff gets missed."

Read more ....

New Study Raises Concerns About HIV-Drug Resistance

A supply of antiretroviral drugs is prepared for free distribution to HIV patients at the Integrated HIV Service Unit at the Cipto Mangunkusumo government hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia. Romeo Gacad / AFP / Getty

From Time Magazine:

Last January a team of scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) published a study in the British medical journal the Lancet making the audacious claim that the tools already exist to end the AIDS epidemic. Doctors have long noted that antiretrovirals — the drugs commonly used to treat HIV — are so successful at suppressing the number of viruses in an infected patient's blood that they can render a person no longer contagious. Using mathematical models, the researchers claimed that universal HIV testing followed by the immediate treatment of newly infected patients with antiretroviral drugs could eliminate the disease from even the most heavily infected populations within 10 years.

Read more ....

Herschel Space Telescope Restored To Full Health

From The BBC:

Europe's billion-euro Herschel Space Telescope is fully operational again after engineers brought its damaged instrument back online.

The observatory's HiFi spectrometer was turned off just three months into the mission because of an anomaly that was probably triggered by space radiation.

The Dutch-led consortium that operates HiFi has now switched the instrument across to its reserve electronics.

Read more ....

Marvels From Mars: Stunning Postcards From The Red Planet

Devil's punch bowl? The mouth of Albor Tholus, an extinct volcano, is 30km across

From The Daily Mail:

The Red Planet, Mars, fascinates us like no other celestial body. We have yet to visit the most Earth-like world in the solar system in person, but since the Sixties a small armada of space probes have poked and prodded the dusty Martian surface.

And, as these astonishing images show, they have taken the most spectacular close-up pictures while orbiting the planet.

Because Mars has so little air, and certainly no substantial running water and no vegetation, the processes of weathering and erosion, so important on Earth, operate differently on Mars.

Read more ....

Government Gmail Use Following Google's China News

From ZNet:

Updated: A Google spokesman responds with the following: The premise of Mr. Strassmann’s post is without merit: There’s no need to withdraw servers that store Gmail information from China because there aren’t any there.

Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra has been a consistent advocate of increasing the government’s use of commercially available technologies, such as Gmail. In fact, as the District of Columbia’s chief technology officer, Kundra implemented Google Apps, including Gmail, for all District employees.

Read more ....

Major Antarctic Glacier Is 'Past Its Tipping Point'

A catastrophic collapse is imminent, according to the latest study
(Image: NASA/Jane Peterson, NSERC)

From New Scientist:

A major Antarctic glacier has passed its tipping point, according to a new modelling study. After losing increasing amounts of ice over the past decades, it is poised to collapse in a catastrophe that could raise global sea levels by 24 centimetres.

Pine Island glacier (PIG) is one of many at the fringes of the West Antarctic ice sheet. In 2004, satellite observations showed that it had started to thin, and that ice was flowing into the Amundsen Sea 25 per cent faster than it had 30 years before.

Read more ....

Google Earth Reveals The Devastation In Haiti

On the left, buildings surrounding Haiti's capital are reduced to rubble, and the roof of the capital itself (at top) is crumbled. On the right, the capital building on Sept. 29, 2008. GeoEye Satellite Image

GeoEye Satellite Images: Haiti Before and After --

Before and after photographs from GeoEye's satellites shows the destruction to the capital and surrounding buildings in Port-au-Prince.

Before and after photographs from GeoEye's satellites shows the destruction to the National Palace and surrounding buildings in Port-au-Prince.

Read more ....

More News On Satellite Pictures Over Haiti

Google Earth Reveals the Devastation in Haiti -- PC World
Google's Satellite Images of the Haiti Earthquake -- Time Magazine
Google Earth Reveals Extent of Haiti Quake Damage -- Sphere
Updated Google maps show Haiti devastation -- Toronto Star
First Satellite Map of Haiti Earthquake -- Science Daily

Why China Needs Google More Than Google Needs China

From Popular Mechanics:

Cyber attacks targeting Gmail accounts of Chinese human right activists have led to a decision by Google to relax self-censorship for China. This may be the first step in a much larger pullout from China by tech giant Google. This bold business move is a good thing, according to Popular Mechanics's senior technology editor, Glenn Derene. Here, Derene argues that China needs Google's innovation and creativity much more than Google needs Chinese business.

Read more ....

DARPA Spends $51 Million On Matrix-Like Cyber War Firing Range

Do Virtual IT Administrator Opponents Dream Of Electric Jolt Cola Bottles? via Chas Andrews

From Popular Science:

As any soldier will tell you, consistent and realistic drill forms the foundation of any successful military action. But whereas an infantryman can hone his aim at a firing range, America's Internet warriors don't have a similar venue for developing their skills at cyberwar. But DARPA hopes a $51 million network simulation, complete with computer programs that behave like human targets and adversaries, will provide the perfect arena for developing the next generation of cyberwar weapons and tactics.

Read more ....

My Comment: The ultimate in computer warfare and conflict .... sigh .... I wish I was involved in this.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Faster And More Efficient Software For The US Air Force

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Jan. 12, 2010) — Researchers at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln have addressed the issue of faulty software by developing an algorithm and open source tool that is 300 times faster at generating tests and also reduces current software testing time.

The new algorithm has potential to increase the efficiency of the software testing process across systems.

Read more ....

The Devastating Haiti Earthquake: Questions And Answers

Desolate: Survivors gather around bodies laid out after being recovered from the wreckage

From Live Science:

The earthquake that devastated Haiti Tuesday was the strongest temblor to hit the island nation in more than 200 years. The magnitude 7.0 quake caused tremendous damage that officials have yet to fully characterize, and the death toll may run into the thousands.

What caused the Haiti earthquake, and why was it so devastating? Here are answers to these and other questions:

Read more ....

The Exoplanet Explosion

The first six weeks of scientific data returned by Kepler has already turned up five exoplanets, with many more candidates waiting to be studied. (credit: NASA)

From The Space Review:

Fifteen years ago, there were virtually no known planets beyond the (then nine) planets in our own solar system: just a few found by chance orbiting a pulsar. Then, in late 1995 and 1996, came the initial discovery of planets orbiting main sequence stars like the Sun. That slow trickle of discoveries became a steady stream as astronomers refined their instruments and techniques, as well as increased both the number of stars studied and their period of time observed. By the beginning of 2010 astronomers reported finding over 400 such extrasolar planets, or exoplanets.

Read more ....

Cocaine Found In Shuttle Work Area, NASA Says

Workers align the space shuttle Discovery's thrusters in Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 3 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in December 2009. A small amount of cocaine was found in a restricted area of the facility on Wednesday, NASA said. NASA


NASA says workers face drug tests; no impact on flights expected.

NASA is investigating how a small amount of cocaine ended up in a space shuttle hangar at the agency's Florida spaceport.

A bag containing the cocaine residue was discovered in the space shuttle Discovery's hangar at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The hangar, known as the Orbiter Processing Facility, is a restricted zone for shuttle workers only.

Read more ....

Exotic Stars May Mimic big Bang

'Electroweak' stars may recreate the conditions of the big bang in an apple-sized region in their cores (Illustration: Casey Reed, courtesy of Penn State)

From New Scientist:

A new class of star may recreate the conditions of the big bang in its incredibly dense core.

Pack matter tightly enough and gravity will cause it to implode into a black hole. Neutron stars were once thought to be the densest form of matter that could resist such a collapse. More recently, physicists have argued that some supernovae may leave behind even denser quark stars, in which neutrons dissolve into their constituent quarks.

Read more

Doomsday Clock Moves Back A Minute

The Doomsday Clock now reads six minutes until midnight. Scott Olson/AFP

'Doomsday Clock' Moves Away From Midnight but Only by 1 Minute -- ABC News

Despite Threats, Scientists Say State of Affairs Is 'Hopeful'

The world can breathe a sigh of relief today... kind of.

A group of international scientists this morning announced that they are moving the hands of the symbolic "Doomsday Clock" away from midnight -- or the figurative apocalypse -- but only by one minute.

Read more ....

More News On The "Doomsday Clock"

Scientists Push "Doomsday Clock" Back a Minute -- ABC News/Reuters
Scientists Move Doomsday Clock Back One Minute -- Global Security Newswire
Atomic scientists move Doomsday Clock one minute further away from midnight -- New York Daily News
Doomsday Clock moves back a minute -- The Independent
Time Moves Backward for Doomsday Clock -- Sphere
Doomsday Clock Set Back One Minute -- Associated Content
Doomsday Clock shows signs for hope, need for progress -- Christian Science Monitor

My Comment: The scientists quote President Obama .... Scientists Say State of Affairs Is 'Hopeful'.

Sighhh ... hope and change is still in the air.

Could Haiti's Earthquake Tragedy Have Been Prevented?

A destroyed building is seen on January 12, 2010 in Port-au-Prince after a huge earthquake measuring 7.0 rocked the impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti. (Photograph by Lisandro Suero/AFP/Getty Images)

From Popular Mechanics:

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti was long predicted by one group of geophysicists. Could the tragedy have been prevented?

On January 12, around dinnertime, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, decimating the island nation and leaving hundreds of thousands presumed dead. A rescue effort is underway now, but as government officials and rescue agencies sort through the rubble, it is worth asking: Could this tragedy have been prevented?

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Looking For Life As We Know It

The Australia Telescope array near Narrabri, New South Wales, with Mercury, Venus, and the Moon all is the same stretch of sky. It's the 50th anniversary of attempts to search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. Credit: Graeme L. White and Glen Cozens/James Cook University

From Cosmos:

Some scientists are convinced life is common in the universe, but intelligence rare. As for how long civilisations last - and stay detectable - few are willing to hazard a guess.

Two young physicists at Cornell University in upstate New York, Philip Morrison and Giuseppe Cocconi, had long been interested in gamma rays. One spring day in 1959, Cocconi posed an intriguing question: wouldn’t gamma rays be perfect for communication between the stars?

The discussion that followed led to a two-page article in the British journal Nature entitled “Searching for interstellar communications”. Sandwiched between a paper on the electronic prediction of swarming in bees and one on metabolic changes induced in red blood cells by X-rays, the duo argued that if advanced extraterrestrial civilisations existed, and wanted to communicate, they would likely use radio.

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