Saturday, February 13, 2010

Robot Hand Could Protect Soldiers On The Battlefield

The 'intelligent' substance d3o at the display

From The Telegraph:

A robot hand that could defuse bombs, luminous goo that flows around soldiers’ moving bodies but hardens to protect them if they are hit and a uniform that conducts electricity are among the first fruits of the Ministry of Defence’s version of the Dragons’ Den.

The Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) in Harwell, Oxfordshire, is an initiative that aims to harness British scientific innovation for rapid use on the battlefield. Ministers also hope to temper the MoD’s reputation for laborious and costly procurements that arrive in service years after they have ceased to be useful.

Read more ....

Google Shuts Down Music Blogs Without Warning

Music blog Gorilla Vs Bear was concerned by Google's actions

From The Guardian:

Bloggers told they have violated terms without further explanation, as years of archives are wiped off the internet.

In what critics are calling "musicblogocide 2010", Google has deleted at least six popular music blogs that it claims violated copyright law. These sites, hosted by Google's Blogger and Blogspot services, received notices only after their sites – and years of archives – were wiped from the internet.

Read more

Hubble Telescope Captures Saturn's Eerie Twin Aurorae

Astronomers had a rare chance to view Saturn with its rings edge on. It meant they could study the planet's Northern and Southern lights

From The Daily Mail:

A spectacular light show on Saturn has been captured in unique new photos of the ringed planet.

The aurora images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) were made possible by a rare chance to see the planet with its rings edge-on and both poles in view.

It takes Saturn almost 30 years to orbit the Sun, and during that time such a picture opportunity occurs only twice.

Read more

How Transformers Can Explode

With a surge of power and corroded wiring, transformers can explode, causing extensive damage. (Photo from Iceman9294/Flicker)

From Popular Mechanics:

On February 12, an underground electrical transformer exploded in front of a Radio Shack on 6th Avenue, in New York City, emitting a fireball seven stories high and damaging nearby buildings. Here's how this could have happened.

A transformer from Consolidated Edison (Con Ed), New York City's sole electricity supplier, exploded from beneath the sidewalk in an underground vault yesterday, creating a fiery blast that shattered windows multiple stories high. Though no injuries were reported, offices and stores at the corner of 20th Street were left smoldering.

Investigators are still trying to answer the question: Just what lead this transformer to explode?

Read more ....

New Camera System Takes The Guesswork Out Of Baseball Stats

Keeping an Eye on the Ball Up to four cameras mounted on the light towers along each foul line send a live feed to a computer, where object-recognition software identifies each player and the ball and records their every movement as the play unfolds. Here, a sample data stream from a pop fly to left field. Graham Murdoch

From Popular Science:

This could be the year that baseball-stat freaks finally crack the “Derek Jeter enigma.” A panel of coaches has awarded the New York Yankees’ shortstop four of the past six Gold Glove awards for fielding excellence. That drives statisticians nuts, because nearly every statistical model ranks Jeter’s defense below average.

Read more ....

Study Hints At Dark Matter Action

Image: Some scientists believe dark matter (in pink) is everywhere in the universe

From The BBC:

Researchers in the US say they have detected two signals which could possibly indicate the presence of particles of dark matter.

But the study in Science journal reports the statistical likelihood of a detection of dark matter as 23%.

Deep underground in a lab in Minnesota experiments to detect WIMPS, or Weakly Interacting Massive Particles have been going on since 2003.

Read more ....

Friday, February 12, 2010

Models of Sea Level Change During Ice-Age Cycles Challenged

Data researchers collected on speleothem encrustations, a type of mineral deposit, in coastal caves on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca indicate that sea level was about one meter above present-day levels around 81,000 years ago. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Iowa)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Feb. 12, 2010) — Theories about the rates of ice accumulation and melting during the Quaternary Period -- the time interval ranging from 2.6 million years ago to the present -- may need to be revised, thanks to research findings published by a University of Iowa researcher and his colleagues in the Feb. 12 issue of the journal Science.

Read more ....

4 Myths of Online Dating Photos Revealed

From Live Science:

Guys hoping to get noticed on online dating sites should take off their shirts, at least those with six-pack abs, according to new survey results by one online matchmaker that also provide advice for gals' profile pics.

"We were sitting on a treasure trove of data," said Sam Yagan, co-founder and CEO of OkCupid. ''There are millions of experiments essentially happening on our site every day."

Read more ....

General Relativity: In Pretty Good Shape

From Discovery Magazine:

If we celebrate provocative new experimental findings, we should also celebrate the careful null results (experiments that agree with existing theories) on which much of science is based. Back in October we pointed to a new analysis that used observations of gravitational lensing by large-scale structure to test Einstein’s general relativity on cosmological scales, with the intriguing result that it didn’t seem to fit. And the caveat that it probably would end up fitting once we understood things better, but it’s always important to follow up on these kinds of clues.

Read more ....

Astronomers Back Chile To Host World's Biggest Telescope

A view of a telescope, operated by the European Southern Observatory, in Chile. Photo: Reuters/VICTOR RUIZ CABALLERO

From The Telegraph:

For astronomers, it appears that not only does size really matter but so does an eye-opening location.

That is why an international group of four professional star gazers have banded together to back Chile's Atacama desert as home to the world's biggest telescope, to be built in 2018 based on its geographical advantages.

The high-altitude Armazones mountain in the desert in northern Chilean desert is the perfect place for the European Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) to be set up, because of skies that are cloud-free 360 nights a year, they say.

Read more ....

MoD's Vanguard: A Mix Of Robot Bomb Defusers And Kneepad Goo

Rich Walker of Shadow Robot Company with a robotic hand that could be used by army bomb disposal personnel. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

From The Guardian:

Innovative technology at the Centre for Defence Enterprise

A robotic hand that could defuse bombs remotely, a camera with the ability to detect minute changes in the landscape and a mysterious orange goo that absorbs the impact of bomb blasts are among new battlefield technologies unveiled by the Ministry of Defence.

The innovations, designed to make life safer for frontline troops, are being funded by grants from the MoD's Centre for Defence Enterprise, which encourages private companies to bring their products straight to the government for development.

Read more ....

'Like Science Fiction': Astronauts Awe-Struck By Gleaming International Space Station

Space shuttle Endeavour docked with the forward docking port of the Harmony module

From The Daily Mail:

Glowing in the sunlight, this is the latest stunning shot of the International Space Station, taken from the shuttle Endeavour as it came in to dock.

Astronaut Stephen Robinson was awe-struck when he drew close to the space station, during Endeavour's approach from below.

'To look up and see what humankind could really accomplish in space was just almost impossible to believe. It seemed like science fiction,' he said.

Read more ....

The High-Tech Weather Forecasting In The 2010 Winter Olympics

Whistler Resort, Vancouver, British Columbia (Photograph by Julie Bishop/Getty Images)

From Popular Mechanics:

Weather forecasting during the Olympics is always critical, but it will be even harder than usual this time around. Not only is Vancouver the warmest city to host the winter games yet but the Vancouver-Whistler region's weather is incredibly complex because of the region's varied terrain, which spans ocean, islands and fjords and rises to 6500-foot-high mountains.

Read more ....

U.S. Army In Afghanistan Takes Delivery of New Bacterial Bioreactors To Clean Wastewater

Engineering Wastewater Treatment Sabin Holland is the lead scientist on a waste-water treatment system developed at SHSU which has both military and civilian applications. Sam Houston State University

From Popular Science:

Bacteria have deployed to Afghanistan to help the U.S. Army clean polluted wastewater. The microbes commonly appear in handfuls of dirt, but now form the main component of two new bioreactors made by scientists at Sam Houston State University in Texas.

Read more ....

Robot Stars In South Korean Plays

EveR-3: the all-singing, all-dancing thespian robot. Credit: Wikimedia

From The Cosmos/AFP:

SEOUL: A South Korean-developed robot played to acclaim in Robot Princess and the Seven Dwarfs and is set to take more leading theatre roles this year.

EveR-3 (Eve Robot 3) starred in various dramas last year including the government-funded Dwarfs which attracted a full house, said Lee Ho-Gil, of the state-run Korea Institute of Industrial Technology.

The lifelike EveR-3 is 157 cm tall, can communicate in Korean and English, and can express a total of 16 facial expressions – without ever forgetting her lines.

Read more ....

Tigers Evolved With Snow Leopards, Gene Study Reveals

From The BBC:

The tiger may be more ancient and distinct than we thought.

Tigers are less closely related to lions, leopards and jaguars than these other big cats are to each other, according to a new comprehensive study.

The genetic analysis also reveals the tiger began evolving 3.2 million years ago, and its closest living relative is the equally endangered snow leopard.

Read more ....

Apple Does Its Part To Battle Terrorism

From Concurring Opinions:

Today in my contracts call we were looking at boilerplate and the problems of contracts of adhesion. After class one of my students pointed out to me that buried in the fine print of its iTunes Store Terms and Conditions is a clause where Apple is doing its bit to foster non-proliferation. Clause 34(g) declares in part

You may not use or otherwise export or re-export the Licensed Application except as authorized by United States law and the laws of the jurisdiction in which the Licensed Application was obtained. In particular, but without limitation, the Licensed Application may not be exported or re-exported (a) into any U.S. embargoed countries or (b) to anyone on the U.S. Treasury Department’s list of Specially Designated Nationals or the U.S. Department of Commerce Denied Person’s List or Entity List. By using the Licensed Application, you represent and warrant that you are not located in any such country or on any such list. You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons.

Read more ....

Geographers Help Map Devastation in Haiti

Screenshot of MCEER's Virtual Disaster Viewer.
(Credit: MCEER, State University of New York at Buffalo)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Feb. 11, 2010) — In the wake of the earthquake in Haiti, University at Buffalo geography students are participating in a global effort to enhance the international response and recovery effort by helping to assess damage, using images hosted by Google Earth and the Virtual Disaster Viewer, which shares imagery of disasters from various sources.

Read more ....

Diamonds Are A Girl's Toughest Friend

This time-integrated photograph shows the high-powered laser shot at the diamond target (center), which is surrounded by several instruments. The bright white light is plasma. At just over 1 million atmospheres of pressure the diamond failed. Credit: Eugene Kowaluk/LLE

From Live Science:

We've all heard that diamonds can cut through glass, but now scientists have found Earth's hardest solid can withstand pressures just over a million atmospheres before getting crushed.

For comparison, the pressure at the center of Earth is about 3.5 million atmospheres, according to the researchers. One atmosphere is the natural pressure of air at sea-level. And the human body can withstand about 27 atmospheres, if it's applied gradually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Read more ....

Successful Airborne Laser Test Reported. Is This Program Combat Ready?

The Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) takes flight. (Source: U.S. Air Force)

U.S. Successfully Tests Airborne Laser On Missile -- Yahoo News/Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. high-powered airborne laser weapon shot down a ballistic missile in the first successful test of a futuristic directed energy weapon, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said on Friday.

The agency said in a statement the test took place at 8:44 p.m. PST (11:44 p.m. EST) on Thursday /0444 GMT on Friday) at Point Mugu's Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range off Ventura in central California.

"The Missile Defense Agency demonstrated the potential use of directed energy to defend against ballistic missiles when the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) successfully destroyed a boosting ballistic missile" the agency said.

Read more ....

More News On Yesterday's Successful Laser Test

U.S. Airborne Laser Eliminates Target Missile -- Global Security Newswire
U.S. Air Force's Laser Air Armada Nears Combat Readiness -- Daily Tech
Laser Jet Blasts Ballistic Missile in Landmark Test -- Danger Room
Two Northrop Grumman Laser Systems Help Airborne Laser Testbed Turn Science Fiction Into Fact -- CNN
Boeing 747 destroys ballistic missile with laser (update: photos!) -- Engadget
Boeing Airborne Laser Testbed team destroys boosting ballistic missile -- Shephard
Airborne Laser Testbed Successful -- Digital Silence
Boeing Airborne Laser Testbed Team Destroys Boosting Ballistic Missile -- Product Design And Development
US airborne laser destroys test missile --

Shuttle Astronauts Add The ISS’s Last Major Piece

From Discover Magazine:

The International Space Station is almost done. Astronauts on board the current space shuttle Endeavour completed the first of three spacewalks to install the last major component of the ISS: the Tranquility module. Its huge windows will offer ISS residents 360-degree view of space, the station, and our home world.

The U.S. Tranquility module — shaped like a soda can — is the last major American addition to the station, now 98% complete. Its placement completes 11 years of U.S. construction work on the outpost, which the United States has spent more than $50 billion building [USA Today]. An Italian team designed the module’s magnificent dome, which measures 10 feet in diameter. Seven windows provide the panoramic view.

Read more

Analysis: Chocolate May Reduce Stroke Risk

From USA Today:

Just in time for Valentine's Day, research out this week suggests eating chocolate may have a positive impact on stroke. Don't go buying too many heart boxes just yet, though, say the study authors.

A new analysis, which involved a review of three prior studies, suggests eating about a bar of chocolate a week can help cut the risk of stroke and lower the risk of death after a stroke. But the evidence is still limited, says study author, neurologist Gustavo Saposnik at St. Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto.

Read more ....

Sweden Beats U.S. To Top Tech Usage Ranking

A Web-user views the global networking site called Xing in Stockholm, November 20, 2008.
REUTERS/Bob Strong/Files

From Yahoo News/Reuters:

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Sweden took the number one spot from the United States to top the annual rankings on the usage of telecommunications technologies such as networks, cellphones and computers, a report released on Thursday shows.

The Connectivity Scorecard, created by London Business School professor Leonard Waverman in 2008, measured 50 countries on dozens of indicators, including technological skills and usage of communications technology.

Read more ....

Cyber Warriors

From The Atlantic:

When will China emerge as a military threat to the U.S.? In most respects the answer is: not anytime soon—China doesn’t even contemplate a time it might challenge America directly. But one significant threat already exists: cyberwar. Attacks—not just from China but from Russia and elsewhere—on America’s electronic networks cost millions of dollars and could in the extreme cause the collapse of financial life, the halt of most manufacturing systems, and the evaporation of all the data and knowledge stored on the Internet.

Read more ....

My Comment: I was captivated immediately when I started to read this article .... my background is also in internet security (or finding the weak spots in a network), and I have been going to China since the mid 1980s.

Bottom line .... I completely concur with the observations and conclusions from this author. I could have written the same piece .... but kudos to James Fallows .... he is a better writer than I am.

Facebook And Twitter Compete For Olympic Glory

From New York Times:

Each Olympics brings one or two novel new events. At the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, which start in Vancouver on Friday, there is Ski Cross, in which four skiers plunge down a mountain at the same time.

Then there is an unofficial competition that we’ll call the Social Media Slalom.

That is the race between the Web’s two pre-eminent social media companies, Facebook and Twitter, to establish themselves as the most visible and viable online option for fans that want to connect directly to athletes and get the latest updates from the competition without the filter of big media.

Read more ....

Evolution On The March

From Philadelphia Inquirer:

New DNA findings show that human genetic mutations are more recent, more rapid than once thought.

Conventional wisdom holds that if you could bring back someone from 40,000 years ago, he or she would blend perfectly well with today's population.

After all, the fossils show that our ancestors were "anatomically modern" by 100,000 years ago, and by 40,000 B.C., they were creating complex tools and art.

It was easy to assume our species hadn't evolved much since then.

Now molecular biology is overturning that assumption.

Read more ....

YouTube Adding Parental Controls

Watch CBS News Videos Online

From CBS News:

Giving Them Say Over What Kids See; Responding to Criticism that Kids Were Accessing Too Many Inappropriate Videos.

CBS) YouTube has coming under fire from parents who think some of the content on the popular Web site is unsuitable for their kids.

So, CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace reports exclusively, starting today, YouTube is adding parental controls, enabling parents to block kids from viewing many videos.

Read more ....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Home Computers Around The World Unite To Map The Milky Way

In the constellation Ophiucus resides NGC 6384, a spiral galaxy with a central bar structure and a possible central ring. Because NGC 6384 is nearly in line with the plane of our galaxy, all the stars in the image are foreground stars in our Milky Way. (Credit: Sloan Digital Sky Survey)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Feb. 11, 2010) — At this very moment, tens of thousands of home computers around the world are quietly working together to solve the largest and most basic mysteries of our galaxy.

Enthusiastic and inquisitive volunteers from Africa to Australia are donating the computing power of everything from decade-old desktops to sleek new netbooks to help computer scientists and astronomers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute map the shape of our Milky Way galaxy. Now, just this month, the collected computing power of these humble home computers has surpassed one petaflop, a computing speed that surpasses the world's second fastest supercomputer.

Read more ....

Scientists Freeze Water With Heat

From Live Science:

Imagine water freezing solid even as it's heating up. Such are the bizarre tricks scientists now find water is capable of.

Popular belief contends that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). Surprisingly, if water lies in a smooth bottle and is free of any dust, it can stay liquid down to minus 40 degrees F (minus 40 degrees C) in what's called "supercooled" form. The dust and rough surfaces that water is normally found in contact with in nature can serve as the kernels around which ice crystals form.

Read more ....

Yahoo Says, Don’t Count Us Out On Search

From Epicenter:

Yahoo is fighting to retain its reputation as a tech leader, after years of being adrift halfway between being a media company and a tech company, and having recently laid off engineers, sold off products and decided to outsource its search backend to Microsoft.

But Yahoo called a roomful of tech reporters to its headquarters in Sunnyvale to say that it’s still fighting.

Read more ....

Nobel Foundation: Why We Said No To Reform -- A Commentary

The Nobel Foundation responds to New Scientist's call for change
(Image: Oliver Morin/AFP/Getty Images)

From The New Scientist:

LAST year, a group of 10 scientists brought together by New Scientist wrote an open letter to the Nobel Foundation calling for an overhaul of the Nobel prizes. The group suggested that to keep the Nobels relevant, the foundation should introduce prizes for the environment and public health, and open them to institutions as well as individuals. It also suggested reforming the existing physiology or medicine prize to recognise contributions from across the life sciences, especially neuroscience and genetics.

Read more ....

Boeing's Biggest Bird Takes To The Skies

(Photograph by Jeremy Lindgren)

From Popular Mechanics:

The largest commercial aircraft ever built in the United States, the Boeing 747-8, took off on its maiden flight Monday afternoon, marking an important step forward for the manufacturer's iconic—but aging—747 family of airliners. After lifting off from Boeing's factory at Paine Field in Everett, Wash., Boeing Flight 501 Heavy flew loops around northwestern Washington for a few hours of tests before returning to Everett.

Read more ....

Are Robot Scientists The Future Of Laboratory Research?

Eve, at Work in the Lab Automated Experimentation

From Popular Science:

There was a time when science produced robots, but a paper published recently in the Automated Experimentation Journal suggests that in the future robots will autonomously produce science. It's not just a matter of cheap labor or taking menial tasks off the hands of researchers; the authors argue that science needs to be uniform and formalized, and AI robot scientists could help us get to that point by developing their own hypotheses and carrying out experiments with minimal human input.

Read more ....

A Menu For Feeding 9 Billion

From New York Times:

Science Magazine has removed the pay wall from “Food Security: The Challenge of Feeding 9 Billion People.” The paper concludes, as many have before, that keeping up with humanity’s needs as numbers and appetites crest toward mid-century poses big challenges. But it expresses optimism that a sustained focus on efficiency, technology and policy innovations can do the trick. (The images above, from the paper, show how investments in water storage and other measures helped restore vegetation in a dry region in Niger.) Here’s the summary:

Continuing population and consumption growth will mean that the global demand for food will increase for at least another 40 years. Growing competition for land, water, and energy, in addition to the overexploitation of fisheries, will affect our ability to produce food, as will the urgent requirement to reduce the impact of the food system on the environment. The effects of climate change are a further threat. But the world can produce more food and can ensure that it is used more efficiently and equitably. A multifaceted and linked global strategy is needed to ensure sustainable and equitable food security, different components of which are explored here.

Read more ....

It's Google's World, We Just Live In It

From Salon:

It's fun to trash the search-monster's Buzz, but there's a method to its social networking smart-phone madness.

Is this what world domination looks like? On Wednesday, Google announced it was building an ultrafast, one-gigabit-per-second broadband network designed to showcase "innovative" Internet applications. On Tuesday, Google launched Google Buzz, integrating social networking functions into Gmail. Last month, Google debuted its Nexus One smart phone.

Read more ....

Google Takes On The Telecoms

From The Wall Street Journal:

Google's decision to build a gigabit-a-second broadband network serving between 50,000 and 500,000 people predictably won plaudits from the Federal Communications Commission and public interest groups. But if Google truly wants to help speed the development of universal high-speed Internet access, as it says, it will need to do much more.

After all, there isn't a huge technical challenge building a fast network. Verizon Communications already is operating one that runs at 2.5 gigabits a second, offering television, Internet and phone. The maximum Internet speed it offers is 50 megabytes per second, but it easily can turn that up. It is spending $23 billion over several years to roll out the network to pass 18 million homes in largely suburban and urban areas.

Read more ....

Facebook Bans UK Inmates After Taunts

From CBS News:

Prisoners Were Using the Site to Make Threats and Even Plan Future Crimes.

(AP) The criminals are behind bars but their victims are still feeling their reach - through the Internet.

The British government said Thursday that Facebook had removed the profiles of 30 U.K. inmates at its request after several incidents in which prisoners reportedly used the social networking site to organize crime or taunt others.

Read more ....

How Roman Gladiators Died

Death Of A Gladiator -- Mind Hacks

Roman gladiators took part in one of the most brutal sports in history, many dying by traumatic brain injury during their matches. A medical study published in Forensic Science International examined the skulls of deceased fighters, discovered in a gladiator graveyard from Turkey, and reveals exactly how they died and even what weapons delivered the fatal brain injury.

The graveyard was discovered by archaeologists in 1993 but this study is the result of applying modern forensic medicine, which more typically attempts to discover the cause of death by looking at human remains after a crime, to the ancient bones.

Read more ....

Climate 'Tipping Points' May Arrive Without Warning, Says Top Forecaster

Icebergs breaking off from the Dawes Glacier in the Endicott Arm.
(Credit: iStockphoto/Joseph Gareri)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Feb. 10, 2010) — A new University of California, Davis, study by a top ecological forecaster says it is harder than experts thought to predict when sudden shifts in Earth's natural systems will occur -- a worrisome finding for scientists trying to identify the tipping points that could push climate change into an irreparable global disaster.

Read more ....

Facebook Data Reveals Secrets Of American Culture

A breakdown of American Facebook communities according to a recent analysis by an ex-Apple engineer. Credit: Pete Warden

From Live Science:

Facebook users in the American West appear to move around a lot, and often have friends throughout the country, while users from Minnesota to Manhattan have connections much closer to home.

And in areas in and around Texas, on the edge of what’s generally thought of as the Bible Belt, the Dallas Cowboys rank higher overall on users’ fan pages than God.

Read more ....

U.S. Government Wants To Track Its Citizens Through Their Cell Phones

Feds Push For Tracking Cell Phones -- CNET

Two years ago, when the FBI was stymied by a band of armed robbers known as the "Scarecrow Bandits" that had robbed more than 20 Texas banks, it came up with a novel method of locating the thieves.

FBI agents obtained logs from mobile phone companies corresponding to what their cellular towers had recorded at the time of a dozen different bank robberies in the Dallas area. The voluminous records showed that two phones had made calls around the time of all 12 heists, and that those phones belonged to men named Tony Hewitt and Corey Duffey. A jury eventually convicted the duo of multiple bank robbery and weapons charges.

Read more ....

My Comment: Only CNET is carrying this story (Update: Drudge is also carrying this story) on what should be a warning sign on where the US Government wants to go in conducting surveillance on its citizens. Hmmm .... so much for our privacy rights .... and from a Liberal President.

Saturn’s Most Habitable Moon Offers Ice, Water, Killer Views

From Wired Science:

Enceladus has to be one of the most intriguing objects in the solar system. It’s definitely our favorite of Saturn’s 62 moons here at Wired Science, and it’s among the most likely places to find the necessary ingredients for extraterrestrial life in the solar system.

Read more ....

Somali Pirates Hold Science To Ransom

Scourge of the Indian Ocean (Image: Mohamed Dahir/AFP/Getty Images)

From New Scientist:

SOMALI pirates terrorising the Indian Ocean are a hazard to more than shipping and tourists. They are also killing important scientific research and may be indirectly damaging the ocean's ecosystem.

Fishing boats in the Indian Ocean routinely carry scientists who gather data about fish stocks and threatened species while ensuring that boats comply with fishing rules. The piracy threat has put a stop to that. "We can't monitor and we can't do experiments because of the pirates," says Laurent Dagorn of France's Research Institute for Development (IRD).

Read more ....

5 Things You Need To Know About Google Buzz

From Popular Mechanics:

There are two ways to launch a social networking site. The first way: Build one from scratch, and spend years and millions of dollars going up against established giants. The second: Add a couple of key features that turn an already ubiquitous service into a social networking site. With Tuesday's launch of Google Buzz, the search giant has picked the latter path.

Read more ....

On DARPA's List: A Real-Time, 3-D Picture Of The Earth Beneath Our Feet

Peering Inside the Earth DARPA's "Transparent Earth" would give both the military and civil authorities a real-time, 3-D view of processes in the Earth's crust, possibly allowing us to predict natural disasters like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. NASA

From Popular Science:

DARPA wants to know what's happening in the skies overhead and seeks full situational awareness on the ground, so we suppose it's no surprise that now it wants full, real-time surveillance of what's happening beneath the surface. As part of the agency's fiscal 2011 budget, $4 million will go toward creating a system of sensors and algorithms that will create real-time 3-D maps displaying "the physical, chemical, and dynamic properties of the earth down to 5 km depth, including natural or man-made structures at militarily- relevant spatial scales."

Read more ....

Anticipating Unrest, Iran Disrupts Internet Communications

Anticipating Protests, Iran Disrupts Internet Communications -- New York Times

In an effort to disrupt communications and head off huge opposition demonstrations planned for Thursday, the Iranian authorities on Wednesday drastically slowed Internet service in Iran and shut down text messaging services, and an official said that Gmail, the Google e-mail service, would be blocked.

It was not immediately clear if Gmail would be blocked permanently, but users inside Iran said that because of the extremely slow speed of Internet service, they had been unable to open Gmail or the Yahoo e-mail service for the last week.

Read more ....

Update: Iran to Suspend Google's Email -- Wall Street Journal

My Comment:The message, videos, and the news will still get out.

Another Blizzard: What Happened To Global Warming?

From Time Magazine:

As the blizzard-bound residents of the mid-Atlantic region get ready to dig themselves out of the third major storm of the season, they may stop to wonder two things: Why haven't we bothered to invest in a snow blower, and what happened to climate change? After all, it stands to reason that if the world is getting warmer — and the past decade was the hottest on record — major snowstorms should become a thing of the past, like PalmPilots and majority rule in the Senate. Certainly that's what the Virginia state Republican Party thinks: the GOP aired an ad last weekend that attacked two Democratic members of Congress for supporting the 2009 carbon-cap-and-trade bill, using the recent storms to cast doubt on global warming.

Read more ....

Dramatic Images Of World Trade Centre Collapse On 9/11 Released For First Time

Click Image To Enlarge
The moment one of the World Trade Centre towers begins to crumble in New York

From The Daily Mail:

We have seen the Twin Towers collapse hundreds of times on TV. The steel and glass skyscrapers exploding like a bag of flour, the dust and smoke pluming out across Manhattan. But never like this, from above.

Nine years after the defining moment of the 21st century, a stunning set of photographs taken by New York Police helicopters forces us to look afresh at a catastrophe we assumed we knew so well.

You know but cannot see the 2,752 men, women and children who died at the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. None is visible here.

Read more ....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thirty-Eight Percent Of World's Surface In Danger Of Desertification

This is the Guadalquivir River as it passes through Seville, one of the areas most at risk of desertification in Spain. (Credit: Nesta Vázquez)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Feb. 10, 2010) — Researchers have measured the degradation of the planet's soil using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), a scientific methodology that analyses the environmental impact of human activities, and which now for the first time includes indicators on desertification. The results show that 38 percent of the world is made up of arid regions at risk of desertification.

Read more ....

Why Advertised Broadband Speeds Lag Behind Reality

From Live Science:

Downloading music from the Internet, streaming video or even browsing most websites nowadays requires fast broadband Internet connections such as a digital subscriber line (DSL) or cable. But slower-than-advertised connection speeds caused by growing network congestion and artificial restrictions by some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have left broadband consumers frustrated at times, and for good reason.

Read more ....

Hacker 'Mudge' Gets DARPA Job

Photo: Peiter "Mudge" Zatko
(Credit: BBN Technologies)

From CNET:

Peiter Zatko--a respected hacker known as "Mudge"--has been tapped to be a program manager at DARPA, where he will be in charge of funding research designed to help give the U.S. government tools needed to protect against cyberattacks, CNET has learned.

Zatko will become a program manager in mid-March within the Strategic Technologies Office at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), which is the research and development office for the Department of Defense. His focus will be cybersecurity, he said in an interview with CNET on Tuesday.

Read more ....