Saturday, November 6, 2010

Language And Toolmaking Evolved Together, Say Researchers

Researchers say early humans were limited by brain power not manual dexterity when making stone age tools. Photograph: David Sillitoe/Guardian

From Popular Mechanics:

Evolutionary advance saw stone-age humans master the art of hand-toolmaking and paved the way for language to develop.

Stone-age humans mastered the art of elegant hand-toolmaking in an evolutionary advance that boosted their brain power and potentially paved the way for language, researchers say.

The design of stone tools changed dramatically in human pre-history, beginning more than two million years ago with sharp but primitive stone flakes, and culminating in exquisite, finely honed hand axes 500,000 years ago.

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Europe Simulates Total Cyber War

From The BBC:

Essential web services have come under simulated attack as European nations test their cyber defences.

The first-ever cross-European simulation of an all out cyber attack was planned to test how well nations cope as the attacks slow connections.

The simulation steadily reduced access to critical services to gauge how nations react.

The exercise also tested how nations work together to avoid a complete shut-down of international links.

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Google Limits Facebook Access to Gmail Contacts

From The Wall Street Journal:

Google Inc. is launching a salvo against Facebook Inc., saying it will no longer allow the social network to grab information about Google users' social and professional contacts in Gmail, Google's email service.

Google has always allowed Google users to transfer data, including their contacts, to other websites. Until now, new Facebook users could find out whether their contacts on Gmail also had Facebook accounts, simply by typing in their Gmail user name and password as part of the Facebook signup process.

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Are Holograms The Next Step For 3D Tech?

Holograms, once seen only in science-fiction movies, are swiftly becoming a reality. Newscom

From Christian Science Monitor:

3D TV sets and 3D movies are everywhere in 2010. 3D holograms could be next.

Forget regular old 3D movies, which have crowded the marketplace with alarming alacrity in recent months. Forget even 3D TV. How about a 3D hologram – a three-dimensional telepresence, of the kind once seen only in the most speculative of science-fiction flicks? The technology might be even closer than you think.

The current issue of the science journal Nature features an extensive report from a group of Arizona researchers who succeeded in creating a real-time image – one that can be viewed without glasses – from multiple angles. (Just like in "Star Wars"!) The image, the researchers said, is recorded using a battery of cameras:

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Atlantic Current Backward During Ice Age

The Gulf Stream brings warm surface water northwards from the tropics to high latitudes, where it cools, sinks and flows southwards at depth. Changes in this Atlantic 'meridional overturning circulation' (MOC) would have profound implications for climate. Credit: National Oceanography Centre

From Cosmos:

SYDNEY: The Atlantic Ocean current, which may be affected by future climate change, today takes heat north to Europe but 10,000 years ago it was weaker and flowed in the opposite direction.

"[The opposite flow in the Atlantic Ocean] explains the presence of huge ice sheets in Europe and North America during that cold climatic period," said César Negre, an environmental scientist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain, and co-author of the letter in the British journal Nature.

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In First Test Of Interstellar GPS, Team Uses Distant Pulsars To Determine Position In Space

Pulsar Positioning It beats rolling down the window and asking for directions. NASA

From Popular Science:

Global Positioning Systems work famously here on the home planet because we control all of the moving parts; put some satellites in the sky, equip a device with the proper hardware to communicate with them, and you can locate yourself just about anywhere. But how would we locate ourselves in deep space? For that kind of spatial location, a team of Italian researchers have devised a way to calculate one’s position in space using pulsars as interstellar navigation beacons.

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Cassini Camera Stops Shooting Snaps

From Wired Science:

NASA’s Cassini orbiter, the powerhouse producer of mind-blowing Saturn photos, unexpectedly put itself into “safe mode” at 7 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, Nov. 2. Engineers still don’t know why.

The craft automatically triggers its safe-mode settings whenever something happens that requires attention from mission controllers on the ground. Since going into safe mode, Cassini has stopped collecting science data and sent back only data on engineering and spacecraft health.

That’s normal, said Cassini program manager Bob Mitchell in a press release.

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Developments In Optometry Can Be Traced Back To The 1st Century AD


From The Telegraph:

The quest to correct and improve vision is one of man's oldest medical challenges.

For as long as people have had vision problems, efforts have been made to correct them.

But little progress was made beyond the development of glasses and contact lenses before the 20th century.

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Spring Break-Ups: Graphic Of Facebook Updates Shows When People Are Most Likely To End A Relationship

The Facebook graphic shows most people break up at Spring Break or Christmas

From The Daily Mail:

If your relationship is rocky and it’s coming up to Christmas, beware: someone might be about to give you some bad news.

A designer who uses hard data to come up with interesting graphics and images has found which points in the year are the most popular for splitting up with partners.

David McCandless pulled information from 10,000 Facebook status updates which used the phrases ‘break up’ or ‘broken up’ and plotted them on a graph.

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What Happened To That Superjumbo?

Down to earth, after a bang (Image: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images)

From New Scientist:

Debris rained down on the island of Batam yesterday morning after an engine appeared to explode on an Airbus A380 – the world's largest commercial airliner – flown by Qantas. The plane then dumped fuel for 2 hours and made an emergency landing.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

7 Next-Gen Driving Technologies, Coming Soon To BMW

BMW's next-gen tech could change cars—for better or worse. Here, an iPhone app locates a parked vehicle by GPS from up to 1600 meters away.

From Popular Mechanics:

Fascinating or frightening? Wondrous or worrisome? BMW demonstrates tomorrow's driving innovations, beyond the self-parking car and everyday GPS system.

Munich, Germany—Tomorrow's automotive technology is usually tucked away in research labs—well out of public view. But every once in a while we're granted access to these top-secret incubators, as was the case when we recently paid a visit to BMW's headquarters in Munich.

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Gravity Suit Mimics Earth's Pull For Astronauts

Photo: The suit is made of a fabric with carefully tailored stretchiness

From The BBC:

A stretchy suit that mimics the effects of the Earth's gravity has been developed in the US to spare astronauts the ill effects of long missions of weightlessness.

Returning astronauts have lower bone density and muscle mass and can even suffer separation of their vertebrae.

The suit is made of a fabric with carefully tailored stretchiness.

It creates more of a pull at its wearer's feet than at the shoulders, replicating gravity's pull on Earth.

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Earth-Like Planets Common In Outer Space

The red dwarf star Gliese 581 is only 20 light years away from Earth, and a number of planets orbiting, including one in the middle of the star's habitable zone that is only three to four times the mass of Earth, with a diameter 1.2 to 1.4 times that of Earth. Credit: Lynette Cook/NASA

From Cosmos:

SYDNEY: Planet Earth is not so special after all; there's one orbiting roughly every one in four Sun-like stars, according to a five-year astronomy study.

The study, published in the journal Science, used Hawaii's twin 10-metre Keck telescopes to scan 166 sun-like stars within 80 million light years, or about 757 trillion kilometres.

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Alcohol More Harmful Than Heroin, Cocaine

When the wider social effects were factored in, alcohol was deemed the most dangerous, followed by heroin and crack cocaine, according to a new study. Credit: iStockPhoto

From Cosmos/AFP:

LONDON: Alcohol is more harmful than illegal drugs like heroin and crack cocaine, a new study by British researchers said this week.

Scientists looked at the dangers to both the individual and to wider society and found that alcohol was the most dangerous substance, according to the study by the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD).

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LHC To Shift Gears This Month And Create Mini Big Bangs

A Simulated Black Hole Event in the LHC's ATLAS Detector If this is what a black hole looks like, imagine a Big Bang. CERN/ATLAS

From Popular Science:

The new round of experiments aim to find out what matter looked like at the dawn of time.

Smashing protons at high energies is fun and all, but researchers at the Large Hadron Collider are taking a vacation from their day-to-day proton smashing, and taking a trip back to the very origins of the universe. Starting this month and continuing for four weeks, the LHC will accelerate and then collide lead ions – that is, entire atomic nuclei – to create a series of miniature Big Bangs that will let researchers take a look at the quark-gluon plasma that existed just a fraction of a second after the universe was born.

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‘Invisible’ Material Can Now Fool Your Eyes

From The Danger Room/Wired:

Don’t start picking out the pattern of your cloak, yet. But invisibility just became a whole lot more likely.

Tech journalists and military dreamers have talked about real-life invisibility cloaks for a while, and with good reason. With their specialized structures, so-called “metamaterials” can bend light around objects, making ‘em disappear.

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Eye Implant Allows The Blind To See Again

From The Telegraph:

An eye implant which has returned partial sight to three blind patients has been developed by scientists.

The device is being hailed as an "unprecedented advance" in visual aids, and could revolutionise the lives of 200,000 people who suffer from the degenerative eye condition retinitis pigmentosa.

The hereditary disease means that light receptors in the eye cease to function, impairing vision.

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New York To Sydney In Just 2hrs 30mins: Nasa To Develop 'Hypersonic' Passenger Jets That Travel At Five Times The Speed Of Sound

From The Daily Mail:

NASA is planning to build hypersonic jets that will fly through the Earth’s atmosphere and slash flight times around the world to a few hours at most.

The US space agency wants to manufacture a craft that would travel at five times the speed of sound and bring in a new age of aircraft akin to a turbo-charged Concorde.

Travelling at such speed would reduce the flight time from New York to Sydney to around two-and-a-half hours, from the 21 hours it is now.

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Daylight Saving Time 2010: Why And When It Ends

Turning back the clock in Frieburg, Germany, late last month.
Photograph by Patrick Seeger/dpa/Corbis

From National Geographic:

Why fall back? Should daylight savings be stopped? Get the facts—and a bit more.

With daylight saving time (also called daylight savings) coming to a close, clock confusion is once again ticking away: When exactly does daylight saving time end? Why do we fall back? Does it really save energy? Is it bad for your health? Get expert answers below.

When Does Daylight Savings End in 2010?

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Cloaking Effect In Atoms Baffles Scientists

Finding mysterious positron sources in the Milky Way (Image: Gerhard Hüdepohl/ESO)

From New Scientist:

Atoms called positronium inexplicably scatter off gas particles as if they were lone electrons, even though they contain an anti-electron as well. The finding hints that engineers could use the well-known scattering properties of electrons as a rule of thumb in designing future medical scanners that employ positronium. It could also help interpret puzzling astronomical observations.

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Space Shuttle Discovery: Launch Delayed To Nov. 30

From ABC News:

Final Flight for Discovery but Ship 'Not Going Out Easy'.

If the space shuttle Discovery had launched on schedule, she would now be in orbit, docked with the International Space Station, her six astronauts joining the six currently on board the station to unload 22,000 earth pounds of equipment.

But as has often happened in 30 years of shuttle flights, Discovery still sits on launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center here in Florida, waiting as mission managers worked their way through a minor helium leak, a minor electrical problem and Florida's famously unpreditable weather.

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Deep Impact Spacecraft Successfully Flies by Comet Hartley 2

This is an image of comet Hartley 2 taken on the closest flyby with the smaller of spacecrafts two telescopes (with cameras) on the University of Maryland-led EPOXI mission. (Credit: Credit: NASA/University of Maryland)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Nov. 4, 2010) — The University of Maryland-led EPOXI mission successfully flew by comet Hartley 2 at 10 a.m. EDT Nov. 3, 2010, and the spacecraft has begun returning images. Hartley 2 is the fifth comet nucleus visited by any spacecraft and the second one visited by the Deep Impact spacecraft.

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How Earth May Owe Its Life To Comets

Hubble Space Telescope observations of comet 103P/Hartley 2, taken on Sept. 25, are helping in the planning for a Nov. 4 flyby of the comet by the Deep Impact eXtended Investigation (DIXI) on NASA's EPOXI spacecraft. Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Weaver (The Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Lab)

From Live Science:

Comets have inspired both awe and alarm since antiquity, "hairy stars" resembling fiery swords that to many were omens of doom. Nowadays, scientists have found evidence that comets not only may have taken life away through cataclysmic impacts, they may have helped provide life by supplying Earth with vital molecules such as water — possibilities they hope to learn more about from the encounter with Comet Hartley 2 tomorrow (Nov. 4).

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Scientists May Have Discovered A Cure For The Common Cold (And Lots Of Other Viruses)

Virus Attack! Virus (purple) circulating in the bloodstream recognised by antibodies (yellow) of the immune system The Independent

From Popular Science:

Any immunology textbook will tell you that once a virus enters a cell, the only way to knock that virus out is to kill the entire cell. But a new study from the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge has shown a way to kill a virus from within the cell, leaving the virus defeated and the cell victorious and intact. This could be huge--not just a cure for the common cold, but for all kinds of other viruses as well.

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Outback Asteroid Strike Caused Huge Explosion And Left 80km Shock Zone, Studies Reveal

Satellite image showing an asteroid impact crater at Gosses Bluff in the Northern Territory. Source: Supplied

From The Australian:

EVIDENCE has been found of a massive asteroid impact near the Queensland-South Australia border more than 300 million years ago.

The asteroid, which produced a shock zone at least 80km wide, could be the second-largest asteroid ever found in Australia.

University of Queensland geothermal energy researcher Dr Tongu Uysal discovered the asteroid impact during his studies of the Cooper Basin, which is a large geothermal energy resource being developed on the border between Queensland and South Australia.

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Three Questions: The Internet's Next Generation


From Voice of America:

Add this to the list of things you didn't know you had to worry about: the most commonly used version of the Internet is almost out of room.

The global organization that helps coordinate the allocation of Internet addresses is warning only about 200 million are left. That may sound like a lot, but the Number Resource Organization says more than 200 million addresses were assigned in just the last nine months.

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The Other 'G' Spot

From Wall Street Journal:

At the beginning of the 20th century the British psychologist Charles Spearman "discovered" the idea of general intelligence. Spearman observed that students' grades in different subjects, and their scores on various tests, were all positively correlated. He then showed that this pattern could be explained mathematically by assuming that people vary in special abilities for the different tests as well as a single general ability—or "g"—that is used for all of them.

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How One Company Games Google News

Note the second cluster of stories produced by a Google News search for "iTunes" yesterday afternoon. All of those Red Label News stories were basically the same: spammy SEO-keywords alongside Web ads. (Credit: Screenshot by Tom Krazit/CNET)

From CNET News:

Red Label News is not exactly a household name. But yesterday afternoon, it was one of the top news sources on Google News for stories about Apple's iTunes song previews.

How'd that happen? Red Label News, it appears, is a cleverly designed collection of links and headlines meant to game Google News rankings.

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How To Use Google For Hacking

From Go Hacking:

Google serves almost 80 percent of all search queries on the Internet, proving itself as the most popular search engine. However Google makes it possible to reach not only the publicly available information resources, but also gives access to some of the most confidential information that should never have been revealed. In this post I will show how to use Google for exploiting security vulnerabilities within websites. The following are some of the hacks that can be accomplished using Google.

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Putting Ice On Injuries Could Slow Healing

This discovery turns the conventional wisdom that swelling must be controlled in order to encourage healing and prevent pain Photo: CORBIS

From The Telegraph:

Slapping a packet of frozen peas on a black eye or a sprained ankle may prevent it getting better, new research suggests.

For years, people have been told to freeze torn, bruised or sprained muscles to reduce the swelling.

But now for the first time, researchers have found that it could slow down the healing as it prevents the release of a key repair hormone.

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The Real Reason Women Outlive Men: It's All A Matter Of Breeding

From The Independent:

The reason women live longer than men – and why the final act of sex discrimination favours females over males – may at long last have a scientifically valid explanation.

Scientists believe we are close to understanding why men on average die younger than women. Life expectancy in Britain has risen steadily for both sexes over the past few decades and even though the gender gap has narrowed, women are still significantly more likely to live longer than men.

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