Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Role Of Social Media In Today's Revolutions

A student-run Facebook page shows an image depicting the Tunisian national flag smeared in red on a computer screen, 11 Jan 2011. Photo Reuters.

Social Media - a New Battleground for Activists and Governments Alike -- Voice of America

Protesters in Libya are refusing to give up their calls for an end to Moammar Gadhafi’s 42-year rule, fighting deadly street battles against forces aligned with the Libyan leader. Their struggle is the latest in a series of anti-government protests that have swept through North Africa and the Middle East in what some have come to call the “Facebook Revolution.”

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More News And Commentary On The Role Of Social Media In Today's Revolutions

Russia, China Get Tough with Social Media Companies to Avoid Unrest -- BNet
‘Tweets From Tahrir’ Captures Egypt’s Social Media-Led Revolution in a Book -- Forbes
Technology's Role in Government Change -- Tim Bajarin, PC Mag
Social media: Twitter uprisings -- M.Khalid Rahman, DAWN
Andy Carvin: The Middle East revolutions one tweet at a time -- Melissa Bell, Washington Post
Myths of Facebook, Twitter ‘revolutions’ -- Amando Doronila,
The dangers of social media revolt: Dissidents using Facebook and Twitter have been traced and arrested by authoritarian governments. -- Jillian C. York, Al Jazeera
Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go -- Evgeny Morozov, The Guardian

Australia's Honeybees To Be Devastated By The Asian Bee

Asian honeybees (right) might be much smaller than European honeybees (left), but they are much quicker, and can often get past the European bees' guards to rob their hoards. Credit: Paul Zbrowski/Queensland Government

Asian Bee Will Devastate Australia's Honeybees -- Cosmos

SYDNEY: Scientists have predicted the spread of a wild and highly invasive species of bee across Australia, and being a natural carrier of the deadly varroa mite, will likely devastate current populations of farmed honeybees.

The Asian honeybee (Apis cerana) was first identified in the north-eastern city of Cairns in 2007, after having spread from Papua New Guinea to the Solomon Islands. According to experts at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), these bees are impossible to farm and are prone to robbing farmed honeybees of their hoards and building nests in houses and letterboxes.

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Japan's Geminoid Robot Is Uncomfortably Realistic

Japan's New Goateed Geminoid Robot Is Uncomfortably Realistic -- Popular Science

The latest Geminoid robot is one of the most realistic, and thus creepiest, android we've ever seen. The skin, hair, goatee (!), and facial expressions are real enough to fool you for a few seconds while it sinks in that something very, very weird is going on.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lung Cancer Rates Double In Women Over 60 Since The 1970s

Lung cancer in a woman Photo: Alamy

Lung Cancer Rates Double In Women Over 60 Since 1970s -- The Telegraph

Lung cancer rates for retired women have more than doubled since the mid-1970s because of an increase in the number of female smokers, new figures have shown.

Rates for British women aged 60 and over rose from 88 per 100,000 in 1975 to 190 per 100,000 in the latest figures from 2008.

Almost 5,700 women over 60 were diagnosed with lung cancer in 1975. This jumped to more than 15,100 in 2008.

The rise, revealed by Cancer Research UK, can almost all be attributed to increase in smoking among women in the latter half of the last century.

Men on the other hand have seen a dramatic decrease in rates as millions have stopped smoking over the same period.

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My Comment: More proof that smoking increases the chances of getting cancer.

Could 'Supermoon' Next Week's 'Supermoon' Disrupt Earth's Weather?

Earth will be at its closest point - some 221,567 miles away - to the moon in 19 years on March 19. Some fear the 'lunar perigee' will affect our climate pattern

Could 'Supermoon' Next Week Disrupt Earth's Weather? -- The Daily Mail

Moon comes at its closest approach for 19 years

It promises a unique photo opportunity for amateur astronomers.

Earth will next week be at its closest point to the moon since 1992.

The March 19 event - known as a 'lunar perigee' - will see the moon pass just 221,567miles away from our planet.

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My Comment: I guess we will find out next week.

Using Google Earth To Find Ancient Tombs In The Saudi Desert

Google Earth maps showed 1,977 structures built of basalt stone from the surrounding lava field in Jeddah, including various pendants, or circular mounds similar to collapsed tombs with processions of small stone piles branching out from them (A, B, C and D). Google Earth, Courtesy of David Kennedy/Journal of Archaeological Science

Thousands of Tombs in Saudi Desert Spotted From Space -- Live Science

Little is known about the archaeology of Saudi Arabia, as the government has historically forbid aerial photographs of the landscape and religious sensitivities have made access tricky. But Google Earth is changing that. Satellite images available via the Web-based 3-D map program show that large portions of the country hold a wealth of archaeological remains that predate Islam and may be several thousand years old.

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My Comment: Very impressive.

We Should Learn To Speak To Dolphins Before Talking To Aliens

To Talk With Aliens, Learn to Speak With Dolphins -- Wired Science

The Kepler Space Telescope announced a new bonanza of distant planets this month, reconfirming that solar systems, some possibly hosting life, are common in the universe.

So if humanity someday arrives at an extraterrestrial cocktail party, will we be ready to mingle? At the Wild Dolphin Project in Jupiter, Florida, researchers train for contact by trying to talk with dolphins.

Behavioral biologist Denise Herzing started studying free-ranging spotted dolphins in the Bahamas more than two decades ago. Over the years, she noticed some dolphins seeking human company, seemingly out of curiosity.

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My Comment: This is a novel idea .... but I am more hopeful that the aliens will be better at communicating to 'us' than 'us' communicating to dolphins.

Reverse Engineering The Brain

RUBI the robot tutor interacting with children in San Diego. RUBI is an acronym for Robot Using Bayesian Inference. Credit: University of California at San Diego

Reverse Engineering The Brain -- Cosmos

SYDNEY: Can we really create a computer which can discern complex patterns, recognise facial expressions, decode meaning from speech and even understand our emotions? It's only a matter of time, says a leading researcher.

That’s the vision that drives Terrence Sejnowski, a leading authority on computational neuroscience who is trying to understand the inner-workings of the human brain – how we learn, form memories and interact with our environment – in order to develop computer devices that can emulate these processes.

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3 Unique Tours Through U.S. Nuclear History

A modified Minuteman booster vehicle, successfully launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base. U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Raymond Geoffroy

From Popular Science:

With more nations seeking nuclear weapons and nuclear power at home poised for resurgence, America's bases and labs are bustling with activity. In the post-9/11 world, many, but not all, facilities have restricted access. Justin Nobel visited several sites to see where we stand on nuclear deterrence, detection and the latest reactor technologies. He also uncovered several below-the-radar nuclear tours open to the general public.

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Japan To Develop Their Own Stealth Fighter

The F-22 Raptor The U.S. has refused to sell Japan its F-22, so the island nation is building its own stealth fighter jet. USAF

Japan Announces Plans To Fly Its Own Domestically Developed Stealth Fighter In 2014 -- Popular Science

The stealth club just keeps on growing. China’s new mysterious jet prototype, thought to be a stealth fighter prototype to rival America’s F-22 Raptor, made its public debut just after the New Year in a series of “leaked” photos and video clips. Now, a Japanese senior military officer says Japan will test its own homegrown stealth fighter in just three years.

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My Comment:
This is the Japanese way of telling us .... "screw you" .... we will do this ourselves.

Does Anyone Want A Pre-Owned Shuttle?

The space shuttle Discovery on its 39th and final flight. NASA/Getty Images

Who Wants A Pre-Owned Shuttle? Everyone. -- New York Times

Condition: 27 years old, 150 million miles traveled, somewhat dinged but well maintained.

Price: $0.

Dealer preparation and destination charges: $28.8 million.

So, does anyone want to buy a used space shuttle?

Yes, it turns out. This old vehicle — the space shuttle Discovery — is an object of fervent desire for museums around of the country, which would love to add it or one of its mates, the Endeavour and the Atlantis, to their collections. (Financing terms can be arranged with NASA.)

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My Comment: It is an impressive piece of technology with an incredible history. It should not be a surprise that everyone now wants it.

A Global Katrina Sun Storm

The Sun is waking up from a quiet period and is likely to throw a lot more 'space weather' at the Earth, according to the Government's chief scientist Photo: GETTY

Sun Storm May Be 'Global Katrina' -- The Telegraph

The risk of a devastating space storm wreaking havoc like a "global Katrina" and costing the world trillions of pounds should be taken "seriously", claims Britain's top scientist.

Professor Sir John Beddington, the Government's chief scientist, said that the Sun was waking up from a quiet period and was likely to throw a lot more "space weather" at the Earth.

Also, the world was increasingly vulnerable to damage because of our dependence on satellites, communication networks and computer devices.

If a solar storm hit the Earth, it could throw out navigation systems, crash stock markets, ground aircraft and cause power cuts.

The financial fallout could cost £1.2 billion in the US alone, claim experts.

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My Comment: If it happens .... grab a few good books and kill the time until everything gets back to normal.

With A Send-Off From Captain Kirk

Photo: Send-off: Actor William Shatner, who played Captain James T Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series and films, today paid tribute to Discovery

Coming Home: Discovery Undocks From The International Space Station For The Last Time... With A Send-Off From Captain Kirk -- Daily Mail

* Star Trek actor William Shatner paid tribute to the Nasa shuttle's voyages
* Discovery is scheduled to land back on Earth on Wednesday

Discovery, the world's most travelled spaceship, has left the International Space Station for the last time with a send-off from Star Trek's original Captain Kirk.

The vessel undocked from the ISS yesterday morning, wrapping up a nine-day visit there.

This is the final flight for Discovery, which is due to land back on Earth on Wednesday.

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Space: Battle Los Angeles: Could Aliens Attack?

From Discovery News: In the new movie Battle: Los Angeles, mankind fights off an alien invasion. But could a race of intergalactic beings really attack us? Jorge Ribas gets some answers.

Any Truth To Britain's Real X-Files?

UFO Reports: Any Truth to Britain's Real X-Files? -- ABC News

U.K. Government Releases Thousands of Secret Documents on UFOs, Paranormal Reports

Alien abductions, flying saucer sightings, mysterious lights and even extraterrestrial autopsies -- they're all in the real-life X-files released by the British government this week.

As part of a continuing effort to declassify government reports related to unidentified flying objects, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense and The National Archives this week released about 8,500 pages of UFO-related documents, illustrations, letters, and parliamentary debates from 2000-2005.

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My Comment: You just gotta love reading X-File stories like this one.

Is India An Emerging Scientific Superpower

(Image: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty)

India: The Story Of An Emerging Scientific Superpower -- New Scientist

Why are Indians such a bunch of geeks? In Geek Nation, Angela Saini goes in search of the truth behind the stereotype.

At first, the truth seems hard to find. Dispiritingly, the first few chapters are filled not with the playful, passionate geeks Saini seeks, but with obsessive, socially inept nerds. Yes, they're different beasts.

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My Comment: It seems that it is a dog eat dog world out there.

Hawaii Volcano Erupts

Hawaii Volcano Shoots Lava 65 Feet In Air -- CBS News

New vent opens on Kilauea, 1 of world's most active volcanoes; Hikers told to stay away.

VOLCANO, Hawaii - A new vent has opened at one of the world's most active volcanoes, sending lava shooting up to 65 feet high, scientists at Kilauea volcano said Sunday.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said the fissure eruption was spotted shortly after the floor at the Pu'u O'o crater collapsed around 5 p.m. Saturday. It occurred along the middle of Kilauea's east rift zone, about 2 miles west of Pu'u O'o.

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My Comment: One more reason to visit Hawaii.

Longest Golf Drive On Record

Why Has The Longest Golf Drive Record Not Been Broken? -- BBC

The record for the longest golf drive has stood unbeaten for 35 years and was achieved with a wooden club, so have three decades of improving golfing technology failed to make an impression?

On 25 September 1974, a 64-year-old man called Mike Austin is recorded to have driven a golf ball 515 yards from the tee on a Las Vegas golf course.

It was a 450 yard par 4 so he will have ended up more than 50 yards past the green. No-one on record has hit a ball further in a tournament.

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My Comment: Wow .... that must have been one hell of a drive.

New 'Frozen Smoke' May Improve Robotic Surgery, Energy Storage

UCF associate professor Lei Zhai worked with fellow professors Saiful Khondaker, Sudipta Seal and Quanfang Chen. (Credit: Jason Greene)

Nanotechnology: New 'Frozen Smoke' May Improve Robotic Surgery, Energy Storage -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Mar. 4, 2011) — A spongy substance that could be mistaken for packing material has the nanotechnology world buzzing. University of Central Florida Associate Professor Lei Zhai and postdoctoral associate Jianhua Zou have engineered the world's lightest carbon material in such a way that it could be used to detect pollutants and toxic substances, improve robotic surgery techniques and store energy more efficiently.

Read more ....

Are We Witnessing The 6th Great Mass Extinction?

Will 75 percent of Earth's species go the way of the dodo?
CREDIT: Dreamstime

Humans On Verge Of Causing 6th Great Mass Extinction -- Live Science

Are humans causing a mass extinction on the magnitude of the one that killed the dinosaurs?

The answer is yes, according to a new analysis — but we still have some time to stop it.

Mass extinctions include events in which 75 percent of the species on Earth disappear within a geologically short time period, usually on the order of a few hundred thousand to a couple million years. It's happened only five times before in the past 540 million years of multicellular life on Earth. (The last great extinction occurred 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs were wiped out.) At current rates of extinction, the study found, Earth will enter its sixth mass extinction within the next 300 to 2,000 years.

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My Comment
: The data speaks for itself .... we are experiencing the 6th Great Mass Extinction

Monday, March 7, 2011

NASA Refutes Alien Discovery Claim

From Discovery News:

On Saturday, aliens invaded.

On Monday, NASA denied their existence.

This might sound like the perfect X-Files storyline for conspiracy theorists to chew over (and they probably will, for months), but as you may have already guessed, something wasn't quite "right" about Richard Hoover's announcement of an extraterrestrial discovery inside samples of meteorites.

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My Comment: If true .... it would have been an interesting story.

Two Suns Setting?

Two Suns Setting? Scientists Offer Explanations of Chinese Video -- ABC News

Pictures of Double Sun Go Viral in Web; Astronomers Suspect Optical Illusion or Hoax.

Early in the original "Star Wars" movie, there is a scene in which the restless young Luke Skywalker looks out at the two suns setting on his home planet of Tatooine.

It was a charming, exotic touch, and it was done simply. Two images of the earth's sun were superimposed next to each other.

Now, video of what looks like two suns setting has been broadcast by Chinese television -- and it's quickly spread all over the Web.

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My Comment: It is still a cool video to watch.

Pursuit Of The Universe's First Galaxy

In Pursuit Of The Universe's First Galaxy -- CBS News

If all goes according to plan, the James Webb space telescope will take to the stars in 2014. And scientists are counting down the days. The Webb is expected to offer them unprecedented views of the cosmos. The heir to the Hubble space telescope, the upcoming telescope has been taxed with a big job during its planned five-year space mission: no less than the job of photographing some of the universe's first-ever galaxies. With a 21-foot mirror, the Webb telescope will be powerful enough to take aim at the oldest stars and galaxies in the universe.

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My Comment: I suspect that the discoveries that it will find will rewrite the book on the origins of the universe.

A Suicide Warning System On Facebook

Facebook Adds Samaritans Suicide Risk Alert System -- BBC

Facebook is launching a system that allows users to report friends who they think may be contemplating suicide.

The feature is being run in conjunction with Samaritans, which said several people had used it during a test phase.

Anyone worried about a friend can fill out a form, detailing their concerns, which is passed to the site's moderators.

It follows reports of several cases where Facebook users announced their intention to commit suicide online.

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My Comment: This is smart.

Looking At Mars Impact Craters

This elongated depression is about 78 km in length, opens from just under 10 km wide at one end to 25 km wide at the other, and reaches a depth of 2 km. It is located at about 21°S / 55°E, and was probably caused by the impact of a train of projectiles. The data were acquired during orbit 8433 on 4 August 2010 using the High Resolution Stereo Camera on Mars Express. (Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum))

The Scars Of Impacts On Mars -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Mar. 7, 2011) — ESA's Mars Express has returned new images of an elongated impact crater in the southern hemisphere of Mars. Located just south of the Huygens basin, it could have been carved out by a train of projectiles striking the planet at a shallow angle.

The large Huygens basin (not visible in the main image but seen in the wider contextual image) is about 450 km in diameter and lies in the heavily cratered southern highlands. In this area there are many impact scars but none perhaps are more intriguing than the 'elongated craters'.

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My Comment: That is one hell of an impact.

Has NASA Discovered Evidence Of Alien Life?

NASA Scientist Finds Evidence Of Alien Life -- Yahoo News/Digital Trends

Aliens exist, and we have proof.

That astonishingly awesome claim comes from Dr. Richard B. Hoover, an astrobiologist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, who says he has found conclusive evidence of alien life — fossils of bacteria found in an extremely rare class of meteorite called CI1 carbonaceous chondrites. (There are only nine such meteorites on planet Earth.) Hoover’s findings were published late Friday night in the Journal of Cosmology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

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My Comment
: I am skeptical.

Are Criminal Minds Different From Yours?

CT scans of a human brain. CREDIT: Dreamstime

Criminal Minds Are Different From Yours, Brain Scans Reveal -- Live Science

The latest neuroscience research is presenting intriguing evidence that the brains of certain kinds of criminals are different from those of the rest of the population.

While these findings could improve our understanding of criminal behavior, they also raise moral quandaries about whether and how society should use this knowledge to combat crime.

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My Comment: Hmmm .... this is going to open a Pandora's box.

Is India An Emerging Scientific Superpower

(Image: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty)

India: The Story Of An Emerging Scientific Superpower -- New Scientist

Why are Indians such a bunch of geeks? In Geek Nation, Angela Saini goes in search of the truth behind the stereotype.

At first, the truth seems hard to find. Dispiritingly, the first few chapters are filled not with the playful, passionate geeks Saini seeks, but with obsessive, socially inept nerds. Yes, they're different beasts.

Read more ....

My Comment: It seems that it is a dog eat dog world out there.