Saturday, May 28, 2011

FYI: Why Are Escalators So Dangerous?

Crikey! Hazardous Crocs Getty Images/Washington Post

From Popular Science:

The escalator was patented in 1892, and the design hasn’t changed much since then. The landing platforms make entry and exit dicey endeavors—particularly when the moving stairs disappear beneath them, and all manner of clothing and body parts can get stuck. In recent years, escalators have torn the big toe from a Croc-wearing child in Singapore, bucked dozens of riders in Washington, D.C., and strangled a tipsy sushi chef when the hood of his sweatshirt got caught in the gap between the stairs and the landing platform.

Read more ....

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Theory On How The Hawaiian Islands Were/Are Formed

Hot lava spills into the sea from under a hardened lava crust on the Big Island of Hawaii (file picture). Photograph by Patrick McFeeley, National Geographic

800-Mile-Wide Hot Anomaly Found Under Seafloor Off Hawaii -- National Geographic

Findings contradict long-held theory that a plume directly fuels Hawaii.

Hawaii's traditional birth story—that the volcanic islands were, and are, fueled by a hot-rock plume running directly to Earth's scorching core—could be toast, a new study hints.

Scientists say they've found solid evidence of a giant mass of hot rock under the seafloor in the region. But it's not a plume running straight from the core to the surface—and it's hundreds of miles west of the nearest Hawaiian island.

Read more ....

My Comment: So much for all of that schooling that I received on how the Hawaiian islands were formed.

Has The Universe's 'Missing Mass' Been Found?

This NASA illustration photo shows stars that are forming in a dwarf starburst galaxy located about 30 million light years from Earth. A 22-year-old Australian university student has solved a problem which has puzzled astrophysicists for decades, discovering part of the so-called "missing mass" of the universe during her summer break. (AFP/NASA/File)

Aussie Student Finds Universe's 'Missing Mass' -- Yahoo News/AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) – A 22-year-old Australian university student has solved a problem which has puzzled astrophysicists for decades, discovering part of the so-called "missing mass" of the universe during her summer break.

Undergraduate Amelia Fraser-McKelvie made the breakthrough during a holiday internship with a team at Monash University's School of Physics, locating the mystery material within vast structures called "filaments of galaxies".

Read more ....

A Closeup Of Black Hole Jets

Centaurus A Black Hole Jets This composite of visible, microwave (orange) and X-ray (blue) data reveals the jets and radio-emitting lobes emanating from Centaurus A's central black hole. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Galaxy Closeup Reveals Best-Ever Snapshot of Black Hole Jets -- Popular Science

A black hole with a mass of 55 million suns.

A gigantic black hole at the center of one of the Milky Way’s close neighbors is spewing jets of material into the cosmos, hurling gamma rays and radio waves into interstellar space. Now researchers in the U.S. and Germany peered at the galaxy with the closest-ever resolution, seeing galactic features up to 15 light-days across. That’s incredibly close for a galaxy 12 million miles away.

Read more ....

American Demographic Changes

America's Tomorrow from PolicyLink on Vimeo.

The Changing Face Of America: Time-Lapse Map Reveals How Non-Whites Will Become The Majority In U.S. Within 30 Years -- the Daily Mail

By the year 2040, the majority of Americans will be people of colour - the minorities will have become the majority.

A fascinating new time-lapse map shows the increase in the non-white population across the decades.

It starts with 1990 and then predicts up to 2020, 2030 and 2040.

Read more ....

A New 'Distant Object' Candidate Is Discovered

Researchers have unveiled a gamma-ray burst detected by NASA's Swift satellite in April 2009 as the latest candidate for the most distant object in the universe. (Credit: Gemini Observatory / AURA / Levan, Tanvir, Cucchiara)

Cosmic Explosion Is New Candidate For Most Distant Object In The Universe -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (May 25, 2011) — A gamma-ray burst detected by NASA's Swift satellite in April 2009 has been newly unveiled as a candidate for the most distant object in the universe. At an estimated distance of 13.14 billion light years, the burst lies far beyond any known quasar and could be more distant than any previously known galaxy or gamma-ray burst. Multiple lines of evidence in favor of a record-breaking distance for this burst, known as GRB 090429B for the 29 April 2009 date when it was discovered, are presented in a paper by an international team of astronomers led by former Penn State University graduate student Antonino Cucchiara, now at the University of California, Berkeley.

Read more ....

Did The Military Cause The Tornadoes That Devastated Joplin, Mo.?

Tornadoes Caused by Military?: Recent Events Fuel Conspiracy Theories -- ABC News

It's an astonishing claim: The tornado that ravaged Joplin, Mo., last Sunday, killing at least 125 people, was not a random act of nature but the result of an obscure military-backed research program in Alaska that shoots radio waves into the upper atmosphere.

Here's another one: The shooting rampage in Tucson last January that killed six people and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was an elaborate government hoax that used actors to portray the victims.

Read more ....

My Comment: Conspiracy theories .... or in my opinion .... people having too much time on their hands, but not enough time for some independent thought.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Moon Is Filled With Water

Scientists at Brown University found super-tiny melt inclusions in lunar soil samples that opened the door for measurements that revealed the magnitude of water inside the moon. (Credit: Saal lab, Brown University)

Scientists Detect Earth-Equivalent Amount of Water Within the Moon -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (May 26, 2011) — There is water inside the moon -- so much, in fact, that in some places it rivals the amount of water found within Earth.

The finding from a scientific team including Brown University comes from the first-ever measurements of water in lunar melt inclusions. Those measurements show that some parts of the lunar mantle have as much water as Earth's upper mantle.

Read more ....

Babies And Their Ability To Reason

A baby watches objects bounce around an enclosure during an experiment on infant cognition. CREDIT: L. Bonatti & E. Teglas

Babies Are Capable of Complex Reasoning -- Live Science

Babies are sophisticated mini-statisticians, a new study finds, capable of making judgments about the probability of an event they've never seen before.

Using a computer model, researchers were able to accurately predict what a baby would know about a particular event if given certain information. The model may be useful in engineering artificial intelligence that reacts appropriately to the world, said study researcher Josh Tenenbaum, a cognitive scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The study also demonstrates just how savvy baby brains are, Tenenbaum told LiveScience.

Read more ....

Skeleton Of Amazon Warrior Discovered In Scotland

Photo: Re-constructed heads of an unknown female and of a medieval knight whose skeletons were found during the recent refurbishment of the Palace at Stirling Castle.

From The Scotsman:

THE discovery of the remains of an aristocratic Scottish "Amazon", killed in battle during the Wars of Independence, is set to rewrite the history books.

Her skeleton was among the remains of five "high status" individuals - all of whom had suffered violent deaths - found beneath the paved floor of the "lost" Royal Chapel at Stirling Castle.

Read more ....

Robot's Supersonic Air Jets Allow It To Climb Most Surfaces

Video: Robot's Supersonic Air Jets Allow It To Climb Just About Any Surface -- Popular Science

Many wall-walking robots mimic natural adhesives--like the sticky feet of geckos--to remain fixed to a surface while they scale it.

But this little bot uses nothing but a supersonic version of a well-known principle of fluid dynamics to cling to just about any surface--without the surface of its grippers ever actually touching it.

Read more ....

Orion-Type Capsule Picked For Deep NASA Space Missions

Photo: The Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, or MPCV, shown with a launch escape rocket and service module. NASA plans to develop the capsule for use in future missions to deep space targets. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Picks Orion-Type Capsule For Deep Space Missions -- CNET

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--A version of the Bush administration's Orion moon capsule, written off by the Obama administration and then resurrected as a space station lifeboat, will be developed instead for use in future manned flights to deep space targets beyond Earth orbit, the agency announced today.

Douglas Cooke, associate administrator of NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, told reporters the Orion concept, described by former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin as "Apollo on steroids," is the most capable spacecraft currently on the drawing board for meeting the Obama administration's "flexible path" approach to deep space exploration.

Read more ....

U.S. Congress Getting Ready To Tax The Internet

How Will States Tax Internet Downloads? Congress May Decide -- Epicenter

Here’s an interesting conundrum, posed by Representative Dennis Ross (R-Florida), at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing held on Monday:

“Imagine you are sitting in Dulles airport in Virginia, waiting for a flight back to Florida,” Ross began in his opening remarks. “You download a music file from Apple, which is headquartered in California. The music is sent to you via a server in Oklahoma.”

Which of these states should be allowed to tax the sale?

Without a “clear national rule,” he warned at the hearing, “all four states may attempt to tax the transaction.”

Read more ....

My Comment: Another tax grab .... get ready for it.

NASA's Mars Rover Spirit To Be Shut Down

NASA's Mars rover Spirit, shown in an artist's rendering, was expected to serve a three-month mission, but it provided scientists with a trove of information over more than six years of operation. (Reuters)

NASA Rover Spirit 'Revolutionized' How We See Mars -- L.A. Times

As the Martian rover falls silent for good, JPL scientists mourn Spirit's loss and celebrate its remarkable achievements that continued for years beyond its expected lifetime.

It was supposed to roam the surface of Mars for only three months and cover a distance of just a few hundred yards. Instead, NASA's Spirit rover traveled nearly five miles over five years, finding geological evidence that the Red Planet had once been warm and wet enough to have harbored life. Even after it got hopelessly stuck in the powdery soil of Gusev crater, the rover continued to make discoveries and beamed them to scientists millions of miles away.

Read more ....

My Comment: Five years of discovery and excitement .... kudos to the engineers and scientists who made this possible.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Smallpox Eradication Decision Is Deferred Again

The viral disease was eradicated over 30 years ago. BBC

Smallpox-Destruction Deadline Delayed For 3 Years -- Wall Street Journal

Global health officials delayed setting a deadline Tuesday for destroying the last known stocks of smallpox for at least three years, a compromise that will enable the U.S. and Russia to continue researching medications to counter a bioterror attack.

The consensus at the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, came after a contentious debate stretching over two days. It represents a compromise for the U.S., Russia and more than two dozen other countries that wanted to keep the virus stocks for at least another five years. Iran, China, Thailand and other countries objected to that timetable and some of its provisions.

Read more ....

More News On The World's Smallpox Supply

WHO defers fixing date on destroying live smallpox -- Reuters
Decision Delayed on Eliminating Smallpox Stocks -- Global Security Newswire
UN Decides Not to Destroy Last Known Smallpox Stockpiles -- The Atlantic
World Health Organization Decides to Keep Smallpox Stocks ... For Now -- FOX News/Live Science
Smallpox decision deferred again -- BBC
Call to destroy smallpox delayed -- CBC
US and Russian smallpox stocks spared the chop -- Register

My Comment: To better understand the impact that smallpox has had on the history of man .... check out this link.

Monday, May 23, 2011

It Seems That Man Has Been At War With His Fellow Man For A Very Long Time

Bronze Age relic: Archaeologists have found the remains of around 100 bodies in the Tollense Valley in northern Germany, including this fractured skull

'Earliest' Bronze Age Battle Site Containing 100 Bodies Found On German River Bank -- The Daily Mail

Fractured skulls and broken bones found on a German river bank could point to the earliest site of a Bronze Age battle ever discovered.

Archaeologists uncovered the remains of around 100 bodies in the Tollense Valley in northern Germany, suggesting brutal hand-to-hand combat between warring tribes.

Bones had been battered, skulls were fractured and one body has an arrowhead buried more than 2cm inside it.

Read more ....

My Comment: On the one hand, such a discovery is fascinating and informative of how we interacted (and fought) in ancient times. On the other hand .... it is depressing to know that our culture and approach to war has not changed .... with the exception that we now have better weapons.

Lots Of Multi-Planet Systems Found In Kepler Planet Hunt

This artist rendering provided by NASA shows a solar system comparison of the Kepler 11 solar system and ours. NASA/AP

Surprise Find In Kepler Planet Hunt: Lots Of Multi-Planet Systems -- Christian Science Monitor

NASA's Kepler spacecraft, which is searching for Earth-mass planets orbiting sun-like stars, is finding hundreds of candidate planets, and many more multi-planet systems than expected.

Two years into a 3-1/2-year mission, NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, hunting for planets orbiting some 165,000 stars in the constellation Cygnus, is uncovering planet candidates by the hundreds.

Many of these inhabit multi-planet systems that are unexpectedly flat – the inclination of the planets’ orbits within each of these systems are essentially the same, a feature that may hold clues about how these systems formed and evolved.

Read more ....