Friday, July 6, 2012

Graphene Pores When water molecules (red and white) and sodium and chlorine ions (green and purple) encounter a sheet of graphene (pale blue, center) perforated by holes of the right size, the water passes through, but the sodium and chlorine of the salt are blocked. David Cohen-Tanugi/MIT

Graphene Sheets Can Be Turned Into the Best Filters Ever, For Desalination and Much More -- Popular Science

Add another item to the list of things one can accomplish using graphene, the wonder material of the future: Clean drinking water. Graphene could cheaply and easily remove salt from seawater, potentially turning the oceans into a vast drinking supply for thirsty populations. With properly sized holes, graphene sheets may be able to serve as all-purpose filters.

Read more

My Comment: The possibilities and applications are endless.

Is A New Dust Bowl Forming In The U.S.?

Rising Temperatures and Drought Create Fears Of A New Dust Bowl -- Bryan Walsh, Time

Triple-digit days. Weeks with little to no rain. Soil crumbling away. Stunted corn stalks. Right now the fertile fields of the U.S. Midwest are experiencing corn-killing weather, with parts of five corn-growing states in the region experiencing severe or extreme drought. In at least nine states, one-fifth to one-half of cornfields are currently in poor or very poor conditions. And all of this comes after earlier expectations that corn farmers were going to produce a bumper crop this season, with 40 million hectares planted — the largest corn area in 75 years. Instead, we could see that crops wilt, as Darrel L. Good — a professor emeritus of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — told the New York Times:

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A Spectacular 15 Second Fireworks Display

San Diego Accidentally Set Off All Its Fourth Of July Fireworks at Once -- Atlantic Wire

Folks in San Diego witnessed what was either the worst Fourth of July fireworks celebration — or the absolute best — when a technical malfunction caused all of their pyrotechnics to go off at the same time. The annual Big Bay Boom extravaganza began and ended in spectacular fashion when an inadvertent signal set off the explosions about five minutes early and caused the entire 18 minute show to take place in about 15 seconds. Confused spectators waited around for what they thought was going to be the rest of the show, but were sent home and told the show (that was supposed to be choreographed to music) was canceled.

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My Comment: Oooopppssss ....

Drones Of The Future

Maple Seed Drones Will Swarm The Future -- TPM

Imagine a cheap, tiny, hovering aerial drone capable of being launched with the flick of a person’s wrist and able to provide manipulable 360-degree surveillance views.

It’s real, it’s inspired by maple seeds, and the company behind it, Lockheed Martin, envisions a future in which swarms of the new drones can be deployed at a fraction of the cost and with greater capabilities than drones being used today by the military and other agencies.

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My Comment: Impressive.

U.S. Military Looks At The Future

Was stealth a game-changer? Here maintainers and crew chiefs prepare B-2 stealth bombers for Operation Odyssey Dawn on March 19, 2011. Senior Airman Kenny Holston / U.S. Air Force

US Military Brainstorms Future Game-Changers -- MSNBC

Have expensive stealth bombers and cheap roadside bombs changed the face of modern warfare? The question of what technologies count as "game-changers" dominated the first of several U.S. military workshops meant to identify the most disruptive science and technology.

Much of the NeXTech workshop in Washington, D.C., looked at tomorrow's science and technology that could change warfare in 2025 — robots, 3D printing, energy, human enhancement and smarter software. But the gathered scientists, industry leaders and military officers also disagreed about how to define a technology's impact as "game-changing," even as they tried to keep focused on the future.

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My Comment: A summary on what many are predicting will be future game-changers for the US military.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Why Is It Hot Outside?

What's Behind The Record Heat? -- Discovery News

Heat is beating records around the country: the first five months of 2012 have been the hottest on record in the contiguous United States. And that's not including June, when 164 all-time high temperature records were tied or broken around the country, according to government records.

That's unusual, since the most intense heat usually comes in July and August for much of the country, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist with National Climatic Data Center. For example, only 47 all-time high records were tied or broken in June of last year.

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My Comment: We can avoid the heat by moving up north .... but the winters are harsh. (I should know .... I live in Quebec, Canada).

How Bees Reverse Brain Aging

Old bees collect nectar and pollen. Most bees start doing this job when they are 3-4 weeks old, and after that they age very quickly. Their bodies and wings become worn and they loose the ability to learn new things. Most food collector bees die after about 10 days. (Credit: Christofer Bang)

Bees Can 'Turn Back Time,' Reverse Brain Aging -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (July 3, 2012) — Scientists at Arizona State University have discovered that older honey bees effectively reverse brain aging when they take on nest responsibilities typically handled by much younger bees. While current research on human age-related dementia focuses on potential new drug treatments, researchers say these findings suggest that social interventions may be used to slow or treat age-related dementia.

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My Comment: I have to concur. Activities always keep the brain young.

Is The U.S. Losing It's 'Space Edge'?

Bill Nye: U.S. Risks Losing Its Space Edge -- Richard Galant, CNN

(CNN) -- Years before Bill Nye became the Science Guy, he was a mechanical engineering student at Cornell University, where he took a course with astronomer Carl Sagan.

Sagan, who was instrumental in the planning of NASA missions to other planets and became widely known for his research, writing and public television series, was one of the founders of the Planetary Society. And his student dutifully signed up to become a member.

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My Comment: It's hard to believe it .... but yes ... the US is losing it edge in space.

10 Workplace Secrets Of Flight Attendants

10 Shocking Secrets of Flight Attendants -- Mental Floss

Heather Poole has worked for a major carrier for more than 15 years and is the author of Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet. We begged Poole to reveal 10 workplace secrets.

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My Comment
: Diet Coke ... hmmmm ...

Here Comes The Blimp

Flying Hippopotamus Over Afghanistan: $500 Million-Plus -- The Nation

The Pentagon has officially outdone itself: even as the war in Afghanistan winds down to its unhappy denouement, the Department of Defense is deploying what the Wall Street Journal calls a “football-field-size airship laden with surveillance gear,” essentially a gigantic blimp that will float over the county like a giant alien spaceship from Independence Day. Which, come to think of it, is exactly how Afghans might view it.

No one has seen the damn thing yet, but it’s likely to take flight soon on a test run in New Jersey at the same airfield where the Hindenburg blimp exploded and burned.

Read more

Update #1: The Army's New Surveillance Blimp Is The Size Of A Football Field And Can Stay Aloft For Weeks -- Business Insider
Update #2: Army's long-endurance airship days away from flight testing -- Defense Systems

My Comment: The technology to conduct 24/7 surveillance is what probably ate up most of the budget .... but will it be useful .... I guess we will find out when they start field testing it. And if the Afghan war is over before they can send it over there .... then do not be surprised to see it floating around a city near you.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Apple Wants Certain Domain Names

Now Apple Wants -- Red Orbit

It’s a little late, but Apple is now demanding they obtain the rights to the domain. Of course, there is no such thing as the iPad 3, but much like the public’s insistence on using the moniker “iTouch” for Apple’s iPod Touch, many continue to refer to the new, Retina’d iPad as the iPad 3. According to, Apple has asked an arbitration panel to hand over the ownership rights to the parked domain.

Filing a case with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) under the uniform domain name dispute resolution policy (UDRP), Apple is hoping to take control of the parked domain.

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My Comment: is available .... hmmmm .....

Staying Sane On A Research Ship In The Middle Of The Ocean

How To Stay Sane On A Ship In The Middle Of The Ocean -- Scientific American

The Knorr is a big ship as far as research vessels go – but there’s still no getting around the fact that you’re in a little metal box in the middle of the ocean with 47 other people for a month. Add to that the fact that most people are doing highly repetitive experiments all day (and I do mean all day, people get up at 5 am and work until 11 pm) and you’ve got a recipe for madness.

For the first week or so, everyone was calm and collected. They got up, they did the CTD casts, they worked, filtered, sequenced and experimented. There was chatter and laughter, but it always came in between long periods of intense science-doing late into the night. But the times, they are a changin’, and people are starting to loosen up (or perhaps go nuts, I don’t know).

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My Comment:
I rather stay on a luxury yacht where my primary focus is on what to eat that day.

The Reason Why Tomatoes Are Flavorless Today

Getty Images

Your Tomatoes Are Flavorless, Right? Here's Why -- Time

There are two pieces of late-breaking news on the tomato beat this week. First of all, tomatoes have shoulders. Second, tomatoes taste lousy. If you're younger than 70, you probably already know about the lousy part. The shoulders are surely more of a surprise — but these are both key parts of a new study published in Science that explains what's going on in the sorry world of supermarket tomatoes and why they taste nothing like their sweet, flavorful cousins in the wild.

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My Comment: I disagree with the assertion that tomatoes taste lousy .... they taste great when mixed with something else.

How The Discovery Of The Higgs Boson Could Break Physics

Image: The giant detector for the CMS experiment, one of the main Higgs-searching experiments at the LHC. CMS collaboration/CERN

How The Discovery Of The Higgs Boson Could Break Physics -- Wired Science

If gossip on various physics blogs pans out, the biggest moment for physics in nearly two decades is just days away. The possible announcement on July 4 of the long-sought Higgs boson would put the last critical piece of the Standard Model of Physics in place, a crowning achievement built on a half-century of work by thousands of scientists. A moment worthy of fireworks.

But there’s a problem: The Higgs boson is starting to look just a little too ordinary.

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My Comment: We will have to wait until Wednesday for the full results to be announced.

Injecting Oxygen Into The Blood

Blood: Injecting oxygen into the bloodstream could help keep patients who cannot breathe alive while undergoing medical treatment

Scientist Invents Way To Keep People Alive Even When They Can't Breathe By Injecting Oxygen Into The Blood -- Daily Mail

Scientists have discovered a new way of administering oxygen to the blood which could allow people to stay alive without breathing.

The amazing breakthrough could change medical science by eliminating the need to keep patients breathing during complex operations.

The procedure, which works by injecting oxygen molecules enclosed in fatty molecules directly into the bloodstream, could grant people an extra 30 minutes of life when they cannot breathe.

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My Comment: The applications are enormous .... hurry up with the R&D.

Hints Of The Higgs Boson Detected Last Year By A US "Atom Smasher"

The Tevatron was shut down at the end of last year

US Sees Stronger Hints Of Higgs -- BBC

Hints of the Higgs boson detected last year by a US "atom smasher" have become even stronger, scientists have said.

The news comes amid fevered speculation about an announcement by researchers at the Large Hadron Collider on Wednesday.

Finding the particle would fill a glaring hole in the widely accepted theory of how the Universe works.

This 30-year hunt is reaching an end, with experts confident they will soon be able to make a definitive statement about the particle's existence.

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Privacy Is Big Business For Trial Lawyers

Legal discovery: The billboard is imaginary, but the trend is real. Trial lawyers are ramping up lawsuits over online privacy breaches. Flickr Creative Commons | AdamL212 and istock/stocknroll

Why Privacy Is Big Business For Trial Lawyers -- Technology Review

Tech companies that make privacy mistakes can expect a lawsuit.

During his career as a litigator, David A. Straite has sued money-losing hedge funds and polluting solar-panel makers. These days he has a new hunting ground: the Internet.

Over the last eight months, Straite, a partner at Stewarts Law, headquartered in London, has sued AT&T, Samsung, Facebook, and Google, alleging that the companies violated U.S. wiretapping laws and committed computer fraud when they tracked users on the Web or via their smart phones in ways that broke the companies' own privacy policies.

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My Comment: Privacy issues will be one of the key legal issues in the next decade or two .... and while companies will be targeted, I suspect that the worse abusers will be government .... and they will immune themselves from the law.

Five Millionth 'Test Tube Baby' Born

Louise Brown, pictured with her son, was the world's first test tube baby

Five Millionth 'Test Tube Baby' -- BBC

Five million "test tube babies" have now been born around the world, according to research presented at a conference of fertility experts.

Delegates hailed it as a "remarkable milestone" for fertility treatments.

The first test tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in the UK in July 1978. Her mother Leslie Brown died last month.

However, delegates at the conference in Turkey warned couples not to use fertility treatment as an "insurance policy" if they delayed parenthood.

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My Comment: Someone is keeping count?

Inside A Souped-Up Sci-Fi DeLorean

Inside Ecto88, Ernie Cline’s Souped-Up Sci-Fi DeLorean -- Underwire

Ernie Cline is just begging for a speeding ticket in his souped-up DeLorean, a slick ’80s ride that’s loaded with sci-fi-inspired gadgets.

Like many a car enthusiast, the Ready Player One author has seen the boys in blue in his rear-view mirror once or twice. But unlike most hot-modders, he’s got a flux capacitor in his car, which is tricked-out with gear inspired by not just Back to the Future but also Ghostbusters, Knight Rider and The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension.

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My Comment: This guy (nerd) clearly loves his car .... lucky guy.

Will Wearable Computing Be The Norm?

Babak Parviz (right) demos Project Glass on stage with Sergey Brin by his side. Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired

Google Glass Team: ‘Wearable Computing Will Be The Norm’ -- Wired

Even though I followed Google’s I/O Conference from across the country, the event made it obvious that a company created with a strict focus on search has become an omnivorous factory of tech products both hard and soft. Google now regards its developers conference as a launch pad for a shotgun spread of announcements, almost like a CES springing from a single company. (Whatever happened to “more wood behind fewer arrows”?)

But the Google product that threatened to steal the entire show probably won’t be sold to the public until 2014. This is the prosthetic eye-based display computer called Project Glass, which is coming out of the company’s experimental unit, Google[x]. Announced last April, it was dropped into the conference in dramatic fashion: An extravagant demo hosted by Google co-founder Sergey Brin involved skydivers, stunt cyclists, and a death-defying Google+ hangout. It quickly attained legendary status.

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My Comment: If not Google glasses .... some other version of it.

Witness To An Evaporating Exoplanet

Two Satellites See An Evaporating Exoplanet -- Popular Mechanics

A solar flare that erupted at just the right time and direction could disrupt long-distance phone calls here on Earth, or make TV signals drops out for a while. But that’s nothing compared to the pummeling one exoplanet takes from its home star.

Thanks to a rare moment of synchronicity between the Hubble and Swift satellites, researchers at NASA recorded the first observed change in the atmosphere of a planet outside of our solar system. The planet, called HD 189733b, received a rather rude shock from its home star.

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My Comment: That must be quite a sight to see.

God Particle Is 'Found'

The particle accelerator: It is within these tubes that physicists are hunting for the 'God' particle

God Particle Is 'Found': Scientists At Cern Expected To Announce On Wednesday Higgs Boson Particle Has Been Discovered -- Daily Mail

* Scientists 'will say they are 99.99% certain' the particle has been found
* Leading physicists have been invited to event - sparking speculation that Higgs Boson particle has been found
* 'God Particle' gives particles that make up atoms their mass

Scientists at Cern will announce that the elusive Higgs boson 'God Particle' has been found at a press conference next week, it is believed.

Five leading theoretical physicists have been invited to the event on Wednesday - sparking speculation that the particle has been discovered.

Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider are expected to say they are 99.99 per cent certain it has been found - which is known as 'four sigma' level.

Read more ....

My Comment: I guess we will have to wait till Wednesday to find out.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Will 'Google Glasses Be Great For Point-Of-View Porn' ?

Extreme: The Glass demonstration was meant to prove that the device is ready for users to begin testing it and pushing its limits

'Google Glasses Will Be Great For Point-Of-View Porn': Adult Film Studio Wants To Get Mitts On Super-Specs - But Quite What Search Giant Will Think Is A Different Matter... -- Daily Mail

Google has unveiled its new Glasses projects - a pair of specs which can film your life from the point of view of your eyes.

So it is perhaps obvious why a pornography studio wants to get hold of a pair, to make a new type of adult film.

But quite what Google will think of the idea is another matter: indeed in their official unveiling on Wednesday, the search giant said the product would initially be offered to business, industrial and medical use.

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My Comment: I am looking forward to a "cheaper" version.

Computer Worm Opens A New Era Of Warfare

Stuxnet: Computer Worm Opens New Era Of Warfare -- CBS News/60 Minutes

(CBS News) The most pernicious computer virus ever known wasn't out to steal your money, identity, or passwords. So what was the intricate Stuxnet virus after? Its target appears to have been the centrifuges in a top secret Iranian nuclear facility. Stuxnet showed, for the first time, that a cyberattack could cause significant physical damage to a facility. Does this mean that future malware, modeled on Stuxnet, could target other critical infrastructure -- such as nuclear power plants or water systems? What kind of risk do we face in this country? Steve Kroft reports.

The following script is from "Stuxnet" which originally aired on March 4, 2012 and was rebroadcast on July 1, 2012. Steve Kroft is the correspondent. Graham Messick, producer.

For the past year, the nation's top military, intelligence and law enforcement officials have been warning Congress and the country about a coming cyberattack against critical infrastructure in the United States that could affect everything from the heat in your home to the money in your bank account. The warnings have been raised before, but never with such urgency, because this new era of warfare has already begun.

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My Comment: When it comes to cyber security, my number one worry is my money in my bank account. I always say that if one wants to focus attention to the dangers of a cyber attack .... start messing around with individual banking information .... trust me .... everyone will notice.

Church Of The Nativity Has Been Designated As An Endangered Site

A nun walks outside the Church of the Nativity, the site revered as the birthplace of Jesus, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem June 28. Ammar Awad/REUTERS

UNESCO Designates Church Of The Nativity As Endangered Site -- Christian Science Monitor

Palestinian leaders consider the designation a political victory.

The Palestinians on Friday persuaded the U.N. cultural agency to list the Church of the Nativity — the place where Christians believe Jesus was born — as an endangered World Heritage site despite misgivings by churches in charge of the basilica.

The Palestinians hailed the nod by UNESCO as a step forward in their quest for global recognition of an independent Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967.

The centuries-old basilica is located in a part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank where the Palestinians have self-rule. UNESCO's decision was seen by them as validation of their rights to the territory.

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My Comment: Considering how important the site is ..... any steps to protect it are welcomed on my part.

Timbuktu Islamic Shrines Destroyed By Al Qaeda Linked Militants

Militants Destroy Timbuktu Islamic Shrines -- Voice of America

DAKAR -- In northern Mali, members of the Islamic militant group Ansar Dine are systematically destroying mausoleums and revered Muslim tombs in Timbuktu. UNESCO has listed the historic city as a World Heritage site for its ancient mosques and shrines.

Residents of Timbuktu told VOA that armed men from Ansar Dine began leveling the tombs early Saturday morning. The sites, including the tomb of 15th-century Muslim scholar Sidi Mahmoud, are considered sacred by the local population. Hardline Islamist groups like Ansar Dine regard such shrines as sacrilegious, but the sites are an important part of worship for Muslims around the world.

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More News On The Destruction of The Timbuktu Islamic Shrines By Al Qaeda Linked Militants

Ansar Dine fighters destroy Timbuktu shrines -- Al Jazeera
Mali: Islamists destroy Timbuktu heritage sites -- AP
Islamists destroy Timbuktu religious treasures‎ -- Euronews
Mali Islamists destroy Timbuktu shrines -- AFP
Islamic militants set fire to sacred tombs in Timbuktu -- CNN
Witnesses: Islamists destroy ancient sites in Timbuktu -- MSNBC
Islamists destroy rival holy shrines in Timbuktu, a UN heritage site -- Globe And Mail/Reuters
Militants Seek to Destroy Mali Shrines -- New York Times/Reuters

A Music-Robot Companion

Shimi, a musical companion developed by Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology, recommends songs, dances to the beat and keeps the music pumping based on listener feedback. (Credit: Image courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology)

Musical Robot Companion Enhances Listener Experience -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (June 26, 2012) — Wedding DJs everywhere should be worried about job security now that a new robot is on the scene.

Shimi, a musical companion developed by Georgia Tech's Center for Music Technology, recommends songs, dances to the beat and keeps the music pumping based on listener feedback. The smartphone-enabled, one-foot-tall robot is billed as an interactive "musical buddy."

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My Comment: Wow .... they have gone a long way on enhancing our appreciation for music.

France's Minitel To 'Go Dark'

Minitels like this one are set to go dark at the end of this week.

Minitel, France's Precursor To The Web, To Go Dark On June 30 -- Ars Technica

French fans bid "adieu" to the much loved dial-up 1980s-era computer terminals.

When I was in high school in the mid-1990s, I got to spend a few weeks with my French extended family at their country house east of Paris. Nearly each night, I watched my uncle stare into a small, old, dusty computer to monitor the results of the Tour de France. The little beige box had a fold-down keyboard and a pretty old-school text-only interface, even by mid-'90s standards. This was a Minitel.

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My Comment: I was approached by my business partner's associates to do a Quebec minitel version in Canada in the late 1980s. I declined for the same reason why it never evolved from where it developed in France .... too centralized and a limited list on what to visit.