Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fundamental Constant Might Change Across Space

A team of astronomers have obtained new data by studying quasars, which are very distant galaxies hosting an active black hole in their center. As the light emitted by quasars travels throughout the cosmos, part of it is absorbed by a variety of atoms present in interstellar clouds, providing astronomers with a natural laboratory to test the laws of physics billions of light-years away from the Earth. Credit: Dr. Julian Berengut, UNSW, 2010.

From Space Daily:

New research suggests that the supposedly invariant fine-structure constant, which characterizes the strength of the electromagnetic
force, varies from place to place throughout the Universe. The finding could mean rethinking the fundaments of our current knowledge of physics.

These results will be presented tomorrow during the Joint European and National Astronomy Meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, and the scientific article has been submitted to the Physical Review Letters Journal.

Read more ....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Brain Speaks: Scientists Decode Words From Brain Signals

This photo shows two kinds of electrodes sitting atop a severely epileptic patient's brain after part of his skull was removed temporarily. The larger, numbered, button-like electrodes are ECoGs used by surgeons to locate and then remove brain areas responsible for severe epileptic seizures. While the patient had to undergo that procedure, he volunteered to let researchers place two small grids -- each with 16 tiny "microECoG" electrodes -- over two brain areas responsible for speech. These grids are at the end of the green and orange wire bundles, and the grids are represented by two sets of 16 white dots since the actual grids cannot be seen easily in the photo. University of Utah scientists used the microelectrodes to translate speech-related brain signals into actual words -- a step toward future machines to allow severely paralyzed people to speak. (Credit: University of Utah Department of Neurosurgery)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 6, 2010) — In an early step toward letting severely paralyzed people speak with their thoughts, University of Utah researchers translated brain signals into words using two grids of 16 microelectrodes implanted beneath the skull but atop the brain.

Read more ....

NASA Team To Trapped Miners: No Alcohol Or Cigarettes

Workers stand next to a special drill, the Xtrata 950, which will dig an escape hole for the miners who are trapped underground in a copper and gold mine, as it is transported to the top of a hill at Copiapo, some 725 km (450 miles) north of Santiago August 27, 2010.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

From Live Science:

After spending almost a week in Chile, a team of NASA personnel sent to provide nutritional advice and psychological support to 33 trapped miners reported Tuesday that the efforts of the Chilean government have been outstanding so far, and the focus needs to be on long-term strategies that will allow the men to live sustainably underground as a community.

Read more ....

The Shark Soup Massacre And How To Stop It

From New Scientist:

Sharks attacking humans is big news; humans attacking sharks, not so much. Conservation photographers Paul Hilton and Alex Hofford are trying to redress this imbalance. In revealing the extent of the bloody trade in shark fins, their book Man and Shark is a testament of our cruelty towards these majestic creatures.

Hilton and Hofford, who both live in Hong Kong, have witnessed the butchery of sharks in places as diverse as Mozambique, Yemen and Sri Lanka. But Hofford had seen nothing until he went to Japan.

Read more ....

Scientists Invent A Tractor Beam

In "Stak Trek," Federation starships relied upon tractor beams to hold and tow other vessels. Scientists may not be there yet, but they have managed to tow a small particle using light beams

From FOX News:

WASHINGTON – Tractor beams, energy rays that can move objects, are a science fiction mainstay. But now they are becoming a reality -- at least for moving very tiny objects.

Researchers from the Australian National University have announced that they have built a device that can move small particles a meter and a half using only the power of light.

Read more ....

Airborne Laser Weapon Fails to Take Down Dummy Nuke In Critical 100-Mile Test Shot

The Airborne Laser Test Bed Missile Defense Agency

From Popular Science:

The Missile Defense Agency’s Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) – formerly known simply as the Airborne Laser – has endured a back-and-forth existence, at different times the darling of the MDA, at other times on the verge of catching the Pentagon or Congressional axe. But after an all-around success in February, the scales have tipped back the other way for the embattled ICBM-blaster as it failed a critical test on September 1.

Read more ....

Hubble Spots Ghostly Space Spiral

From Discovery News:

When I first saw this ghostly Hubble Space Telescope image, I assumed that faint blurry spiral was a lens flare or some other photographic anomaly. But on closer inspection, the details started to present themselves.

As imaged by the space telescope's sensitive Advanced Camera for Surveys, this striking pattern is formed by material being ejected from a dying star. But this isn't a lone star; there's a second star -- a binary partner -- orbiting with it and modulating the expanding gas.

Read more ....

Mystery Of Google Doodles Answered: 'Google Instant'

From CBS News:

The big tease of the last few days is over: Google earlier today announced a search enhancement called Google Instant.

Google Instant, which is rolling out through the course of the day, evolved from the company's mission to speed up search results for Internet queries. The basic change means that users will find a changing set of results in the middle of the page each time they type in a character into the search box. The added technology is designed to help Google's search engine predict what a person might be searching for.

Read more ....

Are We Closer To A 'Theory Of Everything'?

From The BBC:

The physicists' ultimate dream is the search for a "theory of everything", a unifying explanation that can make sense of the infinitely tiny as well as the infinitely large.

From the strange particles that are the terrain of atom-smashing machines such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Cern, to galaxies beyond our own, about which we're learning more and more through increasingly powerful telescopes and observatories.

Read more ....

Evolution Of The Star Trek Warp Drive Effect

[Via Gizmodo]

Two Asteroids To Pass By Earth Wednesday

Two small asteroids in unrelated orbits will pass within the moon's distance of Earth on Wed. Both should be observable with moderate-sized amateur telescopes.

From Space Daily:

Two asteroids, several meters in diameter and in unrelated orbits, will pass within the moon's distance of Earth on Wednesday, Sept. 8.

Both asteroids should be observable near closest approach to Earth with moderate-sized amateur telescopes. Neither of these objects has a chance of hitting Earth.

Read more ....

The Boss Is Robotic, And Rolling Up Behind You

Dr. John Whapham, using a robot, discussed care with a patient at Loyola University Medical Center near Chicago. Sally Ryan for The New York Times

From The New York Times:

SACRAMENTO — Dr. Alan Shatzel’s pager beeped at 9 on a Saturday morning. A man had suffered a stroke, and someone had to decide, quickly, whether to give him an anticlotting drug that could mean the difference between life and death.

Dr. Shatzel, a neurologist, hustled not to the emergency room where the patient lay — 260 miles away, in Bakersfield — but to a darkened room at a hospital here. He took a seat in front of the latest tools of his trade: computer monitors, a keyboard and a joystick that control his assistant on the scene — a robot on wheels.

Read more ....

Can We Spot Volcanoes On Alien Worlds? Astronomers Say Yes

This artist's conception shows an extremely volcanic moon orbiting a gas giant planet in another star system. New research suggests that astronomers using the James Webb Space Telescope could potentially detect volcanic activity on a distant Earth-sized planet by measuring volcanic gases in its atmosphere. Credit: (Credit: Wade Henning)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 7, 2010) — Volcanoes display the awesome power of Nature like few other events. Earlier this year, ash from an Icelandic volcano disrupted air travel throughout much of northern Europe. Yet this recent eruption pales next to the fury of Jupiter's moon Io, the most volcanic body in our solar system.

Read more

New Details On How The Brain Responds To Fear

From Live Science:

Some ostensibly important politician once said, "The only thing we have to that a mad scientist will learn how to directly manipulate the brain regions responsible for fear itself." Whoever that was, he or she could not have been more insightful.

Thanks to some recent work from the European Molecular Biology Laboratories (EMBL) and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, fear itself might soon become the linchpin of this mad scientist's quest for world domination.

Read more ....

Apple iPod Touch (4th Gen. With Camera)

From PC Magazine:

Apple's fourth-generation iPod touch finally gets a camera for HD video recording, and still-photo capture. Plus a second, front-facing camera brings FaceTime video chat to the touch. On the new high-res Retina display, everything looks crisp and colorful, and the screen remains highly responsive to touch. Apple eliminated video playback from its sixth-generation iPod nano ($149, ), making the touch the least-expensive video-playing iPod. Starting at $229 (direct, 8GB), however, it's not cheap, and that isn't much storage for an HD video device. The $299 32GB player seems like the best deal, while the 64GB model offers twice the storage, but remains exorbitantly priced at $399. Despite the cost, the iPod touch remains, by far, the best portable media player you can buy—and it retains our Editors' Choice crown.

Read more ....

How Websites Make You Spill Your Secrets

Image: Owning up: Volunteers were more likely to divulge personal information to a less-official-looking website (top), than to an official-looking one (bottom). Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

From Technology Review:

People divulge more sensitive information on sites that look less safe.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found that the appearance of website has a big effect on how honestly people answer personal questions put to them by the site. But paradoxically, it turns out we're more likely to spill our secrets on websites that appear less reputable. The way a website phrases questions also affects our willingness to disclose revealing information, the researchers found.

Read more ....

Are We Living In A Designer Universe?

The argument over whether the universe has a creator, and who that might be, is among the oldest in human history. Photo: WALES NEWS SERVICE

From The Telegraph:

The creators of the world were closer to men than to gods, argues John Gribbin.

The argument over whether the universe has a creator, and who that might be, is among the oldest in human history. But amid the raging arguments between believers and sceptics, one possibility has been almost ignored – the idea that the universe around us was created by people very much like ourselves, using devices not too dissimilar to those available to scientists today.

Read more ....

Google TV To Launch This Year

Doubts remain about the ease of integrating content for computers with that for TV sets – will remote controls be better than a mouse?

From The Guardian:

The new Google service will bring the web to TV screens – the announcement comes a week after a new version of Apple TV was unveiled.

Google will launch its Google TV service, which it intends will bring the web to TV screens, in the US this autumn and around the world next year, its chief executive, Eric Schmidt, said today.

In its sights will be a slice of the £117bn global TV advertising market – which it will want to add to its online advertising revenues, which totalled $22.9bn (£14.94bn) in 2009.

Read more

Boeing's Billion Dollar Gamble

Boeing has taken 847 orders for the Dreamliner, worth nearly $150 billion, which makes the 787 the most successful new aircraft in Boeing's 94-year history

Boeing's Billion Dollar Gamble: Inside The World's Biggest Building, Where The New 787 Dreamliner Plane Is Built -- The Daily Mail

It's made in the world's biggest building, takes only four days to put together and is the first commercial aircraft built from carbon composites, but will the revolutionary new Dreamliner win the battle for our skies?

Tucked away in the upper north-west corner of the U.S., about 30 miles north of Seattle, sits the biggest building in the world, utterly dominating the town of Everett. It's three-quarters of a mile long and a third of a mile wide. Beneath the concrete floors there are two miles of pedestrian tunnels, while nestling in the five-storey structures that have sprung up inside the place are meeting rooms, offices and cafes. The inhabitants of this strange, vast palace get around on golf buggies and bicycles. It's so huge that the storm water runoff ponds - a must in Seattle winters - are large enough to float an ocean-going liner, and it has its own fire department.

Read more ....

Money Can Buy You Happiness – Up To A Point

From New Scientist:

CAN money buy you happiness? The answer, it appears, depends on what you mean by "happiness". High earners are generally more satisfied with their lives, it seems, but a person's day-to-day emotional wellbeing is only influenced by money up to a certain point.

Read more ....

How To Make The Perfect French Fry


From Popular Mechanics:

For fare that looks so effortlessly prepared by millions of restaurant chains and festivals all over America, fried foods undergo a harrowing series of chemical reactions before they end up on your plate. Take the common French fry. Copying the magic of even a simple oil-cooked potato at home requires diligence, resources and certain flirtation with danger. Here is the food science you need to know to fry.

Read more ....

What Was On Display At A Drone Trade Show

Global Hawk Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk is the highest-flying of the military’s current fleet of UAVs. With its 116-foot wingspan, it can climb to 60,000 feet and has a range of 9,500 nautical miles. Another show-goer gives a sense of scale. Eric Hagerman

Scenes From A Drone Trade Show -- Popular Science

Take a photo tour of AUVSI, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International trade show in Denver

When most people think "trade show," what comes to mind are harsh fluorescent lights and hollow convention halls, all filled with corporate drones (of the human variety) idly wandering through booths hyping the latest in office paper technology, stopping only to hover over bowls of stale candy and cheap swag.

Read more ....

My Comment: The photo gallery is here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fears Of A Decline In Bee Pollination Confirmed

A recent study provides the first long-term evidence of a downward trend in pollination. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 7, 2010) — Widespread reports of a decline in the population of bees and other flower-visiting animals have aroused fear and speculation that pollination is also likely on the decline. A recent University of Toronto study provides the first long-term evidence of a downward trend in pollination, while also pointing to climate change as a possible contributor.

Read more ....

Mediterranean Shipwrecks Reveal Shift To Modern Shipbuilding

A cannon from the shipwreck of a vessel, likely British, recently discovered near Turkey. RPM Nautical Foundation

From Live Science:

Three recently discovered shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea could give archaeologists new insights into the transition between medieval and modern shipbuilding.

The remains of the three craft – all dating from between 1450 and 1600 – were found in the straits between Turkey and the Greek island of Rhodes. One ship appears to be a large English merchant ship, while the other two are smaller – perhaps a patrol craft from Rhodes and a small trading boat that could have been Turkish, Italian or Greek.

Read more ....

A Cheaper, Safer Way To Move Natural Gas

Photo: Power snow: A five-centimeter-wide nozzle head (top) sprays out a mixture of methane and water that forms snow-like methane hydrate. Credit: Charles Taylor, NREL

From Technology Review:

A new transport method involving ice crystals could make it practical to get natural gas from remote areas, with no worries about explosions.

Storing and shipping natural gas by trapping it in ice--using technology being developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy--could cut shipping costs for the fuel, making it easier for countries to buy natural gas from many different sources, and eventually leading to more stable supplies worldwide.

Read more

Big Body Movements Key To Attracting Women On The Dance Floor

From The Telegraph:

Running on the spot, windmill arms and spinning may attract ridicule on the dance floor but it will also attract the opposite sex, claim psychologists.

Researchers asked women to judge men purely on their dance moves and found that it was those that showed the most movement of the body that were most attractive.

That means if you use big body movements and fancy footwork you may look like a show off but subconsciously women will desire you.

Read more ....

Many Fathers Get Depressed After Having Children

A study says one in five men suffer from depression after becoming fathers.
Photograph: Martin Argles

From The Guardian:

One in five men suffer from depression by the time their child is 12, according to a Medical Research Council study.

One in five men become depressed after becoming fathers as they juggle lack of sleep, extra responsibilities and a changed relationship with their partners, new research shows.

By the time their first child is 12, 21% of fathers have had at least one episode of depression, according to an in-depth study funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Read more ....

An F-22's Rainbow

Refraction Action: Stunning Rainbow Caught In Trail Of F-22 Fighter Jet -- The Daily Mail

It looks like a fancy new special smoke effect that would put the the Red Arrows' simple colours to shame.

But this spectacular photograph is simply a remarkable fluke of nature when all the components that were needed to create this kaleidoscope effect were suddenly present.

Read more ....

My Comment: As an aviation buff, for me this is cool.

The Natural Selection Of Leaders (Commentary)

Was he born for the job? (Image: David Brown/Polaris/Eyevine)

From New Scientist:

IMAGINE this. You and your colleagues are gathered round a conference table, with coffee and biscuits. You open the door and greet the first sharp-suited candidate of the day. Before evening falls, one lucky applicant will hear the unlikely phrase: "We would like to offer you the job of being our boss."

Read more ....

The Last Word On Battery Longevity In Gadgets

Your charging habits need to change. There's more life in those batteries than you think. (Photo by Flickr/

From Popular Mechanics:

Where's the battery-extending truth in the mix of myths, speculation and red herrings? Yes, there is (some) actual scientific research that is all too often ignored. Here is how to make your electronic devices actually last longer.

The proof, to me, was irrefutable. I had bought a new iPod within weeks of my coworker: the same generation player, running on the same lithium-ion (li-ion) cobalt oxide battery. She plugged it into her computer every day to get to her music. That seemed like an astonishing mistake—obviously, her iPod's battery would suffer, since it would cycle every day, multiple times during each 8, 10 or 12-hour workday. My player, which I ran down completely before each charge, would burn less cycles, and retain more power in the long run.

Read more ....

With Ancient Arches, The Old Is New Again

The Mapungubwe National Park Interpretive Center in South Africa. Robert Rich, Peter Rich Architects

From The Smithsonian Magazine:

An MIT professor shows how ancient architecture can be the basis for a more sustainable future

In a basement workshop, John Ochsendorf stands beneath a thin layer of bricks mortared into a sinuous overhead arch that seems to defy gravity. With the heel of his hand, he beats against the bricks. “Hear that ringing?” he asks. “It’s tight like a drum.”

Read more ....

The ESO Turns Its Massive Laser Beam On The Heavens (For Science)

The VLT's Yepun Instrument Lights Up the Sky ESO/Y. Beletsky

From Popular Science:

We are not at war with an alien race from the center of the Milky Way, but if we were, this is exactly what we would want it to look like. Snapped at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory -- home of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) array -- the photo depicts the VLT's Laser Guide Star facility in action.

Read more ....

A Smile May Not Mean Your Baby Is Happy

Doctors who measured brain activity in babies subjected to a painful procedure found that even when they they did not cry or grimace there was still a pain response in the brain. ALAMY

From The Independent:

If you want to tell whether your baby is in pain, looking at its face may not be enough, researchers have found.

Generations of mothers have depended on their baby's facial expressions to tell them what they are feeling. But a study has found that giving a baby a spoonful of sugar before an injection or blood test may alter its expression without lessening its pain.

Read more ....

Melting Rate Of Icecaps In Greenland And Western Antarctica Lower Than Expected

This artist's concept shows GRACE's twin satellites, which orbit Earth in a back-to-back manner and change positions in response to variations in Earth's gravity field. The GRACE satellites house microwave ranging systems that measure the change in the distance between the satellites over time, enabling them to essentially "weigh" the changes in glaciers. (Credit: NASA)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 7, 2010) — The Greenland and West Antarctic ice caps are melting at half the speed previously predicted, according to analysis of recent satellite data.

The finding is the result of research by a joint US/Dutch team from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft, The Netherlands) and SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research. The scientists have published their work in the September issue of Nature Geoscience.

Read more ....

Huge Windstorm Spawns New Classification: 'Super Derecho'

The radar image on the left, taken at 11:56 a.m. on May 8, 2009, shows the super derecho's bow-shaped structure, with a tropical-storm-like eye in the center. A model forecast (right) accurately predicts this rare structure. Credit: NOAA/NWS/Morris Weisman.

From Live Science:

A windstorm that swept across Kansas, Missouri and Illinois in May 2009 was so fierce that it has earned a brand-new name: super derecho.

A derecho (from the Spanish adverb for "straight") is a long-lived windstorm that forms in a straight line — unlike the swirling winds of a tornado — and is associated with what's known as a bow echo, a line of severe thunderstorms. The term "derecho" was first used over a century ago to describe a storm in Iowa. Across the United States there are generally one to three derecho events each year.

Read more ....

Mars Contains Organic Material

New research has concluded that organic material was found on Mars, although NASA's Viking spacecraft, which took theis photograph, sent results in 1976 that were interpreted otherwise.

Not 'Life,' But Maybe 'Organics' On Mars -- Washington Post

Thirty-four years after NASA's Viking missions to Mars sent back results interpreted to mean there was no organic material - and consequently no life - on the planet, new research has concluded that organic material was found after all.

The finding does not bring scientists closer to discovering life on Mars, researchers say, but it does open the door to a greater likelihood that life exists, or once existed, on the planet.

Read more ....

9/11 Is Still With Us

9/11 Imprint Persists in American Brains, Bodies -- Discovery News

Nine years after the attacks of 9/11, the psyches of people who were even distant from the events, show permanent changes.

To elicit powerful emotions and vivid memories, all it takes for many Americans is the mention of two numbers -- 9/11.

Nine years later, studies suggest, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, continue to affect the way we think, remember and react to stressful situations. The actual trauma ended long ago, but for many people, measures of brain activity and body chemistry are different than they were before it happened.

Read more ....

My Comment: An old girl friend of mine witnessed the 9/11 attacks from her Manhattan office window a few miles away. After the attacks, she moved back to Quebec and now lives in a small town 200 kilometers north of Montreal .... cities scare her, and when she goes to a city like Montreal she is only there briefly.

Yup .... the 9/11 imprint is still with us .... and for some .... even more so.

Quiet Sun Leads To Upper Atmosphere Collapse

Solar storms have dropped to unusually low levels from 2007 to 2009.
Credit: SOHO Consortium/ESA/NASA

From Cosmos/AFP:

WASHINGTON: The upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere are unexpectedly shrinking and cooling due to lower ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, U.S. scientists said.

The Sun's energy output dropped to unusually low levels from 2007 to 2009, a significantly long spell with virtually no sunspots or solar storms, according to scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Read more ....

A Solution To The Problem Of Wind Farms Near Military Bases

A military plane takes off at Dyess Air Force base near Abilene, Texas.
(Credit: Abigail Vander Hamm/AWEA)

Tech Fixes To Wind Turbine-Radar Conflict FaceHurdles -- CNET

Emerging technology can ease the problem of wind farms causing interference with air-traffic control systems. But deployment of that technology in the U.S. has been slowed by questions over authority and cost.

Since 2006, radar maker Raytheon and National Air Traffic Services, which provides air traffic control in the U.K., have been working on a project to upgrade air traffic radar so it can distinguish between aircraft and wind turbines' spinning blades. Concerns over the disturbances turbines can cause on air traffic control systems are already stunting the growth of wind power: radar and wind turbines conflicts derailed nearly as much as the total amount of installed wind power capacity in the U.S. last year.

Read more ....

U.N. Exec: Cyberwar Could Be Worse Than Tsunami

ITU Secretary-General Hamdoun Toure'. (Credit: UN)

From ZDNet:

International cyberwar would be "worse than a tsunami" and should be averted by a global cybersecurity peace treaty, according to the head of the International Telecommunications Union.

Hamadoun Touré, who has been secretary-general of the UN agency since 1999 and is up for reelection in a few weeks' time, has targeted cybersecurity issues in his electoral pledges. Speaking at a London roundtable on Thursday, he said he had proposed such a treaty this year, but it had met "a lot of resistance" from industrialised nations.

Read more ....

My Comment: Will governments bound themselves to international conventions when it comes to cyber security and cyberwar .... hmmmm .... I have my doubts. But some in the UN are optimistic that something can be done .... and will try to establish a framework in which countries must abide to and respect. My prediction, most countries will eventually sign on, but the usual suspects (i.e. North Korea, Iran, some former Soviet Union states, etc.) will not.

The Anatomy Of An E-Mail Hack

Emails can bear malicious links ready to unleash computer-enabled chaos with just a single click. (Getty Images)

From ABC News:

How Do E-Mail Viruses Spread? How Should You Protect Yourself?

Delivery notices from the post office, messages from out-of-touch friends and headlines from seasonal sporting events look innocent enough when they arrive in emailform.

But they all can bear malicious links ready to unleash computer-enabled chaos with just a single click.

Read more ....

Reading Arabic 'Hard For Brain'

From The BBC:

Israeli scientists believe they have identified why Arabic is particularly hard to learn to read.

The University of Haifa team say people use both sides of their brain when they begin reading a language - but when learning Arabic this is wasting effort.

The detail of Arabic characters means students should use only the left side of their brain because that side is better at distinguishing detail.

The findings from the study of 40 people are reported in Neuropsychology.

Read more ....

What Are BP, Apple, Amazon, And Others Spending On Google Advertising?

From Fast Company:

Google is typically very secretive about the specifics of its search revenue. I can't actually recall any other leak quite like this one, in which the budgets of specific companies are laid out--kudos to AdAge for snagging the internal document with such rarely seen information.

Read more ....

Monday, September 6, 2010

Miniature Auto Differential Helps Tiny Aerial Robots Stay Aloft

Engineers at Harvard University are developing minuscule aerial robots that could someday be used to probe environmental hazards, forest fires, and other places too perilous for people. (Credit: Pratheev S. Sreetharan/Harvard University)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 3, 2010) — Microrobots could be used for search and rescue, agriculture, environmental monitoringEngineers at Harvard University have created a millionth-scale automobile differential to govern the flight of minuscule aerial robots that could someday be used to probe environmental hazards, forest fires, and other places too perilous for people.

Read more ....

Top 10 Working Animals

From Live Science:

On Labor Day, we celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of American workers. But humans aren't the only ones who toil: Animals do, too. People have used animal labor for thousands of years, and even today, our fuzzy (or feathery, or slippery) friends can go places and do things we can't.

-- Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer

Read more ....

Are Aliens Eavesdropping On Us? Not Likely

From Discovery News:

The seeming infinity of stars we see in deep exposures of the Milky Way belies the fact that our galaxy has been dead silent when it comes to detecting a radio or optical signal saying “hello” from any neighboring extraterrestrial civilization.

Maybe extraterrestrials are out there but they might not have gone to the effort and expense of building a powerful radio beam and aiming it at us. This may not be in their annual science budget. Or they simply may not want to make their presence know to the universe, as astrophysicist Stephen Hawking recently warned us not to do.

Read more ....

Archaeologists Uncover 7,000-Year-Old Oar

"The oar was well preserved because fine mud layers completely blocked oxygen from decaying it," said Yoon On-Shik, a researcher from Gimhae National Museum.

From Cosmos:

SEOUL: A rare neolithic period wooden boat oar, believed to date back about 7,000 years but still in good condition, has been unearthed by South Korean archaeologists.

The oar was discovered in mud land in Changnyeong, 240 kilometres southeast of Seoul, the Gimhae National Museum said.

"This is a very rare find, not only in South Korea but also in the world," said museum researcher Yoon On-Shik. "We have to check with Chinese artefacts to confirm whether it is the oldest watercraft ever found in the world."

Read more

At Google, Doodling Is Real Work

The first doodle signaled that Google's co-founders were attending Burning Man.
(Credit: Google)

From CNET:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--They've celebrated Pac-Man's anniversary, Einstein's birthday, the World Cup, the Fourth of July, Persian New Year, the Olympics, U.S. elections, and just about everything in between. Who are they? Google's Doodlers, of course.

A band of artists whose job it is to translate special events into those colorful, whimsical versions of Google's corporate logo, the Doodlers almost certainly have one of the best jobs in the world.

Read more ....

Craigslist Puts "Censored" Tag On Adult Services Section

Craigslist has deactivated its adult services section
(Credit: CBS News)

From CBS News:

Craigslist has deactivated its adult services section in the United States, leaving in its place the word "censored" in bold black and white.

It's still not clear whether this means that the classified ads site has taken down the section, something that 17 attorneys general recently demanded in an open letter. They said that Craigslist could not adequately block potentially illegal ads promoting prostitution and child trafficking.

Craigslist did not immediately return a request for comment.

Read more ....

Surveillance Tech Wirelessly Watches Over Older Parents

From The ABC News:

Telemonitoring: Video Cameras, Sensors Help Care for Aging Parents.

For 74-year-old Carol Brewer, welcoming a video camera into her living room wasn't easy.

She said she'd walk through her own home and wonder, "Am I dressed appropriately?"

But over time, she said, she grew accustomed to the little grey globe in the corner of the room and now credits it, in part, with helping her and her 78-year-old husband Ross, who is paralyzed from the waist down, continue to live in their Lafayette, Ind., home on their own.

Read more ....

'No Climate Link' To African Wars

Climate Shifts 'Not To Blame' For African Civil Wars -- The BBC

A study suggests climate change is not responsible for civil wars in Africa, challenging widely held assumptions.

Climate change is not responsible for civil wars in Africa, a study suggests.

It challenges previous assumptions that environmental disasters, such as drought and prolonged heat waves, had played a part in triggering unrest.

Instead, it says, traditional factors - such as poverty and social tensions - were often the main factors behind the outbreak of conflicts.

The findings have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in the United States.

Read more

My Comment: I think it is to early to say that climate change is not causing some African wars, on the flip side, it is also too early to say that it is. But according to the PNAS .... they are confident that there is no link at all.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

How To tell Emergency Room Patients That They're Dying.

From Slate:

On television, the emergency room patients beat the odds. Their hearts get shocked back to life. Their organs get sewn up. They awaken to a handsome young physician's dazzling smile.

In real life, one in 500 ER patients—200,000 a year—dies under the bright lights of the emergency rooms. Another 500,000—3 percent—die during hospital stays following emergency treatment. Countless patients learn, from a doctor they have never seen before and may never see again, that they have fatal diseases. Others get treated, aggressively and repeatedly, for dangerous flare-ups in conditions like heart failure or emphysema without anyone having the time or the skills to explain that the chronic disease they have been living with is now the chronic disease that they are slowly dying from, a scenario Atul Gawande explored in his recent New Yorker piece on what doctors can do when they can no longer cure.

Read more ....

Eternal Black Holes Are The Ultimate Cosmic Safes

There may be a way to create black holes that do not evaporate over time (Image: Copyright Denver Museum of Nature and Science)

From The New Scientist:

If you wanted to hide something away for all eternity, where could you put it? Black holes might seem like a safe bet, but Stephen Hawking famously calculated that they leak radiation, and most physicists now think that this radiation contains information about their contents. Now, there may be a way to make an "eternal" black hole that would act as the ultimate cosmic lockbox.

Read more ....