Monday, May 23, 2011

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 ....

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Endeavour Cleared After Heat Shield Inspection

Photo: The space shuttle Endeavour conducts a flip maneuver to allow inspection of its heat shield tiles, prior to docking at the International Space Station.

From CBS News:

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. - After a close-up, focused inspection of a damaged heat shield tile on the belly of space shuttle Endeavour, NASA analysts have concluded that there is no threat posed to the orbiter, and NASA's Mission Management Team cleared the ship for re-entry as-is.

"So all good results all the way around," said MMT Chairman LeRoy Cain. "We're essentially clearing the vehicle for re-entry at this point. There were no dissenting opinions, no alternate opinions; the entire team was pretty much on board with the assessments that were done."

Read more ....

Free-Floating "Planets" Are More Common Than What Is Believed

The "rogue" planets act as lenses, bending the light from distant stars

'Free-Floating' Planets Found With No Star In Sight -- BBC

An international team of astronomers claim to have found free-floating "planets" which do not seem to orbit a star.

Writing in Nature, they say they have found 10 Jupiter-sized objects which they could not connect to any solar system. They also believe such objects could be as common as stars are throughout the Milky Way.

The objects revealed themselves by bending the light of more distant stars, an effect called "gravitational microlensing".

Read more ....

What If The Rapture Happens

According Christian tradition, the rapture is the day when believers will ascend to heaven and be rewarded with everlasting life. CREDIT: Dreamstime

What If 200 Million People Go Missing on Saturday? -- Live Science

According to the predictions of Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping, May 21 will be the day of the rapture, when God calls believers to heaven to live in everlasting paradise.

By Camping's estimation, that means the Earth will be 200 million souls lighter by Sunday morning.

Read more ....

Radio Telescopes Capture Best-Ever Snapshot of Black Hole Jets

Merging X-ray data (blue) from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory with microwave (orange) and visible images reveals the jets and radio-emitting lobes emanating from Centaurus A's central black hole. (Credit: ESO/WFI (visible); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (microwave); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray))

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (May 20, 2011) — An international team, including NASA-funded researchers, using radio telescopes located throughout the Southern Hemisphere has produced the most detailed image of particle jets erupting from a supermassive black hole in a nearby galaxy.

"These jets arise as infalling matter approaches the black hole, but we don't yet know the details of how they form and maintain themselves," said Cornelia Mueller, the study's lead author and a doctoral student at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany.

Read more

How To Manipulate Social Movements By Hacking Twitter

Image credit: Leo Espinosa

Are You Following A Bot? -- The Atlantic

How to manipulate social movements by hacking Twitter.

One day last February, a Twitter user in California named Billy received a tweet from @JamesMTitus, identified in his profile as a “24 year old dude” from Christchurch, New Zealand, who had the avatar of a tabby cat. “If you could bring one character to life from your favorite book, who would it be?,” @JamesMTitus asked. Billy tweeted back, “Jesus,” to which @JamesMTitus replied: “honestly? no fracking way. ahahahhaa.” Their exchange continued, and Billy began following @JamesMTitus. It probably never occurred to him that the Kiwi dude with an apparent love of cats was, in fact, a robot.

Read more ....

Friday, May 20, 2011

Massive Storm On Saturn

This false-color infrared image shows clouds of large ammonia ice particles dredged up by the powerful storm. Credit: Cassini

Massive Storm Erupts On Saturn -- Cosmos

MARYLAND: A giant early-spring storm in Saturn's northern hemisphere - so powerful that it stretches around the entire planet - has been detected.

The rare storm has been wreaking havoc for months and shooting plumes of gas high into the planet's atmosphere, according to data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft and a European Southern Observatory ground-based telescope, that have been tracking its progress

Read more

My Comment: Hmmmm ..... I guess I should not complain about the weather that I must go through each winter (I live in Quebec, Canada).

'Dark Energy' Confirmed

The Anglo-Australian telescope was used in the galaxy survey

New Method 'Confirms Dark Energy' -- BBC

First results from a major astronomical survey using a cutting-edge technique appear to have confirmed the existence of mysterious dark energy.

Dark energy makes up some 74% of the Universe and its existence would explain why the Universe appears to be expanding at an accelerating rate.

The finding was based on studies of more than 200,000 galaxies.

Read more ....

How Piano Wires Changed Through The Centuries

Even as the wires used in pianos changed from iron to steel, sound quality has remained largely the same. Getty Images

How Piano Wires Changed Through Centuries -- Discovery

Since Mozart's time, piano wires have changed in content -- but very little in quality, research shows.

* The wire inside pianos has undergone significant changes between the piano's origins in the early 1700s until the late 1880s.
* Research suggests that piano designers used music wire to reach similar harmonic levels despite working with different metals.
* Piano designers balance tension and stiffness of music wire, but many other factors are considered as well.

Read more ....

10 Incredible Facts About The Human Brain

10 astounding facts about the human brain

10 Astounding Facts About The Human Brain -- The Telegraph

Last night, BBC One's Inside the Human Body focused on the brain. Here are ten remarkable facts about our most complex organ.

* The human brain is so sophisticated it takes nearly 20 years to mature

* In the womb, humans grow 8,000 new brain cells every second

* By the time humans are born they have all the brain cells they will ever need

* The human brain is the "most sophisticated thing" in the known universe

* New-born babies can recognise their mother’s face after just a few hours

Read more

Atmosphere Above Epicentre Of Deadly Japan Earthquake Heated Up 'Rapidly' In Days Before Disaster

Satellite images showing changes in the heat of the atmosphere above the epicentre of the March 11 earthquake between March 1 and March 12. The total electron content in the ionosphere increased dramatically before the quake

A Warning Sign? Atmosphere Above Epicentre Of Deadly Japan Earthquake Heated Up 'Rapidly' In Days Before Disaster -- The Daily Mail

* Scientists hope they will one day be able to predict quakes uses air ionisation data.

The atmosphere directly above the fault zone which produced Japan's recent devastating earthquake heated up significantly in the days before the disaster, a study has shown.

Before the March 11 earthquake, the total electron content in a part of the upper atmosphere, called the ionosphere, increased dramatically over the earthquake's epicentre, reaching a maximum three days before the quake struck.

It is believed that in the days before an earthquake, the stresses on geological faults in the Earth's crust causes the release of large amounts of radon gas.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is a remarkable discovery that deserves further research.

U.S. Special Ops Tracking Terrorists Everywhere

Photo: An artists rendition of Montana State University's Explorer-1 [Prime] CubeSat. Montana State University/NASA

U.S. Special Ops Building Satellites To Track Terrorists Everywhere -- Popular Mechanics

The raid on Osama bin Laden's compound this month highlighted special forces' focus on finding high-value targets. Their hunt extends into space, too. An official with U.S. Special Operations Command has confirmed that his organization is testing tiny satellites that could keep tabs on targets from above.

An official with Special Ops revealed Wednesday that the U.S. recently launched mini-satellites that could clandestinely track high-value targets, like al-Qaida terrorists. "We sent up four satellites to demonstrate passing TTL [tagging, tracking, locating] data," Doug Richardson, a civilian official at U.S. Special Operations Command, told an audience on Wednesday, referring to a December launch of a SpaceX rocket carrying the CubeSats—inexpensive satellites so small they can fit in the palm of your hand, and which have been used for scientific missions for a number of years.

Read more ....

My Comment: One more reason why the Pentagon is upset with all of these leaks.

Kindle E-Book Outsells Print Versions For First Time Ever

Bestseller: The e-book is outselling text versions for the first time ever

Is It The End For The Paperback? Kindle E-Book Outsells Print Versions For First Time Ever -- the Daily Mail

Sales of digital e-books have outstripped real books for the first time, according to Amazon.

Four years after the launch of electronic novels, the firm announced it has sold 105 e-books for every 100 printed books over the past six weeks.

While e-book sales have previously outsold hardback books, never before have they exceeded sales of all books, in both hardback and paperback forms.

Read more ....

My Comment: We predicted this years ago .... but it is still a surprise to now know that this point has been reached.

Robots Learning Their Own Language

The 'Lingodroids' Learning Language via IEEE Spectrum

Robots Learn To CreateTheir Own Spoken Language -- Popular Science

Having a computer for a brain has its perks, but it has its drawbacks as well. Language is a tough concept for robots, as words can convey the abstract as well as the concrete and robots have trouble knowing the difference (and grasping the abstract). That makes human-machine interaction less than intuitive for humans and confusing to ‘bots. But Australian researchers are hoping to change that by teaching robots to communicate verbally in a language of their own creation, the same way humans did.

Read more

Beware Of The Coming Zombie Apocalypse

Will Budget Cuts Leave Us Unprepared For Zombie Apocalypse? -- ABC News

If zombies ever start taking over the planet, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says we'd better be prepared for it.

If the undead really start roaming the earth looking for fresh brains to eat, we can't rely on our ability to shoot 'em dead the way people do in video games or in horror flicks. Instead, the agency says, we need to treat it like any other disaster.

Read more

More News On The Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse

US officials prepare for 'zombie apocalypse' -- The Guardian
CDC prepares for Zombie Apocalypse: tips on how to survive -- Washington Post
Ready for a zombie apocalypse? CDC has advice -- CNN
CDC Advises on Zombie Apocalypse … and Other Emergencies -- Wall Street Journal
CDC Zombie Apocalypse: What we're watching now -- CBS News
Ready for a zombie invasion? Center for Disease Control has tips on popular new blog post -- New York Daily News
Zombies Upstage a Routine Public Health Bulletin -- New York Times
Preparing for a zombie apocalypse? The CDC weighs in -- L.A. Times
CDC: Here’s what to do in case of zombie apocalypse -- Chicago Sun Times
CDC helps Americans prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse -- USA Today
US offers coping tips on 'zombie apocalypse' -- AFP
CDC reveals safety plan for Zombie Apocalypse -- The Register
CDC "Zombie Apocalypse" disaster campaign crashes website -- Reuters
CDC Launches Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide: Supplementary Tech Tips -- ZDNet
CDC to America: How to Prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse -- Time

By Working As A Team, Autonomous Swarming 'Bots Can Quickly Explore and Map Structures

GT's Henrick Christensen With One of the Team's Autonomous Mapping 'Bots Georgia Tech

Working as a Team, Autonomous Swarming 'Bots Quickly Explore and Map Structures -- Popular Science

A swarm of intelligent, autonomous robots from Georgia Tech may soon be leading the charge into dangerous and uncertain situations, providing valuable mapping intel to first responders, military, or police behind them. A team of researchers there have developed a team of small, rolling robots that can autonomously communicate with one another to quickly build a detailed floor plan map of an entire structure and beam it to nearby humans.

Read more ....

My Comment: I can see recon units and FOBs having this tech as standard in the next 15-20 years (if not sooner).

Planets More Numerous Than Believed

An artist's depiction illustrates a Jupiter-sized planet wandering free in interstellar space. The new findings appear to confirm the existence of many such planets. (NASA / JPL-Caltech / May 19, 2011)

Planets May Be Vastly More Numerous Than Believed -- L.A. Times

Researchers say that millions of Jupiter-sized planets are wandering in our galaxy far from any star. The findings suggest that there may be twice as many planets as stars in the Milky Way, perhaps several times as many.

The Milky Way galaxy may be filled with millions upon millions of Jupiter-sized planets that have escaped their solar systems and are wandering freely in space, researchers said Wednesday in a finding that seems certain to make astronomers rethink their ideas about planetary formation.

Scientists had previously thought that about 20% of stars had massive planets attached to them, but the new results reported in the journal Nature suggest that there are at least twice as many planets as stars, and perhaps several times as many.

Read more ....

Rare Colour Photographs Of The Depression

Distributing surplus commodities in St Johns, Arizona, October 1940

In The Bleak Light Of The Depression: Rare Colour Photographs Of The Era That Defined A Generation -- Daily Mail

It was an era that defined a generation. The Great Depression marked the bitter and abrupt end to the post-World War 1 bubble that left America giddy with promise in the 1920s. Near the end of the 1930s the country was beginning to recover from the crash, but many in small towns and rural areas were still poverty-stricken. These rare photographs are some of the few documenting those iconic years in colour. The photographs and capti are the property of the Library of Congress and were included in a 2006 exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color. The images, by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, shed a bleak new light on a world now gone with the wind.

Read more ....

My Comment: A fascinating gallery of photos from a time when America was all black and white.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Protecting Ones Home From The Floods

Citizens in Flood Zone Build Homemade Levees to Protect Their Homes -- Popular Science

All of that water pouring out of spillways and topping levees up and down the Mississippi River has to go somewhere, and many living in those areas prone to flooding have taken drastic action to keep from being inundated. In what could be called a testament to the human instinct to protect hearth and home, some in the disaster zone are holding out by taking civil engineering into their own hands, building makeshift levees to keep the rising waters at bay. Click through the gallery to see how far some homeowners have gone to protect their properties.

Read more ....

Using Viagra 'Could Make You Deaf'?

The researchers are not sure how Viagra might affect hearing Photo: Alamy

Viagra 'Could Make You Deaf' -- The Telegraph

Viagra could make you deaf, doctors have warned.

Viagra and similar impotence drugs have been linked to hundreds of cases of sudden hearing loss around the world, including some in the UK.

Doctors have begun to warn that the drugs could damage users' hearing after a spate of people in the US with auditory problems.

Experts, including some from Charing Cross, Stoke Mandeville and Royal Marsden hospitals, were so concerned by the claims that they demanded an investigation from official watchdogs across three continents.

Read more ....

Moment Tsunami Swamps Japan's Doomed Fukushima Nuclear Plant

(Click on image to Enlarge)
Disaster strikes: The tsunami rushes over a protective sea wall and towards tanks of heavy oil for the Unit 5 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex

Genesis Of A Disaster: Moment Tsunami Swamps Japan's Doomed Fukushima Nuclear Plant -- The Daily Mail

This is the moment the Japanese tsunami destroyed a sea wall designed to protect the Fukushima nuclear plant and surged towards reactors.

Tons of water can be seen destroying the wall and sweeping away reactor equipment, cars and other machinery in pictures released by plant owners.

The tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the plant, causing the reactors to melt down and numerous explosions as engineers tried to release a build up of radioactive hydrogen gas.

Read more ....

My Comment: Another example on why we should never underestimate the power of nature.

The Marvels Of Imaging Technology On Fossils Trapped In Amber

The 49 million-year-old Huntsman spider seen using X-ray computed tomography. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Manchester)

Imaging Technology Reveals Intricate Details of 49-Million-Year-Old Spider -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (May 18, 2011) — Scientists have used the latest computer-imaging technology to produce stunning three-dimensional pictures of a 49 million-year-old spider trapped inside an opaque piece of fossilized amber resin.

University of Manchester researchers, working with colleagues in Germany, created the intricate images using X-ray computed tomography to study the remarkable spider, which can barely be seen under the microscope in the old and darkened amber.

Read more

My Comment: 49 million years trapped in amber .... wow.

Japan Earthquake Was 'In The Air' Days Before

On March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. local time (05:46 UTC), a magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck off the east coast of Japan. The epicenter was 80 miles (130 kilometers) east of Sendai, and 231 miles (373 km) northeast of Tokyo. If initial measurements are confirmed, it will be the world’s fifth largest earthquake since 1900 and the worst in Japan's history. This image of Japan from 1999 was taken as part of SeaWiFS, the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor Project. CREDIT: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, SeaWiFS Project and ORBIMAGE

Japan Earthquake Was 'In the Air' Days Before, Scientist Claims -- Live Science

The atmosphere above the epicenter of the March 11 earthquake in Japan underwent unusual changes in the days leading up to the disaster, according to preliminary data.

The research has not yet been published in an academic journal or reviewed by other scientists, but it could offer an intriguing possibility for earthquake prediction — though the day scientists are able to forecast earthquakes is still "far away," said study researcher Dimitar Ouzounov, a professor of earth sciences at Chapman University in California.

Read more

My Comment: This is very intriguing, and deserves more study.

Small Pox Fears?

'Bizarre Bits' Exhibition Took a Strange Turn When Feds Arrived -- Wall Street Journal

A 135-Year-Old Piece of Skin Launches a Smallpox Scare at a Virginia Museum.

An outbreak of smallpox was the farthest thing from Paul Levengood's mind when his staff at the Virginia Historical Society put together an exhibit of "bizarre bits" in the society's collection since its founding in 1831.

There was Confederate President Jefferson Davis's cigar, confiscated by Union troops. There was a fungus carving of Robert E. Lee on his horse Traveller and a wreath made of human hair.

Then someone mentioned a letter, handwritten and dated 1876, with what appeared to be a smallpox scab pinned inside—light brown, about the size of a pencil eraser, and crumbling.

Read more ....

135-Year-Old Piece of Skin Triggers Smallpox Scare At Virginia Museum -- FOX News

My Comment: Small Pox has been one of history's worst scourges .... stories like this one should always raise our eyebrows and make us grateful that small pox epidemics are a thing of the past. As to this story .... I doubt that small pox will ever turn to plague mankind .... but it is another wake-up call on why we should always be vigilant.

China Admits Three Gorges Dam Has Problems

The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in Yichang, Hubei province is seen in this 2009 file photo. China's landmark dam project provides benefits to the Chinese people, but has created a myriad of urgent problems from the relocation of more than a million residents to risks of geological disasters, the Chinese government said on Thursday. Reuters/File

Controversial Three Gorges Dam Has Problems, Admits China -- Christian Science Monitor

The world's largest hydroelectric project was designed to tame the flood-prone Yangtze River and to generate clean energy. But the water is becoming polluted, and regular landslides are making life near the dam dangerous.

The Chinese government made a rare admission Thursday of something that millions of people living around the Three Gorges dam know only too well: There is a dark side to the country’s proudest engineering achievement.

Read more ....

My Comment: Critics have been saying the same thing for years .... I guess are now listening.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Coming Population Explosion

Graph From The Economist

Can The World Feed 10 Billion People? -- Raj Patel, Foreign Policy

With an exploding global population -- and Africa's numbers set to triple -- the world's experts are falling over themselves arguing how to feed the masses. Why do they have it so wrong?

The world's demographers this week increased their estimates of the world's population through the coming century. We are now on track to hit 10 billion people by 2100. Today, humanity produces enough food to feed everyone but, because of the way we distribute it, there are still a billion hungry. One doesn't need to be a frothing Malthusian to worry about how we'll all get to eat tomorrow. Current predictions place most of the world's people in Asia, the highest levels of consumption in Europe and North America, and the highest population growth rates in Africa -- where the population could triple over the next 90 years.

Read more

More News On The World's Growing Population

World population to reach 10.1 billion by 2100 -- AP
U.N.: Earth's population to hit 9 billion by 2050, 10 billion by 2100 -- CNN
Rising Sea of Humanity: UN Says Pop. Will Hit 10B by 2100—& Keep Going Up -- Discover
World population to pass 7 billion on Oct. 31-UN -- Reuters
Global population to reach 7 billion this year, UN report says -- Deutsche Welle
U.N.: World population to pass 7 billion on October 31 -- Baltimore Sun/Reuters
World population expected to hit 7 billion in October 2011 -- Xinhuanet
Coming to a Planet Near You: 3 Billion More Mouths to Feed -- New York Times
New Population Projections Show Us Growing Unsustainably, But We Can Put on the Brakes -- Time
UN projects world population of 6.2 to 15.8 billion in 2100 with 10.1 billion midrange -- Next Big Future
Counting to Ten Billion -- Huffington Post
World population projections. Growing pains -- The Economist

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.”

Read more ....

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.

Read more ....

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.

Read more

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.

Read more ....

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.

Read more ....

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more ....

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.

Read more ....

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.

Read more ....

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.)

Read more ....

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.

Read more ....

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.

Read more ....

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.

Read more ....

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.

Read more ....

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.