Monday, January 21, 2013

The 16 Greatest Cities In Human History

Constantinople as it would look by air. Wikipedia 

The 16 Greatest Cities In Human History -- Business Insider 

What New York City was in twentieth century, London was in the the 1900s, Constantinople was in the 600s, and so forth, back to Jericho in 7000 BC.

They were the largest cities in the world, and arguably the epicenters of human civilization. These cities led mankind to new heights of culture and commerce—though in the end each of them was surpassed and some of them destroyed.

Read more ....  

My Comment: I would also add the cities of Athens, Alexandria, and Troy.

Did An 8th Century Gamma Ray Burst Irradiate Earth?

An artist’s impression of the merger of two neutron stars. Short duration gamma-ray bursts are thought to be caused by the merger of some combination of white dwarfs, neutron stars or black holes. Theory suggests that they are short lived as there is little dust and gas to fuel an ‘afterglow’. (Credit: NASA / Dana Berry) 

Did An 8th Century Gamma Ray Burst Irradiate Earth? -- Science Daily 

Jan. 21, 2013 — A nearby short duration gamma-ray burst may be the cause of an intense blast of high-energy radiation that hit the Earth in the 8th century, according to new research led by astronomers Valeri Hambaryan and Ralph Neuh”ďuser.

The two scientists, based at the Astrophysics Institute of the University of Jena in Germany, publish their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Read more ....  

My Comment: I could only imagine what would be the reaction if such an event happened today.

Evidence Of Ancient Lake On Mars

Layered rocks on the floor of McLaughlin Crater on Mars show sedimentary rocks that contain spectroscopic evidence for minerals formed through interaction with water. Photo: Reuters/NASA  

Mars Scientists Find ‘Strongest Evidence Yet’ That Planet May Have Supported Life -- National Post

Scientists believe they may have found the ‘strongest evidence yet’ that Mars may have supported life, but it’s unlikely in the form most people would recognize.

New research published today in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests a team of scientists could have discovered the ingredients of life in a huge crater up to 5km below the planet’s surface.

The McLaughlin crater, which was made by a meteorite which smashed into Mars, is described as an area of interest for the team, led by London’s Natural History Museum and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Read more ....

More News On The Possibility That There Was Once Water On Mars  

Scientists find evidence of ancient lake on Mars -- Sydney Morning Herald
NASA Probe Finds Evidence Of Groundwater-Fed Lake In Martian Crater -- Red Orbit
Martian minerals 'strongest evidence yet' of life on the red planet - and it could still be there -- Daily Mail
Martian crater may once have held lake -- TG Daily
Massive ancient lake on Mars is indicator of underground waterworks -- Wired

Do We Really Need To Use Deodorant?

New research shows that more than 75 per cent of people with a particular version of a gene don't produce under-arm odour but use deodorant anyway. (Credit: © Piotr Marcinski / Fotolia) 

Deodorants: Do We Really Need Them? -- Science Daily

 Jan. 17, 2013 — New research shows that more than 75 per cent of people with a particular version of a gene don't produce under-arm odour but use deodorant anyway.

The study was based on a sample of 6,495 women who are part of the wider Children of the 90s study at the University of Bristol. The researchers found that about two per cent (117 out of 6,495) of mothers carry a rare version of a particular gene (ABCC11), which means they don't produce any under-arm odour.

Read more ....  

My Comment: Sad to say that I am one of those 25% who needs deodorant.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

9 Interesting Facts On The U.S. Pentagon

The Pentagon (Wikipedia

9 Things You May Not Know About the Pentagon -- History

On January 15, 1943, work was completed on the new headquarters for the U.S. War Department (the modern-day Department of Defense) in Arlington, Virginia. The massive complex, commonly known as the Pentagon, was built to house the nearly 30,000 defense workers tasked with helping America win World War II. With more than 17 miles of corridors, it remains one of the largest office buildings in the world, and has become a symbol—for better and for worse—of military might. Eighty years after its completion, here are nine things you may not know about the Pentagon. 

Read more ....  

Editor: Wikipedia's entry on the Pentagon is very comprehensive. That link is here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Where Did Europe`s Jews Come From?

Jews throw stones at the sea to symbolically cast off their sin on September 20, 2009 in Nice, France, as part of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Jews of European origin are a mix of ancestries, with many hailing from tribes in the Caucasus who converted to Judaism and created an empire that lasted half a millennium, according to a gene study published on Thursday. 

Gene Study Settles Debate Over Origin Of European Jews -- France24 

AFP - Jews of European origin are a mix of ancestries, with many hailing from tribes in the Caucasus who converted to Judaism and created an empire that lasted half a millennium, according to a gene study published on Thursday.

The investigation, its author says, should settle a debate that has been roiling for more than two centuries. Jews of European descent, often called Ashkenazis, account for some 90 percent of the more than 13 million Jews in the world today. According to the so-called Rhineland Hypothesis, Ashkenazis descended from Jews who progressively fled Palestine after the Moslem conquest of 638 AD.

Read more ....

My Comment: In short .... they came from the Middle East and the Caucasus.

Why Wolves Cannot Be Tamed

Why Dogs Can Be Tamed But Wolves Cannot -- Science 2.0 

Wolves and dogs are genetically very similar, so why did dogs become "man's best friend" while wolves remain wild? Kathryn Lord at the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggests the different behaviors are related to the animals' earliest sensory experiences and the critical period of socialization.

Not much is known about sensory development in wolf pups and assumptions are usually extrapolated from what is known for dogs - but there are significant differences in early development between wolf and dog pups, chief among them timing of the ability to walk.

Read more ....  

My Comment: Bottom line .... wolves are tricky animals to have as a pet.

A Gallery Of Top Secret Australian Military Sites As Seen By Google Earth

Secret Australian Military Bases Revealed By Google Maps [PHOTOS] -- Business Insider

As an ode to Australian and British foreign and defense officials meeting in Australia today to discuss stronger military ties, Australian news site has compiled a gallery of top secret Australian military sites as seen by Google Earth.

Previously aviation historians have discovered that the U.S. flew highly classified Global Hawk spy drone missions from a base in South Australia, but we've never seen such a comprehensive look at the secret installations where Australia does classified work and collaborates with other governments.  
Read more ....  

My Comment: It appears that you cannot keep a secret nowadays.

No Buried Spitfires In Burma

A place in history: A poster unveiling the Spitfire from around 1939. Daily Mail 

Archaeologists Believe No Spitfires Buried In Burma -- BBC 

Archaeologists hunting for World War II Spitfires in Burma believe there are no planes buried at the sites where they have been digging, the BBC understands.

The archaeologists have concluded that evidence does not support the original claim that as many as 124 Spitfires were buried at the end of the war, the BBC's Fergal Keane reports., the firm financing the dig, has also said there are no planes. But project leader David Cundall says they are looking in the wrong place.

 Read more ....

More News On The Failure Of Finding Spitfires In Burma  

There are NO Spitfires buried in Burma: Hunt for missing WWII planes ends in disappointment -- Daily Mail
Spitfire search in Burma draws a blank -- The Guardian
Archaeologists: No planes buried in Myanmar -- UPI
Search for lost Spitfires ends in failure for treasure hunters -- The Telegraph
Burma Spitfire Hunt Appears Doomed After No Planes Found -- IBTimes
Myanmar Spitfire hunters say search has hit snag -- Huffington Post
Archaeologists find no buried World War II surplus Spitfires in Burma -- Slashgear
Are there perfectly preserved WWII-era Spitfire airplanes buried in the Burmese jungle? -- io9 Myanmar Spitfire hunter still optimistic -- AFP  

Editor: Bummer.

Flickr Celebrates Fifth Birthday With Its Most Viewed Images

Among the eye-catching images in the Flickr Commons collection is this iconic photo of Winston Churchill with President Roosevelt and Stalin at the Yalta Conference during WWII 

The Pictures We Love Best: Flickr Celebrates Fifth Birthday With Its Most Viewed Images -- Daily Mail 

* Flickr Commons celebrates fifth anniversary of 'public domain' collection
* Marks event by showing off its most viewed and commented on pictures
* Images range from famous historic photographs to personal pictures

It features everything from iconic images of some of the most famous figures in history to heartwarming private pictures of ordinary people and animals simply posing up for the camera.

Flickr Commons has celebrated its fifth anniversary by showing off a collection of its most viewed and commented on photographs, including a picture of Winston Churchill at a meeting of Allied leaders during WWII and a photograph of a black dog smoking a pipe in Wales.

The website's collection of 'public domain' photographs was first launched on January 16, 2008 with 1,500 pictures, and has expanded rapidly since, now featuring more than 250,000.

Read more ....  

My Comment: A lot of familiar pics here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Iran Has Enhanced It's Cyber Capabilities

Photo: General William Shelton, Current Commander, Air Force Space Command. Wikipedia

Iran Strengthened Cyber Capabilities After Stuxnet: U.S. General -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Iran responded to a 2010 cyber attack on its nuclear facilities by beefing up its own cyber capabilities, and will be a "force to be reckoned with" in the future, a senior U.S. Air Force official told reporters on Thursday.

General William Shelton, who heads Air Force Space Command and oversees the Air Force's cyber operations, declined to comment about Iran's ability to disrupt U.S. government computer networks, but said Tehran had clearly increased its efforts in that arena after the 2010 incident.

While no government has taken responsibility for the Stuxnet computer virus that destroyed centrifuges at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility, it was widely reported to have been a U.S.-Israeli project.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Iran’s Cyber Threat Potential Great, U.S. General Says -- Bloomberg  
Update #2: Iran beefed up cyber capabilities after Stuxnet: US general -- NBC  

My Comment: I guess this explains why U.S. banks are now worried about their own cyber security.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Germany Unveils It's Own 'Star Wars' Laser

The system is currently mounted of a series of large metal containers. However, the firm is developing a smaller, portable version that could easily be transported to the battlefront. 

Germans Unveil 'Star Wars' Laser That Can Shoot A Drone Out Of The Sky From TWO MILES Away And Cut Through A Steel Girder At 700 Yards -- Daily Mail 

* High powered laser is powerful enough to cut through a steel girder from 1km away
* System is so accurate it could track and destroy an 82mm ball bearing designed to replicate a mortar round
* German firm hopes to create a portable version that could be used on the battlefield

One of the most powerful laser weapons ever fired has successfully shot drones out of the sky from two miles away.

The groundbreaking weapon uses a high powered 50kW laser, and is powerful enough to cut through a steel girder from 1km away, yet accurate enough to hit a target the size of a mortar round.

Read more ....  

My Comment: And this is only the first generation .... makes you wonder what is next.

The Role Of Soot In Climate Change

The burning of wood is a major source of black carbon the world over. 

Climate Change: Soot's Role Underestimated, Says Study -- BBC 

Black carbon, or soot, is making a much larger contribution to global warming than previously recognised, according to research.

Scientists say that particles from diesel engines and wood burning could be having twice as much warming effect as assessed in past estimates.

They say it ranks second only to carbon dioxide as the most important climate-warming agent. The research is in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.

Black carbon aerosols have been known to warm the atmosphere for many years by absorbing sunlight. They also speed the melting of ice and snow.

Read more ....  

My Comment: Outlawing and/or limiting fireplaces is not going to make much headway .... especially for those who live in cold climates.

Cyber Attacks In The U.S. Jumped By 52 Percent In 2012

Cyber vulnerabilities around the U.S. (Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

DHS: Cyber Attacks Against U.S. Infrastructure Increased by 52 Percent in 2012 -- Daily Tech

There were 198 attacks total

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported that the number of cyber attacks launched against U.S. infrastructure in 2012 increased by over 50 percent, and over 7,000 key industrial control systems are vulnerable to attack. According to the DHS report, the number of cyber attacks in the U.S. jumped by 52 percent in 2012. There were 198 attacks total, and some were successful.  

Read more ....  

My Comment: We are not told who was successful attacked.

Seven Amazing Robots Of 2012

 The 7 Most Amazing Robots Of 2012 -- 

Okay, we know we're a little late on this, but that's because there was so much amazing stuff to sift through! In 2012, robotic technology made some huge leaps forward. We put the world's most sophisticated planetary rover on Mars using a daring--and precise--robotic delivery system. We launched marine robots capable of taking on hurricanes and rebuilding damaged coral reefs. We saw four-legged robots set new land speed records, and winged, autonomous robots strut their potentially lethal stuff on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Read more ....

Editor: The photo gallery starts here.

Pacific Bluefin Tuna's Population Has Collapsed

Pacific Prey Wikimedia Commons 

Pacific Bluefin Tuna Population Has Dropped By 96 Percent -- 

The dark side of sushi's surge in popularity. For the Pacific bluefin tuna, sitting at the popular kids' table sure isn't paying off. The stock of the fish is at historically low levels and is being dangerously overfished, a new report shows. Fisheries scientists from the International Scientific

Committee to Study the Tuna and Tuna-Like Species of the North Pacific Ocean estimate that the Pacific bluefin population has declined from its unfished level by more than 96 percent. The report warns that stock levels likely won't improve by extending the current fishing levels. All the world's scrombrids -- a family that includes tunas and mackerels -- are on the endangered list.

Read more ....

My Comment: The next step will be a ban on Pacific Bluefin Tuna fishing.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Asia’s Coming “Sci-Fi” Arms Race

Image credit: Wikicommons

Lasers: Asia’s Coming “Sci-Fi” Arms Race -- J. Michael Cole, The Diplomat

True to Newton’s Third Law on Motion, weapons development is a constant battle of adaptation with one side unveiling new technology only for the other to respond with countermeasures. Very few platforms in recent years have been as influential or attracted as much publicity as have unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which have greatly enhanced surveillance capability while giving their owners the ability to target enemies thousands of miles away at relatively little cost.  

Read more ....  

My Comment: I guess the Americans are not the only ones who are trying to develop laser based weapon systems.

NASA Making Way For Private Companies

Boeing's CST-100 Vehicle, As Rendered by an Artist. Boeing 

The Next Crews With The Right Stuff Will Work For Private Companies, Not NASA -- Popular Science  

Spaceship builders will assume the flight risk first with their own test pilot employees.

 Private companies are already sending cargo into space on their own, but no one is sending any people yet--for now, Americans can only get to space with help from the Russians. When commercial aerospace firms do start delivering Americans to space for the first time, they will not be wearing NASA meatball patches on their breast pockets.

Instead, commercial test pilots employed by spaceship builders will fly the first crewed missions, according to NASA officials. The space agency is letting the private firms bear that risk before exposing its own astronauts to a privately built ship.

Read more ....  

My Comment: Another sign that the US government is broke.

The Oldest Star In The Universe

An artist's impression of how the oldest known star in the universe might look 

The Oldest Star In The Universe: Astronomers Find HD 140283 Is At Least 13.2 billion Years Old -- Daily Mail 

* Star known as HD 140283 has been observed for more than a century
 * It formed within the first 600 million years of the Big Bang
 * Earth lies just 186 light years away from the oldest known star

More than a century after it was first observed by astronomers a star has been identified as the oldest yet seen in the universe.

The star is just 186 light years away from Earth and is at least 13.2 billion years old, and quite possibly many millions of years older than that.

The Big Bang is calculated by scientists to have taken place about 13.77 billion years ago and the star, known only as HD 140283, was among the earliest stars to form.

Read more ....  

My Comment: 13.2 billion years old .... just a blink of time to the universe.

The PaperTab Tablet Will Look And Feel Just Like A Sheet Of Paper

Photo: PaperTab (credit: Plastic Logic/Queen’s University)

 A Paper-Thin Flexible Tablet Computer -- Kurzweilai

A flexible paper computer developed at Queen’s University in collaboration with Plastic Logic and Intel Labs could one day revolutionize the way people work with tablets and computers. The PaperTab tablet looks and feels just like a sheet of paper.

However, it is fully interactive with a flexible, high-resolution 10.7” plastic display developed by Plastic Logic, a flexible touchscreen, and powered by the second generation Intel Core i5 Processor. Instead of using several apps or windows on a single display, users have ten or more interactive displays or “PaperTabs”: one per app in use.

Read more ....  

My Comment: I prefer something more solid in my hands .... but I am probably an exception to this rule.

New Rifle Technology Can Turn A Novice Into A Dangerous Sniper

Smart' hunting rifle makes up for jittery aim 
Using state of the art digital range finders and a very smart trigger, the TrackingPoint rifle can make a sharpshooter out of anyone, including's Wilson Rothman. 

Futuristic Rifle Turns Novice Into Sharpshooter -- NBC 

It all goes back to "Top Gun." In the heads-up display on Maverick's Tomcat, you can see a computer compensate for human aim with precision laser guidance and careful calculations. How long before that technology made its way to to a conventional hunting rifle? It's here now, with a price tag of $17,000 to $21,000.

We came to Las Vegas the first week of January, the way we always do, for the Consumer Electronics Show. The vast trade show features over 3,300 exhibitors, and covers 1.9 million square feet. But there are no shooting ranges at CES. To check out TrackingPoint, we had to drive out to the hills outside of town.  

Read more ....  

My Comment: Great for snipers and soldiers in a combat zone. Great for hunters who do not want to hunt. One more worry for the US Secret Service.

GravityLight: Lighting For A Billion People

The GRAVITY-Powered Lamp That Could Bring 1.5billion People Out Of The Darkness -- Daily Mail 

* The GravityLight uses a sand-filled sack to pull a rope through a tiny generator to power an LED light
 * It's makers claim a single pull can keep the light going for up to 30 minutes
 * They hope to distribute 1,000 free to impoverished communities in India and Africa

A British company hopes to bring electric light to 1.5billion people who live off the grid with an incredible electric light that is powered by gravity.

The GravityLight uses a sack of sand to gradually pull a piece of rope through a dynamo mechanism which generates electricity to power an LED light.

A three-second pull on the rope to raise the sack will keep the LED bulb running for up to 30 minutes, its makers claim.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is just the first generation prototype .... I can only imagine what subsequent innovations will bring.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Top 50 ‘Pictures Of The Day’ For 2012

Editor: The photo gallery starts here.

Panama Canal Expansion Proceeding On Schedule

Expanded Panama Canal Sparks Race To Be Ready For Bigger 
Cargo Ships --Washington Post

PANAMA CITY — This is a story about big, and how one of the biggest construction projects in the world, the remaking of the Panama Canal, will let bigger boats sail into deeper harbors, where authorities are spending billions dredging channels, blasting tunnels and buying cranes from China the size of 14-story buildings to accommodate super-sized cargo.

All this might knock a couple of dollars off the price of a smartphone shipped from Shanghai — or alleviate poverty in Panama, where the government plans to make a fortune in tolls — or create a windfall for the ports ready to receive the big ships, such as those in Baltimore and Norfolk.  

Read more ....  

My Comment: Panama has certainly come a long way from the days of having narco thugs like Manuel Noriega running the country.

Beijing Pollution Hits An All Time High

Residents In Beijing Warned To Stay Indoors As Air Quality Hits 'Worst On Record' After City Is Engulfed By Thick Smog -- Daily Mail

* Pollution in the city rises to 30 to 45 times above recommended safety levels
* Experts warn the conditions could last another two days
* Residents warned to stay indoors as pollution is trapped by low pressure

Air quality in Beijing was the 'worst on record' over the weekend, according to environmentalists, as pollution in the city rose to 30 to 45 times above recommended safety levels.

The Chinese capital, home to around 20 million people, has been wrapped in thick smog since Friday, reducing visibility and disrupting traffic.

The city's pollution monitoring centre has warned residents to stay indoors as pollution levels rose to the worst on record, according to Greenpeace.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Beijing cancels outdoor activities, warns of hazardous air due to off-the-charts pollution -- Washington Post/AP  
Update #2: Beijing Pollution Hits Highs -- Wall Street Journal  
Update #3: On Scale of 0 to 500, Beijing’s Air Quality Tops ‘Crazy Bad’ at 755 -- New York Times  

My Comment: I first visited China in the mid 1980s .... and while I saw massive deforestation in many areas, the air quality was still OK. One of the best moments in my life was visiting a plantation in Fujian province that is responsible for growing Oolong tea. I was walking on the side of the hill and got caught in a warm monsoon rainfall. The warm rainwater, the air filled with the smell of tea, the freshness of the air .... it is an experience that describing it will not do it justice .... you have to experience it to appreciate it. But today .... if I go there ... and I get in a warm monsoon rainfall .... my primary worry will be acid rain and the need to quickly change my clothes.

Friday, January 11, 2013

51 Things You Aren't Allowed To See On Google Maps

Blurred Out: 51 Things You Aren't Allowed To See On Google Maps -- ITSecurity

Depending on which feature you use, Google Maps offers a satellite view or a street-level view of tons of locations around the world. You can look up landmarks like the Pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China, as well as more personal places, like your ex’s house. But for all of the places that Google Maps allows you to see, there are plenty of places that are off-limits. Whether it’s due to government restrictions, personal-privacy lawsuits or mistakes, Google Maps has slapped a "Prohibited" sign on the following 51 places.  

Read more ....  

My Comment: I expected a longer list.

No Aple App For Syria

There's No App For Syria -- Michael Peck

Why did Apple ban a game on the Syrian civil war?

The idea seemed laudable. Create a computer game app on the Syrian civil war that is simple enough for the general public to learn a bit about a complex conflict. Thus was born Endgame: Syria -- which puts the player in command of the Syrian rebels as they battle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad's regime. It runs on Android tablets, and it will soon be available on the Apple app store, promises British publisher Auroch Digital.  

Read more ....  

My Comment: A surprising ruling from Apple .... especially since there are scores of violent games in their app store. I guess the issue of Syria is too sensitive for some in Apple, and prefer it to be swept under the table. On a side note ..... Steve Job's biological father was Syrian.

Iran Denies Launching Cyber Attacks Against U.S. Banks

Iran Denies Cyber Attacks on US Banks -- ABC News

The Iranian government has officially denied any involvement in the wave of relatively unsophisticated cyber attacks that have struck glancing blows on websites for U.S. financial institutions over the past months. "Unlike the United States, which has, per reports in the media, given itself the license to engage in illegal cyber-warfare against Iran, Iran respects the international law and refrains from targeting other nations' economic or financial institutions," the Iranian mission to the United Nations said in a statement, according to a report published late Thursday by Iran's semi-official PressTV.  

Read more ....

More News On Reports That Iran is Launching Cyber Attacks Against U.S. Banks

Bank Hacking Was the Work of Iranians, Officials Say -- New York Times
Attacks On U.S. Banks' Websites Seen As Work Of Iran -- NPR
Iran Suspected in Bank Site Hacking -- ABC News
New wave of ‘Iranian’ cyber attack hits 20 U.S. banks -- Gant Daily
U.S. Officials Point Finger at Iran in Bank Hack -- Daily Tech
Banks' Cyber Attackers Are Sponsored by Iran, Using Cloud Computing: Report -- American Banker Iran Denies Responsibility for U.S. Bank Cyber Attacks -- FOX News
Iran denies behind cyber attacks on US banks --
Bank Attacker Iran Ties Questioned By Security Pros -- Information Week
Did Iran Attack the US Banks? -- Israel Defense
Cyberwar in Iran Comes Home to U.S. Banks. Is Anyone Surprised? -- Arik Hesseldahl, AllThingsD  How Iranian Hackers Used The Cloud To Attack Major Banks And Why It Matters -- Andrea Peterson, Think Progress

Are Rare Earth Metals The Next Oil?

The Next Oil?: Rare Earth Metals -- Elliot Brennan, The Diplomat

Rare earth metals are quickly becoming the next important strategic resource. For many countries in Asia, the stakes are big.

Rare earth metals (REM) are increasingly becoming a critical strategic resource. The 17 elements can be found in most high-tech gadgets, from advanced military technology to mobile phones. China currently holds claim to over 90 percent of the world’s production. As global demand increases, Beijing’s export reductions in recent years have forced high-tech firms to relocate to China and forced other governments to pour money into their exploration and production. An emergent India is among those concerned about China’s control of rare earths. In the past 12 months, the geopolitics of rare earths has become evident. REMs are becoming a strategic resource over which the two emerging giants are competing in Asia. Indeed, one might say rare earths are fast becoming “the next oil.”  

Read more ....  

My Comment: A good review on why rare earths play a vital role in today's modern economy .... and why they are essential to the defense industry.

Killer Whales Trapped In Arctic Ice Have Been Freed

Killer Whales Trapped In Ice Have Been Freed (VIDEO) -- Global Post 

The 11 killer whales that were trapped in ice in Quebec's Hudson Bay have been freed after a passage of water to the sea was created.

MONTREAL — The 11 killer whales that were trapped in ice in Quebec's Hudson Bay have been freed, the mayor of a nearby village said Thursday.

NBC News reported that two scouts from the nearby Inuit village of Inukjuak, on the eastern shore of the Hudson Bay, went to check on the killer whales at around 8 a.m. Thursday.

They found that a path of water had been created to the open sea (nearly 25 miles away) and that the whales were gone from their small ice hole.

Read more ....  

My Comment: Awesome video.

Drones Are Now Going Mainstream

Drones Go Mainstream -- CNN
They're coming. And they're not just for the military anymore. Dozens of companies have sprung up in the last few years making remote controlled, mini-aircraft mounted with cameras, that are increasingly being used for commercial and even entertainment purposes. But these aren't the remote controlled helicopters you remember flying as a kid. Today's drones are lighter, have better software, longer lasting batteries and vastly improved camera technology. Read more .... My Comment: Drones are not only becoming mainstream .... but they are also getting cheaper.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The EU Orders Google To Change Way It Presents It's Results

Joaquin Almunia stressed that he was more concerned with the way that Google presents its results, rather than the complex codes at their heart Photo: Bloomberg News 

Brussels Orders Google To Change Way It Presents Results -- The Telegraph  

Google will be forced to change the way it presents search results in Europe or face sanctions from Brussels for unfairly manipulating its position as the world’s biggest internet search engine.

The European Union’s competition chief, Joaquin Almunia, told a newspaper that it is his “conviction” that Google is unfairly promoting links to its own services above those of third party companies, and that he fears it is abusing its dominant position.

Google has been locked in a long-running row over whether it has changed its search results to give preferential treatment to links to its own services, at the expense of those from competitors.

Read more ....

My Comment: So EU bureaucrats are telling the world's number one search engine on how to it business .... this is not going to end well.

Car Keys Will Soon Be A Thing Of The Past


Your Smartphone Will Replace Your Car Keys By 2015 -- Autopia/Wired 

Your smartphone has the potential to replace nearly everything else in your pockets, so why not your car keys?

Hyundai is working to do just that, with an embedded NFC tag that allows you to open your car, start the engine and link up to the touchscreen with a simple swipe.

Hyundai outfitted its i30 compact hatch (aka the Elantra in the States) with NFC technology in its “Connectivity Concept” recently shown at its European headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. The idea is simple: Nix the key fob and let your smartphone handle it all.

Read more ....  

My Comment: What happens if you do not have a smartphone?

Central Park As You've Never Seen It Before

The incredible Manhattan panorama that won creator Sergey Semenov of Russia a prestigious prize 

Central Park As You've Never Seen It Before: The Incredible Interactive Panorama That Lets You Fly Through Manhattan From Your Sofa -- Daily Mail 

* Unique image was created from panoramic pictures of New York electronically stitched together
* Sergey Semenov, the Russian amateur photographer who created it, this week won a major photography prize for the incredible image
* Image is just one of several incredible panoramic images to triumph at the Pano Awards for panoramic photography

It is an astonishing view of Manhattan, showing Central Park and its surrounding skyscrapers from a unique perspective.

The astonishing image, which has just won a prestigious photography award, was created from a 360-degree panorama that lets you tour one of the world's most impressive cities and zoom into tiny detail - all from the comfort of your computer.

The breathtaking image and its accompanying panorama was created by Sergey Semenov of Russia.

Read more ....

My Comment: Yup .... it is a view of Central park that i have never sen before.

Steve Jobs Memorial Unveiled In Russia

Steve Jobs Memorial Unveiled In Russia. © RIA Novosti. Igor Russak 

 Steve Jobs Memorial Unveiled In Russia -- RIA Novosti 

MOSCOW, January 9 (RIA Novosti) – A memorial to world renowned tech innovator and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was unveiled in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

The monument, a giant replica of a black, late model iPhone with a screen that displays a photo and video slideshow of Jobs’ life, is located in the courtyard of the St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics.

Read more ....

My Comment: His impact was definitely worldwide.

Snow In The Middle East (Photo Gallery)

From Foreign Policy: Snow in the Desert -- From Turkey to Jordan, heavy overnight snowfall Thursday jammed transportation, closed businesses, and made life more difficult for thousands in refugee camps around the Middle East. The wacky weather provided a surreal backdrop for everything from snowball fights to clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers. The Photo Gallery starts here.  

My Comment: I live in Canada, and right now there is a 4 foot snowdrift in front of my window. I know how beautiful a snowfall is .... but it must be an awesome sight in a place like Jerusalem. On a side note .... for all those who are now refugees and living in camps .... this extreme cold and snow conditions are certainly not an awesome experience.

Deliveries Of The Long Anticipated Pagani Huayra Are Finally Beginning


Here's Why Car Nuts Are Lining Up To Spend $1.2 Million On Pagani's New Supercar -- Business Insider

Deliveries of the the long anticipated Pagani Huayra are finally beginning, and car lovers are thrilled, even if they are not among the very few drivers who will get behind the wheel of the next great supercar.

The name "Huayra" comes from the Incan term for "God of the Winds," and Horacio Pagani, the carmaker Car & Driver called a "maniacally obsessed perfectionist," says it was inspired by a jet barreling down the runway just before taking off.

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My Comment: It looks different and unique .... but $1.2 million?

Token Change For 'Monopoly'

Photo: Hasbro

Token Change For 'Monopoly' To Replace An Iconic Piece -- USA 

Today Fans can vote in Hasbro's campaign for the shape they want to keep and for a replacement.

One of the iconic Monopoly game tokens soon will no longer be passing "GO!" or collecting $200.

Hasbro has launched a "Save Your Token" campaign to retire either the race car, iron, Scottie dog, wheelbarrow, shoe, top hat, thimble or battleship. The company is letting fans vote until Feb. 5 for the one they want to keep via the Monopoly Facebook page.

The one with the lowest total goes directly — and permanently — to jail. Fans also can vote for the replacement token: toy robot, helicopter, cat, guitar or diamond ring.

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My Comment: You do not change something that has been going on successfully for years. I guess Monopoly wants feedback from it's fans and a little buzz.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Entire Dark Knight Movie Trilogy In Three Minutes (Video)

Video: Watch The Entire Dark Knight Movie Trilogy In Three Minutes -- Wired 

Director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, which concluded last summer with The Dark Knight Rises, is probably one of the most well-executed comic book hero franchises in recent memory. So good, in fact, that every now and then it’s nice just to have a little taste – even when there isn’t time to watch all three flicks back to back.

 Luckily, the folks at Screen Rant have done us all a solid and crammed all of the best moments from the three films into one three-minute clip (above) for those who need a Bat-fix, even when there isn’t a lot of Bat-time. Three movies. Three minutes. One great way to bask in the world of Bruce Wayne.

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My Comment: Hmmm .... makes me want to watch all three films tonight.

Nearly Half Of All Global Food Is Wasted

Image Credit: 

Nearly Half Of All Food Is Wasted, Accounting For More Than 2 Billion Tons Annually -- Red Orbit

As the global population continues to grow at an astounding rate, and as food stocks continue to dwindle due to a number of factors, more and more people around the world will be left with less food on their plate. And when you tie in an unsettling report on food waste, the issue becomes all too surreal.

A new report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) states that as much as half of the world’s food supply (more than 2 billion tons) is wasted each year. The bulk of this waste is being caused by poor storage, strict sell-by guidelines, bulk offers and consumer finickiness, according to the report.

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My Comment: Spoilage is a fact when it comes to food .... it will always go to waste.

The World's Population Growth Is Shrinking

About That Overpopulation Problem -- Slate

Research suggests we may actually face a declining world population in the coming years. The world’s seemingly relentless march toward overpopulation achieved a notable milestone in 2012: Somewhere on the planet, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the 7 billionth living person came into existence.

Lucky No. 7,000,000,000 probably celebrated his or her birthday sometime in March and added to a population that’s already stressing the planet’s limited supplies of food, energy, and clean water. Should this trend continue, as the Los Angeles Times noted in a five-part series marking the occasion, by midcentury, “living conditions are likely to be bleak for much of humanity.”  

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WNU Editor: For more info on the world's population growth, go here.

Humanoid Robot Pictured On Space Station

Humanoid Robot Pictured On International Space Station -- The Telegraph 

With his upright posture and shiny gold helmet, this space robot looks more suited to the set of Star Wars than the International Space Station. But the C3PO lookalike, the first humanoid robot in space, has spent almost two years orbiting the Earth while learning to perform tasks which are more suited to machines than human crew members. Robonaut 2 – nicknamed R2 in a nod to the Star Wars trilogy – was launched in February 2011 on the last flight of NASA’s Discovery space shuttle.

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My Comment: Now that is impressive.

Warrior Fitness Boot Camp (W.F.B.C.)

Finding My Inner Warrior, Military-Style -- Vanity Fair

I’ll never forget the first time I walked into Warrior Fitness Boot Camp (W.F.B.C.) to take my trial class. I had arrived 15 minutes before class to sign in and change—a time I assumed would make me one of the first people to arrive (my class began bright and early at 6:30 a.m.), but I immediately saw that I was mistaken. The majority of the class had long since arrived and had changed into workout gear. Sitting on benches across the room in matching black T-shirts emblazoned with the Boot Camp logo, I thought to myself, What have I done? The next hour was one of the most physically and mentally demanding things I’d done since moving to New York, but at the end of it I immediately signed up for a three-month unlimited package of classes.  

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My Comment: Ouch .... but it looks like a great workout.

First Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea Cases Detected In The U.S.

Gonorrhea infects close to 700,000 Americans each year. 

First Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea Cases Detected In North America -- US News and World Report

Completely incurable gonorrhea may be at hand. 

The fears of major health organizations have come true: Gonorrhea that is immune to the last remaining effective oral antibiotic has been detected in at least nine North American patients, meaning the era of "incurable" gonorrhea could be close.

In a study released Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a group of scientists led by Vanessa Allen of Public Health Ontario, found that 6.7 percent of patients with gonorrhea at a Toronto clinic still had the disease after a round of cephalosporins, the last effective oral antibiotic used to treat the disease. Of 133 patients who returned for a "test of cure" visit, nine remained gonorrhea-positive. This is the first time cephalosporin-resistant gonorrhea has been found in humans in North America.

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My Comment: This is the nightmare scenario.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Brain Surgery For Drug Addicts

Chinese surgeons are performing the procedure at a rate critics call "alarming". [Image Source: Xinhua] 

Chinese Doctors Experiment With Controversial Brain Surgery for Drug Addicts -- Daily Tech 

Procedure involves drilling into patient's skull, destroying parts of their pleasure center

 The Chinese medical community is testing a bleeding edge brain surgery procedure that is equal parts controversial and intriguing. While the procedure -- designed to treat drug addiction -- draws some comparisons to archaic therapies, it leverages modern neuroscience to carefully target the neural circuits involved in addiction and destroy them.

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My Comment: You have to be desperate to agree to this.

An App For Curbing Wine Habits

 Photo: prayitno/Flickr

Curbing The Wine Habits Of Scotland’s Women: Yes, There’s An App For That -- Wired 

Scottish health officials are banking on an Android app and the human tendency toward vanity to help reduce the incidence of alcohol-related illnesses and deaths among Scottish women. On Tuesday the office of the Scottish health secretary launched a free Android app, called Drinking Mirror, which shows women just how much older they’ll look in 10 years if they toss back 10 glasses of wine per week.

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My Comment: An app that illustrates wine making you age .... I am skeptical.

Earth-Sized Planets 'Number 17bn' In Our Galaxy

This artist's rendering shows the different types of planets in the Milky Way detected by Nasa's Kepler spacecraft 

Kepler Telescope: Earth-Sized Planets 'Number 17bn' -- BBC 

Astronomers say that one in six stars hosts an Earth-sized planet in a close orbit - suggesting a total of 17 billion such planets in our galaxy.

The result comes from an analysis of planet candidates gathered by Nasa's Kepler space observatory.

The Kepler scientists also announced 461 new planet candidates, bringing the satellites' total haul to 2,740.

Their findings were announced at the 221st meeting of the American Astronomical Society in California.

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My Comment: That's a lot of earth-sized planets .... kinda puts everything into perspective.

It's Hot In Australia

Hot Hot Heat Australian Bureau of Meteorology 

Official Australian Weather Map Gets New Colors To Depict Extreme Heat -- 

Record-breaking temperatures require a meteorological redesign. It's going to be a rough week in Australia, where the weather service had to add new colors to their climate map in preparation for an extreme heat forecast.

The Bureau of Meteorology recently added pink and purple areas to its maps to make room for higher temperatures. On the map issued for next Monday, Central Australia gets the dubious distinction of being the first region shown in purple, meaning temperatures are likely to rise above 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).

This last Monday was the country's hottest day on record nationwide, with average maximum temperatures around the country of 40.33 degrees, and officials expect more to come. The new pink code is reserved for temperatures from 52 to 54 degrees Celsius, more than 125 degrees Fahreinheit.

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My Comment: Yup .... it is definitely summer in Australia right now.

Coming Soon To The Defense Department: Android-Based Smart Phones And Tablets Capable Of Handling Classified Information

The Pentagon Is Expanding Its Smartphone For Spies Program -- Foreign Policy

While the rest of the DC press corps is talking about Chuck Hagel's qualifications to be the next defense secretary, Killer Apps is lucky enough to be writing about smart phones. Secret smart phones, that is.

That's right, the National Security Agency and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) are set to expand the program that gives government officials Android-based smart phones and tablets capable of handling classified information.  

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My Comment: The Pentagon is so far behind the curve on this one .... but at least they are catching up.

Sleep Disorders Detected In Manned Mars Mission Simulation

Fake Mission To Mars Leaves Astronauts Spaced Out -- The Guardian 

Trip to Mars in pretend spaceship on Moscow industrial estate affects sleep, activity levels and motivation of six-man crew 

As the cheerless skies and grim economy sap all will to return to work, take heart that even on a trip to Mars, it is hard to get out of bed in the morning.

The drudge of interplanetary travel has emerged from research on six men who joined the longest simulated space mission ever: a 17-month round trip to the red planet in a pretend spaceship housed at a Moscow industrial estate.

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More News On The 'Fake Mission' To Mars  

17-month mock Mars mission turns up down-to-Earth sleep problem -- NBC
Astronauts on Mars Mission May Be Exhausted on Arrival -- Bloomberg
Sleep problems could jeopardise future missions to Mars -- BBC
Astronauts on Long Space Missions Will Need Earth-like Sleep Habits -- Voice of America
Sleep Disorders Detected in Manned Mars Mission Simulation -- US News and World Report

Monday, January 7, 2013

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Lab Removes Suspicious Chinese Tech From Their Computers

Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory)

Exclusive: U.S. Nuclear Lab Removes Chinese Tech Over Security Fears -- Reuters

A leading U.S. nuclear weapons laboratory recently discovered its computer systems contained some Chinese-made network switches and replaced at least two components because of national security concerns, a document shows. A letter from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, dated November 5, 2012, states that the research facility had installed devices made by H3C Technologies Co, based in Hangzhou, China, according to a copy seen by Reuters. H3C began as a joint venture between China's Huawei Technologies Co and 3Com Corp, a U.S. tech firm, and was once called Huawei-3Com. Hewlett Packard Co acquired the firm in 2010.  

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More News On Los Alomos Removing Chinese Tech because Of National Security Concerns

Huawei gear discovered, removed from U.S. nuclear lab -- ZDNet
Chinese computer parts replaced at U.S. nuke lab -- CBS
A U.S. Nuclear Lab Removed Chinese Tech Due to a National Security Risk -- Gizmodo
US nuclear lab drops China-made tech – report -- Information Age
Los Alamos To Rip Out Chinese Networking Gear For Security Concerns -- CRN  

Update: Spy fears lead nuke lab to dump gear from HP unit, not Huawei -- CNet

15 Potentially Habitable Planets Discovered

Artist’s impression of the view from a moon around planet PH2b 

15 Potentially Habitable Planets Discovered by Amateur Astronomers -- Wired

Volunteers from the Planethunters website have identified 15 new habitable planet candidates among data collected by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft.

One of the 15, a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting the solar-type star KIC 12735740, has been officially confirmed as a planet (with 99.9 percent certainty).

Named PH2 b, it is the second confirmed planet to be found by, part of the Oxford University-led Zooniverse citizen science project that turns raw data over to keen amateur researchers.

The remaining 14 planet candidates are at least 90 percent likely to be planets.

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My Comment: This is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

Incredible Image From International Space Station Shows Mount Vesuvius And The Bay Of Naples

(Click on Image to Enlarge
Italy's Mount Vesuvius as never seen before, with an new image from NASA, taken from space. The mouth of the active volcano can clearly be seen in the bottom portion of the image 

Astronaut's View Of A Sleeping Giant: Incredible Image From International Space Station Shows Mount Vesuvius And The Bay Of Naples -- Daily Mail 

 NASA has released an incredible image, taken from the International Space Station, giving a new perspective on one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world - Mount Vesuvius in Italy.

The image was taken from the observatory module of the International Space Station (ISS) on New Year's Day.

The image shows just how close the active volvano is to the densely populated city of Naples.

Located 9 kilometres (5.6 miles) east of Naples, the core of the volvano can be seen in the photograph, and resembles a nipple.

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My Comment: Cool.

The Vehicle That You Need To Survive In After The World Ends

Conquest Vehicles  

15 Vehicles That Will Help You Survive After The World Ends -- Business Insider 

By some accounts, the world is going to end on Friday. It's unclear exactly what will go down, but it's not going to be pretty. If you are one of the few to make it to Saturday, staying alive in a post-Apocalyptic world will be tough. To help you prepare, we've put together a list of 15 cars and trucks that will be your best bet for survival. That means fuel-efficiency (as resources will be scarce), no electric cars (since the grid will go down), and no convertibles or motorcycles (they don't offer enough protection).

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My Comment: Taking the bus has clearly not made this list.

Here Comes The Giant 27-Inch ‘Coffee Table PC’


Lenovo to Release Giant 27-inch ‘Coffee Table PC’ -- Time/AP 

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Dismayed that family members are spread out over the house, each with a separate PC or tablet? Lenovo has something it believes will get them back together: a PC the size of a coffee table that works like a gigantic tablet and lets four people use it at once. Lenovo Group Ltd., one of the world’s largest PC makers, is calling the IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC the first “interpersonal computer” – as opposed to a “personal computer.”

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My Comment: For family games and entertainment .... I can see this being a hit.

A New Way To Look For Signs Of Life In The Cosmos Being Launched By British Astronomers

The night sky above Paranal in Chile, where NGTS will be built. In the foreground is the Very Large Telescope. Photograph: Yuri Beletsky/European Southern Observatory British Astronomers Launch Advanced Planet Search To Look For Signs Of Life -- The Guardian Robotic telescopes in Chile's Atacama desert will conduct Next Generation Transit Survey to analyse atmospheres for clues The art of hunting planets has come so far that astronomers can now list hundreds of alien worlds that orbit stars so faint they are not even visible as pinpricks in the clear night sky. Little is known of these far-flung planets. The most conspicuous are huge, the size of Jupiter, and scorched from circling so close to their suns. Others are giant iceballs, or waterworlds, or even rocky like Earth. But the finer details are a mystery, the stuff of speculation more than science. Read more .... My Comment: This is what I call exciting work.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Smartphone Sales To Hit 1bn A Year

Despite soaring sales of smartphones, research suggests one in five owners will rarely, if ever, use them to access the internet. Photograph: Lee Jae-Won/Reuters 

Smartphone Sales To Hit 1bn A Year For First Time In 2013 -- The Guardian  

Accountant Deloitte predicts the smartphone will become a mass market phenomenon and an everyday object worldwide.

The smartphone is predicted to become a mass market phenomenon this year, with annual shipments soaring to 1bn globally for the first time, although a fifth of the devices will rarely be used to go online.

In 2013 the smartphone will become an everyday object worldwide, according to a study by accountants Deloitte, bringing the number of active phones with either a touch screen or an alphabet keyboard to 2bn by the end of the year.

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My Comment: It's easy to see the day when almost everyone has a smart phone .... and the cost of communicating will be almost free.

Sunsets From Around The World

Palette of purple: From the burning red clouds of the Austrian mountains to the soft-coloured skies of Thailand, these are the sunsets of a lifetime 

Why Sunset Really Is The Most Beautiful Time Of Day: Incredible Images Of Early Evening Light From Across The World -- Daily Mail 

These stunning pictures of sunsets across the globe truly prove the old adage of 'red sky at night, shepherd's delight'.

A selection of breathtaking snaps that have captured scarlet skies, brilliant hues of lavender and rich blue wisps of cloud cannot fail to draw gasps of wonder from everyone who sees them.

The images of the jaw-dropping beauty are the product of a technician who was determined to capture sunsets from across the globe.

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My Comment: The Hawaiian sunset is my favorite.