Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Expose the Real McCain

Here is the video of John McCain's 100 years in Iraq comment.
John McCain wants to stay in Iraq for 100 years, but his lobbyist-ran campaign has and will continue to viciously attack anyone who remind the American people.

We know it -- we have it on tape to prove it -- and with your help, the American people will know it as well with our latest ad on John McCain and Iraq. -

CJr has what is says is the full quote in context:
Here’s McCain’s full quote, in context, from back in January:
Questioner: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for fifty years…McCain: Maybe a hundred. Make it one hundred. We’ve been in South Korea, we’ve been in Japan for sixty years. We’ve been in South Korea for fifty years or so. That’d be fine with me as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. Then it’s fine with me. I would hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where Al Qaeda is training, recruiting, equipping and motivating people every single day.

How does McCain propose to have a ground war where Americans are no longer being injured, harmed, wounded or killed? Is there such a plan that we are not using now which would end the killings? If so, we should switch over to that plan today! I don't think such a thing exists. If we stay in a war in Iraq, Americans will keep getting killed. Isn't Al Qaeda just an American creation? Isn't it just one small group that gets exaggerated coverage? The biggest factions are the Kerds, Sunnis,  Shia the way I understand it. There will be no Al Qaeda territory.
Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, strong Kurdish ethnic minority, secularist Sunni Muslims and others would suppress any real power bid by the fringe Sunni religious extremists of al-Qaida, al-Fayadh said. - ith

So, McCain seems to be out of touch with reality of the situation in Iraq. Or, more likely, he is going with the Neocon plan to use fear of Al Qaeda as the reason the US should have military bases in Iraq.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Iraq Oil Revenue May Top Outlook

A new U.S. government report projects Iraq's oil revenue will top a record $70 billion this year, adding fuel to a congressional push to force the Iraqi government to assume more responsibility for rebuilding the country.

"A new U.S. government report projects that Iraq's oil revenues will top $70 billion this year, adding fuel to a growing Congressional push to force Iraq's central government to assume more responsibility for rebuilding the country.")

The report from Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen, which will be released Wednesday, highlights the windfall Iraq stands to reap this year because of soaring oil prices. The cost of a barrel of Iraqi oil has increased by 250% since 2003, and Iraq earned more than $18 billion from oil sales in the first quarter of 2008, the report found.

If Iraq is able to maintain its current levels of production and exports for the entire year, its oil revenue will be double what the Iraqi government had anticipated even a few months ago. "Iraq's oil income, forecasted in 2003 to be the primary pool of capital for post-war reconstruction, now has become the chief funding source," the report found.

The report comes as lawmakers from both parties push measures designed to force Baghdad to spend more of its oil money on reconstruction. Sens. Susan Collins (R., Maine), Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) and Evan Bayh (D., Ind.) are drafting legislation requiring future U.S. reconstruction aid to Iraq to come in the form of loans, rather than grants.

"The time has come to end this blank-check policy and require the Iraqis to invest in their own future," the senators wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Rep. Ike Skelton (D., Mo.), who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday he would support efforts to restrict further U.S. aid to Iraq unless Baghdad began spending more of its oil money.

"They could put that money into reconstructing their own country," he told reporters. "There's going to have to be some sort of honest to goodness pressure like redeploying our troops and or cutting back our aid." - wsj

Interesting way to benefit from the oil riches of the country we invaded. I guess this is the punch line to Colin Powell saying a few years ago that Iraq's oil belonged to the Iraqi people. Well, it belongs to them, but they must spend it on what we say. Naw, this war in Iraqi was never about oil. Suuure.

Seen a monkey loose in your subdivision?

A pack of 15 monkeys have escaped from a wildlife facility in Polk County, sparking a massive search for the animals, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

When Fish and Wildlife spokesman Gary Morse answered his phone today, he immediately knew the topic.

"The monkey business," he said. "As far as I know, there are several teams out looking for this group of monkeys."

The monkeys, 11 adults and 4 juveniles, somehow got out of a permitted wildlife facility that belongs to Lex Salisbury, the CEO of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.

"They are his personal pets," Morse said.

Officials urge community members not to panic about the monkeys. The Polk County Sheriff's Office has sent out a reverse 911 call to alert residents who might have missed all the fuss about the escape.

The monkeys, called Patas monkeys, are harmless to humans. The monkeys natural habitat is in arid climates in Africa. They are social, but ususally docile animals who move quickly and travel in groups, Morse said.

Apparently, the monkeys jumped off their home on an island at the wildlife area and swam across a pond, something they are not supposed to be able to do, Morse said.

"They are absolutely no threat to people," Morse said.

What to do if you see the missing Patas monkeys?

Don't approach them. Call the Fish and Wildlife's hotline: 1-888-404-3922. -tb

Monday, April 28, 2008

Molten STEEL Flowed Under Ground Zero for Months After 9/11

Reports of molten steel in the foundations of the Twin Towers and Building 7 have been noted in the literature of skeptics of the offial account of the building collapses. None of the official government reports have commented on these reports, although FEMA's Report contained an appendix disclosing evidence of mysterious high temperature corrosion of steel due to a combination of oxidation and sulfidation. - 911rsrch

In response to the numerous reports of molten metal under ground zero, defenders of the official version of 9/11 have tried to argue that it was not steel, but some other kind of metal with a lower melting point.

Well, here are what top experts who eyewitnessed the molten metal say:

  • According to reporter Christopher Bollyn, MarkLoizeaux, president the world's top demolition company, and Peter Tully, head of a large construction firm, said the following:

Tully told AFP that he had seen pools of “literally molten steel” in the rubble.

Loizeaux confirmed this: “Yes, hot spots of molten steel in the basements,” he said, “at the bottom of the elevator shafts of the main towers, down seven levels.”

The molten steel was found “three, four, and five weeks later, when the rubble was being removed,” he said. He confirmed that molten steel was also found at WTC 7, which mysteriously collapsed in the late afternoon.

So, lets say there really was molten steel, what could cause that?

Thermite induced collapses would explain fires burning under water for months, but fires from jet fuel would have been extinguished.

Thermite contains its own supply of oxygen, and does not require any external source such as air. Consequently, it cannot be smothered and may ignite in any environment, given sufficient initial heat. It will burn just as well while underwater, for example, and cannot even be extinguished with water, as water sprayed on a thermite reaction will instantly be boiled into steam. [] - via wrh

Human line 'nearly split in two'

Ancient humans started down the path of evolving into two separate species before merging back into a single population, a genetic study suggests.

The genetic split in Africa resulted in distinct populations that lived in isolation for as much as 100,000 years, the scientists say.

This could have been caused by arid conditions driving a wedge between humans in eastern and southern Africa.

Details have been published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

It would be the longest period for which modern human populations have been isolated from one another. But other scientists said it was still too early to reconstruct a meaningful picture of humankind's early history in Africa. They argue that other scenarios could also account for the data. At the time of the split - some 150,000 years ago - our species, Homo sapiens, was still confined to the African continent.

The geekiest pants… ever?

Designer Erik De Nijs, has stitched together this eye catching pair of “Beauty and the Geek” jeans. These “modern shaped trousers which are often worn by youngsters..” are the perfect solution for Googling quick exits while running from the fashion police. Built into the knees are a pair of crotch rocking speakers, around the back you have the added convenience of a back pocket for your “mouse”, and for you gamers, there is a joystick controller located just behind the front zipper.


Mystery Of Ancient Supercontinent's Demise Revealed

In a paper published in Geophysical Journal International, Dr Graeme Eagles from the Earth Sciences Department at Royal Holloway, University of London, reveals how one of the largest continents ever to exist met its demise.

Gondwana was a ‘supercontinent’ that existed between 500 and 180 million years ago. For the past four decades, geologists have debated how Gondwana eventually broke up, developing a multitude of scenarios which can be loosely grouped into two schools of thought – one theory claiming the continent separated into many small plates, and a second theory claiming it broke into just a few large pieces. Dr Eagles, working with Dr Matthais König from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, has devised a new computer model showing that the supercontinent cracked into two pieces, too heavy to hold itself together.

Gondwana comprised of most of the landmasses in today’s Southern Hemisphere, including Antarctica, South America, Africa, Madagascar, Australia-New Guinea, and New Zealand, as well as Arabia and the Indian subcontinent of the Northern Hemisphere. Between around 250 and 180 million years ago, it formed part of the single supercontinent ‘Pangea’.

Evidence suggests that Gondwana began to break up at around 183 million years ago. Analysing magnetic and gravity anomaly data from some of Gondwana’s first cracking points – fracture zones in the Mozambique Basin and the Riiser-Larsen Sea off Antarctica – Dr Eagles and Dr König reconstructed the paths that each part of Gondwana took as it broke apart. The computer model reveals that the supercontinent divided into just two large, eastern and western plates. Approximately 30 million years later, these two plates started to split to form the familiar continents of today’s Southern Hemisphere.

‘You could say that the process is ongoing as Africa is currently splitting in two along the East African Rift,’ says Dr Eagles. ‘The previously held view of Gondwana initially breaking up into many different pieces was unnecessarily complicated. It gave fuel to the theory that a plume of hot mantle, about 2,000 to 3,000 kilometres wide, began the splitting process. A straight forward split takes the spotlight off plumes as active agents in the supercontinent’s breakup, because the small number of plates involved resembles the pattern of plate tectonics in the rest of Earth’s history during which plumes have played bit parts.’

According to Dr Eagles and Dr König’s study, because supercontinents like Gondwana are gravitationally unstable to begin with, and have very thick crusts in comparison to oceans, they eventually start to collapse under their own weight.  - sd

Molecular Analysis Confirms Tyrannosaurus Rex's Evolutionary Link To Birds

Putting more meat on the theory that dinosaurs' closest living relatives are modern-day birds, molecular analysis of a shred of 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex protein -- along with that of 21 modern species -- confirms that dinosaurs share common ancestry with chickens, ostriches, and to a lesser extent, alligators.

The work, published in the journal Science, represents the first use of molecular data to place a non-avian dinosaur in a phylogenetic tree that traces the evolution of species. The scientists also report that similar analysis of 160,000- to 600,000-year-old collagen protein sequences derived from mastodon bone establishes a close phylogenetic relationship between that extinct species and modern elephants.

"These results match predictions made from skeletal anatomy, providing the first molecular evidence for the evolutionary relationships of a non-avian dinosaur," says co-author Chris Organ, a postdoctoral researcher in organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University. "Even though we only had six peptides -- just 89 amino acids -- from T. rex, we were able to establish these relationships with a relatively high degree of support. With more data, we'd likely see the T. rex branch on the phylogenetic tree between alligators and chickens and ostriches, though we can't resolve this position with currently available data."

Interesting. A chicken is more like a T. rex than an alligator is.

Humans May Lose Battle With Bacteria, Medicinal Chemist's Research Shows

It may not be an ideal topic for polite conversation, but human beings are swarming with bacteria: Even the average healthy adult plays host to about 100 trillion microscopic organisms. Infection takes place when the bacteria get out of hand.

Now, a University of Kansas researcher has penned a history of the struggle between man and bacteria — and warns that humankind someday may lose its advantage.

In the March 28 issue of the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Natural Products, Lester A. Mitscher, a University Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, calls for the development of more potent antibiotics necessary for humanity to manage drug-resistant breeds of microbes.

“Antibiotics are essentially selective poisons that kill bacteria and that do not kill us,” Mitscher said.

In his article, “Coevolution: Mankind and Microbes,” Mitscher chronicles the advent of antibiotics in the 20th century. Sulfonamides, the first anti-infectives, were introduced the mid-1930s. Penicillin — “the first true antibiotic” — was employed widely during World War II. In the decades since, dozens of important antibiotics have been developed and marketed around the world.

“These were called ‘miracle drugs,’ ” said Mitscher. “Unfortunately, that had a downside. They were so relatively safe and so effective that we became careless in their use and in our personal habits. That has caused much of the resistance phenomenon we have today.”

Microbial resistance to these drugs has been an ever-increasing problem because of the speedy reproduction and evolution of microorganisms.

“Bacteria that survive the initial onslaught of antibiotics then are increasingly resistant to them,” said Mitscher. “The sensitive proportion of the bacterial population dies, but then the survivors multiply quickly — and they are less sensitive to antibiotics. The sensitivity goes all the way from requiring a longer course of therapy or a higher dose, to being totally unaffected by the antibiotic.”

Humans have overused antibiotics in areas such as agriculture, worsening the dilemma of highly resistant bacteria.

Colossal squid comes out of ice

Technicians in New Zealand have begun to thaw a rare colossal squid specimen.

The operation to defrost the 10-metre (34 feet) long, half-tonne squid began on Monday afternoon in Wellington following a postponement of 24 hours.

The animal is now sitting in a bath of salt water. Once it is thawed, scientists will begin to dissect it.

Very little is known about colossal squid, which appear to live largely in the cold Antarctic waters and can grow up to 15 metres (50 feet) long.

"They're incredibly rare - this is probably one of maybe six specimens ever brought up," said Carol Diebel, director of natural environment at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa centre.

"It's certainly the one that we're being really careful about, completely intact and in really fantastic condition."

The Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni specimen was caught in February 2007 in the Ross Sea. - bbc

Pupil Size fake outs

Take note: pupil size can tell the true story of attraction, even when people are unaware of their own attraction to another person. Check out this Dartmouth College study using functional magnetic resonance imaging of the amygdala. But watch out! Antihistamines and tricyclic antidepressants may cause mydriasis (enlarged pupils). This can cause confusion and mixes signals. In other words, the person may not really be attracted to you at all, he or she may just be on drugs.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Does the Earth's magnetic field cause suicides?

Many animals can sense the Earth's magnetic field, so why not people, asks Oleg Shumilov of the Institute of North Industrial Ecology Problems in Russia.

Shumilov looked at activity in the Earth's geomagnetic field from 1948 to 1997 and found that it grouped into three seasonal peaks every year: one from March to May, another in July and the last in October.

Surprisingly, he also found that the geomagnetism peaks matched up with peaks in the number of suicides in the northern Russian city of Kirovsk over the same period.

Shumilov acknowledges that a correlation like this does not necessarily mean there is a causal link, but he points out that there have been several other studies suggesting a link between human health and geomagnetism.

Woman Fights To Keep Nearly 150 Cats At Home

A Central Florida woman fined $150 a day for having nearly 150 cats at her home was in court Wednesday fighting to keep the animals in her so-called animal sanctuary. Kristy Grant has cared for the cats at her home in Volusia County despite being cited and complaints from her neighbors. The county fined Grant $6,700 for unlicensed cats and $150 a day since March for having the cats, Local 6 reported.

"It is frustrating, it is nerve-racking," Grant said. "It has been a long two years since I was first cited for having more than four pets on my property."Wednesday, Grant's attorney said Volusia County is in the dark when it comes to rules for cat hobbyist.Grant said she has recently installed a fence to keep her neighbors happy."I guarantee that the cats can't get out," Grant said.During a hearing, Volusia County's attorney said rules for keeping cats on property have not been defined, Local 6's Chris Trenkmann said.Grant said she hopes she is not the target for a new ordinance."Yes, that upsets me," Grant said. "I don't want to prevent anyone from doing what I do. If you want to help an animal, you should."A judge said Wednesday that he will make a ruling on case at a later date.However, he pointed out to Volusia County that it did not make sense for them to be determining rules about giving permits for cat sanctuaries if they haven't written any rules out, Trenkmann said.Grant said she has the right to have a permit to keep her cats safe. - local6

Girl's suicide leaves dozens ill from fumes

A 14-year-old Japanese girl killed herself by mixing laundry detergent with cleanser, releasing fumes that also sickened 90 people in her apartment house, police said Thursday as they grappled with a spate of similar suicides.

None of the sickened neighbors in Konan, southern Japan, was severely ill, although about 10 were hospitalized, authorities said. The deadly hydrogen sulfide gas escaped from the girl's bathroom window and entered neighboring apartments.

The girl's suicide Wednesday night was part of an expanding string of similar deaths that experts say have been encouraged by Internet suicide sites since last summer.

A 31-year-old man outside Tokyo killed himself inside a car early Thursday by mixing detergent and bath salts, police said.

These gas mask people are one of the last things you'd want to see walking up to your house.

Church custodian on trial in Italy for weeping statue hoax

.- A former church custodian accused of faking an incident where a Virgin Mary statue wept blood was put on trial in the northern Italian city of Forli’ on Friday, ANSA reports.

Police accuse Vincenzo Di Costanzo of dripping his own blood onto the face of the statue in Forli’s Santa Lucia Church in a March 2006 attempt to simulate a miracle.

Forensic experts who examined the blood found the DNA matched that of a saliva sample taken from Di Costanzo.

"This is a case of high sacrilege," said the public prosecutor Alessandro Mancini, according to ANSA.

Bill C-51 will

Via email from "David with Canadian Rights and Freedoms Advocates". Two of the links in the email were bad, but the link to the bill is real. I haven't had time to read the bill to see if it seems to really do what is claimed below.
Bill C-51 will:

* Remove democratic oversight, bypassing elected officials to vote in laws and allow bureaucrats to adopt laws from other countries without our consent.

* Remove 70% of Natural Health Products from Canadians and many others will be available by prescription only.

* Restrict research and development of safe natural alternatives in favor of high risk drugs.

* Punish Canadians with little or no opportunity for protection or recourse for simply speaking about or giving a natural product without the approval of government. More than 70% of people in Canada use a Natural Health Product. The new law goes so far as to warrant action against a person who would give another person an unapproved amount of garlic on the recommendation that it would improve that personâ's health.

Proposed New Enforcement Powers:

* Inspectors will enter private property without a warrant

* Inspectors will take your property at their discretion

* Inspectors will dispose of your property at will

* Inspectors will not reimburse you for your losses

* Inspectors will seize your bank accounts

* Inspectors will charge owners shipping and storage charges for seized property

* Inspectors will be empowered to store your property indefinitely

* Inspectors will levy fines of up to $5,000,000.00 and/or seek 2 years in jail per incident

With your assets and money under their control will you be able to defend yourself in Court?

Can you trust government with this new law and enforcement power?

Would our government really ever turn this law against us? Read the following account.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Disease That Allowed Torrents of Creativity

Image of a migraine by Anne Adams, who was drawn to structure and repetition. She had a rare disease that changes connections between parts of the brain.

If Rod Serling were alive and writing episodes for “The Twilight Zone,” odds are he would have leaped on the true story of Anne Adams, a Canadian scientist turned artist who died of a rare brain disease last year.

Trained in mathematics, chemistry and biology, Dr. Adams left her career as a teacher and bench scientist in 1986 to take care of a son who had been seriously injured in a car accident and was not expected to live. But the young man made a miraculous recovery. After seven weeks, he threw away his crutches and went back to school.

video of telepathic dog experiment | Dogs That Know

There may be something going on, but this particular experiment as explained in the video doesn't show any dog mind reading.. "Interpretation after the fact" is a major flaw which leads over and over to our own self deception. In other words, we add meaning where there is none without realizing that we are doing so. In other words, how do we know the observers of this experiment, who watched the dog after they knew when the owner was coming home, didn't just pick the one of many behaviors the dog did on camera that matched the time the woman was heading home?

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.1133205&w=425&h=350&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26] from posted with vodpod

Brazil priest carried aloft by balloons missing

A Roman Catholic priest who floated off under hundreds of helium party balloons was missing Monday off the southern coast of Brazil. Rescuers in helicopters and small fishing boats were searching off the coast of Santa Catarina state, where pieces of balloons were found.

Rev. Adelir Antonio de Carli lifted off from the port city of Paranagua on Sunday afternoon, wearing a helmet, thermal suit and a parachute. He was reported missing about eight hours later after losing contact with port authority officials, according to the treasurer of his Sao Cristovao parish, Denise Gallas.

Gallas said by telephone that the priest wanted to break a 19-hour record for the most hours flying with balloons to raise money for a spiritual rest-stop for truckers in Paranagua, Brazil's second-largest port for agricultural products.

Some American adventurers have used helium balloons to emulate Larry Walters -- who in 1982 rose three miles above Los Angeles in a lawn chair lifted by balloons.

A video of Carli posted on the G1 Web site of Globo TV showed the smiling 41-year-old priest slipping into a flight suit, being strapped to a seat attached to a huge column green, red, white and yellow balloons, and soaring into the air to the cheers of a crowd.

According to Gallas, the priest soared to an altitude of 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) then descended to about 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) for his planned flight to the city of Dourados, 465 miles (750 kilometers) northwest of his parish. But winds pushed him in another direction, and Carli was some 30 miles (50 kilometers) off the coast when he last contacted Paranagua's port authority, Gallas said.

Carli had a GPS device, a satellite phone, a buoyant chair and is an experienced skydiver, Gallas said. "We are absolutely confident he will be found alive and well, floating somewhere in the ocean," she said. "He knew what he was doing and was fully prepared for any kind of mishap." - msnbc

Bionic eye 'blindness cure hope'

A 'bionic eye' may hold the key to returning sight to people left blind by a hereditary disease, experts believe.

A team at London's Moorfields Eye Hospital have carried out the treatment on the UK's first patients as part of a clinical study into the therapy.

The artificial eye, connected to a camera on a pair of glasses, has been developed by US firm Second Sight.

It said the technique may be able to restore a basic level of vision, but experts warned it was still early days.  The trial aims to help people who have been made blind through retinitis pigmentosa, a group of inherited eye diseases that affects the retina. The disease progresses over a number of years, normally after people have been diagnosed when they are children.

It is estimated between 20,000 to 25,000 are affected in the UK.

It is not known whether the treatment has helped the two patients - both men in their fifties - to see and any success is only likely to be in the form of light and dark outlines, but doctors are optimistic. Lyndon da Cruz, the eye surgeon who carried out the operations last week, said the treatment was "exciting". "The devices were implanted successfully in both patients and they are recovering well from the operations."

Other patients across Europe and the US have also been involved in the trial. The bionic eye, known as Argus II, works via the camera which transmits a wireless signal to an ultra-thin electronic receiver and electrode panel that are implanted in the eye and attached to the retina. The electrodes stimulate the remaining retinal nerves allowing a signal to be passed along the optic nerve to the brain. David Head, chief executive of the British Retinitis Pigmentosa Society, said: "This treatment is very exciting, but it is still early days.

"There is currently no treatment for patients so this device and research into stem cells therapies offers the best hope." - bbc

Ten weirdest computers

Today's computers use pulses of electricity and flipping magnets to manipulate and store data. But information can be processed in many other, weirder, ways…
1. Optical computing

There's nothing weird about encoding data in light – global communications depend on optical fibre. But using light signals to actually process data and carry out computations is still not practical.

Optical computers are a worthwhile goal because using light could increase a computer's speed and the quantity of data it can handle. But trapping, storing and manipulating light is difficult.

Research by people like Paul Braun, at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, US, is bringing us closer to this goal. He has created 3D optical waveguides out of photonic crystals that should make possible to trap light, slow it down and bend it around sharp corners, without fear of it escaping.

Meanwhile Mikhail Lukin at Harvard University has developed what is essentially an optical version of the transistor that underlies all today's computing power. Lukin and colleagues have created a way to make a single photon from one light signal switch another light signal on and off.
2. Quantum computing

If you want to tear up all the rules of classical computing, look no further than quantum computers. Instead of using electronic bits of information that exist in either 1 or 0 states, they use quantum mechanical effects to create qubits that can be in both states at once.

Calculations show that this ability allows many parallel computations to be carried out. As the number of qubits a quantum computer increases, the data it can process increases exponentially.

That would make possible things that are unfeasible with today's computers – such as rapidly factoring extremely large numbers to crack cryptographic keys.

However, quantum computers so far have only had very small numbers of qubits using quantum dots, nuclear magnetic resonance, metal ions, and, more recently entangled pairs of photons.
3. DNA computing

DNA may be the perfect material for carrying out computations. In a sense that is precisely what it evolved to do: DNA processes data and runs programs stored in sequences of genomic base pairs, as well as coordinating proteins that process information themselves to keep organisms alive.

Man hypnotises himself before op

A hypnotist from West Sussex has undergone surgery on his right hand without a general anaesthetic.

Alex Lenkei, 61, from Worthing, chose to sedate himself by hypnosis before undergoing the 83-minute operation.

He said he was fully aware of everything going on around him during the procedure but was free from pain.

The operation at Worthing Hospital involved removing some bone in the base of the thumb and fusing some joints in an attempt to improve his arthritis.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon David Llewellyn-Clark said he was happy in agreeing to the unusual sedation on Mr Lenkei, a registered hypnotist who has been practising since the age of 16.

Mr Lenkei said Wednesday's surgery "went amazingly well".

"It took between 30 seconds to a minute for me to place myself under hypnosis, and from that point I felt a very deep relaxation.

"I was aware of everything around me, from people talking and at one stage a hammer and chisel was used as well as a surgical saw, but I felt no pain."

Throughout the operation, an anaesthetist was on standby to administer an anaesthetic if necessary.

Mr Llewellyn-Clark said he had been confident that Mr Lenkei was a skilled hypnotist and was "delighted all went well". - bbc

Man Arrested After Pumping Gas Into Imaginary Car

A Frankfort man was arrested on drug trafficking charges early Sunday morning after he was reportedly pumping gas into an imaginary vehicle. According to the arrest report, Metro Police arrived at a gas station at First and Jefferson streets in Louisville and immediately smelled marijuana coming from Joshua L. Moore, who station clerks contend was filling up an imaginary vehicle.

Officers searched Moore and found “two large baggies” of marijuana and a large amount of Ecstasy. Police said Moore also had a cell phone and a large amount of money, which they said was indicative of trafficking.

Police said that more narcotics were located on Moore when he was being booked into Metro Corrections. -wierdpost

Computer System Can Carry On Conversations With Humans By Reacting To Voice, Facial Signals

A computer system that can carry on a discussion with a human being by reacting to signals such as tone of voice and facial expression is being developed by an international team including Queen's University Belfast.

Known as SEMAINE, the project will build a Sensitive Artificial Listener (SAL) system, which will perceive a human user's facial expression, gaze, and voice and then engage with the user. When engaging with a human, the SAL will be able to adapt its own performance and pursue different actions, depending on the non-verbal behaviour of the user.

SEMAINE is led by DFKI, the German centre for research on Artificial Intelligence: the other partners are Imperial College, London, the University of Paris 8, the University of Twente in Holland, and the Technical University of Munich.

Professor Roddy Cowie, from the School of Psychology, leads the team at Queen's. He said: "A basic feature of human communication is that it is coloured by emotion. When we talk to another person, the words are carried on an undercurrent of signs that show them what attracts us, what bores us and so on. The fact that computers do not currently do this is one of the main reasons why communicating with them is so unlike interacting with a human. It is also one of the reasons we can find them so frustrating," said Professor Cowie.

"SEMAINE and projects like it will change the way people interact with technology. They mean that you will be talking to your computer in 20 years time. When you do, pause for a minute, and remember that the human sciences at Queen's helped to lay the groundwork.

"These new developments depend on connecting technology to the relevant understanding of people, and it is recognised worldwide that we have a distinctive strength in bringing psychology, linguistics and ethics to bear on the process of developing the new systems."

Professor Cowie added: "Today when we use technology we adopt a style of communication that suits the machine. Through projects like HUMAINE, SEMAINE, and others linked to them, we will develop technology that will eventually communicate in ways that suit human beings."

The European Commission awarded SEMAINE a grant of €2.75 million after it was ranked first out of 143 bids for medium-sized projects in the area of cognitive systems and robotics. - sd

Ancient Buddhist Paintings From Bamiyan Were Made Of Oil, Hundreds Of Years Before Technique Was 'Invented' In Europe

The world was in shock when in 2001 the Talibans destroyed two ancient colossal Buddha statues in the Afghan region of Bamiyan. Behind those statues, there are caves decorated with precious paintings from 5th to 9th century A.D. The caves also suffered from Taliban destruction, as well as from a severe natural environment, but today they have become the source of a major discovery. Scientists have proved, thanks to experiments performed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), that the paintings were made of oil, hundreds of years before the technique was "invented" in Europe.

In many European history and art books, oil painting is said to have started in the 15th century in Europe. But scientists from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in Tokyo (Japan), the Centre of Research and Restoration of the French Museums-CNRS (France), the Getty Conservation Institute (United States) and the ESRF have recently identified drying oils in some of the samples they studied from the Bamiyan caves. Painted in the mid-7th century A.D., the murals show scenes with Buddhas in vermilion robes sitting cross-legged amid palm leaves and mythical creatures. The scientists discovered that 12 out of the 50 caves were painted with oil painting technique, using perhaps walnut and poppy seed drying oils.

A combination of synchrotron techniques such as infrared micro-spectroscopy, micro X-ray fluorescence, micro X-ray absorption spectroscopy or micro X-ray diffraction was crucial for the outcome of the work. "On one hand, the paintings are arranged as superposition of multiple layers, which can be very thin. The micrometric beam provided by synchrotron sources was hence essential to analyze separately each of these layers. On the other hand, these paintings are made with inorganic pigments mixed in organic binders, so we needed different techniques to get the full picture" Marine Cotte, a research scientist at CNRS and an ESRF scientific collaborator explains. - sd

Scientists decode brain farts

We've all goofed up and flubbed up things we've previously done time and again.

It turns out the root of these brain farts may be a special kind of abnormal brain activity that begins up to 30 seconds before a mistake even happens.

The solution to such screw-ups could be a kind of mind-reading hat, a device to predict and even prevent mindless errors that can threaten lives.

When people blunder after performing the same task over and over, scientists had suspected that such lapses were due to momentary hiccups in concentration. Still, little was known about what the brain was actually doing before such errors.

To investigate further, the brains of volunteers were scanned as they performed a monotonous task — repetitively pushing buttons that matched images flashed at them.

Findings ‘spooked’ scientists
Unexpectedly, before volunteers made errors, their brains started displaying abnormal behavior ... up to a half-minute beforehand.

"We thought initially that it would be quite remarkable if we were to find abnormal activity six or so seconds ahead," said researcher Tom Eichele, a neuroscientist at the University of Bergen in Norway. "That the entire process spans across a much longer timescale was quite astonishing and spooked us, such that we checked this finding over and over again."

One set of brain regions that is normally active only when a person is awake and relaxed began firing up — in other words, it's as if the brain started resting. At the same time, another group of brain regions that is usually lively when a person is sustaining effort on a task began toning down. After people made and detected any mistakes, the abnormal behavior went away.

The international team of researchers suspects this abnormal behavior is the result of the brain attempting to save effort on a task. When the brain goes too far, errors occur.

"We did not find much evidence that the brain is just getting tired. However, I don't think that we understand it well enough to bet all our money yet," Eichele said.

If portable devices could detect this abnormal brain activity before an accident happened, they could save lives — say, by sounding an alert before a slip is made while driving a car or operating a piece of machinery in a factory.

The problem is the researchers scanned the brains of volunteers using functional MRI. This conventionally has patients lying down in a large tube while slowly getting probed with powerful magnetic fields and radio wave pulses — not exactly ideal helping people in everyday situations.

A mind-reading hat?
However, if such abnormal brain activity can get detected simply using electrodes on the scalp, then brain-scanning caps under development for video games and other applications might work, Eichele said. "It, at least, does not seem technically impossible," he told LiveScience.

Even if a mind-reading hat can detect this abnormal brain activity, there may be too many brain waves to decipher out any early warning signals, Eichele cautioned. "It might give out warnings all the time, which would be helpful, or not give you any warning, which is also not helpful," he said. "We have to figure out how sensitive and how specific we can go."

Eichele and his colleagues soon hope to see if electrodes on the scalp can detect these signals. "We might also take experiments into virtual reality — virtual car driving, virtual piloting — to look for these signals," he said.

The scientists detailed their findings online April 21 in the journal Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences. - msnbc

Mice Can Sense Oxygen Through Their Skin

Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered that the skin of mice can sense low levels of oxygen and regulate the production of erythropoietin, or EPO, the hormone that stimulates our bodies to produce red blood cells and allows us to adapt to high-altitude, low-oxygen environments.

Their surprising finding, published in the April 18th issue of the journal Cell, contradicts the notion of mammalian skin as an envelope around our bodies with little connection to the respiratory system.

If found to apply to humans, the discovery could radically change the way physicians treat anemia and other diseases that require boosting our bodies' ability to produce red blood cells. It also could be used to improve the performance of endurance athletes competing in this summer's Olympic Games.

"What we found in this study is really something quite unusual," said Randall Johnson, a professor of biology at UC San Diego who headed the research study. "We discovered that mammalian skin, at least in mice, responds to how much oxygen is above it and, by virtue of that response, changes blood flow through the skin. This, in turn, changes one of the most basic responses to low oxygen that we have, which is the production of erythropoietin."

Those responses, the researchers suspect, could be ancient traits retained as mammals evolved from lower forms of vertebrates, such as amphibians, that possess the same sorts of ion channels to promote oxygen diffusion in their extremely permeable skins as mammals have in their lungs.

Stephen Hawking: Alien but primitive life likely

Famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has been thinking a lot about the cosmic question, "Are we alone?" The answer is probably not, he says.

If there is life elsewhere in the universe, Hawking asks why haven't we stumbled onto some alien broadcasts in space, maybe something like "alien quiz shows?"

Hawking's comments were part of a lecture at George Washington University on Monday in honor of NASA's 50th anniversary. He theorized that there are possible answers to whether there is extraterrestrial life. One option is that there likely isn't life elsewhere. Or maybe there is intelligent life elsewhere, but when it gets smart enough to send signals into space, it also is smart enough to make destructive nuclear weapons.

Hawking said he prefers the third option:

"Primitive life is very common and intelligent life is fairly rare," he then quickly added: "Some would say it has yet to occur on earth."

So should you worry about aliens? Alien abduction claims come from "weirdos" and are unlikely. However, because alien life might not have DNA like us, Hawking warned: "Watch out if you would meet an alien. You could be infected with a disease with which you have no resistance."

The 66-year-old British cosmologist, who suffers from ALS and must speak through a mechanical device, believes "if the human race is to continue for another million years, we will have to boldly go where no one has gone before." Hawking compared people who don't want to spend money on human space exploration to those who opposed the journey of Christopher Columbus in 1492.

"The discovery of the New World made a profound difference to the old. Just think we wouldn't have had a Big Mac or KFC." - msnbc

UFO on radar causes scare on PM's flight

An unidentified blip on the radar of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) in Delhi caused a scare, leading to a delay in the landing of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special aircraft at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on Tuesday evening.

The Airport Authority of India (AAI) has begun an enquiry into the incident, which led the ATC officers to ask the pilot of the Prime Minister’s aircraft to hover over the airport for about 15 minutes, sources said.

As the PM’s flight, which was coming from Ranchi neared the Delhi airport, the ATC identified a blip on the radar which appeared to be chasing the PM’s flight. Concerned over this, the ATC directed the flight to hover over for 15 minutes before allowing it to land on Runway 28 at the IGI.

Secretary in Civil Aviation Ministry, Ashok Chawla, said the PM’s aircraft landed safely after sometime and AAI was assessing the situation. “Nothing has been established as to what the blip in the radar was,” a ministry spokesperson said.

Asked as to what this blip could mean, AAI sources said that it could be an aircraft carrying a transponder on board which could be connected to the secondary radars on ground. However, the sources said this was not possible as it did not have a call sign, which any aircraft would have. - hindu

Police in southern Russia say house stealing 'normal practice'

A villager in south Russia's Astrakhan Region has been detained on suspicion of stealing his neighbor's house, which is common practice in remote areas, a local police spokesman said Monday.

The spokesman said the hapless house owner, who had been away for four months, reported the theft to police after he returned home to find his house gone and just the foundations remaining.

"A local resident decided that if no one was living in the house, it could be taken away piece by piece, and he dismantled it for construction materials and put them inside his yard," the police spokesman said, adding the suspect faced a maximum of three years in prison, if found guilty.

The spokesman said that this was not the first case reported recently.

"This is traditional practice in remote villages - when no one is home for a long time, the house starts falling to pieces because locals take pieces. We don't even know about the majority of cases, but sometimes the owners report them," he said. - ru

Cat seeker beat up by blind homeowner

A blind homeowner used the wrestling skills he learned more than 30 years ago to overpower an intruder and hold the man at knifepoint until police arrived this morning.

“I just kind of panicked and just kind of went crazy after that,” Allan Kieta said. “I’ve wrestled all my life. My dad’s a Marine; he taught me some stuff. You’re thinking in your head all this survival stuff.”

An Indianapolis police official called it one of the most incredible tales of citizen self-defense that he’s heard in years.

“It’s pretty remarkable for anyone that’s blind to be able to defend themselves, let alone make an apprehension,” Lt. Jeff Duhamell said. “To be able to grab this guy and hold him down until police got there is pretty remarkable.” Kieta is typically at work on Mondays but had taken the day off from his job with the federal government. So he was home when a man entered his Eastside residence in the 3100 block of Richardt Avenue about 9 a.m.

“We have a little poodle-like dog. It was barking and barking,” Kieta said. “I opened the door and just ran into him.” Kieta, 49, who is legally blind, said he was the Kentucky high school wrestling champ for the 145-pound division in 1976. He used his skills and other self-defense tactics learned from his father to subdue the intruder.

“I had him pinned in the laundry room and just kept pummeling,” Kieta said, describing the pounding he gave the 25-year-old arrested by police. Kieta punched, kicked and grappled until the suspect became disoriented. Kieta said he grabbed him by the belt and dragged him into the kitchen. Kieta then found a kitchen knife and held it at the man’s throat.

Kieta fumbled to dial 911 with his other hand. “Being visually impaired, I couldn’t get the buttons because I was using my left hand,” he said. “It took me about 20 tries.”

Police arrived minutes after dispatchers received the call at 9:47 a.m. Alvaro Castro, 25, was arrested on an initial charge of residential entry, Sgt. Matthew Mount said. Police say Castro denied trying to burglarize the home. He said he was the ex-boyfriend of Kieta’s 18-year-old daughter and said he was trying to visit her when he ran into her father, Mount said.

Kieta said Castro also told him he was looking for his cat.

“I go, ’Your cat? You’re in my house!”’ Kieta recalled. Castro was held at Wishard Memorial Hospital's secure detention facility, then transferred to the Marion County Jail late Monday night. Kieta said he suffered swollen hands and a sore back, but no serious injuries.

“When my wife was cleaning the blood off, she said ‘I think it’s all his,’.” Kieta said. -indystar

Over 50 girls succumb to 'hysteria'

More than 50 school children underwent hospital treatment Friday after developing what educators called mass hysteria, marked by fainting and screaming. Firefighters immediately shut down Dakar’s Lamine Gueye Secondary School and Senegal Minister of Education Moustapha Sourang ordered an investigation.

“It’s the first time that I have seen such a phenomenon,” Sourang said.

Fifty-three teenage girls and two boys were treated at the capital’s main hospital, said principal Adina Aidara.

“The phenomenon started in one of the classrooms,” Aidara said. “Three students, all girls, fell down. The same phenomenon was repeated 30 minutes later during recess.”

Worried parents fussed over their daughters at the hospital, and some allowed their girls to be interviewed on condition that their name not be published.

A 15-year-old girl said that she was in the middle of chatting with a friend. “Suddenly I had a horrible headache. It hurt so much that I started screaming. And then I fainted. From that moment on, I no longer knew where I was,” she said.

Doctors didn’t immediately provide a medical diagnosis, and rumors began circulating in the city linking the incident to supernatural involvement.

Chief hospital psychiatrist Ababacar Wilane tried to put it into perspective, saying many of the students were “probably caught up in the moment and succumbed to a kind of domino effect” when they saw the others fainting and screaming. - canoe

No sex for all-girl fish species

A fish species, which is all female, has survived for 70,000 years without reproducing sexually, experts believe.

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh think the Amazon Molly may be employing special genetic survival "tricks" to avoid becoming extinct.

The species, found in Texas and Mexico, interacts with males of other species to trigger its reproduction process.

The offspring are clones of their mother and do not inherit any of the male's DNA.  Typically, when creatures reproduce asexually, harmful changes creep into their genes over many generations. The species will eventually have problems reproducing and can often fall victim to extinction.

Scientists at Edinburgh University have been studying complex mathematical models on a highly powerful computing system to look at the case of the Amazon Molly. Researchers calculated the time to extinction for the fish based on modelling genetic changes over many thousands of generations.

They are now able to say conclusively, for the first time, the fish ought to have become extinct within the past 70,000 years, based on the current simple models. Scientists believe the fish, which are still thriving in rivers in south-east Texas and north-east Mexico, are using special genetic survival "tricks" to help them stay alive.

Scientists offered $1 million to grow laboratory chicken

An animal rights group is offering $1 million to any scientist who can create lab-grown meat that is commercially viable and indistinguishable in taste from the real thing.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said the money would go to the first scientist who could create and market such a meat by the summer of 2012. The group said the scientist had to be able to produce the meat in large enough quantity so it could be sold in 10 U.S. states -- at a price competitive to the prevailing chicken price.

Further, the meat had to have "taste and texture indistinguishable from real chicken flesh to non-meat eaters and meat eaters alike."

A taste-test panel would determine if the lab-produced meat fitted the criteria.

The group said research had already begun to produce in vitro meat -- that is, meat created from animal stem cells placed in a medium to grow
However, the group said in a statement on its Web site: "We're still several years away from having in vitro meat be available to the general public."

PETA said it was supporting the endeavor because more than 40 billion chicken, fish, pigs and cows were killed every year for food in the United States in "horrific ways."

"Chickens are drugged to grow so large they often become crippled, mother pigs are confined to metal cages so small they can't move, and fish are hacked apart while still conscious -- all to feed America's meat addiction," it said. "In vitro meat would spare animals from this suffering." - cnn

New Prosthetic Hand So Nimble an Amputee Can Type

A new prosthetic hand uses individually movable fingers to hold a credit card, use a keyboard and lift a heavy bag.

Researchers bill it as the world's first commercially available prosthetic hand that can move each finger separately. The i-LIMB, made by the Scottish company Touch Bionics, is being tested at the Orthopedic University Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany.

The hydraulic hand went on sale in Britain last year for about $17,500 and is being used by a small number of people. The company began operations in the United States earlier this year and plans to make the device more widely available.

Unlike similar models that allowed gripping with just the thumb and one or two fingers, the i-LIMB allows a user to grab something with all five. It also feels softer and more natural than the typically hard prosthetics of old, its maker says.

Flexible hydraulic drives are located directly in the movable finger joints, and the prosthetic hand gives feedback to the user's stump, enabling the amputee to sense the strength of the grip.

On the company's Web site are testimonials from a select few who have gotten an i-LIMB. Among them is 27-year-old retired U.S. Army Sgt. Juan Arredondo, whose hand was severed below the elbow by an explosive device in Iraq.

"I can pick up a Styrofoam cup without crushing it," said Sgt. Arredondo. "With my other myoelectric hand, I would really have to concentrate on how much pressure I was putting on the cup. The i-LIMB hand does things naturally. I can just grab the cup like a regular person."

The company is looking for a company to make the devices on a production scale. Meanwhile, it's also being tested by 18-year-old Soren Wolf, who was born with only one hand. Wolf is said to be enthusiastic about the device's capabilities, according to a statement issued today by Orthopedic University Hospital. - livesci

Congo lynch mobs attack penis-snatching sorcerers

Police in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this week cuffed for their own protection 13 "suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises", Reuters reports.

The arrests come after a "wave of panic" swept the capital Kinshasa last week, provoked by rumours that the unwary might be relieved of their todgers, and fuelled by radio reports advising listeners to "beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings".

The cops also detained 14 "victims" of the spam-javelin lifters, who claimed that sorcerers "simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear" - apparently in an attempt "to extort cash with the promise of a cure", according to some locals.

The mass round-up was an attempt by the authorities to prevent further attempted lynchings of alleged sorcerers. Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters: "You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We've had a number of attempted lynchings. You see them covered in marks after being beaten."

He added: "I'm tempted to say it's one huge joke. But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent. To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it?'"

The threat of being left without a manhood is not taken lightly in West Africa, and a decade ago 12 "suspected penis snatchers" were beaten to death by angry mobs in Ghana. - register

Recent video by Thelovelylifeguard on Photobucket

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

US Life Expectancy Falls for Large Segment of Population

While life expectancy in the United States has risen steadily since the 1960s, a new study [published Tuesday] finds that in certain geographic areas of the country, life expectancy has stagnated, and even declined, especially among women.

From 1960 to 2000, life expectancy in the United States rose by seven years for men and six years for women. However, beginning in the 1980s, large geographic disparities began to appear.

Monday, April 21, 2008

My World Politics in a Nutshell

For those new to this site, here is what I believe.

I believe the world is running out of major oil deposits. Food prices are already going up, because making food requires oil. We face mass starvation when the oil runs out and as we try to turn food into energy. Knowing this before 9/11/2001, they first tried to tell people the truth, then Cheney had Bush take a long vacation where, based on PNAC recommendations, they planned the attacks 9/11 as a pretext to invade Afghanistan to build a pipeline to get the oil and natural gas out of the Caspian Sea basin and as a reason to invade Iraq to control its oil. Iraq has the 2nd largest proven oil reserves in the world. I believe they had to lie to the world because telling the truth would set off World War III for the last remaining oil. This is why they believe they will be vindicated by history and why they invented the terrorism deception. Obesity is more deadly than terrorism.

I do not agree with these decisions, but I believe they see themselves as heroes, saving many millions of Americans from starvation in a few years by their actions now. I see a better way, which is why I marched in the largest anti-war protest in the history of the country years ago. We should have spent the 3 trillion dollars this war is costing on developing alternative energy and converting to a new way of life. I've read that solar panels across the Sahara could provide the Earth with clean energy. Bacteria can produce hydrogen. And there are technologies to turn landfills into energy. Let's do that now.

Is it interesting to me in 2008 to go back and see what I was thinking in 2003 about the war.

As always, if you are certain I am wrong about any of this, let me know why.

Defense Chief Advises Cadets on Disagreeing with Leaders

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Monday urged the next generation of commanders to “tell blunt truths” to their military and civilian leaders — but he also cautioned them to air their “respectful dissent” only through official channels.

Addressing one of the most sensitive issues in the tradition of civilian control of the military, Mr. Gates said differing opinions among officers should be viewed as a sign of health in the armed forces and that young officers must be able to trust that their military and civilian bosses would not penalize those who offered honest disagreements.

But in speeches to cadets here and to the Air War College in Alabama earlier in the day, Mr. Gates coupled his invitation to be candid with an equally clear warning. He said the armed services must not try “end runs” around the Pentagon or the White House by lobbying Congress when they disagreed with decisions to curtail or cancel high-cost weapons. Mr. Gates referred only obliquely to the fact that some senior military advisers to President Bush and the former defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, have been criticized as being overly compliant in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Instead, Mr. Gates took a longer view, saying tension in civilian-military relations had arisen from Korea to Vietnam to Somalia to Iraq today — all conflicts that he said were “frustrating, controversial efforts for the American public and for the U.S. armed forces.”

“Each conflict prompted debates over whether senior military officers were being too deferential or not deferential enough to civilians, and whether civilians in turn were either too receptive, or not receptive enough to military advice,” Mr. Gates told West Point cadets. “Then, as now, the American people relied on the candor and credibility of military leaders in order to judge how well a campaign is going, and whether the effort should continue.”

Mr. Gates left his Pentagon office overlooking the Potomac River for the commanding view of the Hudson River offered by the United States Military Academy, where he answered questions in a class on advanced national security issues and delivered an evening address to more than 4,000 cadets.

“If as an officer you don’t tell blunt truths — or create an environment where candor is encouraged — then you’ve done yourself and the institution a disservice,” Mr. Gates said. - nytimes

5.2 Earthquake Rocks Midwest, 16 States

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.1123176&w=425&h=350&fv=] from posted with vodpod

Florida woman survives gunshot between the eyes

April 18: A woman who survived a gunshot between the eyes fired by an irate driver in Tampa, Fla., says it’s a “miracle” that she only needed stitches for her injury. NBC’s Martin Savidge reports.

Emergency room doctors apologized to the 42-year-old woman who had come in for treatment for staring at her in disbelief. It wasn’t every day — in fact, it was never — that they saw somebody with a large-caliber gunshot wound between the eyes who not only was alive, but wasn’t even unconscious or seriously injured.

Call it Marie’s Miracle. As reported for TODAY by NBC’s Martin Savidge, it happened late last Saturday night, when Marie, who does not want to reveal her last name for fear of retaliation, her boyfriend and her 22-year-old daughter were driving through Tampa on their way home to Riverview, Fla., after a night out.

“We had a nice night out to the movies, got something to eat, were just rolling down the road,” she said.

As they were driving on 50th Street in Tampa, a white Nissan Sentra with two people inside and a gray Nissan Altima carrying four people pulled up alongside the truck in which the trio were driving. When they stopped at a traffic light, the occupants of the two cars started yelling at them, shouting obscenities and gesturing with their hands. Then a man got out of the Sentra and another left the Altima and started yelling at Marie’s boyfriend, who had rolled down his window to find out what the problem was.

The light turned green, the men got back into their cars, and all three vehicles continued on their way. There are three lanes of traffic in each direction on the street, and the two cars got on either side of the truck.

“They were shifting lanes, and trying to box us in and trying to run into the side of the truck,” Marie said. They also continued yelling obscenities, and one man in the Sentra looked at Marie and told her he was going to kill her.

At the next light, the driver of the Sentra attempted to pay off on his promise. Horrified, Marie saw him stand up on the seat and rise through the car’s open sunroof.

“I seen him rise out of the sunroof like in the movies, and he pulled his gun up and turned it and I heard it fire,” she said.

The two cars sped away, and police are still attempting to track down the assailants.

Police investigators would theorize that the man fired three shots from a gun that they believe was a .44-caliber handgun. One of the bullets struck Marie directly between the eyes.

It should have killed her. Instead, the bullet shattered into three pieces against her skull. The fragments ran under her skin, exited through her cheek on one side of her head and near her ear on the other.

At first, she didn’t know she’d been hit. Then she realized blood was pouring from her head.

“I thought I was gonna, was gonna die, but I stayed conscious,” she said.

Her boyfriend pulled into a convenience store parking lot while her daughter called 911. An EMS crew quickly arrived to transport her to Tampa General Hospital, where Dr. Brad Peckler was one of the first to see her.

“I saw her being wheeled in, and was a little surprised that she was just sitting up and talking,” Peckler said.

When she was examined, doctors determined that all she needed was some stitches. When they were done sewing her up, they sent her on her way. She walked out of the hospital.

Said her boyfriend, “I was able to walk her out of the ER and tell her she should buy a lottery ticket.” - msnbc

Video here.

World's smallest transistor is the size of a molecule

Scientists have created the world's smallest transistor, one little bigger than a single molecule.

The feat marks a milestone in efforts to lay the foundations of the next generation of computers when conventional silicon based microchip technology runs out of steam.

A team in Manchester last year announced that it had created transistors that measured 50 atoms across. Now they have slashed the size of the transistors to just 10 atoms, marking the first true electronic nanocomponent, where a nanometre is one billionth of a metre, and a single human hair is 100,000 nanometres across.

The University of Manchester team led by Prof Andre Geim has been fashioning the transistors from the world's thinnest material, called graphene, consisting of carbon atoms a single layer thick, arranged in a hexagonal pattern like that seen in chicken wire.

Working with Dr Kostya Novoselov, he believes that the world's smallest transistor, described in the journal Science, could spark the development of super-fast computer chips.

In recent decades, manufacturers have crammed more components on to microchips, with the number of transistors per unit area doubling every two years. This has become known as Moore's Law.

But the speed of cramming is now noticeably decreasing, and further miniaturisation of electronics is to experience its most fundamental challenge in the next 10 to 20 years, according to the semiconductor industry road map. The problem is that at the nanoscale, materials like silicon react with oxygen, changing their properties, moving ("like water droplets on a hot plate", as Prof Geim puts it) and decomposing.

Graphene has unusual electrical properties and behaves as if the electrical current is not carried by normal electrons but by charged particles with no mass at all. Graphene brings scientists close to making so called ballistic transistors - ultimately faster than any current technology because electrons shoot through them without colliding with component atoms.

Transistors made of graphene start showing advantages at sizes below 10 nanometres - the miniaturisation limit at which traditional silicon based technology is predicted to fail.

Prof Geim does not expect graphene-based circuits to come of age before 2025 but argues this technology will probably be the only viable way to shrink microelectronics after the silicon era comes to an end. "It is too early to promise graphene supercomputers," he says.

"In our work, we relied on chance when making such small transistors. Unfortunately, no existing technology allows the cutting of materials with true nanometre precision. But this is exactly the same challenge that all post-silicon electronics has to face. At least we now have a material that can meet such a challenge."

"Graphene is an exciting new material with unusual properties that are promising for nanoelectronics", comments Prof Bob Westervelt, of Harvard University. "The future should be very interesting". - tel

Neanderthals speak again after 30,000 years, sound like frogs.

Neanderthals have spoken out for the first time in 30,000 years, with the help of scientists who have simulated their voices using fossil evidence and a computer synthesizer.

Robert McCarthy, an anthropologist at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, used new reconstructions of Neanderthal vocal tracts to work out how they would have sounded, reported on Wednesday.

The conclusion is that Neanderthals spoke, but sounded rather different to us. Specifically, the ancient humans lacked the “quantal vowel” sounds that underlie modern speech and which provide cues that help speakers understand one another. By modeling the sounds that a Neanderthal larynx would have made, McCarthy’s team engineered the sound of a Neanderthal saying “e.”

In contrast to a modern human “e,” the Neanderthal version lacks a quantal hallmark, which helps a listener distinguish the word “beat” from “bit,” for instance.

McCarthy, who based his reconstructions on 50,000-year-old fossils from France, aims eventually to simulate an entire Neanderthal sentence.

Neanderthals were a dead-end offshoot of the human line who inhabited Europe and parts of west and central Asia. Researchers believe they survived in Europe until the arrival of modern humans about 30,000 years ago. - msnbc

Here an "E" pronounced by a Neanderthal voicebox here.

Plants 'thrive' on Moon rock diet

Scientists with the European Space Agency (Esa) say the day when flowers bloom on the Moon has come closer.

An Esa-linked team has shown that marigolds can grow in crushed rock very like the lunar surface, with no need for plant food.

Some see growing plants on the Moon as a step towards human habitation.

But the concept is not an official aim of Esa, and one of the agency's senior officials has dismissed the idea as "science fiction".

The new research was presented at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) meeting in Vienna, the largest annual European gathering of scientists studying the Earth, its climate and its neighbours in space.

Bernard Foing, a senior scientist with the European Space Research and Technology Centre (Estec) in the Netherlands, believes growing plants on the Moon would be a useful tool to learn how life adapts to lunar conditions, and as a practical aid to establishing manned bases.

"We would bring a system of water circulation and recovery, which is also the type of system that in any case you want to develop when you are going to manufacture a primitive sort of life support system," he told BBC News.

"So it is also a kind of `technological breadboard' for maintaining a simple life form in an extreme environment."

Microbe power

In principle, putting self-contained pieces of kit with seeds and nutrients on the Moon and giving them a supply of water and an artificial atmosphere would be little different from growing them on space stations, which has been done several times; although outside Earth's protective magnetic field they would be subject to higher levels of radiation.

The new step, taken in the experiments reported at the EGU, is to remove the need for bringing nutrients and soil from Earth.

A team led by Natasha Kozyrovska and Iryna Zaetz from the National Academy of Sciences in Kiev planted marigolds in crushed anorthosite, a type of rock found on Earth which is very similar to much of the lunar surface.

In neat anorthosite, the plants fared very badly. But adding different types of bacteria made them thrive; the bacteria appeared to draw elements from the rock that the plants needed, such as potassium.

Dr Foing, who presented the study at the EGU meeting, said there was no reason in principle why the same idea could not bear fruit on the Moon itself. Tools could crush lunar rock and add bacteria and seeds.

But, he added, scientists could look to go further, by selecting plants or bacteria that are especially well adapted to lunar conditions, or even by genetically engineering new strains. - bbc

Drifting Star Discovered: Implications For Star And Planet Formation Theory

By studying in great detail the 'ringing' of a planet-harbouring star, a team of astronomers using ESO's 3.6-m telescope have shown that it must have drifted away from the metal-rich Hyades cluster. This discovery has implications for theories of star and planet formation, and for the dynamics of our Milky Way.

The yellow-orange star Iota Horologii, located 56 light-years away towards the southern Horologium ("The Clock") constellation, belongs to the so-called "Hyades stream", a large number of stars that move in the same direction.

Previously, astronomers using an ESO telescope had shown that the star harbours a planet, more than 2 times as large as Jupiter and orbiting in 320 days (ESO 12/99).

But until now, all studies were unable to pinpoint the exact characteristics of the star, and hence to understand its origin. A team of astronomers, led by Sylvie Vauclair from the University of Toulouse, France, therefore decided to use the technique of 'asteroseismology' to unlock the star's secrets.

"In the same way as geologists monitor how seismic waves generated by earthquakes propagate through the Earth and learn about the inner structure of our planet, it is possible to study sound waves running through a star, which forms a sort of large, spherical bell," says Vauclair.

The 'ringing' from this giant musical instrument provides astronomers with plenty of information about the physical conditions in the star's interior.

And to 'listen to the music', the astronomers used one of the best instruments available. The observations were conducted in November 2006 during 8 consecutive nights with the state-of-the-art HARPS spectrograph mounted on the ESO 3.6-m telescope at La Silla.

Up to 25 'notes' could be identified in the unique dataset, most of them corresponding to waves having a period of about 6.5 minutes.

These observations allowed the astronomers to obtain a very precise portrait of Iota Horologii: its temperature is 6150 K, its mass is 1.25 times that of the Sun, and its age is 625 million years. Moreover, the star is found to be more metal-rich than the Sun by about 50%. - sd

Inventor, 5, patents new broom

A five-year-old boy is thought to be the youngest to patent an idea in Britain after inventing a labour-saving broom.

Sam Houghton, of Buxton, Derbyshire, was just three when he came up with his double-headed broom, reports the BBC.

He had been watching his father sweeping up, swapping between a large broom, for leaves and twigs, and a small one, for finer particles, when he came up with his idea.

Sam, who was inspired by Wallace and Gromit, and Archie the Inventor from TV series Balamory, said: "I saw my Daddy brushing up and made it. There are two brushes because one gets the big bits and one gets the little bits left behind.

"I don't know if I want to be an inventor when I grow up but this was fun."

Mr Houghton, by chance a patents lawyer, was so impressed he decided to help Sam apply for a patent.

He said: "It was such a simple solution that only a child could have come up with it.

"He got a large elastic band from the shed and put it over the two brooms, holding them just the right way to use both together. He then called me and announced that had had made up an invention."

Mr Houghton, who spent about £200 getting the patent approved, said it was more about letting Sam have some fun than about marketing the broom.

He said: "Perhaps Sam will take it on when he is a bit older, after all a patent can last up to 20 years."

A five-year-old boy is thought to be the youngest to patent an idea in Britain after inventing a labour-saving broom.

Sam Houghton, of Buxton, Derbyshire, was just three when he came up with his double-headed broom, reports the BBC.

He had been watching his father sweeping up, swapping between a large broom, for leaves and twigs, and a small one, for finer particles, when he came up with his idea.

Sam, who was inspired by Wallace and Gromit, and Archie the Inventor from TV series Balamory, said: "I saw my Daddy brushing up and made it. There are two brushes because one gets the big bits and one gets the little bits left behind.

"I don't know if I want to be an inventor when I grow up but this was fun."

Mr Houghton, by chance a patents lawyer, was so impressed he decided to help Sam apply for a patent.

He said: "It was such a simple solution that only a child could have come up with it.

"He got a large elastic band from the shed and put it over the two brooms, holding them just the right way to use both together. He then called me and announced that had had made up an invention."

Mr Houghton, who spent about £200 getting the patent approved, said it was more about letting Sam have some fun than about marketing the broom.

He said: "Perhaps Sam will take it on when he is a bit older, after all a patent can last up to 20 years." - anan