Monday, November 30, 2009

Black hole caught zapping galaxy into existence?

. "The 'chicken and egg' question of whether a galaxy or its black hole comes first is one of the most debated subjects in astrophysics today," says lead author David Elbaz. "Our study suggests that supermassive black holes can trigger the formation of stars, thus 'building' their own host galaxies. This link could also explain why galaxies hosting larger black holes have more stars."

To reach such an extraordinary conclusion, the team of astronomers conducted extensive observations of a peculiar object, the nearby quasar HE0450-2958 (see ESO PR 23/05 for a previous study of this object), which is the only one for which a host galaxy has not yet been detected [1]. HE0450-2958 is located some 5 billion light-years away.

Until now, it was speculated that the quasar's host galaxy was hidden behind large amounts of dust, and so the astronomers used a mid-infrared instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope for the observations [2]. At such wavelengths, dust clouds shine very brightly, and are readily detected. "Observing at these wavelengths would allow us to trace dust that might hide the host galaxy," says Knud Jahnke, who led the observations performed at the VLT. "However, we did not find any. Instead we discovered that an apparently unrelated galaxy in the quasar's immediate neighbourhood is producing stars at a frantic rate." ...

via Black hole caught zapping galaxy into existence?.

Climate change: Gulf stream collapse could be like a disaster movie next Ice Age could take only weeks to engulf Britain. Scientists say the last great disruption to the Gulf Stream 12,800 years ago took only a couple of months to trigger a massive plunge in temperatures across Europe.

"It was as if Europe had been shifted 20 degrees north and Ireland moved to Svalbard," said Bill Patterson of Saskatchewan University.

In the Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, an Ice Age was set off in a single day when the Gulf Stream was disrupted. "That is silly," said Patterson. "It couldn't happen that quickly. However, previous estimates that it would take decades to switch off the Gulf Stream are not backed by our work. It could happen in a couple of months."

The Gulf Stream carries tropical heat from the Caribbean to northern Europe but is already being disrupted by meltwater pouring from the Arctic as global warming intensifies. One day it may switch off completely, say scientists.

Such an event occurred 12,800 years ago when a vast lake – created from melting glaciers at the end of last Ice Age – overflowed and poured into the north Atlantic, blocking the Gulf Stream. Europe froze – almost instantly, said Patterson.

His team analysed mud samples from Lough Monreagh in Ireland and discovered layers of white sediment made up of calcite crystals from algae. "Then abruptly the sediment turned black. This stuff contained no biological material." In other words, all life in the lake had been extinguished in less than three months. "It was very sudden," added Patterson, "and it could happen again."

- via guarduk


Too Much Fun with Google Auto Complete

Feeling lucky just got weirder... from

:Signs Of A Co-Dependant RelationshipSchrodingerI DidnThe Ouroboros ConundrumInquiring Geologists Want To KnowPlease...Please Don't Let Them Win

Founding Fathers' papers go online

deb2.jpg image by maggie6138More than 200 years after they were written, some 5,000 previously unpublished documents of the founders of the United States — including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison — are at long last available to the public at no cost.

The Documents Compass group of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities at the University of Virginia has spent much of the last year proofreading and transcribing thousands of pages of letters and other papers.

The documents are now available online for free at the University of Virginia Press’ digital imprint called Rotunda.

“It’s an exciting project,” said Penelope Kaiserlian, director of the UVa Press. “It’s using 21st-century technology to approach 18th-century materials.”

The online project is a federal pilot study that aims to expand public access to the papers of America’s founders. It is funded by a $250,000 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, which is a division of the National Archives.

“We want the general public to know that these documents exist and that they’re easily available online and that they’re free of cost,” said Sue Perdue, director of Documents Compass.

For decades, the papers of Jefferson, Adams, George Washington and others have been available only in expensive, hard copy tomes that are not widely circulated. Purchasing a complete set of the 26 volumes of Alexander Hamilton’s papers, for example, costs around $2,600.

The print versions of these documents include detailed analysis and footnotes from scholars, but the process is not a quick one. A study by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission found that Washington’s papers would not wrap up until 2023 and Adams’ papers would not be done until 2050.

Such delays sparked an intense lobbying push by historians and scholars to urge Congress to find some way to give the public access to some of these historic documents sooner rather than later. Last fall, President George W. Bush signed into law the Presidential Records Preservation Act of 2008 — which was sponsored by former Sen. John W. Warner, R-Alexandria, — that required the National Archives to speed up the publication of documents and publish letters online.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., who held hearings on the matter in May, praised the effort at UVa to post the documents online.

“Our nation’s history should not stay walled-up behind the doors of only large libraries that are not accessible to many students and researchers,” Carper said in a statement. “That’s why I fought to get the National Archives to publish these documents online and in a timely matter so that anyone interested in our history can more easily read and learn about the early Americans here at the birth of our nation.”

The papers now available online are “early access” documents that have not been edited and do not include footnotes or any of the other scholarly information found in the printed collections of papers. The “early access” papers will remain online until they are published in a printed collection.


via Founding Fathers' papers go online | Charlottesville Daily Progress.

Try these links:

Some fun reading.  I like the one where John Adams informs to the King of England about the "Desire to cultivate the most friendly and liberal Intercourse".

Respected scientist says aliens are among us

ImageA leading astrophysicist who has worked on space missions claims that he and his colleagues are in contact with extraterrestrials who are "living among us." And they don't like what they see.

Latchezar Filipov, head of the Space Research Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, is causing global ripples after researching crop circles around the world.

"We sent (the aliens) 30 questions about global problems," said Filipov, who was vague about how he actually conveyed the queries. "And now we have some answers."

The "answers" came in the form of pictograms in crop circles.

Filipov says the aliens are here, observing us, but unobservable by us for some reason.

"I feel that ... some kind of information is being taught, that they'd like to be in contact with us," Filipov said Friday in halting English from his office in Sofia.

Filipov asked the aliens about the SETI, the broad umbrella project searching for alien life, and the supposed end of the world in 2012, when the Mayan calendar expires.

He told the Star that the aliens have told him SETI doesn't work, owing to a confusion about communication through "magnetic fields."

They also said there is some truth in the 2012 predictions, having something to do with volcanoes in Mexico.

Further, more prosaic revelations include that the aliens are angry about global warming, disagree with in-vitro fertilization and don't like cosmetics. Apparently, Filipov's aliens are grumpy Republicans.

This work is only beginning, Filipov cautioned, and he is still open to the fact that he could be mistaken – "I don't yet believe that this is absolutely true information."

Filipov is no garden-variety crank. He sports an impressive CV: graduate work at Moscow State University, a variety of high-level positions studying astrophysics, work on a MIR spacecraft mission.

However, his latest preoccupation has caught his international contemporaries by surprise.

"I'm not aware of this work," said Ian Corbett, general secretary of the executive committee of the Paris-based International Astronomical Union. "But it is very hard to take seriously."

The IAU website shows Filipov as an active member. Filipov's colleagues inside Bulgaria are more peevish. There is a move afoot to force his resignation from the Space Research Institute.

"In Bulgaria now, we have a very strange reaction to my research," Filipov said. "The people in Bulgaria are frightened, they don't understand this.

"You must understand that this is a very complicated situation."

via Respected scientist says aliens are among us -

Reputations and opinions are not important. Evidence is important and I see none.  How does he arrive at his interpretations of the crop circle pictograms?  Such a thing has the potential to be absurdly subjective, like reading tea leaves.  I'd love the alien thing to be true, but without solid evidence, the most logical explanation is that poor Filipov had a mild stroke and is going nuts.

Senate report: Rumsfeld let Bin Laden escape in 2001

Osama bin Laden, left, with his top lieutenant Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, in one of al-Qaida's own propaganda videosDonald Rumsfeld had the chance when he was US defence secretary in December 2001 to make sure Osama bin Laden was killed or captured, but let him slip through his hands, a Senate report has found.

The report by the Senate foreign relations committee is damning of the way George Bush's administration conducted the aftermath of its bombing campaign in Afghanistan, saying it amounted to a "lost opportunity". It states that as a result of allowing the al-Qaida leader to flee from his Tora Bora stronghold into Pakistan, Americans were left more vulnerable to terrorism, and the foundations were laid for today's protracted Afghan insurgency. It also lays blame for the July 2005 London bombings on a failure to kill the al-Qaida leaders at Tora Bora.

Republican critics are likely to dismiss the report as a partisan work designed to deflect the current military troubles in Afghanistan away from President Barack Obama and on to his predecessor. The committee is Democratic-controlled.

But the report contains a mass of evidence that points towards the near certainty that Bin Laden was in the Tora Bora district of the White Mountains in eastern Afghanistan, along with up to 1,500 of his most loyal al-Qaida fighters and bodyguards, in late November 2001, shortly before the fall of Kabul.

Further evidence came from al-Qaida suspects detained at Guantánamo and, most authoritatively, from the official history of the US special operations command, which confirms bin Laden's presence at Tora Bora.

"Osama bin Laden's demise would not have erased the worldwide threat from extremists," it concludes. "But the failure to kill or capture him has allowed Bin Laden to exert a malign influence over events in the region."

via Rumsfeld let Bin Laden escape in 2001, says Senate report | World news |

A boogieman in the cave is worth ten in the hand.

Phone box has new life as library

Phonebox library in Westbury-sub-MendipA traditional red phone box has been recycled into one of the country's smallest lending libraries - stocking 100 books.

Villagers from Westbury-sub-Mendip in Somerset can use the library around the clock, selecting books, DVDs and CDs.

Users simply stock it with a book they have read, swapping it for one they have not.

"It's really taken off. The books are constantly changing," said parish councillor Bob Dolby.

He added: "It is completely full at the moment with books. Anyone is free to come and take a book and leave one that you have already read.

"This facility has turned a piece of street furniture into a community service in constant use."

A resident dreamed up the idea when the village lost its phone box and mobile library in quick succession.

Westbury-sub-Mendip Parish Council bought the phone box from BT in a national scheme for a token £1.

BT has received 770 applications for communities to 'adopt a kiosk', and so far 350 boxes have been handed over to parish councils.

Phone boxes have been turned into art installations, a shower and even a public toilet.

via BBC News - Phone box has new life as library.

Hello. I am the King of Nigeria... No, really.

Christopher Ejiofor, 63, poses for his official royal photoA safety inspector working at East Midlands Airport has returned to his birthplace in Nigeria - to be crowned a KING.

Christopher Ejiofor, 63, from Littleover near Derby, fled the West African county in 1970 after a brutal civil war.

He had been a military adviser for General Odumegwu Odjukwu - who finished on the losing side of the country's civil war from 1967 to 1970.

He was imprisoned and had to escape with his wife Christine, now 62, while under fire from enemy troops, first to Gabon and then to Britain.

But on Saturday Mr Ejiofor returned to his home country with his family to be crowned elected King of Igwe and given the name 'Ezekwesili' - meaning worthy to be king.

The father-of-four has moved his entire family from their semi-detatched house in Derby to a Nigerian mansion to rule his 100,000 subjects.

He will be crowned in a traditional Nigerian ceremony greeted by thousands of his subjects where he will hold an eight foot tall sceptre and sit on a huge oak throne adorned with cherubs.

Mr Ejiofor said the ceremony would be a traditional Nigerian coronation.

He said: ‘A Nigerian coronation is not like a British coronation - it is more like a big party.

‘I will accept the crown and sceptre and then I will be officially declared King by the Bishop of Enugu.

‘There will be a day of celebration with music and dancing right through the night.

‘I have visited Nigeria to see if I can make a difference over there but now have the opportunity to make real change.

‘The province has huge natural resources and is a beautiful place to live, it just needs the structure to exploit these resources.

‘Over the years, people have fled to Europe in search of a better chance in life - I want to give them that chance in their homeland.’ ...

via Airport worker Christopher Ejiofor returns home to Nigeria - to be crowned KING | Mail Online.

Hopefully Christopher can help Nigeria become known world wide for something more popular than the email scams which frequently originate from within his kingdom.

10,000 E. African albinos in hiding after killings

In this Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009 photo, Mary Owido sits with her ...The mistaken belief that albino body parts have magical powers has driven thousands of Africa's albinos into hiding, fearful of losing their lives and limbs to unscrupulous dealers who can make up to $75,000 selling a complete dismembered set.

Mary Owido, who lacks pigment that gives color to skin, eyes and hair, says she is only comfortable when at work or at home with her husband and children.

"Wherever I go people start talking about me, saying that my legs and hands can fetch a fortune in Tanzania," said Owido, 36, a mother of six. "This kind of talk scares me. I am afraid of going out alone."

Since 2007, 44 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and 14 others have been slain in Burundi, sparking widespread fear among albinos in East Africa.

At least 10,000 have been displaced or gone into hiding since the killings began, according to a report released this week by the International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies.

East Africa's latest albino murder happened in Tanzania's Mwanza region in late October, when albino hunters beheaded 10-year-old Gasper Elikana and chopped off his leg, the report said. The killing left Elikana's father, who tried to defend his son, seriously injured.

Albinism is a hereditary condition, but occurs only when both parents have albinism genes. All six of Owido's children have normal skin color.

African albinos endure insults, discrimination and segregation throughout their lives. They also have a high risk of contracting skin cancer in a region where many jobs are outdoors.

Owido, a high school teacher in the western Kenyan town of Ahero, says she was forced to transfer from a better teaching job on the Kenya-Tanzania border town of Isebania in 2008 after an albino girl she knew was murdered and her body parts chopped off.

The surge in the use of albino body parts as good luck charms is a result of "a kind of marketing exercise by witch doctors," the International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies said.

The report says the market for albino parts exists mainly in Tanzania, where a complete set of body parts — including all limbs, genitals, ears, tongue and nose — can sell for $75,000. Wealthy buyers use the parts as talismans to bring them wealth and good fortune.

"Albinism is one of the most unfortunate vulnerabilities," said International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies Secretary General Bekele Geleta. "And it needs to be addressed immediately at an international level." ...

via 10,000 E. African albinos in hiding after killings - Yahoo! News.

Mass extinction: Why did half of N. America's large mammals disappear 40,000 to 10,000 years ago? of scientific debate over the extinction of ancient species in North America have yielded many theories. However, new findings from J. Tyler Faith, GW Ph.D. candidate in the hominid paleobiology doctoral program, and Todd Surovell, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Wyoming, reveal that a mass extinction occurred in a geological instant.

During the late Pleistocene, 40,000 to 10,000 years ago, North America lost over 50 percent of its large mammal species. These species include mammoths, mastodons, giant ground sloths, among many others. In total, 35 different genera (groups of species) disappeared, all of different habitat preferences and feeding habits.

What event or factor could cause such a mass extinction? The many hypotheses that have been developed over the years include: abrupt change in climate, the result of comet impact, human overkill and disease. Some researchers believe that it may be a combination of these factors, one of them, or none.

A particular issue that has also contributed to this debate focuses on the chronology of extinctions. The existing fossil record is incomplete, making it more difficult to tell whether or not the extinctions occurred in a gradual process, or took place as a synchronous event. In addition, it was previously unclear whether species are missing from the terminal Pleistocene because they had already gone extinct or because they simply have not been found yet.

However, new findings from Faith indicate that the extinction is best characterized as a sudden event that took place between 13.8 and 11.4 thousand years ago. Faith's findings support the idea that this mass extinction was due to human overkill, comet impact or other rapid events rather than a slow attrition.

"The massive extinction coincides precisely with human arrival on the continent, abrupt climate change, and a possible extraterrestrial impact event" said Faith. "It remains possible that any one of these or all, contributed to the sudden extinctions. We now have a better understanding of when the extinctions took place and the next step is to figure out why."

via Mass extinction: Why did half of N. America's large mammals disappear 40,000 to 10,000 years ago?.

Multiple sclerosis 'blood blockage theory' tested

Brain scan of MSUS scientists are testing a radical new theory that multiple sclerosis (MS) is caused by blockages in the veins that drain the brain.

The University of Buffalo team were intrigued by the work of Italian researcher Dr Paolo Zamboni who claims 90% of MS is caused by narrowed veins.

He says the restricted drainage, visible on scans, injures the brain leading to MS.

He has already widened the blockages in a handful of patients.

The US team want to replicate his earlier work before treating patients.

Experts welcomed the research saying it was important to confirm the basic science before evaluating any therapy.

MS is a long-term inflammatory condition of the central nervous system which affects the transfer of messages from the nervous system to the rest of the body.

The Buffalo team, led by Dr Robert Zivadinov, plan to recruit 1,100 patients with MS and 600 other volunteers as controls who are either healthy or have neurological diseases other than MS.

Using Doppler ultrasound, they will scan the patients to see if they can find any blockages within the veins of the neck and brain.

If they can prove Dr Zamboni's theory of "chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency", they say it will change our understanding of MS.

Rewriting science

Margaret Paroski, who is chief medical officer at Kaleida Health, where the Buffalo researchers are based, said the work could overturn prevailing wisdom that the damage in MS is predominantly the result of abnormal immune responses.

"When I was in medical school, we thought peptic ulcer disease was due to stress. We now know that 80% of cases are due to a bacterial infection.

"Dr Zivadinov's work may lead to a whole different way of thinking about MS."

Dr Zamboni, of the University of Ferrara, believes the blockages are the cause rather than the consequence of MS and that they allow iron from the blood to leak into the brain tissue, where it causes damage.

He has performed procedures similar to angioplasty to unblock the veins and get the blood flowing normally again.

He claims this "liberation procedure" can alleviate many of the symptoms of MS and is due to publish his findings in the Journal of Vascular Surgery.

In an interview with CTV News in Canada he said: "I found the evidence of narrowing - narrowing of the veins just in MS patients.

"I'm fully convinced that this is very, very important for people." ...

via BBC News - Multiple sclerosis 'blood blockage theory' tested.

Area 51 on Google Maps

By Alton K. Marsh

Pilots avert your eyes! The airport identifier and location of Nevada’s Groom Lake—you know, where they keep the space aliens at Area 51—has been appearing in flight-planning software and on handheld GPS receivers for most of the past year as KXTA (standing for what, extraterrestrial?).

“We already know and it doesn’t matter,” said a public affairs official at Nellis Air Force Base.

The Jeppesen FliteStar flight-planning program and AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner even identify it as Homey Airport and add, “Private, VFR, No Fee, Customs Info Unavailable.” Well, there’s a fee. The airport is deep within heavily restricted airspace, guarded by fighter jets. First come the legal fees, the probable confiscation of your aircraft, and a personal fee in the form of jail time.

AOPA editors found KXTA clearly marked on a handheld GPS map drawn from an outdated August 2007 database. Runways are described as Runway 12-30, 5,420 feet by 120 feet, and Runway 14-32, 12,000 feet by 200 feet. That’s not quite true. One end of 14-32 continues across a dry lakebed for another 11,000 feet, but that portion is closed and partially covered with blowing sand. And there are four additional runways marked in the sand of the dry lakebed.

How do we know that? A picture of Groom Lake has been on Google Earth for years and the latest time stamps show it was updated in 2007. Photos of the place have been shown publicly since the late 1980s.

Groom Lake was outed by the Clinton Administration, which admitted only that it exists after workers filed lawsuits, claiming their health was harmed by working there. That admission of the area’s existence became necessary to handle the case in court.

While it is highly unlikely that pilots would intentionally seek to end their flying careers by raiding Homey, we can’t say the same for student pilots who may have learned only yesterday what restricted airspace is. Students, KXTA does not make a good waypoint and it’s not your friend.

via area 51 - Google Maps.

Julian Lennon, decade later, back in music biz with 'Lucy'

Julian Lennon says he "couldn't help" but get back in the music business. A new album, Everything Changes, and tour are planned next summer.A few years ago, Julian Lennon pictured himself as a man who could write music again.

"I started hearing songs, tunes, melodies and lyrics in my head and I couldn't help myself," he says. It was the end of a nearly decade-long drought, during which he had turned to filmmaking.

Recently, he saw himself as someone who could help independent artists get their music heard and co-founded a digital music services business. "My friends all agreed the major-label system was falling to pieces and that we needed a new way forward," says Lennon, 46, of his theRevolution label.

Those two visions have now yielded a third: a song that will raise money to fight the autoimmune disease that killed the woman who had inspired The Beatles'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.

The single Lucy will be released Dec. 15 via online music retailers worldwide to honor Lennon's childhood friend Lucy Vodden, who died of lupus in September at age 46. The song will sell for $1.29, $2.29 or $3.29 per download (some discs are being produced as well), depending upon the retailer and how much the buyer wants to contribute, and most proceeds will go to St. Thomas' Lupus Trust in Great Britain and the Lupus Foundation of America.

James Scott Cook, one of the new artists working with Lennon's company, was recording a pop song he had written called Lucy when they learned of Vodden's death. The song became a duet for charity, incorporating new lyrics by Lennon "to make it more suitable for the purpose."

Lennon says he was "3 or 4" when he showed his father his crayon drawing of his friend and described it as "Lucy in the sky with diamonds." John used the phrase as the basis for the psychedelic hit that appeared on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

He lost track of Vodden but reconnected after learning she had lupus. "She created millions with her name. The least I could do was try to support her and make sure she was comfortable."

The single is Lennon's first release in a decade, and next summer he'll follow with an album, Everything Changes,and a tour. The album "is about life, momentum, about what we have to deal with on an everyday basis," says Lennon, who lives in Italy but plans to spend more time in New York to work on his label.

He says he and his father were repairing their relationship when Lennon was killed in 1980.

via Julian Lennon, decade later, back in music biz with 'Lucy' -

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Posting slow ... Up in the snow

Posting slow ... Up in the snow, originally uploaded by xeno735.

Climbing Mt Shasta

US police 'shot dead in ambush' in Washington state

Map locatorFour police officers have been shot dead in an ambush at a coffee shop in Washington State, police say.

Officials said at least one gunman walked into a coffee shop in Parkland, near the McChord Air Force Base, and opened fire.

A sheriff's spokesman said the officers had been targeted and it was not believed to have been a robbery.

Other customers were in the coffee shop at the time but no-one else was injured in the attack.

Parkland is in Pierce County, 40 miles south of Seattle.

Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said the officers had been working on their laptops in the coffee shop when the shooting happened on Sunday morning.

"It was just a flat out ambush," he said. "None of the employees or any of the people inside the store were targeted or hit or wounded.

"So we believe this was a cold, calculated killing of four police officers."

First reports said there had been two gunmen but Mr Troyer told the BBC he now believed there was only one.

He said the suspect is a black male in his late 20s or early 30s who was scruffy, wearing a black coat and blue jeans.

Families of the four officers were being informed.

Theron Zahn, of KOMO-TV, told the BBC that a huge police operation involving hundreds of officers was under way.

"Police helicopters are in the air using their infra-red cameras for anyone who may be hiding nearby. It is a massive manhunt."

Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the gunmen.

via BBC News - US police 'shot dead in ambush' in Washington state.

Scientists Make Fuel from CO2 Emissions and Sunlight : Gas 2.0

Scientists from Sandia National Labs have successfully field-tested a machine that uses solar energy to convert CO2 waste from power plants into fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

Cylindrical in shape, the device has both a hot and cold chamber with 14 Frisbee-like rings in the middle. The rings’ outer edges–made of iron oxide–are solar heated to 2,700 degrees which forces the composite to lose oxygen atoms.

As the rings rotate (one revolution a minute), they move in towards the cool chamber. There, carbon dioxide is added and the iron oxide composite takes back its missing oxygen atoms. The resulting carbon monoxide would be used in creating a synthesized liquid combustible fuel.

Invented by Rich Diver, we first discussed the device in January of last year. Until recently, it had only been tested in a laboratory. But a fully hand-built, and much larger, version was just successfully tested. “This is a first-of-its-kind prototype we’re evaluating,” Diver explains.

The device is called the Counter-Rotating-Ring Receiver Reactor Recuperator or the CR5 for short. I think we’ll stick to that shorter title for now. This method of forced-photosynthesis was initially designed for creating cheap abundant hydrogen fuel.


“In the short term we see this as an alternative to sequestration,” SNL Advanced Materials Laboratory chemical engineer James Miller, who has also been part of the research, adds.

This type of CO2 recycling could take trapped carbon waste from power plants and then returned for production, instead of releasing it to the air. Though, the resulting syngas does just burn right back into CO2–not exactly ideal.

Regardless, we’re looking at 15-20 years before the tech is market ready. Researcher’s hope to achieve an efficiency of a few percent which is about double that of real-world photosynthesis.  ...

via Scientists Make Fuel from CO2 Emissions and Sunlight : Gas 2.0.

Too bad it is 15 to 20 years away.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hammerhead sharks see 360 degrees

A new study has shown "that a hammerhead gives sharks outstanding binocular vision and an ability to see through 360 degrees. "
Scalloped hammerhead sharkScalloped hammerhead sharkThe finding is published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. ...

The results surprised the researchers.

"I believed hammerheads would not have binocular vision, because their eyes were pointing out on the sides of the head," admits Dr McComb.

"However, it turns out that the positioning of the eyes was really the key."

The eyes of hammerhead sharks are tilted slightly forward, she says, allowing the field of vision of each to significantly overlap.

"This study has confirmed that vision may have played a role in the evolution of one of the ocean's most bizarre inhabitants," Dr McComb says.

"This has been a scientific question which has persisted since hammerheads were first described over 200 years ago."

Added benefit

The shape of the hammerhead brings further benefits, the researchers discovered.

By moving their head sideways as they swim, the sharks can see much of what is behind them.

More extraordinary is that the position of the eyes allows the sharks to see through 360 degrees in the vertical plane, meaning the animals can see above and below them at all times.

As well as improving their ability to catch prey, "this may be beneficial to smaller sharks that are potential prey to larger sharks," says Dr McComb.

via BBC - Earth News - Hammerhead shark mystery solved.

Splitting Time from Space—New Quantum Theory Topples Einstein's Spacetime

Eclipsing Einstein? A solar eclipse confirmed gravitational lensing and Einstein's concept of spacetime. But a new quantum gravity theory now generating excitement separates time and space.

Was Newton right and Einstein wrong? It seems that unzipping the fabric of spacetime and harking back to 19th-century notions of time could lead to a theory of quantum gravity.

Physicists have struggled to marry quantum mechanics with gravity for decades. In contrast, the other forces of nature have obediently fallen into line. For instance, the electromagnetic force can be described quantum-mechanically by the motion of photons. Try and work out the gravitational force between two objects in terms of a quantum graviton, however, and you quickly run into trouble—the answer to every calculation is infinity. But now Petr Hořava, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, thinks he understands the problem. It’s all, he says, a matter of time.

More specifically, the problem is the way that time is tied up with space in Einstein’s theory of gravity: general relativity. Einstein famously overturned the Newtonian notion that time is absolute—steadily ticking away in the background. Instead he argued that time is another dimension, woven together with space to form a malleable fabric that is distorted by matter. The snag is that in quantum mechanics, time retains its Newtonian aloofness, providing the stage against which matter dances but never being affected by its presence. These two conceptions of time don’t gel.

The solution, Hořava says, is to snip threads that bind time to space at very high energies, such as those found in the early universe where quantum gravity rules. “I’m going back to Newton’s idea that time and space are not equivalent,” Hořava says. At low energies, general relativity emerges from this underlying framework, and the fabric of spacetime restitches, he explains.

Hořava likens this emergence to the way some exotic substances change phase. For instance, at low temperatures liquid helium’s properties change dramatically, becoming a “superfluid” that can overcome friction. In fact, he has co-opted the mathematics of exotic phase transitions to build his theory of gravity. So far it seems to be working: the infinities that plague other theories of quantum gravity have been tamed, and the theory spits out a well-behaved graviton. It also seems to match with computer simulations of quantum gravity. ...

via Splitting Time from Space—New Quantum Theory Topples Einstein's Spacetime: Scientific American.

Nanowires key to future transistors, electronics

A new generation of ultrasmall transistors and more powerful computer chips using tiny structures called semiconducting nanowires are closer to reality after a key discovery by researchers at IBM, Purdue University and the University of California at Los Angeles.

The researchers have learned how to create nanowires with layers of different materials that are sharply defined at the atomic level, which is a critical requirement for making efficient transistors out of the structures.

"Having sharply defined layers of materials enables you to improve and control the flow of electrons and to switch this flow on and off," said Eric Stach, an associate professor of materials engineering at Purdue.

Electronic devices are often made of "heterostructures," meaning they contain sharply defined layers of different semiconducting materials, such as silicon and germanium. Until now, however, researchers have been unable to produce nanowires with sharply defined silicon and germanium layers. Instead, this transition from one layer to the next has been too gradual for the devices to perform optimally as transistors.

The new findings point to a method for creating nanowire transistors.

The findings are detailed in a research paper appearing Friday (Nov. 27) in the journal Science. ...

via Nanowires key to future transistors, electronics.

Tiger Woods rescued from crash by wife carrying a golf club

Tiger Woods and Elin NordegrenTiger Woods with his wife Elin Nordegren earlier this year Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Tiger Woods, the world's most famous golfer, was rescued from his car after a crash outside his home by his wife who smashed the vehicle's back window with a golf club.

Woods was injured after crashing his Cadillac SUV when he drove away from his home at 2.25am on Friday. He suffered facial lacerations when the 4x4 hit a fire hydrant in his garden then careered into a tree.

Police said the incident was not alcohol related but in what is a standard procedure added that "charges were pending".

Gary Bruhn, the mayor of Windermere, told CNN that Woods had been taken to the Health Central Hospital, Ocoee, but was later released. "I think it's nothing more than an accident but the police have to let this run its course and investigate what happened," he said.

"It will be an ongoing investigation that will take a number of days to come to a conclusion. It just seems like a very strange accident that occurred and we responded to take care of his safety. As I understand it, there were some facial lacerations but nothing that serious."

Windermere police chief Daniel Saylor told The Associated Press that officers found Woods, 33, lying in the street with his wife, Elin Nordegren, next to him.

She told officers she was in the house when she heard the accident and "came out and broke the back window with a golf club". Woods had lacerations to his upper and lower lips, and he had blood in his mouth, Saylor said.

Mark Steinberg, the player's agent, later confirmed that his client was "fine" and that he was released from hospital in good condition.

His spokeswoman said: "He was admitted, treated and released in good condition," adding it was the golfer's wish that no further details were made public.

The accident happened at low speed - the vehicle's airbags, which are triggered to release in crashes at speeds of over 33mph, were not activated. The accident report was not released until nearly 12 hours after Woods was injured, but a Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Kim Montes said it did not meet the criteria of a serious crash, and the department only put out a press release because of inquiries from local media.

via Tiger Woods rescued from crash by wife Elin Nordegren carrying a golf club | Sport |


Sweden woman's 'murder' committed by elk not husband

Ingemar WestlundA Swedish man who was arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife has been cleared, after police decided she was probably killed by an elk.

Ingemar Westlund, aged 68, found the dead body of his wife Agneta, 63, by a lake close to the village of Loftahammer in September 2008.

He was immediately arrested and held in police custody for 10 days.

Now the case has been dropped after forensic analysis found elk hair and saliva on his wife's clothes.

Mr Westlund told Expressen newspaper: "My family and I have been dragged through a nightmare."

His wife had last been seen taking the family dog out for a walk in the forest. When she failed to return her husband went out to look for her.

Although the murder investigation was dropped five months ago, details have only just emerged and the police plan to hold a news conference next week to explain what happened.

The European elk, or moose, is usually considered to be shy and will normally run away from humans. But Swedish Radio International says the animals can become aggressive after eating fermented fallen apples in gardens.

via BBC News - Sweden woman's 'murder' committed by elk not husband.

Cell discovery clues to body clock and beating jet lag

A man yawnsNew discoveries into how the body clock works could provide clues to help combat jet lag, research suggests.

A University of Manchester team studied special cells which they say play an important role in regulating a person's body clock.

The cells had been thought to be inactive during the day - but their research found the opposite is true.

It is hoped the findings may also pave the way to combating sleep disorders triggered by body clock malfunctions.

Professor Hugh Piggins, an expert in neuroscience at the university, said the research will allow a new approach to being able to tune our daily clock.

Two cells

The Manchester research turns on its head the idea that the brain keeps the body clock on track by firing more cells during daylight and very few during the night.

"The traditional model said the clock and the brain communicated to the rest of the brain via the number of electrical impulses that the brain cells were producing," Prof Piggins told the BBC World Service's Health Check programme.

"These impulses would travel around the brain, telling it what time of day it is.

"What we've found is in fact that there are at least two types of cells in this part of the brain."

These brain cells behave unlike any other cell seen so far, and contain a key gene - per1 - which allows them to sustain unusually high levels of "excitability".

The cells becoming so "excited" that they seem quiet or even dead; but then later they calm down, recover and become normally active again.

It is this activity which tells the human body when to be awake.

Prof Piggins added: "There's a lot of interest in the pharmaceutical industry, obviously, to try to develop chemical treatments to reset your daily clock to help counteract things like jetlag.

"Or, perhaps more importantly, different kind of sleep disorders for which dysfunctions in this clock are often involved."

This study marks the first time these "quiet" cells have been studied.

"This may mean that elsewhere in the brain there are cells like this that can also survive these very unusual conditions."

via BBC News - Cell discovery clues to body clock and beating jet lag.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Stem cell breakthrough: healing lungs of newborn animals Bernard Thébaud lives in two very different worlds. As a specialist in the Stollery Children's Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, he cares for tiny babies, many of whom struggle for breath after being born weeks before they are due. Across town, in his laboratory in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta, Dr. Thébaud dons a lab coat and peers into a microscope to examine the precise effect of stem cells on the lungs.Today, with his scientific research being published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Dr. Thébaud has made a significant leap to bridge the gap between those two worlds.

An international team of scientists led by Dr. Thébaud has demonstrated for the first time that stem cells protect and repair the lungs of newborn rats. "The really exciting thing that we discovered was that stem cells are like little factories, pumping out healing factors," says Dr. Thébaud, an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Clinical Scholar. "That healing liquid seems to boost the power of the healthy lung cells and helps them to repair the lungs."

In this study, Thébaud's team simulated the conditions of prematurity – giving the newborn rats oxygen. The scientists then took stem cells, derived from bone marrow, and injected them into the rats' airways. Two weeks later, the rats treated with stem cells were able to run twice as far, and had better survival rates. When Thébaud's team looked at the lungs, they found the stem cells had repaired the lungs, and prevented further damage.

"I want to congratulate Dr. Thébaud and his team. This research offers real hope for a new treatment for babies with chronic lung disease," says Dr. Roberta Ballard, professor of pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco. "In a few short years, I anticipate we will be able to take these findings and begin clinical trials with premature babies."

- via EurkaAlert

Mystery surrounds photograph found in bank

Image related to story 394526, see caption or article textSHE looks like a Force's Sweetheart. But someone on the Home Front is missing her.

This photograph of a rather distinguished lady dressed in what appears to be a British naval uniform, and which is believed to date back to World War Two, was found on the floor of a bank in Galashiels.

And now big-hearted staff at Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) in the town's Channel Street, have asked the Border Telegraph to help them reunite it with its owner.

"It's common for people to carry photographs with them in their wallets and it may well be that this has slipped out and no one has noticed," branch manager Mike Godsman explained. "It could be a picture of someone's sweetheart, wife or daughter.

"And, if they have carried it around with them all this time, it obviously means quite a lot to them, so presumably they will be upset at losing it."

The snap was discovered in the reception area at HBOS in Galashiels by bank worker Emma Saunders at the start of November.

Other than the words HMS Drake, which appear on her cap, there are no other markings on the back of the photograph to say who the subject might be or where they might come from - and no-one has posted it missing.

However, it is not the only unusual item customers have left behind at the branch. A DVD, keys, and handbag have all been reunited with their owners in the past year, while a necklace remains unclaimed.

Mr Godsman said: "Given the age of the photograph, it would appear irreplaceable." And he added: "We are trying to find a way of reuniting it with its owner."

Do you know the person in the photograph? Contact our reporter by phone: 01896 758470, or email:

via Mystery surrounds photograph found in bank - News - Galashiels - Articles - Border Telegraph.

Scientist works to prove he does not exist, and neither do you.

When  studying neurobiology and consciousness, I came across the idea that consciousness is epiphenominal, that is, a side effect of the brain which does not influence the body. A strange idea, certainly. Oddly, scientific data supports the notion that conscious experience is created by non-conscious processes in the brain.

When we make a choice, for example, science has showed that our brain chooses before we do.  How can free will exist if your brain already chooses before you do with your supposed free will?

If you find the idea that "you" are an illusion, you will not want to read the following:
The denial of one’s own existence might seem a desperate philosophical strategy, but denying the reality of the self is a line which a number of people have taken, and Thomas Metzinger is prominent among them.

By Peter Hankins

The thesis of his massive 2003 work is summed up in the title: Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity. In that book, Metzinger made a commendable effort to balance philosophy and science; but the sheer size of the resulting text may have deterred some readers -- I confess to being somewhat daunted myself. Now he has come back with a slimmer volume The Ego Tunnel which is aimed at a wider public and raises wider issues which Metzinger suggests need public attention.

Metzinger’s theory -- the Self-model Theory of Subjectivity or SMT -- suggests that subjective experience is really a kind of trick the brain plays on itself. Our brain sets up a model of the world (actually based on fairly limited data) to which it then adds a model of us, ourselves. The coherence of the model and the fact that the processes supporting it are transparent -- i.e., invisible to us -- yield the vivid impression of a self in direct contact with reality, and that’s where subjectivity arises; although in fact the whole thing is simply an illusion.

Metzinger’s view of qualia is characteristically complex. He has a good argument against the existence of what he calls canonical qualia, qualia conceived as subjective universals. He points out that our ability to discriminate is far greater than our ability to recognise. So, if we are presented with examples of green 64 and green 66, we can readily tell the difference: but if at a later stage we are presented with one of the examples, we have no hope of telling which it is. So there is no single thing that consistently goes along with the experience of green 64.

Concluding that at any rate we need to distinguish between ‘qualia’ available to memory and qualia available to the faculty of recognition, Metzinger goes on to distinguish a series of possible conceptions of qualia, ending with ‘Metzinger qualia’ which are available attentionally but not cognitively. These are slippery customers for obvious reasons, impossible to report and broadly ineffable -- but then that’s how qualia are generally assumed to be.

Even as a summary, the foregoing is a bare and radically, probably over- simplified view of the theory, however. Metzinger actually presents ten constraints which need to be satisfied for the occurrence of subjective experience ...

via The Ego Tunnel (pt 1) | Machines Like Us.

Of course, once we understand that the basic way the brain is wired is with feedback loops, the most sensible idea (and the most touch with our experience) is if consciousness feeds back into the brain as an input. This "self" input is as important and sometimes more important than input from the outside world.  Yes, it happens after other experience, but we have an illusion that we live in the "now" and that we are in control. These are important illusions and very adaptive. Consciousness is a self correction program, an observer model that believes it is the main actor.

Can you spot the difference?

Herschel telescope 'fingerprints' colossal star

SPIRE SPECTROGRAPH OF VY CANIS MAJORIS (Spire Consortium)The death throes of the biggest star known to science have been observed by Europe's new space telescope, Herschel.

The observatory, launched in May, has subjected VY Canis Majoris, to a detailed spectroscopic analysis.

It has allowed Herschel to identify the different types of molecules and atoms that swirl away from the star which is 30-40 times as massive as our Sun.

VY Canis Majoris is some 4,500 light-years from Earth and could explode as a supernova at any time.

It is colossal. If VY Canis Majoris were sited at the centre of our Solar System, its surface would extend to the orbit of Saturn.

The star, in the constellation Canis Major, has been recorded by astronomers for at least 200 years.

It is what is called a red hypergiant - a highly evolved object that is exhausting its nuclear fuel.

Its end days see it spew vast quantities of gas and dust into interstellar space, including elements such as carbon, oxygen and nitrogen - the raw materials that will go into the production of future planets, and, who knows, perhaps life elsewhere in the galaxy.

Herschel has trained the spectrometers in its Pacs and Spire instruments on the extensive cloud of material billowing away from the object.

Spectrometers capture and split light into its constituent wavelengths, creating a kind of "fingerprint" that will reveal information on the chemistry of a light source. ...

via BBC News - Herschel telescope 'fingerprints' colossal star.

Tough yet stiff deer antler is materials scientist's dream for their impressive antlers, red deer have been caught in the hunters' sights for generations. But a deer's antlers are much more than decorative. They are lethal weapons that stags crash together when duelling. John Currey, from The University of York, UK, has been intrigued by the mechanical properties of bone for over half a century and has become fascinated by the mechanical properties of antler through a long-standing collaboration with Tomas Landete-Castillejos at the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha.

'Antlers look as if they are dry,' says Currey, 'but no one knew if they really are dry when used in contests'. Curious to find out whether red deer antlers are used wet or dry when duelling, and how this affects the antlers' mechanical properties, Currey headed south to La Mancha to test the mechanical properties of red deer antlers and publishes the discovery that dry antler is stiff and tough on 27 November 2009 in the Journal of Experimental Biology at

But before the team could begin testing the antler's strength, they needed to find out how dry the bones were. Collecting freshly cut antlers from the university farm and a local game estate just after stags had shed the antler's protective velvet, Currey, Landete-Castillejos, José Estevez and their colleagues weighed the antlers each week to find out how much they dried. Amazingly, over the first 2 weeks, the antlers lost a colossal 8% of their weight, compared with 1% weight loss if they were cut at other times of the year. Eventually the weight loss stabilised and the antler's humidity was in balance with that of the surrounding air. It was clear that the antlers were dry when the stags began duelling.

But how did this water loss affect the bone's material properties in comparison with those of normal bones, which function internally and are always wet? Would the dry antler make a better weapon than wet bone?

The team prepared 40 mm long blocks of dry antler and wet deer femur and measured the amount of force needed to bend the blocks to find out how flexible the materials were. Even though most bones are relatively brittle and inflexible when dry, the team found that the dry antlers are almost as stiff as wet bone: which is ideal for weapons that have to survive a lengthy pushing contest after the initial clash.

But how 'tough' was the antler? How much energy could it absorb in the initial crash? Applying a force to the middle of the blocks of bone and gently increasing it until the bone broke, the team plotted a curve of the bending force against the amount that the bone bent. Calculating the amount of energy that the antler could absorb before shattering, Currey found that the tissue was incredibly tough: 2.4 times tougher than normal wet bone. And when Currey measured the amount of energy that the dry antler could absorb in an impact, he was surprised and pleased to see that it could survive impacts 6 times greater than the impacts that shattered wet femur. The dry antler was tougher than wet bone and ideally suited to survive the stags' initial clash.

So dry deer antlers are simultaneously stiff, yet tough, making them perfectly suited to their role as a weapon. And the deer seem to have solved a problem that has puzzled engineers for decades. 'It is very difficult to make anything that is both stiff and tough,' says Currey, but it seems that duelling deer solved the problem eons ago.

via Tough yet stiff deer antler is materials scientist's dream.

Hear the songs written and recorded in one weekend for NPR

Update:  Nov 27:  Hear the songs that were submitted to NPR: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4.

Here is the entire group on one page.

Wow, some great stuff! I'm definitely learning some new things about recording and mixing by listening to how others did what they did.

Previous Post:

This is my attempt at writing and recording a song in one day (Saturday Nov 14) start to finish for NPR: PLAY or DOWNLOAD: My Dog, Japan (mix 2).mp3. Here is the NPR request for songs written and recorded in one day using certain key words.
dogjapan.... I think we'd all be willing to admit that technology has made making music a whole lot easier, cheaper and more accessible. We can be more agile, impulsive, nimble, reactionary and spontaneous than ever before. Right? Well, that's the idea anyway.

So let's try!

Here at NPR Music, we could have given you a mere 24 hours to do this, but we'll be generous and allow you the entire weekend in which to record an original song.

Here are the rules:

Your song needs to include one of the following words:  dog, firecracker, lamp shade, Japan, NPR

Your song can be any genre or length.

Please include the name of the song and how you'd like to be credited. Send your songs to:

All songs are due by this Sunday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. ET. We'll feature the songs next week as part of our continuing Decade In Music coverage.

Thanks, and have fun!

via Record A Song This Weekend! - Monitor Mix Blog : NPR.

Okay, Done.   I'm looking forward to hearing the other songs!
Hear him once, you'll be a fan.
I've got a dog I call Japan
He howls in tune with Beethoven.
The dog's going to be a star

My cat named Italy is so cool.
Plays piano from the stool.
Paws of gold no feline fool, he's been on NPR

La la la

My bird named Russia? I can't say.
The window cracked, he flew away
The rat, however, plays the drums and I
Let him out when company comes

I am the manager, the financial backer
I light the proverbial firecracker
Underneath the band to get them going somewhere
If you don't believe my story's true
Some countries want to have a word with you
Japan knows he's going somewhere

He said, "Don't be afraid, put a smile not a lamp shade on."
Dream what you will, you deserve it
You deserve what you'd love to be.

I've got a dog I named Japan
He's the genius in the band
I don't know how he does it, man
He writes these songs that make me want to cry

And he tells me, "If someone's messing
with your dignity, you can talk to me.
You deserve to be, what you want to be.
So be.

My Dog, Japan. My Dog, Japan..."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Device spells doom for superbugs

Plasma bacteria killer (New Journal of Physics)The prototype device can kill off bacteria, viruses, and fungi in just seconds... You can even make it battery operated so you can use small devices - I have one in my hand right now - Gregor Morfill
Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics

Researchers have demonstrated a prototype device that can rid hands, feet, or even underarms of bacteria, including the hospital superbug MRSA.

The device works by creating something called a plasma, which produces a cocktail of chemicals in air that kill bacteria but are harmless to skin.

A related approach could see the use of plasmas to speed the healing of wounds.

Writing in the New Journal of Physics, the authors say plasmas could help solve gum disease or even body odour.

Plasmas are known as the fourth state of matter, after solid, liquid, and gas. They are a soup of atoms that have had their electrons stripped off by, for example, a high voltage.

Plasmas are common elsewhere in the cosmos, where high-energy processes produce them, and they are even posited as a potential source of fusion energy. Their properties have recently been harvested for use in plasma televisions.

Deadly cocktail

But the new research focuses on so-called cold atmospheric plasmas.

Rather than turning a whole group of atoms into plasma, a more delicate approach strips the electrons off just a few, sending them flying.

Collisions with nearby, unchanged atoms slows down the electrons and charged atoms or ions they leave behind.

It has been known for some time that the resulting plasma is harmful to bacteria, viruses, and fungi - the approach is already used to disinfect surgical tools.

"It's actually similar to what our own immune system does," said Gregor Morfill, of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, who led the research.

"The plasma produces a series of over 200 chemical reactions that involve the oxygen and nitrogen in air plus water vapour - there is a whole concotion of chemical species that can be lethal to bacteria," he told BBC News. ...

"To produce plasmas efficiently at low cost so you can really mass produce these things for hospitals, that's the big breakthrough of the last year," Professor Morfill said.

The team says that an exposure to the plasma of only about 12 seconds reduces the incidence of bacteria, viruses, and fungi on hands by a factor of a million - a number that stands in sharp contrast to the several minutes hospital staff can take to wash using traditional soap and water.

More applications

Professor Morfill said that the approach can be used to kill the bacteria that lead to everything from gum disease to body odour.

via BBC News - Device spells doom for superbugs.

MRSA (methicillin-resistant Straphylococcus Aureus) and other drug-resistant bacteria could face annihilation as low-temperature plasma prototype devices have been developed to offer safe, quick, easy and unfailing bactericidal cocktails.

Two prototype devices have been developed: one for efficient disinfection of healthy skin (e.g. hands and feet) in hospitals and public spaces where bacteria can pose a lethal threat; and another to shoot bacteria-killing agents into infested chronic wounds and enable a quicker healing process.

Two papers published today, Thursday 26 November, as part of a selection of papers on Plasma Medicine in New Journal of Physics (co-owned by the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society), demonstrate how far the design of equipment to harness the bacteria-killing power of low-temperature plasma has come.

Plasma, oft called the fourth state of matter after solid, liquid and gas, is defined by its ionized state. In space, stars are made up of high-energy plasma and, on Earth, it is researchers in high-energy plasma that are making significant strides towards limitless energy from nuclear fusion. The high energy of plasma stems from some atoms or molecules in a gas being stripped of their electrons, resulting in a mix of ionized and neutral species.

- via

Related links:  Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.

Could alien life exist in the form of DNA-shaped dust?

Complex and Dusty Plasmas: From Laboratory to Space



How are Thanksgiving Day and "Mary Had a Little Lamb" connected? many competing claims exist, the most familiar story of the first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth Colony, in present-day Massachusetts, in 1621. More than 200 years later, President Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday in 1941.

Sarah Josepha Hale, the enormously influential magazine editor and author who waged a tireless campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday in the mid-19th century, was also the author of the classic nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb." -

Hale was influential, but there is more to the story...

Myth: The first Thanksgiving was in 1621 and the pilgrims celebrated it every year thereafter.

Fact: The first feast wasn't repeated, so it wasn't the beginning of a tradition. In fact, the colonists didn't even call the day Thanksgiving. To them, a thanksgiving was a religious holiday in which they would go to church and thank God for a specific event, such as the winning of a battle. On such a religious day, the types of recreational activities that the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians participated in during the 1621 harvest feast--dancing, singing secular songs, playing games--wouldn't have been allowed. The feast was a secular celebration, so it never would have been considered a thanksgiving in the pilgrims minds.

Myth: The original Thanksgiving feast took place on the fourth Thursday of November.

Fact: The original feast in 1621 occurred sometime between September 21 and November 11. Unlike our modern holiday, it was three days long. The event was based on English harvest festivals, which traditionally occurred around the 29th of September. After that first harvest was completed by the Plymouth colonists, Gov. William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer, shared by all the colonists and neighboring Indians. In 1623 a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during the prayers. Gradually the custom prevailed in New England of annually celebrating thanksgiving after the harvest.

During the American Revolution a yearly day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress. In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom, and by the middle of the 19th century many other states had done the same. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November, which he may have correlated it with the November 21, 1621, anchoring of the Mayflower at Cape Cod. Since then, each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941) -

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Couple slips though security to crash state dinner + list of state dinner guests

white house state dinnerThe Secret Service says it's looking into its own security procedures after determining that two people crashed Tuesday night's state dinner at the White House.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan says that President Barack Obama was never in any danger. Donovan says the party crashers went through the same security screening as the 300-plus people actually invited to the dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Donovan says the Secret Service first learned about the security breach Wednesday morning after media inquiries prompted by the crashers' online boasts about having attended the private event.

The Washington Post reports that photos from the state dinner appear on the Facebook page of one of the dinner crashers.

via Couple slips though security to crash state dinner - Yahoo! News.

The hottest ticket in the free world is to the first White House State Dinner of the Obama presidency.

The Obamas are honoring visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but in their own way -- unlike prior state dinners in the high-ceilinged State Dining Room, the Obamas will gather a few hundred VIPs in a heated tent on the South Lawn. ...  - nbc

Here are all of the several hundred attendees who should have been there. After seeing 2010 this is sort of like the list of people who might be invited to survive the apocalypse. Nice to see Steven Spielberg made it.  I added some links. Kind of fun to research who these people are.

  1. The President & First Lady Michelle Obama

  2. Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, India & Ms. Gursharan Kaur

  3. The Honorable (Rep) Gary Ackerman, United States Representative Mr. Sant Singh Chatwal (Guest)

  4. His Excellency Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation

  5. Mr. Mukesh D Ambani

  6. Mr. Tim Dutta (Spouse of Ms. Pia Awal)

  7. The Honorable (Mr.) David Axelrod, White House Communications Mrs. Susan Axelrod

  8. Ms. Preeta Bansal, OMB - General Counsel

  9. The Honorable (Ms.) Melody Barnes, Domestic Policy Council Mr. Marland E. Buckner

  10. The Honorable (Rep.) Howard Berman, United States Representative (D/California) Mrs. Jane Berman, Spouse of United States Representative (D/California)

  11. Mr. Om Prakash Bhatt

  12. Mr. Hunter Biden Mrs. Kathleen Biden

  13. The Honorable (Vice President) Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Vice President of the United States Dr. Jill Biden

  14. Mr. Robert O Blake, Jr., Assistant Sec for South and Central Asian Affairs, State Department Mrs. Sofia Blake

  15. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York, NY Ms. Diana Taylor

  16. The Honorable (Mr.) John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Deputy National Security Advisor for Counterterrorism, Homeland Security Council Mrs. Katherine Brennan

  17. The Honorable (Ms.) Lisa Brown, Office of Staff Secretary Mr. Kevin Cullen

  18. Mr. Donald Browne Ms. Maria Junqera

  19. The Honorable (Ms.) Carol Browner, Energy and Climate Change The Honorable (Mr.) Tom Downey

  20. Mr. William Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Department of State Ms. Lisa Cart

  21. General James E Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mrs. Sandee Cartwright

  22. The Honorable (Senator) Bob Casey, United States Senator (D/Pennsylvania) Mrs. Terese Casey, United States Senate Spouse (D/Pennsylvania)

  23. Mr. Rajiv Chandrasekaran Mrs. Julie Chandrasekaran

  24. Mr. I.S. Chaturvedi, Personal Secretary to the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation

  25. Senator Satveer Chaudhry, State Senator Colonel Ravi Chaudhry (Guest)

  26. Ms. Rohini Chopra

  27. Mr. Deepak Chopra Mrs. Rita Chopra

  28. The Honorable (Secretary) Steven Chu, Secretary of the Department of Energy Mrs. Jean Chu

  29. The Honorable (Secretary) Hillary R. Clinton, Secretary of State

  30. The Honorable (Rep.) James E. Clyburn, United States Representative (D/South Carolina) Mrs. Emily Clyburn

  31. The Honorable (Senator) Kent Conrad, United States Senator (D/North Dakota) Ms. Lucy Calutti, United States Senate Spouse (D/North Dakota)

  32. Mr. David Cote

  33. Ms. Katie Couric Mr. Brooks L Perlin

  34. Mr. Greg Craig, Assistant to the President and Counsel to the President Mrs. Margaret D Craig

  35. Mrs. Paula Crown Mr. Jim Crown

  36. The Honorable (Rep.) Elijah Cummings, United States Representative (D/Maryland) Mrs. Maya Rockeymoore

  37. Senator Swati Dandekar, State Senator Mr. Arvind Dandekar

  38. Mr. Rajesh De, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice

  39. Nancy Ann DeParle, Office of Health Reform Mr. Jason P DeParle

  40. Ms. Bhairavi Desai Javaid Tari

  41. Dr. Vishakha N. Desai Robert Oxman

  42. The Honorable (Senator) Chris Dodd, United States Senator (D/Connecticut) Mrs. Jackie Clegg Dodd

  43. Mr. John Doerr

  44. The Honorable (Mr.) Thomas Donilon, Assistant to the President, Deputy National Security Advisor, NSC Ms. Cathy Russell

  45. The Honorable Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director Mr. Bob Bauer

  46. Mr. Ari Emanuel Mrs. Sarah Emanuel

  47. The Honorable (Mr.) Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff to the President Ms. Amy Rule

  48. The Honorable (Mr.) Jon Favreau, Assistant to the President and Director of Speechwriting

  49. Ms. Sarah Feinberg, Office of the Chief of Staff

  50. The Honorable (Mayor) Adrian Fenty, Mayor of the District of Columbia Mrs. Michelle Fenty

  51. Ms. Michelle Flournoy ( Under Secretary of Defense for Policy of the United States.)

  52. Mr. Thomas Friedman Mrs. Ann Friedman

  53. The Honorable (Mr.) Mike Froman, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, NSC

  54. Dr. Ashok S Ganguly

  55. The Honorable (Mr.) Patrick Gaspard, Office of Political Affairs Mrs. Raina Washington

  56. The Honorable Robert Gates

  57. Ms. Charlene Gaynor Mr. Richard Heiss

  58. Mr. David Geffen Mr. Jeremy Lingvall

  59. The Honorable (Secretary) Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury Ms. Carole Sonnenfeld

  60. The Honorable (Mr.) Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretar

  61. Mr. Anish Goel, Acting Senior Director, South Asia Affairs, NSC

  62. Mr. Senapathy Gopalakrishnan

  63. Mr. Mark Gorenberg Ms. Wendy Wanderman

  64. Mr. John Gorman Mrs. Tamra Gorman

  65. Representative Jay Goyal, State Representative Kiran Goyal

  66. Representative Raj Goyle, State Representative Mrs. Monica Arora

  67. The Honorable (Governor) Jennifer Granholm, Governor of Michigan (D) Mr. Daniel Mulhern, First Gentleman of Michigan

  68. Mr. Earl G. Graves Mrs. Barbara Graves

  69. Ms. Geeta Rao Gupta Mr. Arvind Gupta

  70. Mr. Raj Gupta

  71. Mr. Rajat Gupta Mrs. Anita M Gupta

  72. Dr. Sanjay Gupta Mrs. Rebecca Olson Gupta

  73. Mr. Lee Hamilton Mrs. Nancy Hamilton

  74. The Honorable (Ms.) Kamala Harris Ms. Maya Harris

  75. Mr. Kamil Hassan Mrs. Talat Hassan

  76. Mr. George Haywood Mrs. Cheryl J Haywood

  77. The Honorable Fred Hochberg, Export-Import Bank Thomas P Healy

  78. The Honorable (Rep.) Paul Hodes, United States Representative (D/New Hampshire) Mrs. Margaret Hodes

  79. The Honorable (Attorney General) Eric Holder, United States Attorney General, Department of Justice Dr. Sharon Malone, MD

  80. Dr. John P. Holdren Dr. Cheryl E Holdren

  81. The Honorable (Rep.) Eleanor Holmes-Norton, United States of Representative (D/DC) Mr. John Norton

  82. Mr. Robert D Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs, State Department Ms. Camille Massey

  83. The Honorable (Rep) Steny Hoyer, United States Representative (D/Maryland) Ms. Kathleen May

  84. Mr. Chris Hughes Mr. Sean S Eldridge

  85. Mr. Jeff Immelt

  86. The Honorable (Senator) Daniel Inouye, United States Senator (D/Hawaii) Ms. Irene Hirano, United States Senate Spouse (D/Hawaii)

  87. Mrs. Deepa Iyer Mr. Parag Khandhar Mr. Vasudeva Iyer

  88. The Honorable (Administrator) Lisa Jackson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency Mr. Kenneth Jackson

  89. The Honorable (Ms.) Valerie Jarrett, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor

  90. The Honorable (Governor) Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana Mrs. Supriya Jindal, First Lady of Louisiana

  91. The Honorable (General) James Jones, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor Mrs. Diane Jones

  92. Mrs. Ann Jordan Mr. Vernon Jordan

  93. Mr. Anil Kakani

  94. Mr. Farooq Kathwari Mrs. Farida Kathwari

  95. Mr. Neal Katyal, Principal Deputy Solicitor General, Office of the Solicitor General

  96. Mr. Jeffrey Katzenberg Mrs. Marilyn Katzenberg

  97. Ms. Maneesha Kelkar, Manavi Vinay Vaishampayan

  98. The Honorable (Senator) John Kerry, United States Senator (D/Massachusetts)

  99. Dr. Harish Khare, Media Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, Indian Delegation

  100. The Honorable (Mr.) Bradley Kiley, Office of Management and Administration Mr. James Coley, Jr

  101. Ms. Gayle King

  102. The Honorable (Ambassador) Ron Kirk, USTR Mrs. Matrice Ellis-Kirk

  103. The Honorable (Mr.) Ronald Klain, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the Vice President, Office of the Vice President

  104. Mrs. Chanda D Kochhar

  105. His Excellency S.M. Krishna, Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation

  106. Ms. Gaitri Kumar, Joint Secretary (Americas), Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation

  107. Mr. Vivek Kundra

  108. Mrs. Jhumpa Lahiri Mr. Alberto Vourvoulias

  109. Mr. Marc Lasry Cathy Lasry

  110. Mr. Jacob Lew, Deputy Secretary, Department of State

  111. The Honorable Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce Mrs. Mona Locke

  112. The Honorable (Mr.) Christopher Lu, Cabinet Affairs Ms. Kathryn Thomson

  113. The Honorable (Senator) Richard Lugar, United States Senator (R/Indiana) Mrs. Char Lugar, United States Senate Spouse (R/Indiana)

  114. Mr. Michael Lynton Ms. Elizabeth Jamie Alter

  115. Mr. Surinder Malhotra

  116. The Honorable (Chief of Protocol) Capricia Marshall

  117. The Honorable (Ms.) Alyssa Mastromonaco, White House Office of Scheduling

  118. Mr. Brian Mathis Mrs. Tracey Kemble

  119. Ms. Kiran Mazumda-Shaw

  120. The Honorable (Senator) Claire McCaskill, United States Senator (D/Missouri) Mr. Joseph Shepard, United States Senate Spous

  121. The Honorable (Rep) Jim McDermott, United States Representative (D/Washington) Mrs. Therese Marie Hansen

  122. Mr. Zarin Mehta Ms. Carmen Lasky

  123. The Honorable (Mr.) Jim Messina, Office of Chief of Staff

  124. Mr. Judd Miner Mrs. Linda Miner

  125. Mr. Newt Minow Mrs. Josephine Minow

  126. Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal

  127. Kalpen Modi, Associate Director, Office of Public Engagement

  128. Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mrs. Deborah Mullen

  129. The Honorable (Secretary) Janet Napolitano, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security

  130. His Excellency M.K. Narayanan, National Security Adviser of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation

  131. Mr. Shantanu Narayen Mrs. Reni Narayen

  132. Mr. Raju Narisetti Durga Raghunath

  133. Mr. Martin Nesbitt Ms. Anita Blanchard

  134. Mr. Konrad Ng Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng

  135. Ms. Indra Nooyi

  136. The Honorable (Rep) David Obey, United States Representative (D/Wisconsin) Mrs. Joan Obey

  137. The Honorable (Mr.) Peter Orszag, Director, Office of Management & Budget

  138. Mr. Jim Owens Ms. Katie Owens

  139. Mr. Deepak Parekh

  140. Mr. Eboo Patel Ms. Shehnez Mansuri

  141. Mrs. Diane Patrick, First Lady of Massachusetts

  142. The Honorable (Speaker) Nancy Pelosi, United States Representative (D/California) and Speaker of the House Mr. Paul Pelosi

  143. Mr. Dan Pfeiffer, White House Office of Communications

  144. Mr. Sam Pitroda Mrs. Anjana Pitroda

  145. General Colin Powell Ms. Alma Powell

  146. Dr. Rachakonda D Prabhu Dr. Lata Shete Prabhu

  147. Mrs. Penny Pritzker Dr. Brian Traubert

  148. Ms. Kavita Ramdas

  149. Her Excellency Nirupama Rao, Foreign Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation

  150. Ms. Preetha Reddy

  151. The Honorable (Governor) Edward Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania (D) The Honorable (Judge) Marjorie Rendell, First Lady of Pennsylvania

  152. Mr. Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting

  153. The Honorable (Ambassador) Susan Rice, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Mr. Ian Cameron

  154. The Honorable (Governor) Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico (D)

  155. Mrs. Barbara Richardson, First Lady of New Mexico

  156. Ms. Robin Roberts

  157. Mrs. Marian Robinson

  158. Ambassador Timothy Roemer, US Ambassador to India Mrs. Mary Johnston

  159. Ms. Desiree Rogers, Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary

  160. Mr. John Rogers

  161. The Honorable (Dr.) Christina Romer, Chair, Council of Economic Advisers

  162. Mr. Dennis Ross, NSC

  163. The Honorable (Rep) Edward Randall Royce, United States Representative Marie Therese Royce

  164. Mr. Michael Sacks Mrs. Cari Sacks

  165. The Honorable (Rep.) Linda Sanchez, United States Representative (D/California) Mr. James Sullivan, Guest of Then Honorable Linda Sanchez

  166. Mr. Pankaj Saran, Joint Secretary to the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation

  167. His Excellency Shyam Saran, Special Envoy to the Prime Minister on Climate Change, Indian Delegation

  168. Mr. Jaideep Sarkar, Personal Secretary to the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation

  169. Mr. Parag Saxena

  170. The Honorable (Rep.) Jan Schakowsky, United States Representative (D/Illinois) Mr. Robert Creamer

  171. The Honorable (Mr.) Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Mrs. Jody Schiliro

  172. Ms. Annetta Seecharran Seema Agnani

  173. Mr. Stuart Seldowitz, Acting Director for South Asia, NSC

  174. Dr. Amartya Sen Ms. Emma Georgina Rothschild

  175. Under Secretary Rajiv J Shah, Under Secretary for Research, Education & Economics, Department of Agriculture

  176. The Honorable Sonal Shah, Deputy Assist to the President, Director Office of SICP, Domestic Policy Council

  177. Mr. Vinod Shah

  178. Her Excellency Meera SHANKAR, Ambassador, India

  179. The Honorable Susan Sher, Assistant to the President/Chief of Staff to the First Lady The Honorable (Mr.) Neil Cohen

  180. Mr. M. Night Shyamalan Mrs. Bhavna Shyamala

  181. Ms. Amrit Singh Mr. Analjit Singh

  182. Mr. Arun K. Singh, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation

  183. Mr. Balvinder Singh Mr. Mohinder Singh

  184. Mr. Lakhwinder Singh Mrs. Sukhbir Kaur

  185. Ms. Upinder Singh

  186. Mr. Steven Spielberg

  187. Mr. Sri Srinivasan Ms. Carla Garrett

  188. Ms. Srinija Srinivasan

  189. The Honorable (Mr.) Jim Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State Ms. Sherburne Bradstreet

  190. Mrs. Semonti Stephens, Deputy Press Secretary, Office of the First Lady

  191. Mr. Andy Stern Ms. Anna Burger

  192. Mrs. Jane Stetson Mr. Bill Stetson

  193. Xenophilius Lovegood

  194. Honorable (Dr.) Larry Summers, Director, National Economic Council Dr. Elisa New

  195. The Honorable (Ms.) Mona Sutphen, Office of Chief of Staff Mr. Clyde Williams

  196. Mr. Ratan Tata

  197. The Honorable (Ms.) Tina Tchen, Office of Public Liaison

  198. Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally, Ambassador, Embassy of Belize Mrs. Barbara Thummalapally

  199. Mr. Jim Torrey Ms. Rose P Lynch

  200. Mr. Richard Trumka Mr. Paul H Lemmon

  201. Ms. Urvashi Vaid Ms. Kate Clinton

  202. Mr. Kirk Wagar Ms. Crystal Connor

  203. Dr. Eric E. Whitaker Dr. Cheryl Whitaker

  204. Mr. Brian Williams Mrs. Jane Williams

  205. Mr. Wellington Wilson Mrs. Wilson

  206. Mr. Neal Wolin, Deputy Secretary, Department of Treasury

  207. Ms. Alfre Woodard Mr. Blair E Underwood

  208. Mr. Fareed Zakaria Ms. Paula Throckmorton Zakaria

Here is a photo of the gate crashing couple:

image made from Michaele Salahi's Facebook page shows a photo of Tareq Salahi, left, Vice President Joe Biden and Michaele Salahi, right, at the White House state dinner in Washington on Tuesday Nov. 24, 2009

Michaele and Tareq Salahi penetrated the intensive layers of security surrounding a US president armed with nothing more than a badly-fitting dinner jacket, eye-catching sari dress and mind-boggling chutzpah on Tuesday night.

Boasting of being "honoured to be at the White House", Mrs Salahi's page on her Facebook site showed her posing for photographs with Vice President Joe Biden, the White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, the CBS News presenter Katie Couric, Adrian Fenty, the mayor of Washington DC and even three US marines.

But Facebook photos also appear to show the couple in the First Family's glass-enclosed bullet proof viewing area after a concert at the Lincoln Memorial during Barack Obama's inauguration weekend, The Washington Post reported. Biden's snaps were particularly embarrassing, one capturing the vice president with his arm around the gatecrasher's waist as she rested a hand intimately on his chest.

Mrs Salahi is a former Washington Redskins cheerleader who, along with her husband, has auditioned to appear in a forthcoming TV show called Real Housewives of DC. The couple were last year involved in a family feud over the future of a $4.75 million vineyard.

Other pictures on her page show the couple with the Prince of Wales, President Obama, Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, as well as one of Mrs Salahi wearing a skimpy dress on the cover of a local lifestyle magazine.

A publicist for Mrs Salahi initially insisted the couple had not been gatecrashers but later merely confirmed that they "both had a wonderful time".

However, White House officials confirmed they had not been invited to the dinner nor included on the official guest list. Officials only learned of the intrusion after the media spotted the Facebook pictures.

In what is believed to be the first incidence in modern history of anyone gatecrashing a White House state dinner, the Salahis ended up in the same room as the Obamas and Manmohan Singh although it appears they were never seated for dinner. It was not clear if they ever spoke to the Obamas. - telegraph