Saturday, July 31, 2010

Major Corporations Are Downloading Those 100 Million Facebook Profiles off BitTorrent

Major Corporations Are Downloading Those 100 Million Facebook Profiles off BitTorrentRemember that torrent yesterday that contained the personal information off of 100 million scraped Facebook profiles? I thought it was strange that the guy didn't sell this information, since many companies would be interested. Turns out they are interested.

Reader Clint discovered that all you had to do is use something like Peer Block, which grabs the IPs of the other users also downloading the torrent and identifies which company or university or organization they belong to. You can check this yourself by hopping on the torrent and doing the same thing.

Here are the major companies that are downloading the torrent. A couple caveats to these. Just because a company is on the list, doesn't mean that it's a sanctioned download by the company itself to grab the user information for some purpose. It could easily just be some dude at the company who wanted to download the torrent himself to check it out. Also, the IP addresses assigned to a company might fluctuate (they usually don't, much, unless major companies change their connection to the internet, so it should be mostly accurate).

A.C. Nielsen, Agilent Technologies, Apple, AT&T - Possible Macrovision, Baker & McKenzie, BBC, Bertelsmann Media, Boeing, Church of Scientology, Cisco Systems, Cox Enterprises, Davis Polk & Wardwell, Deutsche Telekom, Disney, Duracell, Ernst & Young, Fujitsu, Goldman Sachs, Halliburton, HBO & Company, Hilton Hospitality, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Intel, Intuit, Levi Strauss & Co., Lockheed-Martin Corp, Lucasfilm, Lucent, Lucent Technologies, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, Mcafee, MetLife, Mitsubishi, Motorola, Northrop Grumman, Novell, Nvidia, O'Melveny & Myers, Oracle Corp, Pepsi Cola, Procter and Gamble, Random House, Raytheon, Road Runner RRWE, Seagate, Sega, Siemens AG, SONY CORPORATION, Sprint, Sun Microsystems, Symantec, The Hague, Time Warner Telecom, Turner Broadcasting system, Ubisoft Entertainment, Unisys, United Nations, Univision, USPS, Viacom, Vodafone, Wells Fargo, Xerox PARC

via Major Corporations Are Downloading Those 100 Million Facebook Profiles off BitTorrent.

Enjoy all the extra spam you may now get. I quit Facebook six months ago, around January of 2010 and haven't missed it.

I'd agree that this means some employee at each of these large companies is downloading the face book information, not that the company itself is doing so.

Notice, Apple is on the list, but not Microsoft. This may just be an indication that internal network security is better at Microsoft than at Apple.

How to save a life: Compression-only CPR found effective

Always check for a pulse first. Chest compressions can fracture ribs. If you are certain there is no pulse,  push 100 times per minute with enough force to compress the chest 1.5 to 2 inches. This requires 100 to 125 pounds of force.

Look at a ruler to be sure you know what 2 inches is (most people are wrong about this).  Also, try pushing on your bathroom scale to be sure you know what it feels like to press with 125 lbs of force.
Chest compressions alone are as effective in rescuing victims of heart attacks as conventional cardiopulmonary resuscitation that combines compressions with forced breathing, researchers said Wednesday

Studies in Washington and Sweden confirm the growing idea that the breathing component of CPR is necessary only for children and those who have suffered drowning or who have respiratory problems. Recent guidelines based on these and earlier studies may overcome some of the fears of bystanders who are reluctant to initiate CPR because of the danger of infectious diseases.

"These studies reinforce the message that the American Heart Assn. has been promoting since 2008," said Dr. Michael Sayre, a professor of emergency medicine at Ohio State University in Columbus and a spokesman for the heart association. "When you encounter a person who has collapsed suddenly, the best thing to do is to call 911 and then push hard and fast on their chest. It's simple, and something anyone can do even if they don't have any training."

... Studies in animals have shown that halting chest compressions to blow air into the patient's mouth reduces blood flow by a startlingly large amount. And the breathing drill, in any case, may not be necessary: For most patients who suffer a heart attack, the blood will contain some oxygen for at least several minutes.

"What we have learned is that continuous blood flow, even if it is not fully [oxygen-] saturated, is probably much better in terms of helping restore spontaneous circulation," Pepe said. ...

Stem Cell 'Homing' Fixes Joints in Rabbit Experiments

PHOTO Researchers are reporting they have successfully persuaded damaged joints to regrow cartilage and bone using a novel Researchers are reporting they have successfully persuaded damaged joints to regrow cartilage and bone using a novel "cell homing" approach.

The experiments, conducted in rabbits, are a proof of concept of a method that may one day replace artificial joint transplants in humans, according to Jeremy Mao of Columbia University and colleagues.

The method uses a carefully constructed "bioscaffold," impregnated with a natural substance called a growth factor. the growth factor in the scaffold causes precursor cells to migrate to the site and become cartilage and bone cells, Mao and colleagues wrote online in The Lancet.

In contrast with previous attempts to regrow tissue in joints, the researchers reported that they did not transplant any cells.

Animals treated with the method fully recovered weight-bearing and locomotion within a month, and the regenerated tissue was similar to naturally occurring cartilage and bone, the researchers said.

via Stem Cell 'Homing' Fixes Joints in Rabbit Experiments - ABC News.

Doomsday shelters making a comeback

Jason Hodge, father of four children from Barstow, Calif., says he's "not paranoid" but he is concerned, and that's why he bought space in what might be labeled a doomsday shelter.

Hodge bought into the first of a proposed nationwide group of 20 fortified, underground shelters — the Vivos shelter network — that are intended to protect those inside for up to a year from catastrophes such as a nuclear attack, killer asteroids or tsunamis, according to the project's developers.

"It's an investment in life," says Hodge, a Teamsters union representative. "I want to make sure I have a place I can take me and my family if that worst-case scenario were to happen."

via Doomsday shelters making a comeback -

Vivos condios my darling. Survival of the super rich.

Michael Bay working on a secret 'Confidential Alien Project' film

How much does Michael Bay love aliens? This much—even while he's been blowing up Chicago, which we've learned about through a flood of Transformers 3 set photos and videos, the director has been negotiating to unleash even MORE aliens on Hollywood.

Bay, along with his Platinum Dunes partners Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, just picked up a script from screenwriter Bobby Glickert that's about alien abductions. But that's really all we know, because the title—currently "Confidential Alien Project"—is giving up as few secrets as Area 51.

This would be Bay's fourth alien-related movie, because in addition to the three pictures in the Transformers franchise, he's also producing the aliens-in-high-school thriller I Am Number Four.

Are you looking forward to Bay invading theaters with more aliens? Or do you wish he'd move on to some other sci-fi plot?

(via The Hollywood Reporter)

via Michael Bay working on a secret 'Confidential Alien Project' film | Blastr.

Deepak Chopra's God 2.0, quantum flapdoodle?

Michael Shermer has this interesting post about Deepak Chopra's  quantum God.

In most surveys, nine out of ten Americans respond in the affirmative to the question “Do you believe in God?” The other 10 percent provide a variety of answers, including a favorite among skeptics and atheists: “Which god do you mean?” And then they offer a litany of classical and non-Western deities: Aphrodite, Amon Ra, Apollo, Baal, Brahma, Ganesha, Isis, Mithras, Osiris, Shiva, Thor, Vishnu, Wotan, and Zeus. “We’re all atheists of these gods,” the stock reply concludes, “but some of us go one god further.”

I have debated many theologians who make the traditional arguments for God’s existence: the cosmological argument (prime mover, first cause), the teleological argument (the order and design of the universe), the ontological argument (if it is logically possible for God to exist, then God exists), the anthropic argument (the fine-tuned characteristics of nature, making human life possible), the moral argument (awareness of right and wrong), and others. These are all reasons to believe in God only if you already believe. If you do not already believe, these arguments ring hollow, having been refuted over the ages by philosophers from David Hume to Daniel Dennett.

This past spring, however, I participated in a debate with a theologian of a different stripe, the New Age spiritualist Deepak Chopra. His arguments for the existence of a deity take a radically new tack. During our exchange, which was taped by ABC’s Nightline and viewed by millions, Chopra set out a series of scientific-sounding arguments for the existence of a divine quantum force capable of nonlocal “spooky action at a distance,” as Einstein famously described quantum entanglement. Call this new theology God 2.0.

Chopra provided a preview of these arguments in his 2006 book Life After Death. Consider this passage:

The mind is like an electron cloud surrounding the nucleus of an atom. Until an observer appears, electrons have no physical identity in the world; there is only the amorphous cloud. In the same way, imagine that there is a cloud of possibilities open to the brain at every moment (consisting of words, memories, ideas, and images I could choose from). When the mind gives a signal, one of these possibilities coalesces from the cloud and becomes a thought in the brain, just as an energy wave collapses into an electron. ...

Chopra believes that the weirdness of the quantum world (such as Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle) can be linked to certain mysteries of the macro world (such as consciousness). This supposition is based on the work of Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff, whose theory of quantum consciousness has generated much heat but little light in scientific circles.

Inside our neurons are tiny hollow microtubules that act like structural scaffolding. Penrose and Hameroff conjecture that something inside the microtubules may initiate a wave-function collapse that leads to the quantum coherence of atoms, causing neurotransmitters to be released into the synapses between neurons. This, in turn, triggers the neurons to fire in a uniform pattern, thereby creating thought and consciousness. Since a wave-function collapse can only come about when an atom is “observed” (that is, affected in any way by something else), “mind” may be the observer in a recursive loop from atoms to molecules to neurons to thought to consciousness to mind to atoms to molecules to neurons . . . and so on.

Shermer discredits this idea as does Murray Gell-Mann:
Chopra’s use and abuse of quantum physics is what the Caltech quantum physicist and Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann calls “quantum flapdoodle,” which consists of stringing together a series of terms and phrases from quantum physics and asserting that they explain something in our daily experience. But the world of subatomic particles has no correspondence with the world of Newtonian mechanics. They are two different physical systems at two different scales, and they are described by two different types of mathematics. ...

via Deepak Chopra's God 2.0 | Big Questions Online.

It seems our desire to be immortal leads many to speculate that the brain is not responsible, by itself, for our experience of consciousness.

Model describes universe with no big bang, no beginning, and no end

By suggesting that mass, time, and length can be converted into one another as the universe evolves, Wun-Yi Shu has proposed a new class of cosmological models that may fit observations of the universe better than the current big bang model. What this means specifically is that the new models might explain the increasing acceleration of the universe without relying on a cosmological constant such as dark energy, as well as solve or eliminate other cosmological dilemmas such as the flatness problem and the horizon problem.

Shu, an associate professor at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, explains in a study posted at that the new models emerge from a new perspective of some of the most basic entities: time, space, mass, and length. In his proposal, time and space can be converted into one another, with a varying speed of light as the conversion factor. Mass and length are also interchangeable, with the conversion factor depending on both a varying gravitational “constant” and a varying speed of light (G/c2). Basically, as the universe expands, time is converted into space, and mass is converted into length. As the universe contracts, the opposite occurs.

“We view the speed of light as simply a conversion factor between time and space in spacetime,” Shu writes. “It is simply one of the properties of the spacetime geometry. Since the universe is expanding, we speculate that the conversion factor somehow varies in accordance with the evolution of the universe, hence the speed of light varies with cosmic time.”

As Shu writes in his paper, the newly proposed models have four distinguishing features:

via Model describes universe with no big bang, no beginning, and no end.

Dead Sea Scrolls Mystery Solved?

The recent decoding of a cryptic cup, the excavation of ancient Jerusalem tunnels, and other archaeological detective work may help solve one of the great biblical mysteries: Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The new clues hint that the scrolls, which include some of the oldest known biblical documents, may have been the textual treasures of several groups, hidden away during wartime—and may even be "the great treasure from the Jerusalem Temple," which held the Ark of the Covenant, according to the Bible.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered more than 60 years ago in seaside caves near an ancient settlement called Qumran. The conventional wisdom is that a breakaway Jewish sect called the Essenes—thought to have occupied Qumran during the first centuries B.C. and A.D.—wrote all the parchment and papyrus scrolls.

But new research suggests many of the Dead Sea Scrolls originated elsewhere and were written by multiple Jewish groups, some fleeing the circa-A.D. 70 Roman siege that destroyed the legendary Temple in Jerusalem.

"Jews wrote the Scrolls, but it may not have been just one specific group. It could have been groups of different Jews," said Robert Cargill, an archaeologist who appears in the documentary Writing the Dead Sea Scrolls, which airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel. (The National Geographic Channel is part-owned by the National Geographic Society, which owns National Geographic News.) ...

Dead Sea Scrolls Written by Ritual Bathers?

In 1953, a French archaeologist and Catholic priest named Roland de Vaux led an international team to study the mostly Hebrew scrolls, which a Bedouin shepherd had discovered in 1947.

De Vaux concluded that the scrolls' authors had lived in Qumran, because the 11 scroll caves are close to the site.

Ancient Jewish historians had noted the presence of Essenes in the Dead Sea region, and de Vaux argued Qumran was one of their communities after his team uncovered numerous remains of pools that he believed to be Jewish ritual baths.

His theory appeared to be supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves, some of which contained guidelines for communal living that matched ancient descriptions of Essene customs.

"The scrolls describe communal dining and ritual bathing instructions consistent with Qumran's archaeology," explained Cargill, of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). ...

via Dead Sea Scrolls Mystery Solved?.

Before the CIA, there was the Pond

Marcel Petiot It was a night in early November during the infancy of the Cold War when the anti-communist dissidents were hustled through a garden and across a gully to a vehicle on a dark, deserted road in Budapest. They hid in four large crates for their perilous journey.

Four roadblocks stood between them and freedom.

What Zoltan Pfeiffer, a top political figure opposed to Soviet occupation, his wife and 5-year-old daughter did not know as they were whisked out of Hungary in 1947 was that their driver, James McCargar, was a covert agent for one of America's most secretive espionage agencies, known simply as the Pond.

Created during World War II as a purely U.S. operation free of the perceived taint of European allies, the Pond existed for 13 years and was shrouded in secrecy for more than 50 years. It used sources that ranged from Nazi officials to Stalinists and, at one point, a French serial killer.

It operated under the cover of multinational corporations, including American Express, Chase National Bank and Philips, the Dutch-based electronic giant. One of its top agents was a female American journalist.

Now the world can finally get a deeper look at the long-hidden roots of American espionage as tens of thousands of once-secret documents found in locked safes and filing cabinets in a barn near Culpeper, Va., in 2001 have finally become public after a long security review by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The papers, which the Pond's leader tried to keep secret long after the organization was dissolved, were placed in the National Archives in College Park, Md., in 2008 but only opened to the public in April. Those records plus documents obtained by The Associated Press in the past two years from the FBI, CIA and other agencies under the Freedom of Information Act portray a sophisticated organization obsessed with secrecy that operated a network of 40 chief agents and more than 600 sources in 32 countries. The AP has also interviewed former officials, family members, historians and archivists.

The Pond, designed to be relatively small and operate out of the limelight, appeared to score some definite successes, but rivals questioned its sources and ultimately, it became discredited because its pugnacious leader was too cozy with Sen. Joseph McCarthy and other radical anti-communists. ...

via AP IMPACT: Before the CIA, there was the Pond - Yahoo! News.

New high-resolution photo of famous 'Face on Mars' proves it is just a rocky hill

The close up of the famous rocky outcrop on the surface of Mars which is unrecognisable from the famous 'face' spotted in the 70sIt was the startling photograph that spawned a thousand conspiracy theories.

A photograph taken by the American Viking 1 Orbiter in July 1976 appeared to show a hill in the shape of a human face on the dusty surface of Mars.

But a new photograph released today, which was taken with Nasa’s high-definition HiRISE camera, finally shows the Face on Mars for what it really is: just a large, rocky hill in the middle of the Martian desert.

This is the closest ever image of the famous outcrop which should, once and for all, scotch the conspiracy theorists who believe that the 'face' is conclusive evidence of intelligent life on Mars.

Within days of its discovery in 1976, space enthusiasts were speculating that the structure was man-made and had been built by Martians in the distant past.

Today's image was taken by HiRISE from on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which can pick out incredible detail from 300 kilometres above the planet’s surface.

The rocky formation is known as a mesa, a large rocky outcrop with a flat top and steep, cliff-like sides.

The Face’ mesa is in the Cydonia region and is a couple of miles long and a few hundred feet high.

Conspiracy theorists insist that the 'face' is an A black and white version of the new HiRISE photo artifact from an ancient Martian civililsation and the centre of a Nasa cover-up.

Nasa even added to the theory by referring to the picture's human likeness in the caption it added to the photo when it first released it to the general public.

The outcrop looked a little like a face, complete with eyes, nose and mouth, because of the angle of the sun and its cratered surface, and Nasa happily pointed this fact out. ...

2nd image: A black and white version of the new HiRISE photo, The face is almost impossible to spot in this high-res image

via New high-resolution photo of famous 'Face on Mars' proves it is just a rocky hill | Mail Online.

Weird mountain.

HMS Investigator, Ship Lost For More Than 150 Years, Recovered In Canada

InvestigatorCanadian archeologists have found a ship abandoned more than 150 years ago in the quest for the fabled Northwest Passage and which was lost in the search for the doomed expedition of Sir John Franklin, the head of the team said Wednesday.

Marc-Andre Bernier, Parks Canada's head of underwater archaeology, said the HMS Investigator, abandoned in the ice in 1853, was found in shallow water in Mercy Bay along the northern coast of Banks Island in Canada's western Arctic.

"The ship is standing upright in very good condition. It's standing in about 11 meters (36 feet) of water," he said. "This is definitely of the utmost importance. This is the ship that sailed the last leg of the Northwest Passage."

The Investigator was one of many American and British ships sent out to search for the HMS Erebus and the Terror, vessels commanded by Franklin in his ill-fated search for the Northwest Passage in 1845.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice said the British government has been notified that one of their naval shipwrecks has been discovered, as well as the bodies of three sailors.

via HMS Investigator, Ship Lost For More Than 150 Years, Recovered In Canada.

Japanese Researchers Invent Holograms You Can Touch

Holograms you can touchWe're still waiting for flying cars, laser guns and teleportation devices, but it looks like we can scratch one childhood dream off the list: touchable holograms. According to the NTDTV report posted after the jump, researchers at Japan's Tokyo University have managed to concoct holograms that not only react to touch, but that also create the sensation of touch, itself. Apparently, and not surprisingly, an integral part of the system is Nintendo's Wiimote technology, which senses user input. That's right nerdlings, with this contraption, you could not only talk to that Princess Leia hologram, but you could actually lovingly caress her cinnamon bun-like tresses. If that ain't progress, we don't know what is. [From: LiveLeak, via: Billionaire Boys Club]

via Japanese Researchers Invent Holograms You Can Touch.

One more step towards the holy holodeck. This was posted September 16, 2009 on youtube:

"Up until now, holography has been for the eyes only, and if you'd try to touch it, your hand would go right through. But now we have a technology that also adds the sensation of touch to holograms." The technology consists of software that uses ultrasonic waves to create pressure on the hand of a user touching the projected hologram. Researchers are using two Wiimotes from Nintendos Wii gaming system to track a users hand.  The technology was introduced at SIGGRAPH, an annual computer graphics conference, and has so far only been tested with relatively simple objects. But its inventors have big plans for touchable holograms in the future.

[Hiroyuki Shinoda, Professor, Tokyo University]:

Mars site may hold 'buried life'

Nili Fossae trough on Mars (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)Researchers have identified rocks that they say could contain the fossilised remains of life on early Mars.

The team made their discovery in the ancient rocks of Nili Fossae.

Their work has revealed that this trench on Mars is a "dead ringer" for a region in Australia where some of the earliest evidence of life on Earth has been buried and preserved in mineral form.

They report the findings in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

The team, led by a scientist from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (Seti) in California, believes that the same "hydrothermal" processes that preserved these markers of life on Earth could have taken place on Mars at Nili Fossae.

The rocks there are up to four billion years old, which means they have been around for three-quarters of the history of Mars.

When, in 2008, scientists first discovered carbonate in those rocks the Mars science community reacted with great excitement; carbonate had long been sought as definitive evidence that the Red planet was habitable - that life could have existed there.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

This is the place that we should be checking out for life on early Mars”

End Quote Adrian Brown Seti Institute

Carbonate is what life - or at least the mineral portion of a living organism - turns into, in many cases, when it is buried. The white cliffs of Dover, for example, are white because they contain limestone, or calcium carbonate.

The mineral comes from the fossilised remains shells and bones and provides a way to investigate the ancient life that existed on early Earth. ...

via BBC News - Mars site may hold 'buried life'.

Mars has been abandoned for a long time... at least that's how it seems on the surface. Richard Hoagland has some of the most entertainingly different ideas about Mars.

Data Leak: Galaxy Rich in Earth-Like Planets

NASA didn't plan it this way, but earlier this month a co-investigator on the Kepler satellite mission in the hunt for other Earth-like planets announced to a conference in Oxford, England, that "planets like our own Earth are out there. Our Milky Way galaxy is rich in this kind of planet." The announcement—which wasn't getting out until conference organizers posted a video online last week—was especially striking because it was largely based on Kepler data that team members had been allowed to keep to themselves for further analysis until next February. So, traditionally, such data would be released formally with all involved scientists onboard.

The all-too-public leak came from astronomer and Kepler co-investigator Dimitar Sasselov of Harvard University at the annual TEDGLobal conference, a production of the nonprofit TED.

At 8:15 into his 18-minute talk, Sasselov showed a bar graph of planet size. Of the approximate 265 Kepler planets represented on the graph, about 140 were labeled "like Earth," that is, having a radius smaller than twice Earth's radius. "You can see here small planets dominate the picture," said Sasselov. Until now, astronomers' exoplanet finds had been more like gas giant Jupiter than rocky little Earth. Even Kepler investigators had refrained from discussing any Earth-size finds.

Sasselov did emphasize that these are candidates, not confirmed exoplanets. With further observation, half of them could well turn out to be false alarms. Many could also be Earth-like in size but orbiting so close to their stars that nothing but their size would be Earth-like. Sasselov said that astronomers will be able to identify at least 60 Earth-like planets. So the unauthorized presentation of preliminary results would seem to confirm that Kepler has succeeded in showing that Earth is no fluke.

NASA has yet to comment.

via Data Leak: Galaxy Rich in Earth-Like Planets - ScienceInsider.

The universe is  such a big place that we could each have our own planet. Ours, for example, has been owned for the last 2.2 million years by an alien named Resubius Krobs. As a landlord, we could do worse, but Krobs almost always ignores my requests. He never fixes things, but he always gets paid.  I may move.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Police seize 'ancient' bus on the road for more than 1.1 million miles

Photo: DPABerlin police have impounded an “ancient” Latvian tour bus they found creaking along the streets of the capital with a whopping 1.8 million kilometres on the odometer, they announced Wednesday.Officers pulled over the double-decker bus at about 3 pm Tuesday in the southwestern district of Wilmersdorf, the police said in a statement. They quickly established it had driven 1.8 million kilometres – enough to circle the earth 45 times or drive to the moon and back - twice.

Even on a cursory examination, they found numerous defects with the old vehicle, including faulty brakes, tyres worn down to the fabric, a cracked windscreen and major rusting to load-bearing parts of the chassis. They also found a spare fuel tank mounted in the luggage compartment.

The driver was the only person in the bus at the time it was pulled over. He was relieved of responsibility of the vehicle, which was immediately impounded.

via Police seize 'ancient' bus after 1.8 million kilometres - The Local.

Woman killed by superstitious husband who believed she was possessed by "a demon"

clark-david-janFor the past 29 months, Jan David Clark has sat in an isolation cell in the Ector County Detention Center wondering how things could have gone so awry.

Though he admits to killing his wife during an attempted exorcism in February 2008, he maintains he never intended to harm the woman he “loved and spoiled” for 17 years.

“That was not a willing thing that took place,” Clark, 63, recalled in a jailhouse interview Tuesday. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s still a supernatural thing.”

After more than two years of delays, Clark is scheduled to be tried this fall on murder charges in connection with the death of 59-year-old Susan K. Clark. About two dozen subpoenas were mailed Tuesday to various investigators and law enforcement officials, ordering them to appear for trial Sept. 13 in Judge Stacy Trotter’s 244th District Court.

Clark was unaware of the trial date before the interview but said he is more than ready. “I’ve waited long enough,” he said, adding he has not ruled out testifying in his own defense.

Authorities say Clark killed his wife in their Ferguson Avenue home in West Odessa. According to court filings, Clark told investigators he held his wife’s face to the floor of their bathroom when the exorcized spirit from her body entered his, causing him to kill his wife.

Investigators found Susan Clark wrapped in a bed sheet on her back with a cross and a sword atop her body. Preliminary autopsy results revealed she had been suffocated, court documents show.

Clark said he regrets attempting the exorcism alone, noting a group effort would have been more appropriate.

“My intention was to confront a demon I thought she had,” Clark said. “I had a pretty arrogant attitude about the whole thing.”

Clark acknowledged Tuesday that he did not have “all my oars in the water” at the time of his arrest. But he insisted that murder is the wrong charge because he “did not willingly” kill his wife. ...

via Clark maintains innocence | clark, innocence, maintains - Local News - Odessa American Online.

Revered Chinese Panda Quan Quan Dies From Gas Poisoning

Chinese police have detained a man in connection with the gas poisoning death of Quan Quan, revered as "the heroic mother" zoo panda who had given birth to seven cubs.

The 48-year-old man, identified only by his surname Yang, had hired workers to disinfect a former air raid shelter he had leased to grow mushrooms, the state news agency Xinhua reported today.

The shelter was near the Jinan Zoo's panda house in eastern Shandong Province, and toxic gas used by the workers leaked through an air pipe used to cool the pandas, fatally poisoning Quan Quan.

Quan Quan was 21 years old, the equivalent of more than 70 in human terms, the agency said. Once she became ill after inhaling carbon monoxide and chlorine she was taken to a hospital, but died Thursday after three hours of emergency treatment.

According to a spokeswoman for the local civil air defense office, which owns the shelter, it was not aware that the air pipe existed because it "was not included in the facility's design paper." ...

via Revered Chinese Panda Quan Quan Dies From Gas Poisoning.

Plankton decline across oceans as waters warm

Microscope picture of planktonThe amount of phytoplankton - tiny marine plants - in the top layers of the oceans has declined markedly over the last century, research suggests.

Writing in the journal Nature, scientists say the decline appears to be linked to rising water temperatures.

They made their finding by looking at records of the transparency of sea water, which is affected by the plants.

The decline - about 1% per year - could be ecologically significant as plankton sit at the base of marine food chains.

This is the first study to attempt a comprehensive global look at plankton changes over such a long time scale.

"What we think is happening is that the oceans are becoming more stratified as the water warms," said research leader Daniel Boyce from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

"The plants need sunlight from above and nutrients from below; and as it becomes more stratified, that limits the availability of nutrients," he told BBC News.

Phytoplankton are typically eaten by zooplankton - tiny marine animals - which themselves are prey for small fish and other animals.

via BBC News - Plankton decline across oceans as waters warm.

Quantum fractals at the border of magnetism

U.S., German and Austrian physicists studying the perplexing class of materials that includes high-temperature superconductors are reporting this week the unexpected discovery of a simple "scaling" behavior in the electronic excitations measured in a related material. The experiments, which were conducted on magnetic heavy-fermion metals, offer direct evidence of the large-scale electronic consequences of "quantum critical" effects.

The experimental and theoretical results are reported this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science by physicists at Rice University in Houston; the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids and the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, both in Dresden, Germany; and the Vienna University of Technology in Austria.

"High-temperature superconductivity has been referred to as the biggest unsolved puzzle in modern physics, and these results provide further support to the idea that correlated electron effects -- including high-temperature superconductivity -- arise out of quantum critical points," said Rice physicist Qimiao Si, the group's lead theorist.

"Our experiments clearly show that variables from classical physics cannot explain all of the observed macroscopic properties of materials at quantum critical points," said lead experimentalist Frank Steglich, director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids.

The experiments by Steglich's group were conducted on a heavy-fermion metal containing ytterbium, rhodium and silicon that is known as YbRh2Si2 (YRS). YRS is one of the best-characterized and most-studied quantum critical materials.

Quantum criticality refers to a phase transition, or tipping point, that marks an abrupt change in the physical properties of a material. The most common example of an everyday phase change would be the melting of ice, which marks the change of water from a solid to a liquid phase. The term "quantum critical matter" refers to any material that undergoes a phase transition due solely to the jittering of subatomic particles as described by Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Heavy-fermion metals like YRS are one such material class, and considerable evidence exists that high-temperature superconductors are another.

Scientists are keen to better understand high-temperature superconductivity because the technology could revolutionize electric generators, MRI scanners, high-speed trains and other devices. ...

via Rice University | News & Media.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CSS hack for "monochrome" theme... what changes will make this theme wider?

Theme Name:monochrome
Theme URI:
Description:This theme supports widget, threaded-comments, theme-options,and translation is ready. Also including page-navigation and multi level dropdown menu.
Author URI:
Tags: black, white, three-columns, fixed-width, theme-options, threaded-comments, translation-ready, rtl-language-support, sticky-post

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Meet the Zedonk, a Zebra Donkey hybrid

Zebra, donkey hybrid born in DahlonegaIn all his years running the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, C.W. Wathen has never seen it happen. But five days ago, a zedonk was born.

“The animals have been running (in the fields) together for more than 40 years, but this is the first time that this has happened here,” said Wathen, the preserve’s founder and general manager. “We never suspected that they (had mated), so it was quite a surprise when the zedonk was born.”

The animal is a mix between a zebra and donkey. With black stripes prominently displayed on her legs and face, her zebra heritage is readily apparent, but her slender face and spindly legs are more donkeylike.

“White tigers are more of our calling card, but this is one of the most unique animals that has ever been born here,” Wathen said.

While she was born to a donkey mother, the baby zedonk’s instincts are all zebra.

“Usually, a foal will lay over on its side, sunning itself,” Wathen said. “But the zedonk sits up at all time — like she’s on alert looking out for predators. She’s still got some of her wild instincts.”

Although it’s uncommon for donkeys and zebras to mate, it isn’t unheard of. In 2005, a zebra gave birth to a zedonk in Barbados, according to the news website, Science Daily. And in the 1970s, three zedonks were born at a European zoo to a donkey mother, according to the Colchester Zoo’s website.

In about two weeks, the 5-day-old zedonk will begin roaming the property with the rest of the animals — including a camel, a donkey sibling, her zebra father and a 40-year-old miniature donkey.

Once the zedonk gets a little older, Wathen said she’ll be able to go out for off-site visits like some of the other animals on the preserve.

“The kids (visiting the preserve) have been going crazy about the zedonk,” he said. ...

via Local news, sports and lifestyles from Northeast Georgia.

Santa Claus, an Ordained Anglican Bishop, Rips Catholic Church

Bishop Santa ClausTalk about piling on -- now even Santa Claus is taking shots at the Catholic Church.

An explanation, of course, is in order. It's not the jolly old elf who lives at the North Pole with toy-crafting elves and flying reindeer. No, Virginia, this is a decidedly more politicized Claus, an ordained bishop from Nevada with the likeness and legal name of his famous doppelganger.

And this Santa Claus is angry. Last week, in a scathing, widely distributed press release, Claus called out the church for its failure to institute sufficient reform in the wake of clergy sex abuse scandals. He also suggested that he may sue the church to force change."Bishop Santa intends 'to explore and utilize a variety of legal means,'" the statement read in part, "'to hold the Roman Catholic Church, especially the pope and Vatican, accountable for the suffering of many thousands of vulnerable children at the hands of clergy, straight and gay, young and old, celibate or not.'"

But sue the Catholic Church? Who is this Santa Claus?

According to Washoe County, Nev., he's 63-year-old Thomas O'Connor, a Lake Tahoe man who legally changed his name to Santa Claus (no middle initial) in 2005. A look at his website -- yes, Virginia, Claus has a website -- reveals that he was recently elevated to the title of missionary bishop in the Apostles' Anglican Church, an ecumenical Christian denomination based in Ohio and Michigan.

AOL News spoke with the presiding bishop of the Apostles' Anglican Church, Bishop Lawrence Cameron, and confirmed that Claus is, indeed, a bishop. As a missionary bishop, Claus does not preside over a geographical territory or diocese.

AOL News also contacted representatives for two of the nation's largest governing bodies of Anglicanism -- the Anglican Church in North America and the Episcopal Church -- and neither had heard of Claus' organization.

In an interview with AOL News, Claus explained why a man of his name and position would target the Catholic Church. "No one's stepped up to the plate. Of all people, why not Santa Claus?" ...

via Santa Claus, an Ordained Anglican Bishop, Rips Catholic Church.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attacks Octopus Paul

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attacks Octopus Paul Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian leader, says Paul the Octopus, the sea creature that correctly predicted the outcome of World Cup games, is a symbol of all that is wrong with the western world.

He claims that the octopus is a symbol of decadence and decay among "his enemies".

Paul, who lives at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre, in Germany, won the hearts of the Spanish by predicting their World Cup victory.

He became an international star after predicting the outcome of all seven German World Cup matches accurately.

However, the Iranian president accused the octopus of spreading "western propaganda and superstition." Paul was mentioned by Mr Ahmadinejad on various occasions during a speech in Tehran at the weekend.

"Those who believe in this type of thing cannot be the leaders of the global nations that aspire, like Iran, to human perfection, basing themselves in the love of all sacred values," he said.

via Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attacks Octopus Paul - Telegraph.

I suspect something is getting lost in translation.

Popular people live longer

Having lots of friends could help you live longer, scientists thinkHealthy 'social connections' - with relatives, friends, neighbours or workmates - can improve our odds of survival by 50 per cent, the study found.

But being a hermit can be as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, being an alcoholic, doing no exercise - and can even be twice as bad for us as being obese.

Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, from the Department of Psychology at Brigham Young University, said: "The idea that a lack of social relationships is a risk factor for death is still not widely recognized by health organisations and the public.

"When someone is connected to a group and feels responsibility for other people, that sense of purpose and meaning translates to taking better care of themselves and taking fewer risks."

The researchers looked at data from 148 previous studies that measured human interaction and tracked health outcomes for a period of seven and a half years on average.

Because information on relationship quality was unavailable, the 50 per cent increased odds of survival may underestimate the benefit of healthy relationships.

Professor Holt-Lunstad said: "The data simply show whether they were integrated in a social network.

"That means the effects of negative relationships are lumped in there with the positive ones. They are all averaged together."

Study co-author Professor Timothy Smith, who works alongside Professor Holt-Lunstad, said the results did not just stem from elderly people living longer - with men and women of all ages benefitting from close relationships.

The Professor also said that modern conveniences and technology have lead some to think that good friendships aren't necessary - but that this was not the case.

He said: "This effect is not isolated to older adults. Relationships provide a level of protection across all ages.

"We take relationships for granted as humans we're like fish that don't notice the water.

"That constant interaction is not only beneficial psychologically but directly to our physical health."

via Popular people live longer - Telegraph.

Caught on video: Girl climbs into arcade claw machine, survives.

After 10,000 years, ice-age skeleton gets back human form claim to have reconstructed the image of Las Palmas Woman, one of the oldest sets of human remains in the Americas, discovered in a flooded cave in southeastern Mexico.

A joint team from Mexico and France reconstructed the face and appearance of the woman, who was in her late 40s, 152 centimetres tall and weighed around 60 kgs, Spanish news agency the EFE quoted a communique of Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History as saying.

The institute said that the reconstructed features of the woman, found in a cave in Quintana Roo state, "are similar to those of populations in Southeast Asia which indicates that the migrations that populated Americas did not come only from northern Asia but also from the central and southern regions".

The Las Palmas Woman lived during the ice age some 10,000 years ago in what is today the Yucatan Peninsula, and was discovered in 2002. The skeleton "was found nearly complete and in a good state of preservation, so that the most advanced studies of forensic anthropology could be performed on it," according to the institute.

The sculpture of the entire body, done in France, can be seen in the exposition in the city of Guanajuato. To date the oldest human remains in the Americas are those belonging to the so-called Naharon Woman, who lived some 11,600 years ago, which were found in Quintana Roo.Alejandro Terrazas of the National Autonomous University of Mexico said the reconstruction of the Las Palmas Woman was done according to criteria of forensic anthropology.

via After 10,000 years, ice-age skeleton gets back human form.

Bloody Protesters Wrap Themselves in Plastic for PETA Demonstration

PETA protesters pretend to be meatAnimal rights activists say meat is murder -- bloody, bloody murder.

Demonstrators from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently stripped down in New York City's Times Square, wrapped themselves up in cellophane and doused themselves with fake blood so they looked like meat on sale at a supermarket.

They say they put on the July 27 stunt to help meat eaters realize that buying a steak from a grocery store is no different from buying a corpse.

"We are challenging people to really think about what 'meat' is," said PETA spokeswoman Ashley Byrne in a statement. "When you eat flesh, you're eating the corpse of an abused animal who did not want to die. We're encouraging kind consumers to try going vegan."

via Bloody Protesters Wrap Themselves in Plastic for PETA Demonstration.

Trekkers offered cave tours in Klingon

A Klingon character from the Star Trek series The Jenolan Caves near the Blue Mountains west of Sydney is about to become possibly the first tourist attraction in the world to launch tours in the fictional Star Trek language of Klingon.

The link between the world's oldest dated limestone cave system and the fictional Star Trek language is through a spaceship, the USS Jenolan, which featured in an episode of the Next Generation series.

Earlier this month two Klingon scholars from the United States flew to Australia to tour the caves and finalise the translation of a self-guided tour.

They have recorded it at a Sydney studio and the commentary will be available late next month on a digital audio device.

Jenolan Caves tours will also be available in 10 other more commonly-spoken languages.

via Trekkers offered cave tours in Klingon - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

The Fermi Paradox, Phase Changes and Intergalactic Colonisation

In 1950, the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi raised the question that now bears his name. If there are intelligent civilisations elsewhere in the Universe with technologies that far surpass our own, why do we see no sign of them?

Since then, the so-called Fermi Paradox has puzzled astronomers and science fiction writers alike. And although there are no shortage of ways to approach the problem (this blog has covered them here and here for example), nobody has come up with a convincing explanation. .

Now there is another take on the problem thanks to a new approach by Igor Bezsudnov and Andrey Snarskii at the National Technical University of Ukraine.

Their approach is to imagine that civilisations form at a certain rate, grow to fill a certain volume of space and then collapse and die. They even go as far as to suggest that civilisations have a characteristic life time, which limits how big they can become.

In certain circumstances, however, when civilisations are close enough together in time and space, they can come into contact and when this happens the cross-fertilisation of ideas and cultures allows them both to flourish in a way that increases their combined lifespan.

Bezsudnov and Snarskii point out that this process of spreading into space can be easily modelled using a cellular automaton. And they've gone ahead and created their own universe using a 10,000 x 10,000 cell automaton running over 320,000 steps.

The parameters that govern the evolution of this universe are simple: the probability of a civilisation forming, the usual lifespan of such a civilisation and the extra bonus time civilisations get when they meet.

The result gives a new insight into the Fermi Paradox. Bezsudnov and Snarskii say that for certain values of these parameters, the universe undergoes a phase change from one in which civilisations tend not to meet and spread into one in which the entire universe tends to become civilised as different groups meet and spread. ...

via Technology Review: Blogs: arXiv blog: The Fermi Paradox, Phase Changes and Intergalactic Colonisation.

Assyrian Tomb discovered in Iraq

German and Iraqi archaeologists have completed the excavations of an Assyrian tomb which dates back to the 7th century BC. The grave chamber was discovered last year in Arbil, in the country’s Kurdistan region.According to the German Archaeological Institute, the vaulted tomb was built by baked bricks and contained at least three sarcophagoi with up to five individuals. In accordance with the ancient burial rites, there was a number of grave goods, such as glazed and un-glazed pottery vessels, lamps and a bronze bowl.Architectural layout and the furnishing of the grave chamber are well known from other Assyrian capitals with Neo-Assyrian occupation, such as Ashur and Nimrud. Next to this tomb, an archaeological sounding was made, aimed at investigating the context of the tomb. A number of graves have been found, belonging to a cemetery, most probably occupied after the end of the Assyrian empire for several centuries. Below this cemetery, there are remains of mud-brick architecture with the same orientation as of the grave chamber. These walls belong to a building either connected directly to the grave chamber or to a subsequent building with the same orientation.More tests were done in the area around the grave chamber using ground penetrating radar, in order to detect archaeological sub-surface structures by a non-destructive method. As a result, remains of substantial ancient architecture have been identified. Its orientation and depth are similar to the grave chamber and, therefore, indicate a possible Neo- or Post-Assyrian date. Thus, the hypothesis on the area to be interpreted as an ancient mound with remains of occupation could be confirmed. Although this mound was subject to modern building activities, it is still visible today. Therefore, the area investigated shows a substantial potential for further archaeological research.

via Assyrian Tomb discovered in Iraq.

Ancient skull suggests head reshaping practice

image: Unusual Paracas skull supposedly deformed by binding the growing  head of an infant. The resulting domed head was considered beautiful.  Photographed in the Museo Regional de Ica. - world-mysteries

ELEVEN thousand years ago a tall and solidly built Aboriginal man lived a hard life. His bones reveal he had multiple breaks in both forearms, a fractured ankle so severe his shin bones fused together and arthritis in his jaw.

''Death might have been something to look forward to for him,'' palaeoanthropologist Peter Brown said.

But since his skeleton, known as Nacurrie, was discovered in 1948, near Swan Hill on the Murray River, it has been the changes to his skull that have been of most interest to Professor Brown. ...

The skeleton of Nacurrie, which has been repatriated, suggests his skull shape was modified by subtle means, probably by massage from his mother's hands. Several other skulls found in the Murray-Darling area also had modified skulls.

''It is clear from the archaeological record that a group of people living on the Murray River used to do this … between 10,000 and 13, 000 years ago.''

Professor Brown said massaging the skull doesn't cause brain damage because the brain is a flexible organ. The practice was probably done for aesthetic reasons, but it wasn't known why it had stopped in Aborigines.

Nacurrie man's skeleton also shows Aborigines living 10,000 years ago were much bigger than those first encountered during European settlement. ''The average height for [Aboriginal] men when Europeans arrived was about 1.6 metres or less whereas 9000 years ago they were closer to 1.8 metres tall.''

Cranium manipulation was common throughout history in different cultures. By some reports, it was the most popular type of body modification after circumcision, said Professor Brown, whose findings are published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

In Papua New Guinea some mothers would bind their babies' heads with a tight bandage, which created a cone shape, while in South America babies were sometimes bound to create a flat-shaped head, he said.

''In the Netherlands and Denmark they used to put little caps on babies which used to change the shape of their heads. That was done until fairly recently.'' ...

via Ancient skull suggests head reshaping practice.

Higgs boson still eludes capture – but now we know where it isn't

Simulated trace of a Higgs bosonScientists are a step closer to discovering an elusive particle that is thought to give mass to the basic building blocks of nature.

Physicists hunting the Higgs boson at the Tevatron particle collider near Chicago said their latest results will help researchers close in on the long-sought prize.

The Tevatron, which is the main rival to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Cern, near Geneva, has ruled out a quarter of the energy range where the Higgs particle is expected to be lurking, scientists told the International Conference on High Energy Physics in Paris today.

The announcement follows weeks of speculation that physicists had seen glimpses of the Higgs particle at the US collider. The rumours were denied by staff at Fermilab, where the Tevatron is based.

"We've updated and upgraded all of our analyses and right now, we just need the Tevatron to keep running the way it is," said Robert Roser, co-spokesman for a collaboration of 550 physicists who work on the Tevatron's CDF detector.

The Tevatron collides beams of protons with beams of antiprotons (their antimatter counterparts) at close to the speed of light inside a four-mile underground ring. The machine is less powerful than the LHC, but has been running for longer and has a head start in the hunt for the Higgs particle.

Previous experiments suggest the Higgs particle has a mass somewhere between 114 and 185 GeV (gigaelectronvolts), where one GeV is roughly equivalent to the mass of a proton, a subatomic particle found in atomic nuclei.

The latest results from the Tevatron, which combine the efforts to find the Higgs particle from its two detectors, CDF and DZero, rule out the possibility that its mass is between 158 and 175 GeV.

"Our goal first of all is to find the particle if we can, not to exclude where it might be, but we'll take what we can get," said Roser. ...

via Higgs boson still eludes capture – but now we know where it isn't | Science |

Good Connection Really Does Lead to Mind Meld

When two people experience a deep connection, they’re informally described as being on the same wavelength. There may be neurological truth to that.

Brain scans of a speaker and listener showed their neural activity synchronizing during storytelling. The stronger their reported connection, the closer the coupling.

The experiment was the first to use fMRI, which measures blood flow changes in the brain, on two people as they talked. Different brain regions have been linked to both speaking and listening, but “the ongoing interaction between the two systems during everyday communication remains largely unknown,” wrote Princeton University neuroscientists Greg Stephens and Uri Hasson in the July 27 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They found that speaking and listening used common rather than separate neural subsystems inside each brain. Even more striking was an overlap between the brains of speaker and listener. When post-scan interviews found that stories had resonated, scans showed a complex interplay of neural call and response, as if language were a wire between test subjects’ brains.

The findings don’t explain why any two people “click,” as synchronization is a result of that connection, not its cause. And while the brain regions involved are linked to language, their precise functions are not clear. But even if the findings are general, they support what psychologists call the “theory of interactive linguistic alignment” — a fancy way of saying that talking brings people closer by making them share a common conceptual ground. ...

via Good Connection Really Does Lead to Mind Meld | Wired Science |

Garden of Eden found in Africa

Pinnacle PointA STRIP of land on Africa's southern coast became a last refuge for the band of early humans who survived an ice age that wiped out the species elsewhere, scientists maintain.

The land, referred to by researchers as "the garden of Eden," may have been the only part of Africa to remain continuously habitable during the ice age that began about 195,000 years ago.

Scientists' excavations showed how a combination of rich vegetation on land and nutrient-laden currents in the sea created a source of food that could sustain early humans through devastating climate changes.

"Shortly after Homo sapiens first evolved, the harsh climate conditions nearly extinguished our species," said Professor Curtis Marean, of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University.

"Recent finds suggest the small population that gave rise to all humans alive today survived by exploiting a unique combination of resources along the southern coast of Africa."

The idea that early humans were once reduced to a tiny remnant population arose from research showing that modern humans have far less genetic diversity than most other species.

Some scientists suggested the human population could have fallen to as low as a few hundred individuals during this period...

During his study, Prof Marean discovered that the isolated caves around an area known as Pinnacle Point, South Africa, 386 kilometres east of Cape Town, were rich in ancient human artifacts.

In a soon to be published paper, Prof Marean and his colleagues argued the caves contain archaeological remains going back at least 164,000 years - and possibly even further back. ...

via Last few early humans survived in 'Eden', scientists say |