Friday, April 29, 2011

Not again. disabled my blog this morning. April 29, 2011

Come on you people, this is getting annoying. I do not believe I am in violation of any of your terms of service. Could you please set up a policy where you send an email to the blog owner before you disable a blog?

Dear Automattic,

This happened before Friday, December 10, 2010. My blog was restored and I was told it was an error, but not what caused the error. Why is this happening?

Could you please send long term blog owners an email BEFORE you disable our blogs?

Was there really a complaint this time, or is this just another technical error? If there is any complaint, please allow me to fix the problem so I can continue blogging.



Links to strange news today, Friday April 29, 2011

Wedding entrance dance to top all wedding entrance dances

T-Mobile's Royal Wedding Dance celebrates the marriage of William and Kate with the help of a host of royal look alikes and music from East 17! T-Mobile wishes William and Kate a long and happy marriage.

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Expert reveals evidence of Sasquatch species

Sasquatch.04272011 "My goal is not to convince, my goal is to open minds,"said Jeff Meldrum, professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University. Meldrum has been researching the specimen of Sasquatch for more than 15 years and has received national attention for his work, both positive and negative.

His research examines various evidences which suggest that the mythical creature Sasquatch may in fact be real. In particular, he hypothesizes there may be not only one creature living today, but as many as 500-750 of the Sasquatch species.

"People have been so conditioned that this isn't possible that when they finally see it, it upsets their whole equilibrium," he said.

Meldrum said many people, both inside and outside of academia, don't believe that Sasquatch could be real.

"Some of the naysayers adapt that position because such a creature, such a species could not exist under our noses and not have been discovered," he said.

Others, he said, don't accept the possibility out of stubbornness. ...

via Expert reveals evidence of Sasquatch species - USU Statesman.

Since no evidence is revealed in this article, it should have been titled, "Expert believes there may be up to 700 living Sasquatches". If, for example, a timeline and map showing where different modern sightings have been supports a population of 700, then that would be evidence. So what is the evidence supporting this belief?

A Secret to Long Life: UFOs?

[GARDNER.Imich1]Ralph Gardner - ... I met Alexander Imich at a party where he was the oldest person in the room. That may not sound like a big deal—more and more frequently these days I attend events where I am the oldest person. But the party where I met Dr. Imich was for people over the age of 100, and there were a couple dozen of them.

Dr. Imich, a chemist born in 1903, and I had a brief conversation at the Queens event. I vowed to see him again, and not because he was ancient, or at least not just because he was ancient. My grandmother lived to almost 105, but she was just a shadow of herself after 100. Dr. Imich, on the other hand, remains a dynamo. But it was his interests that most intrigued me. At the party, he regaled me with tales of paranormal events he claimed he'd witnessed—at his West End Avenue apartment, no less.

I don't believe in parapsychology or UFOs, another of the centenarian's interests, but I was impressed with his passion on the subject and his claim to have published dozens of scholarly papers in several languages. So I asked Arthur Solomon, the gentleman who had invited me to the party back in October, whether he could reconnect me with Dr. Imich (the honorific from a Ph.D. he earned in zoology in 1929).

Mr. Solomon checked and reported that unfortunately Dr. Imich had entered the hospital with some unspecified ailment. A couple of months later, Mr. Solomon contacted me. "I bet you never expected to hear from me again," his email began. "But here I am with news about Dr. Imich. I was told he is feeling better and would like to do the interview."

So on Monday afternoon I visited him at his apartment at the Esplanade, a senior-citizens residence on West End Avenue. He has lived there 50 years, actually since before it became a senior residence and was a hotel, according to Robin Kaufman, his social worker.

If there were any doubts about Dr. Imich's mental acuity, he dispelled them within seconds of our arrival at his cluttered one-bedroom apartment with excellent views of the Hudson River. He complimented Natalie Keyssar, our photographer ("You're beautiful," he said); commented that he wasn't aware that The Wall Street Journal ran photographs; and then patiently spelled out the name of the Polish city where he was born, Czestochowa, launching into its history. ...

Occasionally Dr. Imich would lapse into silence—only for a few seconds—and I'd wonder whether it was a sign of senility, or at least flagging stamina. But that wasn't it, because his next recollection, or retrieval of a name or date from the distant past, was just as confident, his voice just as robust, as anything that he'd said previously  ....

But on to the paranormal, though Dr. Imich doesn't claim to possess such powers himself. He produced bottles filled with objects such as bottle caps and plastic utensils that couldn't have fit through their holes. He also told the story of the time he heard an explosion in his apartment and discovered a visitor, whose arrival he'd been awaiting at his front door, seated on the floor behind him. He also believes in UFOs and has a photograph on his desk of friends he says were abducted by aliens. Finally, he believes that humans can survive largely without food, and attributes his longevity, at least in part, to how little he eats.

Whether he's right about any or all these things scarcely matters. "I've never seen Alex tired," said Ms. Kaufman, who works for Selfhelp, a support organization for Holocaust survivors. "All that stuff he was talking about keeps him going."

via A Secret to Long Life: UFOs -

Awesome. But it would be nice to hear what Dr. Imich actually said about UFOs.  I don't understand how someone can get to the point where he is writing for the WSJ, and yet is able to get away with saying he does not believe that some flying objects are unidentified.
"I don't believe in parapsychology or UFOs".

Why, then, write an article titled "A Secret to Long Life: UFOs"?

Saying you "don't believe in UFOs" is a bone headed statement.  So, do you believe in ... "objects"? Do you believe some objects fly, float, reflect, or otherwise appear to be in the sky? Okay, last question: Do you believe some objects that appear to be in the sky are unidentified?  If you answered YES to all three, then you DO believe in UFOs, so stop lying. If you do not believe some flying objects are unidentified, then kindly explain exactly what was picked up by forward looking infrared radar by the Mexican military, for starters.

And, Ralph, parapsychology is a field of study. It really exists! Do you understand what I'm saying? The field of study, parapsychology, exists. I think you intended to say that you believe people are mistaken who believe in ghosts, life after death, telekinesis, telepathy, regression memories, out of body experiences, and anything else parapsychologists research.  I guess your way of saying it is shorter.

Our most traumatic memories could be erased, thanks to the marine snail

Our most traumatic memories could be erased, thanks to the marine snail

Alasdair Wilkins — Although the idea of erasing your memories may sound horrific, there may be nothing better for those dealing with severe trauma. Now we're one step closer to making it a reality, with a little help from the tiny marine snail.

UCLA researcher David Glanzman led the study, which discovered that it's possible to erase long-term memories in snails by inhibiting a specific protein kinase known as PKM. While researchers have previously made headway with memory-erasing drugs, this new work focuses on the actual neurons of the brain, potentially allowing far finer control over the memory erasure process. If the methods used here could be adapted to humans, Glanzman hopes it could be used to help treat severe post-traumatic stress disorder, drug addiction, and possible long-term memory disorders such as Alzheimer's.

Glanzman explains how it all works:

"Almost all the processes that are involved in memory in the snail also have been shown to be involved in memory in the brains of mammals. We found that if we inhibit PKM in the marine snail, we will erase the memory for long-term sensitization. In addition, we can erase the long-term change at a single synapse that underlies long-term memory in the snail."


via Our most traumatic memories could be erased, thanks to the marine snail.

Many negative behaviors, I think, can be attributed to bad memories. You can reprogram your bad memories, because the way memory works, you only remember the last time you remembered something. You don't remember the actual event. You rebuild your memories every time you remember them.

Reprogramming takes time ... although if you do it in lucid dreams, you might reclaim the lost 1/3rd of your life as well as making your waking life better. I'd like to be able to get into my head and switch off a few things, make it as if they never happened. ... with the option to switch them back on later.

Here's how. Step 1: Start having lucid dreams. Step 2: Meditate and cultivate your objective observer. Step 3: Observe your dream as you dream. If fun stuff happens, enjoy it. If anything bad happens, take the opportunity to solve the problem. It's your world in the dream, so create a solution and see how it feels.

California may use vibrational energy of driving to generate power

When you get into your car, for the daily commute or for a relaxing weekend visit to a friend house you give off energy. Not just the energy from the fossil fuels that you burn, but a different kind of energy, vibrational energy. Most of us do not give that energy a second thought, unless we're trying to do something that requires fine motor skills, such as putting the lid back onto your slightly deformed cup of scalding hot coffee, but it is there.

It is also a potential source of a green, and renewable energy. California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a democrat from the Burbank district, hopes to help his home state to use it effectively. He has put in motion a legislation proposing that, if it passes, would create a pilot program designed to capture those vibrations.

The system, if implemented, would place sensors under a stretch of California roads. These sensors would be able to collect the vibrations caused by traffic and covert them into power. This system, know as piezoelectric generation, has the potential to add significantly to the power supply, if the system were implemented on a larger scale. A potential test patch, a one mile stretch of a two lane highway, would be able to create enough new electricity to power roughly 500 homes for an entire year, or give juice to 120 electrical vehicles each day. Not to mention the powering of street lights and traffic signals.

The proposal does not divert funds from any areas, since California regularly sets aside funds for these types of projects. It also would not represent any interruption to the flow of traffic in the state, since the sensors would only be placed under the ground during the regular repaving of roads. No word yet on when this bill will go to a vote or when residents of the state of California can expect to see these changes, should the bill pass in the state legislation.

via California may use vibrational energy of driving to generate power.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Massive Lightning Near Space Shuttle Endeavour

The space shuttle Endeavour is seen on launch pad 39a as a storm passes by prior to the rollback of the Rotating Service Structure (RSS), Thursday, April 28, 2011, at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. During the 14-day mission, Endeavour and the STS-134 crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and spare parts including two S-band communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank and additional spare parts for Dextre. Launch is targeted for Friday, April 29 at 3:47 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

via Space Shuttle Endeavour (201104280022HQ) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!.

Squids In Space--Seriously

The last flight of the space shuttle Endeavor will be both manned and squidded.

The most famous science experiment on board, of course, will be the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which will set up shop at the ISS to measure cosmic rays, dusting for the fingerprints of dark matter and antimatter. So that's cool. But is it as cool as baby squid in space?

...why exactly would you want to put squids in space? I mean, besides the cool factor, what is there to be gained? I did a little more poking around, and, bless the internet, there's a webpage on the project. It turns out that the particular species of squid to be shipped off-planet is our old friend the bobtail squid.

What makes this squid unique is its light organ, which glows at night and hides its shadow from prey lurking underneath. The light is powered by a particular bioluminescent bacteria (Vibrio fishceri) that the squid draws in from the surrounding water. Every day it expels the old bacteria and takes in a new batch. Newly born squid can’t produce the light, but within several hours they become bioluminescent as they take in the bacteria. This development gives scientists a close look at morphogenesis, which is the biological process that causes an organism to develop its shape—one of the fundamentals of development biology. The squid experiment came about when Ned [faculty sponsor] learned about the work of Dr. Jamie S. Foster at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Dr. Foster’s work is focused on what happens to this morphogenesis process under micro-gravity conditions.

A-ha! So the real question is morphogenesis under micro-gravity, or, what is the effect of gravity on how an organism makes its shape? And the squid/bacteria symbiosis happens to be a good model system to answer this question.

If you're having a hard time making that connection, it's because a critical piece of information was omitted from the otherwise excellent summary above. That is, when a newly born squid takes in the bacteria that it needs to produce light, those bacteria induce an serious physical restructuring of the squid's body so that it can host them appropriately. The baby squid actually changes shape as a result of taking in bacteria.

Which is a pretty wild thing to study all by itself, on Earth, but when you decide to study it in space . . . whoa.

via Squids In Space--Seriously.

Mind-controlled prosthetics to help amputees

Jesse Sullivan would like an upgrade (Image: Mark Gilliland/AP/PA)ROBOTIC limbs controlled solely by the mind could be available to paralysed people within a year.

Monkeys are being trained to control what might be the world's most sophisticated and human-like robot arm. But they never touch the prosthetic limb or fiddle with a remote control: they guide it with their thoughts alone. If trials are successful, in a few months from now people with spinal cord injuries could learn to do the same.

In 2008, Andrew Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania published a landmark paper describing how two rhesus macaques learned to feed themselves marshmallows and fruit using a crude robotic limb controlled by electrodes implanted in their brains (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature06996). No brain-controlled prosthetic limb had ever carried out a more complex real-world task. Still, Schwartz envisioned a more elegant and nimble device that paralysed people could use - something much closer to a human hand.

Enter the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL), a bionic limb that closely approximates the form and agility of a human arm and hand. Born from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Revolutionizing Prosthetics programme, and designed by Michael McLoughlin's team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, the MPL is made from a combination of lightweight carbon fibre and high-strength alloys. It has 22 degrees of freedom, compared with the human arm's 30, and can grasp precisely and firmly without crushing fragile objects. The wrist and elbow rotate with ease and, like an average human limb, it weighs just under 4.5 kilograms.

"I would say it's very close to human dexterity," says McLoughlin. "It can't do absolutely everything - it can't cup the palm, for example - but it can control all fingers individually. I don't think there is another limb that approaches it." ..

via Mind-controlled prosthetics to help amputees - health - 28 April 2011 - New Scientist.

Curse of the Pharaoh's DNA

Mummies found in King Tutankhamun's tomb are at the centre of a dispute over DNA analysis.

Jo Marchant  - Some researchers claim to have analysed DNA from Egyptian mummies. Others say that's impossible. Could new sequencing methods bridge the divide?

Cameras roll as ancient-DNA experts Carsten Pusch and Albert Zink scrutinize a row of coloured peaks on their computer screen. There is a dramatic pause. "My god!" whispers Pusch, the words muffled by his surgical mask. Then the two hug and shake hands, accompanied by the laughter and applause of their Egyptian colleagues. They have every right to be pleased with themselves. After months of painstaking work, they have finally completed their analysis of 3,300-year-old DNA from the mummy of King Tutankhamun.

Featured in the Discovery Channel documentary King Tut Unwrapped last year and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)1, their analysis — of Tutankhamun and ten of his relatives — was the latest in a string of studies reporting the analysis of DNA from ancient Egyptian mummies. Apparently revealing the mummies' family relationships as well as their afflictions, such as tuberculosis and malaria, the work seems to be providing unprecedented insight into the lives and health of ancient Egyptians and is ushering in a new era of 'molecular Egyptology'. Except that half of the researchers in the field challenge every word of it.

Enter the world of ancient Egyptian DNA and you are asked to choose between two alternate realities: one in which DNA analysis is routine, and the other in which it is impossible. "The ancient-DNA field is split absolutely in half," says Tom Gilbert, who heads two research groups at the Center for GeoGenetics in Copenhagen, one of the world's foremost ancient-DNA labs.

Unable to resolve their differences, the two sides publish in different journals, attend different conferences and refer to each other as 'believers' and 'sceptics' — when, that is, they're not simply ignoring each other. The Tutankhamun study reignited long-standing tensions between the two camps, with sceptics claiming that in this study, as in most others, the results can be explained by contamination. Next-generation sequencing techniques, however, may soon be able to resolve the split once and for all by making it easier to sequence ancient, degraded DNA. But for now, Zink says, "It's like a religious thing. If our papers are reviewed by one of the other groups, you get revisions like 'I don't believe it's possible'. It's hard to argue with that." ...

The disagreement stems from the dawn of ancient-DNA research. In the 1980s, a young PhD student called Svante Pääbo worked behind his supervisor's back at the University of Uppsala in Sweden to claim he had done what no one else had thought was possible: clone nuclear DNA from a 2,400-year-old Egyptian mummy2. Soon researchers realized that they could use a new technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify tiny amounts of DNA from ancient samples. There was a burst of excitement as DNA was reported from a range of ancient sources, including insects preserved in amber and even an 80 million-year-old dinosaur3.

Then came the fall. It turned out that PCR, susceptible to contamination at the best of times, is particularly risky when working with tiny amounts of old, broken-up DNA. Just a trace of modern DNA — say from an archaeologist who had handled a sample — could scupper a result. The 'dinosaur' DNA belonged to a modern human, as did Pääbo's pioneering clone. Once researchers began to adopt rigorous precautions4, including replicating results in independent labs, attempts to retrieve DNA from Egyptian mummies met with little success5.

That's no surprise, say sceptics. DNA breaks up over time, at a rate that increases with temperature. After thousands of years in Egypt's hot climate, they say, mummies are extremely unlikely to contain DNA fragments large enough to be amplified by PCR. "Preservation in most Egyptian mummies is clearly bad," says Pääbo, now at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthroplogy in Leipzig and a leader in the field. Ancient-DNA researcher Franco Rollo of the University of Camerino in Italy went so far as to test how long mummy DNA might survive. He checked a series of papyrus fragments of various ages, preserved in the similar conditions to the mummies. He estimated that DNA fragments large enough to be identified by PCR — around 90 base pairs long — would have vanished after only around 600 years6.

Yet all the while, rival researchers have published a steady stream of papers on DNA extracted from Egyptian mummies up to 5,000 years old. ...
via Ancient DNA: Curse of the Pharaoh's DNA : Nature News.

Freeman Dyson: Heretical Thoughts About Science and Society

YouTube - Freeman Dyson: Heretical Thoughts About Science and Society.

Panetta to lead Pentagon, Petraeus CIA

Heading into an era of tighter Pentagon budgets, President Obama has chosen former longtime Monterey Congressman Leon Panetta as secretary of defense in a move that puts a former White House budget chief in charge of the sprawling military bureaucracy, administration officials said Wednesday.

Panetta, 72, was reluctant to leave his job as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, a senior administration official said. A budget expert who had little experience in intelligence before taking the job as spy chief, Panetta is credited with restoring morale and order after a period of turmoil over the agency's role in the torture and detention of terrorism suspects.

Obama personally asked Panetta to take the job, and after thinking about it, Panetta agreed at a meeting with Obama on Monday. With Senate confirmation all but assured, Panetta is scheduled to start his new job July 1.

The president is expected to announce the appointment today as part of a shuffling of his national security team set in motion by the retirement of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who also held the job under President George W. Bush.

In the shuffle, Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Afghanistan, will become director of the spy agency, Gen. John Allen will assume military command in Afghanistan, and Bush veteran Ryan Crocker will become ambassador to Afghanistan.

via Panetta to lead Pentagon, Petraeus CIA.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Flex-Fuel Kits Convert Toyota Prius to E85 Ethanol (<$500)

Prius Logo

Dutch firm Green Fuel Systems, along with several other companies, has developed flex-fuel conversion kits for the Toyota Prius that cost less than $1,000. Converting our existing fleet to second-generation ethanol could be the best near-term play to directly replace fossil fuels.

Although the concept of a hybrid/biofuel combo has been around for a while, it has (at least in our minds) mostly been in the form of diesel hybrids running on biodiesel (which isn’t going to happen). But what if we could take America’s most fuel efficient car and convert it to run on another domestically-produced renewable fuel: cellulosic ethanol?

It looks like that’s what Green Fuel Systems and a handful of other US-based companies want to do. Although ethanol has been beaten to a pulp by mainstream media, non-food based feedstocks (like switchgrass) are in the pipeline and could be seriously producing in the next five years. If you’re still not convinced, make sure to read this article: Dedicated Energy

Crops Could Replace 30% of Gasoline.

While details on Green Fuel Systems’ specific product are lacking (and it’s not even clear if this is coming to the US), two US-based companies selling the same thing, and their systems are cheaper.

For example, a 4-cylinder flex-fuel conversion kit from Change2E85 costs less than $500. They even have a simple video describing how to install it. We’ve also previously covered AAMCO’s promotion of Flex Fuel US’s kits, and the holy grail: Ford’s prototype flex-fuel Escape plug-in hybrid that gets 88 mpg running on E85.

Converting our existing fleet of vehicles to flex-fuel capability, along with building it into new models, is arguably one of our best plays to reduce fossil fuel dependence in the next 10 years. GM thinks so, which is why by 2012, 50% of their new vehicles will have this capability.

via Flex-Fuel Kits Convert Toyota Prius to E85 Ethanol (For Less Than $1000) – Gas 2.0.

Home Brew for the Car, Not the Beer Cup

WHAT if you could make fuel for your car in your backyard for less than you pay at the pump? Would you?

The first question has driven Floyd S. Butterfield for more than two decades. Mr. Butterfield, 52, is something of a legend for people who make their own ethanol. In 1982, he won a California Department of Food and Agriculture contest for best design of an ethanol still, albeit one that he could not market profitably at the time.

Now he thinks that he can, thanks to his partnership with the Silicon Valley entrepreneur Thomas J. Quinn. The two have started the E-Fuel Corporation, which soon will announce its home ethanol system, the E-Fuel 100 MicroFueler. It will be about as large as a stackable washer-dryer, sell for $9,995 and ship before year-end.

The net cost to consumers could drop by half after government incentives for alternate fuels, like tax credits, are applied.

The MicroFueler will use sugar as its main fuel source, or feedstock, along with a specially packaged time-release yeast the company has developed. Depending on the cost of sugar, plus water and electricity, the company says it could cost as little as a dollar a gallon to make ethanol. In fact, Mr. Quinn sometimes collects left-over alcohol from bars and restaurants in Los Gatos, Calif., where he lives, and turns it into ethanol; the only cost is for the electricity used in processing.

In general, he says, burning a gallon of ethanol made by his system will produce one-eighth the carbon of the same amount of gasoline.

“It’s going to cause havoc in the market and cause great financial stress in the oil industry,” Mr. Quinn boasts.

He may well turn out to be right. But brewing ethanol in the backyard isn’t as easy as barbecuing hamburgers. Distilling large quantities of ethanol typically has required a lot of equipment, says Daniel M. Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, he says that quality control and efficiency of home brew usually pale compared with those of commercial refineries. “There’s a lot of hurdles you have to overcome. It’s entirely possible that they’ve done it, but skepticism is a virtue,” Mr. Kammen says.

To be sure, Mr. Quinn, 53, has been involved with successful innovations before. For instance, he patented the motion sensor technology used in Nintendo’s wildly popular Wii gaming system.

More to the point, he was the product marketing manager for Alan F. Shugart’s pioneering hard disk drive when the personal computer was shifting from a hobbyists’ niche to a major industry. “I remember people laughing at us and saying what a stupid idea it was to do that disk drive,” Mr. Quinn says.

Mr. Butterfield thinks that the MicroFueler is as much a game changer as the personal computer. He says that working with Mr. Quinn’s microelectronics experts — E-Fuel now employs 15 people — has led to breakthroughs that have cut the energy requirements of making ethanol in half. One such advance is a membrane distiller, which, Mr. Quinn says, uses extremely fine filters to separate water from alcohol at lower heat and in fewer steps than in conventional ethanol refining. Using sugar as a feedstock means that there is virtually no smell, and its water byproduct will be drinkable.

E-Fuel has bold plans: It intends to operate internationally from the start, with production of the MicroFueler in China and Britain as well as the United States. And Mr. Butterfield is already at work on a version for commercial use, as well as systems that will use feedstocks other than sugar.

Ethanol has long had home brewers, and permits are available through the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. (You must be a property owner and agree to make your ethanol outdoors.) But there are plenty of reasons to question whether personal fueling systems will become the fuel industry’s version of the personal computer. ...

via Home Brew for the Car, Not the Beer Cup - New York Times.

Science Fiction Timeline of Inventions (Listed by Publication Date)

Most of these items are linked to information about similar real-life inventions and inventors; click on an invention to learn more about it.

Date Device Name (Novel Author)
1726Laputa - a floating island (from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift)
1726Bio-Energy - produce electricity from organic material (from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift)
1726Knowledge Engine - machine-made expertise (from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift)
1726Geometric Modeling - eighteenth century NURBS (from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift)
1828Barrels of Air (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Henry Loudon)
1828Steam-Propelled Moving Houses (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Henry Loudon)
1828Stage Balloon (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Henry Loudon)
1828Mail-Post Letter-Ball (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Henry Loudon)
1866Paper Steel (from Robur-the-Conqueror by Jules Verne)
1867Weightlessness - true science fiction discovery (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867Retro-Rockets - Verne invented them! (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867Light Pressure Propulsion - first use of this idea (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867Water-Springs (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867Spashdown - the original idea (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867Launching Facility - in Florida (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867Projectile-Vehicle - Verne's spacecraft (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867Free Return Trajectory - first mention (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867Communicate with Extraterrestrials - first use of concept (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867Columbiad - 900 foot cannon (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1869Flywheel Launcher (from The Brick Moon by Edward Everett Hale)
1875Nautilus - Captain Nemo's ride (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)
1875Diving Apparatus - scuba diving in the 19th century (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)
1875Electrify the Rail - repel boarders! (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)
1875Leyden Ball - grandfather of the taser (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)
1875Undersea Mining (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)


via Science Fiction Timeline of Inventions (Listed by Publication Date).

Many more at the link.

How Bacteria Could Generate Radio waves

Can bacteria generate radio waves?

On the face of it, this seems an unlikely proposition. Natural sources of radio waves include lightning, stars and pulsars while artificial sources include radar, mobile phones and computers. This is a diverse list. So it's hard to see what these things might have in common with bacteria that could be responsible for making radio waves.

But today, Allan Widom at Northeastern University in Boston and a few pals, say they've worked out how it could be done.

They point out that many types of bacterial DNA take the form of circular loops. So they've modelled the behaviour of free electrons moving around such a small loop, pointing out that, as quantum objects, the electrons can take certain energy levels.

Widom and co calculate that the transition frequencies between these energy levels correspond to radio signals broadcast at 0.5, 1 and 1.5 kilohertz. And they point out that exactly this kind of signal has been measured in E Coli bacteria.

Let's make one thing clear: this is a controversial area of science. The measurements of bacterial radio waves were published in 2009 by Luc Montagnier, who won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2008 for the discovery of HIV. However, Montagnier is a controversial figure and it's fair to say that his claims are not accepted by most mainstream biologists.

However, one of the criticisms of the work was that there is no known mechanism by which bacteria can generate radio waves. That criticism may now no longer hold.

That means Widom and co may be able to kickstart more work in this area. It is well known that bacterial and other types of cells use electromagnetic waves at higher frequencies to communicate as well as to send and store energy. If cells can also generate radio waves, there's no reason to think they wouldn't exploit this avenue too.

via How Bacteria Could Generate Radio waves - Technology Review.

Bacteria Grow Under 400,000 Times Earth's Gravity

Bacteria grown under normal gravity for four hours (left) and at 134,425 Gs of gravity for 48 hours (right).Proving that you don't have to be big to be tough, some microbes can survive gravity more than 400,000 times that felt on Earth, a new study says.

Most humans, by contrast, can tolerate forces equal to about three to five times Earth's surface gravity (g) before losing consciousness.

The extreme "hypergravity" of 400,000 g is usually found only in cosmic environments, such as on very massive stars or in the shock waves of supernovas, said study leader Shigeru Deguchi, a biologist at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology.

Deguchi and his team were able to replicate hypergravity on Earth using a machine called an ultracentrifuge.

The scientists rapidly spun four species of bacteria—including the common human gut microbe Escherichia coli—to create increasingly intense gravity conditions.

The bacteria clumped together into pellets as the gravity increased, but their forced closeness didn't seem to deter growth: All four species multiplied normally under thousands to tens of thousands of times Earth's gravity.

Two of the species—E. coli and Paracoccus denitrificans, a common soil bacteria—grew under the strain of 403,627 g. ...

via Bacteria Grow Under 400,000 Times Earth's Gravity.

Crop Circle at Innage, nr Chepstow. Gwent Wales. Reported 22nd April 2011.

Well done to Olivier Morel and Francine Blake's group for photographing this aerial shot of the formation at Innage, nr Chepstow. Gwent. Wales. Reported 22nd April. We know this was a long and expensive flight due to this there was great reluctance by other photographers to take to the air.

via Crop Circle at Innage, nr Chepstow. Gwent Wales. Reported 22nd April   2011..

Escaped Egyptian tycoon attempts to smuggle out tons of antiques

SalemAirport Customs stopped yesterday evening 100 parcels allegedly belonging to Egyptian tycoon Hussein Salem, which were headed to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The parcels weighed three tons together and included paintings, antiques, carpets, gold plated trays, gold statues, expensive watches, clocks, clothes and items that may be subject to the Egyptian Law for the Protection of Antiquities.

Sayed Ibrahim, the head of customs, said that airport officials became suspicious when they realised how heavy the packages were and decided to check their contents. He added that the parcels belong to an export company and included papers associated with a Saudi Prince and were heading to Jeddah. The bags were being smuggled by a person holding a Palestinian passport.

Ibrahim informed the airport’s prosecution office who revealed that the items belong to a businessman who is trying to smuggle them out of the country. Ibrahim adds that the items included photos of Salem with Arab leaders and kings, as well as with ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his former chief of staff Zakaria Azmi, along with a carpet with Salem’s name written on it. This led airport officials to believe that they belonged to the businessman, and a committee was formed to investigate the matter.

Salem is one of the closest friends of Mubarak and owns a significant number of touristic sites in Sharm El-Sheikh and shares in the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) which exports gas to Israel. On 10 March, the Cairo Criminal Court confirmed a decision to freeze all his personal and family assets. Salem fled the country on 26 January, one a day after the revolution began.

via Escaped Egyptian tycoon attempts to smuggle out tons of antiques - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online.

Crop Circle at Innage, nr Chepstow. Gwent Wales. Reported 22nd April 2011.

Well done to Olivier Morel and Francine Blake's group for photographing this aerial shot of the formation at Innage, nr Chepstow. Gwent. Wales. Reported 22nd April. We know this was a long and expensive flight due to this there was great reluctance by other photographers to take to the air.

via Crop Circle at Innage, nr Chepstow. Gwent Wales. Reported 22nd April   2011..

Escaped Egyptian tycoon attempts to smuggle out tons of antiques

SalemAirport Customs stopped yesterday evening 100 parcels allegedly belonging to Egyptian tycoon Hussein Salem, which were headed to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The parcels weighed three tons together and included paintings, antiques, carpets, gold plated trays, gold statues, expensive watches, clocks, clothes and items that may be subject to the Egyptian Law for the Protection of Antiquities.

Sayed Ibrahim, the head of customs, said that airport officials became suspicious when they realised how heavy the packages were and decided to check their contents. He added that the parcels belong to an export company and included papers associated with a Saudi Prince and were heading to Jeddah. The bags were being smuggled by a person holding a Palestinian passport.

Ibrahim informed the airport’s prosecution office who revealed that the items belong to a businessman who is trying to smuggle them out of the country. Ibrahim adds that the items included photos of Salem with Arab leaders and kings, as well as with ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his former chief of staff Zakaria Azmi, along with a carpet with Salem’s name written on it. This led airport officials to believe that they belonged to the businessman, and a committee was formed to investigate the matter.

Salem is one of the closest friends of Mubarak and owns a significant number of touristic sites in Sharm El-Sheikh and shares in the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) which exports gas to Israel. On 10 March, the Cairo Criminal Court confirmed a decision to freeze all his personal and family assets. Salem fled the country on 26 January, one a day after the revolution began.

via Escaped Egyptian tycoon attempts to smuggle out tons of antiques - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online.

Factory Uses Robots To Grow Human Skin

Factory Uses Robots To Grow Human SkinScientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology in Germany oversee a skin-making process controlled by robots. They currently produce 5,000 penny-sized disks of tissue every month, at around $72 per unit. It is hoped that in the future there will be many similar factories, mass-producing skin at a low cost for use in clinical testing and transplants in humans.

With robots and computers controlling the process, this maintains a sterile and climate-controlled environment for the skin to be developed, reducing the risk of contamination. Successfully engineered tissue for humans has been achieved but it is very costly and labor-intensive. Using robots as automated manufacturers would reduce both the cost and the manpower needed, enabling the efficient production of tissue, cartilage and even entire organs.

via Factory Uses Robots To Grow Human Skin - PSFK.

Lost City Revealed Under Centuries of Jungle Growth

An archaeologist inside a tunnel at a Mayan site.Archaeologist Brigitte Kovacevich in a looters' tunnel inside the pyramid at the Head of Stone site.

Hidden for centuries, the ancient Maya city of Holtun, or Head of Stone, is finally coming into focus.

Three-dimensional mapping has "erased" centuries of jungle growth, revealing the rough contours of nearly a hundred buildings, according to research presented earlier this month.

Though it's long been known to locals that something—something big—is buried in this patch of Guatemalan rain forest, it's only now that archaeologists are able to begin teasing out what exactly Head of Stone was.

Using GPS and electronic distance-measurement technology last year, the researchers plotted the locations and elevations of a seven-story-tall pyramid, an astronomical observatory, a ritual ball court, several stone residences, and other structures. ...

From about 600 B.C. to A.D. 900, Head of Stone—which is about three-quarters of a mile (1 kilometer) long and a third of a mile (0.5 kilometer) wide—was a bustling midsize Maya center, home to about 2,000 permanent residents.

But today its structures are buried under several feet of earth and plant material and are nearly invisible to the untrained eyed.

Even Head of Stone's three-pointed pyramid—once one of the city's most impressive buildings—"just looks like a mountain enveloped in forest," said study leader Kovacevich, who presented the findings at a meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Sacramento, California. ...

via Lost City Revealed Under Centuries of Jungle Growth.

A Star as Old as the Universe Found in Milky Way -- A Galactic Mystery

6a00d8341bf7f753ef0147e2b4fb81970b-800wi"This star likely is almost as old as the universe itself."

Anna Frebel, astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Astronomers have discovered a relic from the early universe -- a star that may have been among the second generation of stars to form after the Big Bang. Located in the dwarf galaxy Sculptor some 290,000 light-years away, the star has a remarkably similar chemical make-up to the Milky Way's oldest stars. Its presence supports the theory that our galaxy underwent a "cannibal" phase, growing to its current size by swallowing dwarf galaxies and other galactic building blocks.

Dwarf galaxies are small galaxies with just a few billion stars, compared to hundreds of billions in the Milky Way. In the "bottom-up model" of galaxy formation, large galaxies attained their size over billions of years by absorbing their smaller neighbors.

"If you watched a time-lapse movie of our galaxy, you would see a swarm of dwarf galaxies buzzing around it like bees around a beehive," explained Frebel. "Over time, those galaxies smashed together and mingled their stars to make one large galaxy -- the Milky Way."

If dwarf galaxies are indeed the building blocks of larger galaxies, then the same kinds of stars should be found in both kinds of galaxies, especially in the case of old, "metal-poor" stars. To astronomers, "metals" are chemical elements heavier than hydrogen or helium. Because they are products of stellar evolution, metals were rare in the early Universe, and so old stars tend to be metal-poor. ...

via A Star as Old as the Universe Found in Milky Way -- A Galactic Mystery.

China confirms plans to build own orbital station

Shenzhou 7Chinese space officials have confirmed plans to build a 60-ton space station by 2020 and develop a space freighter for hauling supplies to the station, the China Daily newspaper said on Tuesday.

The China Manned Space Engineering Office unveiled on Monday a blueprint of the future orbital station, which will comprise an 18.1-meter core module and two 14.4-meter lab modules.

"The 60-ton space station is rather small compared to the International Space Station (419 tons), and Russia's Mir Space Station (137 tons), which served between 1996 and 2001," China Daily quoted Pang Zhihao, a space researcher and deputy editor-in-chief of the Space International magazine.

"But it is the world's third multi-module space station, which usually demands much more complicated technology than a single-module space lab," the researcher said.

China's ambitious space program enjoyed a sound success in the past decade, including putting a human into orbit and launching a lunar probe.

In preparation for the construction of the orbital station, Beijing is planning to launch the space module Tiangong-1 and the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft in the second half of this year on the first unmanned rendezvous and docking mission.

Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10 spacecraft are expected to dock with Tiangong-1 in 2012.

via China confirms plans to build own orbital station | World | RIA Novosti.

Lemming hordes perish in Swedish roadside 'massacre'

Swedish lemmings 'no risk for public' according to expertHordes of lemmings have been spotted leaving the safety of the mountains to make their way down to more inhabited areas, falling victim to traffic and being preyed upon by other animals.“I must have seen a thousand just since Saturday. They are absolutely everywhere. They are swimming about in the lake close to our house, they jump on the ice floes, and they scurry around the outside of our house,“ said holiday-maker Magnus Lundberg, to the local Östersundsposten (ÖP) daily.

Road users are reportedly struggling to avoid the advancing lemming hordes with many of the small furry animals ending up as road kill in what has been described as a real massacre on the roads.

However, Sweden's pets and wild animals alike stand to gain as the lemming-strewn roads present a veritable feast for hungry predators.

Favourable weather has created the conditions for 2011 to become what Swedes call "a real lemming year".

According to Birger Hörnfeldt, of the department of wildlife, fish and environmental studies at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Umeå, these traditionally occur every 3-4 years.

But the last three decades have seen such unfavourable weather that the number of lemmings had diminished considerably. ...
Lemmings have traditionally been believed to undertake the occasional mass exodus, sometimes to meet their death by following each other off a cliff.

However, today this kind of migration behaviour is believed by experts to be a myth based on lies or at least highly exaggerated.

According to Bengt Landström of the mountain unit at the County Administrative Board in Norrbotten, this may well be a record year for lemmings, but he does not believe in a bona fide ‘lemming exodus’, where the lemmings blindly follow one another to their death.

“No, that kind of lemming migration is just a fairy tale, a tall story,“ he told local paper Piteå Tidningen.

Unfortunately, exodus or no exodus, the move from the mountaintops often means that the little rodents go to their death.

If they are not hit by cars wild or domestic animals are very keen to get their paws on them.

“Our dogs are eating the lemmings while we are out walking. It is not much we can do about it. The dogs just bite down on them, throw them up in the air and then swallow them almost whole. They probably devour between five and ten a day,” Magnus Lundberg told ÖP.  ...

via Lemming hordes perish in Swedish roadside 'massacre' - The Local.

Dogs Detecting Cancer? It's in the Breath, Experts Say

Woman's best friend: Carol Witcher and her dog Floyd Henry, who she claims discovered her breast cancer with an acute sense of smellCarol Witcher says she knows it sounds crazy, but she swears that her dog, Floyd Henry, discovered the cancer in her breast in 2008. "When he sniffed me, he kind of turned back and really pushed into my right breast, real hard," she said. "He started sniffing, sniffing, sniffing, sniffing."

It took four days of nudging and nipping by the 8-year-old boxer before Witcher went to a doctor. "He pushed real hard for one shot. ... Then he looked at me straight in the face, took his right foot and began to paw my right breast. And I thought, 'This is not good,'" she said. "I knew instantly that there was an issue."

Witcher's stage-three cancer required surgery, chemotherapy and radiation." Her type of cancer was rather large in her breast," said Dr. Sheryl Gabram-Mendola, a breast surgical oncologist at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.  "I absolutely believe that the dog saved Miss Witcher's life.

"Gabram-Mendola has been studying the breath of cancer patients. She said cancer causes the body to release certain organic compounds that dogs can smell but people cannot. Gabram-Mendola and her team have developed a test in which they look for more than 300 molecules in the breath.

"Our model predicted in over 75 percent of the time correctly which patients did have breast cancer and which ones did not," Gabram-Mendola said. When Witcher breathed into the tube, the test confirmed that she was sick.

"You could potentially go to a physician's office, blow in the bottle and ultimately have a direct read system where we would know in the office ...

It's estimated that a dog's sense of smell is up to a million times better than that of a human, depending on the breed. Dogs have also reportedly sniffed out skin, bladder, lung and ovarian cancers.

"Dogs smell different things and they understand different things," said Charlene Bayer, a principal research scientist at Georgia Tech Research Institute. "They don't necessarily know what's wrong, but they know that there's something that's not normal, that you don't smell the way you normally do." ...

via Dogs Detect Cancer? Experts Say Compounds in Breath Can Signal Breast Cancer - ABC News.

Search for ET Put on Hold

The Allen Telescope Array, a major instrument designed to speed up our hunt for intelligent beings elsewhere in the galaxy, has been turned off.

On April 15, this phalanx of small antennas, built to eavesdrop on signals that might reach us from civilizations hundreds of trillions of miles distant, was put into park, and its multimillion channel receivers powered down. It's as if Columbus's armada of ships, having barely cleared Cadiz, were suddenly ordered back to Spain.

The reason for the shutdown is both prosaic and lamentable. Money. The Array was built as a joint project between the SETI Institute (my employer) and the University of California at Berkeley's Radio Astronomy Laboratory. The former raised the funds to construct the instrument, and UC Berkeley was responsible for operations. But the grievous financial situation of the State of California and reduced funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) have sharply curtailed the university's research budget, and private donations haven't yet been adequate to keep the Array in operation.

In tough economic times, a lot of folks who hear this story will dismiss its importance. After all, with problems like expensive health care, a weakened education system, and pervasive joblessness, it's unlikely that people are going to march in the streets to get the hunt for ET back on track. They're more likely to shake their heads, and profess that this sort of exploration is superfluous. ...

via Seth Shostak: Search for ET Put on Hold.

Federal and state funding cutbacks for operations of U.C. Berkeley’s Hat Creek Radio Observatory (HCRO) force hibernation of Allen Telescope Array – In an April 22, 2011 email (PDF) to Allen Telescope Array stakeholder level donors, SETI Institute CEO Tom Pierson described in detail the recent decision by U.C. Berkeley, our partner in the Array, to reduce operations of the Hat Creek Radio Observatory (and thus the Allen Telescope Array) to a hibernation state effective this month. NSF University Radio Observatory funding to Berkeley for HCRO operations has been reduced to approximately one-tenth of its former level and, concurrently, growing State of California budget shortfalls have severely reduced the amount of state funds available for support of the HCRO site. ...

Public help is neededDonate now – Help return the ATA to operations and support the exciting SETI exploration of the Kepler planets over the next two years.


Amazon seller lists book at $23,698,655.93 -- plus shipping

Lots of normal people would pay $23 for a book. But $23.7 million plus $3.99 shipping for a scientific book about flies!? This unthinkable sticker price for "The Making of a Fly" on was spotted on April 18 by Michael Eisen, an evolutionary biologist and blogger. The market-blind book listing was not the result of uncontrollable demand for Peter Lawrence's "classic work in developmental biology," Eisen writes. Instead, it appears it was sparked by a robot price war. "What's fascinating about all this is both the seemingly endless possibilities for both chaos and mischief," writes Eisen, who works at the University of California at Berkeley and blogs at a site called "it is NOT junk." "It seems impossible that we stumbled onto the only example of this kind of upward pricing spiral. "Eisen watched the robot price war from April 8 to 18 and calculated that two booksellers were automatically adjusting their prices against each other. One equation kept setting the price of the first book at 1.27059 times the price of the second book, according to Eisen's analysis, which is posted in detail on his blog. The other equation automatically set its price at 0.9983 times the price of the other book. So the prices of the two books escalated in tandem into the millions, with the second book always selling for slightly less than the first. Not that that matters much when you're selling a book about flies for millions of dollars. The incident highlights a little-known fact about e-commerce sites such as Amazon: Often, people don't create and update prices; computer algorithms do. Individual booksellers on Amazon and other sites pay third-party companies for algorithm services that automatically update prices. Some of these computer programs purportedly work very well, getting sellers up to 60% more sales because they underbid the competition automatically and repeatedly.

via Amazon seller lists book at $23,698,655.93 -- plus shipping - CNN.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Video: Norman Foster Recreates Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Car

“I was privileged to collaborate with Bucky for the last 12 years of his life and this had a profound influence on my own work and thinking. Inevitably, I also gained an insight into his philosophy and achievements,” shared Lord Norman Foster.

Recreating the legendary futuristic Dymaxion Car, Foster’s No. 4 version was a lengthy and expensive two year project, but was obviously a labor of love. Buckminster Fuller’s futuristic three wheeled car was brief, with a mere three actually built. Incredibly efficient the streamlined body with long tail-fin averaged 35 miles to the gallon and could achieve 120 mph. The Zeppelin inspired design with a V8 Ford engine was intended to fly as well, Fuller’s vision of revolutionizing how people traveled.

via Video: Norman Foster Recreates Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Car | ArchDaily.

The Dymaxion car was a concept car designed by U.S. inventor and architect Buckminster Fuller in 1933.[1] The word Dymaxion is a brand name that Fuller gave to several of his inventions, to emphasize that he considered them part of a more general project to improve humanity's living conditions. The car had a fuel efficiency of 30 miles per US gallon (7.8 L/100 km; 36 mpg-imp). It could transport 11 passengers. While Fuller claimed it could reach speeds of 120 miles per hour (190 km/h), the fastest documented speed was 90 miles per hour (140 km/h). - wiki

Steytlerville 'monster' strikes again

A ‘monster’ plaguing the sleepy Karoo town of Steytlerville struck again over the Easter weekend, Eastern Cape police said on Monday.

Another two sightings of the "shape-shifting creature" were reported on Sunday evening, said Warrant Officer Zandisile Nelani .

“Two men were walking near a tavern when they saw another man wearing a black jacket. One of the men, identified only as Nozipho, went up to the stranger and asked him, “What is your problem?” said Nelani.When the stranger did not respond, Nozipho went closer and saw that the man had no head. The man then turned into a dog that was “very angry” and “as big as a cow”, Nelani said.

He said that as Nozipho and his friend ran away, the monster allegedly turned on another group of people in the same road. “They said it turned into a big monkey, and then it was gone,” Nelani said.

He said that since the monster was spotted near the tavern, people were afraid to go there at night.

Last week police were told by residents that the monster changed shape while one looked at it. One man had reported that it changed from a man wearing a suit into a pig and then into a bat.

There had also been rumours that the monster could fly. Previously, the monster had only been spotted near the church. It had even been seen peering through the windows during a service, but had vanished by the time the congregation came outside.

Nelani said that the community had dubbed the monster “Bawokozi”, meaning ‘brother-in-law’.Sightings of the monster began over a month ago when it was seen by mourners attending two separate funerals, Nelani said.

He said that the community requested a meeting with police because they were frightened of it. Police agreed to work with residents, but asked them to try to take a photograph of it as evidence.

Nelani said that a photograph had since been taken of the monster resting under a tree.

He said that when the photo was taken the monster had been in human form but when the photo was developed an unknown animal was visible in the picture.

“It is a very strange thing happening in Steytlerville, but no one has been hurt by it,” Nelani said.

via Steytlerville 'monster' strikes again: News24: South Africa: News.

Enormous statue of powerful pharaoh unearthed

This undated photo released by the Supreme Council of Antiquities on Tuesday, April 26, 2011, shows a 13 meter (42 foot) tall statue of Amenhotep III Archaeologists unearthed one of the largest statues found to date of a powerful ancient Egyptian pharaoh at his mortuary temple in the southern city of Luxor, the country's antiquities authority announced Tuesday.

The 13 meter (42 foot) tall statue of Amenhotep III was one of a pair that flanked the northern entrance to the grand funerary temple on the west bank of the Nile that is currently the focus of a major excavation.

The statue consists of seven large quartzite blocks and still lacks a head and was actually first discovered in the 1928 and then rehidden, according to the press release from the country's antiquities authority. Archaeologists expect to find its twin in the next digging season.

Excavation supervisor Abdel-Ghaffar Wagdi said two other statues were also unearthed, one of the god Thoth with a baboon's head and a six foot (1.85 meter) tall one of the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet.

Archaeologists working on the temple over the past few years have issued a flood of announcements about new discoveries of statues. The 3,400-year-old temple is one of the largest on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor, where the powerful pharaohs of Egypt's New Kingdom built their tombs.

Amenhotep III, who was the grandfather of the famed boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun, ruled in the 14th century B.C. at the height of Egypt's New Kingdom and presided over a vast empire stretching from Nubia in the south to Syria in the north.

The pharaoh's temple was largely destroyed, possibly by floods, and little remains of its walls. It was also devastated by an earthquake in 27 B.C. But archaeologists have been able to unearth a wealth of artifacts and statuary in the buried ruins, including two statues of Amenhotep made of black granite found at the site in March 2009. ...

via Enormous statue of powerful pharaoh unearthed - Yahoo! News.

NASA fires-up jet fuel that tastes like chicken

nas adc8...  NASA is checking out biofuel made from chicken and beef fat.

The chicken fat fuel, known as Hydrotreated Renewable Jet Fuel, was burned in the engine of a DC-8 at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center as part of its Alternative Aviation Fuels Experiment that is looking at developing all manner of biofuel alternatives to traditional Jet Propellant 8, or JP-8. The DC-8 is used as a test vehicle because its engine operations are well-documented and well-understood, NASA says.

The researchers measured the fuel's performance in the engines and examined the engine exhaust for chemicals and contamination that could contribute to air pollution. According to NASA, it was the first test ever to measure biofuel emissions for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and tiny particles of soot or unburned hydrocarbon - both of which can degrade air quality in communities with airports. NOx contributes to smog and particulate matter contributes to respiratory and cardiovascular ailments.

NASA said that in the engine that burned the biofuel, black carbon emissions were 90% less at idle and almost 60% less at takeoff thrust. The biofuel also produced much lower sulfate, organic aerosol, and hazardous emissions than the standard jet fuel. Researchers will spend the next several months comparing the results and drawing conclusions, NASA said.

The Air Force too has been experimenting hydrotreated fuel. It has successfully flown a couple jets in its arsenal on 50-50 blends of Hydrotreated Renewable Jet fuel, or HRJ, and JP-8.

In the past the Air Force has stated it wants to fuel half its North American fleet with a synthetic-fuel blend by 2016. The Air Force is the single largest user of aviation fuel inside the Federal government, using an estimated 3 billion gallons per year, according to the Air Force. Each time the price of oil goes up $10 per barrel, it costs the Air Force an additional $600 million for fuel. ...

via Layer 8: NASA fires-up jet fuel that tastes like chicken.

Time Was Never the 4th Dimension

Time is not the fourth dimension of spacetime, nor is it an absolute quantity that flows on its own, Slovenian researchers say. Instead, they propose that time is simply a measure denoting the numerical order of change.

This new theory is based on the fact that not even famed physicist Albert Einstein believed that time (t) was the fourth dimension. In other words, when we look at space, we shouldn't see three dimensions (3D) plus time, but rather four dimensions (4D).

According to the new proposal, time can only be used to measure numerical order of material change, and not to explain other phenomena that go on in the material world. The new study was conducted by investigators at the Scientific Research Center Bistra (SRCB), in Ptuj.

By looking at the Universe from this perspective, the team argues, explaining quantum information transfers become a lot easier. A 4D space provides the best possible medium for such transfers.

One of the primary arguments in the new proposal is that time has absolutely no primary physical existence. It is, in fact, simply a mathematical value, that we use to measure the frequency and speed of an object.

In this respect, using t as the value of a X-axis on a graph is incorrect, since we cannot measure time itself. The idea is expanded on in two research papers, one of which was published in the journal Physics Essays. The other will appear in an upcoming issue of the same magazine.

The proposal basically calls for a paradigm shift in this area of research. The studies argue experts should regard spacetime as having four dimensions of space. The main implication of this is that the Universe is truly timeless, Daily Galaxy reports.

“Minkowski space is not 3D + T, it is 4D. ... “This view corresponds better to the physical world and has more explanatory power in describing immediate physical phenomena: gravity, electrostatic interaction, information transfer,” they add.

“The idea of time being the fourth dimension of space did not bring much progress in physics and is in contradiction with the formalism of special relativity,” Sorli goes on to say.

“We are now developing a formalism of 3D quantum space based on Planck work. It seems that the Universe is 3D from the macro to the micro level to the Planck volume, which per formalism is 3D,” the investigator adds.

“In this 3D space there is no ‘length contraction,’ there is no ‘time dilation.’ What really exists is that the velocity of material change is ‘relative’ in the Einstein sense,” he concludes.

via Time Was Never the 4th Dimension - Softpedia.

Chemists fabricate 'impossible' material

Chemists fabricate 'impossible' materialWhen atoms combine to form compounds, they must follow certain bonding and valence rules. For this reason, many compounds simply cannot exist. But there are some compounds that, although they follow the bonding and valence rules, still are thought to not exist because they have unstable structures. Scientists call these compounds "impossible compounds." Nevertheless, some of these impossible compounds have actually been fabricated (for example, single sheets of graphene were once considered impossible compounds). In a new study, scientists have synthesized another one of these impossible compounds -- periodic mesoporous hydridosilica -- which can transform into a photoluminescent material at high temperatures.

The researchers, led by Professor Geoffrey Ozin of the Chemistry Department at the University of Toronto, along with coauthors from institutions in Canada, China, Turkey, and Germany, have published their study in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Like graphene, periodic mesoporous hydridosilica (meso-HSiO1.5) consists of a honeycomb-like lattice structure. Theoretically, the structure should be so thermodynamically unstable that the mesopores (the holes in the honeycomb) should immediately collapse into a denser form, HSiO1.5, upon the removal of the template on which the material was synthesized.

In their study, the researchers synthesized the mesoporous material on an aqueous acid-catalyzed template. When they removed the template, they discovered that the impossible material remains stable up to 300 °C. The researchers attribute the stability to hydrogen bonding effects and steric effects, the latter of which are related to the distance between atoms. Together, these effects contribute to the material’s mechanical stability by making the mesopores resistant to collapse upon removal of the template.

“The prevailing view for more than 50 years in the massive field of micro-, meso-, or macroporous materials is that a four-coordinate, three-connected open framework material (called disrupted frameworks) should be thermodynamically unstable with respect to collapse of the porosity and therefore should not exist,” Ozin told ...

via Chemists fabricate 'impossible' material.

Development in fog harvesting process may make water available to the world’s poor

In the arid Namib Desert on the west coast of Africa, one type of beetle has found a distinctive way of surviving. When the morning fog rolls in, the Stenocara gracilipes species, also known as the Namib Beetle, collects water droplets on its bumpy back, then lets the moisture roll down into its mouth, allowing it to drink in an area devoid of flowing water.

What nature has developed, Shreerang Chhatre wants to refine, to help the world's poor. Chhatre is an engineer and aspiring entrepreneur at MIT who works on fog harvesting, the deployment of devices that, like the beetle, attract water droplets and corral the runoff. This way, poor villagers could collect clean water near their homes, instead of spending hours carrying water from distant wells or streams. In pursuing the technical and financial sides of his project, Chhatre is simultaneously a doctoral candidate in chemical engineering at MIT; an MBA student at the MIT Sloan School of Management; and a fellow at MIT's Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship.

Access to water is a pressing global issue: the World Health Organization and UNICEF estimate that nearly 900 million people worldwide live without safe drinking water. The burden of finding and transporting that water falls heavily on women and children. "As a middle-class person, I think it's terrible that the poor have to spend hours a day walking just to obtain a basic necessity," Chhatre says.

A fog-harvesting device consists of a fence-like mesh panel, which attracts droplets, connected to receptacles into which water drips. Chhatre has co-authored published papers on the materials used in these devices, and believes he has improved their efficacy. "The technical component of my research is done," Chhatre says. He is pursuing his work at MIT Sloan and the Legatum Center in order to develop a workable business plan for implementing fog-harvesting devices.

Interest in fog harvesting dates to the 1990s, and increased when new research on Stenocara gracilipes made a splash in 2001. A few technologists saw potential in the concept for people. One Canadian charitable organization, FogQuest, has tested projects in Chile and Guatemala.

Chhatre's training as a chemical engineer has focused on the wettability of materials, their tendency to either absorb or repel liquids (think of a duck's feathers, which repel water). ...

One basic principle of a good fog-harvesting device is that it must have a combination of surfaces that attract and repel water. For instance, the shell of Stenocara gracilipes has bumps that attract water and troughs that repel it; this way, drops collects on the bumps, then run off through the troughs without being absorbed, so that the water reaches the beetle's mouth.

To build fog-harvesting devices that work on a human scale, Chhatre says, "The idea is to use the design principles we developed and extend them to this problem."

To build larger fog harvesters, researchers generally use mesh, rather than a solid surface like a beetle's shell, because a completely impermeable object creates wind currents that will drag water droplets away from it. In this sense, the beetle's physiology is an inspiration for human fog harvesting, not a template. "We tried to replicate what the beetle has, but found this kind of open permeable surface is better," Chhatre says. "The beetle only needs to drink a few micro-liters of water. We want to capture as large a quantity as possible." ...

via Development in fog harvesting process may make water available to the world’s poor.

The Mystery of an Ancient Global Warming Recovery

The Earth may be able to recover from rising carbon dioxide emissions faster than previously thought, according to evidence from a prehistoric event analyzed by a Purdue University-led team.

When faced with high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and rising temperatures 56 million years ago, the Earth increased its ability to pull carbon from the air. This led to a recovery that was quicker than anticipated by many models of the carbon cycle - though still on the order of tens of thousands of years, said Gabriel Bowen, the associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences who led the study.

"We found that more than half of the added carbon dioxide was pulled from the atmosphere within 30,000 to 40,000 years, which is one-third of the time span previously thought," said Bowen, who also is a member of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center. "We still don't know exactly where this carbon went, but the evidence suggests it was a much more dynamic response than traditional models represent."

... Plants prefer carbon-12 during photosynthesis, and when they accelerate their uptake of carbon dioxide it shifts the carbon isotope ratio in the atmosphere. This shift is then reflected in the carbon isotopes present in rock minerals formed by reactions involving atmospheric carbon dioxide, Bowen said.

"The rate of the carbon isotope change in rock minerals tells us how rapidly the carbon dioxide was pulled from the atmosphere," he said. "We can see the fluxes of carbon dioxide in to and out of the atmosphere. At the beginning of the event we see a shift indicating that a lot of organic-derived carbon dioxide had been added to the atmosphere, and at the end of the event we see a shift indicating that a lot of carbon dioxide was taken up as organic carbon and thus removed from the atmosphere."

A paper detailing the team's National Science Foundation-funded work was published in Nature Geoscience.

via The Mystery of an Ancient Global Warming Recovery.