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Friday, March 31, 2006

The new Kaspersky Internet Security is ready for release

I have participated in the beta testing of Kaspersky Internet Security 6.0 & been waiting for a long time for the following to happen: Finally we had reached the end of our testing cycles and development. Came about with the team, and decided to send this build for tech release. Although for widespread release, it is going to take some time (in the following month). Marketing and Sales departments will now work full force to promote this product. In the mean time, we are going to publish technical documents about the skinning engine. Also new builds for File-Servers and Workstations are on the way, which contain a lot of new and interesting features. Its a great product. They have not announced a date for the official release yet but you can visit in order to get more information. (Kaspersky has got a lot further with the application(s) then this screenshot anno 2000 make you believe...)

'My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts' enhanced & two tracks under a Creative Commons license for your remixing

One of my all time favorite albums 'My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts' (by David Byrne and Brian Eno anno 1981) has been remastered and is now being re-issued in a new package, with extensive liner notes and photos, and featuring 7 previously unreleased tracks from the original album and a film by influential artist Bruce Conner.
The idea to distribute two of the songs as multitracks under a Creative Commons license for your remixing pleasure is remarkably simple and a perfect fit for the spirit of these tracks.
This is the first time complete and total access to original tracks with remix and sampling possibilities have been officially offered on line. In keeping with the spirit of the original album,
Brian and David are offering for download all the multitracks on two of the songs. Through signing up to the user license, and in line with Creative Commons licenses, you are free to edit, remix, sample and mutilate these tracks however you like. Add them to your own song or create a new one. Visitors are welcome to post their mixes or songs that incorporate these audio files on the site for others to hear and rate.
The cd contains the following tracks of which no. 12-16 where not included on the original album: 1.America Is Waiting, 2.Mea Culpa, 3.Regiment, 4.Help Me Somebody, 5.The Jezebel Spirit, 6.Very, Very Hungry, 7.Moonlight In Glory, 8.The Carrier, 9.A Secret Life, 10.Come With Us, 11.Mountain Of Needles, 12.Pitch To Voltage, 13.Two Against Three, 14.Vocal Outtakes, 15.New Feet, 16.Defiant, 17.Number 8 Mix, 18.Solo Guitar With Tin Foil
This was partly seized 4 u at Warner Music Group

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Google patents free Wi-Fi

More evidence has emerged that Google is getting ready to blanket the U.S. with free Wi-Fi. Now, the company has filed for three patents related to offering wireless Internet access. Search Engine Roundtable points out that the patents all have to do with serving up advertising through a wireless Internet connection maintained by a third party, whose brand Google would include in the presentation of those ads. Sounds a lot like Google's latest plan to unwire San Francisco, where it has teamed up with EarthLink. By teaming up with partners who would build the actual Wi-Fi infrastructure, Google could complete a nationwide Wi-Fi network much more quickly than if it had to build it itself.
Google's Three Wireless Advertising Patent Applications is summarized as follows:
(1) Method and system to provide wireless access at a reduced rate:
Methods and system for providing wireless access at a reduced rate. In one embodiment, access to a WAP is provided to an end-user at a rate subsidized by a first entity. The first entity includes advertisements in an end-user view.

(2) Method and system to provide advertisements based on wireless access points:
Methods and system to provide advertisements in a view of an end user accessing a wireless access point. The advertisements are related to the WAP based on a predetermined criterion. This basically discusses the "integration" of the wireless ads into wireless enabled devices, their could be some geo specific ads as well discussed here.
(3) Method and system for dynamically modifying the appearance of browser screens on a client device:
In one embodiment, a connection of a client device to a wireless access point is identified. Further, the appearance of a screen presented on the client device is modified to reflect the brand associated with a provider of the wireless access point. This is basically about branding the ads with the WAP partner's logo and content.

So in short you have three patent applications from Google. One about optimizing the ads across wireless protocols. The second is about the integration of the ads and the third is about branding those ads.
This was seized 4 u at CNNMoney & Search Engine Roundtable

AllOfmp3 releases AllTunes

AllofMP3 has released its latest desktop music library and download tool AllTunes. Although the name is an obvious play on iTunes, those farmiliar with AllofMP3 will know that they are infamous for extremely cheap, high quality and quasi-legal music downloads on the web. AllTunes is a windows desktop or smartphone interface to the AllofMP3 library, allowing users to find and download high quality music easily. The model is simple, download the application, signup for an account, find music (amongst the 45,000 albums they have) click and download. The price is 2c per megabyte downloaded, which works out to be around $0,9-1.40 per album, much better than the $0.99c a song at iTunes.
The reason the prices are so low is because AllofMP3 and AllTunes operate in Russia, where they claim to comply with all local copyright law and paying royalties back to artists and labels. The legality of the service has been questioned several times. The European Union & record industry has brought the AllofMP3 to court but has lost in all instances on their efforts to shut down the service. However customers from outside Russia(the United States, EU and possibly other countries) may be violating the law of their home country when using this service.
The catalog is very broad, You can also find some rare international music as well as all the usual classics. The preview feature is just awesome, it allows you to listen to a low-quality version of each song from within the player - not just a snippet but the full song (as long as you have credit in your account). For sophisticated audiophiles, AllTunes allows you to download your songs in a variety of codes and bitrates, from almost-lossless through to 64kbps mp3. AllofMP3 has been a service I have constantly used for years now, and AllTunes has made it even better. I am certain these guys get a lot of business, I hope that instead of being shut down it forces the record labels to re-think their pricing strategies.

Another roundup about
  • Pricing: By traffic - 20 US dollar for 1 gigabyte
  • Platform(s): utility for PC & Smartphone or via Browser for all platforms
  • Downloading: Unlimited
  • Burning/Copying: Unlimited
  • Streaming: Samples
  • Format(s): MP3, Ogg Vorbis, MPC, Windows Media, MPEG-4, various lossless audio codecs
  • Digital Rights Management: None
  • Preview: Full-length at 24 kbit/s
  • Catalog: about 600,000 songs
  • Features: Guestbook for each artist, lyrics, charts, advanced search
  • Warning: This is a Russian site, which apparently complies with Russian law. Customers in other countries may be violating the law of their home country.
This was seized 4 u at TechCrunch with a few additions from me.

A Bird Flu Vaccine

A trial of an H5N1 bird flu vaccine has shown that this vaccine would probably be acceptable for licensure, if needed. However, the need for a vaccine with a total dose of 180 µg would pose a considerable barrier to rapid production of a supply that would be adequate to meet the world's requirements should a pandemic occur.
Like earlier trials with a similar preparation, the vaccine elicited a significant immune response only when given as two doses of 90 micrograms each. This is twelve times the amount needed in standard flu vaccines. And even that worked only in about half the people tested.

Because only limited amounts of vaccine virus can be grown in the short time available at the start of a pandemic, the smaller the dose needed to immunise someone, the more people can be vaccinated in time to benefit. Scientists are beginning to suspect that something about the chemical nature of the H5N1 surface proteins used in the vaccine, possibly the strategic placement of a sugar group, keeps the human immune system from responding as it usually does to flu proteins. Some teams are now investigating what might make the proteins more immunogenic. Read the original article here...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Computer games reduce pain

In my previous post 'Absence makes the heart grow weaker' I promised you more about wacky & useless studies (OK - I didn't use this wording but thats pretty much what I ment) and this one from New Scientist does the trick too:
Computer games can reduce pain, researchers say, and a high speed virtual death-match is more effective at dulling discomfort than an arcade classic like space invaders.
The discovery raises the prospect that trips to the dentist or painful injections could be made easier by providing patients with the right kind of computer game to distract them.
Bryan Raudenbush and colleagues at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, US, tested the effects of playing different genres of videogame on subjects receiving painful stimulus. They compared six genres of game - action, puzzle, arcade, fighting, sport, and boxing.
Half of the participants in the study were a total of 15 minutes to practice and play each game under normal conditions. Then one of their feet was placed in ice cold water and they were instructed to play for up to five minutes more. The control group underwent the same treatment but without having any computer games to play. On average, those subjects playing games were able to withstand the painful icy water for longer than the control group. Furthermore, those given sports or fighting games were able to withstand more pain than those playing any other genre.
If you want the whole story go here...
This was seized 4 u at New Scientist

Here's an Idea: Let Everyone Have Ideas

Like many top executives, James R. Lavoie and Joseph M. Marino keep a close eye on the stock market. But the two men, co-founders of Rite-Solutions, a software company that builds advanced — and highly classified — command-and-control systems for the Navy, don't worry much about Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.
Instead, they focus on an internal market where any employee can propose that the company acquire a new technology, enter a new business or make an efficiency improvement. These proposals become stocks, complete with ticker symbols, discussion lists and e-mail alerts. Employees buy or sell the stocks, and prices change to reflect the sentiments of the company's engineers, computer scientists and project managers — as well as its marketers, accountants and even the receptionist.
"We're the founders, but we're far from the smartest people here," Mr. Lavoie, the chief executive, said during an interview at Rite-Solutions' headquarters outside Newport, R.I. "At most companies, especially technology companies, the most brilliant insights tend to come from people other than senior management. So we created a marketplace to harvest collective genius." That's a refreshing dose of humility from a successful C.E.O. with decades of experience in his field. (Mr. Lavoie, 59, is a Vietnam War veteran and an accomplished engineer who has devoted his career to military-oriented technologies.)
Most companies operate under the assumption that big ideas come from a few big brains: the inspired founder, the eccentric inventor, the visionary boss. But there's a fine line between individual genius and know-it-all arrogance. What happens when rivals become so numerous, when technologies move so quickly, that no corporate honcho can think of everything? Then it's time to invent a less top-down approach to innovation, to make it everybody's business to come up with great ideas.
That's a key lesson behind the rise of open source technology, most notably Linux. A ragtag army of programmers organized into groups, wrote computer code, made the code available for anyone to revise and, by competing and cooperating in a global community, reshaped the market for software. The brilliance of Linux as a model of innovation is that it is powered by the grass-roots brilliance of the thousands of programmers who created it. According to Tim O'Reilly, the founder and chief executive of O'Reilly Media, the computer book publisher, and an evangelist for open source technologies, creativity is no longer about which companies have the most visionary executives, but who has the most compelling "architecture of participation." That is, which companies make it easy, interesting and rewarding for a wide range of contributors to offer ideas, solve problems and improve products?
At Rite-Solutions, the architecture of participation is both businesslike and playful. Fifty-five stocks are listed on the company's internal market, which is called Mutual Fun. Each stock comes with a detailed description — called an expect-us, as opposed to a prospectus — and begins trading at a price of $10. Every employee gets $10,000 in "opinion money" to allocate among the offerings, and employees signal their enthusiasm by investing in a stock and, better yet, volunteering to work on the project. Volunteers share in the proceeds, in the form of real money, if the stock becomes a product or delivers savings.
Mr. Marino, 57, president of Rite-Solutions, says the market, which began in January 2005, has already paid big dividends. One of the earliest stocks (ticker symbol: VIEW) was a proposal to apply three-dimensional visualization technology, akin to video games, to help sailors and domestic-security personnel practice making decisions in emergency situations. Initially, Mr. Marino was unenthusiastic about the idea — "I'm not a joystick jockey" — but support among employees was overwhelming. Today, that product line, called Rite-View, accounts for 30 percent of total sales.
"Would this have happened if it were just up to the guys at the top?" Mr. Marino asked. "Absolutely not. But we could not ignore the fact that so many people were rallying around the idea. This system removes the terrible burden of us always having to be right."
Read the whole story here...

This was written by William C. Taylor & seized 4 u at The New York Times

Tastier Tomatoes in the Future?

Tomatoes are good for you. They strengthen the immune system and can prevent heart and circulatory disease. Now, researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, in co-operation with Israeli scientists, have identified DNA fragments in tomatoes that make their contents both healthy and tasty. The researchers crossed wild tomatoes with cultured ones, then investigated the contents and genetic make-up of the hybrid. The results could allow tomato growers to use wild tomatoes to produce cultured tomatoes with the characteristics they desire (Nature Biotechnology, March 12, 2006). Tomatoes are a major nutrient for humans. In 2004, 120,000 tonnes of tomatoes were harvested worldwide - and every year this number increases. Numerous medical studies have shown the health value of tomatoes. Lycopen, the pigment that makes tomatoes red, can for example prevent heart disease. Tomatoes furthermore contain a lot of vitamins C and E, indispensable for human nourishment. But after centuries of cultivation for shape, colour, and other useful qualities, our cultured tomatoes today are of small genetic diversity, in comparison with wild types. This has affected the taste and health value of the fruits. To cultivate tomato strains with particular characteristics, researchers have to increase the genetic diversity of cultured tomatoes. This can be done either by cross-breeding them with wild tomatoes, or changing their genetic make-up technologically. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology in Golm, and their Israeli colleagues at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, chose the second option. They investigated strains of tomatoes created from the crossing of cultured and wild types. Their goal was to identify the biochemical composition of fruits and determine which factors control their development. The researchers’ findings could make it possible in the future to develop tomatoes in a targeted way to make them more nutritious & tasty. Read more about the tastiness of the future... ;-)
This was seized 4 u at Max Planck Society

The past of Gene Hackman as an propagandist for Homeland Security unearthed by 'Conelrad'

A couple of years after his scene stealing performance as the piggish Norman in Robert Rossen's LILITH (1964) and mere months before his first Academy Award-nominated role as Buck Barrow in Arthur Penn's BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967), Gene Hackman brought his considerable, Broadway-honed acting skills to a 16mm, 22 minute U.S. government Civil Defense instructional film dynamically entitled COMMUNITY SHELTER PLANNING (1966). When Conelrad first learned of the existence of this film in 2000, we launched a no-holds-barred effort to locate it. After a six year search in which we annoyed scores of government archivists, public librarians and private film collectors, we are very pleased to announce that we have finally obtained a print of this elusive motion picture.
Unfortunately, our efforts to secure an interview with the film's star were unsuccessful. Mr. Hackman's agent at Creative Artists Agency, Fred Specktor, dismissed our formal request for such an opportunity by stating the following in a telephone call to Editor Bill Geerhart: "Gene really doesn't have time for this. It was a long time ago and it doesn't really matter to him anymore. Thanks for your interest."
Please read the full story at Conelrad, it is really fun.
Here a clip from the lost masterpiece Community Shelter Planning:

This was seized 4 u at Conelrad

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Absence makes the heart grow weaker

Loneliness is bad for the heart, suggests a new study. It shows that loneliness increases the blood pressure of those nearing retirement age to the same degree as smoking or a sedentary lifestyle.
Chronic feelings of social isolation are associated with as much as a 30 mmHg rise in a person’s systolic blood pressure by the age of 65, which could easily push their systolic blood pressure over 150 mmHg, the medical definition of hypertension.
The study showed that this is independent of other confounding variables such as smoking, drinking, socioeconomic status and body mass index. “While we haven’t conclusively proven why this happens, the pieces are starting to fall into place,” says John Cacioppo, a psychologist at the University of Chicago, US, who conducted the research.
“This shows that how we deal with isolation changes as we age on both emotional and physical levels,” says Sarah Pressman, a health psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University. “This is not something that’s all in your head.” Read more...
This was seized 4 u at New Scientist
  • A forthcoming study will proove that marriage is breaking your heart.
  • Another forthcoming study will proove that people with a healthy sexlife are more likely to get apoplexia.
  • It will furthermore be prooven that chumminess leads to an increase of suicide.
Please stay tuned for more updates.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Stanislaw Lem died at the age of 84

One of mine & Robin's favorite authors, one of the world's leading science-fiction writers Stanislaw Lem, died on Monday in his home city of Krakow at the age of 84.

Lem, whose books have sold more than 27 million copies and have been translated into more than 40 languages, won widespread acclaim for The Cyberiad, stories from a mechanical world ruled by robots, first published in English in 1974. Solaris, published in 1961 and set on an isolated space stations, was made into a film epic 10 years later by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky and into a 2002 Hollywood remake shot by Steven Sodebergh and starring George Clooney. Lem, born on September 12, 1921 in what is now the Ukrainian city of Lviv, studied medicine before World War Two. After the war, communist censorship blocked the publication of his earliest writing. After the fall of communism in 1989 Lem ceased writing science-fiction, instead devoting himself to reports on near-future predictions for governments and organizations. He wrote essays on computer crime, as well as technological and ethical problems posed by the expansion of the Internet.

6 quotes of
Stanislaw Lem:
  • A dream will always triumph over reality, once it is given the chance.
  • Cannibals prefer those who have no spines.
  • Do not trust people. They are capable of greatness.
  • To torture a man you have to know his pleasures.
  • Where do consequences lead? Depends on the escort.
  • You climb to reach the summit, but once there, discover that all roads lead down.

Top 15 Skylines

Luigi Di Serio has posted an article, "The Top 15 Skylines in the World v3.0" at his web site In it, he ranks Hong Kong as his number one skyline.

My home base, Chicago (high-atop the middle to lower sections of the Sears Tower!) ranks number two, and Roland's base of operations, Frankfurt am Main (... cough.... Offenbach!...) is ranked number thirteen. Robin's current home, San Francisco, sadly, did not make the grade.

This was seized 4 u at

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Recruiting Robolobsters and Mind-Controlled Sharks.... Oh My!

March 23, 2006 -- From the use of war dogs and horses by the Romans to Hannibal's elephants to modern naval programs involving dolphins and beluga whales, animals have long played a role in mankind's feuds. In the quest to conquer the enemy, humans have looked to Mother Nature for help and inspiration for thousands of years. And today is no different. "Animals have been part of military operations since there have been military operations," said Noah Shachtman of "They have been the fighting man's best friend for generations and in modern-day warfare that's still the case."

Mother Nature as Muse
When researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency look for innovations to keep the U.S. military at the top of the technology heap, they need only look out their windows. "Over the centuries, biological systems have evolved unique capabilities to find a mate, find food, basically the things they need to do to sustain life," said Jan Walker, spokeswoman for DARPA. Walker said that the beings that walk, crawl, fly and swim across our planet have developed ways to survive and to accomplish tasks, and we can learn from them. "In some cases, biological systems have developed unique abilities," she said. "There's a beetle whose life cycle includes laying eggs in the bark of a burned tree. It has the ability to sense a forest fire from huge distances away so that it can get there to lay its eggs, and we want to know, how do they do that?" Though it may sound like science fiction, DARPA at one point sponsored research to understand more about how sharks detect things that don't belong in the water. "Sharks have a unique ability to track chemical plumes in the water," she explained. "We sponsored research that studied that ability, and so we implanted electrodes so that we could learn what part of the brain was active as the animal sensed the plume." DARPA doesn't talk too much about applications, but the idea of remote-controlled shark spies was widely reported as one possible application. Read more...

This was seized 4 u at ABC News

Skull discovery could fill gap between Homo Erectus & Homo Sapien

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - A hominid skull discovered in Ethiopia could fill the gap in the search for the origins of the human race, a scientist said on Friday.
The cranium, found near the city of Gawis, 500 km (300 miles) southeast of the capital Addis Ababa, is estimated to be 200,000 to 500,000 years old. The skull appeared "to be intermediate between the earlier Homo erectus and the later Homo sapiens," Sileshi Semaw, an Ethiopian research scientist at the Stone Age Institute at Indiana University, told a news conference in Addis Ababa. It was discovered two months ago in a small gully at the Gawis river drainage basin in Ethiopia's Afar region, southeast of the capital.
Sileshi said significant archaeological collections of stone tools and numerous fossil animals were also found at Gawis. "(It) opens a window into an intriguing and important period in the development of modern humans," Sileshi said. Over the last 50 years, Ethiopia has been a hot bed for archaeological discoveries.
Hadar, located near Gawis, is where in 1974 U.S. scientist Donald Johnson found the 3.2 million year old remains of "Lucy," described by scientists as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the world. Lucy is Ethiopia's world-acclaimed archaeological find. The discovery of the almost complete hominid skeleton was a landmark in the search for the origins of humanity. On the shores of what was formerly a lake in 1967, two Homo sapien skulls dating back 195,000 years were unearthed. The discovery pushed back the known date of mankind, suggesting that modern man and his older precursor existed side by side.
Sileshi said while different from a modern human, the braincase, upper face and jaw of the cranium have unmistakeable anatomical evidence that belong to human ancestry."The Gawis cranium provides us with the opportunity to look at the face of one of our ancestors," he added.

This was seized 4 u at Yahoo News!

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Lego Lie Detector

This one has been published one quite a few sites
but I just loved it and want to share this one.

CIA-quality lie detection equipment is expensive and hard-to-find,
so the LEGO "Galvanic Skin Response Sensor" may be just the DIY option.

It's a lie detector - or, more accurately,
a galvanic skin response sensor - made out of Legos,
aluminum foil and velcro.
Read more...!

This was seized 4 u at Michael Gasperi

Thursday, March 23, 2006

What will the future of computing hold for us in 2020? has a very interesting series of articles that look to the future of computing. All the articles are free. Check it out. From the web site: "In the last two decades advances in computing technology, from processing speed to network capacity and the internet, have revolutionized the way scientists work. From sequencing genomes to monitoring the Earth's climate, many recent scientific advances would not have been possible without a parallel increase in computing power - and with revolutionary technologies such as the quantum computer edging towards reality, what will the relationship between computing and science bring us over the next 15 years?"

This was seized 4 u at Nature

Giant Aldabra Tortoise Dies at Age 255

CALCUTTA, India, March 23 (UPI) -- Adwaitya the tortoise, once owned by the man whose British East India Company helped colonize India in the 18th century, has died at the age of 255. Adwaitya, or "The only one," was one of four giant Aldabra tortoises given to Robert Clive by British seamen who caught them in the Seychelles Islands, reports The Times of London. The other three died soon after they arrived in India. In recent years, Adwaitya had numerous illnesses. "Our records show the tortoise was born in 1750, but some have claimed he was born in 1705," said the Calcutta zoo's director. "Adwaitya, who delighted the zoo visitors for 131 years, died (Wednesday) morning. His shell will be preserved in the zoo." Clive, who became known as the "Conqueror of India," arrived in South Asia 1743 as a clerk in the East India Company. But it was his military skill that helped him lay the foundation for eventual British rule of India. Clive died in 1774.
This was seized 4 u at United Press International

High-Speed Surprise for Lying Eyes

By Ingrid Wickelgren
ScienceNOW Daily News
21 March 2006

The next time you drive in the fog, check your speedometer. You may be speeding and not know it. That's because--when the visual landscape lacks contrast--people perceive objects moving much slower than they actually are. A new study debuts the first convincing, quantitative explanation for this potentially dangerous visual mistake.In 1982, psychologist Peter Thompson of York University, United Kingdom, first noticed that when two objects of different contrast are moving at the same speed, people always say the higher contrast object is moving faster. Researchers brushed off this misperception, dubbed "the Thompson effect," as a kink in an otherwise precisely tuned visual machine. But a few years ago, Eero Simoncelli, a computational neuroscientist at New York University in New York City, and his colleagues wondered if they could explain this phenomenon using basic principles of human vision.
Simoncelli knew that the eye does not simply record light patterns like a camera does: Instead, what people see depends greatly on past experience (a cloud looks like a boat to one person and a truck to another, for example). So he and colleagues suspected that, when real information is sketchy (as it is in low-contrast situations), people rely even more heavily on their expectations. In a 2002 paper, the researchers used Bayesian statistics--a branch of mathematics that shows the ideal way to combine expectations with new information--to prove that this was indeed the case. It could also account for the Thompson effect, they argued.
Now Simoncelli and postdoc Alan Stocker have confirmed their theory with a real-life experiment. They asked each of five people to judge which of a pair of gratings on a computer screen appeared to be moving faster. Each person did this about 6000 times with the speed and contrast levels of the gratings changing from one trial to the next.
Stocker and Simoncelli then used Bayesian math to work backwards from each person's speed perceptions to determine what his or her expectations must have been. They confirmed that people expect slow movement over fast, and the team measured just how much more probable people expect slower speeds to be than faster ones. Simoncelli, whose findings appeared online Sunday in Nature Neuroscience, says that the findings might someday be used to devise better treatments for stroke victims who have trouble seeing motion or to build better driver-defense systems.
Matteo Carandini, a computational neuroscientist at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco, California, thinks the work's greatest import may be for basic research. "This opens the door” to finding the location of speed perception in the brain, he says.
This was seized 4 u at Science Magazine

How Whales Write Number One Hits

By Elizabeth Pennisi
ScienceNOW Daily News
22 March 2006

Humpback whales have long been celebrities for their intricate songs; tracks of their melodic moans, whistles, and clicks could fill a dozen CDs. How in the world do they do it? According to a new study, whales compose their ballads by stringing together these sounds into a grand series of repetitive patterns. Although the findings aren't proof of a cetacean language, they do indicate that the sea-faring giants use a kind of syntax, a feature thought to be unique to humans.Each year, male humpbacks devise new songs. And each year, a number one hit emerges that catches on among the whales. Because the songs are so complex, researchers have spent decades trying to figure out how whales compose new ones every year--and how they manage to remember them. One idea, first proposed 30 years ago, is that whale sounds are grouped into short units, which in turn form the components of longer phrases.
To test for such an underlying structure, Ryuji Suzuki, a neuroscience graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, wrote a computer program to detect individual combinations of sounds. The program translates sound combinations into symbols--"AAABBB" or "ABACC", for example--that enable both the computer and human analysts to pick out specific patterns. Based on these patterns, the program derived "rules" of whale-song writing. The sets are arranged in a hierarchy of ever-larger repeating segments. It's a bit like human music: If you consider the seconds-long sets of whistles and clicks as musical notes, the notes combine into melodies, and the melodies into veritable sonatas, Suzuki and his colleagues report this month in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. This hierarchical structure allows for mixing and matching elements on several levels for easy repackaging and memorization of a tune, he says.
"What this tells me is that humpback whales have evolved a surprisingly sophisticated way of remembering the complexity of structure in their songs," says Phillip Clapham, a marine biologist at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, Washington. "The results challenge the idea that some of the properties of human language are unique to humans."
This was seized 4 u at Science Magazine

Hopping probe may hunt for ice on the moon

The entire future of human space exploration may rest on a patch of lunar ice. For the past two years NASA has focused on designing a new crew vehicle and launch system that could return astronauts to the moon by 2018. The agency's ultimate goal is to establish a permanent lunar base and use the program's technology to prepare a human mission to Mars. But the grand plan hinges on a risky prediction: that NASA will find water ice in a permanently shadowed crater basin at one of the moon's poles. Plentiful ice deposits would be a boon for lunar colonists, who could use the water for life support or convert it to hydrogen and oxygen rocket fuel. And two orbiters sent to the moon in the 1990s, Clementine and Lunar Prospector, found evidence of ice in perpetually shadowed polar areas where consistently frigid temperatures would preserve the water carried to the moon by comet and meteorite impacts. But some scientists have disputed Clementine's radar data, and the anomalous neutron emissions observed by Lunar Prospector could have been caused by atomic hydrogen in the lunar soil instead of ice.

This was seized 4 u at Scientific American

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Was Einstein Wrong about Space Travel?

Consider a pair of brothers, identical twins. One gets a job as an astronaut and rockets into deep space. The other stays on Earth. When the traveling twin returns home, he discovers he's younger than his brother. This is Einstein's Twin Paradox, and although it sounds strange, it is absolutely true. The theory of relativity tells us that the faster you travel through space, the slower you travel through time. Rocketing to Alpha Centauri—warp 9, please—is a good way to stay young.
Or is it?

Some researchers are beginning to believe that space travel could have the opposite effect. It could make you prematurely old. "The problem with Einstein's paradox is that it doesn't fold in biology—specifically, space radiation and the biology of aging," says Frank Cucinotta, NASA's chief scientist for radiation studies at the Johnson Space Center.

While the astronaut twin is hurtling through space, Cucinotta explains, his chromosomes are exposed to penetrating cosmic rays. This can damage his telomeres—little molecular "caps" on the ends of his DNA. Here on Earth, the loss of telomeres has been linked to aging. So far, the risk hasn't been a major concern: The effect on shuttle and space station astronauts, if any, would be very small. These astronauts orbit inside of Earth's protective magnetic field, which deflects most cosmic rays. But by 2018, NASA plans to send humans outside of that protective bubble to return to the moon and eventually travel to Mars. Astronauts on those missions could be ex
posed to cosmic rays for weeks or months at a time. Naturally, NASA is keen to find out whether or not the danger of "radiation aging" really exists, and if so, how to handle it.
Science is only now beginning to look at the question. "The reality is, we have very little information about [the link between] radiation and telomere loss," says Jerry Shay, a cell biologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. With support from NASA, Shay and others are studying the problem. What they learn about aging could benefit everyone, on Earth and in space. Read more...
This was seized 4 u at NASA

Robot guide for museum visitors

A flaming-red robot will soon be guiding tourists round a Sicilian archaeological collection . The 1.5-metre-high robot, named Cicerobot by his creators, is kitted out with wheels, a keyboard, a monitor, video camera and sensors, enabling him to steer visitors safely through the rooms of Agrigento's Regional Archaeological Museum. "Cicerobot is able to plan out tours in accordance with the needs of individual visitors," explained Antonio Chella, head of the Palermo University robotics laboratory that invented the mechanism. "His sensors allow him to guide tourists around the museum, avoiding obstacles and queues". Cicerobot, who goes into action next month, will also be able to provide visitors with information on the different museum rooms.
An internet node in Cicerobot's "brain" means he is also able to link up with people using computers outside the museum, offering them a virtual visit of the structure. An earlier version of Cicerobot was given a trial run of a few weeks in the museum last year. Its creators have been working since then to iron out glitches and produce the latest model. They hope that with time and improvement, the robot will become a substitute for guides and tapes in many of Italian museums and galleries.
Chella, who unveiled Cicerobot to delegates from 170 robotics labs visiting Palermo for the European Robotics Symposium, said the device could pave the way for a series of robots in the fields of tourism, art and archaeology. These, he explained, could be used for a variety of different purposes. One such device is already being developed to provide extra security for archaeological sites. Equipped with sensor receptors, it is designed to move around the site collecting data from different sensor locations, ensuring the complex's safety .
This was seized 4 u at ANSA

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Todays patent: Remote-controlled implants & assembling miniaturised weaponry

Remember Fantastic Voyage, the 1966 sci-fi movie in which a medical team is miniaturised and injected into the body of a dying man aboard a tiny submarine? No one has yet shrunk a surgeon, but Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has come up with the next best thing – a way to remotely control implanted components from outside the body.
Ear and retinal implants help restore hearing or sight by bypassing damaged cells and directly stimulating nerve ends with tiny electrodes. But the tricky part is getting the implant into place and in contact with the nerve endings.
Livermore’s device consists of an implant attached to a silicone tube a few millimetres long. The tube has with gold particles on its tip and a current is passed wirelessly through these to create a patterned magnetic field, which can then be used to manoeuvre the implant remotely. The implants could be injected near the target site and moved around the patient’s head using an external electromagnet. When the implant is in position the gold particles should also work as electrodes to feed signals from the wires into the nerves.
But what made Livermore stray away from their bread-and-butter weapons research and towards medicine? The clue in the patent is the reference to using the technology to assemble miniaturised weaponry.
Read more here & read the full patent here.

A New Plastic Electronic Revolution?

A joint UK-US team of researchers claim to have created a new type of organic polymer which could supercede silicon compounds as the standard material for making certain types of electronic system. The major edge it has over silicon is that it can be manufactured at low temperatures with little waste. It could also be 'printed' as a fluid using conventional inkjet technologies, putting an end to expensive and error-prone lithography techniques and enabling it to be used on flexible substrates. Maybe 'electronic paper' won't be vapourware forever.
It is claimed that hte new plastic could rival silicon as the material of choice for some electronic devices. The new material is an organic polymer, a class of substances that are used to make everything from bin bags to solar panels. They are also used in some electronic devices already. In 2004, electronics giant Philips announced production of a flexible display using organic polymers, while other companies such as Cambridge Display Technology use them to manufacture organic light-emitting diodes (LEDs). However, the performance of the plastics has always made them second choice for more mainstream applications. The new semi-conducting polythiophene could change all that.
This was seized 4 u at Nature Materials, Futurismic, BBC & Engadget

Monday, March 20, 2006

Giant Figures Of People & Animals In Chile's Atacama Desert

Mysterious patterns adorn the hills of Chile's Atacama desert - the debate rages over exactly who made these so-called geoglyphs. Watching over the plains below are giant figures of people and animals carved out of the land by prehistoric artists. Some say they are signposts, etched by nomads to guide passing llama caravans safely through the driest region of the world. Others have gone so far as to say they were drawn to communicate with aliens.
There is still intense debate about exactly who made these so-called geoglyphs, and when and why they were drawn. "Geoglyphs are notoriously difficult to date," says Ran Boytner of the University of California, Los Angeles, who has studied the patterns in the Tarapacá region of north Chile. "If we cannot know when a geoglyph was made, how can we know who made them?"
The geoglyphs of the Atacama Desert were built using three essential methods, ‘extractive’, ‘additive’ and ‘mixed’. Some, like the famous geoglyphs of Nazca, were extracted from the environment, by scraping the dark desert varnish away exposing the lighter subsoil. Additive geoglyphs were built of stones and other natural materials, sorted and carefully placed. Mixed geoglyphs were completed using both techniques, and occasionally painted as well.
Read more about tracing the origins of Chile's ancient hill art in a forthcoming article written by Emma Young in New Scientist.

Atoms in new state of matter behave like Three Musketeers: all for one, one for all

An international team of physicists has converted three normal atoms into a special new state of matter whose existence was proposed by Russian scientist Vitaly Efimov in 1970.
In this new state of matter, any two of the three atoms—in this case cesium atoms— repel one another in close proximity. “But when you put three of them together, it turns out that they attract and form a new state,” said Cheng Chin, an Assistant Professor in Physics at the University of Chicago.
Chin, along with 10 scientists led by Rudolf Grimm at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, report this development in the March 16 issue of the journal Nature. The paper describes the experiment in Grimm’s laboratory where for the first time physicists were able to observe the Efimov state in a vacuum chamber at the ultracold temperature of a billionth of a degree above absolute zero (minus 459.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
This new state behaves like the Borromean ring, a symbol of three interlocking circles that has historical significance in Italy. The Borromean concept also exists in physics, chemistry and mathematics. “This ring means that three objects are entangled. If you pick up any one of them, the other two will follow. However, if you cut one of them off, the other two will fall apart,” Chin said. “There is something magic about this number of three.”
The Innsbruck experiment involved three cesium atoms, a soft metal used in atomic clocks, formed into a molecule that manifested the Efimov state. But in theory the Efimov state should apply universally to other sets of three particles at ultracold temperatures. “If you can create this kind of state out of any other type of particle, it’ll have exactly the same behavior,” Chin said.
The finding may lead to the establishment of a new research specialty devoted to understanding the quantum mechanical behavior of just a few interacting particles, Grimm said. Quantum mechanics governs the interactions of atoms and subatomic particles, but is best understood when applied to systems consisting of two particles or of many particles.
A good understanding of systems that contain just a handful of particles still eludes scientists. That may change as scientists begin to produce laboratory experiments that simulate systems made of just three or four particles, like those found in the nucleus of an atom.
Now that the Efimov state has been achieved, scientists can aspire to engineer the very properties of matter, Chin said. The Innsbruck-Chicago team exerted total control over the atoms in the experiment, converting them into the Efimov state and back into normal atoms at will.
“This so-called quantum control over the fundamental properties of matter now seems feasible. We’re not limited to the properties of, say, aluminum, or the properties of the copper of these particles. We are really creating a new state in which we can control their properties.”
Today, nanotechnology researchers can combine atoms in novel ways to form materials with interesting new properties, “but you are not changing the fundamental interactions of these atoms,” Chin said. That can only be done at temperatures near absolute zero. “At the moment, I don’t see how this can be done at much higher temperatures,” he said.
This was seized 4 u at University of Chicago

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Let’s 4give! - Visit the biggest confession room in the world!

Last week I did a lurid feature about stating that this odd website was stupid & senseless. Alon of responded with a smile stating that the site not only is everything else then stupid & senseless but that really works.
I just loved the style of the site but didn't pay to much attention to his words. Of course I did register and tried it like everybody would do. Simply by posting a few useless confessions and then it happened...
...I discovered that works, but why does it work?
The answer is simple: Its following the usual behaviour for everything u do, for every game. invites you to a “game” & if you decide to give yourself over to that game works. If you decide not to give yourself over to you will have no fun. That reminds me of me and a couple of friends playing games together at rock- & pop-gigs before the band was on. We where used to play a game containing dice. We didn't carry any dice and one of us got that idea: “Lets play without the dice, just pretending that they're their” and some of us was sceptic but it turned out to be great because the game would not be fun if anybody cheated. So we let the virtual dice roll and had a great time. Every time when somebody discovered what we did, they doubted that it would work for them and we convinced each one of them.
Its the same with Just be yourself. There are no limits. You can confess something for fun and you be “judged” for that. You can confess something that really is on your mind and you will find that the community of gives you some valuable feedback, sometimes a different angle of seeing things, or just some fun and useful thoughts.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

First Split Second Of The Universe

Scientists peering back to the oldest light in the universe have evidence to support the concept of inflation, which poses that the universe expanded many trillion times its size faster than a snap of the fingers at the outset of the big bang. We're talking about when the universe was less than a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old. In that crucial split second, changes occurred that allowed for the creation of stars and galaxies hundreds of millions of years later. The new finding was made with NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) and is based on three years of continuous observations of the cosmic microwave background, the afterglow light from the first moments of the universe. It's admittedly mind-boggling. Inflation poses that the universe expanded far faster than the speed of light and grew from a subatomic size to a golf-ball size almost instantaneously. This concept, however, was a mere product of calculations done with pencil and paper around 1980. The idea stands on much firmer ground today. "Inflation was an amazing concept when it was first proposed 25 years ago, and now we can support it with real observations," said WMAP team member Dr. Gary Hinshaw of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., a lead author on one of the scientific papers submitted for publication. Read more...
Image to right: Time Line of the Universe -- The expansion of the universe over most of it's history has been relatively gradual. The notion that a rapid period "inflation" preceded the Big Bang expansion was first put forth 25 years ago. The new WMAP observations favor specific inflation scenarios over other long held ideas. Click image to enlarge. Credit: NASA

This was seized 4 u at NASA

330 MPG! Aptera Hybrid Promises Amazing Mileage for Less Than $20,000

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Accelerated Composites LLC, a small startup company here, said it is developing the Aptera, a two-seat hybrid passenger car delivering 330 mpg at a steady 65 miles per hour — at a price under $20,000.
The company said the car, which may be ready for production in two years, will have acceleration and handling similar to that of the Honda Insight hybrid. The first Aptera prototype may be ready by March.
The prototype under construction will be powered by a single-cylinder, 12-horsepower diesel engine and a 24-horsepower DC electric motor, and will have a continuously variable transmission. Power is delivered through a single rear wheel mounted on a composite swing arm. The car is expected to have an electronically limited top speed of 95 miles per hour and an estimated 0-to-60-mph acceleration of 11 seconds.
The company says the key to the efficiency of the three-wheeler is an aerodynamic body wrapped around a flat-panel composite structure. The company has developed a composite construction technique that significantly lowers costs.
What this means to you: Toyota isn't the only one working hard on hybrids. The smallest startups have their own ideas, too.

This was seized 4 u at

Popular Science Goes To Hollywood!

PopSci's Movie Awards: The Good, the Bad and the Highly Implausible Sure, the Oscars made for juicy Sunday-night entertainment—but where, amid the glittering gowns and flash bulbs, were the geeks? Here's our rundown of the honors the Academy forgot to hand out... By Gregory Mone

This was seized 4 u at Popular Science

Roomba Cockfight

Goddamn, who doesn't love a robotic vacuum cleaner cockfight? I know they're illegal in most states, but luckily California isn't one of them. Sure, there are liberals who say it's abuse to whip a Roomba into a frenzy, tape a pair of sharp scissors on its back and set it loose in the ring. But screw those bleeding hearts. Roombas, the saucer-shaped, floor-sweeping robots from iRobot, love to fight. It's in their nature. Read more from Annalee Newitz...
This was seized 4 u at Alternet

Friday, March 17, 2006

Small, smaller, smallest - research towards the construction of nanomotors

Nanotechnology is one of the most important technologies of the future. This field embraces research, handling, and production of objects and structures in the size range below 100 nanometres (a nanometre is a millionth of a millimetre), the boundary where living and non-living Nature meet. It thus includes the development of biological "working parts", as a prerequisite for their technological application. A promising interdisciplinary approach combines research methods of biology, physics, chemistry, computing, system theory and engineering into a "synthetic biology".
The EU has also recognised this, and has started up the NEST (New and Emerging Science and Technology) programme - an initiative aimed at supporting unconventional and visionary research in this field. An international consortium, co-ordinated by Prof. Helmut Grubmüller, has now been awarded funding for a research plan to pioneer the tailored development and production of artificial systems according to the blueprints of biological functional units. Their ambitious project NANOMOT aims at developing nanomotors, and at joining up them and their components in a system resembling a construction kit.

The idea of a nanomotor of this kind is based upon biological machines such as the "tail" (flagellum) of certain gut bacteria, which is driven by a flagellar motor and thus propels the bacterium forwards.
A motor complex converts electrical energy from ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a molecular energy store, into a rotational movement of the flagellum, which is fixed to an "axle". Another example is the "packaging" of DNA (the substance in which genetic information is stored) into viral coats by a biological nanomotor with a rotating axis.
Nano-components of this kind are expected to be applied in the production of DNA, protein and antibody chips as miniaturised platforms for use in molecular-biological and molecular-medical tests and in targeted medicines with fewer side effects.
This was seized 4 u at Max Planck Society

'Averageness' the key to greatness (or the story about Eclipse)

The 18th Century horse Eclipse was a legendary figure in horse racing, contributing to the bloodlines of 80% of modern thoroughbreds. Yet, despite his unbeaten record, Eclipse, the "father of modern racehorses" was perfectly average in the leg department. That is the verdict of scientists at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), who have reconstructed one of the horse's legs to look at what made him a winner. It appears that Eclipse's body shape and movement were in the middle of the normal range, giving him the perfect confirmation for running. "To be average is good from the point of view of a racehorse," Dr Alan Wilson of the RVC told the BBC News website. "From the point of view of his bones, he's right in the middle of what would prove typical for a racehorse."
Eclipse was born in 1764, the year of a solar eclipse. He easily outclassed other racehorses, winning 18 races before being retired to stud, chiefly because nobody wanted to pit their horses against him. He sired three Derby winners and found his way into the bloodlines of a great many modern thoroughbreds. The horse was dissected after his death and his skeleton has been on show for many years at the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket. Dr Wilson and graduate student Renate Weller used the skeleton to try to work out the secret of his success. Using portraits of Eclipse and contemporary accounts of the horse running, they reconstructed one of his legs and compared it with the shape and structure of modern horses. They then analysed his skeleton and developed computer models of horse movement. They found that Eclipse was perfectly average when it came to the shape and morphology of his leg bones. It appears that hundreds of years of modern breeding have hardly changed the "recipe" for a winning racehorse.
Dr Wilson said it was fascinating to use old skeletons as a reservoir of information to see how perceptions have changed over the years for how people think a racehorse should look. "If you look at a Stubbs painting, it doesn't look much like a modern racehorse," he said. "But it's our perception that's changed and not the horses." Old paintings might not provide an accurate record, he said, because they were painted to impress the owner and probably exaggerated certain features of the horse.
So, if Eclipse's bone structure was not exceptional, what made him the winner he was?

His large heart and powerful lungs - seen at dissection - would have played a role. Another attribute that gave certain horses an edge over the opposition was their "spirit" or "will to win", said Dr Wilson. Further answers may lie with planned DNA studies of Eclipse. Scientists hope to extract DNA from the animal's bones, hooves and teeth to look at his genetic recipe. Until then, racing enthusiasts may have to rely on the old skills of weighing up a horse's form and fitness. But this latest study does show, perhaps, that there is an element of truth to the old adage that some punters can pick a winner simply by looking at a horse.
This was written by Helen Briggs & seized 4 u at BBC

Jam with friends all over the World

eJamming, which launched v.1.0 today, allows musicians located anywhere to get together for jam sessions. Your drummer’s in New York, lead guitar is in India, your bass player is somewhere else, and you’re on keyboard. No problem. eJamming lets you jam anyway. And you can talk to the other musicians via a VOIP feature.
All you need is digital instrument (midi enabled) and an internet connected computer. Download the client (Mac or PC), and either get the old band back together virtually or find a musician on the service. See the demo here.
eJamming has a one week free trial and it’s $20 a month after that. Price plans are here.The only instrument I ever played was a Recorder in 4th if anyone with musical skills tries it out, please ping me with your review. I’m particularly interesting in how eJamming handles latency issues. They discuss the issue here and say “eJamming’s patented algorithms delay the sounding of your instrument until you receive music data from your fellow eJammers.” They go on:
Musicians accommodate their playing to other musicians all the time, ever-so-slightly altering their attack in different situations. The players who’ve been testing eJamming — including the most proficient and skeptical we could find — have accommodated very quickly to these instrument-feel delays (surprisingly quickly), and many have found they can even deal with the 50-90mS delays when collaborating from the East Coast of the US to Eastern Europe.
This was written by Michael Arlington & seized 4 u at TechCrunch

Thursday, March 16, 2006

DNA Art - Origami Goes Nano

The software of life has now been woven into smiley faces, snowflakes and stars. Caltech researcher Paul Rothemund calls his new technique "DNA origami," and he can weave any two-dimensional shape or pattern using DNA molecules. The technology could one day be used to construct tiny chemical factories or molecular electronics by attaching proteins and inorganic components to DNA circuit boards. The research is detailed in the March 16 issue of the journal Nature. Read more...
This was written by Ker Than & seized 4 u at LifeScience

Cosmic 'DNA'

Magnetic forces at the center of the galaxy have twisted a nebula into the shape of DNA, a new study reveals. The double helix shape is commonly seen inside living organisms, but this is the first time it has been observed in the cosmos. "Nobody has ever seen anything like that before in the cosmic realm," said the study's lead author Mark Morris of UCLA. "Most nebulae are either spiral galaxies full of stars or formless amorphous conglomerations of dust and gas—space weather. What we see indicates a high degree of order." The DNA nebula is about 80 light-years long. It's about 300 light-years from the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The nebula is nearly perpendicular to the black hole, moving out of the galaxy at a quick clip—about 620 miles per second (1,000 kilometers per second). Magnetic field lines at the galactic center are about 1,000 times stronger than on Earth. They run perpendicular to the black hole, but parallel through the nebula. Scientists think that twisting of these lines is what causes the double helix shape. While the black hole might be the first culprit to come to mind, it's more likely that the magnetic field lines are anchored to a giant gas disk that orbits the black hole several light-years away, researchers say. It's like having two strands of rope connected to a fixed point, Morris said. As you spin the strands, they braid around each other in a double helix fashion. In this case the gas and dust of the nebula makes up the strands. "It's as if there's a bar across the middle [of the black hole], or a dumbbell shape, where the strands are anchored, and as it spins around, it twists the strands together," Morris told
This process takes a long time, though, since the disk completes one orbit around the black hole roughly every 10,000 years. But that's an important number. "Once every 10,000 years is exactly what we need to explain the twisting of the magnetic field lines that we see in the double helix nebula," Morris said. Read more...

This waswritten by Bjorn Carey & seized 4 u at

Saved by 'sand' poured into the wounds

Detective Danny Johnson was on patrol outside Tampa, Florida, when a report came through of a possible shooting in a junkyard three blocks away. Arriving on the scene, he found an elderly man sitting on a tractor, with a large hole in his leg that was bleeding profusely. Realising it would be some time before the ambulance arrived, Johnson opened a packet of sand-like material and poured it into the wound. Within seconds the bleeding had practically stopped, and the man survived. "The medic told me that had I not put the substance in there, the guy would probably have bled out and died," he says. The material, called QuikClot, which is issued routinely to police officers in Hillsborough county, Florida, was developed for the US military to cut down the number of soldiers who bleed to death on the battlefield. More than 85 per cent of soldiers killed in action die within an hour of being wounded. Improved haemorrhage control "could probably save 20 per cent of the soldiers who are killed in action", says Hasan Alam, a trauma surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The material is already used by the navy and a few US police departments. Researchers would like to see it used more widely, but one major safety problem has prevented this happening. Now developers are hoping that advances in the material and the design of new substances could see blood clotting treatments used by ambulance crews, in operating theatres, and even in the home. Read more...
This was written by Jessica Marshall seized 4 u at New Scientist

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

USRobotics Introduces USB Telephone Adapter at CeBIT

USRobotics announced the introduction of its Skype certified USR9620 USB Telephone Adapter this week at CeBIT, the world’s largest trade fair showcasing digital IT and telecommunications solutions for home and work environments. USRobotics’ USB Telephone Adapter lets users make both Skype Internet Telephony calls and traditional PSTN calls via their existing PSTN telephone handset.
The USB Telephone Adapter is simple to install and use, and requires no additional hardware from a PSTN or broadband provider. Users connect an analog telephone line and a standard cordless or corded telephone to the USR9620, and then connect the USR9620 to a USB port on their computer running the Skype software and connected to the Internet via broadband.
“Our telephone adapter lets people use both Skype and their home phone line to make calls from the same telephone handset,” says Rizwan Akbar, USRobotics’ Product Manager. “The advanced features of the USR9620 allow users to save money on their long distance calling even when they are away from the computer running Skype.”
Telephones that can display caller ID are automatically enhanced to display Skype user name, as well as PSTN caller identification*. Advanced call waiting handling allows for notification of incoming calls (Skype or PSTN) while the phone is in use and lets users switch between the calls or even link a Skype call and a PSTN call in a three-way conference.
Intelligent forwarding of incoming Skype calls to mobile phones or landline phones and vice versa means USR9620 users will no longer have to stop using Skype’s low cost calling services when they are away from their computer. Simply configure the USR9620 to forward unanswered Skype calls to another phone number and the USB Telephone Adapter will forward the Skype call over the PSTN connection. Users can also access Skype via the PSTN or mobile network by dialing in to their USR9620 to place Skype and Skype Out calls from any remote location.

This was seized 4 u at USRobotics Web Site

Supercomputer Builds a Virus

One of the world's most powerful supercomputers has conjured a fleeting moment in the life of a virus. The researchers say the simulation is the first to capture a whole biological organism in such intricate molecular detail. The simulation pushes today's computing power to the limit. But it is only a first step. In future researchers hope that bigger, longer simulations will reveal details about how viruses invade cells and cause disease. Klaus Schulten at the University of Illinois, Urbana, and his colleagues built a computer model of the satellite tobacco mosaic virus, a tiny spherical package of RNA. Their success depended on the latest version of a computer program called NAMD, which Schulten and his colleagues have built over the past decade to simulate biological molecules. The program allows the several hundred different processors within a supercomputer to work in parallel on the same problem. Running on a machine at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Urbana, the program calculated how each of the million or so atoms in the virus and a surrounding drop of salt water was interacting with almost every other atom every femtosecond, or millionth of a billionth of a second. The team managed to model the entire virus in action for 50 billionths of a second. Such a task would take a desktop computer around 35 years, says Schulten. "This is just a first glimpse," he says. "But it looks gorgeous."

This was seized 4 u at Nature

Get Isolated In The Internet

The website you never needed. Isolatr "helps you find where other people aren’t” - Lets get isolated...

Modern Cartogram Research

It is sometimes very useful to redraw the map of the world with the sizes of countries made bigger or smaller in order to represent something of interest. Such maps are called cartograms and can be an effective and natural way of portraying geographic or social data. If you are interested to see more cartograms, you might like to visit the website of the Worldmapper Project, where a group of researchers are gathering together an ever-growing collection of cartograms showing all sorts of aspects of the social, economic, and geographic world. The web site contains, among other things, downloadable posters of cartograms that you can print out, along with data sets, descriptions of the statistical analyses, and information about the methods used to produce the maps.
This was seized 4 u at Mark Newmans Homepage

Black holes: The ultimate quantum computers?

Nearly all of the information that falls into a black hole escapes back out, a controversial new study argues. The work suggests that black holes could one day be used as incredibly accurate quantum computers – if enormous theoretical and practical hurdles can first be overcome. Black holes are thought to destroy anything that crosses a point of no return around them called an "event horizon". But in the 1970s, Stephen Hawking used quantum mechanics to show black holes do emit radiation, which eventually evaporates them away completely. Originally, he argued that this "Hawking radiation" is so random that it could carry no information out about what had fallen into the black hole. But this conflicted with quantum mechanics, which states that quantum information can never be lost. Eventually, Hawking changed his mind and in 2004 famously conceded a bet, admitting that black holes do not destroy information. But the issue is far from settled, says Daniel Gottesman of the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada. "Hawking has changed his mind, but a lot of other people haven't," he told New Scientist. "There are still a lot of questions about what's really going on."

This was seized 4 u at New Scientist

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Helping Blind Hamsters See

Nanotechnology has restored the sight of blind rodents, a new study shows. Scientists mimicked the effect of a traumatic brain injury by severing the optical nerve tract in hamsters, causing the animals to lose vision. After injecting the hamsters with a solution containing nanoparticles, the nerves re-grew and sight returned.
Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team hopes this technique could be used in future reconstructive brain surgery. Repairing nerve damage in the central nervous system after injury is seen as the ultimate challenge for neuroscientists, but so far success in this field has been limited. Nerve regeneration is set back by a number of factors, including scar tissue and gaps in brain tissue caused by the damage. And this can make treatment by medical and surgical methods very difficult.
To find a novel way around these problems, the team based at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, and Hong Kong University looked towards nanotechnology - a branch of science involving the manipulation of atoms and molecules. The researchers injected the blind hamsters at the site of their injury with a solution containing synthetically made peptides - miniscule molecules measuring just five nanometres long. Once inside the hamster's brain, the peptides spontaneously arranged into a scaffold-like criss-cross of nanofibres, which bridged the gap between the severed nerves.
"The first thing we saw was that the brain had started to heal itself in the first 24 hours. We had never seen that before - so that was very surprising." The scientists looked at young hamsters with actively growing nerve cells, and also at adults hamsters whose nerves had stopped growing. "We found that we had got functional return of vision and orientating behaviour, which was very surprising to us because we thought we would have to promote cell growth, through the growth factors."
The scientists believe that they have overcome some of the barriers to nerve regeneration, and hope to be able to apply their work to medical applications at a later stage. "We are looking at this as a step process. If this can be used while operating on humans to mitigate damage during neurosurgery, that would be the first step," Dr Ellis-Behnke told the BBC News website."Eventually what we would look at is trying to reconnect disconnected parts of the brain during stroke and trauma." Read more...
This was seized 4 u at BBC

Planet hunters find 'super-Earth'

Planet hunters have discovered an icy "super-Earth" circling a distant star. International astronomers suspect it is a bare, icy, rocky world, much colder than the Earth and 13 times its mass. The planet was spotted last April but details have only just been revealed in a paper submitted to Astrophysical Journal Letters. The extra-solar planet is one of a mere handful detected using a novel technique called microlensing. The planet orbits a star about half as big as our Sun, positioned some 9,000 light-years away. At -201C, it is one of the coldest extra-solar planets to be discovered. Andrew Gould, professor of astronomy at Ohio State University, US, was one of the first people to discover it. He said the find has two main implications. "First, this icy 'super-Earth' dominates the region around its star that in our Solar System is populated by the gas-giant planets, Jupiter and Saturn," he said. "We've never seen a system like this before because we've never had the means to find them. "And second, these icy 'super-Earths' are pretty common. Roughly, 35% of all stars have them." Professor Gould is leader of the Microlensing Follow-up Network (MicroFUN) collaboration. It is one of several international groups looking for Earth-like planets in planetary systems other than our own using the phenomenon called gravitational microlensing. Since the 1990s, astronomers have discovered some 170 extra-solar, or exoplanets, a planet which orbits a star other than the Sun. There is great interest in finding extrasolar planets that are like the Earth, since these could, in theory, have the right conditions for supporting life. In January, a new planet 5.5 times the mass of the Earth - the smallest yet - became the third exoplanet to be detected by the microlensing technique. Tim Naylor, professor of astrophysics at Exeter University, UK, said microlensing had great promise for the future. "It holds out the promise that we will discover many Earth-sized planets with this technique," he told the BBC News website. Read more...
This was written by Helen Briggs 4 u at BBC

Confess, share & forgive at the godless aliance must be one of the most stupid but logic and consequential ideas for a web2.0 website realized until now. The interface is appealing. Everything seems quite neat, sophisticated & well designed.
This senseless site is just great if you need a place to confess your sins or just have the need to judge others or even want to play God. Here is the cookbook right from
You have the opportunity to confess on every sin you ever committed and be judged by the community if your worthy of a Forgiveness or Not.Every Confession is ranked with the Forgiven or No forgive ranking. Your reputation will be judged from Angel to devil upon your confession ranking, the higher the score the closer to Angel status you get and vise versa. Rank each confession after you truly decided on the sinners’ fate, The higher the score the closer to forgiveness.
Furthermore the "about page" states:
We make no claims about the validity of the statements found on this website and we also do not guarantee the identity of posters on this website. In fact, people probably aren’t who they say they are. We can’t be held responsible for any false accusations posted on this website. All text on this website is public domain and has no copyright or guarantee bound to it.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Google is reaching out for the Martians

Still waiting for "Google Andromeda" they at least have reached the nearest planet. If you need directions or just are curious visit Google.Mars.
Quoting the Google blog: We here on Earth have long held a fascination with the planet Mars. From Percival Lowell's sketches of its surface, to the countless books and movies that revolve around it, we've spent millenia studying and day-dreaming about our nearest neighbor in the solar system. In that tradition, NASA researchers Noel Gorelick and Michael Weiss-Malik from Arizona State University worked with us to combine Google Maps technology with some of the most detailed scientific maps of Mars ever made. In commemoration of Lowell's birthday, we're pleased to bring you Google Mars. Explore the red planet in three different ways: an elevation map shows color-coded peaks and valleys, a visible-imagery map shows what your eyes would actually see, and an infrared-imagery map shows the detail your eyes would miss. We hope you enjoy your trip to Mars.

This was seized 4 u at Google

The Physics Of Friendship

By comparing people to mobile particles randomly bouncing off each other, scientists have developed a new model for social networks. The model fits with empirical data to naturally reproduce the community structure, clustering and evolution of general acquaintances and even sexual contacts. Applying a mathematical model to the social dynamics of people presents difficulties not involved with more physical – and perhaps more rational – applications. The many factors that influence an individual’s fate to meet an acquaintance and decide to become a friend are impossible to capture, but physicists have used techniques from physical systems to model social networks with near precision.
By modeling people’s interactions based on how particles bounce off each other in an enclosed area, physicists Marta Gonzalez, Pedro Lind and Hans Herrmann found that the characteristics of social networks emerge “in a very natural way.” In a study recently published in Physical Review Letters, the scientists compared their model to empirical data taken from a survey of more than 90,000 U.S. students regarding friendships, and found similarities indicating that this model may serve as a novel approach for understanding social networks.
“The idea behind our model, though simple, is different from the usual paradigmatic approaches,” Gonzalez told “We consider a system of mobile agents (students), which at the beginning have no acquaintances; by moving in a continuous space they collide with each other, forming their friendships.” Read more...
On the right you see the visualization of a high school’s empirical friendship network from the scientists’ data, the different colored (blue, green, purple, orange) nodes represent students in different grades. Links between nodes are drawn when a student nominates another student as a friend. In the recent study, physicists developed a novel model to describe this social network based on rules governing physical systems. Credit: Marta Gonzalez

This was seized 4 u at

Crazy Egg is watching you!

When ajax started getting popular some advertisers were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to track pageview stats anymore? Not so! Ajax gives you the ability to track visitors right down to their mouse moves. And guess what? Someone has finally implemented this idea - woot! Crazy Egg is a website tracking system that records every click by your users. It then produces a list, an overlay and a heat map that is overlaid on your site, allowing you to understand exactly what your users are doing. Read more...
Klick on the screenshot in order to enlarge-->
This was seized 4 u at Mashable

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Scientists Discover "Living Fossil" in Laos

When wandering through a hunter's market in Laos, Robert Timmins of the Wildlife Conservation Society happened upon a previously unknown rodent. Called kha-nyou by locals--or rock rat--the long-whiskered and furry-tailed rodent was reputed to favor certain limestone terrain. Western scientists named it Laonastes aenigmamus or stone-dwelling enigmatic mouse--partially because a live specimen has never been collected--and thought the rock rat represented a new family of mammals. But new research reported in today's Science proves that Laonastes actually represents a fossil come to life.
Paleontologist Mary Dawson of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and her team immediately recognized the strange rodent as a living member of a family thought to have been extinct for at least 11 million years: the Diatomyidae. Fossilized remnants of this group have been found throughout Asia with a distinctive jaw structure and molars. A new specimen of Diatomys discovered in June of last year in China bore an uncanny resemblance to Laonastes, including the same body size and tail span.
"It's the coelacanth of rodents," Dawson says, referring to the ancient fish believed extinct until a live specimen was hauled from the depths by South African fishermen. "One of the beautiful parts of this discovery was that we were able to correctly predict that Laonastes would have four roots in its molars just as in Diatomys."
The rock rat represents a rare opportunity to compare assumptions derived from the fossil record and an actual living specimen to determine overall accuracy of the techniques involved, the scientists argue. It also represents tantalizing support for the theory that many mammals evolved in Asia and later colonized other continents, as its closest living relative is the gundis--a guinea pig-like rodent of northern Africa.
Ultimately, kha-nyou provides a compelling argument for preservation efforts in Southeast Asia, joining tree shrews, flying lemurs and tarsiers as remnant populations of ancient mammal families in the region. "Laonastes is not the only new organism to be discovered in southeastern Asia," Dawson adds. "The highest priority must be given to preserving this unique biota and especially Laonastes while it is still possible." --David Biello

This was seized 4 u at Scientific American

Playing the Market: Music Meets Wall Street

What happens when you mix economic trend data with music? You get a surprisingly creative and haunting sound that is as diverse as today's global markets. The ethereal sound of Fibonacci's Random Walk contrasts the harsh, industrial rhythms of Irrational Exuberance and Industrial Century. The chilling Misery Index seems more at home as part of the soundtrack to a Japanese horror flick than an avant garde album.
Check out Playing the Market by Emerald Suspension

This was seized 4 u at

Solar Storm Warning

It's official: Solar minimum has arrived. Sunspots have all but vanished. Solar flares are nonexistent. The sun is utterly quiet. Like the quiet before a storm. This week researchers announced that a storm is coming--the most intense solar maximum in fifty years. The prediction comes from a team led by Mausumi Dikpati of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). "The next sunspot cycle will be 30% to 50% stronger than the previous one," she says. If correct, the years ahead could produce a burst of solar activity second only to the historic Solar Max of 1958. The picture on the right shows Intense auroras over Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1958. That was a solar maximum. The Space Age was just beginning: Sputnik was launched in Oct. 1957 and Explorer 1 (the first US satellite) in Jan. 1958. In 1958 you couldn't tell that a solar storm was underway by looking at the bars on your cell phone; cell phones didn't exist. Even so, people knew something big was happening when Northern Lights were sighted three times in Mexico. A similar maximum now would be noticed by its effect on cell phones, GPS, weather satellites and many other modern technologies. Read more...
This was seized 4 u at NASA

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Mice with glowing hearts

Cornell researchers have genetically engineered mice whose hearts glow with a green light every time they beat.
heart development of mouseProvided by Kotlikoff et al.
This series reveals increases in cell calcium from a mouse embryo's upper heart through the lower heart on day 10 of development. Cell calcium rises when muscles contract. The bottom row shows a dramatic slowing of the conducted calcium wave between the upper and lower heart chamber
The development gives researchers insights into how hearts develop in living mouse embryos and could improve our understanding of irregular heartbeats, known as arrhythmias, as well as open doors to observing cellular processes to better understand basic physiology and disease. The technique for making living, functional cells fluoresce, or glow, when the concentration of calcium ions rise within cells, is described online at PNAS and is to be published in a future issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"The proteins act as molecular spies that tell us what is happening within cells in the living mouse," said Michael Kotlikoff, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Cornell researchers are breeding new lines of mice with similar proteins that target neurons in the brain, in parasympathetic nerves, in blood vessels or in Purkinje fibers, which prompt the heart's ventricles to pump. The researchers have also transplanted cells from the mice with glowing hearts into normal mice to see whether the transplanted cells function normally within the host heart, which could offer insights for heart repair. Read more...
This was written by by Krishna Ramanujan & seized 4 u at Cornell University

How to discover asteroid impacts using Google Earth

On March 6 we, at, published a translation into spanish about the discovery of Kebira impact crater a 31km diameter structure in Egypt, at the border with Lybia, by investigators of Boston University. Two days later by using Google Earth program I decided to check how this crater looked like, as I knew image quality can vary from one place to another. I thought that logically the silhoute would be hard to appreciate and that would be the reason it took so much time to discover, but following the article guidelines I went directly to the Egypt/Lybia border and in less than a minute I perfectly saw the structure. El impacto de Kebira, Kebira as seen from 30km high distance. Suddenly the questions came to me. Nobody saw this before? How can a 31 km diameter structure not be noticed? So I decided to explore arround for a while to check for similar structures.
This was seized 4 u at

Microsoft is catching up in the battle on who will be dominating the future of the Internet

Last November, Microsoft the era of "Live software", a host of new ways for consumers, businesses, and developers to gain access to Microsoft's services over the Web. Four months in, the new era appears to be well under way.
I think that Microsoft has made a big step in the right direction with its latest release at, its evolving to a very competitive alternative to Google and Netvibes. com portals.
Windows Live is the centerpiece of an effort by Microsoft to catch pioneers such as Google and Yahoo! in Internet-related technology and sales., Microsoft's customizable search-oriented portal, has more than 3 million users and the second-highest Net Promoter score -- a metric showing how many users would recommend the site to others -- of all properties, writes Cole, a Microsoft senior vice-president. How are other Windows Live features faring?
Windows Live Mail, the new version of Microsoft's flagship Hotmail e-mail, is hosting 750,000 users, and the company hopes it will host 20 million by June, according to the memo. Windows Live Mail "was rewritten from the ground enable high performance, client-like functionality, plus a host of security features, including anti-phishing," Cole writes.
And Windows Live Safety Center, a free online service that helps protect customers' computers with virus cleaning and comprehensive PC health checkup capabilities, has received 13 million page views since its mid-November launch and has completed about 2 million free scans, the memo reports. Windows Live Messenger, which lets customers make calls and create a virtual workspace to share files with others, already has more than 1.5 million beta users and is seeing much grassroots viral marketing, according to the memo. Windows Live Local search, customized to the user's geographic location, "is surpassing our competition with industry-leading technology," the memo says. A slew of other features are on the way, the company says. "Over the next 3-6 months, we'll ship more innovative technology into the marketplace than during our entire 10-year history," writes Cole, who said in February he'll be taking a year's leave of absence starting in April. How will all that innovation be delivered? Services will be introduced with what he calls a "rolling thunder" approach. "We'll release new services as they become available, upgrade existing services, and launch marketing efforts in global phases," the memo says. One such service is a click-per-call capability that will let users connect to businesses via Web-based calls by clicking on MSN search links. Sources tell BusinessWeek Online that the capability will be unveiled the week of Mar. 13. Four months isn't very long, as eras go. But results have nonetheless imbued Microsoft with confidence. "I know we've spent the last few years coming from behind, but we've truly turned a huge corner," Cole says. "And I can assure you the onslaught of upcoming Windows Live services will place us in a strong competitive position and will reestablish our leadership in the industry." The onslaught has yet to translate to big inroads on rivals' turf -- but Google may want to ready the defenses to be on the safe side.
Most of this was seized 4 u at BusinessWeek

Friday, March 10, 2006

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Prepares to Enter Mars' Orbit

Spacecraft Turns to Burn Position for Orbit Insertion
03.10.06 -- After a seven-month journey, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is going through maneuvers to place itself into orbit around Mars today. Coverage of the complex orbit insertion maneuver starts at 3:30 p.m. on NASA TV and the Web . Spacecraft milestones for the event can be followed below. The spacecraft is the most technologically advanced ever sent to Mars.


This was seized 4 u at NASA

Check out Julian Beever's Amazing 3D Pavement Art

I recently came across Julian Beever's web site. From his web site: " Julian Beever has made pavement drawings for over ten years. He has worked in the U.K., Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany, the USA and Australia.The pavement drawings have included both renderings of old masters plus a wealth of original inventive pieces of work."
His work shows a mastery of perspective and spacial relation. What I find most extraordinary is the transitive nature of his preferred medium. Check out more of Julian Beevers' work...

This was seized 4 u at Julian Beever's Web Page

Easter Island Settled Later, Depleted Quicker Than Thought?

New archaeological evidence suggests that Easter Island, mysterious home of titanic stone heads, was first settled around A.D. 1200, much later than previously thought.
Once there, the colonizers quickly began erecting the famous statues for which the remote eastern South Pacific island (map) is famous. They also helped deplete the island's natural resources at a much faster rate than previously thought, the study says.
With its barren landscape, the Chilean-controlled island, also known as Isla de Pascua and Rapa Nui, has come to symbolize an isolated civilization that once flourished but suffered ecological catastrophe. Terry Hunt, the study's lead author, says the new findings highlight the dangers of human-induced environmental change, especially to islands. "This shows that [such] changes can occur very rapidly," said Hunt, an anthropology professor at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.
The study is to be published in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science. Scientists have long treated Easter Island's extinct society as a textbook example of a once thriving civilization that doomed itself by wiping out its natural resources.
Before humans arrived on the isolated island, which is 64 square miles (166 square kilometers) in area, had some 16 million giant palm trees. Twenty or more other tree and woody shrub species formed a forest on the island, as on other local islands. Yet when Dutch colonizers arrived on Easter Island in 1722, they found the eerie stone carvings and little else. The natural landscape was totally barren, the island's trees having been cut down—an environmental disaster examined in geographer Jared Diamond's latest best seller, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. (See Guns, Germs and Steel: Jared Diamond on Geography as Power.)
In 1947 Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl sailed a tiny raft, called Kon-Tiki, from Peru to Polynesia in an effort to prove that ancient civilizations could have sailed to the South Pacific.

This was seized 4 u at National Geographic

The Hunch Engine

How do you look for something when you don't know what you're looking for?
Or when you know it must be there somewhere but you have no idea what it looks like?
Or when you have no idea how to formulate your query?
Or when you would like to expand your exploration to adjacent or not-so-adjacent concepts?
Imagine you could plug a computer into your brain and get the machine to do the donkey work while you concentrate on the creative bits. A novel piece of software that generates names and hunts down pictures gets close to doing just that.
The "hunch engine" blends a computer's ability to rapidly sift through a large number of possible solutions to a problem with human hunches for what looks or sounds right. Whether you are trying to think up a company name or find the perfect image on the web, the system does the hard work and lets you have all the fun.
If your only guiding principle is the "obscenity principle"--I know it when I see it--you need not a search engine but a hunch engine. Developed by Icosystem of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the hunch engine uses a genetic algorithm, an interactive evolutionary algorithms to help users navigate large spaces, combining the ability of computers to sift through massive amounts of data and that unique human ability to see "stuff" (sometimes even when stuff is not there) with their right brains. The hunch engine enables a form of "high-throughput screening by humans."
Can this become a consumer application?
Is it a new way of browsing?

Life On Enceladus?

Follwing up yesterdays story, it cannot be ruled out that Saturn’s tiny moon, Enceladus, is a distant outpost of life.
So say Cassini mission scientists after studying the geysers of ice particles and water vapour found spewing out of the moon’s south polar region in 2005. An insulating shell of clathrate hydrates – a form of water ice containing trapped gas molecules – could help Enceladus retain more heat. Additional warming may come courtesy of the gravitational tug of war between Enceladus and Dione, a neighbouring moon. Read more...

This was seized 4 u at New Scientist

How fast is your internet?

In a few short years, people and businesses have become dependent on their internet connection, to the point where if that connection even slows down, it is a major issue. Yet how do you measure your internet connection’s performance? Actually, in any number of ways which have now been catalogued. Organisations managing high traffic volumes have until now been forced to rely on the assurances of their provider, rather than being able to use a widely-understood and standard measurement method. This is the purpose of the IST project MOME, to build the knowledge and resources for such internet performance measurement.
MOME aimed to develop a publicly-accessible data repository on the tools and data used for internet performance measurement. The project is completing at the end of March 2006, and already has accessible online a public database of IP (Internet Protocol) performance-measurement tools and data.
“We looked at around 400 tools in total,” says project coordinator Felix Strohmeier of Salzburg Research in Austria. “These were refined down to 121 tools, which are described in the database together with the links to access them.”
The tools database contains links to publicly-available data repositories, he says, stressing that many of the tools are freely available together with their source code. “What we have produced is a kind of online catalogue, where you can find the tool you need for a specific purpose, for example how to examine ‘denial of service’ attacks.” MOME’s IP measurement tools database currently contains information on some 66 open-source tools, 19 commercially-available programs and seven methods that do not make the source code available. For the remaining 29 tools listed in the database, source code availability is not specified. Strohmeier emphasises the contribution made by project participants to the standardisation bodies. “We have been very active in the IETF [Internet Engineering Task Force, an open international community concerned with the evolution of the internet], bringing the results from a number of IST projects into what is the main engineering body for internet protocol.”
While the MOME project itself is finishing, Salzburg Research intends to maintain the site and the open-to-all online database together with three of the project partners, says Strohmeier. Users are also able to add comments on any of the tools, once they have registered (which is free).
MOME was the first EU research project in this area and therefore something of a European pioneer. The US-based CAIDA research association, at the San Diego Supercomputing Center in California, has worked in this area of IP measurement for around ten years, and has now decided to deploy its own database of measurement tools, prompted in part at least by the cooperation and contact with MOME.
This was seized 4 u at Information Society Technologies

Cubicles: The great mistake

NEW YORK (FORTUNE Magazine) - Robert Oppenheimer agonized over building the A-bomb. Alfred Nobel got queasy about creating dynamite. Robert Propst invented nothing so destructive. Yet before he died in 2000, he lamented his unwitting contribution to what he called "monolithic insanity."

Propst is the father of the cubicle. More than 30 years after he unleashed it on the world, we are still trying to get out of the box. The cubicle has been called many things in its long and terrible reign. But what it has lacked in beauty and amenity, it has made up for in crabgrass-like persistence.
Reviled by workers, demonized by designers, disowned by its very creator, it still claims the largest share of office furniture sales--$3 billion or so a year--and has outlived every "office of the future" meant to replace it. It is the Fidel Castro of office furniture.

So will the cubicle always be with us? Probably yes, though in recent years individuals and organizations have finally started to chart productive and economical ways to escape its tyranny.

The cubicle was not born evil, or even square. It began, in fact, as a beautiful vision. The year was 1968. Nixon won the presidency. The Beatles released The White Album. And home-furnishings company Herman Miller (Research) in Zeeland, Mich., launched the Action Office. It was the brainchild of Bob Propst, a Coloradan who had joined the company as director of research.
After years of prototyping and studying how people work, and vowing to improve on the open-bullpen office that dominated much of the 20th century, Propst designed a system he thought would increase productivity (hence the name Action Office). The young designer, who also worked on projects as varied as heart pumps and tree harvesters, theorized that productivity would rise if people could see more of their work spread out in front of them, not just stacked in an in-box.

The new system included plenty of work surfaces and display shelves; partitions were a part of it, intended to provide privacy and places to pin up works in process. The Action Office even included varying desk levels to enable employees to work part of the time standing up, thereby encouraging blood flow and staving off exhaustion.

But inventions seldom obey the creator's intent. "The Action Office wasn't conceived to cram a lot of people into little space," says Joe Schwartz, Herman Miller's former marketing chief, who helped launch the system in 1968. "It was driven that way by economics."

Economics was the one thing Propst had failed to take into account. But it was also what triggered the cubicle's runaway success. Around the time the Action Office was born, a growing breed of white-collar workers, whose job titles fell between secretary and boss, was swelling the workforce. Also, real estate prices were rising, as was the cost of reconfiguring office buildings, making the physical office a drag on the corporate budget. Cubicles, or "systems furniture," as they are euphemistically called, offered a cheaper alternative for redoing the floorplan.

This was seized 4 u at CNN Money

Thursday, March 09, 2006

NASA's Cassini Discovers Potential Liquid Water on Enceladus

NASA's Cassini spacecraft may have found evidence of liquid water reservoirs that erupt in Yellowstone-like geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus. The rare occurrence of liquid water so near the surface raises many new questions about the mysterious moon.

"We realize that this is a radical conclusion -- that we may have evidence for liquid water within a body so small and so cold," said Dr. Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. "However, if we are right, we have significantly broadened the diversity of solar system environments where we might possibly have conditions suitable for living organisms."

High-resolution Cassini images show icy jets and towering plumes ejecting large quantities of particles at high speed. Scientists examined several models to explain the process. They ruled out the idea that the particles are produced by or blown off the moon's surface by vapor created when warm water ice converts to a gas. Instead, scientists have found evidence for a much more exciting possibility -- the jets might be erupting from near-surface pockets of liquid water above 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), like cold versions of the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone.

Mission scientists report these and other Enceladus findings in this week's issue of Science.

"We previously knew of at most three places where active volcanism exists: Jupiter's moon Io, Earth, and possibly Neptune's moon Triton. Cassini changed all that, making Enceladus the latest member of this very exclusive club, and one of the most exciting places in the solar system," said Dr. John Spencer, Cassini scientist, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo.

This was seized 4 u at NASA

Black Holes Or Dark Energy Stars?

Dark energy and dark matter, two of the greatest mysteries confronting physicists, may be two sides of the same coin. A new and as yet undiscovered kind of star could explain both phenomena and, in turn, remove black holes from the lexicon of cosmology.
The audacious idea comes from George Chapline, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, and Nobel laureate Robert Laughlin of Stanford University and their colleagues. Last week at the 22nd Pacific Coast Gravity Meeting in Santa Barbara, California, Chapline suggested that the objects that till now have been thought of as black holes could in fact be dead stars that form as a result of an obscure quantum phenomenon. These stars could explain both dark energy and dark matter.
This radical suggestion would get round some fundamental problems posed by the existence of black holes. One such problem arises from the idea that once matter crosses a black hole's event horizon - the point beyond which not even light can escape - it will be destroyed by the space-time "singularity" at the centre of the black hole. Because information about the matter is lost forever, this conflicts with the laws of quantum mechanics, which state that information can never disappear from the universe.
Another problem is that light from an object falling into a black hole is stretched so dramatically by the immense gravity there that observers outside will see time freeze: the object will appear to sit at the event horizon for ever. This freezing of time also violates quantum mechanics. "People have been vaguely uncomfortable about these problems for a while, but they figured they'd get solved someday," says Chapline. "But that hasn't happened and I'm sure when historians look back, they'll wonder why people didn't question these contradictions." While looking for ways to avoid these physical paradoxes, Chapline and Laughlin found some answers in an unrelated phenomenon: the bizarre behaviour of superconducting crystals as they go through something called "quantum critical phase transition". During this transition, the spin of the electrons in the crystals is predicted to fluctuate wildly, but this prediction is not borne out by observation. Instead, the fluctuations appear to slow down, and even become still, as if time itself has slowed down. "That was when we had our epiphany," Chapline says. He and Laughlin realised that if a quantum critical phase transition happened on the surface of a star, it would slow down time and the surface would behave just like a black hole's event horizon. Quantum mechanics would not be violated because in this scenario time would never freeze entirely. "We start with effects actually seen in the lab, which I think gives it more credibility than black holes," says Chapline.
"Dark energy stars and black holes would have identical external geometries, so it will be very difficult to tell them apart," Lobo says. "All observations used as evidence for black holes - their gravitational pull on objects and the formation of accretion discs of matter around them - could also work as evidence for dark energy stars." Read more...

This was seized 4 u at New Scientist

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Brain Controlled Typewriter Could Aid Disabled

Researchers in Berlin have come a step closer to developing a device that will enable people to write and manipulate objects by reading their mind. The so-called mental typewriter that translates thoughts into cursor movements on a computer screen will be on display at the computer technology fair CeBIT, which opens in the German city of Hanover on March 9. "It'll be our first public presentation," says Mirjam Kaplow, spokesperson for the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Architecture and Software Technology, which is developing the project along with the Department of Neurology at the Charite hospital. The teams led by professors Klaus-Robert Mueller and Gabriel Curio have spent several years working on the Brain Computer Interface -- a system which allows for a direct dialogue between man and machine. The long-term objective of the research is to create a brain-controlled device that could allow people with severe disabilities to communicate with the outside world. Even if a person who is completely paralysed cannot move his eyes left or right he can still think with the left and right parts of his brain. These thoughts or signals would be enough to activate the device. Signals from the brain are measured by 128 electrodes affixed to the subject's scalp, similar to an electroencephalogram (EEG). With the help of a software programme, specific signals are picked out among the nebulous mass of information. The computer's self-learning capacity allows it to identify individual brain patters and constantly improve its performance, says Mueller. "It's like being at a cocktail party when you have to absorb what the person opposite you is saying above the din of music, the clinking of glasses and the sound of other voices," Mueller told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

This was seized 4 u at Mail & Guardian Online

New animal resembles furry lobster

PARIS, France (AP) -- Divers have discovered a new crustacean in the South Pacific that resembles a lobster and is covered with what looks like silky, blond fur, French researchers said Tuesday. Scientists said the animal, which they named Kiwa hirsuta, was so distinct from other species that they created a new family and genus for it. A team of American-led divers found the animal in waters 2,300 meters (7,540 feet) deep at a site 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) south of Easter Island last year, according to Michel Segonzac of the French Institute for Sea Exploration. The new crustacean is described in the journal of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. The animal is white and 15 centimeters (5.9 inches) long -- about the size of a salad plate. In what Segonzac described as a "surprising characteristic," the animal's pincers are covered with sinuous, hair-like strands. It's also blind. The researchers found it had only "the vestige of a membrane" in place of eyes, Segonzac said. The researchers said that while legions of new ocean species are discovered each year, it is quite rare to find one that merits a new family. The family was named Kiwaida, from Kiwa, the goddess of crustaceans in Polynesian mythology. The diving expedition was organized by Robert Vrijenhoek of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California.

This was seized 4 u at CNN

Sneak preview of Google Calendar

TechCrunch has somehow obtained screenshots of the as yet unreleased Google Calendar. The application called CL2 seems to be way away from launch but the feature list seems impressive. Other online calendar applications are going to have a very hard time competing. "CL2 is closely, very closely, integrated with Gmail. It includes now-standard web 2.0 features - Ajax, suscription feeds for integration with iCal and other desktop calendars, event creation, search, sharing, notifications (including SMS) and more."
This was seized 4 u at TechCrunch

Human Genes Tell New Story

Photo by Peter Thompson for The New York Times
Dr. Jonathan Pritchard writing an equation to scan the human genome for signs of natural selection Monday at the University of Chicago.

Providing the strongest evidence yet that humans are still evolving, researchers have detected some 700 regions of the human genome where genes appear to have been reshaped by natural selection, a principal force of evolution, within the last 5,000 to 15,000 years. The genes that show this evolutionary change include some responsible for the senses of taste and smell, digestion, bone structure, skin color and brain function.
The finding adds substantially to the evidence that human evolution did not grind to a halt in the distant past, as is tacitly assumed by many social scientists. Even evolutionary psychologists, who interpret human behavior in terms of what the brain evolved to do, hold that the work of natural selection in shaping the human mind was completed in the pre-agricultural past, more than 10,000 years ago.
"There is ample evidence that selection has been a major driving point in our evolution during the last 10,000 years, and there is no reason to suppose that it has stopped," said Jonathan Pritchard, a population geneticist at the University of Chicago who headed the study. Read more...

This was seized 4 u at The New York Times

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Where are the sunspots gone? (Solar Minimum has Arrived)

Every year in February, the students of Mrs. Phillips's 5th grade class in Bishop, California, celebrate Galileo's birthday (Feb. 15th) by repeating one of his discoveries. They prove that the sun spins. It's simple. Step 1: Look at the sun. Galileo did this using a primitive telescope; Mrs. Phillips's students use the internet. Step 2: Sketch the sunspots. Step 3: Repeat daily. After only a few days, it's obvious that the sunspots are moving and sun is spinning, performing one complete turn every 27 days. This procedure worked fine in 1610. But in 2006, "we had a problem," says young Jonathan Garcia. "No sunspots,"explains his science fair partner Dakota Winkler.
A picture of the sun taken Feb. 10,
2006, by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
For almost the entire month of February 2006 the sun was utterly blank. If Galileo had looked at the sun on his 442nd birthday, he would have been disappointed—no sunspots, no spin, no discovery. What's going on? NASA solar physicist David Hathaway explains: "Solar minimum has arrived." Sunspots come and go with an 11-year rhythm called the sunspot cycle. At the cycle's peak, solar maximum, the sun is continually peppered with spots, some as big as the planet Jupiter. But for every peak there is a valley, and during solar minimum months can go by without a single sunspot. "That's where we are now—at minimum," says Hathaway. Actually, we're at the beginning of the minimum. February 2006 was the first month in almost ten years with mostly no sunspots. For 21 of February's 28 days, the sun was blank. Hathaway expects this situation to continue for the rest of 2006.
This was seized 4 u at NASA

The first space tourist from Japan

Space Adventures, Ltd., my favorite travel agency, has announced that Japanese entrepreneur Daisuke Enomoto (Dice-K) will be the next turist in space. The final contract for Dice-K’s flight on Soyuz TMA-9 in route to the International Space Station (ISS) has been signed. His expedition is currently planned for September 2006.
"We, at Space Adventures, are proud to announce the commencement of Dice-K's orbital spaceflight training," said Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures, Ltd. "We look forward to his launch in September when his dream of spaceflight will be realized and we hope and trust that he will be an inspiration to others around the world to pursue their own dreams of spaceflight."
Space Adventures offers a variety of programs such as the availability today for orbital spaceflight missions to the International Space Station, commercial missions around the moon, Zero-Gravity and MiG flights, cosmonaut training, spaceflight qualification programs and reservations on future suborbital spacecrafts.

This was seized 4 u at Space Adventures

Monday, March 06, 2006

The 62,000-Mile Elevator Ride

(Business 2.0) - Every world-changing wonder has to begin somewhere. But it would be hard for the space elevator to have a less auspicious start than it got last October in a foggy office parking lot in Mountain View, Calif. This was the setting for the first Space Elevator Games, sponsored by NASA, which offered a $200,000 prize to the first team that could make a machine climb up a 164-foot tether, powered by nothing but a mirror and a beam of light from a 10,000-watt bulb.
A short ride

In fact, none of the home-brewed contraptions on display could reach higher than 40 feet. The device that got the most attention was built by Vince Lopresti, a wheelchair-bound Texan, and that's because he made it from an old wheelchair frame. Ask him why he did it, and he gazes skyward. "I'm doing it to get off this rock," he says with a smile.

The theory behind the elevator is simple. First proposed 111 years ago by a Russian scientist, it was popularized by Arthur C. Clarke in his award-winning 1978 novel, The Fountains of Paradise, and goes like this: Earth is constantly spinning. So if you attach a counterweight to it with a cable, and put it far enough away--62,000 miles--the cable will be held taut by the force of the planet's rotation, just as if you spun around while holding a ball on a string. And if you've got a taut cable, you've got the makings of an elevator.

As strange as that sounds--push the "Up" button, climb in, and soar off into weightless bliss--don't be surprised if it happens. The space elevator is where the PC was in the 1960s: The theory is solid, the materials exist, and people in garages are starting to tinker with the next step. Two Seattle startups are competing to build the elevator. Both believe they can do it within 15 years at a cost of $10 billion. NASA and China's space agency are eager to help make it happen.

This was seized 4 u at Business 2.0

Entire City of Toronto to Become Wireless Hotspot

Toronto Hydro Corp. will announce Tuesday that it plans to turn Canada's largest city into one giant wireless hotspot, directly challenging the country's major mobile phone carriers for a chunk of the $8 billion a year wireless market. With the deployment, which sources say could be available in the downtown core as early as this fall, Toronto joins a growing list of North American cities, including Philadelphia, New Orleans and San Francisco, that have announced plans to bring low-cost, broadband wireless access to their citizens and businesses. "I wouldn't be surprised if you see it in September or October of this year," said a source close to the project. Mayor David Miller will join Toronto Hydro executives on Tuesday to officially announce the initiative, which will be the largest of its kind ever undertaken in Canada and could undermine commercial product offerings from Rogers Wireless, Telus Mobility and Bell Mobility.

This was seized 4 u at The Toronto Star

Cool Robot

Officially named the "Cool Robot" by students and faculty members at the Thayer School of Engineering, the robot designed to function in arctic temperatures may have surpassed "cool" and entered the realm of "out of this world," if the interest from NASA is any indication. The robot, envisioned and built by a team of students and faculty members at the Thayer School of Engineering, could potentially be used by NASA for research in Antarctica, according to Professor Laura Ray, the team leader and primary investigator for the project. NASA's goal is to use the robot to search for evidence of bacteria in Antarctic snow. The project would serve as a template for any future efforts to explore the terrain of Mars in search of life. Read more...
This was seized 4 u at The Dartmouth

Turbulence - the third power of time?

Turbulence can be found everywhere: in the sun and in a cup of coffee, in a turbine engine and in biology. How turbulence works is one of the long-standing unsolved problems for scientists and engineers. Now, however, researchers have been able to test, experimentally, decades-old theories about how particles separate in strong turbulence; the work was done by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen, Germany; Cornell University in the United States; the Laboratory of Geophysical and Industrial Fluid Flows at the CNRS in Grenoble, France; and the Risø National Laboratory in Roskilde, Denmark. The scientists developed their own system of high-speed cameras; with them they showed that particles move more slowly than had previously been predicted. These results could lead to better transport and separation models of chemicals and biological substances.
Fluid Turbulence is everywhere in the world around us. It impacts all of us on a daily basis, be it in stirring milk into our morning cup of coffee, mixing combustion gases in a burner, or in the spread of pollutants or bioagents in the atmosphere. Biologists are trying to learn how animals seek out partners and prey following scents transported by turbulent wind and water flows. Turbulence also influences how likely it is that two agents will come together and react chemically - how pollution or poisons spread out and fluctuate across oceans and air. Turbulen
ce also affects how clouds form and atmospheric ozone gets depleted.
Turbulence occurs naturally when a fluid, like air or water, is pushed at high speeds or at a large scale, and is characterized by chaotic, seemingly random flow patterns. It is most easily recognisable when "particles" are tossed around in a flow, like when leaves dance in an autumn wind or ribbons of mist appear behind a car speeding over a wet highway. For decades scientists have been trying to understand how exactly turbulence happens. One of their key questions has been: when particles start out near each other, how long does it take for turbulence to separate them? In the 1920s, a British scientist, Lewis Fry Richardson, predicted that the mean-square separation of a fluid element pair should grow as the third power of time. This result, known as the Richardson-Obukhov law, is commonly used in models of transport in turbulence. Because of turbulence’s high complexity, the law assumes that flow separation is independent of the original distance between the particles.
In the 1950s, however, the Australian George Batchelor in Cambridge devised another separation formula which was indeed dependent on the initial distance between particles. He saw the pair separation as increasing with time squared, and further suggested that the Richardson-Obukhov law would, in the long-run, be obeyed.
Now a German-French-United States research team, led by Professor Eberhard Bodenschatz, has experimentally tested both theories.
They created a particle tracking system out of three high-speed cameras and a very bright laser. The scientists put very small particles into turbulent water flows and measured the particle movements. The cameras recorded the distance between particles over 25,000 times per second. This is about a million times smaller and faster than the movement of two snowflakes in a snowstorm.
The researchers found results in excellent agreement with Batchelor's predictions, but which did not observe the Richardson-Obukhov law. Contrary to common expectations, Batchelor’s formula appears to predict particle movement in just about all turbulent flows on Earth; particle separation distance may indeed have its influence. The measurements also suggest that particles move more slowly away from each other than previously assumed. These results could have implications for a number of fields of science and engineering, from efficiently mixing industrial materials to modelling the interiors of stars.

This was seized 4 u at Max Planck Society

Hhhmmm... That's funny...

Wired News has an interesting top ten list: The Top Ten "Accidental" Inventions. They say that more important discoveries are heralded in by the phrase "Hhmmmm.... that's funny." than "Eureeka!". Enjoy!


This was seized 4 u at Wired News

Red rain could prove that aliens have landed

There is a small bottle containing a red fluid on a shelf in Sheffield University's microbiology laboratory. The liquid looks cloudy and uninteresting. Yet, if one group of scientists is correct, the phial contains the first samples of extraterrestrial life isolated by researchers. Inside the bottle are samples left over from one of the strangest incidents in recent meteorological history. On 25 July, 2001, blood-red rain fell over the Kerala district of western India. And these rain bursts continued for the next two months. All along the coast it rained crimson, turning local people's clothes pink, burning leaves on trees and falling as scarlet sheets at some points. Investigations suggested the rain was red because winds had swept up dust from Arabia and dumped it on Kerala. But Godfrey Louis, a physicist at Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, after gathering samples left over from the rains, concluded this was nonsense. 'If you look at these particles under a microscope, you can see they are not dust, they have a clear biological appearance.' Instead Louis decided that the rain was made up of bacteria-like material that had been swept to Earth from a passing comet. In short, it rained aliens over India during the summer of 2001.

This was seized 4 u at the Guardian Unlimited

The Simpsons are alive (The Simpsons with real actors)

MAKERS of the hit cartoon The Simpsons have a filmed the show's opening titles using real actors. In the hit viral going around the world we get to see what Bart, Homer, Marg, Lisa and Maggie would look like if they were humans. And you can be among the first to watch the hilarious titles, filmed over 18 months in Britain, by visiting the The Sun Online.
The clip re-enacts the title sequence to a tee beginning with the camera zooming into a schoolroom to see a blonde Bart scribbling lines on the blackboard.
Simpson’s maker Matt Groening has approved the human version of the show’s opening credits to promote the brand new series.
An insider said: "We're really excited about it. We used regular actors, not so much for their resemblance - as you can't copy a bunch of yellow characters - but becuase you can easily identify with them." A balding actor plays Homer as he leaves work dropping some nuclear waste out of the window on the way home. While a baby girl copies the scene where Lisa appears to be driving Marg’s car. The opening montage ends with the whole family squeezed on the settee ready to watch the cartoon version of the show.
This was seized 4 u at The Sun Online

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Sonic Boom - an intergalactic shock wave

Recent infrared observations made with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have revealed the presence of a huge intergalactic shock wave, or "sonic boom" in the middle of Stephan's Quintet, group of galaxies which is now the scene of a gigantic cosmic cataclysm. This discovery, made by an international research team including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg, provides a local view of what might have been going on in the early universe, when vast mergers and collisions between galaxies were commonplace.
When astronomers turned their attention to a well-known group of galaxies called Stephan's Quintet, they were, quite simply, shocked at what they saw. There, sweeping through the group, lurks one of the biggest shock waves ever seen. For decades, astronomers using optical telescopes have known that the galaxies in this group, located about 300 million light years away, have a very distorted distribution of visible light from stars, indicating that the galaxies have
experienced encounters in the past, and are now engaged in further collisions. But this, as it turns out, is only part of the drama. Recently, astronomers have become able to measure what, apart from the stars, is present in Stephan's Quintet. By looking in the radio and X-rays they discovered huge quantities of gas - about 100,000 million solar masses, mainly composed of hydrogen and helium - in the space between the galaxies, more than all the gas inside the galaxies themselves.
Now, a team of scientists from Caltech, USA and from the Astrophysics Department of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics discovered that one of the galaxies, called NGC7318b,
which is falling towards the others at high speed, is generating a giant shock wave in front of it - larger even than the Milky Way - as it ploughs its way through the intergalactic gas. The results of this amazing discovery are to be published on March 10th in a paper in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
"Observing a nearby densely populated galaxy group, immersed in a thick gas cloud, gives us a local view of what might have been going on in the early universe about 10
billion years ago, soon after the first galaxies formed, when the intergalactic medium and the galaxy density were much greater than today. In this respect these observations are a bit like stepping into a time machine", said Dr. Cristina Popescu, another team member from MPIK. The new results may indicate that some of the emission from the most luminous infrared galaxies seen in the very distant Universe may actually be created not by stars, but by vast shocks in the gas between the colliding galaxies.
Though far in the future, it is likely that in about two billion years from now, we will collide with the slightly larger neighbouring Andromeda Galaxy, creating shocks of our own.

This was seized 4 u at Max Planck Society

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Will Wright's Spore

Will Wright, creator of Sims, shows his new game Spore in this full demo presentation. It is really cool. The game is a highly ambitious evolutionary world which starts at the cellular level and goes up to the scale of galactic civilizations, trying to encompass everything in between. Players make their own creatures and worlds. The game seems also to provide a good understanding of evolution and the balance of nature. If you have half an hour to spare, sit back and enjoy the ride.

This was seized 4 u at google video

Really Cool Panoramic Photos of Paris

Check out some very beautiful views of the City of Light.
This was seized 4 u at Arnaud Frich Photographie

MIT Origami Competition Results

Strong mathematical minds at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology showed off their creativity and dexterity for the school's fourth annual Student Origami Competition. The winning entries are on display at the school's Wiesner Student Art Gallery through March 15. The right model of MIT's mascot, the beaver, was submitted by Brian Chan, a graduate student in mechanical engineering. Jason Ku submitted an origami model of one of the Nazgul, or ringwraiths, from "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy (left picture).

This was seized 4 u at CNet's

Jupiter's New Red Spot

The official name of Jupiter's New Red Spot is "Oval BA," but "Red Jr." might be better. It's about half the size of the famous Great Red Spot and almost exactly the same color. Oval BA first appeared in the year 2000 when three smaller spots collided and merged. Using Hubble and other telescopes, astronomers watched with great interest. A similar merger centuries ago may have created the original Great Red Spot, a storm twice as wide as our planet and at least 300 years old. At first, Oval BA remained white—the same color as the storms that combined to create it. But in recent months, things began to change: "The oval was white in November 2005, it slowly turned brown in December 2005, and red a few weeks ago," reports Go. "Now it is the same color as the Great Red Spot!"
"Wow!" says Dr. Glenn Orton, an astronomer at JPL who specializes in studies of storms on Jupiter and other giant planets. "This is convincing. We've been monitoring Jupiter for years to see if Oval BA would turn red—and it finally seems to be happening." (Red Jr? Orton prefers "the not-so-Great Red Spot.")
Why red? Curiously, no one knows precisely why the Great Red Spot itself is red. A favorite idea is that the storm dredges material from deep beneath Jupiter's cloudtops and lifts it to high altitudes where solar ultraviolet radiation--via some unknown chemical reaction—produces the familiar brick color. "The Great Red Spot is the most powerful storm on Jupiter, indeed, in the whole solar system," says Orton. The top of the storm rises 8 km above surrounding clouds. "It takes a powerful storm to lift material so high," he adds. Oval BA may have strengthened enough to do the same. Like the Great Red Spot, Red Jr. may be lifting material above the clouds where solar ultraviolet rays turn "chromophores" (color-changing compounds) red. If so, the deepening red is a sign that the storm is intensifying. "Some of Jupiter's white ovals have appeared slightly reddish before, for example in late 1999, but not often and not for long," says Dr. John Rogers, author of the book "Jupiter: The Giant Planet," which recounts telescopic observations of Jupiter for the last 100+ years. "It will indeed be interesting to see if Oval BA becomes permanently red." See for yourself: Jupiter is easy to find in the dawn sky. Step outside before sunrise, look south and up: sky map. Jupiter outshines everything around it. Small telescopes have no trouble making out Jupiter's cloudbelts and its four largest moons. Telescopes 10-inches or larger with CCD cameras should be able to track Red Jr. with ease. What's next? Will Red Jr. remain red? Will it grow or subside?
This was written by Tony Phillips seized 4 u at NASA

Friday, March 03, 2006

IT bosses ban Google Desktop over security fears

UK IT bosses are already taking measures to ban employees from downloading Google's Desktop search software on PCs and laptops because of the security risk to corporate data. Analyst Gartner last week warned that the 'search across computers' feature on the latest version of Google Desktop poses an "unacceptable risk" to many organisations because it allows people to share information and also stores some of that data on Google servers. Google claims the enterprise version of the software includes security management controls to address corporate security concerns but a sample of UK IT bosses in's 12-man CIO Jury user panel said they had already banned or planned to ban any use of Google Desktop within their organisation.

This was seized 4 u at

BigDog robot to carry gear for troops

It can carry loads of up to 120 pounds, amble along at 3.3 miles per hour, climb hills, and can follow a path by itself via stereo vision or be controlled via remote. It's BigDog, the gasoline-powered, gyro-stabilized, 2.3-foot tall, 165-pound pack mule of the future. BigDog is being developed by defense contractors Boston Dynamics, and will, we assume, be the best pal for the robot army of the future. And just for the record, we're pretty confident that BigDog could take down any spare Aibos that Sony has left lying around.
This was originally posted by Marc Perton & seized 4 u at Engadget

Bizarre Moments of Escape (photos by Erwin Wurm)

Primitive society had its masks, bourgeois society its mirrors. We have our images. (Jean Baudrillard)
Actually he had wanted to become a painter. But the professors at the art academy stuck him in the sculpting class. Because he was deemed more talented in grasping the world in all three dimensions. He initially tackled the coordinates of sculpture: dimensionality, mass, volume, surface. And worked on traditional themes: riders on horses, walkers, standing figures, bathers. Erwin Wurm is a disciplined man.
Yet before long his interest shifted from the structural properties of
the figures to the forms of action in sculpture and the process of their creation. In the Renaissance the received opinion was that a sculpture had to last a thousand years. Wurm confronts the fleet ingness of life today with ephemeral works. He once demanded that visitors to his exhibition transform themselves into “One-Minute Sculptures”. He then photographed the scenes and later, for a fee, sent the signed photos back to those portrayed. And as additional utensils he uses pencils, buckets, oranges, cucumbers or balls. In other words, not expensive materials but everyday objects. Erwin Wurm is a pragmatic man.
In his photographs, gherkins have been wedged between the naked to
es of a woman’s foot, and asparagus stuck into the nostrils of a business man, two legs jut out of a window, a woman lies on her stomach on the sidewalk, her head in a bowl. But Erwin Wurm does not wish to make anyone look ridiculous. Instead, he wants to suspend rationality, create leeway – short bizarre moments of escape from our material world. Even CEOs have allowed him to portray them in eccentric poses, he recalls. Erwin Wurm is not a humorist.
This was seized 4 u at Deutsche Boerse

A new awakening for sleep research

Whether you are having problems to stay awake or falling asleep, sleep science has yet offered little help, due to costly and complicated diagnostics and treatments. Researchers aim to drastically change this with a new way of measuring sleep.
The IST project SENSATION is an ambitious project of 46 partners from 20 different countries, addressing sensing of physiological parameters, core computation, medical and industrial research. The aim is to take sleep research to a whole new level by developing a multipurpose sensing platform consisting of 17 micro sensors and two nano sensors, connected through a local area network.
“The sensors will allow you to sleep at home on, for instance, a mattress with sensors instead of going to a hospital which is much more comfortable and the test becomes more precise,” explains Dr Evangelos Bekiaris, project coordinator. Today, you will have to go to a hospital sleep lab for 1-2 nights and have your sleep measured to evaluate your sleep. “These tests are costly and since monitoring sleep cannot be done in your home environment they are not as reliable,” says Bekiaris.
The sensors will be integrated into a wide range of materials such as bed and pillow textiles, wrist straps, seat linings and the frames of glasses. Wirelessly integrated through a computer network they will measure your brain activity, heart rate, eye and muscle movements during your waking and sleeping hours. The data will be collected in a body area network, wirelessly transferred to a local area network and then sent to the hospital for analysis, Bekiaris explains. The sensors can also be used for safe monitoring and early warning of people while driving or supervising a critical task, like the operators of nuclear power stations or air traffic controllers, before they fall asleep and cause an accident.
This was seized 4 u at Information Society Technology

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Search and look for places. Microsofts 'Local Live', 'Google maps' or what?

I wrote a post the yesterday about Microsofts "Live Local" and asked for the correctness and usability of this technology preview. The result was disillusioning. Robin couldn't find anything useful in San Francisco and to be honest none of these sites are really useful if you want to find your way. The "Live Local" page shows a few good pictures of Seattle & San Francisco, but the search and navigation are just crap. Google maps is most fun 'cause you can feel like a spy scrolling through reality with your personal satellite, but of course you're not. The best one is probably Amazon's A9 maps (which still only covers very few cities). The mix of the MapQuest collaboration and integrating the maps with the "block view" imagery seems most prosperous at the moment.
(Sorry Steve - they didn't catch you on your way in or out ;-))

BubbleZoom on BubbleShare & other updates

The best photo sharing site on the web, BubbleShare has released a new version its service. A really cool new Ajax feature that is called BubbleZoom, it’s inspired by Apple’s Aperture Zooming capabilities. The feature is available on every picture hosted by BubbleShare - simply click on the BubbleZoom button and have a 3x zoom view on any area of the photo. Very slick.
Other updates are summed up on the Bubbleshare blog:
The new version keeps the exact same benefits of our original service. You can create and share and album without registration. However
BubbleShare have now introduced an account system so you can manage your albums and have more control.
So, which way should you use BubbleShare? That’s up to you. If you only send an album every couple months then you may just want to use our Express Service without creating an account. If however, you create many albums and want more control then we recommend you create an account.
Some of the features:
* An account system to easily manage your albums
* Rotate your photos (finally!)
* New default view for your album (grid mode) which lets you see all photos in the album in one glance. You can still play the slideshow
* Fix-up’s of the navigation and other little bugs
* The Bubble Widget – For Mac users, stream your photos to your desktop
This was seized 4 u at Bubbleshare & inspired by this TechCrunch post

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What do a NASA engineer and a detective have in common?

The answer is a new NASA photographic laser device that helps look for damages on NASA’s Space Shuttle that can also be used to "shoot" more details in crime scenes.
The Laser Scaling Device attaches directly to a camera, enabling the viewer to measure the size of the object. Image right: The Laser Scaling Device attaches directly to a camera and projects a pattern of dots into the field of view. This pattern appears in the photograph along with the image of the object under investigation, enabling the viewer to measure the size of the object. Credit: NASA
Engineers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Kennedy Space Center, Fla., developed the Laser Scaling and Measurement Device for Photographic Images (LSMDPI) to assist scientists who were unable to determine the exact scale of hailstorm damages to the Space Shuttle’s external tank by viewing photographs of the spacecraft on its launch pad.
The LSMDPI is a half-pound black box, powered by a single nickel-cadmium battery that attaches directly to a camera’s tripod mount. Twin lasers, an inch apart, shoot from the box, and add scale to photographs. In other words, the laser offers the ability for someone to look at these special photographs and have a better understanding of just how big or small objects really are.

Contractor Jeffrey Kohler of ASRC Aerospace, a company that supports NASA's Innovative Partnership Office, and his colleagues did an assessment to review the technology and how it could apply to potential commercial markets. “Forensics was at the top of the list,” said Kohler.Not only can they use it to fully view photos of components from crime scenes such as blood-spatter patterns and graffiti, but can also see the images from different angles (including diagonally, horizontally and vertically) to better analyze and understand the scenes.In fact, just recently, Ballard was asked by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to add more capabilities to the LSMDPI software to enable forensics experts to zoom in and out of the image to measure blood spatter details across a wall as well as specific areas. At the FBI’s request, NASA has also enabled compatibility of the image files with.tiff, .png, .gif, and .bmp files as add-ons to .jpg images.
This was seized 4 u at NASA

Helping computers understand

A new software system that enables faster and more comprehensive analysis of vast quantities of information is so effective that it not only creates order out of chaos and allows computers to perform tasks that before only people could perform, it is also creating new information from old data.
The key to the framework is the use of ontologies. Ontologies are a fundamental driver to many of the hottest computer science topics, like the Semantic Grid. They are simply a vocabulary detailing all the significant words for a particular domain, like healthcare or tourism or military intelligence, and the relationship between each word. Computers can then recognise these terms in their particular context. It's a method for getting computers to mimic 'understanding'.
PARMENIDES used one ontology to analyse unstructured text, another to analyse databases and a third to unify the two by data sets. So while a newspaper might talk of a 'terrorist' or 'bomber', a military database might use the terms 'hostile' or 'enemy agent' or specific names.
Three major case studies were used to evaluate and demonstrate the system. One market-consulting firm for the biotech industry used it to query situations-vacant advertising and business information newswires to predict what new drugs and compounds individual companies wanted to develop. It's creating highly value-added analyses from public domain information. The Greek Ministry of Defence (MoD) used the developed tools to automatically compile dossiers on terrorist groups from a combination of its own files and newspaper reports. Meanwhile, the Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever is using them to analyse journal articles, newspaper reports and even anecdotal data to build up a picture of the relationship between weight, health and food. It's a bit like producing automatic a super-study of diseases and how they spread.
This was seized 4 u at Information Society Technologies

Microsoft is busy launching social networking services on - after Local.Live we got Expo

I wanted to check out on but got stuck because that service for the time being is limited to Seattle & San Francisco.
...and now a request to our local reporter Robin, check it out and tell us how live it is ;-) - THANX.
Expo is more or less a classified service it looks quite cool and this is the describtion from the startpage:"Expo is a dynamic social listing service that allows members to find and sell items, discover information, and meet other parties in their area – all for free! With Expo, you can browse and post listings to those you trust, like your buddies, co-workers, and fellow students, or, to all Expo visitors. Product tour In addition, you can map listings easily using MSN Virtual Earth, post a free listing in less than a minute with our easy-to-follow steps, and use instant messages to communicate quickly with other members."