Record Industry Braces for Artists’ Battles Over Song Rights

4:02:21 PM, Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Since their release in 1978, hit albums like Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Billy Joel’s “52nd Street,” the Doobie Brothers’ “Minute by Minute,” Kenny Rogers’s “Gambler” and Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under a Groove” have generated tens of millions of dollars for record companies. But thanks to a little-noted provision in United States copyright law, those artists — and thousands more — now have the right to reclaim ownership of their recordings, potentially leaving the labels out in the cold.

When copyright law was revised in the mid-1970s, musicians, like creators of other works of art, were granted “termination rights,” which allow them to regain control of their work after 35 years, so long as they apply at least two years in advance. Recordings from 1978 are the first to fall under the purview of the law, but in a matter of months, hits from 1979, like “The Long Run” by the Eagles and “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer, will be in the same situation — and then, as the calendar advances, every other master recording once it reaches the 35-year mark.

The provision also permits songwriters to reclaim ownership of qualifying songs. Bob Dylan has already filed to regain some of his compositions, as have other rock, pop and country performers like Tom Petty, Bryan Adams, Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Waits and Charlie Daniels, according to records on file at the United States Copyright Office..."

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Largest Recorded Tundra Fire Yields Scientific Surprises

3:44:50 PM, Thursday, August 25, 2011

"In 2007 the largest recorded tundra fire in the circumpolar arctic released approximately as much carbon into the atmosphere as the tundra has stored in the previous 50 years, say scientists in the July 28 issue of the journal Nature. The study of the Anaktuvuk River fire on Alaska's North Slope revealed how rapidly a single tundra fire can offset or reverse a half-century worth of soil-stored carbon.

Tundra soils store huge amounts of carbon hundreds to thousands of years old. Intact, the layers of organic soil insulate the permanently frozen ground, called permafrost, below.

"Fire has been largely absent from tundra for the past 11,000 or so years, but the frequency of tundra fires is increasing, probably as a response to climate warming," said co-author Syndonia "Donie" Bret-Harte, an ecosystem ecologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Arctic Biology.

The Anaktuvuk River fire burned 1,039 square kilometers (401 square miles), an area roughly the size of Cape Cod and visible from space, and released more than 2.1 teragrams (2.3 million tons) of carbon into the atmosphere. Radiocarbon dating of the soils revealed the maximum age of the soil carbon emitted from the fire was 50 years.

"The amount of carbon released into the atmosphere from this fire is equivalent to the amount of carbon stored by the global tundra biome," said lead author Michelle Mack, a biologist from the University of Florida. "This was a boreal forest-sized fire."

Little is known about the effects of fire on carbon storage and cycling in tundra ecosystems. Cool, wet soils underlain by permafrost are thought to restrict fires to aboveground plants and ground-level plant litter leaving the carbon stored in soils relatively intact. As arctic summers get warmer and dryer, so too do the soils, which are highly flammable and able to burn more deeply when dry..."

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Dark Winters 'Led To Bigger Human Brains And Eyeballs'

3:31:08 PM, Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Humans living at high latitude have bigger eyes and bigger brains to cope with poor light during long winters and cloudy days, UK scientists have said.

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Virginia Earthquake Waves Ripple Across The US

6:33:11 PM, Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"This is very cool: seismometers deployed across the United States detected the seismic waves from the magnitude 5.9 earthquake that hit Virginia on August 23, 2011. In this animation showing the data you can actually see the wave rippling across the country!

What you’re seeing here are vertical displacement measurements from an array of detectors that are part of the USArray/EarthScope facility (you can read more about the array and the animation on the IRIS website). These are very sensitive instruments; note the scale on the lower graph showing the motion is only about 40 microns top-to-bottom! That’s less than the thickness of a human hair.

Red dots represent upward motion, and blue downward. The intensity of the color represents the amplitude (height) of the wave. Animations like this make it very easy to see the waves moving across the country; the arc even gives you a rough idea of where the epicenter was.

I grew up in Virginia, and went to UVa not far from the quake’s epicenter of Mineral, Virginia. I felt several earthquakes when I lived in California, and ironically there was a moderate quake about 360 km south of me in Colorado last night, but I never felt it! The Virginia quake, though, was felt as far away as Canada, apparently due to the East coast’s different crust structure than on the West coast, where quakes aren’t felt so far away. I didn’t know that, and that’s pretty interesting. Every state in the US has earthquakes, but the East coast quakes can be particularly dangerous because structures like houses and buildings aren’t built to withstand them. Perhaps this quake will be a wake-up call to construction companies and the government which regulates the industry..."

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Electronic Skin Tattoo Has Medical, Gaming, Spy Uses

2:12:17 AM, Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"A hair-thin electronic patch that adheres to the skin like a temporary tattoo could transform medical sensing, computer gaming and even spy operations, according to a US study published Thursday.

The micro-electronics technology, called an epidermal electronic system (EES), was developed by an international team of researchers from the United States, China and Singapore, and is described in the journal Science.

"It's a technology that blurs the distinction between electronics and biology," said co-author John Rogers, a professor in materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"Our goal was to develop an electronic technology that could integrate with the skin in a way that is mechanically and physiologically invisible to the user."

The patch could be used instead of bulky electrodes to monitor brain, heart and muscle tissue activity and when placed on the throat it allowed users to operate a voice-activated video game with better than 90 percent accuracy.

"This type of device might provide utility for those who suffer from certain diseases of the larynx," said Rogers. "It could also form the basis of a sub-vocal communication capability, suitable for covert or other uses."

The wireless device is nearly weightless and requires so little power it can fuel itself with miniature solar collectors or by picking up stray or transmitted electromagnetic radiation, the study said.

Less than 50-microns thick -- slightly thinner than a human hair -- the devices are able to adhere to the skin without glue or sticky material..."

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Monster Truck Tug Of War Suprise Ending

12:49:49 AM, Wednesday, August 24, 2011

-- Should have made sure his truck is not a POS rust bucket before doing something stupid like that!

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In Iraq, Youngest US Troops Bore The Heaviest Toll

12:22:28 AM, Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"SILVANA, Wash. (AP) — In a hilltop graveyard overlooking this Stillaguamish River village lies a young soldier killed in the infancy of the Iraq war.

Army Spc. Justin W. Hebert's story is sad and sadly unremarkable, a tragedy bound up in the tale of a grinding war that took young lives with grievous regularity. Nearly one-third of U.S. troops killed in Iraq were age 18 to 21. Well over half were in the lowest enlisted ranks.

For Hebert, the Army was an adventure. But it didn't last long.

Barely two years after he finished high school, exactly three months after President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat in Iraq and just four days after his 20th birthday, Hebert was mortally wounded in an insurgent ambush that may have been a setup by an Iraqi "informant."

It was Aug. 1, 2003. The war, according to the Pentagon's plan, was supposed to be over. Baghdad had fallen swiftly. But a new, more menacing phase of conflict was just beginning. An insurgency was in the making, and in its formative months it perplexed U.S. commanders and cost Hebert his life..."

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IBM Says New Chip Mimics The Human Brain

11:46:30 PM, Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Computers with processors that mimic the human brain's cognition, perception, and action abilities are a lot closer than they've ever been after IBM on Wednesday unveiled the first generation of chips that will power them.

The announcement comes nearly three years after IBM and several university partners were awarded a grant by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to re-create the brain's perception, cognitive, sensation, interaction, and action abilities, while also simulating its efficient size and low-power consumption.

The grant was part of Phase 2 of DARPA's Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) project, the goal of which, IBM said, is "to create a system that not only analyzes complex information from multiple sensory modalities at once but also dynamically rewires itself as it interacts with its environment--all while rivaling the brain's compact size and low-power usage."

According to IBM Research project leader Dharmendra Modha, the first tangible results of the grant and a great deal of work by those at six IBM labs and five universities is finally ready to be shown to the world.

"What I hold in my hand as I speak," Modha told CNET by phone Wednesday, "is our first cognitive computing core that combines computing in the form of neurons, memory in the form of synapses, and communications in the form of axons...[and] in working silicon, and not PowerPoint."

The development of the new chips comes two years after Modha's team finished work on an algorithm called BlueMatter that spelled out the connections between all the human brain's cortical and sub-cortical locations. That mapping is a critical step, Modha has said, for a true understanding of how the brain communicates and processes information..."

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ScienceShot: Tree Gliders Are Energy Wasters

11:30:07 PM, Tuesday, August 23, 2011

-- "Gliding from tree to tree may not be as relaxing as it looks. A number of small mammals, including the colugo—a flying lemur (Galeopterus variegates) native to southeast Asia and the Philippines—get around by climbing up trees and then gliding across the canopies an average distance of 30 meters. But these animals could save more energy if they just ran on all fours, according to a study published today in the Journal of Experimental Biology. By attaching small data-logging packs with motion sensors to the backs of four colugos, researchers found that it takes one-and-a-half times more energy for the animals to climb up a tree and glide from point A to B than it does for them to move the same distance through the trees. So why do they do it? Perhaps, the researchers suggest, gliding in mammals evolved for survival reasons: since they feed on canopy leaves, gliding may have protected them if they fell from the branches. It also may have helped them escape from predators, giving a new meaning to the phrase "fight or flight.""

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The Smallest Mini-Galaxy in the Universe

11:08:23 PM, Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Keep up the good work, if only for a while, if only for the twinkling of a tiny galaxy." -Wislawa Szymborska

Our Milky Way Galaxy is home to not only our Earth and our Solar System, but hundreds of billions of other stars.

Held together by not only the incredible gravity of all of our stars, but by dark gas and dust far outweighing all the stars, and by trillions of suns worth of dark matter as well, our galaxy represents one of perhaps a hundred billion just like it in our vast Universe.

Held together by not only the incredible gravity of all of our stars, but by dark gas and dust far outweighing all the stars, and by trillions of suns worth of dark matter as well, our galaxy represents one of perhaps a hundred billion just like it in our vast Universe.

You would think to look at small, satellite galaxies, like Leo A, above. But with millions of stars in even the smallest dwarf galaxies, we can go much smaller.

You might even think to go to a globular cluster, which is even smaller and less massive, with just hundreds of thousands of stars in most of them.

But very recently, we've been able to do one better. Take a look at this area of the sky, which houses the smallest "mini-galaxy" in the known Universe.

See it? Of course you don't. Most of the stars in this image come from our galaxy, and the mini-cluster, gravitationally bound together, is just a small number of faint stars in this image.

But using the Keck's Deep Extragalactic Imaging Multi-Object Spectrograph (DEIMOS) instrument, they were able to measure how these stars are moving relative to both each other and to the Milky Way galaxy..."

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Obama Drilling Rules Thrown Out By Federal Judge

10:31:20 PM, Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- A judge on Friday threw out Obama administration rules that sought to slow down expedited environmental review of oil and gas drilling on federal land.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled in favor of a petroleum industry group, the Western Energy Alliance, in its lawsuit against the federal government, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The ruling reinstates Bush-era expedited oil and gas drilling under provisions called categorical exclusions on federal lands nationwide, Freudenthal said.

The government argued that oil and gas companies had no case because they didn't show how the new rules, implemented by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service last year, had created delays and added to the cost of drilling.

Freudenthal rejected that argument.

"Western Energy has demonstrated through its members recognizable injury," she said. "Those injuries are supported by the administrative record."

An attorney for the government declined to comment but Kathleen Sgamma, director of government and public affairs for the Denver-based Western Energy Alliance, praised the ruling..."

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Breathing New Life Into Earth: New Research Shows Evidence Of Early Oxygen On Our Planet

4:27:15 PM, Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Today, oxygen takes up a hefty portion of Earth's atmosphere: Life-sustaining O2 molecules make up 21 percent of the air we breathe. However, very early in Earth's history, O2 was a rare — if not completely absent — player in the turbulent mix of primordial gases. It wasn't until the "Great Oxidation Event" (GOE), nearly 2.3 billion years ago, when oxygen made any measurable dent in the atmosphere, stimulating the evolution of air-breathing organisms and, ultimately, complex life as we know it today.

Now, new research from MIT suggests O2 may have been made on Earth hundreds of millions of years before its debut in the atmosphere, keeping a low profile in "oxygen oases" in the oceans. The MIT researchers found evidence that tiny aerobic organisms may have evolved to survive on extremely low levels of the gas in these undersea oases.

In laboratory experiments, former MIT graduate student Jacob Waldbauer, working with Professor of Geobiology Roger Summons and Dianne Newman, formerly of MIT's Department of Biology and now at the California Institute of Technology, found that yeast — an organism that can survive with or without oxygen — is able to produce key oxygen-dependent compounds, even with only miniscule puffs of the gas.

The findings suggest that early ancestors of yeast could have been similarly resourceful, working with whatever small amounts of O2 may have been circulating in the oceans before the gas was detectable in the atmosphere. The team published its findings last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences..."

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North Sea Oil Spill: Shell Struggles To Shut Down Second Leak

4:22:54 PM, Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"LONDON -- Royal Dutch Shell struggled to contain the worst North Sea oil spill in a decade as well as damage to its credibility Tuesday as a second leak was found in an oil line the company had said was "under control."

Although the amount of oil involved in the Shell spill off the coast of Scotland is an order of magnitude smaller than BP's 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster – around 1,300 barrels so far compared to an estimated 4.9 million in the Gulf – the spill undercuts Shell's earlier suggestions that it is a safer company than BP.

The Gannet Alpha oil rig, 112 miles (180 kilometers) east of the Scottish city of Aberdeen, is operated by Shell and co-owned by Shell and Esso, a subsidiary of the U.S. oil firm Exxon Mobil. Shell first told U.K. authorities about a leak in a flow line at the rig on Wednesday.

Shell shut down the main leak by closing the well and isolating the reservoir, said Glen Cayley, technical director of Shell's European exploration and production activities. However, he acknowledged that a second, smaller leak at the rig has proved more elusive to control.

"It has proved difficult to find the exact source of the leak because we are dealing with a complex subsea infrastructure and the leak seems to be coming from an awkward place surrounded by marine growth," he said late Tuesday.

"We face a number of technical challenges to ensure that there is no further release of hydrocarbons to the sea, so we are working on this methodically and carefully."

He said the secondary spill is now pumping less than one barrel – or 42 gallons – into the cold water each day..."

-- A bit late, as I sad I'm cleaning up all the tabs I've had open for awhile and since this got 0 media coverage I'm posting anyway.

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The Cleverlys Perform Bluegrass Cover of Super Mario Bros. Theme

11:01:45 PM, Monday, August 22, 2011
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Copenhagen Apartment Complex Built Around Two Unused Seed Silos

7:23:07 PM, Monday, August 22, 2011

"..Copenhagen and its environs are now home to works by major architects like Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel, but no new building has captured the city's imagination quite like the 2005 Gemini Residence by the Rotterdam firm MVRDV. Located on Islands Brygge—or the Iceland Quay, the first neighborhood on Amager as you leave the city's historical center—the waterfront apartment building is a refurbishment of two mid-20th-century seed silos. The firm had the idea to build glass-enclosed apartments around the silos, instead of inside them, and in doing so they produced a kind of monumental, fantastical greenhouse, which has become a symbol of the reinvented city.

The Gemini Residence may be an icon, but it is also a condominium complex, where hundreds of people need to domesticate the building's unusual characteristics. Eight floors of apartments wrap around the concrete silos, creating rounded walls that resist everything from hung paintings to conventional furniture. And the apartments themselves are wrapped in terraces, flooding, even overwhelming, rather narrow living spaces with light..."

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