Russia Launches Long-Delayed Deep Space Radio Telescope

10:30:26 PM, Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Russia's long-delayed Spektr-R radio telescope successfully launched July 18 aboard a Zenit rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the country's Federal Space Agency said.

There was no immediate word on the operational status of the new radio observatory beyond the fact that it was placed into the planned elliptical orbit that peaks nearly 207,000 miles (330,000 kilometers) above the Earth, and reaches a low of about 621 miles (1,000 km).

Featuring a giant 30-foot (10-meter) wide antenna, the Spektr-R observatory is part of the international Radioastron astronomy project. Featuring a giant 30-foot (10-meter) wide antenna, the Spektr-R observatory is part of the international Radioastron astronomy project.

"The aim of the mission is to use the space telescope to conduct interferometer observations in conjunction with the global ground radio telescope network in order to obtain images, coordinates, motions and evolution of angular structure of different radio emitting objects in the universe," Federal Space Agency officials said in a statement. "Scientists also expect to obtain more information about pulsars and interstellar plasma, black holes and neutron stars in the Milky Way."

Scientists from more than 20 nations, including the United States, are participating in the project, either through contributions of on-board hardware or access to the terrestrial antennas that, working with Spektr-R, will permit interferometry measurements during the observatory's planned five years of operations..."

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Hidden Under Black Netting in the Remote Mexican Desert - the Largest Ever Marijuana Plantation

1:26:39 PM, Monday, July 18, 2011

"Mexican soldiers discovered the largest marijuana plantation in the country's history, hidden under black cloth in the middle of the desert.

The 300-acre plantation is four times larger than the previous record discovery by authorities and workers had even installed toilet facilities, the Defence Department said.

The towering pot plants sheltered under black screen-cloth in a huge square on the floor of the Baja California desert, more than 150 miles south of Tijuana, across the border from San Diego.

It was only when soldiers on the ground reached the isolated area on Tuesday that they found thousands of pot plants as high as 2.5 meter tall.The average height of the plants was about 1.5 yards (meters).

'We estimate that in this area, approximately 60 people were working. When they saw the military personnel, they fled,' Gen Duarte told reporters.

A few were later reportedly detained at a nearby roadblock, but he added no arrests were made at the scene.

He said traffickers could have harvested about 120 tons of marijuana from the plantation, worth about 1.8 billion pesos or about $160 million..."

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Mounting Trash Emergency Literally Encircles Beijing

1:22:17 PM, Monday, July 18, 2011

"The Chinese mega-city has grown so fast that it has built seven peripheral roads, but has also become surrounded by rings of garbage dumps. A journey to the depths of Beijing's sprawling, unregulated trash dumps.

China's capital has grown so huge that it now has seven peripheral roads. It is also becoming encircled by garbage. This is both a metaphor and serious dilemma.

Wang Jiuliang, a photographer, was the first to expose the little-known Seventh Ring Zone garbage dumps in his documentary video and photos called “Besieged by Garbage.” Wang illustrates the scope by marking these 400 sites in yellow on a Google map, which form a dense ring, effectively encircling Beijing. The image is shocking, of a city besieged.

Wang Jiuliang has visited all 400 refuse heaps. “When you walk around these landfills, you can hear the sound of money flowing everywhere. Behind each dumping site lies interests.” he says, in a voice still charged with emotion.

I went to one of these dumping grounds near Xiaozhangwan village, three kilometers south of the Beijing’s Sixth Ring Road. Some scavengers were classifying the garbage by picking out cloth, metal, and plastic, and then putting the remnants into a more distant pit.

According to villagers, the pit with an area of about 300 acres was formerly a sandpit around 6 to 7 meters deep. It has been contracted to certain individuals since 2009, and is now almost completely full. A thin layer of earth covers the pit. Above it are lines of shanties for those who work on the site..."

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Eye Witness to History: Building the Brooklyn Bridge, 1871

1:18:36 PM, Monday, July 18, 2011

"The cold, bitter winter of 1866-67 reminded the citizens of Brooklyn why they so desperately wanted a bridge constructed over the East River to connect them with New York City. Once again, the East River was frozen, leaving them no easy way to get to the city to either work or play. It took less time; it was said, to go from the state capital of Albany to New York City by train than to go from Brooklyn to New York City by carriage when the river was frozen. This time, the political leaders of Brooklyn determined, the dream would not be denied.

The dream was realized only after the support of New York City's political boss, William Tweed, was assured with an ample financial payoff. Nothing like it had ever been tried on such a large scale. It would be the longest suspension bridge in the world - stretching over a mile from end to end. It would include an elevated pedestrian promenade and two twin towers that would dwarf everything in the surrounding skyline.

The bridge's designer, John Roebling, died in a freak accident as he was surveying the location of the bridge's Brooklyn tower in 1869 and the task of turning his design into reality fell to his son, Washington.

The first objective was to securely anchor the bridge's two towers on the solid bedrock found under the layers of mud below the East River. A huge wooden caisson, resembling a giant box, was assembled on land, towed to the site of the Brooklyn-side tower and sunk. Compressed air was pumped into the chamber to prevent the surrounding water from leaking in. The caisson's false floor was then ripped out allowing workers to dig up the river bottom. ..."

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Dumb Voters Most Influenced by Candidate’s Looks

1:14:28 PM, Monday, July 18, 2011

"The looks of political candidates are a key factor influencing voters, a phenomenon identified by a number of scholars in recent years. Now, a new study by MIT political scientists adds to this body of research by detailing which types of citizens are most influenced by candidate appearances, and why: The tendency is most prevalent among low-information voters who watch a lot of television.

Using data from the 2006 U.S. Senate and governors’ races, the study shows that for every 10-point increase in the advantage a candidate has when rated by voters on his or her looks, there will be a nearly 5 percent increase in the vote for that candidate by the uninformed voters who are most firmly planted on their couches. Yet that same advantage in looks is worth only about a 1 percent increase among low-information voters who watch little television.

“It’s not that this effect influences all voters exactly the same way,” says Chappell Lawson, an associate professor of political science at MIT and a co-author of the study. “Voters who watch a lot of television but don’t really know much about the candidates, besides how they look, are particularly susceptible.”

Lawson and Gabriel Lenz, also an associate professor of political science at MIT, detail the results in a new paper, “Looking the Part: Television Leads Less Informed Citizens to Vote Based on Candidates’ Appearance,” published this month in the American Journal of Political Science..."

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U.S. Spacecraft Enters Orbit of Giant Asteroid Vesta

11:46:04 AM, Sunday, July 17, 2011

"The US spacecraft Dawn has entered the orbit of Vesta, one of the largest asteroids in the solar system, the US space agency announced early Sunday.

Dawn is expected to come within 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) of Vesta to study its surface while traveling 116 million miles (188 million kilometers) from Earth.

"It has taken nearly four years to get to this point," said Robert Mase, manager of the $466 million project at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

After a year of observations and measurements around Vesta, Dawn will depart for its second destination, the dwarf planet Ceres, in July 2012. It will be the first craft to orbit two solar system destinations beyond Earth, said NASA officials.

The foremost objective of Dawn's eight-year mission is to compare and contrast the two giant bodies, which NASA says will help scientists "unlock the secrets of our solar system's early history."

"Dawn's science instrument suite will measure surface composition, topography and texture. In addition, the Dawn spacecraft will measure the tug of gravity from Vesta and Ceres to learn more about their internal structures," NASA said in a press release..."

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Exorcists Meet in Poland, Tackle Vampires

12:18:36 PM, Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Vampires, the devil's deceit and mental illness are among the hot topics for some 300 exorcists who flocked to Poland this week from as far away as Africa and India for a week-long congress.

Held at Poland's Roman Catholic Jasna Gora monastery, home to the venerated Black Madonna icon, this year's congress "examines the current fashion for vampirism in Europe and the world-over, schizophrenia and other mental disorders as well as the devil's deceit during exorcism," according to the monastery's radio station.

Also attending are "priests and lay people who work with exorcists or who are themselves practitioners in cases which do not involve possession but rather other forms of harassment by evil spirits," Polish exorcist, Father Andrzej Grefkowicz was quoted as saying.

Hailing from India, world-renowned exorcist Father Rufus Pereira as well as chief exorcist of the Archdiocese of Vienna Larry Hogan are among the participants, the radio reported. The unusual meeting is held once every two years.

The Jasna Gora monastery's venerated Black Madonna icon is believed by many Poles to work miracles.

Legend has it that it was painted by the apostle Saint Luke on a table top from the home of the Holy Family, according to the Jasna Gora website. Records suggest the icon arrived in Poland during the 14th century.

With around 90 percent of the population declaring themselves Roman Catholic, Poland remains one of Europe's most devout countries."

-- Finally, people who are working on the REAL problems of the world! Silly Church, haven't they heard of Blade?

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Stem Cells Grow Fully Functional New Teeth

1:00:51 PM, Friday, July 15, 2011

"Researchers from Japan recently published a paper in PLoS One describing their successful growth and transplantation of new teeth created from the stem cells of mice.

In order to create these teeth, Takashi Tsuji from Tokyo University of Science and his team removed two different stem cells from the molar teeth of mice. They took these stem cells to grow in the laboratory. In order to control how the teeth grew, as far as shape and length, the stem cells were placed in a mold to grow.

Once the cells grew into full tooth units, the researchers then transplanted them into the jaws of one-month-old mice. These transplanted teeth fused with the jaw bones and tissues on an average of about 40 days. The researchers were also able to detect nerve fibers growing in the new teeth.

The mice that received the transplanted teeth were able to eat and chew normally without any complications.

Tsuji hopes that this new development will help further the research being done to allow for the growth of human organs from a patient’s own stem cells. Currently researchers do not have the ability to culture three-dimensional organs outside of the body. The hope is the growth of these teeth will be the beginning step that is needed.

Tsuji stresses that in order for reparative therapy to be successful, it is important to find the right seed cells. Because the stem cells used for these teeth were taken directly from the molars of the mice, they were able to grow into teeth, complete with enamel and dental bones.

Researchers believe that down the road it may be possible to do this with adult stem cells or cells found in human wisdom teeth and allow for actual teeth to be implanted replacing teeth lost to dental decay or injury..."

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Huge Underwater Volcanoes Discovered Near Antarctica

12:44:00 PM, Friday, July 15, 2011

"A string of a dozen volcanoes, at least several of them active, has been found beneath the frigid seas near Antarctica, the first such discovery in that region.Some of the peaks tower nearly 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) above the ocean floor — nearly tall enough to break the water's surface.

"That's a big volcano. That's a very big volcano. If that was on land it would be quite remarkable," said Philip Leat, a vulcanologist with the British Antarctic Survey who led a seafloor mapping expedition to the region in 2007 and 2010.

The group of 12 underwater mountains lies south of the South Sandwich Islands — desolate, ice-covered volcanoes that rise above the southern Atlantic Ocean about halfway between South America and South Africa and erupted as recently as 2008. It's the first time such a large number of undersea volcanoes has been found together in the Antarctic region.

Leat said the survey team was somewhat surprised by the find.

"We knew there were other volcanoes in the area, but we didn't go trying to find volcanoes," Leat told OurAmazingPlanet. "We just went because there was a big blank area on the map and we had no idea what was there; we just wanted to fill in the seafloor."

The team did so, thanks to ship-borne seafloor mapping technology, and not without a few hair-raising adventures.

Leat said the images of the seafloor appear before your eyes on screens as the ship moves through the water. "So it's very exciting," he said. "You go along and suddenly you see the bottom start to rise up underneath you, and you don't know how shallow it's going to get."

At one point, in the dead of night, the team encountered a volcano so large it looked as though the RRS James Clark Ross, the team's research vessel, might actually crash into the hidden summit. "It was quite frightening, actually," Leat said..."

-- Can't say it's unexpected at all.

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The Dark Knight Rises Teaser Poster

8:03:47 PM, Wednesday, July 13, 2011

-- Whoo! The trailers are supposed to be attached to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when it comes out.

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Security Officials See Renewed Interest In Implanted Explosives

7:49:07 PM, Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Washington (CNN) -- Terrorists intent on striking commercial aircraft have shown renewed interest in surgically implanting explosives in humans to circumvent airport security, a U.S. security official tells CNN.

The idea of implanting bombs has been discussed in the past, but the United States has obtained fresh intelligence about the desire of terrorists to implant devices, according to the official.

Another U.S. official said Ibrahim Hasan al-Asiri, the top bomb maker for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is suspected of being behind the latest efforts.

"He's AQAP's bomb guy," said the official. Asiri is also believed to be behind the thwarted 2009 Christmas day "underwear" bomb, the failed October 2010 cargo plane bomb and an attempt to kill a Saudi prince using a concealed bomb

Both officials said there is no specific or imminent threat. But the new intelligence prompted officials last week to brief international airlines and U.S. allies overseas, a Transportation Security Administration spokesman said.

"We are treating this information seriously, and as a precautionary matter, sharing it with our colleagues overseas and of course U.S. carriers who travel overseas," TSA Administrator John Pistole told CNN. "We see this as the latest iteration or the evolution of what terrorist groups are trying to do to circumvent our security layers and to perhaps defeat our societal norms," he said..."

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Astronomy Picture of the Day: The Sombrero Galaxy from Hubble

6:42:05 PM, Wednesday, July 13, 2011

-- "What's going on in the center of this spiral galaxy? Named the Sombrero Galaxy for its hat-like resemblance, M104 features a prominent dust lane and a bright halo of stars and globular clusters. Reasons for the Sombrero's hat-like appearance include an unusually large and extended central bulge of stars, and dark prominent dust lanes that appear in a disk that we see nearly edge-on. Billions of old stars cause the diffuse glow of the extended central bulge. Close inspection of the bulge in the above photograph shows many points of light that are actually globular clusters. M104's spectacular dust rings harbor many younger and brighter stars, and show intricate details astronomers don't yet fully understand. The very center of the Sombrero glows across the electromagnetic spectrum, and is thought to house a large black hole. Fifty million-year-old light from the Sombrero Galaxy can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of Virgo. "

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Austrian Atheist Wins Right To Driving-Licence Photo Wearing a Pasta Strainer as 'Religious Headgear'

12:32:20 PM, Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"An Austrian atheist has won the right to be shown on his driving-licence photo wearing a pasta strainer as "religious headgear".

Niko Alm first applied for the licence three years ago after reading that headgear was allowed in official pictures only for confessional reasons.

Mr Alm said the sieve was a requirement of his religion, pastafarianism.

The Austrian authorities required him to obtain a doctor's certificate that he was "psychologically fit" to drive.

The idea came into Mr Alm's noodle three years ago as a way of making a serious, if ironic, point.

A self-confessed atheist, Mr Alm says he belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a light-hearted faith whose members call themselves pastafarians.

The group's website states that "the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma".

In response to pressure for American schools to teach the Christian theory known as intelligent design, as an alternative to natural selection, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster wrote to the Kansas School Board asking for the pastafarian version of intelligent design to be taught to schoolchildren, as an alternative to the Christian theory..."

-- Yes!

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Holy Ghost

10:26:19 PM, Tuesday, July 12, 2011
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Millions of Jellyfish Invade Nuclear Reactors in Japan, Israel (Photos)

5:00:42 PM, Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"A nuclear reactor in Japan was forced to shut down due to infiltration of enormous swarms of jellyfish near the power plant.

A similar incident was also reported recently in Israel when millions of jellyfish clogged down the sea-water cooling system of a power plant located there.

Such massive invasions of the species have scientists are trying to figure out the reason behind such unusual growing trends.

"The several [power plant] incidents that happened recently aren't enough to indicate a global pattern. They certainly could be coincidental," Monty Graham, a jellyfish biologist and senior marine scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab off the Gulf Coast of Alabama stating, told LiveScience.

Recent studies have found out that jellyfish blooming occurs mostly during the summer and spring months..."

-- Follow link for the rest of the photos.

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