NASA's 100-Year Starship Project Sets Sights on Interstellar Travel

1:32:27 PM, Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Shooting for the stars will first require a lot of down-to-Earth elbow grease, as NASA's new 100-Year Starship project illustrates. The effort, to journey between stars in the 2100s, began with a workshop and now is in the study phase.

NASA's Ames Research Center and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are collaborating on the $1 million 100-Year Starship Study, an effort to take the first step in the next era of space exploration.

The study will scrutinize the business model needed to develop and mature technologies needed to enable long-haul human space treks a century from now. Kick-started by a strategic planning workshop in January, the project has brought together more than two dozen farsighted futurists, NASA specialists, science fiction writers, foundation aficionados and educators.

But for the moment, put aside all those Vulcan mind melds and get a grip. Launching a truly interstellar human voyage is a goal that will require sustained investments of intellectual and financial capital from a variety of sources.

"The year-long study aims to develop a construct that will incentivize and facilitate private co-investment to ensure continuity of the lengthy technological time horizon needed," according to DARPA thinkers..."

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ARASH - Broken Angel

4:46:53 PM, Saturday, March 26, 2011
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More Robots Sent in to Tackle Crisis at Fukushima

4:02:43 PM, Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Robots from other nations are joining in the efforts to stabilise the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

In addition to the Monirobo radiation monitoring robots reported previously, the Japanese have also used an unmanned fire engine. This was operated by the Tokyo Fire Department, which introduced its first robot, the Rainbow 5 water sprayer, in 1986. Such robots are used for fires which are too large or too hazardous for human fire-fighters to approach. The engine sprayed seawater from an eight-hundred-metre hose directly into the spent fuel rod pool at No. 3 reactor for thirteen hours to prevent overheating.

A much more powerful unmanned water cannon has now been flown in from Australia. Made by Bechtel Corporation, the system is manoeuvred into place remotely and can spray nine thousand litres a minute out to a distance of a hundred and fifty metres. The system includes a number of pumps and trailers and is so large that two RAAF C-17 cargo aircraft were needed to transport it from Australia to Yokota Air Base where it arrived on Tuesday.

Meanwhile the iRobot Corporation of Bedford, Massachusetts, has supplies four machines for use by Japan's Ground Self-Defence Force at Fukushima. Two 510 PackBots and two larger 710 Warriors are being sent, and members of the Self-Defence Force are being trained in their operation.

Normally used for bomb disposal and similar tasks, iRobot machines are much smaller and more agile than the tank-like Monirobo. They may be sent inside the damaged buildings, as they ar capable of climbing stairs and the Warrior could even drag a hose. However, they lack Monirobo's heavy radiation shielding..."
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Democracy Now! News Headlines for Friday, March 25, 2011

2:50:11 PM, Saturday, March 26, 2011
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Hugh Laurie is God Almighty

2:17:26 PM, Saturday, March 26, 2011

"My other problem is me being an atheist, " "Unless I'm going to appear in people's visions and tell them I don't exist," part 3 if you're planning on just watching one of them for some odd reason... Why would you do that?

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Stromae - Peace or Violence

1:44:46 PM, Saturday, March 26, 2011
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Gagging Order On Scientists Probing Dolphin Deaths As U.S. Builds Criminal Case Against BP

2:13:16 AM, Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Scientists probing the deaths of baby dolphins in the area affected by last year's BP oil spill have been ordered by the government not to speak about the project.

Wildlife biologists who have been contracted by the National Marine Fisheries Service to investigate a huge rise in dolphin mortality this year must keep their findings confidential.

The gagging order was imposed because the review of the deaths is part of the federal criminal investigation into last year's BP disaster.

A letter sent out to senior scientists who are not working on the project and are baffled by the silence, said: 'Because of the seriousness of the legal case, no data or findings may be released, presented or discussed outside the investigative team without prior approval.'

About 90 dolphins died last year, but this year the toll has jumped to 200 already.Dr. Erin Fougeres, a marine biologist with the Fisheries Service, said: 'We are treating the evidence, which are the dolphin samples, like a murder case.

'The chain of custody is being closely watched. Every dolphin sample is considered evidence in the BP case now."

The secrecy has angered many in the scientific community who are used to making their findings public and the free flow of information, Reuters reports.

One biologist, who has been tracking dolphin deaths for more than 20 years and does not want to be named, said: 'This throws accountability right out the window. We are confused and angry because they claim they want team work, but at the same time they are leaving the marine experts out of the loop completely.' ..."

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Bug Resurrected After 120,000 Years

2:07:22 AM, Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Scientists have brought a newly-discovered bug back to life after more than 120,000 years in hibernation. It raises hopes that dormant life might be revived on Mars.

The tiny purple microbe, dubbed called Herminiimonas glaciei, lay trapped beneath nearly two miles of ice in Greenland. It took 11 months to revive it by gently warming it in an incubator.

Finally the bug sprang back to life and began producing fresh colonies of purple brown bacteria.

Space scientists are excited by the find because it suggests alien creatures might be resurrected on other frozen worlds - especially the Red Planet.

NASA revealed in January that plumes of methane on Mars could be from living organisms. Some scientists believe that any microbes are lying dormant beneath thick underground ice on the Red Planet. A future space mission could dig them up and bring them back to life.

A European orbiting spacecraft, Mars Express, has identified other regions that may have sheltered primitive forms of alien life.

The new Earth bug was found by Dr Jennifer Loveland-Curtze and a team of scientists from Pennsylvania State University.

The team showed great patience in coaxing the dormant microbe back to life. First they incubated their samples at 2�C (two degrees C) for seven months and then at 5�C (five degrees C) for a further four and a half months, after which colonies of very small purple-brown bacteria were seen.

The H. glaciei microbe is tiny - ten to 50 times smaller than E. coli. Experts say its small size probably helped it to survive in the liquid veins among ice crystals and the thin liquid film on their surfaces.

Dr Loveland-Curtze says that similar microorganisms could exist on other worlds and studying them in extreme conditions on Earth may provide insight into what sorts of life forms could survive elsewhere in the solar system..."

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Robo Cloud to Intercept Sun Over World Cup Qatar

12:37:58 AM, Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Qatari scientists claim to have cracked the problem of shade for crowded stadiums during the 2022 World Cup: Artificial clouds.

Local temperatures can poke upward of 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 Celsius), and relentless summer sun would be a big barrier to enjoyment for the hundreds of thousands of football fans expected to attend in person. The games were originally going to be moved to winter months, but FIFA has since reconsidered (no doubt pondering the disruption this could cause in competing nations' own football leagues). Air conditioning spaces for crowds, and practice arenas for the hundreds of players themselves, is a possibility of course, and will happen--but the environmental burden could be enormous, even with plans to use solar power to generate some of the energy needed by air conditioning units.

Hence, the idea by Qatari science teams to create huge artificial clouds and float them over venues to block direct sunlight. Essentially, the devices are massive dirigibles filled with helium, built of carbon fiber and super-light fabrics, and equipped with four solar-powered engines to move them into place and keep them stable even in changing winds. Each "cloud" would cost around $500,000, and unlike the Zeppelin-like blimps you're thinking of, the clouds would be large, flat, inflated platforms designed to produce maximum shade.

Naturally, we speculate that the underside of these huge structures will find a secondary use in the extraordinarily ad-centric affair that is the World Cup. After all, Goodyear does a good job of advertising itself with its conventional blimp, and the flat-ish underside of the artificial cloud would be absolutely ideal for giant, projected adverts..."

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Two Dogs Dining in a Busy Restaurant

11:42:34 PM, Friday, March 25, 2011
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Who Sold Libya Its Supermissiles?

11:12:54 PM, Friday, March 25, 2011

"The U.S. government calls it the “one of the most lethal” weapons of its kind — an advanced, portable missile, designed to knock planes out of the sky. A variant of it just showed up in Moammar Gadhafi’s army and nobody seems to know how exactly it got there. But diplomatic cables, unearthed by WikiLeaks, suggest one potential culprit: the Chavez regime in Venezuela.

Aviation Week’s eagle-eyed reporter David Fulghum spotted a Russian SA-24 Grinch surface-to-air missile mounted on a Libyan army truck in recent cable news footage. And that’s a cause for concern: The SA-24 is more accurate, longer-flying, and more lethal than than earlier models of surface-to-air missiles. It also has a dual-band infrared seeker and is more difficult to jam than older systems.

The missiles “reportedly have counter-countermeasures that may be difficult for planes with just flares to counter,” Matthew Schroeder, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Arms Sales Monitoring Project, tells Danger Room. ”Overall it’s just a much more capable system.”

Aviation Week reports that the majority of coalition combat air patrols are conducted at 20,000 feet or higher, putting them above the roughly 11,000-foot range of the SA-24. But as Fulghum notes, this still leaves plenty of humanitarian, evacuation or other lower-flying operations at risk..."

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Antarctica, 1961: A Soviet Surgeon Has to Remove His Own Appendix

1:19:05 PM, Friday, March 25, 2011

"If you think House and the guy who James Franco played in 127 Hours are tough, you haven't heard of Leonid Rogozov.

In 1961, Rogozov was stationed at a newly constructed Russian base in Antarctica. The 12 men inside were cut off from the outside world by the polar winter by March of that year. In April, the 27-year-old Rogozov began to feel ill, very ill. His symptoms were classic: he had acute appendicitis. "He knew that if he was to survive he had to undergo an operation," the British Medical Journal recounted. "But he was in the frontier conditions of a newly founded Antarctic colony on the brink of the polar night. Transportation was impossible. Flying was out of the question, because of the snowstorms. And there was one further problem: he was the only physician on the base."

There was no question that he'd have to operate. The pain was intolerable and he knew he was getting worse. He recorded his thoughts in his journal:

"I did not sleep at all last night. It hurts like the devil! A snowstorm whipping through my soul, wailing like a hundred jackals. Still no obvious symptoms that perforation is imminent, but an oppressive feeling of foreboding hangs over me ... This is it ... I have to think through the only possible way out: to operate on myself ... It's almost impossible ... but I can't just fold my arms and give up."

Operating mostly by feeling around, Rogozov worked for an hour and 45 minutes, cutting himself open and removing the appendix. The men he'd chosen as assistants watched as the "calm and focused" doctor completed the operation, resting every five minutes for a few seconds as he battled vertigo and weakness..."

-- For anyone who has not heard of this guy yet! Well you should have.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day: Boston Moonrise

12:48:21 AM, Friday, March 25, 2011

-- It's the 25th, I'm allowed to do it again! =)

"Last week's Full Moon was hard to miss. Rising on March 19, its exact full phase occurred within an hour of perigee, the closest point in the Moon's orbit to Earth. As a result it appeared some 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a Full Moon near apogee, the most distant point in the elliptical lunar orbit. Seen here, the near perigee Full Moon still hugs the horizon, distorted by atmospheric refraction as it rises over Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The telescopic night skyscape was shot from Prospect Hill in Waltham, Massachusetts, roughly 10 miles from the Boston skyline. Just to the left of the orange lunar disk is the distinctive control tower at Boston's Logan International Airport. Topped by lights, the tall, twin towers of the cable-stayed Zakim Bridge spanning the Charles River are also included in the scene. If you managed to miss this perigee Full Moon, make a note on your calendar. Your next chance to see the Moon this large and bright, this time at full phase within only a few minutes of lunar perigee, will be next year on May 6."

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40 Lipsticked Virgins: Gadhafi's Best Bet for Survival

11:18:16 PM, Thursday, March 24, 2011

“With Moammar Gadhafi in hiding as coalition aircraft bomb his country, he's counting on protection from a unique bodyguard corps he's been training for decades -- an all-female, gun-toting posse of virgins.

About 40 lipsticked, bejeweled bodyguards surround the Libyan dictator at all times. They wear designer sunglasses and high heels with their military camouflage. But they're purported to be trained killers -- graduates of an elite military academy in Tripoli that's solely for women.

Gadhafi established the Tripoli Women's Military Academy in 1979 as a symbol of women's emancipation. "I promised my mother to improve the situation of women in Libya," he reportedly said at the time. His mother, a Bedouin tribeswoman born when Libya was an Italian colony, was illiterate.

The few foreign visitors who've been granted a glimpse inside the academy describe a spartan cement-block complex where 100 handpicked women drill in elite killing techniques, day and night, for three years. They're awoken by bugle call at 4:30 a.m. and jog for one and a half hours, before branching off into classes. Some train to fly MiG fighter jets, while others learn martial arts or how to fire rocket-propelled grenades.

"The three-year training program involves all aspects of soldiering, from firing artillery and rocket launchers to hand-to-hand combat and communications," said Jane Kokan, a Canadian journalist who was granted rare permission to visit Libya in 1995 for a documentary about Gadhafi's bodyguards.

Doug Sanders, another Canadian journalist who visited the academy, in 2004, wrote on his blogthat he believes the elite female bodyguards, known also as "Protectors of the VIP," reveal something about Gadhafi's "idiosyncratic mind, and a revolutionary enigma in a Muslim nation where women are still far from equal in daily life."

The academy's best students are dubbed "revolutionary nuns," and they never marry and dedicate their lives to the idea of Gadhafi's 1969 revolution. They're banned from having sex and swear an oath to protect the Libyan leader until death, if need be. In 1998, a bodyguard named Aisha threw herself on top of Gadhafi when Islamic militants ambushed his motorcade. A barrage of bullets killed her and injured two others, but Gadhafi escaped unharmed…”

-- So for those who have never heard of Ghadaffi's 40 virgins this side of paradise, here is a quick recent article on it.

This is why the rebels and everyone else shall fail, - the photo is of a line of Gadhafi’s bodyguards, often referred to as his "Amazons".

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Democracy Now! News Headlines for Thursday, March 24, 2011

11:02:02 PM, Thursday, March 24, 2011
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