The Monkey Who Went Into the Cold: Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey

9:42:11 PM, Saturday, March 05, 2011
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Norman the Scooting Dog

6:13:19 PM, Saturday, March 05, 2011

-- They see me rollin', they hatin'...

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Red Faces at NASA As it Finally Launches $424 Million Glory Satellite... And It Crashes Into the Ocean After Failing To Reach Orbit

9:56:28 AM, Saturday, March 05, 2011

"A rocket carrying the Glory Earth-observing satellite launched yesterday but failed to place the satellite into orbit, sending both plummeting into the Pacific.

Nasa said a protective covering on the Taurus XL rocket did not separate as planned three minutes after launch at 2.09am local time (10.09 GMT).

With the covering intact, the rocket was too heavy to get the satellite into orbit.Nasa launch commentator George Dillar announced the failure 15 minutes after lift-off from Vandenberg Air Force base in California.

Launch director Omar Baez said: 'We failed to make orbit and all indications are that the satellite and rocket are in the South Pacific Ocean somewhere.'

The satellite and rocket were built by Virginia-based Orbital Sciences, which suffered a similar failure with a Taurus XL rocket in 2009 on another Nasa launch.

After that failure, Orbital Sciences redesigned the system for shedding the protective covering.

Ron Grabe of Orbital Sciences said the company considered the problem to be fixed and had carried out three successful launches with the new system before yesterday's failure.

Orbital Sciences has been expected to be among the private companies that will be used to get cargo to the International Space Station once Nasa retires its shuttle fleet..."

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Interesting Facts About Facebook

9:17:48 AM, Saturday, March 05, 2011
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Meanwhile in Russia: The Art of Kissing Russian Police Women

1:23:14 AM, Friday, March 04, 2011

“Members of renegade Russian art group Voina showered Russian policewomen with passionate kisses in their latest stunt shown in a video released on Tuesday as a new police law came into effect. The short video shows a string of clips of young women approaching female police officers on duty and kissing them on the mouth.

The footage is shown to a fast-paced Yiddish song "Down With the Police" that dates from early 20th century. "Voina, in the face of activists of its militant-feminist wing, has initiated the rite of kissing cops and their cop abuse. They chose the grey women as the objects of carrying out the rite," a Voina statement said, as written on the blog wisegizmo.livejournal.com.

Russian police, including women officers, wear ill-fitting grey uniforms during winter months accompanied with grey traditional 'ushanka' hats. Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev initiated a new police law in an attempt to reform the force known for rampant corruption. Since the Bolshevik revolution, it has been called "militsia", but the reform rebrands it back to "politsia".

The Voina activists are shown in clips filmed mostly in the Moscow metro, where they approach officers with a question that is quickly followed by an aggressive kiss on the mouth. In one of the clips they nearly fall off the station platform as the officer tries to break free of the embrace. On its Twitter blog the group claimed to have kissed "several hundred" policewomen.”

-- Out of the many nutty activities that the creative offspring of great Mother Russia dream up, this is the one I could actually get into…

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Astronomy Picture of the Day: Spiral Galaxy NGC 2841 Close Up

1:03:03 AM, Friday, March 04, 2011

-- "A mere 46 million light-years distant, spiral galaxy NGC 2841 can be found in the northern constellation of Ursa Major. This sharp view of the gorgeous island universe shows off a striking yellow nucleus and galactic disk. Dust lanes, small, pink star-forming regions, and young blue star clusters are embedded in the patchy, tightly wound spiral arms. In contrast, many other spirals exhibit grand, sweeping arms with large star-forming regions. NGC 2841 has a diameter of over 150,000 light-years, even larger than our own Milky Way, but this close-up Hubble image spans about 34,000 light-years along the galaxy's inner region. X-ray images suggest that resulting winds and stellar explosions create plumes of hot gas extending into a halo around NGC 2841."

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Fire Ants Go Global: Mapping an Invasion

11:02:38 PM, Thursday, March 03, 2011

“A colony-founding queen of the invasive species of fire ant that is believed to have spread to California, China and Australia from the southern U.S.

In the past century, imported red fire ants have traveled the world and established colonies in far-flung places like Australia and China, oceans away from their native range in South America. Now a genetic study has retraced their routes, pinpointing the southern United States as the likely source for these invasions.

The stinging ants, a fire ant species known as Solenopsis invicta, arrived in Mobile, Ala., from South America about 80 years ago before rapidly spreading throughout the South.

It's not clear exactly how they hitched a ride, since the ants require very little to survive a long time, said Kenneth Ross, an entomologist at the University of Georgia and one of the study’s researchers.

"They can survive for long periods under very unnatural circumstances," Ross told LiveScience. Their only requirements are shelter – soil is a possibility, but not necessary – and moisture, he said.

Once established, they are blamed for disrupting local ecology by displacing native ants and other species, interfering with agriculture and stinging people who happen to step on their large mounds.

"These colonies have often half a million workers — you don't get stung just once," Ross said…”

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Secret Space Plane Heading Back Into Orbit

5:05:24 PM, Thursday, March 03, 2011

"The U.S. Air Force’s most mysterious spacecraft is headed back into orbit after a four-month hiatus. The second copy of the Boeing-built X-37 robotic space plane is slated for launch, atop an Atlas V rocket, from Cape Canaveral in Florida sometime on Friday. Forecasts of bad weather could push the launch to Saturday.

In any event, the blast-off is sure to revive speculation regarding the curious, 29-foot-long spacecraft that lands like an airplane — just like a miniature, unmanned space shuttle.

Nearly a year after the first X-37B launched on its 225-day, orbit-hopping inaugural mission, nobody outside of the Air Force knows exactly what the X-37 is for. That ambiguity has even sparked a minor space race as Russia and China at least threaten to build similar vehicles.

In the wake of the first X-37’s April launch, analysts listed all the things the X-37 is theoretically capable of. It could be a commando transport, a bomber or an orbital spy. It could launch, repair or reposition U.S. satellites in low orbit. It could sneak up and disable or steal enemy satellites. Its pickup-bed-sized payload bay is particularly enticing to observers.

“You can put sensors in there, satellites in there,” said Eric Sterner, from The Marshall Institute. “You could stick munitions in there, provided they exist.”

“I applaud the ingenuity and innovation of some reports,” Richard McKinney, the deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space programs, joked during a December press conference. He insisted the 5-ton spacebot merely represents a “capability for a reusable and more effective way to test technology in space and return it for examination.”

“This is a test vehicle … pure and simple,” McKinney said.

But McKinney wouldn’t say what technologies the X-37 might be testing, and why the Air Force seems so attached to the idea of a self-landing, airplane-style space vehicle. After all, with the extra mass of its wings and landing gear, in some ways the X-37 is actually at a disadvantage compared to disposable spacecraft..."

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Pictured: Amazing Moment Crocodile Swallows Piranha

10:42:59 AM, Thursday, March 03, 2011

-- "The Yacare Caiman, a member of the crocodile family, was photographed pouncing on the piranha in the Ibera Wetlands of Argentina.

The freshwater reptiles, whose diet also includes birds and small mammals, can grow up to 10 feet long.

These amazing snaps were taken by German amateur photographer Gunter Heinz.

The 46 year old electrician said: "I wanted to get an action picture of the caiman.

"I took position in the water as the caiman went hunting.

"We tried an underwater shoot, wich was not very successful because the water is not really clear there.

"Eventually though, it pounced and I got the action shot I wanted.

"It was all over in an instant, but I've been photographing since I was 16 and it's very satisfying to get shots like these."

The Iberá Wetlands are a mix of swamps, bogs, stagnant lakes, lagoons and courses of water in the the province of Corrientes, Argentina.

A 245 square kilometre area was designated Wetland of International Importance in 2002."

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Simon's Cat in 'Sticky Tape'

6:09:14 PM, Wednesday, March 02, 2011
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DJ Y Alias JY - Extreme Ways In The Deep (Mashup)

6:04:14 PM, Wednesday, March 02, 2011
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With Russia's $650 Billion Rearmament Plan, the Bear Sharpens Its Teeth

5:50:39 PM, Tuesday, March 01, 2011

"The graying bear is getting a make-over. Russia's military is launching its biggest rearmament effort since Soviet times, including a $650 billion program to procure 1,000 new helicopters, 600 combat planes, 100 warships, and 8 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.

Analysts say Russia, while already the world's fifth-largest military spender, needs strong conventional forces to reduce its overreliance on its aging Soviet-era nuclear missile deterrent. Valentin Rudenko, director of the independent Interfax-Military News Agency, says it could create "a whole new ballgame."

"For about two decades we've had no real modernization, at least not like what's being proposed now," he says. "Russia will finally have a modern, top-level armed forces that are capable of protecting the country."

Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin last week announced the unprecedented new outlays, which will see a massive re-equipping of Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent as well as its conventional forces. The Defense Ministry today said the "modernization drive" will begin this year with the deployment of new generations of air defense and antimissile weapons by Russian ground forces.

The impressive shopping spree comes on the heels of a painful military reform that severely downsized Russia's conscript Army, eliminating 9 out of 10 Soviet-era units and cutting 200,000 officers. The goal now, experts say, is to equip Russia's new lean-and-mean, largely professional armed forces to face 21st-century threats. These are mainly considered to be regional conflicts such as the brief 2008 Russo-Georgian war, which highlighted military shortcomings..."

-- Mother Russia! Never underestimate Russia, it was never out of the game.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day: The Rosette Nebula

4:15:49 PM, Tuesday, March 01, 2011

-- "Would the Rosette Nebula by any other name look as sweet? The bland New General Catalog designation of NGC 2237 doesn't appear to diminish the appearance of this flowery emission nebula. Inside the nebula lies an open cluster of bright young stars designated NGC 2244. These stars formed about four million years ago from the nebular material and their stellar winds are clearing a hole in the nebula's center, insulated by a layer of dust and hot gas. Ultraviolet light from the hot cluster stars causes the surrounding nebula to glow. The Rosette Nebula spans about 100 light-years across, lies about 5000 light-years away, and can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros)."

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A Shadow Across the Shuttle Discovery

12:56:50 PM, Tuesday, March 01, 2011

-- "On Saturday, the Orbiter Discovery was in space, circling hundreds of kilometers above our planet. Here’s an interesting picture of it… but wait a sec! If it was in orbit, what could cast a shadow across it?

Why, it’s the International Space Station itself! This shot is from Paolo Nespoli, an astronaut on the ISS. He snapped it as the Orbiter approached the station — docking was achieved on Saturday afternoon Eastern time. [UPDATE: As people have noted in the comments below, that's the coastline of Peru under the Orbiter. Awesome.]

This is the last scheduled flight of Discovery. When she undocks from ISS next week, it will be for the final time. However, you can experience this flight at least by proxy through Nespoli, who has an astonishing series of pictures on Flickr that he uploads in near real-time from space (I like this one too).Think about that: a guy living in space is taking hi-res digital pictures and uploading them to the web so everyone with internet access can see. You can keep your flying cars: we do live in the future."

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The Mobile Phone App That 'Spots Cancer With 100% Accuracy in One Hour'

7:44:19 PM, Monday, February 28, 2011

“A mobile phone that spots cancer - and is more accurate than the techniques routinely used in hospitals - has been developed by scientists.

The smartphone-based system is up to 100 per cent accurate at telling the difference between benign tumours and their malignant counterparts.

It also takes just an hour to make the diagnosis, meaning patients don’t have to spend days or weeks anxiously waiting for test results.

The U.S. researchers said the gadget could ‘transform cancer care’ by also making it easier for doctors to track how well drugs are fighting the disease in a patient’s body.

In initial tests, it was 88 per cent accurate in distinguishing cancerous stomach tumours from benign growths.

Refining the technique boosted accuracy to 100 per cent, the journal Science Translational Medicine reports.

This compares with an average accurate of 84 per cent for the gold standard technique which involves using chemicals that stain cancerous cells and show up under a microscope…”

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