Darpa’s New Recruits: You, Your Grandpa and Your Dog
|4:06:17 AM, Monday, February 21, 2011|
“Perhaps you think you’re too fat, too old or too busy to help fight America’s wars. Perhaps you’re not even a human being. The Pentagon’s way-out research arm begs to differ. The military can use your talents — whether you stand or four legs or on two.
Right now, only 1 percent or so of America’s population contributes to the country’s defense (and offense). In its new budget, Darpa announces a $25 million effort to build tools that’ll rope in the other 99 percent. (Doesn’t exactly explain how. But think crowd-sourcing, plus a touch of machine learning to pair peeps up.) The program is called “Unconventional Warfighters,” and the idea is to tap three pools of potential contributors.
First, Darpa is looking to plug in “futurists, inventors, hobbyists and tinkerers who approach military problems from an unconventional perspective.” Then, the agency would like to call upon “military Veterans, including disabled Veterans, who have deep knowledge of the missions and the operational environment.” Lastly, Darpa wants those veterans’ pets.
“Animals are another class of potential contributors,” the agency explains in its budget. “This is not a new idea, as animals possessing special abilities such as dogs and dolphins have been used before to perform military tasks such as mine detection. The new aspect to be examined under Unconventional Warfighters is the potential for creating new sensor, processing, communication and actuator systems specially adapted to enable animals to execute tasks beyond their natural capabilities.”
No, I’m not sure what that means, either.
But get past the giggle factor, and there’s a strong core to Darpa’s program. There are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people in this country who are willing to offers their skills and their time to help respond to a disaster or a political crisis — think the Haiti earthquake, or the Middle Eastern revolt. It stands to reason there are a good number of folks who are willing to contribute to national security, too. But the American system doesn’t have a good way of allowing those people to plug in, unless they’re able to join the ranks of the uniformed military or the contractor corps. “Unconventional Warfighters” is a possible way around that…”
Kobe Bryant is the 'Black Mamba'
|3:07:58 AM, Monday, February 21, 2011|
-- A short Nike Basketball production film about Kobe Bryant and his Nike basketball shoes. Directed by Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Machete). Pretty entertaining!
Shaggy - Angel ft. Rayvon
|2:03:32 AM, Monday, February 21, 2011|
The Bend by Steven Davis
|12:11:26 AM, Monday, February 21, 2011|
Science is a Vaccine
|11:35:05 PM, Sunday, February 20, 2011|
-- Circle Circle Dot Dot via Science and Free Thought FTW
15 Photos You Won't Believe Are Not Photoshopped
|11:07:13 PM, Sunday, February 20, 2011|
A Pro-Nazi U.S. Army Unit in WWII
|5:13:13 PM, Sunday, February 20, 2011|
“Yep. Gather round, little grasshoppers, and I will tell the strange tale.
I know it sounds like the reverse of a Quentin Taratino movie, but it is true: During World War II, the Army intentionally formed a unit chockablock withfascisti and their suspected sympathizers. What a sensible idea -- much better than kicking them out into society and losing track of them.
This is all discussed in the new issue of Army Lawyer, where Fred "Three Sticks" Borch has a fascinatingarticle about PFC Dale Maple, a brilliant young man who was born in San Diego in 1920 and who graduated from Harvard with honors but then, because he was bad, was found guilty of treason and sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead.
Young Maple spoke many languages. But his favorite, alas, was German. At Harvard he got kicked out of ROTC for being vocally pro-German when that just wasn't cool, according to a separate article on him that I just read. Stymied in his hopes to do post-graduate work in Berlin, which was busy with other things at the time, he enlisted in the Army in 1942. The Army had just the place for him: the 620th Engineer General Service Company, which despite its innocuous name was actually a holding unit for about 200 GIs of suspect loyalty, many of them German-born. The unit, which was not given weapons, was located in Camp Hale, Colorado, which is far from any port, but happened to next to an detachment of German PoWs on a work party.
And thereby hangs this tale. In February 1944 Private Maple decided it would be a good idea to help some hard-boiled eggs from the Afrika Korps escape to Mexico. Southward he drove them though New Mexico-a lovely drive, I've done much of it. Just across the international border, Mexican authorities caught them all and tossed them back. (Is there a derogatory term for people who illegally cross from the U.S. into Mexico, besides "stupid gringos"?) Maple was tried and found guilty and secretly sentenced to death. President Roosevelt clemently commuted his sentence to life, and he was released in 1951. Maple's claim to notoriety is that he was the first American-born GI ever found to have committed treason.
As best as I can tell from an internet search, Maple then moved back to San Diego and, like a Tom Waits song, went into the insurance business. He apparently died 10 years ago.”
Edward Maya - Stereo Love Rework DJs Open Air Remix
|3:37:13 PM, Sunday, February 20, 2011|
-- No accordion fail, but pretty good nonetheless.
The Diamond Mine Vehicle Graveyard of Namibia
|3:16:28 PM, Sunday, February 20, 2011|
"Oranjemund, Namibia. It seems to be the largest diamond mine vehicle graveyard, and yet there are barely any pictures of it. Satellite photos of the area could let you guess how big it is. The mine owned by De Beers is reputed to have the largest private earthmoving fleet in the world.
From the texts I have found here and there, my understanding is that that people are not allowed to visit those the area for safety reasons, hence the lack of available photos."
World's First Anti-Laser Built
|11:34:16 PM, Saturday, February 19, 2011|
“More than 50 years after the invention of the laser, scientists at Yale University have built the world's first anti-laser, in which incoming beams of light interfere with one another in such a way as to perfectly cancel each other out. The discovery could pave the way for a number of novel technologies with applications in everything from optical computing to radiology.
Conventional lasers, which were first invented in 1960, use a so-called "gain medium," usually a semiconductor like gallium arsenide, to produce a focused beam of coherent light -- light waves with the same frequency and amplitude that are in step with one another.
Last summer, Yale physicist A. Douglas Stone and his team published a study explaining the theory behind an anti-laser, demonstrating that such a device could be built using silicon, the most common semiconductor material. But it wasn't until now, after joining forces with the experimental group of his colleague Hui Cao, that the team actually built a functioning anti-laser, which they call a coherent perfect absorber (CPA).
The team, whose results appear in the Feb. 18 issue of the journal Science, focused two laser beams with a specific frequency into a cavity containing a silicon wafer that acted as a "loss medium." The wafer aligned the light waves in such a way that they became perfectly trapped, bouncing back and forth indefinitely until they were eventually absorbed and transformed into heat…”
Astronomy Picture of the Day: Hidden Treasures of M78
|2:41:03 PM, Saturday, February 19, 2011|
M78 isn't really hiding in planet Earth's night sky. About 1,600 light-years away and nestled in the nebula rich constellation Orion, the large, bright, reflection nebula is well-known to telescopic skygazers. But this gorgeous image of M78 was selected as the winner of the Hidden Treasures 2010 astrophotography competition. Held by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the competition challenged amateur astronomers to process data from ESO's astronomical archive in search of cosmic gems. The winning entry shows off amazing details within bluish M78 (center) embraced in dark, dusty clouds, along with a smaller reflection nebula in the region, NGC 2071 (top). Yellowish and even more compact, the recently discovered, variable McNeil's Nebula is prominent in the scene below and right of center. Based on data from ESO's WFI camera and 2.2 meter telescope at La Silla, Chile, this image spans just over 0.5 degrees on the sky. That corresponds to 15 light-years at the estimated distance of M78.
China and Colombia Announce 'Alternative Panama Canal'
|2:36:07 PM, Saturday, February 19, 2011|
“Colombia has announced it is negotiating with China to build an alternative to the Panama Canal.
The proposed transport route is intended to promote the flow of goods between Asia and Latin America.
The plan is to create a "dry canal" where the Pacific port of Buenaventura would be linked by rail, across Colombia, to the Atlantic Coast.
Trade between Colombia and China has increased from $10m in 1980 to more than $5bn last year.
The announcement came from the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, who told the Financial Times that the project was "a real proposal... and it is quite advanced".
China has been increasing its involvement across Latin America to feed a growing need for raw materials and commodities.
According to BBC Bogota correspondent Jeremy McDermott, President Santos has departed from the emphasis on security of his predecessor Alvaro Uribe.
Mr Uribe's Democratic Security Policy, backed by US military aid, is credited with halving the numbers of Marxist rebels and pushing them into the more remote jungles and mountains.
Mr Santos is concentrating on what he calls "democratic prosperity", our correspondent says.
He hopes that economic development will address some of the root issues of the 46-year civil conflict, such as poverty and the lack of opportunities, which have pushed people into being rebels or into the lucrative drug trade, our correspondent says…”
-- Trade between Colombia and China has increased from $10m in 1980 to more than $5bn last year.
FBI Urges Congress to Expand Internet Wiretapping
|2:25:39 PM, Saturday, February 19, 2011|
“The FBI urged members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security on Thursday to update the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and make it easier for authorities to eavesdrop on Internet.
The act was passed in 1994 and requires telecommunication companies to design their equipment and services to ensure that law enforcement and national security officials can monitor telephone and other communications whenever necessary.
"Over the years, through interpretation of the statute by the Federal Communications Commission, the reach of CALEA has been expanded to include facilities-based broadband internet access and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services that are fully inter-connected with the public switched telephone network," FBI General Counsel Valeria Caproni told the subcommittee.
"Although that expansion of coverage has been extremely helpful, CALEA does not cover popular Internet-based communications modalities such as webmail, social networking sites or peer-to-peer services."
"As a result, although the government may obtain a court order authorizing the collection of certain communications, it often serves that order on a provider who does not have an obligation under CALEA to be prepared to execute it," she explained. "Such providers may not have intercept capabilities in place at the time that they receive the order."
The proposal to expand CALEA would require companies involved in online communications to re-engineer their software so that law enforcement could easily access it.
In October 2010, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration was drafting new regulations to make it easier for authorities to eavesdrop on Internet and e-mail communications…”
100-Foot-Long Narco Sub Found in Colombia
|12:16:31 AM, Friday, February 18, 2011|
“The Colombian military has seized a 100-foot-long submarine capable of transporting eight tons of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico, news reports say.
The vessel was found in a jungle area in Timbiqui in southwestern Colombia on Sunday, according to a report from RTT News.
Colombian navy officials said the homemade sub had two diesel engines and sophisticated navigational equipment that would enable it to travel to Mexico while remaining up to 30 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
The vessel was set up for a crew of four but was unoccupied when found, RTT reported. Officials estimated it would have cost $2 million to build.
The submarine is just the latest example of crafts smugglers have made to try to get their illicit cargo past law enforcement.
Last year, VBS.TV got access to the Colombian naval base where many captured smuggling vessels are taken.”
-- It doesn't look very ocean worthy... Let alone 30ft under water.
Thousands of New Stars Emerge in Glowing Nebula
|9:25:00 PM, Thursday, February 17, 2011|
“Thousands of young stars come to the fore in in this beautiful new image from the Spitzer Space Telescope.
The previously unseen stars were born around 1,800 light-years from Earth in a region called the North American Nebula. In images that capture the same range of light that human eyes can see, the nebula looks like the eastern seaboard of the United States, down to the Gulf of Mexico. But most of that light is reflected off clouds of dust that hide infant stars. Only about 200 young stars were known before.
This image breaks through the clouds to find more than 2,000 new objects that may be young stars. (More data processing will determine their nature.) Because Spitzer is sensitive to infrared wavelengths that can sense heat, it can see the glow of the dusty, buried stars.
“One of the things that makes me so excited about this image is how different it is from the visible image, and how much more we can see in the infrared than in the visible,” said Spitzer astronomer Luisa Rebullin a press release. “The Spitzer image reveals a wealth of detail about the dust and the young stars here.” A paper detailing the observations has been accepted in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.
Stars are born inside collapsing balls of gas and dust, which flattens into a disk that spins together with the star like a record album. As the star ages, the disk is thought to congeal into planets. Most of the dust is expected to dissipate by the time the star is at the center of a mature solar system.
The new Spitzer image shows stars in all stages of development, from dust-blanketed infancy to early adulthood, when stars are new parents to a growing family of planets.
Despite the new views of its growing stellar family, the North American nebula is still shrouded in mystery. The group of massive stars that is thought to dominate the nebula is still unseen. The Spitzer image and images from other telescopes hint that the missing stars lurk behind the Gulf of Mexico portion of the nebula.
In this image, infrared light with a wavelength of 3.6 microns is colored blue; 8.0-micron light is green; and 24-micron light is red. Since taking this image, Spitzer ran out of the coolant needed to keep the two longest wavelength detectors working. Spitzer is still snapping photos in the two shorter wavelength bands.”
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