Please, Not Again: Without Boldness from Barack Obama There is a Real Risk of War in the Middle East
|10:10:30 AM, Tuesday, January 18, 2011|
“NO WAR, no peace, is the usual state of affairs between Israel and its neighbours in the Middle East. But every time an attempt at Arab-Israeli peacemaking fails, as Barack Obama’s did shortly before Christmas, the peace becomes a little more fragile and the danger of war increases. Sadly, there is reason to believe that unless remedial action is taken, 2011 might see the most destructive such war for many years.
One much-discussed way in which war might arise stems from the apparent desire of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons at any cost, and Israel’s apparent desire to stop Iran at any cost. But fear of Iran’s nuclear programme is only one of the fuses that could detonate an explosion at any moment. Another is the frantic arms race that has been under way since the inconclusive war in 2006 between Israel and Hizbullah, Iran’s ally in Lebanon. Both sides have been intensively preparing for what each says will be a “decisive” second round.
Such a war would bear little resemblance to the previous clashes between Israel and its neighbours. For all their many horrors, the Lebanon war of 2006 and the Gaza war of 2009 were limited affairs. On the Israeli side, in particular, civilian casualties were light. Since 2006, however, Iran and Syria have provided Hizbullah with an arsenal of perhaps 50,000 missiles and rockets, many with ranges and payloads well beyond what Hizbullah had last time. This marks an extraordinary change in the balance of power. For the first time a radical non-state actor has the power to kill thousands of civilians in Israel’s cities more or less at the press of a button.
In that event, says Israel, it will strike back with double force. A war of this sort could easily draw in Syria, and perhaps Iran. For the moment, deterrence keeps the peace. But a peace maintained by deterrence alone is a frail thing. The shipment to Hizbullah of a balance-tipping new weapon, a skirmish on the Lebanese or increasingly volatile Gaza border—any number of miscalculations could ignite a conflagration…”
Weightless Cats - I Can Has Gravity?
|11:50:41 PM, Monday, January 17, 2011|
Daycare by Sven P. Peter
|9:40:09 PM, Monday, January 17, 2011|
-- Yaw-Fish protecting his babies in his mouth.
Fake ‘Cells’ Pave Way for Synthetic Blood
|9:34:12 PM, Monday, January 17, 2011|
“The research is outlined in the Jan. 10 Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Using technology known as PRINT (Particle Replication in Non-wetting Templates), scientists produced very soft hydrogel particles that mimic the size, shape, and flexibility of red blood cells, allowing the particles to circulate in the body for extended periods of time.
Tests of the particles’ ability to perform functions such as transporting oxygen or carrying therapeutic drugs have not been conducted, and they do not remain in the cardiovascular system as long as real red blood cells. However, the researchers believe the findings—especially regarding flexibility—are significant because red blood cells naturally deform in order to pass through microscopic pores in organs and narrow blood vessels.
Over their 120-day lifespan, real cells gradually become stiffer and eventually are filtered out of circulation when they can no longer deform enough to pass through pores in the spleen.
Attempts to create effective red blood cell mimics have been limited because the particles tend to be quickly filtered out of circulation due to their inflexibility.
Beyond moving closer to producing fully synthetic blood, the findings could also affect approaches to treating cancer…”
Researchers Aim to Resurrect Mammoth in Five Years
|8:06:41 PM, Monday, January 17, 2011|
“TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese researchers will launch a project this year to resurrect the long-extinct mammoth by using cloning technology to bring the ancient pachyderm back to life in around five years time.
The researchers will try to revive the species by obtaining tissue this summer from the carcass of a mammoth preserved in a Russian research laboratory, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.
"Preparations to realize this goal have been made," Akira Iritani, leader of the team and a professor emeritus of Kyoto University, told the mass-circulation daily.
Under the plan, the nuclei of mammoth cells will be inserted into an elephant's egg cell from which the nuclei have been removed, to create an embryo containing mammoth genes, the report said.
The embryo will then be inserted into an elephant's uterus in the hope that the animal will eventually give birth to a baby mammoth.
The elephant is the closest modern relative of the mammoth, a huge woolly mammal believed to have died out with the last Ice Age…”
-- The rumors are now confirmed! Jurassic park here we come!
British Scientists Develop Disorientating Laser Weapon to Defend Ships from Somali Pirates
|7:37:04 PM, Monday, January 17, 2011|
“It's an invention that will send a shiver down the spines of pirates everywhere.
A new type of laser weapon effective against moving targets more than a mile away is being developed by British scientists.
Defence company BAE Systems has come up with the non-lethal device in response to the increasing number of commercial, and private, vessels hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia.
The laser works by enshrouding the ship using it in a green shroud that leaves the pirates unable to steer a direct course or aim their weapons accurately…”
Police Officer Pulls Over a Man on a Beer Run in a Sky Jack
|6:33:25 PM, Monday, January 17, 2011|
-- “Maybe I’ll come down! Maybe I won’t! Maybe I’ll come down! Maybe I won’t! Come get me!”
HAHAHA!... "Don't f*ck up my beer, now!"
The Omega Point by Kevin Lee Drum
|6:06:07 PM, Monday, January 17, 2011|
“Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. Since the dawn of time, roughly a hundred billion human beings have walked the planet Earth.
Now this is an interesting number, for by a curious coincidence there are approximately a hundred billion stars in our local universe, the Milky Way. So for every man who has ever lived, in this Universe there shines a star.
But every one of those stars is a sun, often far more brilliant and glorious than the small, nearby star we call the Sun. And many--perhaps most--of those alien suns have planets circling them. So almost certainly there is enough land in the sky to give every member of the human species, back to the first ape-man, his own private, world-sized heaven--or hell.
How many of those potential heavens and hells are now inhabited, and by what manner of creatures, we have no way of guessing; the very nearest is a million times farther away than Mars or Venus, those still remote goals of the next generation. But the barriers of distance are crumbling; one day we shall meet our equals, or our masters, among the stars.
-- Arthur C. Clarke (Foreword to 2001: A Space Odyssey)
Stefano Unterhiner Photography: Animals Face to Face
|10:24:35 PM, Sunday, January 16, 2011|
Elaborate Software Model Addresses Burning Question: 'How Is the Eiffel Tower Still Standing?'
|7:01:32 PM, Sunday, January 16, 2011|
The Eiffel Tower was intended to stand for only 20 years past its 1889 debut--in fact, the original contest rules for the design stipulated that the tower must be easily demolished. Experts at the time predicted it would come crashing down before construction was even finished. Yet it has withstood both the general hatred Parisians feel for it and the test of time, and is still standing. Specialists have constructed an incredibly elaborate software model to explore the tower's longevity, and discovered its secret.
The study was commissioned by SETE, the Eiffel Tower Operating Company, to gather more data about the strengths and weaknesses of the iconic structure. But that's an even more complicated task than you'd imagine. You've got the usual variables, like the tower's weight (9,369 tons) and added weight from restaurants and such (another 3,306 tons), and the impact of weather on its peculiar design, but there were some unexpected struggles.
The tower is constructed not of the typical steel but of so-called "puddle iron," a popular iron-treatment of the 19th century that involves heating and folding over sheets of iron. It performs totally differently than steel, and so the engineers had to pretty much start from scratch to build an accurate model--they called in materials engineers to reconstruct the long-forgotten puddle iron and perform various tests on it. Other problems included the ludicrous number of separate pieces in the construction (over 18,000, not including additions) and the impact of time (the tower has shrunk a few inches).
But the findings are encouraging for those who love the tower--the engineers at the Technical Center for Mechanical Industries bombarded the model with every conceivable kind of inclement weather, and even doubled the weight, just to see what would happen. In the worst cases, like with the absurd weight gain, a SETE rep notes that "the tower moves, but is not destroyed." As it turns out, the tower's strength is largely due to that near-forgotten puddle iron--the engineers estimate that the tower will still be standing for at least another two or three centuries.
Drunk Scientists Pour Wine on Superconductors and Make an Incredible Discovery
|6:46:46 PM, Sunday, January 16, 2011|
“Wine makes superconductors better at their jobs. And apparently, it makes some scientists better at their jobs too.
Superconductors behave like most metals; they conduct electricity. They do so, however, with a twist. All metal has some resistance to the flow of electricity. But when the temperature drops, superconductors get less and less resistant (and therefore more conductive). When they reach very low temperatures, their resistance drops to zero.
Yoshihiko Takano and other researchers at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan were in the process of creating a certain kind of superconductor by putting a compound in hot water and soaking it for hours. They also soaked the compound in a mixture of water and ethanol. It appears the process was going well, because the scientists decided to have a little party. The party included sake, whisky, various wines, shochu, and beer. At a certain point, the researchers decided to try soaking the compound in the many, many liquors they had on hand and seeing how they compared to the more conventional soaking liquids.
When they tested the resulting materials for superconductivity, they found that the ones soaked in commercial booze came out ahead. About 15 percent of the material became a superconductor for the water mixed with ethanol, and less for the pure water. By comparison, Shochu jacked up conductivity by 23 percent and red wine managed to supercharge over 62 percent of the material. The scientists were pleased, if bemused with their results…”
Eisenhower's Warning Still Challenges A Nation
|6:38:45 PM, Sunday, January 16, 2011|
“Before President Reagan urged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall," and even before President Kennedy told Americans to ask "what you can do for your country," President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined his own phrase about "the military-industrial complex."
That statement, spoken just days before Eisenhower left office in 1961, was his warning to the nation.
At the time, the United States was sitting atop a huge military establishment built from its participation in three major wars. This buildup led Eisenhower to caution against the misplacement of power and influence of the military.
Fifty years later, the United States is engaged in two wars abroad, and some say Eisenhower's warning still holds true…”
Straight Into The Charts . . . A Hit From 1568
|10:47:17 AM, Saturday, January 15, 2011|
“Thomas Tallis’s 'Spem in Alium’ has an appeal that defies time.
Take a look at Classic FM’s Hall of Fame, and there among the poll of listeners’ favourite classical pieces you’ll find a surprise. Coming in at number 89, just ahead of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and only just behind Albinoni’s Adagio, is Thomas Tallis’s sacred vocal work Spem in Alium Nunquam Habui – “I have no other hope (than God)”.
Why should an immensely complex piece in a dead language have struck such a chord? Part of the reason is the current vogue for spiritual music, which has sent CDs of chants by Spanish monks and The Priests soaring up the album charts. But there is something extraordinary about this particular piece. It’s like an ocean of sound, where individual voices are glimpsed for a few seconds before they vanish back into the mass.
Beyond that, the piece is a masterful combination of rhetorical persuasiveness and architectural cogency. By the time he wrote it, possibly around 1568, Thomas Tallis had a huge reputation as a composer of artfully complex music, full of arcane technical devices and hidden symbols. Born around 1505, Tallis had worked his way up from being the musical director of a modest little priory in Dover to being a key member of the Chapel Royal in London. He was right at the centre of power, which in one way was advantageous as it gave him the best singers and players to work with.
But in another way it was risky. England in the mid 16th century was convulsed by religious upheaval. The initial traumatic break with the Roman Church brought on by Henry VIII led to the forcible closing and desecration of ancient monasteries (including Waltham Abbey, where Tallis was one of many who lost their living)…”
-- If Tallis had written nothing else but this, he would still be one of the the greatest composers ever.
Burmese Prison Inmates 'Used as Human Mine Sweepers'
|10:32:11 AM, Saturday, January 15, 2011|
“Some of the 600 prisoners shipped off to the front near the border with Thailand suffered serious injuries as they were forced to walk ahead of troops across mine fields in what one rights group said amounted to a "crime against humanity".
Inmates who did not have the funds to bribe their jailers to avoid the forced military service were sent to the fighting acting as porters carrying ammunition, according to three prisoners who escaped and made it to the Thai border town of Mae Sot.
The on-going fighting between the Burmese army and a splinter group of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, rebels who signed a truce and sided with the junta, broke out on November 7, the day of the much-derided general election.
The most senior of the escaped prisoners, Thaung Htay Oo, 28 told of the abuse meted out to the inmates by the military.
"We had to carry ammunition, equipment and food for the soldiers," he said. "They worst thing is that they used prisoners to clear minefields ahead of their advance. There were many prisoners who were injured by the landmines after they were forced to walk ahead of the soldiers. We ran away because we didn't want the same thing to happen to us…”"
New Type of Glass Stronger and Tougher Than Steel
|10:13:11 AM, Saturday, January 15, 2011|
“Glass stronger and tougher than steel? A new type of damage-tolerant metallic glass, demonstrating a strength and toughness beyond that of any known material, has been developed and tested by a collaboration of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)and the California Institute of Technology. What's more, even better versions of this new glass may be on the way.
"These results mark the first use of a new strategy for metallic glass fabrication and we believe we can use it to make glass that will be even stronger and more tough," says Robert Ritchie, a materials scientist who led the Berkeley contribution to the research.
The new metallic glass is a microalloy featuring palladium, a metal with a high "bulk-to-shear" stiffness ratio that counteracts the intrinsic brittleness of glassy materials.
"Because of the high bulk-to-shear modulus ratio of palladium-containing material, the energy needed to form shear bands is much lower than the energy required to turn these shear bands into cracks," Ritchie says. "The result is that glass undergoes extensive plasticity in response to stress, allowing it to bend rather than crack…””
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