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10-21-2011, 07:37 AM
© 2011 Richard Kossow

One of the last photographs Scott took, in December 1911.
By Andrea Mustain *OurAmazingPlanet

One hundred years after British explorer Robert Falcon Scott set out on his doomed journey to the South Pole, many of his own photographs of Antarctica are being published for the first time in a new book — written by a descendent of one the men who perished by his side.

Of the 100 or so photographs published in "The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott," (Little, Brown and Co., 2011), out in the United States this week, many have never been shown publicly, and might have never have been, were it not for a conversation over a cocktail in a London barroom, according to the book's author, David M. Wilson.

A few years ago, Wilson was enjoying a post-auction drink with a friend in the business, a dealer in polar artifacts, who hinted he'd come upon some particularly tantalizing items. Finally, he relented, and gave up his secret.

"He told me he had the lost photographs of Scott and I nearly choked on my gin and tonic," Wilson told OurAmazingPlanet.

Polar relations*
Although several of Scott's own photographs from his ill-fated 1910 to 1912 Antarctic expedition had been published, most of them never saw the light of day, Wilson said.

Herbert Ponting, the expedition's official photographer, didn't accompany Scott to the pole, and survived to bring Scott's photos, along with his own iconic images of the expedition, back to England; however, the majority of Scott's photographs had lain in a disorganized jumble for decades, lost in a photo agency's basement. The photos resurfaced in 2001, but, poorly labeled and poorly publicized, they'd languished in relative obscurity until they landed in the hands of the London auction house.

Fast forward several years, and the photographs, after a painstaking cataloging effort, are labeled and reproduced as large black-and-white prints in a handsome coffee-table book. Its author's interest in the subject matter is more than historical curiosity. His grandfather's brother Edward Wilson appears in many of the photos. He died by Scott's side in a tiny tent on the lonely Antarctic ice after an arduous journey that had already offered a full measure of heartbreak.

Frozen trek*
Although Scott did reach the South Pole on Jan. 17, 1912, after a two-and-a-half month slog, he and his four companions discovered they weren't the first to arrive. A tent, with a dark flag fluttering above it, stood at the spot. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had gotten there first, a full month earlier, on Dec. 14, 1911, and left behind the makeshift monument, along with a note addressed to Scott.

© 2011 Richard Kossow
Captain Robert Falcon Scott practices his hand at photography. The photo, the cover image of a new book of Scott's own photos, was taken by Scott's teacher, the great photographer Herbert Ponting.

Faced with ferocious blizzards and dwindling supplies, Scott and his party never made it home. He met his end in late March, freezing to death alongside his two remaining men, Henry "Birdie" Bowers and Wilson, a doctor and an artist brought along to record the unexplored continent's geology and geography, and Scott's dear friend. (Two of their party succumbed earlier: Petty Officer Edgar Evans was done in by injury, and, hobbled by frostbite, Lawrence Oates famously sacrificed himself by walking out alone into a snowstorm.)

Their frozen bodies were found months later, along with Scott's diary, which recounted the men's struggle up until the end, Wilson's sketches, and photographs Bowers took.

"At the end of the day, this is one of the greatest stories of human exploration history, full stop," said author David M. Wilson, who said that although Scott's story is well-known, the photographs reveal a side of the man largely unseen.

Polar ambitions*
"He had an artistic side and he had a natural eye," Wilson said. In addition, the photographs are unedited, he said, "so you have the photographs from the humble beginnings."

After his sledding party left the relative comfort of*the expedition base, Scott even began experimenting with images that his teacher, the master photographer Ponting, rarely attempted, such as action shots and panoramas, Wilson said.

"All these sorts of things started appearing, but they also bring the emphasis back onto the scientific work," Wilson added.

Courtesy of Charles Leski, Leski Auctions
Scott, captured here writing in his diary inside the expedition's hut in one of Ponting's many photographs of the explorer. Scott's own photographs only recently resurfaced.
Scott's and*Ponting's photos of Antarcticarepresent a transition in expedition science, which had relied on artists like Edward Wilson to make a record of discoveries.

"You've got this point where the camera takes over from the sketch pad as the best scientific record, and it happened on this expedition," Wilson said.

However, although Scott did bring along scientists — who took invaluable Antarctic data — at great cost to himself, he didn't bring the cameras in the name of science alone, according to Ross MacPhee, curator of vertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History, and author of the book, "Race to The End: Amundsen, Scott, and the Attainment of the South Pole" (Sterling Innovation, 2010). Scott was also a savvy advertiser.

"Scott understood the importance of bringing back images, because people emotionally react to images in ways that they often don't to words," MacPhee said.

As to Scott's ultimate motivations, which have been both deified and demonized in the intervening decades, MacPhee said they were complex.

"Scott would surely have liked to win — he did, after all, stake his life on it — but there was more to his being in Antarctica than just striving to be the first to stand at the South Pole," MacPhee said. "He did very much want to have his expeditions remembered as being primarily driven by science rather than by adventure."

10-21-2011, 07:45 AM
A devoted Iowa couple married for 72 years died holding hands in the hospital last week, exactly one hour apart.

The passing reflected the nature of their marriage, where, "As a rule, everything was done together," said the couple's daughter Donna Sheets, 71.

Gordon Yeager, 94, and his wife Norma, 90, left their small town of State Center, Iowa, on Wednesday to go into town, but never made it. A car accident sent the couple to the emergency room and intensive care unit with broken bones and other injuries. But, even in the hospital, their concerns were each other.

"She was saying her chest hurt and what's wrong with Dad? Even laying there like that, she was worried about Dad," said the couple's son, Dennis Yeager, 52. "And his back was hurting and he was asking about Mom."

When it became clear that their conditions were not improving, the couple was moved into a room together in beds side-by-side where they could hold hands.

"They joined hands; his right hand, her left hand," Sheets said.

Gordon Yeager died at 3:38 p.m. He was no longer breathing, but the family was surprised by what his monitor showed.

"Someone in there said, 'Why, then, when we look at the monitor is the heart still beating?'" Sheets recalled. "The nurse said Dad was picking up Mom's heartbeat through Mom's hand."

"And we thought, 'Oh my gosh, Mom's heart is beating through him,'" Dennis Yeager said.

Norma Yeager died exactly an hour later.

"Dad used to say that a woman is always worth waiting for," Dennis Yeager said. "Dad waited an hour for her and held the door for her."

The*inseparable couple*was engaged and married within 12 hours in 1939 on the day Norma Yeager graduated from high school.

"She graduated from high school on May 26, 1939, at about 10 a.m., and at about 10 p.m. that night she was married to my dad at his sister's house," Sheets said.

The*vibrant duo*had a "very, very full life."

They worked as a team. They traveled together, they were in a bridge club together and they worked in a Chevrolet dealership, creamery and other businesses together.

"They always did everything together," Sheets said. "They weren't apart. They just weren't."

Dennis Yeager described his father as an "outgoing" and "hyper" man who was still working on the roof of his house and sitting cross-legged with no problem at age 90.

"The party didn't start until he showed up," he said. "He was the outgoing one and she supported him by being the giver. She supported Dad in everything. And he would've been lost without her."

Dennis Yeager said it is strange today to go into his parents' home and see the "two chairs side-by-side that they sat in all the time," empty. He said it was in those chairs that his parents cheered on the Arizona sports teams they loved and rarely missed an episode of "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price Is Right."

According to their*obituary, besides their children, the Yeagers are survived by her sister, Virginia Kell, and his brother, Roger Yeager, as well as 14 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Their grandson Randy Yeager said he has been inspired in his own 13-year marriage by his grandparents' loving and lasting marriage.

"Grandpa and I were talking this summer about all of the people getting divorced for this reason or that and he mentioned that nobody stays together anymore," Randy Yeager wrote to ABCNews.com in an email. "I told [him] that my wife Mara and I would never be getting a divorce and he said, 'That's because you're old school, like me!'

"That was one of the greatest compliments I could have ever received and one I will strive to live up to for the rest of my life," Randy Yeager said.

The couple were put in a casket together holding hands for their funeral this week, but are being cremated and will have their ashes mixed before burial.

"All their life has been together," Sheets said. "So, when it came to the funeral home, the family asked, 'Can we have them put in the casket together holding hands?' Because that's the way their life was."

10-21-2011, 07:53 AM
19 October 11 12:06 ET

Radar technology that can detect moving objects behind solid walls has been developed by MIT researchers.

The radar uses short radio waves and amplifiers, and once the signals are received, they get digitised into real-time video.

The scientists said it was possible to detect people, even those trying to keep still, behind a concrete wall from as far as 60 feet (18 metres)away.

One of the uses of the radar could be in combat situations.

A typical radar is able to "see" by sending radio waves that bounce off targets, then strike the radar's receiver - just like visible light bounces off objects and gets into our eyes, allowing us to see things.

As light cannot penetrate through solid walls, radio waves also get blocked by concrete, and whatever gets through is then blocked again on the way back.

Military uses
The team dealt with this problem by using short waves known as S-band waves, and powerful signal amplifiers.

Gregory Charvat of the MIT Lincoln Lab, the lead scientist on the project, said that the hardest part for through-wall radar systems was achieving the speed, resolution and range necessary for generating a real-time video feed.

"If you're in a high-risk combat situation, you don't want one image every 20 minutes, and you don't want to have to stand right next to a potentially dangerous building," said Dr

During tests, the scientists were able to detect two people moving behind solid concrete and cinder-block walls, and a person swinging a metal pole.

They said that although the radar is designed to pick up moving targets, a person trying to stand still can never be perfectly still - so the radar would be able to detect small movements and display the object's location.

Once the signals come back and strike the receiver, they are digitised - and people appear as "blobs" in a live video feed.

10-21-2011, 07:58 AM
By*Laura Shin*| October 19, 2011, 9:16 PM PDT


Medical lab tests nowadays are so 20th century.

The technician takes a vial, or several vials, of blood. They ship them off to a lab. And though we’re in the age of the Internet, you still have to wait a day or more to get the results.

What if, instead, the technician could take a single drop of your blood, place it on a microchip and run tests for hundreds of diseases all at once?

While labs on chips have been in the works for a while, they have not become widespread because they usually take a lot of money and time to make (i.e. $600 and half a day for one 6mm-squared chip). However, researchers at MIT have developed a new technique that is already up to 60 times cheaper and up to 100 times faster than traditional stamping methods required to create so-called biosensors.

The innovation, a glass stamp that can create tens of thousands of chips, is even more precise and can produce new chips more easily than existing technologies. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Massachusetts of Technology researchers published their methods in*Nanotechnology.

How it works
In order to create the stamp, the researchers began with a syringe of melted glass composed partly of ions. They pressed it onto a master pattern to create a mold, which became the glass stamp.

After it cooled, they pressed the glass stamp onto the kind of metallic surface used for microchips and activated the stamp with a bit of voltage. The voltage stimulated ions both in the glass as well as the metal, essentially etching the glass pattern onto the chip.

They could then use this single stamp to etch tens of hundreds more labs on chips.

So how does the chip itself, which is now imprinted with tiny dots that are smaller than one-hundredth the width of a human hair, sniff out diseases in your blood?

The nano-sized dots act as “optical antennae” that read a specific wavelength to identify a single molecule. (Optical antennae are useful at nano scales because the length of a regular lightwave is too big for nano structures).

Improvements on existing biosensor manufacturing methods
The techniques currently being used to create these microchips are laborious and expensive. For instance, electron-beam lithography uses a beam of electrons to etch patterns on each individual chip. (This is the method that could take half a day to create one chip that would cost more than $600.)

Another method, nanoimprint lithography, is cheaper, but it uses a polymer to create a mold for the chip, and if the mold has imperfections, then all the copies will contain the same imperfections. (Though the new technique also uses a mold, the glass takes the shape of the mold more smoothly than the polymer.)

Nicholas Fang, one of the authors and an MIT mechanical engineering professor, says that their new technique takes several minutes to imprint one piece — making it about 100 times faster than electron-beam lithography and up to four times faster than nanoimprint lithography.

He estimates that they could manufacture each chip for $10 now, but he projects that if they ever scale up, the cost could be comparable to that of DVDS: less than 10 cents each.

However, that day is yet to come. The initial process for creating both the master pattern and master glass stamp is expensive.

Still, Fang says:

With this stamp, I can reproduce maybe tens of hundreds of these sensors, and each of them will be almost identical. So this is a fascinating advancement to us, and allows us to print more efficient antennae.


photo: One of the stamped samples (Kyle Jacobs)

10-21-2011, 12:49 PM
By Ami Cholia | October 20, 2011, 1:19 PM PDT

At the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress in Orlando this week, GM showed off a new portable vehicle-to-vehicle communication system that would allow cars, cyclists and pedestrians to communicate with each other within a quarter of a mile. This technology could cut vehicular crashes by 81 percent, according to the automaker.

Using Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) on portable devices and smartphone applications, the device will transfer data between other devices in the vicinity, creating a wireless network that will transmit information to drivers warning them about stalled vehicles, slippery roads, cyclists, upcoming stop signs, etc. GM says that its new vehicles should come set up with the system and the company will begin retrofitting older vehicles as well. Because the strength of the device lies in numbers, the more people that carry the application - the better.

If a pedestrian or cyclist carries the device with the application, drivers would be alerted of bikes on the road or slow moving pedestrians.

“Instead of just seeing what’s right in front of them, drivers will be able to know about the truck a quarter-mile ahead that’s stalled in their lane,” said Don Grimm, a senior researcher for GM’s Perception and Vehicle Control Systems group told Wired. “Later this decade, smartphones, transponders and embedded systems could be working together to make our roadways safer.”

From Smart Planet.

10-21-2011, 01:05 PM
Newsmax Thursday, October 20, 2011 10:01 AM

When older folks find themselves being forgetful or searching for the right word, many become worried that they may be suffering the early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
Now researchers say they have found a group of medical tests that can predict with great accuracy which patients are headed toward Alzheimer's and which are not.

In a paper to be published in the October 25 issue of the journal Neurology, a team of physicians and scientists from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and elsewhere describe using a combination of broadly available medical tests to produce a much improved predictive picture of the likelihood of impending Alzheimer's in people with mild cognitive impairment, an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more pronounced decline of dementia.

“I’m extremely excited about these results,” said neurologist James Brewer, MD, associate professor of radiology and neurosciences and part of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative research team at UC San Diego.

“The good news is that we can partially reassure those folks who are negative on these tests, at least regarding their next three years. We have never been able to do that before. These individuals, despite having a real memory problem, have no greater risk of near-term dementia than a similarly aged healthy person without a memory complaint.”

The tests used in the new Alzheimer's evaluation include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and neuropsychological testing. All of these are already widely available.

When combined, the tests showed an extremely accurate prediction rate. In fact, it was almost perfect. None of the individuals who tested negative on all three measures went on to develop Alzheimer's in the three-year follow-up. By comparison, almost 90 percent of individuals who tested positive on all three measures were demented at the end of three years.

Dr. Brewer said the findings will result in a dramatic change in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Instead of saying, ‘Let’s wait a year and see if this gets worse,’ our neurologists can say, ‘Let’s get a volumetric MRI and check back in a month to see if your complaint is due to neurodegeneration.’ That ability makes a huge difference in how we proceed. Maybe the memory complaint isn’t due to neurodegeneration, but rather it’s a side effect of a medication, a sign of depression or someone is simply anxious and worried. Being able to reassure at least some patients that they are not at significant near-term risk of AD is something we never could do in the past, given the high prevalence of the disease.”

10-21-2011, 07:58 PM
Friend with a foe: Uncommon animal pairings

Friend with a foe: Uncommon animal pairings - Picture Stories- msnbc.com (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44902484/displaymode/1247/?beginSlide=1#.TqIXyLL-uuI)

10-22-2011, 06:05 PM
London to Istanbul 2011 in a Ness Yawl
Giacomo De Stefano, the Man on the River. Scroll down for more videos and the full story in the blog.
Regensburg Bridge (http://www.manontheriver.com/?post_type=external-videos&p=4645)

10-22-2011, 07:24 PM
By Kirsten Korosec (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=kirsten+korosec) | October 18, 2011, 8:38 AM PDT
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/oldbras.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/oldbras.jpg)
Japanese underwear makers have found a way to solve a source of social anxiety , keep hundreds of thousands of bras out of the landfill and take some pressure off the country’s electrical grid. Triumph International andWacoal Corp. have collected about 380,000 bras (http://mdn.mainichi.jp/features/news/20111013p2g00m0fe097000c.html) over the past several years and turned them into nearly 32 tons of RPF, a refuse paper and plastic fuel that can be used to run boilers, power generation facilities and dryers, the Mainichi Daily News reported recently.

Throwing underwear in the trash is a source of anxiety for Japanese women in large part because many cities and towns have regulations that require residents to put garbage into transparent plastic bags. Wacoal found in a 2004 survey that 61 percent of respondents were reluctant to throw bras in the trash.

Simply put, the ladies don’t want their unmentionables to be seen or talked about. And who would?

Bra fuel nuts and bolts
Once the bras have been collected via each company’s respective recycling program, metals such as the wires built into the underside of the cups, are removed. The remaining parts are turned into RPF.

RPF made from separate refuse, and not house garbage, emits little dioxin when incinerated, according to the JapanRPF Association. And its combustion efficiency is as high as coal or coke, but generates less carbon dioxide.

Energy shortages
Bra fuel won’t solve Japan’s larger energy problem. TheFukushima nuclear has prompted Japan to move away from nuclear power, a move that will mean heavy reliance on liquefied natural gas in the short to medium-term and energy shortages. Renewable energy will replace some of that lost generation, but not all — at least not in the foreseeable future.

However, the bra fuel generated by Triumph and Wacoal is another example of Japanese industrial companies and manufacturers finding ways to generate more of their own energy and easing pressures on the country’s electrical grid.

[Via: the Mainichi Daily News] (http://mdn.mainichi.jp/features/news/20111013p2g00m0fe097000c.html)
Photo: Flickr user, How Can I Recycle Thi (http://www.flickr.com/photos/recyclethis/er)s (http://www.flickr.com/photos/recyclethis/er)

10-22-2011, 07:28 PM
Paris tackles radiation from the roofs

By Bryan Pirolli (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=bryan+pirolli) | October 19, 2011, 7:02 AM PDT

PARIS – The Mayor of Paris has halted construction of additional cellular phone towers to the city’s roofs this week, according to Le Monde (http://www.lemonde.fr/technologies/article/2011/10/17/la-ville-de-paris-gele-les-implantations-d-antennes-relais-sur-ses-batiments_1589369_651865.html). The City established a pact in 2003 with mobile service providers to allow certain companies to construct cellular towers on municipal buildings within stated limits. The decision to stop construction of the towers coincides with the end of the city’s contract with the mobile service companies.

Paris is the only city in France to have an agreement with cell phone companies which limits the exposure of electromagnetic waves to two volts per meter over 24 hours.The mayor has accused the French Telecom Federation of allowing exposures of up to 15 volts per meter, levels that some reports deem unhealthy.

The European Environmental Agency reported in 2007 (http://www.bioinitiative.org/freeaccess/index.htm)that health risks are associated with electromagnetic waves, though the threshold of a “dangerous” level remains highly contested worldwide.

Some advocacy groups likeEcoforum (http://ecoforum.fr/), based in the south of France, insist that levels above 1.5 volts per meter pose health risks.

In a public test at the beginning of this month in Marseille, Ecoforum’s president, Hugo Espinoza, tested emissions with a smart phone that registered eight volts per meter.

Despite the uncertainty of any imminent health risks, the 186 current cellular towers which spike the skyline of Paris may soon be removed.

Deputy Mayor Mao Péninou told Le Monde, “We are also looking at legal options for the facilities currently in place. They are no longer serving as experiment sites, so we will see how we can legally dismantle them.

”While Parisians can rejoice in the improved visual aesthetics of removing the cellular towers, the discussion on cell phone use continues in France.Last Saturday, the French Association of Environmental health launched a new study in the south of France to study the effects of the waves in social housing structures.

Researchers hope to re-evaluate the safety French volt exposure limits, which remain higher than other European countries.Photo: Robert Young (http://www.chicline.com/Paris-Sacre-Coeur-photos-diaporama.php)

10-22-2011, 07:38 PM
New York City home to world’s largest rooftop farm

By Beth Carter (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=beth+carter) | October 18, 2011, 10:44 PM PDT

New York City is often celebrated for its rooftop views. From famous observation decks to stylish bars, these decks, patios, or even just dirty roofs with lawn chairs give New Yorkers something they covet: space.

What one doesn’t picture when they think of a New York City rooftop is a 40,000 square foot organic farm.

Then there was Brooklyn Grang (http://www.brooklyngrangefarm.com/)e (http://www.brooklyngrangefarm.com/). Built by the Bromley Caldari Architects (http://bromleycaldari.com/), it is thought to be the largest rooftop farm in the world. The farm was planted on top of a warehouse built in 1919, and opened in spring of 2010.

Today, the farmers continue to produce organic produce for local vendors that include tomatoes, peppers, herbs, fennel, greens, and root veggies.

Conceived by Ben Flanner, the farm was created in the spirit of farm-to-table dining, and the owners of local restaurants contribute and sustain the farm’s flourishing growth. Flanner first started Eagle Street Rooftop Farm (http://rooftopfarms.org/) in 2009, the first of its kind, and was later inspired to try his methods in a bigger venue.

The produce is grown in beds of organic Roofite soil (http://www.rooflitesoil.com/), produced by Skyland soil company. The soil is lightweight and made up of compost and pourous stones that add essential minerals to the soil, allowing the produce to grow even in shallow beds.

“The goal,” according to the farm’s website, “is to improve access to very good food, to connect city people more closely to farms and food production, and to make urban farming a viable enterprise and livelihood.”

Last year, Brooklyn Grange had a nine month growing season, using cover crops like rye to maintain year round production.
“This is a green space that contributes to the overall health and quality of life of the community,” continues their description, “bringing people together through green business and around good food.”

The farm is privately owned, yes, but strives to be community-focused and is open to the public. Anyone is welcome to visit, learn, or farm.

The rooftop space that many urban dwellers crave can manifest itself in many important ways. While some offer a view, or a moment of quiet, Brooklyn Grange offers healthy, organic food and a green space that benefits the whole community.

[Via Inhabitat (http://inhabitat.com/nyc/brooklyn-grange-worlds-largest-rooftop-farm-kicks-off-second-growing-season/brooklyn-grange-by-cyrus-dowlatshahi/?extend=1) and Brooklyn Grange]
Photo: Brooklyn Grange

10-22-2011, 07:44 PM
by Matt Brownell
Friday, October 21, 2011 provided by http://l.yimg.com/a/p/fi/35/78/95.jpg
According to financial services consulting firm Javelin Strategies and Research, identity theft affects 11 million people a year, at a cost of $54 billion.

If you don't want to become a statistic, a good place to start is to get a shredder.

Shredding documents isn't just for accounting firms and people with something to hide — every day working Americans have houses full of documents containing potentially compromising information, from Social Security numbers to bank account information.

To dispose of them, security experts recommend getting a good cross-cut shredder (which makes your documents into confetti, as opposed to the long strips that a determined thief could reconstruct); one cheap option is this $30 model from Walmart (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/SIG=13doi55f5/EXP=1320538005/**http%3A//www.walmart.com/ip/Shredder-Essentials-6-Sheet-Diamond-Cross-Cut-Shredder/16560870).

OK, got your shredder? Now here's what to put in it.

Old Tax Returns
As a general rule, you should save your tax returns on the chance you get audited. But after three years, you're in the clear — that is unless the IRS suspects you are guilty of fraud, in which case the agency can audit you as far back as it likes.

"Keep three to four years of tax returns in a firebox," says Brent Neiser, senior director of the nonprofit National Endowment for Financial Education. Shred anything older than that.

The biggest concern here is Social Security numbers. Yes, that's numbers, plural.

"Your dependents' Social Security numbers are on those, too," points out Gabby Beltran of the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center.

Bank Statements
Anything with bank account numbers should be shredded, and that obviously includes your paper bank statements. That's especially true for that box of old bank statements you just found in your attic that you don't know why you kept in the first place.

"There was a time when Social Security numbers were printed on brokerage and bank statements," says Neiser, who adds that he just went through and shredded all of his old statements.

To avoid having to shred your statements every month, some experts recommend just making the switch to online statements.

"We recommend people turn off bank statements and get as many as you can via email," says Phil Blank, managing director of security, risk and fraud for Javelin. "The most commonly perpetrated means of defrauding people is to steal things out of their mailbox."

Credit Card Offers
Unless you're going to actually take the bank up on its offer and open an account, you should destroy these mailed offers right away.

"A lot if identity theft happens within families, so don't leave them lying around," warns Neiser. "Somebody in the house who knows your basic information could fill it out."

Whether you need to shred or simply rip up the offer is a matter of disagreement among advisers though. The priority is making sure someone doesn't open a card in your name, but since there shouldn't be any information like your Social Security number on these offers, you probably don't need to obliterate them into tiny pieces.

"Offers are good to tear up — I put them in the kitchen trash, around food items," says Neiser.

Still, tearing it up may not be enough to stop someone from opening up a credit card and shredding your credit rating. A couple years ago, MainStreet reported on someone who tore up a credit card offer, then taped it back together, sent it in and got a credit card from Chase.

Old Photo IDs
Maybe you like to save your old college ID and security badges from previous employers for sentimental reasons; we won't begrudge you a little scrapbooking.

But if you want to dispose of them, consider using a shredder. While a photo ID alone isn't enough to steal your identity, keep in mind that the ID — and the information it contains — could be used as part of a larger identity theft scheme to bypass fraud prevention measures.

"A driver's license has height, weight and date of birth — biometric information they can use to verify an account," says Beltran.

Pay Stubs
It might not seem like it at first glance, but your pay stub is rife with information that can be used by a skilled identity theft.

"Absolutely shred your pay stubs," says Blank. "Some [financial] institutions will ask you as validation the amount of your last deposit; if they have that pay stub, they can give the bank that information."

He adds that the information contained there can also provide a fraudster with other targets.

"They'll know who your health care provider is, and what bank accounts you have," he says.

Credit Card Convenience Checks
Credit card companies often send so-called "convenience checks" to cardholders, which are basically checks you can use to borrow against your line of credit for quick cash. Needless to say, you don't want these to end up in the wrong hands.

"The worst thing people get in the mail are these convenience checks," says Neiser. "It looks like a credit card bill, but if you open it up, there are checks in there that are live loans… that to me is very dangerous."

If you don't plan on using these, shred them immediately.

Canceled Checks
Just because you write "void" on it doesn't mean a canceled check can't be a ticking time bomb. Remember, your account and routing numbers are listed on the bottom of every check.

"Not only is the bank account number on there, but there's also your address and possibly your phone number," says Neiser. "And some people write their full credit card number on the check [to pay their bill]."

As for duplicate checks, those should have the checking account number omitted for your security. But if you have any security concerns, but still want proof of payment, Neiser points out that you can usually request a receipt from the recipient (for your property tax payment, for instance), then shred the duplicate check.

Canceled Credit Cards
Sometimes you need to cancel a debit or credit card — maybe you want to rein in your spending, or you're leaving your bank, or you suspect the number was stolen. So do you need to shred the old one?

"Theoretically it's not supposed to be problem, but we recommend that people cut through the magnetic stripe, as there's encoded information on there," says Blank. "Also, you don't want people to know where you bank."

If your shredder can't handle plastic, Blank recommends cutting it into four pieces, and then throwing the parts into at least two different trash bags. Hey, you can't be too careful.

10-24-2011, 12:49 PM
This past week it was reported that the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous claimed credit for taking offline over 40 websites used for sharing pedophilia - and for exposing the names and identifying information of more than 1500 alleged pedophiles that had been using the sites.

News of the Anonymous campaign to actively target anyone hosting child porn sites comes from statements associated with Anonymous on Pastebin and two Anonymous YouTube video channels. AnonNews has yet to issue a press release.

It’s within Anon’s character to go after targets that provoke the collective’s ire. Yet in this instance the group is highlighting a moral sense of outrage and horror most people will relate to - the evil crime of child sexual abuse - while revealing an internet underworld that many will be terrified to learn about for the first time.

According to Anonymous’ published timeline of eventsfrom the past few days, Anon’s campaign began on October 14 when some of its members were browsing a darknet site called Hidden Wiki.

Hidden Wiki is an index containing hundreds of underground websites that can’t be seen by search engines or viewed by regular internet users. Such sites can’t be reached by conventional means, and contain a variety of content ranging from innocuous to illegal.

An Anonymous Pastebin statement explains that their new campaign manifested upon finding a Hidden Wiki listing called “Hard Candy” that they say “was dedicated to links to child pornography.”

Anonymous claims that most of the pedophile-content sites listed on the Hidden Wiki, “shared a digital fingerprint with the shared hosting server at Freedom Hosting.”

The AnonMessage and BecomeAnonymous YouTube channels both posted videos with statements of intent to hunt, skin and kill pedobears everywhere, starting with Freedom Hosting.

In addition to both YouTube videos, Anonymous published statements with an events timeline and declarations of intent. According to this statement on Pastebin:

The owners and operators at Freedom Hosting are openly supporting child pornography and enabling pedophiles to view innocent children, fueling their issues and putting children at risk of abduction, molestation, rape and death.

For this, Freedom Hosting has been declared #OpDarknet Enemy Number One. By taking down Freedom Hosting, we are eliminating 40+ child pornography websites, among these is Lolita City, one of the largest child pornography websites to date containing more than 100 GB of child pornography.

We will continue to not only crash Freedom Hosting’s server, but any other server we find to contain, promote, or support child pornography.

Anonymous extended the threats beyond the cluster of Hidden Wiki’s index:

Remove all child pornography content from your servers. Refuse to provide hosting services to any website dealing with child pornography.

This statement is not just aimed at Freedom Hosting, but everyone on the Internet. It does not matter who you are, if we find you to be hosting, promoting, or supporting child pornography, you will become a target.

Late on Tuesday, October 14, Anonymous told Freedom Hosting to remove all the pedo links from its server.

Freedom Hosting ignored the demand and Anonymous responded by attacking and taking the server offline. It was back up the following day, but Anonymous had it down again by the evening of the 15th.

Commenters on various forums, including Reddit, have remarked that Anonymous’ attacks on Freedom Hosting’s sever are particularly sophisticated in comparison to previous Anonymous campaigns.

After smacking Freedom Hosting around, Anonymous then singled out another Hidden Wiki listing, a file-swapping site used by pedophiles called “Lolita City” from which 1,589 names were extracted and published on Pastebin.

Powerful vigilantes going after pedophiles - as appealing as it might sound to scorch the earth where sickness lies, serious questions are being raised about certain aspects of this campaign and concerns may emerge about possible interference with law enforcement activity that might already be in place.

Examiner ran this statement pulled from the Anonymous “Lolita City” documents,

If the FBI, Interpol, or other law enforcement agency should happen to come across this list, please use it to investigate and bring justice to the people listed here.

I think that saving the victims of these heinous crimes needs to be a priority in all this, as well as making sure innocent people don’t get wrongly accused.

Meanwhile, as the public at large begins to learn about the deep web, underground darknet sites and Tor from campaigns like #OpDarknet, it’s going to be a challenge to keep politicians and pundits from tarring internet anonymity tools with the brush of child porn and criminal activity.

10-25-2011, 01:03 AM
Sunday, October 23, 2011 7:44 PM
By Sylvia Booth Hubbard, Newsmax.

Seven simple steps could add at least a decade to the average lifespan, says noted cardiologist Dr. Clyde Yancy. In fact, he believes a healthy 50-year-old can expect to live another 40 to 50 years.

"Achieving these seven simple lifestyle factors gives people a 90 percent chance of living to the age of 90 or 100, free of not only heart disease and stroke but from a number of other chronic illnesses including cancer," says Yancy, a professor of medicine and chief of cardiology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. He is also the former president of the American Heart Association.

Dr. Yancy's seven steps to living to 100 are:

Get active. A sedentary lifestyle can slice almost four years off a person's projected lifespan. And those who are physically inactive are twice as likely to be victims of cardiovascular disease.

Know and control your cholesterol levels. About one in five Americans has cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dl, and are considered borderline high by the American Heart Association.

Almost 38 million have levels above 240 mg/dl, extremely high levels that increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Heart disease is the No.1 killer in America, and is responsible for about 500,000 deaths every year. Research shows you can lower your odds of developing heart disease by as much as 40 percent by lowering your cholesterol levels.

Follow a healthy diet. A diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish, and low in red meats and saturated fats slash your risk of disease. "Most of the evidence around the world indicates that of all cancers, about 35 percent is related to dietary habits," Dr. John A. Milner of the National Cancer Institute told Newsmax Health. "That's really a significant percentage of cancers that are avoidable if you choose the right diet. And don't forget to add spices to your dishes," he says. "Spices such as garlic can reduce your risk of some types of cancer."

Know and control your blood pressure. About one in three Americans has high blood pressure (systolic levels at 140 mmHg or above). High blood pressure is the top preventable cause of death among women in the United States, claiming more than five times as many lives as breast cancer. Among men, hypertension is the second-leading killer, outranked only by smoking.

A recent study found that people with prehypertension (120-139 systolic) had a 35 percent greater risk of stroke than those with normal blood pressure levels.

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. According to the National Institutes of Health, 68 percent of all American adults are overweight or obese. Overweight and obese people have an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and many other diseases, including diabetes. More than 80 percent of adults with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.

Manage diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million Americans have diabetes, and 79 million have prediabetes. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetics double their risk of having a heart attack or stroke and also have an increased risk of kidney disease, eye disease, and nerve damage.

Be tobacco free. More than 45 million Americans continue to smoke, according to the CDC.

Smokers are twice as likely as nonsmokers to have strokes, and when they do, the strokes occur almost a decade earlier than when nonsmokers have them, according to a recent Canadian study. Smokers also have a higher risk of recurrent strokes and a greater chance of complications. Those who have had minor strokes are 10 times more likely to have a major stroke if they continue to smoke. And a Japanese researcher found that the death rate for men who smoked was 60 percent higher than nonsmokers and 90 percent higher for women smokers. He concluded that smoking was more dangerous than high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Currently, fewer than 10 percent of people achieve their goal of optimal health, but changing our focus to preventing disease has enormous potential if the seven steps are embraced by the population as a whole. "We know how to prevent heart disease and stroke — we now need to build the tools to empower our citizens to manage their risk and prevent heart disease," Yancy said.

"By following these steps, we can compress life-threatening disease into the final stages of life and maintain quality of life for the longest possible time." Yancy predicts that, if we act now, the tidal wave of heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases brought about by our unhealthy lifestyles can reverse by 2020.

10-25-2011, 11:16 AM
24 October 11 22:00 ET By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News


A critically endangered species of rhino is now extinct in Vietnam, according to a report by conservation groups.
The WWF and the International Rhino Foundation said the country's last Javan rhino was probably killed by poachers, as its horn had been cut off.
Experts said the news was not a surprise, as only one sighting had been recorded in Vietnam since 2008.
Fewer than 50 individuals are now estimated to remain in the wild.
"It is painful that despite significant investment in Vietnamese rhino conservation, efforts failed to save this unique animal, " said WWF's Vietnam director Tran Thi Minh Hien.
"Vietnam has lost part of its natural heritage."
The authors of the report, Extinction of the Javan Rhino from Vietnam, said genetic analysis of dung samples collected between 2009-2010 in the Cat Tien National Park showed that they all belonged to just one individual.
Shortly after the survey was completed, conservationists found out that the rhino had been killed. They say it was likely to have been the work of poachers because it had been shot in a leg and its horn had been cut off.
Globally, there has been a sharp increase in the number of rhino poaching cases. Earlier this year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published a report that said rhino populations in Africa were facing their worst poaching crisis for decades.
An assessment carried out by Traffic, the global wildlife trade monitoring network, said the surge in the illegal trade in rhino horns was being driven by demands from Asian medicinal markets.
Conservation blow
The Vietnam rhino, as well as being the last of the species on mainland Asia, was also the last known surviving member of the Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus subspecies - one of three recognised groups of Javan rhino populations.
Another is already extinct. R. sondaicus inermis was formerly found in north-eastern India, Bangladesh and Burma.
The remaining subspecies, R. sondaicus sondaicus, is now found on Java, Indonesia. However, since the 1930s, the animals - now estimated to number no more than 50 - have been restricted to the westernmost parts of the island.
Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, chairman of the IUCN's Asian Rhino Specialist Group, said the demise of the Javan rhino in Vietnam was "definitely a blow".
"We all must learn from this and need to ensure that the fate of the Javan rhino in [Indonesia] won't be like that of Cat Tien in near future," he told BBC News.
"Threats to rhinos for their horn is definitely a major problem. But in Indonesia, due to active work done by rhino protection units and national park authorities, no Javan rhino poaching has been recorded in Indonesia for past decade."
Dr Talukdar observed: "What is key to the success of the species is appropriate habitat management as the Javan rhinos are browser and it needs secondary growing forests."
He warned that the habitat within the national park on Java serving as the final refuge for the species was being degraded by an invasive species of palm.
"As such, control of arenga palm and habitat management for Javan rhinos in Ujung Kulon National Park is now become important for future of the species."

10-25-2011, 12:21 PM
By Sun Joo Kim | October 24, 2011, 6:34 PM PDT


Developed by Hungarian architect Aron Losonczi, LiTraCon(Light Transmitting Concrete) is the world’s first commercially available transparent concrete. The translucent material is created by combining concrete and thousands of optical fiber strands that act like aggregate. The optical fibers form a matrix between the two main surfaces of concrete block, connecting and directing light between the two block faces.


The fibers are oriented in a parallel pattern which produces a brighter side and a darker side of the block. The darker side reveals dramatic shadows and silhouettes. Making up just 4% of the total volume of the block, the optic fibers give the material a striated texture. The product is handmade, resulting in a unique pattern of light in each piece.

Since the optical fibers don’t suffer loss of light, the LiTraCon blocks can theoretically transmit light up to a thickness of 65 feet. The blocks of thicker dimensions could be used in load bearing structures since the glass fibers do not negatively affect the compressive strength of concrete.

The material has been used in projects around the world including the*Museum Cella Septichora in Hungary, the Hungarian Embassy in Paris, and the Iberville Parish Veterans Memorial in Louisiana.

10-27-2011, 11:42 AM
By Janet Fang | October 26, 2011, 9:03 PM PDT


A British man was born without his left arm. And now, he’s the world’s first patient to ever have a smartphone docking system in his prosthetic arm.

Trevor Prideaux used to have to balance the smartphone on his prosthesis or put it on a flat surface to use it. With the phone embedded into his new fiberglass and laminate arm, he can call and text using one arm, without having to move the phone. The Telegraph reports.

Prideaux has worn a prosthetic limb made at Exeter Mobility Centre in Devon since he was 3 years old. However, recently, “from owning a mobile phone and with the invention of the iPhone, it became clear that this piece of technology was not ideally suited to be used with only one hand,” he says.

Doctors teamed up with Nokia to build this new prosthetic especially. (Prideaux contacted Apple to try and get a hold of a blank iPhone casing to test it out, but he said the company refused to cooperate.)

After making a laminated fiber cast of his Nokia C7, the team carved a phone-shaped cradle to fit the phone into a prototype, made in just 5 weeks.

“My Nokia C7 sits within my forearm, between my stump socket and the single knob rotary that holds my limb attachments in place,” he explains. Now when he gets a call, he can hold his arm up to his ear.

People with disabilities often get left behind when it comes to technology, Time explains; new cars, computers and phones are rarely designed with them in mind. NPR reports that while improved medical care has reduced soldier deaths, the number of soldiers who lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan nearly doubled from 2009 to 2010.

Via Telegraph.

10-27-2011, 12:11 PM
By*Andrew Nusca*| October 26, 2011, 8:42 AM PDT


Private spaceflight outfit Virgin Galactic announced on Wednesday that it has chosen its first astronaut for commercial spaceflight. His name? Keith Colmer.

The former U.S. Air Force test pilot will soon begin flight training and testing in Mojave, Calif. with chief pilot David Mackay, with the goal of operational missions. Colmer is well-suited for the job: with more than 5,000 hours in the air with more than 90 different types of aircraft, there’s little the MIT grad hasn’t seen or experienced.

(His call sign in the sky: “Coma.” Go get ‘em, sir.)

It is, however, interesting that Virgin went with a pilot and not an existing astronaut. That mirrors NASA’s old career path but demonstrates that Virgin is blazing its own path to the stars on the wings of its WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo spacecraft.

Will the childhood dream of becoming an astronaut persist in an age of private spaceflight? Or will the quotidian nature of the job lessen its appeal? It will take many decades to answer that question. For now, private spaceflight is clearly a place where few men have gone before.

Photo:Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic

10-27-2011, 12:18 PM
By Andrew Nusca

Stretch Armstrong is a reality — sort of.

Stanford University researchers have developed artificial skin that can be stretched to more than twice its normal length in any direction and return to its original form, sans wrinkles or permanent damage.

Professor Zhenan Bao’s “super skin” is really a pressure sensor, which uses a transparent film of single-walled carbon nanotubes to accurately measure force applied to it, whether a squeeze or a stretch.

Bao, working with researchers Darren Lipomi, Michael Vosgueritchian and Benjamin Tee, seeks to use the sensor for robots or various medical applications, from touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs to pressure-sensitive bandages.

The key to the sensor is those nanotubes, which the researchers sprayed in a liquid suspension onto a thin layer of silicone. When applied to the silicone, they arrange themselves in an ad hoc fashion; when stretched, the bundles align. Once the silicone rebounds to its original shape, the nanotubes buckle, forming spring-like shapes that allow the material to be stretched over and over without permanent deformation.

Better still, that first stretch does not significantly impact the electrical conductivity of the material, ensuring that the material can store electrical charge and preserving the sensor’s ability to transmit information.

The change sensed by the nanotube films is what enables the sensor to transmit what it is “feeling.”

The researchers previously created a fixed sensor so sensitive that it could detect the pressure of a common bluebottle fly; they’re now working on bringing this new flexible, transparent version up to that level of sensitivity.

Their work was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology

10-28-2011, 01:26 PM
Recruiting talent: will problem-solving games replace resumes? By Joe McKendrick | October 27, 2011, 3:57 PM PDT

Most companies have fairly rigid standards for seeking out the best talent, which usually includes educational level achieved, the institution at which it was achieved, grade point averages, and past work history.


Throw all that stiff, conventional thinking out and make a game of recruiting, says George Anders, author of The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Anyone Else, a newly published book that looks at the recruiting techniques of such fast-forward companies as Google and Facebook.

Anders relates the experience of Facebook, which, starting in its early days in 2006, published “gnarly programming challenges and invite engineers anywhere to solve them, involving “multi-hour tests of coding prowess.” As Facebook engineer Yishan Wong put it: “We developed this theory that occasionally there were these brilliant people out there who hadn’t found their way to Silicon Valley. They might be languishing in ordinary tech jobs. We needed a way to surface them.”

Google, for its part, initially sought out the best and the brightest from top Ivy-league and technology schools. However, the company found that “some of these geniuses weren’t quite as effective as it had hoped,” and worried that it was missing out on true talent. The company’s HR team began making a point of looking at the bottom of candidates’ resumes, where some hidden nuggets of interesting life experiences may pop out.

Now, a range of organizations are turning to non-traditional, or seemingly off-the-wall techniques to attract the talent that best fits their needs, Anders relates:

“A new era of talent hunting has begun. It’s happening not only at high-tech companies such as Facebook, but also at Army bases, ad agencies, investment banks, Hollywood studies, corporate boardrooms, college admissions offices, and even at nanny agencies. In all these fields, experts don’t just sort résumés. They pick people and build teams in a profoundly different way. Traditional measures of past achievement, such as test scores and academic degrees, are losing power, and companies are getting better at looking for those future superstars who deliver many times the value of someone who is merely good.”

Ironically, over the past decade, resume scanning systems have become the norm, and as a result, jobhunters are learning to do a form of “search engine optimization” to get key words up front in all the right places. This mechanized approach may be causing potentially great talent to slip between the cracks. At a time of heightened global competition, the companies that adopt the more innovative approaches to identifying and attracting talent will gain the edge.

Facebook’s problem-solving puzzles are one such off-the-wall approach. Anders reports that by 2010 about 118 of Facebook’s engineers — 20% of its technical workforce — came on board as a result of their ability to solve the company’s online puzzles. It became an “easy, fast, and cheap to evaluate entries automatically.”

(Photo: National Science Foundation.)

10-28-2011, 01:35 PM
By Sam Diaz | October 27, 2011, 8:22am PDT

Regardless of its intentions, Google has given the protesters involved with the Occupy Wall Street a bit of hope that freedom of speech in the United States is still alive and well - and comes in the form of YouTube videos.

The company has released its Transparency Report for the first half of 2011 - and in that report, it specifically notes that it received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality and a different request from a different agency to remove videos that allegedly defame law enforcement officials.

In both instances, Google did not comply with the requests, which the company did not offer specifics about.


The report actually covers the first half of the year so these requests were not part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. In recent days, there has been criticism of how police officials have handled the crowds at these movements. And, just as you can imagine, the protesters - and bystanders - at these protests have been armed with video-capable mobile phones that can upload a clip to YouTube in a matter of seconds.

For Google, the bigger message is clear: YouTube has become more than a video site - it’s become the digital archivist of historical events.Those clips - just like the famous images of the Kent State shootings in 1970 - are part of history now, a citizen movement that will undoubtedly shape Washington politics, impact local law enforcement policies and possibly change the course for next year’s presidential election.


YouTube has become a video channel for the people and, as such, users have an expectation that Google won’t just remove a video because local cops think it makes them look bad. That says a lot about the First Amendment integrity of the company. Or maybe it’s just Google’s way of keeping the protesters from camping out in front of the Googleplex.

Regardless, Google’s role here - whether it likes it or not - is to archive the video footage of our nation’s (and world’s) events and the transparency at which it’s doing this is to be commended. From the look of the report, Google received an average of about 4-5 takedown requests daily - or 757 in the six-month period. Of those, 113 were for videos on YouTube.

In all, Google complied - or partially complied - with 63 percent of the total takedown requests across all of its properties, including Google Images, Google Maps and Blogger. Some of those requests were categorized under topics such as hate speech, national security and violence - so there could be some legitimate reasons for the takedowns.

Google didn’t offer specifics on the incidents - and that’s OK. Google’s report lets all of us know - from angry protester to frustrated police chief - that videos of police acting inappropriately can be uploaded to YouTube and will stay there, even if police officials don’t like it.

peter radclyffe
10-28-2011, 08:39 PM

10-29-2011, 06:52 AM
By Mark Halper | October 28, 2011, 2:11 AM PDT


Data centers are huge CO2 emitters, and Facebook runs big ones. Its latest solution: cold bytes from northern Sweden.

In an effort to reduce its significant carbon footprint, Facebook is getting cooler.

The mega social media site is building a data center near the Arctic Circle in Lulea, Sweden, where the chilly temperatures will provide natural cooling and slash electricity normally required to run cooling systems.

Data centers could exceed airlines for CO2 emissions by 2020, consulting firm McKinsey has estimated. Conventional cooling can contribute up to 70 percent of a data center’s energy profile.

Facebook’s move to Lulea echoes a recent decision by U.S. data services firm Datapipe to set up shop in Iceland. In addition to cooling benefits, the N. Atlantic island offers 100 percent renewable energy that comes from hydroelectric and geothermal sources. Icelandic utilities also offer fixed electricity prices for as long as 20 years – an attraction compared to rising and volatile fossil fuel-based electricity tariffs.

Back in Sweden, the Lulea site will be Facebook’s first non-U.S. data center. It will help serve the European, African and Middle Eastern constituents of Facebook’s 800 million active users - all of whom contribute to the company’s greenhouse gas profile, let’s not forget. Lulea is in northeast Sweden along the Gulf of Bothnia, just south of the Arctic Circle (see map).

According to the*BBC, the facility will require 70 percent less power than normal and will span 30,000 square meters (323,000 square feet), about 11 soccer fields.*The*Daily Mailsays it’s scheduled for completion in 2014.

Images: Wikimedia

10-29-2011, 04:02 PM
A Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/brief-salem.html)

The Salem witch trials occurred in colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693. More than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft—the Devil's magic—and 20 were executed. Eventually, the colony admitted the trials were a mistake and compensated the families of those convicted. Since then, the story of the trials has become synonymous with paranoia and injustice, and it continues to beguile the popular imagination more than 300 years later.

Salem Struggling
Several centuries ago, many practicing Christians, and those of other religions, had a strong belief that the Devil could give certain people known as witches the power to harm others in return for their loyalty. A "witchcraft craze" rippled through Europe from the 1300s to the end of the 1600s. Tens of thousands of supposed witches—mostly women—were executed. Though the Salem trials came on just as the European craze was winding down, local circumstances explain their onset.

In 1689, English rulers William and Mary started a war with France in the American colonies. Known as King William's War to colonists, it ravaged regions of upstate New York, Nova Scotia and Quebec, sending refugees into the county of Essex and, specifically, Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. (Salem Village is present-day Danvers, Massachusetts; colonial Salem Town became what's now Salem.)

The displaced people created a strain on Salem's resources. This aggravated the existing rivalry between families with ties to the wealth of the port of Salem and those who still depended on agriculture. Controversy also brewed over Reverend Samuel Parris, who became Salem Village's first ordained minister in 1689, and was disliked because of his rigid ways and greedy nature. The Puritan villagers believed all the quarreling was the work of the Devil.

In January of 1692, Reverend Parris' daughter Elizabeth, age 9, and niece Abigail Williams, age 11, started having "fits." They screamed, threw things, uttered peculiar sounds and contorted themselves into strange positions, and a local doctor blamed the supernatural. Another girl, Ann Putnam, age 11, experienced similar episodes. On February 29, under pressure from magistrates Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne, the girls blamed three women for afflicting them: Tituba, the Parris' Caribbean slave; Sarah Good, a homeless beggar; and Sarah Osborne, an elderly impoverished woman.

Witch Hunt
All three women were brought before the local magistrates and interrogated for several days, starting on March 1, 1692. Osborne claimed innocence, as did Good. But Tituba confessed, "The Devil came to me and bid me serve him." She described elaborate images of black dogs, red cats, yellow birds and a "black man" who wanted her to sign his book. She admitted that she signed the book and said there were several other witches looking to destroy the Puritans. All three women were put in jail.

With the seed of paranoia planted, a stream of accusations followed for the next few months. Charges against Martha Corey, a loyal member of the Church in Salem Village, greatly concerned the community; if she could be a witch, then anyone could. Magistrates even questioned Sarah Good's 4-year-old daughter, Dorothy, and her timid answers were construed as a confession. The questioning got more serious in April when Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth and his assistants attended the hearings. Dozens of people from Salem and other Massachusetts villages were brought in for questioning.

On May 27, 1692, Governor William Phipps ordered the establishment of a Special Court of Oyer (to hear) and Terminer (to decide) for Suffolk, Essex and Middlesex counties. The first case brought to the special court was Bridget Bishop, an older woman known for her gossipy habits and promiscuity. When asked if she committed witchcraft, Bishop responded, "I am as innocent as the child unborn." The defense must not have been convincing, because she was found guilty and, on June 10, became the first person hanged on what was later called Gallows Hill.

Five days later, respected minister Cotton Mather wrote a letter imploring the court not to allow spectral evidence—testimony about dreams and visions. The court largely ignored this request and five people were sentenced and hanged in July, five more in August and eight in September. On October 3, following in his son's footsteps, Increase Mather, then president of Harvard, denounced the use of spectral evidence: "It were better that ten suspected witches should escape than one innocent person be condemned."

Governor Phipps, in response to Mather's plea and his own wife being questioned for witchcraft, prohibited further arrests, released many accused witches and dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer on October 29. Phipps replaced it with a Superior Court of Judicature, which disallowed spectral evidence and only condemned 3 out of 56 defendants. Phipps eventually pardoned all who were in prison on witchcraft charges by May 1693. But the damage had been done: 19 were hanged on Gallows Hill, a 71-year-old man was pressed to death with heavy stones, several people died in jail and nearly 200 people, overall, had been accused of practicing "the Devil's magic."

Restoring Good Names
Following the trials and executions, many involved, like judge Samuel Sewall, publicly confessed error and guilt. On January 14, 1697, the General Court ordered a day of fasting and soul-searching for the tragedy of Salem. In 1702, the court declared the trials unlawful. And in 1711, the colony passed a bill restoring the rights and good names of those accused and granted £600 restitution to their heirs. However, it was not until 1957—more than 250 years later—that Massachusetts formally apologized for the events of 1692.

In the 20th century, artists and scientists alike continued to be fascinated by the Salem witch trials. Playwright Arthur Miller resurrected the tale with his 1953 play The Crucible, using the trials as an allegory for the McCarthyism paranoia in the 1950s. Additionally, numerous hypotheses have been devised to explain the strange behavior that occurred in Salem in 1692. One of the most concrete studies, published in Science in 1976 by psychologist Linnda Caporael, blamed the abnormal habits of the accused on the fungus ergot, which can be found in rye, wheat and other cereal grasses. Toxicologists say that eating ergot-contaminated foods can lead to muscle spasms, vomiting, delusions and hallucinations. Also, the fungus thrives in warm and damp climates—not too unlike the swampy meadows in Salem Village, where rye was the staple grain during the spring and summer months.

In August 1992, to mark the 300th anniversary of the trials, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel dedicated the Witch Trials Memorial in Salem. Also in Salem, the Peabody Essex Museum houses the original court documents, and the town's most-visited attraction, the Salem Witch Museum, attests to the public's enthrallment with the 1692 hysteria.

10-31-2011, 03:46 AM
Very Interesting story ChrisBen. Thanks for posting the whole thing.

Internet here can be so slow to load links, that I often prefer not to click them unless I have a lot of time.

Thanks again :)

10-31-2011, 04:04 AM
Very Interesting story ChrisBen. Thanks for posting the whole thing.

Internet here can be so slow to load links, that I often prefer not to click them unless I have a lot of time.

Thanks again :)No problem Spin, guess I take the high speed access for granted sometimes and forget what dial-up was like.|;)

10-31-2011, 11:22 AM
Hi Chris, this is supposed to be high speed service. I'm doing everything with iPhone nowadays and this wireless is very slow.

Anyway, I thought this would be interesting.

Steve Jobs' Final Words Revealed by Biological Sister
Oct 30, 2011

Mona Simpson, an author and biological sister of Steve Jobs, said her brothers final words were Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow, in an Oct. 16 eulogy she delivered that was published Sunday in The New York Times.

Simpson remembered the man she first learned about when she was 25, living in New York and working at a small literary magazine. A lawyer had informed her that she had a rich and famous long-lost brother.

The two met, and a relationship emerged.

Simpson, now a novelist and professor at the University of California, remembered her brother being simple but true, a hard worker who didn't flinched at the idea a failing and never bought into gimmicks.

If he loved a shirt, hed order 10 or 100 of them, she said at the Oct.16 service at Stanford University. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.

She also recalled his philosophy on life: Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.

Jobs, in Simpsons view, was a romantic, who would often worry about his coworkers love lives and was a consummate matchmaker. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere, she said.

Jobs eventually grew ill.*

The Apple Inc. co-founder died of respiratory arrest resulting from pancreatic cancer that had spread to other organs at age 56 surrounded by family members. Apple did not disclose his cause of death, but Jobs had been in poor health for a number of years.

Eventually, even ordinary pleasures, like a good peach, no longer appealed to him, she recalled.*

Simpson remembered his final moment, with Jobs glancing toward his family.*

Before embarking, hed looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his lifes partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them, she recalled. Steves final words were, Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

10-31-2011, 11:39 AM
By Jenny Wilson | October 29, 2011, 1:56 PM PDT


From the outside, GTX Corp’s GPS shoes look just like Grandpa’s typical choice of footwear. But hidden on the inside is a tracking system that helps people know when their relative with Alzheimer’s has wandered off and, if so, where he is. This technology could finally solve the problem of elderly patients with dementia who have a tendency to go astray. Worsening that problem is the fact that often, the patient doesn’t realize he’s lost, making him even more difficult to find.

The tracking device in the shoes helps address that issue by allowing family members to set boundaries around their home and yard. If the patient wanders outside of the lines, their family will be notified of their location via Google Maps on a phone. GTX’s innovative shoes will be available later this month, and will cost $300 up front in addition to a monthly subscription fee of up to $40. It’s certainly an investment, but it could mean that not all who wander are lost.

10-31-2011, 12:18 PM
By Kirsten Korosec. October 25, 2011, 4:04 PM PDT


Buildings and trees can disrupt the wind, which is a problem for folks hoping to harvest the renewable energy source. To date, the solution has been to build wind turbines on ever higher towers, an expensive endeavor that has environmental and NIMBY implications. But Ben Glassand Adam Rein of Altaeros Energies have come up with aturbine designed to fly high in the sky, where the wind is stronger and more consistent.

This week, the pair were awarded the ConocoPhillips 2011 Energy Prize, a joint initiative between the oil and gas company and Penn State created to recognize new ideas and original, actionable solutions to improve the way the U.S. develops and uses energy. Glass, CEO of Altaeros Energies and inventor of the turbine, and Rein, the company’s co-founder, received a total of $125,000 to further the development of their concept officially called theAerostat Platform for Rapid Deployment Airborne Wind Turbine. Alain Goubau also is co-founder.

How it works


The turbine’s design is adapted from aerostats — those tethered unmanned blimps often used by the military to carry sensors and instruments for long periods of time. A helium-filled shroud (which sort of looks like a doughnut) lifts a horizontal-axis turbine up to 2,000 feet into the air. The contraption is used to concentrate stronger winds into the blades of the turbine. Power is sent down to the ground via a conductive tether that holds the floating turbine at the proper altitude.

The floating turbine can be transported within a single shipping container and fully operational within a day. Meaning, the device could be particularly useful in remote areas that need emergency power supplies. And because the floating turbines are sent high into the sky, the devices could be effective power sources in rural communities that have poor “ground level” wind sources.

Rein told me in an email the company plans to market the turbine to owners of off-grid generators to produce power for about 65 percent less than it costs to transport out the diesel fuel for the generators. They have not set a retail price as the company is still developing the product, Rein said.

Photo: Altaeros Energies

11-01-2011, 05:00 AM
By Erin Profitt Atkinson Newsmax

You wake up one day and notice something strange — maybe your skin has an orange tinge or you see red stripes in your hair. What gives? Are these odd body changes trying to tell you something?

Dr. Neil Shulman, associate professor of medicine at Emory University, says yes. In his book, "Your Body’s Red Light Warning Signals: Medical Tips That May Save Your Life," he and his co-authors, Drs. Jack Birge and Joon Ahn, explain symptoms that may require immediate medical attention.

"I worked in emergency rooms, and one of the things that really bothered me was that I’d see people who waited a long time for something that was really important," Shulman says, explaining the catalyst for the book. "There are some [symptoms] that are more common and there are some that are more disastrous if you miss it."

Here are six signals your body is sending, and when you should sound the alarm:

Sudden leg pain.
Take notice if you have pain or tenderness in the back of your lower leg, especially if it appears suddenly and includes swelling, tenderness, warmth, and discoloration. It may indicate a blood clot that could be deep vein thrombosis (DVT), Shulman says. This condition can be dangerous -- part of the clot could break off, travel through the bloodstream and "cause a blood clot in your lungs that can be life-threatening," he says. Unfortunately, some people don’t know they have DVT until they show signs of a pulmonary embolism, which includes shortness of breath, pain with deep breathing, and coughing up blood, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Striped hair.
Striped hair is not just a stylish fashion trend — but rather, a lack of dietary protein or iron, according to Joan Liebmann-Smith and Jacqueline Nardi Egan, co-authors of "Body Signs: How to Be Your Own Diagnostic Detective." The stripes may turn blond, gray, or reddish; however, these stripes also may be a sign of ulcerative colitis, a bowel disease that causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, or other conditions that may deplete protein, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Seeing spots or floaters.
Floaters — tiny spots, specks, flecks, and cobwebs — show up in your vision, and most of the time they are not cause for alarm, according to Allaboutvision.com. This fairly common and annoying sign of aging may seem pronounced when you look at a bright sky or a computer screen. If, however, you see a shower of floaters and spots, sometimes accompanied by light flashes, you should seek medical attention immediately, as those may be signs of a retinal tear or detachment.

Skin color changes.
Pale skin may indicate anemia, a condition in which the body does not make enough red blood cells, according to Body Signs. Bluish skin may be a sign of cyanosis, or oxygen-deficient blood, and may develop after too much exposure to cold air, water, or high altitude. Persistent blue skin, however, may suggest conditions that block oxygen from entering the blood, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Yellow skin is a classic sign of jaundice, which stems from bilirubin, a byproduct of old red blood cells. However, if your skin is more orange than yellow it may be a sign of carotenemia, a usually harmless condition resulting from too much beta-carotene or vitamin A.

Sudden numbness, tingling, or speech problems.
If you have paralysis of your arms or legs, tingling, numbness, or slurred speech, or weakness especially on one side, this could be sign of a stroke, Shulman says, and immediate treatment matters significantly. A stroke — sometimes called a brain attack — happens when blood flow gets blocked or cut off on the way to the brain. Nationwide, strokes kill about 137,000 people each year, according to the National Stroke Association.

Headache, stiff neck, and fever.
If you develop a stiff and painful neck, an intense headache, and a fever, Shulman says it’s time to act fast. These are symptoms of meningitis, an infection of the protective sac covering the brain and spinal cord. This condition infects about 1,500 Americans annually, according to the National Meningitis Association. Adolescents and young adults are at increased risk for the potentially fatal condition. "It’s most common in infants, by the way, who do not show specific signs," he says. "It’s a different story in an infant and this is something that parents really, really, really need to know."

11-01-2011, 10:49 AM
As if you didn't have enough to worry about during those sleepless nights, a Norwegian study suggests that people with insomnia face a 27 to 45 percent higher risk of heart attack.

About one-third of people report having trouble sleeping and should see a doctor for help, urged the authors of the study published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.

"Sleep problems are common and fairly easy to treat," said Lars Erik Laugsand, lead researcher from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology Department of Public Health in Trondheim.

"So it's important that people are aware of this connection between insomnia and heart attack and talk to their doctor if they're having symptoms."

The data came from 52,610 Norwegian adults who answered a national survey about their insomnia symptoms in 1995-97.

Over the next 11 years, researchers identified 2,368 people who had their first heart attacks, via hospital records and Norway's National Cause of Death Registry.

After adjusting for factors such as age, sex, marital status, education level, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, weight, exercise, shift work, depression, and anxiety, researchers found the highest boost in risk among the most troubled sleepers.

When they compared data from people who said they usually slept fine to people who said they had trouble falling asleep almost daily over the course of the last month, they saw a 45 percent higher risk in the sleepless group.

Those who said they could fall asleep but not stay asleep all night showed a 30 percent higher risk of heart attack than the group that slept well.

And those who said they did not wake up feeling refreshed showed a 27 percent higher risk.

The researchers did not adjust their data for obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that arises when air flow is interrupted during sleep, and cautioned that particular sleep patterns among the Norwegian sample may not make the data immediately applicable to other populations.

However, similar links between insomnia and cardiovascular disease have been suggested in previous studies on U.S. populations.

"It is becoming increasingly evident that insomnia is a significant modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease," said Girardin Jean-Louis, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.

Jean-Louis said more research was needed, but noted that some sleep conditions like short sleep and obstructive sleep apnea bear two of the same biomarkers as cardiovascular disease — C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 — which are proteins linked to inflammation.

The body's regulatory cycle for sleeping and wakefulness, known as circadian rhythms, could also play a role, according to Edward Fisher, professor of cardiovascular medicine at New York University.

"It is known that animals with disrupted circadian rhythms develop metabolic changes that, if they occurred in people, would increase heart disease risk," said Fisher, who also was not a part of the study.

"Overall, independent of the exact mechanism, the association shown seems plausible, and is yet another reason to do as the authors advise — seek professional help for better sleep," he added.

"Besides improving the general quality of life, it might even provide cardiovascular benefits."

Copyright AFP

11-02-2011, 07:13 PM
The Parasite That Makes a Rat Love a Cat

The Parasite That Makes a Rat Love a Cat | Surprising Science (http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2011/09/the-parasite-that-makes-a-rat-love-a-cat/)

The life cycle of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii goes like this: Toxoplasma reproduces inside the intestine of a cat, which sheds the parasite in its feces. Rats then ingest the parasite when they consume food or water contaminated with cat feces. The parasite takes up residence in the rat’s brain and, once the rat gets eaten by a cat, it starts the cycle all over again.

Researchers have known for a few years that a rat infected with Toxoplasma loses its natural response to cat urine and no longer fears the smell. And they know that the parasite settles in the rat’s amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear and emotions. Now a new study in the journal PLoS ONE adds another bizarre piece to the tale: When male rats infected with Toxoplasma smell cat urine, they have altered activity in the fear part of the brain as well as increased activity in the part of the brain that is responsible for sexual behavior and normally activates after exposure to a female rat.

The double messages of “you smell a cat but he’s not dangerous” and “that cat is a potential mate” lure the rat into the kitty’s deadly territory, just what the parasite needs to reproduce. Scientists still don’t know how the parasite works to alter the brain, though there apparently is a link to production of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter in the systems for decision-making and reward.

How the parasite makes the rat brain do what it needs is a particularly interesting question because rats and cats aren’t the only animals that can become infected with Toxoplasma. There is concern, for example, about the parasite’s effect on sea otters. And grazing livestock can become infected after eating contaminated vegetation. More worryingly, though, is that one-third of humans test positive for exposure to Toxoplasma (the most common ways for humans to come into contact with the parasite is through kitty litter and by consuming undercooked meat). Not only can pregnant women pass on the parasite to an unborn child (putting the child at risk of blindness or mental disability) but recent studies have also found an association between the parasitic infection and increased risk of schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder.

If you’re worried about Toxoplasma, there’s no need to give up your beloved cat, but there are some precautions you can take (and definitely should take if you’re pregnant), as the CDC states:

Avoid changing cat litter if possible. If no one else can perform the task, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands with soap and warm water afterwards.
Ensure that the cat litter box is changed daily. The Toxoplasma parasite does not become infectious until 1 to 5 days after it is shed in a cat’s feces.
Feed your cat commercial dry or canned food, not raw or undercooked meats.
Keep cats indoors.
Avoid stray cats, especially kittens. Do not get a new cat while you are pregnant.
Keep outdoor sandboxes covered.
Wear gloves when gardening and during contact with soil or sand because it might be contaminated with cat feces that contain Toxoplasma. Wash hands with soap and warm water after gardening or contact with soil or sand.

14 Fun Facts About Dragonflies

14 Fun Facts About Dragonflies | Surprising Science (http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2011/10/14-fun-facts-about-dragonflies/)

Flying insects are usually annoying. Mosquitoes bite you, leaving itchy red welts. Bees and wasps sting. Flies are just disgusting. But there’s something magical about dragonflies.

1 ) Dragonflies were some of the first winged insects to evolve, some 300 million years ago. Modern dragonflies have wingspans of only two to five inches, but fossil dragonflies have been found with wingspans of up to two feet.

2 ) Some scientists theorize that high oxygen levels during the Paleozoic era allowed dragonflies to grow to monster size.

3 ) There are more than 5,000 known species of dragonflies, all of which (along with damselflies) belong to the order Odonata, which means “toothed one” in Greek and refers to the dragonfly’s serrated teeth.

4 ) In their larval stage, which can last up to two years, dragonflies are aquatic and eat just about anything—tadpoles, mosquitoes, fish, other insect larvae and even each other.

5 ) At the end of its larval stage, the dragonfly crawls out of the water, then its exoskeleton cracks open and releases the insect’s abdomen, which had been packed in like a telescope. Its four wings come out, and they dry and harden over the next several hours to days.

6 ) Dragonflies are expert fliers. They can fly straight up and down, hover like a helicopter and even mate mid-air. If they can’t fly, they’ll starve because they only eat prey they catch while flying.

7 ) Dragonflies catch their insect prey by grabbing it with their feet. They’re so efficient in their hunting that, in one Harvard University study, the dragonflies caught 90 to 95 percent of the prey released into their enclosure.

8 ) The flight of the dragonfly is so special that it has inspired engineers who dream of making robots that fly like dragonflies.

9 ) Some adult dragonflies live for only a few weeks while others live up to a year.

10 ) Nearly all of the dragonfly’s head is eye, so they have incredible vision that encompasses almost every angle except right behind them.

11 ) Dragonflies, which eat insects as adults, are a great control on the mosquito population. A single dragonfly can eat 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day.

12 ) Hundreds of dragonflies of different species will gather in swarms, either for feeding or migration. Little is known about this behavior, but the Dragonfly Swarm Project is collecting reports on swarms to better understand the behavior. (Report a swarm here.)

13 ) Scientists have tracked migratory dragonflies by attaching tiny transmitters to wings with a combination of eyelash adhesive and superglue. They found that green darners from New Jersey traveled only every third day and an average of 7.5 miles per day (though one dragonfly traveled 100 miles in a single day).

14 ) A dragonfly called the globe skinner has the longest migration of any insect—11,000 miles back and forth across the Indian Ocean.


11-02-2011, 07:14 PM
The Overwhelming Data We Refuse To Believe


A group of scientists and statisticians led by the University of California at Berkeley set out recently to conduct an independent assessment of climate data and determine once and for all whether the planet has warmed in the last century and by how much. The study was designed to address concerns brought up by prominent climate change skeptics, and it was funded by several groups known for climate skepticism. Last week, the group released its conclusions: Average land temperatures have risen by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the middle of the 20th century. The result matched the previous research.

The skeptics were not happy and immediately claimed that the study was flawed.

Also in the news last week were the results of yet another study that found no link between cell phones and brain cancer. Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Denmark looked at data from 350,000 cell phone users over an 18-year period and found they were no more likely to develop brain cancer than people who didn’t use the technology.

But those results still haven’t killed the calls for more monitoring of any potential link.

Study after study finds no link between autism and vaccines (and plenty of reason to worry about non-vaccinated children dying from preventable diseases such as measles). But a quarter of parents in a poll released last year said that they believed that “some vaccines cause autism in healthy children” and 11.5 percent had refused at least one vaccination for their child.

Polls say that Americans trust scientists more than, say, politicians, but that trust is on the decline. If we’re losing faith in science, we’ve gone down the wrong path. Science is no more than a process (as recent contributors to our “Why I Like Science” series have noted), and skepticism can be a good thing. But for many people that skepticism has grown to the point that they can no longer accept good evidence when they get it, with the result that “we’re now in an epidemic of fear like one I’ve never seen and hope never to see again,” says Michael Specter, author of Denialism, in his TEDTalk below.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you think I’m not talking about you. But here’s a quick question: Do you take vitamins? There’s a growing body of evidence that vitamins and dietary supplements are no more than a placebo at best and, in some cases, can actually increase the risk of disease or death. For example, a study earlier this month in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that consumption of supplements, such as iron and copper, was associated with an increased risk of death among older women. In a related commentary, several doctors note that the concept of dietary supplementation has shifted from preventing deficiency (there’s a good deal of evidence for harm if you’re low in, say, folic acid) to one of trying to promote wellness and prevent disease, and many studies are showing that more supplements do not equal better health.

But I bet you’ll still take your pills tomorrow morning. Just in case.

This path has the potential to lead to some pretty dark times, as Specter says:

When you start down the road where belief and magic replace evidence and science, you end up in a place you don’t want to be. You end up in Thabo Mbeki South Africa. He killed 400,000 of his people by insisting that beetroot garlic and lemon oil were much more effective than the antiretroviral drugs we know can slow the course of AIDS. Hundreds of thousands of needless deaths in a country that has been plagued worse than any other by this disease.

If you don’t think that can happen here, think again. We’re already not vaccinating children against preventable diseases, something that will surely lead (and probably already has led) to lives lost. We have big problems to address in the coming decades—even greater changes to temperature, weather and water as the planet warms; a growing population—and we need to start putting our trust back into science, into the process that has brought us to where we are today, with longer lives, cleaner water and skies, more efficient farming. Because you have to admit, this is a pretty great time to be alive and it’s science that got us here.


11-04-2011, 08:57 AM
By Larry Dignan

Early humans took a different route out of Africa through Arabia in the south, according to data the Genographic Project.


The Genographic Project, which combined IBM researchers with National Geographic, deployed a new analytical method that reconstructs common genetic history via recombinant DNA, which is transmitted from one generation to the next. Recombinant DNA covers 99 percent of the human genome, but hasn’t been used to map human migration.

According to IBM and National Geographic’s models and algorithms, it appears that humans migrated out of Africa through Arabia. It is commonly thought that humans left through the north via Egypt.

The findings will be outlined at a conference at the National Geographic Society.

Among the key details:

The African population is the most diverse on Earth.

Eurasian groups were more similar to populations from southern India, than they were to those in Africa.

That fact indicates that early humans left Africa via the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait in Arabia before heading north. As a result, south Asia was the first stop for human explorers.

The analysis of genetic data took roughly six years. IBM researchers from its computational biology center said the new theory needs to be fleshed out by other fields such as archaeology and anthropology.

According to IBM, the Genographic Project had 500,000 individuals participate with field research conducted by 11 regional centers. The database is the largest collection of human population genetic information ever assembled.

11-04-2011, 12:02 PM
From my FB Friend:http://i1042.photobucket.com/albums/b426/skipper68/skipper68%20lovies/59706145.jpgOur 14-year-old dog Abbey died last month. The day after she passed away my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so, and she dictated these words:

Dear God,

Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog eventhough she got sick.

I hope you will play with her. She likes to swim and play with balls. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.

Love, Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, 'To Meredith' in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, 'When a Pet Dies.' Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,

Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized her right away.

Abbey isn't sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don't need our bodies in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your picture in so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.

Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I'm eeasy to find. I am wherever there is love.

Love, God

11-04-2011, 01:03 PM
Hi Skipper. Thanks for the sweet and touching story. :):)

11-04-2011, 01:07 PM
ChrisBen, -your postings are all interesting. Thanks for posting them. I look forward to them as I'm sure others does too...:):)

11-04-2011, 03:43 PM
My pleasure Spin, I'm enjoying yours as well. Enrich the mind.:ycool:

11-04-2011, 11:22 PM


peter radclyffe
11-04-2011, 11:29 PM

11-05-2011, 12:01 AM
Peter, that was funny....LOL....:D laught aloud at the windshield episode...

11-05-2011, 10:50 AM
When Al Flowers was born, his grandmother brought him home in a shoe box and sat all night by the wood stove to keep him warm.

When he was 10, he went to the tobacco fields with the adults, “cropping” leaves by hand and dumping them in a cart drawn by two gray mules.

He lived in a tin roof house with no running water and bathed in a No. 10 washtub.

Coming of age, he thought: There must be something more.

There was.

This month, Maj. Gen. Alfred K. Flowers, 63, retires from the U.S. Air Force as the military’s longest-serving active-duty general.

He is also the longest-tenured active-duty service member in the Air Force, and the longest-serving active-duty African American in the six-decade history of the Defense Department.

For 46 years, from his days as an Air Force warehouseman, to Vietnam, where he helped gather the bodies of the dead, to his current job at the Pentagon, where he is the Air Force budget director, he has wanted for nothing else.

“Best decision that I’ve ever made,” he said of signing up at age 17.

It was good for the service, too.

“Al has been an incredible resource,” said Michael B. Donley, secretary of the Air Force, who has known Flowers for 20 years. “He’s seen lots of budgets going up and down over the years. ... We know we can go to Al to get a straight answer. ... He’s a total pro.”

Flowers’s son, Air Force Lt. Col. Alfred K. Flowers Jr., likened him to the Tuskegee Airmen, the fabled black aviators of World War II, and the 19th-century Buffalo soldiers. “This is someone who has truly defined history,” he said.

Although the elder Flowers never piloted a plane or fired a missile, he has been responsible, at all levels, for handling money that made those kinds of things possible.

As deputy assistant secretary for budget, Flowers is responsible for much of the creation, care and execution of the Air Force’s roughly $119 billion annual budget.

And raised amid scarcity as a child, he said he has been scrupulous with the dollars. “You are entrusted with the taxpayers’ money,” he said. “I’ve never taken it lightly.”

His son said the general has been exacting with everyone’s money — once, on a car trip, returning to a store with a soda that he realized he might have forgotten to pay for.

The service, for its part, has given Flowers his calling, his wife, Ida, and, he says, as an African American, a sense of fair play.

“A bullet doesn’t know color,” he said. “So black, white, brown, all of us are subjected to the same things.

“And the military, I think, has been one of the organizations in the forefront of integration and equal opportunity,” he said.

“If it hadn’t been for equal opportunity, I wouldn’t be where I am.

“I have never, ever wanted a handout,” he said. “All I’ve wanted was the opportunity to do my best. And if the door was open that’s all I needed.”

A chance at a better life

Flowers is a tall, soft-spoken man, with graying hair and metal-rimmed glasses. He wears the two silver stars of a major general on his dark blue flight cap and on his service dress jacket.

He moves with slight stiffness, from a recent hip replacement, and works in a suite of Pentagon offices decorated with a huge blue banner that reads, “Welcome to Budget Country.”

One day recently the general and his wife, who live on Washington’s Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, sat in his office and reflected on his near half-century of national service.

Flowers was raised outside Trenton, N.C., about 20 miles west of New Bern, and 40 miles inland from the coast.

He said his parents were married teenagers when he was born in 1947. So his mother’s parents took him in.

“My grandfather farmed on shares,” he said. “I have never figured out what the shares were, but I know that there were some years after we’d harvested all the crop, he’d come home and he’d tell my grandmother ... ‘Well, Lucy, I still owe the landlord $300.’*”

“We had worked all year so hard,” he said, “and to not make anything, to still owe ... was something that I think helped motivate me ... to want to have a better life.”

When he was 15, his grandfather died of a heart attack and left him and his grandmother to work the farm. “It was more than we could manage,” he said.

So after he graduated from high school — though he had rarely seen an airplane over the Carolina farm fields — he asked his grandmother if he could join the Air Force, which had sent a recruiter to his school.

“I knew there had to be something better someplace,” he said.

His grandmother said yes. He signed up Aug. 5, 1965.

His first assignment was as a warehouseman, managing parts inventories, at a base in Grand Forks, N.D., a world away from eastern North Carolina.

It was flat, snowy and frigid. But then-Airman Flowers had $94 a month in his pocket, a roof over his head and a yen to do well. “My goal from day one was, ‘I’m going to be the best warehouseman’*” on the base, he said.

A few years later, in 1968, came his stint in Vietnam. It was grim work. He was assigned to a “mobility team” that flew out at night on stubby, C-123 transport planes to gather the dead and wounded from across Vietnam.

His job was to load body bags on the plane and then unload them back at the base at Da Nang. “It was hard,” he said, pausing as his eyes filled with tears and his voice choked with emotion.

“A lot of these folks that you were putting on airplanes that were in body bags ... were 18 and 19 years old, and I was 19 myself,” he said.

“The thought that it could have been me, and the fact that I was out in the jungle in the middle of a war zone, that when you go out there, you didn’t know if you were coming back or not ... It was a high-stress environment.”

He developed a bleeding stomach ulcer and had to be hospitalized for a month. “Patched up,” he returned to duty for five more months and then came home in 1969.

Assigned to a base in California, he decided to retrain, and he remembered that he had always been good in high school at business math. That started him along the career path that eventually led to the Pentagon.

He met his wife, “my co-pilot,” who was also in the Air Force, at a California air base and they were married in June 1969. They were both 21.

Flowers gradually moved up, gaining responsibility for more and more of the Air Force’s money. Often, he said, his job was to make sure Air Force agencies got the money they were allotted and that they spent it properly.

On his way, he earned, among other things, three college degrees, command of the Second Air Force — a giant Air Force training branch — and the esteem of colleagues.

Asked how he had come so far and lasted so long, Flowers credited “good old common horse sense:” Always take care of your subordinates, always be honest, and always treat others as you would like to be treated.

On Wednesday, several hundred Air Force personnel crowded into the Pentagon’s Airman’s Hall where Flowers was given a top award for achievement in training and education.

“I’m sure most of you know General Flowers,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jim Cody, who introduced him. “He’s the money guy.”

Cody then ticked off the general’s accolades, as people whooped and applauded. Flowers then spoke, as his wife and son stood nearby.

“I came in because I had to,” he said. “I stayed because I wanted to. ... And if I had to do it all over again, I’d do it the same way. Thank you all. God bless you.”


11-05-2011, 01:12 PM
Just for you Spin|;)
National Geo. pic of the day, Finland.
Bear Picture – Animal Photo - National Geographic Photo of the Day (http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/)

11-06-2011, 05:18 AM
Nice photo. Thanks:)

11-06-2011, 05:23 AM
Oct 31, 2011 1:11 PM EDT

Dracula may have a square meal at last.

Researchers in China believe they have found a way to produce and harvest large quantities of human serum albumin (HSA) -- a blood protein that is widely used in drug and vaccine production -- from ordinary grains of rice.

"It looks like an interesting technological step forward," Dr. Richard J. Benjamin, chief medical officer for the American National Red Cross, told FoxNews.com. "It could potentially produce large quantities in a reasonable time."

According to the study, Yang He and his colleagues discovered a way to produce the protein in rice seeds and were able to purify the HSA from it, obtaining about 2.75 grams of HSA per kilogram of rice. The protein was tested on rats and they found that the rice-produced HSA was chemically equivalent to the blood-derived version.

"The disadvantage of what we currently use is that it is a blood product, which means it could transmit infection," Benjamin noted.

HSA is used in hospitals for resuscitation, when patients need fluids, when they have lost blood, or for burn victims. According to the authors of the study, the findings suggest that the transgenic rice seeds may be a cost-effective source for HSA and might help satisfy an increasing worldwide demand for the protein.

Dr. Benjamin disagrees that there is a high demand for this particular protein.*

"If it were to come to the market it in the USA, I just don't know that there is a screaming demand for an unmet need for HSA." He does emphasize, however, the need and demand for any and all blood donations. "Right now, all blood donations are needed desperately," said Benjamin.

Though the tests on the rice are complete, this method of extracting HSA from rice has to be approved by a lengthy FDA process before it hits any market.

11-06-2011, 05:33 AM
How pee-powered fuel cells can generate electricity


Making energy from urine may be one way of turning human and animal waste into an energy source. Scientist at Bristol Robotics Laboratory created microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that use bacteria to break down molecules found in urine. The fuel cells run on uric acid, creatinine, and small peptides.

In the lab experiment, the scientists developed a fuel cell that can produce a current of 0.25mA for 3 days from 25ml of urine, according to the*Royal Society of Chemistry.

However, a scientist at Cornell says even if the process works, it needs to get past the yuck factor. People may not even want to separate their urine, not to mention that it might not even make*sense economically.

It’s not the first time urine has been used to recycle waste: NASA scientists figured out how to recycle urine into drinking water. That last application though, is a little harder to stomach than simply using urine for energy.

via*Royal Society of Chemistry

11-06-2011, 05:49 AM
By Mary Catherine O'Connor November 4, 2011, 5:42 AM PDT


If you’ve ever skied, you know the albatross that is the conventional ski boot. If not, imagine walking around with a pair of Volkswagen Bugs on your feet.

But cutting-edge snow gear design is on an upward trajectory. From impossibly light ski-mountaineering boots to life-saving avalanche tools, lovers of winter have plenty to cheer about, according to Outside magazine’s 2012 Radical Design Awards.

The Italians know a thing or two about footwear, so it’s no surprise that La Sportiva has reinvented the ski boot with its Stratos, which shatters the average alpine ski boot weight. Each is about a pound a half, compared to the five-pound average. This is attained through the use of carbon fiber and a hand-crafted design. But note, these sleek boots are designed for ski-moutaineers (read: folks who walk up the slopes as much as they slide own them) with deep, deep pockets. We’re talking $3000 for a pair.

Skis look nothing like they used to. Some, designed for powder, are hugely fat. Others are curvy and have grown increasingly short, thanks to the effectiveness of new shape profiles. That’s especially true of new models from Salomon and DPS, a small Utah-based ski maker. In fact, ski and snowboard designers alike have started experimenting with wholly new shapes and edge designs in recent seasons. Salomon’s designer Bertrand Krafft looked to surfboards and water skis to inform the design of the BBR and make their use feel*more like riding waves*than snow.

It’s no surprise that GPS technology is permeating snow gear. In the case of the*Pieps Vector*avalanche transceiver, the GPS receiver won’t, in the case of a slide, bring you directly to the location where your partner is buried in snow. But when in a group, three of these devices can be used in tandem to zero in on the victim’s location, which can greatly improve and hasten the rescue effort.

And in a downright sci-fi twist on goggles, Zeal has embedded GPS into its Transcend GPS SPPX (pictured above), in which the inner lens doubles as a monitor. The user can view a map of the very slopes she on, as well — thanks to the GPS — her location therein. And she can call up her speed log, the temperature and other details by toggling a button on the goggle’s frame. All this, without having to dig out any handheld devices or watches from many layers of clothes. Fancy.

But perhaps the most life-changing trend in snow gear is the emergence of*air bags for avalanche safety.*They’re not brand new, but they’re impressively effective — increasing survival rates by 98 percent. The design has evolved from relatively simple inflatable vests to the latest models, which are worked into backpacks. If he finds himself in trouble, the skier or snowboarder can deploy the bag by yanking on a handle.

11-07-2011, 05:16 AM
See gull take on eagle in mid-air piggyback attack


Gulls are utterly fearless, as shown by this remarkable image of a white-tailed eagle under attack.

Herring gulls dive-bomb predatory birds at a steep angle from above and behind, as they make a piercing shriek - "kaiow!".

The attacks typically occur when the gulls are defending themselves and are most frequently seen during the breeding season, when adults protect vulnerable offspring. Some gulls also defecate or even vomit on the predator for good measure.

So-called "mobbing" usually starts with one or two gulls, but may eventually attract a large number. "They nest in large, densely packed, noisy colonies and often gang up on a predator," says Pat Monaghan, a professor of animal ecology at the University of Glasgow in the UK.

"They use mobbing to great effect," she says. Even Monaghan has come under attack during the course of her studies. "They kick you in the head - their claws are sharp and can cut."

"It's often suggested that using birds of prey, flown by falconers, might act as a gull deterrent," she says. "This picture suggests otherwise."

Despite their aggressive, quarrelsome and omnivorous nature, Europe has seen a significant decline in herring gulls, lesser gulls and great black-backed gulls, the three largest populations. For example, figures from the UK's Joint Nature Conservation Committee suggest the British breeding population of herring gulls has halved since the late 1970s.

The cause of the declines is not yet known but could be the result of changes in their maritime environment, including pollution or developments in commercial fishing practices, says Monaghan.

"Because the number breeding in urban areas has increased (though still a small percentage of the overall UK population), people do not realise that the herring gull is disappearing from our coasts," she says. "They might sadly fall silent one day."

Zoologger: The amphibious Asian mystery cat


Species name: Prionailurus planiceps

Habitat: Wetlands and flood plains in Malaysia and neighbouring regions of south-east Asia

A cat with webbed feet? A cat that's happy to hang out in water? A stump-tailed, flat-headed cat that swims expertly and dines almost exclusively on fish? Such an animal exists – but it's on the last of its nine lives. Only cloning might give it another.

Everyone knows that domestic cats hate water: readers who own one and have tried to give it a bath will be painfully aware of the fact. But the flat-headed cat of south-east Asia throws what everyone knows out the window. An enthusiastic swimmer, more like a feline otter than a cat, it has various adaptations to an aquatic lifestyle.

However, despite its frolicking nature this elusive animal is severely threatened by habitat loss. Saving it from extinction might require a newly developed form of cloning.
Miaowing mystery

Although about the same size as the familiar domestic catMovie Camera, flat-headed cats have short stumpy tails, and their eyes are strikingly large. They split from the other seven major cat groups around 6 million years ago, but there have been few studies of them in the wild, and what we know about their behaviour is mostly guesswork based on their body design (PDF).

Here's what is known or guessed. As the name suggests, their heads are noticeably flattened compared with other cats – perhaps to streamline them for their life in the water.

The feet are partially webbed. A relative, the fishing cat, also has part-webbed feet, but the flat-headed cat's are far more flipper-like. In fact, when a kitten was captured in Malaysia some years ago, its keepers found that it would play for hours in a basin of water. From what's been found in the stomachs of dead animals, it seems their diet was mainly fish, with the odd shellfish and frog thrown in.
Brave new kittens

Classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as "endangered", extreme measures may be required to save it.

A new kind of cloning technology called intergeneric nuclear transfer could be the answer. The technique works by taking a nucleus from a skin cell of the animal to be cloned and transferring it into an emptied egg cell of a different, commoner species.

African wild cats have been born after developing in the eggs and wombs of domestic cats, and it may be possible to grow water buffaloes using the eggs of cows.

The technique, currently being attempted by Thai geneticists, could allow flat-headed cats to be grown in the lab, without the need for a breeding pair.

11-07-2011, 12:59 PM
Great, interesting stories you posted. Thanks. :)

11-07-2011, 01:07 PM
By Ed Bott | November 4, 2011, 4:47am PDT
Updated 7-November with additional details.

An old social-engineering scam appears to have taken on new life lately, targeting PC users worldwide.

Ironically, the scam doesn’t use a computer at all—at least, not initially. Instead, it starts with a phone call from someone who claims to be affiliated with Microsoft or another legitimate company or government agency.

The caller then asks for the primary computer user in the house, who is told: “Your computer has downloaded a virus.” And, of course, the caller is ready and willing to fix the problem. All you have to do is navigate to a web site, click a link to install some remote-control software, and allow the “technician” to get to work.

The perps are using legitimate remote-assistance software, like the Ammyy Admin program from Ammyy Software Development, which posted a warning that included some reports the company has received from scam victims:

“I got call from an India based consultant who said to me that he is calling from a govt. organisation in Melbourne, Australia. He made me to log into my computer to track some files and without advising me he wanted me to download a software application from ammyy.com and get remotely connected to a technician to delete some files…”

“I was recently called by what I thought was my internet service provider technician who used Ammyy to gain remote access to my computer - after I stupidly granted him that permission. It turns out that he was nothing to do with my internet service provider. When I became suspicious and began questioning him he said he would show me who he was and opened a website of a company - the web site triggered my virus software and I then demanded that the remote access be terminated…”

The scam has been around for a few years. Charles Arthur at the Guardian UK wrote about a similar scam last year, noting that it had been “going on quietly since 2008 but has abruptly grown in scale this year.” He wrote about it again in March 2011.

In June of this year, Microsoft published a warning about the scams, including results from a survey it conducted in the U.K., Ireland, U.S. and Canada. The survey showed that across all four countries, 15 percent of*those surveyed reported having received one of these phony support calls.

Of those who received a call, 22 percent, or 3 percent of the total survey sample, were deceived into following the scammers’ instructions, which ranged from permitting remote access to their computer and downloading software code provided by the criminals to providing credit card information and making a purchase.

The vast majority (79 percent) of people deceived in this way suffered some sort of financial loss. Seventeen percent said they had money taken from their accounts, 19 percent reported compromised passwords and 17 percent were victims of identity fraud. More than half (53 percent) said they suffered subsequent computer problems.

The latest outbreak appears to be another wave, judging from the sudden increase in complaints I’ve seen recently.

I’ve heard from Windows users and legitimate support specialists who’ve seen this scam in action in Australia, Canada, and the UK. Recent reports from Microsoft indicate that the scammers have widened their net and are now working in languages other than English, targeting Windows users in Poland and the Czech Republic.

I also got one reliable report from an extremely trustworthy source: my mother.

A caller with a thick accent tried to run this scam on my mom, who peppered the caller with questions. What’s your name? What’s your company’s name again? What’s your phone number? (She raised six kids. She’s used to social engineering attempts.)

My mom’s Caller ID said the call originated from 999-910-0132; the caller claimed to be from a company that sounded something like Alert Center, and she gave a callback number of 609-531-0750.

If you plug those numbers into a search engine, you’ll find that they lead to a group of companies using identical website templates under different names, including TechResolve, Itek Assist, and—bingo—AlertSoft. A company with the unimaginative name Custom Design Firm, at the same address in Kolkata, India, also offers custom web-design and search-optimization services at exorbitant prices.

My mom eventually hung up on the scammers, but others haven’t been so lucky. If a victim falls for the scam, the next step involves a credit card, naturally, as this victim reported:

Posed as troubleshooter, got into my system, used a “safe code” to get into my computer. Claimed my machine has been hacked into and infected with a virus. Tom and John, heavy Asian accents. Wanted to install “lifelong protection” for $130. I balked. They have my name and number and have been calling incessantly. I’m concerned that they might have planted something in my computer that allows them access.

Indeed, that’s a legitimate concern. Once a victim has granted an intruder remote access, it’s impossible to tell exactly what sort of damage they’ve done. If you know someone who has fallen for this scam, you should assume their computer has been compromised and respond appropriately.

Most readers of this blog are sophisticated computer users who would laugh out loud at an attempt like this. But you probably have friends, family members, or clients who could use a heads-up on this one. If you get a call from someone claiming to have detected a virus on your PC, just hang up.

11-07-2011, 06:51 PM
8 Weird Animal Facts | Surprising Facts About Kingdom Animalia | Life's Little Mysteries (http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/8-weird-animal-facts-1866/)

1. Chickens can undergo natural sex changes

All it takes is one dysfunctional ovary to turn a hen into a rooster.

Two sex organs are present when a female chicken is an embryo. But once its sex genes kick in, only the left one develops into an ovary. The right, sexless gonad typically remains dormant.

Most hens make do with just the one ovary, and live out their lives as mothers and egg-layers. However, medical malfunctions such as an ovarian cyst or tumor can cause a hen's left ovary to regress. In its absence, the dormant right sex organ may begin to develop. If it becomes a testical, or a combination ovary-testical, it will emit androgen — a male sex hormone. This induces a chicken sex change.

Recently, a hen named Gertie belonging to Jim and Jeanette Howard of Huntingdon, England, spontaneously transitioned into a rooster. It developed a wattle and cockscomb, put on weight, and began strutting and crowing in a notably masculine manner. The Howards renamed Gertie Bertie.

2. Koalas have human-like fingerprints

Koalas, doll-sized marsupials that climb trees with babies on their backs, have fingerprints that are almost identical to human ones. Not even careful analysis under a microscope can easily distinguish the loopy, whirling ridges on koalas' fingers from our own.

Close human relatives such as chimps and gorillas have fingerprints as well. The remarkable thing about koala prints is that they seem to have evolved independently from the others. On the tree of life, primates and modern koalas' marsupial ancestors branched apart 70 million years ago. Scientists think the koala's fingertip features developed much more recently in its evolutionary history, because its close relatives (such as wombats and kangaroos) lack them.

The fact that primates and koalas separately evolved fingerprints reveals the feature's anatomical purpose. The lifestyles of both koalas and primates require a lot of hand-grasping, both for eating and climbing. It seems that the multidirectional ridges on our fingers evolved to help us grasp.

3. A world of weird penises

Kingdom Animalia is full of insane penises. Take the Argentine Lake Duck's 17-inch member, for example: it's longer than the bird itself. That's not as long as the truly huge penises of barnacles — yes, those rock-like creatures affixed to ships. Pythons have double-headed penises, while those of the echidna, a small mammal, are four-headed. Check out the bean weevil's viciously spiked penis, which scars female sex partners for life, as well as other outrageously weird animal penises.

4. Rats are ticklish

Ticklishness, a trait that was long thought to be unique to humans and our closest primate relatives, evolved in great apes as a means of social bonding: It engenders light-hearted interactions between parents and children, as well as helping youngsters hone their self-defense skills during tickle battles with siblings.

Over the past decade, animal behaviorists have gathered considerable evidence that suggests rats, of all creatures, are ticklish too. When stroked in certain body regions, the rodents emit high-pitched chirps. These chirps seem to signify joy, because the rats will run mazes and press levers if they learn they'll be rewarded with a good tickle afterward. Rats' chirping, the researchers say, is akin to human laughter.

Ticklishness probably evolved in rats for similar reasons that it evolved in apes. Rats are extremely playful animals, engaging in rough-and-tumble play as juveniles just as young apes do, chirping all the while.

5. Cats can bark

Dogs bark and cats meow. Simple as that… or so you thought.

It turns out that cats have such similar anatomy to dogs that there's nothing stopping them from barking too. To turn their vocalizations doggish, all cats have to do is push air through their vocal cords with greater than normal force. According to experts, the barking cat in the video above probably learned its unusual, though not unheard of, vocal patterns from a dog co-pet.

6. Scorpions glow in the dark

Not only do they equip themselves with pincers, poisonous whips for tails, and full body armor, scorpions can even scare the heck out of any reasonable person by glowing in the dark.

When illuminated by ultraviolet rays from a black light, the armored arachnids glow an unnatural neon blue. UV light that hits these creepy crawlies gets converted by proteins in their exoskeletons into light of a blue hue, which is visible to the human eye. Arachnologists have spent untold hours trying to figure out what this fluorescence is good for. Recent research suggests it may be their way of gauging the amount of moonlight shining down on them. Scorpions are nocturnal, light-abhorring creatures. They prefer to lie low on brightly lit nights.

7. Fish sleep... sometimes not enough

Not only do fish sleep, they even suffer from insomnia.

Take the zebrafish, for example — a species commonly found in aquariums. When the little swimmers go to sleep for the night, they droop their tails and sink to the bottom of their tanks. Studies on their sleep patterns have shown that if they're kept awake at night, zebrafish seem groggy, unable to learn as quickly as they can during the day.

One study found that zebrafish with faulty hypocretin receptors — the same issue that sometimes leads to sleep problems in humans — slept, on average, 30 percent less than normal specimens.

8. Penguins do the wave

For penguins trying to survive a harsh Antarctic winter, huddling is a matter of life or death. Birds within a colony crowd together so tightly that individual movements are impossible. Collective movements are a must, however: The penguins on the periphery would die of cold if they weren't continuously being reshuffled toward the center of the crowd. To achieve continual reorganization, the million-member huddle does the wave. In the same way that sound waves propagate through a fluid — only much more slowly — each penguin takes a tiny, 2- to 4-inch-long step, and the traveling wave of small steps leads to large-scale reshuffling.

Penguins are much better at "going with the flow" than humans, who also tend to move in waves when packed together in large, dense crowds, but sometimes end up getting crushed. No one knows why waves are turbulent and dangerous in a human crowd, but perfectly civil in a penguin one.

Cuyahoga Chuck
11-07-2011, 10:53 PM
A young man in Florida, with no criminal record, was given a LIFE SENTENCE for having a computer with child pornography on it. If the young man had been convicted of actually molesting a child, the judge could not have given him such a severe sentence.
There will be an appeal.

11-07-2011, 11:28 PM
This is surreal, as news writing goes:

from the NY Times, 3 Nov. 2011, p. A-12

Syria Accepts an Arab League Plan. . .
by Neil Farquhar and Nada Bakri

. . .In central Syria, they said, the bodies of 11 civilians, bound and gagged, were discovered in a village northwest of the restive city of Homs, near the Lebanese border. They said that the victims, whose bodies bore signs of torture, were killed when attackers struck their small factory and shot everyone inside in the head. Some said the factory manufactured bricks, others said tissues.

11-09-2011, 04:00 AM
By Christie Nicholson | November 2, 2011, 3:15 PM PDT


We think robots will work for us? Think again. It might be more likely we’ll be working for the robot. Among all the job takeovers robots will make in the next 15 years (by 2025 robots will take over nearly half of all U.S. jobs) get ready to have them as our supervisors. Because it’s already begun.

A new supervising service called Humanoid launched today, backed by funding from Google Ventures. Humanoid will rent out armies of humans (they have 20,000 workers already signed up to start) for $4.99 per hour to develop software, supervised by an algorithm.

Humanoid sprung from another startup, SpeakerText, which uses Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing and automation to transcribe videos. The founders realized that for every $1 they spent on crowdsourcing, they spent $2 to clean up common human errors. This is the downfall of crowdsourcing, which uses an anonymous, widely distributed workforce. Even hiring cheap intern labor did not help solve the failing business model.

So the founders of SpeakerText wrote up code for a management tool to oversee its transcribers. This then provided the foundation for Humanoid.

The first part of the supervision is actually human-based. Human workers review each other’s work. Then the supervising bot analyzes the accuracy of completed tasks and indicators of fatigue. And the system is flexible, providing more attention to new workers, and less as they gain experience. If someone is continually failing the bot boss passes the task on to a more competent worker.

Quality assurance is a widespread problem among crowdsourcing outlets like Mechanical Turk as well as remote staffing outlets like oDesk or Elance. Humanoid plans to solve this with its automated supervision. While it’s keeping SpeakerText within its offerings, its main focus will be software development.

[via TechCrunch]

11-10-2011, 01:37 PM
By Christopher Mims | November 9, 2011, 1:21 PM PST


Visualization of density of McDonald's in the U.S.
It’s hard to imagine, but America’s suburban sprawl is so all-encompassing that there is only one place in the lower 48 where you can be at least 100 miles away from the nearest McDonald’s.

Here it is, the “McFarthest Spot,” 107 miles from the nearest McDonald’s, as determined by scientist and data-visualization geek Stephen von Worley. Out here in thedesert on the Oregon / Nevada border, the true emptiness that comprises the few remaining in-between spaces in our country makes itself felt.


11-10-2011, 01:56 PM
By Mary Catherine O'Connor | November 9, 2011, 12:19 PM PST

In an effort to reduce our reliance on non-renewable and foreign energy sources, the government wants the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to boost the amount of renewable energy development it permits on public lands. That means we’ll be seeing more wind turbines and solar panels as we ply the nation’s wide swaths of public lands, especially in the mountain west.

There’s not much that can be done to lessen the visual impact these energy generators will make on the landscape. But the BLM is trying to lessen the visual punch that the many maintenance buildings and other ancillary structures, used to support these power stations, will pack, reports High Country News.

Near Rifle, Colorado, the BLM recently completed a series of tests to gauge the effectiveness of different paint applications to camouflage these outbuildings. To help create the designs, the agency turned to landscape architects, an engineering and design firm and camouflage-design experts who usually help the Department of Defense conceal its soldiers and buildings.

The desired aesthetic isn’t a huge jump from the BLM’s existing color scheme of green grays and browns–well, except that the agency has to completely reverse its approach of using monotones and instead use a series of layered hues, applied through stenciling. The secret sauce is in blending the palette in a manner that blends into the surrounding fauna, which can actually range widely, from “mountain meadow, sub-alpine conifer woodland and sub-alpine aspen, to sagebrush steppe, scrub oak and piñon-juniper,” writes HCN’s Kimberly Hirai.

BLM palette
The trick to good camo, she writes, is not just visual, but also pshycologiocal. The patterns that the BLM tested combine large and smaller designs in differing hues. The design needs natural geometric shapes that echo those in the background in order to trick the eye.* Our brains register these shapes in the background and have already “catalogued” them by the time the camouflage enters our field of vision.

Funding for the camo project — specifically the $90,000 needed to hire the design engineering firm — came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Reducing the scenic impact of buildings associated with renewable energy development on public lands is just one part of a larger mitigation effort to reduce the negative effects of such programs. And it’s also rather simple compared to trying to resolve issues such as solar panel farms harming desert tortoise populations or turbines linked to avian mortality.

Photo: Guy Cramer, HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp.

11-11-2011, 05:50 AM

Entire Mammal Genus on Brink of Extinction (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/11/111108-hirolas-extinct-genus-animals-science-africa-antelopes/?source=hp_dl1_news_antelopes20111109)
Christine Dell'Amore

National Geographic News

November 8, 2011

For the first time in 75 years, an entire genus of mammal may go the way of the dodo—unless a new conservation effort shepherded by Somalian herders succeeds.

The hirola, a large African antelope known for its striking, goggle-like eye markings, is the only remaining species in the genus Beatragus—and its numbers are dwindling fast, conservationists say.

The last mammal genus to blink out was Thylacinus, in 1936, with the death of the last Tasmanian tiger. A genus is a taxonomic ranking between species and family.

Considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the hirola has seen its numbers fall by as much as 90 percent since 1980. The latest survey, in February, found about 245 animals in fragmented pockets of northeastern Kenya and southwestern Somalia, according to the Nature Conservancy.

In all, conservationists estimate there are fewer than 400 hirolas scattered throughout the species' historic range of East Africa.

A range of factors, including climate change-related drought; unregulated hunting; habitat destruction; and more recently, predation have slashed populations.

Now the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy, a network of predominantly Somalian clans, is building a a new predator-free sanctuary for the species, according to Omar Tawane Dagane, the conservancy's Kenya-based manager.

Most of the herders living along the Kenya-Somalia border "are friendly to wildlife," Dagane said.

The locals also like hirolas because they don't harm livestock, he said.

"That is why [it] was easy for us to advocate for construction of a predator-proof ... hirola sanctuary in such a pastoralist setup."

(Also see "Hold the Champagne: Highway to Split Serengeti After All?")

Conservation Gone "Viral"

Somalian clans formed the Ishaqbini conservancy in 1996 after seeing the benefits of self-organized conservancies in northeastern Kenya, an often lawless region prone to cattle raiding and general unrest, said Tim Tear, science director for the Nature Conservancy's Africa Program, an Ishaqbini partner.

These conservancies, while setting aside land for protection of species such as elephants and buffalo, also provided exclusive rights to tourism companies. The majority of the tourism proceeds fund community needs, for example special operations for local children. The remaining percentage—about 40 percent—goes to fund conservation practices and employ game scouts to patrol and prevent poaching.

"This is one of the big reasons people are supportive—direct benefits to the communities and conservation and security value as well," Tear said.

There are now 17 conservancies within the Northern Rangelands Trust, a Kenya-based membership organization that helps coordinate and support the local initiatives, including Ishaqbini.

"This is the idea of conservation going viral," he said.

Hirola to Thrive in Predator-Free Sanctuary?

A few years ago the Ishaqbini clans created an 8,000-acre (3,200-hectare) conservation area to protect hirolas, mainly by monitoring poaching and restricting livestock grazing.

With grazing curtailed, the grasslands bounced back—and so did predators such as African lion and African wild dogs, which have been increasingly preying on hirolas.

Now, with predation cutting hirola numbers by as much as 15 percent in the past year, the Ishaqbini conservancy is constructing what they say is a predator-proof fence around the new 6,000-acre (2,400-hectare) sub-sanctuary within the original conservation area.

Ideally, the new sanctuary will give the antelope a safe haven in which to breed and rebound, Ishaqbini's Dagane said. (See pictures: "Rare Antelope, Big Cats Caught by Camera Trap.")

"People have a perception there's no peace around here because of neighboring Somalia," he said, "but Ishaqbini is very peaceful compared with other communities in the interior of Kenya."

The Nature Conservancy's Tear added that the Ishaqbini clans have "really identified with this animal."

"They've made some really heroic decisions about saving land for the purposes of saving this species."

Conserving Hirola Not Easy

Conservationists and government agencies have been working to save the hirola since the 1960s.

Because all attempts to breed hirolas in captivity have failed, conservation plans have mostly involved relocating the animals.

In 1963, for instance, the Kenya Wildlife Service captured 10 to 20 hirolas from northeastern Kenya and released them into Tsavo East National Park (map).

After that population had nearly died out, in 1996, about 30 more hirolas from the Arawale National Reserve in northeastern Kenya were added to this "founding population," according to the wildlife service's website. There is now a stable, though isolated, population of about a hundred hirolas living in Tsavo.

Community Involvement Important

The Nature Conservancy's Tear noted that for conservation for work long-term, "local people have to be engaged, involved, and supportive of conservation."

Philipp Goeltenboth discovered just that in 1996. Now the director of WWF-Germany's Forest Program, Goeltenboth at the time was working with the Kenya Wildlife Service to relocate the hirola as part of his master's degree research.

In a controversial move, the government took the animals from an impoverished area where residents believed the animal was "one of last hopes in this area for tourism," he said.

A court injunction initiated by the communities temporarily halted the translocation. According to a Kenyan court document dated August 29, 1996, locals brought the injunction on "the grounds that [the hirola] was a gift to the people of the area and should be left there."

Overall, local communities had not been involved in the government's initial relocation plan—"a big mistake," Goeltenboth said.

"The Kenya Wildlife Service was a study in how not to do conservation," he said. "They basically moved into the area with full force."

The Kenya Wildlife Service did not respond to requests for comment.

Hirola Sanctuary Can't Save the Species?

Yakub Dahiye, a scientist at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi, has studied hirolas for several years and published research on the species.

He called the Ishaqbini conservancy "a noble community initiative" that can "partly contribute to wildlife conservation and tourism development."

However, "I don't think this conservancy alone can save the hirola," Dahiye emphasized by email.

"Just like the local nomadic pastoralist, the hirola has a highly mobile habit.

"Given the small size of this conservancy and its limited/seasonal pastures, free-ranging hirola may not be permanently resident in the conservancy."

(See "Animals No Safer Inside Kenya's Parks Than Outside?")

What's more, hirolas face threats other than predation. For one, growing human settlements have displaced the antelope from its dry-season habitat along Kenya's Tana River, Dahiye said.

Hirolas are also forced to compete with cattle and sheep for food and water. Futhermore, traveling herders and their livestock can trample hirola grazing lands.

And despite the conservancy's creation, modernization and changing lifestyles mean that some of the pastoralists' conservation traditions are disappearing, Dahiye noted.

High Hopes for Hirola

Ultimately the Ishaqbini Conservancy's Dagane envisions this slice of Africa as a regional hub for tourism and research.

"I'd like to see community conservation spread to neighboring communities, increase the number of wildlife, and get conservation into the minds of the younger generations for wise use of their natural resources in the future," he said.

The Nature Conservancy's Tear also has high expectations for Ishaqbini and its hirolas.

"People hear a lot about things in crisis, especially in Africa," Tear said.

But "there are many reasons for there to be hope."

Uncle Duke
11-11-2011, 09:22 AM
A nice advance in getting water to arid regions - no external power or infrastructure needed, just extract water from the air!

With a deceptively modest design, Airdrop filters hot environmental air through a turbine, feeding it through a copper tubing system—with copper wool to maximize surface area—and into the earth where it cools and releases moisture. The dry air is then re-released into the atmosphere and the collected water pumped through semi-porous hoses to the plant roots. In his initial prototype, which was much smaller than the current design, Linnacre was able to produce a liter of water per day.


11-11-2011, 10:52 PM
Michael Laughlin*/*Sun-Sentinel via Zuma

Brian and Anna McGuinn, showing off the ring that Brian recently recovered from the dump after accidentally throwing it in the garbage.
By Gilma Avalos NBCMIAMI.com

We've all accidentally thrown something valuable away in the trash, but what if that something was worth more than $10,000? Would you swim in a pile of waste to find it?
One husband was faced with that conundrum and he didn't think twice.

"The worst move of my life, horrible," is how Brian McGuinn says he felt when he realized he had thrown out his wife's engagement ring.

McGuinn, from Margate, Fla., meant to throw out a disposable razor, and ended up chucking the ring with it. The one and a half carat diamond ring was valued at around $10,000, and worth its weight in sentimental value.

He and his wife Anna have been married five years, and are now expecting a child.*
"I just started crying and I would stop crying, and remind myself that jewelry is replaceable," says Anna.

By the time they realized what happened, Waste Management had already picked up the trash from their community. Devastated, Anna called Wheelabrator — the waste management company, and within an hour, McGuinn was suited up, ready to jump into more than eight tons of garbage.

Workers were able to identify the garbage from McGuinn's collection route, they even leveled the 10-foot high pile so that he could search for the ring.*
After sifting through sludge, gunk, food scraps, and anything else you'd find in a dumpster, he found his diamond in the rough.

"Once I found it, I actually let out a manly scream!," says McGuinn, who describes the moment of finding his wife's bling amongst the garbage as winning the lottery. He rushed home to return the ring to its rightful owner.
"It was covered in muck. He just slipped it right on my finger and promised to never touch it again," joked Anna.

She says she's so appreciative of her husband's uniquely chivalrous move. McGuinn says he wouldn't think twice to search through the garbage again.
"She's the love of my life. That ring was meant for her and no one else," he said. "She's everything to me."

11-13-2011, 03:51 PM
I too howl at the moon....:)


11-14-2011, 02:13 PM
A California man was stunned to see what a previous owner of his minivan apparently left behind: $500,000 worth of cocaine jammed in the door panels.

San Jose psychologist Charles Preston says the cellophane-wrapped cocaine was found when he took the van to a mechanic. Police were immediately notified.

Preston says he noticed the driver's side window wouldn't go down all the way, but he figured he would live with it because the Town and Country van had a good air conditioning system.

The San Jose Mercury News ( http://bit.ly/vuTcCX ) says Preston paid $14,000 to Thrifty Car Sales in Santa Clara for the 2008 white van in May 2010.

Thrifty Car Sales owner Ron Battistella says he's willing to replace the van with a drug-free ride.

11-16-2011, 07:27 PM
China’s Area 51? Mysterious site spotted from space
By*Tuan C. Nguyen*| November 15, 2011, 6:00 AM PST


There was a time when a remote desert was the perfect spot for covert operatives to carry out all sorts of weird, elaborate government schemes. But in the age of satellite technology, you never know who’s watching.

Case in point was the discovery last week of massive and mysterious man-made structures that appear as scribbled white lines from outer space. Satellite photos from Google Earth pinpoint the coordinates at a location in Dunhuang, Jiuquan, Gansu, in the Gobi Desert. The site, which covers a mile long expanse of land and 3,000 feet in width, is reportedly in close proximity to the headquarters of China’s space program and an old Chinese nuclear test site.*

Almost immediately after the image surfaced on the tech site Gizmodo, more snapshots of nearby sites erected in the shape of strange geometric patterns began to crop up, setting off a snowball of speculation as to what the heck they were seeing. Subtracting some of the more imaginative explanations such as a concerted attempt to communicate with space aliens, most guesses pointed to some kind of Chinese military operation.

Paul Marks, New Scientist’s tech correspondent says:

My money’s on it being a target practice range for the People’s Liberation Army.

Why? One of the other formations gives the game away: looking tantalisingly like Stonehenge from a great height, zooming in reveals three aircraft sitting at it’s heart. Clearly, it is some kind of military target for airstrike or gunnery practice. Another 4 x 4 piece grid some 200 metes across has some pieces clearly blown to smithereens, again supporting the target practice theory, and a dummy runway in garish bluish-white is probably not for style-conscious aliens but air-to-ground strafing practice.

However, there is always the chance the Google maps have been hacked and that these “structures” are mere overlays, inserted through digital skulduggery and intended to keep conspiracy theorists happy for weeks. The 21st century version of crop circles, in other words.

Skeptic Benjamin Radford at Discovery News concurs:

At this point no one really knows for sure, but the most likely explanation is that it’s a military target practice range. It is in fact only one of several similar sites in the area, and at least one of the others has airplanes sitting in the center of it.

The Telegraph even got a defense expert named Tim Ripley to give an assessment:

Tim Ripley, a defence expert from Jane’s Defence Weekly, compared the structures to similar grids in Area 51, the secret United States military test base in Nevada. “The picture of the circle looks very like a missile test range, with target and instrumentation set out to record weapon effects. The Americans have lots of these in Nevada – Area 51!” he said.

Here are some more photos of structures around the site. What do you think they are?





Images: Google Earth

11-16-2011, 07:35 PM
By Laura Shin | November 15, 2011, 6:00 AM PST

One of the most refreshing things about science is that it doesn’t care whether it offends you. It presents the data, and whether you take it or leave it is your business. Science doesn’t care.

Take, for example, fecal transplants.

Yes, it is what it sounds like — taking a healthy person’s stool and transplanting it into a patient’s large intestine.


If you’re already turning up your nose at the idea, ready to click to a more civilized section of the Internet, you are not alone. Doctors, scientists and whole hospital staffs can’t get over the ick factor, causing them and their patients to miss out on one of the most promising cures for a growing problem.

If you think fecal transplants are old news (because, well, they are old, if not widely known, news), then you should know that they are on our radar again because Scientific American is publishing in its December 2011 issue an essay, “Swapping Germs,” by science journalist Maryn McKenna describing the health benefits of fecal transplants and the regulatory hurdles the treatment faces.

How it works
What a fecal transplant seems to do is allow the bacteria from the healthy stool to repopulate the gut of the patient who has lost healthy bacteria in their gut or who has a preponderance of bad bacteria there.

And it’s an especially enticing procedure because of a really nasty bacteria called Clostridium difficile that grows in people’s intestines and causes health problems ranging from persistent diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon to death.

One University of Minnesota doctor, Alex Khorutus, who has performed two dozen fecal transplants explains what led him to conclude that the bacteria from the healthy stool was repopulating the intestines of the patients. McKenna writes:

In 2010 he analyzed the genetic makeup of the gut flora of a 61-year-old woman so disabled by recurrent C. diff that she was wearing diapers and was confined to a wheelchair. His results showed that before the procedure, in which the woman received a fecal sample from her husband, she harbored none of the bacteria whose presence would signal a healthy intestinal environment. After the transplant — and her complete recovery — the bacterial contents of her gut were not only normal but were identical to that of her husband.

What there is to like about fecal transplants
C. difficile has become more and more common in recent years as a result of antibiotic treatments. An especially virulent new strain emerged in 2000, and now the deadly bacterial infection has been seen not only in elderly patients but also in children, pregnant women and otherwise healthy people.

As McKenna writes:

One study estimated that the number of hospitalized adults with C. diff more than doubled from about 134,000 patients in 2000 to 291,000 patients in 2005. A second study showed that the overall death rate from C. diff had jumped fourfold, from 5.7 deaths per million in the general population in 1999 to 23.7 deaths per million in 2004.

The second part of the two-part punch is that C. diff is also now harder to cure. It has become more resistant to antibiotics, and so the new standard treatment is to employ two antibiotics. The only problem is that these two antibiotics kill off the friendly bacteria in the gut, too, and so any C. diff organisms that survive end up having a lot more room to repopulate.

And repopulate, they often do: One in five people who have C. diff once get it again, and 40% of that group will get it a second time, and 60% of the people that have it twice will get it a few more times. It sometimes even gets to the point where a patient has to have their colon removed.

So, when you’ve got something this annoying, you want a treatment that will work. And that’s where the fecal transplant comes in: Medical journals show that in about 300 such transplants, more than 90% of the patients recovered completely from C. diff.

Next Steps
Before fecal transplants become a technique widely adopted by hospitals and reimbursed by insurers, the treatments needs to be studied in a randomized clinical trial of two groups: those receiving the treatment and those who are not.

But a few bureaucratic hurdles must be overcome. First, the National Institutes of Health will only study substances deemed “investigational” by the Food and Drug Administration.

And what are those substances normally? Drugs, as you would expect. Devices, yet another obvious choice. And lastly biological products such as vaccines and tissues. But feces? They don’t really fit anywhere.

Aside from that, protocols need to be established. In the experiments so far, most patients have received transplants from their relatives or spouses, but if this became a widespread treatment, it might be cumbersome to deal with new “donors” for every transplant, because each one has to be screened as rigorously as a blood donor does. That could get time-consuming and costly very quickly.

One proposed solution is having a pool of “universal donors” (read: healthcare workers). Another idea is to manufacture drugstore enema kits that patients can take home to perform the transplant on themselves.

But in the meantime, many other obstacles need to be cleared, and some data needs to be gathered before this can could be turned into a widespread cure. Canada has already begun three trials, and some U.S. doctors are submitting a proposal for a trial here in the U.S.

But until doctors can put fecal transplants through the paces and get good data, don’t poo-poo the idea.

via: Scientific American

photo: Un naturaliste du Midi/Wikimedia Commons

11-16-2011, 07:44 PM
Researchers are working on a new drug that targets fat tissue by destroying its blood supply. So far, it works in monkeys who had became spontaneously obese all by themselves.



Right now, there are only 2 types of weight loss drugs that are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration: an appetite suppressant and a fat inhibitor. But they sort of have toxic side effects.

Previous mouse studies have shown that targeting the blood vessels of fat tissue (or white adipose) reduced a third of their body weight. White adipose just under our skin stores fat and provides us with insulation.

“Development of this compound for human use would provide a non-surgical way to actually reduce accumulated white fat, in contrast to current weight-loss drugs that attempt to control appetite or prevent absorption of dietary fat,” says study author Renata Pasqualini of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

But because many drugs fail in the transition between rodents and primates, the team set out to demonstrate in monkeys the weight-loss effects seen in mice.

The drug selectively binds to a protein on the surface of fat-supporting blood vessels and kills those cells within blood vessels of adipose tissue. (It’s like starving a tumor by cutting off the blood vessels that supply it.) Without blood supply, fat cells are reabsorbed and metabolized.

In 10 rhesus monkeys, one month of treatment resulted in:



Rapid weight loss. Up to 15% of their body weight.
Reduced body fat. MRIs scans show that the treated monkeys shed 38.7% of body fat on average. Pictured, monkey before and after (red is fat).
Slimmer abdominal circumference (waistline). Up to 14%.
Improved insulin resistance, which makes them at lower risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The monkeys remained bright and alert throughout, interacting with caretakers and demonstrating no signs of nausea or food avoidance. Though, side effects included increased amounts of urine and slight dehydration, both symptoms of mild kidney failure.

A company called Ablaris Therapeutics has licensed rights to the obesity therapy and is working with the FDA to test it in people, ScienceNOW reports.

The study was published in Science Translational Medicine last week.

Images: Science/AAAS

By Janet Fang | November 15, 2011, 11:47 AM PST

11-18-2011, 04:15 AM
By Jenny Wilson

Scientists at Tokyo’s Waseda University in Japan may have found a solution for snorers. Jukusui-kun is a robot that looks like a big stuffed polar bear and can stop people from snoring in their sleep. Its name means deep sleep in Japanese.


In order to benefit from the bear, the snore-prone must sleep under a sheet with built-in sensors and a microphone that detects loud noises. They also have to put their hand into a device to measure their blood oxygen levels. When blood oxygen levels drop, which indicates the type of breathing associated with snoring, the polar bear tickles the sleeper’s forehead with its paw, which causes the person asleep to “turn over and stop snoring without waking,” the Telegraph reports. And at more drastic times, when the microphone in the sheet detects a loud enough snore, the bear will take matters into its own paws and flip the person’s head over himself.

Could there finally be a solution for heavy snorers–and their roommates? Perhaps, but they’ll have to wait a little while longer because Jukusui-kun has yet to hit stores.

[via the Telegraph]

11-18-2011, 04:35 AM
I bet he wouldn't snore as much if he stopped wearing his tie to bed........

11-18-2011, 05:00 AM
I bet he wouldn't snore as much if he stopped wearing his tie to bed........

Lol...;):) many a person snore whilst sleeping naked.

11-18-2011, 05:05 AM
ABC News
Could A Worm Hold the Key to Living Longer?
Today, 5:21 PM


Do you dream of looking like your 30-year-old self when you hit 60?
Well, the secrets to the fountain of youth may be bubbling up in a nearby lab -- and you have a roundworm to thank for it.

By studying the critter -- about the size of a comma -- biochemist Cynthia Kenyon and her team have pinpointed a combination of rare genes that seem to counter the effects of aging.

Kenyon, the director of the Hillblom Center for the Biology of Aging, presented her research on prolonging youth in Edinburgh, Scotland at TEDGlobal 2011.

Roundworms are elderly and wrinkled at 10 days and by the time they reach two weeks, they're dead. Kenyon found that by masking the DNA's daf-2 gene, her team could extend the roundworms' lives sixfold.

The secret: A mutation to the daf-2 gene slowed down the aging process. A mutated worm took two days to age as much as a normal worm.

"You have something you never thought was possible," Kenyon told ABC News. "These worms should be dead, a long time ago. ... But they're not dead. They're moving. They're young."

In her lab, one roundworm that was 90 in human years looked and acted like a 30-year-old.

"It is amazing, and this I think is so important," Kenyon said. "This says more than you can ever say with words."

"If you look in nature, you see that different kinds of animals can have really different life spans," she said during her TED presentation. "There are some tortoises that are called blandings turtles. They've been found to be 70 years old, and when you look at these 70-year-old turtles, you can't tell the difference just by looking between those turtles and 20-year-old turtles."

Kenyon said that the daf-2 gene might also affect human lifespan. Though she said more research needed to be done, one study showed that people who lived to 100 were more likely than others to carry mutations in the gene.

Kenyon said it was possible that youth-boosting drugs could be 15 years away.

ABC News is taking a deeper look into the remarkable work of TED speakers and their ideas, and featuring playlists of great TEDTalks on ABCNews.com.

11-18-2011, 05:31 AM
Nov 17, 2011 10:36 AM EST
Saudi women with attractive eyes may be forced to cover them up, the news website Bikya Masr reported, in a move that could mark the latest repressive measure taken against women by the Islamic state.

A spokesperson for Saudi Arabia's Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV), Sheikh Motlab al Nabet, said the committee had the right to stop women revealing "tempting" eyes in public.

Women in Saudi Arabia already have to cover their hair, and, in some regions, their faces while in public. If they do not, they face punishments including fines and public floggings.

The CPVPV has repeatedly been accused of human rights violations. Founded in 1940, its function is to ensure Islamic laws are not broken in public in Saudi Arabia.

In 2002 the committee refused to allow female students out of a burning school in Mecca because they were not wearing correct head cover, report said. The decision contributed to the high death toll of 15 people who were killed in the fire.

11-18-2011, 01:54 PM
By Larry Dignan | November 16, 2011, 6:52am PST

A phishing scam mimics Delta Air Lines and is done so well that it may snare more than a few victims.

Below is a message that was sent allegedly from Delta. What’s the big deal? This phishing attempt includes real links to Delta in the beginning and then sprinkles in legit addresses to the U.S. government’s traffic agency.

Once you’re lulled into thinking the links are legit, the rest of the addresses go to the bad guys. In addition, the email contains no obvious typos. Overall, this phishing attempt is well done.

Here’s the diagram with my notes to the right.


As for Delta, the airline said it is on the case and has issued an advisory.

We have recently received reports from customers of fraudulent emails claiming to be from Delta Air Lines. As such, please be advised of the following:

We recommend you change your SkyMiles account PIN immediately and monitor your account for any misuse.
These emails were not sent by Delta Air Lines.
You should not click on the link in the email or open any attachments.
Instead, you should delete the email from your inbox.
Please call us at 1-888-750-3284 if you have questions or need further information.
These emails claim that you have purchased a Delta ticket, a credit card has been charged and/or an invoice or receipt is attached to the email. If you receive one of these emails, do not open the attachment as it may contain potentially dangerous viruses or harm your computer.

Be assured that Delta did not send these emails, and our customers’ credit cards have not been charged by Delta as a result of the emails. These emails did not originate from Delta, nor do we believe that any personal information that you provided us was used to generate these emails. We will continue to post updates on this page as additional information becomes available.

11-19-2011, 06:07 PM

11-21-2011, 11:36 AM
''Dirty Dozen' List Reveals Fruits/Veggies With Most Pesticides
By*Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Health NewsReviewed by*Louise Chang, MD


Apples again top the "dirty dozen" list of produce most contaminated with pesticides, while onions top the list of the "clean 15."

The rankings come from consumer advocates at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), based on pesticide tests from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FDA. It updates last year's list with recently released data from 2009 tests.

"Pesticides are toxic," Sonya Lunder, EWG senior analyst, says in a news release. "They are designed to kill things and most are not good for you. The question is, how bad are they?"

It's a good question. A rule of thumb is to avoid exposures that are a thousand times less than levels known to be toxic. A 2009 study led by EPA researcher Devon Payne-Sturges found that about 40% of U.S. children have levels of one type of pesticide well above this 1,000-fold margin of exposure.

Where do kids, and adults, get exposed to pesticides? For most of us, it's through the*fruits and vegetables*we eat.

The EWG is quick to point out that people should eat more fruits and vegetables, not less -- regardless of the Dirty Dozen report.

"The health benefits of a*diet*rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure," the EWG notes in a news release.

But EWG calculates that by choosing fruits and vegetables from the Clean 15 list instead of the Dirty Dozen list, people can cut their pesticide exposure by 92%.

Even so, nobody is telling anyone to avoid apples, the most pesticide-laden fruit. But EWG recommends choosing organic produce instead of the produce on the Dirty Dozen list. That won't totally cut pesticide exposure, but it could help.

Can you wash pesticides off fruit and vegetables? Yes, it really can help. But the depressing news is that most of the produce was carefully washed*before*the USDA/FDA tests.

The EWG rating system is based on a score given to each item in six categories:

Percentage of samples with detectable pesticide
Percentage of samples with two or more pesticides
Average number of pesticides found in a single sample
Average amount of all pesticides found
Maximum number of pesticides found in a single sample
Total number of pesticides in the fruit or vegetable
A 2010 study by Harvard researcher Chensheng Lu and colleagues evaluated pesticides in foods eaten by children in two U.S. cities (Atlanta and Seattle). It found that many of the pesticide-containing foods these children ate were on the EWG Dirty Dozen list.

Dirty Dozen: Produce With Most Pesticide

Here's the EWG's list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that had the worst overall pesticide scores:

Nectarines (imported)
Grapes (imported)
Sweet bell peppers
Blueberries (domestic)
Kale/collard greens

Clean 15: Produce With the Least Pesticide

Here's the EWG's list of the 15 fruits and vegetables that had the best overall pesticide scores, with produce with the least pesticide contamination at the top of the list:

Sweet corn
Sweet peas
Cantaloupe (domestic)
Sweet potatoes

11-21-2011, 01:21 PM
In spite of a constant drumbeat of news about hacking and cracking computer accounts, users still are employing extremely common and obvious phrases as passwords.* A compilation of the most commonly used — and potentially most insecure — passwords seen over the past year was recently drawn up by Splashdata and reported in Mashable. Splashdata found that incredibly enough, the leading password in use today is the word “password.” Interestingly, number 4 on the list, the keyboard lineup of “qwerty,” is counterbalanced by item number 23, “qazwsx,” which is the first three rows of keys typed vertically.

The list closely parallels that developed close to two years ago by Imperva, showing that these terms never go out of vogue.

Here is this year’s list:

1. password
2. 123456
4. qwerty
5. abc123
6. monkey
7. 1234567
8. letmein
9. trustno1
10. dragon
11. baseball
12. 111111
13. iloveyou
14. master
15. sunshine
16. ashley
17. bailey
18. passw0rd
19. shadow
20. 123123
21. 654321
22. superman
23. qazwsx
24. michael
25. football

SmartPlanet colleague Tuan C. Nguyen provides a surprisingly simple technique for deriving a strong password that makes it difficult for hacking programs to arrive at the right brute force combination — employing a symbol in combination with an upper-case and lower-case letter.

Not everyone thinks that strong passwords are the answer, however. In another study on passwords, a Microsoft researcher conducted a cost/benefit analysis of* efforts to encourage stronger passwords, and questions whether the costs of strong password management outweighs the benefits.

11-21-2011, 04:40 PM

This should be interesting.

11-22-2011, 01:33 PM

This should be interesting.
Thanks, that was interesting. :)

Here is something else that's interesting:

Mamma mia! That's a lot of dough, even for an upscale pizzeria.

Police are looking for the owner of a suitcase "full of money" that was left at the Italian restaurant in Sydney by a mystery customer.

Ten Network television reported the suitcase left at Cafe Marco Tuesday morning contained about 1 million Australian dollars ($1 million) in 50 dollar notes.

But police will only describe the suitcase contents as "a significant amount of cash."

Detective Inspector Ian Pryde told reporters a man around 30 years old wearing surfing shorts and a singlet carried the suitcase into the cafe. He then "seemed to get spooked" and left without the money.

A cafe staff member contacted by telephone told The Associated Press she was too busy with customers to comment.

11-23-2011, 10:47 PM
Guys, be careful how involved you get with this season's awesome crop of video games (http://games.yahoo.com/photos/holiday-guide-2011-must-have-games-1321488670-slideshow/;_ylt=AkXjSXfw.QefRjYpeGuHVGQlwMsh;_ylu=X3oDMTFob2 hvOWNyBG1pdANCbG9nIFBvc3QgMTZVBHBvcwMxBHNlYwNNZWRp YUJsb2dCb2R5QXNzZW1ibHk-;_ylg=X3oDMTM3bDZyYWtnBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDNjU3ZDkwMDktZTczZC0zZTA3LTg4NjUtODc4YzViND kzM2M3BHBzdGNhdANibG9nfHBsdWdnZWRpbgRwdANzdG9yeXBh Z2UEdGVzdAM-). Your wife may try to sell you off.

http://l2.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/IxXs1FLoX.oHk58PPoS6mQ--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTMwMA--/http://media.zenfs.com/en-US/blogs/ygamesblog/craigslisthusband.jpgThe happy couple (Photo credit: ABC News)

Kyle Baddley learned this the hard way earlier this month, when his wife Alyse got frustrated by his constant Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 playing and offered him up to the highest bidder on Craigslist."I am selling my 22 year old husband," the ad read (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=Ap7OFNzQYMmb82J71Ls8VeQlwMsh;_ylu=X3oDMTFodGF uaXEyBG1pdANCbG9nIFBvc3QgMTZVBHBvcwMyBHNlYwNNZWRpY UJsb2dCb2R5QXNzZW1ibHk-;_ylg=X3oDMTM3bDZyYWtnBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDNjU3ZDkwMDktZTczZC0zZTA3LTg4NjUtODc4YzViND kzM2M3BHBzdGNhdANibG9nfHBsdWdnZWRpbgRwdANzdG9yeXBh Z2UEdGVzdAM-;_ylv=0/SIG=123345dh0/EXP=1323316615/**http%3A//logan.craigslist.org/zip/2695881931.html). "He enjoys eating and playing video games all day. Easy to maintain, just feed and water every 3-5 hours. You must have Internet and space for gaming. Got tired of waiting so free to good home. If acceptable replacement is offered will trade."

The ad, of course, was a joke. But that didn't stop people from replying (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AvgJ4DgMCACPGfVoqwVqIeUlwMsh;_ylu=X3oDMTFocTY yM2trBG1pdANCbG9nIFBvc3QgMTZVBHBvcwMzBHNlYwNNZWRpY UJsb2dCb2R5QXNzZW1ibHk-;_ylg=X3oDMTM3bDZyYWtnBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDNjU3ZDkwMDktZTczZC0zZTA3LTg4NjUtODc4YzViND kzM2M3BHBzdGNhdANibG9nfHBsdWdnZWRpbgRwdANzdG9yeXBh Z2UEdGVzdAM-;_ylv=0/SIG=13cpeofil/EXP=1323316615/**http%3A//abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/11/gamer-husband-auctioned-off-on-craigslist/).

One woman offered to retrain him. Another guy said he was willing to trade spots with Kyle, noting that he was both house-trained and preferred books to games.
"We didn't think we would get any responses at all, but we've gotten so many," Alyse said (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AlbO4dE8FmBHCZyV21cDScklwMsh;_ylu=X3oDMTFoYzc 1OG5jBG1pdANCbG9nIFBvc3QgMTZVBHBvcwM0BHNlYwNNZWRpY UJsb2dCb2R5QXNzZW1ibHk-;_ylg=X3oDMTM3bDZyYWtnBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDNjU3ZDkwMDktZTczZC0zZTA3LTg4NjUtODc4YzViND kzM2M3BHBzdGNhdANibG9nfHBsdWdnZWRpbgRwdANzdG9yeXBh Z2UEdGVzdAM-;_ylv=0/SIG=13ek26foo/EXP=1323316615/**http%3A//www.cbsnews.com/8301-500202_162-57330282/woman-tries-to-sell-husband-on-craigslist/). "Someone even offered a blue bag of Skittles."

Some people, though, took it a bit too seriously. One person suggested she use the free time to go out on her own, while others wrote that they were concerned about Alyse's relationship with her husband.

Among the unconcerned was Kyle's mother. She not only encouraged Alyse to run the ad, she helped her write it.

Kyle, it seems, has learned his lesson and has pulled back a bit from his Modern Warfare 3 playtime. His father notes that the couple is headed to Florida to spend Thanksgiving with Kyle's sister.

Kyle's taking it in good humor -- but he points out for the record that his wife was in line with him when the game went on sale.

"I love my wife," he says. "She supported me when I got the game. We stayed until midnight to get the game when it first came out. It's just funny."

11-24-2011, 05:40 AM

11-24-2011, 06:22 AM
Funny November Thanksgiving pictures, jokes stories (http://www.guy-sports.com/humor/thanksgiving/index.htm)

Turkey Hunters' Tale

Tommy and Billy were discussing their latest turkey shoot. Tommy says emphatically, 'I am never going to take my wife Laura shooting with me ever again, Billy!'

'That bad, eh?' enquires Billy smiling.
'Yeah, Laura did everything wrong, got nothing right. She chattered too much, constantly disturbed the undergrowth, loaded the wrong gauge shot in the gun, used the wrong luring whistles and worst of all,' bellows Tommy, 'she shot more turkeys than me!'

Those Ancestors!Thanksgiving - happy turkey!

The Taylor's were proud of their family tradition. Their ancestors had travelled to America with the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower. They had included Congressmen, successful entrepreneurs, famous sports people and television stars.

They decided to research and write a family history, something for their children and grandchildren. They found a specialist genealogist and writer to help them. Only one problem arose - how to handle Great Uncle Jefferson Taylor who was executed in the electric chair.

The writer said she could handle the story tactfully. When the book appeared the section about Jefferson read:

Great Uncle Jefferson Taylor occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important government institution, he was attached to his position by the strongest of ties, and his death came as a great shock.

A Piece of Pumpkin Pie?Pumpkin Thanksgiving jokes

Jolene was only 8 years old and lived with family in the country with her parents and brother. Consequently they did not often have visitors from the city. One day Jolene's mother said that father was bringing two guests home for Thanksgiving supper.

After they had enjoyed the turkey, Jolene went to the kitchen to help her mother, and proudly brought in the first piece of pumpkin pie and gave it to her father. He then passed the plate to a guest. When Jolene came in with the second piece and gave it to his father, he again gave it to a guest.

This was too much for Little Jolene, who blurted out, 'It's no use, Daddy. The pieces are all the same size.'

What's the best thing to put into a pumpkin pie? Your teeth.


A Curious Thanksgiving Story

The minister of the church was giving a Thanksgiving service.
A ragged man in the audience asked, 'What is there to be thankful for?'
Surprised, the minister replied, 'What is your name, sir?'
'Cause,' was the reply.
'Well Cause, you could be thankful for your healthy body...'
'I'm blind and I have lung cancer.'
'..or your family...'
'I don't have a family.'
'...or your home...'
'I don't have a home.'
"Well, then,' retorted the preacher, I guess you're a lost Cause!'

Funny Thanksgiving Tall Stories
Cold Turkey - A Funny Thanksgiving Story

It was the Monday before Thanksgiving, Bobby Evans collapsed in a Wal-Mart in Worcester Massachusetts. Other customers gathered around and the first-aider was summoned. It did not look good for Bobby, there was blood coming out of his ear, his face looked white and he was unconscious.

The store manager dialled 911 and when the medical team arrived the first thing they did was take off Bobby's hat, to everyone's amazement inside was a partially frozen turkey. What felled Bobby was the chill from turkey numbing his brain. The blood came from the giblets which had melted and leaked over his hair and down into his ear.Funny Turkey Pictures

As it was Thanksgiving the manager took pity, and rather than prosecuting the shop-lifter, gave him the partly thawed bird and sent Bobby on his way. Two days later the manager got letter from Bobby apologising for his behaviour and thanking the manager for his action. Also inside the envelope was $15, the price of his turkey.

Turkey Tight End?Turkey at tight end?

A professional NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles, had just finished their daily practice session when a large turkey came strutting onto the field. While the players gazed in amazement, the turkey walked up to the head coach and demanded to be given a chance to play at tight end.

Everyone stared in silence as the turkey caught pass after pass and ran right through the defensive line. When the turkey returned to the sidelines, the coach shouted, 'You're superb. Sign up for the season, and I'll see to it that you get a huge bonus.'

'Forget the bonus,' replied the turkey, 'What I want to know is, does your season go past Thanksgiving Day?'
No Turkeys - But....

Early one November the turkey hunting party headed towards Meeke in Minnesota. Surprisingly, they could not find any turkeys. Never mind said, Jed, their leader we'll go back to the cabin, have breakfast then try again. I'll skip breakfast and keep on looking said Tommy Lee who had come all the way from Texas especially for the shoot.

While the others had their breakfast they heard no end of gunshot. After they finished their bacon and eggs they headed in the general direction of the shooting. They were greeted by Tommy Lee, who said, 'bring a truck, I've got me 5 of them'.

'Do we really need a truck for 5 birds,' said Jed?

'Birds?' said Tommy Lee, 'I've got me 5 sheep, I wasn't going to come all this way from Texas and then go home empty handed'.

The Ears of Wheat by The Brothers Grimm Thanksgiving Wheat Poem

Ages upon ages ago, says the German grandmother, when angels used to wander on earth, the ground was more fruitful than it is now. Then the stalks of wheat bore not fifty or sixty fold, but four times five hundred fold. Then the wheat- ears grew from the bottom to the top of the stalk.

But the men of the earth forgot that this blessing came from God, and they became idle and selfish.

One day a woman went through a wheat-field, and her little child, who accompanied her, fell into a puddle and soiled her frock. The mother tore off a handful of the wheat-ears and cleaned the child's dress with them.

Just then an angel passed by and saw her. Wrathfully he spoke, 'Wasteful woman, no longer shall the wheat- stalks produce ears. You mortals are not worthy of the gifts of Heaven!'
Some peasants who were gathering wheat in the fields heard this, and falling on their knees, prayed and entreated the angel to leave the wheat alone, not only on their account, but for the sake of the little birds who otherwise must perish of hunger.

The angel pitied their distress, and granted a part of the prayer. And from that day to this the ears of wheat have grown as they do now.

11-24-2011, 06:23 AM

A Thanksgiving in France

The first Thanksgiving after moving overseas, I decided to treat my family to a traditional turkey dinner.

I went to the closest store, which happened to be French-speaking, and approached the area where a variety of meats were laid out. Not being fluent in French, I looked and tried to determine on my own whether the large poultry breasts I saw were turkey or goose.

The butcher indicated that he was ready to help me. I asked in broken French if he spoke English; he replied, 'No.' I tried again, asking if he spoke German; again, he replied, 'No.'

I pointed at the poultry breasts, then tucked my thumbs in my armpits, flapped my arms, and said, 'Gobble, gobble?' The butcher broke into a smile as he replied, 'Oui.'

Embarrassing, sure, but I ended up with a turkey and the butcher got a laugh!

Funny Thanksgiving Turkey Stories for the ChildrenFunny Thanksgiving story

Will and Guy have come across a Thanksgiving turkey story which we would like to share with you. We cannot vouch for its veracity since it is supposedly dated sometime in the 19th century.

A middle aged woman, perhaps we will call her Maisie, heard that fresh turkey meat was far superior to that which had been frozen so she set off to her local farm and purchased a fine, plump turkey from the willing farmer.

As Maisie took the bird home she could not help but look closely at it. The turkey seemed to be watching her and Maisie felt a chill of horror as she realised that she would have to decapitate it in the morning.

The next day began and Maisie found that she could not chop the bird's head off. So she seized some ether from the medicine cabinet and put the bird to sleep. As it was dozing she began to pluck the feathers from its flesh, preparing it for the oven. As the last feather was removed; it is said, that the plump, nude turkey woke up and seeing its state became irate and angry.

The last we heard was that poor old Maisie was last seen being chased around her kitchen by a plump but stark naked turkey.

Hanging the TurkeyTurkey Mail

Young Simon was sitting in his grandmother's kitchen, watching her prepare the Thanksgiving meal.

'What are you doing?' Simon enquired.

'Oh, I'm just stuffing the turkey,' his grandmother replied.

'Wow, that's cool.' Simon remarked. 'Are you going to hang it next to the deer?'

See more funny turkey jokes and pictures
The Tale of the Pregnant Turkey

One year at Thanksgiving, my brothers and I were invited to my sister Jenny's house for the traditional feast.

Knowing how gullible my sister is, we decided to play a practical joke. My two brothers lured Jenny outside to check out some trees at the bottom of the garden.

As soon as Jenny left I took the turkey out of the oven, removed the stuffing, and replaced it with a partridge. Then I replaced the bird carefully in the oven.

Later, when the turkey was cooked my sister took the bird out of the oven and when it had rested she started to carve it. Then she decided to add the stuffing. Much to her amazement she found the partridge. At this point our mother piped up, "Jenny you've cooked a pregnant bird!" With this Jenny started to cry.

It took my brothers and I until early evening to convince Jenny that turkeys lay eggs, and don't give birth to live young.

No Turkey Died - But....

When I was a kid in Indiana, we thought it would be fun to get a turkey a year ahead of time and feed it and so on for the following Thanksgiving. But by the time Thanksgiving came around, we sort of thought of the turkey as a pet, so we ate the dog. Only kidding. It was the cat.

David Letterman
Top Ten Historical Thanksgiving Facts

1.Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the USA.
2.Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada.
3.The Plymouth Pilgrims were the first to celebrate the Thanksgiving.
4.They celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day in the fall of 1621.
5.The Wampanoag Indians were the people who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land.
6.The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in the year 1621 and invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians also to the feast.
7.The state of New York officially made Thanksgiving Day an annual custom in 1817.
8.The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition began in the 1920's.
9.Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the USA.
10.By the fall of 1621 only half of the pilgrims, who had sailed on the Mayflower, survived. The survivors, thankful to be alive, decided to hold a thanksgiving feast.

Ode to Thanksgiving

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

17 Stages To Cooking a Turkey 17 ways to cook a turkey

1. Go buy a turkey
2. Take a drink of whisky
3. Put turkey in the oven
4. Take another 2 drinks of whisky
5. Set the degree at 375 ovens
6. Take 3 more whiskys of drink
7. Turk the bastey
8. Whisky another bottle of get
9. Ponder the meat thermometer
10. Glass yourself a pour of whisky
11. Bake the whisky for 4 hours
12. Take the oven out of the turkey
13. Floor the turkey up off of the pick
14. Turk the carvey
15. Get yourself another scottle of botch
16. Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey
17. Bless the dinner and pass out

11-27-2011, 04:59 AM
By Mark Stevenson The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Mexico's archaeology institute downplays theories that the ancient Maya predicted some sort of apocalypse would occur in 2012, but on Thursday it acknowledged that a second reference to the date exists on a carved fragment found at a southern Mexico ruin site.

Most experts had cited only one surviving reference to the date in Mayan glyphs, a stone tablet from the Tortuguero site in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco.

But the National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement that there is in fact another apparent reference to the date at the nearby Comalcalco ruin. The inscription is on the carved or molded face of a brick. Comalcalco is unusual among Mayan temples in that it was constructed of bricks.

Arturo Mendez, a spokesman for the institute, said the fragment of inscription had been discovered years ago and has been subject to thorough study. It is not on display and is being kept in storage at the institute.

The "Comalcalco Brick," as the second fragment is known, has been discussed by experts in some online forums. Many still doubt that it is a definite reference to Dec. 21, 2012 or Dec. 23, 2012, the dates cited by proponents of the theory as the possible end of the world.

Referring to past or future?*
"Some have proposed it as another reference to 2012, but I remain rather unconvinced," David Stuart, a specialist in Mayan epigraphy at the University of Texas at Austin, said in a message to The Associated Press.

Stuart said the date inscribed on the brick "'is a 'Calendar Round,' a combination of a day and month position that will repeat every 52 years."

The brick date does coincide with the end of the 13th Baktun; Baktuns were roughly 394-year periods, and 13 was a significant, sacred number for the Mayas. The Mayan Long Count calendar begins in 3114 B.C., and the 13th Baktun ends around Dec. 21, 2012.

But the date on the brick could also correspond to similar dates in the past, Stuart said.

"There's no reason it couldn't be also a date in ancient times, describing some important historical event in the Classic period. In fact, the third glyph on the brick seems to read as the verb huli, 'he/she/it arrives,'" Stuart wrote. "There's no future tense marking (unlike the Tortuguero phrase), which in my mind points more to the Comalcalco date being more historical than prophetic."

Cryptic characteristics

Both inscriptions — the Tortuguero tablet and the Comalcalco brick — were probably carved about 1,300 years ago, and both are cryptic in some ways.

The Tortuguero stone tablet apparently refers to an event that is due to occur in 2012, but a crack in the stone makes the final passage almost illegible.
The Tortuguero inscription describes something that is supposed to occur in 2012 involving Bolon Yokte, a mysterious Mayan god associated with both war and creation. However, erosion and a crack in the stone make the end of the passage almost illegible, though some read the last eroded glyphs as perhaps saying, "He will descend from the sky."

The Comalcalco brick is also odd in that the molded or inscribed faces of the bricks were probably laid facing inward or covered with stucco, suggesting they were not meant to be seen.

The Institute of Anthropology and History has long said rumors of a world-ending or world-changing event in late December 2012 are a Westernized misinterpretation of Mayan calendars.

The institute repeated Thursday that "Western messianic thought has twisted the cosmovision of ancient civilizations like the Maya."

The institute's experts say the Maya saw time as a series of cycles that began and ended with regularity, but with nothing apocalyptic at the end of a given cycle.

Given the strength of Internet rumors about impending disaster in 2012, the institute is organizing a special round table of 60 Mayan experts next week at the archaeological site of Palenque, in southern Mexico, to "dispel some of the doubts about the end of one era and the beginning of another, in the Mayan Long Count calendar."

11-28-2011, 01:05 PM
There’s nothing like settling in for a long winter’s night with a good book in your home that’s warm and toasty, thanks to…cloud computing?


In a paper presented this year at the Usenix Workshop on Hot Topics in Cloud Computing, researchers from Microsoft and the University of Virginia detailed a possible scenario in which business’s computer servers could be distributed into residences, where the heat they generate through their normal function could be captured and used to heat the structure.

This application, which the researchers dubbed the “data furnace,” would solve a serious problem that all data centers face: what to do with the heat that servers generate. Most data centers need to install elaborate, expensive and energy-intensive cooling systems. So why not give away the heat for free, instead?

If this sounds ridiculous, consider that according to the*New York Times Digital Domain column, some people are already heating their homes by using the heat generated by computers

Here’s how they imagine this playing out: homes would host a number of computers (say, 120 servers) which would turn it into a “micro data center.” For security, all the operations would be encrypted and sensors could tell the servers’ owner if the cabinets holding the machines were tampered with. The type of computing that they’d be used for would have to be something that isn’t needed in real-time and something that didn’t need to be constantly processed. The owners would operate the servers remotely.

The homeowners, meanwhile, would place the servers in a basement, ideally, and pipe the heat the servers generate into existing ductwork.

During the summer, the servers would vent directly into the outside of the house, like a dryer does, and they wouldn’t need to be shut down unless they reached they reached around 95 degrees. Since their use would be non-vital, this would be OK and they could, in most parts of the country, crank up again at night.

The economics are pretty compelling. For a data center to be constructed and operated, it costs about $16,000 each year for about 40 servers. Distributing servers into home and running them remotely would reduce the need for new data centers and cost the cloud computing company only $3,600 a year, the researchers determined.

And the houses wouldn’t need to be conveniently located, necessarily. The NYT article quotes a data center efficiency expert who lives in the mountains in Oregon and currently heats his home using electric baseboards. By switching to servers as a heat source, he’d greatly lower his own costs while hosting servers that could be doing some social good, he said, such as analyzing massive amount of data for medical research.

In Europe, heat from data centers that are cooled through the use of water piped into the buildings have extended the piping out into nearby buildings, where it can be used for heat.

While the idea of distributing micro data centers around a city to dilute cloud computing’s environmental costs and at the same time heat homes, it’s more likely that these data furnaces would appear first in the basements of office buildings or apartment blocks.

[via The New York Times]

Image: Wikicommons

11-28-2011, 01:14 PM

Two malls in the United States will use a new tracking system to follow shoppers’ movements during this holiday season. This FootPath technology was created by UK company Path Intelligence and will be used to obtain information about which parts of the mall are the most and least popular as well as how long shoppers tend to spend at various stores. According to company CEO Sharon Biggar, the technology lets them tell retailers, “you had 100 people come to this product, but no one purchased it.” She says that information can, “help a retailer narrow down what’s going wrong.”

The technology monitors shopper movement by capturing signals from cell phones via antennae installed throughout the mall. It can’t capture personal details stored on the phone, the mobile number itself, or data about what the shoppers’ purchase. “It’s just not invasive of privacy,” Biggar told CNN. Still, those who wish to opt out can do so by turning off their phones. The company will hang signs around the mall informing customers of the tracking system.

At Promenade Temecula in southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va, the technology went into effect on Black Friday and will be used through New Years Eve. Other companies, like JC Penney and Home Depot, are considering implementing it in the future.
[via CNN]

11-28-2011, 11:05 PM

Three women in Zimbabwe accused of raping at least four men to get their sperm for traditional rituals.

The women, who have been charged with 17 counts of aggravated indecent assault, go on trial today in a case that has shocked the country.

Police officials in Zimbabwe believe the alleged perpetrators are part of a nationwide syndicate that may be using the sperm for a traditional ritual claiming to make people lucky and wealthy.

They were apprehended in a town about 170 miles outside of the capital city of Harare after police found 31 used condoms in their car. At least nine men have come forward with similar stories of being attacked.

One of the alleged victims told his story on a popular national talk show called Maichiamba. He said he was raped after accepting a car ride from the women.

"One of the women threw water in my face and they injected me with something that gave me a strong sexual desire. They stopped the car and made me have sex with each of them several times, using condoms," he said. "When they had finished they left me in the bush totally naked."

The man said he went to the hospital to be treated for the drug's effects and called the police. After facing ridicule and scorn over the attack, he said he came forward publicly because he wanted to help other victims.

Female Rapists Go On Trial Today

"I've noticed that the men who have come forward are really traumatized after seeking medical assistance of these rapes and need counselling," Kelvin Hazangwi, National Director of the Padare Menâ's Forum on Gender, tells ABC News. "Some of them, their partners left them and they could not go back to their families. Their social networks have broken down."

Hazangwi says that male rape is still a taboo subject in a society that has very clear definitions of masculinity. For example the women have been charged with aggravated indecent assault rather than rape because a man being sexually assaulted by a woman is not recognized under Zimbabwean rape laws.

"This case is shocking not only for the men but also for the society as a whole," says Hazangwi. "Many people drove to the police station just to get a glimpse or a view of the women that would rape men."

The women have denied the charges, claiming they are prostitutes and did not have time to dispose of the condoms. Cousins Rosemary Chakwizira, 24, and Sophie Nhokwara, 26 told local media that since being out on $300 bail, they've been in hiding after having their lives threatened.

"Are we not suspects until proven guilty? It's as if people have already made their judgments and found us guilty," Nhokwara said in an interview with New Zimbabwe.com.

Regardless of the outcome, the case has started a dialogue in the country about attitudes and treatment of sexual violence against men

"We are realizing that rape whether it happens to grandmother, a child, or a man is wrong," Hazangwi says.

11-28-2011, 11:44 PM
By Leo Kelion Technology reporter


A Stradivarius violin has been "recreated" using an X-ray scanner normally used to detect cancers and injuries, according to researchers.
The US-based group used a computerised axial tomography (CAT) scanner on the 307-year-old instrument to reveal its secrets.
They then used the data recovered to build "nearly exact copies".
The team said the technique could be used to give musicians access to rare musical equipment.
Their findings have been presented to the Radiological Society of North America at a conference in Chicago.
Radiologist Steven Sirr first had the idea of using a CAT scanner to take images of violins in 1988.
He was an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota at the time and often brought his violin to his office to practise when it was quiet.
One weekend he was called to supervise the scan of a gunshot wound victim.
"I put the violin of the side on a table near the scanner and then after the patient went to surgery I turned round and saw my violin and thought - well it would be interesting to scan that," Dr Sirr told the BBC.
He had expected to see a wooden shell surrounded by air, but was proved wrong.
"There is a lot of anatomy - I'm used to evaluating anatomy in people and I saw a lot of detail that I had no understanding of, so I took the CT scan to my friend John Waddle, who is a violin maker, and I gave him the images," he said.
Over the following years the two men scanned many hundreds of instruments, including guitars, mandolins and other violins.
Scans of the older instruments revealed worm holes, small cracks and other damage that helped create their distinctive sounds.
Eventually the two men borrowed a Stradivarius known as "Betts" from the US Library of Congress which still had an original label placed by its Italian creator, Antonio Stradivari, inside its body.
Teaming up with another violin maker, Steve Rossow, they proceeded to create three replicas.
Computer cut
To do this they took more than 1,000 CAT scan images from the original instrument and converted them into a file format used to resemble three-dimensional object in computer-aided design (CAD) software.
"We used the scans to determine the density of the woods that made up the violin - that could only otherwise be done if the violin was dissected and measured - and of course that would never happen," Dr Sirr said.
The files were then fed into a CNC (computer numerical control) machine. It used the data to carve the violins' back and front plates, neck and the "scroll" carving at the neck's end using various woods picked to match the originals as closely as possible.
These were then assembled and varnished by hand.
"The copies are amazingly similar to originals in their sound quality," said Dr Sirr.
"When we make the violin we copy the changes that have occurred over more than 300 years including the shifts in the wood - the small deformations in the front and back plates that occur over time because of the forces of the strings and the other parts of the violin."
Cheap classics
Dr Sirr said he hoped to repeat the process with other antique instruments and hoped that his work would one day pave the way for students to have access to "nearly exact copies" of the originals.
The dean of the world-famous Juilliard school in New York, welcomed the possibility.
"Every string player graduating from any great conservatory faces an immense crisis of how do you obtain a violin that is at the level that you need to have a really first rate career," said Ara Guzelimian.
"With the inflation of prices of rare old violins - and obviously Stradivari at the top of that list - it's far out of the reach of anyone but investors and investment trusts. So if there was a way of putting a superb violin in the hands of a young violinist at a fraction of the cost it would be a huge step forward."
A well-preserved Stradivarius known as the Lady Blunt was sold in June for $15.9m (£10.2m) at a charity auction. That was more than four times the previous record price for an instrument made by the Italian craftsman.
Renowned luthier Samuel Zygmuntowicz noted that violin makers have long studied Stradivari, Guarneri and other classic instruments to match their sound.
He said Dr Sirr's work may have helped democratise the process by making it possible for more people to study such antique violins. But he added that the most highly skilled luthiers would remain in demand.
"This process will streamline that effort to copy an instrument," said Mr Zygmuntowicz.
"But the very last stretch - the very last 2% - still involves exact judgements about relative thicknesses of the wood, the exact strength of the bracing, the exact varnishes and wood preparations and general optimising of the whole form.
So I would say a skilled maker with this in his hands could save himself a lot of work, and an unskilled maker would save himself a certain amount of education."

11-29-2011, 03:51 PM
Following in the big footsteps of the Grand Canyon Skywalk (http://www.grandcanyonskywalk.com/) in the US, the new path circlingChina’s Tianmen Mountain National Park (http://www.tianmen.com.cn/) is a 61 meter (200 foot) long walkway of glass floor and railings.

The walkway sits snugly against the mountain instead of jutting out over space but still offers a truly panoramic view all the way down the cliff side.


Unveiled in early November 2011, the Tianmen Mountain walkway is one of the world’s highest observation platforms at about 1,430 meters (4,700 feet) above sea level.

Tianmen Mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (http://whc.unesco.org/en/) and park regulations require tourists visiting the site to wear anti-slip shoe covers to keep the two and a half inch thick glass clean.
The park also boasts a cable car trail that measures four miles long and 4,000 feet high.

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/china-glass-walkway-tianmen-views.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/china-glass-walkway-tianmen-views.jpg)
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/china-glass-walkway-tianmen-panarama1.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/china-glass-walkway-tianmen-panarama1.jpg)
Images: DingYun Yuan for tianmenshan (http://www.tianmenshan.com.cn/webinfo/info_list.asp?infoid=564)

11-29-2011, 03:55 PM
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/nyc-garbage-truck-flickr.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/nyc-garbage-truck-flickr.jpg)

With more than 8 million people living in New York City, the waste statistics are staggering.

Each week, the city collects at least 64,000 tons of household and institutional waste. In 2009, during the average waste collection shift, each one of the 2,000-plus garbage trucks collected 9.9 tons of trash and 5.6 tons of recyclables.
But the story doesn’t end at the curb.

Behind the scenes, complex systems are in places to manage the massive amount of waste: collecting it, sorting it, and shipping it all around the world. Urban Omnibus (http://urbanomnibus.net/2011/11/city-of-systems-waste-removal/) explores the waste management systems in New York City with the help of Elizabeth Royte, author of Garbage Land (http://www.amazon.com/Garbage-Land-Secret-Trail-Trash/dp/0316738263).

She goes into detail about how NYC’s waste management systems have evolved over the years, how they work today, and where trash in the city goes when it leaves the curb.
Here’s the video (warning: it might make you think of your garbage collector as a ballerina):


The video is part of a series called City of Systems (http://urbanomnibus.net/tag/city-of-systems/), which takes a look at the complex urban systems that make New York City function.

Photo: drewgeraets (http://www.flickr.com/photos/drewgeraets/)/ Flickr

11-29-2011, 04:00 PM
LEAPfactory high alpine pods give new meaning to ‘room with a view’

By Mary Catherine O'Connor (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=mary+catherine+o'connor) | November 25, 2011, 7:26 PM PST

Mark my words, some mountaineering purists are going to have some issues with the LEAP living pods, designed for high alpine expeditions.
The modular tubes, complete with weather stations, toilets, living and sleeping quarters, will disconnect climbers from the elements, they’ll say. They’re for wussies, they’ll say.

But maybe they’re also a good concept. If you’ve seen images or read reports of the discarded oxygen canisters and other debris (not to mention corpses) strewn along popular mountaineering
routes in the Himalayas, you know that mountaineering isn’t always exactly a “leave only footsteps” type of endeavor.

The LEAP pods, made by Italian design firm LEAPfactory (http://www.leapfactory.it/index_eng.html), are meant to lessen the environmental toll that mountaineering takes on fragile high alpine environments.
The structures are meant to house climbers and provide a source of energy and sanitation for long bivouacs. Weather can force delays of days or even weeks, so these shelters would improve the safety
and comfort of climbers. Given that they contain actual beds, one might also argue that climbers who stay in them will be better rested and less likely to make climbing errors once on an ascent.
And they’d be better than tents for performing medical triage or giving treatment to injured climbers.

LEAP (which stands for living ecological alpine pod) structures have photovoltaic panels embedded in each modular section, as well as cooking facilities, a direct link to emergency rescue
personnel and, as mention, a toilet, which has a composting design.

Is this what mountaineering 2.0 looks like? Maybe, if you’re super rich. While LEAPfactory hasn’t released pricing, establishing a LEAP location would have to be extremely pricey,
since the modules would need to be brought in by helicopter.

Then again, it’s easy to imagine their installation subsidized by a gear manufacturer that would use the exterior walls as a billboard. (The visual impact of that could be pretty obnoxious,
but it’s not like the huge white pods blend in with the rocky outcropping on which they’d perch.) Or perhaps mountaineering groups could pool resources and pay for the construction,
installation and upkeep of a pad from club dues.

(http://i.bnet.com/blogs/drilling-anchors-for-pod.jpg)Drilling anchors for a pod

In terms of environmental impact, the other factors to consider are the excavating and anchoring needed to secure the pods onto a mountainside. And then there’s the use of helicopters
to transport and place the pod components. But over time, if the pods were used by enough climbers who would have otherwise pitched tents and relied more of battery and other power sources,
it does seem possible that the pods would lead to a lower environmental impact.

In either case, you can’t argue that the view from any window would be pretty sweet.
Images: LEAPfactory
[via Gizmodo (http://www.gizmag.com/transportable-leap-nature-pod/20599/)]

12-01-2011, 07:11 PM
http://l3.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/kjmVjizroQE0M3Nlej7hqQ--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Zmk9Zml0O2g9Mjc-/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/logo/ap/ap_logo_106.png (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AsRS_G0xOnTmQ6C_ebRyO5uw73QA;_ylu=X3oDMTFiN2p zZDVyBG1pdANBcnRpY2xlIEhlYWQEcG9zAzEEc2VjA01lZGlhQ XJ0aWNsZUhlYWQ-;_ylg=X3oDMTMxYzZjbWY3BGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDNDY1YmExNmMtOWJhNC0zYzgxLWExYmYtNjU2MjRjMj ZkNWYyBHBzdGNhdANidXNpbmVzcwRwdANzdG9yeXBhZ2UEdGVz dAM-;_ylv=0/SIG=116o3m7l8/EXP=1323992851/**http%3A//www.ap.org/)By MARY PEMBERTON | AP – 8 hrs ago

http://l2.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/eT4rhaqwlVroyH_Hvkmzsw--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Y2g9MTgwMDtjcj0xO2N3PTI1MjA7ZHg9MD tkeT0wO2ZpPXVsY3JvcDtoPTEzNjtxPTg1O3c9MTkw/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/ap_webfeeds/6d21ad73e502fe1aff0e6a706700adf9.jpg (http://news.yahoo.com/photos/business-1316120612-slideshow/file-nov-9-2011-file-photo-couple-stands-photo-222837642.html)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The residents of Nome, Alaska, could be looking at a very costly winter: $9-a-gallon gasoline.

The coastal city of more than 3,500 residents that is known for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is iced-in, and a massive winter storm this month prevented a barge that usually carries fuel from getting to shore.

The most likely plan is to fly it in, but it would be costly and could be a logistical nightmare.

"It could be pretty outrageous, the prices," said Jeremy Nassuk,Nome airport fueler for Crowley Marine Services, Inc.

A gallon of gas was selling for $5.98 and jet fuel $6.77 a gallon on Wednesday. The next barge delivery wouldn't be until next June. In the meantime, flying fuel to the city could increase the cost per gallon by $3 to $4, officials said.

"We are going to have to have fuel drivers picking up fuel 24 hours a day as flights are available to fly into Nome," said Jason Evans, board chairman of Sitnasuak Native Corp., which provides services to the region.

Sitnasuak arranged in May with petroleum distributor Delta Western Inc. to have three barges deliver fuel to Nome, but only one arrived early in the summer, Evans said. That barge carried home heating fuel.

The storm that barreled into Alaska's western coastline in mid-November, zeroing in on Nome, prevented the arrival of a barge carrying 1.6-million gallons of gasoline and diesel.

"Ice is forming around the community and making a normal barge delivery impossible at this time," Evans said.

Delta Western has canvassed the nation looking for ice breakers and ice-class tugs and barges to get fuel to Nome, but so far has had no success, vice president Kirk Payne said.

The good news is that the city is not in dire straits of running out of fuel, he said.

"We got some time to work through this," he said. "Can product be flown up? Yes, absolutely. What is it going to cost? We don't know. Is the public going to see that cost? We don't know."

Gasoline and diesel are needed to run the ambulances and state equipment to maintain and plow roads, Evans said. If nothing is done, gasoline and diesel supplies will run low within three months, he said.

The plan is to have fuel delivered 4,000 to 6,000 gallons at a time by prop plane or jet, beginning before the end of the year. Sitnasuak is looking at a pared-down delivery plan of perhaps a half-million gallons, he said.

That amount could increase if it turns out to be a cold winter, and so far it looks that way.

"It has been cold up there," Evans said. The temperature at 10 a.m. Wednesday was minus 2.

A lot of people in the old Gold Rush-era town, where bars are housed in Western-style false-front wooden buildings and where temperatures can plummet to 30 below zero, don't own cars and rely on taxis to get around.

From one end of town to the other is about 5 miles, said Sunny Song, owner of Mr. Cab, which ferries children to school, nurses to their patients' homes and women to hospitals to give birth.

Mr. Cab now charges $4 per fare. Song said a big rise in gasoline prices will put them out of business.

"It is going to kill us," she said.

But Polar Bar owner Patrick Krier isn't worried.
"People will still go out and have a few drinks," he said. "That is inevitable."

12-02-2011, 07:12 PM
Study says the pond-dwelling animals can sense a change in groundwater before an earthquake

Aside from ionosphere disturbances (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AhLFum4.3YQNeh0_iYJ5ywA6cOF_;_ylu=X3oDMTFka3B kYnE0BG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzEEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTM2b2Q0cmZxBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDODM4N2ZiOTctY2JiNC0zMTMxLWIxMWUtNjJmYWNjZD YxMWQ1BHBzdGNhdAN0ZWNofHdpcmVsZXNzBHB0A3N0b3J5cGFn ZQR0ZXN0Aw--;_ylv=0/SIG=13g34nuu8/EXP=1324081061/**http%3A//www.tecca.com/news/2011/10/10/ionosphere-disturbance-earthquake-early-warning-system/), nature has a number of ways that signify an earthquake's arrival far earlier than an iPhone (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=Auc8m5ArdZhAHhgtNu9tMnE6cOF_;_ylu=X3oDMTFkZWg zYnZwBG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzIEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTM2b2Q0cmZxBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDODM4N2ZiOTctY2JiNC0zMTMxLWIxMWUtNjJmYWNjZD YxMWQ1BHBzdGNhdAN0ZWNofHdpcmVsZXNzBHB0A3N0b3J5cGFn ZQR0ZXN0Aw--;_ylv=0/SIG=12otedpo7/EXP=1324081061/**http%3A//www.tecca.com/news/2011/08/22/ios-5-earthquake-warning-japan/) can. Animals, for instance, are known to leave their homes and head to safety anywhere from a few seconds to weeks before humans can feel quakes. It was easy enough for researchers to determine the science behind the behavior (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AoKY3DDFOQs94.cCAfVb8_E6cOF_;_ylu=X3oDMTFkNWJ 1MDBuBG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzMEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTM2b2Q0cmZxBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDODM4N2ZiOTctY2JiNC0zMTMxLWIxMWUtNjJmYWNjZD YxMWQ1BHBzdGNhdAN0ZWNofHdpcmVsZXNzBHB0A3N0b3J5cGFn ZQR0ZXN0Aw--;_ylv=0/SIG=12av103h1/EXP=1324081061/**http%3A//earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/animal_eqs.php) seconds before ground tremors are felt, but the explanation behind instances of animal exodus days or weeks prior to any seismic activity has eluded them — until now, that is. Rachel Grant from the U.K. Open University and Friedemann Freund (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=ArRUshMAwuyJaXY_yelxHtc6cOF_;_ylu=X3oDMTFkMmF zbGIwBG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzQEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTM2b2Q0cmZxBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDODM4N2ZiOTctY2JiNC0zMTMxLWIxMWUtNjJmYWNjZD YxMWQ1BHBzdGNhdAN0ZWNofHdpcmVsZXNzBHB0A3N0b3J5cGFn ZQR0ZXN0Aw--;_ylv=0/SIG=147mhoetj/EXP=1324081061/**http%3A//www.seti.org/seti-institute/project/details/friedemann-freund-%E2%80%94-future-forecasting-earthquakes) from NASA believe they may have figured it all out, thanks to a colony of toads.

Grant monitored a toad colony in L'Aquila, Italy for her PhD project, when she noticed the population number dropped from 96 to almost zero at least three days before an earthquake hit. After forming a team with Freund, they studied how and why that event happened. The results — which were recently published in a research paper — showed that stress in the surrounding rocks released charged particles that contaminated the groundwater. The toads, of course, sought refuge away from their environment which had suddenly become toxic.

According to the study, rocks under very high levels of stress due to tectonic forces emit particles that react with air to form positively charged ions. These particles are known to cause health problems in humans like headaches, nausea, and increased levels of the stress hormone serotonin. The positive ions then dissolve in the water, making it lethal not just to toads but other aquatic, semi-aquatic, and even burrowing animals.

The scientists admit their findings need to be tested and studied more. But even now they believe it can be used as one of the early indicators of an earthquake (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=Aos.9iFxg_3vSon3LGyJY2g6cOF_;_ylu=X3oDMTFkcWh pdTZuBG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzUEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTM2b2Q0cmZxBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDODM4N2ZiOTctY2JiNC0zMTMxLWIxMWUtNjJmYWNjZD YxMWQ1BHBzdGNhdAN0ZWNofHdpcmVsZXNzBHB0A3N0b3J5cGFn ZQR0ZXN0Aw--;_ylv=0/SIG=12lsftuil/EXP=1324081061/**http%3A//www.tecca.com/news/2011/03/14/japan-earthquake-technology/). "Once we understand how all of these signals are connected, if we see four of five signals all pointing in [the same] direction, we can say, 'ok, something is about to happen'," Freund says.

[Image credit: Wikimedia (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=Au8vZXcXPGXpGJxRBKGPiqI6cOF_;_ylu=X3oDMTFkbml nNzJjBG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzYEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTM2b2Q0cmZxBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDODM4N2ZiOTctY2JiNC0zMTMxLWIxMWUtNjJmYWNjZD YxMWQ1BHBzdGNhdAN0ZWNofHdpcmVsZXNzBHB0A3N0b3J5cGFn ZQR0ZXN0Aw--;_ylv=0/SIG=12euofkin/EXP=1324081061/**http%3A//commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AJuvenile_Toad.jpg)]
[via BBC (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AvnYXh4VQ2thTRvOTi9VtKI6cOF_;_ylu=X3oDMTFkYTl rYnI4BG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzcEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTM2b2Q0cmZxBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDODM4N2ZiOTctY2JiNC0zMTMxLWIxMWUtNjJmYWNjZD YxMWQ1BHBzdGNhdAN0ZWNofHdpcmVsZXNzBHB0A3N0b3J5cGFn ZQR0ZXN0Aw--;_ylv=0/SIG=11o1ud03p/EXP=1324081061/**http%3A//www.bbc.co.uk/nature/15945014), Telegraph (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=ArmuI_8XjBcgS_5sKT8Byq46cOF_;_ylu=X3oDMTFkMG5 sZmN1BG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzgEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTM2b2Q0cmZxBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDODM4N2ZiOTctY2JiNC0zMTMxLWIxMWUtNjJmYWNjZD YxMWQ1BHBzdGNhdAN0ZWNofHdpcmVsZXNzBHB0A3N0b3J5cGFn ZQR0ZXN0Aw--;_ylv=0/SIG=13rlafhts/EXP=1324081061/**http%3A//www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8928251/Toads-could-be-used-to-predict-earthquakes.html)]

12-02-2011, 09:01 PM
Great, does anybody here speak 'Toad'?

As to the few seconds before a quake bit.....it got so that when an aftershock was heading our way I knew exactly what it sounded like and could pick up my teacup before the shock hit so I didn't spill any.

And cats are useless as an early warning system.......extensive testing has confirmed this.

12-02-2011, 09:17 PM
Postal Service customers take note — usps.com recently posted a warning about email scammers using the Postal Service’s name to access valuable personal information.

Customers being targeted receive bogus emails with subject lines containing the text: “USPS Delivery Failure Notification.” The emails claim to be from the Postal Service and contain fraudulent information about an attempted or intercepted package delivery. The emails instruct customers to click on a link to find out when they can expect delivery.

Clicking on the link activates a virus, which can steal personal information — such as usernames, passwords and financial account information — stored on the computer.

Customers should simply delete the message and take no further action unless they choose to report the email as spam by contacting abuse@usps.gov.

The email scam is similar to a telemarketing scam uncovered by the Postal Inspection Service in which fraudsters masquerading as USPS employees were phoning residents and requesting birth dates and Social Security numbers as requirements for package delivery (Link, 10/31).

Corporate Information Security Officer Chuck McGann offers these tips on spotting bogus emails:

The text contains poor grammar or spelling errors.
The text states immediate action must be taken or customer could face dire consequences.
The email requests personal information under the guise of re-confirming information.
The text from an “automated message system” states “Click on this link for details.”
Customers with questions about a delivery by the Postal Service should call 800-ASK-USPS.
via USPS News Link – Nov. 18, 2011 (https://liteblue.usps.gov/news/link/2011/nl_1118.htm).

12-02-2011, 10:35 PM
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/nightsurfeugenetan1.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/nightsurfeugenetan1.jpg)
The dude in the picture above is riding the night surf at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia. He and 16 others trimmed their wetsuits and boards with glow-in-the-dark lighting in the wee hours of Thursday morning to herald the arrival of summer Down Under.

Some video reports, like the BBC’s (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-15984727) described the lighting technology as “neon.” Others, such as the New York Daily News (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/australia-bondi-beach-welcomes-day-summer-glow-in-the-dark-neon-surfing-display-article-1.985748?localLinksEnabled=false), called it “LED” (light emitting diode). I was unable to verify either, but this strikes me as a perfect application for “organic LEDs” (OLEDs). Like neon, OLEDs emit light from a natural source. Scientists are developing flexible models that would usher in a radical new lighting world in which light sources form the fabric of buildings, furniture, fashion and other objects - like surfboards.

Anyway, that’s enough tech talk. Feast your eyes on the BBC video link above (rights issues prohibit us from embedding it here), and on the videos and pictures below. The first embedded video comes from YouTube via event sponsor Strongbow, a British brand of alcoholic cider. Thephotos are by Eugene Tan in partnership with Aquabumps (http://www.aquabumps.com/2011/12/01/tron/), an organization that describes itself as “dedicated to early morning beach life.” The final YouTube video spots a similar colorful scene in Tenerife.

Some more groovy pics, by Eugene Tan via Aquabumps:
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/nightsurfeugenetan3.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/nightsurfeugenetan3.jpg)
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/nightsurfeugenetan2.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/nightsurfeugenetan2.jpg)
And another video, this one from Tenerife sporting LED lighting:

12-02-2011, 10:39 PM
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/bridgestone-airless-tire-tokyo-auto-show-20110-rendering-sm.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/bridgestone-airless-tire-tokyo-auto-show-20110-rendering-sm.jpg)
Automotive tire maker Bridgestone will formally introduce this weekend a new “airless” model that it says is puncture-proof.

The technology, which will officially debut at the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show beginning tomorrow, uses resin spokes to support the vehicle’s load.

Instead of running from the rim to the tread, as with conventional tires, the recyclable thermoplastic resin spokes are designed at such an angle that “the force that deforms the tread does not become a turning force,” according to Tech-On (http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/english/NEWS_EN/20111130/202011/). Two sets of spokes reinforce each other for stability. (To be fair, the concept model is just nine inches in diameter.)
(http://i.bnet.com/blogs/michelin-tweel-airless-tire-2006-sq.png)The bottom line is that there’s no air, which means there are no debilitating punctures, which saves on maintenance and headaches.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen “hard” wheels before, of course. The military uses them all the time in harsh environments; as for the consumer auto market, rival Michelin introduced its Tweelairless concept tire (http://www.michelin.com/corporate/EN/news/article?articleID=N17448) (pictured, at right) in 2006 — but that product suffered from vibration, heat and noise problems at high speeds, according to my CNET colleague Tim Hornyak (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57335244-1/bridgestone-shows-off-small-airless-tires/).

Is this tiny model the answer? Probably not, but it’s the latest step toward a more durable — and sustainable — tire for full-size vehicles. The question is whether the price will be right.

12-02-2011, 10:41 PM
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/patriot-home-for-wounded-warriors.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/patriot-home-for-wounded-warriors.jpg)

Two prototype homes for returning, injured U.S. soldiers were unveiled on November 30 at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. The Freedom Home and the Patriot Home are the first houses of the Wounded Warrior Home Project (http://www.woundedwarriorhome.org/), a collaboration sponsored by the Department of Defense and Clark Realty Capital (http://www.clarkrealty.com/) (the U.S. Army’s partner for the Residential Communities Initiative (http://www.rci.army.mil/) at Fort Belvoir). The project’s mission is to create truly accessible homes for returning soldiers and set a new standard of accessible design.
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/ideo_ww_living-day-300x179.png (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/ideo_ww_living-day.png)Innovation consultants IDEO (http://www.ideo.com/) and architect Michael Graves (http://www.michaelgraves.com/) led a design team that used human-centered and universal design principles to develop homes for the unique physical, psychological, and emotional needs of ‘wounded warriors’. The team found that most people who return home after an injury or trauma try to adapt themselves to their environment. The Wounded Warrior Home designs focus on adapting and creating environments to fit the returning soldiers.
Over half of the 200,000 U.S. soldiers who have been injured in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan return home and continue active duty. Veterans can face various challenges beyond physical disabilities including post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and vision loss. In addition to modifications that follow ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) (http://www.ada.gov/) requirements, the homes respond to soldier’s needs at present and also accommodate their and their families’ needs in the future.
To understand the soldiers’ physical limitations, and cognitive and emotional challenges, IDEO researched and conducted over a year of interviews and observations with civilians, injured soldiers, families, and experts. Michael Graves, who has used a wheelchair since 2003, contributed his personal experience and insight as well as his design expertise to the project.
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/ideo_ww_patio-300x177.png (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/ideo_ww_patio.png)Physically, the homes don’t look much different from a typical model development home designed by a renown architect, which is the point — to provide a place of ‘normalcy’. The visible design moves include linear hallways to reduce turns, wider hallways, open connections between rooms, sliding and automatic doors, removable base cabinets, adjustable kitchen surfaces, roll-in showers, and contrasting floor patterns.
Two soldier families will move into the Freedom Home and Patriot Home after an initial exhibit time for the public and usability testing. Nineteen additional accessible homes based on the prototypes are planned for the Fort Belvoir residential communities.
More information about the home designs and design process, including video profiles of soldiers who helped in research, can be found on the Wounded Warrior Home (http://www.woundedwarriorhome.org/) and IDEO (http://www.ideo.com/work/designing-the-ideal-home-for-wounded-warriors) websites.
Via: Core77 (http://www.core77.com/blog/architecture/architecture_for_recovery_ideo_and_michael_graves_ design_a_home_for_disabled_military_veterans_21224 .asp)
Images: courtesy of IDEO (http://www.ideo.com/)

12-03-2011, 03:03 PM
Thursday, December 1, 2011 10:03 AM

Over a decade ago, it was noted that people who took anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as naproxen, indomethacin, or ibuprofen, were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

At first, scientists thought that these medications’ anti-inflammatory effect was protecting users. However, it was then discovered that some anti-inflammatories, such as corticosteroids, actually increased people’s risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Fairly recently, scientists discovered that certain natural substances also reduce the risk
of these degenerative brain diseases, while conventional treatments still offer little hope.

Very few drugs have been developed for these conditions. Most that have been created are
extremely toxic and have many complications yet offer little benefit for the condition they are meant to treat. (Find more details on how you can keep your brain from the ravages of dementia by reading my report "Save Your Brain.")

One of the most impressive of the natural compounds used in combating Alzheimer’s and
Parkinson’s is curcumin. Several animal models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have been used to evaluate treatments. Some human clinical trials are now under way as well, and the early results are promising.

Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, curcumin addresses the cause of the problem of neurodegenerative brain diseases. Recent studies have shown that it reduces amyloid by eight different mechanisms, and has been shown to dramatically reduce the amount of this toxic substance in the brains of animal models of Alzheimer’s disease.

Several studies have shown that curcumin does things no other known substance can do:
• Reduces the formation of any amyloid in the brain
• Reduces the formation of amyloid plaque
• Dissolves amyloid plaque once it has formed

Even more remarkable, curcumin can do thesethings in very low concentrations, easily attainable by oral supplementation.

Curcumin not only dramatically reduces the amount of the oligomeric amyloid, it also
significantly reduces its toxicity — thus doubling its benefits against Alzheimer’s disease. And again, it does this in very small concentrations.

Ferulic acid, a substance created by the metabolic breakdown of curcumin, can also reduce
beta amyloid in the brain and protect against neurodegeneration. But unfortunately, it has great difficulty passing the blood-brain barrier and entering the brain tissue. On the other hand, curcumin easily enters the brain, so its benefits are immediate.

Dr. Blaylock.
© 2011 Newsmax.

12-03-2011, 07:30 PM
By Eric Pfeiffer (http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/author/eric-pfeiffer/), The Sideshow....
(http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AtlGtDBaSTr8asHae9qojNsSH9EA;_ylu=X3oDMTFka3B kYnE0BG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzEEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTNldmJzcTdoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDYzllMWY1N2UtOTM5NS0zN2MwLWI5YWEtYjFmZTVhNT YyMmI1BHBzdGNhdANvcmlnaW5hbHN8dGhlc2lkZXNob3cEcHQD c3RvcnlwYWdlBHRlc3QD;_ylv=0/SIG=12cd6g792/EXP=1324167706/**http%3A//media.zenfs.com/en/blogs/thesideshow/pursegun.jpg)Vanessa Gibbs holds her infamous "purse gun"

It's not unusual for 17-year-old to find themselves in hot water with the fashion police. But on a flight from Virginia to Florida, Vanessa Gibbs found herself detained by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) over the appearance of her purse (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=Aojwej3.vmLBLv22wCc3CB8SH9EA;_ylu=X3oDMTFkZWg zYnZwBG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzIEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTNldmJzcTdoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDYzllMWY1N2UtOTM5NS0zN2MwLWI5YWEtYjFmZTVhNT YyMmI1BHBzdGNhdANvcmlnaW5hbHN8dGhlc2lkZXNob3cEcHQD c3RvcnlwYWdlBHRlc3QD;_ylv=0/SIG=143sdbsoh/EXP=1324167706/**http%3A//www.news4jax.com/news/Teen-stopped-at-airport-for-design-on-purse/-/475880/4858586/-/qijcv5/-/index.html).
And just to be clear, it wasn't the content inside the purse that the TSA objected to. No, agency officials took exception with the design of a gun on Gibbs' handbag.

"It's my style, it's camouflage, it has an old western gun on it," Gibbs told News4Jax.com. Gibbs didn't run into any trouble while traveling north from Jacksonville International Airport (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=Ank7P9rYe3NMQ9pe.PlJIj0SH9EA;_ylu=X3oDMTFkNWJ 1MDBuBG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzMEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTNldmJzcTdoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDYzllMWY1N2UtOTM5NS0zN2MwLWI5YWEtYjFmZTVhNT YyMmI1BHBzdGNhdANvcmlnaW5hbHN8dGhlc2lkZXNob3cEcHQD c3RvcnlwYWdlBHRlc3QD;_ylv=0/SIG=118csk477/EXP=1324167706/**http%3A//www.jia.aero/). But on her way back home, TSA officials at Norfolk International Airport (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AkkGdIgASdq3RL59Y0v1Y0QSH9EA;_ylu=X3oDMTFkMmF zbGIwBG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzQEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTNldmJzcTdoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDYzllMWY1N2UtOTM5NS0zN2MwLWI5YWEtYjFmZTVhNT YyMmI1BHBzdGNhdANvcmlnaW5hbHN8dGhlc2lkZXNob3cEcHQD c3RvcnlwYWdlBHRlc3QD;_ylv=0/SIG=11ischaqh/EXP=1324167706/**http%3A//www.norfolkairport.com/) pulled her aside.

"She was like, 'This is a federal offense because it's in the shape of a gun,'" Gibbs said. "I'm like, 'But it's a design on a purse. How is it a federal offense?'"

After TSA agents figured out the gun was a fake, Gibbs said, they told her to check the bag or turn it over. By the time security wrapped up the inspection, the pregnant teen missed her flight, and Southwest Airlines sent her to Orlando instead. The changed itinerary created no small amount of anxiety for Gibbs' mother, who was already waiting for her to arrive at the Jacksonville airport.

"Oh, it's terrifying. I was so upset," said Tami Gibbs, the teen's mom. "I was on the phone all the way to Orlando trying to figure out what was going on with her. It was terrifying."

Less terrifying is the actual design on the purse, which is only a few inches in size and hollow. "I carried this from Jacksonville to Norfolk, and I've carried it from Norfolk to Jacksonville," Vanessa said. "Never once has anyone said anything about it until now."

Nonetheless, the TSA says the design could be considered a "replica weapon," something that the agency has banned since 2002 (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AsFz4RoZ3nXk87VAsHXPZoUSH9EA;_ylu=X3oDMTFkcWh pdTZuBG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzUEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTNldmJzcTdoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDYzllMWY1N2UtOTM5NS0zN2MwLWI5YWEtYjFmZTVhNT YyMmI1BHBzdGNhdANvcmlnaW5hbHN8dGhlc2lkZXNob3cEcHQD c3RvcnlwYWdlBHRlc3QD;_ylv=0/SIG=135ak0c55/EXP=1324167706/**http%3A//www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm). Just imagine what would have happened if Gibbs had also been wearing stiletto heels.

12-03-2011, 08:38 PM
Rescuers found pickup stuck in snow near Nome.

Anchorage Daily NewsPublished: December 2nd, 2011 10:22 PM
Last Modified: December 3rd, 2011 08:38 AM

Clifton Vial, 52, climbed into the cab of his Toyota Tacoma Monday night in Nome to see how far a road winding to the north would take him.

More than 40 miles out of town, at about 9:30 that night, he found out. As Pink Floyd's "Echoes" played on the stereo and temperature dipped well below zero in the darkness, Vial's pickup plunged into a snowdrift.

"I made an attempt at digging myself out and realized how badly I was stuck," said Vial. He was wearing tennis shoes, jeans and a $30 jacket from Sears. "I would have been frostbit before I ever got the thing out of there."

Vial found himself alone near Salmon Lake, on a road that doubles as a snowmachine trail in the winter and stretches inland from the Bering Sea city. Far beyond the reach of his cellphone, Vial slipped into a fleece sleeping bag liner and wrapped a bath towel around his feet. He occasionally started the truck to run the heater and listen to the radio.

Was anybody talking about him? Did they know he was missing?
By the third day, Vial said, the truck was nearly out of gas.

"I felt really pissed at myself," Vial said. "I shouldn't have been out there by myself unprepared for what I knew was possible."

Normally Vial carries a sleeping bag, extra gasoline and other survival gear in the 2000 Toyota, he said. But on this trip he had few supplies, no food and no water. Even his dogs, a pair of labs that usually accompany him on drives, stayed home.

Vial kept busy trying to think of ways to stay warm. His family was out of town, searchers said. No one would know he was gone until he failed to show up for work at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"He's a very punctual employee," said John Handeland, general manager for Nome Joint Utility System, where Vial works as an operator mechanic. "By 4 o'clock we figured something was wrong,"

No one could reach Vial on the phone. Co-workers patrolling the town that night found no sign of his pickup.
Handeland called police on Wednesday when Vial missed work for a second day.

The Nome Volunteer Fire Department was alerted and Vial's co-workers and volunteer rescuers drove surrounding roads in search of the Toyota.

One searcher drove 41 miles along Kougarok Road -- just a few miles from where Vial sat shivering and stranded in his pickup -- but saw no tracks. The searcher turned back as daylight disappeared and the road conditions worsened, Handeland said.

Troopers joined the search. Rescuers looked for Vial on the ground and from the air, in planes and from a helicopter.

"When we get called on situations like this, it's a needle in a haystack," said Jim West Jr., a Nome fire department captain and search and rescue coordinator.

For Vial, the cold was worse than the hunger, he said. Still he scoured the pickup in vain for food.
His only provisions: Snow, and a few cans of Coors Light that had frozen solid in the cab.

Vial ate the beers like cans of beans. "I cut the lids off and dug it out with a knife," he said.

The overnight low temperature in Nome dropped from about 12 below Monday night -- not counting windchill -- to 17 below on Wednesday morning, said National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Aldrich.

Battling for warmth, Vial wrapped a bath towel around his feet and placed another over his knees and thighs. He shook his ankles and knees to keep moving. He stuffed rags in his clothes and unraveled tissue paper, jamming it down around his feet.

"When I was just sitting there in my coat in the sleeping bag liner I would pull my arms inside my T-shirt to try and utilize my body heat as much as I could," Vial said. "That worked fine for some time, as far as keeping my torso warm and my arms. But my legs and feet where getting pretty cold."

The wind rumbled like airplane engines, Vial said. He thought about his daughter, and about what would happen if no one found him in time.

"I tried to sleep when I could," Vial said, "but I knew that I might not wake up."

When he did close his eyes, Vial said, strange and vivid images appeared. "Saw my daughter. Saw my job.
Saw some things that didn't look like people."

He would picture himself driving around Nome, saying hello to friends, only to snap awake and find himself back in the truck, freezing.

At one point Vial decided he would only fire up the pickup's engine once a day. "(The gas tank) was on 'E' and the gas light was coming on," he said.

Vial never heard the rescuers arrive. It was early Thursday afternoon, three days after he first became stranded in the snow, when they pulled up behind his pickup. A co-worker and another volunteer opened the door to the truck, he said.

They gave him a Snickers bar -- it seemed too dry to eat, he said -- and an orange soda.

Vial described the more than 60-hour ordeal in a short phone interview Friday from Nome. His daughter was home from Anchorage. He planned to visit a doctor Friday afternoon, then return to work.

Vial's legs felt as if they'd been beaten, he said, but he found no signs of frostbite. "I weighed myself last night," he said. "I lost approximately 16 pounds."

12-03-2011, 10:02 PM
By Alyssa Newcomb

Arthur Berkowitz was buckled into his aisle seat and ready for take-off on a flight from Anchorage to Philadelphia when a morbidly obese man boarded the airplane at the last minute and headed toward the vacant middle seat which separated Berkowitz and a young exchange student on the otherwise full flight.

"He was very apologetic," Berkowitz, 57, told ABCNews.com. "When he boarded, he said: 'I'm your worst nightmare.'"

Those words turned out to be prophetic for Berkowitz, who said he was forced to stand for most of the seven hour flight, which he took on July 29. "During takeoff and landing, I was wedged into my seat and unable to belt it," he said. "The man next to meet was resting on top of the seat belt.

Other than takeoff and landing, he said he spent the seven hour flight standing in the aisle and galley area.

Berkowitz said he is speaking out about his ordeal now because he believes US Airways did not properly address his concerns.

"My issue first and foremost is that this was a safety issue," Berkowitz said. "The airlines (http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/travelers-aide-airlines-websites-big-headache/story?id=15013419#.Ts1fLXK3O2s) and regulatory bodies need to have protocol when it comes to this."

He said he brought the problem of his large seatmate to the flight attendants' attention and asked if he could sit in one of their jump seats. They apologized and said there was nothing they could do and that sitting in their seats was against FAA regulations.

http://a.abcnews.com/images/US/ap_us_airways_philadelphia_ll_111123_wg.jpg (http://abcnews.go.com/US/passenger-forced-stand-obese-flyer-takes-seat/story?id=15017545)

Matt Rourke/AP Photo

"We have attempted to address this customer's service concerns, but offering increasing amounts of compensation based on a threat of a safety violation isn't really fair – especially when the passenger himself said he didn't follow the crew members' instructions and fasten his seat belt," John McDonald, a US airways spokesperson, told ABCNews.com.

"We realize it is inconvenient, but it is our obligation to be safe," McDonald said.

Despite months' worth of correspondence with the airline, "they felt the matter was closed," Berkowitz said. He said he brought complaint to the attention of the Department of Transportation and the FAA. "They've done next to nothing other than to acknowledge they received [my letters]," he said.

US Airways, for their part, said they have discussed Berkowitz's complaints with the crew members who were on the flight.

Berkowitz, a frequent flyer (http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/frequent-flyer-secrets-tips-racking-travel-points/story?id=15001634#.Ts1fC3K3O2s), isn't satisfied. "They say they want to give passengers comfort and convenience," he said. "Well, this is as inconvenient and uncomfortable as you can get."

Consumer advocate Christopher Elliott (http://www.elliott.org/), who tried to help Berkowitz mediate his complaint, said travelers need to communicate, especially during the busy holiday travel season.

"I deal with hundreds of cases like this on a weekly basis," Elliott said. "If you're stuck in a situation where you can't use your space, talk to the passenger first. "If the direct communication doesn't work, Elliott said passengers should talk to a flight attendant. Above that, they can appeal to the lead purser.

"The final level of appeal on the flight would be to talk to the pilot," Elliott said. "Pilots have the final say."

Beyond that, he recommends passengers immediately put their complaints in writing and submit them to the airline when they land."Airlines say they're giving us what we want-- low fares," Elliott said. "But we haven't also asked to be tortured. This is a form of torture."

12-03-2011, 10:12 PM
By Joseph Robertia
(http://redoubtreporter.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/roof-bear.jpg)Photos courtesy of Dennis Ogren.
The shadowy bulk of a black bear is seen the evening of Nov. 12 outside the Ogren home in Ninilchik. The bear climbed up a ladder to the second-story roof, possibly seeking a way inside to the smells of apple butter Martha Ogren was cooking.

from Redoubt Reporter

Like many homesteaders, Martha and Dennis Ogren believe in spending time in late fall and early winter putting up food for the rest of the year, to enjoy themselves and to share with guests.
But the spicy-sweet scent of a simmering batch of apple butter brought in an unwelcome visitor earlier this month — a black bear climbing the Ogrens’ roof in search of food.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in more than 60 years of living here,” Martha said. “And I haven’t seen a bear all summer.”

A black bear she estimated to be 1 to 2 years old showed up the evening of Nov. 13 at the Ogrens’ two-story home about 10 miles north of Ninilchik.

“I had 5 gallons of apple butter to make and had been making it all day. It takes about an hour a batch and you have to constantly stir it,” she said. “It was about 9:30 at night when I heard a noise outside.”

Martha called to her husband to check it out, because she didn’t want to leave the apple butter unattended.

(http://redoubtreporter.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/roof-bear-apple-butter.jpg)Ogren stirs batches of apple butter Nov. 12, which apparently is tantalizing to people and bears.

To their surprise, Dennis determined it was a black bear peering in through a window.

“All the doors and windows were closed due to the cold, but it must have still been able to smell it,” Martha said.

They hoped that once the bear was aware of the humans’ presence it would flee, but that was not the case.

“It was determined to get in,” Martha said. “My husband watched it while I continued to stir the apple butter and it went door to door and window to window. He opened a shade and was nose to nose with it and it still didn’t go away. It was like it didn’t know it was supposed to be sleeping and afraid of people.”

Scratching and pawing, the bear caused damage to trim around the house’s entryways and windows for more than a half an hour, but it wasn’t until the bear attempted to breech the home through the second story that the Ogrens took action.

“My husband has a ladder tied in place so he can work on HAM radios antennas we have on the roof. The bear ran right up that like it was nothing and began trying to get in a window in the loft,” she said. “He wasn’t going to give up.”

(http://redoubtreporter.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/roof-bear-ladder.jpg)The bear climbed a ladder to the Ogens’ roof in its attempt to get into the house Nov. 12.

At that point Martha said they considered calling the Alaska Department of Fish and Game or Alaska State Troopers, but living so far from the cities, they feared it would take too long for them to respond. Fearing for her safety, Martha called a nephew who lived nearby, and he came and shot the bear, “literally right off the roof,” she said.

While Martha said it was sad that the bear was shot, she found out the next day while telling the tale to a neighbor that the bruin had visited other homes before hers.

“After the fact I was talking to a neighbor who said the bear had been harassing her for two days. She was scared to leave the house,” she said. “It was just one of those things, I guess. You’re always on the lookout for bears, but you never expect to see one like this. I was thankful I didn’t have any windows open.”

12-03-2011, 10:45 PM
Chilkat Valley News Originally published Thursday, Nov 24, 2011; Issue: 47

Three rescuers used a rope harness, a couple two-by-fours, and a pair of Pampered Chef scissors to free a juvenile eagle frozen in the Chilkat River near 21 Mile Haines Highway on Nov. 17.

California wildlife photographer Mark Lissick spotted the bird – literally spread-eagle on the ice and not moving – while returning from a photo outing. He said he’d seen several eagles that day with ice on their wing and tail feathers.

"This one had basically gotten itself mired in the ice," Lissick said. He stopped at a 19 Mile cabin, where Taal Levi, a researcher serving as Bald Eagle Preserve monitor, contacted the American Bald Eagle Foundation.

The foundation’s raptor handler, Ed Podgorski, and volunteer Manda Maggs met up with Levi and arrived at the river to find the bird, wings expanded, struggling against the ice.

"He was kicking the water under him, throwing the water up around him and just getting more and more stuck," Maggs said. "He was flopping like a fish," Podgorski said.

The eagle was stuck about 50 feet from the riverbank. As the lightest of the three, Maggs volunteered to test the ice.
Levi and Podgorski fitted Maggs with a rope harness. Kneeling on two, two-by-fours, she "skated" out on the ice. Within just a few feet of the eagle, the rope harness ran out of slack.

Fortunately, Podgorski had purchased rope for the foundation’s raptor perches just before receiving word about the eagle. With the extra line, Maggs reached the bird. Its wings and tail were firmly frozen to the river surface under about an inch of ice, with other chunks of ice attached to its body.

Maggs put a net over the eagle’s head to protect herself from getting nipped and stayed mindful of the bird’s talons. She set to work chipping away the ice with a pair of kitchen scissors. Then she cut most of the primary and secondary layer of feathers from the wings and some of the tail feathers to free the eagle from the ice.

She wrapped the eagle in her scarf for the journey back to shore. "I bundled him up like a little burrito."

Maggs hugged the eagle to her chest and rolled onto her back, and Podgorski and Levi pulled her to within a few feet of the shore, where she broke through the ice in a few feet of water.

A resident of Teslin, Y.T., Maggs spent the last few months in Haines volunteering at the foundation. Her husband, Mike Dunn, happened to be on his way to Haines for a visit when he drove by 21 Mile and spotted the rescue. He noticed her familiar maple-leaf- knit hat while she was crawling out on the ice.

Maggs warmed up in Dunn’s truck while Podgorski tended to the eagle and transported it back to the foundation. Podgorski, Dr. Dan Hart and foundation staff gave it warm fluids and electrolytes.

Maggs meanwhile was feeling the effects of her cold dunk. She said she was "seeing stars" that evening, but her husband and step-mom, who is a nurse, made sure she was OK. And the adrenaline rush didn’t hurt either.

"I felt like a superhero," Maggs said.

Maggs and Dunn, who hope to open a raptor rehab center in the Yukon someday, returned to the foundation Tuesday morning, and were pleased to find the eagle in good health.

"I was prepared to come in and see that he didn’t make it," she said.

The eagle isn’t able to fly due to the loss of feathers. Once it molts next year and its feathers return, it should be ready for release next spring or summer. It was flown Tuesday to the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka.

It’s unclear how the eagle got stuck in the icing river. Podgorski said the bird had a full crop when it was found, indicating it had just eaten a big meal. That likely helped its survival.

Eagles typically stay still when they have a big crop, Podgorski said, speculating that this one may have decided to rest on the barely frozen river and got caught in the forming ice. Podgorski and Maggs said also the bird’s age might have played a part in its predicament. Podgorski estimates it’s only a few months out of the nest.

"He’s a yearling so he’s not that smart," Maggs said. "There’s a lot to learn and hunting is hard."


12-03-2011, 11:01 PM
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/search.html?s=&authornamef=Daily+Mail+Reporter) Last updated at 1:15 AM on 17th November 2011

For most nature lovers, the gradual disappearance of our frozen landscapes is heart-breaking.But for one photographer, it could end mean the end of a lifetime’s work. And so in the week that scientists warned that Arctic sea ice could disappear in as little as four year’s time, Paul Souders has released these stunning pictures.

Super cool image: A melting iceberg floating near the face of Jakobshavn Isfjord on a stormy evening in Ilulissat, Greenland


Meling away: A slab of ice falls from an iceberg in Disko Bay on a sunny summer evening in Ilulissat, Greenland. And a huge column of ice caves away from the face of the Dawes Glacier in the Tracy Arm Fjords Terror Wilderness in Alaska

It’s a portfolio of his incredible ten-year quest to capture the ethereal beauty of icebergs. Recent winner of the prestigious Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011, Paul, 51, from Seattle, made a series of expeditions to one of the most remote and inhospitable corners of the planet to take these mesmerising shots.
Since 2001 he has ventured to polar regions such as Greenland, Norway and Alaska - covering an impressive 6,000 miles in his own boat.'I've tried for years to capture the 'perfect' image of a falling glacier,' explained Paul.'I've spent days sitting in my small boat, staring at the massive ice cliffs, waiting for something to fall.'I've also wanted to show the ice from below the ocean surface.


Ice to see you: An underwater image shows how deep an iceberg extends below the water. This picture was taken in Jakobshavn Isfjord near Ilulissat, Greenland


Disappearing forever: A close-up view of the melting surface of a glacial iceberg along Birdvagen Cove in Nordaustlandet, Svalbard, Norway

'The sea water near a glacier hovers just above freezing, and even wearing several layers of fleece and insulation inside my dry suit, it's murderously cold. 'It's hard to cultivate that inner creative genius with blue lips and numb hands.' Such fragile but barren and bitingly cold places are not only difficult to work in, but the very nature of the melting glaciers means that Paul's job of capturing them is often dangerous.

'Several of the shots remind me that I'm lucky to be alive,' he said.'There was a massive arched iceberg in Greenland that captivated me. 'The midnight sun lit the arch with this amazing orange light, but the only way to photograph it was to motor inside it. 'The berg was shaped like an enormous hollow molar, and I sucked up my courage to dash in with my boat, shooting the scene as fast as I could. 'The light was fading fast and I was pretty worried that the whole thing could collapse, roll over, dump me in the ocean.


A blue iceberg lit from behind by the setting sun floats near the calving face of Ailik Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

'I kept listening for the thunderclap that would mean the end for me. 'A tour boat from the nearby village motored past and watched in disbelief. 'I could hear the guide telling them how very, very dangerous this was. 'When I was done, I yelled across to them, 'Please don't tell my mom!'

Currently it is believed that during the Arctic summer ice melts to cover a minimum of four million square miles. However, in a recent announcement Prof Peter Wadhams, of Cambridge University, said that Arctic ice is vanishing so rapidly thanks to global warming that it could be a thing of the past shockingly soon.

'It is really showing the fall-off in ice volume is so fast that it is going to bring us to zero very quickly,' he explained. 'The year 2015 is a very serious prediction and I think I am pretty much persuaded that that's when it will happen.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2062516/Now-thats-cool-idea-One-mans-year-mission-photograph-worlds-beautiful-icebergs.html#ixzz1fXGjcTeM

12-03-2011, 11:02 PM
That's some serious dedication to saving eagles! And some really cool ice photos.

12-03-2011, 11:13 PM
Aspiring Alaska marijuana farmer busted growing on federal lands

Jill Burke | Alaska Dispatch
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/article_image_small/images/topic/news/pot-grow-wrangell.jpg (http://www.alaskadispatch.com/sites/default/files/images/topic/news/pot-grow-wrangell.jpg)

An ill-conceived plan to grow and sell marijuana has forced a former U.S. Forest Service employee to return to carpentry to earn a living. Jeffrey Cox, 37, of Wrangell, lost his plants and his forestry job during the bust. But it could have ended much worse. Although he was convicted of a felony drug crime he managed to walk away without any jail time, sentenced instead to three years probation and five weeks of community service.

The U.S. Attorney's Office considered Cox's plants, which were discovered on U.S. Forest Service property near Wrangell, part of a "substantial marijuana grow operation," a phrase Cox's attorney argued overstated the situation.

"To call it a 'grow' is really a disservice to Mr. Cox, when his little boxes of paper cups outside are compared to insulated, sealed rooms or greenhouses, which typically appear in federal court cases. This 'grow' had no electricity, no timing, no shelter, no sophisticated lights, no involvement by other people and virtually no chance of success," wrote Sue Ellen Tatter, Cox's defense attorney, in a filing with the court in advance of Cox's sentencing. "These plants were in paper cups -- not in the ground -- and of varying sizes. The biggest were six to eight inches tall, and many plants were very tiny. They were unlikely to grow and survive because of the wet, cold climate and long daylight hours."

Investigators seized 95 plants from three locations on Forest Service land and said Cox admitted that he had planned to grow the marijuana for use and sale.

Had Cox been busted with just five more plants -- bringing the total seized to 100 -- prosecutors argued that Cox would have been exposed to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. The fact that he approached that threshold, placed the plants near a hiking trail, built a greenhouse nearby and planned to feed the plants Miracle Grow showed Cox was serious about his drug operation, they said.

It might have succeeded had his plants not been discovered by a forestry work crew, who also took note of his red Audi station wagon as it zipped away from the scene.

Prosecutors hoped the judge would order Cox to serve a one year sentence. But because Cox had, until this case, led a crime-free life, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess decided instead on probation and 200 hours of community service.

12-03-2011, 11:27 PM
That's some serious dedication to saving eagles! And some really cool ice photos.

Sure is! :)

12-03-2011, 11:36 PM
Anchorage News. Published: November 2nd, 2011 11:43 AM Last Modified: November 3rd, 2011 12:47 PM

The 23 crew members of the catcher-processor Alaskan Leader (http://www.alaskanleaderfisheries.com/index.php?page=fv_alaskan_leader) finally finished their six-week fishing
journey on the Bering Sea on Friday, but not before enduring the scare of a lifetime when the
boat caught fire (http://www.adn.com/2011/10/28/2144210/ship-escorted-to-dutch-harbor.html) the night before, 170 miles from Dutch Harbor. The cause is unknown, but the fire
spread quickly through the electrical system. Smoke obscured what little light there was. Some of the
crew described for KUCB in Unalaska (http://www.kmxt.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3266&Itemid=2) the battle to save the ship and a million pounds of frozen cod.
"No lights, no power, nothing" deckhand Gabriel Lilja, 18. "People were running into each other."
"It got so hot that the lightbulbs melted," said deckhand Jason Clein. "... The paint, everything was
With the fire still burning after more than two hours, Capt. Dennis Black ordered the crew to prepare
to abandon ship.
"People were out there in socks and sweatpants. There was laundry all done; we had to dump it all
out and give sweatshirts, and sweat pants and fresh socks to everybody. Find shoes and boots.
People thought we were going in life rafts," Lilja recalled.
But just before that scenario played out, three other fishing boats arrived alongside the Alaskan Leader
and shone lights so the crew could finish fighting the fire and try to get the engine started. A Coast
Guard cutter and tugboats eventually arrived, and the Leader was in Dutch Harbor by late Friday afternoon.

Following is from KMXT 100.1 FM, Kodiak Island

FV Alaskan Leader Crew Fought Blaze for Hours; Prepared to Abandon Ship

When a building catches fire, the situation is scary enough. The stakes are even higher on a boat, where there's nowhere to go and
no one to fight the fire but the people on board. The crew of the Kodiak-based catcher-processor Alaskan Leader found themselves
in that situation last week, while finishing a long fishing trip on the Bering Sea. KUCB's Alexandra Gutierrez has more.

On Thursday evening, the crew of the Alaskan Leader was in high spirits. After fishing for 42 days straight, they had filled their holds
with cod and they were on their way back to port for one final delivery before returning home to their families. After finishing up a
chicken dinner, some of the 23 men on board headed straight to bed. Others, like 18-year-old deckhand Gabriel Lilja stayed up talking
and watching TV.

At 9:40pm, an alarm sounded.

It's unclear what caused the fire. Captain Dennis Black thinks a pinhole leak in the fuel line might have started it. What was clear is that it
spread rapidly, tearing through the boat's wiring.

Within five minutes, the 150-foot vessel lost power, making it that much harder for deckhands like Lilja to respond. Whatever light was
generated by the flames was blocked by smoke. The heat was bad, too, says deckhand Jason Clein.

The crew used every extinguisher they had to contain the fire. While this was happening, the captain put out a mayday call and tried to
contact other boats near Unimak Pass. At 10 o'clock, they threw in carbon dioxide canisters to choke the fire out. They also started a
bucket brigade to keep things under control. At 11, the fire was still going. Once it got close to midnight, Lilja says the crew was told to
get on deck and prepare to get in life-rafts.

Just before the men put on their immersion suits, a trio of Good Samaritan vessels connected with the Alaskan Leader. The Frontier
Explorer, the Frontier Spirit, and the Eastern Wind shone their lights on the deck, giving them some visibility. Lilja said it was also around
this time that the fire was finally put out. They had now been fighting it, in the dark, for over two hours.

While the immediate danger had passed, the Alaskan Leader was still without power and without steering. At this time, the boat was
about 170 nautical miles from Dutch Harbor, the nearest port. For the next two hours, the vessel's chief engineer worked in the dark to
get some electricity going. Around 2am, he had some good news for Captain Dennis Black.

They got the port main engine working, and they got the refrigeration system back on to keep the million pounds of cod on board frozen.
They still couldn't use most of their navigation equipment, but they were able to steer the vessel manually using a compass and the ship's wheel.

From that point on, the rescue was textbook. The Coast Guard Cutter Sherman connected with the Alaskan Leader around 3:30am, and then
stayed with the vessel until they reached two tug boats. Those boats then towed the vessel the rest of the way to the Port of Dutch Harbor.
At 5pm Friday, the vessel was finally safe at the dock. None of the 23 men aboard had suffered any injuries, and even the fish was still in good condition.

Now, it's up to the vessel owners to decide whether to take the Alaskan Leader down to Seattle for repairs or attempt getting the work done
in Alaska, says Captain Dennis Black. The engine room was fried, and when the boat came in, it still smelled of burned electronics.

As for the crew, they're still a little shaken. Most of them got out this weekend on a charter flight and are back with their families. A couple of
them, like Jason Clein, plan on staying there.

But if the boat's ready in time for the next season, most them will be coming back to fish. Even if their spouses, kids, and - in Gabriel Lilja's case,
his dad - think that might not be the best idea.

Coast Guard Sector Anchorage is currently conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire.

12-03-2011, 11:46 PM
By GREG JOHNSON Frontiersman.com (http://frontiersman.com/)

WASILLA — Cassie Nix only briefly met Anthony Keller the morning of Oct. 2 — in fact, she doesn’t remember the meeting clearly — but that’s all it would take for Keller to become Nix’s hero.

That’s the day Keller, a 15-year-old high school sophomore from Wasilla, saved the life of her 5-year-old daughter, Taylia Hardy.

“I couldn’t breathe, I was hyperventilating,” Nix said about what she remembered after her daughter was pulled, blue and unresponsive, from a hotel hot tub. “I can’t tell you, it’s the worst thing ever, ever. I kept thinking, ‘This is how it feels to lose a baby.’ I started praying. I couldn’t even cry, and I remember thinking how fast this was going by.”

Anthony Keller, 15, and Taylia Hardy, 5, will have a connection to each other for the rest of their lives. Keller used CPR to revive Hardy after Hardy had drowned in a hotel hot tub while on a trip to Kenai. (ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman)

It was coincidence that brought Keller and Nix to the Quality Inn hotel in Kenai that day. Keller was visiting a friend and Nix, also from Wasilla, was on the road attending a football game for her 9-year-old son. Before checking out, little Taylia went to the pool with a family friend and her son for a last swim.

“My friend took her son and my daughter swimming, and just as I was standing up (from breakfast) people started yelling, ‘There’s a baby drowning!’” Nix said. “I have a handicap, so I can’t move very well, but I was trying to get there fast. By the time I got there, my friend had pulled her out of the hot tub.”

Apparently, Taylia jumped into the middle of the 5-foot-deep hot tub to retrieve a ball and didn’t have a life vest on, Nix said. Her friend noticed the girl at the bottom of the hot tub and pulled her out.

Keller was in the lobby at the time and heard the commotion and went into the pool area to see what was happening. At first, he said he was trying to calm Nix and her friend down. Then he heard the question that changed his and Taylia’s lives.

“Does anyone know CPR?”

Turns out, Keller does. In fact, he was certified in child CPR this summer during a Knik Tribal Council class.

“I was at the hotel and some guy came running out to the office and said there’s a drowning,” Keller recalled. “I ran back to the pool and I guess she was drowning in the hot tub. Some lady pulled her out and pretty much everybody was just freaking out. I was the only one there who knew CPR. After I gave her 30 chest compressions, then I gave her some breaths, and she started breathing again.”

Hearing Taylia cry after Keller’s actions was “the most beautiful sound ever,” Nix said.

In the month since the accident, Nix said she thinks daily about Keller’s actions and how close her daughter came to death.

“Every day I look at her, and the shock’s worn off a little bit, but not a lot,” she said. “Several times a day I look at her and go, ‘Wow.’ Like, when she’s annoying and I think, ‘I’m so glad she’s annoying me right now.’”

But Keller’s actions have drawn notice from more than this grateful mother.

On Monday, Wasilla Mayor Verne Rupright will present the teen with a proclamation from the city honoring him for his lifesaving efforts.

In the proclamation, the mayor and city “acknowledge and thank Anthony Keller for his heroic actions in stepping forward and taking charge in a life-threatening emergency that saved the life of a young girl. … Anthony is a fine example for other youth in our community.”

In addition to Nix and her daughter, Kenai Fire Chief Michael Tilley also will be on hand for the proclamation presentation. The chief said he’s impressed with Keller’s actions and deserves recognition as a hero.

“From what was described to me, the child was unconscious and blue in nature, which obviously makes you believe she was not breathing,” Tilley said. “Having someone like Anthony step up ultimately saved the girl’s life.”

For someone in the emergency services field, not every call ends so happily, he said.

“Sometimes in the fire department and police department, we have to see some pretty disturbing things and sometimes the outcomes of our efforts aren’t always on the positive side,” Tilley said. “It was very encouraging to see someone this young to have the maturity and the courage to step up. … He saved a life that day.”

As for Keller, he said he learned CPR for a reason; his mother has trouble breathing and is asthmatic. So, he took CPR classes at the Knik Tribal Council (in fact, he failed the first time, so took it again this summer). But he didn’t expect to put his knowledge to work so soon.

“Someday I knew it would come in handy, but I was thinking it would happen to my mom,” he said. “But no, I didn’t think it would come so quickly.”

When he heard the girl cry after she started breathing again, “I felt really relieved,” Keller said. “I felt like I did an amazing job and was happy I was there. That just went through my mind the rest of the day; that she didn’t die. It really didn’t hit me until about and hour or two after, though. When it was happening, I was calm. Then, after I started thinking about how she could’ve died, I was like, ‘whoa.’”

What will Keller have to say to Taylia when they meet again on Monday?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m probably just going to give her a great big hug.”

Some people are labeled heroes whether they earn those titles or not, Nix said. In Keller’s case, she said he will always be her hero.

“Saying thank you seems so stupid, there’s nothing I can say,” she said. “You can’t put it into words. Of course, of course he’s my hero. He saved my baby’s life.”

12-03-2011, 11:59 PM
Wanted: reindeer wranglers. Elves preferred.

The holiday season is officially upon us. The Williams Reindeer Farm is hiring.

Just check the jobs listing on craigslist for today. You'll find an ad seeking "Reindeer Trainer (http://anchorage.craigslist.org/csr/2693500236.html) - (Butte) customer service (http://anchorage.craigslist.org/csr/)"

"We are looking for adults that enjoy working with animals. We will be training and refresher training some reindeer in preparation for the upcoming Holiday season. We are looking for help one day a week for 1 hour. We will teach you, you just need to come with a good patient attitude and willingness to learn. Please do not call..our phone already rings off the hook. You can respond via email if you are interested. (job-ghgsf-2693500236@craigslist.org) We will pay $10 per 1 hour session. I'm looking for approx 4 -5 people over age 21."

The Post did call the farm, only because we had some questions. And we know the Williams are nice people. Denise Hardy, Tom and Gene Williams' oldest daughter, now runs the day-to-day operations on the farm, located in the Butte on Bodenburg Loop. Hardy's duties include tours and the gift shop. They also include the reindeer training.

Hardy posted the ad because she's looking for some new folks to handle the animals after relying on volunteers. Time is of the essence -- it's getting late to prep for the holiday season but the farm was busy with fall events like the Hay Maze.

Successful job candidates will get to train the farm's youngest animals - "babies" born this summer - to wear a halter and eventually a harness. They'll give the more experienced animals a refresher course on getting in a trailer and wearing a harness, jingle bells and all.

Reindeer trainers with the right qualities might also end up trotting out with the animals at holiday public events coming up next month. The reindeer pull Santa's sleigh in Anchorage and at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, take part in Colony Christmas and, yes, scramble around with strange humans at the Fur Rondy Festival event known as "Running of the Reindeer."

To that end, Hardy said, she's hoping to find some animal-savvy trainers who are good with people too. The Anchorage Tree Lighting Ceremony in Town Squaredraws thousands of people looking to pet some friendly reindeer. So it would be great, she said, if the reindeer trainers are friendly and approachable, "smiling and kinda elflike. We really don't need any grumps."

The farm doesn't expect candidates to have lots of experience training reindeer. But people responding to that ad do need to love animals and be able to read them. A little courage would be good. Reindeer do have antlers, after all.

Hardy is looking for reliable workers. She knows $10 an hour isn't a lot.

"It's not a position they're going to get rich on but it's certainly something they'll get rich rewards from watching the animals grow and change," she said.
http://media.adn.com/smedia/2011/03/06/09/anon_7304.1299392412.standalone.prod_affiliate.7.j peg
Photo courtesy of Susan Hendricks / ADN reader submissionThe Running of the Reindeer is one event the Reindeer Farm may need help with.

-- Zaz Hollander

12-04-2011, 12:09 AM
• Aspiring eagle parents will have to find new digs
By Naomi Klouda Homer Tribune
http://homertribune.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/baby-eagle-250x212.jpg (http://homertribune.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/baby-eagle.jpg)
Photo by Beverly Macy - An eaglet peers out over the edge of its nest on the Homer Bypass.

The tall ancient spruce tree at the corner of Lake Street and the Sterling Highway blew down in recent storms, destroying a popular eagle’s nest where two sets of eaglets were raised in recent years before thousands of eager tourists.

Near hurricane-force winds ushered in a frosty November that leaves some residents contending January came early this year.

Yet another storm front moved our way Tuesday, calling for more high winds, but warmer temperatures and rain as well.

Local artist Beverly Macy was disheartened when she saw the tree reduced to a mere stump and its nest scattered across the icy snow. She had photographed the stages of eagle development for a series she plans to paint the eagle’s progression from hatching to flight.

“It’s gone now. The whole tree snapped off at the bottom. It looked like the city plow dumped on top of the nest,” Macy said. “The eagles raised their young there where we could all see. The tourists enjoyed that so much.”

The stand of dead spruce trees just past the traffic light didn’t fare too well in that first set of heavy wind storms. A dozen trees were knocked over or splintered, and the famed tree laden with its eagle nest is the most obvious causality.

Public Works Director Carey Meyer, who needs to oversee where eagles build nests in case they take a dangerous liking to spots atop street lamps, was surprised from the start to see the nest.

“Eagles don’t nest just anywhere. It was always kind of weird that the eagles would pick a location at the busiest intersection in town to build their nest,” Meyer said.

The bold parents were undaunted by the traffic or the nearly dozen vehicles pulled over on any given day while tripods were set up to capture a rare look at the raptors hauling dead salmon to feed their young, or teaching the two hatchlings to fly.

Retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Dave Roseneau said Homer eagles aren’t shy. Perhaps because of their human conditioning as fed birds when Jean Keene lived on the Homer Spit, these eagles don’t feel as threatened by human encounters.

“It all comes down to finding a good tree to build in. They chose that one two or three years ago,” Roseneau said. “People in Homer live, and let live, when it comes to eagles. Homer eagles aren’t nearly as sensitive to disturbances as people might think.

They have been building nests in people’s yards where kids are playing.”
http://homertribune.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/eags-250x187.jpg (http://homertribune.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/eags.jpg)
Photo by Beverly Macy -

Eagle parents tend to their young at a nest they build in a dead tree near the busiest intersections in Homer.

Homer residents and tourists enjoyed watching the story unfold of the parents raising their young, from egg laying, brooding and hatching of two eaglets. Recently, during a heavy wind storm the tree blew down and experts predict that the eagles will be back looking for another tree in the vicinity.

He observed visitors taking careful steps beneath the nest, creeping up to avoid startling the birds.

“They were concerned they were doing something disruptive, but the birds couldn’t care less. Our eagles are more familiar with people and the things that go with that.”

Roseneau watched as an eagle parent dangled a piece of salmon, enticing a reluctant eaglet to try its wings.

“The adults will entice them out of the nest, sitting around in trees, teasing them with a piece of salmon. That occasionally happens. They will do this to encourage them to leave the nest,” he said.

The dead tree was somewhat ideal for a nesting site. “Once it reached that point as a dead tree it was great for building a nest in,” he said.

Eagles have a criteria for good nesting sites – it must have open access so they can spread their wings while flying in. They need branches configured for laying in sticks that won’t fall away. It needs to be a certain distance from other eagles’ nests.

“It will be interesting to see what happens next spring. That’s their territory and they will keep it,” Roseneau said.

12-04-2011, 04:35 AM
While plenty of cars have gadgets to make parallel parking easier, GM is hoping to take it to a whole different level. The company is working on self-parking cars that drop off their drivers and go find a spot by themselves.

The biggest bonus comes from the fact that the set up would cut down on fuel consumption — since people wouldn’t be driving around in circles looking for an empty space.

Car manufacturers across the board are increasingly working to make cars more “intelligent” to increase fuel efficiency (by re-routing cars to avoid traffic, tracking driving conditions, vehicle-to-vehicle communication etc.), but all of them have included having the driver in the vehicle. This new system would drop off the driver, park in the first available spot (even if it’s a little further out, it still saves gas spent on circling), and come back for pick up when it’s time to leave. A smartphone app is used for communication and GM’s Electrical and Controls Integration Lab is developing the technology to make this happen. The car manufacturer has already demonstrated the system on its EN-V concept vehicle.

Google has also been working on autonomous vehicles and the company is sponsoring a bill that would allow for automated vehicles to drive on public roads in Nevada.

Of course, it’s going to take a while before people are comfortable enough with leaving their car to its own devices, but this sure will help if you’re trying to park anywhere in New York.


12-04-2011, 04:51 AM
Yesterday, 3:29 PM


Joe Henry is on a first name basis with bank tellers across his hometown of Medford, Ore., scouring 15 banks a week with one thing on his mind: pennies.
Henry is often seen toting around bags of pennies, some he buys, others he changes back in for cash, which seems a little strange at first. He's not a collector, he is what's known as a "penny hoarder" and he is not alone.

Inside a shed next to his house, Henry has orange tubs filled with 200,000 pennies, and he spends hours sorting through roll after roll of the coins. But it's not just any and all pennies, Henry is only interested in those that are dated from 1982 and earlier because those are the coins made with 95 percent copper. A copper penny is worth more than other pennies -- now mostly made of zinc -- currently priced at $0.024.

"The copper has such a different sound than zinc pennies do," Henry said. "Real money has that definite sound of money and if you listen to a modern zinc penny, they don't sound the same, they sound sort of tinny."

Henry even has a $500 home counting machine to separate out the copper ones.

Much like the resurging obsession with gold, the price of copper has skyrocketed in recent years and the rising price has led to some unusual sprees. Thieves have been exploiting the value hidden in obscure items, stripping copper wiring from phone and utility cables, from construction sites, even from a*122-year-old copper bell that was stolen*from a San Francisco cathedral.

In San Diego, so much copper wiring has been stolen from eight different city parks, that soccer teams can't practice because the field lights stopped working.

But penny hoarders aren't thieves, just opportunists. There are a slew of listing for pennies in bulk on eBay, but what's amazing is they include listings for $10 in pennies being sold for $20 dollars. If you think only a sucker would pay two cents for a penny, you're missing out on a business opportunity that Adam Youngs, who runs a massive penny sorting operation in Portland, Ore., has perfected.

He explained how he can sell a $100 worth of pennies for $176, when shipping and packaging are included.

Youngs' operation, the Portland Mint, is locked inside a secure facility that deals with armored cars -- selling and shipping to clients in every state -- and works in pennies by the ton. He said he has clients with deep pockets who are storing huge sacks of pennies and he has inquires from hedge funds.

"Just in face value alone, about $270,000 dollars [in pennies] right now," Youngs said. "That is just the face value, that is not even the copper value. The copper value is about three times that much."

Inside the Portland Mint. Credit: ABC News
Clients use Youngs because he separates copper pennies from the chump change -- the newer pennies that are only worth $0.01.

But in the weird world of penny hoarding, getting to the copper is a very big problem. It's illegal to melt pennies an there is an obscure federal law that makes it illegal to transport more than $5 in pennies out of the country.

Penny hoarders know this of course, but they also know something else. In what could be the biggest legislation to hit the U.S. Mint in 50 years, officials are now looking at the composition of pennies and nickels and considering an overhaul. If the laws change and the mint decides to abolish the penny, people would be free to melt them down for the copper.

A penny saved, many times over, could be a whole lot earned.

12-04-2011, 10:28 PM
By Brenda Sokolowski

Viagra does more than boost sex lives – it “wakes up” the body’s immune system to fight cancer, a recent animal study suggests.

In the study at the German Cancer Research Center, mice with melanoma were given Viagra (sildenafil citrate) in their drinking water. Those treated with the drug lived twice as long as mice who did not receive the Viagra.

Previously, in a 2006 U.S. study at John Hopkins University, researchers found that Viagra increased the activity of tumor-fighting T cells (a type of white blood cell).

That is, most tumors release chemicals that block T cell activity, but Viagra “switches off these suppressor cells and wakes up the sleeping T cells,” said study researcher Viktor Umansky, an immunologist in Heidelberg.

This finding marks the beginning of a new line of research. Years of additional research are necessary before Viagra could be used as a cancer treatment, Umansky adds. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

© 2011 Newsmax.

12-06-2011, 02:27 PM
Durham Crematorium has announced a rather macabre, yet innovative plan to harness the heat from the dead people it burns via a set of turbines and generate electricity. Initially, the turbines, which could eventually produce enough electricity to power 1,500 televisions, will be used to heat and provide power to the building, reported the Telegraph. But the turbines will produce more power than the crematorium needs and could be sold to the UK’s National Grid.

And because this corpse-sourced electricity isn’t fossil fuel based, the crematorium could receive compensation from utilities under the country’s feed-in tariffs program.

The project is part of the crematorium’s furnace replacement project, which was initiated to meet UK government standards to keep mercury emissions from reaching the atmosphere. And it turns out, crematorium contribute a fair amount of mercury emissions. Crematorium’s contribute 16 percent of all mercury emitted in the UK because of fillings in teeth, the Telegraph reported. Without these government targets, that figured has been forecast to rise to 25 percent by the end of the decade.

The crematorium has planned a series of open days in hopes of garnering public support for the project. The superintendent told the Telegraph the crematorium is anxious not to upset folks over the plans. I’m not sure how solar panels could be more controversial than dead body-generated electricity, but the superintendent said plans for a rooftop installation were already rejected to avoid “upsetting people.”

[Via: The Telegraph]

12-06-2011, 02:39 PM

We know that texting and driving is bad. Lawmakers have made it illegal. Software platforms like Ford’s MyTouch try to make it easier to have hands-free conversations and leave our cell phones alone. Cell phone operators like Sprint and T-Mobile have developed apps that limit our ability to use our phones behind the wheel, but these technologies often affect passengers - both in cars and using public transportation - rather than drivers. Yet despite these efforts, more than one-third of U.S. drivers still admit to texting behind the wheel.

So researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology and Rutgers University have developed technology that can tell if the phone user is behind the wheel, and disable the relevant distracting features on his or her phone. They use both the car’s Bluetooth technology and its audio speakers to measure whether the phone is being used by the driver or a passenger.


Using this technology, the car’s stereo emits high-frequency signals and determines the phone’s distance from the speakers and the car’s center. With 95 percent accuracy, the system can establish whether the user is a driver or a passenger, and then determine whether or not the phone’s functions should be disabled.

The new technology is not flawless: it only works if the car has Bluetooth technology, if the driver’s phone is hooked up to said Bluetooth system, if all the car’s speakers are in working order, and its effectiveness drops if the phone is, say, lying on an empty passenger seat or inside a heavy coat.

But even with limited accuracy, it still seems far better than the current GPS-based alternative, and if my car simply will not allow me to text and drive, maybe I’ll just let my co-pilot send my messages for me.

By Channtal Fleischfresser. Photo: Flickr/Jason Weaver
[via CNET Car Tech, Stevens Institute of Technology]

peter radclyffe
12-06-2011, 04:52 PM

12-07-2011, 06:30 AM
Dec 06, 2011
A surprising security hole in Facebook allows almost anyone to see pictures marked as private, an online forum revealed late Monday.

Even pictures supposedly kept hidden from uninvited eyes by Facebooks privacy controls arent safe, reported one user of a popular bodybuilding forum in a post entitled I teach you how to view private Facebook photos.

Facebook appears to have acted quickly to eliminate the end-run around privacy controls, after word of the exploit spread across the Internet. It wasnt long before one online miscreant uploaded private pictures of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg himself -- evidence that the hack worked, he said.

A Facebook spokesman did not immediately return FoxNews.com requests for comment.

The issue stems from the sites own reporting system, which Facebook has designed to give users power to police each other.

In this case, after a user reports another for nudity and pornography in their profile picture, Facebook presents them with the further option of selecting additional photos to include with your report.

If a user chooses to continue, Facebook provides them with an album of additional photos to discern. In FoxNews.com tests, this function consistently revealed private pictures, which the user can then resize and enlarge by adjusting bits of code.

Last week Facebook settled with the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly exposing details about users' lives without getting legally required consent. In some cases, the FTC charged, Facebook allowed potentially sensitive details to be passed along to advertisers and software developers prowling for customers.

To avoid further legal wrangling, Facebook agreed to submit to government audits of its privacy practices every other year for the next two decades. The company committed to getting explicit approval from its users -- a process known as "opting in" -- before changing their privacy controls.

12-07-2011, 12:17 PM
By Michelle Roberts
Health reporter, BBC News

Nearly half of cancers diagnosed in the UK each year - over 130,000 in total - are caused by avoidable life choices including smoking, drinking and eating the wrong things, a review reveals.
Tobacco is the biggest culprit, causing 23% of cases in men and 15.6% in women, says the Cancer Research UK report.
Next comes a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in men's diets, while for women it is being overweight.
The report is published in the British Journal of Cancer.
Its authors claim it is the most comprehensive analysis to date on the subject.
Lead author Prof Max Parkin said: "Many people believe cancer is down to fate or 'in the genes' and that it is the luck of the draw whether they get it.
"Looking at all the evidence, it's clear that around 40% of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change."
Weighty matters
For men, the best advice appears to be: stop smoking, eat more fruit and veg and cut down on how much alcohol you drink.
For women, again, the reviews says the best advice is to stop smoking, but also watch your weight.
Prof Parkin said: "We didn't expect to find that eating fruit and vegetables would prove to be so important in protecting men against cancer. And among women we didn't expect being overweight to be more of a risk factor than alcohol."
In total, 14 lifestyle and environmental factors, such as where you live and the job you do, combine to cause 134,000 cancers in the UK each year.
About 100,000 (34%) of the cancers are linked to smoking, diet, alcohol and excess weight.
One in 25 of cancers is linked to a person's job, such as being exposed to chemicals or asbestos.
Some risk factors are well established, such as smoking's link with lung cancer.
But others are less recognised.
For example, for breast cancer, nearly a 10th of the risk comes from being overweight or obese, far outweighing the impact of whether or not the woman breastfeeds or drinks alcohol.
And for oesophageal or gullet cancer, half of the risk comes from eating too little fruit and veg, while only a fifth of the risk is from alcohol, the report shows.
For stomach cancer, a fifth of the risk comes from having too much salt in the diet, data suggests.
Some cancers, like mouth and throat cancer, are caused almost entirely by lifestyle choices.
But others, like gall bladder cancer, are largely unrelated to lifestyle.
The researchers base their calculations on predicted numbers of cases for 18 different types of cancer in 2010, using UK incidence figures for the 15-year period from 1993 to 2007.
In men, 6.1% (9,600) of cancer cases were linked to a lack of fruit and vegetables, 4.9% (7,800) to occupation, 4.6% (7,300) to alcohol, 4.1% (6,500) to overweight and obesity and 3.5% (5,500) to excessive sun exposure and sunbeds.
In women, 6.9% (10,800) were linked to overweight and obesity, 3.7% (5,800) to infections such as HPV (which causes most cases of cervical cancer), 3.6% (5,600) to excessive sun exposure and sunbeds, 3.4% (5,300) to lack of fruit and vegetables and 3.3% (5,100) to alcohol.
Dr Rachel Thompson, of the World Cancer Research Fund, said the report added to the "now overwhelmingly strong evidence that our cancer risk is affected by our lifestyles".
Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said leading a healthy lifestyle did not guarantee a person would not get cancer but the study showed "we can significantly stack the odds in our favour".
"If there are things we can do to reduce our risk of cancer we should do as much as we possibly can," he said.
The president of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir Richard Thompson, said the findings were a wake-up call to the government to take stronger action on public health.
"The rising incidence of preventable cancers shows that the 'carrot' approach of voluntary agreements with industry is not enough to prompt healthy behaviours, and needs to be replaced by the 'stick' approach of legislative solutions," he said
The government said it was intending to begin a consultation on plain packaging by the end of this year.
Diane Abbott, Shadow Public Health Minister, said: "The government is failing on all the main public health issues.
"And the message from Labour, the Tory-led Public Health Committee, campaigners like Jamie Oliver and even some the government's own policy panels is clear: the government's approach to tackling lifestyle-related health problems is completely inadequate."
Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: "We all know that around 23,000 cases of lung cancer could be stopped each year in England if people didn't smoke.
"By making small changes we can cut our risk of serious health problems - give up smoking, watch what you drink, get more exercise and keep an eye on your weight."

12-10-2011, 12:50 AM
By Kirsten Korosec


Tremont Electric, creator of the motion-powered gadget charger, wants to scale up its kinetic energy harvesting tech to turn the Great Lakes into a power plant — of sorts.

The nPower Wave Energy Converter developed by the Cleveland-based company is about the size of an automobile and can be integrated into buoys. Inside the converter is a magnet, which moves along with an induction coil to generate pulses of current. A mechanical fuse line would runs from the anchor to the buoy as a primary elastic line (see graphic below). That current is then collected at a transfer hub and delivered to the power grid. Voilà, wave-generated electricity for all! Or at least for folks who live nearby.


The tech inside the wave converter is essentially the same as its personal energy generator (PEG), which charges a battery when a magnet, placed between two springs, moves up and down. The PEG device is tuned for walking, but it also has the ability to harvest ambient vibrations from pedaling around on a bike or riding in a car or train.*

Founder and CEO Aaron LeMieux says in the video below the wave converter would be commercially viable and able to compete with coal-fired electricity. He claims the wave electricity could be sold at 5 to 7 cents per kilowatt hour. He also sees an opportunity for the devices to be made in Ohio, a state where 10.3 percent of displaced workers have come from the manufacturing industry.

The company proposes anchoring clusters of buoys onto the floor of Lake Erie.* According to a recent video produced by the company, testing was supposed to be conducted this past summer.

Of course, even if the tech works, there are numerous challenges to work through before the project would be able to power homes of Ohioans.* The buoys might not attract the same NIMBY reaction as offshore wind turbines, but it could face some public backlash. And the company must navigate the permitting process. According to Great Lakes Echo, the company will need submerged land leases, which are regulated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

12-10-2011, 02:03 AM
RICHMOND — A Virginia appeals court declared Thomas Haynesworth an innocent man Tuesday, clearing his name and acknowledging that he spent 27*years behind bars for rapes he did not commit.

It is the first time the state has issued a “writ of actual innocence” in a rape case without the certainty of DNA evidence. Haynesworth, 46, was supported by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and two state prosecutors — all of whom concluded that he was mistakenly identified by a rape victim as he walked to a Richmond market for sweet potatoes and bread one February afternoon in 1984.*

“It’s a blessing,’’ Haynesworth said as he stood with his attorneys and Cuccinelli. “There are a lot of people behind the scenes who believed in me. Twenty-seven years, I never gave up. I kept pushing. I ain’t give up hope.*

“I am very happy. Me and my family can finally put this behind us, and I can go on with my life. And I can finally vote.”*

The case shows how far Virginia has come in allowing convicts to argue their innocence. Historically, prisoners were barred from introducing new evidence more than three weeks after sentencing, and in the 1990s, then-Attorney General Mary Sue Terry (D) famously said, “Evidence of innocence is irrelevant.” But when DNA testing resulted in hundreds of exonerations nationwide, it prompted Virginia lawmakers to open the door for courts to reconsider guilt based first on genetic evidence and later on other evidence, such as recanted testimony, fingerprints or ballistics.*

Although Haynesworth was released on parole in March, he has not been fully free. Now, his photo has been taken off the state’s sex offender registry. He is allowed to use the Internet. Finally, he can take a woman on a date without first introducing her to a parole officer.*

“I have never heard him this excited, including the day he was released from jail,” said Shawn Armbrust, one of his attorneys and director of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project. “Everybody, the law and the government, says he did not do this. Before there was always an asterisk.”

Despite the support of law enforcement, Haynesworth’s exoneration was far from guaranteed. Four of 10 Virginia Court of Appeals judges opposed granting the writ.

“The victims have not recanted, no one has confessed, and there is no direct evidence that Haynesworth did not commit these crimes,” Judges Larry G. Elder and William G. Petty wrote in a dissenting opinion. “The Attorney General has merely expressed his opinion that Haynesworth is innocent.”*

Haynesworth was 18 when he was arrested as he headed to the market to buy groceries for Sunday dinner. A woman who had been attacked days earlier spotted him and told a police officer that he was the assailant.*

Haynesworth told police that they had the wrong man. But five women ultimately identified him as their attacker. He was convicted in three attacks and acquitted in one; one case was dropped.*

For years, Haynesworth languished in prison. He earned his GED and studied auto mechanics, welding and masonry.*

But he never gave up trying to prove his innocence. When he came before the parole board he didn’t apologize — despite advice from fellow inmates that it might earn him an early release, he said. He wrote letters to “60 Minutes,” local newspapers and law students asking for help.*

A turning point came in 2005 when the exonerations of five wrongly convicted men prompted then-Gov. Mark R. Warner to order a sweeping review of thousands of cases with DNA evidence. Haynesworth’s case was among them.*

Using technology that wasn’t available in the 1980s, authorities tested semen collected in a January 1984 rape for which Haynesworth had been convicted. It cleared him and pointed to a convicted rapist named Leon Davis.*

The Innocence Project took on Haynesworth’s case, and DNA was tested in another rape case in which Haynesworth was a suspect. Again, he was cleared, and Davis, who is serving a life sentence for different crimes, was implicated.*

Haynesworth’s attorneys were convinced that Davis, who lived in the same neighborhood and resembled Haynesworth, was the sole attacker. But in the two remaining cases, there was no genetic evidence to test.*

Virginia prosecutors agreed to delve back into the case. During a months-long investigation, authorities re-interviewed Haynesworth and the victims and re-examined the files. Haynesworth passed two polygraph examinations. In the end, prosecutors were also convinced that all the victims had identified the wrong man.*

But it is not easy to overturn such convictions.*

Before Tuesday, the Virginia Court of Appeals had only once exonerated a convict in a case that didn’t involve DNA evidence, clearing a man of a weapons charge after he showed that he had a gas gun, not an actual firearm. The court had denied more than 180 such claims.*

“It’s much harder when you don’t have the smoking gun of DNA,” said Peter Neufeld, an Innocence Project co-founder who worked on the Haynesworth case. “This is the very first time in the history of the Innocence Project where the attorney general and two local prosecutors joined us in seeking an exoneration, yet it nevertheless took nine months, two trips to the Court of Appeals and six judges to ensure the relief that was obvious to everyone.”*

One of the victims, who had become convinced that she was mistaken, said she is “extremely happy” he has been cleared. “It has been a long time coming,” she said. “He is an in-cred-ibly strong person, and I wish him the best.”*

As Cuccinelli, who had hired Haynesworth to work in his mailroom, announced the ruling in an emotional news conference, dozens of his staff members broke into applause and gave Haynesworth a standing ovation.*

“An attorney general’s job is not convictions when it comes to law enforcement. It’s justice,’’ Cuccinelli said. “Today we got justice. . . . I have never experienced the pure joy of today’s outcome.”*

Haynesworth said he plans to keep his mailroom job but someday hopes to open his own mechanics shop. Cuccinelli took Haynesworth to lunch Tuesday at the Tobacco Company, a restaurant a few blocks away in historic Shockoe Slip. And Haynesworth said his three sisters planned to take him to dinner.*

“I’m just so happy,” Haynesworth said. “You just want your name restored. You want to prove to them that they made a mistake.”*

12-10-2011, 04:03 AM
By Rachael Rettner MyHealthNewsDaily

Generosity between spouses is a key element to a happy marriage, a new study says.
In essence, generosity is the amount of giving that goes on within a relationship, which can mean anything from making your spouse a cup of coffee, to ordering flowers or providing a backrub.

In the study, couples who reported a high amount of generosity in their relationship were five times more likely to say their marriage was "very happy," compared with those who reported a low amount of generosity. All couples in the report had children.

When a person is generous to his or her spouse, "The underlying message is, you're valuable, you're important," said Dr. Anthony Castro, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.
However, generosity was not as important as sex, researchers found. In the study, married men and women who reported above-average sexual satisfaction in their relationship were 10 to 13 times more likely to describe their marriage as "very happy," compared with those who reported below average sexual satisfaction.
But factors such as generosity may make sex better, according to the study. Couples who reported high levels of generosity, commitment and quality time together also reported high levels of sexual satisfaction. And wives were more likely to be sexually satisfied if they shared household chores with their husbands.
"What happens outside of the bedroom seems to matter a great deal in predicting how happy husbands and wives are with what happens in the bedroom," said study researcher W. Bradford Wilcox, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.
Predictors of a happy marriage
The study, part of the National Marriage Project,surveyed more than 1,400 heterosexual couples between the ages of 18 and 46.
Fifty percent of women and 46 percent of men who reported above-average generosity in their relationship s described their marriages as "very happy." On the other hand, just 14 percent of each sex with below-average generosity in their relationship described their marriage as "very happy."
Generosity works best if you give your spouse something he or she likes, Wilcox said. "[It's] signaling to your spouse that you know them, and are trying to do things for them that are consistent with your understanding of them," Wilcox said. But if, for example, your spouse delights in almond mochas, and you get her black coffee instead, it might not be very helpful, Wilcox said.
Based on the responses, the researchers compiled a list of the top five predictors of a very happy marriage. For men and women, sexual satisfaction ranked first, followed by level of commitment (a sense of "we-ness"), generosity and a positive attitude toward raising children. For women, the fifth factor was above-average social support from friends and family, and for men, the fifth factor was spirituality within a marriage.
Each relationship is unique
While the factors identified in this study may be a guide to a good relationship, they are based on responses from a large population and don't necessarily apply to individual couples, Castro said.
"Every individual situation is different," Castro said. For instance, a couple may find themselves falling into the 14 percent of couples who are very happy without a high level of generosity.
"Each specific relationship needs to be thought about individually, depending on both individual and partners' needs," Castro said.

The new study was conducted in partnership with the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase the proportion of U.S. children growing up with their two married parents.

12-10-2011, 01:27 PM
By Donna V. Scaglione

Think of reflux and chances are you conjure up that feeling of chest pain that can strike after a meal of fried or spicy food—when contents in your stomach leak back up into your esophagus and irritate it, giving you heartburn.

But there is another type of reflux, one that is less well-known than the gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that many people are diagnosed with. Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), also known as “silent” or “atypical” reflux, usually doesn’t involve heartburn and indigestion.

And unlike GERD, stomach acid isn’t the main culprit; the digestive enzyme pepsin, which is activated by any kind of acid to do its breaking-down work, is when stomach contents back up, pepsin is along for the ride, traveling up to the esophagus and throat, where it interacts with any kind of acid, especially from foods we’re putting into our mouths, and attacks the delicate tissue lining our throat, voice box (larynx), lungs, and esophagus. This is LPR, throat specialist Dr. Jamie Koufman explains in her book “Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure,” and more often than not it goes misdiagnosed.

“Patients frequently ask us, ‘Why doesn’t my doctor know about this?’” writes Koufman, founder and director of the Voice Institute of New York. “Part of the answer is that specialists are too specialized. Many reflux symptoms (hoarseness, the sensation of a lump in the throat, post-nasal drip, chronic throat clearing, cough, chest pain) cross medical specialty lines and are non-specific. The correct diagnosis is often confused with other diagnoses, including upper respiratory infections, allergies, and sinusitis.”

To combat LPR, she espouses a low-acid diet, which she tested in a study published this year in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology. That research involved 12 men and eight women, whose reflux was not responding to medication and who followed a strict, low-acid diet—foods and drinks with a pH level of less than 5 were eliminated for two weeks. (The lower the pH is, the higher the acidity. Foods and drinks high in acidity include soda and diet soda, strawberries, apple sauce, and barbecue sauce.) Of the 20 participants, the symptoms of 19 improved, and three participants were completely free of symptoms.

This two-week diet, which Koufman details in her book, doesn’t allow fruit except for melons and bananas; carbonated beverages, fruit juice, onions, and alcohol also are no-no’s.

However, whole grain bread, fish and chicken (grilled, broiled, baked, or steamed—never fried), pasta, beans, egg whites, and other foods are allowed. Another diet tenet is: no eating after 8 at night because lying prone contributes to reflux.

“The idea here is to reduce the possibility of acid from below and get acid from above absolutely out of the picture for two weeks,” Koufman tells Newsmax Health.

Avoiding processed, canned, and bottled foods also is particularly important because of acidic preservatives added to them since the early 1970s, when federal officials established rules to prevent bacterial growth and enhance shelf life, she notes. Increased consumption of these foods correlates with rising rates of esophageal cancer caused by chronic reflux, she says.

“Everyone is concerned about corn syrup and sugar and saturated fat and no one has questioned acid — and yet it is in everything,” Koufman says.

For many reflux sufferers, the diet requires experimentation. Those who don’t have severe disease may be able to eat foods with no lower than a pH 4, such as peppers, apples, and yogurt. What’s more, getting to know one’s trigger foods is important. Those that are notoriously bad for reflux include ones high in fat like chocolate, bacon, cream sauces, and peanut butter.

The diet, which overall is low in fat as well as being low in acid, is similar to many heart-healthy plans with its emphasis on skinless poultry, vegetables, water, and natural flavorings, such as ginger, brown sugar, and Dijon mustard. Patients often lower their weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure after just a few weeks, Koufman says.

Koufman, who has been working with reflux patients for 30 years, notes that despite “overwhelming clinical evidence, almost no long-term dietary studies have looked at acidity as a factor in reflux management.”

“Critics will argue that we have not done long-term controlled studies and therefore have not proven our case against dietary acidity,” she writes with co-author Dr. Jordan Stern, an otolaryngologist. “That is true. However, we believe that the data are too strong to make our patients wait to get relief.”

In addition to her clinical practice, Koufman is continuing her research by studying the effects of high-alkaline water on reflux patients, and working to bring more awareness around the issue of acidic foods.

“If we required all manufacturers to put the pH on the label of the food—make it the same size font of the major ingredients—the American people would figure out the problem and know what to do,” she says.

12-12-2011, 02:21 AM
Anchorage Daily News

A new European study reports ravens commonly use gestures -- showing and offering objects to each other such as moss, stones and twigs. Such behavior puts ravens in rare company, making the birds the only non-primate confirmed as using pointing gestures to communicate, according to the study. The study, by Simone Pika and Thomas Bugnyar, was published in the Nov. 30 issue of the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Pika said gesturing skill and other intelligence tests, such as gaze-following and problem solving, show ravens could have cognitive abilities on the same level as great apes.

"We have discovered two distinct gestures in ravens, which might be very similar in function to some referential gestures used by humans," Pika, a researcher with the Germany-based Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, said in an email.*

Pika and Bugnyar, who is with the University of Vienna, spent three field seasons in the mountains of Austria observing ravens.
They witnessed 38 social interactions between raven pairs, such as using their beaks to show objects to other ravens, mainly members of the opposite sex.

The objects were clearly being presented so a partner would notice them, the study said, which led to interaction between the birds such as manipulating the object together.

A summary of the study said such behavior is "extremely rare," even among great ape species such as chimpanzees. Rare enough, in fact, that Pika said Bugnyar quickly dismissed the possibility of such behavior in ravens when she asked him about it in 2007.

"He looked at me very perplexed and surprised," Pika wrote in an email. "Then he shook his head and said: No."

A few days later, Bugnyar knocked on Pika's office door with a smile on his face. After watching video clips of ravens playing in the snow, he said they were "doing some really interesting things." That discovery led to their collaboration and the project on raven gestures, Pika said.

The thought that ravens are smarter than most may not be a surprise to many Alaskans. The birds have long been a source of legend among indigenous people of the North, frequently appearing in myths as clever tricksters.

They're also known as remarkably adaptive, thriving in regions from deserts to the arctic. They won't hesitate to tear open a garbage bag in search of food while living in the city, but have been known to follow wolf packs in the wild with the hope of feeding on one of their kills.

Stacia Backensto spent three summers studying ravens around the Prudhoe Bay fields as part of her graduate thesis at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She was fascinated that ravens had adapted to a land without trees by living in oil field structures -- they'd even use old welding rods to build their nests.

Backensto doesn't recall seeing any gesturing behavior like that described by Pika and Bugnyar, but said it was clear in other ways she was witnessing an intelligent bird.

Backensto trapped ravens as part of her study from 2004 to 2006, but found that task extremely difficult after the first summer. Even ravens she had never witnessed, it seemed, knew who she was and what she was doing.

She resorted to disguising herself as an oil field worker to get a better chance at capturing the birds.

"Ravens that I hadn't had prior experience with, we think they learned from other ravens who I was and they'd react aggressively to me," said Backensto, who works today for the National Park Service. "That, to me, was a pretty obvious sign that I was dealing with a really smart animal."

Gesturing behavior among ravens is part of Inuit and Athabascan lore. Hunters have reported that ravens would call to hunters and dip their wings to point in the direction of distant game animals, knowing they would get a free meal if the hunter had a successful kill.

In his book, "Mind of the Raven," biologist Bernd Heinrich reported seeing behavior similar to that described in those stories. He saw raven pairs that would occasionally dip their wings, possibly to "point," accompanied by a glug-glug-glug call.

"It suggests other people have been aware of this behavior before anyone decided to study it," Backensto said.

Pika said they didn't see any pointing behavior as part of their study in Austria, but plan to continue their work to try to determine the meaning and function of various gestures.

The newly published study "represents only the beginning of our investigations," Pika said, "and the more we know the more we do not know."

12-12-2011, 02:57 AM

This Saturday morning I had a long list of things to do. I finished my coffee and jumped up to stoke the stove before getting started. "What about the door?" my wife Stacey said. She was still drinking her coffee. "Nome is already blowing."

Oh crap, the door!

I realize there's that expression about opportunity and success -- something about opening doors -- but much more of my life has been spent trying to get the darn things shut.

When I was a kid, our sod house was buried in the ground and the north wind blew fairly constantly and we'd open the door in the morning to a vertical wall of snow; no view of the world at all, just smooth white snow. We had to cut a hole, crawl out and shovel out the whole thing to haul in wood, water and caribou meat and check the dogs.

We'd dig fast, the wind drifting in more snow and coating our faces with masks of ice. We'd chop with the hatchet at the ice along at the floor and sweep with our mittens, then shovel more and scrape and -- Whew! -- finally the door would shut again.

In summer that door had to shut too, tight and fast; a million mosquitoes wanted in. We nailed up strips of caribou skin to keep the bugs out in summer and the cold out in winter and screwed in eyebolts to keep bears from shoving it open.

Here, now, on the coast, we're in the path of another blizzard. The Lower 48 weather channels aren't hyping this one -- I guess we're no longer the cool terror of the moment -- but regardless, another storm is coming.

Our door hasn't been latching since that last blow. During that one, I tied everything down outside and then pounded wedges in to keep the door from ripping open. We're on the second floor, on the edge of the lagoon; our only door faces right into the wind.

Since then conditions have been calm, clear, cold -- what we call Fairbanks weather -- the kind of weather where the inside of your snowgo is not a white smooth drift when you lift the cowling, and in the morning your cross-country skis are not a hundred yards away under someone's four-wheeler. "Calm" on the coast, of course, does include some chilly 18 mph breezes, but still, it's been a welcome "breath of fresh air" not to have drifting snow.

Our doorknob was iced up, so I went out to the conex to get my heat gun. The padlock was frozen, my blowtorch too cold and low to light to thaw it -- that same old stuff everybody deals with. I finally got to the heat gun and got the conex closed and thawed the doorknob free, but the latch no longer lined up with the striker plate. It's a new door, but water had frozen in the rubber strip at the bottom and lifted it. I forced the ice out of the stripping like a popsicle, but it still wouldn't latch.

By then I was cold, and the battery went dead on my drill. I took the plate off by hand and moved it higher. It still wouldn't latch, and the knob froze up again.

The wind was picking up, ice blowing off the sides of the house. I put on more gear, got my snow-go running, and went and bought six lag screws. Except I forgot my wallet and had to leave them on the counter. And then my snow-go didn't want to start. I spotted my neighbor, Larry Schweigert, coming from the P.O. on his buzzing Bravo snow-go. We blocked our faces from the wind, shouting at each other.

"Hey!" he said.

"Hey, how about loaning me $6?" I said.

He shielded his wallet from the wind, handed me a twenty.

Back home, I paused to haul in wood and restack my woodpile, move sleds and tie them down, pick up shovels and lash the cover down on my snow-go. Finally, I cut a board and notched it and sank lag screws on both sides of the door frame, sawed big wedges and rammed them in. That would hold during the storm, although the door still wouldn't latch for going in and out.

Outside it was already getting dark, visibility dropping rapidly, and the wind starting to roar and whip gusts of snow into the house. I went out and got a chisel and hammer and, using the heat gun again, and Tri-Flow and a drill and some professional cuss words, I got the door to close.

Putting my tools away, I lost my grip on my shop door. The wind caught it and flung it open. The hinges bent. It was kind of depressing; I had to force it to shut using the hasp.

I'm not complaining, though, about all these years and efforts to shut doors -- not a bit; it's all part of a good life here where the wind blows. And actually it's probably tougher in Shishmaref or Kivalina or any number of coastal villages, and certainly tougher in cities where they have to bar their doors against other humans. It's not like being stuck in traffic, and I've spent almost none of my life looking for a parking spot -- I guess it's good enough to say, so far today I'm a success, I got the door closed.

Seth Kantner is the author of "Shopping for Porcupine" and the bestselling novel "Ordinary Wolves." He lives with his wife and daughter in Northwest Alaska and can be reached at sethkantner.com. His column runs on the second Sunday of each month in the Daily News' Arts & Life section.

12-12-2011, 12:46 PM
By Zack Whittaker | December 11, 2011, 1:27pm PST
Summary: Wikileaks’ recent ‘Spy Files’ shows how the private intelligence sector can access your Gmail accounts, use ISPs to spy on you, and even inject in-progress downloads to track you.

The chances are you’re not being watched at this very moment in time.

But popular software and services, from Skype to Gmail, Hotmail, and even iTunes are vulnerable to the covert spying technologies the private sector has invented.

Wikileaks last week revealed its latest treasure trove of leaked material, showing only the tip of the iceberg for what the intelligence sector offers. Private companies sell their civil right infringing software, privacy invasive hardware, and other technologies to state organisations for widespread monitoring, hacking and surveillance of its citizens.

In recently released videos, Gamma Group touts the ability of how its broad range of “infection functionality” can remotely access the full hard drive of another computer, inject downloads with spy software, and trick users into downloading fake updates to gain access to their lives.

When was the last time iTunes required an update? When did you last log into Gmail? Have you recently had a seemingly private conversation with someone on Skype?

If Gamma has this capability, then your government may do as well.

A range of software, specifically designed to access computers, cell phones and networks, can inject downloads in progress with spy software, or hack cell phones. From intercepting Skype phone calls to ISP-level surveillance monitoring. This is how one company does it.

Its technology can attack a machine, smartphone or network on a specific target, or it can be installed at a Internet service provider level to offer widespread access of the innards of one’s private and personal life.

It can also be used to access industry secrets, healthcare providers, or even other government networks.

While Gamma is only one example of a multitude of private sector organisations that work on behalf of governments, Wikileaks’ insight into how the company practices can be applied as a minimum benchmark for others, at least.

It has long been no secret that governments spy on its own citizens.

The BBC discovered evidence post-revolution that suggested links to the repressive Mubarak-Egyptian regime. The company denied the allegations, yet were unwilling to divulge which countries or governments exactly it supplies technology or training to.

From British intelligence service GCHQ’s efforts to crack BlackBerry encryption in the wake of widespread rioting, to the U.S.’ National Security Agency’s Echelon satellite intercepting capabilities, governments have a vast array of technology at its disposal.

Yet more often than not with government, it cannot provide the services it needs to fulfil its ‘duties’ to its public.

One would question whether spying on its own citizens is a duty, but “protecting the public” is the foremost role of government — no matter how they persuade its public otherwise.

Should a government authorise the private sector use of such wide, sweeping surveillance, the matter of accountability becomes unclear.

But what the private sector offers governments, democratic and otherwise alike, leaves even the most popular software vulnerable to unauthorised snooping and interception.


New Wikileaks files expose widespread mobile phone, email hacking capability
U.S. judge upholds Twitter subpoena of Wikileaks’ followers
Wikileaks suspends publication of secrets amid ‘financial blockade’
Wikileaks releases full unredacted cache of U.S. diplomatic cables


12-12-2011, 02:35 PM
Why Facebook is interested in your attention, emotions, memory
By Emil Protalinski | December 11, 2011, 6:26pm PST

Summary: Why did Facebook commission a study to look at users’ attention, emotional engagement, and memory retention while browsing websites? To convince advertisers the social network is the best.

Facebook recently hired NeuroFocus, a company that applies neuroscience to consumer insights, to take a close look at consumer engagement on premium websites and understand quantitatively how people respond to different online experiences. Why did Facebook bother? The social networking giant wanted to show advertisers how important of a role context played in optimizing their messages across different types of media.

In the first part of the study, NeuroFocus tested three popular website homepages: the New York Times homepage (representing a hard news and commentary experience), Yahoo’s non-personalized homepage (representing a light news and entertainment experience), and the Facebook News Feed (representing a social experience). The company then analyzed consumers’ subconscious responses to each of these sites by looking at their attention, emotional engagement, and memory retention.

The findings weren’t too shocking: The New York Times, Yahoo, and Facebook deliver substantially more engaging experiences than the average web site. Facebook was first in emotional engagement, tied for first in memory retention, and tied for second in attention. It scored highest overall. Color me unsurprised.

In the second part of the study, NeuroFocus used the same measures to examine people’s responses to the same advertisement but in different environments. The company looked at ads displayed on TV, on a corporate web site, and on a Facebook Page.

Again, the results showed that consumers respond differently to the same advertisement presented in a different medium. While Facebook scored first in emotional engagement, second in attention, and third in memory retention, it still won overall.

“This study underscores what full-brain neurological testing measurements can bring to critical decision-making when it comes to allocating advertising campaigns across online experiences,” Dr. A. K. Pradeep, Chief Executive Officer of NeuroFocus, said in a statement. “The ability to understand consumers’ subconscious responses to premium web sites brings new understanding on how people engage with online and social media sites.”

Although it’s important to remember that Facebook funded this study, so it could very well be skewed towards the social network, it still shows some very interesting insights.

12-14-2011, 01:54 PM
By Janet Fang | December 14, 2011, 1:30 AM PST


For soldiers with blast-related injuries and patients who’ve survived aneurysms, a new headset ultrasound monitor could help detect potentially dangerous aftereffects.

Cerebral vasospasm occurs when blood vessels suddenly constrict – pressure grows, the velocity inside the artery builds, and less brain flows onwards to the brain. Nearly half the soldiers who sustain blast injuries develop this condition.

Vasospasm can take several days to develop, and in order to detect it, technicians need to use an ultrasound to find the relevant blood vessels and hold the ultrasound beam in place.

PhysioSonics has developed a monitor that automates this process, eliminating the need for a trained technician. Technology Review reports.

“We see putting it on the head and measuring constantly or frequently over two weeks,” says company cofounder Michel Kliot of the University of Washington. The point is to have a variable that you can read like a heart rate monitor, he adds.

The monitor consists of a headset that directs ultrasound beams through the head:

Using an algorithm, it automatically detects one of the major arteries that supplies blood to the brain.
Then it locks the relevant beam onto the artery to measure its blood flow.
A machine attached to the headset gives an index of flow and peak velocity.
A high proportion of patients who survive aneurysm ruptures also develop vasospasm. Typically, a technician would have to measure blood flow in the hospital using an ultrasound at least once a day for several days. The new tech will make it possible to continuously monitor high risk patients automatically.

The company, based in Bellevue, Washington, received a military grant of $2.5 million last month to adapt the device for monitoring vasospasm in soldiers; they plan to make a more rugged version for military use. The company hopes to expand the tech to also detect dangerous buildup of pressure in the head – which usually requires drilling a hole in the skull.

They’re filing for Food and Drug Administration approval within the month.

From MIT Technology Review.

Image by The U.S. Army via Flickr

12-15-2011, 11:29 AM

The roof of a city-owned downtown parkade will be converted to a high-tech vertical growing space capable of producing 95 tonnes of fresh vegetables a year.


Vancouver-based Valcent Products has entered into a memorandum of understanding with EasyPark, the corporate manager of the city's parkades, to build a 6,000-square-foot greenhouse on underutilized space on the roof of the parkade at 535 Richards Street, in the heart of the downtown core.

The inside of the greenhouse will be anything but ordinary. Four-metre-high stacks of growing trays on motorized conveyors will ferry plants up, down and around for watering, to capture the sun's rays and then move them into position for an easy harvest.

The array will produce about the same amount of produce as 6.4 hectares (16 acres) of California fields, according to Christopher Ng, chief operating officer of Valcent.

Construction will begin on the project in January, with an eye to harvesting the first crops in April. The greenhouse will cover less than half of the available space on the rooftop, leaving open the possibility that a second, equally productive greenhouse can be built in the future.

Ng reasons that Valcent's growing technology is a perfect match with Vancouver's stated goal of becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020. He found the city was not only willing to listen to his idea, but also to act on it. EasyPark came up with suggestions for proper-ties that might work.

EasyPark general manager Mel McKinney for EasyPark sees the VertiCrop installation as a way to promote environmental leadership while repurposing an underused city asset.

"This long-term lease generates direct financial benefit to Vancouverites while showcasing Vancouver's sustainability innovation," said McKinney in a quote supplied by email.

"We saw some synergy ... between [the city's] greenest city goals and our technology to grow food in an urban environment," Ng said.

Valcent has struck the deal with EasyPark and local food supplier PSWJ Holdings to market and distribute the produce.

Talks are also underway with a bicycle-based food delivery company and Ng figures to lure the city's top chefs aboard once the quality of the product is established.

The VertiCrop system can be used to grow at least 20 varieties of lettuces, herbs and greens, provided they are under 30 centimetres (one foot) tall.

The Richards Street property has good access to light throughout the day despite being surrounded by tall buildings, so no artificial lighting will be required. Heat will be provided by the sun through much of the year and low-car-bon hydroelectric power during the coldest months.

The greenhouse will be clad with fluoropolymer sheets rather than glass to enhance light transmission and reduce the risk of damage due to wind.

Growing greens close to home makes sense both environ-mentally and nutritionally, Ng said.

"In the winter our lettuce comes from California, Mexico and as far south as Chile," he said. "The food miles are just phenomenal.

"Plus, lettuce loses half its nutritional value in the first 96 hours after you pick it. California lettuce hasn't even crossed the border in 96 hours."

The memorandum calls for a formal lease on the parkade space to be signed within 90 days.


peter radclyffe
12-15-2011, 04:40 PM

12-15-2011, 05:57 PM
^Classic Bilge style OCD!

12-15-2011, 08:41 PM
Excellent story about the lettuce Spin......I just loves vertical farming.

12-16-2011, 02:27 PM
Excellent story about the lettuce Spin......I just loves vertical farming.;):)Glad you liked it. I'd love to hear about your vertical farming. I've been very interested in it too. You can grow a huge amounts of food in a very small space. You can easily build your vertical containers out of boards, drilling holes and inserting a certain kind of watering hose into it. Very simple and inexpensive. No need for high tech.

12-16-2011, 02:29 PM
Manish Swarup/AP

http://a.abcnews.com/mwImage/1/300/168/20/17/Ap_worlds_shortest_woman_jyoti_amge_thg_111216_wn. jpg

A high school student in central India was recognized as the world's shortest woman by Guinness World Records on Friday as she turned 18 and said she hopes to earn a degree and make it in Bollywood.

Jyoti Amge stood just 62.8 centimeters (24.7 inches) tall — shorter than the average 2-year-old — when Guinness representatives visiting from London measured her at a ceremony attended by about 30 relatives and friends in the town of Nagpur, in Maharashtra state.

A teary-eyed Amge, dressed in one of her finest saris, called the honor an "extra birthday present" and said she felt grateful for being small, as it had brought her recognition. After receiving a plaque, she and her guests cut a birthday cake.

"I have put Nagpur on the world map. Now everyone will know where it is," said Amge, who says she dreams of one day becoming a Bollywood film star as well as pursuing a university degree after she finishes high school this year.

"I want to be an actor," she said.

She measured 7 centimeters (2.76 inches) shorter than 22-year-old American Bridgette Jordan, who had held the title since September.

"Jyoti encourages us all to look beyond mere size and to just celebrate our differences," Guinness adjudicator Rob Molloy said.

This was not Amge's first Guinness record. Until Friday she was considered the world's shortest teenager, but in turning 18 qualified for the new title. She has grown less than 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) in the last two years, Guinness said in a statement, and will grow no more due to a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia.

Her teenage title brought the chance for multiple Guinness-sponsored trips to Japan and Italy for tours and meetings with other record holders, she said.

The title of shortest woman in history continues to be held by Pauline Musters, who lived in the Netherlands from 1876 to 1895 and stood 61 centimeters (24 inches) tall.

12-16-2011, 02:46 PM

Herbert Thompson seems like just another smart academic software developer who loves formulas and geeking out. But he’s also stolen the identities of several casual acquaintances. In fact in one case he gained access to a bank account in seven shockingly simple steps. And he used no special programming tricks, just common sense.

Thompson stole identities as an experiment back in 2008 to show the public how easy it is to get access to personal data and banking information. He proved it only requires some simple surfing for freely available personal data and cobbling it together in powerfully creative ways.* Thompson began his experiments by first receiving permission from people he barely knew to try to break into their bank accounts. What the following steps show is how vulnerable we all are to security breach.

The victim:
He knew her name was Kim, where she was from, where she worked and roughly her age. He also knew the name of her bank and her username although as Thompson says, this was easy to guess—it was her first initial and last name. (Note: Change your username to something a bit less obvious.)

Seven Steps:
1)*** Google search. He googles her. Finds a blog and a resume. (Thompson called her blog a “goldmine.”) He gets information about grandparents, pets, hometown. Most important he gets her college email address and current gmail address.
2)*** Next stop: Password recovery feature on her bank’s web site. He attempts to reset her bank password. But the bank sends a reset link to her email, which he does not have access to. So he needs to get access to her gmail.
3)*** Gmail access. He attempts to reset her gmail password but gmail sends this to her college email address. Gmail tells you this address’* domain (at least it did in 2008 when Thompson conducted the experiments) so he knew he had to get access to that specific address.
4)*** College email account page. Thompson clicks the “forgot password” link on this page and winds up facing a few questions. Home address, home zip code and home country? No problem, Thompson has it all from her resume. The same resume found from the simple google search done earlier. Then came a stumbling block: the college wanted her birthday. But he only had a rough idea of her age, no actual birth date.
5)*** State traffic court web site. Apparently you can search for violations and court appearances by name! And such records include a birth date. (Facebook also makes this piece of data very easy to get even if people do not note their birth year…remember Thompson knew roughly how old Kim was.) But he had no luck with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
6)*** Thompson goes back to the blog and does a search for “birthday.” He gets a date but no year.
7)*** Finally, Thompson attempts the college reset password again. He fills in her birth date, and simply guesses the year. He gets it wrong. But the site gives him five chances, and tells him which field has the error. So he continues to guess. He gets access in under five guesses. He changes her college password. This gives him access to her gmail password reset email. Google requires some personal information which he is able to get easily from her blog (e.g., father’s middle name.) Thompson changes the gmail password and that gives him access to the bank account reset password email. Here again he is asked for personal information but nothing that he could not glean from Kim’s blog (e.g., pet name and phone number.) He resets the bank password and bingo, has immediate access to all her records and money.

From Thompson:

Needless to say, Kim was disturbed. Her whole digital identity sat precariously on the foundation of her college e-mail account; once I had access to it, the rest of the security defenses fell like a row of dominoes. What’s striking about Kim’s case is how common it is. For many of us, the abundance of personal information we put online combined with the popular model of sending a password reset e-mail has our online security resting unsteadily on the shoulders of one or two e-mail accounts.

Yes in this case the personal information came from her blog but it could have easily come from a Facebook page or other online community pages.

Thompson provides sage advice on Scientific American:

Go and do a self-check. Try to reset you passwords and see what questions are asked to verify your identity. Some questions are better than others. Date of birth, for example, is bad. In addition to the DMV, there is a wealth of public records available online where folks can track down when you were born. Most account reset features give you a choice of questions or methods to use. Go for questions that ask about obscure things that you won’t forget (or can at least look up), like your favorite frequent flyer number. Avoid questions that are easy to guess, such as which state you opened your bank account in.

It’s also critical to remember that once you put data online, it’s almost impossible to delete it later. The more you blog about yourself, the more details you put in your social networking profiles, the more information about you is being archived, copied, backed up and analyzed almost immediately. Think first, post later.

[via Scientific American]

[photo via manitou2121]

12-16-2011, 03:05 PM

12-16-2011, 11:22 PM


Natalya Murakhver, a New York food writer and mother of an 18-month year old daughter, loved her premium brand orange juice -- the "100 percent pure" and "not from concentrate" kind that comes in the colorful carton and tastes consistently delicious.

That is, until she said she learned from her first-time moms group that there's a "secret ingredient" in all premium orange juices that companies are not required to put on their labeling.

Now, after writing Whole Foods, she refuses to buy her favorite, "365" juice, amid uncertainty about its contents.

"One of the moms said she had read about [how the juice is made] and they held it in tanks for up to a year and it pretty much lost all of its flavor and had to be reinvigorated with these flavor packs, which are essentially chemicals," said Murakhver, 40, and co-author of "They Eat What?: A Cultural Encyclopedia of Weird and Exotic Food from around the World."

For the last 30 years, the citrus industry has used flavor packs to process what the Food and Drug Administration identifies as "pasteurized" orange juice. That includes top brands such as Tropicana, Minute Maid, Simply Orange and Florida Natural, among others.

Murakhver said the addition of the flavor packs long after orange juice is stored actually makes those premium juices more like a concentrate, and consumers need to know that.

Experts estimate two-thirds of all Americans drink Florida orange juice for breakfast, and companies spend millions on their marketing campaigns touting its health benefits.

The "not from concentrate" brands appeared on store shelves sometime in the 1980s to differentiate them from frozen juice and other bottled concentrates. Despite its high price tag -- now up to $4 a carton -- sales of the premium brands have soared.

But those juices don't just jump from the grove to the breakfast table.

After oranges are picked, they are shipped off to be processed. They are squeezed and pasteurized and, if they are not bound for frozen concentrate, are kept in aseptic storage, which involves stripping the juice of oxygen in a process called "deaeration," and kept in million-gallon tanks for up to a year.

Before packaging and shipping, the juice is then jazzed up with an added flavor pack, gleaned from orange byproducts such as the peel and pulp, to compensate for the loss of taste and aroma during the heating process.

Different brands use different flavor packs to give their product its unique and always consistent taste. Minute Maid, for example, has a distinctive candy-sweet flavor.

Kristen Gunter, executive director of theFlorida Citrus Processors Association,confirmed that juices are blended and stored and that flavor packs are added to pasteurized juice before shipping to stores.

Flavor packs are created from the volatile compounds that escape from the orange during the pasteurization step.

But, she said, "It's not made in a lab or made in a chemical process, but comes through the physical process of boiling and capturing the [orange essence]."

The pasteurization process not only makes the food safe, but stabilizes the juice, which in its fresh state separates. Adding the flavor packs ensures a consistent flavor.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grades the quality of the juice based on color, flavor and defects.

"To get grade A, we have to blend it," she said. "Because oranges and their growing seasons vary, both the Valencia -- 'king of the oranges' -- and its lesser cousin, the Hamlin, are combined in the process.

"A processor is faced with harvesting the crop and giving the consumer some sense of what [he or she] might be getting," she said. "You buy branded orange juice, you kind of want it to taste, generally, the same. That expectation is met by blending different varieties and, in order to blend, storage is involved."

FDA Insists on Warnings for Fresh-Squeezed Juice
The Food and Drug Administration does not require adding flavor packs to the labeling of pasteurized juice (which includes the from-concentrate as well as the not-from-concentrate versions), because, "it is the orange," said Gunter.

Non-pasteurized juice must be labeled as such, with warnings about potential pathogens. These regulations have been in place since 1963, she said.

As for the New York City mothers, Gunter said, "I don't think there has been a large outcry."

"If consumers have the false impression that pasteurized orange juice is not heated or treated because they have a picture of an orange on the carton, then they are not informed," said Gunter.

"There's a lot of literature and movies taking the food manufacturers to task on food preparation," she said. "We have left the farms and it's just not possible to feed everybody. I love the raw-food crowd, but we cannot get that many oranges out to that many people before they go bad in refrigeration."

But Alissa Hamilton, a former food and policy fellow at the Institute of Agriculture and Trade, said that modern technology is so "sophisticated" that these flavor pack mixtures "don't exist in nature."

"They break it down into individual chemicals," she said. "The flavor of orange is one of the most complex and is made up of thousands of chemicals."

"They are fine-tuned so each company has its trademark flavor," said Hamilton, who is author of the 2009 book,*"Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice."."

One that is used in a variety of foods, including alcoholic beverages, chewing gum and as a solvent in perfumes, is ethyl butyrate.

12-18-2011, 04:11 AM
Thursday, December 15, 2011

A new study has suggested that obese people live just as long as thinner people. At first, this might seem to imply that fat is harmless and that all the talk of obesity and disease was just a lot of hype.

But not so fast! Regular readers may recall that I have explained more than once that thin people can sometimes actually have even more inflammatory fat than people who look clearly overweight. What is important is where the fat is.

Most fat in the body is called subcutaneous fat, which means that it lies just under the skin. Studies suggest that this type of fat is relatively harmless. However, another type of fat exists within the abdominal cavity. This is called visceral fat — that is, it surrounds the intestines and internal organs.

It is this type of fat that is harmful to your health because it is associated with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, atherosclerosis, heart failure, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease. (For information on low to lose weight safely, read my special report “The Fat Cure: Health Secrets to Losing Weight Permanently."

The reason visceral fat is so harmful is that it releases chemicals (cytokines, adipokines, and chemokines) that produce a slow, smoldering inflammation throughout the body. This type of inflammation is associated with all of the diseases mentioned. For a detailed discussion on inflammation and its role in many diseases, see my newsletter "Inflammation: The Real Cause of Most Diseases."

You may also recall that people can have a great deal of visceral fat and still appear to be a normal weight. In fact, most studies on obesity measure the body mass index (BMI), which uses a formula based on your height and weight. The problem is that BMI cannot differentiate between subcutaneous and visceral fat. As a result, you can have a normal BMI and still have a very high level of visceral fat.

In another new study, reported in “Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience,” found a strong correlation between high levels of visceral fat and shrinkage of the brain (atrophy of the hippocampus), memory difficulties, and thinning of the brain’s cortex. Subcutaneous fat had no effect.

Curcumin, quercetin, ellagic acid, luteolin, natural vitamin E, tocotrienols, and DHA reduce inflammation. Concentrated blueberry and pomegranate extract significantly reduce inflammation's effect on the brain and protect from the effects of aging. In addition, taking 1,000 to 2,000 mg of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) oil a day can help reduce visceral fat.

Dr. Baylock....From Newsmax

12-19-2011, 07:40 AM
By Laura Shin December 18, 2011


Temperatures in the Arctic are warming, and along with them, so is the permafrost, which, in some cases, is thawing.

Because permafrost’s icy soil contains frozen carbon — mostly organic matter such as leaves and roots — it releases a lot of carbon, in the form of carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere as it thaws.

Scientists, who are now observing how much of these gases are currently being released from this thawing ground, say that the most worrying part about a warming permafrost is that if the permafrost begins to thaw, it will be impossible to stop.

And if the thawing of the permafrost is not stopped, that will release vast amounts of carbon into the air. Scientists estimate that the permafrost contains two and a half times as much carbon as the entire atmosphere. Current projections for the amount of carbon that the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions could one day annually contribute to the atmosphere are equivalent to anywhere from 15% to 35% of today’s yearly emissions from human activity.

“Even if it’s 5 or 10 percent of today’s emissions, it’s exceptionally worrying, and 30 percent is humongous,” Josep G. Canadell, a scientist in Australia who runs a global program to monitor greenhouse gases, told*The New York Times. “It will be a chronic source of emissions that will last hundreds of years.”

Likely to exacerbate the problem are two facts: First, methane, which is often released by thawing permafrost, is more than 20 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Second, wildfires are becoming increasingly common across the north, and increased burning will further the thawing of the permafrost.

Permafrost ancient and recent history

During the last ice age, western North America and eastern Siberia were not covered in glaciers, but powerful winds and rivers brought in massive amounts of silt and dust to these frigid areas. During the summers, the top layer of this soil would thaw and grasses would grow and take in carbon dioxide. During the winter, organic materials such as grass roots, leaves and even animal bodies would freeze before they could decompose, forming layers of permafrost.

In the last several decades, scientists have been logging permafrost temperatures, and the overall trend is clear: temperatures are rising relentlessly across the region and the northernmost regions are warming the fastest, while the southern areas have shown marked thawing. For instance, the permafrost across much of central Alaska is just below freezing and should see widespread thawing as soon as the 2020s. In the northern regions, the permafrost is still 12 degrees Fahrenheit below freezing.

Scientists are beginning to worry that the thawing of the permafrost changing the land more rapidly than they can understand the changes or make predictions based on them. For example, the region is seeing an increase in a particular land phenomenon called thermokarsts (photographed above).

Thermokarsts form when the thawing permafrost ground turns mushy, causing the land to collapse and often causing a lake or wetland to form. The dark surface of the lake’s water will then capture more heat from the sun and cause the surrounding permafrost to thaw as well. Near thermokarsts, the forests often are called “drunken,” because the trees, whose roots have lost their solid support system, lean crazily.

Thermokarsts are becoming more common in some regions, such as northernmost Alaska, but scientists are not yet sure whether they will become more common throughout the Arctic.

“We expect increased thermokarst activity could be a very strong effect, but we don’t really know,” Guido Grosse, a University of Alaska, Fairbanks scientist, told The New York Times. He is working with another scientist on mapping thermokarst lakes and methane seeps to see if satellites and aerial photography can be used to detect trends.

The roles of methane and wildfires

The first reason the thawing of the permafrost is especially worrisome has to do with methane.

When the permafrost thaws, the organic material trapped in it is consumed by bacteria. If there is air in the area, oxygen-breathing bacteria will break down the organic matter and the carbon will enter the air as carbon dioxide.

But when organic matter breaks down at the bottom of a lake or wetland, then another type of bacteria (methanogens) will break it down, releasing the carbon into the atmosphere as methane.

Although most of the carbon released by the permafrost is likely to be carbon dioxide, scientists say that the fact that methane is so much more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas means that it will be likely be responsible for trapping as much heat as the carbon dioxide will.

Another reason scientists are concerned about the thawing of the permafrost is the fact that fires in the tundra are becoming more common as the land, which used to be too damp to burn, dries out.

A 2007 lightning-sparked fire on the Anaktuvuk River in northern Alaska was the first of its size (400 square miles) in 5,000 years. As the Times reports,

Scientists have calculated that the fire and its aftermath sent a huge pulse of carbon into the air — as much as would be emitted in two years by a city the size of Miami. Scientists say the fire thawed the upper layer of permafrost and set off what they fear will be permanent shifts in the landscape.

The paper quotes Michelle C. Mack, a University of Florida scientist who is studying the fire: “I maintain that the fastest way you’re going to lose permafrost and release permafrost carbon to the atmosphere is increasing fire frequency.”

It’s not entirely clear exactly how these changes will impact the Arctic, the permafrost or the planet as a whole. For instance, the thawing permafrost could release nutrients that spur more Arctic plant growth, and those plants then take up some carbon dioxide.

But the scientists studying the area are worried by all the changes.

“To me, it’s a spine-tingling feeling, if it’s really old carbon that hasn’t been in the air for a long time, and now it’s entering the air,” Edward A. G. Schuur, a University of Florida researcher who has done much research in Alaska, told The Times. “That’s the fingerprint of a major disruption, and we aren’t going to be able to turn it off someday.”

photo: The land around these two bays in Northern Siberia is dotted with thermokarst lakes. (NASA Goddard Photo and Video/Flickr)

via:*The New York Times

12-20-2011, 02:35 PM
By*Tuan C. Nguyen

The Kim Jong Il era in North Korea will be best remembered as perhaps one of the country’s darkest — literally.


A satellite photo making the rounds on the internet revealed that the only region where there was any semblance of the lights being on at night was the capital city of Pyongyang. In contrast, much of the population in South Korea were shown to have a much healthier glow as well as surrounding areas in China. The image provides a telling glimpse into one of the world’s most secretive dictatorships, though not a very surprising one.

Throughout the “Dear leader’s” 13 year reign, the communist regime instilled and enforced a policy of “Juche,” which roughly translates to “spirit of self-reliance.” It’s a principle that was originally popularized by Jong Il’s father, *Kim Il-sung, who asserted that the Republic must use its own domestic resources and strength to become independent of external sources from other countries. In practice, however, the North Korean leadership often sought assistance from Russia and China as the nation has been stricken by widespread famine and power shortages, even as they continued to invest heavily in building and sustaining a military that would eventually become the world’s fifth largest.

Under the tutelage of the ruling Kim family, North Korean society is among the world’s poorest and most malnourished. Men in North Korea are on average almost 3 inches shorter than those living just across the demilitarized zone. Women are 1.6 inches shorter. By comparison, Costa Rica, a developing nation and democracy which abolished its military in 1959 and maintains positive bilateral relations with other nations, has since enjoyed the*highest standard of living*in Latin America.

Consequently, the striking imagery and what it implies also falls in line with*an earlier study*suggesting that, at least with developing countries, there was a strong link between nighttime luminosity and economic wealth. Yet despite how ‘Juche’ has panned out so far, it appears likely that the late dictator’s son Kim Jong Un will carry forth what has been a legacy of suffering, isolation and, above all, distrust.

Photo: NASA

12-21-2011, 09:57 PM
(http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=ArwN4I9jBTdx.TtYy3vUDiYSH9EA;_ylu=X3oDMTFka3B kYnE0BG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzEEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTNlbTlxNnVsBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDYjExZTU0YTYtMTJmZS0zYzEwLThkNzktODdlMjU5OW U2ODgzBHBzdGNhdANvcmlnaW5hbHN8dGhlc2lkZXNob3cEcHQD c3RvcnlwYWdlBHRlc3QD;_ylv=0/SIG=12h72ct07/EXP=1325730133/**http%3A//media.zenfs.com/en/blogs/thesideshow/twoheadedbaby.jpg)
A to-headed baby born in Brazil is reportedly healthy

By Eric Pfeiffer (http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/author/eric-pfeiffer/)
A Brazilian woman has given birth to a two-headed baby boy (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=Atl4GBXh_PFcAxcEnDpEeGkSH9EA;_ylu=X3oDMTFkZWg zYnZwBG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzIEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTNlbTlxNnVsBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDYjExZTU0YTYtMTJmZS0zYzEwLThkNzktODdlMjU5OW U2ODgzBHBzdGNhdANvcmlnaW5hbHN8dGhlc2lkZXNob3cEcHQD c3RvcnlwYWdlBHRlc3QD;_ylv=0/SIG=14bje3da1/EXP=1325730133/**http%3A//www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2076954/Brazilian-baby-born-heads-Dicephalic-parapagus-twins-Emanoel-Jesus.html) and doctors say the newborn appears to be in good health. Maria de Nazare has decided to name the pair, who share a heart, lungs, liver and pelvis, Emanoel and Jesus."When doctors scanned her they realized that the baby had two heads and that a normal birth would be a great risk both for mother and baby," hospital director Claudionor Assis de Vasconcelos told Brazil's O Povo newspaper. "The caesarean took an hour because the baby was sitting down."

"Despite all the problems we have as a small interior hospital we managed to save both mother and baby, which was our aim," he said. "And for us it was a great surprise to find out that the child was in really good health."

De Nazare was expecting twins and only found out about the two-headed child minutes before doctors advised her to have a caesarean birth in order to save both her life and that of her baby. Along with two heads, the 9.9 pound newborns have separate spines.

In some two-headed births where one brain is less developed, one head is removed in order to save the child's life. But rarer cases like this one, where there are two functioning brains, complicates the decision making process for doctors.

"If both their brains are functioning, how are we going to choose which head to remove?" said Neila Dahas, director of the Santa Casa hospital. "We are not considering the possibility of surgery. What we've got to think about at this moment is to maintain the children in good condition and see how they will develop."

Conjoined twins sharing a body, but with separate heads, are extremely rare but not without precedent. This is the second such birth in Brazil this year. However, the other child died after a few hours because of a lack of oxygen to one of the child's heads.

There have been at least 14 (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AtNW0pHAg1Wxc3gQYTQv9_cSH9EA;_ylu=X3oDMTFkNWJ 1MDBuBG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzMEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTNlbTlxNnVsBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDYjExZTU0YTYtMTJmZS0zYzEwLThkNzktODdlMjU5OW U2ODgzBHBzdGNhdANvcmlnaW5hbHN8dGhlc2lkZXNob3cEcHQD c3RvcnlwYWdlBHRlc3QD;_ylv=0/SIG=11s17mbmd/EXP=1325730133/**http%3A//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycephaly)dicephalic conjoined twins born over the past 200 years.

In the United States, 21-year-old Abigail and Brittany Hensel (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AsP9iZdPnT1f1DyKWPryhv4SH9EA;_ylu=X3oDMTFkMmF zbGIwBG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzQEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTNlbTlxNnVsBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDYjExZTU0YTYtMTJmZS0zYzEwLThkNzktODdlMjU5OW U2ODgzBHBzdGNhdANvcmlnaW5hbHN8dGhlc2lkZXNob3cEcHQD c3RvcnlwYWdlBHRlc3QD;_ylv=0/SIG=12ccjfls7/EXP=1325730133/**http%3A//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abigail_and_Brittany_Hensel) were the subject of a 1996 documentary from The Learning Channel (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AmrqV3.YlTCKcv3eLrte59ISH9EA;_ylu=X3oDMTFkcWh pdTZuBG1pdANCbG9nIEJvZHkEcG9zAzUEc2VjA01lZGlhQmxvZ 0JvZHlBc3NlbWJseQ--;_ylg=X3oDMTNlbTlxNnVsBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDYjExZTU0YTYtMTJmZS0zYzEwLThkNzktODdlMjU5OW U2ODgzBHBzdGNhdANvcmlnaW5hbHN8dGhlc2lkZXNob3cEcHQD c3RvcnlwYWdlBHRlc3QD;_ylv=0/SIG=120ausi1u/EXP=1325730133/**http%3A//www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv=7ZUzi0RhBpM) and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

12-21-2011, 10:11 PM
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LONDON (Reuters) - A worried letter from six-year old Leo Park sparked a mammoth operation to test what is believed to be the world's first chimney specifically designed to accommodate Santa Claus.

The little boy's parents are having a house custom built and when Leo viewed the plans he was concerned that the chimney wasn't big enough for Father Christmas and his famous belly that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly.

As he was penning his traditional letter to Santa, Leo decided to also write a heartfelt missive about the chimney design problem to Jeremy Paxton, who owns the estate on which the new house is being built.

In childish scrawl the letter reads: "Dear Mr Paxton, I am worried that my mummy's house does not have a big enough chimney. I think Santa Claus will get stuck. Please can you help. Love Leo Park."

Paxton, founder and owner of luxury holiday home development Lower Mill Estate in the southwestern English region of the Cotswolds decided to commission a special formula to satisfy Leo's concerns.

Obviously size was the key consideration to ensure Santa won't get wedged tight on his way to stuffing the stockings and so Paxton enlisted a mathematician to take on the challenge and save the jolly old elf from turning red for the wrong reasons.

The Santa-friendly formula looked at risk factors of chimney entry, the size of St Nick's girth versus the width of the chimney at its narrowest point.

To test what they said was the perfect chimney, Paxton enlisted the help of a stand-in Santa Claus in full padded outfit, a crane, a harness and winch to put the new chimney through its paces.

Leo was invited to watch as the great experiment got underway.

"Go on Santa" he shouted out as the faux Father Christmas was lifted into the air towards the chimney.

A few seconds later and Santa was successfully lowered into the chimney of the half-built house, re-emerging shortly after to deliver a hearty: "Ho Ho Ho."

"I can guarantee that this chimney is big enough for Santa and all the presents," he told Leo.

An excited Leo gave a thumbs up to the St. Nicholas impersonator and rushed to hug him.

"I'm absolutely delighted not just that Santa fitted into the chimney, but that that little boy, Leo, said to me: 'That was the best day of my life' which made the whole thing worthwhile," said Paxton.

The Park family won't be able to inhabit their new holiday home until next December, just in time to get the milk and biscuits ready for their very special Yuletide visitor.

(Reporting by Georgina Cooper, editing by Paul Casciato)

12-21-2011, 10:14 PM
By Adam Watson

Everyone loves a great holiday recipe, so today we have one for bread pudding you'll really enjoy. Where'd we get it? Not from Paula Deen's buttery kitchen. Not from some rotund New York pastry chef.

Nope, this delectable confection comes from (record scratch!) the website for Muscle & Fitness magazine (http://www.muscleandfitness.com/nutrition/recipes/bread-pudding).

That's right. The people at Muscle & Fitness suggest you eat bread pudding. All week, this recipe has been on the front of its website, in the "Nutrition" section right under "Tofu Noodle Bowl" and "Slow Cooker Buffalo Vegetable Stew."

The pudding is labeled "An ideal muscle building dessert."

You probably think there's a catch, like maybe this is a recipe for lean turkey bread pudding -- bread and pudding not included.
But behold:


5 cups French bread cubes
2 cups fat-free evaporated milk
1⁄2 cup egg substitute
1⁄3 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
11⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄3 cup raisins
Butter-flavored vegetable cooking spray

Prepare: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake for five minutes or until toasted.

Start: Meanwhile, combine milk and next five ingredients; beat with a wire whisk. Stir in bread and raisins. Spoon into eight 6-ounce custard cups coated with cooking spray. Place cups in a shallow pan and add hot water to pan to depth of 3⁄4 inch.

Cook: Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

(Don't forget to serve with the Whiskey Sauce!)

12-22-2011, 01:00 PM
By Christie Nicholson December 21, 2011


Engineer Richard Brown intends to break the world record for land-speed on a motorcycle. And he doesn’t plan to use a conventional engine but rather a jet engine. The current world record is held by Rocky Robinson in 2010 who managed to nail a two-way average speed of 606 km/h along the salt flats in Bonneville, UT on a bike he called the*Ack Attack Streamliner.

Brown became known as the fastest man on two wheels when he broke the documented one-way speed for a motorbike back in 1999, also in Bonneville, with a speed of 584 km/h. (For an official land-speed world record the average of two runs in opposite directions is required. Taking the average speed from two opposite runs negates the effects of wind. Brown never broke the world record in 1999.) He is heading back to the same salt flats to get this new bike up to 720 km/h for at least one of the runs. And plans to bring the average two-way speed to 640 km/h which will crack Robinson’s current record.

So far all super fast record-breaking motorbikes have used conventional engines. Using heavy jet engines is ok for cars but proves challenging to balance on two wheels. As Brown writes on his web site:

…to use thrust on two wheels you either need to scratch build a rocket system or substantially modify another type of gas turbine, neither is easy.

For his new bike called*Jet Reaction, Brown will use a modified 1250 horsepower helicopter engine to provide thrust.

Brilliantly Brown has also created a reheat unit to further boost power. Apparently it will spray fuel into the exhaust gases, “causing it to ignite and generate yet more thrust.” The entire result is much lighter and smaller than typical jet engines, yet still with extreme power.

Mark Chapman, an engineer for the jet-powered carBloodhound, is quoted in*New Scientist,

“The biggest issue is air intake. You have to be sure the air flow through the jet is stable or the engine could surge, which could be dangerous.”

From*the article:

Brown has a track record in ambitious jet engine projects. Following his 1999 record attempt he built a sub-orbital rocket, but the launch in South Africa had to be cancelled. He is also working on a gas-turbine-powered jet pack, similar to one developed by the US military, that he hopes will allow the wearer to remain airborne for 10 minutes.

Brown’s 1999 record attempt involved his own Gillette Mach 3 Challenger bike, which featured a custom-built hybrid rocket engine. The attempt failed because soft ground forced the team to use tires rather than the usual aluminum wheels. The tires were only designed to withstand speeds of 380 km/h or so. Eventually the massive centrifugal forces on the rear tire caused it to deflate.

Brown will complete trials with Jet Reaction in the UK next March. He intends to break the world record at the Bonneville salt flats in 2013.

[via*New Scientist]

12-22-2011, 01:11 PM
MELBOURNE — Last month industrial designer Dean Benstead unveiled the 02 Pursuit — a prototype for a motorcycle fueled not by gas or electricity, but by compressed air.


Based on the geometry of a 250cc motocrosser, the O2 Pursuit prototype uses the breakthrough engine technology developed by Angelo Di Pietro of Engineair.

Benstead, a recent graduate of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), has harnessed the power that exists in the air tanks to mechanically drive the vehicle to speeds in excess of 100km per hour.

“The bike is running a standard scuba tank which runs air compressed up to 200 bar, with further developments, we would be looking at running a tank at 400 bar with increased capacity to also increase the range,” he said.

The innovation was the result of Benstead’s final-year design research into the future of motorcycles, looking at air as a genuine alternative to petrol and electricity.

“Air was the starting point back in 2010, but I continued to explore this for the prototype because of its low-tech nature,” Benstead said. “A solar panel and a compressor now becomes your refinery and without huge battery packs to dispose of, we now have a low-cost to free powered bike with minimum impact on the environment.”

The project began mid last year at the*RMIT Ecomoto, the only motorcycle-specific design studio in Australia.*Led by RMIT Lecturer and Acting Program Director Simon Curtis, Benstead’s super motard bike project won him the Product Design – Automotive and Transport award at the 2010 Melbourne Design Awards.

The air engine developed by Engineair is still yet to be commercialized. The motor used in the 02 Pursuit was one of five prototypes in the world.

Benstead, recently named in*Melbourne’s Top 100 most influential people, is currently working with Australia’s Engineair and French company MDI on a new design that can bring the technology to the market.
02 Pursuit specs:

Top Speed: >100 km/h
Weight: <100kg
Engine: ‘Di Pietro’ 9 chamber air engine
Engine Weight: 10kg
Material: Aluminium
Development: Melbourne
Photo: Alec Simpson.

12-22-2011, 02:30 PM
By Mary Catherine O'Connor | December 20, 2011

At a ski resort in Lapland, Finland, the natural peaks will soon be joined by four artificial peaks — on the roofs of its new resort buildings, designed by Big Architects.


For the development, called the Koutalaki Ski Village, the Danish architecture firm’s goal is to connect skiers and snowboarders to the groomed runs all around the buildings by turning the building’s roofs into mini ski runs. The goal is to eliminate the slogging that skiers and snowboarders have had to do in order to get from the resort’s base area to the runs.

Big Architects designed the new buildings so that they encircle a central area of cafes, bars and shops that skiers and snowboarders will also be able to easily access, thereby integrating the runs with the base area. It should be interesting to see how well (or not well) traffic flow is managed as skiers and snowboarders enter the base area as they glide down the rooftops.

Elevators will allow visitors to easily access the highest point of each of the four rooftops, and as the runs meet flat ground they’ll serve as walkways through the inner village. Facades of all four buildings will offer uninterrupted views of mountains surrounding the resort.

Via: Gizmag

Image: Big Architects

12-22-2011, 02:44 PM
By Laura Shin December 20, 2011

A government advisory board, fearful of the potential for biomedical terrorism, asked the journals Science and Nature not to publish details of studies on a highly transmissible, deadly bird flu virus.


The experiments, in which scientists created the virus, A(H5N1), were initially conceived as a way to find out what genetic changes in the virus would make it more transmissible. It was thought the information would help in monitoring naturally occurring mutations and predicting when the virus could become a pandemic.

But now that the scientists have succeeded in making an easily transmissible form of the virus, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity has requested that details of the studies not be released in order to prevent the information from falling into the wrong hands. For instance, terrorists could use the information to create deadly viruses that could be transmitted by coughing or sneezing, thereby setting off epidemics.

“I’m sure there will be some people who say these experiments never should have been done,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The New York Times.

Although the panel cannot force the journals to cut the details of these studies, the editor of Science, Bruce Alberts, said the journal was seriously considering withholding some information as long as the government established a system that would release the missing information to legitimate scientists who need it.

Bird flu rarely infects humans, but when it does, it is usually fatal. Since 1997, when it was first detected, half of the nearly 600 people who have had it have died. Most of the cases have been in Asia, and most of them caught it directly from birds. However, scientists have always worried that if bird flu became easily transmissible between humans, it could spark one of the deadliest pandemics ever.

The National Institutes of Health paid for both studies, which were conducted in ferrets, animals considered a good model for showing how flu viruses will behave in people.

via: The New York Times

photo: A H5N1 viruses, in gold, grown in cells, in green. (Cynthia Goldsmith/Centers for Disease Control)

12-24-2011, 11:42 AM
By Shannon Smith | December 23, 2011

BERLIN — Researchers at a Stuttgart lab are using baby foreskins to grow artificially-cultivated skin, the German weekly Focus reports.


The Fraunhofer Institute IGB is fine-tuning the automation of skin growth from pre-existing cells in hopes of replacing other methods of product testing including animal trials, the laboratory says.

Its Hautfabrik, or “Skin Factory” machine, fully automates the cultivation of skin cells, which then grow on their own in a biological process.

“We want to target chemical, cosmetic or pharmaceutical companies who need human tissue to develop their products,” Professor Heike Walles, Head of Cell Systems at the institute, said.

“The idea is to grow human tissue that can be used as an alternative to animal testing, not least because many medicines cause side-effects during clinical [human] trials that were not present during animal trials.”

Divided into three fully-automated modules, the system first measures, cuts and extracts cells from a stamp-sized piece of human skin. The cells are then isolated and allowed to divide while being incubated and periodically “fed”. Finally, the cells are spread onto a gel matrix, mixed with collagen and allowed to grow into an actual piece of human skin complete with*epidermic, dermic and hypodermic layers.

“The older the skin is, the worse the cells function,” The Local quoted engineer Andreas Traube as saying on the origin of the cells.

“It is also important that the cells come from a uniform source,” he added. “This avoids discrepancies in the production of new skin.”

Despite the fully-automated process, biology sets the pace, not the machine: developers say the system must be flexible enough to accommodate a natural rate of growth.*The process can take up to six weeks, The Local reported.

Andreas Traube, an*engineer in the institute’s department of Production Technology and Automation said a special set of software allows for human intervention during the process: “It’s not a static process, rather it depends on cell growth.”

Researchers say they are interested in developing other tissues such as cartilage or skin with blood vessels, which could actually be used as transplant material in patients.

“The big advantage is that we could develop so-called “body-native” transplants,” Welles said. “We would take a small biopsy from a patient, isolate the relevant cells, multiply them and create a native transplant, which may keep patient from having to take medicine long-term, lower the danger of the body rejecting the transplant and even possibly eliminate the issue of donor organs shortages.”

The institute says it hopes to see the machines in clinics for the development of organs locally and more or less on-demand.

Photo: Fraunhofer Institute

12-24-2011, 11:53 AM
By Janet Fang


Penn State researchers say they may have found a cure for the blood cancer… in the form of a compound produced from fish oil.

It appears to target and kill leukemia stem cells (actually, cancer-causing cells with stem cell properties, like producing more cancer cells).

In particular – and in mouse spleens and bone marrow – it killed the stem cells of chronic myelogenous leukemia, an uncommon type of cancer of the white blood cells typically affecting older adults, killing hundreds of people a year.

The compound is called delta-12-protaglandin J3 (or D12-PGJ3), and it’s produced from eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish and in fish oil. (Pictured below, a compound that closely resembles D12-PGJ3.)

Past research on fatty acids has shown the health benefits of fatty acids on the cardiovascular system and brain development, particularly in infants.


“But we have shown that some metabolites of omega-3 have the ability to selectively kill the leukemia-causing stem cells in mice,” says study researcher Sandeep Prabhu of Penn State. “The important thing is that the mice were completely cured of leukemia with no relapse.”

They injected the mice with about 600 nanograms of D12-PGJ3 each day for a week.
The compound activated a gene – the tumor suppressing gene p53 – in the leukemia stem cell that programs the cell’s own death.
Afterwards, the mice had normal blood counts, and their spleens had returned to a normal size. The disease didn’t relapse.
Current therapy extends life by keeping the number of leukemia cells low, but those drugs fail to completely cure the disease since they don’t target leukemia stem cells.

“These stem cells can hide from the treatment, and a small population of stem cells give rise to more leukemia cells,” says study coauthor Penn State’s Robert Paulson. “So, targeting the stem cells is essential if you want to cure leukemia.”

They’re preparing to test the compound in human trials.

The work was published in the current issue of Blood. Via Penn State.

Images: Penn State Live, Meg Melligan and jcoterhals via Flickr

12-24-2011, 02:55 PM
I've laughed at this for years now.... Enjoy.


12-24-2011, 11:24 PM
Gut Aiderbichl/DPA//Zuma Press By David Crossland, SPIEGEL

It was only a matter of time before Hollywood milked the story of Yvonne the runaway cow, who became a celebrity for escaping the abattoir this year. A film company wants to make an animated movie about her adventures, say officials at the wildlife sanctuary where she is living a life of luxury.


This story has everything. It's a tear-jerking biopic, and an action thriller with chase scenes that could almost rival Steve McQueen's motorbike ride in "The Great Escape." Only this time the star is a cow.

Yvonne made international headlines this year by escaping slaughter and eluding her pursuers for three months. Now the adventures of this unusually temperamental cow, who outwitted expert trackers equipped with a helicopter and heat-seeking equipment, are to be turned into an animated film, the Gut Aiderbichl animal sanctuary, where she is currently living in the lap of bovine luxury, told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

"An international company based in Hollywood has approached us. They want to make an animated film about her adventures for 2013," said Britta Freitag, a spokeswoman for the charity that offers a home to neglected animals including 400 cows.

"We would have never thought of making a film about her. We were only ever interested in her welfare as a cow," Freitag added.

But Yvonne's story is perfect blockbuster material. The pain of separation from her children, the threat of death, the yearning for a life of freedom in the wild, the dramatic escape, the hunt, the capture, being reunited with her family, and of course the happy ever after ending to her story.

Here's a potted version of Yvonne's script that would make any movie mogul's mouth water. Born in 2005, she spent an unhappy life on an Austrian farm where she couldn't get used to the boring existence of a cow. She made her feelings known through obstreperous bucking and kicking, and was often tethered to a post as a result.

Fate struck early this year when she was torn away from her calves Friesi and Orky and sold to a Bavarian farmer who planned to fatten her up for slaughter.

Braveheart Meets Bambi

What follows merges elements of "Rambo," "Braveheart," "The Great Escape," "Robin Hood" and "Bambi," minus the unhappy endings.

On May 24, she decided she had had enough and made a break for freedom, smashing through the 8,000 volt electric fence of the farm near Aschau, Bavaria. Galloping down a road, she almost collided with a police car, prompting authorities to give permission for her to be killed because she was a hazard to traffic.

But by this time Yvonne was fast gaining friends and fans on Facebook and in the media, and public protests led police to suspend the kill order. In the dramatic weeks that followed, her resourcefulness and intelligence astounded the police, hunters and animal-rights activists chasing her.

She sought shelter in a forest some 16 kilometers (around 10 miles) from Aschau and learned to recognize the sounds and even the work schedules of her pursuers. The slamming of a car door, or the whooshing of helicopter rotor blades would send her running for cover.

What Yvonne didn't realize was that her trackers had been hired by Gut Aiderbichl to rescue her and take her to a cow heaven on earth -- juicy fields for her to roam in peace, free from the threat of being turned into steak.

Yvonne even ignored the attentions of a black ox called Ernst, so good-looking that he was dubbed a "George Clooney among cattle." He was brought to the forest to lure her out, and his sonorous baritone echoed around the trees, but she stayed away.

As the weeks passed, she grew wilder and her hide became more furry. One tracker said she was reverting to a wild beast, and relying on instincts that had evolved in cattle over millions of years to find food and water.

Happy Ending

She was finally caught on Sept. 2 by a local farmer who lured her into a field. She put up a heroic fight but was tranquilized and taken to a Gut Aiderbichl site in Deggendorf, Bavaria.

Her new hosts say they will have gone to great lengths to let her live out her days in comfort, with top-quality food and her very own paddock. To make the story perfect, she has even been reunited with her family.

"She is doing very well," said Freitag. "We have brought in her second son, Orky, to Deggendorf. He will join her and her other son Friesi."

But that bittersweet yearning for the wild will always remain in her, it seems. "She is very lively and temperamental, and bucks around a lot," says Freitag. "But she has shown no signs of wanting to escape again."

12-25-2011, 04:13 AM
25 December 11 02:22 ET


A US teenager has become the youngest person to climb to the summit of the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents.
Jordan Romero, 15, reached the summit of Mt Vinson Massif in Antarctica on Saturday, the final peak in a quest he started six years ago.
His team, which includes his father and stepmother, hope to complete their descent to base camp later on Sunday.
At 10 years old, Jordan climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa.
At 13, the Californian climbed the world's highest mountain, Mt Everest.
He called his mother, Leigh Ann Drake, on Saturday to confirm he had reached the top of Mt Vinson Massif.
Jordan beat the record previously held by British climber George Atkinson, who completed the ascents at the age of 16 in May.
A post to his Find Your Everest page warned there would be no celebrations until the team had completed their descent.
The other peaks climbed by Jordan are Russia's Mt Elbrus (July 2007), Argentina's Mt Aconcagua (December 2007), Mt McKinley in the US (June 2008) and Indonesia's Carstensz Pyramid (September 2009).
In April 2007, he also climbed Australia's highest mountain, Kosciuszko.

12-25-2011, 04:19 AM
Dec 24, 2011

A privacy advocacy group is suing the Department of Homeland Security for information about an emerging program designed to monitor social media activity.*

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, claiming the "legal authority for the DHS program remains unclear," went to federal court in Washington, D.C., this past week to try and compel the department to turn over documents on the initiative.*

Though still in development, DHS is looking to establish a system for monitoring "forums, blogs, public websites and message boards." The idea is to gather and analyze publicly available information, and then use that information to help officials respond to disasters and other situations.*

But the program has raised flags among privacy groups like EPIC, which this past April filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records -- a request the group's lawsuit claims DHS has not honored.*

The lawsuit filed Tuesday expressed concern that information DHS gathers could be stored for up to five years and shared, noting that Internet users "routinely" post personal information in online communications and "have no reason to believe that the Department of Homeland Security is tracking their every post."*

The document request was initially prompted in part by reports that a private company had floated proposals for tapping into social media and sabotaging certain activists. According to EPIC's original request, the company reportedly had set up a training session with DHS in 2010.*

EPIC in April asked DHS for information about any contact with the company, but also records on "all contracts, proposals and communications" between DHS and other governments or private companies, as well as documents on training and software pertaining to the social media monitoring program.*

The program was formally announced in February. DHS claimed it was not looking to actively gather private information but would create a system to monitor and gather other information online to help with "situational awareness."*

A Homeland Security official told The Associated Press in October that the department was still working on guidelines for how to gather data from Twitter and Facebook and other sites while still protecting privacy. The official said the department is not actively monitoring sites but does ask contractors to monitor when they receive information about a threat.*

In its lawsuit, EPIC claimed DHS has not produced any documents since the April request, and urged the court compel the department to turn over records within 10 days of a decision.*

A representative with the Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on the suit.*

12-25-2011, 02:06 PM
http://mobile.washingtonpost.com/img/rO0ABXQAg2Z7aHR0cDovL3d3dy53YXNoaW5ndG9ucG9zdC5jb2 0vcmYvaW1hZ2VfMjk2dy8yMDEwLTIwMTkvV2FzaGluZ3RvblBv c3QvMjAxMS8xMi8yNC9Mb2NhbC9JbWFnZXMvU0FOVEEyNS0wNF 8xMzI0NzY1ODAxLmpwZ31mMTAwMGYyODh0.jpg

Tom and Alice Blair’s Christmas displayincludes an F 104 jet, Santa and his sleigh and Rudolph. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/BALTIMORE SUN)
Edward Gunts
Saturday, Dec 24, 2011

http://mobile.washingtonpost.com/img/rO0ABXQAg2Z7aHR0cDovL3d3dy53YXNoaW5ndG9ucG9zdC5jb2 0vcmYvaW1hZ2VfMjk2dy8yMDEwLTIwMTkvV2FzaGluZ3RvblBv c3QvMjAxMS8xMi8yNC9Mb2NhbC9JbWFnZXMvU0FOVEEyNS0wMV 8xMzI0NzY1ODAxLmpwZ31mMTAwMGYyODh0.jpg

Santa didn’t get run over by his reindeer, but he appears to have had a dust-up with an F-104 jet during an elaborate Christmas display on Tom and Alice Blair’s farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

The tableau in St. Michaels depicts the aftermath of a mid-air collision involving Santa’s sleigh full of toys and a Cold War-era Lockheed Starfighter from the fictitious St. Michaels Air National Guard and piloted by “Capt. Scrooge.”

http://mobile.washingtonpost.com/img/rO0ABXQAg2Z7aHR0cDovL3d3dy53YXNoaW5ndG9ucG9zdC5jb2 0vcmYvaW1hZ2VfMjk2dy8yMDEwLTIwMTkvV2FzaGluZ3RvblBv c3QvMjAxMS8xMi8yNC9Mb2NhbC9JbWFnZXMvU0FOVEEyNS0wM1 8xMzI0NzY1ODAxLmpwZ31mMTAwMGYyODh0.jpg

An elf retrieves a tricycle from the jet’s tail wing as Santa notices Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer is stuck in the fuselage and the pilot sits off to the side fixing a broken Radio Flyer wagon. Santa’s sleigh has been pierced by the jet’s nose; reindeer wander nearby; and presents are strewn over the ground. A sign on a nearby fence reads “Oops!”

The scene is the latest in a series of unconventional displays that the Blairs put on their property throughout the year to mark various holidays, including Halloween and Memorial Day.

Tom Blair, an author and a retired businessman who collects and flies World War II planes that he keeps at the nearby Easton Airport, said he does the displays for his friends, neighbors and 16 grandchildren to enjoy.

“It’s inspired by the fact that Christmas is coming and my friends and neighbors were expecting me to put out something noteworthy, and I can’t put out the same thing” year after year, he said.

For this season’s display, he wanted to incorporate one of his vintage warbirds.

“I was thinking, ‘What could I do with this?’ and I had the idea of it impaling Santa’s sleigh and Santa pulling Rudolph from the air intake,” he said.

While it may sound a bit dark, no people or animals were harmed in the making of this display.

“It’s a happy thing,” Blair said. “I meant for it to be humorous and non-offensive. I’ve probably got 99 extremely positive comments and one slightly critical comment.”

It’s also a traffic stopper, with drivers pausing day and night along the 26000 block of St. Michaels Road to gawk and take photos. Images have begun to show up online.

“It’s gone viral,” Blair said. “It’s gone around the Internet.”

It stands out because of the jet, the attention to detail and the sense of humor, said Laurence “Laurie” Driggs III, a retired TWA captain who lives four miles away and is one of many Eastern Shore residents who have stopped to photograph it.

“They have certainly outdone themselves,” Driggs said.

Driggs said he “did a double take” when he first saw the display from the road, with the jet appearing as if it made an emergency landing that would have impressed Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who safely ditched US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River off Manhattan on Jan. 15, 2009.

“When you look at it, you think, ‘Wow!,’ ” Driggs said. “The airplane is the centerpiece, and the details are wonderful. They’re all quite funny.”

Blair, 67, gained attention last year as the author of “Poorer Richard’s America: What Would Ben Say?” — a book that describes what Benjamin Franklin might think if he were alive in America today. Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw wrote the preface, and it appeared on the New York Times’ list of bestsellers.

Blair said that making the display on St. Michaels Road took him and his wife about a month. He transported the jet, sans engine, from the airport in Easton on a flatbed truck and positioned it to look as if it had landed there.

He made the sleigh out of plywood and the reindeer’s legs out of baseball bats covered with old carpeting. The pilot is a mannequin, dressed in his own flight suit. His wife made the elf’s costume.

They finished it in early December and plan to leave it up at least until the end of the year.

Blair estimates that the display cost “in the hundreds of dollars” because he already owned the jet and most of the other materials.

He concedes that creating elaborate holiday displays every year means that people tend to expect them, but he likes the reaction. This past week, he said, someone from the National Air and Space Museum called seeking permission to use photographs of the display in a newsletter.

— Baltimore Sun

12-27-2011, 03:40 PM
By Tuan C. Nguyen


It’s obviously difficult to find good work in this economy, but would you ever want a job so bad that you’d hand over the password to your Facebook account? Apparently, some employers don’t feel it’s too much to ask for.

Recently a woman who was applying to work as a phone operator at a local police department in North Carolina came across a section of the application where one of the questions was whether she belonged to any social networking sites. And as if that wasn’t invasive enough, the form further requested that the applicant provide a username and*password.

Her husband, who likely became alarmed,*posted a snapshot*of application on the content sharing site Reddit, which generated thousands of comments within a matter of hours.

Interestingly enough, this isn’t as much of a random isolated incident as many people would think. There have been reports of similar cases in Norman, Oklahoma and of a Maryland resident named Robert Collins who was asked to provide his Facebook account information during an interview at a local correctional facility, according to the Human Resources Journal.

Essentially, these employers are seeking the kind of unprecedented access that amounts to divulging some of the most intimate details of an applicant’s life, not to mention putting the person at risk for*identity theft. Many would obviously question how ethical or even legal is it to request*access to private messages, profile information and personal photos.*

But with something that can easily be seen as a blatant violation of privacy, authorities have found there to be real justification. “You’re investing these individuals that you hire with the legal authority to arrest people and to, in a worst case scenario, take someone’s life,” an Oklahoma police officer told Human Resources Journal.

Not too long after Collin’s interview the American Civil Liberties Union got involved. Here is a snippet of what was written in a letter sent to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services on Collins’ behalf:

“Courts that have been required to address the issue have ruled that wall postings and email on Facebook and other social media sites are protected communications under the SCA [Stored Communications Act], making efforts to access them without proper authorization illegal… Here, there can be little question but that force ‘authorization,’ such as that demanded of Mr. Collins, is not proper authorization under the SCA, given the disparate bargaining power of the employer and the employee or applicant.” The SCA is part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which protects such forms of communication.

The correction facility has since backed off from enforcing such requests, but hasn’t banned the practice. In a reply to the ACLU, Public Safety Secretary Gary Maynard only said that the agency would continue to look into the matter. While there is a likelihood that the issue will eventually get resolved through the courts, job-hunters need to think twice about whether any job is worth it.


12-28-2011, 12:51 AM
By Adrian Higgins Tuesday, Dec 27, 2011

http://mobile.washingtonpost.com/img/rO0ABXQAhmZ7aHR0cDovL3d3dy53YXNoaW5ndG9ucG9zdC5jb2 0vcmYvaW1hZ2VfMjk2dy8yMDEwLTIwMTkvV2FzaGluZ3RvblBv c3QvMjAxMS8xMS8wNy9PdGhlcnMvSW1hZ2VzLzIwMTEtMTEtMD cvaF8xMzIwNjg1MzgxLmpwZ31mMTAwMGYyODh0.jpg
Kelly Rausch and Adam Finkelstein run a business called VP Queen Bees, which supplies breeder queens to producers at up to $165 a queen (Linda Davidson/THE WASHINGTON POST)

On a farm on the outskirts of Frederick, Kelly Rausch and Adam Finkelstein crack open a wooden beehive whose design dates to the 19th century. Inside, they point out a superbee they have made for the 21st century.

In two months, the carefully bred queen bee has built a large, productive colony that knows how to cluster against the cold and fill the winter larder with honey.

More important, her bees have sought out and destroyed a sneaky parasitic mite that feeds on their baby sisters. “The bees are definitely taking care of everything,” said Finkelstein from behind his veil.

The desire for a bee that will look after itself may seem pretty basic. But with as many as one-third of honeybee colonies routinely dying off each year and the rest requiring extraordinary care, the quest for a better bee has become critical.

Scientists are trying to find the cause of colony collapse disorder, the five-year-old phenomenon of worker bees suddenly disappearing. Other maladies abound and may be a factor in the disorder: new pests and diseases, the effects of pesticides and the strain of industrial-scale pollination.

Farmers rely on the insect not just for honey, but also to pollinate much of our food.

From their five bee yards in Frederick County, Rausch and Finkelstein run a business called VP Queen Bees, which supplies breeder queens to producers at up to $165 a queen. The producers, in turn, propagate daughter queens by the thousands and sell them to commercial beekeepers and backyard hobbyists for about $30 each.

The object: a queen that will pass on to her colony the traits of disease and pest resistance, gentleness, productivity and winter hardiness.

http://mobile.washingtonpost.com/img/rO0ABXQAhmZ7aHR0cDovL3d3dy53YXNoaW5ndG9ucG9zdC5jb2 0vcmYvaW1hZ2VfMjk2dy8yMDEwLTIwMTkvV2FzaGluZ3RvblBv c3QvMjAxMS8xMS8wNy9PdGhlcnMvSW1hZ2VzLzIwMTEtMTEtMD cvZF8xMzIwNjg1MzgxLmpwZ31mMTAwMGYyODh0.jpg
One of the super queen bees (with white dot on its body) bred by Finkelstein and Rausch. (Linda Davidson/THE WASHINGTON POST)

The single greatest threat is an Asian mite called the varroa. It feeds on honeybee young and adults and spreads viruses.

Commercial beekeepers have turned to heavy feeding and medication to try to keep hives strong in advance of their biggest gig of the year. In the new year, beekeepers will assemble more than a million hives — half the nation’s stock — in the almond groves of California’s San Joaquin Valley, to ensure a successful pollination of the 2012 nut crop.

One of the bright spots has been the development of a bee that battles the mite.

Marla Spivak, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota, began breeding bees to fight back nearly 20 years ago. She froze pupae and waited to see which colonies would fastidiously remove the corpses from the hive. This hygienic trait, first observed in the 1940s when young were killed by disease, was effective in breaking the life cycle of the mite. She called her queens Minnesota Hygienic.

Separately, scientists at the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s honeybee lab in Baton Rouge were studying why some of their hives had low mite levels. After about 10 years of work, they finally figured it out. The bees in those colonies were able to detect mites hiding in sealed cells and feeding on developing young. The bees uncapped the cells and dragged out the mites, along with infested brood. Hybridizers label these neatnik bees varroa sensitive hygienic (VSH).

Tom Glenn, of Glenn Apiaries in Fallbrook, Calif., has worked with the lab to produce VSH breeder queens for queen producers around the nation. After 10 years, about 25 percent of the nation’s honeybees have significant hygienic behavior in their DNA, Glenn said.

As vital as the hygienic bee is, the breeder must preserve existing desirable traits — a reluctance to sting or swarm, for example, as well as genetic diversity as a hedge against future diseases or pests.

“That’s why gains are so slow,” said Susan Cobey, a bee geneticist at the University of California and Washington State University. “I would say we are just in the infancy of bee breeding.”

Finkelstein, however, says he thinks he is close to achieving his primary aim of creating a bee that can survive with just basic husbandry. He says he hasn’t medicated his hives in 14 years.

Another challenge is that unlike with apple or cattle breeding, for example, the average bee breeder cannot control the male line. The queen mates on the wing with 2o or so drones from surrounding colonies. The most able breeders are getting around this by artificially inseminating virgin queens with the semen from known drone stock, a technique perfected by Cobey. Only a handful of hybridizers can do it. Glenn is one. Rausch is another.

Creating a superbee is one thing, getting professional beekeepers to accept it is another. For now at least, there is enormous resistance by the commercial beekeeping industry to using improved bee stock without the continued regimen of medication and supplemental feeding.

“The large commercial beekeepers are essentially farmers, and they’re risk averse,” said Robert Danka, a research entomologist at the government’s Baton Rouge lab. “This is a very dangerous parasite we’re dealing with, and a vast majority believe if you stopped treating with chemicals, their bees will die,” he said.

Pat Heitkam, a major queen producer in Orland, Calif. said he spends “in excess of $40,000” a year medicating his queens against gut disease. “I’m not sure it’s necessary,” he said, but he can’t risk selling diseased bees to his customers.*

Under a new initiative, entomologists are working with queen producers in California to evaluate colonies for the strongest stock. Organizers hope that this, in turn, will lead to the selection of hardier bees and, ultimately, less reliance by beekeepers on chemical treatments. The 20 producers in the program raise about half the queen bees sold in the United States.

Near-term salvation may come from backyard hobbyists, who are more willing to risk losing an unmedicated colony.

Karla Eisen of the Prince William Regional Beekeepers Association tracked the fortunes of more than 40 hives over two years and found the survival rate of locally sourced hives and queens — most of them from Rausch and Finkelstein — significantly outperformed traditionally sourced queens and bee packages from the South.

After two winters, 74 percent of the local colonies were still alive compared with 40 percent of the Southern bees.

“They call it the James Bond approach,” Spivak said. “Live and let die. You keep colonies without any medications. In theory it sounds good, except you reduce the gene pool” by losing bees that might have other valuable breeding traits.

Everyone agrees that a bee that could survive pests without the stresses of chemicals “would make beekeeping a lot easier,” said Reed M. Johnson, an entomologist at Ohio State University. In the nightmarish maze that the honeybee has found herself, breeding, he said, “is really our way out.”


12-28-2011, 06:53 AM
28 December 11


An Australian crocodile reacted badly when a noisy lawnmower invaded his space - he stole it, forcing keepers to make a daring rescue.
Elvis, who lives at the Australian Reptile Park, lunged at the mower, grabbing it from operations manager Tim Faulkner and keeper Billy Collett.
Pulling it under water, the five-metre saltwater crocodile "drowned" the machine at the park near Sydney.
He then sat and watched his catch for more than an hour in his enclosure.
''Once he got it, he just sat there and guarded it,'' said Mr Faulkner. ''It was his prize, his trophy. If it moved, then he would attack it again.''
That, he told the BBC, was fairly typical crocodile behaviour.
But Elvis, who is one of the largest crocodiles in New South Wales, is also ''a big territorial male'' who likes his meat.
While the keeper lured Elvis to the other end of the enclosure with an offering of kangaroo meat, Mr Faulkner was able to jump in, retrieve the badly chewed up mower and two teeth that Elvis had lost in the process.
''He has extraordinarily large teeth - much bigger than most crocodiles,'' added Mr Faulkner. ''He punched his teeth through the top casing of the mower.''
'Ate his girlfriend'
Elvis, who was captured in the wild and is thought to be around 50 years old, has always been a cranky croc. He was attacking fishing boats in Darwin harbour when he was caught, his keeper said.
At the crocodile farm he was first brought to after being caught, he ate two of his girlfriends.
''He is so full of testosterone that he views everything as a threat,'' explained Mr Faulkner. ''Even potential mates.''
The mower was fortunate to have escaped then. But it will never work another day.
As for Mr Faulkner, it was all in a day's work.
''I've handled a lot of animals,'' he said. ''There is a moment when your breath is gone and your adrenalin rushes in.''
But, he stressed, there is difference between a crocodile getting a mower and getting a human.
''That has never happened. We treat the crocodiles with a lot of respect,'' he added.

12-29-2011, 10:19 AM
12/28/2011 By Anick Jesdanun The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Here's one way to sum up 2011: I added 71 people as Facebook friends, shared 26 links and commented on 98 of my friends' status updates. I was tagged in 33 photos and added 18 of my own to the site.

I also attempted to keep up with Facebook's endless redesigns, most recently with the introduction of Timeline. With it, your Facebook profile offers highlights from your past, not just your recent happenings. Last week, I urged all of you to carefully curate your Timelines to avoid coming across as vain or revealing forgotten skeletons.

This week, I will go through other ways to manage your life on Facebook.

It's good to take stock of your Facebook presence from time to time, given how quickly the site changes its features and settings and how easily many of us add people to our lists of friends. Even if you haven't switched to Timeline yet, you can still follow these steps to review what you're really revealing about yourself.

Who are your friends?
In the early days, I was very judicious about whom I accepted as Facebook friends. People I hadn't met in person, relatives I hadn't spoken to in years and friends who simply annoyed me didn't make the cut. Now, my friends list includes people I haven't been in touch with since college and others I met only once at a party, wedding or trip.

Do all of them need to know — or even care — that I started watching "How I Met Your Mother" or ate an undercooked hot dog at 3 a.m.? Should they see photos of me at a recent holiday bash?

Maybe not.

Now is a good time to go through your friends list to see who ought to disappear. A friend's significant other long after they broke up? An acquaintance who has 1,000 friends and never interacts with you on Facebook? People who tighten their privacy settings so much that you see no more than any stranger would?

Gone, goodbye, nice to know you. Facebook won't alert the friends you drop.

All friends not created equal
You may want to share an ultrasound of your fetus only with family members, or share party photos with close friends. Other rants and milestones may be appropriate for everyone.

Facebook has new tools to make it easier to create subgroups such as family and co-workers. Start by going to "lists" on the left side of your Facebook home page (you may have to click on "more" to see it).

Facebook had automatically added 103 of my friends to a "New York Area" list and suggested dozens of others who hadn't told Facebook their location. The suggestions were surprisingly accurate; the inaccurate ones were for those who used to live in New York but have moved on. I added 31 so that I can broadcast New York happenings only to them and spare my Californian and European friends.

Next came "Close Friends." Again, the tool was pretty good at suggesting people with whom I have interacted the most, online and offline. One factor is whether you've appeared in photos together. Facebook won't reveal who made your list of close friends, so don't worry about keeping people off.

I went through a similar exercise for "Family," choosing to include only the closer ones I'd share more with. In this case, those you're adding will be told, so if you don't want that known, create a new list rather use the one Facebook already set up.

To do that, click "lists," then "Create List." I added one for cousins, two for college, one for work, one for my running group and one for those I still see from my days in Washington.

Some people are in multiple groups, others in none. These lists make it easier to share posts with only a subset of my Facebook friends. I can also use the lists to see only posts from specific groups.

Facebook also has a "Restricted" list where you can dump those you don't want to share much with. Facebook promises not to reveal who gets added.

What are you sharing?
Update your biographical information. The current city is important because it's what Facebook uses to create the list of nearby friends. Now is also the time to say if your work has changed or if you no longer want your birthday revealed.

Look for the globe icon if you want to share certain details only with certain people, such as friends of friends or those on one of your lists.

You should also go through your lists of favorite books, music and TV shows. Replace Milli Vanilli with Justin Bieber if you want to seem youthful and hip.

While you're at it, pare down the companies and products you've decided to "like" over the years. Be careful about what you're endorsing. Facebook may use your name and profile photo next to ads that your friends see. So if you've liked Target's page, for example, your friends could see your photo next to an ad from Target.

Controlling what you share
Look for the arrow at the upper left corner and select "Account Settings."

Begin with "General" on the left and check to make sure everything's up to date. Click "Edit" if you need to change anything such as your email address.

Then go one by one down the list on your left. If you're not sure what something is, click "Edit" for details. Under "Apps," get rid of apps you no longer use so that they will no longer have access to your data. Under "Notifications," choose what types of activities Facebook sends you alerts on.

After that, go back to that arrow and select "Privacy Settings."

Under "How You Connect," you can make it more difficult for people to reach you by restricting their ability to send you messages or make friend requests. You can also prevent people from posting on your profile. You can tweak "How Tags Work" and insist on reviewing photos or posts others tag you in before they appear on your profile. In most cases, you can find out more about what's happening by clicking on the item.

Finally, think about whether you want your list of friends visible to strangers on Facebook. If you have switched to Timeline, click on "See All" within your box of friends, then click "Edit" to narrow who sees it. For traditional profiles, hover over the friends box and click on the pencil that emerges. Then click on the globe next to your friends.

Checking it twice
Test how others see your profile by going to "View As..." at the top of the profile. Those with Timeline should first click the wheel next to "Activity Log." Enter the name of a close friend, a co-worker or a random acquaintance to make sure no one is seeing too much. Click "public" to see how everyone else sees the profile.

Facebook changes so often, so don't be surprised that by the time you figure it all out, the service unveils another redesign that may affect what you've already done. There used to be a way to prevent everyone from sending you friend requests, for instance. I'm now limited to blocking specific individuals.

It's good to go through this exercise on a regular basis — annually, quarterly or more often if you can. Be mindful that Facebook pushes for more openness, so the restrictions available today might be gone tomorrow.

12-29-2011, 10:37 AM
By A. G. SULZBERGER The New York Times

STANLEY, N.D. — Just like everybody else around here, Fred Evans spent his life coaxing a good enough living out of the earth. He grew wheat, ran cattle and, during a couple of short-lived bursts of activity, worked on the drill rigs searching for oil across the northern prairie.

But unlike his neighbors, Mr. Evans was convinced that the area would someday be home to an epic oil boom. For years he would approach others in the area offering to buy or lease the rights to drill on their land, often delivering his pitch at a time of need. More than a few, to their enduring regret, agreed.

Boomtown: North Dakota town becomes hot job market
So it was with pure jubilation that Mr. Evans, who hides a businessman’s sensibility under a broad-brimmed cowboy hat and a stable of folksy aphorisms, watched one of the rumbling pump jacks on his property pulling up the oil that has made him a rich man.

“It’s like music,” he said, raising his voice over the noise. “Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.”

Sure enough, money is flowing by the barrelful into Mountrail County, transforming a tiny community once proudly situated in the middle of nowhere into an unexpected oasis of prosperity at the heart of the nation’s biggest oil play.

No other county in the state has had a bigger jump in the number of households earning more than $100,000, which spiked to 21 percent from 6 percent during the last decade, according to an analysis of census data. But much like the crude below, the benefits have spread unevenly, often as a result of decisions made long ago.

As some residents find themselves cashing oil royalty checks worth tens of thousands of dollars a month or more, many of their neighbors are resigned to receiving almost nothing from the wells that pepper the landscape and even their own land — aside from the headaches that go with living in a boomtown.

Marlene Gunderson, who works alongside her husband and daughter at the county courthouse researching the ownership history of every acre of property for oil companies, stumbles across the names of neighbors who are receiving huge checks for mineral interests, though she has none herself.

“That’s just the way life goes,” she mused. “Some people get. Some don’t.”

As with any major boom — from real estate to tech stocks to natural resources — the sudden split between the winners and the witnesses has been painful. But this is happening in a small town, where proximity and familiarity make a sudden reordering all the more difficult.

“It’s not all good,” said Leslie Anderson, who is among the lucky locals who sometimes make more from a single month of oil payments than he used to earn in a year of farming. “There are lots of families fighting that got along before.”

After more than five years of oil-driven growth, Mountrail County, which a decade ago had shrunk to less than half its peak size before the Great Depression, registered an official population of 7,673 in the 2010 census, though local leaders believe there are thousands more.

With the unemployment rate at only 1.3 percent, local sons and daughters are no longer leaving to find work.

And as the rest of the nation watched incomes drop or stagnate, in Mountrail County median income rose more than 50 percent in the last decade, the fifth-highest gain in the nation. Residents earned on average an additional $20,000, adjusted for inflation, according to an analysis of census data by Andrew A. Beveridge, a demographer at Queens College in New York.

At one of the local banks in Stanley, the county seat, deposits have increased to $135 million from $43 million before the boom. But the new wealth is not always easy to spot.

Residents say a culture of modest living means they don’t know for sure which of their neighbors are making money off oil, though they have suspicions.

“I’m seeing people that have never owned a new vehicle in their life driving a new car,” said Wade Enget, a local lawyer, who estimated that about half the residents are receiving oil money. “People who never took a day off are going on vacation.”

The main driver is the payments that residents receive for leasing mineral rights. In 2009, the most recent year statistics are available, the signing bonuses and the royalties paid for the oil extracted from private land totaled about $1 billion statewide, according to an industry-financed study by North Dakota State University.

Though many of those checks go out of state — to the far-flung descendants of homesteaders or to companies that bought mineral rights — more than half stay in North Dakota, helping double the number of state residents earning more than $1 million a year. And the checks are likely to continue, said Lynn D. Helms, director of the state’s Department of Mineral Resources, citing estimates that the average well will pay about $10 million in royalties over three decades.

Living in a simple trailer home, Lenin Dibble reveals few signs that he has suddenly become a wealthy man. A retired farmer and rancher, Mr. Dibble receives royalty checks of as much as $80,000 a month for his small share of mineral rights. To explain his frugal lifestyle, he pulled out a letter from his father, yellowed from the passage of half a century.

“When you get a few dollars in your pocket never advertise it,” he read. “And hold a conference before spending any of it.”

And as he finished, Mr. Dibble insisted he does not need any of the oil money, which he has been saving for his adult children, because Social Security and payments for leasing out his farmland were enough. What he and others in town notice more than the newfound money are the problems: locking the door to his house, taking the keys out of his car and seeing a quiet community where everyone knew everyone overrun by the bustle of strangers.

“I wish it had never happened,” he said.

Because land and the rights to whatever lies beneath it can be sold separately in North Dakota, only about one in five royalty checks goes to the owner of the land where the oil is being extracted. Though some residents never acquired mineral rights when they bought property, the payday has been most distressing for those living on longtime family estates where the mineral rights were sold off, often for a tiny fraction of their current value.

“There are only two reasons people sold,” said Roger Cymbaluk, a prominent real estate broker in nearby Williston. “One, they didn’t know what they were worth; two, they were desperate.”

Some used mineral rights in lieu of cash to settle debts during hard times — trading some acres to banks to satisfy a mortgage. Others sold them to savvier industry veterans after oil was first discovered six decades ago, which is why an outsize portion of the royalty checks for North Dakota oil head each month to Texas.

Stanley Wright, who used to sell farm equipment in Stanley, described how he took a substantial loss — and suffered the wrath of his wife — when he allowed two farmers to pay him with mineral acres. Now that the gamble has paid off decades later, he wrestles with guilt over his windfall. His eyes well up and his hands start to shake as he insists he never took advantage of anyone. “Minerals in those days weren’t worth anything,” he said.

In recent decades, people have been more reluctant to sell, though offers keep coming. For those landowners who do not own the mineral rights, the usual compensation has been a few thousand dollars for the disruption of hosting an oil rig. Even with the dust, noise and traffic, the most frustrating part is watching the wells on his property earning money for other people, said Mark Ellis, a farmer and rancher.

“It’s more interesting when you’re getting a piece of it,” he said.

Living just down the road from where the skeleton of a one-room schoolhouse still stands, Mr. Evans, 73, is unapologetic, if vague, about his success, which he said resulted from decades of groundwork.

Now he is described variously by neighbors as the richest man and the biggest crook in Mountrail County. Some of them recounted visits during which Mr. Evans tried to offer them deals they believed were designed to take advantage of their ignorance or misfortune. Several noted that even his sisters took him to court in a dispute over family mineral rights.

Mr. Evans, who calls himself “a Podunk from farm country,” brushes it all aside. “I’m definitely not a fortune teller,” he said. “But I just knew this thing would take off. I’ve been wrong other times, but I felt it.”

This article, "A Great Divide Over Oil Riches," first appeared in The New York Times.

Copyright © 2011 The New York Times

12-29-2011, 10:42 AM
By KRISTEN WYATT The Associated Press

DENVER — Colorado has become the third state to ask the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana in a way that allows doctors to prescribe it as a medical treatment.

The state asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana from Schedule 1, a category that includes heroin, to Schedule 2. The change would allow doctors to prescribe pot and pharmacies to fill marijuana prescriptions.

The governors of Rhode Island and Washington have made similar requests. The letter came from the head of Colorado's Department of Revenue, the agency that oversees the state's booming medical marijuana business.

"There is a lack of certainty necessary to provide safe access for patients with serious medical conditions," wrote Revenue Director Barbara Brohl in a letter sent Dec. 22. It wasn't released to the public until Wednesday because of the holiday.

Last month, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee sent similar letters to the DEA. They asked that the government list marijuana as a Schedule 2 drug, meaning it would remain a controlled substance but could be prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacies.

Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the DEA, which means the drug is considered to be without medicinal value and is illegal in all circumstances.

Gregoire and Chafee have both blocked plans to license medical marijuana dispensaries, citing fears of federal interference. They complained in their letters that "the divergence in state and federal law creates a situation where there is no regulated and safe system to supply legitimate patients who may need medical cannabis."

Colorado's letter was required under a law passed in 2010 and signed into law by former Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter. That law, which set up exhaustive state regulation for the medical marijuana business, included a requirement that Colorado petition the DEA for reclassification by Jan. 1, 2012, "in recognition of the potential medicinal value of medical marijuana."

The drug's classification has prompted a confusing tangle of state and federal approaches. In 16 states and the District of Columbia, doctors can "recommend" but not "prescribe" pot. To get marijuana, patients in states that permit it have to grow their own or enlist a dispensary or special caregiver, instead of going to a regular pharmacy.

Medical marijuana advocates and even some public officials have argued that the medical marijuana industry is onerous to regulate and ripe for abuse, and that confusion could be solved if the drug were regulated and controlled like other drugs prone to abuse, such as prescription painkillers.

12-29-2011, 10:50 AM
By Teresa Masterson NBCPhiladelphia.com

A Philadelphia man was shot dead Tuesday night after he made the mistake of trying to rob a man who had a pistol packin’ mama nearby, police say.

A 23-year-old man was in the stairwell of his East Oak Lane apartment building with his girlfriend at about 9 p.m. when a 19-year-old man walked up to them, pistol-whipped the man and shot him in the leg while trying to rob him, according to police.

The victim’s 46-year-old mother heard the commotion from her upstairs apartment, grabbed her legally registered gun, went into the stairwell and shot the suspect, police say.

The 19-year-old robbery suspect died at the scene with one gunshot wound to the chest, according to authorities.

The 23-year-old man was taken to Einstein Medical Center where he was in stable condition Tuesday night.

“Upon police arrival, [the woman] gave police her weapon and she told us she was intervening in a robbery and she was protecting her son,” Philadelphia Chief Inspector Scott Small tells NBC Philadelphia.

The 46-year-old mother has not been arrested, but she is being interviewed, police say.

12-29-2011, 11:01 AM
By Brett Israel OurAmazingPlanet

The Red Sea has a new inhabitant: a smoking island.

The island was created by a wild eruption that occurred in the Red Sea earlier this month. It is made of loose volcanic debris from the eruption, so it may not stick around long.

According to news reports, fishermen witnessed lava fountains reaching up to 90 feet (30 meters) tall on Dec. 19, which is probably the day the eruption began, said Erik Klemetti, a volcanologist at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

This "before" picture from Oct. 24, 2007, shows an area of the Red Sea with open water where the new island now sits.
Ash plumes were seen emanating from the spot* Dec. 20 and Dec. 22 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. The Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA's Aura satellite detected elevated levels of sulfur dioxide, further indicating an eruption. By Dec. 23, what looked like a new island had appeared in the*Red Sea*off the west coast of Yemen.

"I am surprised about how quickly the island has grown," Klemetti, who writes Wired's Eruptions Blog, told OurAmazingPlanet.

The volcanic activity occurred along the Zubair Group, a collection of small islands that run in a roughly northwest-southeast line. The islands rise from a shield volcano (a kind of volcano built from fluid lava flows) and poke above the sea surface.

Scientists will keep a close eye on the new island to see if it has staying power.

"Many times the islands are ephemeral as they are usually made of loose volcanic debris, so they get destroyed by wave action quite quickly," Klemetti said. But the volcanic activity could outpace the erosion due to the wave action.

Newly emerging islands aren't unheard of. Other newly emerged islands include Surtsey off of Iceland, Anak Krakatau in the caldera of Krakatoa in Indonesia, and Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai in Tonga in the South Pacific.

12-30-2011, 12:50 PM
By Christopher Mims December 29, 2011


The SIM-LEI all-electric vehicle has a drag coefficient of 0.19, which means that when it goes on sale in Japan around 2013, it will be the most aerodynamic car ever to be mass produced. That means it will achieve twice the range of an all-electric Nissan Leaf — a total of 186 miles — with a battery pack of approximately the same size.

Plenty of experimental vehicles have achieved this level of streamlining before, but what makes the SIM LEI different is that it’s a car you could actually see a small family using as its primary vehicle. Or at least in Japan, where small cars are already the norm. The car is unusually long for its width, in order to accommodate cargo and further reduce its air resistance.

Despite its makers’ devotion to practicality, measures undertaken to make the car displace as little air as possible are pretty extreme, from stubby rear-view mirrors to side-impact beams placed on the outside of the vehicle’s doors to make the vehicle 4 inches narrower.

The car’s rear view is so bad, in fact, that its rear view mirrors are supplemented with a trio of screens hooked to rear-facing cameras, including one that feeds a 19 inch display, giving the driver an extra wide-angle view of what’s behind. It’s a good thing, too — if more than a few of these make it onto the road, you can expect to see drivers trying to extend their range by drafting each other on the highway, like cyclists on the Tour de France.

h/t Green Car Reports

12-30-2011, 12:55 PM
By Dave Mayers December 29, 2011


Ambitious is an understatement. The South African scientific community in conjunction with the government recently submitted a bid to build nearly 3,000 radio telescopes in nine African countries to help answer some of the most vexing questions in astrophysics.

It should shed light on how the first galaxies formed, what effect dark energy had on their formations and how Earth-like planets first took shape around nascent stars.

South Africa’s planned Square Kilometer Array*(SKA) would stretch across southern Africa, with a few of the thousands of dishes built as far north as Ghana. Scientists hope that when the dishes work in conjunction, they will act as the most powerful radio telescope in the world. The €1.5-billion Euro telescope is expected to be 50 times more sensitive than the most powerful radio telescope that currently exists when it comes online in 2024.

The*SKA steering committee, made up of 17 counties involved in the project, will ultimately decide where to place the SKA. By March they will choose between the South African bid or a competing proposal to place the dishes in Australia and New Zealand.* Both plans will network together thousands of dishes to create one massive radio telescope, with a combined dish size of roughly a square kilometer.

South Africans are betting that the potential lasting benefits of building the SKA in Africa will make their bid more attractive to the committee than the Australian counterpart.* Putting the SKA in Africa will do a lot to strengthen science on the continent.

“There is a need for the first world to help the third world build up science,” George Ellis, a cosmologist at the University of Cape Town,*told Nature this month.*“This is an ideal opportunity.”

South Africa’s science and technology minister Naledi Pandor*told AllAfrica, “[The SKA] will be important foreign direct investment in the African continent, but it also gives us a resource that is durable, which would be used by scientists for more than four decades. We believe this will be an epic scientific infrastructure which will bring thousands of scientists into the nine partner countries in the African continent.”

Projects associated with the SKA bid have already*funded over 300 postdoctoral science scholarships*in South Africa, with hope of expanding the program should they be awarded the SKA. Pandor said that “many people believe that Africa does not have scientific competence; they don’t think that we have engineers, astrophysicists, mathematicians. I’ve been astounded at how many there are, but who are not working in Africa, because we don’t provide them with the scientific resources and infrastructure to continue to do research.”

Pandor said that the SKA could be a major step in reversing this trend and could lead to a “brain gain” in the nine host countries.

The Karoo Array Telescope (KAT-7), a small testbed of seven radio telescopes assembled in South Africa’s arid Karoo, has proven that placing the SKA on the continent can work. A much larger demonstration dubbed MeerKAT is currently being built alongside the KAT-7 with a planned completion date sometime in 2018. South African scientists hope that these two projects will lay the foundation for the ultimate radio telescope.

The African proposal would eventually place radio telescopes in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, Mauritius, Mozambique, Kenya, Madagascar and Zambia.

Photo:*SKA Africa

12-30-2011, 01:01 PM
By Christopher Mims December 29, 2011


A study of lid-less toilets in hospitals has revealed an uncomfortable truth that could apply to us all: Flushing the toilet with the lid up sprays a fine mist of bacteria-laden water into the air, which can settle on every surface on the bathroom, including your toothbrush.

It’s a process long known to hygiene experts, and it’s called aerosolization. Mythbusters did a segment on it and concluded that while toilets with lids up do spray water all over the bathroom, the risk associated with this process was negligible.

This newest study suggests that’s not the case when anyone using the toilet is sick, however, as in a hospital setting. Specifically, elderly individuals carrying the bacterium C. difficile might transmit it through lidless flushes. C. difficile infections are on the rise; this might be one reason why.

Photo: Jim Fischer

12-30-2011, 05:06 PM
By Sun Joo Kim December 29, 2011
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/aiasf_awards_sparc.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/aiasf_awards_sparc.jpg)

The Mission Street headquarters of SPARC (San Francisco Patient and Resource Center) (http://sparcsf.org/) is breathing new life into the medical marijuana industry. The center won a 2011 award for Interior Architecture (http://www.aiasf.org/Programs/Awards_Program/Design_Awards/288.htm) from the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Architects (http://www.aiasf.org/) for its “sensitive design and inventive detail”.
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/aiasf_awards_sparc-entrance-300x206.png (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/aiasf_awards_sparc-entrance.png)Instead of sketchy looking rooms or unfriendly warehouses, the center is designed to feel open, inviting and safe. The entrance is bright and cheerful with clear signage. The interior resembles a high end boutique with warm wood display counters and a wall of neatly organized apothecary boxes holding the club’s therapeutic wares. Cannabis seedlings in sleek trays add punches of green.
SPARC is a non profit collective dedicated to providing high quality and affordable medicine, including lab-tested, affordable cannabis, to its members. The club has redesigned the entire medical cannabis dispensary experience, providing members space to smoke the marijuana by using vaporizing devices that also limit second hand smoke. Even their website is laid out with clean, friendly graphics and easily navigable menus of products and services (http://sparcsf.org/medicine/flowers).
The AIA San Francisco jury who awarded the center saluted the project’s success in redesigning the dispensary as a positive presence in the community.

12-30-2011, 05:09 PM
Joe McKendrick (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=joe+mckendrick) | December 29, 2011, 5:00 AM PST

The disruption of higher education just got very interesting. It appears that the disruptors — private, online universities — are being disrupted at their own game. One of the pantheons of traditional on-site learning, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has announced it will be launching online courses (http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/mitx-education-initiative-1219.html) that will be free and open to the world. And, in the process, plans to offer certificates to students successfully completing the coursework.

The program, called MITx, will represent the next evolution in online offerings, extending the university’s already well-establishedOpenCourseWare (http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm), which provides materials on about 2,100 courses that has been accessed by more than 100 million people.

OpenCourseWare will continue, but MITx will be more interactive and provide a greater virtual classroom experience, providing access to online laboratories, student-to-student discussions, and greater interactivity. MIT also expects that MITx will eventually host a virtual community of millions of learners around the world.

The new initiative matches a similar one now underway at Stanford University (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/service-oriented/stanford-expands-free-online-information-technology-course-offerings/8008), in which professors ran three open, online courses this past fall semester, and will expand the program to include 10 more computer science classes beginning next month, including launching startups, technology entrepreneurship, software as a service, natural language processing, and human-computer interaction.

Unlike the latest MIT initiative, Stanford does not offer certificates for completion of the coursework — instead, non-matriculated students receive statements of accomplishment signed by the instructors. MIT indicates that it may charge a small fee for the credential, which would go to funding the program. MITx will be managed as a non-profit activity also supported by foundations, companies and individuals, the university says. A not-for-profit body will be created within the university that will offer the certifications, and that body will carry a distinct name to avoid confusion.

MIT also intends to make the MITx open learning software available free of cost, so that others — whether other universities or different educational institutions, such as K-12 school systems — can leverage the same software for their online education offerings.

The university hopes the program will expand through the community effect, says Anant Agarwal, an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). “Creating an open learning infrastructure will enable other communities of developers to contribute to it, thereby making it self-sustaining,” he says. “An open infrastructure will facilitate research on learning technologies and also enable learning content to be easily portable to other educational platforms that will develop. In this way the infrastructure will improve continuously as it is used and adapted.” Agarwal is leading the development of the open platform.

Beyond the MIT campus, MITx will endeavor to break down barriers to education in two ways, according to program organizers. First, it will offer the online teaching of MIT courses to people around the world and the opportunity for able learners to gain certification of mastery of MIT material. Second, it will make freely available to educational institutions everywhere the open-source software infrastructure on which MITx is based.

Perhaps this may be a turning point for introducing market forces to the spiraling upward costs of higher education — often called the “education bubble.” Writing in Forbes, James Marshall Crotty speculates that the private online universities may start getting a run for their money (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmarshallcrotty/2011/12/21/m-i-t-game-changer-free-online-education-for-all/), and may need to start pushing down their tuition rates to remain competitive. This effect may spill over across educational institutions of all stripes, of course. Crotty also predicts that a cottage industry of “social media support services” might emerge to support a growing number of self-learners, or individuals putting together their own curricula, using resources from across the education spectrum.

12-30-2011, 05:17 PM
2012: Terra incognita

By Chris Nelder (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=chris+nelder) | December 28, 2011, 5:00 AM PST

Predicting the future is never easy, but as I contemplate what 2012 might bring, I confess that it’s never been harder.

In 2005, it was fairly easy to see that commodity prices would rise in the coming years, and that the purveyors of petro-Prozac (http://www.getreallist.com/pabulum-to-the-people-or-purveyors-of-petro-prozac.html) who dominated the press were wrong. It was evident in the data, particularly on oil. My outlook (http://www.getreallist.com/living-on-the-banks-of-denial.html) was generously validated up through the first half of 2008. While I expected a significant correction in housing prices and equities, I underestimated the magnitude of the late-2008 crash in the financial markets. Only a few observers who paid close attention to arcane derivatives markets got that one right.

In the fall of 2009, I made some outlier calls (http://www.getreallist.com/my-predictions-for-2010-revisited.html) for 2010 on oil, equities, the US dollar, and China, all of which proved correct. I attribute that in part to luck, but mostly it was the result of having done my homework and developing a fine-tuned contrarian view.
Then it got more difficult.

In the fall of 2010, I was having a long email discussion with some fellow peak oil analysts about our outlooks for oil supply, trying to identify when the next big oil price spike might occur. After working over several detailed models of OPEC and non-OPEC supply, I snipped irritably that oil prices would likely be affected far more by above-ground factors in the next few years than below-ground factors. Geopolitics would soon trump geology, I ventured, and we would do well to pay attention to the news overseas. One well-placed bomb, another big hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, a civil war in the Middle East, or any number of other events could blow our carefully constructed mathematical models out of the water.

But even I did not anticipate how radical the upsets of 2011 would be. No one could have predicted the earthquake and devastating tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, or foreseen how wide-ranging its effects would be: from shutting down automobile manufacturing plants, to record grid power prices in Hawaii (http://www.poten.com/NewsDetails.aspx?id=11939337), to several of the world’s most advanced economies turning their backs on nuclear power. We had plenty of advanced warning that weather would become more erratic due to climate change, but a record 12 natural disasters (http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20111207_novusstats.html) in the U.S. costing $1 billion or more, each, was an eye-opener. And I don’t think anyone expected the Arab Spring. It was a tough year for dictators.

Geopolitical challenges for fossil fuels

Above all, what jumps out of my crystal ball about 2012 is geopolitical instability. The popular unrest we saw worldwide this year feels like a mere prelude to a very chaotic period.

As an example, consider the slew of threats that currently imperil the global oil market:

On December 16, a months-long peaceful protest by striking oil workers in Kazakhstan exploded into violence. Somewhere between 14 and 64 people were killed by police over the following weekend (depending on whether you believe the official count or a report from the morgue) in a harsh government clampdown which included shutting off all Internet and telephone access, and cordoning off the city. (Steve LeVine has been doing someterrific coverage (http://oilandglory.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/12/23/the_weekly_wrap_dec_23_2011) of the events there for Foreign Policy.) The echoes of the Arab Spring are unmistakable. With about 1.6 million barrels per day (mbpd) of oil production, Kazakhstan is the world’s 18th-largest oil producer, on par with Libya’s output before the uprising there added about $10 to the global price of oil.
Fresh waves of unrest in Syria could lead to civil war and seriously destabilize the already-tenuous oil trade in the Middle East. Oil production there has fallen from over 400,000 barrels per day in 2010 to 260,000 bpd now, in part due to EU sanctions. And Egypt is still very much in play in the region.
Sanctions are likewise behind heightened tensions with Iran, as the US and EU forbid domestic and foreign partners from doing any business with the country in continuing efforts to stymie its nuclear ambitions. Iran conducted naval war game exercises near the Straits of Hormuz last week in retaliation, an implicit warning that it would attempt to shut down the critical Persian Gulf oil trade chokepoint if hostilities increase. And yesterday,they made that warning explicit (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/28/world/middleeast/iran-threatens-to-block-oil-route-if-embargo-is-imposed.html?_r=1&hp), as Vice-President Rahimi said, “If Iran oil is banned not a single drop of oil will pass through Hormuz Strait.” Iran’s primary oil buyers, including China, Japan, Korea, and India appear to be seeking alternate supplies, but that will support oil prices globally as competition increases for oil from OPEC producers, notably Saudi Arabia.
The situation in Iraq deteriorated almost immediately upon the exit of US military forces, with fighting between Sunni and Shiite leaders within the fledgling central government threatening its dissolution. A barrage of attacks in Baghdad over the last week portend continuing violence and instability, and do not bode well for the future of oil supply in the region.
Tens of thousands of protestors jammed the streets of Moscow (http://www.apimages.com/OneUp.aspx?st=k&kw=moscow&showact=results&sort=date&intv=None&cfas=__p,-1&sh=10&dtebf=24.12.2011&dteaf=24.12.2011&kwstyle=and&adte=1324742117&pagez=20&cfasstyle=AND&rids=ec1b5aa290dc4c10896f5679a6762bcd&dbm=PThirtyDay&page=1&xslt=1&mediatype=Photo) on Christmas Eve, jeering the Kremlin over widely alleged fraud in the recent election which retained Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s grip on power. Russia was the largest oil producer in the world at the beginning of 2010, and now stands just below Saudi Arabia with 10.3 mbpd of production. Were it not for Russia, non-OPEC oil production would have been in steep decline (http://gregor.us/policy/under-the-surface-of-non-opec-supply/) for the last several years, and as such it remains a critical pillar of stability for world oil markets. . . a pillar which may now be eroding.
Though little reported in the American press, popular protests are on the rise in China as well. With a major turnover in leadership scheduled for 2012, there is at least the potential for significant reforms favorable to the country’s burgeoning middle class, who are growing increasingly restive under the suppression of its central government. But there is also the potential for renewed attempts to reinforce authoritarian rule. In the province of Guangdong in the south of China last week, tens of thousands of residents participated in two separate protests against the local governments over land policy and a planned expansion of a coal-fired power plant in the smog-choked town of Haimen.

With the largest GDP of any province in China due to its heavy manufacturing base, Guangdong may be considered a leading indicator of China’s direction, more oriented to its trading partners to the west than to Beijing. Local authorities capitulated to the demands of the Haimen protestors, but only after police used tear gas to quell the demonstration. In short, China looks like an interesting wild card in 2012 where popular unrest could explode, particularly if its economic growth slows significantly, as some observers expect, and/or if the protests in Russia become more strident.

Another interesting wrinkle with potentially far-reaching implications emerged on Christmas Day, as China and Japan announced that they would begin direct bilateral trading of their currencies. About 60 percent of the trade between the two nations is currently settled in US dollars,according to Japan’s Finance Ministry (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-25/china-japan-to-promote-direct-trading-of-currencies-to-cut-company-costs.html). Coming from the two largest holders of foreign-currency reserves in the world, the accord constitutes a potentially serious threat to the hegemony of the US dollar, which has conferred an enormous economic advantage to America for many decades. The pact is considered largely symbolic for now, but could signal the ascendancy of the renminbi, and will likely lead to continued weakening of the dollar against it. More broadly, the move could presage an entirely new era of geopolitical alliances.


12-30-2011, 05:20 PM
Economic outlook

The economic front looks perilous indeed. It is certainly possible that 2012 will be another year of aimless bouncing around in a narrow channel while the world’s central banks keep trying to extend and pretend. With just three trading sessions left in a brutally difficult year that ruined many a seasoned hedge fund manager, the S&P 500 stands up a lousy 0.6 percent on the year. That could happen again. But I would put greater odds on a real reckoning. The long series of attempts to save the Eurozone in the final months of 2011 staved off collapse, but they fixed nothing. The enormous overhang of leveraged debt and the impossibility of restoring economic growth in the West are still with us, and every month that passes without an honest strategy to bring obligations in line with hard asset values only increases the threat. Faith in the markets, the dollar, and the euro has all but evaporated, and our economies now hang by a string dangling from the hand of Ben Bernanke. If that string doesn’t break in 2012, it will in 2013, or 2014 at the latest. The key question is how long the world’s central bankers can skate on the thin rim of the deflationary vortex.

Should the global financial regime fail, there will be blood in the markets. Bank runs are not out of the question. Commodity and equity prices could fall to the tune of 40 percent or more, but without destroying enough demand in Asia to restore a comfortable cushion of supply in oil and agricultural commodities. Here, it is useful to reflect on 2008. From 2005 on, the data suggested that 2012 would be the turning point when oil supply began its long, inevitable, terminal decline. But the crash of 2008 bought us a few more years of adequate oil supply at a moderately uncomfortable price, and pushed that point off, at least theoretically, to around 2014. If there is a similar crash in 2012, the turning point could be delayed another year or two, but only if supply from all of the highly unstable sources mentioned above remains firm. I would put 50-50 odds that it does not, in which case prices will remain uncomfortably high even as deflation takes a firmer grip on Western economies. The world will be hard-pressed to increase liquid fuel supply from current levels.

Certain uncertainty

The one thing I can say with certainty about 2012 is that it will be fraught with uncertainty. 2011 could look tame by comparison.

More natural disasters are almost certainly on the menu, which will disrupt supply chains and exact a painful toll of blood and treasure the world over.

Regional skirmishes over resources, particularly in developing oil-rich areas like the Caspian and Africa, are likely.

Authoritarian governments, along with their corporate sponsors, will continue to be challenged by the people, and will resort to heavy-handed crackdowns in response. The Arab Spring and the Occupy movement are merely the beginning of popular revolts that will ultimately transform the political and economic order of the world. Unrest in previously pacific areas should be expected.

Intelligence agencies will find it difficult to keep up with multiplying threats. Attacks by the hacker group Anonymous on powerful vested interests, like the Christmas weekend attack on the US-based security think-tank Stratfor, will become more commonplace and focused on high-value targets like government and military organizations. The potential disruptions to business as usual are hard to overestimate. Banks, public services, utility grid operators, and communications systems could suffer extended outages. Electronic systems of exchange could be compromised. Faith in our large, complex systems will wane.

In the face of all this uncertainty, then, what is one to do?

The answer is simple: Do what you can.

Minimize your expenses, and pay down debt as rapidly as possible.

Grow some of your own food, whether you have a big backyard or just a little balcony with room for a couple of small pots. Millions of people have begun doing so since the crash of 2008, and they have found it a universally rewarding and fun experience. It helps to ground one in reality, and brings a little peace of mind. Before you know it, you’ll be expanding your garden and maybe keeping a few chickens.

Reduce your consumption of fossil fuels any way you can, by focusing on efficiency. Then (and only then), if you can, think about installing some solar hot water, solar PV, and battery backup on your house or business. I expect the distributed solar market to be a rare and surprising bright spot in 2012.

Keep a little “rainy day” cash on hand. To really hedge your exposure to financial collapse, physical gold and silver bars and coins are your best insurance.

Renew your relationships with friends, family and neighbors. Nothing is worse than feeling alone when the world is going crazy around you, and they will help you keep your head on straight.

Most importantly: Try to keep your mind in the present. Don’t let the uncertain future frighten you into immobility, and don’t let the past keep you from doing the best you can today. It’s surprisingly hard to do, but it gets easier with practice. The Buddhist approach is to simply be mindful of what you’re doing, seeing, hearing, and feeling right now, be it walking down the street or cleaning the cat box. Or, in the Biblical verse of Matthew 6:34, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I wish all of us luck, wisdom, fortitude, and peace of mind in what will undoubtedly be a very challenging year. We will soldier on, somehow.

Photo: marcobellucci (http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcobellucci/3534516458/sizes/l/in/photostream/)/Flickr

12-30-2011, 11:06 PM
Friday, December 30, 2011 By: Pete Thomas GrindTV.com

Orcas, more than sharks, are atop the marine food chain, and that became strikingly apparent this week at Blue Cliffs Beach off New Zealand, where at least one orca mounted a prolonged assaulted on sharks in the surf zone, as witnesses watched in amazement (see video).


The video clip shows what appears to be a male orca, or killer whale, fiercely harassing a shark near the small breakers, and a large shark beaching itself, perhaps in an attempt to escape the orca, only to be harassed by a barking dog.
The entire episode lasted about two hours and Clinton Duffy, of the New Zealand Conservation Marine Institute, explained that there probably were several orcas taking part. He added that the killer whales sometimes enter the surf zone to herd fish farther offshore. The sharks, clearly, were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is not the first time orcas have been documented attacking sharks. Perhaps the most notable event was in 1997 west of San Francisco, Calif., when an orca killed a 12-foot great white shark (http://www.prbo.org/cms/174) in what appeared to have been a one-sided battle. And yes, footage of that encounter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8GaDuCvYbE) went viral.

12-31-2011, 03:06 AM
29 December 11 13:11 ET

New helicopter-style drones with 1.8 gigapixel colour cameras are being developed by the US Army.
The army said the technology promised "an unprecedented capability to track and monitor activity on the ground".
A statement added that three of the sensor-equipped drones were due to go into service in Afghanistan in either May or June.
Boeing built the first drones, but other firms can bid to manufacture others.
"These aircraft will deploy for up to one full year as a way to harness lessons learned and funnel them into a program of record," said Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Munster, product manager at the US Army's Unmanned Aerial System Modernization unit.
Big eyes
The A160 Hummingbird systems are capable of vertical take-off, meaning access to a runway is not necessary.
The army also confirmed that they have hovering capabilities - something its existing unmanned aircaft lack.
Test flights will be carried out in Arizona at the start of the year before they are shipped to the Middle East.
The drones will take advantage of the Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance-Imaging System first deployed earlier this year.
The Argus-IS's acronym was chosen to recall Argus Panoptes - the one-hundred-eyed-giant of Greek mythology.
The technology is based on a 1.8 gigapixel camera - the largest video sensor used in tactical missions.
It offers 900 times the resolution of the 2 megapixel camera found in some mobile phones. The system can provide real-time video streams at the rate of 10 frames a second.
The army said that was enough to track people and vehicles from altitudes above 20,000 feet (6.1km) across almost 65 square miles (168 sq km).
In addition, operators on the ground can select up to 65 steerable "windows" following separate targets to be "stared at". Vehicles, people and other objects can be tracked even if they move in different directions.
"If you have a bunch of people leaving a place at the same time, they no longer have to say, 'Do I follow vehicle one, two, three or four,'" said program manager Brian Leninger ahead of the system's launch.
"They can say: 'I will follow all of them, simultaneously and automatically.'"
The equipment has had new antennas attached to it to optimise its performance on the new aircraft.
Once the one-year trial is completed, the army said it planned to hold a "full and open" competition for defence companies to bid to build second generation vertical-take-off drones.
Night sensors
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is also working with the UK-based defence contractor BAE Systems to develop a more advanced version of the Argus-IS sensor that will offer night vision.
It said the infrared imaging sensors would be sensitive enough to follow "dismounted personnel at night".
In addition, the upgrade promises to be able to follow up to 130 "windows" at the same time.
The system's first test flight has been scheduled to take place by June 2012.
Flightglobal's website has also reported that the trials will include the use of stub wings "intended for carrying weapons".
While the army discusses the advantages of unmanned drones offering valuable intelligence to troops on the ground, the programme has run into controversy.
Pakistan has criticised drone strikes which killed 24 of its troops in November on the Afghan border. Previous attacks killed children.
Iranian officials have also shown off a captured surveillance aircraft which they have refused to return to the US, demanding an apology for the "invasion" of their airspace.

12-31-2011, 03:06 PM
The Duck and the Eagles - quite a story in pictures


The fellow sitting on the tailgate of his pickup truck never
Realized the show he was missing.

The little duck watches as the Eagle speeds straight
At him at about 40 mph.

With perfect timing, the duck always dove and escaped with
A mighty splash! Then he'd pop to the surface as soon as
The Eagle flew past. This was repeated over and over for
Several minutes. I worried the poor duck would tire and that
Would be the end of him..

A second Eagle joins the attack! The duck kept diving
"just in time", so the Eagles began to dive into the water after him!

After several minutes the Eagles got frustrated and began to
Attack each other. They soon began to dive vertically,
Level out, and attack head-on in a good old-fashioned game
Of high-speed "Chicken". Sometimes they banked away
From each other at the last possible second. Other times
They'd climb vertically and tear into each other while falling
Back toward the water. (The duck catches his breath at the
Right side of this picture.)

A terrible miscalculation! The luckiest shot of my life catches
This 100 mph head-on collision between two Bald Eagles.

12-31-2011, 03:08 PM
One Eagle stayed aloft and flew away, but the other lies
motionless in a crumpled heap.
The lucky duck survived to live another day.

It's sad to watch an Eagle drown. He wiggled, flapped and
Struggled mostly underwater.. He finally got his head above water and with great difficulty managed to get airborne.
To my astonishment, he flew straight toward me, and it was the most wretched and unstable bird flight I've ever seen!

The bedraggled Eagle circled me once - then lit atop a nearby fir tree.
He had a six-foot wingspread and looked mighty angry.
I was concerned that I might be his next target, but he was so
Exhausted he just stared at me. Then I wondered if he would topple to the ground.


My half-hour wait was rewarded with this marvelous sight.
He flew away, almost good as new.

12-31-2011, 03:17 PM

A Swedish woman who lost her wedding ring 16 years ago was flabbergasted when she found it again, around a carrot growing in her garden, media have reported. Lena Paahlsson had taken off the white gold ring before a Christmas baking session with her daughters in 1995, but it had disappeared from the kitchen counter where she placed it. (AFP Photo/Mychele Daniau)

A Swedish woman who lost her wedding ring 16 years ago was flabbergasted when she found it again, around a carrot growing in her garden, media reported Saturday.

Lena Paahlsson had taken off the white gold ring before a Christmas baking session with her daughters in 1995, but it had disappeared from the kitchen counter where she placed it.

After looking everywhere, and even pulling up floorboards in the search, Paahlsson and her family, who live on a farm in northern Sweden, had given up on seeing the ring again, she told the Dagens Nyheter daily.

That was until October this year, when she was picking the last carrots in her garden and suddenly found one with her ring glimmering around it.
The family thinks the ring must have fallen into the sink back in 1995 and been mixed with potato peels that were composted or fed to the sheep, since all the soil in the garden comes from composted vegetables and sheep dung.

The ring no longer fits Paahlsson, but she told Dagens Nyheter she plans to have it enlarged.

"I had given up hope. Now that I have found the ring again ... I want to be able to use it," she said.

12-31-2011, 03:30 PM
Temperatures plummet in Interior Alaska villages
by Tim Mowry / tmowry@newsminer.com

FAIRBANKS - If you think it’s cold in Fairbanks, be happy you’re not in Tanana or Huslia.

The mercury dropped to 51 degrees below zero in both those western Interior Alaska villages on Friday as a cold air mass combined with clear skies produced the coldest temperatures of the year in that neck of the Bush.

A low temperature of 44 below was reported in Bettles and it was 42 below in both Galena and Manley Hot Springs, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures in the eastern Interior weren’t quite as cold because there was more cloud cover. A low temperature of 36 below was reported at Fairbanks International Airport on Friday morning.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://classifieds.newsminer.com/bookmark/16946261#ixzz1i97NXXz7)

12-31-2011, 03:34 PM
Fed up with the same old weight-loss tips? These eight slim-down strategies may sound strange, but they’re all backed by solid science.

Eat with your non-dominant hand. One intriguing new study (http://psp.sagepub.com/content/37/11/1428) offers a simple antidote to the mindless munching that often accompanies watching movies or TV: Just switch hands—and you’ll eat less.The researchers randomly handed moviegoers a bucket of fresh popcorn or “cold, wet, spongy week-old” popcorn. Those who said they usually ate popcorn at the movies shoveled down just as much whether the popcorn was fresh or stale. But in a separate experiment, the scientists found that when people were asked to eat with their non-dominant hand, they consumed 30 percent less.

Take a look in the mirror. While you eat, sit in front of a mirror. One study (http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bbushman/SB98.pdf) found that when people watch themselves eat, consumption of high-calorie food (such as full-fat cream cheese) drops by nearly a third, possibly because seeing themselves eat reminds them of their diet and health goals.

Use your sense—smell, that is. Sniffing (http://www.aromapatch.com/Hirsch_Weight_Loss_Smell.pdf) a banana, apple or peppermint helps the weight come off. Just ask the 3,000 people who tried this during a study at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago.The more often they sniffed those aromas, the more weight they lost, with an average drop of nearly 30 pounds during the 6-month study among those who inhaled the scents the most frequently. Some participants shed up to 18 pounds in a month. Apparently, by frequent smelling we trick the brain into thinking we actually ate the food.

Immerse yourself in blue. Use blue plates, blue napkins, a blue tablecloth, even paint your dining room walls blue or use blue lights. According to a 2006 study (http://getbetterhealth.com/why-is-mcdonalds-yellow-the-role-of-environment-on-eating-behavio/2008.11.04) by Dr. Val Jones, gala attendees ate 33 percent less in a room bathed in blue light.That’s probably because we associate blue with toxic or moldy food, so we eat less. Yellow and red had the opposite effect, which is why fast-food restaurants favor those appetite-stimulating colors.

Skip the food journal—take a picture. Writing “salad with blue cheese dressing” in a journal may not be as effective as showing a photo of the salad, heaped with creamy cheese. Keeping the photos and looking at them before you eat again can make you think twice about over-indulging the next time.

Eat in silence. Research shows that eating in a noisy environment makes us eat faster, so our brains sometimes don’t know we’re full until we’ve overeaten. And here’s a good reason to turn off the tube during meals: A 2009 study (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666308005291) found that when people are distracted by watching TV or using a computer during lunch, they’re more likely to snack later in the day, compared people who focused on savoring each bite of the meal.

Wear tight clothes to dinner. We tend to grab a loose t-shirt or sweater when we’ve packed on a few extra pounds, but researchers say we’re just enabling ourselves—our chances of losing the extra weight are better if we wear tight clothes (http://www.healthytimesblog.com/2011/05/10-really-weird-weight-loss-tricks/) when we eat.That way, if we start to overeat, our clothing will remind us that we’ve had enough. Or hang the skinny jeans up in your kitchen as a weight loss incentive.

Try the “toothpaste diet.” Instead of reaching for a sweet treat after a meal, brush your teeth with mint-flavored toothpaste. The minty flavor signals that the meal is over, helping curb cravings.Plus, mint doesn’t mix well with most foods, so the food doesn’t taste that good anyway—and the feeling of fresh, clean teeth is so enjoyable, grabbing a donut or candy bar may not seem worth losing the freshness.

12-31-2011, 03:49 PM
The Associated Press LEXINGTON, N.C. —

Do you have change for a million-dollar bill?

Police say a North Carolina man insisted his million-dollar note was real when he was buying $476 worth of items at a Walmart.

Investigators told the Winston-Salem Journal (http://www2.journalnow.com/news/2011/dec/31/wsmain01-lexington-man-charged-with-making-a-fake--ar-1765473/)that 53-year-old Michael Fuller tried to buy a vacuum cleaner, a microwave oven and other items.
Store employees called police after his insistence that the bill was legit, and Fuller was arrested.

The largest bill in circulation is $100. The government stopped making bills of up to $10,000 in 1969.

Fuller was charged with attempting to obtain property by false pretense and uttering a forged instrument. He is in jail on a $17,500 bond, and it isn't clear if he has an attorney.

He is scheduled to be in court Tuesday.

12-31-2011, 03:52 PM
Too funny....


01-01-2012, 04:56 AM

01-01-2012, 10:15 AM
Today is Sunday, Jan. 1, the first day of Leap Year 2012. There are 365 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Jan. 1, 1912, the Republic of China was established under its first president, Sun Yat-sen.

On this date:

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that slaves in rebel states were free.

In 1890, the first Tournament of Roses was held in Pasadena, Calif.

In 1892, the Ellis Island Immigrant Station in New York formally opened.

In 1913, the U.S. Parcel Post system went into operation.

In 1942, 26 countries, including the United States, signed the Declaration of the United Nations, pledging "not to make a separate armistice or peace" with members of the Axis. The Rose Bowl was played in Durham, N.C., because of security concerns in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack; Oregon State defeated Duke, 20-16.

In 1953, country singer Hank Williams Sr., 29, was discovered dead in the back seat of his car during a stop in Oak Hill, W.Va., while he was being driven to a concert date in Canton, Ohio.

In 1959, Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries overthrew Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista, who fled to the Dominican Republic.

In 1962, the first two U.S. Navy SEAL (Sea, Air and Land) teams were created. Western Samoa became independent of New Zealand. The Beatles (with Pete Best) auditioned in London for Decca Records, which opted to sign Brian Poole and the Tremeloes instead.

In 1972, Kurt Waldheim became secretary-general of the United Nations.

In 1984, the breakup of AT&T took place as the telecommunications giant was divested of its 22 Bell System companies under terms of an antitrust agreement.

In 1992, Boutros Boutros-Ghali succeeded Javier Perez de Cuellar (hah-vee-EHR' PEHR'-ehs day KWAY'-yahr) as secretary-general of the United Nations. President George H.W. Bush became the first American leader to address the Australian Parliament.

In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect.

Ten years ago: The euro became legal tender in 12 European nations. Michael Bloomberg succeeded Rudolph Giuliani as New York City's mayor. Eduardo Duhalde (doo-AHL'-day) was named Argentina's fifth president in two weeks. No. 2 Oregon defeated No. 3 Colorado 38-16 in the Fiesta Bowl.

Five years ago: President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush joined thousands of other mourners in paying respects to former President Gerald R. Ford. An Indonesian Boeing 737 jetliner crashed, killing all 102 people on board. Ban Ki-moon became the 8th U.N. secretary-general. Grand Ole Opry star Del Reeves died at age 74. Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams, 24, was slain in a drive-by shooting (gang member Willie Clark was later convicted of killing Williams and was sentenced to life in prison). The 9th-ranked Boise State Broncos completed a perfect season with a 43-42 overtime victory over No. 7 Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. No. 8 Southern California beat No. 3 Michigan 32-18 in the Rose Bowl.

One year ago: A suicide bomber killed 21 people outside a church in Alexandria, Egypt, in one of the country's worst attacks targeting Coptic Christians. Third-ranked TCU finished a perfect season by beating No. 4 Wisconsin 21-19 in the Rose Bowl. Oprah Winfrey launched her OWN cable network.

Today's Birthdays: Former Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., is 90. Actor Ty Hardin is 82. Documentary maker Frederick Wiseman is 82. Actor Frank Langella is 74. Rock singer-musician Country Joe McDonald is 70. Writer-comedian Don Novello is 69. Actor Rick Hurst is 66. Country singer Steve Ripley (The Tractors) is 62. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is 58. Rapper Grandmaster Flash is 54. Actress Ren Woods is 54. Actress Dedee Pfeiffer is 48. Actress Embeth Davidtz is 46. Country singer Brian Flynn (Flynnville Train) is 46. Actor Morris Chestnut is 43. Actor Verne Troyer is 43. Actress Eden Riegel is 31.

Thought for Today: "A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other." — Author unknown.

Copyright 2012, The Associated Press.

01-01-2012, 10:31 AM
By Bill Rigby Reuters

SEATTLE — Scientists in Alaska are investigating whether local seals are being sickened by radiation from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

Scores of ring seals have washed up on Alaska's Arctic coastline since July, suffering or killed by a mysterious disease marked by bleeding lesions on the hind flippers, irritated skin around the nose and eyes and patchy hair loss on the animals' fur coats.

Biologists at first thought the seals were suffering from a virus, but they have so far been unable to identify one, and tests are now underway to find out if radiation is a factor.

"We recently received samples of seal tissue from diseased animals captured near St. Lawrence Island with a request to examine the material for radioactivity," said John Kelley, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

"There is concern expressed by some members of the local communities that there may be some relationship to the Fukushima nuclear reactor's damage," he said.

The results of the tests would not be available for "several weeks," Kelley said.

Water tests have not picked up any evidence of elevated radiation in U.S. Pacific waters since the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which caused multiple fuel meltdowns at the Fukushima plant and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate the surrounding area.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been seeking the cause of the diseased seals for weeks, but have so far found no answers.

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters.

01-01-2012, 03:06 PM
As soon as the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, our eyes drop to the extra pounds we've packed on during the holiday marathon eating sessions. The resolution we make to lose weight and get fit is sincere, but all too often, our good intentions don't even last until the end of January.

"Every January, health clubs see a spike in attendance, followed by a drop in February," say boomer generation health experts Dian Griesel, Ph.D., and Tom Griesel, authors of the new book "TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust."

According to Dian, a nutritionist, it’s misguided to think of eating healthy as a "resolution." Like most of our resolutions, this one will soon be broken. Instead, it is vital to incorporate healthy habits into our lifestyles — habits that can be maintained over a long period through the year and not fade after only one month.

The Griesels share seven simple steps that dieters can easily incorporate into their busy schedules to make 2012 a truly healthy new year:

• Set a goal for fat loss and improved body composition, not a reduction in pounds. Most dieting efforts, which focus on a drop in scale weight, result in the loss of lean body mass (LBM) along with fat. This loss of LBM can be significant and will reduce your base metabolic rate (BMR). Find a way to measure and track changes in your body composition at turbocharged.us.com.

• Drink more water. Most people are chronically dehydrated, particularly first thing in the morning. We often mistake thirst as hunger, and eat when we should be drinking. Always drink a large glass of water as soon as you wake up, and whenever you feel hungry, before you eat anything. You may find you really weren’t hungry after all.

• Focus on being more active. Sitting for long periods of time is hazardous to your health and cannot be counteracted by daily trips to the gym. Never sit for more than an hour at a time, and always look for ways to increase your daily activity. Walking is great, but everything counts. Just be up on your feet and moving as much and as often as possible. Get out and go to the park, zoo, or museums. Find an outdoor activity that you enjoy.

• Build and strengthen your muscles. It is your muscles that drive your metabolism 24/7/365. Increasing your muscle mass will increase your BMR. You do not need to join a gym or buy a set of weights. Simple body-weight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and squats done three to five times per day for as little as one minute will do the trick, especially if you have been inactive and sitting around too much. Do what you can now and build from there. Consistency is the key.

• Start improving your diet. Replacing the refined, processed, packaged, and fast foods in your current diet with fresh, natural foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, and meat will dramatically increase your health and improve your body composition without dieting or counting calories. Have fruit for breakfast, start packing your lunch, eat out less, and concentrate on making simple meals at home with fresh natural foods. Drink more water instead of soda or sports drinks. Avoid all artificial "fake" foods, and stay as close as possible to foods in the form Mother Nature created.

• Get a good night’s sleep. We need deep, quality sleep for peak energy levels and to be optimally healthy. Set regular sleep hours and keep them whenever possible since it is during sleep that we “recharge our batteries." Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or stimulating TV or activities before your scheduled sleep time. Keep your room dark, cool, and quiet.

• Practice regular stress reduction techniques. In today’s world, we experience chronic stress that was unknown to our ancestors. Modern stressors constantly activate our "fight or flight" survival mechanism, and this is very detrimental to our health. Meditation can be very helpful. However, consistently practicing short relaxation exercises during your day is often even better, because they provide regular feedback and can help you to recognize and break stress patterns. These mini-relaxation sessions will reset your nervous system and do wonders for your health and feelings of well-being.

© 2011 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

01-02-2012, 12:30 AM
By LYNN DeBRUIN Associated Press

As many as 10 people jumped into an icy Utah river to help save three trapped children after a car plunged down a 10-foot embankment and flipped over, the state's Highway Patrol said Sunday.

The rescuers helped turn the Honda Accord upright in the Logan River, and one man shot out the car's window with a handgun and cut a seat belt to help free the children after the Saturday afternoon accident, patrol Lt. Steve Winward said.

The driver, Roger Andersen, 46, of Logan, lost control as he tried to brake while heading northbound on U.S. 89 during slick conditions. His 9-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son were trapped along with a second 9-year-old girl.

"He was panicked, doing everything he could to get in through the doors, but they wouldn't budge," said rescuer Chris Willden, who had jumped into the water with his own father after coming upon the crash scene.

Willden, a Department of Defense contractor with a background in law enforcement, shot out one window with his Glock handgun after trying unsuccessfully to open windows and doors. As he reached upward searching for arms and legs, he felt nothing.

"I remember thinking to myself, 'You're going to see some dead kids, get ready,'" Willden said. "I've got three of my own and it was going to be (an awful) start to the New Year."

That's when he turned to see six or so other men scrambling down the bank into the water. Together they pushed up on the vehicle enough so they could see in through the windows.

One of the girls had found an air pocket and was breathing fine but was trapped in her seat belt. Willden cut it with a folding pocket knife and pulled her from the rear passenger window.

He said the other two children were lifeless, the boy upside down in his car seat and the second girl floating in the front passenger compartment.

The boy was cut out of his car seat and pulled out with the other girl.

"I didn't think they were going to be around for the New Year," Willden said.

Other rescuers made sure they were.

Buzzy Mullahkel of North Logan told the Deseret News of Salt Lake City that the boy wasn't breathing and didn't have a pulse but was revived when another passer-by quickly performed CPR.

"He took him from there and I just tried to get out of the way," said Mullahkel, a father of a 4-year-old himself. "Emotions started taking over when he started to breathe. Everybody started to cheer. Lots of tears and clapping."

Willden, 35 of Ogden, was warming up and wrapping up his bleeding forearms cut by the broken window when he heard cheers up the road.

"That was awesome," he said. "I knew that's where the little boy was."

The boy and his sister were flown by air ambulance to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

Bonnie Midget, a hospital spokeswoman, said Sunday both are doing well after spending the night in intensive care. They were taken out of intensive care Sunday but still in the hospital, listed in fair condition as they recover from hypothermia.

The father and the second girl escaped injury, authorities said.

Mullahkel said the scene reminded him of another heroic rescue in Logan earlier this year. In that case, bystanders lifted a burning car off an injured motorcyclist and pulled him to safety. The motorcyclist survived and is recovering from his injuries.

"It was eerily similar," Mullahkel told the Deseret News. "Those men in the river just even now blow my mind. Look at these gentlemen, these men in this river in the middle of winter."

Willden said simply there was a mission to be accomplished. After all, he had slid into that icy river two years earlier — the only difference is his car didn't flip.

He noted that both he and his father are both former military/civilian police officers, while his sister and mother are emergency medical technicians.

"It's in our family to go out and help others," he said.

01-03-2012, 01:23 AM
Chris Willden/AP River Rescue: For 3rd Time, Salt Lake City Strangers Step Up

This weekend, Utah's Salt Lake City area upped its ranking as one of the nicest places on Earth after a dramatic rescue by people who just happened to be passing by.

On New Year's Eve, a group of nearly 10 strangers saved three children trapped in a car that had plunged into the Logan River. The driver had been trying to brake on a slick road and lost control.

Watch "World News" tonight for more on this story.

It was the third incident in nearly six months where passersby had stopped to help someone in danger.

In September, college student Brandon Wright was driving his motorcycle in Logan, Utah, when a car pulled out in front of him. The 21-year-old's bike hit the car's hood and became trapped underneath it with Wright still holding on. Both vehicles then burst into flames.

A crowd of eight or nine people, including construction workers and students from Utah State University, lifted the burning car and pulled Wright out.

"They should get used to being called heroes because that's what they are," Wright said during a hospital news conference in September. "They restored my faith in humanity."

Police Officer Consoles Bus Victim

And in December, when a Utah Transit Authority bus hit Aryann Smith in a crosswalk, leaving the 24-year-old pinned underneath, a West Valley City police officer consoled the badly injured woman by holding her hand and giving her words of encouragement.

According to Salt Lake City's Deseret News, Officer Kevin Peck crawled under the bus and held Smith's hand until the vehicle was lifted and she was pulled out. Though Smith's legs were badly injured, she was not expected to lose them.

"She asked me not to leave. So I said I would just stay under there with her until we got her out. ... She was afraid she was going to die," he told the newspaper. "I'm just praying and hoping for some reason the bus doesn't move. ... Just trying to reassure her and keep her calm."

Philip Zimbardo, president of the Heroic Imagination Project, said that heroes were special, yet ordinary people.

"They are willing to put their best selves forward in service to humanity, to risk their life and limb -- and sometimes career -- to help others and in many cases people they don't even know," he said. "For me, heroes represent an ideal that we all want to strive for."

In the latest act of random kindness from rescuers, this Saturday, Roger Andersen, 46, was driving northbound on U.S. 89 in a Honda Accord when he tried to brake and lost control. His car slid down a 10-foot embankment and flipped over. His daughter and another girl, both 9, and his son, 4, were trapped in the car.

Chris Willden, with three children of his own, and his father were among several men who made their way down the embankment into the water.

"I jumped out of the car, jumped into the river next to the children's father and started helping him trying to get into the vehicle," said Willden, a Defense Department contractor who eventually shot out one of the car's window and helped remove a girl from a seat belt. "I tried pulling on the door handles and none of them would open up."

"I didn't think they were going to be around for the new year," he told The Associated Press.

Though they were lifeless after rescuers pulled them from the car, the boy and his sister were reportedly treated for hypothermia at Primary Children's Medical Center and later released. The father and the other girl were not injured, authorities said.

"The Utah story should be a wonderful New Year's eve present to all of us," Zimbardo told ABC News today. "It's not simply that a single person sees this potential tragedy and decides to risk his or her life, but that everyone in that setting who saw the same thing, all acted nobly, heroically."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

01-03-2012, 10:27 AM
By Boonsri Dickinson


If a bulging waist line isn’t enough to get you to diet properly, then you’ll want to make sure you’re eating enough vegetables and fish — to keep that brain of yours performing its best.

Scientists have found that a diet rich in vitamins and omega 3 may keep your brain from shrinking, reports the BBC. According to the study, those who performed better on mental tests and had a larger brain mass were also the ones who ate better.

The study was published in Neurology. Here’s the evidence:

Blood samples were from 104 healthy people (with an avg age of 87).

People with vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids (the kind in fish) in their blood tended to have less brain shrinkage and performed better on mental tests.

And people who did the worst on the tests had more trans fats in their blood. That’s the kind of fat that’s found in junk food.

To examine it further, scientists took brain scans of 42 of the subjects. Those who had a better diet of vitamins and omega 3, had a larger brain volume.

Therefore, the scientists concluded that a better diet can keep your brain from shrinking. But of course, the current study was still relatively small and still needs to be confirmed to see if there’s really a link between diet and Alzheimer’s disease.

Regardless, it brings up an interesting point — if diets can affect the way you think, then it confirms something we already know in the first place. It’s the small decisions like what you’ll eat at the dinner table that matter.

via Alzheimer’s: Diet ‘can stop brain shrinking’ [BBC]

01-03-2012, 10:34 AM
By Boonsri Dickinson


Well, you can protest Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) online, or work on ways around the planned censorship of the Internet.

That’s what one hacker group is doing anyway. According to the BBC, Hackerspace Global Grid wants to launch its own satellite into space.

The plan was unveiled at the Chaos Communications Congress in Berlin. Speaking for the group Nick Farr called for help in sending low cost satellites into space.

“The first goal is an uncensorable internet in space. Let’s take the internet out of the control of terrestrial entities,” the BBC reported Farr saying.

In order for the plan to work, the group will have to figure out how to track the satellites once it launches in space. By mid-2012, the group wants to have three prototype ground stations ready, MSNBC reports.

The combination of the threat of censorship and the dropping costs of sending satellites into space make these hacker dreams pretty well grounded

01-03-2012, 11:27 AM
By AMY TAXIN Associated Press

For most of her 100 years, Minka Disbrow tried to find out what became of the precious baby girl she gave up for adoption after being raped as a teen.

She hoped, but never imagined, she'd see her Betty Jane again.

The cruel act of violence bore in Disbrow an enduring love for the child. She kept a black and white photograph of the baby bundled in blankets and tucked inside a basket.

It was the last she saw of the girl — until the phone rang in her California apartment in 2006 with the voice of an Alabama man and a story she could have only dreamed.

Disbrow, the daughter of Dutch immigrants, weathered a harsh childhood milking cows on South Dakota dairy farms. Her stepfather thought high school was for city kids who had nothing else to do. She finished eighth grade in a country schoolhouse with just one teacher and worked long hours at the dairy.

On a summer day in 1928 while picnicking with girls from a sewing class, Disbrow and her friend Elizabeth were jumped by three men as they went for a walk in their long dresses.

Both were raped.

"We didn't know what to do. We didn't know what to say. So when we went back, nothing was said," Disbrow recalled.

Months passed. Her body began to change.

Disbrow, who had been told babies were brought by storks, didn't know what was happening.

Her mother and stepfather sent her to a Lutheran home for pregnant girls. At 17, she gave birth to a blond-haired baby with a deep dimple in her chin and named her Betty Jane.

In her heart, Disbrow longed to keep her. But her head and her mother told her she couldn't bring an infant back to the farm.

A pastor and his wife were looking to adopt a child. She hoped they could give Betty Jane the home she couldn't.

"I loved that baby so much. I wanted what was best," Disbrow said.

She never met them, or knew their names. But over the years, Disbrow wrote dozens of letters to the adoption agency to find out how her daughter was faring. The agency replied faithfully with updates until there was a change in management, and they eventually lost touch.

Disbrow's life went on. She married a fruit salesman who became a wartime pilot and drafting engineer and they had two children. She worked as a dressmaker, silk saleswoman and school cafeteria manager in cities spanning from Rhode Island to Minnesota and Northern California before moving to the seaside town of San Clemente an hour's drive north of San Diego.

Every year, she thought about Betty Jane on her May 22 birthday.

Five years ago, Disbrow prayed she might get the chance to see her.

"Lord, if you would just let me see her," Disbrow remembers praying. "I promise you I will never bother her."

On July 2, the phone rang.

It was a man from Alabama. He started asking Disbrow, then 94, about her background.

Worried about identity theft, Disbrow cut him off, and peppered him with questions.

Then, the man asked if she'd like to speak with Betty Jane.

Her name was now Ruth Lee. She had been raised by a Norwegian pastor and his wife and had gone on to marry and have six children including the Alabama man, a teacher and astronaut Mark Lee, a veteran of four space flights who has circled the world 517 times. She worked for nearly 20 years at Walmart — and especially enjoyed tending to the garden area.

Lee knew she was adopted her whole life, and grew up a happy child.

It wasn't until she was in her 70s that the search for her biological parents began.

Lee started suffering from heart problems and doctors asked about the family's medical history. She knew nothing about it. Her son, Brian, decided to try to find out more and petitioned the court in South Dakota for his mother's adoption records.

He got a stack of more than 270 pages including a written account of the assault and handwritten letters from a young Disbrow, asking about the tiny baby she had cradled for a month.

He then went online to try to find one of Disbrow's relatives — possibly through an obituary.

"I was looking for somebody I thought was probably not living," said Lee's now-54-year-old son. He typed Disbrow's name into a web directory and was shocked when a phone listing popped up. "I kind of stopped breathing for a second."

On the phone with her biological daughter, Disbrow was in disbelief. Her legs began to tremble. She couldn't understand how a naïve dairy farm girl without an education could have such accomplished grandchildren.

A month later, Ruth Lee and Brian Lee flew to California. They arrived at Disbrow's meticulous apartment on a palm tree-lined street armed with a gigantic bouquet of flowers.

Disbrow couldn't get over how Lee's hands were like her mother's. Lee was amazed at the women's similar taste in clothing. They pored over family photo albums and caught up on the years Disbrow had missed.

"It was just like we had never parted," Disbrow said. "Like you were with the family all your life."

Since then, the families have met numerous times. Disbrow has gone to visit grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Wisconsin and Texas. She is planning to travel to Alabama in the spring, where they will celebrate her recently marked 100th birthday.

Disbrow has started sharing her story with members of her church and community. The Orange County Register ran a story about Disbrow's journey in December. The family's improbable reunion also made the local newspaper in Viroqua, Lee's hometown in western Wisconsin.

"It has been such a surreal, amazing experience that I still think sometimes that I will wake up and it will just be a beautiful dream," the 82-year-old Lee said.

01-03-2012, 11:20 PM
By John Rennie (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=john+rennie) | January 3, 2012

Surprise may be at the heart of all discoveries, but the truth is, most scientific advances and developments come with some warning. Experimental evidence takes time to accumulate; investigators talk with their peers about their work; grant calendars and publishing schedules sound a beat to which the science marches. Moreover, new work builds on the momentum of past trends and programs previously set in motion. So although some of 2012’s scientific accomplishments are truly impossible to predict, many of the major areas of work are fairly easy to see taking shape.

With more than 1.5 million peer-reviewed scientific papers likely to be published in 2012, fairly representing the most noteworthy developments across dozens of major disciplines is impossible. Here are a few of the predictable developments that stand out to me.

SPOILER ALERT: Books and television programs invoking the Mayan calendar and ominous talk of “galactic alignment” to the contrary, the world will not end next December (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html). If I’m wrong, I will happily share one of my scavenged tins of tuna with you in the refugee shelter.

Exploring other worlds

Space science got off to a quick start in 2012 with NASA’s GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B probes (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/grail/main/index.html) entering orbits around the earth’s moon on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day respectively. Between now and March, the twin spacecraft will adjust their orbits until they are just 34 miles above the surface, at which point they will begin to measure tiny variations in the moon’s gravity that should illuminate details of its internal structure in unprecedented detail. Those answers, scientists hope, will illuminate how the moon formed out of collisions of smaller bodies, and perhaps why its near surface is smoother than its far side.

Planetary scientists are also hoping to get great views of the asteroid Eros when it swings past earth at the end of January, and to finish collecting data on the asteroid Vesta with the Dawn space probe before May 22, when it heads off to its next stop, the asteroid Ceres. And in April, the European Space Agency and Japan’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science will launch their joint mission to explore Mercury, but that BepiColombo orbiter and lander (http://www.esa.int/esaSC/120391_index_0_m.html)will not arrive at that planet until 2020.

(http://i.bnet.com/blogs/curiosity_mars_science_laboratory_rover.jpeg)Curio sity rover during mobility testing. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The most anticipated planetary exploration event of the year might be the early August arrival of NASA’sCuriosity rover on Mars (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html). The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity, a Mini Cooper-size cousin to the smaller but indomitable Spiritand Opportunity robots, carries 10 times as heavy a scientific instrument payload. The information it gathers about the climate and geology of Mars will be of practical value for eventual manned missions to the planet, but what most excites most people about Curiosity is that it will be searching for signs that Mars could ever have supported life.

The search for life will also be on the minds of the astronomers poring through data from the Kepler space telescope (http://kepler.nasa.gov/) for evidence of even more earthlike planets around other stars. Kepler has already found evidence for more than 2,300 exo-planets, including two (Kepler-20e and -20f) that are only slightly smaller than earth but inhospitably hotter and one (Kepler-22b) that is more than twice earth’s size but situated in a “habitable zone” around its star that might afford it a life-friendly climate. In 2012, Kepler will no doubt tote up many more planet candidates, some of which could be even closer twins to ours. (Determining whether life actually exists on any of these planets remains far beyond the capabilities of any existing instrument.)

Stem cells by any other name…

Biomedical research in 2012 will continue to be transformed by the ease and affordability of reading the genomes of patients, pathogens, malignant tissues and more. All indications are that this year technology will succeed indelivering a $1,000 human genome (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/science-scope/expect-a-1000-genome-by-next-year/11201?tag=search-river) — and that price is only a benchmark of success, because the cost will keep dropping. The challenge will be to make sense of that DNA sequence information: biomedical researchers are still struggling to understand the genomic underpinnings of most health conditions.

Just a month ago, Amit C. Nathwani of University College London and his colleagues reported a landmark success inusing gene therapy to treat six patients (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/11/health/research/hemophilia-b-gene-therapy-breakthrough.html) with the hereditary blood disorder hemophilia B. Encouraging as that news was, do not expect an imminent revolution in gene therapies for many other conditions: general problems with directing therapeutic DNA only to the desired tissues and with keeping those genes appropriately active still persist.

A bitter disappointment of November 2011 was the strategic decision by the biotech company Geron to bail out (http://www.nature.com/news/stem-cell-pioneer-bows-out-1.9407)of its first-of-their-kind clinical trials of a therapy for spinal cord injury that used human embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Nevertheless, stem cell research and closely related fields are still extremely active.

Many investigators are pushing to find suitable alternatives to ESCs, not just to avoid the ethical controversies and legal restrictions that often hang over them but also the limits on their practicality. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) created by genetically reprogramming adult tissues into a more plastic, embryonic state have won over many biologists. However, in late November, at a meeting sponsored by the Salk Institute, the cloning pioneer Ian Wilmut (of Dolly the sheep fame) argued strenuously (http://stemcellassays.com/2011/12/ian-wilmut-future-ips-cells-reprogramming-direct-transdifferentiation/) [video] for the alternative reprogramming technique called transdifferentiation, which directly transforms cells of one specialized tissue into another, without an intermediary iPSC/ESC-like state. His may be a minority opinion, but expect to hear about more the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches over the next year.

Elsewhere in medicine, it’s not apparent that 2012 holds any blockbuster new pharmaceutical breakthroughs: the new drug pipeline is emptier than anyone wants to see. Look for interesting ongoing innovations in drug delivery, however. Microneedles for painlessly injecting drugs, dissolving oral films for the slow release of drugs, and aerosol formulations are among many new ideas under development.

Continues on next post.

01-03-2012, 11:21 PM
Finishing the physics

Some of the most important physics news in 2012 may involve tying up loose ends from two of the biggest stories of 2011: the reports of seemingly impossible faster-than-light particles (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/savvy-scientist/are-scientists-afraid-of-revolution/136?tag=mantle_skin;content) emanating from a high-energy facility in Geneva and tentative sightings of the long-sought, cringe-worthily nicknamed “God particle” at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/savvy-scientist/particle-of-doubt-the-higgs-boson-and-scientific-uncertainty/193?tag=mantle_skin;content), the world’s most powerful accelerator.

(http://i.bnet.com/blogs/neutrino_detector1.jpeg)OPERA neutrino detector. (Credit: OPERA, Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso)

Actually, the case against the faster-than-light neutrinos may already be fairly well sealed by studies announced two weeks ago in Physical Review Lettersby Ramanith Cowsik and his Washington University colleagues. His group presented fairly damning calculations (http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/23154.aspx) that the observed neutrinos could not possibly have been moving faster than light because they were decay products from another set of particles produced by the CERN reactor, called pions, that most definitely did not contain enough energy to enable that fantastic speed. Unless the creation of those neutrinos somehow involved a violation of the law of conservation of energy — a discovery that would frankly put faster-than-light travel to shame — then the high reported neutrino speeds almost certainly result from some as-yet-unidentified measurement or calculation error. Any physicists still curious about pursuing the question should be able to settle the matter once and for all soon.

But everyone in physics will be keenly awaiting the results of the experiments following up on the LHC announcements because the future of theoretical physics hangs in the balance. Two independent LHC experimental groups reported in September that they had seen signs of what could be the Higgs boson, the theoretical and heretofore unobserved particle that endows matter with mass, according to the Standard Model of physics. The Standard Model has been the cornerstone of particle physics theory for the past 50 years; finding the Higgs will be a crucial test of how closely it approximates reality, however. If further experiments in 2012 verify the hints of a Higgs seen in 2011, the current framework of particle physics will be even more strongly validated. If they don’t, or if the Higgs turns out to have unexpected properties, the Standard Model will need significant revisions.

Catastrophic weather

Scientists and nonscientists alike will be scrutinizing the weather in 2012 for evidence of extreme events that might be laid at the doorstep of global warming, just as they were during the extraordinary droughts, storms, forest fires, floods and other catastrophes of 2011. Don’t expect anyone’s conclusions to sharply change the policy debate on the subject: the natural variations in weather patterns and the murky (and frustrating) debates about what actually causes weather-related disasters create wiggle room for people to believe what they wish. It doesn’t help that Republicans in Congress succeeded in cutting the research budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/25/science/earth/climate-scientists-hampered-in-study-of-2011-extremes.html) and opposing other measures that would have helped with monitoring climate change and its effects.

Solar particles interact with the earth's magnetosphere. (Credit: NASA)

No one, however, will blame global warming for upcoming extreme space weather events. Solar activity runs in roughly 11-year cycles, and 2012 is expected to mark another peak in the number and intensity of solar flares. If a particularly strong eruption from the sun intercepted the earth, the associated burst of magnetic energy could briefly distort the planet’s magnetic field. Spectacular auroras would be a visual consequence, but spacecraft and satellites in orbit might also suffer damage, and some experts worry that induced current from the magnetic fields could burn out portions of the electrical grid.

Even those effects, however, fall far short of the apocalyptic scenarios imagined by people who think the ancient Mayans credibly predicted the end of the world in 2012. Of all the quasi-scientific and pseudoscientific explanations used to bolster the case that 2012 could be The End — by asteroid strike, supervolcanic eruption, pandemic, magnetic pole reversal, galactic alignment, and so on — extreme solar activity is the only potentially damaging phenomenon linked specifically to this year. Even then, there is no reason to think (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html) this solar maximum will be worse than any seen before. Nor, for that matter, do the modern descendants of the Mayans who live in Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize seem to think that the upcoming end of a long cycle in the Mayan calendar foretells an apocalypse.

On the whole, the writer Paul Fidalgo seems to have had the right idea when he recently joked on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/paulfidalgo/status/153345900222218241), “You’re not allowed to believe in the Mayan 2012 end-of-the-world thing unless you can locate where the Mayans lived on a map.”

Image: Artist’s conception of Curiosity examining the Martian surface. (Credit: NASA/JPL)

01-04-2012, 01:34 AM
By Joseph Castro, LiveScience Staff Writer

If deadly viruses and fungi weren't enough, honeybees in North America now must also deal with a fly parasite that causes them to leave their hive and die after wandering about in a zombie-like stupor, a new study shows.

Scientists previously found that the parasitic fly, Apocephalus borealis, infects and ultimately kills bumblebees and paper wasps, while the "decapitating fly," an insect in the same genus, implants its eggs in ants, whose heads then pop off after the fly larvae devour the ants' brains and dissolve their connective tissues. Now researchers have discovered honeybees parasitized by A. borealis in 24 of 31 sites across the San Francisco Bay area, as well as other commercial hives in California and South Dakota.

Genetic tests revealed that some of the bees and flies were infected with deformed wing virus and the fungus Nosema ceranae, both of which have been implicated in colony collapse disorder (CCD). The scientists believe that more research into the parasitized bees and their behavior could yield new insights into the devastating disorder.

"Understanding causes of the hive abandonment behavior we document could explain symptoms associated with CCD," the researchers write in their study, published today (Jan. 3) in the journal PLoS One.

An infectious fly

The female A. borealis flies will inject their eggs into a honeybee's abdomen soon after coming into contact with the bee, the researchers saw in their laboratory. About seven days later, up to 25 mature fly larvae emerge from the area between the bee's head and thorax. In the wild, no more than 13 larvae were observed busting from a single honeybee.

The researchers found that parasitized bees in the wild abandon their hives and congregate near light sources, where they begin to behave strangely. A bee near death typically will sit in one place and curl up, but these infected bees walked around in circles, appearing disoriented and with little equilibrium, often not being able to stand up.

"They kept stretching [their legs] out and then falling over," Andrew Core, biology graduate student at San Francisco State University and co-author of the study, said in a statement. "It really painted a picture of something like a zombie."

Core and his colleagues found that the honeybees most likely to become infected by the parasite were the ones that left their hives to forage at night, rather than the daytime foragers. The researchers also discovered fly pupae near dead bees at the bottom of their laboratory hive, suggesting that A. borealis can multiply within a hive and potentially infect a pregnant queen bee.

Many questions still remain

It's currently unclear how the flies are changing the bees' behavior, though the researchers hypothesize that the flies somehow affect the bees' circadian rhythm, or natural day/night cycle. The researchers also don't know whether infected bees are leaving the hive to protect other bees, or whether hive mates sense the infection and force the dying bees out.

"A lot of touching and tasting goes on in a hive," lead researcher John Hafernik said in a statement. "And it's certainly possible that their co-workers are finding them and can tell that there's something wrong with them."

Perhaps most important, scientists don't yet understand the role, if any, that the parasitic flies play in the transmission of the CCD pathogens. Are the flies further harming the bees by spreading deformed wing virus and N. ceranae, or do they actually prevent the pathogens from multiplying by quickly killing their hosts?

Whatever the case, the researchers believe A. borealis is likely a new threat for the honeybees. "Honeybees are among the best-studied insects in the world," Hafernik said. "So at one level, we would expect that if this has been a long-term parasite of honeybees, we would have noticed."

01-04-2012, 10:13 AM
By Boonsri Dickinson
It turns out having a desk job can increase your risk of death.


Sure, we all know that we should spend more time exercising. But why? In a new study, American Cancer Society researchers exploring the association of mortality and sitting time suggest that a sedentary lifestyle actually has specific biological consequences.

Researchers surveyed 123,216 healthy people (part of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention II study in 1992) and found that people who spent their days sitting down have a higher risk of mortality.

During a time period of 1993 to 2006, researchers found that women who sat down for at least 6 hours a day were 37 percent more likely to die when compared to women who sat for 3 hours a day during the time period studied. For the same time period, men who sat down for 6 hours a day were 18 percent more likely to die than their standing counterparts.

Women were 94 percent and men were 48 percent “more likely, respectively, to die compared with those who reported sitting the least and being most active.”

“Several factors could explain the positive association between time spent sitting and higher all-cause death rates,” Dr. Alpa Patel said in a statement. “Prolonged time spent sitting, independent of physical activity, has been shown to have important metabolic consequences, and may influence things like triglycerides, high density lipoprotein, cholesterol, fasting plasma glucose, resting blood pressure, and leptin, which are biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.”

Not only can sitting down make you more likely to stuff your face with food, it can also weaken your immune system and thus increase your risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

But the association discussed in the study warrants further investigation. The data was self-reported and there wasn’t enough data on occupational physical activity. Plus, distinguishing the different types of sitting a person was doing is important. Lets face it: the difference between a stuck-in-traffic driver, a couch potato, and an anxious worker should be accounted for.

As a sit-down journalist, most of my time is spent sitting in front of a computer. I guess, it’s time for me to go for a morning walk!

01-04-2012, 12:03 PM
Last week, doctors who performed three face transplant surgeries in 2011 released the details those successful surgeries in the New England Journal of Medicine.


Their report outlined some of the medical challenges of face transplant surgeries, as well as the psychological impacts of giving someone a donor’s face.

The first patient was Dallas Wiens, a man whose face was essentially erased by extensive burns when he accidentally touched a high-tension power line while painting a church. Last March, doctors reconstructed his forehead, nose, lips and facial skin. They also gave him muscles and nerves that would enable him to move his face and feel sensation with it.

Patient 2 (pictured here several months after surgery) was Mitch Hunter, a man who also was burned by a power line, this time after a car accident. The third patient, Charla Nash, was mauled by a friend’s chimpanzee.

The medical challenges of face transplant surgery
The surgeries, among the 18 that have been performed worldwide since 2005, took place at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Bohdan Pomahac, director of the plastic surgery transplantation program at Brigham and Women’s and lead author of the NEJM report told the Wall Street Journal that “the chief obstacle to the surgery had been the belief that you’d need to connect four arteries and a corresponding number of veins in order to provide enough blood flow to the transplanted tissues.”

But he and his colleagues were able to use a simpler method that required connecting only one artery and one vein on each side of the face. (Even so, a single operation can take more than 20 hours.) They also brought back facial functions such as blinking and facial sensation by connecting all the main motor and sensory nerves available.

The most common complication due to the surgeries was infection due to the the drugs they took to suppress their immune system in order to prevent their bodies from rejecting the transplants. They all recovered, and their drug regimens have even been reduced, though they will have to continue taking the drugs for the rest of their lives.

Still, the facial transplants have largely been successful. Though at first, the patient’s new face is swollen and cannot be moved, that swelling dies down within six weeks, and motor function is regained in three to six months. The patients can often begin eating again within a few days.

It only took a few days for Wiens to be able to smell again, and after four months, he could feel sensation on the right side of his face. Nash could breathe through her nose and mouth within two months, and Hunter was able to talk, eat and drink within four days.

Psychological implications of the new faces
However, their faces do not resemble their original faces, or those of their original owners. The face — which is composed of skin, fat, muscle and bone — is combination of the donor’s face and the recipient’s, resulting in a unique look.

However, the new face “allows recipients to regain an identity, because they can now be seen in the social world. Moreover, they may regain expressivity, allowing for them to be seen even more by others, and to regain an identity to an even greater extent, according to this article in the Journal of Medical Ethics. In fact, all patients three got used to their new faces easily.

Still, the patients receive counseling in the first three months after the surgery. “We want them to cope well with what they’ve been through,” Pomahac told the Wall Street Journal, adding that although they look different, their body language and speech are the same, making it “remarkably easy” to identify them.

01-04-2012, 02:37 PM
By Joe McKendrick January 3, 2012

CareerCast has just issued its list of the top 10 most stressful jobs, accompanied by an adjoining list of the least stressful jobs to be found in today’s world.


CareerCast says it developed a ranking system for job stress that compares a number of different job demands which can reasonably be expected to evoke stress, including travel, hiring outlook/growth potential, deadlines, working in the public eye, competitiveness, physical demands, environmental conditions, hazards encountered, own life at risk, life of another at risk and meeting the public.

Of course, I’ve heard it said that stress is in the eye of the beholder. What may be overwhelming for one person may be an adrenaline rush for another.

Here are the top 10 most stressful jobs:

1) Soldier: Completely understandable, given the extreme risk and danger that comes with this job.* Plus, as anyone in the military will tell you, there’s the stress of long hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror.

2) Firefighter: Another occupation punctuated by life-or-death decisions.

3) Airline pilot: There’s a misconception that jet planes practically fly themselves, thanks to computers. But the pressure is intense to stick to schedules, not to mention jet lag.

4) Military general: A very odd addition to the list, since there aren’t too many military generals out there, and not many people go back to school or training with the goal of becoming a “general.” (Does this category include admirals as well?) This kind of job, of course, is not as cushy as some may think, since thousands of lives may be at stake with every decision.

5) Police officer: As with soldiers, completely understandable why this can be a stressful occupation. The only surprise is that it doesn’t rank as more stressful than military generals and airline pilots.

6) Event coordinator: Not as dangerous as the first five, of course. But having been with an organization that conducted conferences, I know the mental pain, anguish and torture these professionals are subjected to.

7) Public relations executive: Hmm. In the event of a major PR disaster, this could be a very highly stress-inducing position. Say if you were the PR manager for BP a couple of summers back. But overall, I’m surprised to see this on the top 10 list.

8 ) Senior corporate executive: ROI. ROI. ROI. Every day, ROI.

9) Photojournalist: This can be a pretty dangerous profession, especially if they’re out there with number 1, the soldiers, or number 5, the police officers — which they often are.

10) Taxi driver: Oh yeah.* Long hours, miserable pay, miserable riders, miserable traffic.

Some other stressful jobs that didn’t make the list but I would vote for include emergency room physician, emergency medical technician, tax accountant (especially in April) and marriage counselor. Nurses also incur a great deal of stress — making this one of the most burnout-prone professions.

And here are the top 10 least stressful jobs, according to CareerCast:

1) Medical records technician.

2) Jeweler.

3) Hair stylist.

4) Dressmaker-tailor.

5) Medical laboratory technician.

6) Audiologist.

7) Precision assembler.

8 ) Dietition.

9) Furniture upholsterer.

10) Electrical technician.

(Photo: US Navy, via Wikipedia.)

01-05-2012, 07:53 AM

A day after activating his emergency beacon, an 84-year-old American making his seventh attempt to sail alone around the tip of South America was found by the Chilean navy.

Thomas Louis Corogin was found tired but alive Wednesday on his 32-foot sailboat more than 520 miles south of Easter Island. The boat's mast had broken far from land in the South Pacific.

A lawyer who runs a small marina in Port Clinton, Ohio, Corogin set sail from Easter Island on Dec. 27. He activated his emergency beacon on Tuesday morning, prompting the navy to send out an Orion search and rescue plane, which searched a vast expanse of ocean.

The plane had to return to Easter Island and refuel before going out again and spotting the tiny boat, Captain Jorge Bastias, the navy's top spokesman, told The Associated Press.

It was stranded in relatively stable weather, but with ocean swells of about 15 feet.

The Navy then arranged for a Japanese merchant ship, the "White Kingdom," to rescue the sailor. The ship was about 250 nautical miles away when it joined the search and was expected to reach him Wednesday night, local time, Bastias said. A frigate with a helicopter and medical team will then pick him up and take him to the mainland in Valparaiso, probably on Saturday, the navy said.

The broken mast wasn't Corogin's only mishap during this adventure — he had sent an email saying he was briefly hospitalized in Ecuador with a cut to his leg, said a friend and fellow sailor, Jack Majszak.

"Tom is the most unique person I've ever met," said Majszak, who invited Corogin to lecture to his Modern Sailing School and Club in Sausalito, Calif., last year after meeting with him in the Panama Canal.

Majszak described Corogin as an experienced sailor and storyteller — he even wrote a spy novel, "Agape" — who felt comfortable on his Westsail32, a boat known for its stability more than its speed.

"He should be fine, it's a very stable boat," Majszak said. "The 15-foot swells shouldn't be too bad as long as they don't come too quickly. If he battens up the hatches and goes down below the boat will bob like a cork and he should be fine. As long as he's not seriously hurt, that's the key."

01-05-2012, 09:19 AM
A man left unable to walk by a tumour on his right leg that weighs more than the rest of his body went under the knife in Vietnam on Thursday to have the growth removed, hospital officials said.

Nguyen Duy Hai's massive 90 kilogramme (198 pounds) tumour is to be cut away by a team of doctors in a risky 10 hour procedure that has only a 50 percent chance of success, the France-Vietnam (FV) hospital in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Hai, 31, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder, has been living with the tumour since he was four years old, FV hospital's statement read.

He had part of his leg amputated when he was 17, but the tumour, which is not cancerous, continued to expand, making it difficult for Hai to walk and sleep.

The growth is thought to be the largest ever recorded in Vietnam, according to state media, who have followed Hai's condition for years.

"This is a huge procedure with many risks, including the risk of death during surgery or post-operative care," the hospital said, adding that the patient and the family decided to proceed with the removal nonetheless.

The marathon operation is being led by American doctor McKay McKinnon, who successfully removed a tumour weighing 80 kilogrammes from a Romanian woman in 2004.

McKinnon has waived his fee for Hai's surgery and the remaining costs, estimated to come to 250 million dong (around $12,000), will be covered by donations, FV hospital said.

01-05-2012, 09:06 PM
Why we fall out of love By Laura Schaefer

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!” sang Dean Martin. We all know the delicious feeling of new love, but what about the flip side? Love doesn’t always last, and its retreat can leave us bewildered, confused or downright depressed.

Even if you were raised on a plentiful diet of fairy tales, you know that “till death do us part” can be a rare thing. Even staying with someone forever is no guarantee of experiencing lasting love. But why do people really fall out of love? Is there anything we can do to make love stay? Do some of us give up too easily? To understand the phenomenon of love’s end, we asked the experts’ opinions on the subject. Here are the top three reasons they shared with us:

1. A distancing “Wave” can topple a good thing if you let it. Ken Page, psychotherapist and author of the Finding Love blog (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/finding-love/201101/the-single-greatest-threat-new-relationships-and-what-do-about-it) for Psychology Today and founder of the Deeper Dating (http://www.deeperdating.com/) website, has identified a phenomenon that can destroy new love: “The ‘Wave’ occurs when we unconsciously push a caring and available person away by inwardly diminishing his or her worth.” Think about how Carrie Bradshaw behaved when she first started dating Aidan Shaw: Aidan was “too available” and Carrie freaked because she wasn’t used to being with someone so open.

“When someone is available and decent,” Page explains, “something inside us knows [this person] can get to our nest, our soul — the place where we care the most and can be hurt the most. And our unconscious gets panicked.” If you find yourself breaking up with someone awesome for no good reason, check yourself; you might be acting out of fear. After all, real love is a big deal. It involves a leap of faith, and that can be a scary thing. Those who give in to the Wave fall out of love before they even give themselves a chance to fall properly in love, and that’s kind of sad.

2. Unwillingness to discuss relationship problems. OK, let’s say you’ve taken that leap and you’re in a long-term, committed relationship. Good for you! Now, don’t forget to communicate with your partner regularly. Guy Winch (http://www.guywinch.com/), Ph.D., author of The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve Your Relationships and Enhance Self-Esteem, says that people fall out of love because they don’t talk through their relationship peeves with each other: “Research shows that couples who are able to voice complaints well and discuss them productively have greater marital satisfaction and much lower divorce rates than couples who are unable to do so.” If you’re in a newer relationship, iron out the kinks early on to keep love alive over the long haul. “It is much easier to address issues earlier in a relationship than later, just as it is much harder to mold cement once it has dried and hardened,” explains Winch.

The key word here, however, is “productively.” It usually doesn’t help to fight and blame your partner for all of the relationship’s problems. Dr. Fran Praver (http://www.drfranpraver.com/books.html), author of The New Science of Love: How Understanding Your Brain’s Wiring Can Help Rekindle Your Relationship, says that “when couples play the blame game, they wage a war of being right where both parties lose. It may seem like a strong personality to insist on being right, but in fact ‘rightness’ is born out of rigidity and weakness, not strength.” Couples fall out of love when they can’t find a way to make the partnership good for both people involved. Creativity and open minds are the stuff of lasting love; silence and blaming, though? Not so much.

3. People change or get bored with each other. April Masini, the relationship expert behind AskApril.com (http://www.askapril.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=1) and author of Romantic Date Ideas, says: “Over time, people can change — or more often, they become who they really are. Someone who loved his steady business career may suddenly realize he always wanted to be a stand-up comedian and throw caution to the wind to chase his dreams.” People evolve; circumstances change — and sometimes, relationships can’t be sustained as a result. But if you really know your partner down to the core, the changes won’t be as shocking. “The kind of change that leads to love lost is always about a buried desire to be someone that’s repressed inside,” continues Masini. “It’s important to really know your partner to avoid this lost-love syndrome.” In other words, don’t neglect someone you care about. You cannot get to know a person thoroughly right away — rather, it’s a lifelong journey. There’s a whole universe inside the person you fell for, and if you don’t check in with that individual on a regular basis, you could wake up one day hearing this: “I’m unhappy. I’m moving to another country to start my life over fresh, and you’re not invited.”

If you find yourself perusing faraway rental homes and thinking, “He’s changed!” or “I’m just so bored with her,” think about holding on and digging a little deeper first. “At a certain point in a relationship, according to Imago Couples Therapy,” says Page, “each partner feels that the thing they most need from their partner is the very thing that their partner can’t give. At that point, many people feel that the relationship has run its course and they leave. The reality, however, is much different. This can be the beginning phase of an entirely new level of intimacy, if they each decide to learn to grow and try to give that partner what [he or she needs most].”

Then again, love doesn’t necessarily have to last decades (or a lifetime) to matter. Romantic relationships can also evolve into dear friendships — and that’s perfectly fine. Dr. Lissa Coffey (http://www.coffeytalk.com/), author of the book, Closure and the Law of Relationship: Endings as New Beginnings, agrees. “We may come together for a certain period of time to help each other learn and grow, and when that has been accomplished, we’ve gotten everything we were meant to get out of the relationship. Then it changes,” Coffey explains. “It doesn’t have to end; it’s just redefined.”

Laura Schaefer is the author of The Secret Ingredient (http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Ingredient-Laura-Schaefer/dp/1442419598/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312477580&sr=8-1) and Planet Explorers Chicago (http://www.amazon.com/Planet-Explorers-Chicago-ebook/dp/B0057ZFIAK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312477656&sr=1-1).

01-06-2012, 02:54 AM
Jennifer LaRue Huget Thursday, Jan 5, 2012

Here’s something to look forward to: New research finds that women’s sexual satisfaction may actually improve as they get older.

The study, published in the January issue of the American Journal of Medicine, looked at such sexual satisfaction-related factors as hormone use, frequency of arousal, lubrication, orgasm and pain during sexual intercourse along with sexual desire and satisfaction among 806 women ages 40 to 100 (median age 67; 63 percent post-menopausal).

The researchers found that, while sexual activity declined as women aged, about half of those age 80 or older reported being sexually satisfied most or all of the time. In fact, the oldest women studied were the most satisfied overall, and those older women who had recently been sexually active reported that they had satisfying orgasms with about the same frequency as did the youngest women. Overall, among women who were sexually active, about 67 percent said they reached orgasm most times or every time they took part in sexual activity.

But 40 percent of all the women studied reported never or hardly ever feeling sexual desire. A third of those who were sexually active said they had low sexual desire.

Still, 61 percent of the women said they were happy with their sex lives — no matter what their level of sexual activity was, and no matter whether they had a partner or not.

The authors clarify that in this particular study, “sexual activity was not always necessary for sexual satisfaction. Those who were not sexually active may have achieved sexual satisfaction through touching, caressing or other intimacies developed over the course of a long relationship,” the study notes.

Do any of these findings surprise you?

01-06-2012, 11:17 PM
By Beth Carter (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=beth+carter) | January 4, 2012,

Last month, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (http://qag.qld.gov.au/) in Australia featured an incredibly simple, but totally astounding installation by artist Yayoi Kusama, who built a domestic environment, including chairs, tables, a piano and normal household ornamentation, and painted them a stark white:

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/obliteration-white.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/obliteration-white.jpg)

Then, over the course of two weeks, the home-like canvas was covered in colorful dot stickers given to children visiting the museum. The children were invited to collaborate in the project, transforming the blank white space into a vibrant display of color.

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/obliteration-beginning91.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/obliteration-beginning91.jpg)
Dubbed “The Obliteration Room,” (http://blog.qag.qld.gov.au/before-the-first-dot-yayoi-kusama’s-‘the-obliteration-room’-2011/)the concept– an everyday topography without color enhanced (or obliterated) by different colored stickers– may seem overly basic, but the results were amazing.
“As with many of Kusama’s installations,”explained the Gallery, (http://interactive.qag.qld.gov.au/looknowseeforever/works/obliteration_room/) “the work is disarmingly simple in its elemental composition; however, it brilliantly exploits the framework of its presentation.The white room is gradually obliterated over the course of the exhibition, the space changing measurably with the passage of time as the dots accumulate as a result of thousands and thousands of collaborators.”
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/obliteration-3.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/obliteration-3.jpg)

The installation is a reworking of the artist’s popular interactive project shown first at the Queensland Gallery’s “APT 2002: Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art,” and is not the first time the artist has explored more interactive components in her work. Many of her solo performances in the past have included (or are known for) participatory elements, including her “body festivals,” in which the frameworks provided by Kusama served as platforms for improvisational reactions from the audience.
The Obliteration Room is part of Kusama’s “Look Now, See Forever,” exhibition, that will run through March.

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/obliteration-end.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/obliteration-end.jpg)

Images: Mark Sherwood for Queensland Art Gallery, Stuart Addelsee (http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuart_addelsee/6591809807/)/Flickr.

01-08-2012, 01:14 AM
updated 1/7/2012 msnbc.com staff and news service reports.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Russian tanker carrying much-needed fuel for the cut-off Alaska city of Nome was making good progress Saturday, weaving its way through thick ice in the eastern Bering Sea toward its destination.

The 370-foot tanker Renda was less than 200 nautical miles from Nome, KTUU-TV reported.

The city of about 3,500 people on the western Alaska coastline did not get its last pre-winter fuel delivery because of a massive storm. If the delivery of diesel fuel and unleaded gasoline is not made, the city likely will run short of fuel supplies before another barge delivery can be made in spring.

Vitus Marine LLC spokesperson Stacey Smith told KTUU the Renda and the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy were stopped against an ice ridge just before dawn Saturday and waited until daylight before continuing their journey.

If the mission is successful, it will be the first time petroleum products have been delivered by sea to a Western Alaska community in winter.

The Coast Guard said the Russian tanker came upon ice about a foot thick very early Friday near Nunivak Island, a large island in the eastern Bering Sea. The tanker is following the Healy, the Coast Guard's only functioning icebreaker — a ship of special design with a reinforced hull made to move through ice.

The icebreaker should have no problem getting through the ice even if it becomes several feet thick, said Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class David Mosley.

"In the worst-case scenario, it might stop and back up and ram their way through the pressure ridges, where it gets really thick," he said.

However, he pointed out to the Alaska Dispatch that the scenario was nonetheless difficult. "The ice conditions are giving us a number of challenging issues," he said. "We can break it open but it is quickly closing."

http://msnbcmedia2.msn.com/j/ap/nome iced in--271770679_v2.standard.jpg
U.S. Coast Guard*/*AP

The 370-foot tanker Renda will have to go through more than 300 miles of sea ice to get to Nome, a city of about 3,500 people on the western Alaska coastline that did not get its last pre-winter fuel delivery because of a massive storm.
The icebreaker is creating a path through the ice for the tanker.

Mosley told the Dispatch that the ships, crawling through the ice very close together, would struggle overnight as the darkness would make it difficult for the captains to keep watch and avoid knocking into each other.

"They are moving on at a crawl," Mosley said.

Supplying hospitals, schools

The Renda left Russia in mid-December after the barge delivery of 1.6 million gallons of fuel failed and Nome became iced-in for the winter.

The tanker is carrying more than 1 million gallons of diesel fuel loaded in South Korea and 300,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline picked up in Dutch Harbor in southwestern Alaska.

Sitnasuak Native Corp., the company that eventually signed a contract with Vitus Marine LLC to have a tanker delivery, considered flying supplies to Nome but decided against that plan because of the cost and the possibility fuel prices could jump to $9 a gallon. The tanker delivery is expected to be more costly than by barge but not as expensive as air delivery.

"I would be happy if we never ship through ice again," Sitnasuak Native Corp. chairman Jason Evans told the Dispatch.

The Native corporation is a major fuel supplier to the city, with between 800 and 1,000 customers including the hospital and schools.

The tanker is expected to arrive in Nome early Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

01-08-2012, 03:46 PM
Friday, January 6, 2012 Bloomberg News.

The most unwelcome sign of aging, cognitive decline, may begin as young as 45, researchers found.

Scores on memory, reasoning, and fluency tests fell starting in the mid-to-late 40s in a study of more than 7,000 U.K.

government workers, said researchers led by Archana Singh-Manoux at France’s Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health in Villejuif, near Paris. The findings were published online Thursday in the British Medical Journal.

The deterioration became more dramatic as people aged, the researchers found. Pinpointing when cognitive decline begins is important because treatment is more likely to work when memory and reason first start to wane, they said. Most dementia studies focus on people 65 and older and future research should look at younger groups, wrote Francine Grodstein, an associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, in an editorial accompanying the study.

“This finding potentially has profound implications for prevention of dementia, and public health,” Grodstein said. “Efforts to prevent dementia may need to start in adults as young as 45.”

Scientists in the U.K., France, and the United States followed 5,198 men and 2,192 women participating in the Whitehall II study, a health-research project so called because those recruited worked at government offices in and around Whitehall in London.

Vocabulary Tests

All the office workers were between 45 and 70 when the cognitive study began. Over a decade, the participants were tested three times on memory, reasoning, vocabulary, and fluency.

For men and women ages 45 to 49, reasoning declined 3.6 percent over a decade, the study found. Men ages 65 to 70 experienced a 9.6 percent drop, while women in that age group had a 7.4 percent decrease, the researchers said. Vocabulary was the only area where test scores didn’t fall, they said.

The findings may not apply to the general population, since Whitehall II participants are mostly men and mostly white-collar workers with fairly stable jobs, the researchers said. Further study is needed, they said.

“Life expectancy continues to increase, and understanding cognitive aging will be one of the challenges of this century,” the researchers wrote. “Better understanding of both adverse and healthy cognitive aging trajectories might help the identification of early risk factors,” which may include obesity and cardiovascular disease, they said.

The study was funded by the European Science Foundation, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the BUPA Foundation, the Academy of Finland, the U.K. Medical Research Council, and the British Heart Foundation.

Copyright Bloomberg News

01-09-2012, 12:54 PM
Alaska town buried in snow gets shovel help from troops
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Dozens of National Guard troops armed with shovels deployed across a southeast Alaska fishing town on Monday after the coastal region was swamped with too much snow.

Worst hit was Cordova, a town used to snow, but not like this season's blanketing.

The Guard reported more than 18 feet of snow has fallen in the past few weeks.

"There's nowhere to go with the snow because it's piled up so high," said Wendy Rainney, who owns the Orca Adventure Lodge. A storage building for the lodge — which offers fishing trips, hiking, kayaking and glacier tours — partially collapsed under the weight of the snow, she said.

"This is more quantity than can be handled."

At least three buildings have collapsed or partially collapsed and six homes are deemed severely stressed by heavy wet snow, officials said.

The drifts are 12 to 14 feet high, but most roofs in town have been shoveled, said Chris Dunlap, a Cordova resident who was manning an empty Red Cross shelter early Monday.

"It's a lot of snow. I've lived here 33 years and this is the most snow I've ever seen," she said by phone. "The thing I'm impressed most with is we haven't had any injuries. Maybe a few back strains from all of the shoveling."

More than 24 feet in neighboring town
In Valdez, the other major town in Alaska's Prince William Sound, snow is also an issue, with more than 24 feet so far this season — 12 feet above normal.

After a dump over the weekend, Valdez resident Kevin Kimber said he had to crawl out of his upstairs window to get out.

"I woke up to have about 10 feet of snow in front of my door, so I had to crawl out of the house and I was finally able to get to my truck," NBC affiliate KTUU TV quoted Kimber as saying.

Another Valdez resident stayed home Friday because of the snow.

"It’s just white," Trish Stowe said. "It’s hard to see the edges of the road or — well, there are no edges. You just run into snow banks."

In Cordova, townspokesman Allen Marquette told the Alaska Dispatch that clearing roofs became top priority on Sunday.

"It's an ongoing issue," Marquette said. "Because of the rains, a lot of the (snow on) roofs did slough and fall off, so some doors were blocked."

Marquette said he'd started trying to get snow off his roof Saturday, but estimated there was still about six feet Sunday.

"I’m six-foot four, and I couldn't see over the top," he told the paper. "There'snot a snow shovel left in town."

The city has set up a shelter at a local recreation center but said people leaving homes in avalanche-risky areas have been staying with other residents.

The town issued a disaster proclamation last week after three weeks of relentless snow overwhelmed local crews working around the clock and filled snow dump sites.

"We had no alternative but to declare an emergency," Cordova Mayor Jim Kallander said. "It became a life-safety issue."

Rain makes it slippery

Responders said Sunday that rain fell overnight, making for a slippery, treacherous mess in the Prince William Sound community of 2,000 year-round residents.

The entire region has been pummeled by snow, but Cordova is of particular concern because there is no road access to the town, only boat and plane passage, said Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard.

Bad weather has prevented the Guard from flying to the town, 150 miles southeast of Anchorage.

More than 70 Guard members arrived in Cordova via state ferry on Sunday. About 50 of them will help clear roofs, roads, boats. The rest will provide other assistance. The state also is working on bringing in more heavy equipment to Cordova.

An avalanche brought snow and debris down on a section of the Copper River Highway, the 12-mile link from the town to the local airport. State transportation officials said a secondary road was opened to two-lane traffic while crews cleared the highway Sunday.

Another storm that started Saturday also brought rain, which soaked into the snow, weighing it down.

Classes were to begin later than usual Monday, but officials said students should go only if parents are comfortable with them venturing out.

Some roads have been cleared, but residents also are being creative, traveling on foot and by skis and snowshoes, officials said.

The National Weather Service said the snow depth at the airport measured 59 inches before the rain fell, weighing the level down to 47 inches. Monday was supposed to be clear before another system moves in Tuesday, bringing more snow and rain, as well as winds as strong as 40 mph.

"This break in the weather is very critical and very fortunate," meteorologist Don Moore said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

peter radclyffe
01-10-2012, 07:13 AM

01-10-2012, 11:35 AM
Hi Peter, I couldn't get that to play on my iPhone.

Will try on the laptop later. :)

01-10-2012, 11:53 AM
By Tuan C. Nguyen | January 10, 2012,


Here, again, is yet another video demonstration of a special nanocoating that can magically make a smartphone waterproof. This time it’s a company named Liquipel drawing the oohs and ahhs at the Consumer Electronics Show as testers attempt to dunk, douse and drown out all the functioning life out of an iPhone 4 — but to no avail.

Consumers have seen this brand of teasing and tantalizing before, most recently back in November by other companies that have developed similar protective coatings, which generated immediate buzz but have yet to debut commercially. The difference this time, though, is that Liquipel has taken that all-important next step by offering the waterproofing technology to the public.

That’s because while the coating can be integrated into the manufacturing process it can also be applied retroactively to fully assembled devices. That means for a service fee of 59 dollars, they’ll actually waterproof your smartphone.

Here’s how it works: The device is placed in a temperature-controlled vacuum chamber into which the proprietary formulation of waterproofing particles is introduced in a vapor form. Ionized particles are then added, binding the formulation to the device at the molecular level. Thirty minutes later, waterproofing is complete.


Liquipel is 1,000 times thinner than a human hair (virtually untraceable), permanent and will not affect nor compromise the look, feel and performance of the device, according to the company. The technology provides waterproof protection at certification level of IP-X7 (3 feet under water for 30 minutes).

(via Liquipel)

About Tuan C. Nguyen
Tuan C. Nguyen is a contributing editor for SmartPlanet.

01-10-2012, 12:30 PM
By Charlie Osborne | January 10, 2012

Small cracks have appeared on the wing ribs of some Airbus A380 models. Australian aircraft engineers have raised concerns over the flaws, calling for an investigation in to the fleet.

The engineers have suggested that the worldwide fleet of Airbus A380’s should be grounded pending inspection, after several airlines found evidence of the cracks.


The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger airliner currently in use. It boasts a double deck and four-engine build, and has been adopted by airlines globally.

The A380 model was designed to challenge Boeing’s monopoly on the large passenger transport market, and entered initial commercial use in 2007.*Many airports have had to modify their facilities to accommodate its size since its entry in to the market.

The plane is able to transport 525 passengers in standard configuration, topping more than 800 if all passengers are economy class.

A380’s operated by Singapore Airlines and Quantas airways recently found evidence of cracks within wing ribs of the passenger airliners. A statement released by the company has been quoted by the BBC:

“We confirm that minor cracks were found on some noncritical wing rib-skin attachments on a limited number of A380 aircraft. We have traced the origin. Airbus has developed an inspection and repair procedure, which will be done during regular, routine scheduled four-year maintenance checks. In the meantime, Airbus emphasizes that the safe operation of the A380 fleet is not affected.”

Some Australian engineers have called for the entire fleet to become grounded, whereas Airbus insist they are aware of the problem — and it does not adversely affect passenger safety. They key is ‘noncritical‘ — if the airline considers the metal fatigue in certain parts of the wing as repairable through four-year inspections, then it may not be a serious concern.

However, some engineers disagree, and suggest that four-year routine checks and quick repairs may not be enough. Aircraft are technology reliant — if small flaws are not attended to now, perhaps this will lead to more extreme issues in the future.

After all, if an aircraft suffers complications due to known wing flaws, the consequences could mean the ruination of a company, as well as the potential loss of lives.

Photo credit: David Toso/Flickr

Charlie Osborne is morning editor for SmartPlanet.

01-10-2012, 10:09 PM

CHICAGO (AP) — Smoking a joint once a week or a bit more apparently doesn't harm the lungs, suggests a 20-year study that bolsters evidence that marijuana doesn't do the kind of damage tobacco does.

The results, from one of the largest and longest studies on the health effects of marijuana, are hazier for heavy users — those who smoke two or more joints daily for several years. The data suggest that using marijuana that often might cause a decline in lung function, but there weren't enough heavy users among the 5,000 young adults in the study to draw firm conclusions.

Still, the authors recommended "caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered."

Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law although some states allow its use for medical purposes.

The study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham was released Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings echo results in some smaller studies that showed while marijuana contains some of the same toxic chemicals as tobacco, it does not carry the same risks for lung disease.

It's not clear why that is so, but it's possible that the main active ingredient in marijuana, a chemical known as THC, makes the difference. THC causes the "high" that users feel. It also helps fight inflammation and may counteract the effects of more irritating chemicals in the drug, said Dr. Donald Tashkin, a marijuana researcher and an emeritus professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Tashkin was not involved in the new study.

Study co-author Dr. Stefan Kertesz said there are other aspects of marijuana that may help explain the results.

Unlike cigarette smokers, marijuana users tend to breathe in deeply when they inhale a joint, which some researchers think might strengthen lung tissue. But the common lung function tests used in the study require the same kind of deep breathing that marijuana smokers are used to, so their good test results might partly reflect lots of practice, said Kertesz, a drug abuse researcher and preventive medicine specialist at the Alabama university.

The study authors analyzed data from participants in a 20-year federally funded health study in young adults that began in 1985. Their analysis was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The study randomly enrolled 5,115 men and women aged 18 through 30 in four cities: Birmingham, Chicago, Oakland, Calif., and Minneapolis. Roughly equal numbers of blacks and whites took part, but no other minorities. Participants were periodically asked about recent marijuana or cigarette use and had several lung function tests during the study.

Overall, about 37 percent reported at least occasional marijuana use, and most users also reported having smoked cigarettes; 17 percent of participants said they'd smoked cigarettes but not marijuana. Those results are similar to national estimates.

On average, cigarette users smoked about 9 cigarettes daily, while average marijuana use was only a joint or two a few times a month — typical for U.S. marijuana users, Kertesz said.

The authors calculated the effects of tobacco and marijuana separately, both in people who used only one or the other, and in people who used both. They also considered other factors that could influence lung function, including air pollution in cities studied.

The analyses showed pot didn't appear to harm lung function, but cigarettes did. Cigarette smokers' test scores worsened steadily during the study. Smoking marijuana as often as one joint daily for seven years, or one joint weekly for 20 years was not linked with worse scores. Very few study participants smoked more often than that.

Like cigarette smokers, marijuana users can develop throat irritation and coughs, but the study didn't focus on those. It also didn't examine lung cancer, but other studies haven't found any definitive link between marijuana use and cancer.

JAMA: http://jama.ama-assn.org

01-11-2012, 11:04 AM
By Christina Ng.

Cops in Alaska have started enforcing a statute that makes it illegal to be drunk in a bar, and have been sending plainclothes officers into bars to identify and arrest suspects.

"It's fairly logical, but it does sound fairly comical at the outset," Anchorage Police Department Lt. Dave Parker told ABCNews.com. "Alaska has a huge, huge alcohol problem. Most people in jail, whatever they did, their decision making process was affected by alcohol."

"There are three problems in Alaska: alcohol, alcohol and alcohol," Parker said.

Though the law prohibiting a drunken person from being on licensed premises has been in existence for years, it is only in the past month that police have been aggressively enforcing it.

Plainclothes police officers enter bars and look for people who are what they call "drunk-plus."
"We're not dealing with a person who's simply mildly intoxicated or out having a good time.
We're dealing with people who are so intoxicated that they can't care for themselves," Parker said. "The bartender or person selling is making money off of them and they either become the victim or the perpetrator of a crime.

In Alaska, It's Illegal to Be Drunk in a Bar

If the plainclothes officers spot someone excessively intoxicated—falling off their barstool, vomiting or engaging on overly rowdy behavior, for example—they call in uniformed officers to make an arrest. After the sobering experience of being arrested, the suspects are cited and then released.

After checking 26 Anchorage bars recently, four had employees that were out of compliance and 19 "highly intoxicated" patrons were cited.

"If it's not blatant, they don't intervene by citing or making an arrest," Parker said. "They might warn a person. It's not a 'gotcha' thing. We're trying to modify behavior of bars that are over-serving and make the clientele aware."

Alaska rates number one in the United States in sexual assault reports per capita, Parker said. In about 86 percent of those assaults, alcohol is a factor. In Anchorage, a town of roughly 270,000 people, almost one percent of the population is arrested every year for driving while intoxicated.

"Alcohol is fueling. It's not the cause, but it's fueling most of the crime we're dealing with," Parker said. "If you're at home, you go to bed and get up with a bad hangover. If you're at a bar, you've got to get home and you could be a sexual assault victim, get in a car to drive drunk or get in a fight."

Parker said that it is too soon to tell whether the strategy is working to reduce other crimes.

"It's a little early to tell, but we anticipate it will," he said. "Anytime we start aggressively enforcing alcohol laws, we see a reduction in crime. People are being more responsible because they know they can get in trouble."
Bar owners have mixed feeling about the police action.

Darwin Biwer is the owner of downtown Anchorage bar Darwin's Theory. He is also the board chairman of the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailer's Association.

"None of us bar owners have a problem with the police coming through. We've encouraged that for years," Biwer said. "But you can't tell me the cops know better who's drunk on premises [than we do]."

Alaska requires servers to be trained to recognize people who have too much to drink and stop serving them. Under the law, servers and bartenders can also be arrested and cited for over-serving.

Alaska Arrests Drunks in Bars

While most states have laws against over-serving and public intoxication, Parker said he did not know of any other states that enforced sobriety rules inside bars.

"I've never heard of that in any state," said Pasadena, Calif. attorney Okorie Okorocha who is a DUI, drug and alcohol expert witness who consults for cases across the country.

"I've had clients who have been sent home or left the bar in a cab and passed out in the cab and the cab driver called the cops on them and they were cited for drunkenness in public, but not just for sitting in the bar," he said incredulously. "I'm really floored."

01-12-2012, 12:41 PM
Jan 11, 2012

As a Russian fuel tanker slowly moves through the frozen Bering Sea toward an iced-in city in western Alaska, it has been getting help from an unusual source at its destination: a drone that flies overhead and sends images of the sea ice to researchers onshore.

The camera-equipped drone looks like a smoke detector with wings and legs. It glides on 20-minute missions ranging from 10 feet to 320 feet above the ice, and its images can be instantly viewed on a tablet-type computer screen.

The tanker is bound for Nome, a town of 3,500 residents that missed its final pre-winter delivery of fuel by barge when a big storm swept the region last fall. Without the delivery of 1.3 million gallons, the city could run short of fuel before a barge delivery becomes possible in late spring.

Researchers were using the 2.5-pound drone to provide a large picture of the ice in hopes of guiding the tanker as close to shore as possible, said Greg Walker, unmanned aircraft program manager for the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute.

The Healy, the Coast Guard's only functioning icebreaker, has been accompanying the 370-foot tanker through the Bering Sea.

Progress was stalled by thick ice and strong ocean currents Tuesday. The vessels made nine miles but drifted with the ice while at rest for a total gain of just six miles, Coast Guard spokesman David Mosley said.

Ice conditions remained tough Wednesday. The Coast Guard said the two vessels were in densely concentrated ice about 100 miles from Nome by mid-afternoon.

"The way it's been described to me, ice breaking is a mission in patience. You take the miles as they come," Mosley said.
Meanwhile, a researcher assisting in the mission has discovered a 25-foot ice pressure ridge at the entrance to the Nome's harbor.

The pressure ridges are created when the pack ice from offshore pushes against the stationary shore ice, creating thick ridges somewhat like icebergs, scientists said.

The top of the ridge sits about 5 feet above the frozen surface but the rest extends well down into the ocean, the Geophysical Institute's Andy Mahoney said. The ridge is too big to get past, but it shouldn't prevent the tanker from offloading its fuel through its mile long hose.

Pictures from the drone will be used to figure out the best way to lay the hose.
As the tanker approaches Nome, the pressure ridges actually might come in handy as they are natural fault lines, Walker said. If the tanker can break the ice away from the ridges, it could open up a pathway.

From Fox News

01-13-2012, 01:55 PM
U.S. Marines seek high-tech undergarments

By Andrew Nusca (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=andrew+nusca) | January 13, 2012

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/armorworks-pug-image-large.jpeg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/armorworks-pug-image-large.jpeg)A new solicitation from the U.S. Marine Corps seeks underwear that can protect soldiers’ private parts from tiny fragments and burns, yet still be comfortable enough to wear on a daily basis.

The Corps is soliciting U.S. textile manufacturers for a solution to its “Pelvic Protective Undergarment (https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=90b7cd5ef33c78a1cb61ddb11d402180&tab=core&_cview=0)” problem, which requires protection from sand and debris traveling at 650 feet per second yet does not chafe and dries out quickly.


The undergarment will provide protection from lower velocity small fragments and debris to the femoral, genital, perineal, and anal regions. The protection provided will help lower the probability of infection to the pelvic region by limiting the amount of debridement experienced in an explosive event.

The stakes are significant: a wound in a sensitive area can lead to rapid blood loss or infection, sidelining otherwise able soldiers and making combat operations difficult. On the other hand, an uncomfortable pair of underwear is just as debilitating to movement, albeit in a different way — so the garments must be both breathable and microbe-resistant.

“Overall physical comfort of the system is considered to be of equivalent importance to ballistic performance,” the solicitation reads.

Add four-second burn protection to the feature list and this project could be a serious synthetic fiber challenge.

Jeremy Hsu writes at LiveScience (http://news.yahoo.com/marines-ballistic-underwear-must-comfy-073607175.html)that the Marine Corps currently uses a combination of protective undergarments originally manufactured for the British armed forces and newer versions made of Simplex Weave Kevlar fabric manufactured by U.S. supplier Armorworks (http://www.armorworks.com/).

Image: Armorworks’ PUGZ.

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet.

01-15-2012, 10:22 AM
Jan 15, 2012

Police in this border city repented over ticketing a 6-year-old boy for reckless driving, driving without a license and not having his vehicle registered after he drove his miniature motorcycle into an SUV.

The boy's mother, Karla Noriega, said police impounded the miniature gasoline-powered motorbike that her son got for Christmas after he crashed into an SUV on Dec. 27.

Noriega decided to go to the media and make the case public after finding out she would have to pay what she called a "ridiculous" $183 in fines to recover the toy motorbike.

City council Secretary Hector Arceluz said Thursday that authorities had dropped the fines, released the motorbike and would punish the police officers for having acted improperly.

Noriega's son Gael was happy to get his minibike back, but said it no longer works after the accident.

01-15-2012, 02:54 PM
From News Max

Researchers who found that high-fat foods cause damage to the hypothalamus — an area of the brain that controls your urge to eat and sends signals to stop eating when you're full — in rodents have linked their research to obesity in humans.

The study was published recently in The Journal of Clinical Investigation and bears the opening statement: "Obesity has emerged as a major health problem in industrialized nations."

About a third of Americans are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

MyHealthNewsDaily.com, reporting on the new research, wrote that comparison of rats and mice that ate a high-fat diet with those that ate a regular diet found gliosis — an overgrowth of cells that is a sign that the brain has tried to heal itself from injury — in the former group.

They also found that though the brain's repair effort was effective, inflammation and gliosis persisted as long as the animals remained on a high-fat diet.

Moreover, the brain images of 34 healthy people, who ranged from lean to obese, revealed a link between body weight and gliosis similar to what was found in rodents.

The site quotes study co-author Dr. Joshua Thaler, an endocrinologist at the University of Washington, as saying: "There seemed to be more gliosis in people who were obese than those who were lean."

Thaler speculated that obesity might also be linked with inflammation in the hypothalamus, which "may prevent it from responding to hormones like insulin that regulate our body weight."

CNN cites the study's lead author, Dr. Michael Schwartz, also an endocrinologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine, as saying the work represented a step in the right direction for obesity treatment.

The human body is designed to regulate how much fuel is stored as fat through a process called energy homeostasis, the study's lead author Dr. Michael Schwartz says. For a normal-weight person, that's good. But once a person becomes obese, his or her body seems to want to stay at that new weight permanently.

"That's the biggest problem with obesity treatment," Schwartz reportedly said. "Obese people can lose weight, but they have trouble keeping it off."

CNN also quotes Dr. Steven R. Smith, co-director for the Sanford-Burnham Diabetes and Obesity Research Center, as saying that while researchers must first determine if the scarring happening in the rodent models will translate to the human condition:

"These are really important papers that begin to push the idea out that we're not in control as much as we think we are."

Copyright Global Post

01-16-2012, 12:45 AM
By David Worthington (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=david+worthington) | January 15, 2012, Smart Planet.[/URL]
(Image Source: Altarock Energy)

A dormant volcano in Central Oregon could one day become a source of clean geothermal energy. A [URL="http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2012/01/15/project_to_pour_water_into_volcano_to_make_power/"]pilot project (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/screen-shot-2012-01-15-at-115240-pm.png) will begin this summer to determine whether it’s feasible, according to reports.
Seattle’s AltaRock Energy and Davenport Newberry Holdings of Stamford Connecticut are overseeing the project, which is receiving US$43 million in funding from the Department of Energy and Google.
Engineers intend to pump 24 million gallons of water into the side of the volcano to produce steam. The project will be considered a success if the steam created is useful for generating electricity at an acceptable cost.
Volcano power seems novel, but it has been supplying clean energy to communities in Central America for many years. The Bouillante geothermal plant on Guadeloupe has been operating since 1986. St. Lucia and Martinique began a 120 megawatts project (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/volcano-power-saint-lucia-to-tap-into-geothermal-energy/2417) last year.
Google’s interest in the project is clear: it needs a low cost energy source for its datacenters. Powering Web server infrastructure -not just the actual hardware itself - can the biggest roadblock to datacenter rollouts.
Achieving greater energy efficiency and investments in renewable electricity are two ways that this cost driver is being addressed. Google has invested around $1 billion in renewable power projects; Amazon, Apple, Facebook (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/facebook-clean-energy-will-help-power-datacenters/11222) and Microsoft have also taken forays into clean energy.

Video: AltaRock Energy’s geothermal project explained (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Oscqx08zBXQ)

01-16-2012, 12:49 AM
By Boonsri Dickinson (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=boonsri+dickinson) | January 15, 2012, 6:24 PM PST

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/virtualtour_news1-300x212.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/virtualtour_news1.jpg)

Soon avatars may make social networks even more engaging (http://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/internet/virtual-reality-and-social-networks-will-be-a-powerful-combination/0) than they already are. In the future, if more people spend time in virtual reality, how will this influence them? That’s a question a newly renovated Virtual Human Interaction Lab (http://vhil.stanford.edu/) at Stanford wants to know.

“We’re trying to really leverage the resources of the lab to do good for society,” Stanford’s Jeremy Bailenson said in a statement (http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/january/virtual-lab-tours-011212.html). “A lot of our studies now are geared toward putting people, everyday citizens, in situations that they wouldn’t be in otherwise.”
Bailenson thinks its important for the future. Since he says children spend twice as much time playing video games than they do reading.

“I truly believe that the amazing psychological experience of being transported to a virtual space that we do here at Stanford is going to be in most people’s homes in the coming years,” Bailenson added.

Here are some of the experiments that have already gone down in the lab:

Chopping down a virtual tree made the participants more likely to recycle paper.
If people are shown photos of how they may look when they are older, they will save up for retirement.
If people are shown that they put on weight, they’ll make sure to work out more.
That makes sense. The brain can be fooled into thinking these digital events are real.

According to IEEE (http://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/internet/virtual-reality-and-social-networks-will-be-a-powerful-combination/0), if avatars and social media began to merge, this would happen:
It’s only a matter of time before these two trends—realistic avatars and social media—intersect. As more people gain experience with avatars, and as the technology for enriching them improves, we can expect avatars to play far bigger roles in communications. Evidence suggests that the use of avatars could profoundly alter our social behaviors and work performance—for better or worse.

Photo: L.A. Cicero
via Take a tour of the virtual future at Stanford (http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/january/virtual-lab-tours-011212.html)

From Smart Planet

01-16-2012, 12:55 AM
By Boonsri Dickinson (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=boonsri+dickinson) | January 15, 201

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/mars-rover.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/mars-rover.jpg)

If you thought tweeting astronauts were intimate, then you’ll likely enjoy getting Mars Rover images (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mars-images/id492852224?mt=8) sent to your iPhone, iPad, or Android devices too.

NASA has released a new app that can beam photos to your smartphone from a rover called Opportunity, which has been roaming around Mars since 2004.

The images will come from NASA Opportunity rover when ready and users can share images with their friends through email. The app was made by computer scientist Mark Powell at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

To see more photos, go here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/13/app-sends-photos-from-mars_n_1204154.html#s610183).

via New App Downlinks Mars Rover Images Straight to Your Smartphone [Popular Science (http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-01/new-app-downlinks-mars-rover-images-straight-your-smartphone)]
Related on Smartplanet:

$2.5B NASA rover takes off to look for life on Mars (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/science-scope/25b-nasa-rover-takes-off-to-look-for-life-on-mars/11485)

01-16-2012, 12:58 AM
By Sarah Korones (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=sarah+korones) | January 15, 2012

The concept of being addicted to the Internet has always been met with a healthy dose of skepticism. http://i.bnet.com/blogs/brain-scan-jan20122.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/brain-scan-jan20122.jpg)

Despite a growing number of the web obsessed, psychiatrists are still in debate over whether to include the diagnosis in the DSM-V. Now, a new study gives the disorder more ground by showing that web addicts display similar brain changes to those addicted to drugs or alcohol.

The study, which was led by Hao Lei of the Chinese Academy, looked at the brain scans of 35 men between the ages of 14 and 21, 17 of whom were classified as having Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) (http://psychcentral.com/netaddiction/).

The results? Scientists found that the MRIs of web addicts showed significant differences from those that were not bound to the Internet.

Web addicts’ brains showed changes in white matter, the part of the brain that contains nerve fibers. These addicts may experience disrupted connections of nerve fibers that link the vital brain areas involved in emotion, decision-making and self-control, Helen Briggs of BBC News reports (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16505521).

The study has profound implications as it contributes to a growing body of research that provides evidence for behavioral addictions. Similar findings concerning brain changes were found last year in those said to be addicted to be video games.

Briggs reports:

Commenting on the Chinese study, Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones, consultant psychiatrist and honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College London, said the research was “groundbreaking.”
She added: “We are finally being told what clinicians suspected for some time now, that white matter abnormalities in the orbito-frontal cortex and other truly significant brain areas are present not only in addictions where substances are involved but also in behavioural ones such as internet addiction.”

01-16-2012, 01:01 AM
By Hannah Waters (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=hannah+waters) Smart Planet | January 14, 2012

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/computer-lock-and-key-cybersecurity-report.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/computer-lock-and-key-cybersecurity-report.jpg)

It’s 2012: is your country ready for cyberwar? Even if you live in one of the world’s top 19 economic powers, the chances are against you, according to a cybersecurity report released on Thursday (http://www.cyberhub.com/CyberPowerIndex) by the Economist Intelligence Unit and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

Of the countries rated, which include all the G-20 major economies minus the European Union, only five — Germany, the UK, US, France and Japan — have “comprehensive” cyber and cybersecurity plans, according to the report. Four countries have no plans whatsoever, seven have just begun drafting cybersecurity legislation, and, overall, most of the plans are ”either vague, patchy, poorly enforced, or poorly implemented, or have a combination of these defects.” (Download .pdf of full report. (http://www.cyberhub.com/CyberPowerIndex/DownloadFindings))

The report hinges on the idea that, as governments and economies connect and interact over the web, they become more powerful — but at the expense of security risks. No longer is war waged just with missiles, but computer viruses and hackers can infiltrate the government and its weaponry.

These threats are very real. In October, a computer virus was found recording information (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thinking-tech/virus-attacks-military-drones-exposes-vulnerabilities/8858) sent to military attack drones at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. And who can forget the Stuxnet computer worm (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thinking-tech/infographic-how-stuxnet-supervirus-works/7698), which infiltrated Iranian computers controlling the country’s Iranian refineries,perhaps with US involvement (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thinking-tech/report-suggests-that-us-helped-create-super-cyber-weapon/5988)?

The US ranked number two in terms of cyberattack preparedness in the report, which is not a surprise. The US military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/smart-takes/at-darpa-an-8216elite-army-of-futuristic-techno-geeks/16651), or DARPA, has many projects in the works (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thinking-tech/in-cybercrime-war-military-projects-can-be-game-changers/5815) to protect the government’s computer networks from cyberterrorism.

But despite some high-ranking scores, particularly in Western countries, the message from the report authors across the board is clear: everyone, get your cybersecurity act together.

For more information, I highly recommend checking out the group’s interactive online report (http://www.cyberhub.com/CyberPowerIndex) to learn more about the methods and scores per country.

Photo: University of Maryland Press Releases/Flickr

01-16-2012, 01:06 AM
Exhibition explores the design challenges of space travel

By Reena Jana (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=reena+jana) | January 14, 2012 Smart Planet

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/12-bigelow-moon-habitat_df3826.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/12-bigelow-moon-habitat_df3826.jpg)
An inflatable moon habitat from Bigelow Airspace, on view in "Beyond Planet Earth"

NEW YORK –Space is the final frontier for scientists and engineers to explore, of course–and space travel is also a promising sector for ambitious industrial designers to pursue, too. This is a conclusion that design-minded visitors to “Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration (http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/beyond/),” an exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, will likely arrive at.

For although the United States’ Space Shuttle program ended last year, coming decades could see people landing on asteroids for the first time, human settlements on the Moon or Mars, and civilian space tourists launching into orbit regularly. And these phenomena point to future needs for new, space-friendly chairs, tables, sleeping pods, clothing, food- and supply-delivery systems, and user-interface graphics for gadgets and software. The list of design opportunities suggested by this show goes on and on.

The exhibition, which opened on November 19, 2011 and is on view through August 12, 2012, begins appropriately with a bit of history. In the first galleries of the sprawling show, visitors get a brief and inspiring introduction to the history of space travel, from the former Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik, the world’s first man-made satellite, in 1957, to the launch of the International Space Station in 1998.

The voice of U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s can be heard, piped in via speakers, talking about NASA’s programs in the early 1960s, and there are early astronaut suits and helmets on display. These lend a human touch and illustrate how the clean, sleek aesthetic of space-age design began. Although this show is about the future, the presence of the past reminds viewers of all generations how quickly science fiction can turn into reality.


Although the exhibit begins with references to historical national space agendas, it presents a variety of scenarios, products, and prototypes by a number of sources and doesn’t intend to promote specific government initiatives. Yes, the U.S. space program is clearly a presence–on view, for instance, is a full-scale model of the Curiosity (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html), NASA’s next-generation Mars rover, a car-sized robotic mobile laboratory that NASA launched on November 26, 2011 and should land on the Red Planet in August.

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/19-curiosity-rover_rm3163.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/19-curiosity-rover_rm3163.jpg)
A full-scale model of NASA's Curiosity rover

But there are also examples from high-profile private sector projects, such as a small, suspended model of Virgin Galactic (http://www.virgingalactic.com/)’s Spaceplane and a model of Sir Norman Foster’s architectural design for Spaceport America, which opened in New Mexico last summer. There’s a one-third-scale version of an inflatable moon habitat made from shiny reinforced fabric designed by Bigelow Aerospace (http://www.bigelowaerospace.com/), another private space-travel company. Plus, there are academic prototypes of gear, such as theBioSuit (http://mvl.mit.edu/EVA/biosuit/index.html), a form-hugging garment designed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautics and astronomics professor Dava Newman. It is custom-fitted using a laser scanner, and maintains pressure even if its fabric, made of a new, patented polymer, spandex, and nylon, is torn or ripped. The curators have made available a BioSuit display that visitors can pose behind, so that they can be photographed looking like they are wearing one. It’s a cute, amusement-park touch that hints at how real space tourism is today.

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/20-biosuit_df4039small.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/20-biosuit_df4039small.jpg)
Dava Newman's BioSuit prototype

Some of the most intriguing elements of “Beyond Planet Earth” are the displays that present the challenges that space travelers will face in the next 50-100 years. These are challenges that designers, entrepreneurs, and established product manufacturers would be wise to consider as potential new markets, as more astronauts and tourists venture into space. For instance, one section examines the difficulties of addressing basic human needs and habits when there is no gravity. How can people sleep better when traveling through space? One solution: rest in spinning compartments, “where artificial gravity could prevent bone loss and other health problems,” as the wall text explains. One can’t help but wonder, how will this idea be adapted aesthetically and ergonomically for commercial space flights, to attract customers? And how can it be improved for the next generation of scientists perhaps spending more time in orbit?

In another section addressing the possibilities of building a human base on the Moon, the curators present the idea of a lunar elevator, which would deliver and retrieve items and resources from the Moon’s surface. The model on view is sculptural and eye-catching– beyond mind-blowing. While it seems fantastical, the wall-text points out that it is practical: it’s a cheaper alternative to launching a spacecraft from Earth to transport supplies to crews mining the Moon for energy resources, such as Helium-3, which is rare on Earth but could be used in creating clean energy.


“Beyond Planet Earth” also points to another set of innovation opportunities for designers: visualizing complex space-related science for mass audiences, just as they are in the show itself.

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/14-lunar-elevator_df3831-1.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/14-lunar-elevator_df3831-1.jpg)
A design for a lunar elevator

The exhibition’s curator, Dr. Michael Shara, and his staff have made excellent use of current technologies to communicate the latest discoveries made and obstacles faced by scientists, businesses, educators, and governments seeking to develop next-generation space vehicles and human communities on other planets. For instance, the show includes an interactive video-game-like installation where museum visitors can attempt to alter the atmosphere on Mars (symbolically, of course) by manipulating digital graphics on a multi-touch table. Museum-goers can destroy asteroids to unleash frozen carbon dioxide to make the Martian atmosphere thicker and more human-friendly, and then add trees.

There’s also a free iPhone app (which also works on the iPod Touch and iPad 2) that the curators have commissioned, which can be downloaded via Wi-Fi at the exhibit. The app allows users to see 11 augmented reality icons throughout the galleries, such as a spaceship and an asteroid, which prompt them to download additional content.

The app and the video game help to establish “Beyond Planet Earth,” which is in essence a well-researched science and technology presentation, as an engaging entertainment experience for all ages. And that’s the hallmark of effective exhibition design, no matter what the subject matter. In this case, the thought-provoking mix of content and layout both transcends and compliments the compelling premise of this show: turning yesterday’s sci-fi into tomorrow’s tech.

All images: copyright American Museum of Natural History, used with permission. Photographs of Bigelow moon habitat, BioSuit, and lunar elevator by D. Finnin. Photograph of Curiosity rover by R. Mickens.

Related on SmartPlanet:
Branson on hand as Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport opens (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/smart-takes/branson-on-hand-as-virgin-galactics-spaceport-opens/19817)
Mars rover Curiosity powered by nuclear energy (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/mars-rover-curiosity-powered-by-nuclear-energy/10801?tag=search-river)
$2.5 B NASA rover takes off to look for life on Mars (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/science-scope/25b-nasa-rover-takes-off-to-look-for-life-on-mars/11485?tag=search-river)

01-16-2012, 01:17 AM
By Hannah Waters (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=hannah+waters) Smart Planet| January 14, 2012

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/ibm-12-atom-per-bit-jan142011.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/ibm-12-atom-per-bit-jan142011.jpg)
Your one-gigabyte thumb drive holds around 8.5 billion bits of data, and it takes about a million atoms to store each of those bits. That’s a lot of atoms, and computer scientists are constantly working to shrink that number to fit more data into a smaller space.

On Thursday, scientists from IBM reported in the journal (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/335/6065/196.abstract)Science (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/335/6065/196.abstract) that they fit a single bit of data into just 12 atoms — far fewer than have ever been reported before – by taking advantage of their magnetism.

What exactly does that mean? Computers read binary codes: that is, they convert encoded bits, the oft-mentioned zeroes and ones, into a message. And, as of now, these two bits are kept distinct by the precise arrangement of around one million atoms, with one pattern standing for a zero, and another for a one.

The reason modern data storage requires so many atoms is that atoms are magnetized. You know what happens when two negatively-poled magnets are pushed together: they repel one another. If you’re trying to create two distinct patterns of atoms to clearly represent ‘zero’ and ‘one’ with no possibility of confusion, this repulsion ensures that your bit will take up a lot of space so that the atomic patterns remain stable.

The IBM researchers decided that this repulsion was slowing them down. To get around it, they instead tried to line up atoms with opposite poles. To do this, they placed a single iron atom on a copper nitride surface and then, using a scanning tunneling microscope, switched the polarization of each successive atom manually to form a negative-positive-negative-positive pattern, six atoms long by two atoms wide.

Once they had the 12 atoms painstakingly arranged, they then used their microscope to switch the magnetic poles of the entire set — and, in the process, created a binary system. So, for example, a negative-positive-negative arrangement represented a zero, while positive-negative-positive represented a one.

Being able to store so much data on such a small scale is incredibly exciting, and not just so that you can carry your entire music library in your pocket. Some of the problems hindering genomic research, for example, are as simple as how and where to store all the accumulated data. And that potential of their finding is not lost on the researchers.

“Looking at this conservatively … instead of 1TB on a device you’d have 100TB to 150TB. Instead of being able to store all your songs on a drive, you’d be able to have all your videos on the device,” Andreas Heinrich, IBM Research Staff Member and lead investigator on this project, told ComputerWorld (http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9223396/IBM_smashes_Moore_s_Law_cuts_bit_size_to_12_atoms) .

However, you won’t find this at the store in the immediate future. First of all, the IBM researchers had to use a scanning tunneling microscope to arrange each atom one by one, equipment and training which isn’t necessarily available to most flash drive manufacturers. Additionally, they had to cool the atoms to just a few degrees above absolute zero to keep the 12-atom pattern stable.

“We use low temperatures because it enables us to start from one atom and assemble bigger and bigger structures while keeping an eye on their magnetic properties,” an an IBM spokesman toldComputerWorld. ”The more atoms we use to make each bit, the more stable the bits become. We anticipate that in order to make bits of this type that are stable at room temperature would require about 150 atoms per bit (rather than 12 atoms at low temperatures).”

To learn more, watch this video produced by the IBM team.


Photo: IBM Research Zurich/Flickr

01-16-2012, 01:20 AM
Sweden debuts first classroom-less school

By Sarah Korones (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=sarah+korones) | January 13, 2012

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/telefonplan-school-jan20121.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/telefonplan-school-jan20121.jpg)

Education scholars have long been experimenting with tactics to facilitate learning in the classroom. Are kids more likely to take in knowledge when at desks arranged in tidy rows? When divided into smaller groups? Perhaps when sitting in a circle on the floor? Now, a freethinking school in Stockholm, Sweden wants to take the classroom out of the picture altogether.

Telefonplan (http://vittra.se/english/Schools/StockholmSouth/Telefonplan.aspx), one of 30 schools from the Swedish education company Vittra (http://vittra.se/Default.aspx?alias=vittra.se/english), has done away with the concept of the classroom completely. Designed by architects at Rosan Bosch (http://www.rosanbosch.com/), the school consists of loosely designed “spaces” in which students can come and go.

Architizer (http://www.architizer.com/en_us/blog/dyn/37250/vittra/) reports:
The principles of the Vittra School revolve around the breakdown of physical and metaphorical class divisions as a fundamental step to promoting intellectual curiosity, self-confidence, and communally responsible behavior. Therefore, in Vittra’s custom-built Stockholm location, spaces are only loosely defined by permeable borders and large, abstract landmarks.

The school takes advantage of the flexibility that is allowed when learning takes place through digital media. Since the school considers one of its biggest learning tools to be the laptop, students aren’t bound to desks or even chairs. If working in a group, students can gather around a large table to use a computer. If working by themselves, they can use their laptops virtually anywhere.

Letting seven year olds armed with laptops loose in a room that closely resembles a playhouse seems a little risky—but if the design proves successful, more of us might want to consider sending our little ones to class outside the classroom.

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/telefonplan2-school-jan2012.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/telefonplan2-school-jan2012.jpg)

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/telefonplan3-school-jan2012.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/telefonplan3-school-jan2012.jpg)

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/telefonplan4-school-jan20126.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/telefonplan4-school-jan20126.jpg)
Images: Kim Wendt/Rosan Bosch

From Smart Planet

01-17-2012, 02:38 PM
Drinking a liter of regular cola every day increases the amount of fat in the liver and muscles, and surrounding the organs in the belly, according to a new Danish study.

That kind of fat buildup has been linked in other studies to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

"This study suggests that the adverse effects of sugary beverages go beyond just weight gain or fat gain. It's the gaining of the wrong fat in the wrong places," said Dr. Frank Hu, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, who was not involved in this study.

The researchers, led by Dr. Bjrn Richelsen at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, asked people to drink either a liter of water, milk, diet cola, or regular cola each day for six months.

The 47 people who participated in the study were all overweight or obese.

Richelsen said his team chose to study this group because they anticipated overweight or obese people would be more sensitive to dietary changes than people of normal weight.

At the end of the study the regular cola drinkers ended up with 25 percent more fat surrounding their organs, and just about doubled the amount of fat in the liver and muscle.

Such increases "are in most studies associated with an enhanced risk for developing the metabolic syndrome, Type-2 diabetes ... cardiovascular diseases, and non-alcoholic liver diseases," Richelsen told Reuters Health by email.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of health factors that is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

The type of fat Richelsen's group studied — called ectopic fat — is thought to be more dangerous to people's metabolic health than "subcutaneous" fat, the kind that collects under the skin.

"It is well-established that ectopic fat is 'unhealthy' and induces dysfunction of the organs involved," Richelsen said.

Hu said the results from Richelsen's experiment complement those that have surveyed people about their soda drinking habits.

"This study provides another piece of evidence to support the recommendations for the reduction of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption," Hu told Reuters Health.
Do Soda Taxes Work?

The American Heart Association recommends drinking no more than about three cans of soda a week, while young men far exceed that, with about two cans a day on average.

Some cities and states in the United States have batted around the idea of a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks to curb people's consumption.

Denmark has instituted a tax on sugary items, but Richelsen said it's not clear how it has impacted consumers.

One study at a hospital cafeteria found that raising the price of soda by 35 cents reduced sales by 26 percent.

The current study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, did not find that the cola drinkers gained more weight than the other groups.

Richelsen said it's possible that the people reduced the amount of calories they ate or drank to compensate for the extra calories in the pop.

The researchers point out in their study that the sugar in soda from Denmark is different from most sodas in the United States.

In Europe, the sweetener is sucrose, as opposed to the high fructose corn syrup used in the United States.

"It is quite convincing from the scientific literature that it is the fructose part of the sugar molecule ... that is the primary culprit in inducing fat synthesis in the liver," Richelsen said
Given that there is extra fructose in high fructose corn syrup, Richelsen said, soda from the United States could lead to more pronounced problems with fat gain.

From Reuters.

01-18-2012, 02:19 PM
New pill with ingestible microchip monitors you from the inside

By Janet Fang (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=janet+fang) | January 17, 2012,

Soon, patients will be able to buy smart pills that have tiny ingestible sensors that can help track their medication use. Um, the call is coming from inside the house?
Patients not taking their meds as prescribed cost the US $290 billion in increased medical costs.

And last week, Silicon Valley’s Proteus Biomedical (http://www.proteusbiomed.com/) announced the launch of their ‘digital health product’ (http://www.proteusbiomed.com/2012/01/13/lloydspharmacy-partners-with-proteus-biomedical-to-launch-innovative-digital-health-product/) in the UK, in collaboration with pharmacy chain Lloydspharmacy.

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/helius-300x136.png (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/helius.png)

“The most important and basic thing we can monitor is the actual physical use of the medicine,” says Andrew Thompson of Proteus Biomedical (http://www.nature.com/news/say-hello-to-intelligent-pills-1.9823).

These ‘sensor-enabled tablets’ are calledHelius, and they come with ‘ingestible event markers.’ These can be taken with pills or incorporated directly into medicines by the manufacturers. The sensors are embedded in a placebo to be taken alongside the actual meds.
The sensors are activated by stomach acid, and as Nature News explains (http://www.nature.com/news/say-hello-to-intelligent-pills-1.9823), they’re powered much like potato batteries (where 2 different metals generate a current when inserted into the tuber).
Each sensor – about the size of a grain of sand – contains a tiny amount of copper and magnesium. When you swallow one of these devices, you become the potato that creates a voltage. That then is used to power the device, which creates a signal.
The digital signal can’t be detected except by an adhesive patch attached to your skin, like a bandage.
It monitors things like heart rate, respiration, temperature, body posture, and even sleeping patterns – to show how you’re responding to the medication.
These data are then relayed to your cellphone to be shared with whomever you like. Your doctor might decide to change dosages or medication based on that info.
The cost of the monitoring service is slated to be £50 ($77) a month. Lloydspharmacy hopes to make the system available in September.
Proteus Biomedical is developing and commercializing a range of digital health care products with others in the industry, such as Novartis, Medtronic, ON Semiconductor, and Kaiser Permanente. The company has already tested the system in hundreds of patients in many different therapeutic areas: tuberculosis, mental health, heart failure, hypertension, and diabetes.

Via Nature News (http://www.nature.com/news/say-hello-to-intelligent-pills-1.9823), IEEE Spectrum (http://spectrum.ieee.org/riskfactor/biomedical/diagnostics/uks-lloydspharmacy-to-sell-pills-with-edible-microchips).
Image: Proteus Biomedical

01-18-2012, 02:28 PM
By Beth Carter (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=beth+carter) | January 17, 2012,

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/night-club-hotel-1.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/night-club-hotel-1.jpg)
Usually, buildings spring from the ground, not hang over it. However, a project that recently won third prize in the Night Club Hotel in Hong Kong international competition (http://www.deathbyarchitecture.com/viewCompetition.html?id=1807), seeks to defy this assumption.
http://i.bnet.com/blogs/hotel-plans2.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/hotel-plans2.jpg)
The concept was designed by young architectural firm (http://urbanplunger.com/), Urbanplunger, and the structure is completely suspended, elevated from the streets by leaning on the surrounding buildings. This hanging design fits in neatly with Hong Kong’s extremely compact planning.

The lowest part of the structure will house the nightclubs. The middle-levels will feature the lobby and hotel registration, as well as a spa, swimming pool, business center, stores and restaurant. The upper-levels of the building will be used for hotel guest rooms.

All of the floor slabs will have the same depth and size, but the structure will taper inwards as it goes upward, allwowing for room for balconies and terraces for the hotel rooms.
The building will be connected to the ground by elevators that go up to the lobby through the lower nightclub levels that will be open to the public. Below the building the firm has included green space– increasing the area of the recreational space already in existence.

As for construction and stability, this parasitic building will transfer its entire load onto the buildings that it lean via frames called the “wings” of the design, allowing for all parts of the building to be made from strong and light composite materials.

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/night-club-hotel-2.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/night-club-hotel-2.jpg)

Smart Planet

01-18-2012, 02:31 PM
By Tyler Falk (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=tyler+falk) | January 18, 2012 Smart Planet

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/singapore-green-roof.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/singapore-green-roof.jpg)

In the last two years, rapid urbanization and changing weather patterns have lead to major flash floods in Singapore.

“[It] can be safely presumed that the weather patterns in Singapore have changed,” said Singapore’s (http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne+News/Singapore/Story/A1Story20110605-282463.html)Minister for the Environment and Water Resources last year (http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne+News/Singapore/Story/A1Story20110605-282463.html) after a flash flood where in one day Singapore received 77 percent of the amount of rainfall that usually falls in June. “It is very likely that our drainage systems will have to be redesigned to cope with such intense flashes.”

Singapore convened a panel to come up with the best options for dealing with flash floods and stormwater runoff. Their suggestion? Not an overhaul of the drainage system, but rooftop gardens.

Big infrastructure projects are costly and take time to replace. And while the upgrading the drainage system is likely necessary, the panel suggests a quick fix to Singapore: require rooftop gardens on all new and retrofitted buildings. Rooftop gardens don’t just add beauty to the city, they can also play a big role in mitigating floods by reducing and slowing stormwater runoff and filtering pollutants.

But it’s not just rooftop gardens, Singapore’s Today reports (http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC120111-0000083/Urbanisation-has-led-to-increase-in-storm-water-run-off--Expert-panel):
These measures are to be complemented with diversion canals, storage tanks along “pathways” of drains, drain capacity improvements, and finally, flood barriers, raised platform levels - some of which is already being done, but “could be carried further”, noted Prof Balmforth.

The panel also suggested storage tanks, rain gardens, and porous pavement.
Photo: HenryLeongHimWoh (http://www.flickr.com/photos/henryleong/)/Flickr

01-18-2012, 02:35 PM
By Tuan C. Nguyen (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=tuan+c.+nguyen) | January 18, 2012

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/cbs-news-costa-concordia-ap-gregorio-borgia.jpeg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/cbs-news-costa-concordia-ap-gregorio-borgia.jpeg)

Forty minutes. That’s all the time 4,200 passengers and crew members aboard the Costa Concordia had to evacuate safely after the ship ran aground off the coast of Tuscany. After which point the ship started listing so badly, lifeboats couldn’t be lowered.

The fact that the situation turned so disastrous so quickly has lead many to question the design integrity of modern mega-cruise ships. One such group, Nautilus International, a trade union for Maritime employees, has even called for a re-examination of similar boats in operation.

In a statement released shortly after the accident, the group said they wanted a “thorough review of regulations governing the construction and operation of passenger vessels - in particular, standards of stability and watertight integrity.”

It shouldn’t have happened how it did, Nautilus International spokesman Tony Minns told New Scientist. The design of watertight compartments should be such that such vessels remain stable for much longer, perhaps by having more hull beneath the water or by installing systems that pump water to help rebalance a listing ship.

One of the main causes for concern is the fact that cruise ships have undergone a rapid transformation in a relatively short period of time. Just over the past decade, the vessels have doubled in size, as measured in tons. And while the trend toward mega-ships has enabled the industry to increase profitability, the union feels that the same motivation for higher profit margins has lead the industry to make compromises that increasingly endangers those onboard. For instance, Minns pointed out that shipmakers are now opting for a very shallow draught as a way of providing passengers with stunning views of the landscape. However, the drawback is that shallow draught hulls, coupled with high structures, may cause them to capsize sooner if stability is lost.

Additionally, the group says there are other ways the move toward bigger ships has made ocean travel much riskier:
The height of cruise ships is a problem, too, says Minns. “It is known in sea trials that these vessels are what we call ‘tender’ in stability terms – they are very stable but have a quick rate of roll when the rudder is moved a few degrees.” In other words, they are quite sensitive to being upset.
“So the regulators need to look very, very carefully at balancing commercial needs with the needs in the event of damage to the watertight integrity – as we had on Friday.”
Mark Staunton-Lambert, technical director of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects in London, agrees that the rapid capsizing of Costa Concordia needs explaining. “A modern design should not heel over as far as it did until quite a long time later,” he says.(New Scientist)

However, some experts have disputed these kinds of speculative assessments.
Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of CruiseCritic.com, was cruising aboard the small Azamara Quest off China when reached Monday by phone. A “sloppy” safety procedure, not ship size, was the issue on the Concordia, she said, adding, “It was a perfect storm.”
Cruising is “nothing to be scared of,” Brown said, but passengers “need to respect the muster drill. I’ve seen people drinking beer and talking like it’s a cocktail party. I think [the drill] is a pain in the butt, but I think it’s a necessary pain in the butt.” A journalist once boasted to her that he hid in his bathroom to avoid the drill.
A super-sized ship can be a super-safe ship, Brown said. On the Oasis, she said she was “absolutely blown away by the steps Royal Caribbean took in designing the ship. I’d put my life in their hands any day of the week.”(LA Times)

An ongoing investigation should turn up some clues as to what transpired that fateful morning and help to address any design issues, if any.
Photo: AP

(via New Scientist (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21362-cruise-ships-shouldnt-capsize-so-fast-says-union.html), LA Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/custom/topofthetimes/features/la-tr-insider-20120122,0,2428357.story)) Smart Planet

01-18-2012, 02:42 PM
By Laura Shin (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=laura+shin) | January 18, 2012

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/120118-hypothalamus_image.png (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/120118-hypothalamus_image.png)
Feeling your resolution to lose weight in the new year fading by now? A recent study might give you renewed motivation.
Researchers found that a single high-fat meal can cause changes in the brain. While the experiments were conducted in mice and rats, they also found evidence of similar brain activity in the brains of obese humans.

They fed rats and mice a high-fat diet that is typical in the United States and noticed inflammation in the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that regulates weight and hunger, within a day — even before the rodents put on pounds.

“That was quite a shock,” says lead author Dr. (http://depts.washington.edu/metab/faculty/schwartz.htm)M (http://depts.washington.edu/metab/faculty/schwartz.htm)ichael Schwartz (http://depts.washington.edu/metab/faculty/schwartz.htm), a professor and director of the Diabetes and Obesity Center of Excellence at the University of Washington. “This might reflect fundamental biological changes in how the brain works that help explain why it’s so hard to keep weight off.”

The animals’ brains began to repair and protect the damaged neurons that week, causing the inflammation to subside, but as the rodents were kept on a high-fat diet, a month later it returned and continued until the study’s conclusion eight months later. Dr. Schwartz believes that when the brain attempts to heal the injured neurons, it causes gliosis, a process that results in scarring in the central nervous system.

To see if the brain reacted similarly in humans fed high-fat diets, Dr. Schwartz and his team then examined MRI scans of 34 people. Those who were obese exhibited more repair activity in the hypothalamus than people of normal weight.

As for whether you should be concerned about a high-fat diet, Dr. (http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/12/27/144331177/could-obesity-change-the-brain)S (http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/12/27/144331177/could-obesity-change-the-brain)chwartz told NPR (http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/12/27/144331177/could-obesity-change-the-brain):
I would be concerned about this. If we can see these responses occurring rapidly with eating high-fat foods in excess, maybe we as humans should think that there are potential consequences for indiscriminate eating.

In fact, Schwartz’s study turned up another finding that might explain why those who have gained weight find it hard to lose it: Rodents on a high-fat diet lost about 25% of their POMC cells, which are critical to regulating appetite and staving off weight gain.

“Losing those cells would help explain why a new elevated level of body weight would occur,” Dr. Schwartz told CNN (http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/06/study-high-fat-foods-cause-brain-scarring/).

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (http://www.jci.org/articles/view/59660). Schwartz is now studying rodents who are put on a healthy diet after weight gain to see if their brains return to normal.

01-18-2012, 02:46 PM
By Tom Hancock (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=tom+hancock) | January 18, 2012

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/img_11101-300x225.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/img_11101.jpg)

BEIJING - With a few days left before Chinese New Year, a Carrefour supermarket in down-town Beijing is saturated with customers, pushing past mountains of bagged roast duck and revolving pyramids of luxury chocolate. A complete pig carcass hangs behind the meat counter, illuminated by a blue LED light, revealing a series of numbers printed on the meat’s surface.

“These numbers show the date that the pig was slaughtered, and which shipment the pig is part of,” Zhang Bo, a worker for Beijing based company ZHD Laser said, pointing out the marks with an LED torch. ZHD has installed systems at two slaughterhouses in Beijing which use lasers to burn these codes onto the pigs after they are slaughtered, part of a food-safety plan launched this week by the Beijing government.

Pork is China’s most popular meat, and Beijing alone will consume nearly 30,000 pigs a day over the New Year period. But eating pork in China can be risky. Last year, more than 4 million pounds of pork were recalled by the Chinese government after pigs in central China were found to have been injected with a fat-reducing drug called Clenbuterol. Money-conscious Beijingers worry that water is injected into pork in order to increase its weight.

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/e6bf80e58589e7a08111-300x169.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/e6bf80e58589e7a08111.jpg)
One of the codes printed onto pig skin with a laser.

In response, Beijing’s Government has launched the “Meat Reassurance” project. As well as the codes etched onto pig’s bodies with lasers, customers at sixty-seven supermarkets across Beijing will receive a printed code each time they buy pork, which can be used to check where where it was slaughtered. The project has already cost the government 2 million RMB (about 160,000 USD), and will be extended to cover all the city’s supermarkets and over eighty percent of its wholesale markets within three years, ZFD’s CEO Yuan Peng, said. Supermarkets and slaughterhouses will pay for about two thirds of the project’s costs, according to Yuan.

Few customers at the Carrefour branch were aware of project, or the significance of the bar codes attached to their freshly purchased pork. Machines installed to help customers check the origins of their meat have hardly been used, supermarket staff said. “I’m worried about food safety, but think the meat at this supermarket is more reliable, that’s why I’m willing pay extra to shop here” one customer said. The majority of Beijing’s meat is still sold in fresh food markets, while supermarkets have more appeal for middle-class consumers.

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/img_1133-300x225.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/img_1133.jpg)
Few supermarket customers were aware of the machines allowing them to check the origins of their pork products.

The project helps Beijing’s government to investigate food safety problems, Yuan said. “In the past the people responsible [for unsafe meat] would often escape the blame, unless they were secretly filmed by the media,” he said. “Now we can track exactly where the meat has travelled from, which means if there is an outbreak of poisoning, the government can easily check who is responsible,” he said. ZFD equipped slaughterhouse meat hooks with RFID Chips as part of the project, which are used to record the weight of pigs before and after they leave the slaughterhouse.

The Meat Reassurance project is part of the Chinese government’s efforts to promote the “Internet of Things” – equipping ordinary objects with microchips, sensors and barcodes which allow them communicate information digitally. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressed his support for the industry in 2009, and the Chinese government has designated the Internet of Things amongst the list of “strategic industries” which will receive 1.7 trillion USD in government investment over the next five years. Most Internet Of Things investments will go towards transport and logistics, funding projects including GPS tagging for shipping containers, and automated traffic control systems, according to Yang Nan, manager of the Internet of Things Association in Shenzhen, southern China.

The Chinese government sees the Internet of Things as a way to automate and rationalise governance. “With a system like this, everyone’s role is clearer, and there’s less room for individual mistakes,” Yuan said. All Chinese cities with a populations above 1.5 million people will be required to install a meat monitoring system over the next five years, Yuan said. ZFD plans to list on the Shenzhen stock exchange in the next few years. “Government investment in the internet of things is likely to be huge, and we hope to win a lot more contracts,” he said.

Pictures: Tom Hancock, ZFD.

Smart Planet

01-18-2012, 02:50 PM
By Charlie Osborne (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=charlie+osborne) | January 18, 2012

Stroke and Parkinson’s Disease patients may benefit from controversial experiments on rats that attempt to repair grey matter brain damage.
Implanted neural microchips aim to replicate the brain function of damaged areas, through the current use of animal experimentation.
Scientists at Tel Aviv University have been conducting tests in order to ascertain whether damaged areas of the brain, the body’s most
complex and fragile piece of equipment, could be replaced and ‘repaired’ via digital methods.

The rats involved in this experiment, due to the implementation of such chips, have been nicknamed ‘cyborgs’. Some campaigners consider
the research ‘grotesque’, but those involved believe it could help the scientific and medical community make headway in both understanding
and repairing the brain.

Professor Matti Mintz, at Tel Aviv University, explained to the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16305299):
“Imagine there’s a small area in the brain that is malfunctioning, and imagine that we understand the architecture of this damaged area.
So we try to replicate this part of the brain with electronics.”

The tests involve switching impaired brain tissue with a neural microchip that is subsequently wired to the brain, taking over functions that
the grey matter previously performed before suffering damage. Potentially, this could mean that motor function and neurological damage caused
by strokes or diseases such as Parkinson’s could be alleviated in the future.

Microchips could be used in order to replace specific brain functions, in the same manner that equipment such as pacemakers and many forms
of transplant are already acceptable within the medical community.

The study involves researchers inserting electrode sets inside a rat’s brain and then connecting them to a microchip embedded just under the
skin of the animal’s skull. The chip then receives and interprets information from the brainstem — in the same manner as the original, biological
component — before sending the exchange back to the motor centres in the brainstem.

The current results have shown a measure of success. Motor function was recorded in rats that had the neural microchip implanted to take over
the role of damaged brain tissue, whereas rats without the chip displayed no motor capabilities. The Professor explained:
“We constructed a simulation that works in a similar way to the original biological system - and when we see some recovery of the lost
movement, it is clear that it is coming from our synthetic device and not from any other area of the brain.”

Naturally, animal rights groups are in uproar over the ‘grotesque’ experiments, labeling them “disgraceful” and “abhorrent”. Jan Creamer, CEO of
the UK-based National Anti-Vivisection Society says (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16305299):
“This type of research raises enormous ethical concerns, let alone the poor animals whose lives are wasted on dubious and ego-driven experiments.”

The scientists have future hopes of moving to human subjects after further testing, and current results in their eyes look promising.

Image credit: Jean-Eteinne Minh-Duy Poirrier/Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/57519914@N00/422469526/)
(Via: BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16305299))

01-18-2012, 02:55 PM
By Charlie Osborne (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=charlie+osborne) | January 18, 2012

“The Morning Briefing” is SmartPlanet’s daily roundup of must-read stories from the web.
This morning we’re reading about drug research, weight control and the impact of gas drilling on human health.

1.) Study suggests daily aspirin intake offers no benefit for heart disease sufferers (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/study-questions-daily-aspirin-heart-benefits/2012/01/12/gIQABMvC4P_story.html). A daily low-dose is considered beneficial
for those who have had a heart attack or have narrowed arteries, but a recent research indicates that those with heart disease
gain no benefit from this practice. Through a six year study, deaths related to cardiovascular disease occurred at essentially the
same rate for people who did and did not take aspirin.

2.) A study conducted by Swiss investigators states that gastric bypass surgery results in faster and longer-lasting weight loss (http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/story/2012-01-17/More-weight-loss-seen-with-gastric-bypass-than-banding/52611150/1)
than gastric bands. Where bypass surgery is more effective in terms of directs results, it is considered more dangerous in the
short-term than other methods of weight control. In comparison, gastric bands generally lead to long-term complications.

3.) Combining powerful medications in early stage patients (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/BreastCancerCenter/study-combination-therapies-work-early-stage-breast-cancer/story?id=15372813#.TxWWb289V2A) with an aggressive form of breast cancer can stop its progression.
The Lancet Oncology has published a new cancer study that suggests the chemotherapy medications Tykerb and Herceptin can
be used to assist early-stage sufferers of HER2 positive cancer, the most aggressive form of breast cancer. An estimated 20 percent
of women develop this type.

4.) Pfizer ends Alzheimer drug experiments after failure (http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-01-17/pfizer-medivation-end-alzheimer-drug-s-work-after-failure.html). After extensive testing of the drug Dimebon, a medicine being touted as a
treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, it has failed in late stage clinical trials. Pfizer Inc. and Medivation Inc. have therefore ended their
current collaborative efforts concerning the neurodegenerative disease. There is an estimated 5 million Americans who currently suffer
from Alzheimer’s, and no known cure has been discovered.

5.) Study on fracking fluids and methane gas exposure (http://www.athensnews.com/ohio/article-35813-study-on-fracking-health-risks-reinforces-call-for-moratorium.html) prompts calls for research on health impacts. The study, “The Impacts of Gas
Drilling on Human and Animal Health,” shows links between fracking fluids and methane gas exposure to health risks in both humans
and animals. The authors call fracking “an uncontrolled heath experiment on an enormous scale.”

Image credit: Andres Rueda/Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/23327787@N08/2983149263/)

From Smart Planet

01-18-2012, 03:16 PM
http://l.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/guIngWN.6_H_ARUwOp20AQ--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Zmk9Zml0O2g9Mjc-/http://media.zenfs.com/284/2011/06/08/investopedia-106x27_142340.gif (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AvgoSOd8pusu2QB5yhjRR6LD34dG;_ylu=X3oDMTFiN2p zZDVyBG1pdANBcnRpY2xlIEhlYWQEcG9zAzEEc2VjA01lZGlhQ XJ0aWNsZUhlYWQ-;_ylg=X3oDMTNpZG5jYmsyBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDZGRlY2ZiNjItMzM1Yi0zYTEwLTliZDgtYThjZjY3Yz kzNmQxBHBzdGNhdANwZXJzb25hbGZpbmFuY2V8bGlmZXN0eWxl BHB0A3N0b3J5cGFnZQR0ZXN0Aw--;_ylv=0/SIG=11gnr34uc/EXP=1328126773/**http%3A//www.investopedia.com/)By Porcshe Moran | Investopedia – Mon, Jan 16

The life of a homemaker is one that includes an endless amount of demands and to-dos. Depending on the size of the home and family, the position of homemaker can go well beyond the usual nine to five. We examined some of the tasks that a homemaker might do to find out how much his or her services would net as individual professional careers. We only take into consideration tasks which have monetary values and use the lowest value for each calculation.

Private Chef
Meal preparation is one of the major tasks of most homemakers. From breakfast to dinner, there is plenty of meal planning and cooking to be done.The American Personal Chef Association reports that its personal chefs make $200 to $500 a day. Grocery shopping is another chore that needs to be factored in. A homemaker must drive to the supermarket, purchase the food and deliver it to the home. Grocery delivery services charge a delivery fee of $5 to $10.
Total cost for services: $1,005 per five day work week x 52 weeks = $52,260 per year.

House Cleaner
A clean and tidy home is the foundation of an efficient household.Typical cleaning duties include vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, scrubbing sinks as well as loading the dishwasher and making beds. Professional maids or house cleaning service providers will charge by the hour, number of rooms or square footage of the home. For example, bi-weekly cleaning of a 900-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment with five rooms, costs $59-$124 . A 1,300 square-foot, single-story home with seven rooms runs $79-$150 . A 2,200 two-story, three-bedroom home with nine rooms averages $104-$180 . Additional tasks such as oven or refrigerator cleaning and dusting mini blinds can run an extra $20-$25.
Total cost for services: $118 per week X 52 Weeks = $6,136 per year.

Child Care
Homemakers provide full-time, live-in child care. This type of service from a professional provider would usually come with a host of perks including health insurance, paid vacation and sick days, federal holidays off, dental and vision coverage, and bonuses. The International Nanny Association's 2011 survey found that nannies make $600 to $950 per week in gross wages, on average.
Total cost for services: $600 a week plus perks/benefits x 52 Weeks = $31,200 per year.

A private car service might seem like a high-end luxury to most, but the beneficiaries of a homemaker get this service on a daily basis. Companies like Red Cap, which provides personal drivers that use the client's own car as the means of transportation, offer a glimpse into the cost of this homemaker task. An elite membership which includes 365 days of unlimited, round-trip service is $1,000 a year plus 33 cents - $2.03 per minute.
Total cost for services: $1,000 per year + [(estimated miles driven 8000 miles / 50 MPH) x 60 min/hr x $0.33 per minute] = $4,168 total per year.

Laundry Service
Clean clothes come at a cost when you have to pay for the service that most homemakers do for free. Professional laundry services charge by the pound. For instance,Susie's Suds Home Laundry Service, Inc. in Texas charges 90 cents to $1.00 a pound to wash, dry, fold, hang and steam your clothes.Items that take longer to dry such as comforters, blankets, rugs and winter clothes are assessed at a price of $12-$15 each.
Total cost for services: $0.90 per pound x 4 pounds of clothes per day x 5 days per weeks x 52 weeks = $936 total per year.

Lawn Maintenance
Basic maintenance of the exterior property is a less common, but possible duty of a homemaker.This could include things such as mowing, debris removal, edging and trimming the lawn. These services cost about $30 a week on average.
Total cost for services: $30 per week x 52 weeks = $1,560 total per year.

The Bottom Line
Total for a year of all services is: $52,260 + $6,137 + $31,200 + $4,168 + $936 + $1,560 = $96,261 per year.

The daily work of a homemaker can sometimes be taken for granted by his or her family members. However, these services could earn a homemaker a considerable wage if he or she took those skills to the marketplace.Homemakers in general contribute a lot more to the home in addition to these tasks, and no amount of money can fill those needs.

01-18-2012, 03:21 PM

By Larry Buhl, Monster Contributing Writer

If the typical job search (http://jobsearch.monster.com/) rules you’ve heard made sense once, they may not apply in today’s increasingly competitive job market. “It used to be that you would fill out a job application, then wait for the response, but companies today are hiring without hard-and-fast rules,” says workplace consultant Jake Greene. Greene and other experts offer seven job search rules you should feel free to break:

1. Apply Only If You Meet All Requirements

Ads demanding specific education, skills and industry experience may be more flexible than you might think, according to Jean Baur, senior consultant at outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison and author of Eliminated! Now What? Finding Your Way from Job-Loss Crisis to Career Resilience (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/1593578164/monstercom).

“Sometimes online job descriptions are boilerplate and are not completely accurate,” Baur says. “If you match 85 percent of that ad, fill out a job application or send a resume anyway.”

2. Do a Mass Mailing to Maximize Your Chances

If you throw enough spaghetti at the wall, something will stick, right? Wrong, says Greene. Doing your homework (http://career-advice.monster.com/job-interview/interview-preparation/interview-company-research/article.aspx) on a smaller pool of companies, and tailoring your resume (http://career-advice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/resume-writing-tips/customize-your-resume-for-results/article.aspx) and cover letter to those organizations’ specific needs, is a much more effective way to find a job. “Even if you submit a resume through their Web sites, find other ways -- more innovative ways -- of connecting with them,” says Greene, author of Whoa, My Boss is Naked (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/0385523378/monstercom).

3. Emphasize Your Education

Degrees are important but they’re not what hiring managers care about most, according to Gary Romano, a specialist in nonprofit and government strategic planning and principal consultant at Romano Consulting, a Boston-area management consulting firm. “A hiring manager is looking for experience, any experience -- even if it’s at a supposedly menial job -- that demonstrates your ability to show up and do the work,” he says. “If they don’t see that evidence at the top or near the top of the resume, they’ll move on.”

4. Don’t Call

Sure, employers insist they don’t want calls. But Greene says waiting quietly for a response won’t get you very far either. “It’s an outdated job hunt rule to quietly wait for an answer,” he says. “When you’re waiting, you’re not working.” If you’ve reached out with a cover letter or email to the hiring manager or inside contact, you’re not being a pest if you call a few days later, Greene says.

5. Use the Interview to Talk All About You

You may have heard that you should spend your interview time wowing your interviewers with your skills rather than asking about the company’s problems, challenges or what a typical day would be like. But if you don’t ask penetrating questions, you’ll miss out on valuable information -- like how you might be a good solution to the company’s problems and whether you would even want to work there.

“Remember you’re interviewing the company too, so be prepared with some probing questions to make sure the job is right for you,” Romano says. Asking good questions (http://career-advice.monster.com/job-interview/interview-questions/nine-questions-to-ask-interview/article.aspx) also makes job seekers seem interested and engaged, hiring managers say.

6. Be Vague About Salary

You can’t dance around salary questions now because many hiring managers and headhunters will cull their applicant pool by asking how much you make or what salary you expect. “It’s all right to give asalary range (http://career-advice.monster.com/salary-benefits/salary-information/establish-salary-range/article.aspx), but be sure you’re all right with the low end, because that’s often what they’ll offer.” Baur also says it’s appropriate to try to defer the salary question until you know more about what the job actually involves.

7. Don’t Contact the Company Again If It Rejects You

If you don’t get the job, it only means there was someone more appropriate for that job at that particular moment. It’s perfectly fine -- even beneficial -- to follow up and say you’re still interested in the company. “I can't tell you how many times I was second choice, but still ended up with the job,” says Megan Pittsley, job market consultant at Lee Hecht Harrison. “After I was rejected, I followed up with a thank-you note (http://career-advice.monster.com/job-interview/following-up/sample-interview-thank-you-letter/article.aspx) and provided information about what I was working on. When their first choice didn't work out, they came to me because I had built a relationship."

01-18-2012, 03:26 PM
Mount Rainier snowshoer burned money for warmth

http://l.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/kjmVjizroQE0M3Nlej7hqQ--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Zmk9Zml0O2g9Mjc-/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/logo/ap/ap_logo_106.png (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=Arv7nJDsAXePlbBo30ZDK.LzWed_;_ylu=X3oDMTFiN2p zZDVyBG1pdANBcnRpY2xlIEhlYWQEcG9zAzEEc2VjA01lZGlhQ XJ0aWNsZUhlYWQ-;_ylg=X3oDMTJyb2pzYXR2BGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRw c3RhaWQDYTRmYjVhY2QtOTJmNi0zMTJhLWJkNWEtMjRjZmM3NT c0ZDFkBHBzdGNhdAN1cwRwdANzdG9yeXBhZ2UEdGVzdAM-;_ylv=0/SIG=1161ano76/EXP=1328126834/**http%3A//www.ap.org/)By PHUONG LE and TED WARREN

http://l.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/12b3cfsSHSHlF.RDj8EHbA--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Y2g9NjAwO2NyPTE7Y3c9NDY3O2R4PTA7ZH k9MDtmaT11bGNyb3A7aD0yNDU7cT04NTt3PTE5MA--/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/ap_webfeeds/1e034c8eb9a19201040f6a70670048ae.jpg (http://news.yahoo.com/photos/photo-of-the-day-slideshow-1309242001-slideshow/corrects-state-undated-photo-takes-reference-being-rescued-photo-180855456.html)In this undated photo provided by Mount Rainier National Park, Yong Chun Kim, 66, …
http://l.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/UWwYyiAIc6A7.dTi.CnTIQ--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Y2g9MTUzNjtjcj0xO2N3PTIwNDg7ZHg9MD tkeT0wO2ZpPXVsY3JvcDtoPTE0MztxPTg1O3c9MTkw/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/ap_webfeeds/7e0e9385cfab9801040f6a70670051b3.jpg (http://news.yahoo.com/photos/u-s--1316130479-slideshow/monday-jan-16-2012-photo-provided-yong-chun-photo-005149905.html)In this Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 photo provided by Yong Chun Kim, of Tacoma, Wash., …

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A snowshoer who was lost in a blizzard for two days on Washington state's Mount Rainier said he stayed alive by digging out a snow tunnel and burning the dollar bills for warmth.

Yong Chun Kim, 66, of Tacoma, said he carried a lighter and other emergency supplies and burned personal items: extra socks, Band-Aid, toothbrush, packaging, and lastly $1 and $5 bills from his wallet.

Kim, who served in the South Korean military in the Vietnam War, told KOMO-TV in Seattle that skills he learned as a soldier helped him survive. He said he wasn't scared. He kept waiting for the sounds of the helicopter — though severe weather conditions prevented park officials from using one to search for Kim.
"I'm a lucky man, a really lucky man," he said in an interview Tuesday afternoon from his home.

With temperatures in the teens and winds whipping on the mountain, Kim said he kept walking and moving to stay warm. He took cover in several tree wells — depressions in snow that forms around a tree — and slept standing for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.

He initially made a shelter near a big rock and tried to stay warm. He tried to keep walking, but at times "the snow was so deep, I couldn't breathe."

Kim dreamed of his wife and a nice hot sauna. He talked to himself. He took pictures. He prayed to God. He worried his family and friends would worry about him. He made a fire, drank hot water and ate rice, some Korean food and a chocolate bar.

And even as he burned his personal items to say warm, the last $6 going up in flames Sunday night, he said: "I worried because it's a national park. You're not supposed to have a fire. ... I'm worried about that but I want to (stay) alive."

Money made for the best fire, he said, laughing. Nylon socks and packaging, not so great.

"He could have died," said Kim's stepson, Malcolm An. "He was walking around, struggling to find a place, literally not knowing where to go."

Kim, a U.S. citizen for 30 years, was leading 16 members of a hiking and climbing club from Tacoma on Saturday — a trip he takes nearly every week — when he slid down a slope and became separated. He radioed his group twice to tell them he was OK and would meet them farther down the trail, but became disoriented and went the wrong way.

His hiking partners last heard from him on the radio at 2:30 Saturday. When he didn't show up at the parking lot, park officials launched a search. Kim said Tuesday he lost his walkie-talkie as well as his glove and ski pole when he tumbled a second time.

Dozens of park rangers, rescue dogs, volunteers and searchers from several rescue organizations scoured snowy mountain terrain for three days searching for Kim.

"The rangers are nice. The volunteers from all over are nice," said Kim, who retired six years ago after running his own telecommunications company. He said he was so thankful for the rangers and volunteers who helped look for him.

"He's so lucky. It's a blessing and a miracle. That team was amazing," An said. "They had a plan, they were ready to go."

Kim was about a mile from where he was last seen when he was found Monday by a ranger and two Crystal Mount Ski Patrol members.

Kim was in such good shape that when he was found, he did not have to go to a hospital and instead went home with his family.

After rescuers reached Kim it took nine hours to bring him from the rugged terrain covered in deep snow to the Paradise visitors' center, a popular destination at 5,400-feet elevation on the mountain's southwest flank, about a 100-mile drive south from Seattle.

"He was determined," An said. "He kept saying, he is not going to die unless God thinks he should. All he did was try to survive."

Kim said he goes to the mountains for the fresh air and because it's good medicine for recovering from cancer. "When I get out there, it's a nice view. Every time, same location, different feeling though."

His experience won't stop him from heading to Mount Rainier again. "Oh yeah, of course, every Saturday." But he added: "If it's a bad day, don't hike again."

01-18-2012, 03:30 PM
By Morgan Brennan, Forbes.com
January 13, 2012


The 37-acre Chulo Canyon Cave House was created by mining granite boulders and excavating blasted rocks.
Photo: Bisbee Realty

Locals refer to it as the Cave House and the nickname is apt. Sitting on 37 acres just outside ofBisbee, AZ (http://realestate.yahoo.com/search/Arizona/Bisbee/homes-for-sale;_ylt=AiwPG7S2vVe_1cuj.ZEtXM3xkdEF), a mining town-turned-Baby Boomer retirement haven about 80 miles from Tucson (http://realestate.yahoo.com/search/Arizona/Tucson/homes-for-sale;_ylt=AvKEWHVoJqPg3.nDoAE.ROfxkdEF), the Chulo Canyon Cave House is carved into an outcropping of granite boulder, extending more than 2,000-square feet into a desert grotto.

The strange and unusual dwelling is up for grabs and could be yours for $1.5 million. It occupies 2,890-square feet of living space and comes with a 890-square foot guest house, a subterranean game room underneath the guest house, a library building, a stand-alone workshop space, a separate home office, and a carport. The main house features rough petrous walls, rock and cement ceilings, and potable wall water seep that is collected from a natural spring. There’s a glass-walled sunroom, a commercial-grade kitchen with stained glass cabinets and mosaic tiling, an-eight person dining room, a sunken living room, two full bathrooms, a sleep loft with walk-in closet tucked below underneath the loft stairs, and a back room that is currently used as an exercise and yoga room.

The desert abode was built by the current owner, specifically the current owner’s late husband who recently passed away. “It’s technically a man made cave that was actually blasted out of the rock existing there,” explains Jean Noreen, a Realtor with Bisbee Realty and the listing agent for the Cave House. ”But it has all of the good qualities of a cave for living like it stays the same temperature all year round.” Maintaining a so-called ‘rock temperature,’ the house never slides below 66 degrees Fahrenheit or above 72 degrees.


The main house greets guest with a wall of windows before extending back into the cave.
Photo: Bisbee Realty

Creating this man-made cavern home meant recruiting a mining engineer who, using the Swedish straight wall mining technique, injected the ceilings with roof bolts and excavated blasted rock with ammonium nitrate.
But as attention-grabbing as the stone-forged main lair is, the property’s zaniness doesn’t end there. Starting with the pools, which are not your typical chlorinated in-grounds. Rather, the home’s natural pools are a short hike away, up the side of a nearby mountain and fed by a freshwater creek for six to eight months out of the year. The higher up the mountain you climb the more pools you have to choose from. The owners also installed a carefully camouflaged hot tub.


A perk of living in a cave is consistent temperature, which stays between 66 and 72 degrees.
Photo: Bisbee Realty

The other buildings on the premises peddle some secretive amenities, too. Lying below the two-story guest house is a game room with a separate entrance. The subterranean space is constructed of cement blocks and fluorescent lighting. The nearby library building, also constructed of cement blocks, doubles as a safe house, with a back room accessible through a roll-down metal security door hidden behind a sliding glass door. The back room is equipped with a Murphy bed, an air conditioner, an antique vault and a climate-controlled gun safe.


The property boasts a series of natural pools that fill with water from a nearby creek
Photo: Bisbee Realty

The Cave House has graced the Multiple Listing Services sporadically for years. "When we first put it on we did so for close to $3 million," says Noreen. The price bumped down to $1.5 million last year, when the owners decided they were truly serious about selling. But despite the 50% price chop, a buyer has yet to put up an accepted offer. Noreen believes it will be nontraditional home buyers that ultimately purchase this pad: "It would make a great retreat for something like a yoga retreat or as an alternative healing place. It’s very peaceful."

The real estate market in Bisbee has suffered its share of foreclosures in the past several years and prices plunged about 20% from their early 2008 highs, according to Zillow. Now home prices are cautiously inching back up (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AoJ47qYjZHhSFf4L_j9rZdzxkdEF/SIG=119ac6pkb/EXP=1328126743/**http%3A//yhoo.it/xRdbTZ). Noreen says homes are selling at prices that haven’t been seen since the late 1990s. “We’ve actually been really active…and we have a whole realm of people coming in to buy at these lower prices,” she remarks. Now to find a well-off a New Age nature-lover who wants to plunk down seven figures to live in a cave.

In pictures: Inside A $1.5 Million Cave House (http://us.lrd.yahoo.com/_ylt=AgNN02uRCLiiUTtY5k2og0bxkdEF/SIG=13ibk03be/EXP=1328126743/**http%3A//www.forbes.com/pictures/mhj45gmkd/the-cave-house-bisbee-az/%23content%3Fpartner=yahoore)

01-20-2012, 11:10 PM
By Jenny Wilson | January 13, 2012

According to agency officials, the FDA is working on an app that will help track and respond to the side effects of experimental drugs that are used during crises or disease outbreaks.

This project comes in response to the swine flu outbreak of 2009, during which reactions to a new drug could not be properly monitored by existing systems. Such an app would lead to immediate reporting of adverse side effects, allowing officials to respond and issue instructions accordingly.

The FDA is still looking for a contractor for the Real-Time Application for Portable Interactive Devices (RAPID). The software will collect and display videos and images of reactions to the drug, X-rays, and medical histories.

It will also use GPS data to reveal geographical trends.The app, which will first be tested on smartphones and subsequently on tablet computers, will ideally be developed in the next year.

FDA officials hope it will soon replace their current press-release method of communication which they say is, “time-consuming, costly, burdensome and late to implement in crisis situations.”

[via NextGov] Smart Planet

01-21-2012, 10:47 PM
By JUDY FITZPATRICK Associated Press 1.21.2012

Laura Dekker set a steady foot aboard a dock in St. Maarten on Saturday, ending a yearlong voyage aboard a sailboat named "Guppy" that apparently made her the youngest person ever to sail alone around the globe, though her trip was interrupted at several points.

Dozens of people jumped and cheered as Dekker waved, wept and then walked across the dock accompanied by her mother, father, sister and grandparents, who had greeted her at sea earlier.

Dekker arrived in St. Maarten after struggling against high seas and heavy winds on a final, 41-day leg from Cape Town, South Africa.
"There were moments where I was like, 'What the hell am I doing out here?,' but I never wanted to stop," she told reporters. "It's a dream, and I wanted to do it."

Dekker claims she is the youngest sailor to complete a round-the-world voyage, but Guinness World Records and the World Sailing Speed Record Council did not verify the claim, saying they no longer recognize records for youngest sailors to discourage dangerous attempts.

Dutch authorities tried to block Dekker's trip, arguing she was too young to risk her life, while school officials complained she should be in a classroom.

Dekker said she was born to parents living on a boat near the coast of New Zealand and said she first sailed solo at 6 years old. At 10, she said, she began dreaming about crossing the globe. She celebrated her 16th birthday during the trip, eating doughnuts for breakfast after spending time at port with her father and friends the night before in Darwin, Australia.

The teenager covered more than 27,000 nautical miles on a trip with stops that sound like a skim through a travel magazine: the Canary Islands, Panama, the Galapagos Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Bora Bora, Australia, South Africa and now, St. Maarten, from which she set out on Jan. 20, 2011.

"Her story is just amazing," said one of Dekker's fans, 10-year-old Jody Bell of Connecticut. "I can't imagine someone her age going out on sea all by herself."

Bell was in St. Maarten on a work trip with her mother, Deena Merlen, an attorney in Manhattan, who wanted to see Dekker complete her journey. The two wore T-shirts that read: "Guppy rocks my world."

"My daughter and I have been following Laura's story, and we think it's amazing and inspiring," Merlen said.

Unlike other young sailors who recently crossed the globe, Dekker repeatedly anchored at ports along the way to sleep, study and repair her 38-foot (11.5-meter) sailboat.
During her trip, she went surfing, scuba diving, cliff diving and discovered a new hobby: playing the flute, which she said in her weblog was easier to play than a guitar in bad weather.

Dekker also complained about custom clearings, boat inspections, ripped sails, heavy squalls, a wet and salty bed, a near-collision with two cargo ships and the presence of some persistent stowaways: cockroaches.
"I became good friends with my boat," she said. "I learned a lot about myself."

Highlights of her trip include 47 days of sailing the Indian Ocean, which left her with unsteady legs when she docked in Durban, South Africa, where she walked up and down the pier several times for practice.
While in South Africa, she also saw her first whale.

"It dove right in front of my boat and got all this water on my boat, and that wasn't really nice," she said.

Dekker launched her trip two months after Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old U.S. sailor, was rescued in the middle of the Indian Ocean during a similar attempt. Jessica Watson of Australia completed a 210-day solo voyage at age 16, a few months older than Dekker.

Dekker had said she planned to move to New Zealand after her voyage, but she said Saturday that she wants to finish school first. If she goes to New Zealand, she said, she'd like to sail there.

01-23-2012, 01:42 AM
Thursday, January 19, 201

Forward Page (http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/forward_page/)

How fast do you have to walk to stay ahead of the Grim Reaper? About 3 miles an hour, according to new research.

In the five-year study, published under the title "How fast does the Grim Reaper walk?" Australian researchers use the mythical character, which personifies death, to determine what walking speeds allow older men to outpace death, AAP reported.

They determined that older men who walk a speed of about 4.5 feet per second (or about 3 mph) are likely to live longer, publishing their results in the British Medical Journal.

From the study of 1,705 men from a mixed demographic pool, the researchers deduced that Reaper strolls at about a 2.7-feet-per-second pace when he's working.

The men in the study clocked an average walking speed of of 2.9 feet per second, and a total of 266 of them died.

"Interestingly, no men with walking speeds of [4.5 feet] per second or above had contact with the Grim Reaper," said Dr Danijela Gnjidic, who co-wrote the study.

"The results support our theory that faster speeds are protective against mortality, because fast walkers can maintain a safe distance from the grim reaper."

According to the LA Times, the results are similar to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in January that found those who had an average walking speed of 3.3 feet per second or higher had survival rates that were longer than expected for their age and sex.

Copyright Global Post.

01-24-2012, 03:03 PM
Designed by Martin Azua (http://www.martinazua.com/), Basic House is a foldable, inflatable, and reversible quasi-tent that provides instant shelter. The material is a metallicized polyester that, once unfolded, self inflates with body heat or from the heat of the sun. On the inside, the material reflects body heat to protect from cold. When reversed, the material reflects solar heat to provide a cool interior.http://i.bnet.com/blogs/001_basic_house.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/001_basic_house.jpg)The Basic House can be used in any situations where temporary shelter is needed. The concept is especially relevant in light of the increased need for immediate shelter after emergencies.Martin Azua is a Barcelona based designer whose designs explore using a minimal amount of material and rely on natural processes or forms of energy to complete the work. The Basic House prototype has been part of collections at MoMA and Vitra Design Museum.From Smart Planet.http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/design-architecture/basic-house-fits-in-your-pocket/3712?tag=nl.e660

01-25-2012, 08:45 PM
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 By Lynn Allison


The road to good health may not always lead to the health food store, doctor’s office or pharmacy. It may go straight to the bedroom, say experts.

“The fountain of youth can be found between the sheets,” says Dr. Walter Gaman, co-author of “Stay Young: 10 Proven Steps to Ultimate Health.”

“Frequent sex causes the brain to release human growth hormone, which helps maintain youth.”

Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor at Yale University and a renowned gynecologist, adds that menopausal women have fewer symptoms when they have a good sex life.

“Frequent sex increases blood flow to the pelvic area so women need less medication for vaginal dryness,” Dr. Minkin reveals. “And of course most relationships benefit from a healthy sex life. Maybe this is not a strict gynecological fact, but it’s true!”

Here are more ways that being active in the bedroom benefits your health:

Improves Memory.
Sex can improve memory and attention to detail. During sex, oxytocin is released which aids the brain in memory recall. Also, an increase in serotonin helps with creative thinking and logic. Dr. Gaman, recently named one of the best doctors in Texas by Newsweek magazine, encourages all his patients to have an active sex life: “I have yet to find anyone who is disappointed when I write a prescription for more sex.”

Increases Immunity.
Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found that having intercourse one to two times a week raises the level of antibody immunoglobin A (IgA) by as much as a third. IgA is a protein that binds to pathogens that enter the body, increasing resistance to disease.

Improves Heart Health.
Everyone knows that exercise is good for the heart, but some people don’t realize that sex is actually a form of exercise. Having sex once a week for a year burns the same amount of calories as walking 25 miles. A study at Queens University found that men who had regular sex cut their risk of heart disease and stroke in half.

Reduces Pain.
Showing that the old “Not-tonight-honey-I-have-a-headache” excuse is not valid: Intercourse has actually been proven to cure headaches. It has also been shown to relieve arthritis pain.

During orgasm, oxytocin flows through the body and acts as a natural painkiller. According to a Stanford University study, being deeply in love has proven to increase overall pain tolerance.

Helps You Live Longer.
A British study of 1,000 men found that regular intercourse dramatically increases life span. Men who had two or more orgasms a week had half the death rate of those that had sex once a month or less. “This is not surprising,” states Dr. Mark Anderson, co-host of the nationally syndicated Staying Young Radio Show, “We know that the brain releases Human Growth Hormone (HGH) during intercourse. HGH helps the body repair itself and maintain youth.”

Makes You Happier.
We have known for years that people get a smile on their face when they have sex, but now research proves that sex actually does make you happy. The release of dehydropiandrosterone (DHEA) during sex provides a natural anti-depressant and mood enhancer. Some studies show that regular sex can be as much as 10 times more effective than traditional prescription anti-depressants.

Makes You Stronger.
Sexual intercourse helps both men and women regulate their sex hormones. Increasing sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, improves bone strength and boosts muscle tone. Low estrogen and low testosterone can decrease sex drive. Luckily, the more sex you have, the greater your sex drive will be.

© 2012 Newsmax.


01-28-2012, 01:21 AM
An unemployed Irish artist, Frank Buckley, has built a ‘billion euro home (http://billioneurohouse.com/)‘ from the shredded remains of decommissioned banknotes as a statement against the “madness” the single currency has wrought upon Ireland.

The artist constructed the home using 1.4 billion euros ($1.82 billion) of useless notes. Buckley first began by creating mixed-media works of art using the paper medium, before progressing further and creating an entire apartment.

It currently contains a living room, bedroom and bathroom — and the artist is currently working on adding a kitchen and hall.

Each feature is constructed through ‘bricks’ made purely of compressed former currency, and as the artist notes, ‘it’s just paper’. Buckley hopes that the project will spark discussion within a country that has suffered high expectations for the single currency, only to face a housing slump that has created severe repercussions for many and crippled the economy.

“I’m sitting in my studio with my feet up on a box of €4 million of shredded notes and I thought, ‘God, this is just paper’,” Buckley explains. “I just felt there needs to be a debate on this. Kids in school need to come down and see and get talking about it. What does currency mean?”

A cheap flood of credit at the introduction of the single currency caused an extensive property bubble in the early 2000s. However, following its rapid decline, the euro has left Ireland amassed with derelict and empty building, and faced with a deep recession which forced it to accept a humiliating EU bailout last year.

Frank Buckley built the apartment in the lobby of an abandoned Dublin office building, left vacant since its completion in the Irish construction boom. It remains as a sad reminder of what the euro crisis has left in its wake. “It can’t be a hold on everything. It’s ruining people.” He said of the currency.

“It’s a reflection of the whole madness that gripped us,” Buckley indicated. “People were pouring billions into buildings now worth nothing. I wanted to create something from nothing.”

Mixed-media artworks line the walls, and coins decorate the apartment further — made from Irish 5 pence pieces — perhaps a poignant reminder of what the country once enjoyed.

However, at the least, this unemployed artist doesn’t go cold at night.
“Whatever you say about the euro, it’s a great insulator.”


01-29-2012, 06:22 AM

The Tough Mudder: 'The Toughest Race on the Planet'

Reporter's Notebook by MATT GUTMAN 1.29.2012

A mudder.
A what?
A mudder.
The definition: A person who actually pays to crawl through, be encrusted in and sometimes flip into mud. A tough mudder is a person who does it over 12-and-a-half miles of muddy track, through wire electrified to 10,000 volts and what seem like medieval torture devices with names like "Arctic Enema."

Welcome to the Tough Mudder. Don't call it a race, "it's a challenge," admonish the organizers, who are bringing their British-special-forces-designed (read painful) courses with their 29 obstacles (walls, 15-foot planks, ice baths, nightmare monkey bars, greased halfpipes, electrified army crawls, etc.).

I attended one of 35 tough mudder events being held this year. It's one of the fastest growing businesses in America, going from 50,000 participants in 2010 to a projected half million in 2012.

It's competitive, to an extent. The goal, said a wise-cracking emcee psyching up the crowd of 6,000 before our start time, is to do your best, but also to help your fellow mudder.

"If you find someone face down in the dirt, they are no longer enjoying the course -- help them," he said.

It was among those hundreds milling around, stretching in their compression shorts, head bands -- many were bare-chested -- that I found perhaps the toughest mudder about to start the race.

A former Marine, Ben Lunak was standing with a group of wounded warriors at the aptly named Mesa Proving Grounds in Mesa, Ariz., where 6,000 pain-craving lunatics gathered for the Tough Mudder.

Lunak's Humvee was blown up near Ramadi, Iraq, in 2005. When he went to in Germany a few days later he looked down, surprised that his leg was still attached. And then he asked for it to be amputated.

"If they left it," he told me, "it would just be a bum leg and I would be walking around with a cane, and that's pretty much worthless. I just wanted to get out of the hospital, and I said, 'Why wouldn't you amputate it? What are we waiting for?'"

Lunak nearly ascended Mount Kilimanjaro last year, and now he was attempting this -- something the organizers have proudly branded, "probably the toughest race on the planet."

I asked another wounded warrior what attracts them to something like this. One would think it's just more pain for people who've been through so much already.

His answer: "It is! It's great pain! There's only a few wounded warriors here and we've been through this before and we'll do it time and time again, and we're just gluttons for pain. ... Gluttons for pain, we love it."

These were the people I'd be running with. It was going to be a long day.

Every tough mudder begins with a preemptive pledge to suck it up. I do not whine. Kids whine. I help my fellow mudders complete the course, and I overcome all my fears.

The race began. It seemed easy enough, a few mud crawls beneath barbed wire, a couple of obstacles like hay bales and giant ruts. And then came the official Tough Mudder reminder that this was no jog in the park: the Arctic Enema.

"It's a dumpster filled with ice water, it's absolutely freezing. It's the mother of all ice cream headaches," said Alex Paternson, the Mudder's marketing chief.

He's one of the people who devises names like Arctic Enema, Devils's Beard, Shocks on the Rocks and Funky Monkey.

He's also a Harvard graduate with a law degree. Ergo, the other part of his job: ensuring that the sadistic, surprisingly legal obstacles don't get the fledgling company sued.

The man who founded the company, an Englishman named Will Dean, came up with the idea at Harvard Business School. Yes, a lot of smart people are involved with this.

Dean was quickly told it wouldn't fly. But with an $8,000 marketing budget and lots of word of mouth over Facebook, the first Tough Mudder took place in May 2010. It was a hit.

After the first year, 50,000 people had participated in the events. This year, a projected 500,000 are expected to get mudder. In fact, according to the Outdoor Industry Association, participation in extreme races spiked about 85 percent from 2006 through 2010. The rise is exponential.

So post-Arctic Enema, as I huffed beside Patterson (who's done five of these), I asked why anyone would want to this.

"You know, people want to prove something to themselves," he said. "Everybody has their own reason. Some have said they're bored with conventional fitness, some are they're just sitting in their office job and nothing has actually scared them since they were 9 years old and other people."

They also donate part of the proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project, which is how Lunak was there. He blew through the first eight miles of the 12.5 mile course.

"Dude I keep getting shocked!" he croaked as we crawled beneath electrified wire in the mud.

I'd been so convinced the electrified wire was just a mind game that I didn't pay attention until I, too, got shocked.

Lunak was quickly becoming an inspiration to the other runners, nimbly crossing a wobbly two-by-four where at least half of the runners fell. It took him a while, but when he finished, a roar surged through the crowd -- a powerful moment. And the feat was extraordinary when you consider he was doing it on a single functional leg.

But by that point, Lunak's prosthesis began to fill with water and mud. He could no longer run. His stump was swelling.

But it got worse. We Walk the Plank (jump off a 15-foot platform into frigid water) climb Everest (quarter pipe slicked with mud) and scale a mud hill, which was the hardest obstacle, requiring extraordinary teamwork. We actually stood on each other shoulders, about 10 of us!

All this seems serious business -- except no one seemed to take themselves too seriously.

Some were dressed in tuxedos, another group of people wore tutus and one person carried a giant inflatable monkey throughout the course (I briefly carried him). Yet others wore kilts (bad idea). Some wore homemade super-hero costumes. And throughout, the runners upheld the challenge's main motto: "Help your fellow mudder."

Just before the final obstacle, Patterson asked me if ABC News has a good health plan. I laughed ... but in a few seconds I'd take it seriously.

With 28 obstacles down, we approached Electric Shock Therapy, the final obstacle.
Lunak went through first, Wounded Warrior flag in hand.

We saw him stumble and collapse seemingly lifeless, face-first into the mud.

Patterson yelled, "Get the flag!" I didn't care about the flag, but worried that Lunak had been seriously hurt and sprinted in.

Just as I reached him -- ZING!

I got zapped in the head. Lights out.

I came to face-first in the muddy water -- eyes wide open, totally disoriented. It felt as if I'd been clubbed in the back of the head.

At that point, everybody was screaming, "Get up!"

I tried, and I saw Lunak stumbling forward, and, ZAP! Again, hammered by the 10,000-volt charge in the head, I collapsed into the water.

Finally, we all crawled out, stumbled to our muddy feet and somebody yelled: "The Wounded Warriors Project -- everyone give it up for them."

The Wounded Warriors, Patterson and I are crowned with bright orange headbands and are handed beers.

Muddy beyond recognition, exhausted, cut up and disoriented, we all grinned stupidly
Another bunch of hypothermic, beat up and shockingly satisfied customers.

01-30-2012, 09:51 AM
By SUZANNA CALDWELL Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Published: January 29th, 2012 11:55 AM
Last Modified: January 29th, 2012 02:30 PM

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - It wasn't the mushers, or even the dogs, who had objections to almost 50 below zero temperatures.

It was their trucks.
Even veteran racer and four-time champion Lance Mackey had trouble Saturday. Despite plugging in the night before, he had to "light a fire under" his truck and add a battery charger.

"I was supposed to be here at 8 (a.m.) but showed up at 10, which isn't uncommon for me," he said. "I'm just glad it wasn't the first day of the race."

Hugh Neff struggled with a different kind of automobile problem on his drive from Tok to Fairbanks. At a gas station, a fuel hose snapped in half as he went to refuel his truck.

"It was very interesting getting here, it was a very long night," Neff said. "(Truck troubles) come with the territory. Half the time we're racing just to pay for the truck bills."

Mackey, Neff and most of the other 24 mushers signed up for the 2012 Yukon Quest were scheduled for annual veterinary checks at Summit Logistics off Van Horn Road. Each team of dogs must be checked by veterinarians before competing in the 1,000-mile race that starts in Fairbanks and heads to Whitehorse, Yukon, starting Feb. 4.At the checks, veterinarians, with the help of veterinary assistants and techs, are looking for dogs that are "fit and ready to run," said race head veterinarian Kathleen McGill.

"Have they been well-conditioned over the course of the year or training season?" McGill said. "As we do our physical exam, what we're looking for is anything that might keep them from running."

That means looking at paws, muscles and joints for injuries; listening to heartbeats and taking temperatures; and checking the dogs' weight and determining whether they have enough fat to compete safely.

"These are highly athletic animals, so they're going to be thinner than our couch-potato dogs," McGill said.

"The public isn't used to (seeing skinny dogs.) But there is a point where they are too thin and we want to make sure we don't send any dog down the trail that's too thin. They need a certain amount of body fat for the cold and for running 1,000 miles."

Vaccinations are checked and paperwork is updated, since the dogs cross an international border. Microchips are also scanned and noted for each dog. The microchips not only identify the dog, but are used in connecting dogs to their urine sample, which is used in a drug testing program.

McGill said this year AVID MicroChip donated several top-of-the-line scanners that can identify microchips, no matter where their origin. In the past, the scanners would only read US microchips. Because of that, even dogs that already had been microchipped had to have it redone with US chips.

"It's so much easier than having to re-chip the dogs," she said.

Veteran Quest mushers have the option of having checks done by local veterinarians, based on how convenient it is for the musher. However, all rookies must attend the official Quest checks.

Rookie Kurt Reich drove approximately 3,533.7 miles (according to his GPS) from Divide, Colo., to attend the checks. He said it was absolutely a relief to have made it. Like seemingly every musher, he too had truck problems. Reich had to change a fuel filter and add two gallons of radiator fluid when his heat quit working at 40 below.

Coming from Colorado, the cold is turning into a learning experience for both him and the dogs.
"I'm learning everything the hard way," he said.

But with the race approaching, it's a time for everyone to reconnect. Mushers, veterinarians and race officials all are beginning to congregate in Fairbanks, in preparation for next weekend's start.

"It's always fun to see the dogs at this part of the race, especially indoors," McGill said. "It's easier on us, and easier on the dogs, but especially on the people. We can really get up-close and personal with the dogs."


01-30-2012, 09:37 PM
By Ina Damm Muri (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=ina+damm+muri) | January 30, 2012

It sounds a little crazy, but a study at the University of Colorado at Boulder has shown that enormous amounts of fatty acids circulating in the bloodstreams of feeding pythons can promote healthy heart growth. The research team found a fifty-fold increase of triglycerides in the blood of a Burmese python after eating .

Leslie Leinwand, a CU professor in the molecular, cellular and developmental biology, said that despite the massive amount of fatty acids in the python bloodstream, there was no evidence of fat deposition in the heart. However, there was an increase in an essential enzyme that is known to protect the heart from damage.

Previous studies have also shown that the heart of a Buramese python can grow up to 40 percent within 24 and 72 hours after a large meal, and the metabolism increases times forty. After identifying the enzyme that causes this increase, the team injected a fasting python with either a fed python plasma or a reconstituted fatty acid mixture developed to mimic the plasma.

In both cases, the snakes showed increased heart growth and other signs of cardiac health. They found that a combination of fatty acids can be beneficial for heart growth in living organisms, and that they are trying to understand the molecular mechanisms behind the process.

Leinwand said that well-conditioned athletes have very big hearts, but that many people are unable to exercise because of an existing heart disease. She said it would be nice to develop some kind of a treatment and therapies that will promote the beneficial growth of heart cells in humans.

From Smart Planet.

01-31-2012, 12:49 AM
By Tecca | Today in Tech| 1.30.2012

When the weather turns cold (http://www.tecca.com/columns/kid-snow-science-experiment-weekend-tech-with-kids/), it's not uncommon for folks to warm up with a nice steaming cup of coffee. But who would have thought that everyone's favorite bean could help keep you warm on the outside as well as in? Californian high-tech sports apparel company Virus apparently did, because their Stay Warm (http://virusintl.com/shop/men/series/stay-warm.html) line of cold-weather clothing is made from recycled coffee beans.

Called coffee charcoal, the fabric has incredible natural insulating properties. Virus says that their studies show that wearing this fabric next to the skin can raise surface temperatures by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Moisture wicking and quick-dry properties also go a long way towards keeping you comfortable in cold weather.

The Stay Warm line is meant to be worn as an underlayer; since the fabric isn't wind-resistant, you'll need something else on top of it to keep the cold winter wind out. The garments start at $30.50 for a pair of "performance boxers" and go up from there — but the cost might be worth it if you can have your coffee and wear it, too!

[via Gizmag (http://www.gizmag.com/virus-stay-warm-base-layer-coffee-char/21241/)]

This article was written by Katherine Gray (http://www.tecca.com/author/katherine-gray/)and originally appeared on Tecca (http://www.tecca.com/news/2012/01/30/recycled-coffee-bean-clothing/)

01-31-2012, 02:05 PM
By David Worthington (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=david+worthington) | January 30, 2012 | SmartPlanet

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/img_1892-427x640.jpeg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/img_1892-427x640.jpeg)

"One is the story of Non, the white Shiba. He lived in Okuma, an area very close to the nuclear power plant. His family left him reluctantly, thinking they would be able to go back to their home in a couple of days. Instead they were evacuated to Kyushu. I got a tearful phone call from the owner, asking me if I went into the zone to try to find him. I got the address and went in secretly at night with a volunteer. It was a rather hair-raising experience, the roads were appalling because of the earthquake damage. And I don't even want to think about the radiation levels at the time. We only had a very ancient Geiger counter with us that proved to be completely unreliable. After more than two weeks without food and water, we thought our chances of finding him safe and sound were slim (he had been left chained up), but miraculously, he was fine. He was rather aggressive towards us at first, but we managed to maneuver him onto a crate and drive out of the area. The funny thing is his character changed as a result of his experience, and he became a pretty friendly dog. We eventually managed to reunite him with his owner." - Isabella Gallaon-Aok

When people fled Fukushima, their pets were left behind, and few people recognized that their displacement would be indefinite. Volunteers have since rescued hundreds of animals, but shelters are struggling to feed and care for them.

Fortunately, organizations including Animal Friends Niigata (http://www.afniigata.org/english/welcome/)and HEART Tokushima (http://www.heart-tokushima.com/ENGLISH/WELCOME.html) have been working in partnership with Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (http://www.facebook.com/AnimalRescueJapan) to save over 700 animals the Great East Japan Earthquake. Another rescue effort is planned for next week.

Volunteers brave arrest and elevated levels of radiation around Fukushima, donning protective gear and carry Geiger counters. They must limit the time spent on rescue missions and dodge security to enter “no-go” exclusion zones.

“There are still many, maybe thousands of animals in need of rescue in the area and it is becoming more urgent to get them out before complete and expanding access is denied. The Fukushima problem is not something we will see disappear overnight, but will continue for years to come. It is imperative that we get the animals out of the area as soon as we can,” said HEART founder Susan Mercer.

HEART operates shelters in Tokushima and Niigata - both cities a healthy distance from Fukushima. Rescue efforts are ongoing, but over 300 animals remain in its shelters. HEART’s immediate concern is to focus is on stabilizing the lives of the animals through regular medical care, housing, feeding and, “TLC,” Mercer said.

The most common health problems encountered in rescued animals are emaciation, dehydration, and heartworm, Mercer noted. “We haven’t seen any cases of sickness that could be proven to be due to radiation poisoning and all of our animals have been through protocol.”
“Volunteers and resources have decreased as news of the Tohoku crisis has naturally waned but we are dedicated to quality care for our current as well as future rescues,” Mercer said.

HEART bears the expense of non-related medical issues such as spaying/neutering, vaccinations, and implanting microchips for identification purposes. It is actively seeking owners whenever possible, but there is no foreseeable date when disaster victims would be able to return to their homes, said HEARTS’ Isabella Gallaon-Aoki.

However, there has been some serenity amid the loss and abandonment. A dog named Benji (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=303382929674208&set=a.303382096340958.84473.207835229228979&type=3&theater) was rescued in April of 2011 in Fukushima, and was reunited with his family via the Internet six months later. Another pet rescued by Japanese pro snowboarder Kazu (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y58JsodYlVY&feature=player_embedded) is still available for adoption.

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/img_2507-427x640.jpeg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/img_2507-427x640.jpeg)"Charlotte, the pig was found wandering in an area of tsunami damage, and rescued by two volunteers, Charles Harmison and Yoshiko Wada of Last Chance for Animals. While at Animal Friends, she was a real character and could be a terror to those she didn't like. I distinctly remember one occasions where she chased a photographer around our dog run. Miraculously, her owner managed to find that we had her, and he came to pick up her at the beginning of January. They are now living happily in Ehime Prefecture." - Isabella Gallaon-Aoki

From SmartPlanet.

01-31-2012, 02:27 PM
Study shBy Laura Shin (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=laura+shin) | January 31, 2012

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/screen-shot-2012-01-31-at-80806-am.png (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/screen-shot-2012-01-31-at-80806-am.png)

When viruses face an obstacle to infecting the cells they normally infect, how long does it take for them to evolve to successfully invade them again? A new study has a frightening answer: just a little more than two weeks.

The study raises more questions and fears about the evolution of viruses just a month after the government asked two scientific journals to halt publication of details about bird flu viruses (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/science-scope/government-asks-journals-to-censor-details-of-deadly-flu-virus/11698) that were cultivated in the lab to be easily transmitted among humans.

In this latest study, published Thursday in the journal Science, a team of scientists at Michigan State University studied a virus that is harmless to humans, called lambda, which normally infects the bacterium, Escherichia coli.

Normally, lambda gets into E. coli by latching onto a molecule on the bacterium’s surface. From there, it injects its won genes and proteins in the microbe.
Justin Meyer, a graduate student in the biology laboratory of Richard Lenski, created a version of E. coli that had almost none of the molecules lambda needs to infect the bacterium, so that very few of the lambda cells could get in.

But within 15 days, the lambda cells had evolved to use a different molecule, called OmpF, to invade E. coli. As the New York Times reports (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/science/in-real-time-a-virus-learns-a-new-way-to-infect.html?_r=1&src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB), “Lambda viruses had never been reported to use OmpF before. Mr. Meyer was surprised not just by how fast the change happened, but that it happened at all. “I thought it would be a wild goose chase,” he said. ”

To see if the rapid evolution was just an aberration, he did the same test with 96 lines. In 24 of the lines, not only did the viruses all mutated to use OmpF, but they all did so in a series of four mutations. On top of that, in almost all of them, the four mutations were identical.

The Times says,
Some critics have argued that full-blown evolution would not be able to mimic the highly artificial Dutch experiment. The chances that a single virus would acquire so many mutations at once are certainly small. In the case of lambda viruses, Mr. Meyer estimates the chance of all four mutations arising at once is roughly one in a thousand trillion trillion.

Additionally, the virus did not succeed in developing the proper mutation in the majority of cases. Why? As MSNBC reports (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46152646/ns/technology_and_science-science/#.TyfjTCMWURM), the bacteria also mutated, producing a protein on the inner membrane that prevented the virus from entering the cell.

The study shows the potential for us to predict the evolution of viruses and bacteria, plus gives us new insight into how viruses that attack humans, such as the deadly bird flu virus, might evolve.

01-31-2012, 02:53 PM
UK Night vision tech used in dog fouling crackdown

By Charlie Osborne (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=charlie+osborne) | SmartPlanet January 31, 2012

Undercover wardens are beginning to use night-vision goggles to hunt down and fine owners that let their dogs foul under the cloak of night.


After an increase in complaints over the state of sidewalks and parks, a team from Hyndburn, Lancashire England, are now using covert methods to pounce on the perpetrators — or at least, their owners. These methods include night vision technology, plain clothes officers and surveillance vans.

“Dog fouling is a major issue for us. It’s horrible to step in something unpleasant when you are out for a walk,” said Councillor Miles Parkinson.

“Through the work of our dog wardens, we have managed to reduce the problem but unfortunately we do still have those offenders who let their dogs out in the evenings and early mornings, when its dark and they think they will not be observed.”

Sneaky. Not exactly pleasant when you can’t see what you’re stepping in to on the way home. The use of such night equipment means offenders may want to start watching their back — wardens could be lying in wait to pounce when you don’t pick up after Pongo.

Dog mess can cause toxocariasis (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/9047473/Night-vision-goggles-being-used-in-dog-fouling-crackdown.html), a parasitic infestation. The eggs of the parasite can be found in contaminated earth, and may lead to infection if a human comes in to contact with it. For children, this can be a bigger concern.

The wardens, who were asked by borough councilors to increase patrols in the worst affected areas, are also encouraging the general public to steer them towards targets who are regular offenders by ‘naming and shaming’ particular dog owners.

Councillor Ken Moss, who launched a campaign for local councils to be able to raise fines of up to £1000 ($1578) instantly for those caught allowing their pets to foul, has requested the

Hyndburn teams to keep up the pressure. He said:
“Residents are completely disgusted by this problem and want to see us take action. I have asked wardens what they can do and they have pledged to act on any information they receive. Most dog walkers are creatures of habit and if people are regularly offending in the same spot, the wardens could use that information to stamp out the irresponsible minority.”

Hyndburn currently hands out (http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/9498764.Undercover_dog_wardens_to_crackdown_on_dog _fouling_in_Hyndburn/) £75 ($118) penalties, the average in relation to other local councils, who impose fines of between £50 to £75. In the past three years, approximately 50 people have been fined for not cleaning up after their pet.

Apart from scaring the living daylights out of owners taking their dog for a night stroll, watch out for the wardens in goggles — you may be looking at a hefty fine if you don’t pick up.

Image credit: Tinou Bao (http://www.flickr.com/photos/57621379@N00/555517335/)

02-03-2012, 12:46 AM
February 2, 2012
Investigative Unit

Sylwia Kapuscinski/Getty Images

No Quiero Salmonella: Taco Bell Linked to Outbreak

By CINDY GALLI3 hours, 59 minutes ago

After weeks of anonymity as "Restaurant Chain A" in an investigation into a salmonella outbreak that infected dozens of people in ten states, Taco Bell has been outed as the "Mexican-style" restaurant chain linked to the dangerous infections.

The outbreak, which occurred in October 2011, infected 68 people total, mostly in Texas, and sent more than 20 to the hospital, according to aJanuary report (http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/restaurant-enteriditis/011912/index.html) by the Centers for Disease Control. No deaths were linked to the outbreak.

While the CDC and Food and Drug Administration officials were unable to pinpoint exactly what food product may have caused the outbreak, the report said "data indicat[ed] that contamination likely occurred before the product reached Restaurant Chain A locations."

But it was not until Wednesday that Restaurant Chain A was identified by Food Safety News (http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/02/taco-bell-named-in-salmonella-investigation-report/) as the fast food favorite Taco Bell, based on data provided by a health official at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. In that state, 16 people had been infected with salmonella.

In a document provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Health to ABC News, health officials noted that of the 16 cases, at least half of the victims had eaten at Taco Bell prior to their infections.

PHOTOS: How Sarah Lewis Got Salmonella (http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/slideshow/sarah-lewis-salmonella-14975638)

Taco Bell noted in a statement to ABC News that the CDC had not discovered the definitive source of the outbreak and said the department only "indicated that some people who were ill ate at Taco Bell, while others did not."

"We take food quality and safety very seriously," the statement said.
READ the full Taco Bell statement. (http://applewebdata://76BD0624-4B82-4FC5-9800-D70FAC60AA79/Blotter/taco-bell-statement/story?id=15501823)

WATCH a videotaped statement from Taco Bell. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oUD0DcJKtvo)

The CDC kept Taco Bell's name out of their report in accordance with long-standing policy of not necessarily identifying restaurants involved in investigations as long as there is "not a public health theat."

"By the time we posted information about this outbreak, it was over," CDC spokesperson Lola Russell told ABC News. "If it was over, there would have been no public need to disclose it."
She added that this latest case hasn't triggered conversations about changing the policy.

Watch the full report on food safety and secrecy on ABC News' "World News With Diane

Sawyer" tonight at 6:30 ET.

Click here to return to The Blotter homepage. (http://www.abcnews.com/blotter)

02-05-2012, 10:16 AM
Virus alert! You can now get infected by opening an e-mail

By Tuan C. Nguyen (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=tuan+c.+nguyen) | SmartPlanet | February 3, 2012

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/drive-by-email-virus.png (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/drive-by-email-virus.png)

There was once a time when having enough common sense to not download files from suspicious sources was enough to avoid getting infected by a computer virus.

That all changed when a newer generation of malware known as “drive by downloads” were unleashed, capable of sneaking into hard drives whenever users visited a malicious site and essentially making anti-virus software something of a day-to-day requirement. Now a recently discovered class of viruses poses a similar threat to perhaps the last bastion of secure cyberspace.

They’re called “drive-by emails,” and like “drive-by downloads” they infect machines without having to open an attachment, download a file or click on a link. Simply opening an e-mail to read it is enough of a gateway for Trojans and other nasties to invade. The malware is even stealth enough to avoid virus scanners so users won’t receive any warning and the only indication that something out of the ordinary is happening is a message that appears as “Loading…Please wait…”

Related: Why you might be vulnerable to hackers (but don’t know it) (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thinking-tech/why-you-might-be-vulnerable-to-hackers-but-dont-know-it/9515)
Related: How to create an easy-to-remember, ultra-secure password (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thinking-tech/how-to-create-an-easy-to-remember-ultra-secure-password/8435)

The malware was detected by Eleven security, a German-based firm that specilaizes in e-mail security, and consists of HTML e-mails containing a JavaScript that automatically downloads malware the moment it’s opened. Since the virus works through HTML protocol, users can ensure their online safety by turning that feature off and switching to text-only. However, such preventive measures are complicated by the fact that many messages nowadays are composed using HTML.

The firm has provided a screenshot of what the current wave of virus-carrying spam messages looks like, with the subject heading “Banking security update“ and a sender address with the domain fdic.com (http://fdic.com/), a US-based insurance company.

For now, make sure that your e-mail account is comprehensively protected against spam and malware and that all spam and malware filters are updated. And obviously, hold off on opening any e-mails in which you don’t know the sender.

Whereas we’ve all been advised to be cautious, rule of thumb nowadays is to use extreme caution.

02-05-2012, 10:23 AM
By Charlie Osborne | SmartPlanet | February 3, 2012

Forget global warming, glaciers are vanishing due to the latest fashion of glacier ice-cubes in your Saturday night cocktail.


After discovering 5,200 kg of ice in a refrigerated truck, police in Chile arrested a man on suspicion of hacking away at a glacier in Patagonia, territory shared by both Argentina and Chile. It is reported that the man stole five tonnes of ice from the Jorge Montt glacier, in order to sell it as ‘designer’ ice cubes in bars and restaurants.

Media located in South America reported that when police intercepted the truck, it contained an estimated $6,200 dollars’ worth of thieved ice. Potentially, its fate was to end up in the high-end bars dotted across the capital Santiago.

Not only is the driver being accused of theft, but local authorities are considering adding the charge of violation of a national monument. Considering that the glacier is retreating half a mile per year, if this man is charged with these violations, it may be a deterrent to prevent others from working on the same idea and contributing further to the shrinking ice.

(via The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/01/glacier-thief-arrested-ice-cubes))

Image credit: Luis Alejandro Bernal Romero (http://www.flickr.com/photos/23435801@N05/5923884037/)

02-05-2012, 01:17 PM
Society is nuts! I have GREAT well water and long-term pollution is my only worry. Preserve the environment and you won't want ancient ice.

02-07-2012, 11:34 AM
06 February 12

By Pallab Ghosh
Science correspondent, BBC News

An Austrian adventurer planning the highest skydive in history has announced that he will make the record attempt later this year.

Felix Baumgartner will jump from a balloon 36.5km (120,000ft) up, where a leak in his pressurised suit could lead to a rapid loss of consciousness.

He will fall so fast that he becomes the first person to go faster than the speed of sound unaided by a machine.

Many have sought to achieve the feat down the decades but all have failed.

Mr Baumgartner is famous for stunts such as jumping off the Petronas Towers in Malaysia.

In a video released to promote the attempt, Mr Baumgartner said the last test before he goes on the jump had been successful.

"It means I can deliver, I can perform. The equipment will function," he said.

Mr Baumgartner's most important piece of equipment will be his suit, which completely encases him to maintain air pressure and provide an oxygen supply.

The suit is similar to those worn by astronauts but it has to be tougher and more mobile than a Nasa space suit.

It will have to maintain its integrity in the near vacuum of the very high atmosphere: if there is a serious breach in the suit, Mr Baumgartner's tissues would start to swell and the moisture in his eyes and mouth would start to boil.

Pressurised test

Engineers tested the suit with Mr Baumgartner inside by recreating the flight conditions with a pressurised capsule.

"The suit does its job," said Mr Baumgartner.

The suit will also have to protect him from the extreme cold, with temperatures dropping to minus 70C. And it will have to withstand the forces of passing through the sound barrier.

Gp Capt David Gradwell is head of aviation medicine for the UK's Royal Air Force (RAF). He describes the attempt as a remarkable effort, fraught with challenges.

"[Mr Baumgartner] will be falling very fast so he will have to be sure he remains stable so that he doesn't spin out of control," he told BBC News.

"He needs to see through the visor of his pressure helmet to see what's going on in order to operate his parachute properly and see that it has properly deployed."

If the attempt succeeds, it will have beaten a record set in 1960 by Joe Kittinger, who leapt out from a balloon at 31km (102,800ft).

Kittinger is part of Baumgartner's team and believes the new attempt will succeed. But the retired former USAF colonel admits that when the Austrian makes his leap he will be "saying a prayer for the jump".

A BBC/National Geographic documentary is also being made about the project.

02-08-2012, 03:56 PM
By Janet Fang (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=janet+fang) | February 7, 2012

Two Cornell professors have combined their inventions to create a handheld sensor that detects pathogens likechlamydia, gonorrhea, (http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsstddata/) HIV (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/), and tuberculosis (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001141/) in the field.

The device combines a method of amplifying small samples of the pathogen’s genetic material with a computer chip that rapidly responds to them – offering speedy results for healthcare workers in the developing world.

1. Biological engineer Dan Luo (http://luolabs.bee.cornell.edu/index.html) came up with a way method to amplify very small samples of a pathogen’s DNA, RNA, or proteins.

http://i.bnet.com/blogs/ydna.jpg (http://i.bnet.com/blogs/ydna.jpg)

His team assembled DNA into a Y shape. Attached to the base of the Y is an antibody designed to lock onto a pathogen. At the same time, another Y is tagged to lock onto a different part of the pathogen molecule. When the targeted pathogen is present, many double-Ys linked together by a pathogen molecule are formed (pictured).

And, attached to one of the Y’s arms is a molecule that will chain up with other similar molecules when exposed to UV light. This way, double-Ys links to other double-Ys, forming long chains that clump up into larger masses. These chains won’t be created without the presence of the targeted pathogen.

2. Meanwhile, electrical and computer engineer Edwin Kan (http://www.engineering.cornell.edu/research/faculty/profile.cfm?netid=eck5)designed a computer chip that quickly responds to these amplified samples.

The new chip measures both the mass and charge of molecules that fall on it. The large clumps of Y-DNA have a much larger mass and charge than single molecules, triggering the detector.
(Accordingly, lower masses and charges indicate the absence of the pathogen.)

The new chip uses CMOS technology (http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/cameras-photography/digital/question362.htm), which is compatible with common electronic devices. A detector might, for example, be controlled and powered by a cellphone.

Together as a handheld device, these innovations will report in half an hour what would normally require transporting the sample to a lab and waiting days for results. Just 30 minutes!

The work is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the Grand Challenge program to develop “point-of-care diagnostic.” (http://www.grandchallenges.ca/grand-challenges/gc2-point-of-care-diagnostics/) The foundation distributed $25 million to 12 teams – each working on different aspects of a practical, low-cost testing kit.

SmartPlanet Via Cornell University (http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Jan12/YDNAdetector.html). Image: Luo Lab

02-08-2012, 04:44 PM
By Laura Shin (http://www.smartplanet.com/search?q=laura+shin) | February 8, 2012 (from SmartPlanet.)

It’s no wonder she won a national science contest.

High school senior Angela Zhang, of Cupertino, Calif., has done research that could someday lead to a cure for cancer. Her work earned her $100,000 in a national Siemens science competition (http://inr.synapticdigital.com/Siemens/Competition2011/).

Zhang told ABC News (http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/south_bay&id=8455972), “I created a nanoparticle that’s kind of like the Swiss Army knife of cancer treatment in that it can detect cancer cells, eradicate the cancer cells and then monitor the treatment response.”

This is her proposed treatment: She mixes cancer medicine in a polymer that attaches to nanoparticles, which are then used to attach to cancer cells. Those nanoparticles can be detected on an MRI so doctors can see exactly where the tumors are.

She then thought that targeting the tumors with an infrared light would melt the polymers, release the medicine and kill the cancer cells — all while leaving the healthy cells intact.E voila! It almost completely eradicated the tumors in mice.

It remains to be seen whether the method works in humans, and that process will take years, but the technique is original and promising on several levels.

As Tejal Desai, a bioengineer at the University of California, San Francisco, and a Siemens competition judge told MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45571082/ns/technology_and_science-innovation/t/students-edge-innovation-win-prizes/#.TzJs8l0WURM). “She showed great creativity and initiative in designing a nanoparticle system that can be triggered to release drugs at the site of the tumor while also allowing for noninvasive imaging.”

Remarkably, Zhang worked on her research in her spare time. In ninth grade, she began reading doctorate level papers on bio-engineering, and the following year, she convinced a Stanford lab to give her access. Her junior year, she began conducting her own research.

Of her future, Zhang, whose top college picks (http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/south_bay&id=8455972) are Stanford and Harvard, says in the above interview, “I’m excited to learn just everything possible,” she said. “Everything in the sciences — biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, even computer science — to make new innovations possible.”

02-08-2012, 06:30 PM
Important public message: do not feed carrots, apples or hay to starving moose because it could kill them.

By Naomi Klouda | Homer Tribune
http://homertribune.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Moose_016-250x167.jpg (http://homertribune.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Moose_016.jpg)
Starving moose, struggling to get through deep snows to find food, will get help this winter with approval from the Division of Wildlife Conservation.

An organization called the Moose Federation was granted permission Monday to start its efforts in the Mat-Su Valley.

Then they’ll turn efforts to the Kenai Peninsula, said Gary Olson, executive director of the Moose Federation.

“Fish and Game wants us to first target the Willow-Big Lake area because of the rail and highway. We flew two super cubs on Saturday, and now have a good idea of where they are bunched up,” Olson said. “Our target is on identifying where they are, then we will be making trails, cutting brush.”

The idea is to give them a natural food source so they won’t continue to trek out to highways and roads where they are getting run over in record numbers, he said. The federation follows a program done in Norway for 18 years, with scientific overview that resulted in a 46 percent reduction in collisions between man and moose.

“This prescriptions is used by Fish and Game in their captive study moose, in Palmer: it’s a haylage grown at Pt. McKenzie. There are no invasive species in it. They smell it from a long way and it makes them hungry.”

This is not to be confused with hay, which a moose’s stomach cannot digest and could cause death if eaten.

“The first reason why you can’t feed a moose from a grocery store is because the bacteria in their stomachs has transitioned to winter food. That’s when they eat only bark – birch and willow,” Olson said. “I was raised in Alaska and I remember moose running over to me in the winter time, saying, ‘hey you got an apple?’ They were getting used to humans and you could tell they were getting fed.
But ultimately that kind of food works against a moose’s digestive abilities.

Instead, Olson said the efforts focus on forging new trails and cutting down trees to get moose to their true nutrition .
“Moose like the nutrients at the top of trees – that’s the sweetest part of the tree. When people are out cutting their firewood, a moose will hear their chainsaws and come running,” he explained. That’s because the part of the tree left behind makes excellent moose browse.”

It’s imperative that if anyone wants to help, they need to contact the local Fish and Game office. “They know best where moose are wintering. They have asked us to focus on real deep snow areas here in Unit 16. We do want to help in different areas, but do not have presence yet. But that is coming. We’ll be doing some moose salvage, coming later this month on the Peninsula,” he said.

Here is more information from a Department of Fish and Game press release:

Moose will be fed to avoid starvation
Due to near-record snowfalls resulting in increased conflicts between moose and people, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued a permit to the Alaska Moose Federation that authorizes diversionary feeding of moose in Game Management Units 13, 14, 15, and 16. The area includes most of the Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna, and Kenai Peninsula Boroughs.

“We are authorizing this extraordinary step due to public safety concerns. We hope the diversionary feeding stations will lure moose away from roads and will reduce moose-vehicle collisions and other dangerous encounters,” said Tony Kavalok, Assistant Director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation. This diversionary feeding permit allows the permit holder, not the general public, to feed moose.

Moose favor areas with less snow including plowed roads, railways, and driveways. This year’s heavy snowfall has resulted in increased moose related vehicle accidents and antagonistic encounters. Diversionary feeding, along with packing down trails leading away from roads to feeding stations and areas with natural foods. The Alaska Moose Federation expressed an interest in establishing diversionary feeding stations to attempt to reduce moose-vehicle collisions and they have the volunteers and equipment needed to carry out the program.

ADF&G reminds the public that feeding big game animals, including moose.
People should be extra vigilant around moose because they may be stressed and more aggressive due to the deep snow, said Kavalok. “Give them an extra, extra-wide berth this year.”