Monday, November 18, 2013

NASA's MAVEN Mission Successfully Blasts Off To Solve Major Martian Mystery



NASA Launches Robotic Explorer To Mars -- Washington Post

CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA’s newest robotic explorer, Maven, rocketed toward Mars on Monday on a quest to unravel the ancient mystery of the red planet’s radical climate change.

The Maven spacecraft is scheduled to make it to Mars next fall following a journey of more than 440 million miles.

Scientists want to know why Mars went from being warm and wet during its first billion years to cold and dry today. The early Martian atmosphere was thick enough to hold water and possibly support microbial life. But much of that atmosphere may have been lost to space, eroded by the sun.

Maven set off through a cloudy sky Monday afternoon in its effort to provide answers. An unmanned Atlas V rocket propelled the spacecraft toward Mars, launch controllers applauded and shook hands over the success.

Read more ....

Update: What happened to Mars' atmosphere? MAVEN now on way to find out. -- Christian Science Monitor

My Comment: We will get some answers one year from now.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Are Terminator-Robots The Soldiers Of The Future?

Robot-at-arms: Atlas is 6 foot, 2 inches tall and weighs 330 pounds. (Credit: DARPA/Boston Dynamics)

Be Afraid: DARPA Unveils Terminator-Like Atlas Robot -- CNet

Atlas looks like the prototype for a future robot infantryman, and it can tackle rough terrain and carry human tools. Can you say "Skynet"?

If you're short of nightmare fuel, say hello to Atlas.

On Thursday, DARPA unveiled this hulking, 6-foot robot developed by Boston Dynamics, creator of the infamous BigDog and other scary creatures. Surprisingly, the 330-pound terror is designed to help us meatsacks.

Atlas is a testbed humanoid for disaster response, but it looks like it knows its way around a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range. Fortunately, it comes from Massachusetts, not the future.

We've seen hints of Atlas with Boston Dynamics' Petman soldier robot, which can do pushups and run on a treadmill.

Read more ....



More News On DARPA's Newest Robot

ATLAS: Probably the Most Advanced Humanoid Yet, Definitely Terrifying -- Gizmodo
DARPA's Newest Robot Is The Coolest And Most Terrifying Creation Yet -- Business Insider
DARPA robot no longer just a computer simulation -- The Business Of Robots
DARPA's ATLAS humanoid robot gears up for disaster response -- Gizmag
DARPA unveils 6-foot-tall humanoid robot Atlas for researchers to program and pilot -- The Verge
Details on DARPA Robotics Challenge Trial Events -- IEEE Spectrum
Domo arigato, Mr Atlas -- CNet
This Robot Can Survive Being Hit By A Wrecking Ball -- WebProNews
DARPA ATLAS Humanoid Robot is Here -- Robots.net

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The CIA Invests In 'Narrative Science'



Narrative Science: The CIA is Investing in Artificial Intelligence That Actually Works -- Policymic

As part of the Central Intelligence Agency's growing trend of partnering with the private sector, the CIA announced Wednesday that it would be investing in Narrative Science, a Chicago-based startup that uses computers to make sense of data and present it in prose. Once a leader of technology innovation, the CIA recognized it could not compete for IT innovation and talent with private profit-driven firms. In one of the more impressive government adjustment to economic pressures, the CIA has changed the way the government creates IT innovation.

Read more ....

More News On The CIA And 'Narrative Science'

The CIA Invests in Robot Writers -- Mashable
The CIA takes an interest in Narrative Science’s quick summaries of big data -- Gigaom
The CIA Invests in Narrative Science and Its Automated Writers -- All Things D
CIA invests in robot journalism -- Poynter
Narrative Science goes beyond ‘robot journalism’ with CIA investment -- Venture Beat
Local AI startup gets CIA-linked funding -- Chicago Tribune
Chicago's Narrative Science lands deal with the CIA -- Chicago Business

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Guide To Killer Robots Everywhere



Semi-Autonomous Killer Drones From Around The Globe -- Killer Apps/Foreign Policy

With the United Nations Human Rights Council debating the development of lethal robots at its meeting in Geneva today, Human Rights Watch is ramping up its campaign to get world governments to preemptively ban the use of killer robots that can decide to attack a target without consulting their human controllers first. Despite the fact that the Pentagon has said that U.S. drones will not be able to fire weapons without "appropriate" levels of human control, HRW worries that battlefield necessity will do away with such voluntary restrictions.

Read more ....

My Comment: A brief but concise review.

Interpreting Global Flight-Path Maps


Global Flight-Path Maps: Five Interpretations -- BBC

Michael Markieta's images depicting flight paths across the planet attracted huge interest from our readers. What do the maps reveal? We asked five experts to give their interpretation.

The art critic

Wow, it's beautiful. It is not only dealing with two-dimensionality, it's trying to create three dimensions, or four dimensions - giving you a notion that you are travelling across the surface of this image.

It's almost like contemporary fractalisation - based on fractals, those beautiful divisions of science and nature. A number of artists have exploited them. Max Ernst based a lot of his surreal landscapes on fractalisation.

Read more ....

My Comment: Northeastern U.S., Europe, and northeastern Asia .... those are the hot spots for air travel.

WHO Chief: Novel Coronavirus 'Poses A Threat To The Entire World'

 

New SARS-Like Virus Is A 'Threat To The Entire World' -- CNN 

(CNN) -- A new SARS-like virus recently found in humans is "a threat to the entire world," according to the director-general of the United Nations' World Health Organization.

The so-called novel coronavirus "is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself," Margaret Chan said Monday in her closing remarks at the 66th World Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

The world needs to pull together its resources to properly tackle the virus which, Chan said, is her "greatest concern" at present.

"We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat," she said, and more information is needed "quickly" and "urgently."

Read more ....

More News On The Novel Coronavirus Posing A Threat To The Entire World  

UN health chief urges global cooperation to tackle novel coronavirus threat -- UN News Centre
WHO Chief Sounds Alarm Over Novel Coronavirus, 'A Threat To The Entire World' -- RTT
WHO calls Middle Eastern virus, MERS, ‘threat to the entire world’ as death toll rises -- New York Daily News First coronavirus sufferer in France dies in hospital -- Reuters
French man, 65, dies from SARS-like virus as World Health Organisation warns deadly disease is global threat -- Daily Mail
A timeline of SARS-like virus -- Global Post/AFP

What It’s Like Inside A Violent Tornado (Video)



Incredible Video: What It’s Like Inside A Violent Tornado -- Washington Post

It might strike you as foolish, but storm chasers Brandon Ivey and Sean Casey literally rode out a raging tornado with winds to 175 mph from inside a motor vehicle on Memorial Day. 

Watch the astonishing, “ear-popping” video below… 

But the vehicle, positioned intentionally to bear the brunt of the raging Kansas vortex, is no ordinary vehicle. 

Called the Tornado Intercept Vehicle 2 (TIV2, the second vehicle of its kind), it is designed to withstand a top of the scale EF-5 twister, with winds over 200 mph. 

Wikipedia offers the following details on this 14,000+ pound, armor-reinforced machine:  

Read more ....  

My Comment: What a terrifying experience lasting two minutes.

Nuclear Detonation Timeline "1945-1998" (Video)


From YouTube: The 2053 nuclear tests and explosions that took place between 1945 and 1998 are plotted visually and audibly on a world map.

As the video starts out detonations are few and far between. The first three detonations represent the Manhattan Project and the two bombs that ended World War II.

After a few representative minutes the USSR and Britain enter the nuclear club and the testing really starts to heat up.

Even though the video does not differentiate between sub-critical "safety" tests and full detonations, you get a good idea of the fever of the nuclear arms race. T

he time line does not extent to tests by North Korea (October 2006 and May 2009).

Video credit: goes to Isao Hashimoto (www.ctbto.org/specials/1945-1998-by-isa­o-hashimoto/) The video was cleaned up, re-sized and edited to fit You tube's 10min limit by the folks at Bit of Fun  

My Comment: A mesmerizing video .... check it out.

Friday, March 1, 2013

End Of The World In 2036?


Asteroid Apocalypse -- Michio Kaku, The Daily Beast/Newsweek

The recent crash-down in Russia was a fleabite. The one in 2036 could destroy entire nations...

It was an amazing spectacle, a rapid succession of giant asteroids blazing across the sky. First, on February 15, Russia was hit with the biggest asteroid in 100 years. Barely a few hours later, an even bigger one made the closest approach to Earth ever recorded for an asteroid of its size. Then the residents of San Francisco, Cuba, and south Florida looked up and saw meteors streak across the sky, rattling their nerves.

It was a historic display of nature’s cosmic firepower, something I never expected to see in my lifetime. Mother Nature was showing Hollywood who’s boss.

The city of Chelyabinsk in Russia bore the brunt of the celestial fireworks. A piece of rock, about 50 feet across and weighing more than 7,000 tons, came crashing to Earth. Traveling at a blinding speed of over 40,000 miles per hour, it created a sonic boom and shock wave that shattered windows across the city: 1,200 people were injured, mainly by the flying pieces of glass, and 52 were hospitalized, 2 of them in serious condition. Chelyabinsk, once known as one of the most polluted places in the world due to its storage of nuclear waste, will now be known as “meteor city.”  

Read more ....

My Comment: We have been bombarded by these meteorite strikes in the past .... and I suspect that we will in the future. I only hope that in the future we have the capability to prevent such catastrophes from hitting us.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What A Nuclear Accident May Cost


Major Nuclear Accident Would Cost France $580 Billion: Study -- Reuters

(Reuters) - A nuclear accident similar to the one at Japan's Fukushima reactor would cost France about 430 billion euros ($580 billion), or 20 percent of its economic output, French nuclear safety institute IRSN said in a study on the possible financial impact of a nuclear crisis.

A major disaster damaging one of France's 58 nuclear reactors and contaminating the environment with radioactive material would displace an estimated 100,000 people, destroy crops and create massive power outages, the study said.

 "A major accident would have terrible consequences, but we would have to deal with them because the country wouldn't be annihilated, so we have to talk about it, however difficult it is," Jacques Repussard, the head of the public-funded IRSN, said on Wednesday at a presentation at the Cadarache nuclear research centre in southeastern France.

 Read more ....  

My Comment: The Chernobyl disaster left a legacy that will be present in that part of the Ukraine for centuries .... and the cost is unimaginable. If such a disaster should strike France .... ditto there. Now just imagine what a nuclear war would cost.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Top 50 Things People Want To Do Before They Die

Dreams: Swimming with dolphins is 19th on the list, but sadly most of us will only fulfill five of our ambitions 

See The Seven Wonders Of The World, Go On Safari And Swim With Dolphins: The Top 50 Things People Want To Do Before They Die -- Daily Mail 

* Researchers complied checklist of lifelong ambitions of the average adult
* But sadly they found most people will only ever fulfill five of their dreams
* The study revealed that 12 per cent of people have no ambitions at all
* Becoming a millionaire and travelling the world are the top two goals

Seeing the seven wonders of the world, going on safari in Africa and swimming with dolphins are among the list of 50 things the average person wants to do before they die.

But sadly researchers have found that most adults will only ever fulfill five of their lifelong ambitions.

Many feel they do not have enough time to tick off the experiences, while others admit to not being fit or adventurous enough or being too afraid of getting hurt.

Read more ....  

CSN Editor: #7 is on the top of my list.

Richard III Remains Are Confirmed



It IS Richard III: Scientists Reveal DNA Results Confirm 15th Century King's Body Has Been Found Under A Car Park In Leicester -- Daily Mail 

* University of Leicester academics unveil their findings at press conference 
* DNA sample matches that of a descendant of the king's maternal line 
 * Skeleton's spinal curvature also matched accounts of the humpback king 
 * Remains were uncovered by archaeologists at former church in Leicester 
* Historical records say he was taken to the city after he was killed in 1485 

Human remains found buried beneath a social services car park in Leicester are those of Richard III who was killed in battle in 1485, archaeologists confirmed today. 

In an extraordinary discovery which rewrites the history books, the skeleton of the last of the Plantagenet kings was identified by DNA analysis after researchers traced his living descendants. 

Investigators from the University of Leicester today revealed that the remains bore the marks of ten injuries inflicted shortly before his death. 

More gruesome, however, was evidence of ‘humiliation’ injuries, including several head wounds - part of the skull was sliced away - a cut to the ribcage and a pelvic wound likely caused by an upward thrust of a weapon, through the buttock.  

Read more ....  

My Comment: This closes the chapter on one fascinating archaeological hunt.

The Rise Of The Robots



Obama Must Face The Rise Of The Robots -- Edward Luce, Financial Times 

Technology will leave a large chunk of the US labour force in the lurch. Early in his first term Barack Obama joked that he would “keep an eye on the robots in case they try anything”. He should have known resistance is futile. During Mr Obama’s presidency, IBM’s Watson has proved computers can outfox the most agile minds, drones have become America’s weapon of choice, the driverless car is now a reality and the word “app” has been detached from its origin. No longer the realm of science fiction, the rise of robots now poses the central economic dilemma of the Obama era.

Read more ....  

My Comment: The genie is out of the bottle .... I doubt that it can be plugged back in.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Second Oval Office For The President?


2nd Oval Office Readied In White House Rehab Project -- Real Clear Politics

This summer there will be two Oval Offices in the White House complex, and it won’t be a case of double vision. In preparation for a major, two-year renovation of the West Wing, the government is undertaking extensive work to complete a new executive office for President Obama at the south end of the adjacent Eisenhower Executive Office Building, RCP has learned.

The president’s facsimile Oval Office, created as a nearly identical replica of the most famous ovoid room in the world, is slated to be ready for occupancy by August if Obama is ready to move and if design challenges are resolved. The build-out of the new “West Wing quarters” inside the Eisenhower building has begun, but unforeseen construction hurdles may alter plans for the eventual placement of the new office inside the EEOB, according to several knowledgeable sources.

 Read more ....  

My Comment: There can only be one Oval Office .... the other office may look like it .... but it does not have it's history .... it is just a replica.

Remembering Colombia


"It Broke Up! The Shuttle Broke Up!": Remembering Columbia -- CBS News

As some might reckon it, the beginning of the end for NASA's space shuttle program came 10 years ago Friday, at 8:48:39 a.m. EST on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2003. That's when strain gauge V12G9921A, a sensor in the shuttle Columbia's left wing, began registering a small but unusual increase in stress as the spaceplane descended from orbit to close out its 28th mission.

Twenty seconds later, a temperature sensor followed suit. Over the next few minutes, a shuttle data recorder captured a cascade of alarming sensor readings and failures on the left side of the spacecraft that clearly indicated a rapidly unfolding catastrophe.  

Read more ....  

My Comment: Wow .... it's already been 10 years.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A New Test For Pancreatic Cancer?



Did This 15-Year-Old Just Change The Course Of Medicine? Schoolboy Invents Early Test For Pancreatic Cancer That Killed Steve Jobs -- Daily Mail 

* Jack Andraka's new test detects pancreatic cancer earlier than any other
* Deadly disease currently kills 19 out of 20 within five years
* He claims his invention could raise survival rates to 'close to 100 per cent'

A 15-year-old schoolboy could save millions of lives after he invented a new, low-cost test that can detect the early stages of a deadly form of cancer.

Jack Andraka from Crownsville, Maryland, developed a simple dip-stick test for levels of mesothelin, a biomarker for early stage pancreatic cancer found in blood and urine.

It promises to revolutionise treatment of the disease, which currently kills 19 out of 20 sufferers after five years - largely because its so difficult to detect until its final stages.

Read more ....  

My Comment: I am sure that before being available to the public that more testing will need to be done. Let's keep our fingers crossed that this is a breakthrough..

Darpa Wants To Put Lasers On Fighter Jets


DARPA Putting Laser Turrets On Fighter Jets Next Year -- DVice

Our first foray into laser-equipped combat aircraft was the Airborne Laser Testbed, a Boeing 747 with a gigantic chemically-pumped megawatt laser turret in its nose. It was pretty awesome from a conceptual standpoint, but it didn't work very well, and was scrapped last year.

This doesn't mean that the idea of high-powered lasers on aircraft doesn't make a lot of sense, and DARPA is still for ways to make it work. It's working on two at the moment: the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS), and Aero-Adaptive/Aero-Optic Beam Control (ABC).  

Read more ....

More News On DARPA Wanting To Put Laser Weapons On Fighter Jets

US Military Will Install Laser Turrets on Bombers and Fighter Jets -- Gizmodo
U.S. fighter jets to use Star Wars-style onboard laser weapons by 2014 -- Science Recorder
DARPA plans to put laser turrets on fighter jets in 2014 -- Slash Gear
Pentagon wants laser weapons on fighter jets -- TG Daily
The Pentagon Plans To Test More Airborne Laser Weapons As Soon As Next Year -- Popular Science Lasers on planes to be tested by US military -- Global Post

California Has A New Earthquake Alert System

The California area's probability of suffering an earthquake 

New $80million Earthquake Alert System Will Give Californians 60 Seconds To 'Duck And Cover' Before Worst Shock-Waves Hit -- Daily Mail 

* System will use 2,000 sensors already in place to look for 'p-waves', precursors to earthquakes
* Will provide 60 second warning, giving residents 'critical seconds' to prepare
* U.S. Geological Survey predicts a 99 percent chance of a magnitude-6.7 earthquake or larger in the next 30 years in California Plans for an £50 million ($80m)

Earthquake early warning system for California have been unveiled.

The ShakeAlert system, which has taken ten years to develop, would give a minute's warning of a major quake.

Experts say this would give residents critical time for residents to 'duck and cover' and for utilities to power down.

Read more ....

My Comment: The above image is one of the best maps on the area's probability of suffering an earthquake that I seen in a long time. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Is Earth’s Global Warming Less Severe Than Feared?

Norway Data Shows Earth’s Global Warming Less Severe Than Feared -- Bloomberg 

New estimates from a Norwegian research project show meeting targets for minimizing global warming may be more achievable than previously thought.

After the planet’s average surface temperature rose through the 1990s, the increase has almost leveled off at the level of 2000, while ocean water temperature has also stabilized, the Research Council of Norway said in a statement on its website.

After applying data from the past decade, the results showed temperatures may rise 1.9 degrees Celsius if Co2 levels double by 2050, below the 3 degrees predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “The Earth’s mean temperature rose sharply during the 1990s,” said Terje Berntsen, a professor at the University of Oslo who worked on the study. “This may have caused us to overestimate climate sensitivity.”

Read more ....

My Comment: Ooopppsss ....

US Soldier Who Lost All Limbs Undergoes Successful Double-Arm Transplant


Iraq Vet Undergoes Successful Double-Arm Transplant -- CNN

(CNN) -- A U.S. Army infantryman who lost all four limbs in a 2009 roadside explosion in Iraq has undergone radical transplant surgery that may help him regain use of his arms. Last month, the 26-year-old infantryman had successful surgery -- a rare double arm transplant -- at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

"It feels amazing," Marrocco told reporters Wednesday. "It is something that I was waiting for for a long time, and now that it happened, I don't know what to say, because it is such a big thing for my life." The last thing Marrocco remembers before being hit by an explosion in 2009 was that he was driving an armored vehicle.  

Read more ....

More News On An Iraq Vet undergoing A Successful Double-Arm Transplant

Johns Hopkins Hospital performs double arm transplant on Army soldier -- Washington Post
Soldier who lost 4 limbs has double-arm transplant -- AP
US soldier who lost all limbs gets new arms -- BBC
Quadruple amputee vet says new arms feel "amazing" -- CBS
Double-arm transplant soldier 'getting a second chance' -- NBC
Soldier with new arms determined to be independent -- Wall Street Journal
Transplant patient says new arms feel like his own -- Washington Post
Former US soldier Brendan Marrocco gets double arm transplant -- The Australian  

My Comment: It is amazing on what science is capable of doing right now.

Making Drones To Follow You Around All Day

The tiny little MeCam. Photo: Always Innovating 

Tiny Robot Helicopter Will Follow You Around, Filming Everything You Do -- Smithsonian 

Do you want to obsessively share every detail of your life with everyone you know? Maybe you spend so much time playing video games that you would really just feel more comfortable having a third-person perspective on your own life?

Maybe, you’re really short and just want to know what’s going on around you. Whatever the case may be, advances in technology have now brought our society to the point where you will soon be able to buy a tiny little camera-equipped robot helicopter that will automatically follow you around and film every single thing you do.

Read more ....  

My Comment: This technology is getting smaller and smaller with each passing day.

New Google Maps On North Korea Show Monuments, Nuclear Complex, Gulags

Map of Camp 22 shows previously unidentified structures -- such as guards compounds or the office of director.

North Korea On Google Maps: Monuments,Nnuclear Complex, Gulags -- CNN

(CNN) -- Ever wondered how to drive from the center of Pyongyang, the showcase capital of North Korea, to Yongbyon, the location of the secretive regime's main nuclear complex? Well, a recent update to Google Maps has the answer for you.

It has filled in the big, largely blank space that previously lay north of the well-mapped South Korea with streets, towns and landmarks. Users curious to virtually explore one of the world's most reclusive states can zoom into the heart of Pyongyang and pull up photographs of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, which houses the bodies of the revered former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.  

Read more ....

More News On Google Maps Providing More Details On North Korea
North Korea Streets and Gulags: Google Maps Reclusive Nation -- ABC
Google Maps North Korea -- Wall Street Journal
Google Maps’ New Target: Secretive North Korea -- New York Times
Google unveils its new maps of North Korea -- L.A. Times
Google adds detail to North Korea map -- The Guardian
Google Unveils Detailed North Korea Map -- Voice of America
Locate the Gulags: Google unveils more detailed North Korea maps -- RT
Google Maps Extends Coverage Through North Korea, Includes Gulags -- Red Orbit
Google Maps presents North Korea through a new lens -- Christian Science Monitor
Google Fills In Some Blanks on Its North Korea Map -- Austin Ramzy, Time Google Maps North Korea With Crowd-Sourced Data -- PCMag
Beyond the Google Map of North Korea -- Evan Osnos, The New Yorker

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Predicting Future Wars And Conflicts

Hoss Cartwright Heralds New Era In Warfare: 'No Longer Do We Troll For Trouble; We Predict It' -- Aol Defense

WASHINGTON: A combat patrol is four soldiers walking, under orders to look for trouble and react to it. For most of modern history, infantry squads have been the military's principal sensors, forcing an enemy to respond, allowing American forces to judge the situation and respond.

But that is an always risky, often bloody way to generate intelligence. "Essentially, you are asking them to troll for trouble," the retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Hoss Cartwright, told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies today.  

Read more ....  

My Comment: When you read stories like this one .... that is when you know that a fundamental shift is now occurring within the military on how to fight future wars effectively and efficiently.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Irish Wind Turbines To Power UK Homes


Ireland To Build 'Giant' Wind Turbines To Power UK Homes -- BBC 

UK and Irish ministers will today sign an agreement that could see some of the world's largest wind turbines built across the Irish midlands. Stretching more than 600 feet (180 metres) in the air, the towers are set to generate energy for millions of UK homes from 2017.

The companies involved say the Irish power is a cheaper form of renewable than UK offshore wind. But environmentalists have described the scheme as "crazy". They say it risks damaging Ireland's landscape.

Read more ....  

My Comment: There goes the landscape.

Governments Want Access To Google's User Data

Data of government requests of Google data on the company's users. (Image: Screengrab/Google)

US Government Leads Global Increase In Requests For Google User Data -- Wired

According to data released by Google, it is receiving by far the most requests for users' personal data from the US government, but global demand is steadily rising each year. The search engine published the figures 23 January as part of its efforts for total transparency.

The report reveals that the US leads the trend, with 8,438 requests for information about 14,791 users in the second half of 2012 -- India is a distant second, with 2,431 requests for information, followed by France, Germany, the UK and Brazil.  

Read more ....

More News On Government's Wanting Access To Google's User Data

Google Complies With Government Requests for User Data 88% of the Time -- Weekly Standard Google report shows governments trying to extract more info about users of company’s services -- Washington Post
Google report reveals continued rise in US government requests for data -- The Guardian
Google Says Requests for User Data Rose in Second Half of 2012 -- Bloomberg Businessweek Google Tells Cops to Get Warrants for User E-Mail, Cloud Data -- Threat Level
Google report reveals two-thirds of police requests for data lacked warrant -- The Hill
Government data requests to Google continue to rise -- Computer World
Google breaks down how governments access users’ data -- SFGate
Google Sees Growing Government Demand For User Data -- Information week
U.S. leads the world in requests for users' Google data -- CNet
Google: Feds Requesting More User Data, Mostly Via Subpoenas -- PCMag Google Reveals How U.S. Government Obtains User Information -- TPM

Massive Melting Of Andes Glaciers

The tropical glaciers are melting at their fastest rate in 300 years 

Massive Melting Of Andes Glacier -- BBC 

Glaciers in the tropical Andes have shrunk by 30-50% since the 1970s, according to a study. The glaciers, which provide fresh water for tens of millions in South America, are retreating at their fastest rate in the past 300 years.

The study included data on about half of all Andean glaciers and blamed the melting on an average temperature rise of 0.7C from 1950-1994. Details appear in the academic journal Cryosphere.

Read more ....  

My Comment: In my travels through the Andes in the 1990s I was appalled to see the level of deforestation that was occurring .... I suspect that this has increased over the years, and is contributing to the disappearance of the glaciers.

Antibiotic-Resistant Diseases Pose 'Apocalyptic' Threat

Hospital superbugs such as MRSA are some of the best know antibiotic-resistant diseases, but MPs were warned about infections such as gonorrhea and TB that affect the general population. Photograph: Getty Images 

Antibiotic-Resistant Diseases Pose 'Apocalyptic' Threat, Top Expert Says -- The Guardian 

Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies tells MPs issue should be added to national risk register of civil emergencies. Britain's most senior medical adviser has warned MPs that the rise in drug-resistant diseases could trigger a national emergency comparable to a catastrophic terrorist attack, pandemic flu or major coastal flooding.

 Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, said the threat from infections that are resistant to frontline antibiotics was so serious that the issue should be added to the government's national risk register of civil emergencies.

Read more ....  

My Comment: Apocalyptic is underestimating the impact that such a development can become.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Asteroid Mining

Image: Advocates hope asteroid mining could turn into a trillion-dollar business; others are sceptical 

New Venture 'To Mine Asteroids' -- BBC 

A new venture is joining the effort to extract mineral resources on asteroids. The announcement of plans by Deep Space Industries to exploit the rare metals present in the space rocks turns asteroid mining into a two-horse race.

The other venture, Planetary Resources, went public with its proposals last year. Advocates of asteroid mining hope it could turn into a trillion-dollar business, but some scientists are highly skeptical of the idea.

Read more ....  

My Comment: This is not going to happen .... it is still cheaper to mine on earth.

Will 'Genetic Hard Drives' Revolutionize The Way Computers Work?

Currently data centres such as Google's shown here, rely on traditional hard drives. However, they could one day be replaced by the DNA drives revealed today 

The 'Genetic Hard Drive' That Could Store The Complete Works Of Shakespeare (And Revolutionize The Way Computers Work) -- Daily Mail 

* Same technique also used to store 26 second excerpt from Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream' speech
* Breakthrough could have major implications for computer storage with DNA hard drives
* Could lead to drives that can store high definition version of every film and TV programme ever created in a teacup sized drive

A genetic storage device has been used to 'download' all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets on to strands of synthetic DNA.

Scientists were then able to decode the information and reproduce the words of the Bard with complete accuracy.

The same technique made it possible to store a 26 second excerpt from Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream' speech and a photo of the Cambridgeshire laboratory where the work took place.

Researchers were also able to turn a copy of Watson and Crick's paper describing the nature of DNA into genetic code.

Read more ....  

My Comment: This is why I am fascinated by new technology.

Chinese Researchers Have Revealed A 'Ghost Cape'

The prototype 'ghost cloak' created by the team. It can distort light and make a ghost device, in the upper picture, appear as something else 

The 'Ghost Cape' That Could Make Fighter Jets Look Like Passenger Planes -- Daily Mail 

* Groundbreaking technology can make an object appear to be something else
* Technology could be used to make a jet fighter appear to be a passenger plane, or a soldier appear to be a tree
* Researchers say the technique is far simpler than current 'cloaking' devices

Chinese researchers have revealed a 'ghost cape' that can make one object appear to look like another.

The team from Southeast University in Nanjing, China say their technique is far simpler that other invisibility devices, because instead of making an object disappear entirely, it makes it look like something else.

The technique scatters incoming light to create two 'ghost' images either side of the cloaked object.

Read more ....  

My Comment: Until I see Chinese fighter jets looking like passenger jets .... I am deeply skeptical of this report.

No One Will Do Your Laundry In Space

Astronaut Catherine Coleman unpacks for a stay on the space station. NASA 

 In Space, No One Will Do Your Laundry -- Popular Mechanics 

University of Rhode Island design professor Karl Aspelund wants you to think about astronaut socks. In fact, he hopes his work with the 100 Year Starship Project—figuring out what kind of clothes space travelers will need for a long-duration mission—will change the way you dress, too.

How did you get interested in what clothes astronauts could use on a 100-year-long trip into space?

I had an NPR driveway moment when I heard Dr. Mae Jemison talking about the 100 Year Starship; I had to sit and listen to the whole thing. I immediately got this idea, and ran inside to email her saying, "Okay, you’re planning this long trip, but have you thought about what you’ll wear?" She hadn’t. Textiles and clothing are so integral to our lives, but that gets taken for granted.

Read more ....

My Comment: It must smell pretty bad up there .... but if you are living in it all the time, who will notice.

Tianyuan Cave: Humans Living 40,000 Years Ago Likely Related To Many Present-Day Asians And Native Americans

The leg of the early modern human from Tianyuan Cave was used for the genetic analysis as well as for carbon dating. (Credit: MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology) 

A Relative from the Tianyuan Cave: Humans Living 40,000 Years Ago Likely Related to Many Present-Day Asians and Native Americans -- Daily Science 

Jan. 21, 2013 — Ancient DNA has revealed that humans living some 40,000 years ago in the area near Beijing were likely related to many present-day Asians and Native Americans.

An international team of researchers including Svante Pääbo and Qiaomei Fu of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, sequenced nuclear and mitochondrial DNA that had been extracted from the leg of an early modern human from Tianyuan Cave near Beijing, China.

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My Comment: We are not so different from our ancestors after-all.

Scheme To Clone Neanderthal Baby Disowned By Harvard Geneticist Who "Promoted" It


Lost In Translation: Harvard Geneticist Now Disowns Scheme To Clone Neanderthal Baby -- Evolution News 

The Boston Herald assures us that the geneticist who yesterday was advocating a project to clone a Neanderthal baby in fact never called for such a thing, nor is he seeking a likely and "adventurous female human" to bear the child.

It's all "Way too outlandish, and entirely untrue." A big misunderstanding. The story today is that this all stems from a mistranslation in Der Spiegel that got hyped by Britain's Daily Mail, then went global.

I commented here yesterday on the moral stupidity of the idea.

Read more ....  

Update: How the Viral Neanderthal-Baby Story Turned Real Science into Junk Journalism -- The Atlantic

 My Comment: So the story is now discredited .... but I suspect that if offered with the right inducements .... some women will probably decide to get involved in such an experiment.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Darpa`s Drone Project Is Going Under The Sea

The U.S. military aims to hide drones deep beneath the ocean waves. CREDIT: DARPA.

U.S. Military Wants To Hide Drones Under The Sea -- CBS

Hollywood films often show alien ships or giant monsters rising from the ocean depths to threaten humanity's existence.

The U.S. military envisions a more realistic scenario of hiding robotic drones, sensors or decoys on the ocean floor so that they can rise to the occasion when needed.

The idea of hiding sneaky spy technologies beneath the waves comes from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The agency described its Upward Falling Payloads program as an effort to hide underwater capsules that could be triggered remotely to activate, float to the surface and release their payloads of sensor buoys or even flying drones.  

Read more ....

More News On Darpa`s "Under The Sea" Drone Program

The Pentagon Wants To Scatter Weapons Under The World's Oceans To Activate On Demand -- Business Insider
US Military Wants to Hide Drones Under the Sea -- Live Science
DARPA Considers Deploying Technology On Ocean Floor -- Information Week
DARPA’s New Program: Robots From The Deep Blue Sea -- Red Orbit
DARPA wants to stash drones on the bottom of the ocean -- Slash Gear

Google Founder Tests Google Glass

Google co-founder Sergey Brin was photographed travelling on the New York Subway on Sunday. Daily Mail

Sergey Brin Spotted On New York Subway Wearing Google Glasses -- The Independent 

Billionaire wore prototype of gadget that could allow mobile data-downloading with voice commands. lad in a stylish, black zip-up top and coolly holding the gaze, he could be an upmarket hitman researching his next job. 

One columnist likened him to “an assassin.” But that was just mischief, since the New York Times knew the bearded, beanie-wearing man on the New York subway was Google’s Sergey Brin, who, given the company’s storage of billions of internet searches, could already know everything about his fellow passengers.  

Read more .... 

My Comment: Cool.
 
Update: Tech mogul Sergey Brin spotted wearing his trendy Google Glasses on the New York Subway (but what IS a man worth $17BILLION doing on public transport?) -- Daily Mail

The 16 Greatest Cities In Human History

Constantinople as it would look by air. Wikipedia 

The 16 Greatest Cities In Human History -- Business Insider 

What New York City was in twentieth century, London was in the the 1900s, Constantinople was in the 600s, and so forth, back to Jericho in 7000 BC.

They were the largest cities in the world, and arguably the epicenters of human civilization. These cities led mankind to new heights of culture and commerce—though in the end each of them was surpassed and some of them destroyed.

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My Comment: I would also add the cities of Athens, Alexandria, and Troy.

Did An 8th Century Gamma Ray Burst Irradiate Earth?

An artist’s impression of the merger of two neutron stars. Short duration gamma-ray bursts are thought to be caused by the merger of some combination of white dwarfs, neutron stars or black holes. Theory suggests that they are short lived as there is little dust and gas to fuel an ‘afterglow’. (Credit: NASA / Dana Berry) 

Did An 8th Century Gamma Ray Burst Irradiate Earth? -- Science Daily 

Jan. 21, 2013 — A nearby short duration gamma-ray burst may be the cause of an intense blast of high-energy radiation that hit the Earth in the 8th century, according to new research led by astronomers Valeri Hambaryan and Ralph Neuhӓuser.

The two scientists, based at the Astrophysics Institute of the University of Jena in Germany, publish their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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My Comment: I could only imagine what would be the reaction if such an event happened today.

Evidence Of Ancient Lake On Mars

Layered rocks on the floor of McLaughlin Crater on Mars show sedimentary rocks that contain spectroscopic evidence for minerals formed through interaction with water. Photo: Reuters/NASA  

Mars Scientists Find ‘Strongest Evidence Yet’ That Planet May Have Supported Life -- National Post

Scientists believe they may have found the ‘strongest evidence yet’ that Mars may have supported life, but it’s unlikely in the form most people would recognize.

New research published today in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests a team of scientists could have discovered the ingredients of life in a huge crater up to 5km below the planet’s surface.

The McLaughlin crater, which was made by a meteorite which smashed into Mars, is described as an area of interest for the team, led by London’s Natural History Museum and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Read more ....

More News On The Possibility That There Was Once Water On Mars  

Scientists find evidence of ancient lake on Mars -- Sydney Morning Herald
NASA Probe Finds Evidence Of Groundwater-Fed Lake In Martian Crater -- Red Orbit
Martian minerals 'strongest evidence yet' of life on the red planet - and it could still be there -- Daily Mail
Martian crater may once have held lake -- TG Daily
Massive ancient lake on Mars is indicator of underground waterworks -- Wired

Do We Really Need To Use Deodorant?

New research shows that more than 75 per cent of people with a particular version of a gene don't produce under-arm odour but use deodorant anyway. (Credit: © Piotr Marcinski / Fotolia) 

Deodorants: Do We Really Need Them? -- Science Daily

 Jan. 17, 2013 — New research shows that more than 75 per cent of people with a particular version of a gene don't produce under-arm odour but use deodorant anyway.

The study was based on a sample of 6,495 women who are part of the wider Children of the 90s study at the University of Bristol. The researchers found that about two per cent (117 out of 6,495) of mothers carry a rare version of a particular gene (ABCC11), which means they don't produce any under-arm odour.

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My Comment: Sad to say that I am one of those 25% who needs deodorant.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

9 Interesting Facts On The U.S. Pentagon

The Pentagon (Wikipedia

9 Things You May Not Know About the Pentagon -- History

On January 15, 1943, work was completed on the new headquarters for the U.S. War Department (the modern-day Department of Defense) in Arlington, Virginia. The massive complex, commonly known as the Pentagon, was built to house the nearly 30,000 defense workers tasked with helping America win World War II. With more than 17 miles of corridors, it remains one of the largest office buildings in the world, and has become a symbol—for better and for worse—of military might. Eighty years after its completion, here are nine things you may not know about the Pentagon. 

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Editor: Wikipedia's entry on the Pentagon is very comprehensive. That link is here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Where Did Europe`s Jews Come From?

Jews throw stones at the sea to symbolically cast off their sin on September 20, 2009 in Nice, France, as part of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Jews of European origin are a mix of ancestries, with many hailing from tribes in the Caucasus who converted to Judaism and created an empire that lasted half a millennium, according to a gene study published on Thursday. 

Gene Study Settles Debate Over Origin Of European Jews -- France24 

AFP - Jews of European origin are a mix of ancestries, with many hailing from tribes in the Caucasus who converted to Judaism and created an empire that lasted half a millennium, according to a gene study published on Thursday.

The investigation, its author says, should settle a debate that has been roiling for more than two centuries. Jews of European descent, often called Ashkenazis, account for some 90 percent of the more than 13 million Jews in the world today. According to the so-called Rhineland Hypothesis, Ashkenazis descended from Jews who progressively fled Palestine after the Moslem conquest of 638 AD.

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My Comment: In short .... they came from the Middle East and the Caucasus.

Why Wolves Cannot Be Tamed

Why Dogs Can Be Tamed But Wolves Cannot -- Science 2.0 

Wolves and dogs are genetically very similar, so why did dogs become "man's best friend" while wolves remain wild? Kathryn Lord at the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggests the different behaviors are related to the animals' earliest sensory experiences and the critical period of socialization.

Not much is known about sensory development in wolf pups and assumptions are usually extrapolated from what is known for dogs - but there are significant differences in early development between wolf and dog pups, chief among them timing of the ability to walk.

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My Comment: Bottom line .... wolves are tricky animals to have as a pet.

A Gallery Of Top Secret Australian Military Sites As Seen By Google Earth


Secret Australian Military Bases Revealed By Google Maps [PHOTOS] -- Business Insider

As an ode to Australian and British foreign and defense officials meeting in Australia today to discuss stronger military ties, Australian news site NEWS.com.au has compiled a gallery of top secret Australian military sites as seen by Google Earth.

Previously aviation historians have discovered that the U.S. flew highly classified Global Hawk spy drone missions from a base in South Australia, but we've never seen such a comprehensive look at the secret installations where Australia does classified work and collaborates with other governments.  
 
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My Comment: It appears that you cannot keep a secret nowadays.

No Buried Spitfires In Burma

A place in history: A poster unveiling the Spitfire from around 1939. Daily Mail 

Archaeologists Believe No Spitfires Buried In Burma -- BBC 

Archaeologists hunting for World War II Spitfires in Burma believe there are no planes buried at the sites where they have been digging, the BBC understands.

The archaeologists have concluded that evidence does not support the original claim that as many as 124 Spitfires were buried at the end of the war, the BBC's Fergal Keane reports.

Wargaming.net, the firm financing the dig, has also said there are no planes. But project leader David Cundall says they are looking in the wrong place.

 Read more ....

More News On The Failure Of Finding Spitfires In Burma  

There are NO Spitfires buried in Burma: Hunt for missing WWII planes ends in disappointment -- Daily Mail
Spitfire search in Burma draws a blank -- The Guardian
Archaeologists: No planes buried in Myanmar -- UPI
Search for lost Spitfires ends in failure for treasure hunters -- The Telegraph
Burma Spitfire Hunt Appears Doomed After No Planes Found -- IBTimes
Myanmar Spitfire hunters say search has hit snag -- Huffington Post
Archaeologists find no buried World War II surplus Spitfires in Burma -- Slashgear
Are there perfectly preserved WWII-era Spitfire airplanes buried in the Burmese jungle? -- io9 Myanmar Spitfire hunter still optimistic -- AFP  

Editor: Bummer.

Flickr Celebrates Fifth Birthday With Its Most Viewed Images

Among the eye-catching images in the Flickr Commons collection is this iconic photo of Winston Churchill with President Roosevelt and Stalin at the Yalta Conference during WWII 

The Pictures We Love Best: Flickr Celebrates Fifth Birthday With Its Most Viewed Images -- Daily Mail 

* Flickr Commons celebrates fifth anniversary of 'public domain' collection
* Marks event by showing off its most viewed and commented on pictures
* Images range from famous historic photographs to personal pictures

It features everything from iconic images of some of the most famous figures in history to heartwarming private pictures of ordinary people and animals simply posing up for the camera.

Flickr Commons has celebrated its fifth anniversary by showing off a collection of its most viewed and commented on photographs, including a picture of Winston Churchill at a meeting of Allied leaders during WWII and a photograph of a black dog smoking a pipe in Wales.

The website's collection of 'public domain' photographs was first launched on January 16, 2008 with 1,500 pictures, and has expanded rapidly since, now featuring more than 250,000.

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My Comment: A lot of familiar pics here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Iran Has Enhanced It's Cyber Capabilities

Photo: General William Shelton, Current Commander, Air Force Space Command. Wikipedia

Iran Strengthened Cyber Capabilities After Stuxnet: U.S. General -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Iran responded to a 2010 cyber attack on its nuclear facilities by beefing up its own cyber capabilities, and will be a "force to be reckoned with" in the future, a senior U.S. Air Force official told reporters on Thursday.

General William Shelton, who heads Air Force Space Command and oversees the Air Force's cyber operations, declined to comment about Iran's ability to disrupt U.S. government computer networks, but said Tehran had clearly increased its efforts in that arena after the 2010 incident.

While no government has taken responsibility for the Stuxnet computer virus that destroyed centrifuges at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility, it was widely reported to have been a U.S.-Israeli project.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Iran’s Cyber Threat Potential Great, U.S. General Says -- Bloomberg  
Update #2: Iran beefed up cyber capabilities after Stuxnet: US general -- NBC  

My Comment: I guess this explains why U.S. banks are now worried about their own cyber security.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Germany Unveils It's Own 'Star Wars' Laser

The system is currently mounted of a series of large metal containers. However, the firm is developing a smaller, portable version that could easily be transported to the battlefront. 

Germans Unveil 'Star Wars' Laser That Can Shoot A Drone Out Of The Sky From TWO MILES Away And Cut Through A Steel Girder At 700 Yards -- Daily Mail 

* High powered laser is powerful enough to cut through a steel girder from 1km away
* System is so accurate it could track and destroy an 82mm ball bearing designed to replicate a mortar round
* German firm hopes to create a portable version that could be used on the battlefield

One of the most powerful laser weapons ever fired has successfully shot drones out of the sky from two miles away.

The groundbreaking weapon uses a high powered 50kW laser, and is powerful enough to cut through a steel girder from 1km away, yet accurate enough to hit a target the size of a mortar round.

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My Comment: And this is only the first generation .... makes you wonder what is next.

The Role Of Soot In Climate Change

The burning of wood is a major source of black carbon the world over. 

Climate Change: Soot's Role Underestimated, Says Study -- BBC 

Black carbon, or soot, is making a much larger contribution to global warming than previously recognised, according to research.

Scientists say that particles from diesel engines and wood burning could be having twice as much warming effect as assessed in past estimates.

They say it ranks second only to carbon dioxide as the most important climate-warming agent. The research is in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.

Black carbon aerosols have been known to warm the atmosphere for many years by absorbing sunlight. They also speed the melting of ice and snow.

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My Comment: Outlawing and/or limiting fireplaces is not going to make much headway .... especially for those who live in cold climates.

Cyber Attacks In The U.S. Jumped By 52 Percent In 2012

Cyber vulnerabilities around the U.S. (Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

DHS: Cyber Attacks Against U.S. Infrastructure Increased by 52 Percent in 2012 -- Daily Tech

There were 198 attacks total

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported that the number of cyber attacks launched against U.S. infrastructure in 2012 increased by over 50 percent, and over 7,000 key industrial control systems are vulnerable to attack. According to the DHS report, the number of cyber attacks in the U.S. jumped by 52 percent in 2012. There were 198 attacks total, and some were successful.  

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My Comment: We are not told who was successful attacked.