Göbekli Tepe: Older Than Stonehenge, Pyramids, Anything
|11:19:10 PM, Tuesday, August 30, 2011|
"When people think of ancient temples, they often think of Stonehenge, which most archaeologists agree was built about 5,000 years ago. But Stonehenge is actually trumped handily by a little-known site in modern-day Turkey called Göbekli Tepe, which is 11,500 years old. The site is composed of circular rings and T-shaped monoliths, many with carvings of animals on them.
Although Göbekli Tepe (which means “potbelly hill”) got a bit of press in 2008 when The Guardian and Smithsonian Magazine ran articles about its newly realized importance, it didn’t really receive the wider public acclaim and notice that it deserved. According to many archaeologists, this is one of the most exciting finds ever unearthed, a real game-changer in terms of our understanding of civilization, settlement, agriculture, and religion.
Previously, it was generally believed that humans settled, started farming, and built residential buildings before they built temples. That assumption is now being turned on its head, as it appears that Göbekli Tepe was built by hunter-gatherers as a place of worship, the world’s first temple. The Smithsonian article states:
"Scholars have long believed that only after people learned to farm and live in settled communities did they have the time, organization and resources to construct temples and support complicated social structures. But [excavation leader] Schmidt argues it was the other way around: the extensive, coordinated effort to build the monoliths literally laid the groundwork for the development of complex societies."
Ian Hodder, Stanford University professor of anthropology, elaborates:
"Everybody used to think only complex, hierarchical civilisations could build such monumental sites, and that they only came about with the invention of agriculture. Gobekli changes everything. It's elaborate, it's complex and it is pre-agricultural. That alone makes the site one of the most important archaeological finds in a very long time."
To put it in context, Göbekli Tepe “predates pottery, metallurgy, and the invention of writing or the wheel,” as well as the Pyramids, the walls of Jericho, and just about every other ancient building found so far. Hodder continues, "Many people think that it changes everything … It overturns the whole apple cart. All our theories were wrong."
The exact function of the megalithic complex remains under investigation, as the excavation is ongoing and could take many more years. Klaus Schmidt, the German archaeologist leading the effort, believes that Göbekli Tepe was used by a death cult. Others suggest that it represents the beginning of cultivation of plants, especially grains..."
Pentagon Quake Nightmare: Fukushima on the Mississippi
|11:05:05 PM, Tuesday, August 30, 2011|
"In May, the federal government simulated an earthquake so massive, it killed 100,000 Midwesterners instantly, and forced more than 7 million people out of their homes. At the time, National Level Exercise 11 went largely unnoticed; the scenario seemed too far-fetched — states like Illinois and Missouri are in the middle of a tectonic plate, not at the edge of one. A major quake happens there once every several generations.
But Tuesday’s earthquake along the East Coast is a reminder that disasters can hit where they’re least expected. And if the nightmare scenario comes, government officials worry that state and federal authorities won’t be able to handle the “cascading failures” that follow. The results of May’s disaster exercise won’t be released to the public. But privately, these government officials say they’re glad that this earthquake was just a drill — and not the big one. Especially because there are so many nuclear power plants in the fault zone.
“A couple of things keep me up at night,” Paul Stockton, the Defense Department’s senior homeland security official, told the Aspen Security Forum last month. A quake, like the one simulated in National Level Exercise 11, is chief among the sleep-takers. “It’s so much bigger than anything we’ve faced — way beyond Hurricane Katrina.”
National Level Exercise 11, or NLE 11, was, in essence, a replay of a disaster that happened 200 years earlier. On Dec. 16, 1811, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake hit the New Madrid fault line, which lies on the border region of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. It’s by far the largest earthquake ever to strike the United States east of the Rockies. Up to 129,000 square kilometers [50,000 square miles] were hit with “raised or sunken lands, fissures, sinks, sand blows, and large landslides,” according to the U.S. Geological Service. “Huge waves on the Mississippi River overwhelmed many boats and washed others high onto the shore. High banks caved and collapsed into the river; sand bars and points of islands gave way; whole islands disappeared.” People as far away as New York City were awakened by the shaking..."
Andreea Banica - Love in Brasil
|10:47:21 PM, Tuesday, August 30, 2011|
-- Brazilian, Romanian, Serbian? I don't know, but I think some might classify this music clip as soft-core pornography.
Losing the Language of Happiness
|10:36:35 PM, Tuesday, August 30, 2011|
"If you haven’t read Daniel Everertt’s fabulous Don’t Sleep, There are Snakes about his work as a linguist in the Amazon—well, stop whatever you are doing, go directly to Amazon and enjoy.
After 30 years living with and studying the Piraha, a tribe living in the Amazonian basin, Everett has concluded that neither Chomsky’s argument—that language is innate to humans and there are universal laws of grammar—and Skinner’s argument—that language is completely learned and genetics account for nothing—are correct.
Instead, Everett posits that language and culture are completely intertwined and you cannot study one without the other. Furthermore, and this is where things get really interesting, Everett believes that grammar is significantly less important than culture-based meanings and constraints on talking” are the key.
So what’s the big deal?
This is the deal: About 40 years ago, University of Chicago psychologist (and Flow State guru) Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argued that the human brain takes in about 400 billion inputs a second (some people now feel this number is as high as one trillion) but only 2000 bits of information make it up to consciousness.
Those 2000 bits are what we call conscious reality.
We are now pretty sure Csikszentmihalyi was right in his assessment—but what’s really curious is that none of us—no matter the species—experience the world exactly the same.
That is, we all see 2000 different bits of information, thus we all live in different worlds—quite literally.
Some of this is straight up anatomy. Cognitive Ethologist Patricia McConnell (also in a compelling article about Everett’s work) points out: “the sensory system of each species creates a different reality than other species.” Her example of this is bees—who see colors that humans can’t see (and we see colors they can’t see). Either way, when we glance at a solid yellow flower, bees instead see a swirl of lines and hatching and shading that literally acts as pointers and landing strips driving them towards the pollen within..."
Using Wet Streets of Times Square as Slip and Slide During Hurricane Irene
|10:19:09 PM, Tuesday, August 30, 2011|
-- DAMN! Right on the street surface! Gross!!!
Obama Administration Backs Oil Pipeline From Alberta To Texas
|1:04:25 PM, Tuesday, August 30, 2011|
"The Obama administration has given an important approval to a controversial pipeline that will pump oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Texas coast.
In a blow to campaigners, who have spent the last week at a sit-in at the White House, the State Department said the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline would not cause significant damage to the environment.
The State Department in its report said the project – which would pipe more than 700,000 barrels a day of tar sands crude to Texas refineries – would not increase greenhouse gas emissions. It also downplayed the risks of an accident from piping highly corrosive tar sands crude across prime American farmland.
Campaigners accused the State Department of consistently overlooking the potential risks of the pipeline.
"The State Department… failed to acknowledge the true extent of the project's threats to the climate, to drinking water and to the health of people who would breathe polluted air from refineries processing the dirty tar sands oil," Friends of the Earth said in a statement.
But Kerri-Ann Jones, the assistant secretary of state, rejected the charges. She argued that other government agencies had still to sign off on the project.
"This is not the rubber stamp for this project," Jones told reporters, adding that the pipeline would not lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, claiming Alberta was going to produce the crude anyway.
"The sense we have is that the oil sands would be developed and there is not going to be any change in greenhouse gas emissions with the pipeline or without the pipeline because these oil sands will be developed anyway," she said..."
Tackling Mysteries About Carbon, Possible Oil Formation And More Deep Inside Earth
|1:02:01 PM, Tuesday, August 30, 2011|
"How do diamonds the size of potatoes shoot up at 40 miles per hour from their birthplace 100 miles below Earth's surface? Does a secret realm of life exist inside the Earth? Is there more oil and natural gas than anyone dreams, with oil forming not from the remains of ancient fossilized plants and animals near the surface, but naturally deep, deep down there? Can the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, be transformed into a pure solid mineral?
Those are among the mysteries being tackled in a real-life version of the science fiction classic, A Journey to the Center of the Earth, that was among the topics of a presentation here today at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Russell Hemley, Ph.D., said that hundreds of scientists will work together on an international project, called the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO), to probe the chemical element that's in the news more often than perhaps any other. That's carbon as in carbon dioxide.
"Concerns about climate change have made millions of people aware of carbon's role on the surface of the Earth, in the atmosphere and in the oceans," Hemley said. "The Deep Carbon Observatory will uncover critical information about the movement and fate of carbon hundreds and thousands of miles below Earth's surface. We call that the deep carbon cycle."
Hemley said this basic research could have practical implications in the future. Using laboratory equipment that reproduces pressures deep within the Earth, which are thousands to millions of times higher than on the surface, scientists in these labs have discovered a way to convert carbon dioxide into a rock-like material called polymeric carbon dioxide. With further refinements, scientists could enhance its stability closer to the Earth's surface..."
The Prettiest Boy in the World
|12:52:01 AM, Tuesday, August 30, 2011|
"One evening in late July, a fashion model in very short shorts was walking down Lafayette Street when a middle-aged guy in a baseball cap, pudgy and plodding, stopped dead in his tracks.
“Hey! Hey, you!” he called out in a thick Brooklyn accent, sidling up. “Are you a model?”
The model peered down at him and gamely grinned. “I am.”
“You’re gorgeous.” The man whistled through his teeth. “Shoot! Where are you, you know, illustrated in?”
“Oh, different places,” the model demurred.
“Well, you got my vote,” the guy said. “Man!” He shook his head in amazement and reluctantly continued down the street, completely unaware that the woman he had just encountered was not a woman at all but was in fact Andrej Pejic, a male model who has garnered much attention in the fashion world for his recent success modeling women’s clothing. That day, in addition to the shorts, Pejic was sporting a lacy black blouse over a black tank top, long blond hair, and smoky eyes. He had just come from a shoot for a Spanish magazine where he had shown to good effect a number of items generally considered to be in women’s domain: a floor-length wrap dress, a fur coat, a wide-brimmed felt hat, and, toward the end of the day, a rosy lip stain.
“What color did you use on his lips?” one of the women milling about the studio had asked the makeup artist.
“It’s sort of a berry,” he’d answered, at which point she ducked into the changing room and began dabbing the same shade on her own pout.
And so in moments like the one on Lafayette Street, when Pejic is the object of a clearly heterosexual advance, he does not usually choose to disabuse the potential suitor of his confusion, in part because he knows that the mistake is a fair one. When he first showed up at the Chadwick agency in Melbourne, Australia, the town where he grew up, he was quickly signed and just as quickly told he would be unlikely to find much work in the relatively macho Australian market: He was too beautiful to be an obvious choice for men’s campaigns, but he was not actually a woman. The next year, after Pejic graduated from high school and moved to London, his extreme androgyny made it difficult for him even to secure a British agent. “I remember it was raining and horrible,” he tells me. “I was walking in a street without an umbrella—it was a really dramatic, kind of movie moment—and I was just like, ‘Oh my God, I came to London, I spent my mom’s money, I’m not even gonna get an agency.’ ” He giggles in a low register and continues, “It was like Madonna going to Hollywood.” At Storm, the fifth agency he visited, owner Sarah Doukas—known for discovering Kate Moss—decided to take a chance on him. “When I first met Andrej, I didn’t think, What a beautiful boy or girl,” Doukas says. “I certainly didn’t want to put him in one particular box.” The agency posted him not just on the men’s board but also on the women’s..."
Sutureless Method for Joining Blood Vessels Invented
|11:32:57 PM, Monday, August 29, 2011|
"Reconnecting severed blood vessels is mostly done the same way today -- with sutures -- as it was 100 years ago, when the French surgeon Alexis Carrel won a Nobel Prize for advancing the technique. Now, a team of researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine has developed a sutureless method that appears to be a faster, safer and easier alternative.
In animal studies, a team led by Stanford microsurgeon Geoffrey Gurtner, MD, used a poloxamer gel and bioadhesive rather than a needle and thread to join together blood vessels, a procedure called vascular anastomosis. Results of the research are published online Aug. 28 in Nature Medicine. Lead authors of the study were Stanford postdoctoral scholar Edward Chang, MD, and surgery resident Michael Galvez, MD.
The big drawback of sutures is that they are difficult to use on blood vessels less than 1 millimeter wide. Gurtner began thinking about alternatives to sutures about a decade ago. "Back in 2002, I was chief of microsurgery at Bellevue in New York City, and we had an infant -- 10 to 12 months old -- who had a finger amputated by the spinning wheel of an indoor exercise bike," said Gurtner, senior author of the study and professor of surgery. "We struggled with reattaching the digit because the blood vessels were so small -- maybe half a millimeter. The surgery took more than five hours, and at the end we were only able to get in three sutures.
"Everything turned out OK in that case," he continued. "But what struck me was how the whole paradigm of sewing with a needle and thread kind of falls apart at that level of smallness."
Sutures are troublesome in other ways, too. They can lead to complications, such as intimal hyperplasia, in which cells respond to the trauma of the needle and thread by proliferating on the inside wall of the blood vessel, causing it to narrow at that point. This increases the risk of a blood clot getting stuck and obstructing blood flow. In addition, sutures may trigger an immune response, leading to inflamed tissue that also increases the risk of a blockage..."
Aziz Ansari Blasts The The World's Shittiest Mixtape
|1:46:53 PM, Monday, August 29, 2011|
-- Aziz Ansari is forced to carry around a boombox playing the world's shittiest mixtape.
Lockheed Martin Delivers Third Production C-5M Super Galaxy To USAF
|1:10:08 PM, Monday, August 29, 2011|
"Lockheed Martin has completed delivery of the third production C-5M Super Galaxy to the U.S. Air Force. The sixth C-5M overall to be delivered to the Air Force, this aircraft will undergo internal paint restoration at Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y., before traveling to its permanent home at Dover AFB, Del.
In July, the C-5M Super Galaxy became the first U.S. airlifter to perform a polar overflight direct from Dover AFB to Afghanistan.
Lockheed Martin is on contract to modernize a total of 52 C-5s, consisting of 49 B-, two C- and one A-model aircraft through the Reliability Enhancement and Re-Engining Program (RERP).
The program incorporates more than 70 changes and upgrades, including newer, quieter General Electric engines making the C-5M more reliable and 10 percent more fuel efficient than legacy C-5s.
The Super Galaxy is America's premier global direct delivery weapon system and the only strategic airlifter capable of linking the homeland directly to the warfighter in all theaters of combat without refueling..."
The First Nuclear Power Plant For Settlements On Moon, Mars
|12:10:02 AM, Monday, August 29, 2011|
"The first nuclear power plant being considered for production of electricity for manned or unmanned bases on the Moon, Mars and other planets may really look like it came from outer space, according to a leader of the project who spoke here today at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
James E. Werner said that innovative fission technology for surface power applications is far different from the familiar terrestrial nuclear power stations, which sprawl over huge tracts of land and have large structures such as cooling towers.
"People would never recognize the fission power system as a nuclear power reactor," said Werner. "The reactor itself may be about 1 1/2 feet wide by 2 1/2 feet high, about the size of a carry-on suitcase. There are no cooling towers. A fission power system is a compact, reliable, safe system that may be critical to the establishment of outposts or habitats on other planets. Fission power technology can be applied on Earth's Moon, on Mars, or wherever NASA sees the need for continuous power."
The team is scheduled to build a technology demonstration unit in 2012. This is a cooperative project between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Werner leads the DOE's Idaho National Laboratory involvement in this effort, which includes participation in the reactor design and modeling teams, fuel development and fabrication and development of a small electrical pump for the liquid metal cooled system.
Sunlight and fuel cells were the mainstays for generating electricity for space missions in the past, but engineers realized that solar energy has limitations. Solar cells do a great job supplying electricity in near-Earth orbits and for satellite-borne equipment, but nuclear power offers some unique capabilities that could support manned outposts on other planets or moons..."
Kiteboarding Hurricane Irene
|12:02:04 AM, Monday, August 29, 2011|
How Unrelated Wasps Succeed by Helping Others Breed
|11:44:19 PM, Sunday, August 28, 2011|
"Why do some animals help to rear the young of an unrelated individual without any apparent benefit to themselves?
Animals that choose not to reproduce, but instead help non-relatives to breed, represent a challenge to evolutionary theory. How do these animals pass on the genes that make them so altruistic, if they are not breeding themselves or rearing genetically-related offspring? Shouldn't these genes be removed by natural selection?
It's an evolutionary puzzle that University of Sussex research may now have shed new light upon through studying the reproductive behaviour of the paper wasp (Polistes dominulus).
According to Inclusive Fitness Theory, social animals can benefit in the reproductive stakes even if they don't breed themselves by helping to rear offspring produced by a related female, such as their sister or mother (ie social insects such as bees). This is because the offspring of these relatives will be their brothers and sisters, or nieces and nephews, and so will share at least some of their genes.
The paper wasp, however, does not fit this model, because wasps often help non-relatives to breed*. A relatively primitive species, the paper wasp sometimes rears its own young in a solitary nest, but often forms a social nest with other individuals, where one egg-laying female is dominant and the other wasps assist in rearing the offspring. Why would unrelated wasps help their competitors instead of breeding for themselves?"
Canada Seeks Stealthy Snowmobile, For No Good Reason
|11:12:26 PM, Sunday, August 28, 2011|
"The Canadian government wants a stealth snowmobile. Just, apparently, because.
It’s not as if Canada has any alpine enemies to sneak up on with shadowy, frigid cavalry. But that’s not going to stop the Canadian Department of National Defence from spending a half million dollars on a prototype.
The secret to the intended stealth capabilities of the snowmobile: a hybrid engine and a quieter electric motor. According to a solicitation from the department, the vehicle has to be able to travel 15 kilometers in its electric mode at an average speed of 20 kilometers per hour. Alas, hybrid snowmobiles aren’t commercially available yet, but the department wants a prototype model by March 31.
Why Canada needs a stealth snowmobile is a question best not asked. The solicitation laments that current snowmobile engines are too loud for “missions where covertness may be required,” but doesn’t bother to list any.
Maybe it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The Canadian government has been bolstering its military strength in its arctic regions — which must come as a jarring contrast for Canadian veterans of Afghanistan. While there’s been breathless media hype about a Coming Arctic War, that hypothetical conflict is a naval struggle borne of new northern sea lanes, created by global warming. Snowmobiles need not apply..."
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