A New Way to Measure the Expansion of the Universe
|12:33:39 PM, Friday, August 12, 2011|
"A PhD student from The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth has produced one of the most accurate measurements ever made of how fast the Universe is expanding.
Florian Beutler, a PhD candidate with ICRAR at The University of Western Australia, has calculated how fast the Universe is growing by measuring the Hubble constant.
"The Hubble constant is a key number in astronomy because it's used to calculate the size and age of the Universe," said Mr Beutler.
As the Universe swells, it carries other galaxies away from ours. The Hubble constant links how fast galaxies are moving with how far they are from us.
By analysing light coming from a distant galaxy, the speed and direction of that galaxy can be easily measured. Determining the galaxy's distance from Earth is much more difficult. Until now, this has been done by observing the brightness of individual objects within the galaxy and using what we know about the object to calculate how far away the galaxy must be.
This approach to measuring a galaxy's distance from Earth is based on some well-established assumptions but is prone to systematic errors, leading Mr Beutler to tackle the problem using a completely different method..."
SEAT Girls 2011
|12:13:56 PM, Friday, August 12, 2011|
-- That is all. Also where is the nearest SEAT dealership?
DIY Spy Drone Sniffs Wi-Fi, Intercepts Phone Calls
|11:12:59 PM, Wednesday, August 10, 2011|
"What do you do when the target you’re spying on slips behind his home-security gates and beyond your reach?
Launch your personal, specially equipped WASP drone — short for Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform — to fly overhead and sniff his Wi-Fi network, intercept his cellphone calls, or launch denial-of-service attacks with jamming signals.
These are just a few of the uses of the unmanned aerial vehicle that security researchers Mike Tassey and Richard Perkins demonstrated at the Black Hat security conference here Wednesday.
At a cost of about $6,000, the two converted a surplus FMQ-117B U.S. Army target drone into their personal remote-controlled spy plane, complete with Wi-Fi and hacking tools, such as an IMSI catcher and antenna to spoof a GSM cell tower and intercept calls. It also had a network-sniffing tool and a dictionary of 340 million words for brute-forcing network passwords.
The GSM hack was inspired by a talk given at last year’s DefCon hacker conference by Chris Paget, who showed how to create a cellphone base station that tricks nearby handsets into routing their outbound calls through it instead of through commercial cell towers.
That routing allows someone to intercept even encrypted calls in the clear. The device tricks phones into disabling encryption, and records call details and content before they’re routed to their intended receiver through voice-over-internet protocol or redirected to anywhere else the hacker wants to send them..."
Is There Life on Mars? Answer Lies in Salty Liquid
|11:06:11 PM, Wednesday, August 10, 2011|
"For decades, space scientists have searched Mars for signs of water, the liquid generally believed to be essential for life. Now, they may well have found it.
It's a discovery that, if confirmed, would fundamentally change our understanding of Mars and would strongly support the widely held theory that the planet was once far more wet and warm. Scientists say the discovery of water would provide our best target yet for finding possible life beyond Earth.
''We haven't found any good way to explain what we're seeing without water,'' said Alfred McEwen, of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. He's the lead author on a paper about the possible Martian water in the journal Science.
''And if we confirm that it is a salty water, then we have the best idea yet about where to go to try to find extant life on Mars,'' Professor McEwen said.
Using a powerful camera on a spacecraft in orbit around the red planet, scientists have spied what may be small streams of salty water flowing on Mars during warm seasons. Scientists have identified seven craters in which dark, finger-like features appear and seem to flow down slopes or tiny gullies during late spring. The most plausible explanation is that these features are caused by salty water..."
U-2 Spy Plane’s Retirement Signals the End of an Era
|10:40:35 PM, Sunday, August 07, 2011|
"After more than 50 years gathering intelligence 13 miles above the ground, the United States’ U-2 spy planes will be phased out and replaced by unmanned drones by 2015, The New York Times reported this week. Find out more about the long history of the high-altitude aircraft, which first took to the skies during the tense Cold War era and has played a crucial role in recent operations, particularly in Afghanistan
High-altitude reconnaissance dates back to the American Civil War, when both the Union and Confederate armies used hot air balloons to gather intelligence about enemy troop positions. By World War II, planes and cameras had advanced enough for photoreconnaissance to play a key role in bombing campaigns. As tensions with the Soviet Union mounted in the early days of the Cold War, the United States began conducting peacetime aerial espionage missions over Russia. Existing aircraft proved vulnerable to Soviet anti-aircraft missiles and radar, however, so military leaders began planning a new system based on cutting-edge planes capable of flying at 70,000 feet or higher.
In 1953, the Air Force asked several smaller aircraft manufacturers to submit proposals for the new plane. The following year, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation presented an unsolicited design, developed by the aeronautical engineer Kelly Johnson. With a single engine, glider-like wings and unconventional landing gear, the aircraft would be light enough to fly at extremely high speeds and altitudes. The Air Force rejected Johnson’s unique concept, but a group of prominent scientists and support from President Eisenhower helped convince the CIA to order 20 of the spy planes, which became known as U-2s.
Meanwhile, the astronomer and optician James Baker designed special large-format cameras for the new aircraft. Shell produced a fuel that wouldn’t evaporate at high altitudes, and experts developed a partially pressurized suit for U-2 pilots that prevented their blood from vaporizing and supplied sufficient oxygen. (Survival gear used in early U-2s would later inspire astronauts’ spacesuits.) To sustain themselves during long missions, pilots would have to squeeze tubes of soft food mixtures through holes in their suits’ facemasks. At the beginning of the U-2 program, at least, they were also given the option of carrying cyanide-filled suicide pills, largely because the Soviet secret police was rumored to brutally torture captured agents..."
Mumford & Sons - The Cave
|10:34:00 PM, Sunday, August 07, 2011|
Amateur Scientist Caught Trying to Split Atoms in His Kitchen
|10:25:18 PM, Sunday, August 07, 2011|
"A Swedish man who was arrested after trying to split atoms in his kitchen says he was only doing it as a hobby.
Richard Handl said that he had the radioactive elements radium, americium and uranium in his apartment in southern Sweden when police showed up and arrested him on charges of unauthorized possession of nuclear material.
The 31-year-old Handl said he had tried for months to set up a nuclear reactor at home and kept a blog about his experiments, describing how he created a small meltdown on his stove.
Only later did he realise it might not be legal and sent a question to Sweden’s Radiation Authority, which answered by sending the police.
‘‘I have always been interested in physics and chemistry,’’ Handl said, adding he just wanted to ‘‘see if it’s possible to split atoms at home.’’
The police raid took place in late July, but police have refused to comment. If convicted, Handl could face fines or up to two years in prison..."
Man Finds Suspicious White Powder in Florida Keys, Decides to Snort It, and Dies
|11:16:25 PM, Friday, August 05, 2011|
"On the list of things not to do when you discover a mysterious package full of white powder, snorting the substance is probably near the top of the list.
Unfortunately for 53-year-old Thomas Swindal, he did not heed that advice and died last week after he thought he'd just found a floating kilo of blow, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.
Swindal was fishing with his brother off the shore of Marathon when they found a brick floating in the water they believed to be a package of cocaine, police say.
Swindal's brother told police that Thomas Swindal decided to put the brick on their boat and, when he looked back at his brother a bit later, noticed he had the package open and was snorting it up.
Around 90 minutes later, Swindal began to run around the boat, throwing his cell phone and radio into the water, and then began mangling the engine with random tools to the point that it wouldn't start, according to the cops.
Swindal's brother then threw all the sharp things and the mystery package of powder off the boat before signaling state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers to rescue them.
Swindal was taken to a Miami hospital and died the next day, police say.
The cops say they believe the package could have possibly been cocaine, but they're waiting for autopsy results to come back to find out.
Meanwhile, the sheriff's office ask that you not salvage bricks of powder from the ocean, and it's probably not a good idea to snort it either..."
-- Careful what you recover from the waters around Florida and snort.
Beyond Angry Birds
|11:04:33 PM, Friday, August 05, 2011|
"A few months ago, a producer at a major video-game company startled me by admitting that the economic viability of the triple-A video-game production cycle — the expensive development process, in other words, by which games like Halo, Grand Theft Auto, Uncharted, and BioShock are unleashed upon the world — is in all likelihood doomed. Shortly after that, a developer told me he has a hard time imagining how single-player narrative video games are going to survive in the long run; such games, he believes, will eventually be seen as a historical anomaly. Neither man was particularly thrilled to imagine a future largely absent of the kinds of games he makes and most cares about, but current trends could not be ignored.
I told the developer that he sounded a bit like my fiction-writer friends going on about the inevitable death of the novel. "It takes one person to write a novel," he told me. "To make the kinds of games we're talking about, you need several dozen people — probably more like a hundred — with training across several fields. If the money's not there, which is increasingly the case, the games can't be made."
The two most enjoyable console video games I have played in the past six months, Bulletstorm and Dead Space 2, underperformed commercially despite superlative reviews. (Not even the condemnation of Fox News, which asked if Bulletstorm was "the worst video game in the world," could push that game into best-sellerdom.) Another game I loved, Shadows of the Damned, which was developed by Shinji Mikami and Suda 51, two of the most admired, influential, and eccentric minds in games today, moved something like 26,000 copies in its first month of release. Even recent "successes" like Portal 2 and L.A. Noire, which were reviewed everywhere, failed to sell as many copies as projected..."
S&P Downgrades U.S. Debt Rating — Press Release
|10:47:48 PM, Friday, August 05, 2011|
"Standard & Poor’s took the unprecedented step of downgrading the U.S. government’s “AAA” sovereign credit rating Friday in a move that could send shock waves through global. The following is a press release from Standard & Poor’s:
– We have lowered our long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States of America to ‘AA+’ from ‘AAA’ and affirmed the ‘A-1+’ short-term rating.
– We have also removed both the short- and long-term ratings from CreditWatch negative.
– The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.
– More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.
– Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government’s debt dynamics any time soon.
– The outlook on the long-term rating is negative. We could lower the long-term rating to ‘AA’ within the next two years if we see that less reduction in spending than agreed to, higher interest rates, or new fiscal pressures during the period result in a higher general government debt trajectory than we currently assume in our base case.
TORONTO (Standard & Poor’s) Aug. 5, 2011–Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said today that it lowered its long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States of America to ‘AA+’ from ‘AAA’. Standard & Poor’s also said that the outlook on the long-term rating is negative. At the same time, Standard & Poor’s affirmed its ‘A-1+’ short-term rating on the U.S. In addition, Standard & Poor’s removed both ratings from CreditWatch, where they were placed on July 14, 2011, with negative implications...
Catholic Church Child Protection Chief Caught With 4,000 Child Porn Pictures
|3:56:37 PM, Wednesday, August 03, 2011|
"A child protection official for the Catholic Church has been caught with 4,000 pictures of child porn.
Father-of-four Christopher Jarvis was arrested after uploading pictures of children being abused to a website.
Married Jarvis, 49, a former social worker, was employed by the church following sex scandals about pervert priests.
His job was to monitor church groups to ensure paedophiles did not gain access to children in the church’s congregations.
But he was caught by police in March with more than 4,000 child porn images on his home computer and his work laptop.
He admitted 12 counts of making, possessing and distributing indecent images when he appeared before magistrates in Plymouth and is likely to face jail when he returns to court for sentencing next month.
Jarvis, who has been sacked from his job as child safeguarding officer, worked the Diocese of Plymouth for nine years..."
Record Radiation Level at Japan Nuclear Plant
|3:23:02 PM, Wednesday, August 03, 2011|
"Record levels of radiation have been recorded at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant reactor, just months after the nuclear accident resulting from the earthquake and tsunami in March.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported that Geiger counters - a hand-held device used to measure radiation - registered their highest possible reading at the site on Monday.
TEPCO said that radiation exceeding 10 sieverts [10,000 millisieverts] per hour was found at the bottom of a ventilation stack standing between two reactors.
Al Jazeera's Aela Callan, reporting from Japan's Ibaraki prefecture, said the level recorded was "fatal to humans" but that it was contained just to the plant's site. However, scientists are planning to carry out more tests on Tuesday.
"Authorities are working on the theory though that it has come from those initial hydrogen explosions that we've seen at the plant in the days after the earthquake and tsunami," she said.
"It is now looking more likely that this area has been this radioactive since the earthquake and tsunami but no one realised until now."
On Tuesday, TEPCO said it found another spot on the ventilation stack itself where radiation exceeded 10 sieverts per hour, a level that could lead to incapacitation or death after just several seconds of exposure.
The company used equipment to measure radiation from a distance and was unable to ascertain the exact level because the device's maximum reading is 10 sieverts..."
Ruki Vverh - On Tebja Celuet
|12:57:48 AM, Wednesday, August 03, 2011|
Scientists Stunned by Surface of Asteroid Vesta
|12:34:39 AM, Wednesday, August 03, 2011|
"The first close-up pictures of the massive asteroid Vesta reveal a northern hemisphere littered with craters — including a trio nicknamed "Snowman" — and a smoother southern half, researchers reported Monday.
Running along the asteroid's equator are deep grooves — a surprise to scientists who did not expect to see such features.
"We're seeing quite a varied surface," said chief scientist Christopher Russell of the University of California, Los Angeles. The images were taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which began orbiting the 330-mile-wide rocky body last month and beaming back incredible surface details that the team is only beginning to pore over. It's the first time that Vesta has been viewed up close. Until now, it has only been photographed from afar.
Since entering orbit, Dawn has taken more than 500 pictures, while refining its path and inching ever closer to the surface to get a better view. The probe will officially start collecting science data next week once it is 1,700 miles from the surface. It will get as close as 110 miles while it orbits Vesta for a year.
Vesta's southern section is dominated by a giant crater, the result of a collision eons ago that's believed to have pelted Earth with numerous meteorites, or broken off pieces of asteroids. The northern side is filled with older craters including three that scientists dubbed "Snowman."
Vesta is "so rich in features" that it will keep scientists busy for years, said Holger Sierks, of the Max Planck Society in Germany, who helps operate the camera..."
In Our Own Backyard: Resisting Nazi Propaganda in Southern California 1933-1945
|12:01:00 AM, Wednesday, August 03, 2011|
"We will undermine the morale of the people of America. . .. Once there is confusion and after we have succeeded in undermining the faith of the American people in their own government, a new group will take over; this will be the German-American group, and we will help them to assume power.
-- Adolf Hitler, 1933
The Great Depression and the World Wars were the major historical influences on Americans between 1933 and 1945. The 1929 stock market crash had left 13 million people unemployed and 2 million homeless. A documentary of the period would have revealed Hoovervilles, dust storms, labor union strikes, violent farmers protesting foreclosures and unarmed WWI Vets marching on the White House for their promised bonuses, only to be met by U.S. Army tanks.
In 1933 Adolf Hitler became the head of Germany's Third Reich and Franklin Delano Roosevelt entered the Oval Office. In the United States, the New Deal brought hope for recovery. In Germany, Jews and other victims were being beaten in the streets. Many Americans were scared and vulnerable. In the battle of ideologies that followed, it was only a short leap from the logical questioning of the viability of democracy to the illogical blaming of an entire race for the world's economic and political problems.
The Nazi Propaganda period, 1933 to 1945, chronicles a crucial twelve years in American history. This exhibit's story about the local threat to American ideals demonstrates how European events reached across the ocean and affected people in Southern California -- in our own backyard. It is the story of the exploitative behavior that resulted from distorted beliefs.
The approximately 200 items in this exhibit focus on the clashing ideologies of this era and the activities of the various groups that embraced them. The original books, pamphlets, flyers, newspapers, letters and photographs reflect the profusion of media barraging the public as it searched for answers in a period of turmoil..."
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