Return of the New Fantasy King: 'A Dance With Dragons'

12:40:49 PM, Monday, July 11, 2011

"Fans of "Game of Thrones" can rejoice: George R.R. Martin is back with "A Dance with Dragons," and he's scary good.

It's been almost six years since the publication of "A Feast for Crows," the fourth volume in George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy saga, "A Song of Ice and Fire." It's been a whopping 11 years since the arrival of the third volume, "A Storm of Swords" -- the last truly satisfying installment in the series. But once again, with anticipation driven to new heights after the successful first season of HBO's adaptation, "Game of Thrones," the waiting is finally over. Volume five, "A Dance with Dragons," arrives in bookstores on July 12. It is a triumphant return to form: everything a Martin fan could want from a fantasy novel.

Which is both a promise ... and a threat.

I cracked open the pages of this 1,016-page monster with no small dose of trepidation. When high expectations are combined with years of deferred gratification, readers are thrust onto a vulnerable precipice. Like many early-adopting fans of "A Song of Ice and Fire," I had been disappointed by "A Feast for Crows," a reaction that was all the more painful after so many years spent in a state of increasingly feverish anticipation. I did not want to repeat that experience..."

-- Loved "Game of Thrones" I don't know if I should start reading the books, or wait for the show...!

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Electromagnetic Energy Plucked From The Air

11:20:37 PM, Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Researchers have discovered a way to capture and harness energy transmitted by such sources as radio and television transmitters, cell phone networks and satellite communications systems. By scavenging this ambient energy from the air around us, the technique could provide a new way to power networks of wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips.

“There is a large amount of electromagnetic energy all around us, but nobody has been able to tap into it,” said Manos Tentzeris, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering who is leading the research. “We are using an ultra-wideband antenna that lets us exploit a variety of signals in different frequency ranges, giving us greatly increased power-gathering capability.”

Tentzeris and his team are using inkjet printers to combine sensors, antennas and energy scavenging capabilities on paper or flexible polymers. The resulting self powered wireless sensors could be used for chemical, biological, heat and stress sensing for defense and industry; radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging for manufacturing and shipping, and monitoring tasks in many fields including communications and power usage.

A presentation on this energy scavenging technology was given July 6 at the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Symposium in Spokane, Wash. The discovery is based on research supported by multiple sponsors, including the National Science Foundation, the Federal Highway Administration and Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)..."

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Ash Covered Landscape - The Big Picture (32 Photos)

3:52:57 PM, Sunday, July 10, 2011

-- "Puyehue volcano in southern Chile has spread volcanic ash far and wide since it erupted in early June. On Monday, Argentina's president announced that economic relief would be provided to residents affected by the ash in the southwestern region of Patagonia. And as recent as July 1 ash in the atmosphere was disrupting flights at the Buenos Aires airport. These images show how the earth's landscape has been affected..."

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The Soviet Ship That Cuts Through Ice Like a Nuclear-Powered Knife Through Butter

3:33:53 PM, Saturday, July 09, 2011

"What the Soviets lacked in ability for effective governance, they made up for in ballsy engineering prowess. Really, who else would think to pack two nuclear reactors into a ship and set it loose in the Arctic breaking ice? The North Koreans? Psshhh, not likely.

The NS Yamal, named after the “Ends of the Earth” Yamal Peninsula in Northwest Siberia, is an Arktika-class nuclear-powered Russian icebreaker. Although construction on it began back in 1986, the Yamal was not completed until 1992, after the fall of Soviet rule. Since the new Russian government no longer needed it for its intended purpose — keeping Arctic shipping lanes open — the 150 meters long, 23,455 ton Yamal has since been operated by the Murmansk Shipping Company as a converted 50-cabin cruiser for North Pole tours.

This ship is powered by dual pressurized-water nuclear reactors, each of which contains 245 enriched uranium fuel rods. When fully loaded with 500kg of nuclear material, the Yamal can operate for up to five years without needing to refuel. Each reactor weighs 160 tons and resides within a closed compartment under reduced pressure and is shielded by steel, high density concrete and water. 86 sensors throughout the ship monitor radiation levels at all times.

Breaking with the Soviet tradition of intuitive, straightforward design, the reactors are used to power Rube Goldberg propulsion system. The reactors power boilers which generate high pressure steam to power 12 dynamos which in turn power electric motors attached to each of the three propeller screws. These motors provide each screw with roughly 25,000 horsepower or 55.3MW. With that much power, the Yamal punches through ice up to 2.3m thick at a speed of 3 knots. And though the Yamal’s maximum rated ice thickness is 5m, it has been recorded smashing individual ice ridges as thick as 9m.

But the Yamal doesn’t rely on brute force and a 48mm thick double hull alone. It’s coated with a special, friction-reducing polymer and also uses a water ballast system between the double hulls to concentrate additional weight in the stern. If those aren’t enough, the Yamal is equipped with a an air bubbling system that jets 24 m³/s of air 9m below the surface to help break up the floe (they also help with steering)..."

-- Not a new boat so some of you will be familiar with it I'm sure, but the article is.

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'Du Hast' - Rammstein Performed by Viva Vox Choir

12:26:01 PM, Saturday, July 09, 2011

-- Awesome! Check out their other stuff as well.

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DUMBFOUNDEAD - ARE WE THERE YET

12:03:26 AM, Saturday, July 09, 2011
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NASA Launches Space Shuttle on Historic Final Mission

3:38:38 PM, Friday, July 08, 2011

"CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The space shuttle Atlantis soared into the heavens and the history books Friday (July 8), kicking off the last-ever mission of NASA's storied shuttle program.

Despite a bleak forecast of thunderstorms and clouds, the shuttle beat the weather in a stunning midday launch, sailing into the sky on one final voyage. The coutndown toward liftoff took a dramatic pause at T minus 31 seconds while ground crews verified that a vent arm at the top of the shuttle was fully retracted. NASA was quickly able to push on toward liftoff.

Atlantis blasted off at 11:29 a.m. EDT (1529 GMT) from Launch Pad 39A here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, thrilling huge throngs of spectators who had descended on Florida's Space Coast to see the swan song of an American icon. NASA estimated that between 750,000 and 1 million people turned out to watch history unfold before their eyes.

"On behalf of the greatest team in the world, good luck to you and your crew on the final flight of this true American icon," shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach told the astronauts just before launch. "And so for the final time, Fergie, Doug, Sandy and Rex, good luck, Godspeed and have a little fun up there."

"Thanks to you and your team, Mike. We're not ending the journey today, we're completing a chapter of a journey that will never end," Atlantis' commander Chris Ferguson replied. "Let's light this shuttle one more time Mike and witness this nation at its best. The crew of Atlantis is ready to launch."

After 135 launches over 30 years, the space shuttle will never streak into the sky again..."

-- End of an era. =( Russia will be ferrying our astronauts to the International Space Station using their Soyuz Spacecraft from now on. And these rides won't come cheap. NASA will pony up nearly $56 million per seat for six round trips to the ISS in 2013 and 2014, and the price balloons to $63 million per seat for 12 additional spots before the end of 2015.

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Mexican Murderer Executed as Court, Texas Gov. Reject Obama Appeal

12:12:03 AM, Friday, July 08, 2011

"Humberto Leal Garcia Jr., a Mexican national convicted of raping and killing a 16-year-old girl in 1994, was executed by lethal injection Thursday evening in Texas.

The case's flurry of legal appeals and pleas for clemency were prompted by an international dispute over the rights of the foreign-born on American death rows.

The Supreme Court earlier denied a stay of execution for the convicted killer, despite opposition from the Obama administration and the Mexican government.

Leal was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. CT (7:21 p.m. ET), according to a corrections spokeswoman.

"I am sorry for everything I have done," Leal said at the Huntsville facility before he was executed. "I have hurt a lot of people. Let this be final and be done. I take the full blame for this."

Leal then shouted "Viva Mexico," followed by "I'm ready warden, let's get the show on the road."

His last meal consisted of fried chicken, pico de gallo, tacos, two colas and a bowl of fried okra.

What made Leal's conviction unusual was that he was not informed about his right to contact the Mexican consulate upon his arrest -- a right guaranteed under a binding international treaty. Leal's appellate lawyers argued such access could at the very least have kept Leal off death row.

Mexico strongly condemned the execution, saying it violated an International Court of Justice ruling ordering the United States to review capital convictions of Mexican nationals.

Leal, 38, was convicted of raping Adria Sauceda, a 16-year-old girl in San Antonio, and then fatally strangling and bludgeoning her with a 35-pound piece of asphalt in 1994..."

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R2D2 Swimsuit

11:53:50 PM, Thursday, July 07, 2011

-- R2D2 swimsuit, follow the link for the rest. ;)

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2012 Lamborghini Aventador "Quality" Official Promo

10:51:51 PM, Thursday, July 07, 2011

-- Gorgeous clip except that's a Gallardo and not Aventador at least twice.

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Surgeons Carry Out First Synthetic Windpipe Transplant

10:34:33 PM, Thursday, July 07, 2011

"Surgeons in Sweden have carried out the world's first synthetic organ transplant.

Scientists in London created an artificial windpipe which was then coated in stem cells from the patient.

Crucially, the technique does not need a donor, and there is no risk of the organ being rejected. The surgeons stress a windpipe can also be made within days.

The 36-year-old cancer patient is doing well a month after the operation.

Professor Paolo Macchiarini from Italy led the pioneering surgery, which took place at the Karolinska University Hospital.

In an interview with the BBC, he said he now hopes to use the technique to treat a nine-month-old child in Korea who was born with a malformed windpipe or trachea.

Professor Macchiarini already has 10 other windpipe transplants under his belt - most notably the world's first tissue-engineered tracheal transplant in 2008 on 30-year-old Spanish woman Claudia Costillo - but all required a donor..."

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Naked Mole Rat's Genome 'Blueprint' Revealed

7:59:36 PM, Thursday, July 07, 2011

"The industrious but unlovely naked mole rat is the latest creature to have its genome sequenced by scientists.

A genetic blueprint for this bizarre-looking rodent could help researchers understand why it is so long-lived.

Naked mole rats are also of interest to scientists because they appear to have some resistance to cancer.

A team from the University of Liverpool, UK, led the project and have made the "first draft" of the genome available online for other researchers. Dr Joao Pedro Magalhaes, the Liverpool-based biologist who led the study, explained that he became interested in naked mole rats when he discovered how long they lived.

"Bigger animals tend to live longer, but the naked mole rat is an exception to that rule," he told BBC Nature.

"It can live over 30 years, which is very impressive for an animal that's smaller than a rat. Rats live for just four years."

Dr Magalhaes worked with researchers from Queen Mary, University of London, which is home to the UK's only naked mole rat colony.

The animals are native to the deserts of East Africa, where they dig their tunnels using their impressive teeth.

Unlike true rats, mole rats form a distinct group of rodents that are adapted to live underground..."

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What Song Are You Listening To? Listening In On Londoners' Stereograms

3:43:09 PM, Thursday, July 07, 2011
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Goddamn Electric Bill - Lost in the Zoo

3:24:26 PM, Thursday, July 07, 2011

Goddamn Electric Bill - Lost in the Zoo from Goddamn Electric Bill on Vimeo.

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Polar Bears Rooted in Ireland

3:18:05 PM, Thursday, July 07, 2011

"If she could have talked, the mother of the modern polar bear may have had a brogue. Genetic studies of fossil and modern bears have revealed some hanky-panky 45,000 years ago, when polar bears interbred with now-extinct Irish brown bears. Although a decidedly different species, today's polar bears have Irish brown bear genetic material in their cells, indicating that the polar bear "Eve" was brown and that bear evolution was far from simple.

The finding also shows that interbreeding doesn't necessarily destroy a species. Hybridization with brown bears, a concern today because declining sea ice cover is forcing polar bears to extend their range and come into contact with brown bears, doesn't by itself doom the polar bear, says Graham Slater, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved with the work. "A little bit of hybridization isn't necessarily a bad thing," he notes. However, he cautions that the threats from human activity could push the species over the edge.

Global warming has caused big problems for polar bears, which depend on sea ice for access to the ocean so they can hunt seals and other prey. As sea ice disappears, polar bears are being forced to hunt more on land, which brings them into conflict with humans and increases contact with brown bears. There have been several recent documented cases of hybrids caught in the wild, and interbreeding in zoos has resulted in fertile offspring. To understand the implications of these changes, Beth Shapiro, an evolutionary biologist at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and her colleagues wanted to know how past climate change had affected the genetic diversity and distribution of bears.

The team gathered genetic material from 242 bears from 14 different locations. The material included 8000-year-old polar bear fossils as well as modern samples of polar bears. Daniel Bradley and Ceiridwen Edwards, geneticists at Trinity College Dublin, obtained samples from 23 ancient Irish bear fossils found in caves in Ireland as well. Past studies by other researchers had looked at brown bear DNA in comparison to polar bears, but this was the first time anyone had been able to get DNA material from Irish brown bears..."

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