12:03:26 AM, Saturday, July 09, 2011


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.



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..."



R2D2 Swimsuit

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

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



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.



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..."



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..."



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

3:43:09 PM, Thursday, July 07, 2011


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.



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..."



Astronomy Picture of the Day: A Beautiful Trifid

10:52:01 PM, Wednesday, July 06, 2011

-- "The beautiful Trifid Nebula is a cosmic study in colorful contrasts. Also known as M20, it lies about 5,000 light-years away toward the nebula rich constellation Sagittarius. A star forming region in the plane of our galaxy, the Trifid illustrates three different types of astronomical nebulae; red emission nebulae dominated by light emitted by hydrogen atoms, blue reflection nebulae produced by dust reflecting starlight, and dark nebulae where dense dust clouds appear in silhouette. The bright red emission region, roughly separated into three parts by obscuring, dark dust lanes, lends the Trifid its popular name. In this well met scene, the red emission is also juxtaposed with the telltale blue haze of reflection nebulae. Pillars and jets sculpted by newborn stars, below and left of the emission nebula's center, appear in Hubble Space Telescope close-up images of the region. The Trifid Nebula is about 40 light-years across. "



Woman Caught Smuggling Man Out of Jail in Suitcase

10:34:20 PM, Wednesday, July 06, 2011

"A woman has been caught trying to smuggle her husband out of jail in a suitcase.

The failed escape attempt took place in a prison in Mexico. Local police have said that the prisoner, Juan Ramirez Tijerina, climbed into the black bag during a conjugal visit with his wife.

Maria del Mar Arjona Rivero, 19, then raised suspicions when staff noticed she was rolling out a noticeably bulky suitcase afterwards, Yahoo! 7 reports.

Appearing nervous and claiming that the suitcase was full of "dirty underwear", the woman was asked by the guards on duty to open her bag.

Upon finding her husband inside, Ajorna Rivero was arrested and charged for attempting to aid an escape.

Ramirez Tijerina was found guilty of possessing illegal weapons in 2007, resulting in a 20-year sentence. Prison authorities have stated that he is a "very dangerous" inmate."



Some Catholics Seek to Counter Galileo

9:28:47 PM, Wednesday, July 06, 2011

"Some people believe the world literally revolves around them. It's a belief born not of selfishness but faith.

A small group of conservative Roman Catholics is pointing to a dozen biblical verses and the Church's original teaching as proof that the Earth is the center of the universe, the view that prompted Galileo Galilei's clash with the Church four centuries ago.

The relatively obscure movement has gained a following among a few Chicago-area Catholics who find comfort in knowing there are still staunch defenders of original Church doctrine.

"This subject is, as far as I can see, an embarrassment to the modern church because the world more or less looks upon geocentrism or someone who believes it in the same boat as the flat Earth," said James Phillips, of Cicero.

Phillips attends Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Church in Oak Park, a parish run by the Society of St. Pius X, a group that rejects most of the modernizing reforms the Vatican II council made from 1962 to 1965.

But by challenging modern science, the proponents of a geocentric universe are challenging the very church they seek to serve and protect.

"I have no idea who these people are. Are they sincere, or is this a clever bit of theater?" said Brother Guy Consolmagno, the curator of meteorites and spokesman for the Vatican Observatory..."

-- Yep...



Eyewitness: Fireworks Accident Decapitates Fargo Man

4:56:03 PM, Wednesday, July 06, 2011

"An eyewitness here says a Fourth of July fireworks accident decapitated a Fargo man Monday night.

Police identified the victim as Jesse William Burley, a 41-year-old father of two, who enjoyed life to its fullest, said Burley’s stepfather Chuck Asplin of Fargo.

Chris Hanson, Burley’s neighbor who saw the accident, was packing up his car to leave north Fargo’s Riviera Heights mobile home park as tornado sirens sounded just before 9:30 p.m.

Burley was getting ready to set off a second round of what Hanson said he believed was either a homemade or illegal artillery shell firework.

“He went over into the middle of the street, and within 10 seconds of us talking to him, he lit it and all we saw was a cloud of smoke, a bang,” Hanson said.

What Hanson saw next immediately sent him into shock, he said.

“When I walked up to his body, it was nothing but his shoulders down,” Hanson said Tuesday.

Police Lt. Joel Vettel said Tuesday police are confident the device was a commercial-grade firework, which are federally regulated.

The area Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting Fargo police to investigate whether this type of firework was illegal and how it was obtained, Vettel said..."



Japan Finds Rare Earth Supply That May Ease Tech Shortages

10:37:57 PM, Tuesday, July 05, 2011

"Japan's Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology has made a discovery that could end technology shortages and reduce dependence on China. A total of 78 very large deposits have been found at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii, that equate to about 80 billion to 100 billion metric tons of material like yttrium (pictured). The material should be easy to get out and is even low on the dangerous uranium and thorium that often affects these deposits, the Agency explained to The Guardian.

The minerals will help get the phosphors and other materials needed for displays, including LCDs and their LED backlighting, as well as in mobile device batteries, hybrid cars, and others. They could guarantee a steady supply of material for these supplies and help companies like Apple and Toyota alleviate bottlenecks on production for iPads, smartphones, and a rapidly growing demand for more eco-friendly vehicles.

For most countries, the move could also help avoid depending heavily on just one or two countries for all their supply. While rare earth minerals exist across the world, most of the 110 billion tons of existing supply are concentrated in China with some in Russia and some its former Soviet-era territories. The divide not only gives just a handful of countries a bargaining chip but pushes the US and others further into deals where political conflicts and human rights can be problematic..."



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