Yes, You Can Get Leprosy From an Armadillo

1:34:56 PM, Saturday, May 14, 2011

"For years, scientists have speculated that armadillos can pass on leprosy to humans, and that they are behind the few dozen cases of the disease that occur in the U.S. every year. Now, they have evidence. A genetic study published today in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that U.S. armadillos and human patients share what seems to be a unique strain of the bacterium that causes leprosy.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease after the physician who first described it, attacks the skin and the nerves. It's a difficult illness to study: The bacteria grows naturally only in people and armadillos, and in experiments will grow on the footpads of genetically engineered mice.

In most places around the world where leprosy shows up, the disease is thought to pass from person to person. But in Central America and parts of the U.S. South and Southwest, armadillos are common, showing up in backyards, under porches, and by the side of the road. And in some places, more than 20% of armadillos are infected with leprosy. "It's always been a curiosity," says Richard Truman, a microbiologist at the National Hansen's Disease Program which is housed at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Scientists think their low body temperature provides a good environment for Mycobacterium leprae, the leprosy bacteria; in humans, too, M. leprae prefers cooler areas, such as nostrils, fingers, and toes.

Whether armadillos are linked to human infections in the United States has been "very difficult to address," Truman says. The number of U.S. cases is minuscule—just 150 people are diagnosed with leprosy each year, and only 30 to 50 of those are thought to have contracted the disease locally. There have been several reports of leprosy patients who came into contact with armadillos. John Abide, a dermatologist in Greenville, Mississippi, runs a solo practice and in recent years has seen three patients with the disease; further questioning revealed that all three of them had been exposed to armadillos. One woman often worked in her garden, where there were armadillos "everywhere," Abide says. "She could have inhaled fecal material." And two male patients had killed armadillos near their houses. Abide published these case studies in 2008..."

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Pendulum Waves

11:11:30 AM, Saturday, May 14, 2011
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3-D Plastic Art for the Masses: Ready to Print

5:53:58 PM, Friday, May 13, 2011

As it turns out, there really is a great future in plastics.

“There’s nothing like working with plastic!” Marius Watz announced to an appreciative crowd at the start of a talk in Brooklyn recently. Mr. Watz, a Norwegian-born artist, was describing his work with MakerBot, a new consumer-grade, desktop-size 3-D printer. With some assembly and do-it-yourself tinkering, the MakerBot makes, or “prints,” three-dimensional objects from molten plastic, creating a piggy bank, say, or a Darth Vader head from a computer design at the touch of a button.

“I’d heard about 3-D printing in the ’90s, but at that time it sounded like some sci-fi technology, like laser guns,” Mr. Watz said. “Basically, it sounded totally awesome.”

“Awesome” was sort of the buzzword at MakerBot’s inaugural open house, held at its warehouselike offices in Gowanus, Brooklyn, where Mr. Watz, its first artist in residence, showed off his sculptural forms (“We just started doing some blobby objects — vaguely disturbing but also awesome”) to a few dozen admirers and MakerBot owners, mostly guys in various stages of nerdy bliss. (“Aaawwwe-some.”)

After a burst of invention by three friends, the company was formed two years ago— “built on caffeine,” said a founder, Bre Pettis — and has since expanded to 32 employees and thousands of MakerBot kits sold. Three-D printing has existed for years, but the machines were cumbersome and expensive, relegated to art and engineering schools, often monopolized by specialists. The MakerBot, which tops out at about $1,300, gives anybody with a computer and an idea the same creative horsepower, and artists are beginning to take notice..."

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What is the Human Genome Worth?

3:43:49 PM, Friday, May 13, 2011

"A high-profile claim that the Human Genome Project and associated research generated almost US$800 billion in economic benefits has been questioned by economists.

The estimate comes from the Battelle Memorial Institute, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. A team of researchers used an 'input–output' economic model to calculate a 141-fold return on each dollar invested in the Human Genome Project. The team's report concludes that a $3.8-billion federal investment (equivalent to $5.6 billion in 2010 dollars) produced $796 billion in economic output between 1988 and 2010 and, in 2010 alone, supported 310,000 jobs.

Critics of the report say that the methods used to calculate these numbers, despite being common practice in such studies, are flawed. For example, some of the costs of the project — such as the salaries of those working on it — are counted as benefits.

"What they did is conventional and reasonably done, for what it is," says economist Bruce Weinberg at Ohio State University in Columbus. "But at a deeper conceptual level, it's not very consistent with economic logic. All those guys who wound up sequencing the genome? Those aren't the benefits, those are the costs of sequencing the genome."

But the Battelle team stands by its analysis, as does the Life Technologies Foundation, the company that sponsored the report. "The numbers are big, but when you dig into it, the methodology is actually pretty conservative," says Greg Lucier, chief executive of Life Technologies. He says that the company commissioned the report because "we didn't really know how much value was created so far, or how broad the impact was"..."

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Nuclear Meltdown at Fukushima Plant

3:17:47 PM, Friday, May 13, 2011

"One of the reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant did suffer a nuclear meltdown, Japanese officials admitted for the first time today, describing a pool of molten fuel at the bottom of the reactor's containment vessel.

Engineers from the Tokyo Electric Power company (Tepco) entered the No.1 reactor at the end of last week for the first time and saw the top five feet or so of the core's 13ft-long fuel rods had been exposed to the air and melted down.

Previously, Tepco believed that the core of the reactor was submerged in enough water to keep it stable and that only 55 per cent of the core had been damaged.

Now the company is worried that the molten pool of radioactive fuel may have burned a hole through the bottom of the containment vessel, causing water to leak.

"We will have to revise our plans," said Junichi Matsumoto, a spokesman for Tepco. "We cannot deny the possibility that a hole in the pressure vessel caused water to leak".

Tepco has not clarified what other barriers there are to stop radioactive fuel leaking if the steel containment vessel has been breached. Greenpeace said the situation could escalate rapidly if "the lava melts through the vessel"..."

-- Was so busy with finals I just found out now... Also, how come I didn't see anyone cover this? US news are useless.

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The Kiss Transmission Device

3:06:49 PM, Friday, May 13, 2011

--- FOREVER ALONE.

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'JetMan' Pulls Off Grand Canyon Flight — Quietly

2:56:16 PM, Friday, May 13, 2011

"HUALAPAI INDIAN RESERVATION, Ariz. — Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy last Saturday completed a flight over the Grand Canyon in his custom-built jet suit, his sponsor announced Tuesday.

Rossy was airborne for more than eight minutes, soaring 200 feet above the canyon rim on the Hualapai Reservation after launching from a helicopter, Swiss watchmaker Breitling said in a press release.

A spokesperson for Grand Canyon Resort, a Hualapai company that facilitated the flight, confirmed that it happened.

Word of a Saturday flight came as a surprise because Rossy cancelled a planned Friday flight, saying it would be too challenging without any practice runs.

No reporters were present for the Saturday flight and a Swiss news website that has been tracking Rossy noted that he was nervous having so many reporters and onlookers waiting for him last Friday.

"I have a knot in my body," he was quoted by swissinfo.ch as saying. "Sorry for that. I’m human."

But a spokesperson for Breitling told msnbc.com that the event was low key only because Rossy didn't know until the last minute when wind conditions would be right for the flight..."

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A Small Quantum Leap: New Switching Device Could Help Build Ultrafast Quantum Internet

8:18:07 PM, Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Northwestern University researchers have developed a new switching device that takes quantum communication to a new level. The device is a practical step toward creating a network that takes advantage of the mysterious and powerful world of quantum mechanics.

The researchers can route quantum bits, or entangled particles of light, at very high speeds along a shared network of fiber-optic cable without losing the entanglement information embedded in the quantum bits. The switch could be used toward achieving two goals of the information technology world: a quantum Internet, where encrypted information would be completely secure, and networking superfast quantum computers.

The device would enable a common transport mechanism, such as the ubiquitous fiber-optic infrastructure, to be shared among many users of quantum information. Such a system could route a quantum bit, such as a photon, to its final destination just like an e-mail is routed across the Internet today.

The research -- a demonstration of the first all-optical switch suitable for single-photon quantum communications -- is published by the journal Physical Review Letters.

"My goal is to make quantum communication devices very practical," said Prem Kumar, AT&T Professor of Information Technology in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and senior author of the paper. "We work in fiber optics so that as quantum communication matures it can easily be integrated into the existing telecommunication infrastructure."

The bits we all know through standard, or classical, communications only exist in one of two states, either "1" or "0." All classical information is encoded using these ones and zeros. What makes a quantum bit, or qubit, so attractive is it can be both one and zero simultaneously as well as being one or zero. Additionally, two or more qubits at different locations can be entangled -- a mysterious connection that is not possible with ordinary bits..."

-- Finals are almost over!!! But, yeh, some of the content might be a little dated, haven't had the time!

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CN Tower's Edgy New Attraction

8:08:45 PM, Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Here’s a terrifying new tourist attraction for those who like living on the edge.

Visitors to Canada’s National Tower in Toronto can now pay $175 (£111) to walk hands-free around the outside of the building… attached only by a cable.

Groups of up to eight will shuffle across a ledge that’s only 5ft wide, has no guard-rail and is 1,168ft above ground.

During the experience, called EdgeWalk, trained guides will encourage adrenaline junkies to lean over the edge of the tower and take in views of Toronto and Lake Ontario.

The insane-looking experience lasts around 90 minutes, with the walk itself taking 20-30 minutes.

Anyone can have a go as long as they meet height and weight requirements, and the experience has been designed with ‘utmost safety and security in mind’.

CN Tower President Mark Laroche said: “EdgeWalk is both thrilling and unique and will push visitors to their limits — literally and figuratively.”

Tickets go on sale June 1."

-- WOOT!!! Time to take another drive to Toronto, Canada!

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The Future of Colliders: Beyond the LHC!

6:41:42 PM, Tuesday, May 10, 2011

“John Oliver: So, roughly speaking, what are the chances that the world is going to be destroyed? One-in-a-million? One-in-a-billion?

Walter Wagner: Well, the best we can say right now is a one-in-two chance.

John: 50-50?

Walter: Yeah, 50-50... It's a chance, it's a 50-50 chance.

John: You come back to this 50-50 thing, what is it Walter?

Walter: Well, if you have something that can happen and something that won't necessarily happen, it's going to either happen or it's gonna not happen. And, so, it's kind of... best guess at this point.

John: I'm... not sure that's how probability works, Walter. -The Daily Show

At its simplest, most fundamental level, it's hard to imagine anything simpler than the particle physicist's favorite toy, the collider. Just take two things moving very quickly in opposite directions, and smash them together!

Okay, okay, two particles. Take two particles and smash them together. Why would you want to do that?

Because the more energy you give these guys, the more energy is available to create new matter, perhaps even to create some rare, never-before-seen particles of ultra-high, unstable masses!The key, of course, is twofold: getting to those incredibly high energies and also being able to detect the stuff that comes out! Now, the big collider that everyone knows about is, of course, the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC for short.

At 26 kilometers in circumference, it's certainly one of the largest particle accelerators in the world. But, I'm sure you're curious, how does it work? …”

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1945 Footage of a Crashed B-29 Crew Getting Rescued by a Submarine Found

5:15:32 PM, Tuesday, May 10, 2011

-- This short clip is worth a watch. An entire crew of a B-29 (12 aviators) was rescued by a US submarine after their plane was shot down in 1945, 70 miles off the coast of Japan. The entire rescue was filmed in color film, but then sat in a guy’s closet until now. This is a story from a Denver TV station of one of those rescued aviators to whom the video was delivered. It also shows their transfer to another submarine that is likely headed back to port before the one that accomplished the rescue.

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CIA's June 1988 Employee of the Month Killed by New Employee of the Month

4:25:17 PM, Saturday, May 07, 2011

-- I also love Matt Bors! No homo.

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Aloe Blacc - 99 Problems (Jay-Z Cover)

4:14:12 PM, Saturday, May 07, 2011

-- Love this guy! No homo.

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ZZ Top Beard Man Meets Electric Bark Collar

10:45:39 PM, Friday, May 06, 2011

-- Two guys try to bark while wearing an electric bark collar. Stupid, but somewhat hilarious.

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George Carlin - Religion is Bullshit

9:52:38 PM, Friday, May 06, 2011

-- Classics. Classics. Classics.

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