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"..."



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.



The Kiss Transmission Device

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




'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..."



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!



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!



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? …”



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.



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.



Aloe Blacc - 99 Problems (Jay-Z Cover)

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

-- Love this guy! No homo.



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.



George Carlin - Religion is Bullshit

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

-- Classics. Classics. Classics.



Oil'd: What If The Gulf Spill Never Happened?

7:12:34 PM, Friday, May 06, 2011


The Southwest Bike Tire Massacre

6:42:18 PM, Friday, May 06, 2011

"I recently visited Tucson, Arizona and was happy to see a fair amount of people riding bicycles rather than driving through the city’s downtown area. There are wide bike lanes and plenty of racks for parking, and even a monthly street fair where bikers can pick up new and used parts or equipment. All this plus a mostly sunny forecast made Tucson seem like an ideal biking locale, until a friend who lives in the area pointed to the numerous needles and burrs sticking out of his bike tires. “They make it kind of miserable to ride,” he said. “You begin to feel like the plant life in Arizona hates bicycles and the people who ride them.”

Most likely, the bike tire massacre was due to the puncture plant, a species that was causing problems in Arizona and California when it was reported on in Scientific American’s September 10, 1921 issue. “Specifically this weed is known as Tribulus Terrestris probably because it spreads tribulation and terror among all owners of inflated-tire vehicles.” The plant is native to Southern Europe and is believed to have spread to the United States via the fleeces of imported sheep.

When the plant matures, its fruit (the burr) splits into 5 sections, each covered in needles. As they scatter, they lay needle face-up, waiting to puncture any tire that dares ride over. Once embedded in the rubber, they are very hard to remove and can stay in the tire for long distances, making it easy for seeds to spread.

“The possibilities for damage from this plant are well illustrated by the experiences of a California motorist who reported 70 punctures in one tire, all due to the puncture vine. In some sections where the puncture plant has become established, one-half of the bicycle tire and approximately one-quarter of the automobile tire punctures result from the spiny burs of this plant which are distributed along the wayside.”

Mowing was attempted to control the growth of the plant, but was ultimately unsuccessful. It is now considered a noxious weed by the USDA and is “restricted” and “controlled” in many states, including Arizona. However, while the puncture plant may seem like nothing but a menace, it has proven to be useful as a weapon when covered in poison while its extract can be turned into a potent male sexual enhancement drug."

-- Damn nature, you scary!!!



Earliest American Dogs May Have Been Dinner

6:36:50 PM, Friday, May 06, 2011

"In 1912, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team fought more than exhaustion and cold on their famous quest to become the first humans to reach the South Pole. The rations they had packed for the arduous dog-sled journey across Antarctica proved insufficient, so Amundsen and his men decided to shoot and eat some of their dogs. The explorer later described the fare as delicious, adding that "it is anything but a real hardship to eat dog flesh."

Amundsen may have come up with the idea after hearing stories of aboriginal hunters in Greenland eating their sled dogs in winter. But just how long have humans regarded Fido as food? In a paper published online this month in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, a team headed by geneticist Raul Tito at the University of Oklahoma in Norman reports finding a dog bone in 9260-year-old naturally preserved human feces. According to team member Samuel Belknap III, a graduate student at the University of Maine, Orono, it is the earliest incontrovertible evidence for domestic dogs in the New World. "And I feel fairly confident that it's the oldest direct evidence of human consumption of dog in the world," notes Belknap.

Belknap discovered the bone while identifying the contents of ancient human feces excavated from a lower layer at a rock shelter known as Hinds Cave in Texas. The ancient fecal material, or coprolite, was littered with seared prickly pear seeds—a food prepared and cooked by humans—and flecked with small bones from fish, birds, and rodents. Belknap was initially surprised to find the bone of a larger mammal. Further analysis suggested that it was part of a dog's skull—the occipital condyle, a knoblike structure on the back of the head, near the first vertebra—and studies by fellow University of Maine graduate student Robert Ingraham at the Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology showed that it closely matched that from a Native American dog collected in New Mexico. That dog weighed about 25 to 30 pounds in life and possessed a short nose. "Our dog probably represents the ancestor of those dogs," says Belknap.

The team obtained the date of 9260 years ago for the coprolite by radiocarbon dating one of the prickly pear seeds inside. But the early date, says Belknap, necessitated a more definitive identification of the bone. Research teams elsewhere had advanced claims for other dogs in this time range in the New World, but critics had frequently disputed the findings. The best evidence of an early dog in the New World came from a 9400-year-old skeleton from the Koster site in Illinois, but the dog was dated only in association with charcoal from a hearth, and the identification was based on just one line of evidence: skeletal characteristics..."



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