Largest Fossil Spider Found in Volcanic Ash

2:57:33 PM, Friday, April 22, 2011

"The largest fossil spider uncovered to date once ensnared prey back in the age of dinosaurs, scientists find.

The spider, named Nephila jurassica, was discovered buried in ancient volcanic ash in Inner Mongolia, China. Tufts of hairlike fibers seen on its legs showed this 165-million-year-old arachnid to be the oldest known species of the largest web-weaving spiders alive today — the golden orb-weavers, or Nephila, which are big enough to catch birds and bats, and use silk that shines like gold in the sunlight.

The fossil was about as large as its modern relatives, with a body one inch (2.5 centimeters) wide and legs that reach up to 2.5 inches (6.3 cm) long. Golden orb-weavers nowadays are mainly tropical creatures, so the ancient environment of Nephila jurassica probably was similarly lush.

"It would have lived, like today's Nephila, in its orb web of golden silk in a clearing in a forest, or more likely at the edge of a forest close to the lake," researcher Paul Selden, director of the Paleontological Institute at the University of Kansas, told LiveScience. "There would have been volcanoes nearby producing the ash that forms the lake sediment it is entombed within."

Spiders are the most numerous predators on land today, and help keep insect numbers in check. So these findings help us "understand the evolution of the insect-spider predator-prey relationship," Selden said, suggesting that golden orb-weavers have been ensnaring insects and influencing their evolution since the Jurassic Period..."

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Time-Lapse on Top of Spain’s Highest Mountain: El Teide Mountain and the Milky Way Galaxy

10:49:39 PM, Thursday, April 21, 2011

-- I've been meaning to post this. The best time-lapse you'll ever watch!!! DO IT NOW.

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Man Runs 99 Miles Home After Completing London Marathon

9:46:43 PM, Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Sam Robson did what most people do after completing a marathon: He went home and fell asleep. Except rather than drive to his house, 99 miles away from the finish line of the London Marathon, Robson ran back. All the way.

The 28-year-old from Central England finished Sunday's official race in 3 hours and 45 minutes before starting on the 99-mile second leg. He arrived to his home in St. Ives Cambs about 25 hours later, greeted by a cheering crowd. In total, he ran 125 miles in 29 hours, a pace of around 13 minutes per mile.

That number sounds insane, but it's even more mind-boggling if you really think about it. Think back to what you were doing five hours ago yesterday. Now imagine you've been running since then. I don't know if most people could stay awake that long, let alone do anything remotely physical.

Robson, a medical researcher, completed the super-marathon to raise money for the UK Epilepsy Society. In all, he raised a little more than $5,000 for the charity. Robson has suffered from the condition since he was a teenager..."

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'Disease-Proof Mosquito' Could Spread Like Wildfire

3:24:47 PM, Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Suppose you're one of the many scientists racing to design mosquitoes unable to transmit malaria or another major scourge—and you succeed. Now what? You can release the critters in the real world, but if they don't have some unique advantage, they will be vastly outnumbered by the billions of natural mosquitoes already out there.

Now, scientists have developed a new genetic trick that could help those disease-resistant mosquitoes spread like wildfire. The system, a so-called gene drive mechanism, is published online today in Nature.

The new study is part of an explosion in mosquito genetics research that aims to stop mosquitoes from transmitting malaria—which killed an estimated 800,000 people in 2009—and several other diseases. Already, scientists have identified several mosquito genes that, when tinkered with, decrease the mosquitoes' ability to transmit a virus or a parasite; they have also given the insects new genes that do the same.

But a question clouding the field's future has been how to “replace” natural populations with these new and improved mosquitoes. For that, scientists need a system that will help the lab-bred mosquitoes take over wild populations, to ensure that genes conferring resistance become ubiquitous. Scientists are working on several strategies; many involve so-called selfish genes, strange stretches of naturally occurring DNA that have ways of spreading through populations in almost parasitic fashion. The idea is that these genes could be hitched to others that mess with the parasite's life cycle and make those spread as well. But although researchers have had some success in fruit flies, nobody has been able to get a gene drive system going in mosquitoes.

The new study, led by molecular biologists Andrea Crisanti and Austin Burt of Imperial College London, was done in Anopheles gambiae, the mosquito species that is by far the most important carrier of malaria. The scientists used a so-called homing-endonuclease gene (HEG), a selfish gene found in fungi, plants, and bacteria that has the ability to create a second copy of itself in individuals that have only one. This ensures that all offspring have the gene as well, and it's one of the fastest ways genes can spread in nature, says insect geneticist Jason Rasgon of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, who was not involved in the new study..."

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Kyrgyz Parliament Sacrifices 7 Sheep For Evil Spirits

11:51:49 AM, Thursday, April 21, 2011

"BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Lawmakers in Kyrgyzstan's raucous parliament have sacrificed seven sheep in what they call a bid to drive evil spirits out of the chamber.

Parliament press officer Shairbek Mamatoktorov said almost all the deputies attended Thursday morning's traditional ceremony. He says meat from the slaughtered animals will be sent to homes for the elderly and the disabled.

The impoverished Central Asian nation's fragile three-party coalition has descended into a flurry of squabbling. Deputies from two parties in the fragile coalition government even came to blows earlier this month and traded bitter accusations.

This month marked the first anniversary of a bloody uprising that led to the ouster of the country's authoritarian leader."

-- Apparently it also works wonders when solving domestic policy issues.

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Kelly Rowland - Commander ft. David Guetta

12:29:58 AM, Thursday, April 21, 2011
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Researchers Succeed in Quantum Teleportation of Light Waves

12:23:53 AM, Thursday, April 21, 2011

"In a real-life use of Schrödinger's theoretical paradoxical cat, researchers report that they were able to quickly transfer a complex set of quantum information while preserving its integrity. The information, in the form of light, was manipulated in such a way that it existed in two states at the same time, and it was destroyed in one spot and recreated in another. The new breakthrough is a major step toward building safe, effective quantum computers.

No felines were harmed in the making of this experiment, which actually studied wave packets of light that existed in a state of quantum superposition, meaning they existed in two different phases simultaneously. This phenomenon is described in Erwin Schrodinger’s quantum mechanics thought experiment, in which a cat is simultaneously dead and alive, depending on the state of a subatomic particle.

In this experiment, researchers in Australia and Japan were able to transfer quantum information from one place to another without having to physically move it. It was destroyed in one place and instantly resurrected in another, “alive” again and unchanged. This is a major advance, as previous teleportation experiments were either very slow or caused some information to be lost.

The team employed a mind-boggling set of quantum manipulation techniques to achieve this, including squeezing, photon subtraction, entanglement and homodyne detection. The photo above depicts their device, nicknamed the Teleporter, in the lab of Akira Furusawa at the University of Tokyo.

The results pave the way for high-speed, high-fidelity transmission of information, according to Elanor Huntington, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia who was part of the study.

“If we can do this, we can do just about any form of communication needed for any quantum technology,” she said in a news release.

Instead of using ones and zeroes, quantum computers store data as qubits, which can represent one and zero simultaneously. This superposition enables the computers to solve multiple problems at once. The new, faster teleportation process means scientists can move blocks of this quantum information around within a computer or across a network, Huntington said..."

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Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Photos

12:19:22 AM, Thursday, April 21, 2011
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When Did You Choose to Be Straight?

12:07:11 AM, Thursday, April 21, 2011
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Ottawan - Hands Up

11:37:52 PM, Wednesday, April 20, 2011
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'Weird Al' Yankovic - Perform This Way

9:24:42 PM, Wednesday, April 20, 2011

-- Weird Al's parody of Lady Gaga's song "Born This Way" that was supposedly at first rejected by Lady Gaga, but now the update says it has been approved, so guess we'll see what's really up once the info on the new album is out!

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Don Omar - Taboo

8:42:54 PM, Wednesday, April 20, 2011

-- What's with everyone and Lambada recently?! 100% way of assuring your new single doesn't bomb? haha KAOMA - LAMBADA FTW!!!

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Pluto's Expanding Atmosphere Confounds Researchers

7:46:17 PM, Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Recent observations of Pluto reveal that the icy orb’s atmosphere has expanded dramatically since 2000, and for the first time researchers have detected carbon monoxide. The findings may be evidence of seasonal changes in climate linked to Pluto’s most recent close approach to the sun, but scientists still aren’t sure about how those variations unfold over the course of each 248-year orbit.

Pluto is the only object orbiting in the frigid realm beyond Neptune that is known to have an atmosphere. That tenuous sheath of gas was discovered in 1988 when the “dwarf planet” passed between Earth and a distant star, blocking some of the star’s light. Although telescopic observations at various wavelengths since the early 1990s have since identified several substances in Pluto’s surface ices—including nitrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide—only methane had been detected previously in its atmosphere.

Now scientists can add carbon monoxide to the mix. New observations of the atmosphere’s emissions at various wavelengths, particularly at the 1.3-millimeter wavelength, betray the presence of the gas for the first time. Because carbon monoxide probably could have been observed by instruments in previous studies, its newfound presence likely marks a new stage in the season-by-season evolution of Pluto’s atmosphere, the researchers suggest. Pluto was discovered only about 80 years ago—less than one-third of the time it takes to make a single orbit, notes team member Jane Greaves, an astrobiologist at the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom, so “we’re seeing everything happen for the first time.”

Although methane and carbon monoxide are the only gases yet detected in Pluto’s atmosphere, scientists expect that by far the largest constituent is nitrogen, a gas that’s hard to detect due to its subdued emissions characteristics at many wavelengths, Greaves says. “It’s frustrating that we don’t know about 97% of Pluto’s atmosphere.”

The new observations also reveal that Pluto’s atmosphere is growing. Data collected around the turn of the century suggested that Pluto’s cold, diffuse atmosphere extended no more than 135 kilometers above the planet’s surface, Greaves says. But she sees hints of an atmospheric expansion in data that she and her colleagues gathered using telescopes atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea on 11 nights scattered between August 2009 and May 2010. She says that the atmosphere now reaches heights of more than 3000 kilometers—a distance almost one-quarter of the way to Charon, Pluto’s largest moon. “This is not what we expected,” Greaves says. “The atmosphere has changed so dramatically...""

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T-killah feat. Настя Кочеткова - Над Землей (T-killah feat. Nastya Kochetkova - Above Ground)

6:34:56 PM, Wednesday, April 20, 2011
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Solar on the Water

6:25:35 PM, Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Already, 144 solar panels sit atop pontoons moored on a three-acre irrigation pond surrounded by vineyards in Petaluma in Sonoma County. Some 35 miles to the north, in the heart of the Napa Valley, another array of 994 solar panels covers the surface of a pond at the Far Niente Winery.

“Vineyard land in this part of the Napa Valley runs somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000 an acre,” said Larry Maguire, Far Niente’s chief executive. “We wanted to go solar but we didn’t want to pull out vines.”

The company that installed the two arrays, SPG Solar of Novato, Calif., as well as Sunengy of Australia and Solaris Synergy of Israel, are among the companies trying to develop a market for solar panels on agricultural and mining ponds, hydroelectric reservoirs and canals. While it is a niche market, it is potentially a large one globally. The solar panel aqua farms have drawn interest from municipal water agencies, farmers and mining companies enticed by the prospect of finding a new use for — and new revenue from — their liquid assets, solar executives said.

Sunengy, for example, is courting markets in developing countries that are plagued by electricity shortages but have abundant water resources and intense sunshine, according to Philip Connor, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer..."

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