Duckling vs. Dog

1:12:01 PM, Tuesday, April 26, 2011
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Most Powerful Millimeter-Scale Energy Harvester Generates Electricity From Vibrations

10:55:21 AM, Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Electrical engineers at the University of Michigan have built a device that can harness energy from vibrations and convert it to electricity with five to ten times greater efficiency and power than other devices in its class. And it's smaller than a penny.

"In a tiny amount of space, we've been able to make a device that generates more power for a given input than anything else out there on the market," said Khalil Najafi, one of the system's developers and chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

This new vibration energy harvester is specifically designed to turn the cyclic motions of factory machines into energy to power wireless sensor networks. These sensor networks monitor machines' performance and let operators know about any malfunctions.

The sensors that do this today get their power from a plug or a battery. They're considered "wireless" because they can transmit information without wires. Being tethered to a power source drastically increases their installation and maintenance costs, said Erkan Aktakka, one of the system's developers and a doctoral student in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Long-lasting power is the greatest hurdle to large-scale use of pervasive information-gathering sensor networks, the researchers say..."

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Dogs Prove Evolution

9:43:42 AM, Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Dogs provide an interesting proof of evolution. Consider the astonishing variety of different dog breeds. There is the tiny Chihuahua, about six inches tall and weighing under six pounds. And other dogs are enormous, with the Irish wolfhound rising above a person when on his hind legs, and the Saint Bernard weighing over two hundred pounds. Some dogs are extremely intelligent, including the border collie, retriever, poodle and German shepherd. These dogs learn new commands with ease, and can perform complicated tasks. Other dogs, however, seems very dimwitted, often requiring hundreds of repetitions to learn, and even then usually failing to obey a command. There is such an incredible assortment of different dogs that it is easy to forget that they are all the same species, Canis lupus familiaris. This means that even a Chihuahua and a Saint Bernard (assuming that the obvious physical challenges could be overcome) could mate and produce live and fertile offspring.

So where did dogs come from? Darwin thought they might come from multiple sources, including the wolf, jackal and coyote, thereby in part explaining their diversity. The DNA evidence, however, shows that they are all derived from the wolf. DNA from all dogs is over 99% identical to that of a wolf, while the wolf and coyote DNAs, for example, are over 4% different from each other. This means, surprisingly, that all of the diversity of dog types in the world today came from a single source, the wolf.

How did the wolf get transformed into a woof? The precise order of events is a matter of conjecture, but it probably began when an abandoned litter was taken in and nursed by people. The DNA evidence, which shows a strong similarity for all dogs, suggests that there might have only been only a few such domestication events. These early wolf dogs would be subjected to what is called artificial selection. In the wild natural selection is at work with the strongest, fastest and smartest wolves surviving better to make more wolves. But once under the care of people survival depends on a new set of rules. For example, animals that liked to bite people probably did not fare well. But dogs are natural hunters and could help in the search for food. They also could provide an early warning system, barking when unwelcome visitors approach. So people friendly watchdogs, with their heightened senses of hearing and smell, would be very useful to early humans..."

-- A very well, eloquently written article. Citations would be nice though as that would have saved me a few web searches.

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Syrian Crackdown Intensifies: Over 150 Killed Since Friday as Assad Regime Attempts to Crush Protest Movement

9:18:14 PM, Monday, April 25, 2011

"Syria has intensified its massive crackdown on demonstrators, despite the lifting of emergency rule last week that banned demonstrations. Al Jazeera reports thousands of troops backed with tanks have swept into the southern city of Daraa, where a curfew is in place, setting up snipers on rooftops and killing at least 20 people. Government security forces have also stormed the large Damascus suburb of Douma. These latest developments follow protests on Friday that ended with more than 100 people killed in the deadliest day since the uprising began. We go to Syria to speak to Rula Amin of Al Jazeera and Razan Zaitouneh, human rights lawyer and activist."

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Lasers Could Replace Spark Plugs in Car Engines

8:35:03 PM, Monday, April 25, 2011

"A team at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics will report on 1 May that they have designed lasers that could ignite the fuel/air mixture in combustion engines.

The approach would increase efficiency of engines, and reduce their pollution, by igniting more of the mixture.

The team is in discussions with a spark plug manufacturer.

The idea of replacing spark plugs - a technology that has changed little since their invention 150 years ago - with lasers is not a new one.

Spark plugs only ignite the fuel mixture near the spark gap, reducing the combustion efficiency, and the metal that makes them up is slowly eroded as they age.

But only with the advent of smaller lasers has the idea of laser-based combustion become a practical one.

Ceramic powders

A team from Romania and Japan has now demonstrated a system that can focus two or three laser beams into an engine's cylinders at variable depths.

That increases the completeness of combustion and neatly avoids the issue of degradation with time.

However, it requires that lasers of high pulse energies are used; just as with spark plugs, a great deal of energy is needed to cause ignition of the fuel.

"In the past, lasers that could meet those requirements were limited to basic research because they were big, inefficient, and unstable," said Takunori Taira of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Okazaki, Japan..."

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US Carries Out First Drone Strike in Libya: Pentagon

8:20:38 PM, Monday, April 25, 2011

"The United States carried out its first drone strike in Libya on Saturday, the Pentagon said, two days after approving the use of pilotless aircraft to aid rebels fighting Moamer Kadhafi's forces.

"The first Predator strike in Libya occurred today in the early afternoon local time (our morning time EDT)," a US military press spokesman said in a statement sent to AFP.

A NATO statement said a "regime Multiple Rocket Launcher (MRL) in the vicinity of Misrata," was destroyed "at approximately 1100 GMT today" when a drone intervened in the strikes.

"The MRL has been used against civilians in Misrata," it said, adding: "NATO has kept up a high operational tempo -- over 3,000 sorties since we took full command of the mission, almost half of them strikes.

"We have struck a broad range of targets across the country - tanks and rocket launchers, armoured vehicles and ammunition stores, command and control sites."

US President Barack Obama on Thursday authorized the use of missile-carrying drones in Libya for what his administration called "humanitarian" reasons."

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Oh Land - Sun Of A Gun

5:48:29 PM, Monday, April 25, 2011

-- Someone sent me this awhile back, but of course I forgot to share. Take a listen if you haven't heard it yet.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Commercial: Black Beetle

5:29:24 PM, Monday, April 25, 2011

-- Make it a turbo with a 6spd and I'll rock one!

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Woman Using 'Motorized Wheelchair'

4:43:31 PM, Monday, April 25, 2011

-- They see me mowin', they hatin' ...

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Moment of Shutter Release: Slow-Motion Video of Canon and Nikon Mirrors in Action

4:06:37 PM, Monday, April 25, 2011
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McLaren’s GT3 Racer Hits the Track

3:50:24 PM, Monday, April 25, 2011

"McLaren has released the first real-life images of its MP4-12C GT3 racer as it takes its tentative baby steps.

Built in conjunction with CRS Racing, the racer was tested at Silverstone and the perilous MIRA proving ground; an automotive arena of death which still haunts Jezza and co to this day...

Test drivers Andrew Kirkaldy and Chris Goodwin took the new GT3 for a spin, commenting that it had achieved ‘excellent results'. Its 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 has been tuned to ‘race specification', and is married to a bespoke paddle-shift Ricardo gearbox.

You will also spot the new aero pack, which comprises a new front splitter, door blade, rear wing, diffuser and louvres in the front fenders.

Check out the pics, and stay tuned as this monster starts to strut its stuff..."

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Four Individuals Caught in 'Death Trap' May Shed Light on Human Ancestors

3:33:23 PM, Monday, April 25, 2011

"MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA—Finding one partial skeleton of an ancient member of the human family is the rarest of rare discoveries in human evolution. So, paleoanthropologists murmured in surprise at a meeting here Saturday when South African researchers announced that they had found at least four individuals of a new species of early human, Australopithecus sediba. The discoverers say that this hominin shows some surprisingly modern traits and its species may even be an ancestor of our own genus. “We really have found something very, very odd and very unexpected,” says discovery team leader Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. But other paleoanthropologists are waiting for more detailed analysis of the still-unpublished fossils before they agree on its identity or place in the human family tree.

The four hominin individuals died when they fell into a “death trap” in a cave about 2 million years ago at Malapa, South Africa, according to new dates reported by Berger in his talk at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA). In addition to the articulated partial skeletons of a youth and an older female unveiled last year in Science, the team members reported the discovery of bones of an 18-month-old infant and at least one other adult. This means they are getting a good look at Au. sediba’s development from infancy to old age. “It is going to be a remarkable record,” Berger said. “And we still haven’t found everything!”

In talks at AAPA and the annual meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society last week, Berger and members of his team sketched a quick portrait of Au. sediba, who lived at the mysterious time right after the emergence of our genus Homo between 2 million to 3 million years ago. Researchers have long wondered which of several species of Australopithecus gave rise to the first members of our genus, with Lucy’s species Au. afarensis as the leading candidate.

The trove of well-preserved bones includes clavicles, shoulder blades, and ribs as well as a complete skull, hand, foot, and two pelvises. The researchers called it an australopithecine—extinct members of the human family that lived 1 million to 4 million years ago in Africa—because it had a small brain the size of an ape's, and its “overall body plan” was like that of an australopithecine, team member Darryl de Ruiter of Texas A&M University in College Station said in a talk. It had long arms and a primitive thorax and heel like an ape, for example..."

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Battlefield 3 - Full Length "Fault Line" Gameplay Trailer

6:24:38 PM, Sunday, April 24, 2011

-- Damn!!! Don't forget to set it to 720 HD before you watch.

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6 Real Islands Way More Terrifying Than The One On 'Lost'

6:12:40 PM, Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Summer's right around the corner, and it's time to pick your next vacation spot. Now, we know the problem you're facing: You want a nice island paradise, but you also want to experience horrors beyond comprehension, and maybe you even want to die on your trip. Well, we've got some great islands for you...

#6. Ilha de Queimada Grande; A.K.A. Snake Island

Over at Forests.org, there's an article that opens with a description of, "A deserted island where the forest floor writhes with the world's most venomous vipers. A fisherman found dead on his boat, its deck awash with his blood. A lighthouse keeper and his family massacred in a nocturnal snake invasion of their isolated cottage home.

And no, Forests.org is not a site for terrifying Indiana Jones / Anaconda slash-fiction. You see, Ilha de Queimada Grande is a delightfully exotic sounding island off the coast of Brazil that plays host to a certain breed of exotic sounding snake known as the Golden Lancehead. This snake has one of the worst venoms in the world, which literally causes your flesh to rot off your bones.

Now you may be asking, "But Cracked, there are poisonous snakes in loads of countries. What's so special about this one tiny island?" Well that's an interesting question, and we are only too pleased to haunt your dreams by filling you in.

Remember how we mentioned the snakes only live on this one island? Well it's quite a densely packed island. In fact, the Brazilian Navy has forbidden anyone to visit the place, and they aren't doing that to protect the snakes. Conservative estimates range from the spine tingling one snake per square meter to the "drop dead from pants shitting fear" five snakes per square meter. Can you picture it? ..."

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Chocolate Zombie Bunny

1:19:23 PM, Sunday, April 24, 2011

-- thinkgeek.com's delicious chocolate zombie bunny! I've been waiting to buy one, but I don't think they're becoming available anytime soon... =(

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