Libyan Jet Shot Down Over Benghazi

3:49:43 PM, Saturday, March 19, 2011

-- It is not known who is responsible for the attack yet, or if the pilot survived, but the jet appears to be a MiG-23. Here is another close-up clip of the same incident There is a high possibly right now that it was a rebel jet flown by a defected pilot, shot down by friendly fire.

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Knut, Beloved Polar Bear in Germany, Found Dead: Berlin Zoo Official

3:13:49 PM, Saturday, March 19, 2011

"A publicity-addicted polar bear that became famous after his mother rejected him at birth died Saturday, a Berlin Zoo official said.

Knut, who was four years old, was alone when he passed away in his compound, bear keeper Heiner Kloes said.

The cause of death was unknown.

A necropsy is scheduled for Monday to figure out what killed the bear that was hand-raised by a team of zoo keepers since birth.

Knut was unable to care for himself after his mother rejected him following his 2006 birth, leaving humans to raise him.

He became a cause celebre when animal activists claimed it would be better for Knut to die than to be weaned by man..."

-- Aww... Remember this little guy? Super sad. =(

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How a U.S. Spy Drone Could Help Solve Japan's Nuclear Crisis

2:00:41 PM, Saturday, March 19, 2011

"There are reports that the U.S. military used a Global Hawk spy drone to peep inside the damaged nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan. It's a tech that could help Japan solve its nuke woes.

The aged boiling water reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi are the subject of intense scrutiny within Japan and around the rest of the world: The plant was damaged in the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, and since then numerous safety systems designed to shut down the nuclear reactors have failed, resulting in hydrogen explosions that have damaged the reactor vessels and their surrounding buildings. It's hard to determine what's going on inside the tangled mess of collapsed structures, and efforts to contain the reactors are hampered by radiation leaks. Hence the U.S. offer to assist with a Global Hawk surveillance drone. But what can it do?..."

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Iran Sends Rocket, Capsule Into Space: IRNA

1:49:26 PM, Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Iran on Thursday signalled a broadening of its space ambitions by announcing the launch of a new rocket and a test capsule designed to house a monkey, amid Western concerns over its scientific advances.

The Iranian Space Agency launched the Kavoshgar-4 rocket carrying the capsule without fanfare on March 15, the official IRNA news agency said, citing the president's office.

Iran had announced it would conduct the launch before the end of Iranian year on March 21.

The space capsule, unveiled by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in early February, is designed to carry a live monkey but there were no living creatures on board, IRNA added.

The launch of a large animal in space has been touted by Iranian officials as the first step towards sending a man into space, which Tehran says is scheduled for 2020.

The Islamic republic, which has outlined an ambitious space programme in the face of Western concerns, put a satellite into orbit in 2009 with the Safir-2 rocket and sent live small animals -- a rat, turtles and worms -- into space with its Kavoshgar-3 rocket in 2010.

Western powers fear that Iran's space agenda might be linked to developing a ballistic missile capability that could deliver nuclear warheads. Tehran has denied that its contentious atomic and scientific programmes mask military ambitions.

IRNA said the space agency managed to "test the system performance... the launch platform, engine, electronic and telemetry systems and the system of separation" between the rocket and its load.

Ahmadinejad announced during celebrations marking the 32nd anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution in February that the capsule would be tested before carrying a monkey into space..."

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Astronomy Picture of the Day: NGC 6914 Nebulae

11:55:56 PM, Friday, March 18, 2011

-- "A dramatic study in contrasts, this colorful skyscape features stars, dust, and glowing gas in NGC 6914. The complex of nebulae lies some 6,000 light-years away, toward the high-flying northern constellation Cygnus and the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. With foreground dust clouds in silhouette, both reddish hydrogen emission nebulae and dusty blue reflection nebulae fill the 1/2 degree wide field. The view spans nearly 50 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 6914. Ultraviolet radiation from the massive, hot, young stars of the extensive Cygnus OB2 association ionize the region's atomic hydrogen gas, producing the characteristic red glow as protons and electrons recombine. Embedded Cygnus OB2 stars also provide the blue starlight strongly reflected by the dusty clouds. Constructed as a two-panel mosaic, the image was processed to bring out both bright and dim colors and detailed structures."

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Mark Vanderloo for El Pais

11:41:41 PM, Friday, March 18, 2011
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Charlie Sheen Beats Sarah Palin in Presidential Poll

11:31:48 PM, Friday, March 18, 2011

"Tickets to Charlie Sheen's live shows are selling like crazy. He broke the speed record for acquiring Twitter followers. He's become a folk hero with fans. So why not Charlie Sheen for president!?

According to a new poll, independent voters say they favor Sheen over Sarah Palin by a 41/36 margin.

And it's not just independents who are supporting the tiger-blooded warlock. Democrats would support him by a 44-24 margin for president over Palin and Republicans would support him 37-28 over Obama.

The conclusion from Public Policy Polling.com: People may not have any respect for Sheen but they still think he'd be a better alternative than their opposing party's leading figure.

Notes our On Politics blog: This poll is particularly important independents because they're a crucial bloc needed for winning the White House.

And is everyone on board with a president who would have two goddesses as First Ladies?"

-- I would vote for Charlie Sheen before Palin too...

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Jessie J - Price Tag ft. B.o.B.

1:10:24 PM, Friday, March 18, 2011
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Inside Gadhafi’s Secret Underground Arsenal

4:27:47 PM, Thursday, March 17, 2011

"BENGHAZI, Libya — It took a while to get into the underground bunker. There were too many men in the way, hauling too many crates of machine guns, ammunition, and 30-year-old rockets. But eventually, there was a lull. I ducked past the steel-reinforced door to the bunker’s entrance and moved down the debris-laden concrete ramp — trying very, very hard not to disturb the dozens of weapons-bearers bringing their arms to the surface.

Below, the ramp opened into a large room supported by cement columns. The air was dense and the only light came from small air ducts near the ceiling. The cases sat piled wall-to-wall, just one of many arms caches hidden away by Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. But now the weapons are in the hands of his enemies here, a rebellious city of nearly 1 million people who, relatively unarmed, recently drove out Gadhafi’s special forces and mercenaries. Today, the rebels are preparing for further battle — and maybe even an attack on Gadhafi’s stronghold in Tripoli. But this time, they’ve got the weapons that the eccentric tyrant used to oppress his people for 41 years.

“We’ve found everything from bullets to rockets,” the man in the headlamp and blue spelunking jumpsuit said as he climbed out of a nearby hole that led into a small, concrete room. He led me to a manhole that descended around 50 feet to a tunnel not unlike a large sewer system. “There is a huge network of tunnels underneath us. A few friends went in two hours ago and they haven’t come out yet.” Gadhafi’s men torched the compound before they escaped in Land Rovers and through the secret tunnels.

The bunker and the tunnels form part of the Katiba, a vast, white-and green military and administrative complex from which Gadhafi could run the country. But only his inner circle and paid mercenaries were allowed inside. Until now..."

-- Closing some browser tabs I've saved open, so some of this is a bit old, but not very. Still very relevant.

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Lion Kittens!

11:21:32 AM, Thursday, March 17, 2011

-- Okay, they're not so much kittens as they're older lion cubs, but look at that love! Awwwww...

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How Hormone Puts a Kick in the Sperm's Tail

10:56:18 AM, Thursday, March 17, 2011

"It's exhausting being a sperm. Having made the long-distance swim up the fallopian tube, a sperm must then rev up its tail to propel itself through the thick jelly-like coating of the egg. The female hormone progesterone, released by the egg, prompts the tail to switch from a smooth swimming motion to a frantic flicking, but exactly how has been puzzling. Researchers have now shown that the hormone acts directly on a sperm surface protein, a discovery that may suggest new nonhormonal contraceptives.

For 10 years, researchers have suspected that progesterone, which the egg releases in huge quantities, is responsible for the asymmetrical, whiplike tail movements that give sperm enough torque to penetrate the ovum. Because sperm respond to progesterone within seconds, scientists reasoned that the hormone must bind to a surface protein and not one within the cells, which would take longer for the progesterone to reach.

In 2001, researchers hoped they had found the progesterone receptor when they discovered that infertile men and mice sometimes had mutations that disrupted a protein, called CatSper, which ferries calcium ions in and out of sperm. This so-called calcium channel is found exclusively within sperms' tails, but working out whether it responds to progesterone proved a thornier exercise than expected. Sperm are not easy cells to work with—for one thing, they don't stay still.

Now, two research teams have finally connected progesterone to CatSper by inserting a tiny electrode into individual sperm, a technique usually reserved for measuring the electrical signals in neurons. In independent studies appearing online in Nature today, the groups have documented the change in current inside a sperm as progesterone causes positively charged calcium ions to pass into the cell. And because a working ion channel produces a characteristic electrical fingerprint, the researchers were able to use their electrodes to demonstrate that CatSper was responsible for letting in the calcium..."

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The Known Universe by American Museum of Natural History

12:07:38 AM, Thursday, March 17, 2011

-- And this is based on a data that is dated! In December of '10 ALONE a new estimation proved that there are at least three times more stars in the universe that previously thought....

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Squirrel Attacking Residents of Vt. Neighborhood

8:05:43 PM, Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"BENNINGTON, Vt. – A Vermont neighborhood is being stalked by a renegade gray squirrel.

Several people in Bennington say they've been attacked by a squirrel over the last few weeks.

Kevin McDonald tells the Bennington Banner he was shoveling snow when the squirrel jumped onto him. He says he threw the animal off, but it twice jumped back onto him. A game warden says there have been other reports, too.

One woman is being treated for exposure to rabies, but Vermont Public Health Veterinarian Robert Johnson says there's never been a case of a squirrel passing rabies to a human.

Johnson says it's possible the squirrel was raised as a pet and lost its fear of humans. He says the squirrel might "go ballistic" when it encounters people it doesn't recognize."

-- Today, it's a squirrel terrorizing the neighborhood, tomorrow, it's a group of gang-affiliated kittens.

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Assface

7:12:18 PM, Wednesday, March 16, 2011
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Speed Demon Creates a Shock

11:57:51 AM, Wednesday, March 16, 2011

“Just as some drivers obey the speed limit while others treat every road as if it were the Autobahn, some stars move through space faster than others. NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, captured this image of the star Alpha Camelopardalis, or Alpha Cam, in astronomer-speak, speeding through the sky like a motorcyclist zipping through rush-hour traffic. The supergiant star Alpha Cam is the bright star in the middle of this image, surrounded on one side by an arc-shaped cloud of dust and gas -- a bow shock -- which is colored red in this infrared view.

Such fast-moving stars are called runaway stars. The distance and speed of Alpha Cam is somewhat uncertain. It is probably somewhere between 1,600 and 6,900 light-years away and moving at an astonishing rate of somewhere between 680 and 4,200 kilometers per second (between 1.5 and 9.4 million mph). It turns out that WISE is particularly adept at imaging bow shocks from runaway stars. Previous examples can be seen around Zeta Ophiuchi , AE Aurigae, and Menkhib. But Alpha Cam revs things up into a different gear. To put its speed into perspective, if Alpha Cam were a car driving across the United States at 4,200 kilometers per second, it would take less than one second to travel from San Francisco to New York City!

Astronomers believe runaway stars are set into motion either through the supernova explosion of a companion star or through gravitational interactions with other stars in a cluster. Because Alpha Cam is a supergiant star, it gives off a very strong wind. The speed of the wind is boosted in the forward direction the star is moving in space. When this fast-moving wind slams into the slower-moving interstellar material, a bow shock is created, similar to the wake in front of the bow of a ship in water. The stellar wind compresses the interstellar gas and dust, causing it to heat up and glow in infrared. Alpha Cam's bow shock cannot be seen in visible light, but WISE's infrared detectors show us the graceful arc of heated gas and dust around the star.

JPL manages and operates the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The principal investigator, Edward Wright, is at UCLA. The mission was competitively selected under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory, Logan, Utah, and the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. “

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