Mushroom Cloud Play/Tree House
|1:42:04 PM, Tuesday, March 15, 2011|
-- ""We experience a contradiction between what our eyes enjoy and what our mind knows."- Dietrich Wegner
At first glance, this happy-go-lucky playhouse could look like any child's dream. But then, the shape reminds us of a mushroom cloud and we're left feeling a little uneasy...
"In Playhouse, I combine an atomic bomb’s mushroom cloud, with one of the safest places one can go, their childhood playhouse," artist Dietrich Wegner tells us. "The playhouse is a place of escape, imagination, and comfort. Often we have used bombs to preserve our playhouse, causing us to be stuck in limbo, between comfort and fear. I question how mindful we are of the consequences of our actions. I search for images that articulate the confusion between the intentions, outcomes and ideals of my nation, while focusing on the spaces between beauty, fantasy, and reality.
"I make my statement from confusion with what I see around me. I want to make images that help me think around my world, so I can, in the end, know what I see a little better. I hope my work helps people think about our collective fears, our innocence and the decisions we make to be safe. My hope is that we climb above our terror enough to think about the reality and consequences of our actions."
When asked what kind of reaction Playhouse has received, here's what Wegner said. "Unfortunately, at least judging from blog reactions to Playhouse , people just seem to think it is cool fun and cozy and I am not sure internet viewers get farther than that.""
China’s Highly Unequal Economy
|1:35:06 PM, Tuesday, March 15, 2011|
"Double-digit growth can’t hide the fact that China’s state-controlled economy is leaving the vast majority of citizens behind.
During a round table with business leaders during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States in January, US President Barack Obama stated optimistically that ‘With China’s growing middle class, I believe that over the coming years, we can more than double our exports to China and create more jobs here in the United States.’ To be sure, that is a reasonable expectation. When other Asian economies like Japan and Korea grew toward the GDP per capita level of $10,000, sizable middle class populations did indeed emerge.
However, when looking under the bonnet at China’s economic engine, it’s clear that a growing middle class with rising disposable income and consumption is missing. Instead, there’s an economy that is still dominated by state owned firms and state-led investment, as well as by rapidly rising inequality. Instead of an enlarging urban middle class, China is increasingly splitting into a small upper class that spends freely on luxury goods, and a remaining population whose earnings and savings are eroded by inflation and state confiscation.
The underlying dynamics are clear in a recent statistical release by the government. First, real urban disposable income rose a comparatively tepid 7.8 percent in 2010, despite economic growth of nearly 10 percent. However, urban retail sales of consumer goods grew 14.5 percent. While the growth of consumption is good for China's economy, the pattern of this growth suggests rising inequality.
The biggest growth in consumption included jewellery (46 percent), furniture (37 percent), cars (34 percent) and construction material (34 percent). Essentially, these are items related to the spending of the upper class. These ‘consumer’ goods also made up 33 percent of all retail consumption in China. The large size and strong growth in luxury items implies that grey income was substantial in 2010, as suggested by a Credit Swiss report authored by Prof. Wang Xiaolu.
In this report, released last year and based on a survey of urban households in 2009, Wang found nearly 1.5 trillion dollars in grey income unreported in the official household income numbers. He further found that over 60 percent of this grey income accrued to the top 10 percent of households. The latest numbers also suggest that while income of normal households likely grew at around 8 percent, the top 10 percent of households may have seen income growth above 25 percent.
A growing middle class is also absent among recent college graduates. According to the Ministry of Education, only 68 percent of college graduates in 2010 were able to find permanent employment. Even among those who found employment, wages were often no better or sometimes even worse than those for migrant workers in factories. Unlike the rest of the world, however, China enjoyed a spectacular 10 percent growth rate. This impressive growth, however, didn’t translate to high paying jobs for college graduates. In major cities, many college graduates live as an ‘ant tribe,’ packed tightly in small dormitory rooms with four or more roommates..."
Trike Drifting Documentary
|12:57:43 AM, Tuesday, March 15, 2011|
Libya Fight Photos
|12:39:38 AM, Tuesday, March 15, 2011|
Japan Earthquake: Before and After Aerial Photos
|11:44:00 PM, Monday, March 14, 2011|
-- "Aerial photos taken over Japan have revealed the scale of devastation across dozens of suburbs and tens of thousands of homes and businesses."
5,300-Year-Old Iceman Mummy Gets a Makeover
|11:00:32 PM, Monday, March 14, 2011|
“Iceman, a 5,300-year-old mummy also called Ötzi and discovered in the Alps, is showing a new face to the world at the Italian museum where he resides.
The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology commissioned two reconstruction artists, Dutch brothers Adrie and Alfons Kennis, to recreate the mummy's face using both art and forensic science, including three-dimensional images of his skull.
The finished face reveals a man with deep-set eyes, a long nose, weathered skin and hair that appears to be on its way to dreads.
Ötzi was discovered in 1991 by hikers in the Ötztal Alps along the Austrian-Italian border. Since then, researchers have mined his remains, the artifacts buried with him and his burial site for clues about his life (he lived sometime between 3350 and 3100 B.C.), death and descendants.
Over the years, research has added many details, putting his age at 46, a long life for a man in the Copper Age. Scientists have also pinpointed his cause of death as blood loss caused by an arrow wound to his left shoulder. However, the question "What did he look like?" has remained elusive, according to the museum.
As such, Ötzi has inspired many reconstructions and artistic interpretations. These include a work by the British artist Marilène Oliver, who translated a CT scan of the body into point plots. She drilled them into acrylic sheets, which she layered and fused to create a ghostlike 3-D representation.
The new reconstruction is part of the exhibit currently on view at the museum – "Ötzi20 - Life. Science. Fiction. Reality" – celebrates the first 20 years of the iceman's second life. It includes an exploration of media coverage and images of Ötzi, according to a press release.”
Astronomy Picture of the Day: NGC 1499, The California Nebula
|9:12:53 PM, Monday, March 14, 2011|
-- "What's California doing in space? Drifting through the Orion Arm of the spiral Milky Way Galaxy, this cosmic cloud by chance echoes the outline of California on the west coast of the United States. Our own Sun also lies within the Milky Way's Orion Arm, only about 1,500 light-years from the California Nebula. Also known as NGC 1499, the classic emission nebula is around 100 light-years long. On many images, the most prominent glow of the California Nebula is the red light characteristic of hydrogen atoms recombining with long lost electrons, stripped away (ionized) by energetic starlight. In the above image, however, hydrogen is colored green, while sulfur is mapped to red and oxygen mapped to blue. The star most likely providing the energetic starlight that ionizes much of the nebular gas is the bright, hot, bluish Xi Persei, just outside the right image edge. A regular target for astrophotographers, the California Nebula can be spotted with a wide-field telescope under a dark sky toward the constellation of Perseus, not far from the Pleiades."
Solar Power Breakthrough Claimed By Stanford Researchers
|9:04:27 PM, Monday, March 14, 2011|
“It’s the Holy Grail at clean energy research labs all over the world and something which could address long term energy issues domestically and beyond: more efficient photovoltaic solar. We’ve told you about scientists studying full-spectrum cells, using textured substrates, trying self-regenerating nanomaterials – we’ve even reported on an anti-reflective film inspired by a coating found in moth eyes. Now a Stanford team is claiming a breakthrough in making cheaper, more efficient panels by adding a single layer of organic molecules to solar cells.
The researchers studied this technique on a fairly new type of solar cell that uses tiny particles of semiconductors called quantum dots. Quantum dot solar cells are cheaper to produce than traditional silicon cells, but they haven’t caught on due to their relative inefficiency.
For Stacey Bent, a chemical engineering professor at Stanford, this represented something of a challenge. She knew that solar cells made of a single material have a maximum efficiency of about 31 percent, a limitation of the fixed energy level they can absorb, and that quantum dot solar cells didn’t share this limitation. “Quantum dots can be tuned to absorb a certain wavelength of light just by changing their size,” the Stanford report on her research says. “And they can be used to build more complex solar cells that have more than one size of quantum dot, allowing them to absorb multiple wavelengths of light.”
So Bent and her team coated a titanium dioxide semiconductor in their quantum dot solar cell with a very thin single layer of organic molecules. They found that just that single layer, less than a nanometer thick, was enough to triple the efficiency of the solar cells.
Even with this breakthrough, there’s still work to do: Bent said the cadmium sulfide quantum dots she’s been using aren’t ideal for solar cells, so her group plans to try other molecules for the organic layer, while also tinkering with the solar cell increase light absorption.
Her theory is, said Stanford, that once the sun’s energy creates an electron and a hole, the thin organic layer helps keep them apart, preventing them from recombining and being wasted. The group has yet to optimize the solar cells, and they have currently achieved an efficiency of, at most, 0.4 percent. But the group can tune several aspects of the cell, and once they do it is said, the threefold increase caused by the organic layer would be even more significant.”
Japan Does Not Face Another Chernobyl
|1:51:57 PM, Monday, March 14, 2011|
“Even while thousands of people are reported dead or missing, whole neighborhoods lie in ruins, and gas and oil fires rage out of control, press coverage of the Japanese earthquake has quickly settled on the troubles at two nuclear reactors as the center of the catastrophe.
Rep. Ed Markey (D., Mass.), a longtime opponent of nuclear power, has warned of "another Chernobyl" and predicted "the same thing could happen here." In response, he has called for an immediate suspension of licensing procedures for the Westinghouse AP1000, a "Generation III" reactor that has been laboring through design review at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for seven years.
Before we respond with such panic, though, it would be useful to review exactly what is happening in Japan and what we have to fear from it.
The core of a nuclear reactor operates at about 550 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the temperature of a coal furnace and only slightly hotter than a kitchen oven. If anything unusual occurs, the control rods immediately drop, shutting off the nuclear reaction. You can't have a "runaway reactor," nor can a reactor explode like a nuclear bomb. A commercial reactor is to a bomb what Vaseline is to napalm. Although both are made from petroleum jelly, only one of them has potentially explosive material.
Once the reactor has shut down, there remains "decay heat" from traces of other radioactive isotopes. This can take more than a week to cool down, and the rods must be continually bathed in cooling waters to keep them from overheating.
On all Generation II reactors—the ones currently in operation—the cooling water is circulated by electric pumps. The new Generation III reactors such as the AP1000 have a simplified "passive" cooling system where the water circulates by natural convection with no pumping required.
If the pumps are knocked out in a Generation II reactor—as they were at Fukushima Daiichi by the tsunami—the water in the cooling system can overheat and evaporate. The resulting steam increases internal pressure that must be vented. There was a small release of radioactive steam at Three Mile Island in 1979, and there have also been a few releases at Fukushima Daiichi. These produce radiation at about the level of one dental X-ray in the immediate vicinity and quickly dissipate.
If the coolant continues to evaporate, the water level can fall below the level of the fuel rods, exposing them. This will cause a meltdown, meaning the fuel rods melt to the bottom of the steel pressure vessel.
Early speculation was that in a case like this the fuel might continue melting right through the steel and perhaps even through the concrete containment structure—the so-called China syndrome, where the fuel would melt all the way to China. But Three Mile Island proved this doesn't happen. The melted fuel rods simply aren't hot enough to melt steel or concrete.
The decay heat must still be absorbed, however, and as a last-ditch effort the emergency core cooling system can be activated to flood the entire containment structure with water. This will do considerable damage to the reactor but will prevent any further steam releases. The Japanese have now reportedly done this using seawater in at least two of the troubled reactors. These reactors will never be restarted…”
-- Follow link for the rest of the article, where Chernobyl power station's flaws are described.
Cost Of A Slave At Historic Low Price - 90 Dollars
|4:33:19 PM, Sunday, March 13, 2011|
-- Apparently modern slaves are cheaper than ever...
No Moammar, No Fly: How to Stop Gadhafi’s Planes
|3:34:50 PM, Sunday, March 13, 2011|
“Keep the surveillance planes flying. Fry the radar. While the sun hangs in the sky, let Libya’s pilots know they’re on borrowed time if they take off.
There’s a lot of talk about setting up a no-fly zone over Libya — especially now that Moammar Gadhafi used his planes to take the oil refinery city of Ras Lunuf back from the rebels, and especially now that the Director of National Intelligence proclaimed that Gadhafi would eventually beat back the opposition, unless there’s some serious outside support. But NATO stopped short of any such decision on Thursday. A raft of U.S. military leaders, from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Adm. Michael Mullen to Gen. James Mattis of Central Command, have warned that a no-fly zone is neither a simple or antiseptic operation.
Air Force leaders and veterans of no-fly campaigns contacted by Danger Room agree with that caution. Keeping Gadhafi’s planes and helicopters out of the sky is no cakewalk, and the objectives are anything but clear. But they sketched out the following picture of what one might look like.
Blowing up Libya’s surface-to-air defenses is the first wave of a no-fly campaign, as Secretary Gates noted. But to do that, there’s an even more preliminary step: use the AWACS surveillance and command planes that NATO is now flying 24-7 to find Libya’s radars, command and control and missile stations. “I’m absolutely certain,” says retired Gen. Pete Piotrowski, a former Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, “that the intelligence community knows the location of the surface to air missiles and the radars,” thanks to the AWACS.
High-speed anti-radiation missiles, or HARMs, can then take out the radars — which would render the Libyans’ missiles dumb without having to take out every missile station. Bombing would take care of the Libyan command and control centers, too, once AWACS identifies them. And a blind Libyan air command can’t challenge NATO aircraft. “If you take out the command and control, [the Libyans] may get lucky,” says retired Maj. Gen. Irv Halter, who helped run Operation Northern Watch, the no-fly zone over northern Iraq, “but they’ll be looking through a soda straw.”
A trickier target will be the Libyan fleet of attack helicopters, which Marine Commandant James Amosidentified as a crucial part of Gadhafi’s arsenal. While it’s possible that precision weaponry from the NATO aircraft thousands of feet above could take the copters out, military analyst Kori Schake of the Hoover Institution suggests using French and British carriers in the southern Mediterranean to launch helicopters of NATO’s own, plus “missiles and naval gunfire” to keep the copters grounded. (There’s also talk of cratering runways and helicopter staging areas, so the aircraft can’t get off of the ground.) …”
Earthquake Fault Lines in America
|5:39:42 PM, Saturday, March 12, 2011|
-- So, by raise of hands, who knew about the NY/PA/NJ one?
How The Human Penis Lost Its Spines
|2:44:18 PM, Saturday, March 12, 2011|
"You've read the headline, and it probably made you giggle. Go ahead. Get it out of your system. Then take a deep breath and consider how evolution affected a few specific body parts, and why.
Humans and chimpanzees share more than 97% of DNA, but there are some fairly obvious differences in appearance, behavior and intellect. Now, scientists are learning more than ever about what makes us uniquely human.
We know that humans have larger brains and, within the brain, a larger angular gyrus, a region associated with abstract concepts. Also, male chimpanzees have smaller penises than humans, and their penises have spines. Not like porcupine needles or anything, but small pointy projections on the surface that basically make the organ bumpy.
Gill Bejerano, a biologist at Stanford University School of Medicine, and colleagues wanted to further investigate why humans and chimpanzees have such differences. They analyzed the genomes of humans and closely related primates and discovered more than 500 regulatory regions -- sequences in the genome responsible for controlling genes -- that chimpanzees and other mammals have, but humans do not. In other words, they are making a list of DNA that has been lost from the human genome during millions of years of evolution. Results from their study are published in the journal Nature.
Think of it like light bulbs and their switches, where the light bulbs are genes and the switches are these controlling DNA sequences. If there's no bulb, the switch can't turn the light on. Now imagine there's one bulb and five switches to turn it on at different times in different places. If you take one of the switches away, the bulb still works in the four other contexts, but not in the fifth.
This study looks at two particular switches. Bejerano and colleagues took the switch information from a chimpanzee's genome and essentially "hooked it up" to a reporter gene, a gene whose effects scientists can track as an organism develops. They injected the reporter gene in a mouse egg to see what the switch would do.
They found that in one case, a switch that had been lost in humans normally turns on an androgen receptor at the sites where sensory whiskers develop on the face and spines develop on the penis. Mice and many other animals have both of these characteristics, and humans do not..."
-- Are you telling me I could've had spines on my penis! Who cut that one out of the gene pool, seriously?
Engineers Re-Create the Flying House in ‘Up’
|2:26:17 PM, Saturday, March 12, 2011|
-- I've been meaning to share this! While kinda pointless it's still awesome. Good Morning America featured this segment showing a bunch of engineers recreating the floating house in Disney/Pixar’s movie Up. They didn't float an actual house but a bare-bones house using 300 large helium balloons. via www.doobybrain.com
Photos of Japan After the Massive 8.9-Magnitude Earthquake
|2:02:24 PM, Friday, March 11, 2011|
-- Heart-breaking images that show the destruction and the immensity of the flooding… It'll take a while for that whole part of the world to recover from this one, I hope the world can come together and speed up that process and not have politics and greed interfere.
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