Monitoring Killer Mice from Space: Green on Satellite Images Warns of Hantavirus Outbreaks
|3:06:56 PM, Wednesday, February 16, 2011|
“The risk of deadly hantavirus outbreaks in people can be predicted months ahead of time by using satellite images to monitor surges in vegetation that boost mouse populations, a University of Utah study says. The method also might forecast outbreaks of other rodent-borne illnesses worldwide.
"It's a way to remotely track a disease without having to go out and trap animals all the time," says Denise Dearing, professor of biology at the University of Utah and co-author of the study published online Feb. 16, in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography. "The satellite measures the greenness of the Earth, and we found that greenness predicts deer mouse population density."
While the study focused on hantavirus in deer mice, its findings could help health officials fight other rodent-borne diseases such as rat-bite fever, Lyme disease, bubonic plague, Lassa fever, salmonella infection and various hemorrhagic fevers.
The method was tested on deer mice that carry hantavirus and proliferate when their food supply is abundant, "but it potentially could be applied to any animal that responds to vegetation," says Dearing. "It would have to be calibrated against each specific species of rodent and the disease, but it's really powerful when it's done."
The study combined satellite imagery with data from thousands of mice captured over three years in central Utah. The total number of trapped mice and the number of mice with the disease, a strain of hantavirus known as Sin Nombre virus, both climbed after peaks in greenery.
Sin Nombre virus is carried by rodents, primarily deer mice, in the western United States. In humans, it causes a disease known as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. It was discovered in 1993 after several young, otherwise healthy people in the Four Corners area of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona died of a mysterious respiratory illness. Hantavirus kills 42 percent of its victims and is contracted by inhaling dust containing mouse urine or feces…”
Ice Age by Thomas
|12:16:24 AM, Wednesday, February 16, 2011|
Astronomy Picture of the Day: The Rippled Red Ribbons of SNR 0509
|12:11:05 AM, Wednesday, February 16, 2011|
-- "What is causing the picturesque ripples of supernova remnant SNR 0509-67.5? The ripples, as well as the greater nebula, were imaged in unprecedented detail by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2006 and again late last year. The red color was recoded by a Hubble filter that left only the light emitted by energetic hydrogen. The precise reason for the ripples remains unknown, with two considered origin hypotheses relating them to relatively dense portions of either ejected or impacted gas. The reason for the broader red glowing ring is more clear, with expansion speed and light echos relating it to a classic Type Ia supernova explosion that must have occurred about 400 years earlier. SNR 0509 currently spans about 23 light years and lies about 160,000 light years away toward the constellation of the dolphinfish (Dorado) in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The expanding ring carries with it another great mystery, however: why wasn't this supernova seen 400 years ago when light from the initial blast should have passed the Earth?"
Quest for Extinct Giant Rats Leads Scientists to Ancient Face Carvings
|12:08:07 AM, Wednesday, February 16, 2011|
“Ancient stone faces carved into the walls of a well-known limestone cave in East Timor have been discovered by a team searching for fossils of extinct giant rats.
The team of archaeologists and palaeontologists were working in Lene Hara Cave on the northeast tip of East Timor.
"Looking up from the cave floor at a colleague sitting on a ledge, my head torch shone on what seemed to be a weathered carving," CSIRO's Dr Ken Aplin said.
"I shone the torch around and saw a whole panel of engraved prehistoric human faces on the wall of the cave.
"The local landowners with whom we were working were stunned by the findings. They said the faces had chosen that day to reveal themselves because they were pleased by the field work we were doing."
The Lene Hara carvings, or petroglyphs, are frontal, stylised faces each with eyes, a nose and a mouth. One has a circular headdress with rays that frame the face.
Uranium isotope dating by colleagues at the University of Queensland revealed the 'sun ray' face to be around 10,000 to 12,000 years old, placing it in the late Pleistocene. The other faces could not be dated but are likely to be equally ancient…”
Time-Lapse Tuesday: Wild Animals Devour Elephant
|11:57:01 PM, Tuesday, February 15, 2011|
“There are an estimated 6 million calories in an elephant - enough energy to keep a human sated for over eight years. But at the Tsavo West National Park in Kenya, it took wild animals just seven days to reduce a dead elephant to nothing more than a pile of bones (see video above).The remarkable footage was generated as part of a Channel 4 documentary investigating what happens when an elephant dies in its natural environment.
The research team behind the programme were interested in the animals that feed off the remains. They captured video of vultures, hyenas, leopards and insects working away at the carcass day and night. The footage also revealed unexpected and worrying imbalances in the food chain - notably that the number of vultures in Kenya is declining.
The film crew got the opportunity to film the decomposing elephant when a young adult male was put down by a vet after ivory poachers left it mortally wounded. To simulate a kill and attract scavengers to the carcass, they projected sounds of lions attacking an elephant. Then they filmed the events from a camouflaged observation centre…”
Group Plans to Beam Free Internet Across the Globe from Space
|8:11:50 PM, Tuesday, February 15, 2011|
“The charity group A Human Right said it was planning to purchase a satellite that would provide free basic Internet access to developing countries around the world.
The group, which was founded by 25-year-old Kosta Grammatis, is currently raising money to buy the TerreStar-1, the largest commercial communications satellite ever built. TerreStar, the company that owns the satellite, filed for chapter-11 bankruptcy protection in October 2010, opening the possibility that the satellite may be up for sale.
The group hopes to raise $150,000 to finalize a business plan, investigate the legal and business aspects of submitting a bid for the satellite, and hire engineers to turn the plan into a reality. After this initial phase, the group plans to develop an open source low cost modem that could be used to connect to the satellite and finalize plans with partner governments.
"We believe that Internet access is a tool that allows people to help themselves - a tool so vital that it should be considered a universal human right," the website for Buy This Satellite stated. "Imagine your digital life disconnected. Without access to the 100 million man-hours that have been put into Wikipedia, how much do you actually know?"
Nearly 5 billion out of the world's 6.9 billion people don't have access to the Internet.
A Human Right plans to finance their satellite by allowing telecommunication companies to purchase bandwidth, while providing basic service for free to everyone. "Our goal is to not only get everyone online, but also facilitate the growth of an industry," their website said.
The group has already managed to raise $44,781…”
Family Guy - Magic Baby
|2:38:46 PM, Tuesday, February 15, 2011|
US Admiral: Carrier Killer Won't Stop US Navy
|12:44:40 PM, Tuesday, February 15, 2011|
“A new "carrier killer" missile that has become a symbol of China's rising military might will not force the U.S. Navy to change the way it operates in the Pacific, a senior Navy commander told The Associated Press.
Defense analysts say the Dong Feng 21D missile could upend the balance of power in Asia, where U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups have ruled the waves since the end of World War II.
However, Vice Adm. Scott van Buskirk, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, told the AP in an interview that the Navy does not see the much-feared weapon as creating any insurmountable vulnerability for the U.S. carriers — the Navy's crown jewels.
"It's not the Achilles heel of our aircraft carriers or our Navy — it is one weapons system, one technology that is out there," Van Buskirk said in an interview this week on the bridge of the USS George Washington, the only carrier that is home-based in the western Pacific.
The DF 21D is unique in that it is believed capable of hitting a powerfully defended moving target — like the USS George Washington — with pinpoint precision. That objective is so complex that the Soviets gave up on a similar project.
The missile would penetrate defenses because its speed from launch would not allow enough time for carriers or other large ships to complete countermeasures.
That could seriously weaken Washington's ability to intervene in any potential conflict over Taiwan or North Korea, as well as deny U.S. ships safe access to international waters near China's 11,200-mile (18,000-kilometer) -long coastline.
Van Buskirk, whose fleet is responsible for most of the Pacific and Indian oceans, with 60-70 ships and 40,000 sailors and Marines under its command, said the capabilities of the Chinese missile are as yet unproven. But he acknowledged it does raise special concerns.
"Any new capability is something that we try to monitor," he said…”
Oh Hai Guys Remember Pluto? We Felt Bad So Here You Go: The Mystery of the Giant Planet Hidden In Our Solar System
|8:54:45 PM, Monday, February 14, 2011|
"There's a giant planet right here, hiding in our Solar System. One that nobody has ever seen, even while it is four times larger than Jupiter and has rings and moons orbiting it. At least, that's what two astrophysicists say.
The name of the planet is Tyche. The scientists are John Matese and Daniel Whitmire, from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. According to them, this colossus is hiding in the Oort Cloud—the asteroid beehive that forms the outer shell of our home system, one light-year in radius. They claim that data already captured by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorerproves its existence. It only needs to be analyzed... over the next two years.
Matese and Whitmire are convinced that Tyche is very real now, however. 15,000 times farther from the Sun than Earth, Tyche would be made mostly of hydrogen and helium. The titanic planet would orbit the Sun with moons and rings around it, bubbling with clouds and storm systems similar to Jupiter. It would even have a mild temperature (-73ºC/-99.4ºF) compared to the asteroids around it, which are almost near absolute zero. Whitmire says that the temperature difference is because a titan of this size takes a long time to cool off after its formation.
Would Tyche be the 9th planet of our Solar System, after Pluto's demise? If its existence is finally confirmed, its Solar System planet status may not be guaranteed. The reason: Astronomers theorize that Tyche could be a planet born in another star system and captured by ours. But whatever classification it gets, it's exciting to think that there may be a new neighbor just around the corner."
-- April Fool's yet? So some of these people and scientists are arrogant enough to claim there is no life on other planets yet they're having a hard time finding a massive planet right under their nose, in our own solar system. I won't even go into learning all we can about the earth itself, what's right under our feet.
Suzuki Swift GTI Group A Assemble Thyself! Some Stop-Motion Win Right Here
|3:53:15 PM, Monday, February 14, 2011|
Fireworks Fail: Massive Explosion A Bit Too Close for Comfort
|10:49:58 PM, Sunday, February 13, 2011|
Black Holes Put New Spin on Light
|10:46:50 PM, Sunday, February 13, 2011|
“Light curls up into corkscrew patterns when it passes near black holes, offering a powerful new way to probe the distorted space around them.
In an ordinary light beam observed far from its source, successive peaks of light waves form essentially flat wave fronts. Not so for light with so-called orbital angular momentum, which has long been produced in the lab. Its peaks spiral around to form a corkscrew pattern.
According to general relativity, spinning black holes drag the fabric of the surrounding space around with them. Fabrizio Tamburini of the University of Padua in Italy, and colleagues, calculated how light rays emitted by matter spiralling into a black hole are distorted by this effect, called frame dragging. They calculated that it transforms ordinary light into the corkscrew type that possesses orbital angular momentum.
In future, telescopes could be equipped with detectors to measure this light, says Martin Bojowald of Pennsylvania State University in University Park.
Physicists have measured frame dragging around black holes before by observing the rotation of discs of matter around them. But hydrodynamical processes also affect this rotation, muddying the frame dragging signal. "The new results will allow stricter tests of general relativity thanks to their higher precision," says Bojowald.
Such light could also be used to measure a black hole's spin more accurately, he adds. Currently, astronomers infer the spin by measuring the distance between the black hole and the nearest matter around it, a technique that requires high-resolution observations. Using twisted light would require less spatial resolution and therefore "should make it possible to measure the spin of black holes farther away", Bojowald says.”
Phantom of the Floppera: Computer Floppy Drives Play Bach’s Toccata & Fugue
|9:58:21 PM, Sunday, February 13, 2011|
-- This makes me miss hearing that A Drive do its thing every time the computer booted up. It was like a free diagnostics device, you could always tell if something was wrong based on what noise that thing made, or didn’t. Read the user’s comments for the clip if you’re wondering what technical process is required to make these now vintage beauties play music.
The People of Detroit Want a RoboCop Statue
|8:43:41 PM, Sunday, February 13, 2011|
“What do you think Detroit is best known for? Cars? Motown music? Or RoboCop? A growing grassroots movement is insisting the latter, as support grows for erecting a statue in honor of the 80's cult movie icon.
Supporters have reportedly taken to Facebook and Twitter to drum up support for the potential landmark, but have received little support in return. According to reports, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is against the idea. And little wonder: the futuristic vision of Detroit, where the RoboCop movies are set, is hardly complimentary, depicting a crime-ridden metropolis run by corrupt officials and a privatized security force.
As The Detroit News points out, a similar initiative to honor Motown's greatest in Detroit with another statue never materialized, although the effort is not without precedent: just one state over, a statue of the Fonz from Happy Days was erected in 2008, much to everyone's "ayyyy!"
So... do you think Detroit should get a RoboCop statue?”
-- I think people should get what they want!!! Follow the links for the poll.
Living Bridges in India Have Grown for 500 Years
|7:53:54 PM, Sunday, February 13, 2011|
“Some of the smartest, most sustainable engineering feats were discovered hundreds of years ago, and many have gone unacknowledged. For evidence, take the bridge growers of northeastern India. Planning 10-15 years in advance, they build what may be the most sustainable foot bridges in the world -- by literally growing them out of living tree roots. These bridges are extremely sturdy, reach up to 100 feet long, and many are at least 500 years old.
Requiring the harvesting of only a few betel nut trees to create, each root bridge is sturdy, efficient, and, well, alive. A tribe in the hilly Khasi and Jaintia region of India -- one of the wettest places on Earth -- evidently came up with the concept some hundreds of years ago. Atlas Obscura explains:
The War-Khasis, a tribe in Meghalaya, long ago noticed this tree and saw in its powerful roots an opportunity to easily cross the area's many rivers. Now, whenever and wherever the need arises, they simply grow their bridges.
In order to make a rubber tree's roots grow in the right direction--say, over a river--the Khasis use betel nut trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create root-guidance systems. The thin, tender roots of the rubber tree, prevented from fanning out by the betel nut trunks, grow straight out. When they reach the other side of the river, they're allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time, a sturdy, living bridge is produced.
Sure, "enough time" isn't exactly expedient by today's standards -- each root bridge takes between 10-15 years to grow strong enough to be put into use. But strong they are -- evidently up to 50 people can cross the heftier bridges at once, and many bridges are over 100 feet long. And they only become stronger with time, as the roots continue to grow. Some of the bridges still in use in the region are estimated to be 500 years old.
An interesting side note nestled in this story is that the villagers who use them wanted at one point to tear them down to trade them for steel ones, for the sake of modernization -- but once a nearby resort owner stumbled upon them and recognized their potential value, the locals were easily persuaded from trading in (and untold materials and emissions were prevent from being wasted). The old bridges were still fully functional, after all -- in fact, the Khasis are still growing more bridges today. Chalk up another win for innovative sustainable design, however ancient it may be.”
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