Burmese Prison Inmates 'Used as Human Mine Sweepers'

10:32:11 AM, Saturday, January 15, 2011

“Some of the 600 prisoners shipped off to the front near the border with Thailand suffered serious injuries as they were forced to walk ahead of troops across mine fields in what one rights group said amounted to a "crime against humanity".

Inmates who did not have the funds to bribe their jailers to avoid the forced military service were sent to the fighting acting as porters carrying ammunition, according to three prisoners who escaped and made it to the Thai border town of Mae Sot.

The on-going fighting between the Burmese army and a splinter group of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, rebels who signed a truce and sided with the junta, broke out on November 7, the day of the much-derided general election.

The most senior of the escaped prisoners, Thaung Htay Oo, 28 told of the abuse meted out to the inmates by the military.

"We had to carry ammunition, equipment and food for the soldiers," he said. "They worst thing is that they used prisoners to clear minefields ahead of their advance. There were many prisoners who were injured by the landmines after they were forced to walk ahead of the soldiers. We ran away because we didn't want the same thing to happen to us…”"

-- !!!

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New Type of Glass Stronger and Tougher Than Steel

10:13:11 AM, Saturday, January 15, 2011

“Glass stronger and tougher than steel? A new type of damage-tolerant metallic glass, demonstrating a strength and toughness beyond that of any known material, has been developed and tested by a collaboration of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)and the California Institute of Technology. What's more, even better versions of this new glass may be on the way.

"These results mark the first use of a new strategy for metallic glass fabrication and we believe we can use it to make glass that will be even stronger and more tough," says Robert Ritchie, a materials scientist who led the Berkeley contribution to the research.

The new metallic glass is a microalloy featuring palladium, a metal with a high "bulk-to-shear" stiffness ratio that counteracts the intrinsic brittleness of glassy materials.

"Because of the high bulk-to-shear modulus ratio of palladium-containing material, the energy needed to form shear bands is much lower than the energy required to turn these shear bands into cracks," Ritchie says. "The result is that glass undergoes extensive plasticity in response to stress, allowing it to bend rather than crack…””

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asdfmovie3

9:27:56 AM, Saturday, January 15, 2011
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Bad Blood by Steven Perry

10:55:23 PM, Thursday, January 13, 2011
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Inside London's Sewer System

10:11:10 PM, Thursday, January 13, 2011

-- Rob Smith, head flusher at Thames Water, leads a guided tour of London's sewer system and explains how 'fat bergs' – amalgamations of illegally dumped cooking oil, wet wipes, condoms, dead rodents, you name it – can lead to blockages and flooding... Lovely! Follow the links to watch The Guardian video reportage.

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Pentagon’s Mach 6 Warplane May Return From Limbo

4:28:52 PM, Thursday, January 13, 2011

“Forget robotic spy planes, drone fighter-bombers and self-landing orbital laboratories. In the world of secretive Pentagon aerospace projects, none are more sensational than the high-flying, Mach 6 Blackswift.

The hypersonic, unmanned Blackswift could become almost anything: a satellite launcher, an SR-71-style spy plane or even a super-evasive — nay, untouchable — bomber. That is, if it could just keep its funding. After many years rumored work, Blackswift stepped into the light in 2007 when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency launched a formal development program, aiming to build two prototypes for a total cost of around $1 billion. Two years later, Blackswift was dead, a victim of budget cuts and skeptical lawmakers.

Now Blackswift is (sorta) back, according to some stellar reporting at the Ares blog. “The U.S. Air Force is drawing up a new hypersonic development road map which, to the delight of many and the fear of some, revives the concept of a reusable flight research vehicle similar to the abandoned Blackswift,” Guy Norris revealed. He called the re-born hypersonic plane, “son of Blackswift.”

The revival raises some big questions: is Blackswift 2.0 at all related the Pentagon’s new bomber initiative, or the military’s secret battle plan for countering China? Can the new Blackswift overcome vexing technical challenges? And even if it can, do we have the billions of dollars it might take to build the Mach-6 plane in meaningful numbers?”

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Black Box: Inside an Older Flight Data Recorder

2:50:38 PM, Thursday, January 13, 2011

-- Engineer Guy!

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You Are All Stardust

10:41:22 AM, Thursday, January 13, 2011
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Macklemore – The Town

10:24:38 PM, Wednesday, January 12, 2011

-- Seattle-based hip-hop artist's clip about his hometown Seattle. I have not even been there, but this song just seems to really capture the essence of the city. Make sure to watch it in HD, so good!

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Improv Everywhere, No Pants Subway Ride 2011

10:10:55 PM, Wednesday, January 12, 2011

-- Dubiously SFW.

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Colbert on Lithuania

6:58:16 PM, Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive
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Society by Anton Semenov

11:07:44 PM, Tuesday, January 11, 2011
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Electric Light Bulb Guitar Blues

7:13:13 PM, Tuesday, January 11, 2011
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First “Solid” Exoplanet Found

7:03:40 PM, Tuesday, January 11, 2011

“Astronomers have just announced the discovery of the first planet orbiting another star that is unequivocally not a gas giant: it must be a very dense, rocky-metallic object not much bigger than the Earth!

The planet, discovered by the orbiting Kepler telescope, is called Kepler-10b. The star (Kepler 10) is roughly the same mass and temperature as the Sun, and is located over 500 light years away.

The planet was detected because it passes directly between us and the star as it orbits. When it does that, it makes a mini-eclipse, blocking a bit of light from the star. By knowing how big the star is and how much light is blocked, the size of the planet can be measured (the bigger the planet, the more light is blocked). In this case, Kepler-10b is only about 1.4 times the diameter of the Earth, making it the smallest exoplanet ever found!

However, there’s more. The planet’s gravity tugs on the star as it orbits, so as the planet makes a big circle around the star, the star makes a little circle in response (I like to use the analogy of a father dancing with his small daughter; as he swings her around she makes a big circle around him and he makes a little circle, because he’s much more massive than she is). As the star moves slightly toward and away from us we can measure the change in velocity using the Doppler shift, and that in turn tells us the mass of the planet. It turns out Kepler-10b is a lot more massive than the Earth, tipping the scales at 4.6 times the Earth’s mass…”

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NYC: Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Turned Into Lumber for Habitat for Humanity

6:55:34 PM, Tuesday, January 11, 2011
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