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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Chunli Style by Stanley Lau

6:46:30 PM, Tuesday, January 11, 2011
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The Big Picture: Kazakhstan's Radioactive Legacy

5:04:43 PM, Monday, January 10, 2011

"Sixty years ago, the Soviet Union detonated its first nuclear weapon, nicknamed "First Lightning", at a test facility on the steppe of northeast Kazakhstan (formerly the Kazakh SSR). The test site, named the Semipalatinsk Polygon, would go on to host 456 atomic explosions over its 40-year existence. Residents in the surrounding area became unwitting guinea pigs, exposed to the aftereffects of the bombs both intentionally and unintentionally. The radiation has silently devastated three generations of people in Kazakhstan - the total number affected is thought to be more than one million - creating health problems ranging from thyroid diseases, cancer, birth defects, deformities, premature aging, and cardiovascular diseases. Life expectancy in the area is seven years less than the national average of Kazakhstan. Photographer Ed Ou has graciously shared with us these photos from the area, with thanks to the excellent Reportage by Getty Images."

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Mike Brodie's aka 'The Polaroid Kidd' Non-Mainstream America - Photo Gallery

12:39:51 AM, Monday, January 10, 2011

"Mike Brodie aka "The Polaroid Kidd" is a somewhat accidental documentary photographer. By photographing his friends, their homes, and lifestyles, Brodie has captured a marginalized segment of the American population that's not so prevalent in main stream society. His haunting photos of hobos, punks, and squatters criss-crossing the country in boxcars are reminiscent of Horace Bristol's Grapes of Wrath era pics that captured migrant workers on their way to California...except now with facial tattoos. They're truly amazing. Brodie recently displayed work at LA's M+B Gallery. – Andrew M. Scott."

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Underwater Sculpture Garden Helps Save Reef

10:45:28 PM, Sunday, January 09, 2011

"Providing shelter and food for a multitude of plants and animals, coral reefs are some of the most vibrant and diverse ecosystems on the planet. Today, due to factors ranging from sunscreen-pollutedwaters to warming ocean currents, reefs are dying off at an alarming rate, leaving barren underwater deserts. Luckily, artist Jason deCaires Taylor has a clever and beautiful solution. Looking much like the Chinese terracotta army, Taylor has installed 400 life-size human figures on the Cancun sea floor. Made of marine-grade concrete, each figure acts as a growing medium for new reef. Titled “Silent Evolution,” the piece will continue to grow over centuries and will never be truly complete.

For more on this green and growing art piece and for information about visiting it by scuba, see underwatersculpture.com."

-- For more photos and video follow the link below, or the image link.

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Someone Else Will Put It Back

5:44:55 PM, Sunday, January 09, 2011

-- I hate when people do this!!! New blog that's been getting it's 15 minutes of fame, or whatnot, about changing your mind at the supermarket.

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Undermining China's Monopoly on Rare Earth Elements

4:44:41 PM, Sunday, January 09, 2011

"Full operations will start at a U.S. mine by the end of next year.

Molycorp has secured the permits and funding needed to restart production at a mine in Mountain Pass, California, that would become the first U.S. source of rare earth elements in more than a decade. The mine is one of the world's richest deposits of these elements, which are critical for making components found in a wide range of technologies. On Tuesday, the company announced that it will partner with Hitachi Metals of Japan to turn materials from the mine into high-strength magnets, which are vital in electric vehicles, wind turbines, and many other products.

China currently has a lock on the market for rare earth materials: in 2009 it provided 95 percent of the world's supply, or 120,000 tons. This concentration of supply has become a major issue in recent months, particularly after China temporarily blocked exports of these materials to Japan in September. A Critical Materials Strategy document issued by the U.S. Department of Energy last week points to the "risk of supply disruption" in the short term. Worldwide demand for rare earth elements was 125,000 tons in 2010 and is expected to rise to 225,000 tons by 2015.

The mine is a 50-acre open pit about 50 miles outside Las Vegas, surrounded by a stark landscape of red-brown mountains, Joshua trees, and the occasional cactus. Molycorp has begun draining groundwater that seeps into the bottom of the pit and removing areas of rock called "overburden" to expose a layer of bastnäsite, a mineral rich in rare earth elements. Expansion of operations will push the mine from a depth of 500 feet to 1,000 feet in the coming years..."

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Light by Michael Gauss

4:31:11 PM, Sunday, January 09, 2011
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Kids Are What Their Dads Eat

11:48:22 PM, Saturday, January 08, 2011

“U. TEXAS-AUSTIN (US) — What a father includes in his diet passes down and is able to reprogram how genes function in his children.

A new study published in Cell shows that environmental cues, including diet, influence genes in mammals from one generation to the next, suggesting paternal environmental effects may play a more important role in complex diseases such as diabetes and heart disease than previously believed.

“Knowing what your parents were doing before you were conceived is turning out to be important in determining what disease risk factors you may be carrying,” says Oliver Rando, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology at the University of Massaschusetts, and coauthor of the study with Hans Hofmann, associate professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin.

The study details how paternal diet can increase production of cholesterol synthesis genes in first-generation offspring…”

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Meanwhile in Russia: Bear Cub and Cat Play Together

10:00:46 PM, Saturday, January 08, 2011

-- Though sometimes it looks more like a bear cub using cat as a toy... haha Also, what is a bear doing inside their house?!? Only in Russia.

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Chinese Village Full of New Yorkers: a Story of Illegal Emigration

8:41:32 PM, Saturday, January 08, 2011

“The decline of Caozhu Village is at the same pace with that of many rural villages in China. What’s different is, here, desolateness is caused by affluence instead of poverty. People have left waves after waves for their American dream. Their pursuit of happiness leads to a faraway city that has a 13-hour time difference: New York. The village that doesn’t resign to its fate is a microcosm of the entire city of Changle, which supervises the village and has a population of 673,000: people are either in New York, or on its way to New York.

After half a century of nonstop emigration, the actual Caozhu Village has been moved to the United States. Now over 3,000 villagers resides in the U.S., while fewer than 1,000 still live in Caozhu. The population has dropped to an all-time low since its founding in Ming Dynasty four hundred years ago.

Huge outflow of young villagers is now a rarity. At the end of 1980s, it was still a common sight that formidable crowds of young people set off together. People waved goodbye to one another, as if Spartans bade farewell to warriors heading for Thermopylae…”

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Science Saved My Soul

3:34:33 AM, Saturday, January 08, 2011

-- This video is one of the more beautiful and eloquent presentations on how science equips people with knowledge and the ability to understand their surroundings rather than relying on the "God did it!" explanations. It captures just how grand and beautiful scientific explanations can really be by doing a really good job at explaining the magnificence and the mystery of the universe. HOWEVER, I almost did not to post it due to the needless use of expletives that I consider to be immature and damaging to the overall goal of the presentation. The speaker talks of maturity, but his arrogance is misplaced and injurious to his message. Nevertheless, here it is, a bit late due to my hesitations, but it is definitely worth a watch.

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Journal’s Paper on ESP Expected to Prompt Outrage

2:40:18 AM, Saturday, January 08, 2011

“One of psychology’s most respected journals has agreed to publish a paper presenting what its author describes as strong evidence for extrasensory perception, the ability to sense future events.

The decision may delight believers in so-called paranormal events, but it is already mortifying scientists. Advance copies of the paper, to be published this year in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, have circulated widely among psychological researchers in recent weeks and have generated a mixture of amusement and scorn.

The paper describes nine unusual lab experiments performed over the past decade by its author,Daryl J. Bem, an emeritus professor at Cornell, testing the ability of college students to accurately sense random events, like whether a computer program will flash a photograph on the left or right side of its screen. The studies include more than 1,000 subjects.

Some scientists say the report deserves to be published, in the name of open inquiry; others insist that its acceptance only accentuates fundamental flaws in the evaluation and peer review of research in the social sciences…”

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