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Magnetic heat shield test could use Russian launcher

The European Space Agency (ESA) is developing a magnetic heat shield that should deflect air away from the surface where friction generates so much heat. Live re-entry tests will determine if the system is sufficient to reduce or even eliminate the need for heat shielding.


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Space hotel says it's on schedule to open in 2012 - Space- msnbc.com

Barcelona-base Galactic Suite Ltd. says that they expect to have a hotel in space by 2012. Each pod (see photo below) will hold 4 guests and 2 pilots. The cost of a 3-night stay? $4.4 million, which includes an 8-week training course on a tropical island.

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'Frankenstein' fix lets asteroid mission cheat death - space - 20 November 2009 - New Scientist

The Hayabusa asteroid probe is back on track to Earth after losing three of its four engines. With only one working engine, the craft seemed doomed to remain in the asteroid belt, but Japanese scientists managed to produce the equivalent of one working engine using the three broken ones. Specifically, one of the ion engines could only generate positive ions, but too much of this would have resulted in a dangerous buildup of charge so they used one of the other engines that were still able to generate negative ions to counter the charge buildup. If all goes well, the craft will return to Earth in June 2010.
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Japanese researchers claim to have cloned frozen mice (that is, mice that were frozen, not that they created frozen clones) and postulate that the same could be done for woolly mammoths.

Richard Dawkin's next target is, according to the Telegraph, "anti-scientific fairy tales". According to the article, he plans to write a book aimed at children to contrast scientific thinking with mythological thinking. Although he is not certain that childhood belief in magic has a detrimental effect, he plans to at least explore the question.

British researchers propose that it may be practical for future manned missions beyond earth's magnetosphere to carry their own "mini-magnetosphere". Simulations show that a magnetic bubble only a few hundred meters across would be sufficient to protect the spacecraft's occupants. Edit: They also performed tests using a $20 magnet and a plasma stream that appeared to work well, but cautioned that scaling it up to a full space ship is more than 15 to 20 years off. The link has a video of the "hole" the magnet makes in a plasma beam.

Cassini's new mission is to check Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, for evidence of life by sampling material ejected in a giant plume from the moon's south pole for the presence of methane and other organic chemicals.

A little-known fungus in Padagonia makes diesel vapour as a bi-product of consuming plant waste, making it a possible cheap source of biofuel from cellulose waste.

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Courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] d2leddy
Parallel universes exist - study - Parallel universes really do exist, according to a mathematical discovery by Oxford scientists described by one expert as "one of the most important developments in the history of science". The Oxford team, led by Dr David Deutsch, showed mathematically that the bush-like branching structure created by the universe splitting into parallel versions of itself can explain the probabilistic nature of quantum outcomes.

From [livejournal.com profile] ancalagon_tb
A Beloved Professor Delivers
The Lecture of a Lifetime
- Schools such as Stanford and the University of Alabama have mounted "Last Lecture Series," in which top professors are asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks. For the audience, the question to be mulled is this: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch's speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture, using images on a giant screen, turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life.

Physics Org
NASA's Ion Engine Breaks Performance Record - Today's chemical propulsion systems get their big boost and then coast at constant speed until the next boost. An ion engine can produce its small thrust continually and thereby provide near constant acceleration and shorter travel times. Ion propulsion is also ten times more fuel efficient than chemical onboard propulsion systems. This greater efficiency means less propellant is needed for a mission. Spacecraft can then be smaller and lighter, with lower launch costs.

The Mercer Report
Strong loonie hurting Canadian pot exports: expert - The strong Canadian dollar has hit the illegal marijuana sector just as it has other industries that export to the United States, one of Canada's best known legalization advocates said on Thursday. But western marijuana growers have also benefited from Canada's strong economy, especially the booming Alberta oil patch, which has increased domestic consumption, according to Marc Emery, a founder of the British Columbia Marijuana Party.
Dinosaurs may roam Vancouver's Stanley Park - One of Canada's most iconic parks could soon be home to more than trees, tourists and spectacular views. The Vancouver Park Board wants to add another attraction: giant robotic dinosaurs. Documents obtained by the CBC reveal the board has put out a request for proposals for 25 to 30 life-size animatronic dinosaurs to be installed in Stanley Park near a miniature railroad right next to the petting zoo.

Improbable Research
The chemistry of divorce - A state forensics scientist who said she tested DNA in her husband’s underwear to find out whether he was cheating could be disciplined if investigators determine she violated the use of state equipment. Ann Chamberlain-Gordon of Okemos testified in a March 7 divorce hearing that she ran the test in September on the underwear of Charles Gordon Jr. Asked by his attorney what she found, she answered: “Another female. It wasn’t me.” She also said during a May 25 hearing in Ingham County Family Court that she ran the test on her own time with chemicals that were set to be thrown away.
Bras Don't Support Bouncing Breasts, Study Finds - Whether women are said to be flat-chested or big-busted, ordinary bras fall short when it comes to supporting bouncing breasts, a new study claims.

Physics Org
Microsoft Excel Fails Math Test - In a blog post, Microsoft employee David Gainer said that when computer users tried to get Excel 2007 to multiply some pairs of numbers and the result was 65,535, Excel would incorrectly display 100,000 as the answer.

Techdirt
Bridging The Tech Gender Gap - some computer science researchers postulate that the design of software itself may contribute to the male-bias seen in computer programming. In an experiment, participants were asked to find and fix errors in a spreadsheet. Researchers found that men were more likely to use advanced "debugging" features of the software, whereas women were more likely to edit formulas one by one. Then, they introduced a differently designed debugging tool that was specifically designed to appeal to women. Unsurprisingly, women used the debugging tool more.

Technology Review Feed - Tech Review Top Stories
Hydrogen from Algae - Anastasios Melis, a plant- and microbial-biology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, believes that genetically engineered versions of the tiny green organisms have a good shot at being a viable source for hydrogen. Melis has created mutant algae that make better use of sunlight than their natural cousins do. This could increase the hydrogen that the algae produce by a factor of three. It would also boost the algae's production of oil for biofuels.
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EurekAlert! - Space and Planetary Science
Comet probes reveal evidence of origin of life, scientists claim - Recent probes inside comets show it is overwhelmingly likely that life began in space, according to a new paper by Cardiff University scientists. Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe and colleagues at the University’s Centre for Astrobiology have long argued the case for panspermia - the theory that life began inside comets and then spread to habitable planets across the galaxy. Now the team claims that findings from space probes sent to investigate passing comets reveal how the first organisms could have formed.
Cities incite thunderstorms, researchers find - Summer thunderstorms become much more fierce when they collide with a city than they would otherwise be in the open countryside, according to research led by Princeton engineers. While thunderstorms are thought of as being purely forces of nature, the Princeton research suggests that man’s built environment can radically alter a storm’s life cycle.


Physics Org
Conventional plowing is 'skinning our agricultural fields' - Traditional plow-based agricultural methods and the need to feed a rapidly growing world population are combining to deplete the Earth's soil supply, a new study confirms. In fact, long-established practices appear to increase soil erosion to the point that it is not offset by soil creation, said David Montgomery, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences. No-till agriculture, in which crop stubble is mixed with the top layer of soil using a method called disking, is far more sustainable, he said.
U.S. Icebreaker to Map Arctic Sea Floor - A U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker is headed to the Arctic to map the sea floor off Alaska, as Russia, Denmark and Canada assert their claims in the polar region, which has potential oil and gas reserves. Russian media assert that the Healy's mission signals that the United States, along with Canada, is actively joining the competition for resources in the Arctic. Melting ice could open water for drilling or create the long-sought Northwest Passage for shipping. A Russian submarine dropped that nation's flag Aug. 2 on the floor of the Arctic Ocean under the North Pole.


SPACE.com
Bigelow Aerospace Fast-Tracks Manned Spacecraft - Following the successful launch and deployment of two inflatable space modules, on Monday the owner and founder of Bigelow Aerospace announced plans to move ahead with the launch of its first human habitable spacecraft, the Sundancer. The decision to fast-track Sundancer was made in part to rising launch costs as well as the ability to test some systems on the ground, company CEO Robert Bigelow said in a press statement. The Sundancer module will provide 180 cubic meters of habitable space and will come fully equipped with life-support systems, attitude control and on-orbit maneuverability, as well as reboost and deorbit capability. This larger module – sporting a trio of windows – could support a three-person crew and be on orbit in the second half of 2010, Bigelow told Space News in March of this year.
NASA Performs Tests on Shuttle Tile Damage - NASA engineers are running a battery of tests to determine whether Endeavour shuttle astronauts will have to repair a deep gouge on their orbiter's underbelly, while a separate team weighs the best of three options for any fix required, mission managers said Monday. A piece of fuel tank debris struck Endeavour's belly-mounted tiles 58 seconds after launch on Aug. 8, carving the 3 1/2-inch by 2-inch (9-centimeter by 5-centimeter) gouge. The debris did penetrate through the tile to expose a small strip of felt about one inch (2.5 centimeters) wide and 0.2 inches (0.5 centimeters) long. This image depicts tile damage to the space shuttle Endeavour during its Aug. 8, 2007 launch, as well as its location near the starboard landing gear door.

Side note: ABC News has a better image of the gouge, for those that are interested. The robot arm and the laser scanner, used to examine the damage, were designed and built in Canada.
Hot Gas in Space Mimics Life - Electrically charged specks of interstellar dust organize into DNA-like double helixes and display properties normally attributed to living systems, such as evolving and reproducing, new computer simulations show. But scientists are hesitant to call the dancing dust particles "alive," and instead say they are just another example of how difficult it is to define life.
Newfound Planet Has Earth-Like Orbit - A planet outside our solar system with a year roughly equal to Earth's has been discovered around a dying, red giant star. The discovery could help astronomers understand what will happen to our sun's brood of planets when it exhausts its store of hydrogen fuel and its outer envelope begins to swell. When that happens in an estimated 5 billion years, our sun will be so big that it will engulf the inner planets and most likely Earth. But long before that happens, life on our planet will have perished and its seas will have boiled away.
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Source: PhysOrg
Batten down the hatches, a storm is coming! Well, it's not quite that bad. Scientists predict that Solar Cycle 24, the next period of solar storms, will start in March and continue to increase until it peaks in 2011 or 2012. Scientists are unable to agree as to how strong the next cycle will be, but predict that there will be GPS disruptions and potentially a blackout or two.

Source: PhysOrg
Canada's Conservative government has finally decided that greenhouse gas emissions need to be dealt with (really? Who'd a've thunk it!) So are planning to implement measures to curb greenhouse gas generation over the next 5 years before reducing our emission rate by 20 percent of today's emission levels by 2020. Our original Kyoto target was a reduction in emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels; however, we are already 30 percent above 1990 levels to achieving that has become unrealistic. Another way to read it is that we don't plan to stop increasing emissions until after the end of the NEXT political term, at which point it becomes someone else's problem. Gotta love politics.

Source: PhysOrg
Speaking of greenhouse gas emissions, earlier this week was the first successful demonstration of a technology that can "scrub" carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and is the first step toward a commercially-viable technology. The system extracts carbon dioxide from the air and generates a stream of pure carbon dioxide (for industrial use or sequestration) and carbon dioxide-reduced air that is returned to the atmosphere. A device with an opening of 1 square metre can extract 10 tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Source: instructables
[livejournal.com profile] ztrooper sent me this just as I was writing up this tech post.... a taxidermy project to build a computer mouse out of a dead mouse. Go check out the video and step-by-step instructions.

Source: New Scientist
Yet another interesting article noticed by [profile] ancalagon_tb. This year's AIAA award winner is a paper calling for testing of a drive based on an obscure physics theory by Burkhard Heim who had proposed a theory that linked general relativity with quantum physics. The theory depends on the existence of 6 (not 4) dimensions and couples gravity with electromagnetism. To the theory's credit, he used it to predict the masses of elementary particles to well within an expected level of error. In fact, updating the equation with more recently-derived cosmological constants only increased the accuracy of the predictions. The experiment? A huge rotating electromagnetic coil placed above a superconductive ring should, according to his theory, experience a reduction in gravitational attraction. The paper theorizes that a spacecraft fitted with the ring-and-coil should be capable of propulsive lift. A far-fetched idea, but I'd still be interested in seeing it test. Give that the theory has demonstrated itself to work as a predictive model, there is a faint chance that he might be right about this. And even if it doesn't work, it demonstrates where the theory breaks down.
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Source: EurekAlert!
European astronomers have discovered the first potentially habitable planet outside the solar system, what they now refer to as an exoplanet. It is 50% larger than earth and orbits the red dwarf Gliese 581 approximately 20 light-years from earth, but the surface would be warm enough to support water in liquid form over its rocky surface. The exoplanet was discovered as part of a search of red dwarf stars, selected because their faint light makes it much easier to detect Earth-sized worlds within their habitable zones.

Source: PhysOrg
The Canadian government has announced a plan to phase in minimum energy efficiency requirements for lighting by 2012. This would result in a ban on current incandescent bulbs. As reported here previously, work in underway to significantly improve the efficiency of incandescent lights, and white LEDs are on the horizon. The ban would exclude applications for which there is no alternative such certain types of medical lighting and oven lights.

Source: New Scientist
Researchers have completed sequencing the genome of the bacteria Syntrophus aciditrophicus. What makes this bacteria so special is that it's life chemistry runs counter to that used by almost all other life on this planet. Rather than oxidizing organic compounds to drive ATP production, the bacteria converts fatty acids, something consumed by almost no other organism, into hydrogen and formate. These waste products are then consumed by other bacteria that, in turn, help Syntrophus survive. It is hoped that this sequencing may eventually lead to more efficient biohydrogen production.

Source: Space.com
Scientists discovered two years ago that marine biodiversity follows a puzzling 64-million year cycle, of which two of these were accompanied by major land-based extinctions. A team of Kansas University researchers believe that they may have found the answer. It appears that the cycle matches the one of the two points at which the solar system's orbit about the galactic core brings it temporarily outside the galactic plane; that is, the one cycle takes 64-million years. They believe that the cause is a galactic "bow wave" resulting from the galaxy's gravitational pull toward the Virgo Cluster. The bow wave, present only on the "north" side of the Milky Way (or upward from the galactic plane) would generate significantly more cosmic rays than we are used to. Bow waves have been detected around other galaxies so the theory is plausible. Given that the last major extinction was 62-million years ago, we have a bit of time before get hit again.

Source: BBC News
British scientists are planning to build a "deflector shield" using an ionized gas (plasma) held in place by magnetic fields. When the field is removed, the gas simply disperses into space. The result would mimic Earth's own magnetic field that protects us from much of the cosmic radiation that bombards the planet daily. They plan to build and test the shield in a lab before implementing one on a satellite. It is hoped that such a system could be used on spacecraft or on future moon missions. The technology is similar to that used in fusion reactors but in reverse and requiring far less power to sustain.
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Source: Space.com
Two robotic spacecraft have been launched as part of a three-month mission to test the feasibility of refueling and repairing satellites in orbit. The NextSat is the smaller of two and is designed to dock with satellites so that their store of propellant can be topped up. It can also be used to transfer replacement hardware from the ASTRO to the satellite. The larger of the two is the ASTRO which has a robotic arm that allows it to either recapture the NextSat or transfer parts to NextSat to shuttle to a satellite.

Source: Space.com
The State of New Mexico has threatened to "...secede from the astronomical community..." if Pluto is not given official status as a planet. Their primary reason? The original discoverer of Pluto used to live there. The reaction from the International Astronomical Union has been, understandable, understated, given this is a threat with no teeth. They have also declared 13 March as "Pluto Planet Day".

Source: National Geographic
If Global Warming can be seen to have an upside, one of them may be access to a new source of fuel in the form of gas hydrates. First discovered in 1983, it is now believed that there may enough methane trapped in the form of gas hydrates to exceed the world's traditional supply of gas, oil and coal. Each 0.02 cubic metre of gas hydrate can yield as much as 4.5 cubic metres of methane. Research is currently being conducted in the Arctic to determine how to mine this resource from the sandy sediments in which they appear.

Source: ABC News
As we go into the weekend knowing that Daylight Savings time starts three weeks earlier than usual this year (causing innumerable computer headaches), it turns out that the plan may be more annoyance than solution. The original purpose was to reduce the US's energy consumption by a wopping 1%; Canada followed suit in it usual passive manner to avoid upsetting anyone. The idea was that with an hour more sunlight in the evening, electric lights would be on a shorter period of time. A new study points out that there will, in fact, be an "...increase in morning electricity consumption ... so big that it offsets any benefits we get from the extra light in the evening." The cost of this shift has been estimated at more than $2 billion(US).

Source: SlashDot
IBM, in association with The Anomalies Network, has designed a new search engine for those of you have may have been captured by aliens. UFOCrawler is a repository of information pertaining to ghosts, conspiracy theories and extraterrestrials. Strangely enough, I might have a use for this sight, these being things I find entertaining.


A note expanding on yesterday's report of NetFile being down: apparently the problem is some data being scrambled, such as Social Insurance numbers being switched with birthdates [Toronto Star]. Intuit Canada recommends that you can either wait for NetFile to come back online or submit paper copies. QuickTax will generate a barcode for printed returns so those who use their system can simply print out the data and submit it.
dracodraconis: (Default)

Source: Sci Fi Tech
Lock'N'Safe is a voice-activated safe. Yes, someone is someone actually thought this was a good idea.

Source: Sci Fi Tech
Yarrr! The Pirate Toaster marks each piece of bread with a Jolly Roger. Might make a good gift someone with young children or a pirate fetish.

Source: Sci Fi Tech
The $100(US) SteriPen uses ultraviolet light to, it claims, kill 99.9% of the bacteria floating in whatever water you may be drinking. Good idea for camping or trips to countries with questionable water supplies.

Source: Engadget
The UK television program Top Gear built a mock space shuttle using a Reliant Robin and set a record for the largest rocket ever launched in the UK. Follow the link to watch the video of the launch and the less-than-successful landing. Looks like the video was pulled from YouTube so you'll have to make do with the picture.

Source: Coolest Gadgets
The radio-controlled water cannon turns spraying unsuspecting pool-goers into child's play. The cannon as a range of 10 feet to ensure that the maximum number of people want to become well acquainted with your child, or at least how much air time they can achieve when launched into the pool.
dracodraconis: (Default)

Source: PhysOrg
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ancalagon_tb for pointing this out. The latest generation of surveillance cameras not only record what is happening, but are able to perform limited analysis of the scene. These "intelligent video" systems are already able to detect the sound of gunshots, while others are able to recognize faces. Video cameras can also detect people and objects in a scene so that they can track them rather than waste memory on recording the entire area. These systems can alert police when a security threat is detected, and some even play a recorded message to warn off miscreants.

Source: Science Blog
The BBC has released on the Web a video series about the Bermuda Triangle. The source indicates that there are two parts to the video, and its source says three. We watched what appeared to be a single one-hour show so there is a bit of confusion in this. The source for the video is http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=566787800055727776&hl=en-GB which has a running time of about an hour.

Source: PhysOrg
What kind of background do think you might need to work in movies. Few would say computational fluid dynamics, but that is among the skills required to generate some of the most spectacular special effects you may have seen recently. The American Association for the Advancement of Science recently presented a symposium on the math and science behind recent advances in special effects.

Source: PhysOrg
Researchers at Georgia Tech have made engines for satellites more efficient by using a concept similar to a car transmission. Rather than running either full on or off, the motor can operate at one of five speeds, resulting in a potential fuel saving of up to 40%.

Source: Wired
An interesting article by sex columnist Regina Lynn (the article and site are worksafe) commenting on the recent conviction of substitute school teacher Julie Amero for exposing children to pornography. In short, while demonstrating something to a class of 12 to 13 year olds on a computer, a pop-up porn ad appeared on the computer. She claims she didn't know how to stop it, and now is facing a sentence of 40 years in prison for her mistake, (or the mistake of whomever was responsible for the classroom's computer). By comparison, convicted murders in Canada can be imprisoned for up to 25 years.
dracodraconis: (Default)

Source: PhysOrg
Iran has recently completed a successful launch of a spacecraft. The launch is part of a drive to place their own private and commercial satellites into orbit without having to rely on other countries. In particular, they want to place more communications satellites into orbit so that they can expand the number of land and mobile telephone lines, and internet users, in the next five years.

Source: UC Davis News & Information
Researchers have proposed that certain types of bacteria could be used to turn deep, sandy soil into something more like cement. Bacillus pasteurii generates calcite that bond to soil, turning it into a cement-like material. By injecting these bacteria into the soil and feeding them properly, soil that would formerly collapse during an earthquake remains rigid.

Source: SlashDot
An interesting article by Eric Flint which postulates that the current structure of DRM actually sets up a situation that encourages piracy. Like SlashDot, I'll simply quote a part here: "Electronic copyright infringement is something that can only become an 'economic epidemic' under certain conditions. Any one of the following: 1) The products they want... are hard to find, and thus valuable. 2) The products they want are high-priced, so there's a fair amount of money to be saved by stealing them. 3) The legal products come with so many added-on nuisances that the illegal version is better to begin with. Those are the three conditions that will create widespread electronic copyright infringement, especially in combination. Why? Because they're the same three general conditions that create all large-scale smuggling enterprises. And... Guess what? It's precisely those three conditions that DRM creates in the first place. So far from being an impediment to so-called 'online piracy,' it's DRM itself that keeps fueling it and driving it forward."

Source: PhysicsWeb
Researchers at Jerusalem University have developed a way to create 3D structures by chemically folding flat paper discs. The discs are treated with a monomer solution which is then heated, causing the paper disc to curl up in accordance with the pattern formed by the monomer solution. Regions of higher concentration shrink more than those of lower concentration so by varying the concentration over the surface of the disc, the final structure can be precisely controlled.

Source: Globe and Mail
A film crew claims to have identified the location of Jesus's ossuary, and has completed DNA analysis of it and its companion. The other ossuaries apparently contained the remains of Mariamne (Mary Magdelene), Matthew, and Yose (Jesus' brother). DNA testing showed that Yeshua (Jesus) and Mariamne were not related, indicating that they may, instead, have been married. The original bones were, apparently buried in unmarked graves long ago in accordance with Jewish custom. The ossuaries have been proven by archaeologists to be authentic and from the same time period, but there is no way to confirm that this is the same Yeshua on which the Christian Bible is based. Odds of it NOT being the same have been estimated at between 1 in 600 to 1 in 42 million. The documentary will air on the Discovery channel on March 4.
dracodraconis: (Default)

Source: PhysOrg
Chinese scientists propose that magnetic levitation technology could be used to reduce the cost of space travel. They propose using a MagLev system to gradually accelerate manned spacecraft to 1,000 km/hr, imposing an acceleration of only 2 or 3 gravities on passengers. Once that speed is attained, conventional systems take over to complete the launch.

Source: PhysOrg
A group of parents are suing the government of Texas in response to an executive order put forward by Governor Rick Perry requiring all schoolgirls be vaccinated against several strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer. They say it contradicts Texas's abstinence-only sex education policy. Supporters say it will help prevent a cancer that kills 3,700 American women each year. Meanwhile, gay men in Britain want to have access to the vaccine that may also effective in preventing genital warts, penile cancer and anal cancer. Merck is conducting tests to determine if these theories are supported. In all cases, the vaccine must be given before the person becomes sexually active to be completely effective, and the later in life it is administered, the less effective it becomes.

Source: PhysOrg
Apparently, 1 in 3 boys age 13 to 14 in Alberta are heavy users of porn according to a recent study. One third of boys asked about how often they have viewed pornography respond with "too many times to count". The Internet was cited as the primary source of pornographic material in 74% of cases. Only 8% of girls reported frequently viewing pornography.

Source: PhysOrg
There may be a use for liposuction other than vanity. Liposuctioned fat contains stem cells that may be used to regenerate damaged tissue. Meanwhile, this material can be used for stem cell research because it is so plentiful. On the one hand, it's nice to see a source other than the controversy-riddled aborted fetuses, on the other hand it is troubling that this the supply is considered plentiful.

Source: PhysOrg
Preliminary tests have shown that spearmint tea could be used to treat mild female hirsutism. Drinking two cups of spearmint tea every day for five days was found to reduce androgen levels in women which can lead to hair growth on their faces, breasts and stomachs.
dracodraconis: (Default)

Source: PhysOrg
NASA suggests that a "spce tractor" could be used to move potential earth-killer asteroids off their collision course. They suggest this may be a better solution than blowing them up, which could result in multiple huge pieces still hitting the earth and wreaking havoc.

Source: Technology Review
Scientists at the University of Southern California are preparing to test a new retinal implant that may provide 4 times the resolution of previous models. These previous models have been tested in humans and have enjoyed some success in restoring limited vision to those with retinal-degenerative diseases. The new device still depends on an external camera and imaging processing. They predict that the third-generation devices will have 10 times the resolution of the new model.

Source: Transmaterial
Softseating is a series of paper chairs that are designed with a honey-comb structure that allow them to be folded up and stored when not in use. The seats are expected to improve with age because constant use will soften the paper fibers. They are also flame-retardent and recyclable.

Source: SlashDot
A student at MIT emulated an XOR (shown here) gate and and AND gate using only water, sufficient to build a half-adder. Although not likely to win the Nobel prize, the logic circuits he designed are useful for demonstrating how logic gates work.

Source: BBC News
Japanese researchers have exploited the human eye's inability to process the colour yellow well (I was surprised to hear that) to hide printed text in images. The text can then be read by software on a call-phone's camera by filtering out everything in yellow. They can currently store 12-bits of information, about the same as the average bar code. They hope to use this technology to connect printed material to online material.
dracodraconis: (Default)

Source: Popular Mechanics
Follow the link to see the recent explosion of a Sea Launch rocket carrying a satellite. You get to see what happens when 1 million pounds of rocket fuel ignites.

Source: PhysOrg
You can add key Indian buildings to the list of regions being pixelated on Google Earth. Google has responded to concerns by the Indian government that clear images of some of its buildings might pose a security risk. It makes one wonder what happens as the resolution of these images becomes far greater than it is. Will there come a point at which they will not increase the resolution of online images because of privacy concerns? Google Earth can already provide photos clearly showing the backyards of some neighbourhoods, including being able to see the property from different angles. Great if you're looking to buy the property, but could this eventually become an issue among privacy advocates.

Source: Gizmodo
The F-22A is fast and highly maneuverable, but it's only means of communication with the ground or other pilots is through the pilot's voice. In this day-and-age, one would think that one of the more advanced combat systems in existence would make use of things like secure video feed, real-time transmission of flight information and the like. Lockheed Martin says that such advances will probably appear some time before 2013.

Source: Gizmodo
This LED flashlight packs a nasty surprise; 800,000 volts of nerve-melting excitement. At $35(US) it might be the only personal defense item that not only lights your way on a dark night, but can deal with those that lurk in the darkness.

Source: Gizmodo
Pulled from CNN's list of the 101 Dumbest Moments in Business, the I-Tattoo was mock tattoo kit for kids which included tattoo stickers and vibrating "ink pen"so that you, too, could pretend to be a tattoo artist. Infections not included.
dracodraconis: (Default)

Source: The Globe and Mail
NASA is apparently lending Canada a hand in designing a spacecraft to be launched from Cape Breton. The new spacecraft, pictured here, is called the Silver Dart is is being designed to ferry people and equipment to the International Space Station. They plan to have something ready to test-launch by 2008 and in regular service by 2009. Given that NASA will be retiring the shuttles in 2010, and the replacement system will not be out until 2014, Canada's near-orbit passenger system may be just what they need.

Source: PhysOrg
Japanese scientists have developed a type of glass that can switch between being transparent and having a mirror-like surface. The switching process is controlled by changing the composition of the gas between the panes. Introduce hydrogen into the mixture and the glass becomes transparent. Replace the hydrogen with oxygen and the glass becomes like a mirror. They hope to use this to reduce energy use in buildings.

Source: Gizmag
The ZAP-X is an electric car capable of cruising up to 350-miles at a top speed of 155-mph (when are they going to start using metric?) and requires just 10 minutes to recharge. To achieve this "fuel" economy, the chassis is made of aluminum, and each wheel is powered by a separate electric motor. The price? $60,000(US), once it ceases to be concept car.

Source: Building Blog
This one is more about tech gone wrong than new tech. The town of Picher, Oklahoma is being voluntarily bought out because it is too dangerous to live there. The hills in the photo are actually mine tailings, and the mines extend under the town where they now ocassionally collapse as sinkholes. Large trucks are forbidden from driving through for fear that the ground under one of the streets will collapse under the weight.

Source: Warren Ellis
Someone has made a 50-hp mechanical riding tiger. Check out the you-tube video on this. Very cool, even if you could walk faster than it "runs".

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