Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2715 on: Jan 28th, 2011, 08:55am »
City Still Mourning 25 Years After Challenger Explosion By Christopher Laible
Published January 28, 2011
An official portrait shows the STS-51L crewmembers. Back row (L to R): Mission Specialist, Ellison S. Onizuka, Teacher in Space Participant Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist, Greg Jarvis and Mission Specialist, Judy Resnik. Front row (L to R): Pilot Mike Smith, Commander, Dick Scobee and Mission Specialist, Ron McNair.
It's been 25 years since teacher Christa McAuliffe died aboard the Challenger space shuttle, and people in her hometown of Concord, New Hampshire, still don't like to talk about it.
"It hurts every time the anniversary comes around. Especially for those that knew her," said New Hampshire Executive Council member Daniel St. Hilaire, 43. "My son is 18 and a freshman in college, and I've never sat down with him to talk about it."
A long-time resident of Concord, St. Hilaire went to Concord High School, where McAuliffe taught Social Studies and was an adviser for the Youth in Government club, which he was a member of. He remembers her as a passionate teacher, who stressed real world, hands-on experience both in school and out. "She was a different kind of teacher -- she didn't just lecture in classroom," he said. "She firmly believed that kids would learn better by experience and she lived her life that way."
McAuliffe's husband Steven, who is a federal judge in Concord, N.H. released a statement today saying, "I know Christa would say that that is the most precious lesson - ordinary people can make extraordinary contributions when they remain true to themselves and enthusiastically pursue their own dreams wherever they may lead. Our family knows that generations of students and teachers will continue to share her love of learning and love of life, and will do great things for our world."
A whole generation has grown up since McAuliffe and six other astronauts died on Jan. 28, 1986, and still her legacy lives on in this small city about an hour north of Boston. She was passionately loved by students and residents, and her death affects those who remember her. Some people still tear up at the mention of McAuliffe's name.
"It's difficult to have it all brought back to the forefront in my mind again," said Carol Berry, 71, a friend of McAuliffe's who was watching in person at Cape Canaveral when the Challenger blew up. "Every year, I think about it again. I just feel so badly."
In the years since the explosion, Concord has taken steps to ensure McAuliffe will never be forgotten. The local planetarium is named in her honor and houses memorabilia associated with the Challenger mission. Students and visitors are given tours and taught about her impact on the space program. Recently, the city named a soon to be completed elementary school after her, giving her an honor usually reserved for presidents and ensuring students for years to come will know her name.
Keeping McAuliffe's memory alive also is important to Holly Merrow, who graduated from Concord High in 1986 and now teaches in Portland, Maine. Merrow, taught by McAuliffe in a class about women in history, recalled that she made lessons fun, interesting and real -- and she tries to do the same.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2716 on: Jan 28th, 2011, 08:58am »
Fox Finds Its Abe for 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' 9:50 PM 1/27/2011 by Borys Kit
Benjamin Walker has signed on to star in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Fox’s adaptation of the period vampire novel from Seth Graham-Smith. Timur Bekmambetov is helming the movie, his first since his 2008 hit Wanted, and tells of Lincoln fighting the forces of the undead during the Civil War.
The project is a big coup for the actor, who has been performing on Broadway of late. The actor, repped by WME, has appeared in movies such as Flags of our Fathers and Kinsey.
But he elbowed his way to the front of the line in the screentests that took place earlier this month to nab the lead role of Honest Abe.
And what a role it is: It calls for the actor to play the famed president from the age of 20 to 55, from boyish and lanky to skilled fighter to middle-aged with trademarked beard.
Another role to watch out for is the part of Henry Sturges, who mentors and trains Abe in the ways of vampire hunting. The studio went after Tom Hardy before he took the role of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises but the part is now open.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2717 on: Jan 28th, 2011, 09:03am »
A Mix of Tiny Gold and Viral Particles, and the DNA Ties That Bind Them
ScienceDaily (Jan. 27, 2011)
— Scientists have created a diamond-like lattice composed of gold nanoparticles and viral particles, woven together and held in place by strands of DNA. The structure -- a distinctive mix of hard, metallic nanoparticles and organic viral pieces known as capsids, linked by the very stuff of life, DNA -- marks a remarkable step in scientists' ability to combine an assortment of materials to create infinitesimal devices.
Crystal lattice created by Sung Yong Park and colleagues. (Credit: Illustration by Adolf Lachman)
The research, done by scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Scripps Research Institute, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was published recently in Nature Materials.
While people commonly think of DNA as a blueprint for life, the team used DNA instead as a tool to guide the precise positioning of tiny particles just one-millionth of a centimeter across, using DNA to chaperone the particles.
Central to the work is the unique attraction of each of DNA's four chemical bases to just one other base. The scientists created specific pieces of DNA and then attached them to gold nanoparticles and viral particles, choosing the sequences and positioning them exactly to force the particles to arrange themselves into a crystal lattice.
When scientists mixed the particles, out of the brew emerged a sodium thallium crystal lattice. The device "self assembled" or literally built itself.
The research adds some welcome flexibility to the toolkit that scientists have available to create nano-sized devices.
"Organic materials interact in ways very different from metal nanoparticles. The fact that we were able to make such different materials work together and be compatible in a single structure demonstrates some new opportunities for building nano-sized devices," said Sung Yong Park, Ph.D., a research assistant professor of Biostatistics and Computational Biology at Rochester.
Park and M.G Finn, Ph.D., of Scripps Research Institute are corresponding authors of the paper.
Such a crystal lattice is potentially a central ingredient to a device known as a photonic crystal, which can manipulate light very precisely, blocking certain colors or wavelengths of light while letting other colors pass. While 3-D photonic crystals exist that can bend light at longer wavelengths, such as the infrared, this lattice is capable of manipulating visible light. Scientists foresee many applications for such crystals, such as optical computing and telecommunications, but manufacturing and durability remain serious challenges.
It was three years ago that Park, as part of a larger team of colleagues at Northwestern University, first produced a crystal lattice with a similar method, using DNA to link gold nanospheres. The new work is the first to combine particles with such different properties -- hard gold nanoparticles and more flexible organic particles.
Within the new structure, there are actually two distinct forces at work, Park said. The gold particles and the viral particles repel each other, but their deterrence is countered by the attraction between the strategically placed complementary strands of DNA. Both phenomena play a role in creating the rigid crystal lattice. It's a little bit like how countering forces keep our curtains up: A spring in a curtain rod pushes the rod to lengthen, while brackets on the window frame counter that force, creating a taut, rigid device.
Other authors of the paper include Abigail Lytton-Jean, Ph.D., of MIT, Daniel Anderson, Ph.D., of Harvard and MIT, and Petr Cigler, Ph.D., formerly of Scripps Research Institute and now at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Park's work was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2720 on: Jan 28th, 2011, 4:36pm »
ANALYSIS-Egypt shows how easily Internet can be silenced Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:33pm GMT
By Georgina Prodhan
LONDON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - The move by Egyptian authorities to seal off the country almost entirely from the Internet shows how easily a state can isolate its people when telecoms providers are few and compliant.
In an attempt to stop the frenzied online spread of dissent against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, not only Facebook and Twitter but the entire Internet was shut down overnight, leaving some 20 million users stranded.
Hundreds of service providers offer connections in Egypt, but just four own the infrastructure -- Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr.
Daniel Karrenberg, chief scientist at RIPE NCC, a European not-for-profit Internet infrastructure forum, says immature markets with few providers can achieve such shutdowns relatively easily.
"The more simple the topology is and the fewer Internet services providers there are, the easier it is for any government or the telco themselves to control access into any geographical area," he said. "If you have a relatively diverse telecoms market and a very much meshed Internet topology then it's much more difficult to do than if you have the traditional telecoms structure of two decades ago and they control all the international connections.
"Obviously that creates a choke point," he said.
Despite the rapid transformation of the Web during its short history, and the unprecedented freedom of expression it has enabled, the Internet still has vulnerable points that can be exploited by governments or for commercial interests.
CUT OFF FROM THE WORLD
"Virtually all of Egypt's Internet addresses are now unreachable, worldwide," Jim Cowie, chief technology officer of U.S.-based Internet monitoring firm Renesys wrote on the company blog (www.renesys.com/blog).
"Every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world."
Vodafone said in an emailed statement: "All mobile operators in Egypt have been instructed to suspend services in selected areas. Under Egyptian legislation, the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply."
A few large organisations with independent connections were able to stay connected to the Internet. Cowie said on Friday he was investigating two apparent exceptions to the block: the Commercial International Bank of Egypt and the Stock Exchange.
Iran, Tunisia and most recently Syria have imposed Internet restrictions in attempts to quell opposition, but Egypt's is by far the most drastic move so far.
The closest precedent has been in China, which has more Internet users than any other country and also the strictest controls. It cut off Internet access to its Xinjiang region for almost a year after deadly ethnic unrest in 2009.
The world's biggest social network Facebook, and Twitter with its real-time mini-blog posts, have proved extraordinarily effective in gathering large numbers of people together and helping them to be nimble in dodging the authorities.
Lynn St Amour, president of the Internet Society, says they could have made revolutionaries of many who had not seen themselves as activists, thanks to the ease of signing up to groups or sending messages of support while sitting at home.
But the danger of depending on such services is that they can be blocked simply by targeting their IP addresses, since they are centralised on a single site -- as witnessed in Iran and Tunisia.
"It's quite easy, as we've seen," St Amour told Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Davos. In Tunisia, dissidents even found their Facebook pages taken over without their knowledge -- something that Facebook was able to resolve because its own software had been hacked.
But when access to an entire site is blocked from outside, there is little that Facebook or Twitter can do -- although users often find ways around the problem by using proxy servers.
"We try very hard to keep Facebook available wherever people want to access it," Dan Rose, who is responsible for Facebook's worldwide business development, said in London this week.
"We have outreach and relationships with governments all around the world. "We can only do what we can do."
The resilience of the Internet in any particular country also depends on the diversity of its international providers, the routes in an out of a country.
In 2008, Egypt suffered an 80 percent outage of Internet services when submarine cables in the Mediterranean linking Egypt to the rest of the world were accidentally cut.
On Friday, key fibre-optic cables that pass through Egypt as they link Europe to Asia appeared unaffected. Renesys's Cowie contrasted a country such as Egypt with those that have highly dispersed international connections.
"In the United States you have every global carrier available to you, you have multiple cable landing points ... you have a country that effectively can't be taken off the Internet," he told Reuters. (Additional reporting by Kenneth Li in Davos; editing by Sitaraman Shankar and Andrew Roche)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2721 on: Jan 28th, 2011, 4:43pm »
January 28, 2011 02.06pm EST
After Egypt, Will U.S. Get 'Internet Kill Switch'? By Chloe Albanesius
With reports of Egypt's government completing shutting down the Internet in the country, talk about an "Internet kill switch" bill in the U.S. has reemerged. Could it happen here?
The bill in question is the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010, a cyber-security measure introduced in June by Sen. Joseph Lieberman. It was an over-arching cyber-security measure that, among other things, would create an office of cyberspace policy within the White House and a new cyber-security center within the Homeland Security Department.
A provision that got the most attention, however, was one that gave the president the power to "authorize emergency measures to protect the nation's most critical infrastructure if a cyber vulnerability is being exploited or is about to be exploited."
Some interpreted that to mean that the president would have the authority to shut off the Internet at random. Lieberman refuted the "Internet kill switch" assertion as "misinformation" during an appearance on CNN, and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which he chairs, later published a "myth vs. reality" fact sheet on the bill.
The bill passed the committee, but did not see any significant action before the end of the session. Earlier this week, however, CNet reported that Lieberman will re-introduce the bill in this Congress, and that the updated bill will include a provision that says "the federal government's designation of vital Internet or other computer systems 'shall not be subject to judicial review.'"
A spokeswoman for the Senate Homeland Security Committee said Friday that "the idea that the Committee's bill was exempt from judicial review at any time is false."
"The Committee's original bill, as introduced, had no review of any sort. After discussions with stakeholders, the Senator added a provision for agency review of one section of the bill only – and that is on the designation of what constitutes critical infrastructure. So, there is more review in the final bill than there was originally," she said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced a bill - S. 21 -earlier this week that is essentially a placeholder for more detailed legislation to come. "That indicates he views passage of cybersecurity legislation in the 112th Congress as a high priority," the spokeswoman said.
If it does go anywhere, though, should Americans be concerned about the Internet being shut down in the U.S.? In all likeliehood, no. Besides the fact that Lieberman himself says that his bill would not provide the government with an Internet kill switch, the bill - in theory - is intended to protect U.S. Web infrastructure from attacks that would irreperably harm the network rather than squash anti-government protests.
In Egypt, it appears that the government demanded that its four major ISPs shut down service. Could the U.S. government get away with asking Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, and the like to shut down their networks to stop citizens from organizing protests? Anything is possible, of course, but at this point, it seems unlikely.
The current administration has already condemned the shut down in Egypt. In a Friday tweet, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration is "very concerned about violence in Egypt - government must respect the rights of the Egyptian people & turn on social networking and internet."
PJ Crowley, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, also tweeted that the "events unfolding in #Egypt are of deep concern. Fundamental rights must be respected, violence avoided and open communications allowed."
President Obama, meanwhile, made net neutrality and the concept of an open Internet part of his campaign, and continues to support the idea. The administration also relied heavily on social networking and the Web to reach voters, so efforts to restrict the Web for anything other than public safety would be surprising.
Of course, defining what constitutes a public safety threat could be a bit tricky. That being said, the bill still has to be formally introduced and make its way through a now-divided Congress by the end of the year; Lieberman has announced plans to retire in 2012.
According to a Senate aide, the process for moving forward is not yet clear. Decisions about hearings on the issue have not been decided, though Sen. Reid's office will lead the legislative effort.
Editor's Note: This story was updated at 3:15pm Eastern with comment from the committee.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2723 on: Jan 28th, 2011, 8:25pm »
A unique medieval mural of Henry VIII has been discovered by a couple renovating their Tudor home. By Richard Alleyne Science Correspondent 4:47PM GMT 28 Jan 2011
Angie Powell, 57, and her husband Rhodri, 56, uncovered the 20ft wide, six ft high, wall painting as they peeled back wallpaper and mortar from their grade II listed home.
The priceless picture, which shows the monarch sitting on his thrown wearing his crown and holding a sceptre, is thought to have been painted shortly after the house was built at the turn of the 15th century.
At the time it was the home of Thomas Cranmer, the Archdeacon of Taunton who went onto become the Archbishop of Canterbury and helped Henry break from the Catholic Church and set up the Church of England.
Though the artist is unknown, it is thought to be unique.
The only other known mural of the King, painted in the Palace of Whitehall, was destroyed when it burned down in the 16th century.
Michael Liversidge, former head of history of art department at Bristol University, said the discovery was "totally fascinating" and of "enormous importance and significance".
"It would have been an expression of loyalty," he said.
"Cranmer could have done it as a tribute to Henry and that would make it an object of great importance and significance. It is a unique image."
Mrs Powell and husband Rhodri have lived at the house near Taunton, Somerset, for about three years.
After the discovery, they brought in the experts who removed layers of plaster and mortar to clean up the image.
Mrs Powell, a children's author, said they discovered the mural while redecorating.
"When we saw the eyes appear out of the plaster it was a real moment," she said.
They had been removing wooden panels from the wall with a view to painting it.
"It is a presence and you do feel there's just something there behind you looking over your shoulder," she said.
"When people come in, he grabs the attention."
Ann Ballatyne, a conservator, said: "This is quite special. I've not seen anything like it and I've been working on wall paintings since 1966.
"I've not seen anything as magnificent as this."
Cranmer was chosen to be Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533 and immediately declared Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon void, and four months later married him to Anne Boleyn.
With Thomas Cromwell, he supported the translation of the bible into English.
In 1545, he wrote a litany that is still used in the church.
In 1549, he helped complete the book of common prayer.
After Edward VI's death, Cranmer supported Lady Jane Grey as successor.
Her nine-day reign was followed by the Roman Catholic Mary I, who tried him for treason.
After a long trial and imprisonment, he was forced to proclaim to the public his error in the support of Protestantism, an act designed to discourage followers of the religion.
Despite this, Cranmer was sentenced to be burned to death in Oxford on 21 March 1556.
He dramatically stuck his right hand, with which he had signed his recantation, into the fire first.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2724 on: Jan 29th, 2011, 08:40am »
New York Times
January 29, 2011 Egypt Protests Continue as Military Stands By By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, KAREEM FAHIM and ETHAN BRONNER
CAIRO — Egypt was engulfed in a fifth day of protests on Saturday but an attempt by President Hosni Mubarak to salvage his 30-year rule by firing his cabinet and calling out the army appeared to backfire as troops and demonstrators fraternized and called for the president himself to resign.
While some protesters clashed with police, army tanks expected to disperse the crowds in central Cairo and in the northern city of Alexandria instead became rest points and even, on occasion, part of the protests as anti-Mubarak graffiti were scrawled on them without interference from soldiers.
“Leave Hosni, you, your son and your corrupted party!” declared the graffiti on one tank as soldiers invited demonstrators to climb aboard and have their photographs taken with them.
“This is the revolution of all the people,” declared the side of a second tank in downtown Cairo. Egyptian men all serve in the army, giving it a very different relationship to the people from that of the police.
The feared security police had largely withdrawn from central Cairo to take up positions around the presidential palace, with their places taken up by the army.
Following Mr. Mubarak’s demand in his late-night speech, the Egyptian cabinet officially resigned on Saturday. But there was no sign of letup in the tumult. Reports from morgues and hospitals suggested that at least 50 people had been killed so far.
In Ramses Square in central Cairo Saturday midday, protesters commandeered a flatbed army truck. One protester was driving the truck around the square while a dozen others on the back were chanting for President Mubarak to leave office. Nearby, soldiers relaxed around their tanks and armored vehicles and chatted with protesters. There were no policemen in sight.
In another sign that the army was showing sympathy for the demonstrations, in a different central Cairo square on Saturday a soldier in camouflage addressed a crowd through a bullhorn declaring that the army would stand with the people.
“I don’t care what happens,” the soldier said. “You are the ones who are going to make the change.” The crowd responded, “The army and the people will purify the country.”
Workers at the Alexandria morgue said they had counted more than 20 bodies from the last 24 hours of violence. Meanwhile, protests had started up again in the city. But there too, the demonstrators and the soldiers showed sympathy for one another. Demonstrators brought tea to the troops and had their pictures taken with them. Protesters walked by armored carriers unmolested with few signs of animosity. People gathered outside the morgue looking for their relatives. In the main hospital, there were a number of people lying wounded from live fire.
Cellphone service, cut off by the government on Friday, was partially restored although other elements of the communication shut down remained in force. The army moved to secure the Cairo International Airport on Saturday as the Associated Press reported that as many as 2,000 people flocked to the airport, many without reservations, in a frantic attempt to leave the country. International carriers reported delays and cancellations.
Television images showed slow moving traffic returning to Cairo’s bridges where pitched battles occurred the day before. Young men directed cars in places — filling a void left by the departure of nearly all police from the streets — as the sound of honking replaced the pop of rubber bullets and tear gas.
But the city remained on edge as tens of thousands of protesters gathered in central Cairo and army vehicles rolled through the streets. It remained unclear what new orders the army might receive as the government declared a new curfew for 4 p.m. on Saturday, or how its soldiers and officers might respond.
On Friday, with much of the nation in open revolt, Mr. Mubarak deployed the nation’s military, instituted an overnight curfew and imposed a near-total blackout on communications to save his authoritarian government.
But protesters defied the nationwide curfew as Mr. Mubarak, 82, breaking days of silence, appeared on national television, promising to replace the ministers in his government, but calling popular protests “part of bigger plot to shake the stability” of Egypt. He refused calls, shouted by huge, angry crowds on Friday in the central squares of Cairo, the northern port of Alexandria and the canal city of Suez, for him to resign.
“I will not shy away from taking any decision that maintains the security of every Egyptian,” he vowed.
Whether his infamously efficient security apparatus and well-financed but politicized military could enforce that order — and whether it would stay loyal to him even if it came to shedding blood — was the main question for many Egyptians.
It was also a pressing concern for the White House, where President Obama called Mr. Mubarak and then, in his own Friday television appearance, urged him to take “concrete steps” toward the political and economic reform that the stalwart American ally had repeatedly failed to deliver.
Whatever the fallout from the protests — be it change that comes suddenly or unfolds over years — the upheaval at the heart of the Arab world has vast repercussions for the status quo in the region, including tolerance for secular dictators by a new generation of frustrated youth, the viability of opposition that had been kept mute or locked up for years and the orientation of regional governments toward the United States and Israel, which had long counted Egypt as its most important friend in the region.
Many regional experts were still predicting that the wily Mr. Mubarak, who has outmaneuvered domestic political rivals and Egypt’s Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, for decades, would find a way to suppress dissent and restore control. But the apparently spontaneous, nonideological and youthful protesters also posed a new kind of challenge to a state security system focused on more traditional threats from organized religious groups and terrorists.
Friday’s protests were the largest and most diverse yet, including young and old, women with Louis Vuitton bags and men in galabeyas, factory workers and film stars. All came surging out of mosques after midday prayers headed for Tahrir Square, and their clashes with the police left clouds of tear gas wafting through empty streets.
For the first time since the 1980s, Mr. Mubarak felt compelled to call the military into the streets of the major cities to restore order and enforce a national 6 p.m. curfew. He also ordered that Egypt be essentially severed from the global Internet and telecommunications systems. Even so, videos from Cairo and other major cities showed protesters openly defying the curfew and few efforts being made to enforce it.
Street battles unfolded throughout the day Friday, as hundreds of thousands of people streamed out of mosques after noon prayers on Friday in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other cities around the country.
By nightfall, the protesters had burned down the ruling party’s headquarters in Cairo, and looters marched away with computers, briefcases and other equipment emblazoned with the party’s logo. Other groups assaulted the Interior Ministry and the state television headquarters, until after dark when the military occupied both buildings and regained control. At one point, the American Embassy came under attack.
Six Cairo police stations and several police cars were in flames, and stations in Suez and other cities were burning as well. Office equipment and police vehicles burned, and the police seemed to have retreated from Cairo’s main streets. Brigades of riot police officers deployed at mosques, bridges and intersections, and they battered the protesters with tear gas, water, rubber-coated bullets and, by day’s end, live ammunition.
With the help of five armored trucks and at least two fire trucks, more than a thousand riot police officers fought most of the day to hold the central Kasr al-Nil bridge. But, after hours of advances and retreats, by nightfall a crowd of at least twice as many protesters broke through. The Interior Ministry said nearly 900 were injured there and in the neighboring Giza area, with more than 400 hospitalized with critical injuries. State television said 13 were killed in Suez and 75 injured; a total of at least six were dead in Cairo and Giza.
The uprising here was also the biggest outbreak yet in a wave of youth-led revolts around the region since the Jan. 14 ouster of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia — a country with just half Cairo’s population of 20 million. “Tunis, Tunis, Tunis,” protesters chanted outside the Tunisian Embassy here.
“Egyptians right now are not afraid at all,” said Walid Rachid, a student taking refuge from tear gas inside a Giza mosque. “It may take time, but our goal will come, an end to this regime. I want to say to this regime: 30 years is more than enough. Our country is going down and down because of your policies.”
Mr. Mubarak, in his televised address, said he was working to open up democracy and to fight “corruption,” and he said he understood the hardships facing the Egyptian people. But, he said, “a very thin line separates freedom from chaos.”
His offer to replace his cabinet is unlikely to be viewed as a major concession; Mr. Mubarak often changes ministers without undertaking fundamental reforms.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2725 on: Jan 29th, 2011, 08:51am »
That Ain’t No Jackal: New African Wolf Species Identified By Wired UK January 28, 2011 | 2:51 pm Categories: Animals
Image: Oxford University
By Duncan Geere, Wired UK
Conservationists in Egypt have discovered a new species of wolf, which shares DNA with Indian and Himalayan cousins.
The “Egyptian jackal”, as it’s known, is not in fact a jackal at all, despite the visual similarities it bears to another local species, the golden jackal. The discovery sheds light on how wolf species migrated through Africa and Europe — proving that grey wolves emerged in Africa about 3 million years before they spread to the northern hemisphere.
As long ago as 1880 it had been noticed that the Egyptian jackal looked suspiciously like the grey wolf. Several biologists in the 20th century, studying skulls, made the same claim. Still, the creature retained its name. Now, the difference has been formalised.
The research is reported in the journal PLOS One. Said author David Macdonald in a press release: “A wolf in Africa is not only important conservation news, but raises fascinating biological questions about how the new African wolf evolved and lived alongside the real golden jackals.”
Eli Rueness of the University of Oslo, who also contributed to the paper, added: “We could hardly believe our own eyes when we found wolf DNA that did not match anything.”
However, the new species’ DNA is quite close to wolves found 2,500 kilometres away in the highlands of Ethiopia, which hasn’t been widely surveyed.
Professor Claudio Sillero, who’s worked in Ethiopia for more than two decades, said in the release: “This discovery contributes to our understanding of the biogeography of Afroalpine fauna, an assemblage of species with African and Eurasian ancestry which evolved in the relative isolation of the highlands of the Horn of Africa. Rare Ethiopian wolves are themselves a recent immigrant to Africa, and split off from the grey wolf complex even earlier than the newly discovered African wolf.”
The next step for the team is to work out how many of the wolves exist in the wild. While Golden jackals aren’t threatened, it’s possible that the “Egyptian jackal” — which is now due for a renaming — is much rarer. Discovering the extent of the population, and where they live, will now be a priority.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2727 on: Jan 29th, 2011, 09:04am »
Infants Ascribe Social Dominance to Larger Individuals
ScienceDaily (Jan. 28, 2011) — Psychologists at Harvard University have found that infants less than one year old understand social dominance and use relative size to predict who will prevail when two individuals' goals conflict. The finding is presented this week in the journal Science.
Baby looking up at adult. Psychologists at Harvard University have found that infants less than one year old understand social dominance and use relative size to predict who will prevail when two individuals' goals conflict. (Credit: iStockphoto)
Lead author Lotte Thomsen says the work suggests we may be born with -- or develop at a very early age -- some understanding of social dominance and how it relates to relative size, a correlation ubiquitous across human cultures and the animal kingdom. This knowledge may help infants face the formidable challenge of learning the structure of their social environment, specifying ways of recognizing who is socially dominant in their particular culture.
"Traditional kings and chieftains sit on large, elevated thrones and wear elaborate crowns or robes that make them look bigger than they really are, and subordinates often bow or kneel to show respect to superior humans and gods," says Thomsen, a research fellow in Harvard's Department of Psychology and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Copenhagen. "Many animals, like birds and cats, will puff themselves up to look physically larger to an adversary, and prostrate themselves to demonstrate submission, like dogs do. Our work suggests that even with limited socialization, preverbal human infants may understand such displays."
Thomsen and colleagues at Harvard and the University of California, Los Angeles, studied the reactions of infants ranging from 8 to 16 months old as they watched videos of interactions between cartoon figures of various sizes.
"Since preverbal infants can't be interviewed, their experiences and expectations must be assessed by their behavior," Thomsen says. "Infants tend to watch longer when something surprises them. So we can test hypotheses about what they expect by measuring how long they look at scenarios that either violate or confirm their expectations."
The researchers showed infants videos depicting a large and a small block with eyes and mouth bouncing across a stage in opposite directions. Next, infants watched the two blocks meet in the middle, impeding one another's progress. They then saw either the large or the small block bow and step aside, deferring to the other.
"As predicted by our theory, the infants watched much longer when a large agent yielded to a smaller one," Thomsen says. On average, the babies watched this unexpected outcome for 20 seconds, compared to just 12 seconds when a smaller character made way for a larger one.
In a follow-up experiment, Thomsen and her co-authors found that eight-month-old infants failed to grasp the significance of the larger block deferring to the smaller one. But those who were 10 to 16 months old consistently demonstrated surprise at depictions of a larger individual yielding to a smaller one, suggesting that this conceptual understanding develops between 8 and 10 months of age.
Two other follow-ups showed that infants' reactions were not simply caused by the expectation that smaller individuals tend to fall over in general, including in situations that do not involve conflicting goals.
"Understanding what makes humans' rich conceptual repertoire possible is one of the formidable challenges of cognitive science," says co-author Susan Carey, the Henry A. Morss, Jr. and Elisabeth W. Morss Professor of Psychology at Harvard. "Part of meeting this challenge is specifying the initial state: What representational resources are infants born with that enable further learning? Our work shows that apparently, infants come prepared to understand abstract aspects of their social world."
In recent decades, scientists have learned that the infant mind creates abstract representations of intuitive physics, psychology, and mathematics. It has also been shown that young infants represent aspects of the social world, such as tracking whether other agents help or hinder third parties. These representations constitute part of what babies need in order to understand collaboration and cooperation in the world.
"The studies we report here are the first to show that young infants also understand events where agents have conflicting goals, and have ways of predicting which of two agents will prevail," Carey says.
Thomsen and Carey's co-authors on the Science paper are Willem E. Frankenhuis at UCLA and McCaila Ingold-Smith at Harvard. Their work was sponsored by Harvard, NIH, the Winkler Foundation, and the National Danish Science Foundation.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2728 on: Jan 29th, 2011, 09:14am »
By Charlie Jane Anders Jan 28, 2011 01:42 PM
The Explosive Space Vistas of David Fuhrer
Swiss artist David Fuhrer creates weirdly shaped planets and strange environments — and then fills them with spaceships and fighters in power armor. His concept art wallpapers are ready made to rule your desktop.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2729 on: Jan 29th, 2011, 11:33am »
Posted 29 January 2011
description with video:
This morning around 01:00 AM at the promenade of Armon Hantziv in Jerusalm, I witnessed (with another guy), an amazing ufo aircraft over Jerusalem old city (mount Moriah) Dome of the Rock,Temple Mount.