Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3090 on: Feb 25th, 2011, 5:44pm »
I LOVE Bollywood!
Release the Giant Cobra Robot: Bollywood’s Big, New Global Bet on Sci-Fi By Hugh Hart February 25, 2011 | 10:00 am Categories: movies, sci-fi
If the giant mechanical snake and the heavily armed android don’t catch your eye in the trailer for the Bollywood-style sci-fi film Endhiran: The Robot, the elaborate song-and-dance numbers surely will.
Mashing together a surreal mix of CGI robots, outrageous action and cornball choreography, the clip — which proclaims the film “the biggest spectacle ever” — racked up millions of views on YouTube. It also caught the eye of the genre freaks who run the legendary Alamo Drafthouse theater chain out of Austin, Texas.
In what might be the first theatrical deal cut solely on the strength of a viral video, they made a snap decision and snagged the rights to screen Endhiran in Austin, sight unseen.
“When the YouTube clip started spreading, people forwarded me the trailer and said, ‘Oh my god, you of all people need to see this!’” Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League told Wired.com in a telephone interview. “Since we were all dying to see the movie, we assumed there’s more people like us who saw the clip and whose appetites were whetted.”
While Hollywood still serves as the alpha nerve-center for globally consumable sci-fi movies, India stands poised to become the next hot spot. The world’s second most populous nation already cranks out reams of CGI content, both for domestic consumption and American studios. Increasingly, India’s visual-effects know-how and Bollywood’s unique cinematic style are combining to help sate the world’s thirst for sci-fi spectacle.
Paani imagines a future world in which citizens fight for scarce water. Image courtesy Shekhar Kapur
Indian moviegoers raised on Bollywood musicals have no problem suspending disbelief. Spectacle sells, whether it’s over-the-top soap opera or science fiction. Spider-Man rules as one of the country’s highest-grossing film franchises, while kid-friendly dancing alien movie Koi… Mil Gaya topped India’s box office in 2003 and spawned an equally popular 2006 sequel, Krrish.
Meanwhile, a new crop of Mumbai-bred pictures aims to attract international sci-fi fans with Hindi-flavored takes on aliens, robots and futuristic hellscapes:
• Ra.One: Bollywood star and producer Shahrukh Khan makes explicit moves toward a transcultural strain of sci-fi with this movie, whose title stands for “random access — version 1.” Filmed in London and India, the movie features soundtrack contributions by hip-hop artist Akon.
• Joker: Filmed in 3-D and starring Akshay Kumar, the movie tells the story of an alien landing in the desert within earshot of a NASA operations center.
• Paani: Director Shekhar Kapur, previously known for visually spectacular period dramas, heads into the future with this post-apocalyptic film slated for a 2012 release.
• Untitled UFO project: Director Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan teams with Hollywood visual effects expert John Palmer (Apollo 13, The Day After Tomorrow) on a movie slated to be filmed in part at NASA headquarters.
“India was never known for special-effects movies, but things are changing because the country now has so many effects houses doing work for Western filmmakers,” says Gitish Pandya, who tracks the Indian movie industry and runs Box Office Guru. “We’re going to be seeing more Indian sci-fi because the technology and staffing is there.”
Enhiran: The Robot stars Rajinikanth as a dancing android with mechanical lions. Image courtesy Sun Pictures
Steeped in the craft of Hollywood blockbusters, it’s only natural that digitally savvy Indian filmmakers would start coming up with stories of their own. The big question: Can a generation of homegrown Indian tech-artisans crack the code for making globally appealing sci-fi?
Tamil-language Endhiran, filmed in Chennai, India, and dubbed in Hindi (as Robot) and Telugu (as Robo), will make its English-subtitled debut Friday at the Alamo. The movie tells the story of Chitti, an android who sings, dances, fights, memorizes entire telephone directories and falls in love after getting an emotional-implant upgrade. The film also stands as a shining example of Bollywood’s growing infatuation with sci-fi.
Filmed on an estimated budget of $38 million that makes it India’s most costly movie ever, Endhiran masterfully tapped the sci-fi market to become India’s top-grossing film of 2010. It also drew enthusiastic crowds when it played North America’s Bollywood movie circuit last fall.
“Theaters in the U.S. were charging as much as $30 per ticket and selling out shows,” said Pandya. “The consumer base is there to support sci-fi films locally made in India.”
Bolstered by the presence of Bollywood star Rajinikanth and Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire), Endhiran’s filmmakers, including director S. Shankar, are now setting their sights on the rest of the world.
“This film became such a big phenomenon in India that we’ve been test-marketing here in the U.S.,” Endiran producer Jack Rajasekar said in a phone interview with Wired.com. “Hollywood studios are also very interested in what we’re doing.”
Worldwide reception to Bollywood sci-fi will likely depend on how cleverly filmmakers meld Eastern and Western influences to create a transcultural entertainment product that speaks the international language of mind-blowing spectacle.
For Endiran, Rajasekar and his team imported Hollywood expertise to visualize the “swarm intelligence” that activates the movie’s armies of animatronic bots. Mary Vogt (Men in Black, Batman Returns) designed the costumes while Legacy Effects’ technical wizard Vance Hartwell (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, War of the Worlds) moved from Los Angeles to India for two years to work on the film’s animatronics.
“We’ve seen movies about artificial intelligence before, but by dramatizing this in the form of swarm intelligence, it puts us way ahead,” Rajasekar said. “Endhiran: The Robot has created a kind of reference and standard both in production and visual effects for Indian sci-fi in the way that it uses animatronics.”
India’s prospects as a 21st-century sci-fi incubator draw strength from an increasingly globalized digital production pipeline. For budget-conscious Hollywood studios, cost-per-shot considerations increasingly trump geographic convenience as South Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, New Zealand, India and Vancouver, Canada, play the “we can do it for less” card.
American filmmakers are feeling the pinch: A half-dozen California visual effects shops have shut down in the past three years, reports the Los Angeles Times.
U.S. outfits including Industrial Light & Magic and Rhythm & Hues routinely farm out VFX tasks to overseas vendors. Digital Domain, for example, subcontracted some Tron: Legacy effects to India. Meanwhile, Indian VFX houses including Tata Elxsi’s Visual Computing Labs (Terminator Salvation, Spider-Man 3), Reliance (Avatar) and Prime Focus (Clash of the Titans) have opened outposts in Los Angeles for closer proximity to the decision-making action.
Whether or not Bollywood’s new strain of sci-fi cinema hits home with English-speaking audiences, League said films like Endhiran offer a fresh twist on familiar formulas.
“It’s always fascinating to see classic genre nerd influences meshed with a completely foreign sensibility,” he said.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3091 on: Feb 25th, 2011, 6:16pm »
Tell me the terrorists aren't winning.......
Long Island Lawyer Blog
Mother of 3 Arrested for Taking Pictures of Tourist Attraction at Airport
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
This case is a frightening example of what can happen when a photographer encounters ignorant bullies with badges.
According to the complaint filed in Federal Court, Nancy Genovese, a mother of three, was driving home on County Road 31 past Gabreski Airport in Suffolk County. Gabreski Airport displays a decorative helicopter shell by the roadway to the public, which is visible to all who pass by.
Nancy Genovese stopped her car on the side of the road across the street from the airport in an area that is open and accessible to the public, and crossed over the road to the airport entryway that is also open and accessible to the public to take a picture of the helicopter display. While still in her car, she took a picture of the decorative helicopter shell with the intention of posting it on her personal “Support Our Troops” web page.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3092 on: Feb 25th, 2011, 6:19pm »
"Nancy was questioned on the side of the road for approximately five to six hours, from about 6pm until midnight, denied food or water, and denied the opportunity to use a restroom, all without having received any warnings as to her rights...."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3093 on: Feb 26th, 2011, 08:40am »
New York Times
February 26, 2011 Gunmen Attack Iraq’s Largest Oil Refinery By JACK HEALY
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s largest oil refinery was crippled by a predawn attack on Saturday after gunmen stormed the vast complex, killed one engineer and set off several bombs.
The attack shut down parts of the Baiji Refinery, halting the production of about 150,000 barrels per day of oil derivatives and raising questions about the security of Iraq’s underdeveloped and antiquated refineries.
It was the second insurgent attack this month against Iraq’s crucial oil sector, which drives about 90 percent of all government revenues in a country whose economy is still reeling from years of war and insurgency.
According to officials from the refinery and provincial government, gunmen armed with pistols with noise suppressors broke into the refinery at about 4:30 a.m. and attacked the few security guards and engineers who had been working overnight. They then planted eight bombs inside and outside, blowing up a pipeline.
The explosions started a fire that sent plumes of smoke billowing into the sky above the refinery, which is located in Salahuddin Province, a Sunni area about 100 miles north of Baghdad.
Oil officials did not provide details on the extent of the damage or say when they would be able to restart production. Oil Ministry officials promised an investigation on Saturday afternoon.
After the American invasion in 2003, millions and millions of dollars in fuel from the refinery was funneled onto the black market, some of it into the hands of militants. In 2008, an American captain stationed at Baiji called the illegal flow of oil the “money pit of the insurgency.”
Earlier this month, a pipeline north of Baghdad was bombed, disrupting production at the Dora refinery in Baghdad.
Although Iraq floats atop the world’s third-largest oil reserves, it has struggled to increase production beyond about 2.6 million barrels per day, hampered by creaky pipelines and other infrastructure, as well as political and security instabilities.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3094 on: Feb 26th, 2011, 08:43am »
New York Times
February 26, 2011 Suddenly, a Rise in Piracy’s Price By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
AT some point, Thomas Jefferson realized, you just can’t do business with pirates any more.
For years, the infant American government, along with many others, had accepted the humiliating practice of paying tribute — essentially mob-style protection fees — to a handful of rulers in the Barbary states so that American ships crossing the Mediterranean would not get hijacked. But in 1801, Tripoli’s pasha, Yusuf Karamanli, tried to jack up his prices. Jefferson said no. And when the strongman turned his pirates loose on American ships, Jefferson sent in the Navy to bombard Tripoli, starting a war that eventually brought the Barbary states to their knees. Rampant piracy went to sleep for nearly 200 years.
The question now is: Are we nearing another enough-is-enough moment with pirates?
On Tuesday, Somali pirates shot and killed four American hostages. A single hostage intentionally killed by these pirates had been almost unheard of; four dead was unprecedented. Until now, the first thing that came to mind about Somalia’s buccaneers was that they were brash and mercurial. Just a few weeks ago they let go some Sri Lankan fishermen after they essentially said, “You’re poor, like us.” They were seen as a nuisance, albeit an expensive one, but not a lethal threat.
Exactly what happened Tuesday is still murky. Pirates in the Arabian Sea had hijacked a sailboat skippered by a retired couple from California, and when the American Navy closed in, the pirates got twitchy. Navy Seals rushed aboard but it was too late. It’s still not clear why the pirates would want to kill the hostages when their business model, which has raked in more than $100 million in the past few years, is based on ransoming captives alive.
“Of course, I do not know what the U.S. will do in response to this latest atrocity,” said Frank Lambert, a professor at Purdue who is an expert on the Barbary pirates. But, he said, “Jefferson advocated an armed response and eventually war against Tripoli for far less provocation.”
For years now, Somali pirates with fiberglass skiffs and salt-rusted Kalashnikovs have been commandeering ships along one of the most congested shipping routes in the world — the Gulf of Aden, a vital conduit for Middle East oil to Europe and the United States. More than 50 vessels are now held captive, from Thai fishing trawlers to European supertankers, with more than 800 hostages. Those numbers grow each year.
But the international response has been limited, partly because the most promising remedies are intensely complicated and risky. Western powers, including the United States, have sent warships to cruise Somalia’s coast and discourage attacks. When a vessel is hijacked, ship owners cough up a ransom, nowadays in the neighborhood of $5 million, and most of that cost gets passed to the end user — consumers. Until recently, most hostages would emerge unharmed, albeit skinny and pale from being locked in a filthy room. The average time in captivity is around six months.
But recently the pirates have been getting more vicious; reports have emerged of beatings, of being hung upside down, even of being forced at gunpoint to join in raids. And now the pirates have gunned down four Americans.
“I think there’s going to be some type of retaliation,” said a European diplomat in Nairobi, Kenya, who trades ideas on anti-piracy strategies with other diplomats and was instructed not to speak publicly about the issues. “I could see the Americans going after the pirate bosses, the organizers, maybe even blockade some of the ports that they use,” he speculated. “I don’t think the Americans are going to invade Somalia, because of Iraq and Afghanistan, but they can use local allies.” Another obvious possibility would be American Special Forces, who have killed terrorism suspects in Somalia.
The American government isn’t revealing its plans but officials suggest — as long as they are not quoted by name — that the killings of the four Americans could be a game-changer. “We get it,” said one State Department official. “We get the need to recalibrate.”
Any course of action, however, will confront two huge obstacles: the immensity of the sea and the depth of chaos in Somalia.
The pirates used to stick relatively close to Somalia’s shores. But now, using “mother ships” — hijacked vessels that serve as floating bases — they attack ships more than 1,000 miles away. Sometimes that puts them closer to India than to home. The red zone now covers more than one million square miles of water, an area naval officers say is impossible to control.
Piracy Inc. is a sprawling operation on land, too. It offers work to tens of thousands of Somalis — middle-managers, translators, bookkeepers, mechanics, gunsmiths, guards, boat builders, women who sell tea to pirates, others who sell them goats. In one of the poorest lands on earth, piracy isn’t just a business; it’s a lifeline.
And this gets to the real problem.
“The root cause is state failure,” the American official said.
Somalia’s central government collapsed more than 20 years ago, and now its landscape includes droughts, warlords, fighters allied to Al Qaeda, and malnutrition, suffering and death on a scale unseen just about anywhere else.
The United States and other Western powers are pouring millions of dollars into Somalia’s transitional government, an appointed body with little legitimacy on the ground, in the hope, perhaps vain, that it can rebuild the world’s most failed state and create an economy based on something like fishing or livestock. Young men then might be able to earn a living doing something other than sticking up ships.
But the transitional government has been divided, feckless and corrupt. Islamist rebels control much of the country. Few Somalis think the nation will stop being a war zone any time soon.
The shipping industry seems to know this.
“Until things change on land, you have to come down very hard on them at sea,” said Cyrus Mody, manager of the International Maritime Bureau in London.
Shipping companies are frustrated, he said, because while many pirates are apprehended at sea by foreign navies, the vast majority are typically released unless they are caught in the act of a hijacking a ship — which is a very narrow window because once pirates control a vessel, it’s extremely dangerous to intervene.
“The laws have to be amended,” Mr. Mody said. “Why would a skiff be 800 miles off Somalia with a rocket-propelled grenade, a ladder and extra barrels of fuel? What are they doing? Fishing? These people need to be arrested and prosecuted.”
The last resort is military action. Many people ask: Why not storm ashore and attack the pirate bases? These dens are well known. I even visited one last year and met a pirate boss who was using millions of dollars in ransoms to build a land-based army that at first glance looked more disciplined and better equipped than Somalia’s national army.
But the military option would not be pretty. The 800 or so captured seamen could be used as human shields. And no Western country has shown an appetite to send troops to Somalia, not after the Black Hawk Down fiasco of 1993, when ragtag Somali militiamen downed two American helicopters and killed 18 elite American troops. And a military attack could easily backfire. “They might kill a few pirates, but more would certainly spring up to replace them,” said Bronwyn Bruton, who wrote a widely discussed essay on Somalia. “The replacements would probably be even angrier and more violent.” In her essay, she advised the international community to essentially pull out and let Somalis sort out their problems on their own.
She added that collateral damage from a raid could be severe and “a lot of civilian casualties could actually wind up aggravating a much bigger security threat to the U.S. — terrorism.”
So it seems that Jefferson may have had an easier piracy problem to solve.
“I can offer a couple thoughts based on the U.S.’s dealing with pirates more than 200 years ago,” Mr. Lambert said. “If the U.S. response is a vigorous military response, it is likely to be difficult, costly, and prolonged” — a reference to the war that followed bombardment of the coast.
But, he warned, “If it is a continuation of the present policy (whatever that is), it is almost a certainty that we will see more or perhaps escalated atrocities. ‘’
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3095 on: Feb 26th, 2011, 08:53am »
How One Nuclear Skirmish Could Wreck the Planet By Dave Mosher February 25, 2011 | 3:00 pm Categories: Environment
Image: A nuclear bomb test. Nevada Division of Environmental Protection
Updated: Feb. 25, 2011; 11:40 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON — Even a small nuclear exchange could ignite mega-firestorms and wreck the planet’s atmosphere.
New climatological simulations show 100 Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs — relatively small warheads, compared to the arsenals military superpowers stow today — detonated by neighboring countries would destroy more than a quarter of the Earth’s ozone layer in about two years.
Regions closer to the poles would see even more precipitous drops in the protective gas, which absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. New York and Sydney, for example, would see declines rivaling the perpetual hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica. And it may take more than six years for the ozone layer to reach half of its former levels.
Researchers described the results during a panel Feb. 18 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, calling it “a real bummer” that such a localized nuclear war could bring the modern world to its knees.
“This is tremendously dangerous,” said environmental scientist Alan Robock of Rutgers University, one of the climate scientists presenting at the meeting. “The climate change would be unprecedented in human history, and you can imagine the world … would just shut down.”
To defuse the complexity involved in a nuclear climate catastrophe, Wired.com sat down with Michael Mills, an atmospheric chemist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who led some of the latest simulation efforts.
Wired.com: In your simulation, a war between India and Pakistan breaks out. Each country launches 50 nukes at their opponent’s cities. What happens after the first bomb goes off?
Michael Mills: The initial explosions ignite fires in the cities, and those fires would build up for hours. What you eventually get is a firestorm, something on the level we saw in World War II in cities like Dresden, in Tokyo, Hiroshima and so on.
Today we have larger cities than we did then — mega cities. And using 100 weapons on these different mega cities, like those in India and Pakistan, would cause these firestorms to build on themselves. They would create their own weather and start sucking air through bottom. People and objects would be sucked into buildings from the winds, basically burning everything in the city. It’ll burn concrete, the temperatures get so hot. It converts mega cities into black carbon smoke.
Wired.com: I see — the firestorms push up the air, and ash, into the atmosphere?
Mills: Yeah. You sometimes see these firestorms in large forest fires in Canada, in Siberia. In those cases, you see a lot of this black carbon getting into the stratosphere, but not on the level we’re talking about in a nuclear exchange.
The primary cause of ozone loss is the heating of the stratosphere by that smoke. Temperatures initially increase by more than 100 degrees Celsius, and remain more than 30 degrees higher than normal for more than 3 years. The higher temperatures increase the rates of two reaction cycles that deplete ozone.
Wired.com: And the ozone layer is in the stratosphere, correct?
Mills: OK, so we live in the troposphere, which is about 8 kilometers [5 miles] thick at the poles, and 16 km [10 miles] at the equator.
At the top of the troposphere, you start to encounter the stratosphere. It’s defined by the presence of the ozone layer, with the densest ozone at the lowest part, then it tails off at the stratopause, where the stratosphere ends about 50 km [30 miles] up.
We have a lot of weather in the troposphere. That’s because energy is being absorbed at the Earth’s surface, so it’s warmest at the surface. As you go up in the atmosphere it gets colder. Well, that all turns around as you get to the ozone layer. It starts getting hotter because ozone is absorbing ultraviolet radiation, until you run out of ozone and it starts getting colder again. Then you’re at the mesosphere.
Wired.com: Where do the nukes come in? I mean, in eroding the ozone layer?
Mills: It’s not the explosions that do it, but the firestorms. Those push up gases that lead to oxides of nitrogen, which act like chlorofluorocarbons. But let’s back up a little.
There are two important elements that destroy ozone, or O3, which is made of three atoms of oxygen. One element involves oxides of nitrogen, including nitrogen dioxide, or NO2, which can be made from nitrous oxide, or N2O — laughing gas.
The other element is a self-destructive process that happens when ozone reacts with atomic oxygen, called O. When they react together, they form O2, which is the most common form of oxygen on the planet. This self-reaction is natural, but takes off the fastest in the first year after the nuclear war.
In years two, three and four, the NO2 builds up. It peaks in year two because the N2O, the stuff that’s abundant in the troposphere, rose so rapidly with the smoke that it’s pushed up into the stratosphere. There, it breaks down into the oxides like NO2, which deplete ozone.
Wired.com: So firestorms suck up the N2O, push it up into the stratosphere, and degrade the ozone layer. But where does this stuff come from?
Mills: N2O is among a wide class of what we call tracers that are emitted at the ground. It’s produced by bacterias in soil, and it’s been increasing due to human activities like nitrogen fertilizers used in farming. N2O is actually now the most significant human impact on the ozone, now that we’ve mostly taken care of CFCs.
Wired.com: You did similar computer simulations in the past few years and saw this ozone-depleting effect. What do the new simulations tell us?
Mills: Before, we couldn’t look at the ozone depletion’s effects on surface temperatures; we lacked a full ocean model that would respond realistically. The latest runs are ones I’ve done in the Community Earth System Model. It has an atmospheric model, a full-ocean model, full-land and sea-ice models, and even a glacier model.
We see significantly greater cooling than other studies, perhaps because of ozone loss . Instead of a globally averaged 1.3-degree–Celsius drop, which Robock’s atmospheric model produced, it’s more like 2 degrees. But we both see a 7 percent decrease in global average precipitation in both models. And in our model we see a much greater global average loss of ozone for many years, with even larger losses everywhere outside of the tropics.
I also gave this to my colleague Julia Lee-Taylor at NCAR. She calculated the UV indexes across the planet, and a lot of major cities and farming areas would be exposed to a UV index similar to the Himalayas, or the hole over the Antarctic. We’re starting to look at the response of sea ice and land ice in the model, and it seems to be heavily increasing in just a few years after the hypothetical war.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3096 on: Feb 26th, 2011, 08:57am »
FX Orders Superhero Detective Pilot 'Powers' 2/26/2011 by Philiana Ng, Lacey Rose
FX has given the green light to Powers, a project based on the popular comic by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming.
Powers follows detectives in a homicide department devoted to cases that involve superheroes. The pilot order comes a decade after Sony optioned the rights for a feature film version, which never came to fruition.
Charles Eglee (The Walking Dead, The Shield) wrote the pilot and will serve as an executive producer with Bendis, Oeming, Michael Dinner, David Engel and Circle of Confusion, the company behind The Walking Dead. Dinner, who helmed the Sons of Anarchy and Justified pilots, will also direct.
At one point, Journeyman creator Kevin Falls was attached to adapt.
Sony TV and FX Productions are co-producing the project, which has been in development for several years.
Powers has been in publication for more than a decade, producing a dozen graphic novels and more than 60 issues.
Bendis, well-known for his work on other Marvel titles, including Avengers, X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man, turned to Twitter to express his enthusiasm.
"Powers pilot was just greenlit by FX,” he shared with his 34,000-plus followers Friday night. “It's official! Your window of reading Powers while it was still cool is running out.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3097 on: Feb 26th, 2011, 09:03am »
Don't some people report a sulfur smell attached to abductions? Crystal
New Form of Sulfur Discovered in Geological Fluids ScienceDaily (Feb. 25, 2011)
— Sulfur is the sixth most abundant element on Earth and plays a key role in many geological and biological processes. A French-German team including CNRS1 and the Université Paul Sabatier has identified, on the basis of laboratory measurements, a novel form of sulfur present in geological fluids: the S3- ion. The discovery calls existing theories about the geological transport of sulfur into question, and could provide ways of identifying new deposits of precious metals such as gold and copper.
Artist's impression of the S3- molecule in a diamond anvil cell. This form of sulfur may well be one of the key factors in the formation of veins of gold and copper (represented here by a photo of a mine in the background of the image). (Credit: Copyright Pokrovski & Dubrovinsky)
These findings are published in the Feb. 25, 2011 issue of the journal Science.
Until now, geochemists believed that inside Earth, only two forms of molecules contained sulfur: sulfides (based on H2S or S2-) and sulfates (based on H2SO4 or SO42-). Yet they had no way of directly plunging a probe into the hydrothermal fluids2 that flow through rocks to verify this theory. To get round this problem and test their hypothesis, the French-German team first created fluids similar to those in Earth's crust and mantle, i.e. aqueous solutions containing elementary sulfur (S) and thiosulfates (molecules containing the S2O32− ion). They then used a diamond anvil cell to bring the fluids to the temperatures and pressures found at depths of several kilometers (several hundred degrees and tens of thousands of atmospheres).
The researchers used an optical method known as Raman spectroscopy to identify the chemical species, and they were astounded to discover not two, but three forms of sulfur, the third being the trisulfur ion S3-. This was a double surprise: although S3- was already known to chemists (it is found in sulfur-containing silicate glass and ultramarine pigments for instance), it had never been observed in an aqueous solution.
The detection of S3- during these experiments means that sulfur must be considerably more mobile in hydrothermal fluids in Earth's crust than was previously thought. This is because, unlike sulfides and sulfates, which attach to minerals as soon as they appear in fluids, S3- proves to be extremely stable in the aqueous phase. In other words, below ground these ions must flow for long distances in dissolved form, taking with them the noble metals to which they may be bound. This chemical species may therefore be the main metal transporting agent in two major types of gold and copper deposits: Archaean greenstone belts3 and subduction zone magmas.
This discovery could provide additional indicators in the search for new deposits, by helping geologists to identify the pathways along which metals travel prior to forming veins. In addition, the presence of S3- in hydrothermal fluids could affect sulfur isotope fractionation models (a sort of equivalent to the carbon-14 dating technique), which until now have taken no account of this chemical species. These new findings could for instance help scientists to find out more about the geological conditions in Earth's crust and on its surface shortly after the appearance of life.
1.Laboratoire 'Géosciences Environnement Toulouse' (CNRS/Université Paul Sabatier/IRD) and Bayerisches Geoinstitut/University of Bayreuth. 2.A hydrothermal fluid is a natural hot, aqueous fluid whose temperature usually exceeds 100°C. 3.These rocks formed during the Archaean era, between -4 and -2.5 billion years ago.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3099 on: Feb 26th, 2011, 1:14pm »
February 26, 2011 06:26 AM PST Fringe Recap: Ah, So That's How It Happened by Matt Webb Mitovich
Raise your hand if you, as I did, yelped out an expletive while watching Friday night’s Fringe, upon realizing that young Olivia (played by Karley Scott Collins) had revealed to Walter — make that, the wrong Walter — how and when she crossed over to the other side.
To see that “dot” connected — how Walternate, frustrated by his inexplicable loss for so long, came to discover just how his Peter had been kidnapped — was a serious goosebump moment, because right then and there so, so many dominoes began to topple over, ultimately leading us to where we are today, in real-time Fringe.
Of course, Olivia’s first crossing-over was a milestone moment in and of itself, triggered by her anxiety-slash-terror as she was subject to abuse by her father. We also laid witness to young Peter’s unsettled sense of self, as he insisted over and over again to his “parents” that he was not their son, that they had somehow robbed him from the world he knew. (In full disclosure, though young Chandler Canterbury did a fine job, “mopey Peter” wore on me a bit. Then again, who am I to question the disposition of a youth who suspects he came from another world at the bottom of a lake.)
Toward episode’s end, Peter and Olivia’s respective “outcast” feelings led them to the same genetically engineered field of tulips, setting the stage for their first meeting. And that was very cool. And it then fed into the aforementioned “slip,” when Olive — finally admitting to her father’s abuse — somewhere along the way crossed over into the other universe, and unwittingly shared with Walternate. I’m sure that many of you, as I did, played back that encounter at least once, to watch anew Walternate’s brain churning as this shocking intel is presented to him.
* Seeing Bishop Dynamics, where just beyond Walternate’s office window we see a space shuttle readying for a mission. Fact: The first space shuttle launch took place in 1981.
* Another anachronisms include Rubik’s Cube (launched in 1977), a Battlestar Galactica board game (that’d be circa-late 1970s), and Walter’s brand-new Betamax (launched in 1975). They didn’t all quite jibe with an episode set in or around 1985 — especially the home-gaming version of Joust — but….
* Props of course to the always, always-stellar John Noble, and Orla Brady, each of whom had the task of playing two distinctly conflicted versions of their characters. I don’t know what your opinion is, but I remain impressed with how they de-age Noble for these flashbacks.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3102 on: Feb 27th, 2011, 08:47am »
New York Times
February 27, 2011 Libyan Rebels Tighten Ring of Armed Control Near Tripoli
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and SHARON OTTERMAN
ZAWIYA, Libya — In this city 30 miles west of Tripoli, hundreds of people rejoiced in a central square on Sunday, waving the flag of free Libya and shouting the chants that foretold the downfall of governments in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt: “The people want to bring down the regime.”
Rebels, in control of the city, had reinforced its boundaries with informal barricades, and army units that had defected stood guard with rifles, six tanks and anti-aircraft guns mounted on the backs of trucks. In the central square here, a mosque was riddled with enormous holes, evidence of the government’s failed attempt to take back this city on Thursday. Nearby lay seven freshly dug graves belonging to protesters who had fallen in that siege, witnesses said.
“We are really suffering for 42 years, and people are asking here for the same things as other people of the world — they want the real democracy,” said Ahmed El-Hadi Remeh, an engineer standing in the square. He and other residents told how they had used stones to repel the government’s forces.
Proving how close opposition control has come to the capital, where Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi maintains tight control, the confidence of the demonstrators in Zawiya was remarkable, all the more so because it was witnessed as part of the official tour for international journalists that Col. Qaddafi’s government organized. The public relations effort, apparently intended to show a stable Libya to the outside world, appeared to backfire, as a tour of Tripoli had on Saturday.
Instead, the tour, whose minders were forced to wait at the city’s outskirts, showed a nation where the uprising had reached the capital’s doorstep, underscoring a growing impression that the ring of rebel control around Tripoli was tightening.
But in a sign that the fight was far from over, armed government forces were seen massing around the city.
In Benghazi, meanwhile, the eastern city emerging as the capital of the rebellion, protesters nominated the country’s former justice minister to lead a provisional government, news services reported on Sunday, moving to avoid the chaos that some analysts warned would overtake a Libya not ruled by Colonel Qaddafi’s iron grip.
Since his own defection to the opposition last week, the former justice minister, Mustafa Mohamed Abd al-Jalil, has been meeting with tribal leaders and military commanders who have also defected. In an interview earlier in the week, Mr. Jalil pledged he would head a caretaker government that would hold interim elections within three months, and said the opposition had no intention of organizing a breakaway state.
“We want one country — there is no Islamic emirate or Al Qaeda anywhere,” he told Al Jazeera. “Our only goal is to liberate Libya from this regime and to allow the people to choose the government that they want.”
Libya’s ambassador to the United States, Ali Aujali, said he would support the caretaker government “until the liberation of all of Libya, which I hope will happen very soon," he told the satellite news channel Saturday. He is one of many diplomats who have resigned from formal service to protest Col. Qaddafi’s bloody crackdown against dissent.
International pressure against Col. Qaddafi ratcheted up on Saturday, with the United Nations Security Council agreeing unanimously to refer the country’s leaders to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution for war crimes, freeze Col. Qaddafi’s assets and those of his family and associates and ban their travel.
Within Tripoli, Col. Qaddafi showed no signs on Sunday of loosening his grip on his stronghold, even though his determination seemed to be matched by that of his opponents.
With clear weather in the city of 2 million after a week of rains and high winds, residents ventured out for food, medicine and other essentials, and some shops gingerly opened their doors, residents reached Sunday by telephone said. But plainclothes security forces loyal to Col. Qaddafi patrolled the streets,.
“One thing I know is that Qaddafi is completely defiant, completely hardheaded -- he doesn’t see himself like the other leaders who are forced to leave,” said one resident. “We don’t know what is going to happen in the next couple of days. The expectation is that the people from the cities and towns from outside of Tripoli -- they will march on the city in the hopes of forcing themselves to take it over.”
The northeast portion of the country is now firmly in control of the opposition, and Misarata, the nation’s third largest city 130 miles east of Tripoli, was also reportedly under protester control.
But the situation in Sabratha, near the Tunisian border, was less clear, said one resident, with government forces alternately striking and pulling back to the point that residents were not sure from hour to hour who was in control.
“Some shops are open, one bank is open for the time being,” a doctor in Sabratha said, “but we are watchful.”
By Sunday, more than 100,000 refugees had fled the country, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported. France became the latest country to close its embassy in Tripoli, and the British government revoked the diplomatic immunity in Britain of Col. el-Qaddafi and his sons, William Hague, the foreign secretary said.
“Of course it is time for Col. Qaddafi to go,” Mr. Hague said in a BBC interview.
Elsewhere in the region, antigovernment protests continued. Tens of thousands of people in the Yemeni capital took to the streets Saturday night, surrounding some 100 tents of protesters who say that they are not leaving until President Ali Abdullah Saleh steps down.
There was a sense, after a prominent tribal leader had broken with Mr. Saleh on Saturday, that the tide had turned in their direction, and instead of being marked by tension, the night’s events took on a carnival atmosphere, with food carts and groups of men dancing traditional Yemeni folk dances.
“The happy atmosphere here is because people are starting to believe change is possible,” said Moahmed Al Shurabi, a graduate student, at the protest, while a group of about 200 men behind him watched Al Jazeera on a big television screen. “The number has increased, but also the type of people has changed. At first it was only students. Now there are lawyers, teachers, doctors here.”
In Tunisia, where the push to overthrow undemocratic governments had begun in January, three people were reported to have died in protests on Saturday. As in Egypt, where protesters are seeking the ouster of a caretaker government that they fear is just a proxy for their old leadership, demonstrators there criticized promised elections, which are months away, as a hazy promise.
There were also early signs that the region’s unrest was spreading to Oman, the normally peaceful sultanate at the edge of the Arabian Peninsula next to Yemen. In the industrial city of Sohar on Sunday, Omani police fired tear gas at stone-throwing protesters who were demanding political reforms, Reuters reported. And protests were also taking place in the southern town of Salalah, where demonstrators have been camped out since Friday near the office of a provincial governor, the news service reported.
David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Zawiya, Libya, and Sharon Otterman from Cairo. Laura Kasinof contributed reporting from Sana, Yemen.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3104 on: Feb 27th, 2011, 10:39am »
MSNBC is getting ready to cover the UFO conference in Phoenix. As usual they promised the story and it's 45 minutes later.............I'm still waiting.............so jump on MSNBC for the story. Crystal