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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 147687 times)
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« Reply #4305 on: Jun 16th, 2011, 10:22am »

China starts construction on the world's largest radio telescope

By Michael Trei
4:25AM on Jun 15, 2011

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If you want to search the universe for extraterrestrial radio signals, you're going to need a pretty big antenna, so China has just broken ground on what will become the world's largest radio telescope.

The Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) will have nearly three times the surface area of the dish at Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, the current record holder, and will be capable of receiving signals from as far as 1000 light years away.

While FAST will be joining SETI in the search for ET and his pals, China's main goal is to check out pulsars, supernovas, and other interesting things happening in deep space.
Building something this freakin' huge takes time (FAST is 1,640 feet across), so China says they won't be firing this sucker up until 2016. That means they will be right on time to pick up some hot signals that started their journey way back in 1016.

http://dvice.com/archives/2011/06/china-starts-co.php

The Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) Project

Authors: Rendong Nan, Di Li, Chengjin Jin, Qiming Wang, Lichun Zhu, Wenbai Zhu, Haiyan Zhang, Youling Yue, Lei Qian
(Submitted on 19 May 2011

Abstract: Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) is a Chinese mega-science project to build the largest single dish radio telescope in the world. Its innovative engineering concept and design pave a new road to realize a huge single dish in the most effective way. FAST also represents Chinese contribution in the international efforts to build the square kilometer array (SKA). Being the most sensitive single dish radio telescope, FAST will enable astronomers to jump-start many science goals, for example, surveying the neutral hydrogen in the Milky Way and other galaxies, detecting faint pulsars, looking for the first shining stars, hearing the possible signals from other civilizations, etc.

The idea of sitting a large spherical dish in a karst depression is rooted in Arecibo telescope. FAST is an Arecibo-type antenna with three outstanding aspects: the karst depression used as the site, which is large to host the 500-meter telescope and deep to allow a zenith angle of 40 degrees; the active main reflector correcting for spherical aberration on the ground to achieve a full polarization and a wide band without involving complex feed systems; and the light-weight feed cabin driven by cables and servomechanism plus a parallel robot as a secondary adjustable system to move with high precision.

The feasibility studies for FAST have been carried out for 14 years, supported by Chinese and world astronomical communities. The project time is 5.5 years from the commencement of work in March of 2011 and the first light is expected to be in 2016.

This review intends to introduce FAST project with emphasis on the recent progress since 2006. In this paper, the subsystems of FAST are described in modest details followed by discussions of the fundamental science goals and examples of early science projects.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.3794
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« Reply #4306 on: Jun 16th, 2011, 7:39pm »

Hey Swamprat!

Thank you for that article.

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« Reply #4307 on: Jun 16th, 2011, 7:45pm »

Wired Science

How to Have Fun Like Monkeys, Whales and Foxes
By Brandon Keim
June 16, 2011 | 7:01 am
Categories: Animals


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Beluga Whale


If you want to know how song changes the shape of a finch's brain, science can help. If you want to know how learning a song alters genetic patterns, affects mate choice and ultimately influences populations, you can learn that too. But what if you want to know how a singing bird feels?

That, it turns out, is a scientifically uncertain and even controversial question. It's difficult to study animal emotions with formal rigor, and the notion that animals might have rich inner lives was disregarded for much of the 20th century. From the behaviorist perspective pioneered by psychologists like Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner, thinking animals had complex emotions was an unjustified assumption.

But from another perspective, it's as much an assumption to think animals don't have feelings. After all, humans are animals, too, and whether big brains and language are needed to experience happiness and sadness is unknown.

"The onus of proof to show otherwise should be on those who deny that animals have these capacities," says scholar and animal advocate Jonathan Balcombe, author of The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure. In the book, published in May by the University of California Press, Balcombe surveys a new generation of studies into animal feelings, especially animal pleasure. Accompanying the scholarship are photographs of animals seeming to enjoy themselves: hippos and flying foxes, zebrafish and sharks, parrots and polar bears, a whole animal kingdom of pleasure. (And, yes, there are kittens too.)

Balcombe talked with Wired.com and took us on a photographic tour.

Wired.com: You write that "existing evidence, and common sense, supports the conclusion that all vertebrate animals are sentient," capable of feeling pain and pleasure, and of having experiences. "Common sense" is a red flag, though. Isn't that just another term for gut feeling, or even superstition?

Jonathan Balcombe: Pleasure is a private experience, well nigh impossible to prove, though of course scientists don't like the word "prove." And there are good reasons for being skeptical of making assumptions that are difficult to prove. But what I'm getting at is everyday experience: the capacity to be empathic in viewing other animals' experiences and comparing them to our own.

Nobody denies that other humans are sentient, though it's no more possible to prove another human being is sentient than it is to prove an animal's sentience. We don't accept such solipsism. It would be far-fetched. So let's stop drawing this line between humans and all other animals.

We accept, as we should, that we're sentient. Given that as a baseline, we know that sentience and consciousness have evolved. We might talk about where to draw the line taxonomically, but I find it really objectionable when scientists use the solipsist crutch to leave animals outside the circle of moral concern, which is the implication of all this.

Wired.com: But humans can score high on tests designed to measure aspects of sentience. Many animals don't.

Balcombe: Well, humans designed the tests. We sometimes struggle to put ourselves in the place of another animal. But the science has advanced. I really enjoy the ingenuity of scientists testing optimism and pessimism in starlings, episodic memory in scrub jays and meadow voles, joy in rats. These are rigorous studies.

But we shouldn't assume that because an animal does poorly on a test, it doesn't have self-recognition or a theory of mind. It's quite likely we've done a poorly designed experiment. For a long time, people thought chimpanzees weren't good at recognizing faces. Then someone had the bright idea of testing chimps on other chimps' faces, rather than our own.

Wired.com: I think many people would acknowledge the existence of animal pleasure, but that's arguably a very simple experience compared to subjective states like happiness or fulfillment. How can you compare those?

Balcombe:: I can think of a few studies to address that. One, of starlings, concluded that these birds become optimistic or pessimistic based on living conditions. Another showed bereavement in baboons. Pessimism and optimism and bereavement are not fleeting feelings. Studies like these show that animals' emotional states are not just a series of snapshots. They are beings who have long-term emotional states.

Granted, I've only mentioned baboons and starlings, but there you've got a mammalian representative and an avian one. I'd say that's preliminary evidence that many other kinds of birds and mammals are capable.

Wired.com: But how do you know these feelings are truly felt? Couldn't it be like what some researchers have claimed of fish — that they have a physiological response to pain, but don't actually feel it?

Balcombe: That's the challenge. How do you get a starling to tell you that he or she truly feels pessimistic? I agree that birds being less likely to flip a lid on a box containing an ambiguous outcome doesn't necessarily mean they're feeling pessimistic, but it's what you might expect if they were.

Wired.com: How should these insights be applied?

Balcombe: The capacity to feel pleasure and pain have large implications. Pleasure is a huge part of sentience, and sentience is the bedrock of ethics. We have a moral code because others have life that matters. If you want to call others "humans," fine: Humans can suffer, they have interests, things can matter to them. But now we're extending that beyond humans. We have to factor that into the calculus.

Wired.com: But wouldn't we need to factor feelings into how we judge animal interaction? I recognize the sentience of the mice outside, and also the sentience of the fox. And the fox eats the mouse.

Balcombe: I don't perceive that the fox has much choice about what he or she gets to eat. Maybe that's an exemption the fox has. Perhaps the fox isn't a moral agent, and cannot reflect on questions of right or wrong. Though that's an interesting frontier in animal behavior: Can animals show virtue, distinguish good from bad acts? It's controversial.

But we can make choices. Maybe that's the burden of being a moral species, of being so intellectual. Intelligence comes with duties. That's where the rubber meets the road, where the science of animal pleasure and sentience meets with how we ought to treat animals.

Above:
Beluga Whale

Dolphins and beluga whales have been seen blowing bubble rings and swimming through them. "It appears to happen much more commonly in captivity," said Balcombe. "That may shed light on why they do it: to relieve boredom. Another theory is that it's play. Those aren't mutually exclusive. My gut feeling is that it's stimulating for them. If you don't see it in the wild, that suggests it's one of the games they come up with in captivity."

Image: Hiroya Minakuchi/Minden Pictures

photo gallery after the jump:
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/06/exultant-ark-gallery/

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« Reply #4308 on: Jun 17th, 2011, 07:02am »

New York Times

June 16, 2011, 10:01 pm
Wall Street Braces for New Layoffs as Profits Wane
By SUSANNE CRAIG

Wall Street plans to get smaller this summer. Faced with weak markets and uncertainty over regulations, many of the biggest firms are preparing for deep cuts in jobs and other costs.

The cutback plans are emerging even as Wall Street firms have mostly recovered from the financial crisis and are reporting substantial profits again. But those profits are not as big as they were before the crisis, and it is expected that in the coming months it will be even more difficult for firms to make money. Worries about debt in Europe and the shape that the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul rules will ultimately take, combined with the usual summer doldrums, are prompting banks to act.

“It’s a tense environment right now,” said Glenn Schorr, an analyst with the investment bank Nomura.

Even Goldman Sachs, Wall Street’s most profitable firm, is retrenching. Senior executives at Goldman have concluded they need to cut 10 percent, or $1 billion, of noncompensation expenses over the next 12 months, according to a person close to the matter who was not authorized to speak on the record. The big pullback will cause Goldman employees, who have already been ordered to cut costs, to re-examine every aspect of their business.

The firm, this person said, had not set final targets for layoffs, but Goldman was “certain” to shrink headcount in the coming months. Decisions on bonuses are still months away, but they are sure to come down as well if business does not pick up.

Bank of America is also examining its expenses and is likely in the next few months to cut some staff members from its securities division, according to one senior executive at that firm who was not authorized to speak on the record. And Credit Suisse is in the process of identifying people to cut in its investment banking unit, according to a person briefed on that bank’s plans.

Morgan Stanley is expected to cut at least 300 low-producing brokers in its wealth management division this year, more than the firm initially expected, and has announced plans to cut $1 billion in noncompensation expenses over the next three years. Unlike many of its rivals, however, the firm so far has no plans to cut staff members from its investment banking and trading division, which has added hundreds of employees over the last two years or so as part of a rebuilding effort after the financial crisis.

Scott Eells/Bloomberg NewsIn the first quarter of 2009, Goldman Sachs, above, cut staff by almost 9 percent. Since then, most firms have held steady. That will change this summer.Some firms have already wielded the ax. In January, Barclays Capital cut 600 people, or more than 2 percent of its worldwide staff, citing a business slowdown, and recently cut more employees for “performance-related reasons,” according to a person briefed on the cuts but not authorized to speak on the record. A third of the January cuts were in New York.

Regulatory overhaul has weighed on the decisions to cut back, senior bank executives say. Regulation has caused some Wall Street banks to exit some businesses, like proprietary trading. Rules that require banks to hold more capital will probably cause some firms to end certain business lines as they decide they can more effectively deploy the capital elsewhere. On products like derivatives, firms will lose revenue as instruments once traded off exchanges will move into open markets.

While many financial rules are still to be written, some firms have decided that they cannot afford to wait any longer. The last significant industrywide job cuts were in early 2009. In the first quarter of that year Goldman alone cut its work force by almost 9 percent. Since then, most firms have held steady on their head counts or have added to them slightly. That will change this summer.

The scale of the expected cuts is bad news for the New York City economy, which depends heavily on a booming financial industry to pay taxes and fill its restaurants. And they will come as the national economy is still struggling to find its footing since the financial crisis.

Not all is doom and gloom. Wall Street is benefiting from the boom in social media and technology public offerings. In recent weeks big names like Pandora Media and Linkedin have gone public, brought to market by banks. So far this year, companies have raised $29.3 billion in public offerings, up more than 200 percent from a year ago. This year is on track to be the most lucrative since the technology boom in 2000, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The profit picture is also somewhat more stable for diversified companies like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup, which have large commercial retail banking operations in addition to those in trading and sales. JPMorgan has no immediate plans to cut head count in trading, according to a person briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak on the record. The bank is, however, trying to reduce noncompensation expenses.

But firms like Bank of America are still paying for mortgage sins of days gone by, which have dimmed their profit pictures. Earlier this year Bank of America put aside another $1 billion to cover claims from outside investors who lost money and want the firm to buy back billions of dollars in bad Countrywide Financial mortgages. The Durbin Amendment, a proposed restriction on debit card fees, is also expected to reduce profits when it comes into effect next month.

For those firms that depend on trading, it is clear how much the engines of Wall Street have slowed. Return on equity, the amount a firm earns on its common stock outstanding and an important measure of financial performance, has decreased significantly in the years since the credit crisis. Industrywide return on equity was 8.2 percent in 2010, down from 17.5 percent in 2005, according to Nomura.

And this year there is another reason that is prompting Wall Street to act more swiftly on cuts. Wall Street typically pays out roughly half of its revenue in compensation, and firms often wait until late summer to cull staff when they have a better sense of revenue for the year. The newest cuts are expected to come earlier this year because of recent changes in the way employees are paid.

Traditionally, Wall Street employees get most of their annual pay in the form of a one-time year-end bonus. But after the credit crisis most firms changed the way they compensated employees in an effort to discourage excessive risk-taking, increasing base salaries while reducing performance-related payments. As a result, banks are paying out more compensation as the year goes on, forcing firms to re-evaluate staffing levels earlier in the year because more of their compensation costs are now fixed.

Firms are also trying to cut noncompensation expenses and are looking for ways to cut fat. Goldman’s goal to cut $1 billion in noncompensation expenses this year is significant, analysts say. There will be immediate and significant savings from the fall off in trading volumes.

Trading firms pay fees to trade, and lower volumes could result in an annual savings of $200 million at Goldman alone, one analyst estimated. Those savings will come naturally, but most will not, and banks will be forced to rein in everything, including travel and professional fees.

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/06/16/as-profits-wane-wall-street-braces-for-new-layoffs/?hp

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« Reply #4309 on: Jun 17th, 2011, 07:04am »

Reuters

Exclusive: China software bug makes infrastructure vulnerable

By Jim Finkle
NEW YORK | Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:28pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Software widely used in China to help run weapons systems, utilities and chemical plants has bugs that hackers could exploit to damage public infrastructure, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The department issued an advisory on Thursday warning of vulnerabilities in software applications from Beijing-based Sunway ForceControl Technology Co that hackers could exploit to launch attacks on critical infrastructure.

Sunway's products, widely used in China, are also deployed to a lesser extent in other countries including the United States, DHS's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team said in its advisory.

"These are vulnerabilities that hackers could leverage to cause destruction," said Dillon Beresford, a researcher with private security firm NSS Labs, who discovered the bugs.

The DHS advisory comes amid a wave of high-profile cyberattacks on institutions ranging from the International Monetary Fund to Citigroup Inc and Sony Corp. The attacks focused primarily on stealing data; only in a few instances has critical infrastructure been attacked.

Last year the Stuxnet computer worm surfaced, targeting industrial control systems manufactured by Siemens. Security experts widely believe that the worm was built as part of a state-backed attack on Iran's nuclear program.

Iran said the worm was used to attack computers at its Bushehr nuclear reactor. There has been widespread speculation that Stuxnet actually damaged the plant, something Iran denies.

FIXING BUGS

Beresford has worked with Sunway, Chinese authorities and the DHS to fix the bugs he found. Sunway has developed software patches to plug the holes, but it could take customers months to install those patches, Beresford said.

That gives hackers a window of time in which to exploit those vulnerabilities.

"Customers need to be notified and given proper time to patch," said Beresford, who also discovered security bugs in industrial control management systems from Siemens. The German company addressed those vulnerabilities in an advisory it released last week.

Representatives for Sunway could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Sunway software flaws highlight growing concerns about the safety of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) computer systems that are used to monitor and control processes in a wide variety of facilities, including nuclear power plants, chemical factories, water distribution networks and pharmaceutical plants.

SCADA systems -- designed before Internet use became widespread -- were not built to withstand Web-based attacks.

Security systems to deal with Web threats have been bolted on rather than incorporated into SCADA systems, leaving holes that hackers can penetrate.

Beresford said that there are other vulnerabilities in SCADA systems that have yet to be documented by security experts and plugged by the manufacturers.

"The point of my putting this information out and getting it into the public domain is so that we can pressure the vendors to actually patch the vulnerabilities instead of sitting on them because these systems are inherently flawed by design," he said.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Tiffany Wu, Phil Berlowitz)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/17/us-cybersecurity-china-idUSTRE75G0CV20110617

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« Reply #4310 on: Jun 17th, 2011, 07:10am »

Telegraph

Vladimir Putin hires former glamour model as personal photographer

Vladimir Putin's press office has been forced to defend itself after hiring a former glamour model as his personal photographer.

By Roland Oliphant in Moscow
6:30AM BST 17 Jun 2011

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Yana Lapikova


Yana Lapikova, a 25-year-old former Miss Moscow contestant, was confirmed to have been appointed as one of Mr Putin's official personal photographers on Tuesday.

The photographer and blogger who first announced Miss Lapikova's hiring posted some of her racier modelling pictures alongside her own efforts – including ill-focused shots of fruit.

It is unclear how much experience she has. An online portfolio under her name includes just a few dozen shots of cats, a reportage from the interior of a prison and landscapes in Israel.

"I think it's fine and nothing to be ashamed of. I think we can only congratulate the prime minister's press service on such an acquisition," he commented. "Not every photographer gets such a career."

Defending the latest addition to the team, Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin's press secretary, said the press service had been looking for a new photographer for some time because the others were too busy covering events attended by Mr Putin's deputies. He insisted that the selection was entirely down to professional merit.

"We don't select photographers based on gender. She's a really good photographer, her modelling past doesn't concern us at all, it's not a crime," he told the Interfax news agency.

Photography plays a key role in the image strategy adopted by Mr Putin's very active press office. His 'action man' image is built on outdoor photo opportunities with polar bears and tigers and bare chested horse riding in Siberian rivers. On regular working days photographs promote an image of him as a no-nonsense administrator who holds his officials to account by capturing his signature stare and the slouching, unimpressed pout he uses to show who is boss when chairing government meetings.

Miss Lapikova will work alongside two professional photographers who document Mr Putin's regular meet-and-greets, government meetings and occasional encounters with endangered predators.

A video on YouTube has shown the lengths the Russian city of Pskov went to accommodating Mr Putin during a recent visit, including laying new lawns, only to remove them once he left.

Russian bloggers have dubbed the turf the 'Potemkin lawn', suggesting it might have been "an exclusive lawn from Moscow that travels the country in Putin's baggage".

The Potemkin lawn is a play on the trend of 'Potemkin villages', named after the 18th Century general Prince Grigory Potemkin, who is said to have had whole villages built to impress Catherine the Great when she visited the newly conquered Crimea in 1787.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8579726/Vladimir-Putin-hires-former-glamour-model-as-personal-photographer.html

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« Reply #4311 on: Jun 17th, 2011, 07:15am »

Wired Gadget Lab

Panasonic Drops ‘Toughbook’ Android Tablet, Which Doesn’t Break

By Mike Isaac
June 16, 2011 | 6:23 pm
Categories: Tablets and E-Readers


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Panasonic's "Toughbook" will come with a 10.1-inch screen and stylus pen.
Photo courtesy of Panasonic



Attention all butterfingered geeks: Panasonic announced on Thursday an Android tablet made especially for you.

Dubbed the Toughbook tablet, Panasonic’s Android slate caters to those prone to excess dropping, be it electronics or otherwise. The Toughbook joins the company’s line of durable, impact-resistant devices.

Panasonic’s Toughbook product line has been around since 1993, touting a device portfolio comprised mostly of notebooks and slate-shaped PCs. The rugged devices come encased in high-impact plastics normally reserved for items that expect to take a beating, like car bumpers and bicycle helmets.

As 2011 has seen countless Android tablet debuts, manufacturers must fight to differentiate. Motorola’s Xoom tablet launched in February as the flagship device for Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). HTC’s Flyer tablet recently dropped, with the company heavily hyping the accompanying stylus pen to make the tablet unique. The Toughbook has a better chance of standing out in the crowded field, however, as the heavy-duty construction may appeal to the roughnecked crowd. Think: geologists in the field, or perhaps an emergency room doc.

Like Samsung’s recent Galaxy Tab revamp, the Toughbook comes with a 10.1-inch screen. The display differs from many existing Android tablets, however; Instead of a glossy TFT screen, the Toughbook tablet features a matte-finished XGA display, which the company claims is easier to read in outdoor, high-brightness settings.

Although further details are scant at the moment, we know the Toughbook will come with a stylus (like the Flyer), as well as optional 3G and 4G versions. We aren’t sure what version of the Android operating system the tablet will run, but press photos suggest it isn’t Honeycomb.

Mum’s the word on pricing, but you should expect to see the Toughbook tablet come Christmas time. Rest assured we eagerly await getting our hands on one for demolition testing.

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/06/panasonic-toughbook/

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« Reply #4312 on: Jun 17th, 2011, 07:19am »

MSNBC

NBC: 'Suspicious device' found in car near Pentagon
'It looks like a bomb,' official says; 1 person held, up to 2 others sought

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 9 minutes ago
2011-06-17


ARLINGTON, Va. — Authorities took one person into custody and closed roads around the Pentagon Friday after a "suspicious device" was found in a car, NBC News reported.

One or two other suspects who "fled the scene" on foot were being hunted by police, according to NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski.

Although it was not immediately clear what the device was, one official told NBC News that "it looks like a bomb."

The incident brought traffic to a standstill in the area.

NBCWashington.com reported that the suspicious vehicle was discovered on Washington Boulevard.

Routes 27 and 110 around the Pentagon, all ramps to and from Interstate 395 near the Pentagon and eastbound Interstate 66 to Route 110 were all closed early Friday morning, according to The Associated Press.

NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski, The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43437875/ns/us_news-security/

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« Reply #4313 on: Jun 17th, 2011, 09:32am »

Pentagon Dreams of 'Star Trek' Style Interstellar Travel

Published June 17, 2011
Associated Press

The research agency in the U.S. Defense Department that helped foster the Internet wants someone to dream up a way to send people to a star.

The winner will get half a million dollars for the idea. This month 150 competitors answered the federal government's initial call for private sector cosmic ideas. Officials say some big names are among those interested. The plan is to make interstellar travel possible in about a century.

The Defense Department is known for big spending and big ideas. It devised a space-based missile defense system in the 1980s known as "Star Wars." Its new trademarked 100-year Starship Study concept comes from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency is spending a total of $1 million on the project. After presentations are made at a conference in Orlando, Florida, DARPA will decide in November who gets the money.

The grant would be "seed money" to help someone start thinking about the idea and then get it off the ground in the private sector, David Neyland, director of DARPA's tactical technology office, said in a Thursday teleconference.

This is not about going to a nearby planet, like Mars. And it is not about using robotic probes, which does not interest the Defense Department, Neyland said.

But even the nearest star beyond our sun is 25 trillion miles (40 trillion kilometers) away. The fastest rocket man has built would take more than 4,000 years to get there. This is not just about thinking new rocket methods, Neyland said. It iss also about coping with extended life in space, raising issues of medicine, agriculture, ethics and self-reliance, he said.

Among those who showed an interest in the project earlier this year is millionaire scientist Craig Venter, one of those who mapped the human genome and is now working on artificial life and alternative fuels.

"We want to capture the imagination of folks," Neyland said.
Not everyone agrees with spending money this way. Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said, "When you look at the universe -- pun intended -- of things we have to spend money on, this has to be pretty down on the priority list."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/06/17/pentagon-dreams-stark-trek-style-interstellar-travel/#ixzz1PXPNQpZi
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« Reply #4314 on: Jun 17th, 2011, 09:37am »

Penn State Live

Penn State expert determined to find life on Earth-like planets


Thursday, June 16, 2011
Jim Kasting

University Park, Pa – Thanks to popular Hollywood films like "E.T.," "Avatar" and "Super 8," life on other planets seems highly conceivable to people who have considered the idea that we are not alone in the universe. Jim Kasting, distinguished professor of geosciences in Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and an expert in atmospheric evolution, is one person who considers it a lot.

As a kid growing up near the space program in Huntsville, Ala., reading as much science fiction as he could get his hands on, Kasting had space exploration on his mind all the time. It influenced who he is today as well as the research he's most interested in conducting. By studying early Earth's atmosphere and the origins of oxygen in it, Kasting has become one of the foremost experts on planetary habitable zones. In his book, "How to Find a Habitable Planet," Kasting explains how his research with NASA may be able to detect worlds outside of our solar system that are suitable for sustaining life.

As a doctoral student studying atmospheric science in the late 1970s, Kasting read several papers written by American astrophysicist Michael Hart concerning atmospheric evolution.

His work piqued Kasting's interest toward proving that, despite Hart's beliefs, there are habitable planets in the universe besides Earth. After completing his doctoral degree at the University of Michigan, Kasting served as a research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center before joining Penn State. After conducting extensive research on the subject, he feels confident saying there are other planets in the universe able to host living organisms -- and he hopes to live to see the day when this is a proven fact.

"I'm very much an optimist," Kasting said. "I think there is somewhere else that has a rocky surface with an atmosphere similar to ours and with liquid water on the surface. There are almost certainly other Earth-like planets on which life may arise."

In early 2010, NASA announced that the Kepler spacecraft, designed to discover Earth-like planets within the Milky Way galaxy, found several rocky planets within their star's habitable zone. All of these planets are too far away -- hundreds to thousands of light years -- to determine whether they are actually habitable.

Since astronomers' interests are varied, it's hard to secure the several billion dollars needed to build one of these big space telescopes. Kasting hopes to collaborate with other countries to acquire the funding needed to launch any of the telescopes. He also hopes other researchers can share the same equipment to conduct their own studies, saving money and ensuring many different astronomical investigations can be pursued using these instruments. If any of these efforts succeed, Kasting may finally help humankind learn whether extraterrestrial life exists.

http://live.psu.edu/story/53833
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4315 on: Jun 17th, 2011, 12:10pm »

on Jun 17th, 2011, 09:32am, Swamprat wrote:
Pentagon Dreams of 'Star Trek' Style Interstellar Travel

Published June 17, 2011
Associated Press

The research agency in the U.S. Defense Department that helped foster the Internet wants someone to dream up a way to send people to a star.

The winner will get half a million dollars for the idea. This month 150 competitors answered the federal government's initial call for private sector cosmic ideas. Officials say some big names are among those interested. The plan is to make interstellar travel possible in about a century.

The Defense Department is known for big spending and big ideas. It devised a space-based missile defense system in the 1980s known as "Star Wars." Its new trademarked 100-year Starship Study concept comes from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency is spending a total of $1 million on the project. After presentations are made at a conference in Orlando, Florida, DARPA will decide in November who gets the money.

The grant would be "seed money" to help someone start thinking about the idea and then get it off the ground in the private sector, David Neyland, director of DARPA's tactical technology office, said in a Thursday teleconference.

This is not about going to a nearby planet, like Mars. And it is not about using robotic probes, which does not interest the Defense Department, Neyland said.

But even the nearest star beyond our sun is 25 trillion miles (40 trillion kilometers) away. The fastest rocket man has built would take more than 4,000 years to get there. This is not just about thinking new rocket methods, Neyland said. It iss also about coping with extended life in space, raising issues of medicine, agriculture, ethics and self-reliance, he said.

Among those who showed an interest in the project earlier this year is millionaire scientist Craig Venter, one of those who mapped the human genome and is now working on artificial life and alternative fuels.

"We want to capture the imagination of folks," Neyland said.
Not everyone agrees with spending money this way. Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said, "When you look at the universe -- pun intended -- of things we have to spend money on, this has to be pretty down on the priority list."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/06/17/pentagon-dreams-stark-trek-style-interstellar-travel/#ixzz1PXPNQpZi


Alright Swamp! Let's get our names on that flight list! grin

Crystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4316 on: Jun 17th, 2011, 2:05pm »

on Jun 16th, 2011, 10:22am, Swamprat wrote:
China starts construction on the world's largest radio telescope

You got to wonder why they are still doing that.



Check this guy out. Don't know how I shall feel about that. huh

Ned Nefer Takes His Mannequin-Wife Teagan On New York Walking Tour

Like many couples in the northeast, Ned and Teagan Nefer are spending their summer vacation touring upstate New York.

But there is a difference between the Nefers and other couples: They're doing a walking tour.

Actually, Ned's the only one doing the walking. He's pushing his wife of 25 years in a wheelchair.

Oh, and Teagan's not actually a woman. She's a mannequin. To be specific: She's the head of a mannequin that Ned found back in the 1980s when he was living at the Children's Home of Jefferson County in Watertown, New York.

He attached a body to the face, named her Teagan and the two have been an item ever since.

...

http://weirdnews.aol.com/2011/06/15/new-york-man-ned-nefer-on-walking-with-mannequin-teagan_n_876827.html

huh

True love as it seems.
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« Reply #4317 on: Jun 17th, 2011, 4:38pm »

Hey, if "they're" happy, I'm happy! grin
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« Reply #4318 on: Jun 17th, 2011, 4:41pm »

OK, try a taste of this...... laugh


Japanese Scientists Create Meat From Poop

Published June 17, 2011
News Corp Australian Papers

Anyone up for some poop burgers?

Japanese scientist Mitsuyuki Ikeda from the Okayama Laboratory certainly doesn't believe in human waste.
He thinks that's perfectly good protein you're sending out to sea, and he's found a way to extract it, mix it with steak sauce and create a fecal feast fit for a king.

And despite the downside of having to add soya to bind it all together, Prof Ikeda thinks there's no reason why we shouldn't all tuck into his turd burgers.

Why would he even think of it, you might ask.

Because Tokyo Sewage asked him to. Tokyo is swimming in sewage mud, it seems, and there's only one way it can save itself and that's eat it.

Prof Ikeda found the mud was loaded with protein due to the high bacteria content. Combine it with reaction enhancer and put it in a magical machine called an "exploder" and artificial steak comes out the other end.

According to Digital Trends, it's 63 percent protein, 25 percent carbohydrates, 3 percent lipids and 9 percent minerals.

"Initial tests have people saying it even tastes like beef," Digital Trends reports.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/06/17/japanese-scientists-create-meat-from-poop/#ixzz1PZT3OKrm

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4319 on: Jun 18th, 2011, 01:41am »

It was surprisingly true. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently published a study about accident safety that found SUVs are growing to be less dangerous with time. Since the launch of electronic stability features, the previously top-heavy and roll-prone SUV is growing to be a thing of the past. With that, the Study finds SUVs safer than smaller cars in auto accidents and its an advantage for SUVs. smiley
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