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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 91138 times)
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« Reply #4485 on: Jul 6th, 2011, 07:40am »

Science Daily

Functioning Small Intestine Created in Laboratory Experiments
ScienceDaily (July 6, 2011)

Researchers at The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles have successfully created a tissue-engineered small intestine in mice that replicates the intestinal structures of natural intestine -- a necessary first step toward someday applying this regenerative medicine technique to humans.

The study led by Tracy C. Grikscheit, MD -- "A Multicellular Approach Forms a Significant Amount of Tissue-Engineered Small Intestine in the Mouse" -- has been published in the July issue of Tissue Engineering Part A, a biomedical journal.

"In this paper, we are able to report that we can grow tissue-engineered intestine in a mouse model, which opens the doors of basic biology to understand how to grow this tissue better," said Dr. Grikscheit, who is also an assistant professor of surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

As a pediatric surgeon, Dr. Grikscheit is concerned with finding solutions for some of her more vulnerable patients -- newborns. Infants born prematurely are at increased risk for a gastrointestinal disease called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which occurs when the intestine is injured. The cause is unknown.

Early treatment of NEC is essential to stop the potentially life-threatening leakage of bacteria into the abdomen. Often, the only solution is surgical removal of the small intestine. However, this option leaves the baby dependent on intravenous feeding and at risk for liver damage from subsequent intravenous nutrition. Organ transplants are possible but not a long-term solution, with only a 50 percent chance the grafted intestine will last past the child's 5th birthday.

Dr. Grikscheit, a member of The Saban Research Institute's Developmental Biology and Regenerative Medicine program, envisions a better solution. "The small intestine is an exquisitely regenerative organ. The cells are constantly being lost and replaced over the course of our entire lives," she explained. "Why not harness that regenerative capacity to benefit these children?"

Working in the laboratory, the research team took samples of intestinal tissue from mice. This tissue was composed of the layers of the various cells that make up the intestine -- including muscle cells and the cells that line the inside, known as epithelial cells. The investigators then transplanted that mixture of cells within the abdomen on biodegradable polymers or "scaffolding."

What the team wanted to happen did -- new, engineered small intestines grew and had all of the cell types found in native intestine. Because the transplanted cells had carried a green label, the scientists could identify which cells had been provided -- and all of the major components of the tissue-engineered intestine derived from the implanted cells. Critically, the new organs contained the most essential components of the originals.

"What is novel about this research is that this tissue-engineered intestine contains every important cell type needed for functional intestine. For children with intestinal failure, we are always looking for long-term, durable solutions that will not require the administration of toxic drugs to ensure engraftment. This tissue-engineered intestine, which has all of the critical components of the mature intestine, represents a truly exciting albeit preliminary step in the right direction," said Henri Ford, MD, Vice President and Surgeon-in-Chief at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

"We demonstrated that we are providing all of the important cells -- the muscle, nerve, epithelium, and some of the blood vessels," noted Frédéric Sala, PhD, lead author. "All of these are critical to proper functioning of the tissue, and now we know their origins." Next up are additional tissue-growing experiments -- each one of which may bring that much closer the prospects of clinical testing and a solution for babies in need.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110705183901.htm

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4486 on: Jul 6th, 2011, 1:06pm »

Fantastic board-logo again. Who's the artist?

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« Reply #4487 on: Jul 6th, 2011, 7:01pm »

on Jul 6th, 2011, 1:06pm, philliman wrote:
Fantastic board-logo again. Who's the artist?

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« Reply #4488 on: Jul 7th, 2011, 07:43am »

New York Times

July 6, 2011
German Leader Criticized for Report of Tank Deal
By NICHOLAS KULISH

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing growing criticism from across the political spectrum here after news of a multibillion-dollar deal for the secret sale of 200 tanks to Saudi Arabia leaked from the national security council that approved it.

The government has responded with what the German news media have called an “iron silence,” which has fueled rather than dampened the furor over a sale that experts estimate would be worth roughly $2.5 billion.

Germany strained ties with its NATO allies when it abstained in the United Nations Security Council on the resolution authorizing military action to protect Libyan civilians. Now the government has approved the shipment of the 68-ton tanks to Saudi Arabia even as the image of Saudi tanks rolling into Bahrain to help suppress the protests there remains fresh in the public’s mind.

According to the Web site of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, which produces the tank, the latest version, the Leopard 2A7+, includes “nonlethal capabilities” and an “obstacle clearance blade” almost like a plow in the front that can clear debris and roadblocks.

“This would be a perfect tank to drive into Bahrain and crack down on any uprising,” said Jan Grebe, a researcher at the Bonn International Center for Conversion, a nonprofit research institute that deals with security and development issues. “It’s also a good tank to fight any demonstrations in Riyadh.”

Not only political opponents but even members of Mrs. Merkel’s own party have criticized the sale on human rights grounds. The deal also reveals the shifting Israeli attitude toward the Saudis. Israel has notably not complained about the arms deal, and government sources here say that it was cleared with both the Americans and the Israelis before it went through.

Once viewed as a potential threat by Jerusalem, the government in Saudi Arabia is increasingly viewed as a guarantor of stability in a region in upheaval, as revolutionary fervor sweeps through the Middle East.

“Every step that we take in the region we take with the condition that it promotes the security and the right to exist of Israel,” said Philipp Missfelder, a foreign policy spokesman for Mrs. Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats.

While Mr. Missfelder cautioned that he was not privy to the secret negotiations in the German security council, a deal to support Saudi Arabia was in Germany’s interest.

“We cannot act as though we can paint the world pink and everything will be O.K.,” he said. “We are a grown-up country and must define our policies through strategic interests.”

The sale could also be seen as an effort to placate the Saudis, who were infuriated earlier this year when President Obama sided with the protesters in Egypt and helped to usher Hosni Mubarak from power and again when NATO began its air campaign against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya.

The national security council is led by Mrs. Merkel and is made up of top ministers, the head of her chancellery staff and, in an advisory capacity, the inspector general of the military. The council rarely leaks unauthorized information. That news of the council’s approval of the Leopard tank deal was published by the news magazine Der Spiegel over the weekend was itself viewed in Germany as a sign of the discord and high emotions surrounding the issue.

Nick Brown, editor in chief of Jane’s International Defense Review, cautioned that the deal was not finalized and that it could still fall through, but that if it happened it “would be a really big shift.”

“The Saudis have been asking for Leopards for quite a long, long time and the Germans keep saying no,” Mr. Brown said, referring to requests for a version of the tank dating to the 1980s.

He cautioned that although the tanks could be used for urban warfare, they were better suited for military uses than shutting down protests. The armored vehicles sent into Bahrain were smaller ones from the Saudi national guard, rather than the best army tanks, and were used only to protect property, not against demonstrators.

In a raucous and passionate debate in Parliament on Wednesday, Jürgen Trittin, leader of the Green Party, declared that the government was “stimulating an arms race in the Middle East.” Joachim Pfeiffer, an economic spokesman for Mrs. Merkel’s party, promptly accused him of hypocrisy on the floor of the Bundestag.

Germany has aroused fears in recent years that it is going its own way more often, a concern that was heightened by the decision to break with its allies on the intervention in Libya. The sale of Leopard tanks fits the growing impression in many corners of a mercantilist Germany, whose foreign policy is first and foremost concerned with its own economic interests.

Even as the German government demanded budget cuts in Greece, officials also insisted that that struggling European partner honor its military contracts. Germany is the No. 1 arms dealer to Greece.

Despite its image as a pacifist country, chastened by both the atrocities committed during World War II and its total defeat, Germany is a major weapons producer and dealer, responsible for 11 percent of global conventional arms exports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, ranking it third in the world, behind the United States and Russia. The United States is not only the largest exporter of weapons in the world, but has also long supplied arms to the Saudi Arabian military.

For a decade after World War II, Germany had no military industry, forbidden by the victorious allies from producing weapons. As German industries began to increase production, tanks using the same powerful engines as trucks were one of their strong suits, said Michael Brzoska, a professor and director of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg. Today, the military industry employs around 80,000 people, he said.

But as European governments cut back spending on weapons systems, those jobs would disappear without new markets.

“There has been a perception that Germany is more restrictive toward exports to the Middle East than France or the United Kingdom,” said Mark Bromley, senior researcher at the Stockholm institute’s arms transfers program. “The fall in defense budgets is putting pressure on governments to help industry secure markets abroad, and not just in Germany.”

Ethan Bronner contributed reporting from Jerusalem, and Stefan Pauly from Berlin.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/world/europe/07germany.html?_r=1&ref=world

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« Reply #4489 on: Jul 7th, 2011, 07:46am »

LA Times

Challenger space shuttle model to return to Little Tokyo

Isao Hirai, who built the Little Tokyo memorial of the Challenger, has restored it and will see it return to its home on Thursday.

By Nita Lelyveld, Los Angeles Times
July 7, 2011

Isao Hirai makes models for a living. You name it, he says, "Isao can do it."

Mars Rovers, glass office towers, body parts, sweeps of land — he's 77 and says he has yet to be stumped.

At his Scale Model Co. in Hawthorne, he once made two Wells Fargo stagecoaches, each small enough to be held with two hands but exact down to the spokes' proportions and the buttons on the interior upholstery.

When Northrop Grumman asked for a 36-foot-long model rocket to display overseas, he knew it would be too big to build inside. So he made it in parts and pieced it together in his parking lot.

A government-ordered model of Yellowstone National Park — to show where a monorail might go — required 20,000 trees, he says casually, as if it is barely worth mentioning. He and his staff fashioned them out of toothpicks and chunks of foam they dyed green and then churned up into leaf-like clumps in a meat grinder.

"This is my life. Problem solving is my love," says this small man who exudes great joy, even when under tremendous deadline pressure.

On Thursday at 1 p.m., on Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Street in Little Tokyo, Hirai has a date he can't miss — with a crane.

It will be waiting to aid the return of his one-tenth-scale model of the Challenger space shuttle, which has lived on the one-block street for 21 years — minus the four months he's just spent restoring it in his shop.

Hirai's Scale Model Co. sits on a busy commercial stretch of West Rosecrans Avenue, between a garage-door maker and Piggie's, a fast-food restaurant.

Piggie's is flashy. On its bright yellow sign, swine in aprons stick out their tongues.

The Scale Model Co. from the outside could be any old garage. Inside, it looks like the cozy but very well outfitted backyard workshop of some sort of genius mad scientist.

The history of America's space stations — some built, some only proposed — hangs suspended from the ceiling in a series of small scale models he made for Rockwell. Floating nearby is a miniature futuristic hovercraft for the 1973 movie "Westworld" and the classic flying saucer of the 1960s TV show "The Invaders."

Much of Hirai's work is done with official blueprints for science's creme de la creme — the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech, companies such as Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.

But he also makes architectural models and models to help establish facts in trials. (He built a supermarket parking lot once to prove the design caused a woman to fall. She won her case.)

Occasionally, too, he gets requests from inventors. He produced the original prototype for the Water Pik.

He doesn't advertise, he says. It never worked anyway. People saw the name and called looking for scales. Occasionally, a young woman inquired about a modeling career.

Hirai was born in Sapporo, Japan, and was raised in a Japanese community in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Like a lot of boys, he made model planes from kits. But they quickly bored him and he moved on to building his own imaginary flying machines (which he sometimes still does). In school, he became interested in commercial model making, considered prestigious work in Brazil.

After a stint in Venezuela, he came to America in 1966, and joined the Scale Model Co. the next year as its first employee. He now owns the company and has a staff of six, including his wife, Brigitta. It's her job to keep him organized and to make sure he gets paid for work he probably would do for free. "She realizes we have to eat," he says, grinning sheepishly.

Brigitta, 58, who towers over her husband, also plays the role of booster, reminding him of all the wonders his little shop has produced. "Did you tell about the time Alex Haley came by?" she asks — which leads to reminiscing about the model that Haley commissioned of the slave cabins and farms he chronicled in "Roots." ("Your work is so superb that I've been exclaiming about it to nearly everyone with whom I've talked since this afternoon's visit to your firm," Haley wrote in a 1978 letter.)

Hirai felt honored to build the Little Tokyo model of the Challenger for Onizuka, of Kona, Hawaii, the first Japanese American astronaut and one of seven to die when the shuttle exploded on Jan. 28, 1986. Of the original commission from the Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Committee, he says, "My heart was there."

But he was not proud of the way his handiwork looked in March, when a crane pulled it off steel supports so rusted that it took 6,000 pounds of pressure to remove the 2,000-pound model.

Years of sun and smog had stressed the external tank's fiberglass, causing it to crack and split apart. And Hirai cringed at an attempt to spruce up the model with a fresh coat of paint.

He had built a model so precise in its markings that it could only be that shuttle as seen on that particular day, just before it blew apart 25 years ago, 73 seconds into flight.

The paint job, he said, not only got the colors wrong but covered up all that subtle specificity.

"It wasn't anymore the Challenger," he said. "It was terrible."

And that new paint was peeling off in curlicues. The memorial committee raised the money for the restoration.

On Thursday, buffed, shined, repainted and reinforced, Hirai's Challenger will make the trip downtown on the back of a long-bed truck. It is 18 feet, 4 inches tall at its highest point (the boosters) and will be placed on new supports atop the memorial's 7-foot-high base.

"It always gave me pain every time I came downtown to look at it," Hirai said of its previous worn state. "Now it's going to be different. I'm going to be extremely happy."


http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0707-challenger-memorial-20110707,0,177050.story

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« Reply #4490 on: Jul 7th, 2011, 07:49am »

Wired Science

Listen to a Thunderstorm on Saturn
By Danielle Venton
July 6, 2011 | 7:26 pm
Categories: Space

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft eavesdropped on a storm on Saturn on March 15, 2011, by capturing pulses of radio waves from the lightning strikes, and sent back audio of the event.

First spied by amateurs in early December, this storm is the largest and most powerful to be observed in detail. Once spotted the storm grew dramatically, from 2,500 km across on the first day to 17,000 three weeks later, with a tail sweeping around the entire planet.

Instruments aboard Cassini recorded lightning strikes as fast as 10 per second, too fast for the spacecraft’s radio and plasma wave instrument to easily separate into individual signals. The team created this sound file from radio waves emanating from the storm on March 15, during a relatively calm period. The 11-second clip contains data gathered over 57 seconds.

Two teams of researchers describe the storm’s churnings in this week’s Nature. Storms large enough to be spotted by Earth-bound telescopes, occur on Saturn about once every 30 years and are dubbed Great White Spots — a play on Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.

Audio after the jump
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/07/saturn-thunderstorm-audio/

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« Reply #4491 on: Jul 7th, 2011, 07:52am »

Telegraph

Rhinoceros head stolen from Brussels museum

A stuffed rhinoceros head was stolen from the Brussels Natural History Museum, the second such robbery in Belgium in less than a month.

11:12PM BST 06 Jul 2011

"At closing time, the head of a black 'Diceros bicornis' rhinoceros exhibited in the mammals gallery was stolen by three people," the museum said in a statement issued after the Tuesday heist.

The rhino robbers fled to a waiting car with a driver, with museum guards in hot pursuit. "They got away before we could catch then," the museum added.

Located a stone's throw from the European parliament in central Brussels, the museum is popular for its celebrated dinosaur skeletons and on Wednesday stepped up security while taking rare prized pieces away from the public eye.

On June 16, a robber also working with an accomplice stole a rhino head in the Liege natural history museum but was caught and the head returned to its place.

The man made off to a waiting vehicle with Dutch number-plates after tear-gassing the guards but police threw up roadblocks and brought in the pair, both Poles.

They said the plan had been for them to leave the stolen property at the foot of a statue in the Netherlands where it was to be picked up against 3,000 euros.

Rhinos are often poached for their horns, made of keratin and sold on the black market for ornamental or medicinal purposes, particularly in Asia.

The two African species and the Sumatran rhinoceros have two horns, while the Indian and Javan rhinoceros have a single horn.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8621867/Rhinoceros-head-stolen-from-Brussels-museum.html

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« Reply #4492 on: Jul 7th, 2011, 07:55am »

The Hill

Defense spending faces $700 billion cut
By John T. Bennett
07/07/11 05:35 AM ET

National security spending could be cut by as much as $700 billion in a deal to raise the debt limit, defense sources said.

That’s almost twice the amount President Obama originally proposed.

Obama directed the Defense Department and other national-security agencies to slash $400 billion by 2023. But in the closed-door talks to raise the debt ceiling, larger Pentagon funding cuts have been seriously discussed, several sources said, putting the number between $600 billion and $700 billion over a decade.

A final decision has yet to be made, but the sources said negotiators have not ruled out making deeper cuts than Obama planned.

As the Aug. 2 deadline for defaulting on the debt approaches, GOP members have dug in and said any accord cannot include tax hikes.

Sources told The Hill recently that GOP negotiators are ready to break with recent Republican ideology by trading large defense cuts for not raising taxes as part of a debt-ceiling deal.

“Robust defense spending and lower taxes have been two hallmarks of the Republican Party for years,” one former GOP House staffer said. “And those two things are going to be in direct competition with one another” in the debt talks.

Cuts larger than $400 billion over a decade would serve two purposes for the Republicans: helping stave off tax increases and giving them campaign-trail fodder for the 2012 election cycle.

“They want to hang defense cuts around the administration’s neck for 2012,” said one Democratic source who works on military issues. “View all and any of this in the political context.”

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush and Obama administrations have dramatically increased annual Pentagon spending levels.

“In inflation-adjusted dollars, the total defense budget has grown from $432 billion in FY01 to $720 billion in FY11, a real increase of approximately 67 percent,” according to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “The Pentagon’s base budget ... has also grown steadily over the last decade, increasing from $390 billion in FY01 to $540 billion in FY11, a real increase of 38 percent.”

Democrats for years have raised concerns about this rate of growth, and called for Defense Department spending reductions.

For instance, during House floor debate Wednesday on the 2012 Pentagon appropriations measure, Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) noted that other federal agencies’ budgets have been targeted for significant reductions. But the Pentagon has been kept “immune,” Welch said.

He offered an amendment targeting $297 million in the defense appropriations bill for research and development on a new bomber aircraft for the Air Force, one of that service’s top hardware priorities.

The Air Force requested $197 million for the bomber program.

Panel leaders tacked on an extra $100 million after talks with Air Force and industry officials led them to believe “we might be able to accelerate” the program’s schedule with the additional funding, House Appropriations Committee ranking member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said.

Welch argued that while research and development for a new fleet of bombers might be “desirable,” the nation’s bleak fiscal standing means lawmakers should be asking whether “it is affordable.”

The amendment was overwhelmingly defeated Wednesday evening.

Lawmakers from both parties have talked for months about the need to enact defense spending cuts to help fix America’s broken finances.

During his first-ever Twitter town hall meeting Wednesday, Obama said the Defense budget is so large that even modest cuts to it would free up dollars for other federal programs.

But the three 2012 Pentagon spending bills that have emerged so far feature only modest cuts.

The House-passed defense authorization measure matches the administration’s $553 billion request.

On Wednesday, the House began the next step in the process — appropriating the money — and moved toward approving a $9 billion reduction in the Obama administration’s 2012 Pentagon request.

The Senate Armed Services Committee recently passed a 2012 Pentagon authorization measure that was $6.4 billion smaller than the administration’s request.

Panel Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) told reporters his panel’s several requests to the White House for guidance on how large the 2012 portion of the $400 billion cut should have been answered.

That silence could have stemmed from White House budget officials waiting to see if debt-limit deliberations make even bigger defense and national-security spending cuts necessary.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to begin work on its 2012 Pentagon funding bill, but its chairman, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), has come out against deep Pentagon cuts.

http://thehill.com/news-by-subject/defense-homeland-security/170057-defense-faces-700b-spending-cut


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« Reply #4493 on: Jul 7th, 2011, 11:33am »

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« Reply #4494 on: Jul 8th, 2011, 08:02am »

Washington Post

Unemployment rises to 9.2 percent in June as employers add only 18,000 jobs

By Associated Press, Published: July 7 | Updated: Friday, July 8, 5:44 AM

WASHINGTON — Hiring slowed to a near-standstill last month. Employers added the fewest jobs in nine months and the unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent.

The Labor Department said Friday that the economy generated only 18,000 net jobs in June. And the number of jobs added in May was revised down to 25,000.

Businesses added the fewest jobs in more than a year. Governments cut 39,000 jobs. Over the past eight months, federal, state and local governments have cut a combined 238,000 positions.

The latest report offered evidence that that the recovery will be painfully slow. Two years after the recession officially ended, companies are adding fewer workers despite record cash stockpiles and healthy profit margins.

Hiring has slowed sharply in the past two months, after the economy added an average of 215,000 jobs per month in the previous three months.

Economists have said that temporary factors have, in part, forced some employers to pull back. High gas prices have cut into consumer spending. And supply-chain disruptions stemming from the Japan crisis slowed U.S. manufacturing production.

The economy typically needs to add 125,000 jobs per month just to keep up with population growth. And at least twice that many jobs are needed to bring down the unemployment rate.

The economy and job market are remarkably weak two years after the recession officially ended. Unemployment has topped 8 percent for 29 months, the longest streak since the 1930s.

Unemployment has never been so high so long after a recession ended. At the same point after the previous three recessions, unemployment averaged just 6.8 percent.

Average hourly wages declined last month. After-tax incomes, adjusted for inflation, have been flat this year.

The average work week declined to 34.3 hours, from 34.4, which means employers demanded less work from their existing staffs.

And temporary employment fell 12,000. Businesses generally hire more temporary workers before taking on permanent ones.

The number of unemployed workers rose almost 175,000 to 14.1 million, pushing up the unemployment rate.

There are signs that economy could improve in the second half of the year. Gas prices have come down since peaking in early May at a national average of nearly $4 per gallon. Prices averaged $3.59 a gallon nationwide on Friday, according to AAA.

And manufacturing activity expanded in June at a faster pace than the previous month, according to the Institute for Supply Management. That suggests the parts shortage caused by the March 11 earthquake in Japan is beginning to abate.

Still, the government said last month that the economy grew only 1.9 percent in the January-March quarter. Analysts are expecting similarly weak growth in April-June quarter.

The economy will grow at a 3.2 percent pace in final six months of the year, according to an Associated Press survey of 38 economists.

Still, growth must be stronger to significantly lower the unemployment rate. The economy would need to grow 5 percent for a whole year to significantly bring down the unemployment rate. Economic growth of just 3 percent a year would hold the unemployment steady and keep up with population growth.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/economists-expect-hiring-improved-in-june-after-weak-may-unemployment-rate-likely-unchanged/2011/07/08/gIQASgf22H_story.html?hpid=z2

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« Reply #4495 on: Jul 8th, 2011, 08:04am »

Wired Danger Room

Spy Geeks Want Holodeck Tech for Intel Analysts
By Adam Rawnsley
July 7, 2011 | 6:47 pm
Categories: Miscellaneous

The holodeck: a room that can create an interactive 3-D hologram of just about any environment you can think of. It’s been the dream of Star Trek nerds ever since The Next Generation debuted on TV. Well brace yourself, Trekkies, and try not to soil those Starfleet unitards in glee. The U.S. intelligence community had heard your prayers and is now taking a step towards building its own holographic simulator.

Iarpa, the intelligence community’s advanced research outfit, announced this month that’s it’s embarking on a Synthetic Holographic Observation (SHO) program, a quest to build a system that lets intel analysts collaborate with each other using interactive 3-D holographic displays.

Before you get too excited, SHO isn’t going to be an exact replica of the holodeck. Instead of a geometrically patterned room on board the Enterprise, the holograms will come from workstations here on earth. While Iarpa’s announcement promises “dynamic, color, high-performance” holograms, the all-around holographic environment that’s indistinguishable from reality is still a long ways off. In the meantime, Iarpa’s program will rely on synthetic, electronically reproduced light fields.

SHO is bringing part of the holodeck concept one small step closer to reality, though. The program is aimed at generating 3-D displays that let analysts get a better feel for the mountains of imagery that the intelligence community collects. In particular, SHO needs to render conventional imagery and LIDAR (light detection and ranging) into holographic light fields. LIDAR bounces beams of light off objects in a manner not too different from conventional radar, allowing users to quickly make 3-D images and maps.

Just generating a hologram from aerial imagery isn’t enough, though. SHO needs to be able to let multiple analysts work together on the same image at the same time. To do that, it has to be interactive. Iarpa’s asking prospective builders to make a hologram that analysts can navigate and manipulate in ways that regular maps don’t allow.

This isn’t the defense world’s first foray into the world of holograms. Some projects, like the “Face of Allah,” have aimed at beaming a 3-D image of a deity over the battlefield in hopes of striking fear of the divine into the hearts of the enemy. Darpa’s contract with Vuzix of Rochester, New York is a little closer to SHO’s goals. Vuzix is building eyewear that would give troops on the ground a holographic image of nearby air assets and allow them to call in airstrikes with greater precision.

Unlike the battlefield hologlasses, eyewear-based devices need not apply for SHO. Iarapa wants its holographic displays to be visible to the naked eye.

Analysts’ eyeballs are a special concern for IARPA, too. Conventional 3-D technology can lead to eye strain when used for long periods of time. Iarpa needs analysts to use SHO for long periods of time so those pitching a holographic system need to make systems that are easy on the eyes over extended use.

Iarpa’s announcement provides a few examples of how they’d like to use their holographic system. During the testing phase, it wants to see how holograhic systems work on LIDAR data of urban environments and terrain, and conventional imagery of buildings and airspace.

But for a more real-life example of how holographic displays could be useful, take the bin Laden raid as a test case. In that instance, the intel community’s imagery nerds used satellites and airborne sensors to snap all kinds of imagery of the terror leader’s Abbotabad crib. That imagery helped Navy SEALs build a real life mockup of Chez bin Laden at Bagram Air Field. And it may have led the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency — the intel community imagery exploitation shop — to make virtual models of the compound with its software.

If SHO can move past the prototype phase, imagery analysts would be able to quickly generate immersive models of a high-value target’s lair. Multiple analysts and personnel could take a virtual stroll through the building and help plot a raid without ever having to visit the real-world replica.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/07/spy-geeks-holodeck/

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« Reply #4496 on: Jul 8th, 2011, 08:09am »

KTAR.com Phoenix

UFOs sighted in midst of haboob?
by KTAR.com (July 8th, 2011 @ 5:39am)

A couple of specks of light in Tuesday's giant haboob cloud have some crying "UFO".

According to ABC15, the specks in question were spotted by UFO hunter websites.

The Open Minds website posted the Air15 video and wrote: "The object appears to have an almost saucer-like shape, which fueled speculation of extraterrestrial craft." They also offer their own explanation about what the object most likely was.

Sadly for UFO hunters, the specks of light visible in the video turned out to be airplanes trying to outrun the storm for the shelter of Phoenix Sky Harbor.

"I saw the planes the whole time and I actually heard the pilots describing the low visibility conditions as they were making their approach into Sky Harbor," said Air15 Photojournalist Jesse Rutherford who shot the video in question.

Air15 was flying about 400 feet over Tempe and facing east to capture the massive dust storm rolling across the Valley.


video after the jump
http://ktar.com/category/local-news-articles/20110707/UFOs-sighted-in-midst-of-haboob/

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« Reply #4497 on: Jul 8th, 2011, 08:13am »

Scientific American

Threat of James Webb Space Telescope Cancellation Rattles Astronomy Community

By John Matson
Thursday, July 7, 2011


As NASA prepares to wrap up its shuttle program, leaving open questions about what comes next for U.S. human spaceflight, the next big thing in NASA's astronomy program has been dealt a blow. The James Webb Space Telescope, a tennis court–size spacecraft that would take up a position in deep space to peer farther than ever into the cosmos, has been in development as a replacement for and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which has already logged 21 years in orbit. But the House Appropriations Committee, in a bill announced July 6, proposed axing the project entirely this week, citing mismanagement and bad budgeting.

The bill, which would cut $1.6 billion, or about 9 percent, from NASA's overall budget, would have to clear the full House and gain Senate approval before becoming law. But the specter of JWST cancellation looms large over a field already facing diminished resources. "Obviously, this proposal...is upsetting," American Astronomical Society (AAS) Executive Officer Kevin Marvel wrote on his organization's blog. "The astronomy community knows the value of the JWST, recognizes that nearly all technical hurdles have been overcome and that a review of the program's management, budget and completion plan is nearly complete."

The House committee's concerns have some grounds; in November 2010, a review convened by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D–Md.) found JWST was well behind schedule and $1.4 billion over budget, bringing the total estimate for the observatory to $6.5 billion. (NASA has already spent roughly half that amount.) The telescope, which had been targeted for a 2014 launch, would launch no sooner than 2015, the report concluded. In recent months much later launch dates of 2018 or beyond have been rumored.

But delays and cost overruns are nothing new for projects of unprecedented scale. Take the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, which is a much smaller observatory than JWST, orbiting far closer to Earth, and whose deployment was a much simpler affair than the elaborate de-cocooning JWST will have to perform in deep space. Hubble was famously delayed by seven years, from a 1983 launch to a 1990 launch, and had just about tripled in cost by the time it reached orbit, according to a 1992 U.S. General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) report (pdf). By the time of that GAO report, the Hubble's price tag was roughly $3 billion in 2011 dollars. Its cost over the years has swelled to several times that amount, thanks to two decades of operations and five space shuttle visits to the telescope for servicing. (A single shuttle servicing mission costs about $2 billion, according to one NASA estimate.)

Who knows if Congress would have given a greenlight to Hubble if its total cost were known from the start? But few would argue now that the orbiting observatory has been a poor investment. In fact it has revolutionized humankind's view of the universe.

And who knows what would have happened if Congress had not canceled the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC)? The SSC, a mammoth particle physics experiment in Texas, was axed in 1993 when its price tag grew too large for Congressional funders' liking. Roughly $2 billion had already been sunk into the project by 1993, but its estimated cost had doubled from $5.3 billion to more than $11 billion. (That is about $17 billion in 2011 dollars.)

The SSC would have been the successor to the much less powerful Tevatron in Illinois, a workhorse particle collider that is scheduled to be shut down this year. Instead the title of most powerful collider moved to Europe, when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) came online in late 2009 and quickly eclipsed the Tevatron by colliding particles at higher energies than had ever been achieved. But whereas the LHC is designed to be about seven times as powerful as the Tevatron, the SSC would have been 20 times as powerful as the Tevatron and nearly three times as powerful as the LHC.


http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=threat-of-james-webb-space-telescop-2011-07-07

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« Reply #4498 on: Jul 8th, 2011, 08:23am »

grin

Hollywood Reporter

Talent Agency Decides Not to Represent Casey Anthony Lawyer Jose Baez (Exclusive)

12:51 AM 7/8/2011
by Daniel Miller

Casey Anthony attorney Jose Baez has been dropped by the talent agency that signed him earlier Thursday.

Sources tell THR that the Paradigm agency has decided not to represent the controversial attorney despite announcing Thursday that it had signed Baez and would be handling him in areas including broadcasting, books, film and TV movie rights.

Sources within the agency did not provide a reason why Baez would not be represented there, but an email went around the agency Thursday night stating, "We have informed Jose Baez tonight that we will not be representing him."

The signing of the defense lawyer did elicit some negative reaction in Hollywood and elsewhere.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/risky-business/talent-agency-decides-not-represent-208992

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« Reply #4499 on: Jul 8th, 2011, 8:06pm »

My Roses are in bloom. I took some photos but can't get them loaded for some reason. tongue Dork moment I suppose.

Below photo is from the David Austin website. So here they are:



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