Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7185 on: Aug 15th, 2012, 09:46am »
Possible war with Iran could be month-long affair: Israel minister
Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:15am EDT
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - War with Iran would probably turn into a month-long conflict on various fronts with missile strikes on Israeli cities and some 500 dead, Israel's civil defense minister said in an interview published on Wednesday.
"There is no room for hysteria. Israel's home front is prepared as never before," Matan Vilnai, a former general who is about to leave his cabinet post to become ambassador to China, told the Maariv daily.
The interview coincided with Israeli media reports over the past week suggesting that Israel might attack Iran's nuclear facilities before the U.S. presidential election in November.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Tuesday that Washington does not believe Israel has made a decision on whether to strike.
"I don't want to be dragged into the debate," Vilnai said, when asked if Israel should go to war against Iran. "But the United States is our greatest friend and we will always have to coordinate such moves with it."
Echoing an assessment already voiced by Defence Minister Ehud Barak, Vilnai was quoted as saying hundreds of missiles could hit Israeli cities daily and kill some 500 people in a war with Iran, which has promised strong retaliation if attacked.
"There might be fewer dead, or more, perhaps ... but this is the scenario for which we are preparing, in accordance with the best expert advice," Vilnai said.
"The assessments are for a war that will last 30 days on several fronts," he said, alluding to the possibility Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon and Palestinian militants in Gaza would also launch rockets at Israel.
Israel has built a sophisticated missile shield likely to stop some of the salvoes and regularly holds civil defence drills to prepare for rocket strikes.
Vilnai made no mention in the interview of the impact a month of conflict would have on Israel's economy should Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial center, be hit by long-range missiles.
Tel Aviv was not struck by missiles during Israel's three-week war in the Gaza Strip in late 2008 and early 2009 and in a 34-day conflict with Hezbollah in 2006. But it came under Scud rocket fire from Iraq during the 1991 Gulf war.
War jitters with Iran, which denies accusations that it is striving to develop nuclear weapons, caused steep declines in Israeli financial markets on Monday although some of those losses were recovered on Tuesday.
"Just as the citizens of Japan have to understand they are likely to be hit by an earthquake, Israelis must realize that anyone who lives here has to be prepared for missiles striking the home front," Vilnai said.
Vilnai is set to leave office by the end of August. Netanyahu announced on Tuesday that he will be replaced by Avraham Dichter, a previous head of the Shin Bet, Israel's domestic intelligence agency.
(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; editing by Crispian Balmer)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7186 on: Aug 15th, 2012, 09:54am »
This reminded me of Eth (Doug Chaffee) I sure miss him.
Mars-Inspired Art, Commissioned by NASA, Births Strange Sci-Fi Photos By Peter McCollough 08.15.12 6:30 AM
While the landing of the Curiosity rover last week got people imagining what it would be like to send humans to Mars, likely no one was picturing the way artists Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick show it.
Their photo-montages depict a Martian landscape populated by two stoic women climbing rock formations, walking among romanesque ruins, examining technological relics and giving birth to children – and all the while in their space suits.
“Richard and I have been playing these kinds of games together since college, like we’re 11-year-olds,” says Kahn. “We create these alternative universes and try to make them real for each other. We love to pop back and forth between the future and the past. We’re not very good at the present.”
After exhibiting their previous lunar series, Appollo Prophecies, the two were approached by NASA’s Media Relations contact, Bert Ulrich, about a commission for a panorama. “They [NASA] told us Mars is where we’re going to next and if you’re going to do this project we’d like you to do it about Mars,” says Kahn. “We didn’t start thinking about mars until they told us to.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7187 on: Aug 15th, 2012, 10:02am »
Karate Black Belts' White Matter Shows How a Powerful Punch Comes from the Brain
ScienceDaily (Aug. 15, 2012)
Brain scans have revealed distinctive features in the brain structure of karate experts, which could be linked to their ability to punch powerfully from close range. Researchers from Imperial College London and UCL (University College London) found that differences in the structure of white matter -- the connections between brain regions -- were correlated with how black belts and novices performed in a test of punching ability.
Locations in the cerebellum and motor cortex where there were differences between the groups. (Credit: Image courtesy of Imperial College London)
Karate experts are able to generate extremely powerful forces with their punches, but how they do this is not fully understood. Previous studies have found that the force generated in a karate punch is not determined by muscular strength, suggesting that factors related to the control of muscle movement by the brain might be important.
The study, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, looked for differences in brain structure between 12 karate practitioners with a black belt rank and an average of 13.8 years' karate experience, and 12 control subjects of similar age who exercised regularly but did not have any martial arts experience.
The researchers tested how powerfully the subjects could punch, but to make useful comparisons with the punching of novices they restricted the task to punching from short range -- a distance of 5 centimetres. The subjects wore infrared markers on their arms and torso to capture the speed of their movements.
As expected, the karate group punched harder. The power of their punches seemed to be down to timing: the force they generated correlated with how well the movement of their wrists and shoulders were synchronised.
Brain scans showed that the microscopic structure in certain regions of the brain differed between the two groups. Each brain region is composed of grey matter, consisting of the main bodies of nerve cells, and white matter, which is mainly made up of bundles of fibres that carry signals from one region to another. The scans used in this study, called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), detected structural differences in the white matter of parts of the brain called the cerebellum and the primary motor cortex, which are known to be involved in controlling movement.
The differences measured by DTI in the cerebellum correlated with the synchronicity of the subjects' wrist and shoulder movements when punching. The DTI signal also correlated with the age at which karate experts began training and their total experience of the discipline. These findings suggest that the structural differences in the brain are related to the black belts' punching ability.
"Most research on how the brain controls movement has been based on examining how diseases can impair motor skills," said Dr Ed Roberts, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, who led the study. "We took a different approach, by looking at what enables experts to perform better than novices in tests of physical skill.
"The karate black belts were able to repeatedly coordinate their punching action with a level of coordination that novices can't produce. We think that ability might be related to fine tuning of neural connections in the cerebellum, allowing them to synchronise their arm and trunk movements very accurately.
"We're only just beginning to understand the relationship between brain structure and behaviour, but our findings are consistent with earlier research showing that the cerebellum plays a critical role in our ability to produce complex, coordinated movements.
"There are several factors that can affect the DTI signal, so we can't say exactly what features of the white matter these differences correspond to. Further studies using more advanced techniques will give us a clearer picture."
The study was supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Wellcome Trust, and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University College London.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7188 on: Aug 15th, 2012, 10:09am »
A Trekkie restoring original Next Gen Enterprise bridge? Make it so!
By Dan Roth 10:49AM on Aug 15, 2012
In what may be the ultimate case of "one man's trash is another man's treasure," Paramount was in the process of throwing away the entire set of the Enterprise D bridge when one proud Trekkie boldly took it and then had it transported to his home. What's he going to do now? Why restore the entire thing, of course!
While most of the set pieces are in nowhere near the pristine condition they once were, it looks like a kickstarter will be started in due course to completely rebuild Star Trek: The Next Generation's Enterprise 1701-D bridge. Pretty neat, and the ultimate goal is definitely worth setting a few sheckles aside in support.
"I am in the process of completely restoring the set to its original splendor, and MAKE IT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC for Meetings, Movie Showings, Fund Raisers, Tours, Filming, anything!!"
Sounds good to us. Check out the gallery to see what he's working with.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7189 on: Aug 16th, 2012, 08:59am »
Published on Aug 15, 2012 by OPSECTeam
Intelligence and Special Operations forces are furious and frustrated at how President Obama and those in positions of authority have exploited their service for political advantage. Countless leaks, interviews and decisions by the Obama Administration and other government officials have undermined the success of our Intelligence and Special Operations forces and put future missions and personnel at risk.
The unwarranted and dangerous public disclosure of Special Forces Operations is so serious -- that for the first time ever -- former operators have agreed to risk their reputations and go 'on the record' in a special documentary titled "Dishonorable Disclosures." Its goal is to educate America about serious breaches of security and prevent them from ever happening again.
Use of military ranks, titles & photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement of the Dept of the Army or the Department of Defense. All individuals are no longer in active service with any federal agency or military service.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7190 on: Aug 16th, 2012, 09:04am »
Ecuador grants political asylum to Julian Assange
By Mohammed Abbas and Eduardo Garcia Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:55am EDT
LONDON/QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador granted political asylum to Julian Assange on Thursday, ratcheting up tension in a standoff with Britain which has warned it could revoke the diplomatic status of Quito's embassy in London to allow the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder.
The high-profile Australian former hacker has been holed up inside the red-brick embassy in central London for eight weeks since he lost a legal battle to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over rape allegations.
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said he feared for the safety and rights of Assange which is why he said his country had decided to grant him asylum.
"Ecuador has decided to grant political asylum to Julian Assange," Patino told a news conference in Quito.
Ecuador's decision takes what has become an international soap opera to new heights since Assange first angered the United States and its allies by publishing secret U.S. diplomatic cables on his WikiLeaks website.
Outside the embassy near London's famed Harrods department store, supporters made the announcement over a loudspeaker to cheers and clapping from protesters who had gathered outside the building in support of Assange.
Protesters shouted: "The people united will never be defeated!", bearing Ecuador flags and holding posters showing Assange's head that read "no extradition".
Before the decision was announced, Britain said it could use a little-known piece of legislation to strip Ecuador's embassy of its diplomatic status so that Assange could be detained.
"It is too early to say when or if Britain will revoke the Ecuadorean embassy's diplomatic status," a Foreign Office spokesman said before Ecuador's decision was announced. "Giving asylum doesn't fundamentally change anything."
"We have a legal duty to extradite Mr Assange. There is a law that says we have to extradite him to Sweden. We are going to have to fulfill that law."
The Ecuadorean government has bristled at Britain's warning. It's foreign minister said Britain was threatening Ecuador with a "hostile and intolerable act" and accused London of blackmail.
Britain's threat to withdraw diplomatic status from the Ecuadorean embassy drew criticism from some former diplomats who said it could lead to similar moves against British embassies.
"I think the Foreign Office have slightly overreached themselves here," Britain's former ambassador to Moscow, Tony Brenton, told the BBC.
"If we live in a world where governments can arbitrarily revoke immunity and go into embassies then the life of our diplomats and their ability to conduct normal business in places like Moscow where I was and North Korea becomes close to impossible."
(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas and Alessandra Prentice; Writing by Maria Golovnina and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Andrew Osborn)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7191 on: Aug 16th, 2012, 09:10am »
NASA Pulls Off 350-Million-Mile Software Patch By Klint Finley 08.16.12 6:30 AM
If you think it’s tough to keep your computer or smartphone’s software updated, try keeping a space robot updated from 350 million miles away.
Last Tuesday the team at NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory finished what amounted to a complete overhaul of the Curiosity Rover’s software. Asked why this was necessary, Ben Cichy, Curiosity’s chief software engineer, explains that the software required to help Curiosity land on the surface of Mars and the software it needs to drive around and avoid obstacles is completely different. But as we’ve reported, Curiosity’s hardware is pretty modest. Cichy says it didn’t have enough memory to hold the software for both the landing mission and the surface mission, so the software had to be swapped out remotely after landing.
The process took four days. “We had to be really, really careful, we didn’t want to ‘brick’ the rover and end up not being able to communicate with it anymore,” says Cichy. “We were very methodical.”
Curiosity takes photos during the day when the light is best. At night it goes into a low-power state that Cichy compares to a laptop’s hibernation mode. During this time the on-board radioisotope thermoelectric generator (translation: a nuclear power plant) recharges Curiosity’s batteries so that it’s ready for the morning. Heaters remain on during hibernation, as does a system that wakes Curiosity up in the morning and reboots its computer.
On the first day of the software update, the team deployed a temporary version of the new software to the rover’s primary computer. This version was only held in RAM so that the computer would revert back to the previous version when it restarted. This gave the team a chance to make sure everything was functioning properly.
On the second day the team deployed a more permanent version of the update to the computer’s file system. On the third day they deployed the temporary version to the backup computer and on the fourth day they deployed the permanent version to the backup computer.
Cichy explains that it took so long because every interaction takes about 30 minutes: 14 minutes to send a signal to the rover in space, 14 minutes to get a response. That means even though it only took a few minutes for the software to actually install, each step of the process of making it happen was painfully slow.
But it all came together in the end and Cichy says there were no problems with the update. Over 350 million miles and not one glitch. Bet you wish iTunes updates were that smooth. Then again, at least they don’t take four days.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7192 on: Aug 16th, 2012, 09:15am »
Dallas could start spraying for West Nile virus Thursday
By Sarah Kuta, The Associated Press
DALLAS – Ten deaths and more than 200 cases of the West Nile virus in northern Texas have become the worst U.S. outbreak this year, leading the Dallas mayor to order the city's first aerial spraying of insecticide in more than 45 years.
"The number of cases, the number of deaths are remarkable, and we need to sit up and take notice," Mayor Mike Rawlings said during a city council briefing Wednesday.
Texas health department statistics show 381 cases and 16 deaths related to the mosquito-borne virus statewide.
State health commissioner Dr. David Lakey said half of all West Nile cases in the U.S so far this year are in Texas.
Aerial spraying for mosquitoes could begin Thursday evening, depending on weather conditions.
Scientists using the Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) spectrometer aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) have made the first spectroscopic observations of the noble gas helium in the tenuous atmosphere surrounding the Moon.
These remote-sensing observations complement in situ measurements taken in 1972 by the Lunar Atmosphere Composition Experiment (LACE) deployed by Apollo 17.
Although designed to map the lunar surface, the LAMP team expanded its science investigation to examine the far ultraviolet emissions visible in the tenuous atmosphere above the lunar surface, detecting helium over a campaign spanning more than 50 orbits. Because helium also resides in the interplanetary background, several techniques were applied to remove signal contributions from the background helium and determine the amount of helium native to the Moon. Geophysical Research Letters published this research in 2012.
"The question now becomes, does the helium originate from inside the Moon, for example, due to radioactive decay in rocks, or from an exterior source, such as the solar wind?" says Dr. Alan Stern, LAMP principal investigator and associate vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo.
"If we find the solar wind is responsible, that will teach us a lot about how the same process works in other airless bodies," says Stern.
If spacecraft observations show no such correlation, radioactive decay or other internal lunar processes could be producing helium that diffuses from the interior or that is released during lunar quakes.
"With LAMP's global views as it moves across the Moon in future observations, we'll be in a great position to better determine the dominant source of the helium," says Stern.
Another point for future research involves helium abundances. The LACE measurements from the 1970's showed an increase in helium abundances as the night progressed. This could be explained by atmospheric cooling, which concentrates atoms at lower altitudes. LAMP will further build on those measurements by investigating how the abundances vary with latitude.
During its campaign, LACE also detected the noble gas argon on the lunar surface. Although significantly fainter to the spectrograph, LAMP also will seek argon and other gases during future observations.
"These ground-breaking measurements were enabled by our flexible operations of LRO as a Science Mission, so that we can now understand the Moon in ways that were not expected when LRO was launched in 2009," said Richard Vondrak, LRO Project Scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
NASA Goddard developed and manages the LRO mission. LRO's current Science Mission is implemented for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate sponsored LRO's initial one-year Exploration Mission that concluded in September 2010.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7195 on: Aug 17th, 2012, 10:11am »
Syrian refugee exodus accelerates: U.N. agencies
By Tom Perry Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:44am EDT
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Refugees are fleeing Syria in ever greater numbers, U.N. agencies said on Friday, as the conflict between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebels intensifies.
Former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab, who defected this month, has arrived in Qatar to discuss how to unify opposition efforts to hasten Assad's downfall, his spokesman said.
Hijab, a Sunni Muslim, is the most senior serving civilian official to desert Assad, whose ruling system is dominated by members of his Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
Shi'ite Iran, Assad's closest ally, has cast the revolt in Syria as a plot by the United States and its regional allies to destroy an anti-Israel "axis of resistance" linking Tehran, Damascus and Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah movement.
"You want a new Middle East? We do too, but in the new Middle East ... there will be no trace of the American presence and the Zionists," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech to mark annual state-organized rallies against Israel.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, which like Syria have mainly Sunni populations, are the principal regional supporters of the rebels fighting Assad in an increasingly bloody conflict.
More than 250 people, including 123 civilians, were killed in Syria on Thursday alone, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based opposition watchdog.
Turkey is taking the brunt of a swelling exodus of refugees, with 66,000 Syrians now sheltering there, the Turkish state disaster and emergency authority said.
Some 1,500 arrived from the rebel-held border town of Azaz after Assad's air force bombed it on Wednesday, killing at least 35 people, Turkey's Dogan news agency reported. It said another 1,500 from the devastated town were thought to be on their way.
Fighting has been raging in the northern city of Aleppo as rebels battle for control of Syria's biggest city. Assad's forces have turned increasingly to air power to hold back lightly-armed insurgents trying to seize territory elsewhere.
Turkey's state-run Anatolian news agency said 13 of 86 casualties brought from Aleppo and Azaz to a state hospital in the Turkish border province of Kilis had died from their wounds.
More than 170,000 Syrian refugees have been registered in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, the U.N. refugee agency said.
"There has been a further sharp rise in the number of Syrians fleeing to Turkey," spokesman Adrian Edwards of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in Geneva. Forty percent of those in Turkey had arrived this month, he added.
Humanitarian conditions in Syria have deteriorated as fighting worsens, cutting off civilians from food supplies, health care and other assistance, U.N. agencies say. Sewage-contaminated water has led to a diarrhea outbreak in the countryside around Damascus, with 103 suspected cases.
Some 1.2 million people are uprooted within Syria, many staying in schools or other public buildings, U.N. officials say. U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, ending a visit to Syria, said on Thursday up to 2.5 million people needed aid in the country, scene of a 17-month-old revolt against Assad.
"PATH OF WAR"
Diplomats from the world's major powers, along with key Arab governments and Turkey, were due to meet at the United Nations in New York on Friday to discuss what to do after the failure of peace efforts led by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
U.N. sources said veteran Algerian mediator Lakhdar Brahimi had agreed to take over from Annan, who resigned two weeks ago in frustration, but that he would pursue a new approach.
The last U.N. monitors are due to leave Damascus by August 24, U.N. officials said, after a doomed mission to observe a ceasefire declared by Annan on April 12. It never took hold.
"It is clear that both sides have chosen the path of war, open conflict, and the space for political dialogue and cessation of hostilities and mediation is very, very reduced at this point," said deputy U.N. peacekeeping chief Edmond Mulet.
The U.N. Security Council remains deadlocked over Syria, with Russia and China resisting Western efforts to step up pressure on Assad to quit and unwilling to give even an amber light for military intervention - not that the United States and its allies have shown any appetite for overt action in Syria.
The war in Syria is fraught with danger for neighboring countries such as Lebanon, where a local Shi'ite clan this week kidnapped more than 20 Syrians to try to secure the release of a kinsman seized by Syrian rebels near Damascus.
The gunmen said a Turkish hostage would be the first to die if their relative were killed.
Gulf Arab states have told their citizens to leave Lebanon after threats that more hostages would be seized.
(Additional reporting by Tom Perry, Issam Abdullah and Erika Solomon in Beirut, Stephanie Nebahey in Geneva, Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara and Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Jon Boyle)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7196 on: Aug 17th, 2012, 10:15am »
Afghan police officer kills two U.S. troops
By Kevin Sieff Updated: Friday, August 17, 3:43 AM
KABUL — A member of the Afghan security forces killed two U.S. troops Friday morning — the most recent in a string of insider attacks that threaten to undermine U.S.-Afghan military relations.
An officer in the Afghan Local Police shot and killed two Americans in the western province of Farah during a training exercise on an Afghan base, according to Abdul Rahman, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
U.S. military officials confirmed the two deaths. The assassin was shot and killed, according to a statement.
The attack occurred hours after Taliban leader Mohammad Omar issued a statement boasting of insurgents’ ability to infiltrate the Afghan security forces — a tactic that he said limits the number of civilian casualties.
“Mujaheddin have cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year,” he said in the message to the Afghan people marking this weekend’s Eid al-Fitr festival. “They are able to [safely] enter bases, offices and intelligence centers of the enemy. Then, they easily carry out decisive and coordinated attacks.”
Later Friday, an Afghan soldier turned his weapon against foreign troops in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, according to military officials. That attack left three NATO troops wounded.
The so-called “insider attacks” have occurred sporadically in Afghanistan for years, but they have risen sharply in the past six months — and particularly in the past 10 days. Eight U.S. service members have been killed by employees of the Afghan security forces since last Thursday. A total of 39 have been killed in such attacks since the beginning of the year.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan released a statement Friday deriding Omar’s claims.
“On the eve of the most blessed celebration of Eid ul-Fitr, when the pious people of Afghanistan celebrate their faith and the Holy words of the Koran, once again Mullah Omar has issued an unmistakable message of death, hate and hopelessness for the Afghan people,” Gen. John R. Allen said.
Special correspondent Sayed Salahuddin contributed to this report.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7197 on: Aug 17th, 2012, 10:19am »
Apocalypse Not: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry About End Times
By Matt Ridley August 17, 2012 | 6:30 am Categories: Miscellaneous
When the sun rises on December 22, as it surely will, do not expect apologies or even a rethink. No matter how often apocalyptic predictions fail to come true, another one soon arrives. And the prophets of apocalypse always draw a following—from the 100,000 Millerites who took to the hills in 1843, awaiting the end of the world, to the thousands who believed in Harold Camping, the Christian radio broadcaster who forecast the final rapture in both 1994 and 2011.
Religious zealots hardly have a monopoly on apocalyptic thinking. Consider some of the environmental cataclysms that so many experts promised were inevitable. Best-selling economist Robert Heilbroner in 1974: “The outlook for man, I believe, is painful, difficult, perhaps desperate, and the hope that can be held out for his future prospects seem to be very slim indeed.” Or best-selling ecologist Paul Ehrlich in 1968: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s ["and 1980s" was added in a later edition] the world will undergo famines—hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked on now … nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.” Or Jimmy Carter in a televised speech in 1977: “We could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.”
Predictions of global famine and the end of oil in the 1970s proved just as wrong as end-of-the-world forecasts from millennialist priests. Yet there is no sign that experts are becoming more cautious about apocalyptic promises. If anything, the rhetoric has ramped up in recent years. Echoing the Mayan calendar folk, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock one minute closer to midnight at the start of 2012, commenting: “The global community may be near a point of no return in efforts to prevent catastrophe from changes in Earth’s atmosphere.”
Over the five decades since the success of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 and the four decades since the success of the Club of Rome’s The Limits to Growth in 1972, prophecies of doom on a colossal scale have become routine. Indeed, we seem to crave ever-more-frightening predictions—we are now, in writer Gary Alexander’s word, apocaholic. The past half century has brought us warnings of population explosions, global famines, plagues, water wars, oil exhaustion, mineral shortages, falling sperm counts, thinning ozone, acidifying rain, nuclear winters, Y2K bugs, mad cow epidemics, killer bees, sex-change fish, cell-phone-induced brain-cancer epidemics, and climate catastrophes.
So far all of these specters have turned out to be exaggerated. True, we have encountered obstacles, public-health emergencies, and even mass tragedies. But the promised Armageddons—the thresholds that cannot be uncrossed, the tipping points that cannot be untipped, the existential threats to Life as We Know It—have consistently failed to materialize. To see the full depth of our apocaholism, and to understand why we keep getting it so wrong, we need to consult the past 50 years of history.
The classic apocalypse has four horsemen, and our modern version follows that pattern, with the four riders being chemicals (DDT, CFCs, acid rain), diseases (bird flu, swine flu, SARS, AIDS, Ebola, mad cow disease), people (population, famine), and resources (oil, metals). Let’s visit them each in turn.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7198 on: Aug 17th, 2012, 10:27am »
Published on Aug 16, 2012 by FrozenHill
FAA & Cleveland Airports report Lake Erie UFO's Not In Normal Flight Paths, Not Showing Up On Radar and Nothing They Are Doing!!!
MSNBC contacted the FAA and all local Cleveland Airports who said These objects are not in normal flight paths, that none of these objects were anyhting they were doing and these objects were not showing up on any of the airports radar as well!
New "IRREFUTABLE" - Lake Erie UFO Light Orb Footage - August 2012 (HD) 08/09/2012
A mysterious region deep in the human brain could be where we sort through the onslaught of stimuli from the outside world and focus on the information most important to our behavior and survival, Princeton University researchers have found.
After producing neural connection maps, the researchers used electrodes (blue arrows and green crosshairs) to monitor the direct communication paths (yellow-orange) between the pulvinar and clusters of brain cells, which in this case are in the temporal lobe. (Credit: Courtesy of /AAAS)
The researchers report in the journal Science that an area of our brain called the pulvinar regulates communication between clusters of brain cells as our brain focuses on the people and objects that need our attention. Like a switchboard operator, the pulvinar makes sure that separate areas of the visual cortex -- which processes visual information -- are communicating about the same external information, explained lead author Yuri Saalmann, an associate research scholar in the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (PNI). Without guidance from the pulvinar, an important observation such as an oncoming bus as one is crossing the street could get lost in a jumble of other stimuli.
Saalmann said these findings on how the brain transmits information could lead to new ways of understanding and treating attention-related disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and schizophrenia. Saalmann worked with senior researcher Sabine Kastner, a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute; and PNI researchers Xin Li, a research assistant; Mark Pinsk, a professional specialist; and Liang Wang, a postdoctoral research associate.
The researchers developed a new technique to trace direct communication between clusters of neurons in the visual cortex and the pulvinar. The team produced neural connection maps using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), then placed electrodes along those identified communication paths to monitor brain signals of macaques. The researchers trained the monkeys to play a video game during which they used visual cues to find a specific shape surrounded by distracting information. As the macaques focused, Saalmann and his colleagues could see that the pulvinar controlled which parts of the visual cortex sent and received signals.
Saalmann explains the Princeton findings as follows:
"A fundamental problem for the brain is that there is too much information in our natural environment for it to be processed in detail at the same time. The brain instead selectively focuses on, or attends to, the people and objects most relevant to our behavior at the time and filters out the rest. For instance, as we cross a busy city street, our brain blocks out the bustle of the crowd behind us to concentrate more on an oncoming bus.
"The transmission of behaviorally relevant information between various parts of the brain is tightly synchronized. As one brain area sends a signal about our environment, such as that a bus is approaching, another brain area is ready to receive it and respond, such as by having us cross the street faster. A persistent question in neuroscience, though, is how exactly do different brain areas synchronize so that important information isn't lost in the other stimuli flooding our brains.
"Our study suggests that a mysterious area in the center of the brain called the pulvinar acts as a switchboard operator between areas on the brain's surface known as the visual cortex, which processes visual information. When we pay attention to important visual information, the pulvinar makes sure that information passing between clusters of neurons is consistent and relevant to our behavior.
"These results could advance the understanding of the neural mechanisms of selective attention and how the brain transmits information. This is a necessary step in developing effective treatment strategies for medical disorders characterized by a failure of attention mechanisms. These conditions include ADHD, schizophrenia and spatial neglect, which is an inability to detect stimuli often observed following stroke.
"For our study, we trained monkeys to play a video game in which they paid attention to visual cues in order to detect different target shapes. We simultaneously recorded brain activity in the pulvinar and two different areas of the visual cortex. We could see a clear connective path from one portion of the cortex to another, as well as connective paths from the pulvinar to the cortex. When the monkeys paid attention to the visual cues, the pulvinar sent electrical pulses to synchronize particular groups of brain cells in the visual cortex to allow them to communicate effectively.
"A challenge in this study was that we needed to record the activity of cells that were 'speaking' directly with each other so we could trace the line of communication. But there are billions of brain cells. Traditionally, finding a cell-to-cell connection is as likely as randomly selecting two people talking on cell phones in different parts of New York City and discovering that they were speaking to each other.
"To 'listen in' on a direct cell conversation, we developed a new approach of using electrodes to record groups of brain cells that were anatomically connected. We first mapped neural connections in the brain via diffusion tensor imaging, which uses an MRI scanner to measure the movement of water along neural connections. We then used these images to implant electrodes at the endpoints of the neural connections shared by the pulvinar and the visual cortex.
"Our mapping of these communication networks and our finding that the pulvinar is vital to attention prompts a new consideration of the mechanisms behind higher cognitive function. We challenge the common notion that these functions depend exclusively on the cerebral cortex, the outermost layer of the brain responsible for decision-making, attention and language, among other abilities. It also suggests that the prevailing view that visual information is transmitted solely through a network of areas in the visual cortex needs to be revised to include the pulvinar as an important regulator of neural transmission."