Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7215 on: Aug 22nd, 2012, 10:05am »
Greece seeks more time as eurogroup head Juncker meets with Greek PM Samaras
By Associated Press, Updated: Wednesday, August 22, 7:56 AM
ATHENS, Greece — Greece needs more time to implement tough financial reforms and spending cuts, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras says as he starts the first of a series of top-level European meetings to discuss his debt-ridden country’s international bailout.
Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the Eurogroup, the body representing the finance ministers of the 17 countries that use the euro, arrived in Athens Wednesday afternoon to meet with Samaras and his finance minister, Yannis Stournaras. The Greek premier then heads to Berlin later this week to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on to Paris to see French President Francois Hollande.
Greece is dependent on two international rescue loan packages from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund, which are preventing it from bankruptcy and potentially having to leave the euro.
In return, it has had to impose strict austerity measures, including cuts to salaries and pensions and repeated tax hikes. But Athens has faltered in the speed and effectiveness with which it has implemented the reforms, fuelling impatience by its creditors, notably Germany, which is the single largest contributor to the bailout.
The so-called “troika” of debt inspectors that oversee Greece’s bailout program — the European Union, European Central Bank and the IMF — are due in Athens next month to assess and report on how well the country has stuck to the terms of the deal.
Hinging on a favorable report from the troika is a massive €31.5 billion bailout installment, without which Greece faces a chaotic default on its vast debts and a possible exit from the euro. A Greek exit would destabilize markets and economies around the world as other vulnerable countries in the eurozone are caught up in investor panic.
Speaking to the popular German daily Bild, Samaras said that while Greece needs more time to restart its economy, this did not necessarily mean it needed more funds.
Greece’s debt stands at more than €300 billion ($372 billion), and its economy is struggling through a fifth year of recession with unemployment above 23 percent.
“Let me be very clear: we are not asking for extra money,” Samaras was quoted as telling Bild. “We stand by our commitments and the implementation of all requirements. But we must encourage growth, because that reduces the financing gaps.”
“All we want is a little ‘air to breathe’ to get the economy going and increase state income,” Samaras added, without specifying any timeframe. “More time does not automatically mean more money.”
The troika inspectors will also examine Athens’ proposals on how to make savings of about €11.5 billion (about $14.2 billion) in 2013 and 2014 — spending cuts that the government is still working on. Stournaras said earlier this week that the package would be ready within the next two weeks, in time for the troika’s visit.
For her part, Merkel downplayed expectations of her Friday meeting with Samaras.
“We will not find solutions on Friday — we will wait for the troika report. Then the decisions will be made,” she said during a visit Wednesday to Moldova, German news agency dapd reported.
She stressed the importance of everyone fulfilling their commitments. “What Europe needs to be taken seriously in the world is credibility,” Merkel said.
Samaras’ fragile three-party coalition government, which assumed the country’s leadership in June after two inconclusive elections, has a delicate balancing act to pull off. Faced with widespread anger in Greece over harsh measures seen as unfair to ordinary people, it had pledged to seek to renegotiate some of the terms of the bailout. But its creditors have little patience left, with many officials across Europe insisting Greece should not get any more leeway.
“The government knows that its chances of convincing its international lenders, especially Germany, to extend the deadline for fiscal targets are slim, but it has to try given the domestic political scene, with the austerity-fatigued electorate expecting results on the renegotiation front and a strong anti-austerity opposition in parliament constantly attacking the government,” said Martin Koehring of the Economist Intelligence Unit. “At the same time, the bail-out-fatigued international lenders want to see results on the austerity front in Greece.
“Hence, Greece remains trapped in a self-defeating cycle of ongoing austerity and economic depression that make it unlikely that Greece will be able to repay its debt unless there is major further debt relief from its international lenders,” he said.
There was some good news for Greece in the latest figures issued by the Finance Ministry, which showed the state budget deficit standing at €13.2 billion for the first seven months of the year, better than the deficit target of €14.8 billion.
Revenues continued to lag behind expectations, however, falling €2.8 billion short of the €30.4 billion targeted for January-July 2012 to come in at €27.6 billion.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7216 on: Aug 22nd, 2012, 10:07am »
Syrian army batters parts of Damascus, 47 killed
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Oliver Holmes Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:24am EDT
AMMAN/ALEPPO, Syria (Reuters) - Syrian army shells crashed into southern Damascus on Wednesday and helicopters fired rockets and machineguns during an assault to shore up President Bashar al-Assad's grip on the capital 17 months into a popular uprising, opposition activists said.
The army has used tanks and helicopter gunships this week in an offensive around Damascus that has coincided with the departure of U.N. military observers after a failed mission to stop the bloodshed and nudge Syria toward a peaceful transition.
The United Nations estimates that 18,000 people have been killed in what has become a civil war after a violent state response to peaceful street protests generated an armed rebellion in the pivotal Arab country.
Anti-Assad activists said at least 47 people had been killed in Damascus in what they called the heaviest bombardment this month. "The whole of Damascus is shaking with the sound of shelling," said a woman in Kfar Souseh, one of several districts hit during the military offensive to root out rebel fighters.
At least 22 people were killed in Kfar Souseh and 25 in the nearby district of Nahr Eisha, activists said. One of the dead was named as Mohammad Saeed al Odeh, a journalist employed at a state-run newspaper who was sympathetic to the anti-Assad revolt. Activists said he had been executed in Nahr Eisha.
"There are 22 tanks in Kfar Souseh now and behind each one there are at least 30 soldiers. They are raiding houses and executing men," an opposition activist in Kfar Souseh, who gave his name only as Bassam, told Reuters by Skype.
More than 250 people, including 171 civilians, were killed across Syria on Tuesday, mostly around Damascus, Aleppo and the southern city of Deraa, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based opposition monitoring group.
Activists in the southwestern Damascus suburb of Mouadamiya said Assad's forces had killed 86 people there since Monday, half of them by execution. It was not possible to verify that report.
There was no immediate government account of the latest fighting. But state television broadcast footage of weapons it said had been seized from rebels in Mouadamiya, which was one of the first districts to join the uprising.
The conflict, which pits a mainly Sunni Muslim opposition against a ruling system dominated by Assad's Alawite minority, threatens to destabilize neighbors including Lebanon, where Sunni-Alawite violence flared for a third day.
The death toll from the fighting in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli rose to at least 10 with more than 100 wounded, medical sources said, in what residents said were some of the fiercest clashes there since Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war.
The Syria conflict has revived old tensions in Tripoli between pro-Assad Alawites in the hilltop district of Jebel Mohsen and their Sunni neighbors in Bab al-Tabbaneh below.
In Syria, Assad's forces have lost swathes of territory in recent months, but have fought back hard in Damascus and in Aleppo, the country's biggest city and commercial hub until it became a theatre for urban warfare.
Reuters journalists in Aleppo heard gunfire and shells exploding every minute. Rebel fighters trying to advance in Saif al-Dawla, a front-line Aleppo district, encountered mortar and rocket-propelled grenade barrages. At one point, their escape route was cut off by gunfire as tank shells exploded nearby.
Much of the area was destroyed. Water poured from one building into the street below. State television said government forces were pursuing "the remnants of armed terrorist gangs".
Syrian government forces also fought rebels on Wednesday for control of a military base and airfield near the eastern town of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border, according to a local Iraqi official and a Syrian rebel commander.
Opposition sources said Syrian state forces had evacuated two security installations at Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border on Tuesday as rebels made gains after a week of heavy fighting.
They identified the installations as belonging to the Airforce Intelligence and Political Security agencies in Albu Kamal, 120 km (75 miles) southeast of the city of Deir al-Zor.
The rebel commander, known as Abu Khalid, said his forces now controlled Albu Kamal, straddling a supply route from Iraq where many Sunni tribes sympathies with their Syrian kin fighting Assad's forces.
As Syria slips deeper into chaos, the United States and Israel have voiced concern that Assad might lose control of his chemical weapons arsenal or even be tempted to use it.
Russia, a Syrian ally since Soviet times, believes Syria has no intention of using its chemical weapons and is able to safeguard them, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on Wednesday, citing an unidentified Foreign Ministry official.
A "confidential dialogue" with the Syrian government on the security of the arsenal has convinced Russia that "the Syrian authorities do not intend to use these weapons and are capable of keeping them under control themselves," Kommersant reported.
U.S. President Barack Obama threatened Assad on Monday with "enormous consequences" if he employed chemical weapons or even if he moved them in a menacing way, drawing a warning from Russia against any unilateral action by the West.
Russia and China have repeatedly vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions that Western and some Arab countries had hoped would pile pressure on Assad to end the conflict.
Moscow accuses those nations of prolonging the war by backing rebels, whom it often identifies as Islamist militants.
(Additional reporting Steve Gutterman in Moscow, Nazih Siddiq in Tripoli and Mariam Karouny and Tom Perry in Beirut; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7217 on: Aug 22nd, 2012, 10:16am »
Curiosity Rover spots mysterious 'UFO' zooming across the red planet's horizon
UFO hunters spot lights in the Martian sky - but experts insist these are nothing more than blemishes on the camera
By Eddie Wrenn PUBLISHED: 08:04 EST, 22 August 2012 UPDATED: 10:03 EST, 22 August 2012
When Curiosity first touched down on Mars, Internet pranksters were quick to mock up photographs of alien life on the alien landscape. But it seems Nasa has itself captured something very strange on camera, including a strange white light dancing across the horizon of the red planet, and four blobs hovering in the sky.
While the images are certainly a curiosity, Nasa and photography experts insist that these are nothing more than blemishes on the images, picked up by the camera lens sitting on the rover at a distance of 350 million miles away.
1) It may not look like much, but on the dry and barren Mars landscape, any movement is unexpected - so what is this light which apparently lifts itself off the ground?
So far, Nasa has not commented on any of the strange sightings, but alien hunters have suggested these are alien ships monitoring our baby steps into the universe.
YouTube user StephenHannardADGUK, part of a group called Alien Disclosure UK, spotted the anomalies on the NASA images, publicly available on the space agency's website, and applied a series of filters to try to shed light on the mystery.
Referring to the four pin-points of light pictured in the skies of Mars (below), he said: 'Four objects caught by Mars Curiosity, very difficult to make out on original image so I have used a few filters to highlight.
'What are these four objects? UFOs, Dust particles, or something else? As always you decide.'
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7218 on: Aug 22nd, 2012, 10:23am »
Published on Aug 16, 2012 by DARPAtv
Harvard University researchers working under DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program recently demonstrated the ability to manufacture low-cost silicone robots with microfluidic channels that allow for air and fluids to be pumped in to control movement, color and temperature.
In this video, a soft robot walks onto a bed of rocks and is filled with fluid to match the color of the rocks and break up the robot's shape. The robot moves at a speed of approximately 40 meters per hour; absent the colored fluid, it can move at approximately 67 meters per hour.
Future research will be directed at smoothing the movements; however, speed is less important than the robot's flexibility. Soft robots are useful because they are resilient and can maneuver through very constrained spaces.
For this demonstration, the researchers used tethers to attach the control system and to pump pressurized gases and liquids into the robot. Tethered operation reduces the size and weight of such robots by leaving power sources and pumps off-board, but future prototypes could incorporate that equipment in a self-contained system. At a pumping rate of 2.25 mL per minute, color change in the robot required 30 seconds. Once filled, the color layers require no power to sustain the color.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7219 on: Aug 23rd, 2012, 09:26am »
Aug. 23, 1977: Pedal-Powered Gossamer Condor Flies Into Record Books
By Jason Paur August 23, 2010 | 7:00 am Categories: 20th century, Engineering, Transportation
1977: Bryan Allen completes a figure-eight course piloting and powering the Gossamer Condor to claim the Kremer Prize for human-powered flight.
In 1959, British industrialist Henry Kremer created a prize for a successful human-powered aircraft. The criteria were fairly simple in concept, but would turn out to be very difficult to execute.
In order to win the prize, a person had to pilot a human-powered aircraft around a figure-eight course where the turning points are a half-mile apart. The aircraft had to clear a 10-foot hurdle at the beginning of the course and again at the end.
The prize went unclaimed for more than 17 years, despite more than 50 official attempts to claim the money. By 1976, the value of the prize had grown to nearly $100,000, and a creative aerodynamicist named Paul MacCready came up with a creative solution he believed could win: Fly very slowly.
Many of the attempts at winning the Kremer Prize were made with very sleek, efficient and relatively fast aircraft. But these aircraft tended to be rather heavy, which meant that, combined with their sleek design, the aircraft required more power to get airborne. And because it had to be human-powered to win the prize, power was a limited variable.
While watching vultures fly one day, MacCready developed the idea he thought could lead to winning the elusive prize. Instead of focusing on building a very aerodynamically clean aircraft with its weight and speed penalties, he would build a very light aircraft that would fly so slowly that there would be little concern for the extra drag of items like wire bracing.
“It was just a big model airplane” MacCready said of the Gossamer Condor.
With a wingspan of 96 feet, the pedal-powered Gossamer Condor weighed only 70 pounds. It was an extremely delicate airplane constructed with a minimal amount of aluminum for structure and covered with a very thin layer of Mylar.
Because one of the requirements to win the Kremer Prize was to fly in a figure-eight, the biggest challenge proved to be figuring out how to turn the delicate airplane. Eventually the team used an idea first put into practice by the Wright brothers: wing warping. The combination of wing warping and tilting the canard wing out in front of the pilot allowed the airplane to make coordinated turns.
By gently twisting the wings, the Gossamer Condor didn’t require any traditional control surfaces such as ailerons or a vertical rudder, both of which would add precious weight to the aircraft. The concern over weight was so strong that the team often joked that if something didn’t break within two weeks of being put on the airplane, it was too heavy.
By early 1977 the Gossamer Condor was setting records for human-powered flight, with flights lasting more than five minutes. Once the ability to turn was worked out, MacCready and the team were confident the Kremer Prize was within reach. (Many involved with the project say MacCready always believed he was within a few weeks of winning the prize.)
The Gossamer Condor endured several crashes. But because the aircraft flew at a jogging pace and only 10 to 15 feet above the ground, the impacts were fairly minimal. The team was usually able to repair the airplane quickly and have it flying again shortly after crashes. The ultra-thin Mylar was susceptible to tearing, and the team ended up using massive amounts of Scotch tape to repair the airplane.
In early August 1977, pilot (and “engine”) Bryan Allen flew through some convection turbulence and crashed the Gossamer Condor again. This time the airplane was seriously damaged. But the damage gave the team the opportunity to redesign the fuselage. The new airplane weighed 6 pounds less than before.
At Shafter, California, on Aug. 23, 1977, Allen began to pedal the Gossamer Condor on its 223rd flight. Seven minutes and 27 seconds later, after an all-out 11-mph sprint to clear the 10-foot hurdle at the end of the course, Allen had successfully completed a figure-eight and the Gossamer Condor won the Kremer Prize.
The flight changed MacCready’s life. Before the record-setting flight, he was well-known in a relatively obscure corner of the aviation world. After winning the prize, and the subsequent publicity provided by an Academy Award–winning documentary about the project (video below), he would be known around the world as one of the most creative and prolific aircraft designers of all time.
In 1979, MacCready would win a second Kremer Prize when the human-powered Gossamer Albatross crossed the English Channel. With his company AeroVironment, he would go on to develop a wide range of aircraft, including a solar-powered aircraft called Helios that would set altitude records flying at more than 96,000 feet, and a life-size flying pterodactyl for the Smithsonian. He also collaborated with General Motors on the solar-powered Sunyracer and EV-1 electric car.
One of the most creative and innovative aircraft designers of all time, MacCready died of brain cancer in 2007.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7220 on: Aug 23rd, 2012, 09:29am »
Military hits town near Damascus, 60 killed in Syria
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:19am EDT
AMMAN (Reuters) - Troops and tanks swept into a restive town near Damascus on Thursday in an assault aimed at crushing opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, whose struggle for survival has dragged Syria into an increasingly bloody war.
Artillery and helicopters attacked the Sunni Muslim town of Daraya for 24 hours, killing 15 people and wounding 150, before soldiers moved in and raided houses, opposition sources said.
There was little resistance as Assad's forces pushed toward the center of Daraya, on the southwest edge of Damascus. Armed rebels had apparently already left, activists in Damascus said.
"They are using mortar bombs to clear each sector. Then they enter it, while moving towards the center," said Abu Zeid, an activist speaking by phone from an area near Daraya.
Other activists said the army was also bombarding parts of the town from Qasioun, a mountain overlooking Damascus, and from a Republican Guard barracks near a hilltop presidential palace.
"For about an hour we heard explosions and gunfire. It is not as bad as yesterday yet but tensions are really high," opposition activist Samir al-Shami told Reuters from Damascus.
Assad's forces also raided the southeastern Kafr Souseh area early on Thursday and detained people, another activist said.
The military had driven insurgents from most of the areas they seized in the capital after a bomb killed four top security officials on July 18, but rebels have crept back, regrouping without taking on the army in pitched battles.
Punitive military raids and summary killings appear to be one response as Assad strives to keep control of Damascus and the northern commercial hub of Aleppo, opposition sources say.
YouTube footage showed a funeral in Daraya of a mother and five children from the al-Sheikh family. Activists said the victims were killed by shellfire in the town after fleeing this week's military offensive on the Damascus suburb of Mouadamiya.
The bodies were wrapped in white shrouds, the children's faces exposed. Mourners laid green branches on the corpses and cried: "There is no god but Allah, Assad is the enemy of Allah."
Tanks and troops attacked the southwestern Damascus suburb of Mouadamiya on Monday and Tuesday, killing 86 people, half of them in cold blood, according to Assad's opponents.
It was hard to verify the assertion due to state curbs on independent media. Syrian leaders say they are fighting "armed terrorists" backed by Western and Gulf Arab nations out to topple Assad for his resistance to Israel and the United States.
International diplomacy has failed to brake the conflict in Syria, which the United Nations says has cost more than 18,000 lives since a popular uprising erupted in March 2011.
More than 60 were killed across Syria on Thursday, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The toll included 48 civilians. The British-based group said 129 civilians were among 200 people killed in Syria on Wednesday.
Outgoing U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has blamed splits in the U.N. Security Council, where Russia and China have repeatedly blocked Western efforts to ramp up pressure on Assad, for the failure of his peace mission.
Babacar Gaye, the head of U.N. monitors sent to observe an abortive ceasefire declared by Annan on April 12, was expected to leave Damascus on Thursday. The mission's mandate has expired and was not renewed due to spiraling violence.
Annan's successor, veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, was flying to New York for a week of consultations at the United Nations, his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said.
For all Brahimi's skills, it is not clear how he can succeed where Annan failed, given the deadlock among big powers and the intractable conflict in Syria, where Assad's minority Alawite-based ruling system is pitted against mostly Sunni opponents.
The conflict in Syria, at the heart of a volatile Middle East, is already spilling over into its neighbors.
Sporadic clashes between Sunnis and Alawites erupted for a fourth day in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli, breaching a truce agreed less than 24 hours earlier, after Sunni gunmen shot dead an Alawite man. Nine people were wounded in the fighting.
At least 13 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded in Sunni-Alawite fighting in Lebanon this week that has been fuelled by sectarian tensions in Syria.
Ankara has grown alarmed at apparent links between Kurdish militants fighting in southeastern Turkey and the conflict in Syria. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has accused Assad of backing Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters and says Turkey's military might act to counter any threat from the PKK in Syria.
Turkish and U.S. diplomats, intelligence and military officials held talks in Ankara on Thursday expected to include a possible buffer zone in Syria and steps to stop PKK militants in the border region from exploiting the chaos.
(Additional reporting by Erika Solomon and Mariam Karouny in Beirut, Oliver Holmes in Aleppo, Nicholas Tattersall in Istanbul and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Jon Boyle)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7221 on: Aug 23rd, 2012, 09:33am »
Cloud Control Could Tame Hurricanes, Study Shows
ScienceDaily (Aug. 23, 2012)
They are one of the most destructive forces of nature on Earth, but now environmental scientists are working to tame the hurricane. In a paper, published in Atmospheric Science Letters, the authors propose using cloud seeding to decrease sea surface temperatures where hurricanes form. Theoretically, the team claims the technique could reduce hurricane intensity by a category.
The team focused on the relationship between sea surface temperature and the energy associated with the destructive potential of hurricanes. Rather than seeding storm clouds or hurricanes directly, the idea is to target marine stratocumulus clouds, which cover an estimated quarter of the world's oceans, to prevent hurricanes forming.
"Hurricanes derive their energy from the heat contained in the surface waters of the ocean," said Dr Alan Gadian from the University of Leeds. "If we are able to increase the amount of sunlight reflected by clouds above the hurricane development region then there will be less energy to feed the hurricanes."
Using a technique known as Marine Cloud Brightening (MCB), the authors propose that unmanned vehicles could spray tiny seawater droplets, a good fraction of which would rise into the clouds above, increasing their droplet numbers and thereby the cloud reflectivity and duration. In this way, more sunlight is bounced back into space, thereby reducing sea surface temperature.
The team's calculations, based on a climate ocean atmosphere coupling model (HadGEM1) suggest this could reduce the power of developing hurricanes by one category. Somewhat different cloud-seeding projects, designed to directly influence rainfall amounts, already exist around the world and were most famously used in China during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"Data shows that over the last three decades hurricane intensity has increased in the Northern Atlantic, the Indian and South-West Pacific Oceans," said Gadian. "We simulated the impact of seeding on these three areas, with particular focus on the Atlantic hurricane months of August, September and October."
The calculations show that when targeting clouds in identified hurricane development regions the technique could reduce an average sea surface temperature by up to a few degrees, greatly decreasing the amount of energy available to hurricane formation.
One potential drawback to the idea is the impact of cloud seeding on rainfall in neighboring regions. The team noted concerns that seeding in the Atlantic could lead to a significant reduction of rainfall in the Amazon basin and elsewhere. However, if different patterns of seeding were used, such rainfall reductions were not found over land.
"Much more research is needed and we are clear that cloud seeding should not be deployed until we are sure there will be no adverse consequences regarding rainfall," concluded Gadian. "However if our calculations are correct, judicious seeding of maritime clouds could be invaluable for significantly reducing the destructive power of future hurricanes."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7222 on: Aug 23rd, 2012, 09:42am »
Theater Owners Aren't Expected to Raise Prices for 48 fps Showings of 'The Hobbit'
7:48 PM PDT 8/22/2012 by Carolyn Giardina
Exhibitors will not charge moviegoers an added premium for tickets to higher-frame rate screenings of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey when the movie opens Dec. 14.
While that decision rests with individual theater-owners and not Warner Bros, the studio that will be releasing the movie, a source close to the situation confirms that Warners has received assurances from exhibitors that they will not raise ticket prices when showing the movie at the higher rate of 48 frames per second.
While exhibitors currently charge several dollars more for 3D movies than the same movies screening in 2D, there has been a question of whether they would also charge more for 3D, 48 fps showings of The Hobbit, which will be playing in select theaters, than for regular 3D showings projected at the usual 24 frames-per-second. (While The Hobbit also will be presented in 2D, it will screen at 48 fps only in its 3D versions)
Jackson himself has insisted all along that that he did not expect to see higher ticket prices at theaters using the new technology, telling The Hollywood Reporter in April when he previewed some 48 fps footage of the film at CinemaCon that, “There is no intention that I have heard to charge more.”
In Jackson’s view, high frame rates are important for exhibition. “As an industry there is a certain amount of trouble that we are in; kids seem to think watching a movie on an iPad is an okay thing to do,” he said. “Advocating that we have to stick with what we know [24 fps] I think is a slightly narrow mined way of looking at things when as an industry we are facing declining audiences. We have to find ways to make it more vibrant, more immersive – something that will encourage people to come back to the theaters for that experience.”
Still, theater owners will have to invest in some technology to show the movie at 48 fps.
The Hobbit will be the first major motion picture to be made and released at 48 fps, and the CinemaCon preview of about ten minutes of unfinished footage from the film triggered an aesthetic debate about the option. Champions of the format—including James Cameron, who plans to make his Avatar sequels at high frame rates—say it makes imagery more lifelike and 3D more comfortable to watch. Critics argue that it looks like “video.”
When The Hobbit is released wide on Dec. 14, most theaters will play the movie at 24 fps. Earlier this month, Warners’ president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman told THR that while a 3D 48 fps version of the movie will be made available in “all major markets in North America,” in will play only in select theaters to allow both exhibitors and audiences to familiarize themselves with the new process. “In terms of going into thousands of theaters, we will not,” he said.
Fellman added that the studio plans to follow a similar strategy in international markets. Imax will additionally have a number of theaters playing a 48fps 3D version of the film.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7224 on: Aug 24th, 2012, 09:44am »
Norway jails "sane" Breivik for maximum 21 years
By Balazs Koranyi Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:24am EDT
OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik was jailed for a maximum term on Friday when judges declared him sane enough to answer for the murder of 77 people last year, drawing a smirk of triumph from the self-styled warrior against Islam.
An unrepentant Breivik, 33, gave the Oslo court a stiff-armed, clench-fisted salute before being handed the steepest possible penalty, 21 years. His release, however, can be put off indefinitely should he still pose a threat to a liberal society left traumatized by his bomb and shooting rampage last July.
Justifying blasting a government building and gunning down dozens of teenagers at a summer camp as a service to a nation threatened by immigration, he had said only acquittal or death would be worthy outcomes. But his biggest concern was being declared insane, a fate he said would be "worse than death".
Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen dismissed a prosecution call for her to label Breivik mad, a ruling that would have seen him confined indefinitely to psychiatric care rather than prison.
Some survivors of the slaughter at the Labour party youth camp on Utoeya island, and much of the Norwegian public, had been keen to see Breivik held clearly responsible for his actions - and to avoid the insanity verdict that would have prompted him to demand lengthy and traumatic appeals hearings.
For many Norwegians, still shocked by their bloodiest day since World War Two, the details were academic, however.
"He is getting what he deserves," said Alexandra Peltre, 18, whom Breivik shot in the thigh on Utoeya. "This is karma striking back at him. I do not care if he is insane or not, as long as he gets the punishment that he deserves."
Breivik, who had surrendered to police on the island without a fight, admitted blowing up the Oslo government headquarters with a fertilizer bomb, killing eight, on Friday, July 22, 2011, then shooting 69 at the ruling party's summer youth camp.
Dressed in a black suit with a tie and still sporting the blond, under-chin beard familiar from the 10 weeks of hearings that ended in June, Breivik smirked when he entered the courtroom and smiled again as the judge read out the verdict.
He will not appeal, his lawyer said. "He will accept this verdict," Geir Lippestad told Reuters. During the trial Breivik said: "I would do it again" - an attitude which, if maintained, would prevent his being released at the end of his sentence.
A lawyer for some victims and their families said they, too, were satisfied: "I am pleased, although that's not really the right word, and relieved. This is what we hoped for," said Mette Yvonne Larsen, who represented some of those affected in court.
"This is justice served and they are happy it's over and will never have to see him again."
The killings shook the nation of five million which had prided itself as a safe haven from much of the world's troubles, raising questions about the prevalence of far-right views in a country where oil wealth has attracted rising immigration.
But the trial, which some had dreaded Breivik might turn into a "circus" of hatred, has been hailed as a model of dispassionate Scandinavian justice that offered closure to the grieving; and Norwegians refused to let fear drive them to curb their easy-going daily lives with cumbersome security measures.
Breivik will now be kept in isolation inside Ila Prison on the outskirts of Oslo inside relatively spacious quarters that include a separate exercise room, a computer and a television.
His diatribes against centre-left governments' acceptance of Muslim immigration, spread over the Internet, and aired on television during the trial, drew support from a militant few in Europe. But even most of the hardest right-wing fringe groups kept their distance from the self-confessed mass killer.
Police found his claims to belong to a shadowy European network he called the Knights Templar, a nod to the mediaeval Crusader order, were probably the imaginings of an angry loner.
Norway's anti-immigration Progress Party, which Breivik had once briefly joined, suffered in municipal elections after the massacre, forcing the second biggest party in parliament to tone down its rhetoric. Opinion poll support for liberal immigration policies even grew and the attack brought many young people, now often referred to as the Utoeya generation, into politics.
Although his victims were mostly teenagers, with some as young as 14, he rejected being called a child murderer, arguing that his victims were brainwashed "cultural Marxists" whose political activism would adulterate pure Norwegian blood.
He stalked his victims dressed as a policeman, tricking them into thinking he was the help sent from the shore after the initial attack. He then shot them from close range before finishing them with a shot to the head.
"I stand by what I have done and I would still do it again." he said during his court testimony.
Breivik, a high school dropout who once spent an entire year devoting himself to computer games, suffered troubles from early childhood and a psychiatric evaluation proposed removing him from his family, a verdict social workers finally rejected.
After business failures and frauds that included selling fake diplomas and a diamond scam in Liberia, he moved back in with his mother in 2006. It was then, she said, that he became obsessed with politics and changed from a "kind and caring" son to becoming "completely crazy".
Some Norwegians now believe their country must draw on the experience to debate issues like immigration, and a commission investigating the attack also concluded the country need radical changes, including gun controls and more sweeping police powers.
Still, very little has changed over the past year; ministers still walk the streets of Oslo without bodyguards and private cars can drive right up to the parliament building.
"This attack has not in any way succeeded in redefining our liberal democracy," said Oslo University philosophy professor Lars Fredrik Svendsen. "The Norwegian judicial system has shown itself as rock solid during this trial."
(Additional reporting by Victoria Klesty, Vegard Botterli, Terje Solsvik and Alister Doyle; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Alastair Macdonald)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7225 on: Aug 24th, 2012, 09:46am »
Gunman opens fire outside Empire State Building, is shot by police
By William Branigin Updated: Friday, August 24, 7:38 AM
A gunman opened fire Friday morning outside the Empire State Building in New York, and as many as 10 people were shot, one of them fatally, before the assailant was killed by police, news services reported.
Law enforcement sources in Washington said the shooting appeared to have no connection to terrorism. They confirmed that police killed the gunman and said that seven to eight people were wounded. Officials were trying to sort out the numbers, and FBI agents were on the scene, the sources said.
CNN initially reported that five people were hit and that police, who were nearby, fatally shot the gunman. The network later quoted New York’s Office of Emergency Management as saying 10 people were shot and that two, including the gunman, were dead.
The New York Post said a total of 10 people were shot and that one of the two fatalities was a woman described as an innocent bystander who died of her wounds.
The Post said the shooting stemmed from a dispute between co-workers. The paper’s Web site said it was unclear what sparked the deadly argument.
A New York Fire Department spokesman said a call about the shooting was received shortly after 9 a.m. and that emergency units arrived within minutes at the scene at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue.
After the shooting, the body of the gunman lay on the sidewalk under a white sheet outside the Empire State Building, a major tourist attraction that attracts long lines of visitors during the height of the summer tourist season. Police cordoned off the building and pushed a large crowd of tourists back half a block.
CNN quoted witnesses as saying the incident apparently started when a man chased another man and pulled out a weapon, described as looking like a sawed-off shotgun, and opened fire. An elevator operator inside the Empire State Building then ran out and pursued the gunman while calling for help, CNN said.
Police quickly joined the chase and shot the gunman three times, CNN reported, quoting witnesses.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7226 on: Aug 24th, 2012, 09:50am »
Published on Aug 23, 2012 by thirdphaseofmoon
UFO Sightings UFO Sightings Incredibly Quick UFO Caught In Jerusalem Broad Day Light Sighting!! With Enhanced 600% Zoom! If you have captured anything Amazing regarding UFOs contact Thirdphaseofmoon Via Skype
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7227 on: Aug 24th, 2012, 09:59am »
For some reason I can't load photos to Photobucket this morning..............
Flat Lens Offers a Perfect Image ScienceDaily (Aug. 23, 2012)
Applied physicists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have created an ultrathin, flat lens that focuses light without imparting the distortions of conventional lenses.
At a mere 60 nanometers thick, the flat lens is essentially two-dimensional, yet its focusing power approaches the ultimate physical limit set by the laws of diffraction.
Operating at telecom wavelengths (i.e., the range commonly used in fiber-optic communications), the new device is completely scalable, from near-infrared to terahertz wavelengths, and simple to manufacture. The results have been published online in the journal Nano Letters.
"Our flat lens opens up a new type of technology," says principal investigator Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at SEAS. "We're presenting a new way of making lenses. Instead of creating phase delays as light propagates through the thickness of the material, you can create an instantaneous phase shift right at the surface of the lens. It's extremely exciting."
Capasso and his collaborators at SEAS create the flat lens by plating a very thin wafer of silicon with an nanometer-thin layer of gold. Next, they strip away parts of the gold layer to leave behind an array of V-shaped structures, evenly spaced in rows across the surface. When Capasso's group shines a laser onto the flat lens, these structures act as nanoantennas that capture the incoming light and hold onto it briefly before releasing it again. Those delays, which are precisely tuned across the surface of the lens, change the direction of the light in the same way that a thick glass lens would, with an important distinction.
The flat lens eliminates optical aberrations such as the "fish-eye" effect that results from conventional wide-angle lenses. Astigmatism and coma aberrations also do not occur with the flat lens, so the resulting image or signal is completely accurate and does not require any complex corrective techniques.
The array of nanoantennas, dubbed a "metasurface," can be tuned for specific wavelengths of light by simply changing the size, angle, and spacing of the antennas.
"In the future we can potentially replace all the bulk components in the majority of optical systems with just flat surfaces," says lead author Francesco Aieta, a visiting graduate student from the Università Politecnica delle Marche in Italy. "It certainly captures the imagination."
Aieta's and Capasso's coauthors at SEAS included postdoctoral research associates Patrice Genevet and Nanfang Yu (Ph.D. '09), graduate students Mikhail A. Kats and Romain Blanchard, and visiting scholar Zeno Gaburro.
The work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the NSF-funded Harvard Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center, and the Center for Nanoscale Systems at Harvard (a member of the NSF-supported National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network). The researchers also individually received support from the Robert A. Welch Foundation, the European Communities Seventh Framework Programme, and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7228 on: Aug 24th, 2012, 5:17pm »
Topographic Light Painting Maps Rooms and People in 3-D
By Jakob Schiller 08.24.12 6:30 AM
For years Janne Parviainen worked as a painter, happy with two-dimensions, until he came across light painting photography. He realized the technique could bring out that third, illusive dimension of depth in a way paint and canvas could not.
“It was a whole new challenge,” says Parviainen, 32, who lives in Helsinki, Finland.
His topographic light paintings circumscribe surfaces and people throughout his house, creating captivating 3-D models in the process. Parviainen first started in 2007 by using small LED lights to trace human bodies, using his wife and himself for models. He quickly grew more ambitious, creating multi-person shots where he would trace himself multiple times, creating the appearance of an entire audience.
“When I started tracing rooms I was like ‘this is totally mad, it’s going to take forever,’” Parviainen says. “The first one took 33 minutes and I was soaking wet [from sweat] when it was done.”
Light painting, the act of tracing shapes or designs with a light-source during a long camera exposure, is nothing new, of course. Picasso dabbled in it and today people are using light painting in increasingly inventive ways.
While many light painting projects can become gimmicky, Parviainen’s images build on the format with his own techniques and perspective. He uses a Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 to make the shots and says there is absolutely no post processing. He purposely shoots both JPEG and Raw at the same time so that he can post the JPEGs online without converting them.
From here Parviainen wants to take it one more step by creating stop-motion films within where light-painted characters move through the light-painted rooms. He’s already dabbled in stop-motion light painting (another medium that’s being explored by a lot of artists) and he says that while time-consuming, the reward is worth it.
“Making light painting stop-motion is madness, but I love the effect,” he says.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7229 on: Aug 25th, 2012, 08:47am »
Originally published Saturday, August 25, 2012 at 6:01 AM
Montana's Blackfeet tribe divided over tapping oil-rich land.
There is beauty here on Montana's Blackfeet reservation, but there is also oil, locked away thousands of feet underground. Tribal leaders have decided to tap the buried wealth. And the move has divided the tribe while igniting a debate over the promise and perils of hydraulic fracturing.
By JACK HEALY
The New York Times
BLACKFEET INDIAN RESERVATION, Mont. — The mountains along the eastern edge of Glacier National Park rise from the prairie like dinosaur teeth, their silvery ridges and teardrop fields of snow forming the doorway to one of America's most pristine places.
Yes, there is beauty here on the Blackfeet reservation, but there is also oil, locked away in the tight shale thousands of feet underground. And tribal leaders have decided to tap their land's buried wealth. The move has divided the tribe while igniting a debate over the promise and perils of hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — in a place where grizzlies roam into backyards and many residents see the land as something living and sacred.
All through the billiard-green mesas leading up to the mountains are signs of the boom. Well pads and water tanks dot the rolling hills. Tractor-trailers loaded with chemicals and drilling machinery kick up contrails of dust along the reservation's winding gravel roads. And spirelike drilling rigs quietly bore into the ground, silhouetted against mountains with names like Sinopah, Running Wolf and Chief.
It is an increasingly common sight for tribes across the West and Plains: Tourist spending has gone slack since the recession hit. American Indian casino revenues are stagnating just as tribal gambling faces new competition from online gambling and waves of new casinos. Oil and fracking are new lifelines.
One drilling rig on the Blackfeet reservation generated 49 jobs for tribal members — a substantial feat in a place where unemployment is as high as 70 percent. But as others watched the rigs rise, they wondered whether the tribe was making an irrevocable mistake.
"These are our mountains," said Cheryl Little Dog, a recently elected member of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, the reservation's governing body. "I look at what we have, and I think, why ruin it over an oil rig?"
Rights to a million acres
Oil exploration here began in the 1920s, largely on the plains along the eastern edge of the reservation, but it died off in the early 1980s. Over the past four years, though, new fracking technologies and rising oil prices have lured the drillers back, and farther and farther west, to the mountains that border Glacier National Park.
Oil companies have leased out the drilling rights for a million of the reservation's 1.5 million acres, land held by the tribe, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They have drilled 30 exploratory wells this year alone, and are already engaged in fracking many of them, pumping a slurry of water, sand and chemicals to crack open underground rock beds to pry out the oil.
"It'll change the lives of a lot of people," said Grinnell Day Chief, the tribe's oil and gas manager. "It'll be a boost to everybody. There's talk of a hotel coming up."
To tribal leaders, the oil wealth could be more lucrative and reliable than any casino — a resource whose royalty payments could transform a reservation scarred by poverty and alcoholism.
Blackfeet elders say they have already collected about $30 million, primarily from three oil companies, Anschutz Exploration, Newfield Exploration, and Rosetta Resources. The tribe has used signing bonuses to pay off debts from building the Glacier Peaks Casino. It built a tribe-owned grocery to compete with the IGA in Browning, the reservation's largest town. The tribe's approximately 16,500 members each received $200 in trickle-down payments from the drilling last year, and the oil companies have donated money to the local basketball team and to buy children toys and jackets at Christmas.
Strong feelings on both sides
For some on the reservation, the drills cannot come soon enough. In April, T.J. Show, then the chairman of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, told a House committee that the layers of oversight and paperwork needed to drill into tribal lands were "extremely slow and burdensome." He told the panel he opposed any new federal rules that would clamp down on fracking and chase away oil companies.
To find the opposing view, one needs only to drive five miles west from Browning, past the casino, heading straight toward the mountains, and pull off at the red gate on the right. There, on a recent summer afternoon, over mugs of horsemint tea, Pauline Matt and a handful of Blackfeet women were trying to find a way to persuade the tribal leaders to stop the drilling.
"It threatens everything we are as Blackfeet," she said.
Other environmental activists around Glacier have raised concerns that the fracking operations, if they continue and expand, could pollute air quality, contaminate sensitive watersheds and tarnish a night almost uncontaminated by man-made lights.
Chas Cartwright, the superintendent of Glacier National Park, has asked for a full-scale environmental review of drilling on the reservation. In a July 31 letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, he raised concerns about how drilling might affect grizzly-bear populations, air quality and the vistas from mountain perches inside the park.
To opponents, including the tribe's environmental office and roads department, the damage to the land is still being done.
"You see this butterfly, you hear those birds?" asked Crystal LaPlant, as she sat on Matt's back porch one evening, the meadows alive with sound. "Once they start drilling, we aren't going to have those things anymore."
Ron Crossguns, who works for the Blackfeet tribe's oil and gas division, has oil leases on his land, a 10-foot cross in his yard, and little patience for that kind of pastoral veneration. He called it "movie Indian" claptrap, divorced from modern realities. Mountains, he said, are just mountains.
"Just big rocks"
"They're just big rocks, nothing more," Crossguns said. "Don't try to make them into nothing holy. Jesus Christ put them there for animals to feed on, and for people to hunt on."
And maybe, for people to drill into. Whether the oil companies keep drilling may depend less on the tribe's attitudes than the raw economics of extracting oil from extremely tight rock formations. The oil companies are still taking samples, analyzing the rocks and trying to figure out whether they can turn a profit.
"The earth is saturated with oil," Dave Loken, a senior geologist with Anschutz, said at a recent meeting of tribal leaders and oil companies to discuss the future of drilling on the Blackfeet land. "It's very tough to get the oil out. We're still working on it."