Monday, December 25, 2006

The Real End Times

"White Dwarf Hints At Our Solar System's End
Andrea Thompson
Staff Writer Sat Dec 23, 7:30 AM ET

A debris disk spied recently around a distant dead star is likely the remains of an asteroid that was vaporized when the star died, scientists say.

The discovery, detailed in the Dec. 22 issue of the journal Science, could be a sign of what will happen in our own solar system in a few billion years. Because the crushed asteroid was probably gravitationally lassoed in by one or more planets, the finding also provides evidence that planetary systems can form around massive stars. . ."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

52 New Species

'WWF: 52 new species discovered on Borneo
GENEVA — Scientists have discovered at least 52 new species of animals and plants on the southeast Asian island of Borneo since 2005, including a catfish with protruding teeth and suction cups on its belly to help it stick to rocks, WWF International said Tuesday.

"The more we look the more we find," said Stuart Chapman, WWF International coordinator for the study of the "Heart of Borneo," a 85,000-square-mile rain forest in the center of the island where several of the new species were found. "These discoveries reaffirm Borneo's position as one of the most important centers of biodiversity in the world . . ."'

Sunday, December 10, 2006

On Evolving

Study Detects Recent Instance of Human Evolution - New York Times: "Study Detects Recent Instance of Human Evolution

Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: December 10, 2006

A surprisingly recent instance of human evolution has been detected among the peoples of East Africa. It is the ability to digest milk in adulthood, conferred by genetic changes that occurred as recently as 3,000 years ago, a team of geneticists has found.

The finding is a striking example of a cultural practice — the raising of dairy cattle — feeding back into the human genome. It also seems to be one of the first instances of convergent human evolution to be documented at the genetic level. Convergent evolution refers to two or more populations acquiring the same trait independently.

Throughout most of human history, the ability to digest lactose, the principal sugar of milk, has been switched off after weaning because there is no further need for the lactase enzyme that breaks the sugar apart. But when cattle were first domesticated 9,000 years ago and people later started to consume their milk as well as their meat, natural selection would have favored anyone with a mutation that kept the lactase gene switched on. . ."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Brazil Scores One For Environment

ABC News: Brazil Protects Great Swath of Amazon: "RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil Dec 4, 2006 (AP)— A swath of Amazon rain forest the size of Alabama was placed under government protection Monday in a region infamous for violent conflicts among loggers, ranchers and environmentalists.

Known as the Guayana Shield, the 57,915-square-mile area contains more than 25 percent of the world's remaining humid tropical forests and the largest remaining unpolluted fresh water reserves in the American tropics."

Monday, December 04, 2006

On. . . Everything

The Blog | Deepak Chopra: The God Delusion? Part 7 | The Huffington Post: ". . .It's hard for materialists not to thump their chests, as Dawkins so brazenly does. Unfortunately, the Theory of Everything has hit a brick wall. Quantum physics lacks the power to cross the border into the invisible world that lies beyond subatomic particles, the so-called virtual domain. Not only is this the realm of 'dark matter' and 'dark energy'--mysterious shadows of the matter and energy we see around us--but all possible universes also lie across the same boundary, as well as the 'zero point' where space and time are born.

Genetics seems to be riding higher, but behind the display of public triumph, biology has not solved the existence of mind, and therefore the same obstacle faces both fields. An invisible world lies sealed off from investigation, leaving us to trace its footprints and echoes. MRIs and CAT scans are impressive but limited. As someone once commented, brain research is like putting a stethoscope to the outside of the Astrodome and trying to figure out the rules of football. Dawkins finds consciousness (as well as quantum physics) totally irrelevant, a comment on his own intellectual limitations rather than reality. If God is going to become viable again, he will have to be a God who solves some key mysteries in the virtual domain:

--What separates life from inert matter?
--What part does the observer play in creating reality?
--How does the infinite quantum field organize and govern every event in the universe?
--How does chaos relate to order? Are they enemies or secret allies?
--How did evolution overcome entropy, the ceaseless march of the physical universe toward chaos and the deep freezer of "heat death"?
--Why is the universe so amazingly hospitable to human life?

This last question is the most pressing one, for both believers and non-believers. . ."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Good Dogs

Science Blog | Think. It's not illegal yet.: "Infants Wheeze Less in Homes With Multiple Dogs
Submitted by BJS on Thu, 2006-11-30 09:55. animal kingdom

Living in a home with multiple dogs may help reduce an infant’s risk for developing wheezing in the first year of life, according to new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC). Cincinnati researchers, led by David Bernstein, MD, have found that infants living in homes with high levels of endotoxins (bacterial contaminants) and multiple dogs were more than two times less likely to wheeze than other infants."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dino Gone

Single massive asteroid wiped out dinosaurs: study - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A single, gigantic asteroid slammed into Earth 65 million years ago, dooming the dinosaurs and many other species, scientists said on Thursday in a new study rebutting theories that multiple impacts did the deed.

An examination of rock sediments drilled from five sites at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean strongly supports the notion that one massive hunk of space rock caused the mass extinction, a research team led by University of Missouri-Columbia geology professor Ken MacLeod found.

'It's a completely straightforward, single-impact scenario,' MacLeod, whose findings appear in the Geological Society of America Bulletin, said in an interview. 'It was a haymaker that nobody saw coming. One shot, and that's all you need to explain it.'

Scientists believe that an asteroid about 6 miles wide hurtled to Earth 65.5 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous Period, plunging into what is now Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula to carve out the Chicxulub (pronounced CHIK-shu-loob) crater measuring about 110 miles across.

To put it mildly, it was a bad day to live on Earth."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - Scientists Levitate Small Animals - Scientists Levitate Small Animals: "
Scientists Levitate Small Animals
By Charles Q. Choi
Special to LiveScience
posted: 29 November 2006
10:28 am ET

Scientists have now levitated small live animals using sounds that are, well, uplifting.

In the past, researchers at Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi'an, China, used ultrasound fields to successfully levitate globs of the heaviest solid and liquid—iridium and mercury, respectively. The aim of their work is to learn how to manufacture everything from pharmaceuticals to alloys without the aid of containers. At times compounds are too corrosive for containers to hold, or they react with containers in other undesirable ways."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Monsters of the Deep

Bizarre deep-sea creatures imaged off New Zealand - life - 27 November 2006 - New Scientist
Vestimentiferan worms - a type of tube worm widely seen at the methane seeps - were sampled from the
Vestimentiferan worms - a type of tube worm widely seen at the methane seeps - were sampled from the "Builder's Pencil" site. Builder’s Pencil, which covers 180,000 square metres, is one of the largest seep sites in the world (Image: NOAA/NIWA)

The furry filaments on this hermit crab’s claws are thought to allow it to feed off the energy-rich chemicals from the seep (Image: NOAA/NIWA)
The furry filaments on this hermit crab’s claws are thought to allow it to feed off the energy-rich chemicals from the seep (Image: NOAA/NIWA)
Glass sponges and tube worms poke through the seafloor (Image: NOAA/NIWA)
Glass sponges and tube worms poke through the seafloor (Image: NOAA/NIWA)

"The weird and wonderful creatures living by methane vents in the southwest Pacific have been photographed for the first time (see images right and below).

The deep-sea communities live around methane seeps off New Zealand’s eastern coast, up to 1 kilometre beneath the sea surface. The team of 21 researchers from the US and New Zealand, who spent two weeks exploring the area, have just returned to shore. See video footage recorded by the researchers here, here and here.

“It's the first time cold seeps have been viewed and sampled in the southwest Pacific, and will greatly contribute to our knowledge of these intriguing ecosystems,” says Amy Baco-Taylor from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US.

Cold seeps are areas of the seabed where methane or hydrogen sulphide gas escape from stores deep underneath. Like hydrothermal vents, the gases support unique life forms that can convert the energy-rich chemicals into living matter in the absence of any sunlight.

Sheer extent

Animals living around methane seeps off Chile and Japan have been observed before, but not near New Zealand. “The seeps here are remarkable in the sheer extent of their chemosynthetic communities,” says Baco-Taylor, whose team visited eight such sites between 750 and 1050 metres beneath the surface.

They used sonar to map the seafloor and to detect plumes of water rich in methane, then lowered a video and stills camera system over each site.

This allowed them to record images of tube worms between 30 cm and 40 cm in length as they emerged from beneath limestone boulders. They also recorded corals, sponges and shell beds covered with various types of clam and mussel..."

Monday, November 27, 2006

What if you could erase your memory? - The Stanford Daily Online

What if you could erase your memory? - The Stanford Daily Online: "...Pitman’s research suggests that if a patient undergoes treatment with propanolol within the hours following a traumatic episode, negative memories would not be as deeply embedded in the brain. By extension, McGough suggests that the drugs could also be taken in anticipation of a disturbing experience, such as paramedics scraping bodies off the highway or a mother visiting the morgue to identify a dead son.

A recent article in The New York Times expressed concern that if the use of propanolol becomes routine, people who would not have developed PTSD will be taking the medication unnecessarily. However, neither McGaugh nor Pitman are concerned with this possibility because of the lack of serious side effects associated with the medication.

Even so, some find the manipulation of memory formation troubling.

While not wanting to appear insensitive to those suffering from PTSD, junior Erin Lashnits remarked, “I think that memories make up an important part of a person’s identity . . . even if the memories don’t change, you’re changing the intensity of that memory or of the reaction to an event. [The drug] has the potential to have much more serious complications with a person’s personality than just making life a little easier...”"

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Climate Change

Science Blog | Think. It's not illegal yet.: "Climate change sceptics 'out of step, out of arguments and out of time'
Submitted by BJS on Wed, 2006-11-15 13:57. energy & environment

Climate change must be taken as seriously as the issues that have traditionally monopolized first-order political attention such as conflict, poverty and the proliferation of deadly weapons, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a United Nations conference on the issue in Nairobi today. “Instead of being economically defensive, let us start being more politically courageous,” he said. “The Nairobi conference must send a clear, credible signal that the world’s political leaders take climate change seriously. The question is not whether climate change is happening, but whether, in the face of this emergency, we ourselves can change fast enough.”"


Science Blog | Think. It's not illegal yet.: "'Tribbles' Implicated in Common and Aggressive Form of Leukemia
Submitted by BJS on Thu, 2006-11-16 11:06. bioscience & medicine

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have identified a new protein associated with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Several lines of evidence point to a protein called Tribbles, named after the furry creatures that took over the starship Enterprise in the original 'Star Trek' series. Tribbles was first described in fruit flies."

NASA NanoTech

Science Blog | Think. It's not illegal yet.: "NASA Nanotechnology Comes to Market
Submitted by BJS on Wed, 2006-11-15 15:20. nanotech & materials

Finding affordable ways to make technology available to everyone is a common challenge. Now, NASA has done that with the process that creates 'nanotubes.' A nanotube is a tiny, hollow, long, thin and strong tube with an outside diameter of a nanometer that is formed from atoms such as carbon. A hair from a person’s head is around 50,000 nanometers wide. If you split a hair into 50,000 strands, that would be the width of a nanometer."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sky News: Goblins And Giants: Humans To Split

Sky News: Goblins And Giants: Humans To Split: "Haves' And 'Have-Nots'
Updated: 20:39, Tuesday October 17, 2006

Social division might split humans into two sub-species 100,000 years from now, an evolution expert has claimed.

The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative.

They would be a far cry from the 'underclass' humans, who will have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures.

The forecast was made by Dr Oliver Curry, who spent two months investigating the ascent and descent of man over the next 100 millennia.

He said, within a thousand years, humans will evolve into coffee-coloured giants between 6 and 7ft tall.

But Dr Curry said centuries of sexual selection - being choosy about one's partner - was likely to create more and more genetic inequality.

The logical outcome would be two sub-species, 'gracile' and 'robust' humans.

Dr Curry said: 'Things could get ugly, with the possible emergence of genetic 'haves' and 'have-nots'.'"

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Mad In The Middle: "Scientists teleport two different objects - Scientists teleport two different objects - Oct 4, 2006: 'LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Beaming people in 'Star Trek' fashion is still in the realms of science fiction, but physicists in Denmark have teleported information from light to matter bringing quantum communication and computing closer to reality.

Until now scientists have teleported similar objects such as light or single atoms over short distances from one spot to another in a split second.

But Professor Eugene Polzik and his team at the Niels Bohr Institute at Copenhagen University in Denmark have made a breakthrough by using both light and matter.

'It is one step further because for the first time it involves teleportation between light and matter, two different objects. One is the carrier of information and the other one is the storage medium,' Polzik explained in an interview on Wednesday.

The experiment involved for the first time a macroscopic atomic object containing thousands of billions of atoms. They also teleported the information a distance of half a meter but believe it can be extended further."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Junk Woes

The Blog | Bill Maher: Drug War Allowed To Get In The Way of Terror War | The Huffington Post:

". . . But I noticed in the recent drug survey - the same one that said baby boomers were getting high while their children say 'no' - about 6 percent of people said they had used marijuana in the past month. About 4 percent of people surveyed said they had used methamphetamine. 2.6 percent said they had abused prescription drugs. Just about 1 percent said they had used cocaine.

Heroin? Only 0.1 percent used heroin.

So why worry so much about the opium crop in Afghanistan when Americans don't really have a heroin problem? We're sacrificing the war on terror in the vain hope of one day helping Courtney Love kick her smack habit?"

Defense Tech: Area 51: Hype vs. Reality

Defense Tech: Area 51: Hype vs. Reality: "Area 51: Hype vs. Reality
In the October Popular Science, veteran aviation journo Bill Sweetman writes about secret airplanes he believes might be under development at the Air Force's remote Groom Lake test facility in Nevada, a.k.a. Area 51. Sweetman describes three demonstrators unveiled in recent years -- the Northrop Grumman Tacit Blue and Boeing Bird of Prey manned stealth planes and the Lockheed Martin Polecat drone -- but insists these are just consolation prizes offered up by a military that is keeping its major black airplane programs under wraps.
Not that he has a ton of proof. 'Hint[s]' and guesswork, mostly. The new construction at Groom Lake must mean something, he figures. And then there are those 'obvious... significant gaps in the military’s known aviation arsenal -- gaps that the Pentagon can reasonably be assumed to be actively, if quietly, trying to fill . . .'"

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Funeral Strippers

BlondeSense: Now THAT'S a funeral!!: "Now THAT'S a funeral!!
China acts on funeral strippers

Chinese villages are being told to end the practice --
Five people have been detained in China for running striptease send-offs at funerals, state media say.

'Striptease used to be a common practice at funerals in Donghai's rural areas to allure viewers,' Xinhua agency said.

'Local villagers believe that the more people who attend the funeral, the more the dead person is honoured.'

It seems officials want to put an end to this, so now 'funeral plans have to be submitted in advance' "

Thursday, August 17, 2006

'Hybrid Mutant' Found Dead in Maine - AOL News

'Hybrid Mutant' Found Dead in Maine - AOL News: "Hybrid Mutant' Found Dead in Maine
Mysterious Creature May Be Subject of Longtime Local Legend

TURNER, Maine (Aug. 17) - Residents are wondering if an animal found dead over the weekend may be the mysterious creature that has mauled dogs, frightened residents and been the subject of local legend for half a generation.

A man who saw the animal described it as 'something out of a Stephen King story.'

The animal was found near power lines along Route 4 on Saturday, apparently struck by a car while chasing a cat. The carcass was photographed and inspected by several people who live in the area, but nobody is sure exactly what it is.

Michelle O'Donnell of Turner spotted the animal near her yard about a week before it was killed. She called it a 'hybrid mutant of something.'

'It was evil, evil looking. And it had a horrible stench I will never forget,' she told the Sun Journal of Lewiston. 'We locked eyes for a few seconds and then it took off. I've lived in Maine my whole life and I've never seen anything like it. . .' "

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mad In The Middle: Maher Swings Hammer, Hits Nail

Mad In The Middle: Maher Swings Hammer, Hits Nail

Mad In The Middle

Mad In The Middle: "Like the mistreatment of terrorist prisoners, it all revolves around expectation. We expect our people to not torture, to not murder. We have higher expectations of them than we do of the enemy. We also have higher (perhaps, too high) expectations of Israel. Since Israel is the 'civilized' participant, our expectations for restraint and reason are, unfairly, set much higher.

And that is, maybe, our problem."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Random: "Philadelphia Daily News | 06/28/2006 | Annie's media enablers: 'But the questions raised by Coulter's prominence aren't so much about her as they are about the news organizations that create that prominence.

If it weren't for the magazines, newspapers, and television programs that give Coulter a forum for her repellent views, she'd be just another extremist throwing darts in all directions.

But there she was on the 'Today' show - where she has appeared three times in the last eight months - and on the 'Tonight' show, and on Fox News, and on MSNBC. Not to mention the glowing profile that graced the cover of Time magazine a few months back.

Every time a producer or editor turns their megaphone over to someone like Ann Coulter, they debase our discourse.

And the fact is that the mainstream media have a tolerance for extremism on the right, but not on the left. People like Coulter, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage are taken seriously by news organizations despite purveying some of the most hateful rhetoric imaginable.

Can you think of a liberal who gets half the attention Coulter does, and is half as inflammatory? After all, we're talking about someone who routinely advocates the murder of people with whom she disagrees politically.'

Uh, no. Any liberal advocating such stuff in a public forum would be pursued by the Evil Empire until their eyeballs exploded."

Philadelphia Daily News | 06/28/2006 | Annie's media enablers

Philadelphia Daily News | 06/28/2006 | Annie's media enablers: "But the questions raised by Coulter's prominence aren't so much about her as they are about the news organizations that create that prominence.

If it weren't for the magazines, newspapers, and television programs that give Coulter a forum for her repellent views, she'd be just another extremist throwing darts in all directions.

But there she was on the 'Today' show - where she has appeared three times in the last eight months - and on the 'Tonight' show, and on Fox News, and on MSNBC. Not to mention the glowing profile that graced the cover of Time magazine a few months back.

Every time a producer or editor turns their megaphone over to someone like Ann Coulter, they debase our discourse.

And the fact is that the mainstream media have a tolerance for extremism on the right, but not on the left. People like Coulter, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage are taken seriously by news organizations despite purveying some of the most hateful rhetoric imaginable.

Can you think of a liberal who gets half the attention Coulter does, and is half as inflammatory? After all, we're talking about someone who routinely advocates the murder of people with whom she disagrees politically."

Uh, no. Any liberal advocating such stuff in a public forum would be pursued by the Evil Empire until their eyeballs exploded. Ask Ward Churchill.

New Scientist Breaking News - ‘Big Brother’ eyes make us act more honestly

New Scientist Breaking News - ‘Big Brother’ eyes make us act more honestly: "
Coffee room drinkers pay more when watched by a pair of “Big Brother” eyes (Image: Newcastle University)
Enlarge image
Coffee room drinkers pay more when watched by a pair of “Big Brother” eyes (Image: Newcastle University)
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* 04 March 2006
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* 19 March 2005
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* 12 March 2005
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We all know the scene: the departmental coffee room, with the price list for tea and coffee on the wall and the “honesty box” where you pay for your drinks – or not, because no one is watching.

In a finding that will have office managers everywhere scurrying for the photocopier, researchers have discovered that merely a picture of watching eyes nearly trebled the amount of money put in the box."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sploid: Bosnian pyramid's the real thing!

Sploid: Bosnian pyramid's the real thing!: "Bosnian pyramid's the real thing!
[Amazing proof that people piled up some rocks!]

A mysterious hill in a Bosnian town is actually an ancient pyramid built by some unknown civilization, according to an Egyptian geologist who examined the site.

'In my opinion, it is a type of pyramid, probably primitive pyramid [that] we did not know until now,' said Aly Abd Barakat, who was sent by the Egyptian government to examine Visocica hill in the central Bosnian town of Visoko.

A local pyramid fanatic has been pushing his theory that the big hill and two smaller pyramid-shaped landforms were constructed by ancient people. . ."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Last chromosome in human genome sequenced - May 18, 2006 - Last chromosome in human genome sequenced - May 18, 2006: "Last chromosome in human genome sequenced

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Scientists have reached a landmark point in one of the world's most important scientific projects by sequencing the last chromosome in the Human Genome, the so-called 'book of life'.

Chromosome 1 contains nearly twice as many genes as the average chromosome and makes up eight percent of the human genetic code.

It is packed with 3,141 genes and linked to 350 illnesses including cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

'This achievement effectively closes the book on an important volume of the Human Genome Project,' said Dr Simon Gregory who headed the sequencing project at the Sanger Institute in England.

The project was started in 1990 to identify the genes and DNA sequences that provide a blueprint for human beings.

Chromosome 1 is the biggest and contains, per chromosome, the greatest number of genes. . ."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sploid: British military says 'UFOs exist!'

Sploid: British military says 'UFOs exist!': "British military says 'UFOs exist!'
[British Military says 'UFOs Exist!']

In a shocking announcement, the British Ministry of Defence has revealed 'UFOs Exist: It's Official!' The revelation comes in the wake of a request by UFO researchers for the Ministry of Defence to release information about its secret investigations into strange sightings over Britain."

Human Ancestors May Have Interbred With Chimpanzees

Human Ancestors May Have Interbred With Chimpanzees: "Human Ancestors May Have Interbred With Chimpanzees

By David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 18, 2006; Page A01

When the ancestors of human beings and the ancestors of chimpanzees parted ways 6.3 million years ago, it was probably a very long goodbye. Some of their descendants may even have gone back for a final tryst.

That is the conclusion a group of scientists has reached, using a comparison of the genes of humans and their closest animal relatives to sketch a picture of human origins far more detailed than what fossil bones have revealed."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sploid: Amazonian Stonehenge

Sploid: Amazonian Stonehenge: "A 2,000-year-old astrological observatory has been discovered in the Amazon basin of Brazil, near French Guiana.

'Only a society with a complex culture could have built such a monument,' archaeologist Mariana Petry Cabral, of the Amapa Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (IEPA), told O Globo newspaper.

The Amazonian Stonehenge is constructed of 127 rocks -- each standing about 10 feet high -- in groups of circles."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Toxic Burp in Pacific

Giant Deep-Sea Volcano With "Moat of Death" Found:
Richard A. Lovett
for National Geographic News
April 14, 2006

Beneath the waves of the South Pacific lies a volcanic realm nearly as strange as that featured in TV's hit drama Lost.

But instead of a mysterious island, scientists have found a bubbling submarine volcano whose weird features include a swirling vortex, a host of strange animals, and a fearsome zone of toxic waters dubbed the Moat of Death.

The volcano, described in this week's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sits within the crater of a gigantic underwater mountain rising more than 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) from the ocean floor near the island of Samoa (see map).

The seamount, called Vailulu'u, is an active volcano, with a 2-mile-wide (3.2-kilometer-wide) crater. The cone rising within it has been dubbed Nafanua, for the Samoan goddess of war."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Massachusetts Health Insurance

Massachusetts to require health insurance: "April 13, 2006


BOSTON -- Gov. Mitt Romney signed a groundbreaking measure Wednesday that makes Massachusetts the first state to mandate universal health care.

Supported by Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature, the law requires residents to buy health insurance by July 1, 2007, just as drivers must have automobile coverage.

It aims to help low-income families buy private health insurance with subsidies and penalizes those who don't get coverage. It will help extend coverage to about 500,000 people in the state who lack health insurance, or about one in 13 residents."

More Missing Link

Xinhua - English: " LOS ANGELES, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Fossils discovered in eastern Ethiopian desert are a missing link between our ape-man ancestors some 3.5 million years ago and more primitive hominids a million years older, according to a new study released on Wednesday.

The fossils are from the most primitive species of Australopithecus, known as Au. anamensis, and date from about 4.1 million years ago, reported researchers from Ethiopia, Japan, France and the United States.

The findings were published in an April 13 issue of the journal Nature.

The hominid Australopithecus has often been called ape-man because it walked on two legs unlike the great apes although it was short-statured, small-brained and big-toothed.

More primitive hominids in the genus Ardipithecus date from between 4.4 million and 7 million years ago and were much moreape-like, though they walked on two legs, too."

Monday, March 27, 2006 - Could Ethiopian skull be missing link? - Mar 25, 2006 - Could Ethiopian skull be missing link? - Mar 25, 2006: "ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- Scientists in northeastern Ethiopia said Saturday that they have discovered the skull of a small human ancestor that could be a missing link between the extinct Homo erectus and modern man."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Super Earth

Top News | "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A cold, heavy 'super-Earth' has been found orbiting a distant star, using a method that holds promise for detecting faraway planets that closely resemble our own, astronomers said on Monday.

The planet weighs 13 times as much as Earth and is orbiting a star about 9,000 light-years away. But instead of circling close to its star, as Earth does, this 'super-Earth' is about as distant from its star as Jupiter and Saturn are from the Sun.

An international team of scientists figured the new planet probably has a temperature of minus 330 degrees F (minus 201 C), making it one of the coldest planets detected outside our solar system.

The discovery is billed as a super-Earth because it is thought to be a rocky, terrestrial planet like Earth, even though it is much more massive.

The planet was detected by astronomers using a project called OGLE -- short for Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment -- which looks for changes in light coming from distant stars."

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Goat Repellent - Tiger poo, the new black gold - Feb 17, 2006: "Tiger poo, the new black gold

Friday, February 17, 2006; Posted: 12:19 p.m. EST (17:19 GMT)

CANBERRA, Australia (Reuters) -- A tiger's roar might be scary, but Australian researchers have found that the predator's poo is just as potent.

Researchers at the University of Queensland said on Friday they had successfully trailed a tiger poo repellant, warding off wild goats for at least three days.

'Goats wouldn't have seen a tiger from an evolutionary point of view for at least 15 generations but they recognize the smell of the predator,' repellent creator Peter Murray said in a statement.

'If we can show this lasts weeks ... we've just tapped into probably a billion-dollar marke"

Friday, February 17, 2006

Glacier Melt Could Signal Faster Rise in Ocean Levels

Glacier Melt Could Signal Faster Rise in Ocean Levels: "Glacier Melt Could Signal Faster Rise in Ocean Levels
By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 17, 2006; Page A01
Greenland's glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed, the result of a warming trend that renders obsolete predictions of how quickly Earth's oceans will rise over the next century, scientists said yesterday.
The new data come from satellite imagery and give fresh urgency to worries about the role of human activity in global warming. The Greenland data are mirrored by findings from Bolivia to the Himalayas, scientists said, noting that rising sea levels threaten widespread flooding and severe storm damage in low-lying areas worldwide."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

�Lost World� of wildlife found in Indonesia - Environment -

�Lost World� of wildlife found in Indonesia - Environment - ": 11:49 a.m. ET Feb. 7, 2006
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Describing it as the discovery of a �Lost World,� conservation groups and Indonesia on Tuesday said an expedition to one of Asia�s most isolated jungles had found several dozen new species of frogs, butterflies, flowers and birds.
�It�s as close to the Garden of Eden as you�re going to find on Earth,� Bruce Beehler, a Conservation International scientist who led the expedition, said in a statement.
�The first bird we saw at our camp was a new species,� he added. �Large mammals that have been hunted to near extinction elsewhere were here in abundance. We were able to simply pick up two Long-Beaked Echidnas, a primitive egg-laying mammal that is little known.�"

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Man "Descends" From Bird? - Fossil hunters make rare find in basement - Jan 26, 2006: "Fossil hunters make rare find in basement

Thursday, January 26, 2006; Posted: 3:02 p.m. EST (20:02 GMT)

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A toothless, two-legged crocodile ancestor that walked upright and had a beak instead of teeth was discovered in the basement of New York's American Museum of Natural History, according to a report published on Wednesday.

The 210 million-year-old fossil had sat in storage at the museum for nearly 60 years and was found only by accident, the paleontologists said.

The animal is interesting because it closely resembles a completely unrelated dinosaur called an ostrich dinosaur that lived 80 million years later, they report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a British science journal.

'A lot of people, from seeing (the film) Jurassic Park know what an ostrich dinosaur looked like,' said museum curator Mark Norell. 'This is a case of convergence with the ostrich dinosaur. It evolved more than once.'


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Greenhouse Plants?

Science News Online:Vegetation may produce methane: Science News Online, Jan. 14, 2006:

"Greenhouse Plants? Vegetation may produce methane
Sid Perkins
Lab tests suggest that a wide variety of plants may routinely do something that scientists had previously thought impossible--produce methane in significant quantities.

Methane, like carbon dioxide, traps heat in Earth's atmosphere. Scientists have been studying natural sources of methane for decades but hadn't pegged plants as a producer, notes Frank Keppler, a geochemist at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany. Previously recognized sources of methane include bacterial action in the digestive systems of ruminants such as cows and in the saturated soils of swamps and rice paddies. "

"NASA Probe Discovers Rolling Rocks, Gullies, Shifting Sands on Mars

Space - Discover magazine science:

"Sightings of shifting sand dunes, rolling boulders, and a dwindling polar ice cap in the past year demonstrate that the Red Planet is a far more dynamic world than scientists suspected.

Recently released images from the Mars Global Surveyor show before (left) and after views of the same crater, taken 13 months apart. During that time, falling boulders carved at least a dozen new tracks into the fine-grained material that lines the crater's wall.

NASA's orbiting Mars Global Surveyor revealed fresh gullies as long as three football fields on a dune west of the Hellas Basin. The same slope was smooth and unblemished in 2002. Scientists suspect that carbon dioxide trapped beneath the surface during winter vaporized when temperatures rose, releasing gas and causing sand to pour down the dune's face. The probe also snapped photos of boulders that had tumbled down a five-mile-wide crater, gouging shallow troughs not seen a year before. Possible causes include wind and seismic activity, although Mars's atmosphere is one-hundredth as dense as Earth's, and researchers have not yet found reliable evidence of Marsquakes. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide ice at the south pole has dwindled for three consecutive summers, suggesting long-term climate change is under way."

Are Incan Knots A Crackable Code?

Archaeology - Discover magazine s:

"The Incas didn't leave any written words behind, but they did leave behind khipus:knotted, colored, and twisted textile strings that seemed to serve as a record-keeping system for the largest state in the ancient New World. Until this year, the function of khipus was more presumed than proven. In August Harvard University anthropologist Gary Urton and his colleague Carrie Brezine reported the first clear signs of shared information embedded in 7 of 21 khipus from Puruchuco, an Incan palace and administrative center on the coast of Peru. 'For the first time we've been able to see khipus that are communicating with each other,' says Urton."

Thursday, January 05, 2006


That's no jack rabbit ... it's an artist in chains - Peculiar Postings -

"That's no jack rabbit ... it's an artist in chains Man has to hop 12 hours across desert after binding legs for realistic picture ..."

Uh, ok. Kinda embarrassing.