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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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Toon: New Statin Guidelines

Could the US be heading towards an Elizabethan era?

by Simon Carswell

There is a popular video on YouTube, viewed more than one million times, showing a group of hapless financial regulators squirming under questioning by Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren.

At her first congressional banking committee hearing in February since winning a Senate seat last year, Warren grilled big-bank regulators on why they had never taken a Wall Street giant to court.

“There are districts attorneys and US attorneys who are out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it,” she told them. “I am really concerned that too big to fail has become too big for trial.”

The Democratic senator’s attacks on the recovering influence of Wall Street, surging student debt, consumer protection and the deepening divide between the rich and working classes in the US have invigorated the party’s core supporters and raised hopes that she might run for president in 2016.



Toon: What'cha got there?

Flying Coach in a 747, circa 1970


Bacterial Competition In Lab Shows Evolution Never Stops

Evolution is relentless process that seems to keep going and going, even when creatures live in a stable, unchanging world.

That's the latest surprise from a unique experiment that's been underway for more than a quarter-century.

Evolution is so important for biology, medicine and a general understanding of our world that scientists want to understand it as fully as possible. That's why, in 1988, biologist Richard Lenski took a dozen glass flasks and added identical bacteria to each of them. Those 12 populations have been evolving ever since, letting scientists watch evolution in real time.

Day after day — including holidays and weekends — workers in Lenski's lab at Michigan State University in East Lansing feed and care for the E. coli bacteria. The bacteria eat and divide again and again. The original microbes have produced more than 50,000 generations over the last 25 years.

Random mutations have allowed them to get fitter, meaning they reproduce faster. "In evolutionary biology, fitness is this representation of the ability of an organism to survive and reproduce," says Lenski. He explains that all else being equal, organisms that reproduce more quickly will have an advantage when competing with those that reproduce more slowly.

Early on, Lenski predicted his bacteria would adapt and adapt but eventually hit a wall — that they would reach a peak level of fitness they couldn't improve on.


Single photon detected but not destroyed


Physicists have seen a single particle of light and then let it go on its way. The feat was possible thanks to a new technique that, for the first time, detects optical photons without destroying them. The technology could eventually offer perfect detection of photons, providing a boost to quantum communication and even biological imaging.

Plenty of commercially available instruments can identify individual light particles, but these instruments absorb the photons and use the energy to produce an audible click or some other signal of detection.

Quantum physicist Stephan Ritter and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, wanted to follow up on a 2004 proposal of a nondestructive method for detecting photons. Instead of capturing photons, this instrument would sense their presence, taking advantage of the eccentric realm of quantum mechanics in which particles can exist in multiple states and roam in multiple places simultaneously.

Ritter and his team started with a pair of highly reflective mirrors separated by a half-millimeter-wide cavity. Then they placed a single atom of rubidium in the cavity to function as a security guard. They chose rubidium because it can take on two distinct identities, which are determined by the arrangement of its electrons. In one state, it’s a 100 percent effective sentry, preventing photons from entering the cavity. In the other, it’s a totally useless lookout, allowing photons to enter the cavity. When photons get in, they bounce back and forth about 20,000 times before exiting.


Friday TOON Roundup 3 -The Rest







Friday TOON Roundup 2 - The Starvation Party

Friday TOON Roundup 1 -Unhelpful Helpers

Springfield Catholic bishop plans same-sex marriage ‘exorcism,’

SPRINGFIELD-The head of Springfield’s Roman Catholic diocese said Thursday he will preside over a prayer service of “supplication and exorcism” next Wednesday to counteract Gov. Pat Quinn’s enactment that day of same-sex marriage in Illinois.

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, said marriage between gays and lesbians is a union that “comes from the devil and should be condemned as such.”

Paprocki also blasted Catholic politicians who pushed for passage of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act and, in an indirect jab at House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, ridiculed some of Illinois’ leaders for “twisting the words of the pope.”

During a dramatic floor speech on the day of the vote, the House speaker, who is Catholic, cited Pope Francis’ recent, conciliatory remarks toward gays and lesbians as the basis for supporting the legislation that Quinn has said he will sign next Wednesday.


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