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n2doc

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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 34,044

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Latest Rosetta image reveals terrific detail of comet's surface

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The latest narrow angle camera (NAC) view from the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta mission continues to reveal more details regarding Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's surface. Taken July 29 at a distance of 1,210 miles (1,950 kilometers), one pixel corresponds to about 40 yards (37 meters). Clearly visible is the bright "neck" region connecting the two lobes of the nucleus, along with several other discrete bright patches. The reason for these features is still subject to much discussion – they could be due to differences in material or grain size, or to topographical features, for example. A dark spot close to the neck is most likely a shadowing effect. A large surface depression is apparent at the very "top" of the smaller lobe in this orientation.

This time next week, Rosetta will be within just 60 miles (100km) of the comet’s nucleus, and detailed mapping can begin in order to assess candidate landing sites for the Philae lander. For regular image updates from Rosetta, visit its ESA image page and the Rosetta blog.

http://www.astronomy.com/news/2014/07/latest-rosetta-image-reveals-terrific-detail-of-comets-surface

CIA director John Brennan lied to you and to the Senate. Fire him

by
Trevor Timm

As reports emerged Thursday that an internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency’s inspector general found that the CIA “improperly” spied on US Senate staffers when researching the CIA’s dark history of torture, it was hard to conclude anything but the obvious: John Brennan blatantly lied to the American public. Again.

“The facts will come out,” Brennan told NBC News in March after Senator Dianne Feinstein issued a blistering condemnation of the CIA on the Senate floor, accusing his agency of hacking into the computers used by her intelligence committee’s staffers. “Let me assure you the CIA was in no way spying on or the Senate,” he said.

After the CIA inspector general’s report completely contradicted Brennan’s statements, it now appears Brennan was forced to privately apologize to intelligence committee chairs in a “tense” meeting earlier this week. Other Senators on Thursday pushed for Brennan to publicly apologize and called for an independent investigation. Sen. Ron Wyden said it well:

.@CIA broke into Senate computer files. Then tried to have Senate staff prosecuted. Absolutely unacceptable in a democracy.

more

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/31/cia-director-john-brennan-lied-senate

An Advance in Tractor-Beam Technology

The term “tractor beam” is thought to have made its first appearance in “Spacehounds of IPC,” a sci-fi novel by Edward E. Smith published in 1947. Smith, whose work has been cited as an influence by the likes of Arthur C. Clarke, George Lucas, and J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of the show “Babylon 5,” worked as the chief chemist for a Michigan flour mill (his specialty was doughnut mixes). His best-known works, the Lensman and Skylark series, are full of imagined technologies that, like the tractor beam, were far beyond the reaches of contemporary science but nevertheless based on seemingly sound principles.

Scientists first began working on making tractor beams a reality in the nineteen-nineties, after the Russian ceramics engineer Eugene Podkletnov reported that certain small objects, when placed above a superconducting disk supported on a rotating magnetic field, lost up to two per cent of their weight. His experiment—the results of which were met with widespread, albeit somewhat knee-jerk, skepticism in the physics community—seemed to indicate that it was possible to neutralize the force of gravity, at least in part. Further experiments followed; in 2001, Podkletnov and the Italian physicist Giovanni Modanese built what they called an impulse gravity generator, a device that emitted a beam of focussed radiation in a “short repulsive force.”

Until recently, no one had managed to move anything bigger than a particle. (There was brief excitement earlier this year, when researchers from Australia and Spain successfully moved a plastic sphere fifty nanometres across—around a thousand times thinner than a human hair—by splitting a beam of light in two and using it to press in on the sphere from each side, like a pair of tweezers.) Even NASA has tried to get in on the action, although their vision seems somewhat lacking when compared with the many tractor-beam scenarios already laid out in science fiction: the team of scientists tasked with the job are supposed to come up with more efficient ways of clearing “orbital debris,” i.e., space garbage. (And they don’t look happy about it.)

Now scientists from the University of Dundee, in Scotland, have created something with a bit more muscle. While most of the documented experiments with tractor-beam technology so far have involved light waves, the team from Dundee used sound waves to manipulate a half-inch triangular prism made of metal and rubber, successfully pulling the target toward the source of the acoustic beam. Half an inch may not sound like much, but it’s a vast improvement on fifty nanometres. The experiment was part of a larger project across four U.K. universities—Bristol, Southampton, Glasgow, and Dundee—and took nine months to complete. The results have been published in Physical Review Letters.

more

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/scottish-tractor-beam

The Kids Who Beat Autism

By RUTH PADAWER
JULY 31, 2014

At first, everything about L.'s baby boy seemed normal. He met every developmental milestone and delighted in every discovery. But at around 12 months, B. seemed to regress, and by age 2, he had fully retreated into his own world. He no longer made eye contact, no longer seemed to hear, no longer seemed to understand the random words he sometimes spoke. His easygoing manner gave way to tantrums and head-banging. “He had been this happy, happy little guy,” L. said. “All of a sudden, he was just fading away, falling apart. I can’t even describe my sadness. It was unbearable.” More than anything in the world, L. wanted her warm and exuberant boy back.

A few months later, B. received a diagnosis of autism. His parents were devastated. Soon after, L. attended a conference in Newport, R.I., filled with autism clinicians, researchers and a few desperate parents. At lunch, L. (who asked me to use initials to protect her son’s privacy) sat across from a woman named Jackie, who recounted the disappearance of her own boy. She said the speech therapist had waved it off, blaming ear infections and predicting that Jackie’s son, Matthew, would be fine. She was wrong. Within months, Matthew acknowledged no one, not even his parents. The last word he had was “Mama,” and by the time Jackie met L., even that was gone.

In the months and years that followed, the two women spent hours on the phone and at each other’s homes on the East Coast, sharing their fears and frustrations and swapping treatment ideas, comforted to be going through each step with someone who experienced the same terror and confusion. When I met with them in February, they told me about all the treatments they had tried in the 1990s: sensory integration, megadose vitamins, therapeutic horseback riding, a vile-tasting powder from a psychologist who claimed that supplements treated autism. None of it helped either boy.

Together the women considered applied behavior analysis, or A.B.A. — a therapy, much debated at the time, that broke down every quotidian action into tiny, learnable steps, acquired through memorization and endless repetition; they rejected it, afraid it would turn their sons into robots. But just before B. turned 3, L. and her husband read a new book by a mother claiming that she used A.B.A. on her two children and that they “recovered” from autism. The day after L. finished it, she tried the exercises in the book’s appendix: Give an instruction, prompt the child to follow it, reward him when he does. “Clap your hands,” she’d say to B. and then take his hands in hers and clap them. Then she would tickle him or give him an M&M and cheer, “Good boy!” Though she barely knew what she was doing, she said, “he still made amazing progress compared with anything he’d gotten before.”

more
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/magazine/the-kids-who-beat-autism.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Drug-resistant malaria has spread across Southeast Asia

Resistance to the world's most effective anti-malarial drug, artemisinin, is now widespread across mainland Southeast Asia, seriously threatening global malaria control and elimination, according to a study led by Oxford University researchers based in Thailand.

The study, which analysed blood samples from 1241 malaria patients in 10 countries across Asia and Africa, found that artemisinin resistance in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is now firmly established in Western Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Eastern Myanmar and Northern Cambodia. There are also signs of emerging resistance in Central Myanmar, Southern Laos and Northeastern Cambodia.

Reassuringly, there are no signs of resistance in the three African sites included in the study: in Kenya, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The study also suggests that extending the course of antimalarial treatment in areas with established resistance – for six days rather than the standard three days – could offer a temporary solution to this worsening problem.

'It may still be possible to prevent the spread of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites across Asia and then to Africa by eliminating them, but that window of opportunity is closing fast,' says senior author Professor Nicholas White, Professor of Tropical Medicine at the University of Oxford and Chair of the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network. 'Conventional malaria control approaches won't be enough – we will need to take more radical action and make this a global public health priority without delay.'

more

http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2014-07-31-drug-resistant-malaria-has-spread-across-southeast-asia

Which dinosaurs survived? The ones that shrank the fastest.

If almost all dinosaurs had feathers, as recent studies have indicated, what determined which ones would evolve into birds? According to new research published in Science, the mantra of the dino-birds was “just keep shrinking.” In fact, the dinosaur lineage that produced our modern birds spent 50 million years continually getting smaller and smaller in size, while their fellow feathered dinosaurs stayed bulky. This was the key to their survival, according to researchers.

Lead study author Michael Lee, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at The University of Adelaide, said that birds are the remnants of the fastest-evolving group of dinosaurs. The family tree that his team created tracked more than 1,500 skeletal characteristics over 50 million years, showing that the theropods—the carnivorous dinosaurs, including Tyrannosaurus, that would eventually become birds—shrank markedly at least 12 times. Starting from an average mass of 163 kilograms, the theropod suborder eventually produced the .8 kilogram Archaeopteryx, which is considered the earliest bird.

The theropods, Lee said, were the only group to continually push the envelope when it came to skeletal size. It’s possible that herbivores simply couldn’t shrink, since a plant-based diet requires a larger gut for digestion. Meanwhile, theropods could explore alternate resources, habitats, and even prey. “It would have permitted them to chase insects, climb trees, leap and glide, and eventually develop powered flight,” Lee said. “All of these activities would have led to novel new anatomical adaptations.” So as the dinosaurs shrank, their other features evolved more quickly (which led to faster shrinking to take advantage of these new abilities, and so on).

It’s possible that the small size of bird ancestors provided more than one entry into flight: Their small size would make it physically possible for wings to lift their bodies into the air, while larger relatives relied on gliding instead. The awkward gait of a bird—a symptom of its forward center of gravity, which makes flight possible—would have been impossible on a larger frame as well.

more with video
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2014/07/31/which-dinosaurs-survived-the-ones-that-shrank-the-fastest/

The federal government’s own statistics show that marijuana is safer than alcohol

By Christopher Ingraham

Opponents of marijuana legalization return to one particular number over and over in their arguments: the number of emergency room visits involving marijuana. This ONDCP fact sheet breathlessly reports that "mentions of marijuana use in emergency room visits have risen 176 percent since 1994, surpassing those of heroin." The Drug Enforcement Administration's "Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse," a 41-page tour-de-force of decontextualized factoids, reports that marijuana was involved in nearly half a million E.R. visits in 2011, second only to cocaine.

The problem, of course, is that these numbers are meaningless without knowing how many people are using those drugs to start with. When you consider that are approximately 70 times more marijuana users than heroin users in the United States, it makes that more of the former are going to the hospital than the latter.

Since the government doesn't provide these comparisons in a meaningful way, I've done it myself below. The raw numbers behind the chart are in a table at the end of this post.



more

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/07/31/the-federal-governments-own-statistics-show-that-marijuana-is-safer-than-alcohol/?Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost

Thursday TOON Roundup 4- The Rest


Evolution






Summer




NFL




Argentina bankruptcy




Immigrants

Thursday TOON Roundup 3-Impeachment deniers











Thursday Toon Roundup 2- CONgress















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