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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
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New Trampled Snow Art from Simon Beck

Since 2004 England-based Simon Beck has strapped on a pair of snowshoes and lumbered out into the the freshly fallen snow at the Les Arcs ski resort in France to trample out his distinctly geometric patterns, footprint by footprint. Each work takes the 54-year-old artist anywhere between 6 hours and two days to complete, an impressive physical feat aided from years of competitive orienteering. The orienteering also helps him in the precise mapping process which often begins on a computer before he’s able to mark landmarks in the snow that guide his precise walking patterns. All of the works above (with the exception of the portrait) are from the last few weeks, you can see several years worth of work over on Facebook.

Study: Mistletoe Effective Against Colon Cancer

SOUTH AUSTRALIA, Australia (CBSDC) – Researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia have found another purpose for mistletoe – apart from helping potential suitors steal kisses around the holidays.

Mistletoe could also be used to help the effectiveness of chemotherapy, or could even act as an alternative to chemotherapy for treatment of colon cancer, according to Newswise.

The American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C. noted on its official website that colorectal cancers are preventable – as many as 45 percent of occurrences could be curbed with dietary and habit modifications.

Despite that fact, the news of a potential new cure could all the same come as a relief to many at-risk American patients of both genders, as according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, colon cancer is the second leading type of cancer that affects men and women in the United States.

If only fish had breasts

I’m no expert on vertebrates but I do remember somewhere in my undergraduate learning that a distinguishing feature of mammals was the mammary glands. Those o’ so important glands that provide nourishment to offspring.

But what does an animal do if it doesn’t have access to milk producing glands. In snails, which I know better, young larvae often just thrown out into the ocean and told “Find your own damn food!”. In the really lucky species, the larvae are hatched with a yolk sac. In the really unlucky species, like those in the genus Neptunea, an entire stalk of eggs are laid by the female. The first few juveniles to hatch go through and consume their unborn siblings.

Discus fish, obviously lacking mammary glands, produce a breast milk surrogate. No, not that kind of surrogate. ”Hey Ms. Manatee*, would you mind coming over here and let my young suckle on your teat?” Discus fish parents secrete a highly nutritious mucus all over their bodies that the young feed on until old enough to feed themselves. If mom is dried up, there is always dad! “Then they left [hatching area] en masse and began feeding on their parents’ mucus, feeding for up to 10 min by biting at the parent’s side until the parent expertly ‘flicked’ the shoal over to its partner to continue feeding.” The mucus, although always secreted, becomes more protein rich and full of antibodies during the juvenile feeding phase.

Buckley, J., Maunder, R. J., Foey, A., Pearce, J., Val, A. L. and Sloman, K. A. (2010). Biparental mucus feeding: a unique example of parental care in an Amazonian cichlid. J. Exp. Biol. 213, 3787-3795.


Ion Thruster Sets World Record

While the Dawn spacecraft is visiting the asteroids Vesta and Ceres, NASA Glenn has been developing the next generation of ion thrusters for future missions. NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) Project has developed a 7-kilowatt ion thruster that can provide the capabilities needed in the future.

An ion thruster produces small levels of thrust relative to chemical thrusters, but does so at higher specific impulse (or higher exhaust velocities), which means that an ion thruster has a fuel efficiency of 10-12 times greater than a chemical thruster. The higher the rocket's specific impulse (fuel efficiency), the farther the spacecraft can go with a given amount of fuel. Given that an ion thruster produces small levels of thrust relative to chemical thrusters, it needs to operate in excess of 10,000 hours to slowly accelerate the spacecraft to speeds necessary to reach the asteroid belt or beyond.

The NEXT ion thruster has been operated for over 43,000 hours, which for rocket scientists means that the thruster has processed over 770 kilograms of xenon propellant and can provide 30 million-newton-seconds of total impulse to the spacecraft. This demonstrated performance permits future science spacecraft to travel to varied destinations, such as extended tours of multi-asteroids, comets, and outer planets and their moons.


Non Sequitur Toon Today:

Toon- What is Wrong with Them?

By far the strangest 'Christmas" Cartoon I have ever seen

Mr. Fish- Let There Be Lights

Alienation, tragedy, and the canaries in the coal mine

ON DECEMBER 25, 2012

I had originally planned on writing something lighthearted for Christmas. But with the tragic school shooting in Newtown coming right in the middle of the holiday season, it seemed trite to pen a screed offering little more than best wishes and good tidings. Instead, I began to consider how we became a nation where young men feel so alienated that they decide to mass murder children as some deranged cry for attention.

I can’t help but wonder how much responsibility modern society has for creating the Adam Lanzas and James Holmeses of the world. I’m not excusing them nor am I suggesting that “the world is cold” is in any way an acceptable defense. But when mass shootings have become almost commonplace, I think it’s worth asking if something more is breaking down than just the unstable minds of a few angry men.

Several months ago, while visiting Machu Picchu, I was struck by the general happiness of the Peruvian people. I asked my tour guide if there was hunger in Peru, and he said there was hunger in Lima, the comparatively wealthy capital, but not in Cusco where we were staying. He explained that the community and family bonds in the Sacred Valley area kept people from falling through the cracks but that in Lima people were largely on their own.

This made me wonder if there was something about the modern world that is incompatible with compassion. Why are people left to go hungry in Lima but not in Cusco? Similarly, why in America, an extraordinarily wealthy nation, do we still have beggars on the street? It raises the question: “Is alienation the price of progress?”

much more

Toon- "Safe" Handgun

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