Breaking science news and multimedia, heavy on astronomy and physics (and heavy on citing). New vids, pics, articles, and the occasional research post for http://researchblogging.org/

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

New 3d Videos From Hubble

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Earlier this week, HUBBLE released a batch of short videos that are quite impressive.

The Helix Nebula.  This one gets more impressive as it progresses.



Flight Into the Carina Pillars



Tour of Star-Forming Region Sharpless 2-106



The Butterfly Nebula




The first question that comes to mind is...
How did we get such detail from so many angles to produce these?
NASA as an example for Helix Nebula video explains it well.
"Astronomers combined highly detailed images of the Helix Nebula from the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys, with images from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. From these observations, they were able to analyze the data and construct a 3-D model from measurements of the Helix Nebula using ground-based optical and radio telescopes to show the speed and direction of the outflows of material from the nebula."


All Video Credits: NASA/ESA/Hubble



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Friday, December 30, 2011

Chemistry Video that Will Win You Over: The most powerful and attractive presentation of a discipline of science I've ever seen, hands down!

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Do you like Chemistry?  I'm gonna be honest with you.  I really haven't been too much of a fan... Until about 10 minutes ago when I saw this video.

I have NEVER seen such a powerful and attractive presentation of a discipline of science.  Nothing on par to match this.  EVER. Enjoy!



Downright Amazing,

Video Credit: University of Nottingham/ Found via Gizmodo


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Lions and Flying Devil Rays

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Cut me some slack and file this under Biology
This guy's job amazes me.  I realized as I watched this video that my jaw had involuntarily dropped.  I must share it!  It's like seeing a spring, coiled tight, with razor sharp things (claws) aimed right you.  Emotionally harrowing from the devastating potential.  It makes me nervous just watching it.  I'd go batty in person at ANY proximity.



Video Credit: Barcroft Media


Flying devil rays are an amazing thing to see.  I often wondered what motive ocean creatures have to propel themselves above the surface.  Devil rays are a lesser known example with this tendency.



Video Credit: BBC - Found via Io9




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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Autonomous Flying Robots Working Together To Create A 20 Foot Tower

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I'm astounded.  I'm amazed.  I'm scared.  Is there a sign up list for a cybernetics program?  Otherwise, we're doomed...  Or at least masons are.


Flight Assembled Architecture/Architectures volantes from FRAC Centre on Vimeo.
 

 Credit: FRAC Centre OrlĂ©ans 02.12.2011-19.02.2012
A project by Gramazio & Kohler and Raffaello d'Andrea
in cooperation with ETH Zurich  found via Io9



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Friday, December 23, 2011

There's a Hell of a Lot More To Bubbles Than You Think

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A long standing problem in physics has been to create a physical structure of foam/bubbles with the lowest energy state (optimum state of rest).  Already, computer simulations have succeeded.  Now, scientists just succeeded to create this orientation physically in the lab.

Here they share their journey and success.
This is a very dry, academic approach.



Video Credit: Trinity College Dublin found via PhysOrg

I think these scientists' reaction to their own project is a special thing to see.  These scientists solved a problem, gaining prestige and immense personal satisfaction.  Applications, innovations using this science mainly falls on the shoulders of scientists of the future.  There is a track record of science for the sake of science providing the groundwork for important real world usage, sometimes a generation or more later.  A large challenge we in America have with our diminishing science budget is the incapability of those slinging the money to appreciate that this is the case.







The Artistic Side to Bubbles
To accompany this, a work of art made by injecting inks into groups of bubbles.  First found on Krulwich Wonders over at NPR.  Krulwich interviews Manu.

Intuitively, people might think grouping bubbles would clump "squished, like a balloon." Not the case! 

An excerpt of the interview to keep in mind while watching:
"Over and over and over again, [where there is inter-bubble contact] it's the same angle! Roughly (in the natural soapsud world, there are variations around the mean) 120 degrees."


Compressed 02 from Kim Pimmel on Vimeo.

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Learn About the Human Eye

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YouTube can really blow me away sometimes.  In this educational and interactive video, we learn about the anatomy of the eye, its quirks, and functionality.  Eloquent, the narrator doesn't have any vocal crutches.

"Why we have blind spots - and how to see the blood vessels inside your own eye!"



Video Credit: YouTube user thegnome54


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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Behind the Scenes at NASA: Stress Testing on the James Webb Telescope

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NASA just released a short video on the James Webb Telescope, this focusing on the stress tests for the mirrors on the satellite.



Video Credit: NASA/Hubble/Space Telescope Science Institute



The scientist and interviewer are inside a "clean tent," and the mirror itself is behind a clear plastic casing.  Immediately it rings of toxicity.  I assumed the precautions were a necessity for a pristine condition for testing; but no, toxicity is actually a factor here.  The beryllium mirror, if fractured during testing, could spray dust deadly to the scientists.

Rarely is the image of these workers are seen as "badass."  Pretty cool.

My only complaints:  The volume is a little low, and bear through the layman explanation of "G".




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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ironic: Anti-Prejudice Experiments Show that Our Efforts are Making Things Worse

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ResearchBlogging.org
A brilliant and game changing set of experiments on anti-prejudice efforts has been released in the Journal Psychological Science.  The hypothesis, which proved to stand up, said that self-motivated reasoning provides a greater influence against prejudice than a "controlled" approach, pressure exerted from outside sources.

We spend billions of dollars annually to combat racism and intolerance, but the methodology we currently employ seems to be worse than ineffective.  It actually induces the opposite effect.  The backfiring of this direct pressure approach may stem from rebellious and non-conformist mentality reactions.  The authors suggest that this approach deflates one's sense of autonomy and instructs the person to sacrifice the attempt at personal decision making in lieu of conforming to societal demands.  Often these demands are supported by equality laws, implying the pressure even of legal repercussion.

The experiments involved in this study are very impressive.  In one, brochures were given to a random selection of college students.  In another, 2 questionnaires were developed and distributed randomly to the subjects.  Per standard scientific procedure, control groups are present.

In each of these two experiments, one group received content worded, in my opinion, masterfully.  The subtlety in their creation allow for both sides to seem very reasonable not in the least suspicious.

I'll share here first the brochure except with the autonomous motivational approach.

"Why it's Important to Reduce Prejudice in Our Society
As a society, we hold the virtues of tolerance and nonprejudice in a very special
place - they are important because they increase open-mindedness and social
justice. Social justice is the vital ingredient in a free, fair, and peaceful society.
When equality and equity among human beings are achieved, there is less reason
for any group or individual to be unhappy...... 


It is also important to be nonprejudiced because it is so interesting to interact with and learn about people from other cultural and social groups. We live in a wonderful and diverse cultural community. That diversity makes our society great because it brings a wealth of knowledge and experience together. When we let go of prejudice, the rich diversity of society is ours to enjoy...... 

Not to mention, being open-minded is a real advantage to our mood and well-being. When there is less racial and cultural tension, people are happier and healthier, and better able to do the things they enjoy...... 

You are free to choose to value nonprejudice. Only you can decide to be an egalitarian person...... 

In today’s increasingly diverse and multicultural society, such a personal choice is likely to help you feel connected to yourself and your social world......"    

-----

Here is the controlled approach, not to be confused with the Control Group.  This, typical in style of what is used in government funded programs.  You often hear Stamp Out, Eradicate, etc prejudice or racism.  We must stop using blatant instructions such as these, and be more tactful if we want to gain ground.  


"In today's society, you must control prejudice. In other words, being Canadian
means having an anti-prejudiced attitude. For instance, The Human Rights,
Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act prohibits discrimination in employment
based on the grounds of race, color, ancestry, place of origin, religious beliefs
........ 


Employers have an obligation to create a ‘no prejudice’ workplace, and
companies face legal liability for workplace prejudice or discrimination. The same
standards are being set in the education domain. In fact, a recent government
policy initiative by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada requires
that educators demand anti-prejudice classrooms. Teachers and students caught
displaying racist attitudes and behavior can face serious consequences, such as
termination or expulsion........ 


There are also social perks to controlling racism - for instance, low prejudiced people tend to be better liked than racists. The better we are at reducing prejudice, the more we are likely to fit in with today’s anti-prejudice norms. Research studies reveal that people with prejudiced attitudes are at risk of being excluded or ostracized. In one recent study, most people reported that their social groups at work and at school disapproved of prejudice and racism, and people feared being looked down upon if they made prejudiced or racist remarks........ 

In today’s multicultural society, we should all be less prejudiced.
We should all refrain from negative stereotyping. It is, after all, the politically and
socially correct thing to do, and it's something that society demands of us ."



The culmination of data supported their claim.  Control subjects lie right in the middle.  The self-motivated or "autonomous" approach works best.  The controlled approach, which we currently use in the public, actually raised prejudice levels.

How ironic.




Authors of
Ironic Effects of Antiprejudice Messages
How Motivational Interventions Can Reduce (but Also Increase) Prejudice

Lisa Legault,
Jennifer N. Gutsell and
Michael Inzlicht

Initially found via Science Daily, Published paper is HERE (costs money/membership).  Review version of this paper is available HERE.

Legault, L., Gutsell, J., & Inzlicht, M. (2011). Ironic Effects of Antiprejudice Messages: How Motivational Interventions Can Reduce (but Also Increase) Prejudice Psychological Science, 22 (12), 1472-1477 DOI: 10.1177/0956797611427918



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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Simon Pegg and Brian Cox: Laughs With Physics

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Brian Cox's approach is unmatched.  Hilarious and fun, this is how teaching should be taught!



Video Credit: BBC



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Excellent and Varied Educational Video Collection on YouTube: The Floating University

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The Floating University.  Right at that YouTube link, I just spent about an hour and a half watching the 30 videos uploaded by this organization.  Quite stimulating, the videos are each 2-4 minutes long, covering topics that range from physics to biology, economics to psychology, sociology, investments, problems we'll face in the future, stem cells, the arts, attributes for what makes a "classic", religion...
This really runs the gamut.  Instead of 3 TV shows, maybe a mediocre movie, treat yourself to a viewing of this collection.  I'm highly impressed, and I was very entertained.

Who are these people and why should I take them seriously?
"The Floating University is a joint venture between The Jack Parker Corporation and Big Think, a knowledge forum where the world's top experts engage the thinking public to explore the big ideas and core skills defining the 21st century."

Big Think's website provides a ton of articles, some of which have videos along with the content.  I just discovered this resource today, so I can't vouch for a damn thing.  What I can say is that their list of experts they draw upon is very very impressive.  Have a quick look here.


ON BIG THINK, IN THEIR WORDS:
"Every idea on Big Think comes from our ever-growing network of 2,000 Big Think fellows and guest speakers, who comprise the top thinkers and doers from around the globe. Our editorial team regularly sources ideas from these experts, asking them about the most important ideas in their respective fields. Our editors then sift through the submitted ideas and determine which qualify to appear on Big Think, subjecting each to our simple, three-pronged standard geared to your interests:

a) significance — how will this idea change the world and impact your life?

b) relevance — what groups and individuals does this idea most affect?

c) application — how can this idea change the way you think or act?

Big Think's editorial team then packages and presents these ideas to you, our users, using the range of multimedia tools the Internet makes possible, with the aim of distilling each idea to its essence. "


This seems more than reasonable, an admirable project.


The Jack Parker Corporation however...
Is a real estate company...
Their website is sleek but overbearing and too "in your face" for my liking.

There, nothing involved with academia is mentioned.  Their involvement in this "joint venture" then, I assume, is financial only.  I don't like that, but oh well.



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Friday, December 16, 2011

I Got Quite Emotional Watching This 2 Part Christopher Hitchens Compilation

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Christopher Hitchens died today of esophageal cancer.  He was a brick wall of logic.  Never shaken, he stood for REASON.  I for one will sorely miss the lack of this man's influence.
WARNING: OVERTLY ATHEISTIC.  UNRELENTING, HITCH DOES NOT PULL PUNCHES.

PART ONE

PART 2


 
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Today's New Astronomy Videos - Comet Harpoons and Telescopes

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Always exciting, there's a great new video by Goddard Multimedia:
"NASA Developing Comet Harpoon for Sample Return"
A comet harpoon is exactly what you would think it'd be.  The spacecraft approaches the asteroid or comet, then launches a sharp cylinder which gathers material samples during impact.  The sheath is left in the object and the sample container is withdrawn and brought home.  I think it's very cool that measures are being taken to maintain the pristine uncontaminated state of these samples specifically to allow for future scientists with new technology to inspect the samples in greater (different) detail.



Video Credits: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center




Deep Sky Videos, a spin off of Sixty Symbols, recently released this video on Deep Sky Objects.  It's particularly interesting to learn that telescopic camera exposures of any decent length have an increasingly higher probability of catching a picture wide streak from objects in orbit.



Video Credit:Deep Sky Videos



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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

All the Coolest Science Videos in the News Today

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Rapid fire recent cool science videos across the web:
Base Jumping in a Flying Squirrel Suit
From NPR.org
The making of section shows the science and psychology involved in basejumping. 


SENSE OF FLYING from Goovinn on Vimeo.



Baby Sloth Orphanage, one of the cutest things I've ever seen.  Chalk it up to biology and call it science.  Deal?
Found on Wired.com and RichardDawkins.net





Here's a super quick artist's impression video of the sun.
Found on Hubble's SpaceTelescope.org
Unfortunately, I have no clue how to modify the html of this embedded video to resize it.  This particular code is weird.  Sorry!

Loading player...




MIT makes a breakthrough on imaging.  The way I understand it, their precise pulses via a laser, in tandem with advanced cameras and precision detectors, allows them to inferentially see actual photons.
Found at MIT






Shared by Lights in the Dark,
"Is Vesta a Planet Among Asteroids?"
Vesta has a molten iron core.  That in itself is enough to raise eyebrows.  What category should Vesta be placed in?  More intriguingly, what can we still learn from its past?




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Monday, December 12, 2011

Unified Theory BS: I Debunk "The Schwarzschild Proton" by Nassim Haramein

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[UPDATE: I took a second to search for Nassim's other works and... WELL!  He's pretty convinced (and he's trying to convince you) that NASA is covering up data of UFO's the size of the Earth caught on video entering the sun.  

If you know me, you know that I obviously disagree. 

According to him, these aliens are doing this in order to use the sun's singularity at it's core for space travel...  It gets better too.  Their smaller ships zip into our volcanoes to use the Earth's singularity for similar wormhole based travel. 

Honestly, I think it's wildly entertaining; but sometimes it also makes me a bit sad.  http://astronasty.blogspot.com/2012/03/nassim-haramein-of-schwarzschild-proton.html
Enjoy it for yourself, but only if you're all caught up with your PhysOrg RSS feed!]    
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Run this 5 minute video through your skeptical litmus test.



If all protons together equal the mass of the universe, what about the extra mass of neutrinos or other light particles that contain mass?  It makes that number, so perfect, so aligned, at first elegant. He extrapolates by combining the observed mass and density of protons with vacuum energy.  Again, this methodology, if a valid phenomenon, would have to be explained further.  Does this effect apply to other particles?  What are the implications there?  Or is this a mathematical trick?

The unification of forces, sought after for a long time, and the incompatibility of standard mechanics of gravity on the quantum scale has been a holy grail of sorts for physicists to resolve.  Now if we look at the nature of standard black holes, not protons, we can't forget that they exist as a singularity on a quantum level.  All we know of black holes then should apply to these schwarzschild protons.  This new theory debunks black hole evaporation. Stephen Hawking will be angered.
Strong force here is conveniently renamed as gravity.  It's not necessarily a revelation, that aspect is only a revelation based on simple semantics. Try to explain how black holes are now, under your theory, positively charged, as protons are already confirmed to be.

So going along with this premise, he mentions that schwarzchild singularities (black holes) are separated by one proton's length.  I didn't catch whether or not the math supported this, but the video didn't seem to provide any verbal explanation of this.  It leads to the very pertinent question: why do these black holes, held together under the law of gravity now instead of gluons, not collide?  If they did collide, we'd see the effects.  We ought to have fusion as a natural process, an inevitable process with everything but hydrogen.  Are traditional black holes, supermassive notably, schwartzchild protons?  How do they differ?  

A quick lookup based on the first few sentences in the video shows University of Leige as a legit University, with one Nobel Laureate. 
I also notice that the video mentions the paper being peer reviewed by 11 scientists and that UoL accepted this paper for an award.  Quite noticeably immediately for me at least... What journal has this been accepted/published by?  If valid, this new model of quanta turns 90 years of quantum research running away with its tail between its legs.  One university's acceptance is not sufficient for something this huge.

Furthermore, this theory, as I understand, is a math-heavy theoretical (hypothetical) model without the support of any experimentation.  In science, your model needs to be supported with data, and must sufficiently predict resulting data to jive with your model.  If the data don't fit, throw away your elegant theory, sir.

This is the website where you can find the paper.  I endorse nothing.  Here is the paper itself.

ResearchBlogging.org

Nassim Haramein (2010). The Schwarzschild Proton
AIP


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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dam, that's impressive

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Feel free to go ahead and fullscreen this.



Back from late October, National Geographic, as part of an overarching project on global water issues, gave us this stunning video of the Condit Dam in Washington State being demolished.  The ecology of the area demanded begged for change in water flow in order for fish population (and populations on upward in the food chain) to thrive again.  Normally politics and big corporation would fight this.  After all, nature can't afford lawyers.  PacifiCorp, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) can though!  They co-sponsored the studies showing that dam removal could be cost-effective.  Luckily, upgrades to the dam would cause a net loss, even when considering that the power generated would have to from then on be provided to local community from elsewhere.

National Geographic provides us with some extra details in their summary: (I almost said abstract)

"For 98 years, the 125-foot high Condit Dam in southeastern Washington State held back the White Salmon River, creating a serene lake, but choking off the waterway to salmon. Wednesday, in an historic effort, the dam was dramatically breached, and ecologists hope the increased flow of water will restore the waterway to fish and other aquatic organisms, as well as the birds and mammals that rely on them."
 


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Friday, December 9, 2011

Lecture on LOLspeak / Effects of Stark Contrast in Audio vs Visual Stimulation

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I can has language play: Construction of Language and Identity in LOLspeak from Lauren Gawne on Vimeo.


Here is an academic lecture in linguistics dissecting LOLspeak.  If you're 30 or over, chances are you are clueless to the existence of this internet forged manipulation of speech.  I found this video absolutely hilarious... But then I asked myself, why this amplified response when I've already had exposure to this phenomenon, this collection of memes?

It's the silly and absurd hitting you at the same time as the speech of an eloquent professor.  This irony is a constant joke.  Despite being 10 minutes or more into the lecture, when the content causes a rise in your attention, the joke factor kicks in again.  The effect is fascinating. 


When watching a video, the soundtrack has a definite effect on the viewer, similar to the sense of taste incorporating smell or texture.  An extremely rare occurrence is the deliberate insertion of audio with emotional quality in stark contrast to the visuals.  This clashing can be quite jarring.

In Boondock Saints, a sermon is heard, while visually, violence rolls on the screen.

In Fallen, the demon Azazel hums or sings the upbeat tune "Time is On My Side."
For some viewers, associations like this can stick in their memory.  In this case, hearing "Time is On My Side" may bring up totally different emotions when revisiting the song than were previously felt.  Could an experience like this "ruin" the song?

I couldn't find any papers on this subject on ArXiv; which wasn't a big surprise considering the content.  What did surprise me was coming up completely dry 10 pages into Google Scholar.

Seems like something worth a study!



Found via Boing Boing



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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Follow Up to My Salvation Army Diatribe

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Follow Up
 The Salvation Army practices discrimination unchecked.  They are a biased, corrupt organization very well disguised. 

Today the American Humanist Association brings to our attention forward progress pushing legislature affecting cases like this.

"Humanists Call On Obama To Stop Taxpayer-Funded Religious Discrimination"
"The American Humanist Association (AHA) is asking the Obama Administration to fulfill a campaign promise and fully reverse religious discrimination policies put in place by the previous administration. These policies give a pass to organizations that receive federal funds but discriminate in their hiring practices on religious grounds."

"The American Humanist Association opposes policies that allow organizations receiving federal funds to discriminate against potential and current employees on the basis of their religion--or lack thereof."



Kudos for action against discrimination.  Religion is not a valid excuse for bigotry.



Check out my argument against the organization, posted a few days ago.  http://astronasty.blogspot.com/2011/12/civil-rights-why-you-should-never.html


Key points on the Salvation Army:
"the organization will refuse to comply with the proposed law because it goes against one of the organization's core beliefs - that same-sex marriage is immoral."

"did not have to provide medical benefits to the same-sex partners of employees.
Mr. Fuscus said the Salvation Army, which is a church, did not want to undermine its theology, which holds that there should be no sexual activity outside marriage.”


"You cannot change theological views. Those are so deeply embedded, they form the root of the faith itself."


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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Most Ghetto Looking CSI Equipment Happens to be the Cutting Edge of Fingerprinting

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Penn State Live, the University's outgoing news source, is now featuring a video on their technological advancements in fingerprinting.  As techniques develop, Crime Scene Investigators can work with more and more precision and efficacy.   

Bad guys=Behind Bars.... Good Guys...=Behind Bars OH WAIT strike that, technology's advanced enough, you can go free.  Be glad it's 2011, buddy.



Penn's description:
"Forensics experts can't always retrieve fingerprints from objects, but a new coating process developed by Penn State professors may change that. The process reveals hard-to-develop fingerprints on nonporous surfaces without altering the chemistry of the print. A coating application suggested by Robert Shaler, founding director of the Penn State forensic science program, and Ahklesh Lakhtakia, Charles Godfrey Binder professor in engineering science and mechanics, uses the physical properties of the fingerprint, not the chemistry of the substances left behind. Another benefit of this approach is the ability to retrieve fingerprints off fragments from explosive devices while still being able to analyze the chemicals used in the device. For more details, go to http://www.live.psu.edu Produced by C. Roy Parker"





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New NASA Video on Drought in Ancient, Future Central America / New TimeScapes Teaser

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Straight out of Goddard Multimedia over at NASA
"Ancient Dry Spells Offer Clues About the Future of Drought"
It's always awesome when they release a narrated video.

"Ancient Meso-American civilizations of the Mayans and Aztecs likely amplified droughts in the Yucatan and southern Mexico by clearing rainforests to make room for pastures and farmland." -NASA


Video Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center




Today Astropixie pointed out a new preview to the much anticipated film
TimeScapes


TimeScapes 4K from Tom Lowe on Vimeo.


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Sunday, December 4, 2011

NASA Video: Gamma Ray Burst Ambiguity

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Last week Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy shared this video from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. 

Compelling visuals, stellar graphics (pun intended), and a banging soundtrack for once.



Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

 NASA's Description via Press Release (This is more layman friendly, upbeat.  Skip down for a more concise explanation)

"A peculiar cosmic explosion first detected by NASA's Swift observatory on Christmas Day 2010 was caused either by a novel type of supernova located billions of light-years away or an unusual collision much closer to home, within our own galaxy. Papers describing both interpretations appear in the Dec. 1 issue of the journal Nature.

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the universe's most luminous explosions, emitting more energy in a few seconds than our sun will during its entire energy-producing lifetime. What astronomers are calling the "Christmas burst" is so unusual that it can be modeled in such radically different ways.

"What the Christmas burst seems to be telling us is that the family of gamma-ray bursts is more diverse than we fully appreciate,” said Christina Thoene, the supernova study's lead author, at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia in Granada, Spain. It's only by rapidly detecting hundreds of them, as Swift is doing, that we can catch some of the more eccentric siblings."

Common to both scenarios is the presence of a neutron star, the crushed core that forms when a star many times the sun's mass explodes. When the star's fuel is exhausted, it collapses under its own weight, compressing its core so much that about a half-million times Earth's mass is squeezed into a sphere no larger than a city.

The Christmas burst, also known as GRB 101225A, was discovered in the constellation Andromeda by Swift's Burst Alert Telescope at 1:38 p.m. EST on Dec. 25, 2010. The gamma-ray emission lasted at least 28 minutes, which is unusually long. Follow-up observations of the burst's afterglow by the Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories were unable to determine the object's distance.

Thoene's team proposes that the burst occurred in an exotic binary system where a neutron star orbited a normal star that had just entered its red giant phase, enormously expanding its outer atmosphere. This expansion engulfed the neutron star, resulting in both the ejection of the giant's atmosphere and rapid tightening of the neutron star's orbit.

Once the two stars became wrapped in a common envelope of gas, the neutron star may have merged with the giant's core after just five orbits, or about 18 months. The end result of the merger was the birth of a black hole and the production of oppositely directed jets of particles moving at nearly the speed of light, followed by a weak supernova.

The particle jets produced gamma rays. Jet interactions with gas ejected before the merger explain many of the burst's signature oddities. Based on this interpretation, the event took place about 5.5 billion light-years away, and the team has detected what may be a faint galaxy at the right location.

"Deep exposures using Hubble may settle the nature of this object," said Sergio Campana, who led the collision study at Brera Observatory in Merate, Italy.

If it is indeed a galaxy, that would be evidence for the binary model. On the other hand, if NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory finds an X-ray point source or if radio telescopes detect a pulsar, that goes against it.

Campana's team supports an alternative model that involves the tidal disruption of a large comet-like object and the ensuing crash of debris onto a neutron star located only about 10,000 light-years away. The scenario requires the break-up of an object with about half the mass of the dwarf planet Ceres. While rare in the asteroid belt, such objects are thought to be common in the icy Kuiper belt beyond Neptune. Similar objects located far away from the neutron star may have survived the supernova that formed it.

Gamma-ray emission occurred when debris fell onto the neutron star. Clumps of cometary material likely made a few orbits, with different clumps following different paths before settling into a disk around the neutron star. X-ray variations detected by Swift's X-Ray Telescope that lasted several hours may have resulted from late-arriving clumps that struck the neutron star as the disk formed.

In the early years of studying GRBs, astronomers had very few events to study in detail and dozens of theories to explain them. In the Swift era, astronomers have settled into two basic scenarios, either the collapse of a massive star or the merger of a compact binary system.

"The beauty of the Christmas burst is that we must invoke two exotic scenarios to explain it, but such rare oddballs will help us advance the field,” said Chryssa Kouveliotou, a co-author of the supernova study at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

NASA's Swift was launched in November 2004 and is managed by Goddard. It is operated in collaboration with several U.S. institutions and partners in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and Japan.









NASA's Description via Goddard Multimedia:
"The Christmas burst, also known as GRB 101225A, was discovered in the constellation Andromeda by Swift's Burst Alert Telescope at 1:38 p.m. EST on Dec. 25, 2010. Two very different scenarios successfully reproduce features of this peculiar cosmic explosion. It was either caused by novel type of supernova located billions of light-years away or an unusual collision much closer to home, within our own galaxy.
Common to both scenarios is the presence of a neutron star, the crushed core that forms when a star many times the sun's mass explodes.

According to one science team, the burst occurred in an exotic binary system where a neutron star orbited a normal star that had just entered its red giant phase. The outer atmosphere of the giant expanded so much that it engulfed the neutron star, which resulted in both the ejection of the giant's atmosphere and rapid tightening of the neutron star's orbit.

Once the two stars became wrapped in a common envelope of gas, the neutron star may have merged with the giant's core after just five orbits, or about 18 months. The end result of the merger was the birth of a black hole and the production of oppositely directed jets of particles moving at nearly the speed of light, which made the gamma rays, followed by a weak supernova. Based on this interpretation, the event took place about 5.5 billion light-years away, and the team has detected what may be a faint galaxy at the right location.

Another team supports an alternative model that involves the tidal disruption of a large comet-like object and the ensuing crash of debris onto a neutron star located only about 10,000 light-years away.

Gamma-ray emission occurred when debris fell onto the neutron star. Clumps of cometary material likely made a few orbits, with different clumps following different paths before settling into a disk around the neutron star. X-ray variations detected by Swift's X-Ray Telescope that lasted several hours may have resulted from late-arriving clumps that struck the neutron star as the disk formed."


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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Parody: Carl Sagan on "The Meat Planet"

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 Lighthearted parody.  Quite a good laugh.  I think he would have watched this with a smile.
Carl Sagan

Born:     November 9, 1934
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.

Died:     December 20, 1996 (aged 62)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.




Caught from Io9
"Lost episode of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos takes us to the Meat Planet"




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Civil Rights: Why You Should NEVER Donate to The Salvation Army

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I know I don't normally post on Civil Rights, but after learning some time ago about the discriminatory practices of The Salvation Army, I decided to put together a tract, or pamphlet if you will.  It exposes their practices by quoting from The New York Times, The Guardian, and more.  Links to all articles are provided.



The Salvation Army is legally a Protestant Christian church. They have for years and years discriminated against gays and lesbians.
The Salvation Army is a Protestant denomination of the Christian Church with over 1.6 million members in 109 countries.
Do you donate?  Do you belong to this church?

May 24, 2004, article in full Salvation Army Uses Homeless To Fight Gay Benefits
New York City — The Salvation Army is threatening to close soup kitchens for tens of thousands of New York's homeless and walk away from other projects if the city enacts legislation requiring firms that do business with New York to offer health benefits to the partners of gay staffers.
The evangelical faith is prepared to give up the $70 million a year in city funding it receives and pull out of New York entirely the New York Post reports.

With soup kitchens, shelters, foster care programs, and HIV services the Salvation Army is one of the largest private aid groups in New York serving some 5 million people annually.
The Salvation Army has several multiyear contracts with the city totaling $250 million. Six city contracts worth $12.8 million are to expire June 30, by which time the bill may be law.
New York City council overwhelmingly approved the legislation earlier this month, and it is sitting on the desk of mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg is opposed to the bill, even though his own company offers partner benefits.  Even if the mayor vetoes the legislation, the support in council is considered sufficient to override it.
Quoting "Salvation Army insiders" the Post said the organization will refuse to comply with the proposed law because it goes against one of the organization's core beliefs - that same-sex marriage is immoral.
"The Army will not change its policy," said one official, who declined to be named.
"You cannot change theological views. Those are so deeply embedded, they form the root of the faith itself."
-Chicago.gopride.com


July 11, 2001 Charity Is Told It Must Abide By Antidiscrimination Laws
''Gays and lesbians are taxpayers, too,'' said David Smith, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a group that advocates antidiscrimination protections for gays. ''Their money should not be used by religious groups to fund discriminatory practices against them.''
A Salvation Army spokesman, David A. Fuscus, said the group was not trying to get permission to discriminate against hiring gays and lesbians for the majority of its roughly 55,000 jobs and merely wanted a federal regulation that made clear that the charity did not have to ordain sexually active gay ministers and did not have to provide medical benefits to the same-sex partners of employees.
Mr. Fuscus said the Salvation Army, which is a church, did not want to undermine its theology, which holds that there should be no sexual activity outside marriage.” -The New York Times



July 10 White House Rejects Salvation Army Proposal
Some state and local laws bar discrimination in hiring gays and lesbians. Others require employers to offer health insurance and other benefits to the domestic partners of gay employees. Typically, these laws do not apply to religious groups. But it's not clear whether groups lose that exemption once they accept taxpayer dollars.” -CBS News
"What this is really about is the Salvation Army trying to get a license to discriminate using public money," said Matt Coles, director of the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Task Force.” -Same Article

Dec. 8, 2010 Sally Ann bans Harry Potter and Twilight toys

CALGARY - The Salvation Army says it refuses to distribute Harry Potter and Twilight toys collected for needy children because they're incompatible with the charity's Christian beliefs.
The policy has alarmed a Calgarian who volunteered to sift through a southeast warehouse full of unused, donated items and was alarmed when he was told by Salvation Army officials that the two kinds of toys are "disposed of" and not given to other charities.
"I asked if these toys went to another charitable organizations but was told no, that by passing these toys on to another agency for distribution would be supporting these toys," said the man, who wouldn't give his name due to his occupation. -Toronto Sun
http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2010/12/08/16478011.html



Jan 30, 2011 Salvation Army under fire over tycoon's profits bonanza
Exclusive: Directors of Kettering Textiles Limited have earned almost £10m since 2008 through deal to run recycling banks
“The Salvation Army is facing calls to explain how it allowed a private businessman to build a multimillion-pound personal fortune with profits from its charitable clothes recycling scheme intended to be used for good causes.
A Guardian investigation into the lucrative operation has revealed that Nigel Hanger, a 56-year old textiles trader from Kettering, has earned almost £10m for himself and three fellow directors since 2008 though a deal to run the Christian charity's nationwide network of 4,500 textile recycling banks.”
-The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jan/30/salvation-army-profits-kettering-textiles



If you desire to donate to an active charity, honoring equality, a force acting against hate and illogical discrimination:
This secular organization's mission is “to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering.”






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Friday, December 2, 2011

Rockets and Octopi

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Wired Online brought to us a crazy video of rocket testing in:
"SMARAGD Rocket Tests Data and High Speed Video"
Expect the ignition to be loud.



This second video of theirs has quite less shock and awe.  It's still pretty otherworldly.  When the rocket starts to sputter out rhythmically it's almost hypnotizing. 



About the Author/Video Credit: Kristian von Bengtson is a space-architect, former contractor for NASA and co-founder of Copenhagen Suborbitals. 


Onward!



Found on today's posting of Deep Sea News, a definite gem.
One thing's for certain, this guy's crazy about the ocean.  Follow him if this stuff is up your alley!
"The Blanket Octopus"



Video Credit:Can't really be sure on this one unfortunately but you have my thanks!


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