Science & Technology

Biology, physics, geology, astronomy, ecology, chemistry, robotics, computers, artificial intelligence, and topics related to these fields.

2012 Roundup

— Filed under: Science & Technology, Opinion
Using infrared images from NASA's Spitzer Spac...


When I first stumbled across this date, the prophecies and significance that have been associated with 21/12/2012 (before the movie may I add), I was hugely drawn in by the vast number of different predictions on what would happen (if anything), and how the these foreseen events would occur... in approximately 21 months from now?

What does stand out to me is the amount, the different standpoints but yet similar views on this “End of Age”.

First off and probably the most hyped is the Mayan Calendar, which runs out on this exact date, (erm well by some people's calculations).

Popol Vuh is the Mayan Creation Myth, that the Earth, humanity, and life experience cycles of destruction and re-birth over long periods of time, every 26,000 years. This is called the Long Count.  Throughout the Mayan culture and to this day the stars have had a huge part to play in their outlook on the cycles of earth, harvest, socio-structures and of course the measurement of these, and more importantly the measurement of time.… Continues …

Should "Anonymous" Hack the Westboro Baptist Church?

— Filed under: Breaking News, People & Culture, Science & Technology
Anonymous with Guy Fawkes masks at Scientology...

Image via Wikipedia

"Anonymous Hates WBC"

The Westboro Baptist Church is best-known for picketing military funerals and gay pride gatherings with "God Hates Fags" and other slogans deemed offensive and shocking by most who see them. They're led by the incendiary Fred Phelps, who burned a Koran last September. WBC and Phelps always seem to be looking for new ways to push the envelope when it comes to hate.

While their actions might be protected as free speech, that's not going to stop "Anonymous", a hacker group with a simple name but an already-impressive list of accomplishments. Anonymous is best-known for shutting down Mubarak government websites earlier this month, and bringing down the websites of Visa and Mastercard last year, in defense of Wikileaks. More recently, Anonymous absolutely destroyed security firm HBGary and delivered a scathing come-uppance letter on the firm's hacked front page.… Continues …

Attack of the Drones

— Filed under: People & Culture, Science & Technology

If you thought the TSA's new "naked scanners" and enhanced pat-downs were invasive and obnoxious, you haven't seen anything yet. Cue The Ride of the Valkyries and pan to the horizon: here comes the attack of the personal drones.

The age of personal robots has long been predicted, and it appears that with respect to personal drones, that age is already upon us. The biggest and most publicized entry into the market has been the Parrot AR.Drone, a "quadricopter" with an onboard video camera sending a real-time feed to your iPhone (which also acts as the controller). Marketed as a video game and with a price tag of just $300, the applications are really endless. Let the flying and spying begin.… Continues …

Murder of John P. Wheeler Connected to Mass Bird Deaths?

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government, Science & Technology


Last week, a celebrated and influential Pentagon insider and defense contractor was found dead in Delaware. The body of John P. Wheeler was discovered as a garbage truck dumped its load at a landfill. The death has been ruled a homicide, and thus far the investigators who are piecing together the case have offered no clear motive or reason for his mysterious murder.

In seemingly unrelated news, there has been a sudden die-off of birds and fish in the southern United States that has a lot of people talking about the apocalypse. First 5,000 blackbirds plummeted to the earth in Arkansas, littering the ground with their corpses and even hitting passers-by. Then a few days later, 500 red-winged blackbirds and starlings were found dead in nearby Louisiana. And 80,000 drum fish died in an Arkansas river close to where the blackbirds died.… Continues …

Science Upended Again: The Fountain of Youth and Living Clouds

— Filed under: Breaking News, Science & Technology
The Fountain of Youth by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Image via Wikipedia

Just when we think that we have a grasp on what's possible — on the outer limits of what science is likely to achieve or learn — something comes along to turn all that on its head. If, like many people (including myself), you thought that science would probably never discover anything resembling a fountain of youth, it turns out you were wrong. Not only have scientists recently succeeded in slowing down the aging process in mice, they have actually reversed it.

According to PopSci, scientists at Harvard "turned unhealthy old mice into youthful versions of themselves." Ronald DePinho, the lead scientist working on the project, told the Guardian:

"What we saw in these animals was not a slowing down or stabilisation of the ageing process. We saw a dramatic reversal – and that was unexpected... These were severely aged animals, but after a month of treatment they showed a substantial restoration, including the growth of new neurons in their brains."

Wikileaks: What's The Point?

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government, Science & Technology
 History Is The Only Guidebook Civil...

Image by Fräulein Schiller via Flickr

As much as I like the idea of a rebellious man-without-a-country causing grief to all the world's governments in the name of freedom, I must admit I'm having some serious misgivings in light of the latest Wikileaks' release.

I'll let you read about the latest bombshells at the New York Times special section or The Guardian. What I'm having trouble with is understanding exactly how these leaks are supposed to help anyone. I'm not alone. As Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor of the The Atlantic puts it:

"What responsibility does Assange have to this country? Does American media exist to serve the immediate good of the American public? Or is there some longer, greater, good in disclosing these dispatches? Is information, in and of itself, good?"

Do You Want Safety or Freedom?

— Filed under: Politics & Government, Science & Technology, Opinion

A mobile closed-circuit TV van monitoring a st...

Image via Wikipedia

It seems to me almost everyday there is something in the news about new security measures being taken in a western country to "combat crime and terrorism". It really makes me wonder how many of our freedoms and civil rights we willing to give up in order to feel safe. Are we on our way to a 1984 like society? Are all these new measures as necessary as the governments would have us believe?… Continues …

Something is Happening in the Ring of Fire

— Filed under: Breaking News, Science & Technology
Krakatoa or Krakatau or Krakatao is a volcanic...

Image via Wikipedia

Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatoa) - Ready to blow?

It's been quite a week for the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Mount Merapi blew its top, taking the lives of dozens, including Mbah Maridjan, Merapi's sacred gatekeeper (or 'kuncen'), who "died instantly in a 1,000-degree Celsius pyroclastic flow, a fast-moving wall of superheated gas and ash." There have been several powerful eruptions since then, with the latest occurring today. Mount Merapi holds special significance for the Javanese, who view it as part of a spiritual axis of the world.

On the same day that Merapi started erupting, there was a magnitude 7.7 earthquake off Sumatra that sent a tsunami crashing into the Mentawai islands. The latest death toll stands at 449 and is certain to rise.

And now Krakatoa is rumbling to life (video here). Or more accurately, Anak Krakatau (meaning literally 'child of Krakatoa'), the volcano which arose from the ashes after the original volcano blew itself to smithereens in 1883 in the loudest explosion in modern history.… Continues …

The Third Dimension - Just an Illusion?

— Filed under: Breaking News, Science & Technology
Cell-first perspective projection of the tesse...
3D: What a rip-off!

Nevermind trying to understand the fourth dimension. It turns out that the good ol' third dimension, loved and relied upon by millions worldwide, may in fact be nothing more than a holographic illusion, and that the entire universe really exists in just two dimensions.

Confused? PopSci offers a brainy-but-still-sort-of-understandable summary:

"The universe-as-hologram theory is predicated on the idea that spacetime is not perfectly smooth, but becomes discrete and pixelated as you zoom in further and further, like a low-res digital image. This idea isn’t novel; recent experiments in black-hole physics have offered evidence that this may be the case, and prominent physicists have proposed similar ideas. Under this theory, the universe actually exists in two dimensions and the third is an illusion produced by the intertwining of time and depth. But the false third dimension can’t be perceived as such, because nothing travels faster than light, so instruments can’t find its limits."

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