1. Redheads are cool

    jake on 2009.04.20 at 12:06 pm

    Though the article is aimed at women the subject matter is not exclusive to them. The mention of anesthesia was especially interesting…

    [..]a recent study from the University of Louisville determined that redheads really do require more anesthesia during surgery.

    When my wisdom teeth were removed the doctor was surprised it took so long for me to get knocked out. It’s apparently one of the superpowers of redheads.

    via Digg.

    Posted in: Science

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  2. The Petition to Keep Michael Griffin at NASA

    brian on 2009.01.02 at 12:21 pm

    There is a petition and campaign to encourage President-elect Barack Obama to keep Dr. Michael Griffin on as head of NASA.

    I’d like to add my two cents to this discussion: Michael Griffin should be run out of Washington on a rail. Possibly tarred and feathered.

    The Bush appointee with seven degrees is certainly qualified to run NASA. But Griffin is most known to me, not for his choice to go back to Apollo-style space flight, eschewing reusable spacecraft like the shuttle, but for his choice to ignore the opinions and data of every climatologist and atmospheric scientist that NASA employs and publicly disagrees with the concept of Global Climate Change.

    For that, he’s proven that he should not run the world’s premier science and research organization.

    Read More

    Posted in: Politics · Science

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  3. Bats Being Devastated By "White Nose Syndrome"

    jake on 2008.04.17 at 06:42 pm

    Here come the mosquitoes.

    My parents’ property includes a big chunk of wetlands. There is also a small wooded area across the yard. These woods were once home to many bats. As it grew dark in the summer you could watch them journey across the yard for a dinner of bugs. At least until a few years ago when our neighbor unnecessarily cut down a large section of trees and the bats disappeared. We miss them and their taste for mosquitoes.

    Now bats in New England (more recently including Connecticut) are being threatened by a new ailment, “white nose syndrome.” Not a lot is known about the fungus but scientists are investigating.

    Bats with this white–nose syndrome have the white fungus on their noses and occasionally other parts of their bodies. It is unknown if the fungus is causing the deaths or is symptomatic of a disease. Human health implications are not known; there is no information indicating that people have been affected after exposure to the white fungus.

    Lets hope they find a way to stop this before it becomes more widespread. Even if they creep you out, like spiders, bats are very beneficial to us.

    Posted in: Environment · Nature · Science

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  4. MythBusters: Plane on a conveyor belt

    jake on 2008.01.31 at 06:34 pm

    MythTern t-shirt MythBusters tackled a myth last night that has become an Internet phenomenon. Adam and Jaime explored what happens when a plane tries to take off from a conveyor belt (the result appears below to prevent spoilers). In a pure show of geekery Jason Kottke liveblogged the show.

    Over the last few years people have been arguing back and forth on this issue. Occasionally you find a scientist weighing in but usually it’s us arm-chair scientists trying to debate. Good thing we have the MythBusters to handle this problem.

    Spoilers: As usual Adam and Jaime attempt the experiment scaled down. With a remote control plane and Adam on his Segway the duo achieve flight. Patience waned until they replicate the result with a single-person plane and Jaime’s truck.


    Adam and Jaime explain afterward the simple error many make is thinking the wheels have something to do with the plane’s propulsion. The engine is actually using air to provide movement and the wheels roll freely.

    Meanwhile the debate continues on at Jason’s site.

    Posted in: Science · Television

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  5. Reclassify the manatee?

    jake on 2007.04.09 at 04:18 pm

    Is it just because I watched Planet Earth (you should see it) last night or is there an issue to be taken with the possibility of reclassifying manatees as “threatened?” I’m going to go with my gut on this one and declare it the latter.

    An annual census of the manatee population recorded 2,812 [emphasis added] of the animals in Florida waters this year…

    In 1991 — the survey’s first year — 1,267 manatees were found in the state. This past year, scientists counted 3,116 [emphasis added].

    Getting beyond the obvious issue of the number dropping this past year I looked around for the numbers recorded by year. Along with some more facts I also noticed an expired petition attempting to stop this very event.

    The other information I discovered is how the manatees are currently counted.

    A synoptic survey is a statewide aerial survey designed to get a head count of individual manatees.

    Scientists have been working for a while to find a better method for tracking the manatee population. It is fairly obvious by the annual numbers that there is a large fluctuation every time the scientists go out and try to count by flying overhead. Downgrading manatees should not even be considered until a more accurate method is put in place.

    Posted in: Environment · Science

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  6. Today's Dose of Ignorance

    brian on 2006.07.22 at 03:30 am

    As I rode the bus home from work late last night (um, two hours ago) I was sitting behind this middle aged man, who seemed to be leaving work at Sears. He still had his lanyard on. As he sat in the seat in front of mine, I opened up a hardbound copy of Ann Coulter’s newest book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism

    I happened to read a passage over the shoulder of this gentleman, of which he was giggling to himself over. She was making the argument that AIDS is a homosexual disease and “we’re still waiting for that heterosexual outbreak.”

    Hmm, I wonder how many babies are born with AIDS due to being conceived during a homosexual encounter? This last statement makes approximately the same amount of sense as her arguments. There you have it. 1 in 4 people in Africa are clearly people who have homosexual sex. Magic Johnson must have too.


    I just hope the guy was giggling due to the sheer ridiculousness of her argument. I fear that was not the case, however.

    Posted in: Politics · Science

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  7. Up On the Roof

    brian on 2006.07.20 at 06:43 pm

    Green Roof in NYCIf more urban buildings had this at their zenith, then cities would be a much healthier place, both for your lungs and for your psyche.

    Posted in: Science

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  8. Visit Glacier NP Remotely

    brian on 2006.04.28 at 11:22 pm

    With birds singing, water gently lapping on the shore, a slight breeze, and temperatures in the high 60s, it was a glorious spring day at the foot of Lake McDonald. - photo courtesy David Restivo, for the NPS - used without permission,I don’t live anywhere near Glacier National Park in Montana. Anyone who knows me and my interest in wide-open spaces knows I wish I did. That’s why I’m thankful I found eHikes, an outstanding piece of “multimedia” (an overused buzz word that was sent out to pasture, but is actually the most descriptive in this instance, since the presentation made use of QuickTime video and VR, still photography and with Flash for interactivity) of a couple hikes within the park.

    Go now. Less talk, more clicking.

    PS – they also have ‘eTours,’ Podcasts (audio, video), and more still and moving imagery.

    Posted in: Nature · Science · Web

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  9. Unbelievable - Bush strikes again

    brian on 2006.04.26 at 12:29 am

    I am besides myself… Bush strikes again! This time, in order to lower gasoline prices… instead of taking to task oil companies… he’s doing them a favor: he’s allowing them to break the law by not adding ethanol to the gas which reduces emissions.

    Do we really think they’ll pass that savings on at the pump? I wouldn’t put my money on it. Why do we have an EPA, when if the President doesn’t like their “science” he can simply repeal it?

    Once more he proves that any situation he can get this country into… he can make worse.

    Posted in: Politics · Science

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  10. An Inconvenient Truth: Climate Crisis

    brian on 2006.04.24 at 02:10 am

    An Inconvenient Truth

    Hopefully this will be this year’s most important movie.

    Our planet depends on it.

    Posted in: Science

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  11. Apple Offers Free Computer Take-Back Program

    brian on 2006.04.21 at 03:19 pm

    Apple Offers Free Computer Take-Back Program

    Apple® today announced an expansion of its successful recycling program, offering free computer take-back and recycling with the purchase of a new Macintosh® system beginning in June. US customers who buy a new Mac® through the Apple Store® ( or Apple’s retail stores will receive free shipping and environmentally friendly disposal of their old computer as part of the Apple Recycling program.

    Posted in: Apple · Science

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  12. Doctors repair damaged bladders

    jake on 2006.04.04 at 04:28 pm

    In a first step toward replacing organs a group of children between the ages of 4-19 had their bladders repaired. Cells were gathered from the patient and cultivated. It also showcased a girl from the town nextdoor.

    Yet maybe the worst part, for a teenager, was simply being different. “I didn’t fit in with the kids,” she said. “Sometimes the kids made fun of me.”

    Posted in: Science

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  13. Link Dump; Curve Ball, $ 10 Color, Cheap Fireflies, Magdalene Sisters

    jake on 2006.03.02 at 05:12 pm

    Well today is another birthday for me. I am now a whopping twenty-seven years old. I’ve discovered two new famous-ish people to add to the list of people who share my birthday.

    Here are the people I didn’t know…

    • Bryce Dallas HowardBryce Dallas Howard – Not only is she cute, but she’s going to play Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man 3. I guess I’ll have to start watching all her movies or something. One time this crazy lady at the store claimed I looked like Bryce’s dad, Ron Howard. I’m not sure what that lady was smoking.
    • Daniel Craig – Oh great, now I have to stick up for the new James Bond every keeps making fun of. Well maybe not that much…
    • Lou Reed – Co-founder of Velvet Underground
    • Tom Wolfe – Author of The Bonfire of the Vanities
    • John Irving – Author of The Cider House Rules
    • Heather McComb – Actress from a bunch of different random things. Also married to Dawson. He’s actually a few days older and originally from a neighboring town. And has a couple indirect connections with me.

    And the ones I already knew…

    And finally some random tidbits I wanted to share.

    Update: Added some more birthday people…

    Posted in: Movies · Recent Events · Science · Television

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  14. NASA's continued censorship

    brian on 2006.02.06 at 05:42 pm

    “A week after NASA’s top climate scientist complained that the space agency’s public-affairs office was trying to silence his statements on global warming, the agency’s administrator, Michael D. Griffin, issued a sharply worded statement yesterday calling for ‘scientific openness’ throughout the agency.”

    “It is not the job of public-affairs officers,” Dr. Griffin wrote in an e-mail message to the agency’s 19,000 employees, “to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA’s technical staff.”

    The statement came six days after The New York Times quoted the scientist, James E. Hansen, as saying he was threatened with “dire consequences” if he continued to call for prompt action to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases linked to global warming. He and intermediaries in the agency’s 350-member public-affairs staff said the warnings came from White House appointees in NASA headquarters.”

    “Source: New York Times Article”:

    Why does everyday seem more like 1984? Spying on citizens, censorship of the government’s own scientists? Where will it end?

    Posted in: Politics · Science

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  15. Bio Heat, part III

    brian on 2006.01.26 at 08:24 pm

    This is the conclusion on my series on finding home heating bio fuel.

    Last time, I was facing desperation. My 275 gallon oil tank was on zero. We had the heat low and off at every opportunity. I had still not found an area supplier of the friendlier fuel.

    On a whim, I decided to call Dennis K. Burke. They host Massachusetts’ first retail biodiesel pump. You can just drive up your regular old diesel fueled car and put some soy juice in the tank and it’s actually good for your engine.

    Visiting their website, I was disappointed to see no mention of home heating fuels, bio or otherwise. But I figured if could call and ask, and then when they said no, I figured they might know if anyone in our area did carry this product.

    To my surprise, and despite what their own website omits, they did indeed sell a B5 biofuel. That’s 5% vegetable oils, 95% petroleum. I was hoping for perhaps a B20, but I was happy to find any biofuel. The good news was the cost: biofuel was a mere ten cents more than standard no. 2 home heating oil. $2.49 per gallon… factored out to a full size tank I paid about a $30 premium. But that’s $30 I invested in American farmers… and reduced the pollution my home emits. It is also voting with my wallet, by purchasing bio fuels I state there is a market for environmentally-sound every day products.

    Go forth and vote with your wallet. And invest in well-made websites. I know some people who can help with such and initiative.

    Posted in: Science

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  16. Bio Heating Fuel, part II

    brian on 2006.01.23 at 09:02 pm

    I’m sad to report that I have been thus far unable to locate any distributors of bio fuel who would deliver to Medford, to heat my home. Despite the best efforts of this blog, Universal Hub, and Craigslist, it looks like I will be forced to buy regular old petroleum. Yuck. Luckily, we seem to stretch our oil usage.

    When we bought our place in July, the tank had just been filled (around \$400), and it is just now running on empty. So that means conceivably, by the time we need to fill up again, perhaps a local distributor will arrive on the scene.

    For anyone out there, here’s what I found for Boston-area alternative home heating oil:

    Dedham: Mass BioFuel

    Regional: Mass Energy Consumer’s Alliance

    Cape and Islands: Self Reliance Oil Cooperative

    I’m still astounded by the fact that the majority of homes that heat with oil are in the Northeast, and the majority of biofuel use is in the Northeast, yet I cannot find supplier of bio fuel delivered to my home, a mere five miles north of one of (if not) the most progressive city in the nation, perhaps the western hemisphere.

    Posted in: Science

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  17. BioHeat in Medford?

    brian on 2006.01.21 at 10:39 am

    Lazy web, I invoke thee! (Hopefully Universal Hub will pick this up!)

    Anyone out there know who a Medford resident could call to buy some bioheat/fuel/diesel for home heating? I’m having great trouble finding a distributor for my area!


    I really should have asked sooner, because we’re almost out of fuel!

    Update: Here’s a story from the Boston Globe which will tell you a little more about using plant-based, non-petroleum alternatives to home heating oil, for anyone who’s unfamiliar with BioHeat.

    Posted in: Science

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  18. Family Guy, Bathroom privacy, Tim Tom Short, Jon Stewart, How cancer spreads, Ann Coulter at UConn

    jake on 2005.12.08 at 04:11 pm

    Oh baby I have a lot of tabs…

    • How to watch your new Family Guy DVD – Latest DVD for Family Guy has uncensored audio for some episodes.
    • Camera in School Bathroom (from Digg) – Interesting comments over on Digg. Though many are fairly judgemental. The story doesn’t reference location of the camera. It was placed in the bathroom to prevent vandalism supposedly. I can imagine a bunch of places a camera could be put in a boys bathroom in my old high school where you wouldn’t see the users in compromising positions. However, the student should not be suspended and the camera should have been divulged. Students knowing about it would also provide prevention.
    • Tim Tom (from Screenhead) – A wonderful little animated short making the rounds.
    • Jon Stewart Named NSCAA Honorary All-America (from gawker) – Holy crap! Jon Stewart used to play soccer (football) in college?

    Jon Stewart playing soccer many years ago.Before Stewart launched his highly successful comedic career, he played intercollegiate soccer at the College of William and Mary. As a member of The Tribe’s team from 1981 to 1983, he scored 10 goals and was credited with 12 assists for a total of 32 career points. As a senior, he scored William and Mary’s lone goal in a 1-0 victory over Connecticut which helped propel The Tribe to the ECAC title and the school’s second appearance in the NCAA tournament.

    • Scientists discover how cancer spreads (from Digg) – According to some of the comments on Digg it’s “old news.” Either way, it’s one of those things everyone should know about.
    • Coulter’s UConn Invitation Opposed (from Wonkette) – Hooray, students from my alma mater waste a lot of money and don’t actually do anything productive. Who cares if we can have a discussion, lets just scream at her till she goes away!

    Posted in: Television · Science · Politics

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  19. New Legislation in Washington

    brian on 2005.12.02 at 09:29 am

    Two pieces of legislation pending in Washington. We’ll start with the more serious of the two.

    By creating a federal agency shielded from public scrutiny, some lawmakers think they can speed the development and testing of new drugs and vaccines needed to respond to a bioterrorist attack or super-flu pandemic.

    The proposed Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency, or BARDA, would be exempt from long-standing open records and meetings laws that apply to most government departments, according to legislation approved Oct. 18 by the Senate health committee. “AP report”:

    This is a bad idea. The government that we pay for should be open to our scrutiny.

    Number two, on the lighter side, is a la carte options for cable and satellite television.

    A la carte would allow cable subscribers to pick and pay for individual channels rather than being forced to buy packages. A parent, for example, could pick Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network — and not have to take MTV or other channels they may find objectionable as part of a bundled package. “AP report”:

    This is a good idea. If you buy a house, you’re not forced to take all the furnishings inside. If you go to buy groceries, you’re not forced to take whatever the supermarket puts into the basket. Why should I have to buy five Christian religion channels, 10 foreign language channels, 10 children’s channels, five shopping channels, or anything else I wouldn’t otherwise support? Consumer choice is always a good idea.

    Interesting twist, conservatives in Congress are for the a la carte option. Normally, they would be against anything that tells a business how to do business despite the government’s role of keeping businesses in line. The interest in a la carte for conservatives is seen in the quote above, people who don’t want to see MTV or CNN or anything but religious channels can simply opt out of them.

    Most cable companies (but notably not all) are expectedly against a la carte, stating that it would thin the choices in television programming. I’m tired of the cable companies choosing my programming. I bought a TiVo to filter out all the junk that’s on my TV. But, I refuse to buy the highest, most expensive cable packages just to get the Outdoor Life Network, or Speed Channel. You can keep the religious, foreign and children’s channels… give me the WRC and Le Tour de France. And cut my bill while you’re at it.

    Posted in: Media · Politics · Recent Events · Science

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  20. Trees and Water

    jake on 2005.08.26 at 05:19 pm

    Just a couple quick links relaying things about the world outside.

    • Trees don’t suck up carbon dioxide as hoped – Not a definitive result. But it does make some sense. Excess of even good things in humans is expelled. If you’re going to the gym a lot and eating a great amount of protein your body willl only absorb a certain amount. No matter how much more protein you consume. Perhaps there is a separate catalyst to discover that will allow the trees to absorb more.
    • Life Straw: All You Can Drink For A Year! – This is a beautiful contraption, only costing $2 US, all we need is someone to get these where they’re needed. It amazes me how much suffering and poverty still exists after so much money gets thrown at the problem.

    Posted in: Nature · Science

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  21. Guns Germs and Steel

    brian on 2005.07.16 at 02:40 am

    If I make another PBS post, I may have to start a new category. I really enjoy watching PBS specials, but I get so hot and cold with it. It seems every other month they put on a bunch of shows I want to see… and then the next month it’s all British masterpiece mysteries… ugh.

    I tend to be more interested in their science, anthropology and nature shows. Some good travel and cooking shows, but I don’t TiVO those, just watch them if they’re on.

    Anyhow I enjoyed Jared Diamond’s Guns Germs and Steel. The first of the three episodes is showing this week. Here’s a snippet:

    Based on Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, Guns, Germs and Steel traces humanity’s journey over the last 13,000 years – from the dawn of farming at the end of the last Ice Age to the realities of life in the twenty-first century.

    Inspired by a question put to him on the island of Papua New Guinea more than thirty years ago, Diamond embarks on a world-wide quest to understand the roots of global inequality.

    • Why were Europeans the ones to conquer so much of our planet?
    • Why didn’t the Chinese, or the Inca, become masters of the globe instead?
    • Why did cities first evolve in the Middle East?
    • Why did farming never emerge in Australia?
    • And why are the tropics now the capital of global poverty?

    Go forth and view.

    Posted in: Media · Science · Television

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  22. Charisma Development

    jake on 2005.07.10 at 09:40 pm

    The other major link from Tom’s list is an article about research done on charisma. The research found that while charisma has innate qualities you can learn some of the traits that characterize it. I rather enjoyed the thee attributes they list.

    • they feel emotions themselves quite strongly;
    • they induce them in others;
    • and they are impervious to the influences of other charismatic people.

    Apparently if you have charisma you are immune to other charismatic people. I didn’t realize it was some sort of super power. ;)

    I found the article very interesting. But I found the comments a bit disconcerting. Reflecting redundancy and a general lack of understanding.

    Many of them talk about how the research is wrong and charisma cannot be learned. But the article says that not all of the abilities can be taught. It never stated there was going to be an “Idiots guide to… charisma” next year.

    Another weird group of comments was how charisma is a bad trait to possess. It is associated with arrogance and bullsh*tting. This is also a false generalization. While charisma can be used for negative means such as brainwashing people into joining a deadly cult. It also can be used by great men such as Martin Luther King Jr.. to bring about great social change.

    Part of this generalization is Hitler. I wish people would stop using his name so frequently. As seen on The Daily Show politicians use his name to bad mouth everybody they don’t agree with. It is an insult to victims of that monster to throw his name around with such loose tongues. Not to mention the fact that Hitler leaned on the tool of fear much stronger than his ability to sway people with charisma.

    It’s amazing how an interesting article can be butchered so harshly in the comments. Especially with the assumptions that you have to be cocky to be charismatic. The article even says to, “Let people know they matter and you enjoy being around them…” That doesn’t sound like someone who’s arrogant and constantly the center of attention.

    What are your thoughts on charisma?

    Posted in: Science

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  23. Our administration needs to stop screwing with science

    jake on 2005.06.08 at 06:25 pm

    We’ve already heard a bunch of times about how our government is setting us back by manipulating facts. So much for our freedoms.

    Philip Cooney, chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, made changes to descriptions of climate research that had already been approved by government scientists and their supervisors, the newspaper said, citing internal documents.

    Update: Wonkette has a little more on the subject. Accompanied with a lovely quote…

    Original scientist version: “Many scientific observations indicate that the Earth is undergoing a period of relatively rapid change.”

    Same version after a cool blast of Cooney: “Many scientific observations point to the conclusion that the Earth may be undergoing a period of relatively rapid change.”

    Posted in: Politics · Science

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  24. Missing links from this week

    brian on 2005.05.27 at 11:25 am

    Here are two links I’ve been meaning to blog for the past few days.

    The World’s wind can produce more energy than humans currently consume.

    Researchers at Stanford Univ. have done an exhaustive yet conservative estimate of the world’s potential in wind power. The conclusion: we can get more than we need, if we just tap the resource.

    The map, compiled by researchers at Stanford University, shows wind speeds at more than 8,000 sites around the world. The researchers found that at least 13 percent of those sites experience winds fast enough to power a modern wind turbine. If turbines were set up in all these regions, they would generate 72 terawatts of electricity, according to the researchers.

    That’s more than five times the world’s energy needs, which was roughly 14 terawatts in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

    Gimme the Geospacial Web!

    Tagging and “folksonomy” are huge right now, an explosion of meta data, tagging things in Flickr, Technorati, But what if we extended this idea to provide information about meatspace, the real world? GEOurl is one example of this now, but things could become much more rich.

    ‘Tag the world’ is sentiment of Mike Liebhold, writing on the O’Reilly Network. Let’s describe our world. Let’s have things like WiFi be contextually aware, that is to say, they contain information about where they are, for those who are nearby. Things like Google Maps are just barely scratching the surface of what Mike is proposing. Combine GPS, WLAN, RFID, mapping servers, GIS info, and embed them in everything. The cyber spills out and becomes real in the physical space. Have a look for yourself.

    …we can see the beginning shapes of a true geospatial web, inhabited by spatially tagged hypermedia as well as digital map geodata. Google Maps is just one more layer among all the invisible cartographic attributes and user annotations on every centimeter of a place and attached to every physical thing, visible and useful, in context, on low-cost, easy-to-use mobile devices. In a recent email, Nat Torkington, organizer of the upcoming Where 2.0 conference, said it this way: “Everything is somewhere. Whether you’re talking about assets, people, phone calls, pets, earthquakes, fire sales, bank robberies, or famous gravestones, they all have a location attached. And everything we touch in our lives, from groceries to digital photos, could have a location. From these locations we could learn a lot more about ourselves and build new economies.”

    Posted in: Science · Technology · Television · Web

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  25. Hubble may get a reprieve

    brian on 2005.05.01 at 10:20 pm

    Potentially big news from NASA. Servicing of the Hubble Telescope may soon resume.

    Previously, “inspired” by the current administration’s desires to drop everything and fly to Mars (I suggest they go personally, and leave today) the Hubble was going to be left to die a slow death and eventually to burn up in our atmosphere. Hardly a burial fit for a project that may be one of the most successful projects in scientific history.

    NASA administrator Michael Griffin said Friday he would proceed with planning for a shuttle visit to the Hubble Space Telescope, despite a two-month delay in the fleet’s return to flight.

    However, it seems Shuttle service is being delayed further amongst new safety concerns.

    But, it is a grand step in the right direction. I applaud NASA today for correcting their course.

    Posted in: Science

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  26. Boycott ANWR Oil

    brian on 2005.04.16 at 02:13 am

    More news on ANWR. I have signed up for California Senator Barbara Boxer’s ANWR Oil Boycott.

    Now, really, it’ll be nearly impossible to tell if one company drills there, if the gas you’re buying from another company didn’t come from there anyhow, since oil is a commodity bought and sold. Or I might buy a pair of fleece socks that were made from the oil from the refuge. I’ll never know. But I think it’s the sentiment. If it’s Exxon let’s say, I’d be happy to simple go across the street to the competition.

    Posted in: Politics · Science

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  27. ANWR News Source

    brian on 2005.04.09 at 12:53 pm

    Cloud Peak, ANWRI was very happy to find the ANWR Blog the other day. I was lacking a simple news source for following the developments of the repeated attempt to destroy the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

    I learned all sorts of interesting things I was not previously aware of, for example, there was an exploratory well drilled in the mid-80s but the results of the test have never been released (can you say suspicious?). One of the many misleading claims that have been made is that modern drilling techniques will mean hardly any impacts on the surrounding Refuge. However, when drilling only one small well, they still managed to upset a Polar Bear den.

    In other words, don’t trust a think they say.

    [Picture is from also via ANWR Blog. Used non-commercially w/o permission. Please visit the artist site to see the real thing, at better quality .]

    Posted in: Science

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  28. Tie a Green Ribbon On.

    brian on 2005.03.24 at 02:57 am

    A green ribbonRecently supports The Green Ribbon Campaign to support the health of our national Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

    I somehow doubt this post will garner the number of comments our LiveStrong band post did. Or just the number of responses it got today.

    Posted in: Science

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  29. Bikes in the Wilderness

    brian on 2005.02.19 at 11:25 pm

    If you’re not up on US environmental law, you may be surprised to hear that although mountain bikes are allowed in the nation’s crown jewels of public lands, National Parks (albeit not on singletrack or hiking trails), mountain bikes are banned from national lands that are regarded as Wilderness.

    The short reason is that the current keepers of the wilderness, a number governing authorities including National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Forest Service, anyone else… are currently interpreting the 1964 Wilderness Act where it says it prohibits “all forms of mechanical transport” as including human-powered bicycles.

    In the 60s there were no bicycles rugged enough to ride on non-maintained roads. The term “mechanized” meant powered by non-human, non-natural engines (a mechanized division in the Army would be a division of tanks and trucks, etc).

    However, it seems that now that there are bikes that can operate on the existing trails and roads, they are collateral damage in the protection of our nation’s wild lands.

    One man has written a legal brief on the situation and argues that it was the act’s original intent to allow bikes in the wilderness. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks, Mr. Stroll.

    Posted in: Bicycle · Politics · Science

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  30. Problems with the current Stem Cell Lines

    jake on 2005.01.24 at 06:54 pm

    I’m sure you’ve all heard about how the current Administration views stem cells and the “problems with their “science.. To summarize, although there are points to be made on both sides, they would have you think that to gather stem cells we’re massacring babies. Not quite true.

    Now to add to the problem, some of the methods used to grow the current cells and use them for development could be contaminating them.

    When embryonic stem cells are added to serum from human blood, antibodies stick to the cells. This suggests the cells are seen as foreign, and that transplanting them into the body would trigger the immune system to reject them.

    The administration still hasn’t gotten its head out of its ass on this issue.

    From: Wired

    Posted in: Politics · Science

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  31. Quick Complaint about Weather on the web.

    brian on 2004.11.26 at 11:21 pm

    Why is so damn slow?

    I swear if Weather Underground weren't so ghastly ugly (and unblockable DHTML pop-on-top ads! There's a big F*U to your users!), if NOAA wasn't so blasé, I'd switch in a second.

    Of interest: NOAA's Experimental Graphical Forecasts. Still ugly, but innovative. Why do we still have monospaced 60's-era-computing-aesthetic fonts on the web? They belong in a museum.

    Lastly, creatively autoloads NECN's video forecast into the page. I can't imagine what it does to a dial-up user's experience, but at least they had the good sense to have the sound auto-off by default. Also, I object to WindowsMedia, but what am I expected to do? Would Flash video be lighter weight? And of course, I'd like to know when the stupid thing was recorded, and how often its updated. The current conditions (like most sites) cite when its information was culled, why not the video?

    Posted in: Rant · Science · Web

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  32. Marketing can be scary.

    jake on 2004.10.19 at 07:12 pm

    Coke vs. Pepsi

    I've never really had a preference in the whole Coke vs. Pepsi battle. I pretty much grab whatever is available. And if both are available I grab Dr. Pepper. Apparently the general populace has a much harder time with this whole decision. And after scientists tested with a sample of both Pepsi and Coke drinkers they found they could predict by mapping the brain beforehand.

    Simply looking at a person's brain scan, the scientists were able to predict which soft drink the individual concerned was likely to prefer. "We were stunned by how easy this was," Dr Montague said.

    This all apparently has something to do with brand recognition.

    When asked to taste blind, they showed no preference. However, when the participants were shown company logos before they drank, the Coke label, the more famous of the two, had a dramatic impact: three-quarters of the tasters declared they preferred Coke.

    From: Blues News

    Posted in: Media · Science

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  33. Simple Global Warming Primer

    brian on 2004.09.21 at 02:10 pm

    What follows is my quick layman's guide to "global warming." Overly simplified.

    The environment through the years has naturally fluctuated in when we look at the Earth's average global temperature. This can be measured by examining arctic ice which, if you drill deep enough can date back to 11,000 years ago, or earlier. Examining that ice shows that it has been much colder than it is currently, but it has also been hotter. These trends follow a natural fluctuation.

    Certain elements residing in the atmosphere can take the heat that normally strikes the Earth and is reflected back into space, and bounce it back again onto the Earth. One particularly prevalent gaseous element in the atmosphere is Carbon Dioxide (CO2), much of which is there naturally, but more recently in the last 150 years much more CO2 is present. CO2's reflection of heat acts like a greehouse, trapping that heat warms the Earth's average temperature, changing the way the world operates. This is known as the "Greenhouse Effect." This manifests in changes in the activities of our climate. Melting ocean ice would slowly raise ocean levels changing shorelines inhabited much much of the world's population. Melting ice also releases cool water which can alter ocean currents, which effects both waterborne commerce and shipping, but even more importantly power the Earth's weather patterns.

    One major factor present in the last 150 years that which was not present in the past and that produces that much gas is humanity's ever widening use of "fossil fuels" (petroleum, natural gas, coal), which release CO2 as a by product of burning. The carbon in those fuels holds energy that is released when it burns. That energy is used to move our vehicles, power our power plants, which in turn run our TVs. Half of the electricity produced in the United States is done by the burning of coal. Burning of fossil fuels also is the part that produces waste CO2. The burning takes the Carbon (C) and unites those atoms with two Oxygens (O) producing CO2, a gas which will ascend into the atmosphere. There are many other pollutants produced by these processes, but we will ignore them for the purposes of this discussion.

    Currently, temperatures are on an upswing. Things are warming up, and we can tell from the ice that there is significantly more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today than there was in past times when the atmosphere had warmed up, even in periods that were hotter than now. It is also warming up slightly faster than in previous periods. This is the only period in which carbon dioxide released by man made processes could have played a role. What's more is the problem is on the verge of worsening. As poorer countries such as India and China gain more wealth, they will also begin using many more of the products the richer, earlier developed countries have been using in great amounts (like cars and power plants), releasing exponentially more of these greehouse-effect-causing gases.

    Naturally, forests and bodies of water are "sinks" which can absorb carbon dioxide. Ironically, forests around the world are being cut down by devices that release significant amounts of carbon dioxide. Scientists are also afraid that much of the world's water is nearing its CO2 capacity... meaning it's near the point where it can't absorb anymore CO2.

    In short, we're on an upswing of temperature on this planet. Just because in our corner of the world may have experienced some colder winters than you remember in the recent past doesn't mean that the Earth overall is not warmer now than, say 150 years ago, hence the term "global warming." Additionally, we are making this upswing more acute (worse) than it would be otherwise by simultaneously releasing more carbon dioxide than the planet would naturally see, while also decreasing the planet's ability to pull that CO2 back out of the air, by cutting down our best protection against that threat.

    [Postscript: This summary was brought about by three things. First, the reading a free PDF report on saving energy in very convenient ways by Dr. Alan P. Zelicoff, (the Saving Energy PDF is mirrored here) the first half is particularly good to get a primer on the terms used in regards to energy measurements. Second, viewing a TV special about scientists studying Arctic ice on the Discovery Channel. Lastly, by a personal belief that people who don't know the story lack a plain English, concise "executive summary" of what's going on. The above information is more or less agreed upon by 90-95% of scientists. There are some who disagree, and that's good because debate helps us strengthen fact. That's also bad because powerful energy and related interests can spread the word of that slim minority of scientists to bolster the belief that global warning his baloney. "Not all scientists agree!" Some people still think the Earth is flat, too.

    In fact, they are only self-concerned in their short term gain at the cost of the Earth's and humanity's long term health. It's the Wall Street mentality... you better make your profits this quarter so i can make my money off of trading your stock. I don't care about your long term health because I won't be around to see it. People, investing in our future is the only prudent thing to do, and it certainly won't hurt the economy (look at the profits Toyota's making off its hybrid Prius which reduces CO2 emissions significantly), it'll just hurt the people who are currently making the most money off the status quo. By the way, those people are represented by the current American administration, many of whom are closely tied and former/ current employees of the energy corporations who don't want to change their ways and risk their profits. Profits that come indirectly at the cost of yours, humanity's and the Earth's health now and in the future.]

    Posted in: Science

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  34. My Neighbor The Spider

    jake on 2004.08.28 at 02:28 am

    Jeez, and I thought humans were awkward when it comes to sex. I have a nice big spider living right outside my back door. I just watched for about ten minutes as a smaller, I assume male, and her tried to mate. They spent a lot of time just trying to get into position, though it might have something to do with turning into dinner.

    I really wish I had a macro lens but I might try and take some shots of her anyway and hope for the best. She has a nice web and is a pretty spider. I'm just glad I'm not afraid of arachnids. :)

    On a similar note, my large friend apparently has "relatives" out in the midwest.

    Posted in: Rant · Science

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  35. Singapore Likes Scientists

    jake on 2004.08.04 at 06:30 pm

    Wired Magazine ran an article in the August issue about how Singapore is attracting a large number of scientists with big piggy banks and more freedom (ironic I know) on what they study. The only drawback is the scientists need to devote time to public and gonvernment issues. Even sometimes that pays off.

    During the 2003 SARS outbreak, Hibberd's boss asked him to sequence the virus. He developed a diagnostic test, now sold by Roche Pharmaceuticals, and will split royalties with Roche and the government. "In the UK, an academic institution would look down on that," Hibberd says. "Here, I'm totally open."

    Guess our government really needs to wake up.

    More reading: Union of Concerned Scientists - includes Scientific Integrity in Policy Making report, a must read.

    Posted in: Science

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  36. Energy Efficient Heating

    jake on 2004.07.20 at 12:38 am

    Some Canadiens have developed a nifty device that basically just uses a fan to move air and a panel to build up heat. The panel apparently consists of soda cans painted black. It's a little more complicated than that as the unit is outfitted to turn on and off automatically, etc. But it's definitely something innovative and simple, and doesn't take a lot of sunlight to heat a good 1,400 square feet. Too bad I can't stick one of these on the outside of my apartment, it'd save some money in the winter.

    From: Talk Energy

    Posted in: Science

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  37. Granular eruptions

    jake on 2004.07.20 at 12:22 am

    Frame from EruptionThis is amazing! It is from an experiment where they demonstrate how sand can look like a liquid. There is a video to watch that isn't all that exciting if you don't know it's sand. Pretty nifty.

    From: David at Boing Boing

    Posted in: Science

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  38. New Sustainable Stadium for NYC?

    brian on 2004.07.17 at 02:20 pm

    Included in NYC's bid to host the Olympic Games, and proposed to be the New York Jets' new home on the West Side of Manhattan, the New York Sports and Convention Center (NYSCC) is in the works to bring a second major venue to the isle of Manhattan (the other being "The World's Most Famous Arena" Madison Square Garden).

    But the reason it makes news on our weblog it's ground breaking environmental sustainability. The Stadium will host 10,000 square feet of solar cells, and 34 wind turbines, among other innovations. It also is accessed by nine modes of transportation, easing traffic and emissions impact. Impressive, but I can't admit to knowing what those nine are. The stadium grounds will be built above the State of New York's Long Island Railroad Hudson Rail Yards, which will continue to operate underneath. The stadium will also surround itself with "blocks" of public, waterfront greenspace.

    Impressive. Let's hope it goes through.
    (Nod: Talk Energy)

    Posted in: Science · Sports

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  39. Tab Dump

    jake on 2004.06.17 at 01:12 am

    And finally, Happy Bloomsday. I actually ordered a bunch of James Joyce stuff today. Ulysses (for today), Dubliners, and Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom.

    Posted in: Politics · Science

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  40. Return to the Titanic

    brian on 2004.06.12 at 09:31 pm

    I'm lucky enough today to catch National Geographic's Return to the Titanic. I say that, because I actually know Dr. Robert Ballard, the guy who discovered the Titanic's final resting spot. He's a very friendly gentlemen, and a customer of my family's hardware store in Old Lyme, CT. We're lucky enough that he decided to set up shop at the Mystic Aquarium, not far from my hometown. Dr. Ballard has started the Institute for Exploration at the Mystic Aquarium, which is a whole new wing at the aquarium. Wonderful to visit if you're in the area. Dr. Ballard also started The JASON Project, an educational organization started n 1989 after Ballard received thousands of letters from school children wanting to know how he discovered the RMS Titanic. It is headquartered in Needham, MA.

    I think his work and my own dovetail nicely, and maybe one day our pathes may cross. Apple imaging, scientific and web technology are a perfect compliment to his work, and I hope one day I'll get to discuss that with him the next time we meet. Hey, if the institute needs a tech guy, or two web developers, I can name two quick. If you're out there, drop us a line!

    Posted in: Science · Television

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  41. Going after drug companies

    jake on 2004.06.11 at 01:16 am

    When Drug Companies Hide Data is an interesting editorial about drug companies skewing data to push a product into the market prematurely. I know people who can't tolerate scientists who can't conduct real trials for the simplest of things. To screw around with something that could be potentially dangerous is unacceptable.

    Posted in: Science

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  42. Bush Administration are Lysenkoists

    jake on 2004.06.04 at 02:24 pm

    Bruce Sterling has an opinion article thats a good summary of how the Bush Administration is damaging science and skewing research in the U.S.

    When politicians dictate science, government becomes entangled in its own deceptions, and eventually the social order decays in a compost of lies. Society, having abandoned the scientific method, loses its empirical referent, and truth becomes relative. This is a serious affliction known as Lysenkoism.

    This really needs to change. Distoring scientific facts is a big no-no. You cannot smear science the same way you can smear Kerry. The practice definitely makes me red faced.

    Posted in: Politics · Science

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  43. Stem Cell Research Myths

    jake on 2004.06.01 at 06:01 pm

    Ever since I read this essay last week in Time magazine I put it in the back of my mind to find an online version for mass consumption. So without further ado.

    The False Controversy of Stem Cells

    Posted in: Politics · Science

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  44. Friday Tab Scrubbing

    jake on 2004.05.29 at 01:51 am

    Good night.

    Posted in: Design · Science · Software · Technology

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  45. Tuna ships inadvertantly killing dolphins

    jake on 2004.05.18 at 10:04 pm

    Dolphin and calfThis has been collecting dust in my browser, but I finally got to write about this tab. Dolphins are still being affected by tuna fleets. Dolphins used to be killed because they were trapped in the fish nets. But the true problem is their proximity to tuna schools. Tuna gather near dolphins so the fishing ships follow them around. Then the dolphins are herded away to allow catching of the tuna. But in doing this the calves are separated from their mothers. The calf however uses its mother to draft. Similar to professional cyclists. And without the mothers help can have trouble reconnecting with the group. This is a horrible secondary effect (after the whole catching them in nets business) of human ignorance.

    "As the mother (dolphin) moves through the water, she pushes the water in front of her forwards and to the sides, to make space for her body," Weihs told Discovery News. "As she moves, the space behind her is filled with water moving forward and inward. If the baby is (positioned to the right) obliquely behind, it gets dragged along by the forward-moving water."

    Posted in: Science

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  46. Spiders get in on van der Waals forces

    jake on 2004.04.27 at 11:18 pm

    spider hairsLast year it was geckos, now it's spiders. Scientists have found similar properties in the hairs on spiders legs to provide van der Waals force. It allows many small contacts between the spider and a flat service. Everyone keeps talking about fancy post-it notes. I want to see a real Spider-man type application. Or maybe a new way to attach plasma TV's to the wall? That would be great compared to all the mounting brackets.

    Andrew Martin, from the Institute of Technical Zoology and Bionics in Germany, said, "We found out that when all 600,000 tips are in contact with an underlying surface the spider can produce an adhesive force of 170 times its own weight. That's like Spiderman clinging to the flat surface of a window on a building by his fingertips and toes only, whilst rescuing 170 adults who are hanging on to his back!"

    Discovery Channel
    Google News

    Posted in: Science

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  47. Mouse Yoda passes on

    jake on 2004.04.26 at 12:48 pm

    Mouse Yoda from Associated PressI guess we spoke too soon. Yoda has died soon after reaching the record breaking age of 4 years old.

    Posted in: Science

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  48. Genetically altered mouse still lookin' good

    jake on 2004.04.14 at 01:32 am

    when 136 years you reach, look as good you will not

    Yoda is still going strong at 136 in human years.

    Posted in: Science

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  49. Aerogel

    jake on 2004.03.26 at 07:15 pm

    Aerogel from NASABoing Boing has a link to an article about Aerogel. I'd be more skeptical but I saw this stuff on The Screen Savers a few weeks ago.

    Posted in: Science · Technology

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  50. Saving the hair on my head.

    jake on 2004.03.15 at 07:23 pm

    Recently I went to my doctor and he confirmed I'm losing my hair. But only on top, good old male patern baldness. He gave me a prescription for Propecia, which my insurance naturally doesn't pay for, I started looking at other ways to acquire it. Then I found out, that it would exempt me from donating blood (at least for a few weeks after taking the last dose). What a pain in the butt.

    New Scientist reports that stem cells may be the answer. Hopefully in the future this will solve both my problems.

    Posted in: Science

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  51. Heading a soccer ball can damage your neck.

    jake on 2004.02.28 at 03:19 am

    This hits to close to home. Though I think sitting in front of my monitor all day doesn't help either. New Scientist has an article discussing neck problems from heading a ball. I'm no professional but I hope I'm not screwing my neck up more by playing my favorite sport.

    Compared with non-players, the soccer players had less flexible necks, more movement between and damage to the cervical discs, and greater compression of the spinal cord, the researchers report. Typically, this sort of degeneration is only found in much older patients, Korkusuz says.

    Posted in: Science · Sports

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  52. White House Accused of Distorting Facts

    brian on 2004.02.18 at 08:31 pm


    The New York Times reports on the Administration's latest policy-over-fact adventures...

    The Bush administration has deliberately and systematically distorted scientific fact in the service of policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry at home and abroad, a group of about 60 influential scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, said in a statement issued today.

    Posted in: Politics · Science

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  53. Mars Rover Lands + Video + Pictures

    brian on 2004.01.04 at 06:35 pm

    For the most part, the US news media has all but ignored the successful arrival of the US Mars Rover to the Red Planet.

    Find fascinating video from NASA on the preparation for the Mars Rover mission here, on their website. Watch as NASA engineers explain how the Rover was built tested, how it will travel and land to the planet which it then intends to explore.

    As a sidenote, the NASA video is spectacularly well done, and presented in your choice of QuickTime or MPEG format.

    You can also view the first pictures broadcasted from the Red Rover here: Press Release Photos and here, Unedited Rover photos.

    Posted in: Science

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  54. Gowing human organs inside animals

    jake on 2003.12.19 at 07:38 pm

    I found an article on about growing human organs in animals by using stem cells.

    Though I found it an interesting read, I thought it would have more of a relation to something my friend has been doing for a couple years.

    My friend works in a lab where they are studying Hepatitis C. This is necessary because humans can not be tested on and the animals can not contract the virus. Also the virus does not survive in a petri dish. A hybrid liver is created that can be infected.

    Posted in: Science

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  55. Snow article contains connection to Trey Parker

    jake on 2003.12.08 at 05:47 pm

    I found an interesting article about how humans have dealt with snowstorms in North America at Blues News. But beyond all that I also found a reference to a movie in the text.

    In winter 1873, Alferd Packer and several other gold seekers trekked into the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado. Trapped in severe winter weather, months later, only Packer returned. When the bodies of the remaining men were found, evidence indicated that they had been cannibalized by Packer, for which he was tried and convicted.

    This is the basis for a movie that Trey Parker of South Park fame made while he was in college. Called Cannibal! The Musical it is a comedy loosly based on the event referenced above.

    Posted in: Humor · Movies · Science

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  56. Reading between the Smiles

    jake on 2003.09.02 at 07:04 pm

    Wired's Culture section has news of a new pair of CD's to teach people how to read small expressions. Apparently many of us have trouble reading them.

    "These expressions tend to be very extreme and very fast," said Paul Ekman, professor of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine and an expert in the physiology of emotion and nonverbal communication. "Eighty to 90 percent of people we tested don't see them."

    Looks like an interesting thing to study to me.

    Posted in: Science

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  57. Sponge May Provide Boost To Fiber Optics

    jake on 2003.08.21 at 12:45 pm

    Thank you SpongeBob SquarePants!

    The "Venus flower basket" is a sponge that lives in the cold deep waters of the ocean. It has fibers on it's body that can transmit light better than the man made fiber optic cables that are currently manufactured.

    "You can actually tie a knot in these natural biological fibers and they will not break it's really quite amazing," said Joanna Aizenberg, who led the research at Bell Laboratories.

    BBC News
    CNET News
    Google News Search

    Posted in: Science · Technology

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  58. Diamonds are for everyone

    jake on 2003.08.13 at 07:13 pm

    Wired Magazine has a long article this month about new man made diamonds. Two different technologies have emerged recently where machines are used to fabricate diamonds. Diamonds are currently being monopolized by De Beers. They own a high percentage of the world's natural diamonds.

    Along with creating diamonds to be used in jewelry there are many reasons to happy in the semiconductor business. Especially for Apollo Diamond, which was started with that end result in mind. A diamond can be heated well beyond current silicon chips.

    I was not planning on buying my future wife a diamond a while ago. I figured she could handle something else, considering De Beers isn't exactly the type of company I would like to put money into. Now, especially considering I don't plan on getting married any time soon, I have an alternative to that plan. If she really wants a diamond I can just get a man made one and be promoting technology instead of a monopoly.

    "It is not a symbol of eternal love if it is something that was created last week."

    Well I beg to differ, I'd say it's not a symbol of eternal love if there's a stockpile in a warehouse that's collecting dust. Or if it is a blood diamond. I don't plan on giving De Beers any of my money.

    Posted in: Hardware · Science · Technology

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  59. Dense fog settling in

    jake on 2003.08.08 at 07:45 pm

    Two fog stories, completely unrelated, that are pretty cool.

    The first one is about a camera technology that removes fog from film. Dubbed Dmist, the technology "can be plugged straight into a normal video camera."

    The device works by taking out the light scattered by water particles so the picture can be recovered in colour, as if it were being shot on a clear day.

    Professor Nigel Allinson, from UMIST, said it had potential for airports - where fog can shut down operations, costing thousands of pounds in delays.

    The second reminds me of one of the shows in DisneyLand/World where they project images onto a mist of water. In this case a thin film of "dry" fog is projected onto.

    The basic components of the screen are a laminar, non-turbulent airflow, and a thin fog screen (or any particles) injected into and inside a laminar flow. Created this way, the fog screen is an internal part of the laminar airflow, and remains thin, crisp, and protected from turbulence. When the screen is formed, images can be either rear- or front-projected onto it. The screen can be translucent (as in the images below) or fully opaque. Our current fog screen prototype already proves the operating principle with excellent results. The quality, size, and other features of the screen will be enhanced in the coming weeks.

    The Walk-thru Fog Screen

    Posted in: Hardware · Science · Technology

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  60. Giant Panda = Bizarro-Bunny

    jake on 2003.08.08 at 06:07 pm

    After many years of being unsuccessful two giant pandas have gotten pregnant. A new male was brought in after the first proved unsuccessful. Bai Yun is actually pregnant with twins. Zoo officials are not positive when she will give birth. They also stated that they're not sure who the father is because after Gao Gao and Bai Yun mated a couple of times, they tried to artificially inseminate with Shi Shi's sperm. Looks like the topic for a future talk show.

    Posted in: Science

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  61. Give a spider a fish... Teach a spider to fish...

    jake on 2003.07.30 at 07:12 pm

    "It became a bit of a talking point. Every now and then it would lunge into the water and come out with this fish swinging between its jaws," he said.

    The Sunday Mail (Australia)

    Posted in: Science

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  62. Move over antibody #3, we're sending in the phage assassin

    jake on 2003.06.30 at 11:35 pm

    Used for decades in Eastern Europe and Russia, bacteriophage looks to replace antibiotics. The phage attaches to a specific bacteria and destroys it.

    The word bacteriophage comes from bacterium, plus the Greek phagein, to eat. Phages, as they're also called, were never thoroughly studied as therapies in the West, mainly because antibiotics proved to be so effective. But with resistance mounting fast, researchers have begun aggressively studying phage therapy, and the first treatment could enter the Western market as soon as 2004.

    Wired News

    Posted in: Science

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  63. Soy endangering Brazilian rainforest

    jake on 2003.06.30 at 10:40 pm

    Interesting twist... Soy, used in foods, and in environmentally safe ink, among other things, is destroying the rainforest.

    Much of the destruction has been blamed on the illegal logging of land for soya production, say experts at Nature Conservancy in Brazil. Only the US now produces more of the profitable crop.

    New Scientist

    Posted in: Science

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  64. Tribes' eyes adapt to see underwater

    jake on 2003.06.30 at 10:30 pm

    A recent study finds interesting adaptative qualities in humans. Our brains develop based on what we use regularly. Anna Gislen and her team found that a tribe on the west coast of Thailand have developed their eyes to see better underwater.

    Her[Gislen] work offers new proof of the body's remarkable capacity for adaptation -- its ability to go beyond standard biological bounds and even physically remodel itself when novel needs arise. It could also invigorate efforts to protect the threatened sea gypsy culture.

    Washington Post [from BluesNews]

    Posted in: Science

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  65. Tarzan, eat your heart out

    jake on 2003.06.24 at 07:22 pm

    John Ssaybunnya, from Uganda, who is participating in the Special Olympics in Ireland was partially raised by Vervet monkeys. He witnessed the murder of his mother at the age of three and fled into the jungle.

    Traumatised by the horror of what he had seen, he fled into the jungle. And there he should have died, but he didn't.

    He survived because he was adopted by a troupe of African Green monkeys who fed him and raised him as their own.

    Three years later, in 1991, a tribeswoman saw him scavenging for food with the monkeys and reported it to the people of her village. (Irish Independent)

    Posted in: Science · Sports

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  66. "Print" Bones for your mending pleasure!

    jake on 2003.06.24 at 06:36 pm

    New technology has been developed to "print" a replacement bone. Many layers are put together to create a three-dimensional object. They are absorbed into the body as new bone is created by the body.

    To produce the artificial bone segments, ACR has adapted a rapid prototyping machine, a device engineers use to quickly make models by building up layer upon layer of material.

    New Scientist

    Posted in: Science

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  67. Carbon Nanotube Mail

    jake on 2003.06.12 at 11:52 pm

    Scientists at the University of Texas have developed a thread made from carbon nanotubes. When woven together the material is "five times stronger than steel." It also has electrical properties. It was referenced that this could be used for body armor. The threads would only stop bullets and knives from a piercing standpoint. They still won't stop the blunt trauma. I learned that on Discovery. The show about Body Armor to be exact. The blunt trauma can also be lethal -- an indent caused by pressure -- by damaging organs.

    Materials made from such strong threads could be used to make bullet-proof vests as light as a T-shirt. And their electrical properties could be harnessed to put microsensors into our clothes, measuring everything from temperature to heart rate.

    New Scientist

    Posted in: Science · Technology

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  68. Almost modern skulls found in Ethiopia

    jake on 2003.06.11 at 02:46 pm

    Scientists have found skulls in Ethiopia that date back to almost 160,000 years old. While not one hundred percent representative of modern man they are close enough physically to group them with us.

    Previously, the earliest fossils of Homo sapiens found in Africa had been dated to about 130,000 to 100,000 years, although they were less complete and sometimes poorly dated, White said.

    The new skulls, which were dated at between 160,000 and 154,000 years old, are described in two papers that appear in Thursday's issue of Nature.

    White and his colleagues assigned the new creatures to a subspecies of Homo sapiens they named Homo sapiens idaltu — idaltu meaning "elder" in the Afar language.

    Yahoo! News

    Posted in: Science

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  69. Blocking adhesion in cancerous cells

    jake on 2003.06.06 at 06:38 pm

    In mice they have successfully targetted a human protein to prevent the adhesion of cancer cells. This prevents cancerous cells from spreading to other parts of the body. It also helped reduce the size of the originating tumor in the mouse.

    Galectin-3 is known to play a role in cancer formation, particularly in promoting cell-to-cell adhesion. "The idea was to break that contact and inhibit secondary cancer formation," says Jarvis. So the team removed the key part of galectin-3 that normally allows cells to stick to each other. The modified protein also occupies the site on a cell's surface blocking normal galectin-3 from binding. This stops cells from adhering to each other.

    New Scientist

    Posted in: Science

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  70. Millipede bath for capuchin monkeys

    jake on 2003.06.05 at 07:02 pm also has an article about how capuchin monkeys use crushed millipedes to keep other biting bugs away. Check out the picture there too, a monkey leaning on a stick.

    Posted in: Science

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  71. Parasite masquerade

    jake on 2003.06.05 at 06:48 pm reports on a bizarre parasite that uses its host as a suit.

    It's not just the parasite's dress-sense that is bizarre. Initially less than 0.1 millimetres long, the grub eventually grows to fill its host's body. Females spend their entire lives inside, pumping out new larvae. Fly-like males hover around, looking to mate with the small part of a female's body that protrudes from her host's abdomen.

    Many insect parasites eat other insects from within. If an insect detects an invader, it builds a tough capsule around it, cutting off its food supply and killing it. But Kathirithamby has never seen a twisted-wing parasite suffer this fate.

    Posted in: Science

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  72. Bryson writes again

    brian on 2003.06.03 at 01:50 am

    Bill Bryson has written a new book A Short History of Nearly Everything, trying to bring the history of science to the lay person. I’ve read two Bill Bryson books which I enjoyed immensely, Walk in the Woods, and I’m a Stranger Here Myself. I hope to get this one, as well. Here’s an interview he did with New Scientist about the new book.

    Posted in: Books · Science

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  73. Move over Duck (Duct) tape

    jake on 2003.06.03 at 12:06 am

    Here comes Gecko tape

    Related to an earlier post, the gecko's ability to stick to surfaces is being harnessed with technology. At Manchester University they have created a tape that shares the characteristics of the setae on the gecko's feet.

    "Spiderman is science fiction and will remain in comics," Geim told New Scientist. "But hopefully 'gecko-man' will become less science fiction and more a reality in the near future."

    New Scientist
    National Geographic News

    Posted in: Science

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  74. It's all in the genes for stem cells

    jake on 2003.05.30 at 08:01 pm

    Scientists have isolated a gene in mice that keeps embryonic stem cells young. It has been dubbed Nanog "after the land in Celtic myth called Tir nan Og." This is great news for the scientific community as it's a promising new way to avoid political implications in harvesting stem cells.

    "This discovery is very exciting," says Austin Smith, who led the ISCR team. "If Nanog has the same effect in humans as we have found in mice, this will be a key step in the developing embryonic stem cells for medical treatments."

    New Scientist

    Posted in: Science

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  75. Geckos, a bridge to Spidey

    jake on 2003.05.15 at 06:52 pm

    We could make super-grip shoes for athletes and [tires] that hold the road better in all weathers, for example. And in Hollywood, actors playing superheroes like Spiderman or Neo from The Matrix could climb walls and walk on the ceiling without the studios resorting to computer graphics.

    This of course also requires that Keanu can actually walk up a wall with gravity pulling him down. With wires weight is lessened.

    Scientists have isolated the mechanics for the gecko's ability to stick to objects. The contact between the fine hairs on the gecko's feet and surface is helped by "very weak intermolecular attractive forces."

    The hairs on a gecko's feet - called setae - are the key to its remarkable grip on just about any surface, rough or smooth, wet or dry. The tips of the setae are so sticky that geckos can hang from a ceiling with their entire weight suspended from a single toe.

    New Scientist

    Posted in: Science

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  76. Neanderthal not linked to humans

    jake on 2003.05.13 at 07:47 pm

    Sorry Storm, A recent study found that there is no residual mtDNA from ancient neanderthals in us.

    When the Cro-Magnon mtDNA was compared with existing mtDNA data from four Neanderthals dating between 29,000-42,000 years ago, virtually no similarities were found.

    Discovery Channel News

    The is some more info over at National Geographic has more info on this. They have a quote that points out where the science may be faulty. Considering mtDNA is passed down by the mother, the following could be one hole in the study.

    Typically, if there is interbreeding between two groups of unequal status, it often occurs between the males of the more developed culture and the females of the less developed culture.

    Posted in: Science

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  77. New tiny Seahorse

    jake on 2003.05.13 at 07:27 pm

    The new little guy will be referred to as Hippocampus denise and lives among coral. It is usually only 16 mm long.

    H. denise lives in the tropical waters of the western Pacific Ocean, between 13 and 90 metres beneath the surface.

    It is often found attached to coral seafans, primitive animals resembling short, flat bushes.

    BBC News

    Update: Discovery Channel News

    Posted in: Science

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  78. The blind shall see

    jake on 2003.05.09 at 04:18 pm

    Independent (from Gizmodo) and BBC News (from Blue's News)have reported on a clinical trial where they allowed a blind person to make out basic objects and light and dark. It uses electronics to pass information to a chip fitted over the retina. The subjects wore special glasses fitted with the video cameras that took the image that is sent to the chip. Guess I should stop saying I'm blind without my glasses.

    Posted in: Science

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  79. Jellyfishing, Jellyfishing

    jake on 2003.05.07 at 10:36 pm

    Scientists have clasified a large peculiar jellyfish discovered in the Pacific Ocean. New Scientist's article reports that the jellyfish was originally discovered in 1993. There is still much to learn about this creature. Someone grab me my net.

    Tiburonia granrojo was discovered using video cameras on deep-diving remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). Its colour and shape set it apart from its other gelatinous relatives, but it has another unusual characteristic -- a complete lack of tentacles.

    Instead, the jelly has four to seven fleshy arms that it uses to capture food. While jellyfish species normally can be distinguished by the number of tentacles they have, the number of arms differs between individual big reds.

    Also Yahoo! News (Science) has an article about it too.

    Posted in: Science

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  80. Crossbreading Coral

    jake on 2003.05.04 at 11:51 pm

    The Discovery Channel has an article about how coral may be more resilient than previously thought.

    Madeleine van Oppen of the Australian Institute of Marine Science said her study of the Great Barrier Reef off northeastern Australia found evidence of crossbreeding in the major Acropora genus of coral species.

    With crossbreading the coral can hopefully adapt to environmental changes.

    "The high level of genetic diversity provides an evolutionary advantage to this group of corals because the more genetic diversity there is within a population or species the more likely it is to be able to respond to environmental changes," she said.

    Posted in: Science

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  81. Another article on the benefits of tea

    jake on 2003.05.04 at 10:51 pm

    National Geographic has more information about the benefits of tea on the immune system. Some info is similar to our previous post because it's based on the same study.

    The findings "add to the enormous body of evidence that tea can make a contribution to a healthy lifestyle," commented Bill Gorman executive director of The Tea Council, an independent tea-promotion body based in London, England.

    Other studies have shown that antioxidant chemicals in tea—produced from the aromatic plant Camellia sinensis—can help minimize the risk of developing stomach and other types of cancer. One study showed that drinking one cup of tea a day could also reduce heart attack risk by up to 50 percent.

    Apparently it also helps with your skin.

    Hsu has this week published his own study, in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, revealing that other chemicals found in tea are able to reactivate dying skin cells. "If we can energize dying skin cells, we can probably improve the skin condition," he said.

    Posted in: Science

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  82. Update: Converting Carbon Base into Oil

    jake on 2003.04.25 at 05:58 pm

    Kuro5hin has a lengthy post with many comments related to this post.

    A few people have stated that it's an April Fool's joke. This may be true, but I haven't seen anything citing this. It originally appeared in a reputable science magazine. Also the organization behind this has a web site discussing it.

    Other's pointed out that even if it is true, it will slow down movement to other forms of fuel. But oil is used for things other than powering vehicles. And considering the reduction of waste, I still believe this has a place.

    Posted in: Science

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  83. Initial study links tea to system defense

    jake on 2003.04.23 at 07:09 pm is reporting that a study on the effects of drinking tea provides benefits to the immune system. Researchers found a substance in tea called L-theanine. This substance is involved in the production of gamma-delta T cells, the first line of defence in the body.

    "We worked out the molecular aspects of this tea component in the test tube and then tested it on a small number of people to see if it actually worked in human beings," said Bukowski. The results, he said, gave clear proof that five cups of tea a day sharpened the body's defenses against disease.

    There needs to be more research done on this topic. Why give the other group coffee, why not water, or nothing? Or use different levels of tea? Five cups a day is possible, but I don't know many people who actually have five cups.

    Either way, I'm glad I don't have to stop my tea addiction.

    Posted in: Science

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  84. Converting waste into useful liquids

    jake on 2003.04.17 at 04:12 pm

    Discover has an article presenting a new machine that turns anything carbon based into various liquids.

    Unlike other solid-to-liquid-fuel processes such as cornstarch into ethanol, this one will accept almost any carbon-based feedstock. If a 175-pound man fell into one end, he would come out the other end as 38 pounds of oil, 7 pounds of gas, and 7 pounds of minerals, as well as 123 pounds of sterilized water.

    This is a major breakthrough for our oil dependency.

    Just converting all the U.S. agricultural waste into oil and gas would yield the energy equivalent of 4 billion barrels of oil annually. In 2001 the United States imported 4.2 billion barrels of oil.

    Though as chewy says, this could create more Hummer's and less Mini's. Which would be a horrible tragedy.

    We can now bring back our troops. Oh wait, there's other things that need to be fixed first.

    Boing Boing found this here.

    Posted in: Science

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  85. Human Genome Map Completed

    jake on 2003.04.15 at 07:26 pm

    Wired reports that the human genome map has been finished two years ahead of expectations. This has many benefits for science. The draft released three years ago has already helped the community.

    "We put out the draft sequence as a way of getting it out to scientists as quickly as we could. It gives them something to work with and get going, but the aim was always to generate a reference sequence for the human genome," said Dr Jane Rogers, head of sequencing at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

    Posted in: Science

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  86. Worms getting randy

    jake on 2003.04.11 at 03:53 pm

    New Scientist has an article involving worms who reside near the Chernobyl nuclear plant. The worms have begun to use sexual reproduction more frequently than in the past relative to asexual reproduction. When compared to similar worms from a body of water further away.

    Polikarpov thinks the worms have switched to sexual reproduction in an attempt to protect themselves from the radiation. Sexual reproduction allows natural selection to promote genes that offer better protection from radiation damage, and "the resistance of populations as a whole will be increased", he suggests.

    The study is part of a movement to discover the effects of radiation on species other than our own.

    Posted in: Science

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  87. DMB + The Nature Conservancy

    brian on 2003.04.10 at 02:32 am

    The Dave Matthews Band is teaming up with the Nature Conservancy:

    Dave Matthews Band will partner with The Nature Conservancy and others to offset the carbon dioxide emitted from the band's 21 trucks and buses, plane trips, 67 concert venues, and hotel stays during its 2002 tours.

    Got to love personal responsibility. Having the bucks to do this kind of thing helps, too. In short, they're (pay-rolling the) planting trees and backing Native American winds farms in South Dakota. Very cool.

    Posted in: Music · Science

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  88. Fusion Pictures

    brian on 2003.04.08 at 05:13 pm

    This isn't a picture of fusion. However, it is a picture of a device that Sandia National Laboratories is using to work on fusion, and it's pretty damn cool. (via Slashdot | article)

    Posted in: Cool Info · Science

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  89. Another updated topic. Alcoholic Batteries.

    jake on 2003.04.04 at 05:36 pm

    As we mentioned earlier there has been strides in using ethanol to power a battery. Wired has also posted an article about the technology.

    "You can use any alcohol. You will be able to pour it straight out of the bottle and into your battery," said team member Nick Akers, a graduate student. "We have run it on various types. It didn't like carbonated beer and doesn't seem fond of wine, but any other works fine."

    There is still a ways to go for practical use.

    Minteer said the team is working on ways to increase their biofuel cell's power density. Currently the team's battery can produce 2 milliwatts of power per effective square centimeter. The average cell phone requires 500 milliwatts to operate.

    But it does seem promising. At least the researchers involved think so.

    Akers is confident the team will have a working prototype in a year, and that the finished product will hit store shelves a year later.

    I'd like to offer a toast... ;)

    Posted in: Science · Technology

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  90. Colossal Squid found in Antarctica

    jake on 2003.04.03 at 02:28 pm

    This squid is much bigger than a giant squid. This specimen is also believed to be not fully mature. There have been other discoveries of similar squid. Mostly body parts found in the bellies of sperm whales.

    The specimen, which was caught in the past few weeks in the Ross Sea, has a mantle length of 2.5 metres. That is a larger mantle than any giant squid that Dr O'Shea has seen and this specimen is still immature, the NZ scientist believes.

    "It's only half to two-thirds grown, so it grows up to four metres in mantle length." By comparison, the mantle of the giant squid, Architeuthis dux, is not known to attain more than 2.25 metres.

    BBC News (from Boing Boing)

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