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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

French fry coated hotdog

One thing that struck me about finding the French fry coated hot dog on a stick in South Korea was that they were doing it wrong, the sort of cultural misunderstanding that happens when one culture cooks the food of an unrelated and unattached culture and then impales said food on a wooden stick.

Firstly, the hot dog on a stick wasn’t coated in real American fries but chunks of potato and secondly, the hot dog batter was wheat flour rather than a more American corn dog batter. If Americans had have first cooked this one handed food, it would probably be a very different but equally deadly beast. So I set about cooking myself an American-style French fry coated hotdog.

I cooked the French fries from scratch which is entirely un-American: feel free to use the frozen variety.

Ingredients:

One hotdog
One large russet burbank potato
Plenty of oil for deep frying

For the batter:

100gms of plain flour
75gms of cornmeal
1 egg
2 teaspoons of sugar
half a cup of milk

Method:

Russet Burbank Potato

Find yourself a russet burbank potato, about the length of a hotdog.

20080413_2249

Peel the potato then slice into french fries in a mandolin slicer (or do it by hand). Set aside.

Corndog batter

Mix together the dry batter ingredients, add the egg and the milk. Mix to a thick paste, adding more milk if it is too dry: you’re aiming at the batter being thick and sticky rather than runny like a real corn dog batter, slightly more viscous than a dough. Set aside.

20080413_2255

Fry the french fries in oil until golden. Remove from the oil onto a paper towel.

French fry coated hotdog

Coat the hotdog in the batter, then glue the french fries to the dog as best you can. Drop this monstrosity back into the boiling oil and fry until the french fries begin to brown.

French fry coated hotdog
Le Pogo et frites

Remove from the oil and poke a stick into it. Call your cardiologist to make preliminary enquiries about heart surgery. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Each wet season drunken red-collarred lorikeets abound in the Northern Territory. (Credit: Getty Images)

Each wet season drunken red-collarred lorikeets abound in the Northern Territory. (Credit: Getty Images)

"Each wet season in northern Australia dozens of colorful lorikeets have to be rescued because they appear drunk, fall out of trees and even get a hangover-like sickness. No one knows quite what's going on, but the best explanation is they get smashed from fermented fruit. From the story: 'Experts say they are not sure if the lorikeets are actually drunk, but they do have tell-tale symptoms. "They exhibit odd behavior like falling over or difficulty flying [and] they keep running into things," says Darwin vet Dr Stephen Cutter from The Ark Animal Hospital.'"

Saturday, September 24, 2011

 

Doctor Who's 11th Doctor Sonic Screwdriver (Actual Screwdriver)

  • Solid metal die-cast 11th Doctor Sonic Screwdriver
  • An actual fully-functioning screwdriver: includes 3 different sized (S, M, L), interchangeable and reversible Phillips and flat-head tips
  • When not in use, screwdriver bits fit neatly inside the tool
  • Lights up and makes sound
  • Requires 3 AG13 batteries 1.5 V (included)

IF MODERN medicine cannot provide an answer to multidrug-resistant microbes, perhaps ancient animals can. Biologists have resurrected a mammalian antimicrobial compound that was last seen on Earth 59 million years ago when mammals were recovering from the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. Even now it is potent enough to destroy some of our most troublesome pathogens.

Last year the Infectious Diseases Society of America launched an initiative with the aim of producing 10 antibiotics to tackle multidrug-resistant bugs by 2020. The lower reaches of the tree of life are being explored for those antibiotics, says Ben Cocks of La Trobe University in Bundoora, Australia.

Already, promising molecules have been found in the tissues of primitive fish called lampreys (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1108558108).

Such an approach is effective because these molecules are so simple, says Cocks. Conventional antibiotics target precise flaws in a pathogen's armour, such as a particular enzyme. This is similar to how the adaptive immune system found in vertebrates works: it learns how to fight a new pathogen and then remembers the lesson for future battles. The trouble is that the pathogens patch their armour, requiring the immune system - and drug companies - to identify new weaknesses.

Cocks says this evolutionary arms race can be side-stepped by falling back on the cruder innate immune system that is found in all plants and animals - and which has largely been ignored in our fight with multidrug-resistant pathogens.

The molecules of the innate immune system use simple chemistry to target the lipids in cell membranes. They can either disrupt and weaken bacterial membranes, or subtly alter the properties of the host's healthy cells so that pathogens can no longer attack them.

But there's a problem: animals with the strongest innate immune systems tend to be so distantly related to humans that molecules taken from them can have toxic effects in humans. Cocks's solution is to study the mammals with the best innate immune systems, the molecules of which are more likely to be compatible with humans. His work has taken him inside the wallaby's pouch.

As marsupials, wallabies give birth to young at a much earlier stage in their development than placental mammals. For example, the tammar wallaby,Macropus eugenii, is born after 26 days, equivalent to a 6-week-old human fetus. The tiny wallabies then crawl into their mother's pouch to grow larger.

"It's not a clean environment," says Cocks. Bacteria closely related to the superbugs affecting humans in hospitals have been found in the wallaby pouch. But the baby wallabies are so underdeveloped that they lack an adaptive immune system to fight them; their survival depends on their innate immune system.

Cocks's team scoured the wallaby genome and found genes that code for 14 cathelicidin peptides, a component of the innate immune system. Lab tests revealed that many of the peptides could kill a range of multidrug-resistant pathogens - without damaging human cells.

The team noticed that genes in five of the cathelicidins were remarkably similar and probably evolved from a single ancestor. "We thought that the ancestral form would have a special broad-range activity," says Cocks.

Using the changes within the five peptides, Cocks and his collaborators at the University of Sydney, Australia, worked backwards to predict the genetic sequence that codes for the original peptide. His team then used it to produce a synthetic version of the peptide, effectively resurrecting it.

"The amazing thing was that it worked well against a broad range of pathogens," he says. Lab tests showed it destroyed six of seven multidrug-resistant bacteria, and was 10 to 30 times more potent than modern antibiotics such as tetracycline (PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024030).

"This is really significant," Cocks says. "Now we have access to ancient peptides for future drug development."

Damian Dowling at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, says some ancient and extinct peptides might be more effective than those found in living creatures because bacteria haven't been exposed to them for millions of years. "Even if the bacteria once developed resistance against the peptide, it has probably lost it," he says.

Friday, September 23, 2011

effects of drinking breast milk, breast milk, drinking breast milk, adults drinking breast milk, parents drinking breast milk, surviving on breast milk, breast milk formula

If you’ve haven’t already gleaned from all our coverage over the last year, breast milk is no longer just for babies. But while we’ve seen human breast milk turned into an array culinary delights for the adult set, this is the first time we’ve caught wind of a man opting to turn it into his sole source of sustenance. One man has decided to see how long he can survive on a diet consisting entirely of his wife’s breast milk. Currently, the parents of three maintain a 22-cubic-foot freezer full of milk that they haven’t been able to donate to breast milk banks. So what’s a couple to do? There’s no waste in this household – each drop will be consumed, and the couple is blogging daily about their breast milk experiment!

brain imaging and computer simulation

The approximate reconstruction (right) of a movie clip (left) is achieved through brain imaging and computer simulation

BERKELEY — Imagine tapping into the mind of a coma patient, or watching one’s own dream on YouTube. With a cutting-edge blend of brain imaging and computer simulation, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, are bringing these futuristic scenarios within reach.

Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and computational models, UC Berkeley researchers have succeeded in decoding and reconstructing people’s dynamic visual experiences – in this case, watching Hollywood movie trailers.

As yet, the technology can only reconstruct movie clips people have already viewed. However, the breakthrough paves the way for reproducing the movies inside our heads that no one else sees, such as dreams and memories, according to researchers.

“This is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery,” said Professor Jack Gallant, a UC Berkeley neuroscientist and coauthor of the study published online today (Sept. 22) in the journal Current Biology. “We are opening a window into the movies in our minds.”

Eventually, practical applications of the technology could include a better understanding of what goes on in the minds of people who cannot communicate verbally, such as stroke victims, coma patients and people with neurodegenerative diseases.

It may also lay the groundwork for brain-machine interface so that people with cerebral palsy or paralysis, for example, can guide computers with their minds.

However, researchers point out that the technology is decades from allowing users to read others’ thoughts and intentions, as portrayed in such sci-fi classics as “Brainstorm,” in which scientists recorded a person’s sensations so that others could experience them.

Mind-reading through brain imaging technology is a common sci-fi theme

Previously, Gallant and fellow researchers recorded brain activity in the visual cortex while a subject viewed black-and-white photographs. They then built a computational model that enabled them to predict with overwhelming accuracy which picture the subject was looking at.

In their latest experiment, researchers say they have solved a much more difficult problem by actually decoding brain signals generated by moving pictures.

“Our natural visual experience is like watching a movie,” said Shinji Nishimoto, lead author of the study and a post-doctoral researcher in Gallant’s lab. “In order for this technology to have wide applicability, we must understand how the brain processes these dynamic visual experiences.”

Nishimoto and two other research team members served as subjects for the experiment, because the procedure requires volunteers to remain still inside the MRI scanner for hours at a time.

They watched two separate sets of Hollywood movie trailers, while fMRI was used to measure blood flow through the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes visual information. On the computer, the brain was divided into small, three-dimensional cubes known as volumetric pixels, or “voxels.”

“We built a model for each voxel that describes how shape and motion information in the movie is mapped into brain activity,” Nishimoto said.

The brain activity recorded while subjects viewed the first set of clips was fed into a computer program that learned, second by second, to associate visual patterns in the movie with the corresponding brain activity.

Brain activity evoked by the second set of clips was used to test the movie reconstruction algorithm. This was done by feeding 18 million seconds of random YouTube videos into the computer program so that it could predict the brain activity that each film clip would most likely evoke in each subject.

Finally, the 100 clips that the computer program decided were most similar to the clip that the subject had probably seen were merged to produce a blurry yet continuous reconstruction of the original movie.

Reconstructing movies using brain scans has been challenging because the blood flow signals measured using fMRI change much more slowly than the neural signals that encode dynamic information in movies, researchers said. For this reason, most previous attempts to decode brain activity have focused on static images.

“We addressed this problem by developing a two-stage model that separately describes the underlying neural population and blood flow signals,” Nishimoto said.

Ultimately, Nishimoto said, scientists need to understand how the brain processes dynamic visual events that we experience in everyday life.

“We need to know how the brain works in naturalistic conditions,” he said. “For that, we need to first understand how the brain works while we are watching movies.”

Other coauthors of the study are Thomas Naselaris with UC Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute; An T. Vu with UC Berkeley’s Joint Graduate Group in Bioengineering; and Yuval Benjamini and Professor Bin Yu with the UC Berkeley Department of Statistics.

RELATED INFORMATION

A newly discovered plant species, appropriately named Spigelia genuflexa (Image: Alex Popovkin)

Spigelia genuflexa bends over to release its seeds to the ground

A new plant that "bends down" to deposit its seeds has been discovered in the Atlantic forest in the state of Bahia, northeastern Brazil.

The new species has been named Spigelia genuflexa after its unusual adaptation.

After fruits are formed, the fruiting branches bend down, depositing the capsules of seeds on the ground and sometimes burying them in the soft cover of moss

The discovery is reported in the journal PhytoKeys.

S. genuflexa was described by Alex Popovkin, an amateur botanist who has catalogued and photographed over 800 species in his property in Bahia.

A friend of Mr Popovkin's noticed the unusual plant, and brought it to his attention.

In his efforts to identify it, Popovkin contacted experts in several countries. Finally, a botanist named Lena Struwe from Rutgers University in New Jersey, US, offered to help Popovkin study the new species.

'Short-lived'

Dr Struwe told the BBC that the the plant could have evolved its remarkable seed-planting ability for several reasons.

"In this species, it is most likely that because it is so short-lived (just a few months) and lives in small fragments of suitable environments, the mother plant is most successful if she deposits her seeds right next to herself, [rather than] spreading them around far into less suitable environments," Dr Struwe told the BBC.

"Since the plant only survives for one season, the mother plant will not compete with her daughter plants either, which can be a problem for more long-lived plants."

Dr Struwe explained that other plants have evolved this same ability in order to survive on cliff walls - to deposit their seeds safely into cracks - or to avoid seed predators.

Mr Popovkin, a Russian emigre who lived in the US before moving to Brazil, said the discovery was a dream come true.

"I went to Salvador, Bahia, for the first time on a vacation," he recalled.

"At that time, in 1985, I was living in New York, [but] I fell in love with the place, climate and nature, and started thinking of one day moving there to live."

He finally made the move in 1991, settling in a rural area of northeastern Bahia, 130 km from Salvador.

"I started serious collecting and photographing at about five years ago," he said.

"I have collected over 900 [specimens] so far, of about 800 different species, including some rare ones that have not been collected in Brazil for over 60 years.

"It's taken me 30 years, from my days as a volunteer at the greenhouses of the botanic garden of the University of St Petersburg, Russia, to realise my dream of living in the tropics and studying its plants up close."

Endangered forest

Dr Struwe said: "This story shows that scientists need amateurs, naturalists, and citizen scientists to help discover and describe the amazing biodiversity that has evolved on Earth.

"New species are discovered every day, but so many more are not yet known."

The discovery also highlights the urgent need to protect the Atlantic Forest, which is under threat from deforestation.

"The Atlantic Forest has among the highest biodiversity in the world, with many species that are found only there," said Dr Struwe

"It is also one of the most endangered areas."

"Large areas have already been cut down and changed into agricultural land by humans, so the small remnants that are left need to be protected and preserved."

More on Th

Thursday, September 22, 2011

http://www.scavengeinc.com/images/Product/medium/rubies/the-flash-infant-costume.jpg

730 km traveled in 60 nanoseconds less than light would take works out to the neutrino going at 1.000025 times the speed of light.

GENEVA (Reuters) - An international team of scientists said on Thursday they had recorded sub-atomic particles traveling faster than light -- a finding that could overturn one of Einstein's long-accepted fundamental laws of the universe.

Antonio Ereditato, spokesman for the researchers, told Reuters that measurements taken over three years showed neutrinos pumped from CERN near Geneva to Gran Sasso in Italy had arrived 60 nanoseconds quicker than light would have done.

"We have high confidence in our results. We have checked and rechecked for anything that could have distorted our measurements but we found nothing," he said. "We now want colleagues to check them independently."

If confirmed, the discovery would undermine Albert Einstein's 1905 theory of special relativity, which says that the speed of light is a "cosmic constant" and that nothing in the universe can travel faster.

That assertion, which has withstood over a century of testing, is one of the key elements of the so-called Standard Model of physics, which attempts to describe the way the universe and everything in it works.

The totally unexpected finding emerged from research by a physicists working on an experiment dubbed OPERA run jointly by the CERN particle research center near Geneva and the Gran Sasso Laboratory in central Italy.

A total of 15,000 beams of neutrinos -- tiny particles that pervade the cosmos -- were fired over a period of 3 years from CERN toward Gran Sasso 730 (500 miles) km away, where they were picked up by giant detectors.

Light would have covered the distance in around 2.4 thousandths of a second, but the neutrinos took 60 nanoseconds -- or 60 billionths of a second -- less than light beams would have taken.

"It is a tiny difference," said Ereditato, who also works at Berne University in Switzerland, "but conceptually it is incredibly important. The finding is so startling that, for the moment, everybody should be very prudent."

Ereditato declined to speculate on what it might mean if other physicists, who will be officially informed of the discovery at a meeting in CERN on Friday, found that OPERA's measurements were correct.

"I just don't want to think of the implications," he told Reuters. "We are scientists and work with what we know."

Much science-fiction literature is based on the idea that, if the light-speed barrier can be overcome, time travel might theoretically become possible.

The existence of the neutrino, an elementary sub-atomic particle with a tiny amount of mass created in radioactive decay or in nuclear reactions such as those in the Sun, was first confirmed in 1934, but it still mystifies researchers.

It can pass through most matter undetected, even over long distances, and without being affected. Millions pass through the human body every day, scientists say.

To reach Gran Sasso, the neutrinos pushed out from a special installation at CERN -- also home to the Large Hadron Collider probing the origins of the universe -- have to pass through water, air and rock.

The underground Italian laboratory, some 120 km (75 miles) to the south of Rome, is the largest of its type in the world for particle physics and cosmic research.

Around 750 scientists from 22 different countries work there, attracted by the possibility of staging experiments in its three massive halls, protected from cosmic rays by some 1,400 metres (4,200 feet) of rock overhead.

(Reporting by Robert Evans; Editing by Tom Miles and Kevin Liffey)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This first test involves something the lab-boys call repulsion gel. You're not part of the control group by the way - you get the gel. Last poor son of a gun got blue paint, ha ha ha! All joking aside, that did happen. Broke every bone in his legs - tragic. But informative! Or so I'm told.

Tak-Sing Wong from Harvard University has created a synthetic material so slippery that it makes a duck’s back look like a sponge. It is “omniphobic” – it repels everything. All manner of liquids, from water to blood to crude oil, roll straight off it. Ice cannot form on it. It even heals itself when damaged. It’s an extraordinary material and it was inspired by the lips of a flesh-eating plant.

The pitcher plant kills and eats animals. Some of its leaves are shaped like deep pitchers, and their rims, known as peristomes, are exceptionally slippery. Insects that explore the rim, looking for nectar, soon lose their footholds and fall in. They soon drown, and are broken down by the pitcher’s digestive fluids.  (There are some exceptions – see slideshow at the bottom).

Under the microscope, the secret to the peristome’s slipperiness is clear. It is lined with cells that overlap one another, creating a series of step-like ridges and troughs. The plant secretes nectar onto this uneven surface. The troughs collect the nectar, and the ridges hold it in place, preventing it from draining away. The result is an extremely smooth, stable and slippery surface that repels the oils on the feet of insects. Any bug that walks on this frictionless zone falls to its doom.

Wong has mimicked these structures to create SLIPS – slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces – that are more slippery than either their natural counterparts, or other man-made materials. They are made of either stacks of tiny posts, each a thousand times thinner than a human hair, or a random network of similarly thin fibres. These provide a rough structure, which Wong filled with a lubricant, just as the pitcher plant saturates its rough cells with nectar. The lubricant mixes with neither water nor oils, and it barely evaporates.

The SLIPS are like sponges – solid blocks that trap liquids – but they are designed to firmly hold the liquid in place, while keeping its surface smooth and flat. This combination allows them to to repel a far greater range of liquids than any other man-made surface. Drops of water, blood and crude oil sit on the SLIPS as spheres. The angles between the drops and the SLIPS are usually no greater than 2 degrees (the angle would be 0 for a perfect sphere).

If the SLIPS are gently angled, the drops roll off, leaving nothing behind. You can see that in the images below. Drops of oil and blood leave no traces as they roll over the SLIPS, but they form big stains as they travel over the middle Teflon layers. Ice won’t form on the slips either – the second the crystals come together, they slide off. Nor can insects get a grip – an ant, climbing after a dollop of jam, slips off just as it would on the rim of a pitcher plant (with the jam quickly following).

Wong’s SLIPS are around ten times as slippery as the next best synthetic ones. They are smoother, they work under high pressures, and they can be made transparent. They can also heal themselves. When Wong damaged the solid structure, the liquid part simply refills the affected area within less than a second. Best of all, they’re easy to make. The materials for the solid part are widely available and can easily be shaped into the right structures. For the liquid part, a wide variety of chemicals can be used and tailored to the chosen solids.

There are many possible applications. A wall coated in SLIPS would be impossible to graffiti. Medical devices or instruments covered in SLIPS would be hard to contaminate. The SLIPS are stable under a range of temperatures and pressures, which makes them useful for transporting fluids from crude oil to biofuels, or for exploring the deep ocean. They’re ice-resistant, and could be used to coat instruments in polar conditions. They are transparent and self-cleaning, so you could used them to make lenses, sensors, solar cells or night-vision devices.

This is not the first time that a naturally liquid-repellent surface has inspired the design of man-made ones. Lotus leaves are famous for their ability to repel water and clean themselves. Like the pitcher plant’s rim, they also have a microscopically uneven surface, with rows upon rows of tiny studs. Drops of water sit on top of these studs and as they roll off, they pick up dirt and other particles. Many scientists have mimicked the lotus’s structure to create water-repellent, self-cleaning surfaces.

But these lotus-inspired materials, unlike the pitcher-based ones, are fragile, sensitive and limited in their use. “They only work against water,” says Joanna Aizenberg, who led the Wong’s study. Other complex liquids, such as oils, can easily force their way into the air pockets between the studs and ruin their ability to repel water. Water itself can also do this under high pressure; a heavy rainstorm is enough. The studs can also be easily damaged; every new defect threatens to hold drops of liquid in place and prevent them from rolling off. “These surfaces are still not robust enough for many standard applications, let alone harsh conditions,” says Aizenberg.

These problems can be overcome, but at great difficulty and expense. Wong opted for a different approach by trading the lotus’s empty bumps for the pitcher plant’s liquid-filled ones. Walter Federle from the University of Cambridge, who discovered the structure of the pitcher plant’s peristome, says, “It’s really exciting to see that this principle has inspired the authors and allowed them to develop something that could prove extremely useful.” However, he adds, “I am curious whether it will be possible to make these surfaces survive over long periods of time under demanding outdoor conditions.”

Wong has designed the SLIPS so that their film of liquid lubricant stays in place. However, Aizenberg says, “Certain conditions such as the extremely high shear forces encountered by a high-speed jet could potentially deplete the liquid.” It’s incredible that those are the types of forces that would ruin the material, but the team sees this as a weakness nonetheless. They are now working on tweaking the properties of the liquid layer so that it can withstand even “high-flow or turbulent environments”.

Reference: Wong, Kang, Tang, Smythe, Hatton, Grintha & Aizenberg. 2011. Bioinspired self-repairing slippery surfaces with pressure-stable omniphobicity. Nature http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature10447

Images: Pitcher plant by Thomas Gronemeyer; all others from Nature

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Total Body Support Pillow.

Providing an extraordinary level of comfort, this pillow gives optimum support for upper and lower extremities, while cushioning and maintaining proper spinal alignment no matter your sleep position. Originally invented to help relieve fibromyalgia--a chronic condition marked by muscular pain and tenderness at specific points of the body--it has now been recognized as an effective aid to getting a good night's sleep. Both adults and children can use and enjoy the flexible, total-body pillow to sit or lie on the floor, sofa, or bed in total comfort. It can be folded into a U-shape, or come full circle to create beanbag-shaped seating. The pillow is stuffed with hypoallergenic Fusion fiberfill. The fill will become even softer and fuller with each washing (machine washable). Comes with one white poly/cotton pillowcase. Made in the U.S. 15 1/2" W x 130" L overall, 65" L folded. (10 1/2 lbs.)

The Total Body Support Pillow comes with The Hammacher Schlemmer Lifetime Guarantee at no additional charge. If this product ever disappoints you, for any reason, you may return it for exchange, credit, or refund.
Should you have any questions, we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Please call 1-800-321-1484 to speak with a product specialist or email us at customerservice@hammacher.com to receive a response within one hour.

Item 75405 Price $119.95


If you can dye eggs different colors for Easter, you can color fireplace flames - it's easy & fun. Our easy to use kit comes with complete instructions and just about everything you need to make colored flames on virtually any wood or paper product. The only thing you'll need is a few tablespoons of rubbing alcohol (or really any alcohol), some water, a few containers (cups will do) and some wood chips or pinecones or whatever it is that you want to burn. If you don't have anything handy, we've even thrown in some Popsicle sticks to get you started. You can always scale up your coloring operation to make large batches if your planning on a large bonfire, etc.
Kit includes:
5 color producing chemicals, Popsicle Sticks, Full Instructions complete with helpful hints as well as a list of chemicals and what colors to expect are included.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

RENO, Nev. — A vintage World War II-era fighter plane crashed into a seating area Friday at a popular annual Reno air race show, killing at least three people, including the pilot, and injuring more than 50. Officials feared the death toll would rise.

Witnesses reported a horrific mix of blood, body parts and smoking debris strewn across the crash site.

The accident happened just before 4:30 p.m. during the National Championship Air Races at the Reno-Stead Airport.

Witnesses told KTVN-TV that planes in the Unlimited race were ascending when one aircraft, a vintage P-51 Mustang flown by a renowned air racer and movie stunt pilot, nose-dived into a box-seat area near a spectator grandstand in the southeast corner.

The plane disintegrated, strewing debris into the nearby stands.

Mike Draper, a spokesman for the Reno National Championship Air Races, described the scene as "a mass-casualty situation." Bloodied bodies were spread across the area as people tended to the victims and ambulances rushed to the scene.

Image: Jimmy Leeward

Marilyn Newton  /  AP file

Jimmy Leeward is seen in this Sept. 15, 2010, photo with his P-51 Mustang.

Jimmy Leeward, 74, of Ocala, Fla., who flew the P-51, was killed, said Mike Houghton, president and CEO of Reno Air Races.

"Dear friends, we are deeply saddened by the tragedy at the air race today. Please join us in praying at this time for all the families affected," Leeward's family wrote in a message posted on Facebook.

Renown Medical Center spokeswoman Kathy Carter said at least two others taken to the hospital had died, but did not provide their identities. 

'Unbelievable gore'
Witness Maureen Higgins of Alabama said the pilot was on his third lap when he lost control of the plane. She told the Gazette-Journal she was sitting about 30 yards away from the crash and the man in front of her was struck in the head by a piece of debris.

"I saw body parts and gore like you wouldn't believe it. I'm talking an arm, a leg," Higgins told the newspaper. "The alive people were missing body parts. I am not kidding you. It was gore. Unbelievable gore."

Video apparently taken from the stands and posted on YouTube showed a plane crashing nose-down at the show after several other planes raced by in the air.

Spectators could be heard gasping: "Oh my God." A photograph captured the doomed plane, nose down just before impact.

"It was in the Unlimited Gold race on about the second lap when the third-place aircraft, No. 177, the Galloping Ghost flown by Jimmy Leeward experienced mechanical problems," said Tim O'Brien, a Grass Valley resident on assignment at the races for The Union newspaper. "The plane vaulted violently upward, followed by a dive straight into the front of the reserve grandstands."

Jeff Martinez, a KRNV weatherman, was just outside the air race grounds at the time. He said he saw the plane veer to the right and then went "straight into the ground."

"You saw pieces and parts going everywhere," he said.

'Like a massacre'
Local TV stations aired videotape of the scene that showed numerous people being treated at the scene or being carried on stretchers to ambulances.

Debris from the crash was strewn through a seating area in front of the grandstands.

“It’s just like a massacre. It’s like a bomb went off,” said Dr. Gerald Lent of Reno, who witnessed the crash, told the Gazette-Journal. “There are people lying all over the runway.”

He added: "One guy was cut in half. There's blood everywhere. There’s arms and legs."

Stephanie Kruse, a spokeswoman for the Regional Emergency Medical Service Authority, told The Associated Press that emergency crews took a total of 56 injury victims to three hospitals.

She said they also observed a number of people being transported by private vehicle, which they are not including in their count.

Kruse said of the total 56, at the time of transport, 15 were considered in critical condition, 13 were in serious condition with potentially life-threatening injuries and 28 had non-serious or non-life threatening injuries.

"This is a very large incident, probably one of the largest this community has seen in decades," Kruse told The AP. "The community is pulling together to try to deal with the cope of it. The hospitals have certainly geared up and staffed up to deal with it."

Image: Medics help injured bystanders out of a helicopter into Renown Medical Center

Liz Margerum/The Reno Gazette-Jo

Medics help injured bystanders out of a helicopter into Renown Medical Center.

Houghton, of Reno Air Races, said it was too early to know for sure what caused the wreck, but there appeared to be a "problem with the aircraft that caused it to go out of control."

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fire Stash Keyring

Stock £6.99 with free delivery

 

Firestash Keyring

An essential item for camping trips

The hot wobbly stuff we call fire is incredibly handy. But stuffing some plasticky disposable lighter in your pocket is about as cool as ramming giant pickled onions up your nose. For this reason and many more you need the Fire Stash.
Impossibly titchy, this keyring-friendly zinc alloy capsule unscrews to reveal a fully functioning refillable lighter. Presto, Instant fire wherever you may roam. Chrome plated, the Fire Stash even features a waterproof neoprene ‘O’ ring around its thread, so shipwrecked sailors, clumsy boozers and cross-channel smokers can still light up (assuming they don’t forget their keys).

Firestash Keyring

It's small but flaming useful!

But even if you don’t smoke, this sleek gizmo is sure to come in handy at some point. Use it to light candles, bonfires, barbecues, blow offs, whatever. You can even wave it around during power ballads. The possibilities are endless. Best of all, at just £6.99, it won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Flame on!

Clumped feather barbs in late Cretaceous amber

A wide array of different feather shapes was captured in the same place within just a few years

Samples of amber in western Canada containing feathers from dinosaurs and birds have yielded the most complete story of feather evolution ever seen.

Eleven fragments show the progression from hair-like "filaments" to doubly-branched feathers of modern birds.

The analysis of the 80-million-year-old amber deposits is presented in Science.

The find, along with an accompanying article analysing feather pigment, adds to the idea that many dinosaurs sported feathers - some brightly coloured.

Recent years have seen a proliferation of reports about the beginnings of feathers as we know them now in birds.

So-called compression fossils found in China bear outlines of primitive "filament" feathers that are more akin to hair.

But modern feathers are highly branched and structured, and the full story of how those came to be had not yet been revealed by the fossil record.

Now a study of amber found near Grassy Lake in Alberta - dated from what is known as the Late Cretaceous period - has unearthed a full range of feather structures that demonstrate the progression.

"We're finding two ends of the evolutionary development that had been proposed for feathers trapped in the same amber deposit," said Ryan McKellar of the University of Alberta, lead author of the report.

Grassy Lake map

The team's find confirms that the filaments progressed to tufts of filaments from a single origin, called barbs. In later development, some of these barbs can coalesce into a central branch called a rachis. As the structure develops further, further branches of filments form from the rachis.

"We've got feathers that look to be little filamentous hair-like feathers, we've got the same filaments bound together in clumps, and then we've got a series that are for all intents and purposes identical to modern feathers," Mr McKellar told BBC News.

"We're catching some that look to be dinosaur feathers and another set that are pretty much dead ringers for modern birds."

Lucky find

By the Late Cretaceous, feathers had more or less reached the end of their evolution, and it is simply lucky that specimens bearing the full range of different feather types happened to be captured in the same amber deposit.

"We've known for quite a while that several of the non-bird dinosaurs actually had feathers and many of them had feathers that are identical to the feathers you see on a pigeon in the park today," said Mark Norell, chairman of the palaeontology division at the American Museum of Natural History.

"What's interesting is the diversity of feathers that were present in [these] non-avian dinosaurs that existed pretty close to that time interval when those animals disappeared around 65 million years ago," he told the BBC.

The most developed of the feathers seem to be similar to water-dwelling and diving birds - almost like down. However, Mr McKellar said that none of the feathers was adapted for flight, but rather for an ever-more complex ornamentation strategy.

Modern grebe featherLike the modern grebe's feather here, the latest feathers show adaptations for swimming

A second article in Science examines another aspect of the ornamentation: colour.

Feathers are given their colour by structures in their cells called melanosomes, which contain melanin, the same chemical that gives us our skin colour. Study of remnants of these melanosomes has already yielded evidence for example that one of the first feathered dinosaurs ever discovered, theSinosauropteryx, was a "redhead".

But most often, the melanosomes of feathers or the melanin they leave behind are destroyed with time, leaving few clues as to what colour a given dinosaur would have been.

Now Roy Wogelius of the University of Manchester in the UK has shown a method using high-energy rays of light from a synchrotron that can spot tiny amounts of metal atoms left behind by eumelanin, one of the types of melanin responsible for a range of black and brown colours.

"A perfect understanding of colour is unlikely except in perhaps exceptional cases," Dr Wogelius said in an online chat about the work in July.

"But, with the technological advances we are optimistic that we will be able to find chemical details beyond simply dark and light patterning."

In fact, a picture is emerging that many dinosaurs were not the dull-coloured, reptilian-skinned creatures that they were once thought to be.

"If you were to transport yourself back 80 million years to western North America and walk around the forest... so many of the animals would have been feathered," said Dr Norell.

"We're getting more and more evidence... that these animals were also brightly coloured, just like birds are today."

Monday, September 12, 2011

A man has been arrested and charged after a dramatic two-hour police chase on the Gold Coast yesterday.

The 23-year-old Ashmore man has been charged with one count each of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

The man was allegedly driving a yellow Porsche Boxter, believed to be stolen, at speed through suburban streets and along the M1.

Police were unwilling to continue the pursuit when it reached excessive speeds, calling the chase off three times.

The man drove the Porsche the wrong way up a one-way street, narrowly missed a pedestrian and later crashed into a guard rail damaging the front driver's side wheel.

The man continued driving at high speeds despite the car catching on fire and the wheel eventually dislodging.

After crashing the vehicle the man fled on foot before allegedly stealing a Nissan Navara.

He was captured by police after crashing the second vehicle near Reedy Creek.

It is believed the Porsche was stolen from a Mudgeeraba address last month and used in a number of break-ins.

Sci-Fi Robot Hat with Ear Flaps

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Sci-Fi Robot Hat with Ear FlapsSci-Fi Robot Hat with Ear FlapsSci-Fi Robot Hat with Ear FlapsSci-Fi Robot Hat with Ear FlapsSci-Fi Robot Hat with Ear Flaps

Are you a Robot fan? Do you have a cold head? Then this hat is for you!! Presenting the all new Robot crocheted hat. Now this robot darling can sit upon your head whenever and wherever you please!
The hat pictured is sized for an adult/ teenager but I can easily adjust the pattern to fit a child. All my hats are made with acrylic yarns but if you prefer something else please contact me and I will work with you. I just find acrylics easier to wash! I will get started on your hat right after purchase. I try to work as fast as possible because I know how boring it can be waiting for a package to arrive
Thanks for looking and please tell your friends if you like what you see!
*BREAKING NEWS: Thank you guys so much for liking the hell out of this hat. I never thought that I would be so busy doing something that I love. If you would be so kind as to give me extra time to finish your orders that would be great. I am making them as super fast as my artistic ability allows me to. Thanks guy!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The idea that America's 35 percent corporate tax rate is stifling U.S. economic growth is almost an article of faith among some politicians.

The sound bites from Republican presidential debates to campaign stops are basically interchangeable: "We need to bring that corporate tax rate down."

But in fact, very few corporations pay taxes on 35 percent of their profits. With the help of complex international tax loopholes, some companies manage to pay almost no corporate tax at all.

'Double Irish, Dutch Sandwich'

It's not necessarily big oil or pharmaceutical companies that are cashing in on complex offshore tax loopholes. In fact, the corporation with one of the most advanced tax-shirking techniques may have helped you find this very article: Google.

"If Google paid taxes at the full 35 percent rate on all of its profits, it would lose almost a quarter of its total profits," Bloomberg reporter Jesse Drucker tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.

Drucker says the company saved more than $3 billion from 2007-2009 through a winding system of offshore subsidiaries. Google's not the only company that does this, he says; many other tech giants like Microsoft and Apple have similar structures. But Google's offshore tax rate — 2.4 percent by Drucker's count — bests its peers in the technology sector in ways that a retail giant like Wal-Mart could never hope to.

Google's Netherlands Office has an indoor bike lane.

EnlargeGoogle Press

Google's Netherlands Office has an indoor bike lane.

In 2003, Drucker says, Google transferred all of its non-U.S. intellectual property rights to a subsidiary in Ireland.

"From that point forward," he says, "any profits coming from sales overseas would be contributed not to the U.S. parent — where they would be taxed at a rate of 35 percent — but to the Irish subsidiary."

The corporate tax rate in Ireland? 12.5 percent.

But Google didn't stop there, Drucker says. The company used a financial tool known in the corporate tax world as the "double Irish."

"The Irish subsidiary pays royalties to a second Irish subsidiary," Drucker says, this one that declares its tax residency in Bermuda, where there's no corporate income tax.

Google faced another problem it had to work around. The company would have to pay taxes to move money directly from Ireland to Bermuda, Drucker says, so it used another tool known as the "Dutch sandwich."

"So the payments go from the Irish sub to the Dutch sub to the Bermuda-resident Irish sub," Drucker says.

"The combination of these strategies has helped Google cut its effective tax rate overseas to the low-single-digit rate," he says.

Bermuda Or Bust

Google, like most corporations, will be the first to tell you that this is all completely legal under U.S. tax law.

"We have an obligation to our shareholders to set up a tax-efficient structure, and our present structure is compliant with the tax rules in all the countries where we operate," a spokesperson told NPR.

To some politicians and economists, that sounds like a good reason to lower the U.S. corporate tax rate and draw Google's profits back home.

But draw them from where?

"We know that the corporate income tax rate in a number of countries overseas — even in our competitors, in the G-7 countries — is in the mid- to high-20 percent range," Drucker says.

"U.S. companies are not shifting income into those countries. They are not shifting income into the U.K., France and Italy. They are shifting income into Bermuda and the Cayman Islands," he says, "jurisdictions where there is no corporate income tax at all."

"If that's the case, it seems to me that it raises questions about whether cutting the U.S. corporate income tax rate would do anything to change any of this behavior," Drucker says.

Taxes On Holiday

All of Google's crafty accounting applies only to profits it collects overseas.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader says the situation in the U.S. isn't much better.

He cites a recent report by the liberal Citizens for Tax Justice, which lists 12 corporations that — thanks to various loopholes, subsidies and other advantages written into the tax code — paid zero federal income taxes over the last three years.

"This is a seismic change in what might be called any semblance of U.S. corporate patriotism," Nader says.

So what would a fair corporate tax rate look like?

"I think we need to get back to where the OECD countries are, in the low- to mid-20s," says economist Stephen Slivinski of the conservative Goldwater Institute, referring to the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

If that happens, Slivinski says, "you could probably see some kind of capital coming back into the U.S."

Drucker says that even under a proposed corporate tax holiday that would allow major U.S. corporations to bring profits home at a low rate of around 5 percent — marketed by the likes of Cisco and Pfizer as a "second stimulus" — Bermuda and the Cayman Islands would still offer lower rates.

A similar tax holiday in 2005 wasn't very productive at all, he says.

"All of the cash brought back from overseas was used to buy back stock and give companies a boost in their stock prices," Drucker says. "It wasn't used to hire people and build factories."

Sounds like a great idea!!!!!!

cobraink.jpg

Good riddance paper! Someday.

Meanwhile I have stacks of color pages I have to print. I am designing a few full-color books and that means proofing them on paper so I really need really cheap printing. Those spammy refill ink cartridges aren’t cheap or dependable enough.
After much research and trial and error I found that the easiest cheapest method of printing is a continuous ink supply built into a printer. Once you are set up you can buy ink inexpensively by the pint, quart or gallon. A pint bottle of ink will cost no more than one of those itty bitty 1 oz. cartridges and will last hundreds of times as long.
A continuous ink system runs tubes from the refillable ink containers into the moving ink head in the printer. The printer operates normally. You simply refill the outside container with bulk ink and keep printing on the same originally installed cartridges. There are a number of outfits that will sell you a kit to do this yourself. I’ve heard of occasional satisfaction with this method. But installing this gear can get really messy and hairy. You are on your own if it does not work correctly. And some printer models are easier to retrofit than others.
I opted for a more elegant and not that much more expensive option: have the pros do it. Cobra Systems will install their continuous ink supply system on twelve different brand new Epson printer models. For about $50-100 more than the cost of the new printer, they will ship you a ready-to-use modified new printer with refillable ink containers already installed. Because this modification voids Epson’s warranty, they provide their own warranty. They guarantee it will work. Period. In fact, in my experience Cobra’s service is amazing. They will make absolutely sure your system is working to your satisfaction no matter what, even if they have swap it out at their cost.
Because Epson (and all the other printer manufacturers) discourage these kinds of workarounds of their pricey inks, there are some kludgy maintenance steps (like squeezing a bypass switch every now and then) needed to fool the cartridges into going beyond their programmed death. But these inconveniences are minor.
The Epson printers work as advertised. You can get a new 8x11 Epson Workforce 30 installed out of the box with a bulk ink system for $100. I've been using a new Epson Workforce 1100 with the Cobra-modified system installed for $280. It's a serious large-format general purpose printer for up to 11 x 17 inch pages, with 5 huge ink tanks. After about 30 minutes of easy set up, purging the system of air from shipping, I was ready to print. I now churn out hundreds of 11 x 17 full color pages for a few dollars worth of ink. I saved the extra cost of the continuous ink system in the first week of use. (It’s shocking how much ink is consumed when a printer cleans its heads.) You can get long-lasting pigment inks, or high-heat inks, or plain old dye inks. Half a liter (a pint) of dye ink goes for $27. Compare that to the thimblefull in most ink cartridges.
Important caveat: You need to situate the printer in a work place you don’t mind getting stained with spots of color because even though the system is well designed to minimize spills, the inks are not sealed and sooner or later you WILL spatter some ink at some point. Count on it. Also, since the ink tanks are velcro'd to the side of the printer, these units won't win any style prizes if that is important to you.
For most folks a bulk system is overkill. If all you need is infrequent home printing, I still recommend the previously reviewed HP OfficeJet K5400 as the cheapest per page cost for an off-the-shelf device. But if you are doing large volume printing, saying proofing a book, or running a T-shirts business (Cobra’s main customers), or printing flyers and posters, then I recommend Cobra’s continuous ink system and their fantastic support. (You can also send them your own Epson printer and have them add their continuous ink supply.)

-- KK 

Epson Workforce 1100 with Cobra dye ink system
$270
Available from and manufactured by Cobra Ink

Saturday, September 10, 2011

On August 4, 2011 4:41 PM

ben-175.jpg

How far would you go to impress a girl? Dinner, dancing, fine wine and jewelry are all expected presents when a boy is wooing a girl. But one man made sure his romance was out of this world — literally — when he stole NASA's moon rock collection to impress his lady love.

On July 20, 2002, star NASA intern Thad Roberts stole a 600-pound safe, which contained moon rocks from every moon mission since 1969, from the organization's headquarters. He brought the rocks to a cheap Orlando hotel, scattered them out on the bed and had sex with his girlfriend on them. He eventually tried to sell the ill-gotten goods on the internet and was busted by a Belgian mineral collector.

It's all part of a bigger story, detailed in the new book, Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History by Ben Mezrich.

Author Mezrich has written about college kids scamming Las Vegas (in Bringing Down the House) and college kids inventing the world's most successful website (in The Accidential Billionaires). But Thad Roberts' space heist takes the cake. "This is the craziest story that I've ever been involved with," Mezrich told The Current guest host Jim Brown. "It's crazy. You couldn't invent a story like this."

The heist took place in 2002, but NASA worked hard to keep the incident quiet, and did so successfully for nearly a decade. Only once Roberts' got out of prison and decided to tell his story did the world learn about the moon rock theft and the bizarre details of the caper: Thad Roberts dreamed of being the first person to land on Mars, and his rising-star status at NASA meant this could possibly happen; he stole the invaluable rocks and minerals to impress a girl he'd known for only three weeks; it took NASA 48 hours to even notice that the safe was missing; Roberts served seven and a half years in a federal prison for his crime.

But why? Why throw all that promise and potential away? Even after spending a year with Roberts, Mezrich isn't sure. 'I think he assumed that it was a college prank," Mezrich suggests. "He never thought he was stealing this national treasure, which is exactly what he did. He just didn't think of it that way."

Perhaps he should have. After all, the writer who has seen and heard it all still can't quite believe this actually happened.

"I was blown away by all of it," Mezrich admits.

He's sure readers will be too.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Todd Jenkins/FTWP - Hundreds of beer drinkers gather at California's Russian River Brewing Company to drink Pliny the Younger, an imperial India pale beer offered only once a year.

One Friday in February 2010, hundreds of beer geeks descended upon California’s Russian River Brewing Co. to score some Pliny the Younger, an imperial India pale ale that is released just once a year — only on draft. Within eight hours, they had bought all 600 gallons, and within days, 64-ounce growlers were selling on eBay for $150 and up. To thwart profiteers, this year Russian River decided not to fill containers. “The only way it was going to get out of there,” co-owner Natalie Cilurzo says, “was in your stomach.”

Nonetheless, Cilurzo caught two men trying to smuggle Pliny out of the brew pub, and an eBay listing appeared once again and was removed only after she complained to both eBay and the seller.

Her experience is not unique. The Web site has become beer’s most high-profile black market, a market that is increasingly angering some of the world’s best brewers, who consider resale immoral, illegal or just plain insulting.

In the words of Tomme Arthur, whose Lost Abbey beers are routinely resold for hundreds of dollars, “We believe those selling beer on eBay should be chased down.” The site’s alcohol policy explicitly forbids the sale of alcohol, except for pre-approved sales of wine, and eBay spokeswoman Amanda Coffee says the company “works with law enforcement and regulatory authorities to ensure listings are in compliance.”

But the beer trade persists, thanks to a loophole that allows the sale of “collectible containers” as long as sellers post an eBay-provided disclaimer, which states that “any incidental contents are not intended for consumption.” The disclaimer also notes that “the buyers and sellers ensure that the sale complies with all applicable laws” — even though many beer sales probably do not.

“There’s an awfully good chance that somebody selling interstate will be running afoul of state law,” says Thomas Hogue, congressional liaison for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Still, eBay beer sales seem to be on the rise. “It’s becoming a more typical practice,” says the Bruery’s Patrick Rue, who brews the imperial stout Black Tuesday, an eBay favorite. “And a lot more breweries are becoming aware of it and trying to stop it.”

Last month, for example, San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co., whose rare Vertical Epic beers are sometimes listed on eBay for more than $1,000 per bottle, began selling the first beer in its new Quingenti Millilitre series via a lottery system, and Stone has announced that people who try to resell it will be banned from future drawings. “We have involuntarily been a part of the eBay aftermarket for many years,” says Greg Koch, Stone’s co-founder and chief executive. “This is the first time we’ve come out, laid it on the table and said very point-blank, ‘Please, do not resell.’”

On Sept. 17, residents of the Washington area will be able to participate in what is probably the most creative response to eBay piracy thus far: Zwanze Day. Belgium’s Cantillon Brewery, whose beers are considered the gold standard of the spontaneously fermented style known as lambic, has shipped barrels of its annual Zwanze release to 20 leading beer bars spanning the globe from Finland to California to Japan, including Washington’s ChurchKey. The beer is not being sold in bottles, and all of the barrels will be tapped that Saturday, at the local equivalent of 3 p.m. EST where possible, resulting in a synchronized worldwide celebration that discourages stockpiling and online sales.

Jean Van Roy, Cantillon’s head brewer, came up with that plan after noticing that Zwanze 2010, which he sold for six euros per bottle, was soon going on eBay for 70 or 80 euros. “The goal with Zwanze Day is to try to reach directly the beer fan, the Cantillon fan,” he says, “and to give the possibility to those people to taste the beer at a correct price.” Likewise, Stone’s use of a lottery is intended to keep its beer accessible and relatively inexpensive. The brewery hopes to reward devotees rather than opportunists, and although it is selling the beer for $25 per bottle, that price reflects the cost of production instead of what the market will bear.

“In another life, I would be a consumer advocate,” Stone’s Koch says, adding that high prices also are problematic because they often accompany second-tier products. Some beers, such as hoppy India pale ales, quickly lose their vibrancy or go rancid when exposed to light and heat. “Frankly, somebody’s naive if they pay big dollars for this stuff on eBay,” Koch says. “They think they get a rare, special beer, but the reality is that they get a rare beer but it’s no longer special.”

Ultimately, though, what seems to upset brewers most is their sense that they are being exploited. “You want to hear about the framboise story?” said Russian River’s Cilurzo. “I am furious about this.”

Last September, Russian River released Framboise for a Cure, a raspberry-flavored beer that it sold for $12 per bottle to raise money for a local breast cancer treatment center. The beer sold out in a day, and soon somebody sold a bottle on eBay for $400. Then someone else put one up for sale. “We contacted that person,” Cilurzo says, “and we said, ‘This is absolutely ridiculous, because we donated 100 percent of this for charity.’”

The seller didn’t budge. “The guy said, ‘I have to support my habit somehow.’ ” Not heroin or cocaine. He meant craft beer.

Eating all in sight (Image: University of Hawaii)

Eating all in sight (Image: University of Hawaii)

Huge crabs more than a metre across have invaded the Antarctic abyss, wiped out the local wildlife and now threaten to ruin ecosystems that have evolved over 14 million years.

Three years ago, researchers predicted that as the deep waters of the Southern Ocean warmed, king crabs would invade Antarctica within 100 years.

But video taken by a remotely operated submersible shows that more than a million Neolithodes yaldwyni have already colonised Palmer Deep, a basin that forms a hollow in the Antarctic Peninsula continental shelf.

They are laying waste to the landscape. Video footage taken by the submersible shows how the crabs prod, probe, gash and puncture delicate sediments with the tips of their long legs. "This is likely to alter sediment processes, such as the rate at which organic matter is buried, which will affect the diversity of animal communities living in the sediments," says Craig Smith of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, whose team discovered the scarlet invaders.

Hungry invaders

The crabs also appear to have a voracious appetite. Echinoderms – sea urchins, sea lilies, sea cucumbers, starfish and brittle stars – have vanished from occupied areas, and the number of species in colonised areas is just a quarter of that in areas that have escaped the invasion.

"[Echinoderms] constitute a significant proportion of the large animals on the seafloor in many Antarctic shelf habitats," says Smith.

The crabs come from further north and moved in as Antarctic waters have warmed, probably swept into Palmer Deep as larvae in warm ocean currents. They now occupy the deepest regions of Palmer Deep, between 1400 and 950 metres. In 1982, the minimum temperature there was 1.2 °C – too cold for king crabs – but by last year it had risen to a balmier 1.47 °C.

Melting ice sheets tend to make shallower waters in Antarctica cooler than deeper ones. There were no king crabs at depths of 850 metres or less, suggesting that these waters are still too cold for them. But with waters warming so rapidly, they could spread to regions as shallow as 400 metres within as little as 20 years, says Smith.

Onwards

"Several years ago, my colleagues and I predicted that warming sea temperatures off the west Antarctic Peninsula would allow predatory sea crabs to invade and disrupt the completely unique marine bottom fauna," says Richard Aronson of the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne.

"Craig Smith and his team have now discovered a population in a deep basin gouged into the continental shelf off the western peninsula," says Aronson. "What's exciting, new and a bit scary about their find is that somehow, the crabs had to get from the deep sea over part of the continental shelf and then into the basin that is the Palmer Deep."

"That means they're close to being able to invade habitats on the continental shelf proper, and if they do the crabs will probably have a radical impact on the bottom communities."

The best long-term solution? To slow the rate of global warming, says Smith.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1496

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A sushi restaurant in Aichi prefecture in Japan has made a name for itself offering over-sized sushi rolls. And they’re freakin’ huge.

The “mega sushi roll’ features 20 foods all wrapped up in about two meters worth of seaweed and rice.

In order to get one of these bad boys, you must make a reservation about two days in advance. It also costs 15,000 yen, or just under $200.

If you’d rather not partake in super sushi, the same price will get you a giant set of nigiri sushi coupled with a super tiny set.

Go big or go home, I say. These large sushis seem ideal for large groups of people, though I can imagine someone out there is clamoring to eat an entire one all by their lonesome.

(Link)


huge sushi by islandlifer3

Nigeria's current population is 166 million. By 2050, it's projected to have 402 million.

This Halloween, it may seem as though there’s just maybe a few more trick-or-treaters than last year.

A new report documents the prodigious rate at which the world’s population is growing. It was just 1999 when we reached 6 billion. As of July 1 of this year we numbered 6.89 billion. By the year’s end we will have surpassed 7 billion. According to Hania Zlotnik, head of the population division of the United Nation’s economic department, that mark will be reached on October 31st.

The exact date, says Zlotnik, should be taken with “a grain of salt.”

The exact number, however, should be taken by the spoonful no matter how hard it is to swallow. There are plenty of reasons to feel queasy while looking at the bacteria-like rate of growth on world population charts. The most obvious question in my mind: where are the walls of our petri dish?

The exponential increase that we all take as a given is actually a relatively recent phenomenon – evolutionarily speaking. It was only around the year 1800 that the global population reached 1 billion. It took over a century to reach, in 1930, 2 billion. Then it was only 44 years before we doubled to 4 billion, and only 25 years until we reached 6 billion in 1999. A review by David Bloom, chair of Harvard’s Department of Global Health and Population, was recently published in Science with the title “7 Billion and Counting.” In it Dr. Bloom takes a close look at what he calls “the greatest demographic upheaval in human history.”

There are two major forces behind this great upheaval we are currently in the midst of: substantial reductions in mortality and a lagging reduction in fertility rates. In a world population that will go from 3 billion to 7 billion in only half a century, longer lives for everyone and reduced fertility in “more developed regions” – as the UN Population Division terms them – means the bulk of humanity is becoming increasingly “less developed.” In 1950, 68 percent of the world population was accounted for by less developed regions. Today they account for 82 percent and by 2050, the UN projects, will make up 86 percent of the world population. It is expected that between now and 2050 the world population will increase by 2.3 billion. Nearly all (97 percent) of that increase will occur in the less developed regions.

The more developed regions, for their part, are actually reversing the trend. Right now China tops the population charts at 1.35 billion people. India comes in second with 1.24 billion. The US is a distant third at 311 million. By 2050 China’s population is projected to fall to 1.30 billion while India’s will rise to 1.69 billion, making it the hardest country in which to hail a taxi cab. Right now Japan and Russia are both in the top 10, but they’re not expected to be by 2050. The US population is expected to climb to 423 million in that time. It’s still an increase, but a feeble one compared to the expected meteoric rise of Nigeria. Their current population of 166 million is projected to explode to 402 million by 2050, making it the world’s fourth most populated country right behind the US. At about 923,000 square kilometers, Nigeria occupies one tenth the land that the US does.

Of course, these projections are guesses, and they are dependent on assumptions about the future such as how many children a woman will have 20 or 30 years from now. So, I suppose they should also be taken with a grain of salt.

But whether or not we reach the projected 9.3 billion by 2050 or the 10 billion the UN dares to venture by 2100, we’ve actually passed a tipping point in our skyrocketing growth. The most rapid population growth rate took place between 1965 and 1970 when it peaked at just over 2 percent per year. Right now overall growth is about 1.2 percent. The global fertility rate – number of births per woman – has decreased from 5 to 2.5 in the past 50 years but significant regional differences still remain. When asked how many children are ideal, the average answer from women in Austria is 1.6. In the UK it’s 2.4. Women in Uganda answer 5.3, and the tireless women of Niger think 9.1 children are ideal – statistically speaking. That explains their world’s highest 7.1 births per woman.

But while less developed countries like Niger are seeing their fertility rates drop – Niger’s rate in 1981 was 8.1 children per woman – they still remain higher on average (3) than rates in more developed countries (1.8). And that gap has only recently been narrowed. In 1950 women in less developed countries were having more than 6 children on average while women in developed countries were having just under three.

The overall decrease in birth rate has lagged behind a profound drop in mortality. Birth rates remain comparatively higher in less developed countries.

So what’s to become of the 2.3 billion newborns between now and 2050, 97 percent of which will be born in less developed countries? This question has been the matter of much scholarly debate for a long time. One noted example began in the early 20th century when a British bureaucrat warned of the impending environmental doom at the Kenyan colony of Machakos that would result from the explosive “multiplication” of the “natives.” He described unchecked misuse of the land and the consequentially miserable and impoverished inhabitants. He wrote his memo in 1937. Today, the more than 1.5 million people that inhabit Machakos enjoy a city that is thriving both economically and – with flourishing gardens where barren hillsides used to be – ecologically. Machakos has since become the poster child for the argument that, rather than bringing inevitable destruction, rapid population growth can lead to more labor, technological innovation, and economic growth. This controversial view is espoused by scholars affectionately known as “boomsters.”

“Doomsters,” however, are skeptical that the “Machakos miracle” is more a rule than an exception. They adhere to the argument put forth by their ideological godfather, Thomas Robert Malthus, that unchecked population growth leads to “gigantic, inevitable famine…” As the populace of countries like Nigeria explode, Dr. Bloom argues in the review, they’re going to have to solve the problem of food and water distribution, and housing and energy supply. “Population growth also raises many compelling concerns about environmental degradation and climate change, because of growing resource demands and additions to waste streams in an ecosystem that is complex and appears to be increasingly delicate.”

At the same time decreasing birth rates might not be enough for some less developed countries, decreased fertility in developed countries makes for accelerated population aging. Dr. Bloom suggests that these “may pose a separate set of challenges in the realms of economic growth financial security, and the provision and financing of health and physical care.”

Seems that either you’re growing at an unsustainable rate to bring environmental ruin or you’re getting too old, bringing economic ruin. What’s a population to do? Dr. Bloom points out in a Harvard press release that with the challenges also come opportunities. “Those challenges are not insurmountable, but we cannot deal with them by sticking our heads in the sand. We have to tackle some tough issues ranging from the unmet need for contraception among hundreds of millions of women and the huge knowledge-action gaps we see in the area of child survival, to the reform of retirement policy and the development of global immigration policy. It’s just plain irresponsible to sit by idly while mankind experiences full force the perils of demographic change.”

[image credits: The Guardian and Science]

Monday, September 5, 2011

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

September 4, 2011 Chris Woollard

I can’t believe it.

I would never have thought that one of my favourite tech news sites could ever be hacked. Yet a few minutes ago I captured the following screenshot when browsing.

Come on guys, what is going on?

The Register Hacked

The Register Hacked

*Updated – 10:00pm 4th September 2011

After further investigation, it seems that The Register’s website was not hacked as such, but rather the DNS for that domain has been hijacked.

The bad A record IP appears to be 68.68.20.116 instead of 212.100.234.54 which is a rackspace server where the register is hosted.

If you go to all-nettools.com and do a nameserver lookup you’ll see the register has the following nameservers now:

theregister.co.uk. 86129 IN NS ns4.yumurtakabugu.com.
theregister.co.uk. 86129 IN NS ns2.yumurtakabugu.com.
theregister.co.uk. 86129 IN NS ns1.yumurtakabugu.com.
theregister.co.uk. 86129 IN NS ns3.yumurtakabugu.com.

Which isn’t right.

It should probably look something like:

theregister.co.uk nameserver = ns1.theregister.co.uk
theregister.co.uk nameserver = ns2.theregister.co.uk
theregister.co.uk nameserver = ns3.theregister.co.uk
theregister.co.uk nameserver = ns4.theregister.co.uk
theregister.co.uk nameserver = ns5.theregister.co.uk
theregister.co.uk nameserver = ns6.theregister.co.uk

*Updated – 11:00pm 4th September 2011

It appears that ups.com has also been hacked.

ups.com Hacked

ups.com Hacked

*update again… Sites that have also been defaced include

betfair.com
acer.com
vodafone.com
telegraph.co.uk

http://www.zone-h.org/archive/notifier=TurkguvenLigi.info

betfair.com defaced

betfair.com defaced

vodafone.com defaced

vodafone.com defaced

telegraph.co.uk defaced

telegraph.co.uk defaced

*Updated – 7:15am 5th September 2011

The Guardian have interviewed the people Turkish hackers that instigated the attack on the various high-profile websites. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/sep/05/dns-hackers-telegraph-interview

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