Daily Archives

India launches nuclear submarine

BBC – India has launched its first nuclear-powered submarine, becoming only the sixth country in the world to do so.
The 6,000 tonne Arihant was launched by India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a ceremony on the south-east coast.
It was built entirely in India with Russian assistance and a second one is due to be constructed shortly. Read article

Last chance to save the gorilla

New Scientist - YOU might have missed it, but in December 2008 – when the world’s media were preoccupied with President Barack Obama’s election and the global economic recession – the United Nations declared 2009 the Year of the Gorilla. If you did notice, you could be forgiven for wondering why. Just weeks earlier it was reported that almost half of all primate species are at risk of extinction, so why lavish yet more attention on the one that is seldom out of the spotlight? The simple answer is because they need it now more than ever. Despite all the film footage, fieldwork and fund-raising, and the efforts of park rangers and conservation NGOs, the number of gorillas continues to plummet. Hunting, logging, mining and disease are taking a terrible toll on the greatest of the great apes, and if things continue as they are, they may be reduced to nothing more than a series of small, highly vulnerable populations within decades. Read Article

Suicide attack at Chechen concert

BBC – A suicide bomb attack at a concert hall in the Chechen capital, Grozny, has killed at least five people and wounded several more, officials say.
Four of those killed were police officers, authorities in the southern Russian republic said.
There has been a recent upsurge in violence in Chechnya, along with the neighbouring republics of Ingushetia and Dagestan. Read article

Asian market rally pushes oil up

BBC - The price of oil has risen towards $69 a barrel after investors were buoyed by rallying stock markets in Asia. US light crude oil for September delivery climbed 63 cents to $68.68 a barrel. London Brent crude rose 77 cents to $71.09 a barrel. Asian markets experienced strong gains on Monday amid hopes that corporate earnings will be better than expected. Read Article

Data Center Overload

New York Times
It began with an Xbox game.

On a recent rainy evening in Brooklyn, I was at a friend’s house playing (a bit sheepishly, given my incipient middle age) Call of Duty: World at War. Scrolling through the game’s menus, I noticed a screen for Xbox Live, which allows you to play against remote users via broadband. The number of Call of Duty players online at that moment? More than 66,000.

Walking home, I ruminated on the number. Sixty-six thousand is the population of a small city “” Muncie, Ind., for one. Who and where was this invisible metropolis? What infrastructure was needed to create this city of ether? [Read article]

Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man

New York Times – A robot that can open doors and find electrical outlets to recharge itself. Computer viruses that no one can stop. Predator drones, which, though still controlled remotely by humans, come close to a machine that can kill autonomously.

Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone. [Read Article]

Kidnapped French agents to be tried under Sharia law in Somalia, pirates release German ship

RFI – The two French agents who were abducted in Somlia Monday will be tried under Islamic Sharia law, said the al-Shebab rebel group which is now holding both the men. They could be being held as bargaining chips for the release of Somali pirates held in France. Saturday, Somali pirates released a German ship and its crew after being paid a ransom. Read article

Hotter weather fed growth of Incan empire

New Scientist - The meteoric rise of the Incan empire between 1400 and 1532 was driven by a sustained period of warmer weather, new research on Peruvian lake sediments suggests. The sediments, from a core going back 4000 years, contain biological and organic evidence revealing sharp changes in land use and agriculture around Marcacocha, a small lake near Cuzco at the heart of the ancient empire. The higher temperatures, starting around 1150, ended thousands of years of cold aridity, and enabled Incan farmers to build mountainside terraces for growing crops at altitudes previously too cold to support agriculture. The extra warmth, lasting around 400 years, also supplied extra water for irrigation in the shape of melt-water from Andean glaciers at higher altitudes. Read Article

The Historian - Throughout history climates have got hotter and climates have got colder, not always at the same time across the world (hence the discrepancy with the dates of the European Medieval Warming Period / Mini-Ice Age) – funnily enough the end of the world hasn’t come and human’s have done what they always do – adapt. However this time it is “different” apparently and we’ve now created a trillion dollar industry in trading of a gas that constitutues a whopping 0.038% of the atmosphere.  What is most concerning however is the virtiolic and blinkered passions this subject brings out when surely science is all about rational arguement and critical and logical thinking……..

Clinton says Iran’s nuclear pursuit is “futile”

Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that Iran would not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon and reiterated Washington’s commitment to protect close ally Israel from any threat posed by Tehran.
“We are going to do everything we can to prevent you (Iran) from getting a nuclear weapon. Your pursuit is futile,” she told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, adding that Iran did not have the right to develop a nuclear weapon. Read article

Polemic – what (or who) gave all the other nations, including the USA, the right to have thousands of nuclear weapons?

Swine Flu Plc: Cashing in on the pandemic

The Independent – Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer for England, hit the swine flu panic button last week, warning the outbreak is confronting the NHS with its “biggest challenge in a generation”. But that didn’t mean everyone caught up in the hysteria that has even seen stoical commuters accessorise their work outfits with face masks was panicking.

For dozens of companies, including giant multinational corporations and tiny internet quacks, the outbreak of swine flu frenzy has turned into a licence to print money. And plenty of it. The disease’s explosive global advance has sent everyone from private citizens to national governments on a mass shopping spree to try to buy cures: catching swine flu might be not funny but anyone working for what increasingly looks like Swine Flu Inc is laughing all the way to the bank. [Read article]

Majority of Eastern Germans Feel Life Better under Communism

Spiegel – Glorification of the German Democratic Republic is on the rise two decades after the Berlin Wall fell. Young people and the better off are among those rebuffing criticism of East Germany as an “illegitimate state.” In a new poll, more than half of former eastern Germans defend the GDR. Read article

Strong Evidence That Cloud Changes May Exacerbate Climate Change

Science Daily – The role of clouds in climate change has been a major question for decades. As the earth warms under increasing greenhouse gases, it is not known whether clouds will dissipate, letting in more of the sun’s heat energy and making the earth warm even faster, or whether cloud cover will increase, blocking the Sun’s rays and actually slowing down global warming. In a study published in the July 24 issue of Science, researchers Amy Clement and Robert Burgman from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and Joel Norris from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego begin to unravel this mystery. Read Article

The Historian – Seeing as water vapour is over 97% of all greenhouse gases, and about 1% of the entire atmosphere  (CO2 being just under 3% of greenhouse gases, and 0.038% of overall atmosphere) it is hardly surprising that water vapour has an impact on all climate…..not that the IPCC thought it necessary to add its impact to their “models” when starting this whole multi-trillion dollar creating gravy train. Without H2O vapour (clouds) and atmospheric CO2 (the vast majority is is in the oceans and rocks) this planet would be a permanent snow ball and we would not be here.

CIA ‘put pressure on Britain to cover up its use of torture’

Daily Mail – The CIA has been secretly pressuring the British Government to help it cover up its use of torture, documents filed in the High Court have revealed.The documents, to be discussed at a hearing this week, suggest that the UK authorities did everything they could to accede to the CIA’s wishes while at the same time trying to conceal the fact they were talking to the agency. It is the latest twist in the saga of Binyam Mohamed, 30, the Ethiopian UK resident released from Guantanamo Bay in February after seven years in US captivity Read Article

Vice-President obeys order to stand down

RFI – The controversial first Vice-President of Iran, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, has resigned after only a week in the job, after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for him to be fired.
“Following the order of the Supreme Leader, I do not consider myself as the first Vice-President, but … will serve our dear people in any capacity,” Mashaie was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying.
Earlier Khamenei told the President that the appointment was “against your best interests and the government’s interests because it will cause division and frustration among your supporters”. Read Article

Fast-tracked swine flu vaccine will be safe, officials insist

Guardian.co.uk – The World Health Organisation has raised concerns about the fast-track production of the swine flu vaccine in Europe, where the treatment is due to be made available at least two months earlier than in the US. Britain is expected to be the first country in Europe to provide the vaccine, with the first of 132 million ordered doses due to be administered next month.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), the drug regulatory body for the EU, is accelerating the approval process for the vaccine, and countries including Britain, Greece, France and Sweden plan to start using it as soon as it is cleared. The most vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women and young children, will be given priority. [Read article]

Torture ““ new claim of secret UK complicity

The Guardian – A businessman who was held and mistreated in the United Arab Emirates following the London bombings believes he has evidence that British consular officials asked permission from the UK’s own security services to visit him while he was detained. Heavily redacted documents seen by the Guardian appear to indicate that the request to visit Alam Ghafoor was made to an unidentified British intelligence officer and not to officials in the UAE Read Article

Fluoride plan costs increase

LANCASHIRE TELEGRAPH – CONTROVERSIAL plans to put fluoride in tap water in the North West have been delayed after projected costs rocketed.

Supporters of the controversial move, which has been given the go-ahead by NHS bosses on the South Coast, say it would improve East Lancashire’s poor record on tooth decay. [Read article]

It’s the new real thing from Coke ““ fizzy milk

TIMESONLINE – COWS may not think it is the real thing but Coca-Cola is set to launch fizzy milk on the world.

The drink contains skimmed milk mixed with sparking water, flavoured with fruit and sweetened with cane sugar. [Read Article]

BIOCHEMIST – I think they’ve managed to destroy any nutrition that might have snuck into that drink. The carbonate should take care of some and the sugar should stop the absorption of others.
Not to mention that there are a number of people who say that there is actually too much phosphorus in proportion to calcium in cows milk for the calcium to be absorbed efficiently (for bones).
Probably the healthiest thing in it will be the 1.5 grams of fat!

Top 7 ‘Shocking’ Taser Incidents

ABC – Police officers often take a lot of flak for their actions after being thrust into volatile situations.Department policy often outlines when use of force — from a gun to a baton — is warranted, but the increased use of Tasers has created a grey area where internal investigators often struggle to balance an officer’s right to protect himself and others with the use of high-voltage electricity shot into another person’s body. Some of the more high-profile uses of Tasers have turned into punch lines or jokes, like the 2007 “Don’t tase me bro!”incident at the University of Florida. But others, such as this year’s death of a mentally ill man in New York City, can have life-changing consequences for the victims and the officers involved. Read Article

Artificial brain ’10 years away’

BBC NEWS – A detailed, functional artificial human brain can be built within the next 10 years, a leading scientist has claimed.

Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project, has already simulated elements of a rat brain. [Read article]

Ants More Rational Than Humans?

ScienceDaily (July 25, 2009) “” In a study released online on July 22 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, researchers at Arizona State University and Princeton University show that ants can accomplish a task more rationally than our ““ multimodal, egg-headed, tool-using, bipedal, opposing-thumbed ““ selves.

This is not the case of humans being “stupider” than ants. Humans and animals simply often make irrational choices when faced with very challenging decisions, note the study’s architects Stephen Pratt and Susan Edwards. [Read Article]

“It coudn’t be called ungentle, but how thoroughly departmental.”
Quote from poem called ‘Departmental’ by Robert Frost


Honey bee collapse could cost UK £200 million, say MPs

Daily Telegraph - The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) estimated agriculture could lose crops worth £200 million if bees continue to decline. In a damning report the powerful committee said the Government had not done enough to address the problem. Only half of beekeepers are registered for regular inspection and funding for honey bees is being “diluted” because the money has to be shared with research into other insects. Read Article