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Comment: Re:Very admirable (Score 3, Informative) 206 206

High speed trains are awesome, and they're great for prestige and getting customers to buy that technology. Yet they're out of price range for the majority of customers.

Maybe not? This from a recent World Bank report:
"As of October 1, 2014, over 2.9 billion passengers are estimated to have taken a trip in a China Rail - High Speed train (called CRH services), with traffic growing from 128 million in 2008 to 672 million in 2013, or about 39 percent growth per annum since 2008. In 2013, 530 million of those CRH trips took place on passenger dedicated HSR lines. In 2013, China HSR lines carried slightly more HSR passenger-km (214 billion) than the rest of the world combined. This represented about 2.5 times the HSR passenger-km of Japan, the second largest country in terms of HSR traffic. These are substantial numbers for a system that is still in its early days."

Also, a personal informed opinion here

+ - Good Cholesterol (HDL) is not all that it's cracked up to be

BayaWeaver writes: We have been told for a long time that there's good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL) and good cholesterol lowers the rate of heart disease. However, the New York Times reports that a just published article in The Lancet has shown that people genetically endowed with higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL) do not have decreased heart attack risk. Also, tests of HDL-boosting drugs by Roche and Pfizer have failed to lower heart attack risk. So it looks like we should ignore 'good' cholesterol and just concentrate on lowering bad cholesterol with diet, exercise and statins if we want to reduce the risk of heart attacks.
China

+ - New species of human from China?

BayaWeaver writes: These are exciting times in anthropology.
Recent analysis of fossils first discovered in China in 1979 indicate that a human-like species may have co-existed with modern humans as late as 11,500 years ago. This presumably new species has been nicknamed Red Deer Cave people because of their apparent taste for the extinct giant red deer. Compare this finding with the "hobbits" discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 which are also thought to have been around until 12,000 years ago. Similarly, the Denisovans discovered in 2010 were co-existing with modern humans in Siberia about 30,000 years ago. It is also interesting that the sensational, high-impact is published in open access PLoS and not the traditional pay-walled journals like Nature and Science.

Comment: Re:New technology, old mindsets (Score 2) 559 559

But what about the Fourth Crusade when the Byzantines themselves were attacked and Constantinople - the richest city in Christendom - was sacked, looted and raped by the western Crusaders? It was so awful, shameful and painful that 800 years later Pope John Paul II thought it necessary to apologize for it. There was nothing "good" about that one.

Comment: How about a Google + Amazon merger? (Score 1) 140 140

That will create the ultimate anti-Apple. Amazon's store is the only one right now that can compete with Apple's App store and if that becomes the de facto Google Android store, that will mean the first real competitor to the iDevice/App Store ecosystem. And Google's cloud + Amazon's cloud will be mother of all clouds too.

Comment: Winston Churchill's Father - Google vs Bing (Score 0) 179 179

Simple query of a well-known statesman. Google gets it right with its very first response. Bing doesn't seem to know what I want. Alpha doesn't have a clue.

Google 1 - Bing 0

Bing and Alpha have a lot of catching up to do. And Google doesn't blink even when I get the spelling wrong as in "Winston Chrchill's Father"

Comment: Christopher Marlowe write it! (Score 0, Troll) 185 185

Shakespeare was the conduit through which Marlowe published his works after he (Marlowe) had to "disappear" through a faked death. Marlowe was a wanted man because of his outspokenness and involvement in the plots and intrigues of the Elizabethan age. The facts about Shakespeare's life that can be determined with absolute certainty make it unlikely that he could be the writer of the great plays, sonnets, and poems that are ascribed to him.

Comment: Re:Myhrvold, sigh (Score 1) 152 152

I can't understand why he is doing this. Surely he is rich enough to afford to have noble principles and values and doesn't have to resort to such distasteful methods to enrich himself. And he is also a very smart person. Surely his time and money can be better spent actually implementing useful ideas. Or maybe this is his way of showing how absurd and unfair the current patent system is to goad people into taking action to reform it?
The Military

+ - F-22 Raptor Cancelled

BayaWeaver writes: Slate reports that the F-22 Raptor has been cancelled by the Senate. At an estimated price tag of $339 million per aircraft, even the powerful military-industrial-congressional complex couldn't keep this Cold War program alive in these hard times. They look very cool though and have appeared in movies like Hulk and Transformers. But not to worry too much about the future of the military-industrial-congressional complex: the F-35 Lightning II begins production next year! As a side note, in 2007 a squadron of Raptors became deaf, dumb and blind when they flew over the International Date Line.

Comment: And you can get the original paper here .. (Score 1) 153 153

The first author's website has the PDF of the original paper: http://jauy.syr.edu/PUBS/Publications.html
It's the first paper on the list: Difference in plumage color used in species recognition between incipient species is linked to a single amino acid substitution in the melanocortin-1 receptor
And here's the abstract if you don't want to read/download the whole paper:

"Many studies demonstrate that differences in mating signals are used by incipient species in recognizing potential mates or sexual competitors (i.e., species recognition). Little is known, however, about the genetic changes responsible for these differences in mating signals. Populations of the Monarcha castaneiventris flycatcher vary in plumage color across the Solomon Islands, with a subspecies on Makira Island having chestnut bellies and blue-black upper parts (Monarcha castaneiventris megarhynchus) and a subspecies on neighboring satellite islands being entirely blue-black (melanic; Monarcha castaneiventris ugiensis). Here we show that a single nonsynonymous point mutation in the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene is present in all melanic birds from one island (Santa Ana) but absent in all chestnut-bellied birds from Makira Island, implicating this mutation in causing melanism. Birds from a second satellite island (Ugi) do not show the same perfect association between this MC1R variant and plumage color, suggesting an alternative mechanism for melanism on this island. Finally, taxidermic mount presentation experiments in Makira (chestnut) and Santa Ana (melanic) suggest that the plumage difference mediates species recognition. Assuming that the signals used in species recognition are also used in mutual mate choice, our results indicate that a single amino acid substitution contributes to speciation."
Links

+ - Is Nerve Growth Factor the secret of eternal life?

BayaWeaver writes: The Independent reports: Most centenarians attribute their great age to some magic elixir or other. The longevity of the Italian scientist Rita Levi-Montalcini, who this week became the first Nobel Prize-winner to reach the age of 100, might be the result of a potion that is a little out of the ordinary: Professor Levi-Montalcini, it is said, puts her undiminished mental vigo down to regular doses of nerve growth factor (NGF) — the discovery that made her famous ... During numerous celebrations this week, she claimed that her brain was more vigorous today than it was four decades ago.

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