iminplaya writes: Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of machines are uncannily similar to Chinese originals and were undoubtedly derived from them, a British amateur historian says in a newly-published book. Gavin Menzies sparked headlines across the globe in 2002 with the claim that Chinese sailors reached America 70 years before Christopher Columbus. Now he says a Chinese fleet brought encyclopedias of technology undiscovered by the West to Italy in 1434, laying the foundation for the engineering marvels such as flying machines later drawn by Italian polymath Leonardo. "Everything known to the Chinese by the year 1430 was brought to Venice," said Menzies, a retired Royal Navy submarine commander, in an interview at his north London home. From Venice, a Chinese ambassador went to Florence and presented the material to Pope Eugenius IV, Menzies says. "I argue in the book that this was the spark that really ignited the renaissance and that Leonardo and (Italian astronomer) Galileo built on what was brought to them by the Chinese. "Leonardo basically redrew everything in three dimensions, which made a vast improvement." If accepted, the claim would force an "agonizing reappraisal of the Eurocentric view of history", Menzies says in his book "1434: The Year A Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed To Italy and Ignited The Renaissance".
iminplaya writes: The bad dream of DRM continues. Yahoo e-mailed its Yahoo! Music Store customers yesterday, telling them it will be closing for good — and the company will take its DRM license key servers offline on September 30, 2008. Sure, it's bad news and yet another example of the sheer lobotomized brain-deadness that has characterized music DRM, but the reaction of most music fans will be: "Yahoo had an online music store?"... DRM makes things harder for legal users; it creates hassles that illegal users won't deal with; it (often) prevents cross-platform compatibility and movement between devices. In what possible world was that a good strategy for building up the nascent digital download market? The only possible rationales could be 1) to control piracy (which, obviously, it has had no effect on, thanks to the CD and the fact that most DRM is broken) or 2) to nickel-and-dime consumers into accepting a new pay-for-use regime that sees moving tracks from CD to computer to MP3 player as a "privilege" to be monetized. What we really need to do is just — you know what? Why bother. We've been down this road so many times before that everyone knows their lines by heart.
iminplaya writes: Ulysses is not dead yet."
"ESA issued a statement in February saying that, as Ulysses' radioisotope thermoelectric generators were running out of power, the spacecraft would likely die some time this year. The actual death blow to the spacecraft was likely to be the freezing of hydrazine fuel in a cold spot in a fuel line. Mission controllers found creative ways to prevent the freezing, but the solution was not a long-term one, and ESA had a ceremonial send-off and wrap-up of the mission in mid-June, announcing that the spacecraft would be shut down on July 1. However, it now appears that announcement was premature. ESA issued a statement on July 3 titled "Ulysses hanging on valiantly." And on Wednesday, the following email was sent by Ulysses mission operations manager Nigel Angold to the Ulysses community, indicating that Ulysses' voyage could actually continue for some time.
iminplaya writes: "Lead is a toxic metal that damages the nervous system when ingested or inhaled. It is present throughout the environment because of its widespread use in the past in paint, solder for water pipes, and gasoline. In this new study, the researchers investigate the association between actual measurements of prenatal and childhood blood lead concentrations and criminal arrests in early adulthood to get a clearer idea about whether early lead exposure is associated with subsequent violent behavior."
On a more personal note, I would also like to point out the benefits and advantages of peer-reviewed open access journals.
iminplaya writes: '1967:The first human-to-human heart transplant is performed. The operation is a success, but the patient dies after complications set in. South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard, who prepared for this day by performing a number of experimental heart transplants involving dogs, led a 30-member surgical team in implanting the heart of a young woman into 53-year-old Louis Washkansky, a Cape Town grocer suffering from diabetes and incurable heart disease.'
The machine, known as Arm Spirit, has so far broken three arms of players who put it to the challenge. The machine features 10 levels of arm-wrestling difficulty, including a French maid, a drunken martial arts master and a Chihuahua. The final throw-down, for those who manage to avoid having their forearms snapped, is against a professional arm-wrestler.
"We think that maybe some players get overexcited and twist their arms in an unnatural way."
"Knowledge of a secondary language has long been a coveted skill, whether it be for academics, business, or travel, but learning another language can be a challenging task. While many Western languages at least offer a level of familiarity by sharing the Roman alphabet, Japanese and other Eastern languages offer no such comfort. Here are three applications that can help you overcome some learning roadblocks...if you have a notebook computer, you can get some learning done anytime by utilizing Kanatest 0.4.2, TangoBlaster 0.7.2, and Langdrill."