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United States

Submission + - Top ten literate US cities

sm62704 (mcgrew) writes: "I saw at the St Louis Post Dispatch that my home town is number six in the nation as far as literacy goes. A Google search finds the list in USA Today. The ten most literate US Cities are:
  1. Minneapolis
  2. Seattle
  3. St. Paul
  4. Denver
  5. Washington
  6. St. Louis
  7. San Francisco
  8. Atlanta
  9. Pittsburgh
  10. Boston
Christmas Cheer

Submission + - Angels dancing on the head of a pin

sm62704 (mcgrew) writes: "The BBC is reporting that Israeli researchers have put the 300,000 word Hebrew Bible on a chip that is smaller than a pinhead.

The 0.5sq-mm (0.01sq-in) nano-Bible was written on a silicon surface covered with a thin layer of gold (20nanometres thick — 0.0002mm).

It was written using a device called Focused Ion Beam (Fib).

"When we send the particle beam toward a point on the surface, the gold atoms bounce off of this point, thus exposing the silicon layer underneath," Ohad Zohar, one of the project's managers at Technion, said.
"How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" has been a rhetorical question for centuries, but has finally been answered. The answer is, of course, "all of them". At least all the ones in the Hebrew version."

Submission + - Nerds steroids for the Brain

sm62704 (mcgrew) writes: "Several papers, including the Chicago Tribune (bugmenot required) and LA Times are running stories about brain-enhansing drugs like adderal and Provigil. From the Times:

Despite the potential side effects, academics, classical musicians, corporate executives, students and even professional poker players have embraced the drugs to clarify their minds, improve their concentration or control their emotions.

"There isn't any question about it — they made me a much better player," said Paul Phillips, 35, who credited the attention deficit drug Adderall and the narcolepsy pill Provigil with helping him earn more than $2.3 million as a poker player.
My opinion on geek enhansing drugs is the same as jock enhansing drugs. I have no problem. They say Babe Ruth did it on babes and beer, but cocaine was legal then and there wre no drug tests. Give me a million bucks and I'll take damned near anything.

What's your take on it? Should these drugs be sanctioned, outlawed, or ignored?"

Submission + - Earth and moon are the same age

sm62704 writes: "A New Scientist story says that new research suggests that the moon is 30 million years younger than previously thought, and that the Mars sized object slamming into the earth was that last event in the earth's formation.

The revised timing of the impact implies the terrestrial planets, such as the Earth and Mars, took longer to build up from the collision of smaller 'planetesimals' than previously thought. "The age of the Moon is also the age of Earth because the Moon-forming giant impact was the last major event in Earth's formation," says Touboul.

Alan Brandon, a scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, US, agrees. "It may mean that Earth and Mars took at least 50 million years, and possibly hundreds of millions of years, to reach their final mass," he comments.

The researchers also found that the composition of the Moon appears identical to that of the Earth's rocky mantle, "such that a major portion of the Moon must have been from proto-Earth", Brandon told New Scientist.

Submission + - Cosmic explosion detonates in empty space

sm62704 (mcgrew) writes: "New Scientist reports that

Six spacecraft around Earth and Mars detected a powerful volley of gamma rays lasting about a minute on 25 January 2007. Such explosions, called long gamma-ray bursts, are thought to be caused when massive stars explode and their cores collapse into black holes.

But follow-up observations by some of the world's most powerful telescopes failed to turn up any sign of a 'host' galaxy for the dying star. Spectral observations did show, however, that the burst, called GRB 070125, had exploded within a small pocket of dense gas.

Submission + - Intergfalactic particle beam spotted

sm62704 (mcgrew) writes: New scientist lightheartedly reports:

A new weapon of intergalactic war has been found. A jet of hot gas and high-energy particles is shooting out from the core of a galaxy called 3C321 and hitting a neighbour, a new study reveals.

Galaxies have been known to ram into each other, but this is the first known example of attack by particle beam
It goes on with less jocularity to explain this phenomena. And before any of you quip 'that was no moon', actually it was a black hole.

Submission + - Group plans to bring Martian sample to earth

sm62704 (mcgrew) writes: "New Scientist has a story about IMARS (the International Mars Architecture for Return Samples) planning to bring samples of Martian siol to earth.

The robotic mission would be a needed precursor to manned trips to the red planet. Also, international cooperation is necessary since the US has already nixed bankrolling manned Mars missions."

Submission + - Lincoln's Tomb to be powered by georthermal energy

sm62704 (magrew) writes: "The Springfield State Journal-Register is reporting that Lincoln's Tomb will be partly powered by geothermal energy, the first public historic site in the US to do so. ""We're not aware of this being tried in a public historic site like this before, so we really don't have anything to compare it to," David Blanchette, spokesman for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency said.

Lincoln's legacy includes presiding over our only civil war and freeing the US's slaves. His visage appears on a five dollar bill, as well as on both sides of a penny. I never knew Lincoln was a nerd, but according to the SJ-R, Lincoln was the only US President to ever hold a patent.

The geothermal project at the Oak Ridge Cemetary is slated to be finished before Lincoln's 200th birthday in 2008. Let the global warming jokes begin..."
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Confession of a college downloader's father

sm62704 (mcgrew) writes: "St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan tells the tale of the music industry suing his college aged son, and how the old geezer wound up paying the settlement.

The attorney looked into the matter and explained that the music industry has been filing these lawsuits in an effort to frighten people away from downloading music. A woman in Minnesota went to court and lost $120,000. That frightened me. I decided to accept the settlement offer. We had to pay the music industry $4,000.

I do not even know what downloading is.
Here we have a man who doesn't even know what downloading is, paying a fine for downloading."

Submission + - Comet Holmes bigger than the sun

mcgrew (sm62704) writes: "I have NASA's "Image of the DAY" loaded up in iGoogle, and was astounded that the caption to today's astronomy image of the comet says that

The spherical coma of Comet Holmes has swollen to a diameter of over 1.4 million kilometers, making the tenuous, dusty cloud even bigger than the Sun. Scattering sunlight, all that dust and gas came from the comet's remarkably active nucleus, whose diameter before the late October outburst was estimated to be a mere 3.4 kilometers. In this sharp image, recorded on November 14 with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, stars are easily visible right through the outer coma, while the nucleus is buried inside the condensed, bright region. The bright region of the coma seems offset from the center, consistent with the idea that a large fragment drifted away from the nucleus and disintegrated, producing the comet's spectacular outburst.
The comet's nucleus, of course, isn't anywhere near the sun's size; Wikipedia has a very good image gallery of Holmes and animations of its motions.

NASA's Image of the Day can be found here."
The Courts

Submission + - Girl sues sports team over electronic scoreboard

mcgrew (sm62704) writes: "The St Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that a teenager is suing the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team over a message that appeared on the electronic scoreboard that read "[plantiff] has an STD! Eww"

The suit accuses the Cardinals of negligence in allowing a defamatory statement to be published. The girl is seeking damages "in excess of $25,000," plus legal fees.

The Cardinals introduced the scoreboard service when the new stadium opened last year. For $2.99, fans can send a text message from their phone to digital boards along the first- and third-base lines, as well as a display in right-center field.

Vulgar comments are supposed to be caught before they are displayed, but that has not always been the case.
No "safe harbor" for scoreboards!"

Submission + - Giant black holes power highest-energy cosmic rays

mcgrew (sm62704) writes: "New Scientist says

The finding, from a telescope array 10 times the size of Paris, solves a long-standing mystery about the origins of the most energetic cosmic rays that strike the Earth's atmosphere....

[T]he origins of the highest-energy particles, which travel within a whisker of the speed of light, have been puzzling. A single proton can have as much energy as a tennis ball served at 100 kilometres per hour.

Astronomers found it difficult to explain how particles are accelerated to such enormous speeds.
The article says these new findings herald "the beginning of cosmic ray astronomy"."
Operating Systems

Submission + - Dual boot in Phoenix BIOSes 1

mcgrew (sm62704) writes: "The AP is reporting that Phoenix Technologies Ltd. BIOSes will have dual boot capabilities at the BIOS level, possibly starting next summer.

User will be able to boot in a few seconds straight into the DVD player, skipping the longer Windows startup, or switch to the DVD player from Windows. If Windows is running at the same time, it can be put in sleep mode, prolonging battery life.

Laptops with a media player separate from Windows already exist, but the players don't run parallel to Windows (you have to boot into the player, then shut it down and boot into Windows to switch tasks).

Laptops with HyperSpace would likely have a separate button that instantly switches away from Windows.
The technology, named HyperSpace, will be based on Linux."

Submission + - Black holes may harbour their own universes

mcgrew writes: From the "head explodes" department:

When matter gets swallowed by a black hole, it could fall into another universe contained inside the black hole, or get trapped inside a wormhole-like connection to a second black hole, a new study suggests.
Christian Böhmer of University College London, in the UK and colleague Kevin Vandersloot of the University of Portsmouth in the UK used computers to approximate what would happen to matter falling into a black hole using the Loop Quantum Gravity theory.

"We were very surprised about the results," Böhmer says. Instead of a boundary around the singularity, they got two other kinds of solutions — both bizarre — that replaced the singularity
More at New Scientist.

Submission + - Brains hard wired for math

mcgrew (sm62704) writes: "New Scientist is reporting that "non-human primates really can understand the meaning of numerals."

The small study of two rhesus monkeys reveals that cells in their brains respond selectively to specific number values — regardless of whether the amount is represented by dots on a screen or an Arabic numeral.

For example, a given brain cell in the monkey will respond to the number three, but not the number one. The results suggest that individual cells in human brains might also have a fine-tuned preference for specific numerical values.
The report itself is online at PLoS Biology, Semantic Associations between Signs and Numerical Categories in the Prefrontal Cortex."

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