Layzej writes: Research from the Met Office has shed new light on a link between decadal solar variability and winter climate in the UK, northern Europe and parts of America. In years of low UV activity unusually cold air forms over the tropics in the stratosphere, about 50km up. This is balanced by more easterly flow of air over the mid latitudes — a pattern which then 'burrows' its way down to the surface, bringing easterly winds and cold winters to northern Europe. When solar UV output is higher than usual, the opposite occurs and there are strong westerlies which bring warm air and hence milder winters to Europe.
Sarah Ineson, who performed the experiments, said: "What we're seeing is UV levels affecting the distribution of air masses around the Atlantic basin. This causes a redistribution of heat — so while Europe and the US may be cooler, Canada and the Mediterranean will be warmer, and there is little direct impact on global temperatures."
crystalweb writes: Internet safety consultant Charles Conway accuses popular Facebook game "The Sims Social" of rewarding kids for engaging in underage "cybersex".
He asks Playfish "Even if Facebook did verify the age of it's users (which it doesn't), at what age does it become acceptable for a child to engage in "virtual sex" for rewards? Does it ever become acceptable? Isn't sex for rewards the very definition of prostitution?"
from the welcome-to-fantasy-island dept.
DesScorp writes "Ricardo Montalban, immortalized as Khan in the Star Trek franchise, is dead at age 88, passing at his Los Angeles home. Montalban had a long and successful career on television and film. The voice of Rich Corinthian Leather is silenced, but we still have the memories."
from the very-bad-ideas dept.
Lulfas writes "Worlds.com today sued NCSoft over its patent on a scalable virtual world, filed in 2000 and granted this February. This is a very broad base patent, and there is no reason to expect they will only sue NCSoft, when they should be able to use the same patent against other companies. 'Specifically, the suit claims that NCsoft has infringed on patent 7,181,690, "System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space" through its games, including City of Heroes, City of Villains, Dungeon Runners, Exteel, Guild Wars, Lineage, Lineage II, and Tabula Rasa.'"
DynaSoar writes "NASA has signed two contracts with US commercial space ventures totaling $3.5 billion for resupply of the International Space Station. SpaceX will receive $1.6 billion for 12 flights of SpaceX's planned Dragon spacecraft and their Falcon 9 boosters. $1.9 billion goes to Orbital for eight flights of its Cygnus spacecraft riding its Taurus 2 boosters. Neither of the specified craft has ever flown. However, the proposed vehicles are under construction and based on proven technology, whereas NASA has often contracted with big aerospace companies for services using vehicles not yet even designed."
thefickler writes: The last major supplier of VHS videotapes, is ditching the format in favor of DVD, effectively killing the format for good. This uncharitable commentator has this to say:"Will VHS be missed? Not... with videos being brittle, clunky, and rather user-unfriendly. But they ushered in a new era that was important to get to where we are today. And for that reason, the death of VHS is rather sad. Almost as sad as the people still using it."
fm6 writes: Some you will recall how Apple invented the PDA back in 1989. Their implementation had issues that we need not belabor, and was eventually discontinued. Its market niche was taken over by a simpler device, the Palm Pilot, which dominated the PDA market from that point on.
Nowadays, Palm mostly sells smart phones. Although they sold $11 million worth of PDAs last quarter, they haven't developed any new models since the TX and Z22 were released in 2005. Last Friday, CEO Ed Colligan announced what everybody had already figured out: these two models will be the last. The PDA is dead. Long live the Smart Phone!