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Science

Dinosaurs Are Really Unicorns

Well, i guess if you can't accept dinosaurs but you have to come up with some reason for them, why not unicorns?

The existence of unicorns is controversial. Secular opinion is that they are mythical. However, they are referred to in the Bible nine times,[1] which provides an unimpeachable de facto argument for their once having been in existence.

In the original texts, unicorns go by the Hebrew name Re-em whereas the Greek Septuagint used the name Monokeros.[2] Unicorn itself is Latin. All three names mean "one horn".

Post-Noachian references[1] to unicorns have led some researchers to argue that unicorns are still alive today. At the very least, it is likely that they were taken aboard the Ark prior to the Great Flood.

Yes, kids. That's the image they have accompanying the Unicorn post. Thanks to Sadly, No! for this one.

Currently, i'm watching the Atheism page to see how long it takes before they "fix" it.


By min | February 26, 2007, 1:20 PM | Science & Ummm... Other? | Comments (0)| Link



Filed under "Grant Morrison"

Monkey-brain controlled robots.


By fnord12 | February 23, 2007, 10:35 AM | Comics & Science | Comments (0)| Link



Transformers and Voltron Rolled Into One

Wei-Min Shen of the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute recently reported to NASA significant progress in developing "SuperBot," identical modular units that plug into each other to create robots that can stand, crawl, wiggle and even roll. He illustrated his comments with striking video of the system in action.
...
"Superbot consists of Lego-like but autonomous robotic modules that can reconfigure into different systems for different tasks. Examples of configurable systems include rolling tracks or wheels (for efficient travel), spiders or centipedes (for climbing), snakes (for burrowing in ground), long arms (for inspection and repair in space), and devices that can fly in micro-gravity environment.

"Each module is a complete robotic system and has a power supply, micro- controllers, sensors, communication, three degrees of freedom, and six connecting faces (front, back, left, right, up and down) to dynamically connect to other modules.

"This design allows flexible bending, docking, and continuous rotation. A single module can move forward, back, left, right, flip-over, and rotate as a wheel. Modules can communication with each other for totally distributed control and can support arbitrary module reshuffling during their operation.

Link

They're autonomous and they can SELF-ASSEMBLE into a humanoid robot shape. When Sven leaves the group, i want dibs on his robot lion. But i'm not wearing pink.

Go to this page to watch the movie they made of the thing wiggling around self-assembling. Be forewarned, the "self-assembly" portion is just a tiny bit vulgar. I'm just saying.


By min | February 22, 2007, 12:51 PM | Science & TeeVee | Comments (0)| Link



Through the Nose

This minimally invasive approach -- known as the Expanded Endonasal Approach (EEA) -- was pioneered and refined in adults over the last decade by surgeons at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and is now a viable option for tumors in children and in many instances for tumors that were once deemed to be inoperable.
...
EEA involves using narrow scopes and surgical tools -- often developed by the surgeons themselves -- inserted through the nasal passage to remove tumors as large as baseballs. [emphasis mine]

Link

While i'm happy they found a less invasive way to remove these tumors, i just have to say, "Gah! A baseball through my nose? Are you insane??".

That is all.


By min | February 21, 2007, 2:14 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



If Willis is Busy, How about Affleck?

Possible asteroid collision scheduled for April 13th, 2036.

A group of astronauts and engineers warns that an asteroid may pass uncomfortably close to Earth that day. The chances it will actually hit are just one in 45,000, but even at those odds, the scientists warn, the United Nations should consider a response.
...
Nobody knows for sure what it would take to push a massive asteroid off its course, but the theoretical possibilities include detonating weapons on an asteroid's surface or using a gravitational pull to alter a possible collision course.

But it could also break an asteroid into many pieces, all still headed toward Earth.

Everybody knows the best way to survive an asteroid collision is to ride your bike to the top of the nearest hill. Duh.


By min | February 19, 2007, 11:44 AM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



We Freeze Greenhouse Gases

Fresh from the "Just make it go away" idea factory:

Researchers from the University of Leicester and the British Geological Society (BGS) have proposed storing carbon dioxide in huge underground reservoirs as a way of reducing emissions- and have even identified sites in Western Europe that would be suitable.

Their research, published in the journal, Planet Earth, reveals that CO2 can be contained in cool geological aquifers or reservoirs, where it can remain harmlessly for many thousands of years.

Any country willing to allow the use of their reservoirs for CO2 storage should charge a fee. For one thing, they say it's safe, but you never know. The gases might start to vaporize, building up pressure in the reservoirs, and then KABLOOEY. The U.S. being the biggest producer of greenhouse gases would end up paying through the nose. Unless we invade Western Europe and bring them some of our democracy, i guess.

How will they capture the CO2? And how will it be transported? As gas or in the solid hydrate form? And what happens when there's no more room in the reservoirs? Rest assured, if we found a way to sweep CO2 under the proverbial (and seemingly literal, in this case) carpet, no way in hell would anyone continue talking about reducing emissions. Why worry? We can just freeze it and stick it underground indefinitely.

Math and science teachers were wrong all along. It's not the infinite that's difficult to contemplate. It's the finite we can't seem to grasp.


By min | February 8, 2007, 1:24 PM | Science | Comments (1)| Link



Next Step - Transporters

Physicists have for the first time stopped and extinguished a light pulse in one part of space and then revived it in a completely separate location. They accomplished this feat by completely converting the light pulse into matter that travels between the two locations and is subsequently changed back to light.
...
Within a Bose-Einstein condensate -- a cloud of sodium atoms cooled to just billionths of a degree above absolute zero -- a light pulse is spatially compressed by a factor of 50 million. The light drives a controllable number of the condensate's roughly 1.8 million sodium atoms to enter into quantum superposition states with a lower-energy component that stays put and a higher-energy component that travels between the two Bose-Einstein condensates. The amplitude and phase of the light pulse stopped and extinguished in the first cloud are imprinted in this traveling component and transferred to the second cloud, where the recaptured information can recreate the original light pulse.

Link

If they can figure out how to turn matter into light and then change it back to matter in a completely different location, we could start beaming people and stuff all over the place.

The only thing i don't get is what happens to the lower-energy component? The light pulse is divided into the low- and high-energy components. Then the info about the light pulse is transmitted via the high-energy component and the low-energy component doesn't move. So......when the light pulse gets recreated at the new location, isn't it missing part of the original pulse? Are the original and the transmitted pulses just 2 halves of an incomplete whole?

What happens to the low-energy component in the first location now that it's a lesser version of its former self? And how much energy is required to make this happen? You've got to super-cool the gas, generate the pulse, manipulate the matter, then revive the pulse in the new location with a laser just to move it 2/10 mm.


By min | February 8, 2007, 12:21 PM | Science | Comments (1)| Link



What Does This Mean For Me?

Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown that people who played action video games for a few hours a day over the course of a month improved by about 20 percent in their ability to identify letters presented in clutter - a visual acuity test similar to ones used in regular ophthalmology clinics.

In essence, playing video game improves your bottom line on a standard eye chart.
...
The experimental group played Unreal Tournament, a first-person shoot-'em-up action game, for roughly an hour a day. The control group played Tetris, a game equally demanding in terms of motor control, but visually less complex.

After about a month of near-daily gaming, the Tetris players showed no improvement on the test, but the Unreal Tournament players could tell which way the "T" was pointing much more easily than they had just a month earlier.

Link

First-person shooters make me nauseous. And i pretty much suck at Tetris. I suspect that at some point, i also stop breathing when i play video games. This prolly contributes to the headaches and nausea. So, i can't improve my motor skills or my eyesight. This blows.


By min | February 7, 2007, 3:43 PM | Science & Video Games | Comments (0)| Link



Volunteers Wanted

Who volunteers to test a new product that's supposed to block HIV transmission?

Two major studies of a vaginal gel being tested as a substance to block HIV transmission were halted Wednesday after early results from one of them appeared to show that the women who used it had higher infection rates than those who were given a placebo.
...
Monitors found that 35 women had already become HIV-positive since enrollment began in July 2005, and the majority of them were getting the actual microbicide, cellulose sulfate, instead of an inert placebo gel.

If they're doing clinical trials of it, that means they don't know yet if it works. This is not like testing a deodorant or an acne cream. If it fails, you have HIV. And if, like in this case, it actually facilitates infection, you're totally screwed.

The response from the scientists:

The results were "unexpected and disappointing,'' said Dr. Lut Van Damme of the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va., the principal investigator in the study.

Not as disappointing as finding out you are now HIV positive.

The trials were conducted in Africa and India. Perhaps the payment offered to volunteers outweighed their self-preservation instinct.


By min | February 1, 2007, 12:05 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



Big Baby


I demand a follow-up story on this kid in 15 years.


By fnord12 | February 1, 2007, 8:48 AM | Science & Ummm... Other? | Comments (0)| Link



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