Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Kali's dance of life

'The worship of a mother goddess as the source of life and fertility has prehistoric roots, but the transformation of that deity into a Great goddess of cosmic powers was achieved with the composition of the Devi Mahatmya (Glory of the goddess), a text of the fifth to sixth century, when worship of the female principle took on dramatic new dimensions. The goddess is not only the mysterious source of life, she is the very soil, all-creating and all consuming.

'Kali makes her 'official' debut in the Devi-Mahatmya, where she is said to have emanated from the brow of Goddess Durga (slayer of demons) during one of the battles between the divine and anti-divine forces. Etymologically Durga's name means "Beyond Reach". She is thus an echo of the woman warrior's fierce virginal autonomy. In this context Kali is considered the 'forceful' form of the great goddess Durga.' More

Air guitarists’ rock dreams come true

'Aspiring rock gods can at last create their own guitar solos - without ever having to pick up a real instrument, thanks to a group of Finnish computer science students. The Virtual Air Guitar project, developed at the Helsinki University of Technology, adds genuine electric guitar sounds to the passionately played air guitar. Using a computer to monitor the hand movements of a "player", the system adds riffs and licks to match frantic mid-air finger work. By responding instantly to a wide variety of gestures it promises to turn even the least musically gifted air guitarist to a virtual fret board virtuoso.' More

The world's smallest robot

'Dartmouth College researchers have created a robot so small that 200 of them could fit on the tip of your finger. The tiny machine crawls like an inchworm across a grid at the breakneck speed of 200 microns per second. Its goal: to fix really little things. Dartmouth engineer Bruce Donald says swarms of such devices could one day repair circuitry in computer chips.' More

Hot-air plane based on 1816 design

'A drone aircraft powered by a 200-year-old engine design is the latest concept under wraps at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California, US. The Stirling engine – invented in 1816 by clergyman Robert Stirling – uses temperature difference to activate its gas-filed pistons. The engine is efficient at generating mechanical power, although slow. But the US research lab thinks it could be ideal for use in a solar-powered aircraft that needs to fly throughout the night on stored energy.' More

Mind trick 'whittles the waist'

'Scientists have harnessed a perceptual trick known as the 'Pinocchio illusion' to help pinpoint the brain regions that control how we view our bodies. They made the discovery by scanning the brains of volunteers experiencing the illusion, which involved stimulating their wrist tendons to make them feel thinner.' More

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Six dumbest ideas in computer security

'There's lots of innovation going on in security - we're inundated with a steady stream of new stuff and it all sounds like it works just great. Every couple of months I'm invited to a new computer security conference, or I'm asked to write a foreword for a new computer security book. And, thanks to the fact that it's a topic of public concern and a "safe issue" for politicians, we can expect a flood of computer security-related legislation from lawmakers. So: computer security is definitely still a "hot topic." But why are we spending all this time and money and still having problems?' More

No more rhinos left in south Malaysia forest

The last five were killed by poachers


Kuala Lumpur: The last five endangered Sumatran rhinos living in a southern Malaysian forest reserve park are believed to have been killed by poachers, a conservationist said Monday.

Vincent Chow, an adviser to the Malaysian Nature Society, said indigenous people who live on the fringes of the Endau Rompin National Park in Johor state and regularly roam the area have failed to find any sign of the animals.

If they are indeed dead, it could be a fatal blow to the dwindling population of the Sumatran Rhinoceros in Malaysia. Besides Johor, another 80 to 100 rhinos are believed to exist in the wild in other national parks in the country, according to official estimates. Conservationists say the number might be smaller.

Chow blamed poachers who hunt the rhino for its horn and other body parts. The animal is worth about 100,000 ringgit (US$26,315; euro22,300) each on the black market, he said.

Thought of the day

It's staggering how much destruction a single human being wreaks in his/her lifetime.

The worst jobs in science 2005

Pain, Tedium, Danger, Disgust, Humiliation — It's all just part of the average workday for the (often proud, more often smelly) members of the third annual honour roll of the Worst Jobs in Science...

PopSci's best of what's new 2005

Monday, November 28, 2005

Tin Can tube preamp

The Tin Can is a dual channel vacuum tube preamplifier pedal featuring a 5-band equalizer, footswitchable volume/gain boost, analogue speaker modelling circuitry, and true bypass capability.

The two independent channels cover the tonal spectrum from clean to slightly gritty in channel 1, and from blues to heavy metal in channel 2. The post-distortion equalizer provides up to 18dB of boost or cut, and can be independently bypassed in each channel. The player can boost his volume using the solo boost footswitch in conjunction with each channel's volume boost control. A three position toggle switch in each channel can be used to enable or disable the gain boost circuit, increasing the range of distortion available. The third position of the switch ties the gain boost function to the solo footswitch for increased flexibility.

An analogue speaker modelling circuit provides a signal which is routed to a fully balanced direct recording output, as well as to a dedicated headphone jack. Independent output level controls are provided for the host amp output and recording/headphone outputs. The unit features an internal high voltage power supply, and includes a 12VDC power adapter.

MP3 sound samples: Semi Clean / Medium Gain Rhythm / Medium Gain Lead

Rear view

Price: $595 USD (retail)

Glasstone Amplification

Religious harmony threatened in SE Asia

'Buddhist monks are being murdered, Christian schoolchildren beheaded and dissenters blown up. Southeast Asia's peaceful co-existence among religions is under siege, from Bangkok to Jakarta. Meanwhile, politicians and military leaders are using Islamic fervour to boost their own power.' More

The story behind 'The Scream'

'"I was walking along a path with two friends—the sun was setting—suddenly the sky turned blood red—I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence—there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city—my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety—and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature." A sunset stroll along a road above an Oslo fjord, a blood-red sky, a sensation of nameless dread: This is how the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944) described the visionary experience that inspired him to create The Scream—his most famous work and one of the most recognizable images in modern art.' More / Edvard Much's other works

First woman to drive on Mars

'If it weren't for severe motion sickness, Dr. Ashley Stroupe might already have several space shuttle flights under her belt. The child of an aerospace engineer, Stroupe devoured all things space-related during her childhood. Her higher education path literally led to the stars; astronomy was her first choice as an undergraduate, but the solitude of that profession lost out to the lure of robotics, where she would have the opportunity to help build and operate spacecraft that might one day visit the planets she studied through telescopes.' More

Sunday, November 27, 2005

When parasites go 'pop'!

Lathering up with topical creams before each swim may no longer be necessary to prevent schistosomiasis, a water-borne parasitic infection that kills an estimated 800,000 people a year. A mix of red cedarwood oil and surfactant--a compound that makes oil spread evenly on the water surface--can kill schistosome larvae by making them swell and explode, according to a new study. More

Probing Space

Mars-Bound NASA Craft Tweaks Course, Passes Halfway Point: NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter successfully fired six engines for about 20 seconds earlier this month to adjust its flight path in advance of its March 10, 2006, arrival at the red planet.Since its Aug. 12 launch, the multipurpose spacecraft has covered about 60 percent of the distance for its trip from Earth to Mars. It will fly about 40-million kilometers (25-million miles) farther before it enters orbit around Mars. It will spend half a year gradually adjusting the shape of its orbit, then begin its science phase. During that phase, it will return more data about Mars than all previous missions combined. The spacecraft has already set a record transmission rate for an interplanetary mission, successfully returning data at 6 megabits per second, fast enough to fill a CD-ROM every 16 minutes.

Hayabusa probe prepares for touchdown two: Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft will make another attempt to touch down on asteroid Itokawa on Friday, in a bid to collect the first ever samples of such an object. The Hayabusa probe, which successfully touched down on the asteroid last Sunday but failed to collect material as planned, is set to try again at 2200 GMT on Friday, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The unmanned craft will descend to Itokawa at a speed of several centimetres per second. Although it has already managed to land once, Japan's space agency says this is no easy feat. "It's like being forced to land a troubled jumbo jet in a valley of the Grand Canyon," said project team member Yasunori Matogawa.

Spacecraft snatches first samples from asteroid: The Hayabusa spaceprobe has snatched samples from the asteroid Itokawa, according to JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The six-metre probe touched down at 0707 Japanese time (2207 GMT Friday) and its computer system shot a metal ball into the asteroid to drive up material for collection. The operation went "without failure," said JAXA official Yasunori Matoba, and the craft then took off again. The Hayabusa team will not know for sure whether it picked up surface material until the craft returns to Earth in 2007, after a two billion kilometres journey, but they are confident it worked.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Four free Allan Holdsworth trax

UK gags paper over Aljazeera memo

;Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper has been ordered to cease publishing further details from an allegedly top secret memo revealing that US President George Bush wanted to bomb Aljazeera. The gag order from Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith came nearly 24 hours after the paper published details of what it said was a transcript of talks between Bush and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair.' More

'Bush wanted Aljazeera bombed'

'US President George Bush planned to bomb Aljazeera, British newspaper the Daily Mirror has reported, citing a Downing Street memo marked top secret. The five-page transcript of a conversation between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair reveals that Blair talked Bush out of launching a military strike on the station, unnamed sources told the daily.' More

Anti-cancer compound in beer

'A compound found only in hops and the main product they are used in - beer - has rapidly gained interest as a micronutrient that might help prevent many types of cancer. Researchers at Oregon State University first discovered the cancer-related properties of this flavonoid compound called xanthohumol about 10 years ago. A recent publication by an OSU researcher in the journal Phytochemistry outlines the range of findings made since then. And many other scientists in programs around the world are also beginning to look at the value of these hops flavonoids for everything from preventing prostate or colon cancer to hormone replacement therapy for women.' More

Motion Mountain, free physics textbook

How do objects and images move? Why do animals move? What is motion?

How does a rainbow form? Is levitation possible? Do time machines exist? What does 'quantum' mean? What is the maximum force found in nature? Is 'empty space' really empty? Is the universe a set? Which problems in physics are still unsolved?

This site publishes a free physics textbook that tells the story of how it became possible, after 2500 years of exploration, to answer such questions.

Pat Morita, RIP

Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, 73, whose portrayal of the wise and sly master teacher in "The Karate Kid" earned him an Oscar nomination, died Nov. 24 at his home in Las Vegas.

There were conflicting reports about the cause of death. His daughter Aly Morita said he died Thursday of heart failure at a Las Vegas hospital. His longtime manager, Arnold Soloway, said the actor died of kidney failure at a hospital while awaiting a transplant.

In the footsteps of a Sensei

Armani Haute Couture Bicycles by Bianchi

'Armani works out every morning, loves playing football and owns a basketball team. Now he has designed his own Emporio Armani bicycle, which made its debut on the menswear catwalk last week. Produced by Bianchi, it will go on sale in December. Bianchi is an Italian high-performance bicycle manufacturer with over a 100 years of racing triumphs.'

Mapping Mars

'In 1999, NASA's Mars Global Surveyor first brought back a tantalizing hint that Mars once might have had an earth-like system of plate tectonics. But the observations covered only a small region and were too spotty to confirm. Now astrophysicists have stitched together comprehensive planetary map of Mars's surface.' More

Earliest animals had human-like genes

'Species evolve at very different rates, and the evolutionary line that produced humans seems to be among the slowest. The result, according to a new study by scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory [EMBL], is that our species has retained characteristics of a very ancient ancestor that have been lost in more quickly-evolving animals. This overturns a commonly-held view of the nature of genes in the first animals. The work appears in the current issue of the journal Science.' More

Organic doesn't mean parasite-free

People might be tempted to believe that organically grown fruits and veggies are free of potentially toxic pesticides. They could be wrong... More

Friday, November 25, 2005

Carbon bike porn

Sea level rise doubles in 150 years

'Global warming is doubling the rate of sea level rise around the world, but attempts to stop it by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be futile, leading researchers will warn today.' More

"If you really want to make a case for global warming, you just have to look at the past 1,000 years, because the current increase in carbon dioxide stands out dramatically," said lead author Dr Thomas Stocker at the Physics Institute of the University of Bern, Switzerland.

Ed Brook, a climate scientist at Oregon State University said the rise in greenhouse gases ... was a stark indication of the influence industry was having on the environment. "The levels of primary greenhouse gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are up dramatically since the industrial revolution, at a speed and magnitude that the earth has not seen in hundreds of thousands of years. There is now no question this is due to human influence."

Planet Earth at crossroads

Experts on demographics, economics, energy, and biodiversity came together for this special one-day forum to discuss how to tackle the world's toughest challenges. The forum was moderated by Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, and John Rennie, Editor in Chief of Scientific American and took place on October 20, 2005


Another pink bike

Chrissy VST lo-fi/saturation free

Chrissy 1.0 for Windows is a lo-fi/saturation effect designed to be used with vocals for achieving a wide range of modern results. It can also be used in a variety of other applications such as guitars, synth-pads or beats. Chrissy is suited for studios producing industrial or similar music, and for various special effects.

Key features:

* Lo-fi-section allows user to downgrade audio-fidelity
* "Catfight" feature creates digital aliasing effects ranging from mild to wild
* "Sweep" section for smoothing out the lo-fi edge
* "Touch" voice-saturation
* Adjustable low-cut
* Mono or stereo operation

Download (2.4MB)

Highest carbon dioxide levels in 650,000 years

'Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal gas that drives global warming, are now 27 pct higher than at any point in the last 650,000 years, according to research into Antarctic ice cores.

The study, adding powerfully to evidence of human interference in the climate system, appears in the run up to a key conference on global warming which opens in Montreal next Monday.

The evidence comes from the world's deepest ice core, drilled at a site called Dome Concordia (Dome C) in East Antarctica by European scientists, Agence France-Presse said.

The core, extracted using a 10-centimeter-wide drill bit in three-meter sections, brought up ice that was deposited by snows up to 650,000 years ago, as determined by estimated layers of annual snowfall.

Analysis of carbon dioxide trapped in bubbles in the ancient ice showed that at no point during this time frame did levels get anywhere close to today's CO2 concentrations of around 380 parts per mln.' - AFX

Today's rising CO2 concentrations are 27 pct higher than at the highest level seen over the 650,000-year time scale, according to the study, which appears in the weekly US journal Science. In the past five years, the average global temperature has risen by 0.2 C -- 100 times higher than is normal for such a short time scale -- and 2005 is on course for being the hottest year on record.

Einstein's dark energy accelerates the Universe

'The genius of Albert Einstein, who added a "cosmological constant" to his equation for the expansion of the universe but later retracted it, may be vindicated by new research published today in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. The enigmatic "dark energy" that drives the acceleration of the Universe behaves just like Einstein's famed cosmological constant, according to the Supernova Legacy Survey (SNLS), an international team of researchers in France and Toronto and Victoria in Canada, collaborating with large telescope observers in Oxford, Caltech and Berkeley. Their observations reveal that the dark energy behaves like Einstein's cosmological constant to a precision of 10%.' More

All hail the holographic-memory disc!

'A computer disc about the size of a DVD that can hold 60 times more data is set to go on sale in 2006. The disc stores information through the interference of light – a technique known as holographic memory.

The discs, developed by InPhase Technologies, based in Colorado, US, hold 300 gigabytes of data and can be used to read and write data 10 times faster than a normal DVD. The company, along with Japanese partner Hitachi Maxell announced earlier in November that they would start selling the discs and compatible drives from the end of 2006.' More

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Snoop Doggy Dogg's Midimoog at eBay