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Current Topic: Science

The octopus who loves his Mr Potato Head |
Topic: Science 12:58 pm EST, Jan 11, 2008

Louis the octopus clearly thinks two heads are better than one when it comes to toys.

The 1.8m-wide (6ft) creature is so attached to Mr Potato Head that he turns aggressive when aquarium staff try to remove it from his tank.

The octopus who loves his Mr Potato Head |

Apocalypse: Sunspot Announces New Cycle, End of the World
Topic: Science 11:04 am EST, Jan  9, 2008

Mark your calendars - It may not feel like it, but last Friday was potentially the start of the end of the world. Friday, you see, saw the identification that a new 11-year solar cycle has started (as Charlie pointed out) and according to many, when solar cycles peak, so does societal and cultural revolution (look here for evidence of that theory, skeptics). According to New Scientist, we're still a few years away from the peak of this cycle -- some researchers predict 2011 and others 2012. Wait... 2012? That date sounds familiar. Something to do with Timewave Zero.

For those who know their Terence McKenna, of course, 2012 just so happens to have particular significance:

The theory of Timewave Zero was revealed to Terence by an alien intelligence following a bizarre, quasi-psychedelic experiment conducted in the Amazon jungle in Colombia in 1971. Inspired by this influence Terence was instructed in certain transformation of numbers derived from the King Wen sequence of I Ching hexagrams. This led eventually to a rigorous mathematical description of what Terence calls the timewave, which correlates time and history with the ebb and flow of novelty, which is intrinsic to the structure of time and hence of the temporal universe. A peculiarity of this correlation is that at a certain point a singularity is reached which is the end of history-or at least is a transition to a suprahistorical order in which our ordinary conceptions of our world will be radically transformed. The best current estimate for the date of this point is December 21, 2012 CE [common era], the winter solstice of that year and also the end of the current era in the Mayan calendar.

Apocalypse: Sunspot Announces New Cycle, End of the World

Five unbelievably cool research facilities
Topic: Science 10:58 am EST, Jan  9, 2008

Five unbelievably cool research facilities

NASA has a Stargate - Boing Boing
Topic: Science 5:14 pm EST, Dec 19, 2007

This is either a Stargate at the NASA Ames Research Center or the remnants of a 14 foot wind tunnel now being torn down at the facility. NASA Watch has more.


NASA has a Stargate - Boing Boing

South Korean scientists clone cats that glow in the dark.
Topic: Science 4:53 pm EST, Dec 13, 2007

South Korean scientists have cloned cats by manipulating a fluorescent protein gene, a procedure which could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases, officials said Wednesday. In a side-effect, the cloned cats glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet beams.

"The ability to produce cloned cats with the manipulated genes is significant as it could be used for developing treatments for genetic diseases and for reproducing model (cloned) animals suffering from the same diseases as humans," it added. The technology can also help clone endangered animals like tigers, leopards, and wildcats, Kong said.

Biological hacking = no more boring pets.

Woah, cool.

South Korean scientists clone cats that glow in the dark.

NASA Aims to Look Inside the Moon - Yahoo! News
Topic: Science 5:55 pm EST, Dec 11, 2007

As if scanning the moon's surface for impact blemishes were not enough, NASA now plans to visualize its internal imperfections to solve longstanding mysteries about the moon's insides.

NASA said this week that it selected the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission from two dozen proposals. GRAIL's twin spacecraft are slated to launch around Sept. 6, 2011 and, after a few weeks of settling into orbit, map the lunar gravity field for 90 days.

Scientists hope to use the data to pick apart its insides from crust to core, much like a medical X-ray that shows the insides of a person.

"We're looking forward to the data," Michael New, GRAIL's lead project scientist, told "It's really going to open up new understanding of the particular history and internal structure of the moon."


NASA Aims to Look Inside the Moon - Yahoo! News

The void: Imprint of another universe? - space - 24 November 2007 - New Scientist Space
Topic: Science 4:36 pm EST, Nov 23, 2007

IN AUGUST, radio astronomers announced that they had found an enormous hole in the universe. Nearly a billion light years across, the void lies in the constellation Eridanus and has far fewer stars, gas and galaxies than usual. It is bigger than anyone imagined possible and is beyond the present understanding of cosmology. What could cause such a gaping hole? One team of physicists has a breathtaking explanation: "It is the unmistakable imprint of another universe beyond the edge of our own," says Laura Mersini-Houghton of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

It is a staggering claim. If Mersini-Houghton's team is right, the giant void is the first experimental evidence for another universe. It would also vindicate string theory, our most promising understanding of how the universe works at its most fundamental level. And it would do away with the anthropic arguments that have plagued string theorists in ...

We need to send surfers here.

The void: Imprint of another universe? - space - 24 November 2007 - New Scientist Space

'Speed of Thought' Guides Brain Memory Consolidation | UANews
Topic: Science 1:18 pm EST, Nov 20, 2007

Scientists at The University of Arizona have added another piece of the puzzle of how the brain processes memory.

Bruce McNaughton, a professor of psychology and physiology, and his colleague David Euston have shown that, during sleep, the reactivated memories of real-time experiences are processed within the brain at a higher rate of speed. That rate can be as much as six or seven times faster, and what McNaughton calls “thought speed.”

Their results are published in the Nov. 16 issue of the journal Science.

Memory stores patterns of activity in modular form in the brain’s cortex. Different modules in the cortex process different kinds of information – sounds, sights, tastes, smells, etc. The cortex sends these networks of activity to a region called the hippocampus. The hippocampus then creates and assigns a tag, a kind of temporary bar code, that is unique to every memory and sends that signal back to the cortex.

Each module in the cortex uses the tag to retrieve its own part of the activity. A memory of having lunch, for example, would involve a number of modules, each of which might record where the diner sat, what was served, the noise level in the restaurant or the financial transaction to pay for the meal.

But while an actual dining experience might have taken up an hour of actual time, replaying the memory of it would only take 8 to 10 minutes. The reason, McNaughton said, is that the speed of the consolidation process isn’t constrained by the real world physical laws that regulate activity in time and space.

The brain uses this biological trick because there is no way for all of its neurons to connect with and interact with every other neuron. It is still an expensive task for the hippocampus to make all of those connections. The retrieval tags the hippocampus generates are only temporary until the cortex can carry a given memory on its own.

So people who have poor memory are poor dreamers. There should be classes in dreaming. I'd like to get a degree in dreaming.

'Speed of Thought' Guides Brain Memory Consolidation | UANews

Surfer dude stuns physicists with theory of everything - Telegraph
Topic: Science 11:24 am EST, Nov 17, 2007

While most of this is over my head. Is it possible that this could become the Grand Unified Theory we are all looking forward to?

Even if it isn't the pdf is very interesting.

Surfer dude stuns physicists with theory of everything - Telegraph

Volcanoes could have caused dinosaur deaths - LiveScience-
Topic: Science 1:53 am EST, Nov 13, 2007

Instead of being driven to extinction by death from above, dinosaurs might have ultimately been doomed by death from below in the form of monumental volcanic eruptions.

The suggestion is based on new research that is part of a growing body of evidence indicating a space rock alone did not wipe out the giant reptiles.

The Age of Dinosaurs ended roughly 65 million years ago with the K-T or Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event, which killed off all dinosaurs save those that became birds, as well as roughly half of all species on the planet, including pterosaurs. The prime suspect in this ancient murder mystery is an asteroid or comet impact, which left a vast crater at Chicxulub on the coast of Mexico.

Volcanoes could have caused dinosaur deaths - LiveScience-

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