Cool Links

It's impossible to imagine a science audience is not excited about "The Avengers".  Marvel, who throughout the 1980s and 1990s could do nothing right, has now taken great pains to do nothing wrong.   "Thor" should have been the hardest but it was darn good and only the twin Hulk efforts could be regarded as something of a misfire.

I wouldn't have picked Scarlett Johansson to be Black Widow (Hilary Swank, obviously) and yet another Hulk can be annoying, but you can tell by the audience reaction that this is going to be pretty sweet.

Sen. Tom Coburn, the kind of funding watchdog Congressman everyone says members of Congress should be unless he is attacking their funding (in which case they want their state to have a Barbara Boxer instead, because she is kooky and thinks every state can bring in more money than they send to Washington, D.C.) has proposed a $9 trillion solution to the federal deficit.

Will it work?  No, there is a lot of porkbarrel on both sides of the aisle, so that is untouchable, and conceding $1 trillion in higher taxes will alienate fellow Republicans and still not move Democrats at all.
From digital archives, to religious studies, to national libraries, these university libraries from around the world have plenty of information for you. 

Here are a few samples and go to the link below for the comprehensive list:
This isn't science, but this wildlife photography is pretty spectacular.

Wildlife photographer Richard Austin took these terrific pictures and they aren't in some remote wilderness, they were in Britain.

Sample:



An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) as a secondary effect of a nuclear blast has been known for decades, but recently groups have started to talk about EMP concern in a primary attack.   With so many of today's communications systems based on electromagnetics and the semiconductor world that lives there, a terrorist attacked designed not to kill people but simply to explode and kill communications has gotten some press.

But how much of our communications system or the electrical grid would be impacted?   No one is sure, there are too many variables, but people still create some worst-case domino effect where all electricity is knocked out, food is gone and Sean Penn is patrolling the streets with a shotgun and contend we have to plan for it.
Greenpeace protestors recently broke into an experimental Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) farm near Canberra and destroyed a crop of genetically modified (GM) wheat. 

The wheat's genetic makeup has been altered to improve its nutritional value. Modifying the level of resistant starch could impact where the digestive process takes place in the gut, and could have health benefits for obesity and bowel cancer.

Greenpeace has always been on the dangerous legal edge between being reputable and becoming Earth Liberation Front and the progressive zealots who work for the multi-national corporation act no differently than any paramilitary group in their efforts.
Zahi Hawass, long on self-aggrandizement and short on scientific knowledge, was everything that was wrong with the latest dictatorship in Egypt.

After months of pressure from critics who attacked his credibility and accused him of having been too close to the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, Hawass lost his job along with about a dozen other ministers in a Cabinet reshuffle meant to ease pressure from protesters seeking to purge remnants of Mubarak's regime.
 Given the mass exclusions we already know from the Tevatron it is already more likely that the Higgs sector will be described by something outside the Standard Model. 

With the exception of two small mass ranges either side of the presently excluded region, a Higgs boson that is consistent with the standard model is not now possible. The answer is probably going to be something else, perhaps a Higgs multiplet from some form of supersymmetry, or perhaps no Higgs at all. 



Hold your breath - viXra blog
If you miss french fries that aren't cooked in animal fat and wish pesky health mullahs would stop trying to ban things and get something productive done, there is hope for the future.  Science is out to make a better french fry, not just a healthier one that tastes like cardboard (we're also talking to you, Frito's).
What do you get when you combine eight films, 10 years and $6 billion?  Apparently a suicide watch.   The Harry Potter films are done, finis, kaput - and I have yet to see one.   But I am not the target market.    I do own every episode of "Firefly".

Older, wiser fans - they of "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" - have wisdom to impart to today's youngsters about how to cope with withdrawal; namely spend money going to conventions and act out stuff.


Today, President Obama said 80 percent of the public supports Democrats' demand for tax increases.   "The American people are sold.  The problem is members of Congress are dug in ideologically."

Demanding to have less money sounds odd, because it is.   A new Rasmussen Reports national survey found only 34% thought tax hikes were a valid part of the solution.   
Archaeologists at Khirbet Qeiyafa in Elah Valley near Jerusalem say they may have found remains of the biblical City of King David,  Israel's second king who held an area from Egypt to the Euphrates in the 10th century B.C.

If so, it is the first evidence that the ancient Jewish empire actually existed - while the Kingdom of David was described in the bible as the first Jewish state and features in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it is commonly dismissed as just a story.

Professor Israel Finkelstein, of Tel Aviv University, pointed out that the remains are not evidence of a powerful biblical state.


On vacation  short while ago, NBA player Tony Parker rented a water-powered jetpack and it got a lot of attention.   They're cool because you aren't using rocket fuel, you're using water - less cool is that you are actually renting an entire boat and an engine and you are tethered to it while it pumps the water into the system, making it a toy for the idle rich.   On a Fox morning show, TechCrunch notes, an overenthusiastic Jetlev R200 user surprises the on-camera reporter with some premature ignition.  Hilarity ensues.
Is there a 'Singularity', an ascension of man being able to become machines or machines becoming sentient, coming in 2045?

Given the current state of artificial intelligence and robotics, that would only happen if we were able to put a man on the Moon in a relative time scale of 3 minutes.  In reality, selling books and tickets to conferences showing "Man + (Black Box Full Of Magic) = SINGULARITY" not much progress has been made in decades much less anything leading us to believe the drastic inflection point needed will be happening any time this century.
The robotics pioneer Rodney Brooks often begins speeches by reaching into his pocket, fiddling with some loose change, finding a quarter, pulling it out and twirling it in his fingers.
An activist website called Negotiation Is Over is urging its followers to attack scientists.  

Left-wing kooks are no different than the right wing kind, just their issues are different.   Instead of global warming, they are anti-vaccine, instead of human embryonic stem cells, they are anti-agriculture.  

One way fringe kooks on the left outdo their counterparts on the right is calls to violence.   They're even willing to pay students if they will target biomedical students who use animals in research.  Check this out:


In 2007, with the economy chugging along, environmentalists believed light bulbs were killing the world.   Companies like General Electric (GE) and Royal Philips Electronics (PHG), two of the biggest light bulb producers, were happy to oblige and helped Congress develop a de facto incandescent ban.  The law didn't outright ban bulbs, it simply set a new standard only newfangled, more efficient bulbs could meet.

A lot has changed since 2007 - the replacement bulbs are either dangerous (CFL) or not very good (everything else) - and people have seen through the clever Energy Independence and Security Act name and realized they are going to be paying a lot more and accomplish little in the way of energy independence.
In the criticisms of American education, it is often noted that Asian children perform better on standardized tests that seek to measure knowledge across cultures so American schools last decade ago were required to begin teaching the same way, with funding contingent on success rates in education for the first time.

Atlanta Public Schools shone during that period - scores rose so dramatically they brought national acclaim to superintendent Beverly Hall  and the district, according to an investigative report released Tuesday by Gov. Nathan Deal.    
For over 20 years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been tasked with pooling and making publicly accessible the knowledge gleaned from climate-change research. Its efforts were rewarded in 2007 with the Nobel Peace Prize — not bad for what is basically a voluntary organization staffed by thousands of working scientists. But in the past two years, the IPCC has displayed a talent for maneuvering itself into embarrassing situations, making itself an easy target for critics and climate skeptics, writes an editorial in Nature.
Check out this ice cream manufacturer in Aberdeenshire which is entirely carbon neutral - it produces 10 million quarts of ice cream per year andthe factory is completely powered by the wind.

Mackie's of Scotland makes more than ice cream and says its ice cream isn't selling you short by going carbon neutral, it's still 'extra posh', though it's hard to say what makes it expensive, the poshness or the wind power.    Of course, this state-of-the-art equipment was not manufactured using wind, nor is the transportation that takes it to stores, but if you need to feel good about your ice cream, this is the way to go.
Some of the greatest Western films about America were made by Italians.  Italian westerns made the career of Clint Eastwood when Hollywood regarded him as strictly a television guy.    No surprise Italians have such affinity for the Old West, they have it in their own culture too.

Butteri, Italian cowboys, for centuries have roamed the marshes of the Maremma, a coastal area that stretches across parts of the Tuscany and Lazio regions, herding “maremmana” cattle, a local breed famous for their large bellies and long, lyre-shaped horns.

Maremmana are bordering on extinction but the Italian cowboys who herd them may already be there...