Cool Links

Heavy metals emit low-energy electrons when exposed to X-rays at specific energies, researchers  have found, which raises the possibility that implants made of gold or platinum could allow doctors to destroy tumors with low-energy electrons, while exposing healthy tissue to far less radiation than is possible today.
A prototype device shows that specific X-ray frequencies can free low-energy electrons from heavy-metal nanoparticles.  The researchers' computer simulations suggest that hitting a single gold or platinum atom with a small dose of X-rays at a narrow range of frequencies produces a flood of more than 20 low-energy electrons.
A NASA satellite has caught a stunning, yet eerie, video of a huge plasma twister rising up from the surface of the sun.  The video, taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows a plasma eruption that swirls up like a tornado to a dizzying height of up to 93,206 miles (150,000 kilometers) above the solar surface.

"Its height is roughly between 10 to 12 Earths," solar astrophysicist C. Alex Young of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., told

"Planet of the Apes" for real?

British film-maker James Marsh’s latest work, Project Nim, is about a 1970s experiment started in the heyday of the original "Planet of the Apes" films, a world where simians evolved and took over the planet.   

Nim was a chimp raised as a human child in order to test out the hypothesis that man and his closest relative could learn to talk to each other.    We learned more about human arrogance than simian intelligence, notes the Daily Mail.
P.Z. Myers of Pharyngula fame asks why something obvious wasn't in the Ten Commandments - not molesting the vulnerable, like kids.   Pretty obvious, but that is not why I link to it.  I link to it because I learned there is actually not only a 'Hobo' set of rules but an actual hobo convention every year, which seems to defy the point of being a hobo but it's still interesting and I got a little smarter knowing that.
The crime-is-in-our-genes notion has popped up in the news (again).  100 years ago it was all the rage.   Charles Davenport, founder of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, expressed concerned that immigrants from southeastern Europe were "given to crimes of larceny, kidnapping, assault, murder, rape and sex immorality." Italians, Davenport asserted, were prone to "crimes of personal violence," and "Hebrews" to "offenses against chastity", John Horgan tells us in the Chronicle.
If you leave a job, you likely just leave a job because it does little good to carpet bomb an employer, especially since future employers frown on militant, slightly unbalanced people.

But it's a Whole Foods - even the shoppers are slightly unbalanced so a future employer won't expect much.  If Whole Foods customer statistics were extrapolated out to the population, vaccine herd immunity would evaporate for the entire country.   They are anti-science kooks, but the progressive kind, so most in science tolerate them in a way they don't do for conservatives because, you know, they aren't shopping next to conservatives in a Whole Foods.
Punctuated equilibrium is a model of how evolutionary change happens.  Like how raising taxes can help poor people in economic theory, it is an often-misinterpreted model but means that evolutionary change can take place in short periods of time - huge jumps associated with speciation events.

It basically was created by paleontologists Niles Eldridge and Stephen Jay Gould to account for why there are sometimes no transitional fossils for drastic changes in a species, and the reasons are the small population size, the rapid pace of change, and their isolated location - plus, fossilization is tricky business and requires a lot of things to go right.
When you think of underwater photography, you probably think of the clear ocean waters of the Bahamas or other exotic tropical locales - certainly that's where I would go.

Andrej Belic has other ideas.  The whole site is done in Flash so it's impossible to navigate but this is a guy who does things the hard way and, like the pictures he takes, the effort is worth it.

It was many years ago we pointed out some real flaws in the 'skeptic' movement - first is that it is mostly about ridiculing religion and Bigfoot and if those are the only things you can be skeptical about, you aren't really skeptics, you're just a front for militant atheists who want to cover their cultural agenda with a veneer of science.  The second issue is that, for being  progressives who coo about tolerance and diversity, women sure are not in it.
Under 5 launches per year instead of the 65 launches per year NASA projected. $450 million per shuttle launch instead of $50 million NASA projected. A risk of catastrophic failure of 1 in 100 instead of the 1 in 100,000 NASA projected and an actual failure rate of 2 out of 135. The space shuttle era is over and it was an unquestioned failure. Finally, with its passing, at least a few science writers have stopped being science cheerleaders and are echoing what I have said for a decade plus - the shuttle was a glorified delivery truck that had no value at all in advancing science, and the money could have been used better on real science projects.
Finally, someone outside science has caught on to this 'organic food is better' nonsense.   It isn't nutritionally any different, it isn't structurally any different, it is just marketing - they pay a fee and fill out paperwork.  Small farmers that actually are completely 'organic' in their methods, with no pesticides (including organic ones that will kill you just the same, like strychnine and ricin) can't actually afford the fee to be labeled organic.
A study that set out to reveal the genetic factors that help people live to ages 100 and older (see Identified: Genetic signatures of exceptional longevity in humans) has been retracted. 

The researchers reported 150 genetic variations that could be used to predict whether a person was genetically inclined to live to be 100, based on the genomes of over 1,000 centenarians, but geneticists noted that the control samples and the samples from centenarians were analyzed in different ways.   
We can only confuse science and environmentalism when science happens to match their cultural agenda - ethanol, for example, was lousy science and the anti-science positions embraced by environmentalists to combat pollution were firmly in the anti-science camp; biology and the energy sector have terrific solutions available right now but if 'stop CO2' is instead a cult-like mantra, they can't be part of the policy discourse.
Snow height or rock height?   Chinese and Indians disagree on even how to measure the height of the world's highest mountain, since if you have ever had one of those 'why can't they just talk to each other?' moments about actual serious geopolitical issues, you know it is never that simple.

Mount Everest is in both countries and its official height 29,029 feet and both sides agree that is the official height, but the pesky Chinese still use their rock height number instead of the snow height number, which is 12 feet higher.  So Nepal says it will take an accurate measurement.

Both countries could be wrong.   The US Geological Survey used GPS in 1999 and say it is approximately two feet higher than the official number.
Nothing says celebrating athletic perfection like a McDonald's hamburger.

Actually, elite athletes likely can eat all the hamburgers they want but you get the idea - a McDonald's, nay the world's largest McDonald's, at the site dedicated to athletic excellence is pretty funny.

But Brits are nothing if not funny.  And so they get a 3,000-square-meter McDonald's restaurant,  on two floors and equivalent to half the length of an American football field. 

Olympic chiefs have moved quickly to reject claims that the new McDonald's will deter from aims to promote a healthy and active lifestyle, which London chiefs have been pushing since winning the Olympic bid.
It's not easy to get a tenured professor to leave his job - unless he is caught dog-fighting or saying girls might be different than boys, there isn't a lot off-limits, especially at a progressive bastion like Harvard.

But bad press is not always good press and Harvard evolutionary psychology Professor Marc D. Hauser has announced his resignation.  A three-year investigation said he fudged data in his research on monkey cognition and he was on the wrong side a Psychology Department vote in February to disallow him from teaching in the upcoming academic year.
Partisans on each side will claim some vast conspiracy in the debt ceiling debate - Republicans are bought by corporations and hate poor people because they want to lower their taxes, Democrats are bought by unions and hate poor people because they want to give them stuff for free - but it may be simpler than that.    Cooperation is in our nature but morality can undercut the tendency, writes Jason Castro in Scientific American, and game theory can tell us some things about why - at least academically.
Reddit/Science is overrun by the marketing people they instituted as moderators so we are not costing ourselves any traffic by linking to an article about the left-wing kook who created it getting caught stealing four million documents from MIT and JSTOR, an archive of scientific journals and academic papers.   100% of our articles are summarily buried so readers can instead enjoy PhysOrg press releases and whatever else the people who pay their moderators thinks should be in place of actual science.
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.