Cool Links

It's popular to lament the politicization of important ideas like health care but it didn't start during the term of President Obama; let's keep in mind that war protests conveniently stopped after November of 2008, for no other reason than that the people behind the protests got their candidate elected - troops are still everywhere, the president launched two more military strikes against 'sovereign nations no threat to anyone outside their own borders' last week. And President Lyndon Johnson handily beat Senator Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election, thanks in part to producing a video showing a little girl being vaporized by a nuclear bomb. 
Paleontologists usually find fossils jumbled up, broken apart, crushed and spread out over a large area, not in one piece.

A whole 35-foot dinosaur may be slumbering inside the rock a construction worker hit while clearing a site in the town of Spirit River. He was making way for an oil pipeline - see, Big Energy is good for science in lots of ways!

"The last time I've seen something like that was in a museum. I've never found something like this before,"  said paleontologist Matthew Vavrek, who went out to inspect and wasn't expecting to see what he found on the side of a sandstone boulder...
1,000 years ago in North America, long before pilgrams set foot in Massachusetts, there was once a large civilization whose city center was ringed with enormous earthen pyramids, vast farmlands, and wealthy suburbs. For hundreds of years it remained the largest city in North America - but no one knows its name.
According to Dante, the Styx is not just a river but a vast, deathly swamp filling the entire fifth circle of hell.

It sounds a lot like Lake Natron in northern Tanzania, where temperatures can reach 60 °C and its alkalinity is between pH 9 and pH 10.5. When salt islands form in the lake, lesser flamingos take the opportunity to nest – but it is a risky business, as this calcified bird illustrates...
To translate one language into another, find the linear transformation that maps one to the other. Simple, if you are part of an elite team of Google engineers.

In the world of academia, the number of citations an article receives means money at grant review time, and that means career success.

However, with the emergence of new article metrics, researchers are increasingly looking to usage data (downloads and article views) and other article-level metrics, such as social media mentions, to understand a paper's impact. Last year, Elsevier ran a pilot for a new initiative designed to meet the demand for alternative metrics: the Article Usage Report. Based on the positive results of that pilot, the decision has been taken to offer it to all journals on ScienceDirect this autumn.

A magnitude-5.3 earthquake has hit the Japanese prefecture that is home to the nuclear power plant crippled in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake struck early Friday at a depth of about 13 miles under Fukushima Prefecture and about 110 miles northeast of Tokyo.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue an alert and the Japanese news agency Kyodo News reported that the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., observed no abnormality in radiation or equipment after the quake.

Magnitude-5.3 Earthquake Hits Japan's Fukushima By Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press
A California resident has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Chobani accusing it of negligence and breaching the implied warranty of merchantability for its yogurts following the recent mold outbreak. Chobani, which declined to comment on the legal action, first started fielding complaints about bloated and fizzy yogurt cups in late August, and issued a formal recall on selected products on September 5th after confirming they had been affected by a "common mold".

It’s not clear how many people ate the affected products, but the FDA told reporters on Monday it had received more than 220 reports from people complaining of cramps, nausea, headache and diarrhea after eating Chobani products - although it stressed this did not prove that the yogurts made them sick.

Rhett Allain, Associate Professor of Physics at Southeastern Louisiana University, was fascinated by this bit in Nautilus...
If two statisticians were to lose each other in an infinite forest, the first thing they would do is get drunk. That way, they would walk more or less randomly, which would give them the best chance of finding each other he set out to clear that up and basically do what no statistician, mathematician or all of the brains at UPS have really been able to do; figure out whether a random walk is the best way to put together two lost objects.

Conclusion: Being drunk helps.
Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and lots of other technology entrepreneurs share one thing in common, despite their generational differences; they discovered that their college education wasn't needed.

After getting sympathetic members of Congress to declare a college education a 'right' in the early 1990s, and getting unlimited student loans to help, universities are in the pole position culturally. College-educated people make more money, they note, and you won't get a good job without one.

Of course, that just means that once everyone can get a college degree, it is just a simple barrier to entry. It doesn't improve anyone's chances of getting a job, it just weeds out people really unqualified. 
A 20 year effort to allow avocados from Hawaii has paid off - the USDA lifted a ban that's been in place since 1992, after fruit fly larvae was found in a Sharwil avocados packing house in Hawaii. Avocados have been grown in Hawaii since being introduced by Australia in the 1950s.

To prevent accidental introduction of oriental fruit flies to the U.S. after the larvae discovery, previous rules required fumigation and cold treatments that ruin the quality of the fruit.

But scientists have determined that the avocados are poor hosts for fruit flies, lawmakers wrote in their letter.
You won't believe how many chickens live on this planet.

On Wednesday, the Northern California animal sanctuary Animal Place will airlift—yes, you read that right: airlift—1,150 elderly laying hens from Hayward, California, to Elmira, New York, in an Embraer 120 turbo-prop.

The price? $50,000.
The once-missing monarch Richard III, best known as the last Plantagenet king who murdered his nephews in London Tower in order to gain the throne, is in death involved in nastiness that was as ugly as his later life: a bitter fight over where his bones (minus his feet, lost at some point) will be interred.

The War of the Roses redux? We'll see. The original war was within the Lancaster family, it just happened that a Tudor won because the Lancasters put themselves on the road to extinction and Richard III assured it by having the other heirs killed and then getting a spear through the skull.
Forget Indiana Jones or the more believable hours sifting through ancient documents and then misbegotten dig sites, archeology is going 21st century. 

In Egypt's northern Delta, Egyptologist Sarah Parcak is looking toward the stars. Parcak uses satellites, initially designed for use by the military, to identify potential sub-surface remains. The high-resolution satellites, with infrared and thermal capabilities, sit in orbit almost 500 kilometers above the Earth and can precisely pinpoint objects on terra firma less than a meter in diameter. The infrared light used by the satellites has longer wavelengths than visible light and thus can penetrate the earth's surface.
Why would a bill in Hawaii ban GMOs, except for the GMO Rainbow papaya crop, which is credited by scientists and independent experts for rescuing the papaya on Hawaii from extinction threatened by the ringspot virus?
Alejandro Jodorowsky, a cult Franco-Chilean film-maker (an "acid western" - so think back to 1970 and picture that) and science-fiction comics writer who later became a spiritual guru (psycho-shamanism - just jumble together tarot cards, alchemy and Zen Buddhism together), has been honored by The Minor Planets Centre, a branch of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

They have listed asteroid 261690 Jodorowsky at the request of the French astronomer who spotted the five-kilometer-wide object almost eight years ago. 261690 Jodorowsky orbits in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, at an average distance of 470 million kilometres from the sun.
Want to create an online video course that will be successful and make a ton of money? 

The Synchronous Massive Online Class (SMOC) by two psychologists at the University of Texas - Austin may be it. It's an introductory class in psychology so anyone can participate and they are charging $550 per viewer.  Unlike the better-known MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), you have to watch the class live. 

"We're not business people, we're not entrepreneurs, but we know we have a first-rate class that works, and now the question is how do we go out and sell this mousetrap," said Prof. James Pennebaker, the chairman of the UT psychology department.
William Stein, an associate professor of mathematics at University of Washington, has taken his advocacy of free open-source mathematics software to the next level. 

Stein is the director of the SAGE Project and this new web-based LaTeX editor is client-side CoffeeScript, HTML, and CSS. It's free, it's unlimited!

Check it out at the SageMath Cloud.