Cool Links

Want to chase insurers out of your business?    Interpret rules so that families can buy a policy for a child only when the child gets sick, meaning costs will skyrocket for everyone else which ... would not be allowed.  A guaranteed money loser for companies and so large insurers announced they would no longer issue child-only policies.

As a result of the confusion in rushing through health care reform, the Obama administration now says insurers can charge more for sick kids.  Just like they do now.  Only with the government taking a chunk of taxpayer revenue to manage it.
Some Slovenian researchers may be missing the point of Isaac Asimov's fictional (yet lofty, and therefore implicity hoping-to-be-followed) Laws of Robotics.  From from Asimov's third robot story, "Liar!",  published in May 1941's Astounding magazine, here they are:

1. A robot may not injure a human, or allow a human to be injured. 
2. A robot must follow any order given by a human that doesn't conflict with the First Law. 
3. A robot must protect itself unless that would conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Rotting fish experiments have helped to create picture of our early ancestors, says a study from the University of Leicester.
fossils from the early phase of vertebrate evolution are very rare because being completely soft-bodied they normally rotted away completely after death leaving nothing behind. But very occasionally their remains became preserved as fossils giving us a tantalising glimpse of our early vertebrate relatives.
You may not know the name of the Uffington White Horse but you have likely seen it.   It's carved into the Oxfordshire hillside (Brits love to carve things into hillsides) and looks like a horse.

Except apparently there has been a recent to-do because the mystery critter might not be a horse at all, but instead a rather less majestic dog, says retired vet Olaf Swarbrick.

Uffington white horse oxfordshire
Anyone who has seen "Back To The Future" (and who on a science site hasn't?) knows that Michael J. Fox owns the role of Marty McFly but older fans ... or recent devoted ones ... know he was not the first choice.  Instead, they were a few weeks into shooting and Robert Zemeckis felt it wasn't going to be funny enough with his current actor.

Back then, Stoltz was regarded as an up-and-coming, quality actor whereas Fox was a guy on a TV show, so it wasn't without risk to make that change.  But executive producer Steven Spielberg agreed and Zemeckis got the studio to let him reshoot five weeks worth of footage.

For the first time, people who purchase the 25th anniversary DVD will get to see footage of Stoltz as Marty McFly.  Check out some clips below:
A Russian archaeologist says he has discovered remains of a Bronze Age civilization in Russia's North Caucasus.  The North Caucasus is one of the world's most ethnically diverse regions, located between the Caspian and Black seas.  The discovery was in the mountains between the Kuban River and the site where the city of Kislovodsk stands today. 

Andrey Belinskiy says the settlements had carefully designed houses and oval courtyards and the mountain people later merged with the so-called Kuban culture, known for exquisite bronze artifacts.
Science projects ain't what they used to be.

Forget the potato clock and papier-mache volcano. From "smart rockets" to LEGO robots, and plastic-eating microbes to nuclear detectors, here are nine recent science fair winners that’ll make you say "wow."

Fox News has the scoop.
The ingredients may be tough to find, .e.g, one universe, but worth a shot:

Carl Sagan's apple pie

Someone already corrected his quote on 'invent' the universe rather than 'create' it, but that is a pretty funny mistake to make, given the whole creationism debate.
I'll be honest, this article came as a surprise to me.   Not that Linux was making inroads against Microsoft, but that anyone actually used Microsoft to run a server.   I never have.  I never would.  It seems absolutely maddening to even try.

The NY Times has the scoop and says there is a cost issue:
Aaron Sorkin responded to a commenter on the blog of Ken Levine who basically blamed Sorkin for the groupie-esque portrayal of women in the film - as if that was Sorkin rather than his take on what he saw in the origins of Facebook.
Facebook was born during a night of incredibly misogyny. The idea of comparing women to farm animals, and then to each other, based on their looks and then publicly ranking them. It was a revenge stunt, aimed first at the woman who'd most recently broke his heart (who should get some kind of medal for not breaking his head) and then at the entire female population of Harvard.
Researchers from Office of Naval Research Global (ONR Global), MERSTech, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, say they have designed a switch that can recycle electric power. The switch called the Magnetic Energy Recovery Switch, can save 39% of electricity at peak power, according to recent tests.
 
The Houston Museum of Natural Science has unveiled their Real Pirates exhibition.    You can also see privateer models Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am – 4:30 pm at the Houston Maritime Museum.

But to get you in the right piratitude, their site has a discussion on how nations without large navies got some work done against their enemies - by legalizing piracy and creating what are called privateers or privately owned ships that are willing to fight for you.

Sometimes it takes a pirate to defeat a pirate.
Since the 1980s, when lawsuits nearly drove drug companies out of business, a special 'Vaccine Court' has been the route parents of children have to go if they suspect a vaccine was involved in their child's situation.

Is there truly due process if a plaintiff must go through a no-fault, no-jury court before being allowed to go to court?   Some parts of American society are exempt from civilian courts, such as the military but does the Constitution protect drug companies the same way?
"We very much wanted to make sure vaccine manufacturers are out of the line of lawsuits," said Dr. O. Marion Burton, president of the AAP. "Otherwise, we end up with nobody producing vaccines, and nobody making new vaccines."
America's fastest-growing brand of belief is non-belief, says biologist (and guest columnist here) Jerry Coyne in a USA Today editorial.
The religious approach to understanding inevitably results in different faiths holding incompatible "truths" about the world...Because there's no way to decide, religions have duked it out for centuries, spawning humanity's miserable history of religious warfare and persecution.
Harrison Ford is reported to have said to "Star Wars" creator George Lucas, referring to the dialogue in "Star Wars", "George, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can't say it."

It was that bad.

Carrie Fisher says that she did cocaine on the set of "The Empire Strikes Back" so it must have gotten to her also.   All that snow on Hoth apparently wasn't just set design.
Arianna Huffington made a grand gesture - a fleet of buses for people to attend Jon Stewart's rally to D.C. to protest...well, apparently they are protesting the protesting by right wing people against Obama in 2010 that was a 'hallmark of democracy' when leftwing people in 2005 did it against Bush.
Deaf or blind people often report enhanced abilities in their remaining senses, but  no one has explained how and why that could be. Researchers say they have discovered there is a causal link between enhanced visual abilities and reorganization of the part of the brain that usually handles auditory input in congenitally deaf cats.

The findings provide insight into the plasticity that may occur in the brains of deaf people.

Another question for those considering cochlear implants; if the brain has rewired itself to compensate for the loss of hearing, what happens when hearing is restored?
You may not be able to trust Exxon for objective data on emissions and our planet but you sure can't trust advocacy-based political groups in a highly-charged political state like California either.
California grossly miscalculated pollution levels in a scientific analysis used to toughen the state's clean-air standards, and scientists have spent the past several months revising data and planning a significant weakening of the landmark regulation... 
writes the San Francisco Chronicle.
Facebook recently implemented a system where you can be added to groups without any choice in the matter.  Result: technology blogger Michael Arrington, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis all found themselves added to a group called North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). 

Adding Zuckerberg without his permission would seem to make the point privacy groups are concerned about rather clear, but it didn't.  
One of the funniest things I read as a young man was a minister in the newly Communist state of Nicaragua explaining why they shut down the newspapers; 'They said we suppressed freedom of expression.  This was a lie and we could not allow them to publish it.'