Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Circular Nature Of Homo Sapiens

The Circular Nature Of Homo Sapiens

Humans can't walk in a straight line. If there's no fixed point of reference, our species just walk in circles and inevitably … get lost. Nobody knows why, but researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics have confirmed this tendency in several experiments.

If one walks, drives or sails wearing a blindfolded, in the middle of a fog occurrence, or at night without stars in sight, a human will not be able to keep moving in a direction that would be a straight line. No matter how hard one tries, humans will end up going in a circular direction because, for some mysterious reason, humans always have the tendency to lean (and thereby move) toward one side more than the other.

Some people speculate that this is because one side of the brain is dominating the other one. While other people speculate that the reason may be purely mechanical reasoning (with their reasoning side of the brain) that one of our legs is always sightly shorter than the other. But, according to the results of the study, these are not the causes for this unique behavior. At least, there's not one single explanation and it may be a combination of many.

Whatever the reasons are, don't get placed into a dark forest blindfolded and without a compass – however … screw the GPS when navigating around this Oblate Spheroid.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Virgin Galactic - Commercial Space Flight Celebrates Two Milestones

The Virgin Galactic VSS Enterprise spacecraft, carried by Mothership Eve, prepares to during the Spaceport America runway dedication ceremony near Truth or Consequences and Las Cruses, N.M. Image Credit: Mark Rakston/AFP/Getty Images

Virgin Galactic - Commercial Space Flight Celebrates Two Milestones

Richard Bransom's dream to bring space flight to paying customers just notched two milestones this month over the deserts of California and New Mexico.

Launched from Mojave, California where the Virgin Galactic SpaceShip2 (VSS Enterprise) and its launch platform "mothership", WhiteKnight2 (Eve) were created, the first test flight took place on October 11, 2010. Virgin Galactic's space tourism rocket airship achieved its first solo glide flight marking another step in the company's eventual plans to fly paying passengers.

The rocket airship was carried aloft by its mothership to an altitude of 45,000 feet and released on a sunny Sunday day over the Mojave Desert. After the separation, SpaceShipTwo, manned by two test pilots, flew freely for 11 minutes before landing at an airport runway followed by the WhiteKnight2 mothership. The entire test flight process lasted about 25 minutes.

The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, "VSS Enterprise", married up with the WhiteKnightTwo mothership "Eve", flies over its new hangar as it prepares to land during the Spaceport America runway dedication in the southern New Mexico desert on October 22, 2010. Image Credit: Mark Rakston/AFP/Getty Images

Eleven days later, on October 22, 2010 near Las Cruces and Truth Or Consequences , N.M., the New Mexico Spaceport Authority dedicated the nearly two-mile-long runway at Spaceport America. Spaceport America has been providing commercial launch services for rockets since 2006 and is scheduled to become fully operational with the inclusion of the Virgin Galactic operation next year.

Virgin Galactic's new terminal hangar at Spaceport America is seen during the Spaceport America runway dedication ceremony near Truth or Consequences, N.M. Image Credit: Mark Rakston/AFP/Getty Images

Officials from Virgin showed off its new terminal hangar, which is nearing completion. The building is designed to house up to two WhiteKnightTwo motherships, five SpaceShipTwo space flight airships , Virgin's astronaut preparation facilities, and SpaceShip2 mission control operations.

The event featured Billionaire and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson haming it up with New Mexico Govenor Bill Richardson, for whom the "Governor Bill Richardson Spaceway" is named.

"We are celebrating the world's first spaceway at the world's first purpose-built, commercial spaceport,"
Richardson said, according to a news release. "New Mexico is not only helping to launch the commercial spaceflight industry, but we are launching new jobs and opportunities for the people of southern New Mexico."

Branson said: "Our spaceship is flying beautifully and will soon be making powered flights, propelled by our new hybrid rocket motor, which is also making excellent progress in its own test program. The investment deal with our new partners Aabar has successfully closed, securing funding for the remainder of the development program and we are seeing unprecedented numbers of people coming forward to secure their own reservations for this incredible experience."

Tickets to ride aboard SpaceShipTwo cost $200,000. It is understood that 370 customers have already plunked down deposits totaling about $50 million, according to Virgin Galactic.

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said: "With the recent signing of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 by President Obama, it is clear that our nation's future space efforts will be working even more closely than with the growing commercial space transportation industry. Innovative approaches that foster this new commercial industry will bring more competition and opportunities that will lower the costs of spaceflight and payload services for America's aerospace programs, and introduce new human space transportation systems."

Virgin Galactic plans to fly commercial customers into space from the Spaceport and landed its SpaceShipTwo, the "VSS Enterprise," carried by WhiteKnightTwo mothership "Eve," during the ceremony held here at the New Mexico desert on this Oblate Spheroid.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Earth 2.0 ... Life Possible On Gliese 581g, 20.5 Light-Years Away

A planet, as depicted in this rendering, orbits the habitable zone of a star 20 light years from Earth, meaning it could have water on its surface. Image Credit: National Science Foundation and NASA

Earth 2.0 ... Life Possible On Gliese 581g, 20.5 Light-Years Away

Astronomers at the Keck telescope in Hawaii, during a study that has been underway for more than a decade, have identified a solar system that has a planet they suspect could support life as we know or understand it here on our Oblate Spheroid.

Let's call it Earth 2.0. It is a planet that is circling a Sun named Gliese, that is located a little over twenty light years away (the time it would take to get there if one could travel in a craft at the speed of light and carry enough food and etc. to sustains one's life to arrive and observe this suspect orb on site).

Carbon copy? The Gliese 581 solar system resembles our own but on a much smaller scale. Planet "G" is located in the "Goldilocks" zone of this sun's solar system [CTRL-CLICK photo to launch YouTube video]. Image Credit: Zina Deretsky/National Science Foundation

This excerpted and edited from All Voices news webportal -

Discovered Planet Zarmina (Gliese 581g) Is 'Habitable' For Human Life
By ryangeneral - Honolulu : HI : USA | Sep 30, 2010

The planet lies near the middle of the Goldilocks zone, or habitable zone of its parent star, and the presence of liquid water is considered a strong possibility. The discovery of Gliese 581 g was announced in September 2010, and is believed to be the first Goldilocks planet ever found, the most Earth-like planet, and the best exoplanet candidate with the potential for harboring life found to date.

The planet was detected using radial velocity measurements combining the data from the HIRES instrument of the Keck 1 telescope and the HARPS instrument of ESO's 3.6m telescope at La Silla Observatory. The planet is believed to have a mass of three to four times that of the Earth and an orbital period of just under 37 days.

Steven Vogt, the co-discoverer, unofficially named the planet "Zarmina", after his wife.
Reference Here>>

The Goldilocks zone refers to a story that parents read to their children that goes by the formal title "The Story Of The Three Bears". This fable, often referred to as "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" is a children's story first recorded in narrative form by English author and poet Robert Southey and first published in a volume of his writings in 1837. The same year, writer George Nicol published a version in rhyme based upon Southey's prose tale, with Southey approving the attempt to bring the story more exposure. Both versions tell of three bears and an old woman who trespasses upon their property.
(ht: wikipedia)

In the fable, Goldilocks is hungry and stumbles upon a home of Bears where three bowls of soup or porridge are on the table. Goldilocks helps herself to eating some of the porridge and discovers that one bowl of the food mixture is too hot, one is too cold, and one ... the one she presumably eats all up is ... Just Right!

This planet discovery is in a solar system zone that is just right given our knowledge of the origins of life as we know it here on Earth.

We wonder if the shape of this Gliese 581g orb is the same Oblate Spheroid shape of our own Earth. Welcome Zarmina ... welcome Earth 2.0.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Of Neanderthals & Homosapiens - The Nanderthal In Most All Of Us

The Neanderthal project, which took four years and involved 57 scientists, is the latest and most astonishing example of the recovery of scientifically useful information from ancient DNA. Image Credit: Sydney Morning Herald

Of Neanderthals & Homosapiens - The Nanderthal In Most All Of Us

When someone makes a simple mistake, some people call out the person making the mistake by saying, "You Neanderthal!" Growing up this was a typical degrading accusation heard along the way but as it turns out ... this statement might have held more truth than we even knew.

It has been discovered through studies with DNA genomes that interbreading between Neanderthals and Homosapiens did indeed take place and as a result, 1 to 4 percent of the genes carried by non-African people are traceable to the much-caricatured, belittled, and large-browed cavemen.

So now when one makes a mistake and gets accused of being a Neanderthal, if the person has Caucasian DNA, one has to ask ... are they the one, two, three, or four percent type of Neanderthal?

This excerpted and edited from All Headline News -

Study: Neanderthals Interbred With Homosapiens

Windsor Genova - AHN News News Writer - May 6, 2010 5:49 p.m. EST

The findings was the result of the comparison of the genomes of modern human and the burly and big-brained Neanderthal conducted by geneticist Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. The findings were published Thursday in the journal Science.
Neanderthal originated from Europe, Russia and the Middle East. They existed 400,000 to 30,000 years ago. Modern humans are said to have originated from Africa and the two species encountered each other in the Middle East and limited interbreeding occurred.

Pääbo constructed the Neanderthal genome using fossil DNA from three Neanderthal women who lived in Croatia between 38,000 and 45,000 years ago.
Reference Here>>

All this study really proves is that it's love ... that makes the Oblate Spheroid go around, you big lugg!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dew Drops Are Fallin' On My Head ...

Stunning: Droplets of water bead on the head of this blue dragonfly as it slumbers on a leaf. Image Credit: Miroslaw Swietek

Dew Drops Are Fallin' On My Head ...

When someone mentions bugs ... flies, moths, dragonflies and the like, one congers up mental images of prickly, dirty, and somewhat mono-colored nuisances that have to be sprayed or flicked away in order for one not to be bothered while around them and in their element. They are not welcome in the house, or tent, and they definitely never exude any beauty!

The stunning micro-photography of
Miroslaw Swietek from around the Polish countryside on this Oblate Spheroid might just be changing minds when they are lingered over and studied on every detail. Just beautiful.

This excerpted and edited from The Daily Mail -

Would dew believe it: The stunning pictures of sleeping insects covered in water droplets
By Daily Mail Reporter - Last updated at 11:29 AM on 31st March 2010

Glistening in the early morning, these insects look like creatures from another planet as dew gathers on their sleeping bodies.

Captured in extreme close-up, one moth appears to be totally encrusted in diamonds as it rests on a twig.

Dragonflies, flies and beetles also take on an unearthly quality as the water droplets form on them.

These remarkable photographs were taken by physiotherapist Miroslaw Swietek at around 3am in the forest next to his home.

Using a torch, the 37-year-old amateur photographer hunts out the motionless bugs in the darkness before setting up his camera and flash just millimetres from them.

Close up: Amateur photographer Miroslaw Swietek captured this common fly slumbering on top of a plant as the water condenses on its body

Bejewelled: This month looks like it has been encrusted in diamonds as it rests on a twig

Mr Swietek said: 'I took up photography as a relaxing hobby two and a half years ago and I particularly like taking pictures of insects and lizards.

'I photograph them in their natural environment in the forest next to my village.

'They all are covered in dew because I go to the forest in the morning at around 3am.

'At 3am to 4am insects are sleepy and taking photos of them is easy, but it is very difficult to find them.

Close up: The insects appear to be completely drenched in water as they rest while the sun is down

Shower time: Mr Swietek gets up at 3am to capture the insects while they are less active in a forest near his home

'You must be very fast taking the photos because the dew quickly disappears.

'It is very satisfying getting a good shot of an insect which I have had to hunt out.

'I have books which help my identify insects but because they are all covered in dew I find it almost impossible to know which types they are.'

Although insects do not 'sleep' in the same sense as humans, they enter a state of torpor where they are virtually immobile and much less sensitive to external stimuli.

Mr Swietek lives with his wife and teenage son in Jaroszow, a village in Poland around 30 miles from the city of Wroclaw.

Clinging on: The amateur photographer searches for the insects using a torch and then sets up his camera and flash right next to them

Hobby: Another dragonfly enjoys an early morning wash. Mr Swietek only took up photography two and a half years ago

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blobfish ... what's not to love?

"Whadda you lookin' at?" - The rare and oddly human-looking Blobfish (Psychrolutes Marcidus) [CTRL-CLICK image to see and hear our friend speak]. Image Credit: NOAA

Blobfish ... what's not to love?

With a face only a mother could love, the Blobfish was only recently discovered this last decade when fishing trawlers using deep sea drag nets brought up a few specimen along with their intended catch.

Blobfish are found at about 2,400 feet deep where the pressure is several dozens of times higher than at sea level, which would likely make gas bladders inefficient. To remain buoyant, the flesh of the Blobfish is primarily a gelatinous mass making the body density slightly less than that of salt water; this allows the fish to float above the sea floor without expending any energy on swimming. It just floats ... to eat.

While not terribly aggressive, this fish has caught the attention and imagination of a whole class of humans recently, primarily due to the one really good photo found on the internet that had been issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a handout photo / February 15, 2010 (above). A fish with a somewhat human-looking face ... the Blobfish.

It spawned this prose from the LA Times.

This excerpted and edited from the LA Times -

Fear the blobfish
With its humanlike face, the blobfish is a creature of nightmares, and who knows what terrors it could bring upon us
By John Kass - February 17, 2010

As you can see from the accompanying photograph, the cunning blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) is the most terrifying fish in the world.

And if you're not afraid of it yet, you should be, because there's always something lurking out there that can get you.

Its hideously deformed body is quite boneless, a gelatinous orb hovering in the deep, covered in slime and mucus. But there's something even worse.

Its face.
A blobfish looks like some fat, drunken judge and may be highly intelligent. And therefore quite dangerous.

It frowns. It leers. Sometimes, it even drools.
American journalism has a formula for stories designed to whip up panic about highly adaptive species. For "balance," you insert a quote or two from some learned biologist who tells readers not to worry.

Some marine biologist might reassure readers that the blobfish lives far away, in the deep waters off the coast of Tasmania — some 9,600 miles away — and therefore could never find its way into the Chicago River or the ship canal.

Yeah, right.
It's not impossible (perhaps even likely) that schools of bloodthirsty blobfish may be blobbing their way up the Mississippi River, their big noses leaving wakes behind them, and roiling trails of foam. And then they'll be oozing from your kitchen tap.
The blobfish is boneless. It's a blob.

So, theoretically, it might squeeze through all the protective filters and screens, and then, with a grunt, pop right out of your stylish Swedish designer faucet, its ugly face first.

Or perhaps out of your toilet bowl when you're at your most vulnerable, sleepy in the middle of the night.

Or what about your pulsating-massage shower head? Just imagine the beast squeezing from the shower head, hurtling at your face, or worse, into your open mouth, your muffled screams unheard by your loved ones.

So don't give me the pious ramblings of scientific bureaucrats telling us not to panic over the dreaded beast.
Sadly, information regarding the terror of the blobfish is scarce, perhaps by design.
"As the blobfish is comprised of a gelatinous substance, they actually have no muscles at all, and they just float in the same spot most of the time, waiting for their next meal."
It's said the blobfish eats mostly mollusks, but it's only a matter of time until it develops a hunger for human snacks, first Cheez-Its and Slim Jims, then maybe veal chops, before lunging up the food chain.
Yet with an imminent blobfish invasion, we'll have to come up with new recipes. Try broiled blobfish on a buttered baking sheet, sprinkled with Japanese-style breadcrumbs, the crunchiness contrasting pleasantly with all that goo underneath.

Or how about sauteed blobfish, with lemon and capers?
So be afraid.

Be very much afraid.
Reference Here>>

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Deep-sea snail shell structure yields hints for new protective body Armour

Crysomallon squamiferum, commonly known as the scaly-foot gastropod, was discovered in 1999 in the Kairei “black smoker” field on the Central Indian Ridge, at a depth of 2420 metres. The shell is uniquely structured to crack when hit, but in a way that absorbs energy. Image Credit: Fisheries Meiwa

Deep-sea snail shell structure yields hints for new protective body Armour

A discovery deep in the Indian Ocean, along a volcanic rift known as a "black-smoker" is just now coming to light in its significance as a natural protective structure against pinching and piercing blows. The attention is being brought by a couple scientists doing research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on structures that could help in the development of the next generation of protective human body Armour.

What has the focus of this attention on a deep-sea snail (Crysomallon squamiferum, commonly known as the scaly-foot gastropod) is its unique shell which is made up of the snail's ability to incorporate iron sulfide particles into its shell, and in a skirt along the edges for protection against the blows it receives from predator deep-sea Crabs.

The Crysomallon squamiferum, commonly known as the scaly-foot gastropod is small. It is only about two to three centimeters in length. Image Credit: Department of Microbiology - NC State University

This excerpted and edited from the New Scientists -

Deep-sea snail shell could inspire next-gen armour

New Scientists - 20:00 18 January 2010 by Shanta Barley

Christine Ortiz at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her colleagues studied the snail's three-layered shell to find out how it defends itself from crab attacks.

To assess the shell's strength and stiffness, they penetrated it with diamond-tipped probe – applying the same amount of force that an attacking crab's claws might use. They then used the data to model the shell's layers and launched a virtual crab attack on it.
It turns out that the snail employs some unique tricks to protect itself. For example, the shell's outermost layer consists of strong particles of iron sulphide created in the hydrothermal vents, each around 20 nanometres across, embedded in a soft organic matrix secreted by the snail. This structure is designed to crack when hit, but in a way that absorbs energy.

Cracks spread only by fanning out around the iron sulphide particles. This "microcracking" not only absorbs energy, it also ensures that larger cracks do not form. What's more, the particles of iron sulphide may blunt and deform intruding claws, the study suggests.

A thick, spongy middle layer acts as padding to dissipate further the energy of the blow. This makes it less likely that the mollusc's brittle inner shell, which is made of calcium carbonate, will crack.

The middle layer may be an important adaptation to life at a deep-sea hydrothermal vent, suggests Cortiz: the acidic water near black smokers dissolves calcium carbonate and so can quickly enlarge fractures.

The three-layer design could be used to improve body armour "without the addition of excessive weight", says Ortiz.
The idea of coating armour in iron-based nanoparticles that dissipate the energy of a blow by generating microcracks is "largely unexplored in synthetic systems" and particularly promising, says Cortiz.

Helmets, motorbikes and Arctic pipelines that collide with icebergs, leading to costly oil spills, could also benefit, says Cortiz, who is also exploring the armour systems deployed by the marine molluscs known as chitons, sea urchins, beetles and a fish known as the Senegal bichir.
Reference Here>>

So, in the not so distant future ... here on this Oblate Spheroid, one will be riding their Harley-Davidson at a speed something other than a snail's pace, not clad in "leathers" but sporting the colors of rust cast off from embedded iron-based nanoparticles.