Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Villagers were shocked after a monkey-like piglet was born in China.
"It's hideous. No one will be willing to buy it, and it scares the family to even look at it!" Feng told Oriental Today.
He says the piglet looks just like a monkey, with two thin lips, a small nose and two big eyes. Its rear legs are also much longer than its forelegs, causing it to jump instead of walk."
Neighbours have suggested the couple keep the piglet to see how it looks as it matures.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
The tradition-bound Western image of a he-man, masculine God may already be thousands of years out of date, says a Westchester rabbi who believes he has unlocked the secret to God's name and androgynous nature.
Rabbi Mark Sameth contends in a soon-to-be-published article that the four-letter Hebrew name for God - held by Jewish tradition to be unpronounceable since the year 70 - should actually be read in reverse. When the four letters are flipped, he says, the new name makes the sounds of the Hebrew words for "he" and "she."
God thus becomes a dual-gendered deity, bringing together all the male and female energy in the universe, the yin and the yang that have divided the sexes from Adam and Eve to Homer and Marge.
A pixel that uses a pair of mirrors to block or transmit light could lead to displays that are faster, brighter, and more power efficient than liquid crystal displays (LCDs). Researchers at Microsoft Research who published their novel pixel design in Nature Photonics say that their design is also simpler and easier to fabricate, which should make it cheaper.
LCDs corner half of the global TV market and are the most popular technology for cell phones and flat-panel computer monitors. But for three reasons, they do not boast the best image quality. First, the pixels do not turn completely off. Second, it takes 25 to 40 milliseconds on average for the pixels to switch between black and white, which is slow enough to blur fast-moving images. Third, LCDs are almost impossible to use in bright ambient light. "There is nothing in LCD technology that stands out," says Sriram Peruvemba, vice president of marketing at electronic-paper pioneer E Ink, based in Cambridge, MA. "The only reason it has done well is it's the lowest price [flat-panel] display today."
The new telescopic pixels switch completely off and on within 1.5 milliseconds. Michael Sinclair at Microsoft Research says that the ultrafast response time translates to simpler, low-cost color displays. In LCDs, a pixel is made of three subpixels--red, green, and blue--that are lit up simultaneously at different intensities to create, say, yellow. Each subpixel is controlled with a separate transistor circuit, which makes the circuits complex. Because the telescopic display switches so rapidly, you could put red, green, and blue light-emitting diodes behind each pixel, Sinclair says, and have them sequentially light up to create a color shade. "This would reduce the complexity and cost of today's LCD," he says.
University of Alberta scientists contend they have the answer to mass extinction of animals and plants 93 million years ago. The answer, research has uncovered, has been found at the bottom of the sea floor where lava fountains erupted, altering the chemistry of the sea and possibly of the atmosphere.
Undersea volcanic activity triggered a mass extinction of marine life and buried a thick mat of organic matter on the sea floor about 93 million years ago, which became a major source of oil, according to a new study.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Excellent essay by Richard P. Feynman
FROM time to time people suggest to me that scientists ought to give more consideration to social problems -- especially that they should be more responsible in considering the impact of science on society. It seems to be generally believed that if the scientists would only look at these very difficult social problems and not spend so much time fooling with less vital scientific ones, great success would come of it.
It seems to me that we do think about these problems from time to time, but we don't put a full-time effort into them -- the reasons being that we know we don't have any magic formula for solving social problems, that social problems are very much harder than scientific ones, and that we usually don't get anywhere when we do think about them.
I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy -- and when he talks about a nonscientific matter, he sounds as naive as anyone untrained in the matter. Since the question of the value of science is not a scientific subject, this talk is dedicated to proving my point -- by example.
The first way in which science is of value is familiar to everyone. It is that scientific knowledge enables us to do all kinds of things and to make all kinds of things. Of course if we make good things, it is not only to the credit of science; it is also to the credit of the moral choice which led us to good work. Scientific knowledge is an enabling power to do either good or bad -- but it does not carry instructions on how to use it. Such power has evident value -- even though the power may be negated by what one does with it.
I learned a way of expressing this common human problem on a trip to Honolulu. In a Buddhist temple there, the man in charge explained a little bit about the Buddhist religion for tourists, and then ended his talk by telling them he had something to say to them that they would never forget -- and I have never forgotten it. It was a proverb of the Buddhist religion:
To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell.
What then, is the value of the key to heaven? It is true that if we lack clear instructions that enable us to determine which is the gate to heaven and which the gate to hell, the key may be a dangerous object to use.
But the key obviously has value: how can we enter heaven without it?
Instructions would be of no value without the key. So it is evident that, in spite of the fact that it could produce enormous horror in the world, science is of value because it can produce something.
The same thrill, the same awe and mystery, comes again and again when we look at any question deeply enough. With more knowledge comes a deeper, more wonderful mystery, luring one on to penetrate deeper still. Never concerned that the answer may prove disappointing, with pleasure and confidence we turn over each new stone to find unimagined strangeness leading on to more wonderful questions and mysteries -- certainly a grand adventure!
It is true that few unscientific people have this particular type of religious experience. Our poets do not write about it; our artists do not try to portray this remarkable thing. I don't know why. Is no one inspired by our present picture of the universe? This value of science remains unsung by singers: you are reduced to hearing not a song or poem, but an evening lecture about it. This is not yet a scientific age.
I would now like to turn to a third value that science has. It is a little less direct, but not much. The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of very great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn't know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is still in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize our ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain.
Now, we scientists are used to this, and we take it for granted that it is perfectly consistent to be unsure, that it is possible to live and not know. But I don't know whether everyone realizes this is true. Our freedom to doubt was born out of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle: permit us to question -- to doubt -- to not be sure. I think that it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained. Herein lies a responsibility to society.
What, then, is the meaning of it all? What can we say to dispel the mystery of existence?
If we take everything into account -- not only what the ancients knew, but all of what we know today that they didn't know -- then I think we must frankly admit that we do not know.
But, in admitting this, we have probably found the open channel.
Read full essay here.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Very interesting. Check out Lala.com, a service that allows you to upload and stream your whole music collection for free, or buy streaming music for cheap. Sign up and get a credit for 50 songs.
Thanks to RM.
Thanks to RM.
Scientists funded by the Air Force have used quantum entanglement — in which pairs of particles continue to interact even after they are spatially separated — to snap this picture of a tin solider without aiming a camera directly at the object. The technique, called “ghost imaging,” has potential military or space applications, such as using aerial drones to survey of battlefields obscured by clouds, or the smoke that follows airstrikes. Yanhua Shih, who has been experimenting with entangled photons since 1995, says:
“…[T]he image is not formed from light that hits the object and bounces back. The camera collects photons from the light sources that did not hit the object, but are paired through a quantum effect with others that did. An image of the toy begins to appear after approximately a thousand pairs of photons are recorded.”
The Q-Drum, a low cost rollable water container for developing countries.
The burden of fetching water, invariably over long distances by cumbersome and far too often, unhygienic means, is all too evident in rural Africa.
The idea of the Q-Drum originated in response to the needs of rural people for clean and potable water, as well as easing the burden of conveying it.
The solution had to be simple, water in adequate quantities is by far too heavy to carry, by rolling the water in a cylindrical container and not carrying it seemed to be the only solution. The container had to be durable, and breakable handles & other attachments would simply not do - in many parts of Africa even a hammer & a nail are scarce commodities.
The Q-Drum addresses these needs by providing a simplistic, cost effective and durable solution: The uniqueness of the Q-Drum lies in the idea and design of the longitudinal shaft or doughnut hole, and is acknowledged by the fact that Worldwide patents have been granted for the concept, thus confirming the novelty & inventiveness of the design.