blivet

From MSNBC, CNN. Astronomers have discovered an asteroid that could impact the Earth in 2022, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The odds are, as they say, low, but more calculations need to be done to refine the object’s trajectory. The asteroid, 2000 BF19, is the fifth one discovered in the last two years that might collide with Earth. The International Astronomical Union of the Minor Planet Center of Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has also announced the discovery, but without mentioning a possible collision. But its not as sensational that way! <rhetorical>When did science get so sensational?</rhetorical>

NEAR Spacecraft Orbits Eros On Valentine’s Day In deep space, there are very few second chances. But one year later and one year wiser, a team of Cornell University astronomers and researchers is preparing for the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid, named 433 Eros, on Valentine’s Day.

"think Mission Impossible for computer geeks." —Hollywood Reporter Fox planning ‘X-Files’ spinoff
Fox, home of the Gillian Anderson-and David Duchovny-led supernatural drama, has green-lighted a spinoff based on the show’s beloved, dorky Lone Gunmen. Dorky? Harumph

blivet

Lunar Colony Could Go Up Soon — on Earth
The city council of Hesperia, in the Mojave desert 50 miles northeast of Los Angeles, voted in January to plan to build the world’s first lunar colony, but they will skip the tricky part of going to the moon to do it.

American Southwest Could Be Facing 10-Year Drought
It’s too soon to know for sure, but some climate experts suspect we’re shifting into a new phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). This is a long-term Pacific sea temperature and sea surface pressure pattern. If these climate experts are right — and it may take another 10 years of data-gathering to settle the question — the American Southwest could be poised at the beginning of a drought that could last 10 years or longer…

Saw this at BBC News. Space Imaging, the company that operates Ikonos, will point the satellite at an area you request and have the image e-mailed to you within a day.
Orbital Imaging Corp, Earthwatch Inc, Space Imaging

Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’ papers in question following college fire

blivet

Apple now has its own Web page describing Linux, the distributions available for PowerPC Macs, and links to them. from MacNN

Clone yourself for $200K? A UFO cult apparently is creating a company to clone people. They believe that humans are alien clones. Have a look for yourself at www.clonaid.com. Is this science, humor or web-based performance art? seen on slashdot.

Geek Chicks: Second thoughts – an editorial from Skud at freshmeat. There needs to be more geek women, women in science, women in technical fields. There are probably more than I think, I suspect that I don’t tend to see them because they’re better adjusted.

blivet

I love the web, I just freakin’ love it. The Los Angeles Meteorite. Following up from yesterday’s mention, this is the JPL web site concerning the Mars meteorite. from UniSci

Is Quantum Evolution The New Science Of Life? from UniSci
"A biologist from the University of Surrey in the UK, Dr Johnjoe McFadden, has put together a revolutionary theory that seeks to explain the beginnings of life in a brand new popular science book, Quantum Evolution."

Now this really piques my interest. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been involved in several rather squishy discussions about this sort of thing. I use "squishy" because none of us are mathematicians or physicists and I know if you don’t grok the math you’re probably talking out your ass. Not knowing what you’re talking about doesn’t slow down most people, but at least we’re aware which end is talking. The whole notion that we live in a metaverse that we view from the perspective of a subset that is only four dimensional raises a lot of interesting thoughts. Now I know that a lot of you are probably waaaay ahead of me here, but excuse my doubtlessly naïve ramblings that follow. I don’t know how many of you have seen the animated short Flatland. Flatland is two-dimensional, a cartesian plane. The population is composed of points, lines, circles, and polygons – all in two-dimensional space of course. The Flatland scientists are examining the possibility, some of them say likliehood, that there is a third dimension – one that has volume. The mataphor is rather evident, yes? Anyway, a bright young circle grasps this readily and exclaims that if there are three dimensions, there could be more! Four, five, maybe even ten dimensions! The wise old circle cautions the young one to not leave science and get into the realm of psuedo-science.

OK, point well taken. Still, if there is this type of organization extant in the universe that we glimpse only when our four dimensions intersect with the other ones (as in light is a wave or a particle depending on how you investigate it) really helps he to understand atomic oribitals and indeed most of what I’ve read about what has gone on in Physics in the last 100 years.

I realize that the universe described is observer dependant, but this is enticing for me to gain a glimpse of why we’re observing what we’re observing. If scientists can begin to get a handle on underlying structure, greater understanding can not be far behind.

Of course, popularized versions of quantum mechanics (Gary Zakov’s Dancing Wu-Li Masters comes to mind) have shaped much of my understanding of this field, because, as I said, I can’t do the math. But the similarities with Vedic and Buddhist texts, and quantum mechanics in the descriptions (not mechanics) of the nature of the phenomenological world continue to amaze me. Cyclic expansion and contraction of the universe(s), worlds within worlds, and the religious nature of ecstasy, there seems to be an astonsishing amnount of congruence. At least to me.

We live in interesting times. Wonderfully interesting times.

blivet

NASA confirms that rocks found in Mojave Desert are Mars meteorites. Read the CNN story. Hmm, I’ll have to keep a lookout for rocks with a "dark fusion crust." I wonder how many I’ve walked past?

Happy New Year The dragon has traditionally been considered the most auspicious sign on the 12-year Chinese zodiac — it is supposed to bring good luck. But this new year is even more special because it is also a "golden dragon" year, which occurs once every 60 years.

more info The Chinese New Year from New Year, and The Chinese Zodiac from About.com

Today is Rosa Parks’ 87th birthday.

blivet

Alexandra DuPont Interviews William Gibson [Ain’t It Cool News]. Great interview. He actually got to talk about his writing.

Oklahoma throws out textbook evolution disclaimer

A requirement by Oklahoma’s textbook committee that state science textbooks include a disclaimer against evolution has been thrown out, a spokesman for the state’s attorney general said Thursday.

Now if my home state, Kansas, would follow their lead. From CNN

From the "Bye bye, Miss American Pie" dept:
February 3, 1959 – a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, claimed the lives of rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. "the day the music died"

Huge dinosaur’s neck bones unearthed in Texas. from CNN

blivet

I saw both of these at slashdot:

Two New Zealand scientists think they can explain one of the great mysteries of the natural world – ball lightning. from BBC News very coool

This is a real one and it looks like it could affect everyone

CERT® Advisory CA-2000-02 Malicious HTML Tags Embedded in Client Web Requests
A web site may inadvertently include malicious HTML tags or script in a dynamically generated page based on unvalidated input from untrustworthy sources. This can be a problem when a web server does not adequately ensure that generated pages are properly encoded to prevent unintended execution of scripts, and when input is not validated to prevent malicious HTML from being presented to the user.

long day, late update. My wife received a concussion in a classroom accident at school yesterday (2/1). She’ll be OK, but I’m a bit preoccupied.

blivet

China may launch a man into space next month. [BBC News]

Scientists Find Origin of AIDS
Researchers using a supercomputer say they’ve traced the AIDS virus back to around 1930, much earlier than the disease was previously thought to have originated. from Wired, CNN

Mars Lander Disappoints … Again
Scientists hoping to detect a signal from the Mars Polar Lander come up empty handed. Last week’s presumed peep from Mars goes unexplained. from Wired

Vonnegut in critical condition following fire [CNN]
Novelist Kurt Vonnegut is in critical but stable condition Tuesday following a fire in his home Sunday. I’ve read most of his books. Claudia maintains that one of the professors in the Anthro Department is Kilgore Trout.

Federal DNA tests planned on Kennewick Man remains
"The federal government has decided to perform DNA testing on Kennewick Man, the 9,000-year-old bones that have prompted a legal struggle between a group of scientists and Pacific Northwest tribes who claim the remains as an ancestor.
Dr. Frank McManamon, chief archaeologist for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service, yesterday announced that his agency will try to perform DNA testing on the bones as part of the government’s effort to determine if Kennewick Man can be linked to any modern Native Americans." from the Seattle Post Intelligencer

Historic Reno hotel demolished A loss for preservationists. Reno, like the rest of Nevada, wants its yokel politics and politicians and a sophisticated image at the same time. It doesn’t fly. Even Las Vegas is almost beginning to wake up to preservation issues. from CNN

Experts Urge Big Firms Back Depression Study "Specialists from the United States and Hong Kong on Tuesday urged businesses and governments to allocate more funds to research into depression — which they described as the "cancer of the 21st century"." Look into the eyes of your friends, or perhaps the mirror. Granted, depression is almost a given in grad school, still, it seems endemic. from Yahoo Daily News.

SF great A.E. Van Vogt, 1912-2000. A good comment at slashdot "let’s think about where we want science fiction to be going". Perhaps I’m just getting too long in the tooth, but I can count the current authors I follow on one hand. Something seems to be missing. More information on Van Vogt’s career here and here.

blivet

I missed mentioning the latest Risks Digest, number 20.77, came out on Saturday.

Nomad the robot is finally driving solo – in the Antarctic outback. from yahoo daily news.

It must seem like not much is happening in blivet land, but there is frantic activity behind the scenes at the Las Vegas nerve center. The Super Bowl came and went unwatched. A group of archaes got together Saturday night and after lengthy spirited discussion, solved nothing. However, many opinions and potential solutions to problems real and perceived were presented and a good time was had by all. Remember, fondue represents an unrealized ideal. Several essays are in the hopper, but none are ready to go hopping yet. Oh yeah, there is that thesis thing too.