Saturday, January 06, 2007

Friday, January 05, 2007

Oak Ridge National Laboratory team discovers explanation for pulsars' spin

A team of scientists using Oak Ridge National Laboratory supercomputers has discovered the first plausible explanation for a pulsar's spin that fits the observations made by astronomers. According to three-dimensional simulations they performed, the spin of a pulsar is determined not by the spin of the original star, but by the shock wave created when the star's massive iron core collapses.

That shock wave is inherently unstable, a discovery the team made in 2002, and eventually becomes cigar-shaped instead of spherical. The instability creates two rotating flows—one in one direction directly below the shock wave and another, inner flow, that travels in the opposite direction and spins up the core.

"The stuff that's falling in toward the center, if it hits this shock wave that is not a sphere any more but a cigar-shaped surface, will be deflected," Mezzacappa said. "When you do this in 3-D, you find that you wind up with not only one flow, but two counterrotating flows."

The asymmetrical flows establish a "sloshing" motion that, in the complex 3-D models, accounts for the pulsars observed spin velocities from once every 15 to 300 milliseconds, which is much slower than previous models predicted.

Feet, Not Fists, Cause More Severe Injuries, Report Says

A study of Welsh emergency room patients has concluded that kicks are significantly more likely to cause serious injuries than assaults using other parts of the body—or even attacks using objects such as knives or bats. [Wounds due to guns were not considered for the study.]

Reporting in a recent issue of the journal Injury Prevention, lead study author Jonathan Shepherd and colleagues found that while kicks were less common, such assaults caused greater damage than either punches or attacks with weapons.

"Injuries that came from the use of the feet were more likely to lead to a hospital admission," Shepherd said.

Kicks were more likely to inflict serious head and brain injuries and were more likely to produce broken bones.

Of the more than 31,000 recorded injuries examined for the study, Shepherd's team found that about 7 percent were due to being kicked.

About 21 percent of the injuries were caused by blunt or sharp weapons, while slightly more than 50 percent were due to punches.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Identification - a photoset on Flickr - photos of old Eastern European passports, etc.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Plastic may spell the end of the silicon microchip

In 2000 Plastic Logic, a Cambridge-based start-up company, announced it was attempting to commercialise a form of plastic electronics that had developed from research at the laboratory.

By using a cheap and simple set of processing operations to build up layers of circuitry on plastic "substrates" - the material on which circuits are formed - rather than silicon wafers used in conventional microchips, the developments promised to slash the cost of making semiconductors.

Plastic Logic has attracted $100m (£51m) of investment that will fund a plant to make plastic semiconductors - the first of its kind in the world. The factory should be in operation in Dresden, Germany, by the end of 2008 and employ 140 people.

The initial products from the factory will be pieces of plastic about A4 size. The basic plastic substrate will be polyethylene terephthalate, a form of plastic used to make drinks bottles.

By 2009 the Dresden plant should be producing 2.2m units of A4-size semiconductor sheets a year. They will initially be used as flexible "control circuitry" for large displays the size of a piece of paper that can hold large amounts of information - equivalent to thousands of books.

The displays will most likely be made by other electronics companies, with Plastic Logic providing the crucial control circuitry and possibly licensing its designs.

The distances between adjacent circuitry lines in the plastic semiconductors due to be made in Dresden will be 5-10 micrometres (5-10 millionths of a metre) which is alot higher than the nanometre (billionths of a metre) dimensions of the latest silicon semiconductors.

But under development in Plastic Logic's research operations are plastic circuits that are just 60 nanometres in dimension, holding out the possibility that before long the electronic characteristics of the company's plastic devices might not be too different from those of conventional silicon chips.

On the supposed plan to form a North American Union (Canada, USA, Mexico)

A comment on the above

The point of the 'NAFTA Highway' and 'NAFTA Railroad' is not making the 3 (or 4 if Quebec ever secedes from Canada) North American nations into a single entity. It’s about container ships from the Pacific Rim unloading in Mexico, bypassing the union dockworkers in California, where they can go onto Kansas City Southern de Mexico intermodal trains that run up to the OK/AR border, awfully close to Bentonville, AR [location of Wal-Mart headquarters].

After unloading the containers with inbound freight, the trains can continue up to KC, where the 'Inland Port' customs station can get the paperwork together for goods being sent back the other way. The entire enterprise is designed to expedite the flow of goods through Mexico that are not intended to be sold there, but are merely going into or out of the US, crossing the Continental Divide at a low enough latitude as to eliminate the sort of bottlenecks that we've seen in recent weeks.

The competition is going to be the larger container vessels that will be able to transit the Panama Canal starting in the middle of the next decade. If they continue to Northeast ports where the Longshoremen must be paid, they might price themselves out of the business. That leaves the South, which is of course already pretty close to Mexico.

Iran's Secret Plan For Mayhem [in Iraq]


Iran is supporting both Sunni and Shiite terrorists in the Iraqi civil war, according to secret Iranian documents captured by Americans in Iraq.

The news that American forces had captured Iranians in Iraq was widely reported last month, but less well known is that the Iranians were carrying documents that offered Americans insight into Iranian activities in Iraq.

An American intelligence official said the new material, which has been authenticated within the intelligence community, confirms "that Iran is working closely with both the Shiite militias and Sunni Jihadist groups." The source was careful to stress that the Iranian plans do not extend to cooperation with Baathist groups fighting the government in Baghdad, and said the documents rather show how the Quds Force — the arm of Iran's revolutionary guard that supports Shiite Hezbollah, Sunni Hamas, and Shiite death squads — is working with individuals affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna.

Another American official who has seen the summaries of the reporting affiliated with the arrests said it comprised a "smoking gun." "We found plans for attacks, phone numbers affiliated with Sunni bad guys, a lot of things that filled in the blanks on what these guys are up to," the official said.

One of the documents captured in the raids, according to two American officials and one Iraqi official, is an assessment of the Iraq civil war and new strategy from the Quds Force. The document concludes that Iraq's Sunni neighbors will step up their efforts to aid insurgent groups and that it is imperative for Iran to redouble efforts to retain influence with them, as well as with Shiite militias.


The news that Iran's elite Quds Force would be in contact, and clandestinely cooperating, with Sunni Jihadists who attacked the Golden Mosque in Samarra (one of the holiest shrines in Shiism) on February 22, could shake the alliance Iraq's ruling Shiites have forged in recent years with Tehran.

Film School - various low-budget filmmaking articles, including screenwriting

Another free screenwriting program... - "Page 2 Stage"; Source code to be released on January 25

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The new Zionist occupiers


Israelis routinely assume that Europe's pro-jihadist policy towards the Palestinians is a result of anti-Semitism or anger over Israel's military victory in 1967. But the EU's treatment of Ethiopia and the TFG indicates that Brussels' hostility towards the Jewish state is part of a much further-reaching policy. Europe's pro-jihad position toward the war in Somalia indicates that its support for jihad is over-arching rather than limited to specific battlegrounds.

So what we learn from the Qatar conference and the war in Somalia is that a tripartite alliance of Iran, the Arab world and Europe upholds the cause of jihad not merely against Israel and the US, but globally. It is clear that the Iranians are the most dangerous part of the three-headed jihadist Hydra. Like the Arab despots, the Europeans are provoked by cynicism. While the Arab dictatorships embrace jihad to safeguard their regimes, the Europeans support the jihadists in the hope that their support will deflect jihadist violence away from them.


Somalia and Ethiopia Will Use One Passport, Somali Minister Says

Somalia's internal affairs minister and assistant prime Minster, Hussein Mohammed Farah Aideed, who has convened with tribal elders at former presidential house (Villa Somalia) in Mogadishu, said his government intends to wipe out the boundaries between Somalia and Ethiopia.

He said 60% of 2 millions Somali refugees live in Ethiopia and use Ethiopian passports. "Ethiopia and Somalia have 2,000 kilometers between them. The two Shabelle and Jubba rivers in Somalia come from Ethiopia. Now we need to eliminate the boundaries between us because we are brothers, and we will use one passport", he said.

He said Ethiopia was the only country that was determined to set up a state in Somalia after more than years of without government. "No country in the world cared about Somalia", he said.

Sat Nav for Mexicans illegally entering US


Illegal immigrants planning to cross the desert and enter the US on foot are to be given hand-held satellite devices by the Mexican authorities to ensure they arrive safely.

Those who get lost or fall sick during the dangerous four-day crossing will be able to activate the device, to alert frontier police on both sides of the border.

The satellite tracking service will require would-be illegals to register their intentions before setting off — a paradoxical move, given that secrecy is necessary for success — but Mexican authorities are predicting that about 200,000 devices will be handed out when the project is launched formally in the coming year.

Knowing the Enemy

"After 9/11, when a lot of people were saying, 'The problem is Islam,' I was thinking, It's something deeper than that. It's about human social networks and the way that they operate." In West Java, elements of the failed Darul Islam insurgency - a local separatist movement with mystical leanings - had resumed fighting as Jemaah Islamiya, whose outlook was Salafist and global. Kilcullen said, "What that told me about Jemaah Islamiya is that it's not about theology." He went on, "There are elements in human psychological and social makeup that drive what's happening. The Islamic bit is secondary. This is human behavior in an Islamic setting. This is not 'Islamic behavior.' " Paraphrasing the American political scientist Roger D. Petersen, he said, "People don't get pushed into rebellion by their ideology. They get pulled in by their social networks." He noted that all fifteen Saudi hijackers in the September 11th plot had trouble with their fathers. Although radical ideas prepare the way for disaffected young men to become violent jihadists, the reasons they convert, Kilcullen said, are more mundane and familiar: family, friends, associates.

The Belmont Club: E Pluribus Unum

"It is the Global Everyman, not just the government, which must be mobilized to fight the Global Guerrilla. [...] The key to defeating the Global Jihad may lie in the West remembering the levee en masse, that part of its history now forgotten, which consisted of raising a nation in arms, because the nation consisted of everyone, not in weaponry but this time in ideas. It may consist in relearning that the first role of government is not to do things for its citizens, but rather to awaken them."

Your Own Personal RFID Firewall

RFID Guardian Project

The RFID Guardian Project is a collaborative project focused upon providing security and privacy in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems. The goals of our project are to:

  • Investigate the security and privacy threats faced by RFID systems

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Somalia's Islamic Courts Fighters Abandon Kismayo

Somalia's interim governments says it has captured the Islamic Movement's last stronghold, following a night of intense Ethiopian artillery bombardment near Kismayo.

Somali Islamist leaders and their fighters abandoned their last stronghold early Monday, possibly retreating to a base near the Kenyan border.

Near the border, there is an Islamist base on a small peninsula called Ras Kamboni, used by Somali radicals to train many of their fighters.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Goodies! Goodie Goodie Yum Yum! - on the old British TV show

Scientists cured homosexuality in some male sheep

The technique being developed by American researchers [at Oregon State University in the city of Corvallis and at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland] adjusts the hormonal balance in the brains of homosexual rams so that they are more inclined to mate with ewes.

It raises the prospect that pregnant women could one day be offered a treatment to reduce or eliminate the chance that their offspring will be homosexual. Experts say that, in theory, the "straightening" procedure on humans could be as simple as a hormone supplement for mothers-to-be, worn on the skin like an anti-smoking nicotine patch.

Approximately one ram in 10 prefers to mount other rams rather than mate with ewes, reducing its value to a farmer. Initially, the publicly funded project aimed to improve the productivity of herds.

The scientists have been able to pinpoint the mechanisms influencing the desires of "male-oriented" rams by studying their brains. The animals' skulls are cut open and electronic sensors are attached to their brains.

By varying the hormone levels, mainly by injecting hormones into the brain, they have had "considerable success" in altering the rams' sexuality, with some previously gay animals becoming attracted to ewes.

Potentially, the techniques could one day be adapted for human use, with doctors perhaps being able to offer parents pre-natal tests to determine the likely sexuality of offspring or a hormonal treatment to change the orientation of a child.

A Google search for related papers

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Celebrities are narcissists


Two Los Angeles psychologists have produced the first scientific evidence that many celebrities sincerely believe that they are better than the rest of us.

Mark Young and Drew Pinsky used a mathematical formula to measure the traits, including exhibitionism and vanity, that make up narcissism. Psychologists believe that in general men are both bossier than women and show off more. However, in the “celebrity class” women are far more narcissistic than men and up to a third are more manipulative and vain about their appearance than the typical woman in the street.

Young and Pinsky have had rare access: celebrities queue up to appear on Loveline, Pinsky’s nationally syndicated radio show. They asked 200 celebrities who appeared on the programme to fill out a standard questionnaire called the Narcissism Personality Inventory. They were asked how they felt about themselves, including whether they felt they deserved compliments or were embarrassed by them and whether they insisted on being “respected” at all times.

"It was people like [...] actors, comedians, musicians and reality TV contestants who emerged as the most narcissistic of all," said Pinsky. "The fewer real-life skills they had, the louder they tend to be in their attempts to hold on to attention."

Pinsky said: "Vanity is only part of it. They crave attention, are over-confident of their abilities, lack empathy and can behave erratically. But they are often admired and well liked, especially on a first meeting, and perform well in public."

He added: "We have also found striking differences between the celebrities and their jobs — the more real-life skills they have, such as musicians, the less narcissistic they are. In Hollywood they may have found a place that rewards their need for attention."

Geometric Arts

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