Thursday, October 29, 2009

Russia Proposes to build Nuclear Powered Spaceship

Russia should build a new spaceship with a nuclear engine, the country's space chief has proposed, promising that it would give Russia an edge in the space race.

President Dmitry Medvedev hailed the plan and ordered the Cabinet to find the money for it, but environmentalists expressed concern.

Federal Space Agency chief Anatoly Perminov told a government meeting that the preliminary design could be ready by 2012, but it would then take nine more years and 17 billion rubles (£353 million) to build the ship.

"The implementation of this project will allow us to reach a new technological level surpassing foreign developments," Mr Perminov told a meeting on communications and space technologies. "It's a very serious project," added Mr Medvedev, who chaired the meeting. "We need to find the money."

Mr Perminov's ambitious statement contrasted with the current state of the Russian space programme, sounding more like a plea for extra government funds than a detailed proposal.

Russia is using 40-year-old Soyuz booster rockets and capsules to send crews to the International Space Station. Development of a replacement rocket and a prospective spaceship with a conventional propellant has dragged on with no end in sight.

While Russia has been slow to develop a replacement for its old workhorse Soyuz, it stands to take a greater role in space exploration in the coming years. Nasa's plan to retire its shuttle fleet next year will force the United States and other nations to rely on the Russian spacecraft to ferry their astronauts to the International Space Station and back to Earth until Nasa's new manned ship becomes available.

Mr Perminov described the proposed nuclear-powered spaceship as a "unique breakthrough project," but offered few details.

Prosthetics: Polymer for artificial limbs to feel heat, cold, touch

Current prosthetics on the market have come a long way in looking natural, but in the grand scheme of things, they’re quite primitive: the best offer mechanical operation, but they’re missing a decidedly human touch: feeling.

That neurological aspect is vital to a full understanding of the world we live in. Two new studies are investigating how to bring feeling — neural stimulation — to prosthetic limbs.

Physicians at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons “Plastic Surgery 2009″ conference this week in Seattle announced the discovery of a polymer that conducts electricity like a wire and promotes the stimulation and growth of nerve fibers. The molecule — 3, 4-ethylenedioxythiophene, or “PEDOT” — is a promising first step in connecting to severed nerves and providing amputees with more neurological control of their prosthetics.

That translates to the ability to move fingers independently, apply an appropriate amount of pressure to objects (for example, to grab and lift a delicate item) and feel sensation.

In one study, plastic surgeons say they may have found a way to successfully grow new nerve fibers after they’ve been severed in an injury. The PEDOT polymer, along with other biologic and synthetic materials, was grafted onto the severed leg nerve of a rat. New nerve fibers grew and took over function from the severed nerve, reawakening muscles that were unable to be stimulated due to nerve injury.

New Multishot Taser X3 on display in Dublin

Click on picture for more..........

The Taser X3, the newest device with multishot technology, goes beyond the single-shot capabilities of first-generation tasers and provides the ability to deploy a second and third cartridge immediately. Also, it can simultaneously zap three bad guys at once.

Facebook Password reset scam is Bredolab botnet attack

Virus hunters are raising the alarm for a large-scale spam attack that uses fake Facebook password-reset messages to trick PC users into downloading a dangerous piece of malware.

The malicious executable is linked to the Bredolab botnet, which has been linked to massive spam runs and identity-theft related attacks.

According to Websense, the address of the sender is spoofed to display “,” a trick commonly used to trick targets into believing it’s a legitimate e-mail from the popular social network.

The messages contain a .zip file attachment with an .exe file that connects to two servers to download additional malicious files and joins the Bredolab botnet which means the attackers have full control of the PC, such as steal customer information, send spam emails. One of the servers is in the Netherlands and the other one in Kazakhstan.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

US Military Using Dolphins in Iraq

Dolphins possess the most sophisticated sonar system known to man, and are used by the US Navy to locate mines in deep water. This bottlenose dolphin was clearing shipping lanes during the war in Iraq in 2003.

Picture: Getty

ARCA: Romanian Moon Shot by Balloon

NASA has successfully launched Ares 1-X, the prototype replacement to the space shuttle. But halfway across the globe, a rising power is posing a challenge to America's space dominance. I speak, of course, of Romania, which is readying a critical flight of her mighty moon-balloon.

No typo there, they really are shooting for the moon in a balloon. At least that's the plan of the non-profit Aeronautics and Cosmonautics Romanian Association (ARCA), which is using an oldie but sort-of-goodie idea for getting something into space: Tie a rocket to a balloon, launch the balloon and then launch the rocket from the stratosphere.

The US briefly tried this strategy in the 1950s, but they eventually abandoned it in favour of more stable launch pads, like the one that the Ares 1-X used. There's a few advantages to the more concrete approach: It's easier to orient your rocket from the ground, you don't have to worry about it blowing away, and critically, it's not going to fall on anybody.

It's in part due to that last safety concern that a Romanian frigate is carrying ARCA's Helen test rocket into the Black Sea. The Helen is a tour-de-force in Transylvanian technology. Rather than launching a rocket with a complicated staging system, they're just tying their stages together with string. When the first stage runs out they'll cut the cord and fire the second, and the third, and onward until they deliver their payload (which appears to be some sort of orange football or rugby ball, depending on your nationality).

The Helen, Romania's third test flight, could launch as soon as tomorrow. Stay tuned moon and vampire lovers alike for all your ARCA coverage!

Credit: ARCA

ESA: SMOS AND PROBA-2 scheduled for launch

ESA PR 27-2009. ESA's SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) and Proba-2 (PRoject for OnBoard Autonomy) satellites are scheduled for launch on Monday 2 November at 02:50 CET on a Russian Rockot launcher from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia.

SMOS, ESA's water mission, is the first satellite designed both to map sea surface salinity and monitor soil moisture on a global scale, thus contributing to better understanding of the Earth's water cycle. Proba-2 will perform in-orbit demonstration of 17 advanced satellite technologies, solar observation experiments and plasma environment studies.

The main launch event for SMOS and Proba-2 will be held at ESA’s ESRIN establishment in Frascati, Italy. ESA senior management and programme specialists will be on hand to give explanations and interviews.

Live TV transmission of the launch will provide quality pictures to broadcasters from Plesetsk and from mission control rooms at CNES/Toulouse in France and at ESA’s Redu ground station in Belgium (for further details, see

NASA: Ares-1 Succesful Launch!

NASA Ares I-X mission managers watch as NASA's Ares I-X rocket launches from pad 39b at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009. The flight test will provide NASA with an early opportunity to test and prove flight characteristics, hardware, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA's first flight test for the agency's next-generation spacecraft and launch vehicle system, called Ares I-X, will bring NASA one step closer to its exploration goals. The flight test will provide NASA with an early opportunity to test and prove flight characteristics, hardware, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Industrial robot hones virtual autopsies - New Scientist

Industrial robot hones virtual autopsies - New Scientist

THE small industrial robot that dominates the room is in many ways much like any other. A robotic arm smoothly wields grippers and probes - always accurate and never tired. But rather than working on cars or computers, this robot is processing human corpses.

A team of forensic pathologists at the University of Bern in Switzerland reckon it could make autopsies more accurate and also less distressing for families.

The researchers are already pioneers of virtual autopsies, or "virtopsies", which use non-invasive imaging of a body inside and out rather than the radical post-mortem surgery typically used to determine cause of death.

Now they are using a robot, dubbed Virtibot, to carry out parts of that process, making it more reliable - and standardised.

Their virtopsies combine 3D imaging of a body's surface with a CT scan of its interior anatomy. The result is a faithful, high-resolution virtual double of the corpse (see diagram). This double can be used to accurately determine what killed someone. And it's a more tactful approach: only needle biopsies are used to sample tissues, leaving a body essentially undamaged.

This virtual body-double can be used to accurately determine what killed a person "Currently, organs are taken out and sliced for analysis of tumours and lesions, but if something is overlooked you have no chance of seeing it again," says team member Lars Ebert. "All you have afterwards is a huge pile of organ slices."

By automating virtopsies, he now hopes to free the post-mortem from the influence of the unavoidable human failings of pathologists, which can affect conclusions about cause of death.

"Too much of an investigator's autopsy results depend on their ability to describe in a report what they see - and they may overlook things," says Ebert. "We want to make the whole procedure more objective and generate digitally stored data that can be re-examined 20 or 30 years later."

Monday, October 26, 2009

NASA: HiRISE Picture of Tattooed Mars

This high-resolution picture from the HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows twisting dark trails criss-crossing light-colored terrain on the Martian surface.

Newly formed trails like these had presented researchers with a tantalizing mystery but are now known to be the work of miniature wind vortices known to occur on the red planet, in other words Martian dust devils.

Such spinning columns of rising air heated by the warm surface are also common in dry and desert areas on planet Earth. Typically lasting only a few minutes, dust devils become visible as they pick up loose red-colored dust leaving the darker and heavier sand beneath intact. Ironically, dust devils have been credited with unexpectedly cleaning the solar panels of the Mars rovers.

Image Credit: NASA, HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona)

Renewable Energy: Direct Methanol Fuel cell

A Toshiba employee displays a direct methanol fuel cell battery called Dynario for digital products such as a mobile phone or iPod

Picture: AFP/GETTY

Renewable Energy: World Solar Challenge in Darwin

Solar powered cars line up at the start of the World Solar Challenge in Darwin. Thirty-two solar powered cars from 17 countries will race over 3,000kms across the Australian outback to Adelaide

German Economy Faces Pain, Official Says -

German Economy Faces Pain, Official Says -

Germany’s new finance minister, the veteran conservative politician Wolfgang Schäuble, moved swiftly Sunday to assert his power and tell his compatriots and the world that the finances of the largest European economy were dire and would take years to mend.

Using the pulpit of the conservative newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Mr. Schäuble warned that there was no chance to balance the budget in the next four years of the new center-right coalition government headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It was “utopia” to believe that the budget could be balanced during this legislative period that lasts four years, he said.

It was a frank and tough assessment, markedly different in tone from Peer Steinbrück, the Social Democrat who served as finance minister in the outgoing grand coalition headed by Mrs. Merkel for the past four years.

China: Salute All Cars, it’s a Rule. -

China: Kids Salute All Cars, it’s a Rule -

All the students at Luolang Elementary School, a yellow-and-orange concrete structure off a winding mountain road in southern China, know the key rules: Do not run in the halls. Take your seat before the bell rings. Raise your hand to ask a question.

And oh, yes: Salute every passing car on your way to and from school.

Education officials promoted the saluting edict to reduce traffic accidents and teach children courtesy. Critics, who have posted thousands of negative comments about the policy on China’s electronic bulletin boards, beg to differ. “This is just pitiful,” wrote one in a post last year. Only inept officials would burden children with such a requirement rather than install speed bumps, others insisted.

This is hardly the only nation where local bureaucrats sometimes run a bit too free. But in China, where many local officials are less than well trained and only the party can eject them from office, local governments’ dubious edicts are common enough that skewering them has become a favorite pastime of China’s Web users. Even the state-run media join in, although they rarely report who was behind the rules or suggest that they indicate a lack of competence to govern.

Fat liver, not fat belly, may be best indicator of health problems -

Fat liver, not fat belly, may be best indicator of health problems -

For years, scientists have warned people that having an apple-shaped figure or a beer belly is a health risk.

They said people with wide girths are more likely to have visceral or intra-abdominal fat, which increases their risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.

But new research presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society shows that belly fat may not be the biggest bad guy behind some of the medical issues. "Fat in the liver is a more important indicator of health problems," says Samuel Klein, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Klein and colleagues recruited 31 obese men and women and looked at their visceral fat, which surrounds the organs in the belly, and their liver fat. Some people had high amounts of liver fat; others had normal amounts. A normal liver contains 5% fat or less, but a severe fatty liver may contain up to 50%, Klein says. The latter is referred to as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Using several different medical tests, the researchers found that people with fatty livers:

•Make more triglycerides, which are released from the liver into their bloodstream and can increase the risk of heart disease.

•Are more likely to be resistant to the action of their own insulin, meaning their bodies don't regulate blood sugar properly, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, Klein says. Over time, high sugar levels damage large and small blood vessels, leading to heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, amputations, blindness and kidney disease.

"We do not yet know whether the liver fat is causing these health problems or is simply a very good indicator of health risk," he says. "Even though it looks like visceral fat itself might not cause harm, it is often high in people with increased liver fat."

About 30% of adults and a third of overweight children and adolescents have too much liver fat, he says. If you are obese, 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight, you are at a higher risk of having non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The bottom line: If you're too heavy, it's a good idea to trim down, he says. A weight loss of as little as 2% to 5% can cause a marked reduction in liver fat.

In a related study, Elisa Fabbrini of Washington University School of Medicine found that severely obese people who lost weight after gastric bypass surgery significantly lowered the fat in the liver.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dyslexia Untied: Prevention is Preferred

Olive Hickmott: Wouldn't prevention be better?

I am an experienced health and education coach, and have been for many years. I enjoy helping and working with people who are facing particular challenges.

I try to avoid complexity at least until I am confident that all the simple approaches have been taken. Complexity can come in many forms, normally I see it in the form of other people's intervention and interpretations.

Unfortunately, this unwanted complexity can come from the medical establishment who are often too quick to 'label' a child in difficulty and dismiss any claims that there is an intelligent spirit trapped inside, screaming to get out. They don't have the key to unlock the door and doubt that anyone else has, meanwhile an innocent child is condemn to a life of torment.

There is a key and there is a way to release the child within. You need patience and insight but most of all you need to listen. People do tend to over complicate things and then it is more difficult to see with true clarity, what is really happening and what is being most effective.

On meeting a new client, I always feel a sense of reluctance. Part of my reluctance in jumping straight in, is that I want to quickly solve the problem. I want to release this child from it's misery but I have this insistent little voice in my head, which is encouraging me to find the real source of the problem and to try and 'prevent' things happening in the first place.

It is always easier to address and treat the symptoms but this will not solve the problem, it will simply re-occur in a different form later. Something that is all to obvious in the short term effect of 'gadgets' and 'gizmos'.

Prevention is so much less stressful for everyone. It takes less effort, uses less time and resources and is much more effective. We all know it is difficult to break regular habits and practices, even if they are detrimental to our good health. We see the signs on cigarette packets but people still smoke.

I am currently taking part in a research project that will prove the real effectiveness of the work I do; helping people change their experience when they are very confused, clarifying their goals, building on their successes, etc. This research is aimed at overcoming the negative attitude of some educationlists and the cynical outlook of modern society.

It is important to prove the effectiveness of prevention, so that we can demolish these artificial barriers to progress and unshackle the men, women and children who are burdened by this way of seeing and perceiving their world.

Clearly, this will mean introducing the concept of 'visualisation' into teacher training, at an early stage and then adopting it as 'normal practice' in every school in the English speaking world. Having said, English speaking, the idea of 'visualisation' as a tool for enabling literacy is, by it's nature, not language specific.

It is interesting to note that Dyslexia is almost unknown in countries like China and Japan, where the symbols used in their written language are based on representative images or 'picture' characters.

Releasing the literacy geni from it's 'bottle', is not going to be an easy task and will require a lot of effort from everyone. If you would like to help support this worthy challenge in any way possible, I should be delighted to hear from you.

There is still much work to be done. The goal of overcoming Dyslexia, improving literacy and watching the trapped spirit of a child emerge from confusion, is amazing. The sooner you contact me, the sooner the adventure begins!

Olive Hickmott - Empowering Learning (Everywhere)

Dyslexia Untied: ADHD / Dyspraxia research

Olive Hickmott: ADHD / Dyspraxia research

I have developed a New Perspectives model for Dyspraxia and ADHD. At a recent Dyspraxia conference of parents and teachers this really resonated with all the delegates I met.

The model brings together my work on literacy and numeracy and adds energetic skills for helping youngsters ground and clearing energy blocks, through EnergeticNLP, that I have been using for the 3 years for people with chronic health conditions.

The results are extraordinary and offer a really new opportunity for these youngsters. Clearing blocked energy helps youngsters and parents alike let go of negative emotions. Recently a mum improved her own 'tennis elbow' whilst helping her daughter and a boy cleared a block that was causing double vision. This work is simply done through stories.

There is a huge overlap in diagnoses for learning difficulties, e.g. 52% of those with Dyspraxia also have Dyslexia and it is now clear exactly why this happens. If you have a youngster who is no doubt very bright and effected by Dyspraxia do book up an appointment or come to one of my training events. I am including dyspraxia in the expert programme and my health coaching events.

I am speaking at the NLP conference in November on Chronic Fatigue, including how some of the same symptoms are seen in Dyspraxia.

Parents who find themselves exhausted might like to look at A simple way to learn where your energy is going and how to recover it.

Dyslexia Untied: Great Tips about Learning

This month's great tips from Olive Hickmott

  1. NEVER learn spellings from of a list. Copy them onto postits - just one word per postit. If you learn a whole list from a single page, visual children with store the whole list of words together - may be good for the spelling test but useless for subsequent written work.
  2. Dyslexics normally turn letters around. Has anyone else noticed that 11 upper case letters, turn around and you won't notice the difference - this is nearly half of the alphabet. If you reverse upper case letters they are either the same or don't make another letters. If you reverse lower case, b becomes d, p becomes q etc. None of them turn around and stay the same. This explains to a great extent why some are dyslexic in lower case and not upper case.
  3. Multilingual children can have a nightmare in literacy - they not only have to learn multiple languages but different phonics too. If you visualise you simply see the word in different languages and you can use different colours to distinguish them.

Ice Cold Lexus on show in Tokyo - TIME

Ice Cold in Tokyo
A visitor to the 41st Tokyo Motor Show looks at an acrylic model of a Lexus LFA in Makuhari city, Japan.

Dyslexia Untied: What does it feel like?

It is difficult to describe the feelings and sensations that swirl around your head and eyes but this YouTube video does well to illustrate the difficulties. More on Dyslexia Untied

Friday, October 23, 2009

Altered or Augmented Reality lets you see through walls

If only drivers could see through walls, blind corners and other dangerous road junctions would be much safer. Now an augmented reality system has been built that could just make that come true (see video, above).

The prototype uses two cameras: one that captures the driver's view and a second that sees the scene behind a view-blocking wall. A computer takes the feed from the second camera and layers it on top of the images from the first so that the wall appears to be transparent.

This makes it simple to glance "through" a wall to see what's going on behind it. But the techniques needed to combine them were challenging to develop, says Yaser Sheikh of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
Altered images

The view of the hidden scene needs to be skewed so that it looks as if it were being viewed from the position of the person using the system. The system does this by spotting landmarks seen by both cameras: the one seeing the hidden view and the one with the same view as the user.

Sheikh and his colleagues also had to develop software that transforms moving objects in the images to avoid distortion.

Ultimately, the team want to build the system into a car. An onboard video processor would tune into a wireless feed from a roadside camera with a view of the hidden scene, such as a stretch of road behind a blind corner, and project the image of the hidden scene onto the windscreen rather than a monitor.

The project is funded by Denso, a car parts manufacturer based in Kariya, Japan.

Emergency Services Break into Car Radios

Motorists in Rotterdam and Utrecht, and Friesland and Drenthe provinces will hear the sirens of approaching police, fire and ambulance sirens through their car radios over the next four weeks.

Forty emergency service vehicles have been equipped with technology which breaks into radio broadcasts in a range of 300 to 400 meters and transmits the sound of a siren instead. The Flister system has already been used on two vehicles in experiments this summer.

The experiments are necessary because cars are increasingly well insulated and often sirens are not heard until the last moment, news agency ANP reports.

Scientists Claim Womb Transplants possible within 2 Years

The first successful human womb transplant could take place within two years, British scientists have said. London-based experts say they have worked out how to transplant a womb with a regular blood supply so it will last long enough to carry a pregnancy.

Research involving donor rabbits was presented at a US fertility conference. The charity Uterine Transplant UK is seeking funding of £250,000 after being denied grants by several medical research bodies.

A breakthrough could offer an alternative to surrogacy or adoption for women whose own wombs have been damaged by diseases such as cervical cancer. Up to 200 women in the UK are said to use surrogate mothers each year.

In the latest research conducted at the Royal Veterinary College in London, five rabbits were given a womb using a technique which connected major blood vessels, including the aorta.

Two of the rabbits lived to 10 months, with examinations after death indicating the transplants had been a success. This has created 'Huge interest'.

Richard Smith, consultant gynaecological surgeon at Hammersmith Hospital, told the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in Atlanta the team's next step would involve getting rabbits pregnant through IVF treatment. The technique would then be used on larger animals.

Other research projects in the past have carried out similar experiments on pigs, goats, sheep and monkeys but there is a big difference between demonstrating effectiveness in a rabbit and being able to do this in a larger animal or a human

Tony Rutherford, British Fertility Society
A human transplant has also been tried once before - in Saudi Arabia in 2000 - but the womb came from a live donor, and was rejected after three months. Mr Smith suggested it may have failed because surgeons had not worked out how to connect the blood vessels properly.

The UK study involved transplanting the womb with all its arteries, veins and bigger vessels. "I think there are certain technical issues to be ironed out but I think the crux of how to carry out a successful graft that's properly vascularised - I think we have cracked that one."

A transplanted womb would only stay in place long enough for a woman to have the children she wanted and any baby would have to be delivered by Caesarean section as a transplanted human womb is unlikely to be able to withstand natural labour.

Conception would also need to be through IVF because women with a transplanted womb could be at higher risk of ectopic pregnancy.

Mr Smith acknowledged the procedures were seen as "a step too far in terms of fertility management" among the medical profession but said interest from patients was huge.

Tony Rutherford, chairman of the British Fertility Society, said: "I think there is a big difference between demonstrating effectiveness in a rabbit and being able to do this in a larger animal or a human..."

Clare Lewis-Jones, from Infertility Network UK, said "a great deal of thought and discussion" was needed on the issue including the ethical ramifications.

NASA: ARES 1-X in High Bay 3 of VAB = Fab!

Platforms surround the Ares I-X in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building before it was moved to the launch pad on Oct. 20, 2009. Closer in height to the hulking Saturn V moon rockets than the space shuttle, Ares I-X looks unlike any rocket that's ever stood at Launch Complex 39. But it blends familiar hardware from existing programs with newly developed components.

Four first-stage, solid-fuel booster segments are derived from the Space Shuttle Program. A simulated fifth booster segment contains Atlas-V-based avionics, and the rocket's roll control system comes from the Peacekeeper missile. The launch abort system, simulated crew and service modules, upper stage, and various connecting structures all are original.

Image Credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller

Moon: Tunnels on Moon - Entrance found

A deep hole on the moon that could open into a vast underground tunnel has been found for the first time. The discovery strengthens evidence for subsurface, lava-carved channels that could shield future human colonists from space radiation and other hazards.

The moon seems to possess long, winding tunnels called lava tubes that are similar to structures seen on Earth. They are created when the top of a stream of molten rock solidifies and the lava inside drains away, leaving a hollow tube of rock.

Their existence on the moon is hinted at based on observations of sinuous rilles – long, winding depressions carved into the lunar surface by the flow of lava. Some sections of the rilles have collapsed, suggesting that hollow lava tubes hide beneath at least some of the rilles.

But until now, no one has found an opening into what appears to be an intact tube. "There's sort of a chicken-and-egg problem," says Carolyn van der Bogert of the University of Münster in Germany. "If it's intact, you can't see it."

Finding a hole in a rille could suggest that an intact tube lies beneath. So van der Bogert and others, led by Junichi Haruyama of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, searched for these 'skylights' in images taken by Japan's Kaguya spacecraft, which orbited the moon for almost two years before ending its mission in June.

Deep cave
The team found the first candidate skylight in a volcanic area on the moon's near side called Marius Hills. "This is the first time that anybody's actually identified a skylight in a possible lava tube" on the moon, van der Bogert told New Scientist.

The hole measures 65 metres across, and based on images taken at a variety of sun angles, the the hole is thought to extend down at least 80 metres. It sits in the middle of a rille, suggesting the hole leads into a lava tube as wide as 370 metres across.

It is not clear exactly how the hole formed. A meteorite impact, moonquakes, or pressure created by gravitational tugs from the Earth could be to blame. Alternatively, part of the lava tube's ceiling could have been pulled off as lava in the tube drained away billions of years ago.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

H5N1: Bird Flu, Sexually Transmitted Disease - in Ducks

Bird flu may be a sexually transmitted infection – at least in ducks. That's the suggestion of an analysis of flu prevalence and mating behaviour that also proposes an easy way to spot duck populations most at risk of harbouring avian flu.

Surprisingly, the more rampant the sex a particular duck species indulges in, the lower the chance of spreading the virus. It's all to do with penis size and the complexity of the females' vagina.

Lethal strains of avian flu virus can evolve from harmless versions and then jump to other species, so it is important to also monitor less dangerous strains in wild birds. Ducks are the main wild hosts of bird flu, but surveillance is difficult without easy markers of infection risk.

Now Gergely Hegyi at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, and colleagues think they may have found just such a marker: the "covert" wing patches that ducks display during mating. This finding builds on the previous work by the team, in which they found that species with large penises tend to have smaller wing patches, which are also more likely to be a single colour.

Sexual arms race
Most ducks form monogamous pairs but the males also often force sex on females because, unlike most birds, they have a phallus. This has led to an evolutionary "arms race" between the sexes, with males evolving longer penises the better to inseminate the female, and females responding by evolving more complex vaginal anatomy to make insemination by unwelcome partners less likely.

When the researchers compared data on the prevalence of low-pathogenic bird flu strains in different duck species with what is known about the anatomy of duck reproductive parts and mating behaviour, they found that ducks with the smallest penises and tamest sex lives had the highest flu levels.

"This is intriguing and a bit counter-intuitive because a long phallus prolongs copulation, and forced copulations characteristic to species with a large phallus should further promote virus transfer," says Hegyi.

The explanation may lie in the counter-adaptation of the female ducks. "Long and elaborate vaginas may hinder unwanted fertilisation but may also make it difficult for viruses acquired during copulation to reach the site of egg formation," Hegyi says.

Infection peak
This idea might help to explain why infections often peak during the breeding season. The researchers think that mating may spread flu by pushing water contaminated with the virus onto developing eggs and so infect chicks before or during hatching – and that this will happen more readily in ducks with less complex vaginas.

Bird flu specialist John McCauley at the National Institute for Medical Research in London says that the idea of sexual flu transmission and its dependence on reproductive anatomy and copulation habits is interesting. "It's quite feasible that they are right, but it will be important to make sure that the epidemiological evidence is robust and not biased by differences in sampling methods."

Because duck species with small penises have larger and more colourful wing patches, Hegyi hopes that confirmation of the link between sex and flu might help to identify which wild populations are most likely to spread bird flu. Monitoring effort can then be concentrated on these populations.

In addition, recognition of sexual transmission "may require different biosafety measures in captive birds than those currently implemented," he says.

Journal reference: Behavioral Ecology, DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arp133

NASA: Search for Alien Life Continues - Under the Laser Microscope

MICROSCOPES revolutionised the study of life on Earth. Now a rugged, easy-to-use instrument is aiming to be equally influential in the search for alien life in locations such as the oceans beneath the icy surface of Jupiter's moon Europa.

The hunt for signs of extraterrestrial life usually focuses on detecting molecules associated with living organisms. Direct observation through optical imaging would be more conclusive, so Hans Kreuzer and Manfred Jericho at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and their colleagues have taken a different approach. They have built a robust microscope that can be dunked into water to detect any microscopic life forms that may be swimming or floating there.

Called the digital inline holographic microscope, it consists of a pair of watertight compartments separated by a chamber into which water can flow. One compartment contains a blue laser that is focused onto a pinhole-sized window facing into the water. Opposite the pinhole, in the second compartment, is a digital camera.

As the laser light hits the pinhole, it generates a spherical light wave that spreads out through the water. If it hits a microscopic object - a bacterium, say - further diffraction occurs. The spherical wave and the diffraction pattern created by the microscopic object interfere to create a pattern that is captured by the camera. This interference pattern is essentially a hologram of whatever is in front of the pinhole.

Kreuzer has patented an algorithm that can reconstruct the objects that created the interference pattern within milliseconds. In this way the camera can produce real-time images of any object in the water if they are larger than about 100 nanometres across.

To test the instrument, the team took it to the extreme environment of Axel Heiberg island in the Arctic, where a robotic vessel immersed it in a lake (Planetary and Space Science, DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2009.07.012). "We saw all sorts of critters we didn't know were there," says team member Jay Nadeau of McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Nadeau says that the rugged, lightweight device can be easily transported, and does not require constant intervention to obtain clear images. It has a wide angle of view and a large depth of field, which together allow it to follow objects as they float in the 7-cubic-millimetre chamber in front of the pinhole. "You can be absolutely certain if something is alive and swimming," says Nadeau.

Chris McKay of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, who worked on the Phoenix mission to Mars, is intrigued by the work. "While I would not argue that a microscope is the next instrument to send to Mars or Europa, it is clear that eventually we must send microscopes," he says. "The design here is pretty clever and well suited for a flight instrument."

Fungal Disease in Frogs causing electrolyte imbalance

The fungus now decimating frog populations around the world does its damage by impairing the animals' ability to absorb electrolytes through their skin. This discovery may eventually lead to treatments that make the disease less lethal.

Biologists now generally agree that the fungal disease known as chytridiomycosis is responsible for the worldwide die-off of frogs that has caused a conservation crisis in recent years. However, the fungus affects only the outer layers of the skin, leaving few clues to why it is so lethal.

But now Jamie Voyles of James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, and colleagues have an answer. In diseased frogs, the skin's ability to take up sodium and potassium ions from the water decreases by more than 50 per cent, they found. As a result, the concentration of these two ions in the frogs' blood fell by 20 and 50 per cent, respectively. This ion loss – similar to the hyponatraemia that a human athlete might experience from drinking too much water too fast – eventually leads to cardiac arrest and death.

The researchers found they could delay death by giving diseased frogs an oral electrolyte-replacement solution – a sort of froggy Gatorade. Fungal damage to the skin was too extensive for this to prevent death altogether, the study represents a first step toward finding an effective treatment for the disease, Voyles says.

The Story of Mars Missions in our lifetime

Dyslexia Untied - Overcoming the Problems

This picture shows 4 perfectly round circles but they sometimes appear to be connected and form a spiral and sometimes they seem to be interlinked.

Dyslexia is not an optical illusion but it may be related. The way in which our eyes are deceived in this picture is similar to the way dyslexics see words on a page, they appear to move around.

Dyslexia is a real problem, especially in developing children and it becomes a severe handicap in young adults but there is a reason for it and there is help available.

There is a way of understanding what the child or adult is going through and how they are experiencing the world.

People who are dyslexic have a strong sense of visualisation, it is how they see the world and there is an excellent and succesful method of understanding their visions, engaging better control over their images and finally overcoming Dyslexia.

You cannot cure Dyslexia because it is not a disease. You cannot repair the faulty genes because it is not a genetic disorder. Dyslexia is a heightened sense of visualisation that should be a gift but it has become a burden because it is not understood, accepted or addressed, until now.

I have seen living proof that this approach works, in an amazingly short period of time. After years of failed attempts by the established methods, an 8 year old dyslexic boy was reading and spelling forwards and backwards in 2 different languages within 1 hour of meeting Olive Hickmott. He was not only won over to this way of learning but he was so motivated that his parents have trouble keeping him in books.

The key to it is knowing that Dyslexics are able to capture a word in a complete image not as a series of letters, which means that they do not care what language it is or in what order you want the letters, they can deliver it, easily and rapidly. Positive re-enforcement does the rest.

Once the Dyslexic overcomes the barriers that society have put in their way they become like sponges that can absorb and recall words, facts and data at a remarkable rate. The sooner they get the chance, the sooner they can get going. All you have to do is introduce them to this approach and to Olive Hickmott, they will do the rest.

Don't take my word for it. Ask Olive to put you in touch with other concerned parents who have endured hours of stress and worry trying to 'normalise' their child's life, people like yourself who have spent a fortune on gadgets and devices that don't help. Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised. Let them tell you about their experiences and then you can decide for yourself.

If you want to know more click on the picture or this link. You will be glad you did..........

Restore Energy using Empowering Learning - EnergeticNLP

Click on the Picture to learn more......

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Healthy Foods That May Help Fight Against Prostate Cancer

Are we wholly convinced that eating a healthy diet helps protect us from all sorts of ailments, or are we only half convinced?
Some of us think that green apples are better for us and some prefer red but most of the time we are just looking at the skin. The real nutritional value is on the inside. Let's look deeper.
Some foods are healthier than others and some may even help protect you from, or reduce the risk of, developing chronic conditions e.g. cancer, primarily bowel and intestinal cancers.
However, knowing exactly which foods are beneficial and which ones are harmful can help to shape a diet to achieve its maximum health potential.
Prostrate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and although not every man dies of prostrate cancer, a very large proportion of elderly men do develop it, late in life. Even men who die of heart conditions, and other chronic diseases will also have a certain level of prostrate cancer.
So, let us take a good hard look at foods that may help protect you against prostate cancer or at least reduce the risk of developing it, until very late in life. Here are a few.

1. Tomatoes

The Active ingredient(s) we like here is; Lycopene, an antioxidant

Lycopene is an antioxidant compound, a carotenoid, which gives tomatoes their red colouring. It is also one of the most widely studied anti-cancer agents. A 2004 review of all the studies to date on tomatoes found a slight reduction in the risk of developing prostate cancer in men with high blood levels of lycopene or with diets rich in tomatoes. In 2007, however, the largest study of its kind disputed these results.

Fortunately, further studies of greater quality are currently underway that will hopefully clarify the situation. Whilst waiting on those results, it is well to note that tomatoes are still chock-full of other beneficial vitamins and antioxidants and, therefore, this little red fruit should be a part of any healthy diet.

How best to prepare them? When it comes to tomatoes, the general rule of thumb is to add heat and low cholesterol fats, whenever possible. The more processed the tomatoes and the longer you cook them, the more lycopene is released. Adding fat in the way of oils or meats will also improve lycopene absorption. So, a long slow cook that produces a delicious pasta sauce, is just what the doctors order.

2. Broccoli

The Active ingredient(s) here is; Sulforaphane, among others

You should always eat your broccoli. In fact, all cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts, appear to offer good anti-cancer benefits. Although it’s still not clear which of the many beneficial chemicals or compounds found in broccoli is most responsible for protecting your health, sulforaphane has been the most widely investigated.

Just how does it prevent cancer? Well, sulforaphane might act as an antioxidant itself or it may instead boost detoxifying enzymes in the body. Regardless of how broccoli helps, it’s clear that it is a potent anti-prostate cancer vegetable. Some experts even suggest that it’s one of the strongest anti-cancer fighters we have. The Chinese are certainly big fans.

How best should you prepare it? When it comes to the method of preparing your broccoli, there is no clear-cut champion, so try to mix things up each time you dine. Eat it raw sometimes, steamed others, and if you boil it, try not to overcook it. Mixing it with other anti-prostate cancer foods such as tomatoes may even enhance anti-cancer effects according to one study done on mice.

3. Soy

The Active ingredient(s) here is; Isoflavones, such as genistein, daidzein and glycitein

Soy refers to the soybean, a high-protein legume that comes in many consumer-friendly forms including soy milk, tofu and protein powder. Soy is promoted for its protective properties against many cancers, among them prostate cancer. The effects of soy are thought to be due to isoflavones, compounds that are sometimes called plant estrogens because they mimic the actions of human estrogen, but in plants.

A number of laboratory, animal and population-based studies have shown soy to be an anti-prostate cancer food. However, these results still need to be confirmed in clinical trials. Even without those results, simply using soy as a replacement for meat or dairy may be beneficial on its own, since diets high in meats and dairy tend to increase the risk of certain cancers.

How best should you prepare it? The amount of isoflavone varies by type of soy product and there is generally no rule to help you pick one product over another. Until there is, just keep meals varied and opt for soy products instead of meats and dairy from time to time.

4. Flax

The Active ingredient(s) here is; Lignans, and alpha linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid)

Flax is an annual plant used in making the fabric known as linen. Although flaxseed is high in omega-3, it is also rich in lignans, a class of phytoestrogen that may act as an antioxidant. Both flaxseed and its oil have been promoted as anti-cancer substances since the early 1950s, but only recently has any solid evidence emerged.
Unfortunately, only a handful of small studies have investigated the link between flax and prostate cancer in humans, but the results all look promising. Of course, further studies will be needed to definitively close the chapter on flax and cancer, but that shouldn’t keep you from getting your flax fix.

How best should you prepare it? As far as versatility is concerned, flaxseed is certainly the most flexible of the anti-prostate cancer foods. Flaxseed is available in flour, meal and seed form and can be found in multigrain breads, cereals, breakfast bars, and even muffins. Flaxseed oil can also be found in pure liquid form or as capsules.

You Are What You Eat
Rigorous research takes time, money and effort, unfortunately, one, if not two, may be lacking. There are simply so many foods and supplements available that researching them all is not only impractical, but likely impossible.
Having said that, the key to preventing prostate cancer via diet is to eat a well-balanced meal, including all of the above foods, along with a hearty serving of other fruits and vegetables. You can dabble in meats and dairy, but if possible, keep your dabbling to a minimum.

ESA: New Online Brochure - Space: A Key Asset for Europe

ESA's new online Brochure available - Click Here to see it .....

ESA: SMOS and Proba-2 satellites

As preparations for the launch of SMOS and Proba-2 continue on schedule, the engineers and technicians at the Russian launch site say goodbye as both satellites are encapsulated within the half-shells of the Rockot fairing.

Volker Liebig, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, said, “Today, with the encapsulation of the SMOS satellite in the launcher fairing, we have made an important step towards the launch of this key environmental mission, which will investigate two parameters of the complex climate system. I am looking forward to the launch in a few days!”

Proba-2 encapsulated by SMOS launch adapter

The small Proba-2 satellite had already been mated to the Breeze-KM, which is the upper stage of the Russian Rockot, and sealed from view by the SMOS launch adapter above. In launch configuration, Proba-2 sits underneath the SMOS satellite, for injection into orbit after SMOS.

Proba-2 is the second in ESA’s Project for Onboard Autonomy series. Although it is less than a cubic metre, incorporates a total of 17 technology developments and four scientific experiments that focus on solar and space weather.

Michel Courtois, ESA's Director of Technical and Quality Managment, said, "The encapsulation of the Proba-2 satellite was an emotional moment for the project team in Plesetsk. After five years of hard work, our satellite is one step closer to launch, ready to show the importance of in-orbit demonstration of new technologies."

NASA: Where will the adventure take us next?

This is a big month for NASA. The Augustine committee, appointed by the White House to review NASA's human space flight programme, is set to release its final report on Thursday.

The panel has created a menu of five plans for the space agency. It has given each 12 scores in various categories (PDF), including science benefits, safety, benefit to the US workforce and schedule.

The committee says it will not assign single overall scores to the options in its final report, so New Scientist has ranked the five plans by adding up the category scores that have been read out by the committee in public meetings. These scores are on a scale of -2 to 2.

So in ascending order, here are the results – and the main pros and cons.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NASA: ARES V Rocket Primary Cargo Vessel

Planning and early design are under way for hardware, propulsion systems and associated technologies for NASA's Ares V cargo launch vehicle -- the "heavy lifter" of America's next-generation space fleet.
Ares V will serve as NASA's primary vessel for safe, reliable delivery of large-scale hardware to space -- from the lunar landing craft and materials for establishing a moon base, to food, fresh water and other staples needed to extend a human presence beyond Earth orbit.

Under the goals of NASA's exploration mission, Ares V is a vital part of the cost-effective space transportation infrastructure being developed by NASA's Constellation Program to carry human explorers back to the moon, and then onward to Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

The Ares V effort includes multiple hardware and propulsion element teams at NASA centers and contractor organizations around the nation, and is led by the Ares Projects Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. These teams rely on nearly a half century of NASA spaceflight experience and aerospace technology advances. Together, they are developing new vehicle hardware and flight systems and maturing technologies evolved from powerful, proven Saturn rocket and space shuttle propulsion elements and knowledge.

The versatile, heavy-lifting Ares V is a two-stage, vertically stacked launch vehicle. It can carry nearly 414,000 pounds (188 metric tons) to low-Earth orbit. When working together with the Ares I crew launch vehicle to launch payloads into Earth orbit, Ares V can send nearly 157,000 pounds (71 metric tons) to the moon.

For its initial insertion into Earth orbit, the Ares V first stage relies on two five-and-a-half-segment reusable solid rocket boosters. These are derived from the space shuttle solid rocket boosters and are similar to the single booster that serves as the first stage for the cargo vehicle's sister craft, the Ares I crew launch vehicle. This hardware commonality makes operations more cost effective by using the same manufacturing facilities for both the crew and cargo vehicles.

NASA: ARES 1 Rocket en route to Launch Pad

Talk about pressure. As the troubled successor to NASA's space shuttle powers up for its first flight test, a White House panel is weighing up whether to cancel the project.

The Ares I rocket is designed to carry a crew capsule called Orion to Earth orbit, where it could dock with the International Space Station or form part of a mission to the moon. But it has been plagued with budget problems and technical hitches.

On 27 October – or a few days later, depending on how preparations go – NASA is expected to launch the first Ares I test flight. A solid-fuel rocket like those used on the space shuttle will boost a dummy second stage and crew capsule to an altitude of about 45 kilometres. The flight will determine the rocket's stability and test its flight-control software.

The stakes are high. A White House panel has been considering cancelling Ares I in favour of a commercial launcher. Its final report is expected this week.

Mark Lewis, former chief scientist for the US air force and president-elect of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, recognises that policy-makers will be watching the outcome closely, but warns against overreacting to any technical problems that emerge during the test.

"If they have any sort of glitch and someone says, 'Oh, we have to cancel the programme now,' they've completely missed the point," he says. "There are always things you learn in flight that you missed or you didn't properly simulate."

ESA: Rosetta the Comet Chaser

Artist view of ESA's Rosetta cometary probe. The spacecraft is covered with dark thermal insulation in order to keep its warmth while venturing into the coldness of the outer Solar System, beyond Mars orbit.
Selected in November 1993 as a cornerstone mission of ESA's long-term science programme, the Rosetta probe was launched by an Ariane 5 on 2 March 2004, on an 11-year journey to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Built by EADS Astrium, the Rosetta probe consists of a 3,065-kg spacecraft (1,578-kg dry mass) designed to enter orbit around the comet's nucleus in August 2014 after a series of gravity assist manoeuvres to gain enough orbital energy, with three swing-bys at Earth (March 2005, November 2007 and November 2009) and one at Mars (February 2007). En route to the comet, the probe will flyby the asteroids 2867 Steins (September 2008) and 21 Lutetia (July 2010).

The spacecraft carries 11 science instruments to probe the comet's nucleus and map its surface in fine detail. It will also land a package of instruments (the Philae Lander) to study some of the most primitive, unprocessed material in the Solar System. The mission will provide clues to the physical and chemical processes at work during the formation of planets, beginning 4.6 billion years ago.

Credits: ESA, image by AOES Medialab

ESA Mars Mission study in Moscow facility

The Mars500 study takes place in a special isolation facility at the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow.
The purpose of the Mars500 study is to gather data, knowledge and experience to help prepare for a real mission to Mars one day.
The participants are subjects in scientific investigations to assess the effect that isolation has on various psychological and physiological aspects, such as stress, hormone regulation and immunity, sleep quality, mood and the effectiveness of dietary supplements.

Credits: ESA

ESA Looking for Volunteers to go on Mars Mission

Reason - to investigate the human factors of such a mission. ESA has teamed up with the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) and will send a joint crew of six on a 520-day simulated mission to Mars.

The simulation follows the mission profile of a real Mars mission, including an exploration phase on the surface of Mars. Nutrition will be identical to that provided on board the International Space Station.

The simulations will take place here on Earth inside a special facility in Moscow. A precursor 105-day study is scheduled to early 2009, possibly followed by another 105-day study, before the full 520-day study begins late 2009.

The crew will have to take care of themselves for almost two years during the roundtrip. Their survival is in their own hands, relying on the work of thousands of engineers and scientists back on Earth, who made such a mission possible.

They will experience extreme isolation and confinement. They will lose sight of planet Earth. A radio contact will take 40 minutes to travel to us and then back to the space explorers.

A human mission to Mars is a bold vision for the time beyond the International Space Station. However, preparations have already started today. They are geared and committed to one goal: to send humans on an exploration mission to Mars, individuals who will live and work together in a spaceship for over 500 days.

Credits: ESA - S. Corvaja

Ultra Thin Flexible Solar Panels

There's no doubt solar energy is a compelling alternative to fossil fuels, but implementing it has traditionally meant installing the standard, costly and ungainly solar panel.

SRS Energy's dual-purpose roof tiles offer one way to get around that requirement; now another comes in the form of thin, flexible solar sheets that can be integrated with architectural building materials.
Iowa-based PowerFilm makes low-cost foldable and rollable solar panels in which the solar technology is monolithically integrated in a polyimide substrate that's flexible and durable, yet as thin as 0.025mm. With an absorber layer made of amorphous silicon, PowerFilm solar panels use as little as 1 percent of the amount of silicon used in traditional solar panels; they're also cadmium-free.

Since 2005 the company has been using its technology to manufacture solar field shelter tarps for military applications, and now it's developed the ability to combine it with standard building materials as well. Standing seam metal roofing, single-ply elastomeric membrane roofing and architectural fabric can all be combined with PowerFilm's flexible paneling for a variety of low-cost, building-integrated solar applications.

In such uses, the electricity generated by the solar panels is stored in local batteries and converted to 110 AC for general wall outlet use or—in some cases—used directly for low-voltage lighting systems. The buildings can be either off-grid or grid-connected. PowerFilm recently completed a 10-kilowatt demonstration and evaluation project on metal roofing, and is now in the final stages of developing the technology.

PowerFilm also makes a variety of portable solar chargers—one of which won second place in the Mobile CE Fashion & Lifestyle Products competition at CTIA Wireless 2009—and it manufactures for OEM and custom orders as well. The lightweight and durable nature of its thin paneling, meanwhile, seems eminently suitable for use in the developing world. One to get in on early for the application of your choice...?

India: Nano Auto Technology

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Turmeric: The Indian Spice of Life

Rates of Alzheimer's in India are about four times lower than in the USA and studies suggest that Indian curry contains a powerful substance that might protect the brain from damage that leads to Alzheimer's. The growing file on the benefits of eating curry, includes compelling evidence gleaned from animal and human studies.

The findings from Western science are becoming more aligned with what traditional Indian healers have long said about turmeric. They call it the "spice of life".

For centuries, doctors trained in Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional medical system in India, have turned to turmeric to treat inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. In the USA, many people with arthritis take over-the-counter supplements that contain curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric.

Ina scientific study, rats that were bred to develop rheumatoid arthritis, were given injections of turmeric. The turmeric almost completely prevented the onset of arthritis. The spice also seemed to help stop joint destruction in rats that had already started to develop the disease.

Curry also may offer some protection against cancer. Indians eat from 100 to 200 milligrams of curry every day, and US cancer experts think that that might be enough to prevent cancer.

The curcumin in curry seems to shut down genes that trigger the development and the spread of breast cancer, animal studies in suggest and a preliminary human study suggests curcumin supplements might — in a handful of cases — be able to stabilise pancreatic cancer.

Epidemiology studies in humans also have linked frequent use of turmeric spice to lower rates of breast, prostate and colon cancer but more extensive clinical studies still need to be carried out.

Goddard's LVIS (Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor) instrumentation

Goddard's LVIS (Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor) instrumentation ready to load into the DC-8 at Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility.

Global Warming in the Maldives

In the Maldives, ministers in scuba gear met on the sea bed to draw attention to the dangers of global warming for the island nation.

Los Angeles Marijuana Stores come under increased scrutiny

There are more marijuana stores here than public schools. Signs emblazoned with cannabis plants or green crosses sit next to dry cleaners, gas stations and restaurants.

The dispensaries range from Hollywood-day-spa fabulous to shoddy-looking storefronts with hand-painted billboards. Absolute Herbal Pain Solutions, Grateful Meds, Farmacopeia Organica.

Cannabis advocates claim that more than 800 dispensaries have sprouted here since 2002; some law enforcement officials say it is closer to 1,000. Whatever the real number, everyone agrees it is too high.

And so this, too, is taken for granted: Crackdowns on cannabis clubs will soon come in this city, which has more dispensaries than any other.

For the first time, law enforcement officials in Los Angeles have vowed to prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries that turn a profit, with police officials saying they expect to conduct raids. Their efforts are widely seen as a campaign to sway the City Council into adopting strict regulations after two years of debate.

It appears to be working. Carmen A. Trutanich, the newly elected city attorney, recently persuaded the Council to put aside a proposed ordinance negotiated with medical marijuana supporters for one drafted by his office. The new proposal calls for dispensaries to have renewable permits, submit to criminal record checks, register the names of members with the police and operate on a nonprofit basis. If enacted, it is likely to result in the closing of hundreds of marijuana dispensaries.

Mr. Trutanich argued that state law permits the exchange of marijuana between growers and patients on a nonprofit and noncash basis only. Marijuana advocates say that interpretation would regulate dispensaries out of existence and thwart the will of voters who approved medical cannabis in 1996.

Whatever happens here will be closely watched by law enforcement officials and marijuana advocates across the country who are threading their way through federal laws that still treat marijuana as an illegal drug and state laws that are increasingly allowing medicinal use. Thirteen states have laws supporting medical marijuana, and others are considering new legislation.

Iran Grant Foreign Newsweek Reporter on $300,000 Bail

Iran has finally released a foreign Newsweek reporter on bail Saturday almost four months, after he was arrested following the country's disputed presidential election. Embattled opposition leaders promised to press on with their campaign against the country's oppressive rulers.

Maziar Bahari, a dual Iranian-Canadian citizen who was released after posting bail of 3 billion rials ($300,000), is among more than 100 prisoners put on mass show trial as part of the government's attempts to silence opposition protests that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's June 12 re-election was completely fraudulent.

The government also waged a bloody crackdown using their iron-fisted security forces. Iran's opposition leaders said Friday that the use of force will not silence their demands for democratic change.

The defiant statement by opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and former reformist President Mohammad Khatami sent a message to their supporters that the protest campaign still had energy even if public and street demonstrations have been repressed.

'The use of force and pressure won't force the Iranian nation to deviate one iota from the path it has chosen,' said a statement posted on Khatami's Web site. 'And those loyal to ... Iran won't give up their ... patriotic responsibilities despite all problems, oppression and threats.'

Since the violent post-election crackdown, the opposition has been struggling to reinvigorate itself, whilst Iran's government, under Ahmadinejad, cements its control.

A key part of the government's strategy has been the mass trial of reformist political figures accused of supporting the post-election unrest and seeking to topple the ruling system through a ''velvet revolution.'' The trial has so far produced three death sentences.

The opposition has called the trial a ''ridiculous show'' and has said that confessions by defendants, including Bahari, were obtained under duress.

In his turn at the stand, Bahari said Western media had attempted to guide events in Iran following the election and he sought mercy from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Bahari's family and colleagues said his comments likely came under duress. Like other defendants, he has had no access to a lawyer and no specific charges have been announced against him.

Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Bahari's release, citing the Tehran prosecutor's office. The report did not give a reason for the release, but Bahari's wife in London, who is having a difficult pregnancy and is expected to give birth at the end of October, has pleaded for his freedom.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon also made a joint call in September for Iran to free Bahari, who was arrested on June 21.

On Saturday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon welcomed Bahari's release.

Friday, October 16, 2009

India Demonstrates it's Anti-terrorist martial art skills

India fights back: Anti-terrorist commandos display their martial art skills in India.

India gets tough on terrorists and fairly tough on it's recruits too.

Click here to see more of their tactics....

Monserrat Volcano activity shown from ISS Astronauts viewpoint

Image above: This picture of the active Soufriere Hills volcano on Montserrat Island was photographed on Oct. 11, 2009 by the Expedition 21 crew members onboard the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA

The Expedition 21 crew focused Thursday on science and maintenance as the latest unpiloted Russian cargo craft makes its way to the International Space Station.