The large leviathan that was the bane of Ahab's existence in Herman Melville's Moby Dick has a new ancient relative that might have lived up to the fictional beast's monstrosity . [More]
Editor's Note: Marine biologist William Gilly is on an expedition to study Humboldt squid on the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System research vessel New Horizon in the Gulf of California. He and other scientists are learning about the giant squid, their biology and ecology on this National Science Foundation-funded expedition. This is his seventh blog post about the trip. [More]
By Melissa Gaskill
Far from the tar-coated beaches and clean-up crews seen on nightly news programs, the Deepwater Horizon disaster is exacting an ongoing and largely unknown toll. [More]
The campaign to conserve electricity in the home needs to pay more attention to consumers and not just fix on the gee-whiz technology of smart meters , a leading energy conservation advocacy organization says.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released a report yesterday summarizing 57 pilot tests of household energy conservation strategies in this country and abroad, finding that annual electricity savings ranged from 4 to 12 percent.[More]
LINDAU, Germany--Quick: What do MRI machines, rockets, fiber optics, LCDs, food production and welding have in common?
They all require the inert, or noble, gas helium for their use or at some stage of their production. And that helium essentially could be gone in less than three decades, Robert C. Richardson, winner, along with Douglas Osheroff and David Lee, of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physics, said at the 60th annual Nobel Laureate Lectures at Lindau today. “Once it is released into the atmosphere, say, in the form of party balloons, it is lost to the Earth forever--it is lost to the Earth forever ,” he added.[More]
It’s a plotline worthy of an action film--galaxies, violently torn apart, smashing into one another, leaving remnants of themselves behind billions of years later. That’s the scene that accounts for some of the oldest stars in our own Milky Way galaxy, according to work published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. [Andrew Cooper et al., http://bit.ly/9hMtBZ ]
Researchers ran a huge computer simulation of the evolution of the universe starting shortly after the big bang, more than 13 billion years ago. It’s the most detailed model ever produced, and allowed a close examination of the make-up of the Milky Way’s stellar halo. The stellar halo is debris that surrounds our familiar white swirl of stars. The halo is much larger and much older than the Milky Way itself.[More]
In the first-ever global survey of indoor fungi scientists report that geography rather than building design and function has the greatest effect on the fungal species likely to be found indoors. The study suggests that the types of mold and other fungi most likely to be found in a dwelling may be largely unaffected by features like HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) filters and weather stripping.
The results of the study were published online June 28 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .[More]
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Hurricane Alex churned slowly through Gulf waters on Wednesday, growing stronger and likely to come ashore later in the day but sparing Mexican oil rigs and U.S. oil fields to the relief of crude markets.[More]
Watching how black characters are treated on television can affect attitudes about race both consciously and unconsciously, new findings suggest. In a two-part study, researchers at Tufts University examined nonverbal behavior toward characters of different races on television shows, then tested how clips from these shows affected viewers’ prejudices.
First, the team found clips of mixed-race scenes from 11 popular TV shows with prominent black and white characters. In each clip, they blocked out one character to hide his or her race, turned off the sound, then asked volunteers whether the blocked-out character was seen by the other characters in a positive or negative light. The researchers found that in nine of the 11 shows-- Friday Night Lights, CSI, House, CSI: Miami, Scrubs, Greek, Heroes, Reno 911! and Grey’s Anatomy --viewers thought the actors’ body language and facial expressions were less favorable when they were responding to someone who was black. The only two shows without this bias were Bones and Rob and Big .[More]
War of the Machines: A Dramatic Growth in the Military Use of Robots Brings Evolution in Their Conception (preview)
Back in the early 1970s, a handful of scientists, engineers, defense contractors and U.S. Air Force officers got together to form a professional group. They were essentially trying to solve the same problem: how to build machines that can operate on their own without human control and to figure out ways to convince both the public and a reluctant Pentagon brass that robots on the battlefield are a good idea. For decades they met once or twice a year, in relative obscurity, to talk over technical issues, exchange gossip and renew old friendships. This once cozy group, the Association for Unmanned Systems International, now encompasses more than 1,500 member companies and organizations from 55 countries. The growth happened so fast, in fact, that it found itself in something of an identity crisis. At one of its meetings in San Diego, it even hired a “master storyteller” to help the group pull together the narrative of the amazing changes in robotic technology. As one attendee summed up, “Where have we come from? Where are we? And where should we--and where do we want to--go?”
What prompted the group’s soul-searching is one of the most profound changes in modern warfare since the advent of gunpowder or the airplane: an astonishingly rapid rise in the use of robots on the battlefield. Not a single robot accompanied the U.S. advance from Kuwait toward Baghdad in 2003. Since then, 7,000 “unmanned” aircraft and another 12,000 ground vehicles have entered the U.S. military inventory, entrusted with missions that range from seeking out snipers to bombing the hideouts of al-Qaeda higher-ups in Pakistan. The world’s most powerful fighting forces, which once eschewed robots as unbecoming to their warrior culture, have now embraced a war of the machines as a means of combating an irregular enemy that triggers remote explosions with cell phones and then blends back into the crowd. These robotic systems are not only having a big effect on how this new type of warfare is fought, but they also have initiated a set of contentious arguments about the implications of using ever more autonomous and intelligent machines in battle. Moving soldiers out of harm’s way may save lives, but the growing use of robots also raises deep political, legal and ethical questions about the fundamental nature of warfare and whether these technologies could inadvertently make wars easier to start.[More]
Most mammals don't live long past their reproductive years, failing to serve much evolutionary purpose after they can stop passing on their genes to offspring. [More]