By M. FarbmanPosted 02.26.2009 at 10:47 am 1 Comment
Cemeteries take up space (and only occasionally allow solar panels on graves). Cremations release emissions. But, just like yummy bits of fruit, bodies also can be freeze-dried. Then dipped in liquid nitrogen, resulting in "an organic, odourless, hygienic powder." A Scottish region is investigating this possibility out of fears that it will run out of burial space in the next few decades.
Also in today's links: Jindal, unexplored jungles, unexplored high-def disc formats and more.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, designed to preserve the world's crops, turns one year old today
By Susannah F. LockePosted 02.26.2009 at 5:44 am 0 Comments
What do you get a seed bank for its birthday? More seeds, of course.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault celebrates its first birthday today with the addition of 90,000 seed samples. The vault serves as a heavy-duty backup for gene banks around the world, which strive to save humanity (and our food supply) from the scourges of monoculture and environmental catastrophes.
Researchers at North Carolina State University have found a surprising potential weapon against the conjectural "biological terrorism" of the imminent future. Sorry, what's that? We have self-inflicted domestic dangers on our hands that are more real and pressing than... terrorism? How things change. In any case, if suspicious white powders do happen to show up in your mailbox, you'll be prepared to defend yourself against them. It'll be as simple as crushing a pill and stirring it up in yogurt. Just like Mom used to make. Or something like that.
Ever since the fish's discovery in 1939, scientists have believed that the tube-shaped eyes of Macropinna microstoma, commonly called the "barreleye," were fixed in place, limiting its vision to whatever was directly overhead. Recent research from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) proves this theory wrong: in reality, this crazy fish can rotate its eyes from an overhead view, which helps it locate prey swimming above, to the front of its face. This helps explain how the fish is able to actually capture the prey with its tiny mouth.
Now that's a neat little trick. Once again that characteristically Japanese sense of humor gives us an opportunity to glimpse some interesting physics in an entertaining venue. Of course we aren't too surprised to see a water skier plane over the water, or to see a rock skipping esthetically across a placid pond. However, a water slide entry propelling someone into an "unaided" skid across a swimming pool seems a more rare and special event -- even though the physical principles are the same.
By M. FarbmanPosted 02.25.2009 at 11:18 am 0 Comments
As nanotechnology continues on its journey toward world domination (or at least linguistic overuse), it's time to stop for dinner. Techniques for creating low fat "nanofoods" sound only mildly less gross than currently used products like guar gum. And how's this for reassuring? "Some nanofood products, like nanosalt, are probably safe."
Also in today's links, nurses called "Doctor," researchers called frauds, and more.
Microsaccades are tiny involuntary eye movements that are instrumental in vision, because they prevent the fading of stationary objects from the visual field. Without the tiny movements, objects could become invisible to the retina. Researchers at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix previously showed that these eye movements occur when the gaze is fixed on a specific point, like a dot or a cross projected on a screen. But it was unproven whether or not these findings could be generalized to more complicated, natural visual tasks, like freely looking at objects in a scene, or picking a face out of a crowd.
There's no denying that Google Earth has changed the way we view our planet's landscape. With a click of your mouse, you can "fly" around your own neighborhood, zooming in from space to street level. Curious about volcanoes? Dart over to the east coast of the Big Island of Hawaii and at times you can actually see the steam where lava enters the ocean. You can even explore the whitewater rapids on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.
But it was Google Earth's "Ocean" layer that recently caused quite a stir among 3D geeks.
Even the worst economy in decades can’t suppress the human urge to build. Today’s most ambitious projects are bigger and wilder than ever!
By Rena Marie Pacella Posted 02.24.2009 at 4:55 pm 3 Comments
Name: Perdido Spar
Where: Gulf of Mexico
Estimated Completion: First oil, 2010; all wells online, 2016
The Challenge: Moor a skyscraper-size floating rig to the seafloor, then drill the world's deepest subsea well
Two hundred miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas, below 10,000 feet of water and another 9,000 feet of mud, salt and rock, lies Shell Oil's most ambitious new target, a swath of seabed the size of Houston that holds enough oil and natural gas to produce up to 130,000 barrels a day.