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AN ECLECTIC MIX OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, HISTORY AND THE ARTS

                            

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Destino – Dali & Disney

Destino is an animated short film released in 2003 by The Walt Disney Company. Destino is unique in that its production originally began in 1945, 58 years before its eventual completion. The project was a collaboration between American animator Walt Disney and Spanish painter Salvador Dalí.

The music in the video is a Lulu Rouge remix of a song by Nina Simone called “Will He Come”. I consider this to be my personal reinterpretation of the animation. The original soundtrack was composed by Mexican songwriter Armando Dominguez and performed by Dora Luz.

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An electronic revolution in the doctor’s bag

The stethoscope revolutionised the way doctors interacted with their patients and became a symbol of the profession. Now that electronic alternatives are becoming a common sight on the wards, maybe it’s time to update our idea of what a doctor is for?

“Every medical student remembers the day when they bought their first stethoscope,” says Professor of Cardiology Petros Nihoyannopoulos. “They remember the name of the stethoscope, they remember the colour of the stethoscope – and possibly the day when their first stethoscope was stolen and replaced by another one.”

But in Hammersmith Hospital in London, where Dr Nihoyannopoulos works, the noble instrument is under threat from a little white box. Looking like a smartphone circa 2005, the handheld ultrasound scanner is connected by wire to a probe which is laid against a patient’s chest. Flip the lid of the scanner and a black and white image appears on the scanner of the patient’s heart. At the push of a button the patient’s blood flow is highlighted, if all is well, in red and blue. An abnormal flow is painted in lurid yellows and greens.

“Every single consultant and junior doctor is hooked on these devices,” says Nihoyannopoulos. “When one breaks down or goes missing, it’s a disaster – everyone is panicking. It’s like when you lose your stethoscope as a medical student.” Lots more here An electronic revolution in the doctor’s bag.

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Rubidium

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Remarkably slender green vine snake

This remarkably slender green vine snake, Oxybelis fulgidus, is a colubrid from Central America and northern South America. It is mildly venomous and is shown here opening its mouth in threat display. Image: Suhaas Premkumar

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Soyuz gets ready for ISS mission

A police helicopter flies past the Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft is transported to its launch pad at Baikonur cosmodrome

A police helicopter flies past the Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft is transported to its launch pad at Baikonur cosmodrome September 23, 2014. The Soyuz is scheduled to carry Barry Wilmore of the U.S., Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev of Russia to the International Space Station on September 26. Image: REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

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Sleep Drunkenness Explained

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Sandia magnetized fusion technique produces significant results

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine have produced a significant output of fusion neutrons, using a method fully functioning for only little more than a year. The experimental work is described in a paper to be published in the Sept. 24 Physical Review Letters online. A theoretical PRL paper to be published on the same date helps explain why the experimental method worked. The combined work demonstrates the viability of the novel approach.

“We are committed to shaking this [fusion] tree until either we get some good apples or a branch falls down and hits us on the head,” said Sandia senior manager Dan Sinars. He expects the project, dubbed MagLIF for magnetized liner inertial fusion, will be “a key piece of Sandia’s submission for a July 2015 National Nuclear Security Administration review of the national Inertial Confinement Fusion Program.”

Inertial confinement fusion creates nanosecond bursts of neutrons, ideal for creating data to plug into supercomputer codes that test the safety, security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. The method could be useful as an energy source down the road if the individual fusion pulses can be sequenced like an automobile’s cylinders firing. MagLIF uses a laser to preheat hydrogen fuel, a large magnetic field to squeeze the fuel and a separate magnetic field to keep charged atomic particles from leaving the scene.

It only took the two magnetic fields and the laser, focused on a small amount of fusible material called deuterium (hydrogen with a neutron added to its nucleus), to produce a trillion fusion neutrons (neutrons created by the fusing of atomic nuclei). Had tritium (which carries two neutrons) been included in the fuel, scientific rule-of-thumb says that 100 times more fusion neutrons would have been released. (That is, the actual release of 10 to the 12th neutrons would be upgraded, by the more reactive nature of the fuel, to 10 to the 14th neutrons.) Still, even with this larger output, to achieve break-even fusion—as much power out of the fuel as placed into it—100 times more neutrons (10 to the 16th) would have to be produced. More here Sandia magnetized fusion technique produces significant results.

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Genesis Then and Now

A couple of great pics from the mail online‘s interview with Phil Collins today. – Deskarati

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genesis now

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Recommended Blogs – Paul Lay – Tattooed Britannia

As you probably guessed, we read a lot of blogs as we look for interesting articles to recommend to you. So we decided to add a new category of ‘Recommended Blogs’ which we hope you will find interesting. Our first is by Paul Lay over at History Today, Paul is always coming up with unusual and interesting stuff. If you know of any good blogs please let us know. – Deskarati

Joseph Banks, patron of the natural sciences and a president of the Royal Society, did not approve of tattoos. As a young man on Captain Cook’s first great voyage into the Pacific, he was baffled by the sight of the illustrated peoples of Polynesia. Musing on the reasons for their tattoos, he observed in 1769 that:

“possibly superstition may have something to do with it. Nothing else in my opinion could be a sufficient cause for so apparently absurd a custom”.

Though tattoos had an aristocratic moment during the late Victorian and Edwardian periods – Jennie Churchill, Winston’s mother, had a snake etched on her wrist, which she would cover up discreetly with a diamond bracelet – they were long associated in the West with criminals and sailors. At the beginning of the 20th century around 90 per cent of men serving in the Royal Navy were tattooed, usually with symbols that marked – literally – a particular rite of passage: a turtle for having passed the Equator, an anchor for crossing the Atlantic, a dragon symbolising a posting on a China station. One could track the arc of a sailor’s service from his tattoos. Yet outside of ports and prisons the tattoo, in Britain at least, was a rare sighting.

That is not the case today. Walking down any British high street, one is as astonished as Banks would be by the ubiquity of the tattoo, to the point where unblemished skin is more an indicator of eccentricity and rebellion than an elaborately inked limb. But the people of Britannia – the Pretanni, the ‘painted ones’ – are, whether they know it or not, returning to their roots. Marc Morris, the medieval historian, pointed this passage out to me from the 12th-century chronicler, William of Malmesbury, describing the locals on the eve of the Battle of Hastings:

“The English at that time wore short garments, reaching to the mid-knee; they had their hair cropped, their beards shaven, their arms laden with gold bracelets, their skin adorned with tattooed designs. They were accustomed to eat till they became surfeited, and to drink till they were sick.”

‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’, as their conquerors might have said. Catch Paul Lay’s blog over at History Today

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Black holes do not exist!

Black holes have long captured the public imagination and been the subject of popular culture, from Star Trek to Hollywood. They are the ultimate unknown – the blackest and most dense objects in the universe that do not even let light escape. And as if they weren’t bizarre enough to begin with, now add this to the mix: they don’t exist.

By merging two seemingly conflicting theories, Laura Mersini-Houghton, a physics professor at UNC-Chapel Hill in the College of Arts and Sciences, has proven, mathematically, that black holes can never come into being in the first place. The work not only forces scientists to reimagine the fabric of space-time, but also rethink the origins of the universe. “I’m still not over the shock,” said Mersini-Houghton. “We’ve been studying this problem for a more than 50 years and this solution gives us a lot to think about.”…

…In 1974, Stephen Hawking used quantum mechanics to show that black holes emit radiation. Since then, scientists have detected fingerprints in the cosmos that are consistent with this radiation, identifying an ever-increasing list of the universe’s black holes. But now Mersini-Houghton describes an entirely new scenario. She and Hawking both agree that as a star collapses under its own gravity, it produces Hawking radiation. However, in her new work, Mersini-Houghton shows that by giving off this radiation, the star also sheds mass. So much so that as it shrinks it no longer has the density to become a black hole. Before a black hole can form, the dying star swells one last time and then explodes. A singularity never forms and neither does an event horizon. The take home message of her work is clear: there is no such thing as a black hole. Continue reading

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Rosetta: Date fixed for historic comet landing attempt

The date has been fixed for Europe’s daring attempt to land on a comet: Wednesday 12 November. It will see the Rosetta satellite, which is currently orbiting the huge “ice mountain” known as 67P, drop a small robot from a height of 20km. If all goes well, the lander will free-fall towards the comet, making contact with the surface somewhere in a 1km-wide zone at roughly 15:35 GMT.

The European Space Agency (Esa) says the challenges ahead are immense. Imagine pushing a washing machine out the back of an airliner at twice cruising altitude and expecting it to hit Regent’s Park in London – all while the ground is moving underneath. Although not really analogous for many reasons, this scenario does give a sense of the difficulties involved. The chances of failure are high. Via Rosetta: Date fixed for historic comet landing attempt.

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Clue Found to How Black Holes Form

Astronomers know how stellar-mass black holes form: A massive star collapses under its own gravity. But such a process would seem unable to explain how much larger black holes arise, because they can only gobble material up to a rate known as the Eddington limit, and the universe isn’t old enough for them to have grown from stellar mass to supermassive, said Cole Miller, an astronomer also at the University of Maryland.

“If you feed matter to the black hole too fast, it produces so much radiation that it blows away the matter that’s trying to ,” Miller told Live Science.

How, then, might supermassive black holes form? Some theories suggest these strange behemoths grew from intermediate-mass black holes — which act as “seeds” — that formed in the early stages of the universe from the collapse of giant clouds of gas. Others say these black hole giants started out as stellar-mass black holes that somehow gobbled up material at a rate much faster than the typical limit. Miller has theorized that maybe a dense cluster of stars merged in the early universe, “colliding with each other and sticking together like wet clay,” producing a black hole that gathers mass at a rate exceeding the normal limit. “If you can evade that limit, you might be able to build bigger black holes,” he said. Continue reading

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Armadillo in defensive mode

The very neat defensive pose of a southern three banded armadillo. Via Facebook.

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Underwater video is impossibly surreal

This underwater video is impossibly surreal but the makers of the video, Francisco and Armando del Rosario and Armiche Ramos, say that no computer special effects were used in the video, just some camera tricks to make it look like the ocean world can be sideways and water can be walked upside down on. Via Sploid

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Featured Artworks – Sandro – Photography

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SandroSandro Miller (1958) is an American portrait photographer (working professionally as “Sandro”) known for his expressive images, and his close work with John Malkovich and the other ensemble members of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. At the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in July 2011, Sandro was acknowledged with a Saatchi & Saatchi Best New Director Award for his short video “Butterflies” featuring John Malkovich. For the past five years, in juried competition within the industry, Sandro has been voted one of the top 200 advertising photographers in the world.

In 2001 Sandro was invited by the Cuban government to photograph their Olympic athletes. This project was the first US/Cuban collaboration since the trade embargo was imposed in 1960. Sandro shoots all the promotional photography for Dance for Life, the Midwest’s largest performance-based AIDS fundraiser. He also sits on the board of directors for the Museum of Contemporary Photography and is a member of the Chicago Arts Club.

Here we have picked three of our favourites including Dennis Hopper, Al Pacino and one of Sando’s most photographed, John Malkovich. You can find Sandro’s work here – Sandrofilm – Deskarati

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Japanese railway offers taste of 500kph maglev ride to selected audience

Japanese railway

Central Japan Railway Company recently offered select members of the public and press a ride on the driverless Lo series maglev train it is developing—riders got to experience land-speed travel at 500kph (312 mph) for a few moments on a 42.8-kilometer Yamanashi maglev test track, between the cities of Uenohara and Fuefuki. The train is to be part of a massive project undertaken by the railroad to carry passengers between Tokyo and Nagoya in just forty minutes—currently it takes a little under two hours.

Maglev trains ride on air of course, held above the track by magnets. Doing so reduces friction making the trains more efficient, and presumably, faster. Such trains need a boost to get moving that fast, and the new train in Japan is no different, it relies on what its makers call L-Zero—a propulsion system that boosts the train from zero to 160kph in a little under a minute. The magnets then take over, pushing the train ever faster until reaching 500kph. Members of the media on the train reported a smooth ride—just a little jostling of the water in a cup during the highest speeds—though there was a noticeable bump when the train slowed, dropping down onto the tracks. They also reported that the noise inside the train when traveling at high speed was similar to riding in a jet airplane—other members of the press watched the demonstration of the train from an on-looker perspective at several points along the track, mostly to gauge how loud it would be. They report that the train is quieter than conventional trains and less obtrusive, presumably because it approaches and passes much more quickly than other trains. Via Japanese railway offers taste of 500kph maglev ride to selected audience.

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New evidence of ancient multicellular life sets evolutionary timeline back 60 million years

A Virginia Tech geobiologist with collaborators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found evidence in the fossil record that complex multicellularity appeared in living things about 600 million years ago – nearly 60 million years before skeletal animals appeared during a huge growth spurt of new life on Earth known as the Cambrian Explosion. The discovery published online Wednesday in the journal Nature contradicts several longstanding interpretations of multicellular fossils from at least 600 million years ago.

“This opens up a new door for us to shine some light on the timing and evolutionary steps that were taken by multicellular organisms that would eventually go on to dominate the Earth in a very visible way,” said Shuhai Xiao, a professor of geobiology in the Virginia Tech College of Science. “Fossils similar to these have been interpreted as bacteria, single-cell eukaryotes, algae, and transitional forms related to modern animals such as sponges, sea anemones, or bilaterally symmetrical animals. This paper lets us put aside some of those interpretations.”

In an effort to determine how, why, and when multicellularity arose from single-celled ancestors, Xiao and his collaborators looked at phosphorite rocks from the Doushantuo Formation in central Guizhou Province of South China, recovering three-dimensionally preserved multicellular fossils that showed signs of cell-to-cell adhesion, differentiation, and programmed cell death—qualities of complex multicellular eukaryotes such as animals and plants. The discovery sheds light on how and when solo cells began to cooperate with other cells to make a single, cohesive life form. The complex multicellularity evident in the fossils is inconsistent with the simpler forms such as bacteria and single-celled life typically expected 600 million years ago. Via New evidence of ancient multicellular life sets evolutionary timeline back 60 million years.

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Close up tattooing in slow motion

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Europe’s Insane History of Putting Animals on Trial and Executing Them

On September 5, 1379, two herds of pigs at a French monastery grew agitated and killed a man named Perrinot Muet. As was custom at the time, the pigs—the actual murderers and those that had simply looked on—were tried for their horrible crime, and sentenced to death. You see, with their “cries and aggressive actions,” the onlookers “showed that they approved of the assault,” and mustn’t be allowed to escape justice.

But the monastery’s prior, Friar Humbert de Poutiers, couldn’t bear to suffer the economic loss of all those pigs. So he wrote to the Duke of Burgundy, pleading for him to pardon the onlookers (the friar would allow the three murderers to suffer their fate—he was no scofflaw, after all). The duke “lent a gracious ear to his supplication and ordered that the punishment should be remitted and the swine released.” Records don’t show just how the three pigs were executed, though it was common for offending animals to be hanged or burned alive for their crimes.

Such is Europe’s shameful and largely forgotten history of putting animal “criminals” on trial and either executing them or, for plagues of insects, ordering them to leave town not only by a certain day, but by an exact time. Such irrational barbarism is hard to fathom, but as early as 824 all the way up to the middle of the 18th century, animals were held to the same moral standards as humans, suffering the same capital punishments and even rotting in the same jails. More here Fantastically Wrong

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Misconceptions About Global Warming

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