31 mar. 2005

Pilas 'nuevas' al minuto

Uno de los sueños de los 'enganchados' a los nuevos cacharros tecnológicos está a punto de hacerse realidad. Se trata de unas baterías de litio, desarrolladas en Japón, capaces de recargarse en el tiempo récord de un minuto y aptas para funcionar como cualquier batería de litio actual.

La empresa japonesa Toshiba es la responsable de este invento, informa EETimes, que multiplica por 60 la velocidad de recarga de las baterías recargables existentes. En 60 segundos, estas baterías pueden recargar hasta el 80% de su capacidad energética.

Por supuesto, estas pilas tiene un enorme potencial, tal y como afirma Norio Takami, responsable del Laboratorio de Materiales Funcionales Avanzados de la compañía. "Podrá usarse como batrerías para teléfonos móviles en un futuro, aunque nuestro objetivo principal son otras aplicaciones, como los automóviles, que necesitan cargas rápidas en ciclos largos", asegura.

Otra de las características de esta batería es que muestra un bajo desgaste de sus capacidades, ya que sufre un deterioro de menos de un 1% después de 1.000 cargas.

La producción de este invento con fines comerciales está prevista para marzo de 2007, y Toshiba está aún planeando cómo va a realizar la comercialización.

Thief Steals Poop From Woman Walking Dog

The hunt is on for a turd burglar. Police in San Diego are searching for a gunman who swiped a bag of poop from a woman out walking her dog.

The woman told police that she was out walking her dog, Misty, on Monday night when a man in his 20s ran up behind her and grabbed the bag she was holding.

When the gunman discovered what was in it, he threw it down in disgust, pointed his gun at the 32-year-old woman and demanded money, San Diego police detective Gary Hassen said.

He then aimed his .22-caliber semiautomatic at Misty and pulled the trigger twice but the gun didn't fire, Hassen said.

The robber ran to a waiting small, silver car and fled the scene, police said.

22 mar. 2005

Classic maths puzzle cracked at last

A number puzzle originating in the work of self-taught maths genius Srinivasa Ramanujan nearly a century ago has been solved. The solution may one day lead to advances in particle physics and computer security.

Karl Mahlburg, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, US, has spent a year putting together the final pieces to the puzzle, which involves understanding patterns of numbers.

"I have filled notebook upon notebook with calculations and equations," says Mahlburg, who has submitted a 10-page paper of his results to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The patterns were first discovered by Ramanujan, who was born in India in 1887 and flunked out of college after just a year because he neglected his studies in subjects outside of mathematics.

But he was so passionate about the subject he wrote to mathematicians in England outlining his theories, and one realised his innate talent. Ramanujan was brought to England in 1914 and worked there until shortly before his untimely death in 1920 following a mystery illness.

Curious patterns
Ramanujan noticed that whole numbers can be broken into sums of smaller numbers, called partitions. The number 4, for example, contains five partitions: 4, 3+1, 2+2, 1+1+2, and 1+1+1+1.

He further realised that curious patterns - called congruences - occurred for some numbers in that the number of partitions was divisible by 5, 7, and 11. For example, the number of partitions for any number ending in 4 or 9 is divisible by 5.

"But in some sense, no one understood why you could divide the partitions of 4 or 9 into five equal groups," says George Andrews, a mathematician at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, US. That changed in the 1940s, when physicist Freeman Dyson discovered a rule, called a "rank", explaining the congruences for 5 and 7. That set off a concerted search for a rule that covered 11 as well - a solution called the "crank" that Andrews helped deduce in the 1980s.

Patterns everywhere
Then in the late 1990s, Mahlburg's advisor, Ken Ono, stumbled across an equation in one of Ramanujan's notebooks that led him to discover that any prime number - not just 5, 7, and 11 - had congruences. "He found, amazingly, that Ramanujan's congruences were just the tip of the iceberg - there were really patterns everywhere," Mahlburg told New Scientist. "That was a revolutionary and shocking result."

But again, it was not clear why prime numbers showed these patterns - until Mahlburg proved the crank can be generalised to all primes. He likens the problem to a gymnasium full of people and a "big, complicated theory" saying there is an even number of people in the gym. Rather than counting every person, Mahlburg uses a "combinatorial" approach showing that the people are dancing in pairs. "Then, it's quite easy to see there's an even number," he says.

"This is a major step forward," Andrews told New Scientist. "We would not have expected that the crank would have been the right answer to so many of these congruence theorems."

Andrews says the methods used to arrive at the result will probably be applicable to problems in areas far afield from mathematics. He and Mahlburg note partitions have been used previously in understanding the various ways particles can arrange themselves, as well as in encrypting credit card information sent over the internet.

19 mar. 2005

Sin palabras...

18 mar. 2005

13 things that do not make sense

19 March 2005
NewScientist.com news service
Michael Brooks

1 The placebo effect
DON'T try this at home. Several times a day, for several days, you induce pain in someone. You control the pain with morphine until the final day of the experiment, when you replace the morphine with saline solution. Guess what? The saline takes the pain away.

This is the placebo effect: somehow, sometimes, a whole lot of nothing can be very powerful. Except it's not quite nothing. When Fabrizio Benedetti of the University of Turin in Italy carried out the above experiment, he added a final twist by adding naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of morphine, to the saline. The shocking result? The pain-relieving power of saline solution disappeared.

So what is going on? Doctors have known about the placebo effect for decades, and the naloxone result seems to show that the placebo effect is somehow biochemical. But apart from that, we simply don't know.

Benedetti has since shown that a saline placebo can also reduce tremors and muscle stiffness in people with Parkinson's disease (Nature Neuroscience, vol 7, p 587). He and his team measured the activity of neurons in the patients' brains as they administered the saline. They found that individual neurons in the subthalamic nucleus (a common target for surgical attempts to relieve Parkinson's symptoms) began to fire less often when the saline was given, and with fewer "bursts" of firing - another feature associated with Parkinson's. The neuron activity decreased at the same time as the symptoms improved: the saline was definitely doing something.

We have a lot to learn about what is happening here, Benedetti says, but one thing is clear: the mind can affect the body's biochemistry. "The relationship between expectation and therapeutic outcome is a wonderful model to understand mind-body interaction," he says. Researchers now need to identify when and where placebo works. There may be diseases in which it has no effect. There may be a common mechanism in different illnesses. As yet, we just don't know.

2 The horizon problem
OUR universe appears to be unfathomably uniform. Look across space from one edge of the visible universe to the other, and you'll see that the microwave background radiation filling the cosmos is at the same temperature everywhere. That may not seem surprising until you consider that the two edges are nearly 28 billion light years apart and our universe is only 14 billion years old.

Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, so there is no way heat radiation could have travelled between the two horizons to even out the hot and cold spots created in the big bang and leave the thermal equilibrium we see now.

This "horizon problem" is a big headache for cosmologists, so big that they have come up with some pretty wild solutions. "Inflation", for example.

You can solve the horizon problem by having the universe expand ultra-fast for a time, just after the big bang, blowing up by a factor of 1050 in 10-33 seconds. But is that just wishful thinking? "Inflation would be an explanation if it occurred," says University of Cambridge astronomer Martin Rees. The trouble is that no one knows what could have made that happen.

So, in effect, inflation solves one mystery only to invoke another. A variation in the speed of light could also solve the horizon problem - but this too is impotent in the face of the question "why?" In scientific terms, the uniform temperature of the background radiation remains an anomaly.

3 Ultra-energetic cosmic rays
FOR more than a decade, physicists in Japan have been seeing cosmic rays that should not exist. Cosmic rays are particles - mostly protons but sometimes heavy atomic nuclei - that travel through the universe at close to the speed of light. Some cosmic rays detected on Earth are produced in violent events such as supernovae, but we still don't know the origins of the highest-energy particles, which are the most energetic particles ever seen in nature. But that's not the real mystery.

As cosmic-ray particles travel through space, they lose energy in collisions with the low-energy photons that pervade the universe, such as those of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Einstein's special theory of relativity dictates that any cosmic rays reaching Earth from a source outside our galaxy will have suffered so many energy-shedding collisions that their maximum possible energy is 5 × 1019 electronvolts. This is known as the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin limit.

Over the past decade, however, the University of Tokyo's Akeno Giant Air Shower Array - 111 particle detectors spread out over 100 square kilometres - has detected several cosmic rays above the GZK limit. In theory, they can only have come from within our galaxy, avoiding an energy-sapping journey across the cosmos. However, astronomers can find no source for these cosmic rays in our galaxy. So what is going on?

One possibility is that there is something wrong with the Akeno results. Another is that Einstein was wrong. His special theory of relativity says that space is the same in all directions, but what if particles found it easier to move in certain directions? Then the cosmic rays could retain more of their energy, allowing them to beat the GZK limit.

Physicists at the Pierre Auger experiment in Mendoza, Argentina, are now working on this problem. Using 1600 detectors spread over 3000 square kilometres, Auger should be able to determine the energies of incoming cosmic rays and shed more light on the Akeno results.

Alan Watson, an astronomer at the University of Leeds, UK, and spokesman for the Pierre Auger project, is already convinced there is something worth following up here. "I have no doubts that events above 1020 electronvolts exist. There are sufficient examples to convince me," he says. The question now is, what are they? How many of these particles are coming in, and what direction are they coming from? Until we get that information, there's no telling how exotic the true explanation could be.

4 Belfast homeopathy results
MADELEINE Ennis, a pharmacologist at Queen's University, Belfast, was the scourge of homeopathy. She railed against its claims that a chemical remedy could be diluted to the point where a sample was unlikely to contain a single molecule of anything but water, and yet still have a healing effect. Until, that is, she set out to prove once and for all that homeopathy was bunkum.

In her most recent paper, Ennis describes how her team looked at the effects of ultra-dilute solutions of histamine on human white blood cells involved in inflammation. These "basophils" release histamine when the cells are under attack. Once released, the histamine stops them releasing any more. The study, replicated in four different labs, found that homeopathic solutions - so dilute that they probably didn't contain a single histamine molecule - worked just like histamine. Ennis might not be happy with the homeopaths' claims, but she admits that an effect cannot be ruled out.

So how could it happen? Homeopaths prepare their remedies by dissolving things like charcoal, deadly nightshade or spider venom in ethanol, and then diluting this "mother tincture" in water again and again. No matter what the level of dilution, homeopaths claim, the original remedy leaves some kind of imprint on the water molecules. Thus, however dilute the solution becomes, it is still imbued with the properties of the remedy.

You can understand why Ennis remains sceptical. And it remains true that no homeopathic remedy has ever been shown to work in a large randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial. But the Belfast study (Inflammation Research, vol 53, p 181) suggests that something is going on. "We are," Ennis says in her paper, "unable to explain our findings and are reporting them to encourage others to investigate this phenomenon." If the results turn out to be real, she says, the implications are profound: we may have to rewrite physics and chemistry.

5 Dark matter
TAKE our best understanding of gravity, apply it to the way galaxies spin, and you'll quickly see the problem: the galaxies should be falling apart. Galactic matter orbits around a central point because its mutual gravitational attraction creates centripetal forces. But there is not enough mass in the galaxies to produce the observed spin.

Vera Rubin, an astronomer working at the Carnegie Institution's department of terrestrial magnetism in Washington DC, spotted this anomaly in the late 1970s. The best response from physicists was to suggest there is more stuff out there than we can see. The trouble was, nobody could explain what this "dark matter" was.

And they still can't. Although researchers have made many suggestions about what kind of particles might make up dark matter, there is no consensus. It's an embarrassing hole in our understanding. Astronomical observations suggest that dark matter must make up about 90 per cent of the mass in the universe, yet we are astonishingly ignorant what that 90 per cent is.

Maybe we can't work out what dark matter is because it doesn't actually exist. That's certainly the way Rubin would like it to turn out. "If I could have my pick, I would like to learn that Newton's laws must be modified in order to correctly describe gravitational interactions at large distances," she says. "That's more appealing than a universe filled with a new kind of sub-nuclear particle."

6 Viking's methane
JULY 20, 1976. Gilbert Levin is on the edge of his seat. Millions of kilometres away on Mars, the Viking landers have scooped up some soil and mixed it with carbon-14-labelled nutrients. The mission's scientists have all agreed that if Levin's instruments on board the landers detect emissions of carbon-14-containing methane from the soil, then there must be life on Mars.

Viking reports a positive result. Something is ingesting the nutrients, metabolising them, and then belching out gas laced with carbon-14.

So why no party?
Because another instrument, designed to identify organic molecules considered essential signs of life, found nothing. Almost all the mission scientists erred on the side of caution and declared Viking's discovery a false positive. But was it?

The arguments continue to rage, but results from NASA's latest rovers show that the surface of Mars was almost certainly wet in the past and therefore hospitable to life. And there is plenty more evidence where that came from, Levin says. "Every mission to Mars has produced evidence supporting my conclusion. None has contradicted it."

Levin stands by his claim, and he is no longer alone. Joe Miller, a cell biologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, has re-analysed the data and he thinks that the emissions show evidence of a circadian cycle. That is highly suggestive of life.

Levin is petitioning ESA and NASA to fly a modified version of his mission to look for "chiral" molecules. These come in left or right-handed versions: they are mirror images of each other. While biological processes tend to produce molecules that favour one chirality over the other, non-living processes create left and right-handed versions in equal numbers. If a future mission to Mars were to find that Martian "metabolism" also prefers one chiral form of a molecule to the other, that would be the best indication yet of life on Mars.

7 Tetraneutrons
FOUR years ago, a particle accelerator in France detected six particles that should not exist. They are called tetraneutrons: four neutrons that are bound together in a way that defies the laws of physics.

Francisco Miguel Marquès and colleagues at the Ganil accelerator in Caen are now gearing up to do it again. If they succeed, these clusters may oblige us to rethink the forces that hold atomic nuclei together.

The team fired beryllium nuclei at a small carbon target and analysed the debris that shot into surrounding particle detectors. They expected to see evidence for four separate neutrons hitting their detectors. Instead the Ganil team found just one flash of light in one detector. And the energy of this flash suggested that four neutrons were arriving together at the detector. Of course, their finding could have been an accident: four neutrons might just have arrived in the same place at the same time by coincidence. But that's ridiculously improbable.

Not as improbable as tetraneutrons, some might say, because in the standard model of particle physics tetraneutrons simply can't exist. According to the Pauli exclusion principle, not even two protons or neutrons in the same system can have identical quantum properties. In fact, the strong nuclear force that would hold them together is tuned in such a way that it can't even hold two lone neutrons together, let alone four. Marquès and his team were so bemused by their result that they buried the data in a research paper that was ostensibly about the possibility of finding tetraneutrons in the future (Physical Review C, vol 65, p 44006).

And there are still more compelling reasons to doubt the existence of tetraneutrons. If you tweak the laws of physics to allow four neutrons to bind together, all kinds of chaos ensues (Journal of Physics G, vol 29, L9). It would mean that the mix of elements formed after the big bang was inconsistent with what we now observe and, even worse, the elements formed would have quickly become far too heavy for the cosmos to cope. "Maybe the universe would have collapsed before it had any chance to expand," says Natalia Timofeyuk, a theorist at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK.

There are, however, a couple of holes in this reasoning. Established theory does allow the tetraneutron to exist - though only as a ridiculously short-lived particle. "This could be a reason for four neutrons hitting the Ganil detectors simultaneously," Timofeyuk says. And there is other evidence that supports the idea of matter composed of multiple neutrons: neutron stars. These bodies, which contain an enormous number of bound neutrons, suggest that as yet unexplained forces come into play when neutrons gather en masse.

8 The Pioneer anomaly
THIS is a tale of two spacecraft. Pioneer 10 was launched in 1972; Pioneer 11 a year later. By now both craft should be drifting off into deep space with no one watching. However, their trajectories have proved far too fascinating to ignore.

That's because something has been pulling - or pushing - on them, causing them to speed up. The resulting acceleration is tiny, less than a nanometre per second per second. That's equivalent to just one ten-billionth of the gravity at Earth's surface, but it is enough to have shifted Pioneer 10 some 400,000 kilometres off track. NASA lost touch with Pioneer 11 in 1995, but up to that point it was experiencing exactly the same deviation as its sister probe. So what is causing it?

Nobody knows. Some possible explanations have already been ruled out, including software errors, the solar wind or a fuel leak. If the cause is some gravitational effect, it is not one we know anything about. In fact, physicists are so completely at a loss that some have resorted to linking this mystery with other inexplicable phenomena.

Bruce Bassett of the University of Portsmouth, UK, has suggested that the Pioneer conundrum might have something to do with variations in alpha, the fine structure constant (see "Not so constant constants", page 37). Others have talked about it as arising from dark matter - but since we don't know what dark matter is, that doesn't help much either. "This is all so maddeningly intriguing," says Michael Martin Nieto of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. "We only have proposals, none of which has been demonstrated."

Nieto has called for a new analysis of the early trajectory data from the craft, which he says might yield fresh clues. But to get to the bottom of the problem what scientists really need is a mission designed specifically to test unusual gravitational effects in the outer reaches of the solar system. Such a probe would cost between $300 million and $500 million and could piggyback on a future mission to the outer reaches of the solar system (www.arxiv.org/gr-qc/0411077).

"An explanation will be found eventually," Nieto says. "Of course I hope it is due to new physics - how stupendous that would be. But once a physicist starts working on the basis of hope he is heading for a fall." Disappointing as it may seem, Nieto thinks the explanation for the Pioneer anomaly will eventually be found in some mundane effect, such as an unnoticed source of heat on board the craft.

9 Dark energy
IT IS one of the most famous, and most embarrassing, problems in physics. In 1998, astronomers discovered that the universe is expanding at ever faster speeds. It's an effect still searching for a cause - until then, everyone thought the universe's expansion was slowing down after the big bang. "Theorists are still floundering around, looking for a sensible explanation," says cosmologist Katherine Freese of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. "We're all hoping that upcoming observations of supernovae, of clusters of galaxies and so on will give us more clues."

One suggestion is that some property of empty space is responsible - cosmologists call it dark energy. But all attempts to pin it down have fallen woefully short. It's also possible that Einstein's theory of general relativity may need to be tweaked when applied to the very largest scales of the universe. "The field is still wide open," Freese says.

10 The Kuiper cliff
IF YOU travel out to the far edge of the solar system, into the frigid wastes beyond Pluto, you'll see something strange. Suddenly, after passing through the Kuiper belt, a region of space teeming with icy rocks, there's nothing.

Astronomers call this boundary the Kuiper cliff, because the density of space rocks drops off so steeply. What caused it? The only answer seems to be a 10th planet. We're not talking about Quaoar or Sedna: this is a massive object, as big as Earth or Mars, that has swept the area clean of debris.

The evidence for the existence of "Planet X" is compelling, says Alan Stern, an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. But although calculations show that such a body could account for the Kuiper cliff (Icarus, vol 160, p 32), no one has ever seen this fabled 10th planet.

There's a good reason for that. The Kuiper belt is just too far away for us to get a decent view. We need to get out there and have a look before we can say anything about the region. And that won't be possible for another decade, at least. NASA's New Horizons probe, which will head out to Pluto and the Kuiper belt, is scheduled for launch in January 2006. It won't reach Pluto until 2015, so if you are looking for an explanation of the vast, empty gulf of the Kuiper cliff, watch this space.

11 The Wow signal
IT WAS 37 seconds long and came from outer space. On 15 August 1977 it caused astronomer Jerry Ehman, then of Ohio State University in Columbus, to scrawl "Wow!" on the printout from Big Ear, Ohio State's radio telescope in Delaware. And 28 years later no one knows what created the signal. "I am still waiting for a definitive explanation that makes sense," Ehman says.

Coming from the direction of Sagittarius, the pulse of radiation was confined to a narrow range of radio frequencies around 1420 megahertz. This frequency is in a part of the radio spectrum in which all transmissions are prohibited by international agreement. Natural sources of radiation, such as the thermal emissions from planets, usually cover a much broader sweep of frequencies. So what caused it?

The nearest star in that direction is 220 light years away. If that is where is came from, it would have had to be a pretty powerful astronomical event - or an advanced alien civilisation using an astonishingly large and powerful transmitter.

The fact that hundreds of sweeps over the same patch of sky have found nothing like the Wow signal doesn't mean it's not aliens. When you consider the fact that the Big Ear telescope covers only one-millionth of the sky at any time, and an alien transmitter would also likely beam out over the same fraction of sky, the chances of spotting the signal again are remote, to say the least.

Others think there must be a mundane explanation. Dan Wertheimer, chief scientist for the SETI@home project, says the Wow signal was almost certainly pollution: radio-frequency interference from Earth-based transmissions. "We've seen many signals like this, and these sorts of signals have always turned out to be interference," he says. The debate continues.

12 Not-so-constant constants
IN 1997 astronomer John Webb and his team at the University of New South Wales in Sydney analysed the light reaching Earth from distant quasars. On its 12-billion-year journey, the light had passed through interstellar clouds of metals such as iron, nickel and chromium, and the researchers found these atoms had absorbed some of the photons of quasar light - but not the ones they were expecting.

If the observations are correct, the only vaguely reasonable explanation is that a constant of physics called the fine structure constant, or alpha, had a different value at the time the light passed through the clouds.

But that's heresy. Alpha is an extremely important constant that determines how light interacts with matter - and it shouldn't be able to change. Its value depends on, among other things, the charge on the electron, the speed of light and Planck's constant. Could one of these really have changed?

No one in physics wanted to believe the measurements. Webb and his team have been trying for years to find an error in their results. But so far they have failed.

Webb's are not the only results that suggest something is missing from our understanding of alpha. A recent analysis of the only known natural nuclear reactor, which was active nearly 2 billion years ago at what is now Oklo in Gabon, also suggests something about light's interaction with matter has changed.

The ratio of certain radioactive isotopes produced within such a reactor depends on alpha, and so looking at the fission products left behind in the ground at Oklo provides a way to work out the value of the constant at the time of their formation. Using this method, Steve Lamoreaux and his colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico suggest that alpha may have decreased by more than 4 per cent since Oklo started up (Physical Review D, vol 69, p 121701).

There are gainsayers who still dispute any change in alpha. Patrick Petitjean, an astronomer at the Institute of Astrophysics in Paris, led a team that analysed quasar light picked up by the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and found no evidence that alpha has changed. But Webb, who is now looking at the VLT measurements, says that they require a more complex analysis than Petitjean's team has carried out. Webb's group is working on that now, and may be in a position to declare the anomaly resolved - or not - later this year.

"It's difficult to say how long it's going to take," says team member Michael Murphy of the University of Cambridge. "The more we look at these new data, the more difficulties we see." But whatever the answer, the work will still be valuable. An analysis of the way light passes through distant molecular clouds will reveal more about how the elements were produced early in the universe's history.

13 Cold fusion
AFTER 16 years, it's back. In fact, cold fusion never really went away. Over a 10-year period from 1989, US navy labs ran more than 200 experiments to investigate whether nuclear reactions generating more energy than they consume - supposedly only possible inside stars - can occur at room temperature. Numerous researchers have since pronounced themselves believers.

With controllable cold fusion, many of the world's energy problems would melt away: no wonder the US Department of Energy is interested. In December, after a lengthy review of the evidence, it said it was open to receiving proposals for new cold fusion experiments.

That's quite a turnaround. The DoE's first report on the subject, published 15 years ago, concluded that the original cold fusion results, produced by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons of the University of Utah and unveiled at a press conference in 1989, were impossible to reproduce, and thus probably false.

The basic claim of cold fusion is that dunking palladium electrodes into heavy water - in which oxygen is combined with the hydrogen isotope deuterium - can release a large amount of energy. Placing a voltage across the electrodes supposedly allows deuterium nuclei to move into palladium's molecular lattice, enabling them to overcome their natural repulsion and fuse together, releasing a blast of energy. The snag is that fusion at room temperature is deemed impossible by every accepted scientific theory.

That doesn't matter, according to David Nagel, an engineer at George Washington University in Washington DC. Superconductors took 40 years to explain, he points out, so there's no reason to dismiss cold fusion. "The experimental case is bulletproof," he says. "You can't make it go away."

15 mar. 2005

Martian dust devils finally caught on camera

NewScientist.com

Swirling dust devils on Mars have given NASA scientists both a scientific treat and a very welcome power boost.

On 10 March, the rover Spirit captured images of two dust devils in one day. It is the first time any have been seen on Mars since first being identified in a single image from the Mars Pathfinder mission in 1997. One of the two appears on two different images from the rover's Navigation Camera, making it possible to track its direction and speed.

Yahoo! News - Chewing gum thieves mint it

Yahoo.com

Thieves with a fondness for chewing gum broke into an isolated storage hall in the western German town of Steinfurt and made off with 200 fully loaded gum machines, police said.

The machines and their contents were worth more than 10,000 euros (7,000 pounds), police said on Tuesday.

"We don't have a clue," said one police spokesman. "We can only assume they used a large truck to get away with so many machines."

14 mar. 2005

Thousands join hunt for gravitational waves

NewScientist.com

On Monday 14 March, the 126th anniversary of Albert Einstein's birth, over 50,000 people around the world are helping in the hunt for the gravitational waves predicted by the great physicist nearly a century ago.

These people have already downloaded the distributed-computing program Einstein@Home, which was only launched on 19 February 2005, and more than 1000 people per day are still joining.

The Sect of Homokaasu

How to Create a Character

How to Create a Character

No matter what sort of fiction you're writing, you're going to have to populate your story with characters, and a lot of them, if not all of them, you're going to have to create from scratch. Unfortunately -- or maybe fortunately -- there is no Betty Crocker Instant Character-In-A-Can that you can mix with water and pop into the oven for twenty minutes. There aren't any quick and easy recipes, and I don't have one either, but I do have some things that have worked for me when creating my characters, and some things that haven't. You may find my experiences useful. For what they're worth, here are my Do's and Don'ts.

10 mar. 2005

Actroid robot greets Japan World Expo visitors a bit too naturally

Peep that photo at right and tell us you wouldn’t have to do a double-take. The Actroid robot, developed by Kokoro and Advanced Media, will greet guests at the information booth of Japan’s World Expo opening March 25 in Aichi. She understands 40,000 phrases in each of four languages and has nuanced facial expressions to match the more than 2,000 types of answers she can give. She’s even imbued with a sense of irony; when asked if she is a robot, she answers disconnectedly and with clumsy movements — followed by a “just kidding!” before reverting to smooth humanoid motions. If you skim the article too quickly, you might miss the glorious factoid that she can also perform rap music. It’s gonna be a party up in Aichi!

The Last Song You'll Never Hear....

Robbie Williams has topped the UK funeral music chart, leaving Mozart trailing in his wake, according to a survey Thursday.

Williams' "Angels" was the record most Britons would like played at their funeral, with Mozart's "Requiem" coming in at five in digital broadcaster Music Choice's poll of top 10 British funeral songs.

Frank Sinatra's "My Way" was second, just ahead of Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

The rest of Europe favored a more soft rock approach.

Queen's "The Show Must Go On" topped the European chart, with Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" in second and third place.

Over 45,000 music fans from across Europe were polled, with 20,000 Britons taking part.

Cat Shoots Owner

A man cooking in his kitchen was shot after one of his cats knocked his 9mm handgun onto the floor, discharging the weapon, Michigan State Police said.

Joseph Stanton, 29, of Bates Township in Iron County, was shot in his lower torso around 6 p.m. Tuesday, the state police post in Iron River reported. He was transported to Iron County Community Hospital.

Michelle Sand, a spokeswoman at the Iron River hospital, said Stanton was treated there before being transferred to Marquette General Hospital for further treatment. But Marcie Miller, a representative of the Marquette facility, said there was no record of the hospital receiving a patient by that name.

A telephone message seeking comment was left Wednesday at Stanton's home.

State police said he was cooking at his stove when the cat knocked the loaded gun off the kitchen counter behind him.

9 mar. 2005

Sexy Moans for Mobile Phones

Adult film company New Frontier Media has something new for cell phones: ring moans.

Wireless content company Brickhouse Mobile on Tuesday said that under an agreement with New Frontier it would begin offering ring tones for mobile phone users featuring porn stars making groaning and moaning noises from the suggestive to the positively tantalizing.

The company said it would also begin offering sexually explicit "wallpaper" for cell phone screens and adult videos for download on mobile phones under its brand The Erotic Network, the television subsidiary of New Frontier Media Inc.

Brickhouse and New Frontier signed their five-year deal in January but did not disclose full terms of the program until Tuesday. Users will be able to buy individual items or take a monthly subscription.

The two sides said they would also work together on age-verification schemes to ensure that minors were not purchasing inappropriate content. Much of the more explicit content will be available internationally at first.

Spelunking on Mars: Caves are Hot Spots in Search for Life

The hunt for some form of life elsewhere in our universe may spur a veritable fleet of robot orbiters, landers and rovers to study the surface of Mars in the coming years. But they might look in the wrong place.


Instead of probing for signs of alien life on Mars' harsh surface, some researchers have suggested looking inside the planet, where there is mounting evidence of water ice near the equator and the potential for underground aquifers that could support basic, microbial organisms.


Spirit and Opportunity, the two robots currently exploring the red planet under NASA's Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission, have proved that water shaped the development of rocks on the planet's surface. Meanwhile, Europe's Mars Express spacecraft now orbiting the planet is preparing to unfurl a radar instrument that, researchers say, might find pockets of liquid water in subsurface caves or voids.


"We now know that big areas on the planet were made of soluble rock," said Steven Squyres, a Cornell University astronomer and the science team leader for NASA's Mars rover mission, in an interview. "So if there's rock that can be dissolved by water, the idea of such a cave is perfectly sensible."


Recent reports by U.S. and European researchers have hinted at connections between the presence of methane and other gases in Mars' atmosphere and the possibility of water-harboring subsurface caves capable of sustaining life.


The theory is similar to actual conditions found in deep caverns on Earth, such as the Lechuguilla cave in New Mexico - the deepest found in the continental U.S. - where hardy bacteria thrive in a pool of water and feed off gases. Below the surface of Idaho, creatures dubbed methanogens give off methane as waste while subsisting on hydrogen from rocks around underground springs.


The meaning of methane


But whether some form of life once existed, or currently lives, in Martian caves is still unknown.


In March 2004, a trio of independent studies using Mars Express and ground telescopes announced the detection of methane in Mars' atmosphere. Months later, in September, the European Space Agency (ESA) released Mars Express data detailing an overlap of methane and water vapor concentrations.


Researchers stressed that a skeptical eye is required after news reports stating that some scientists had linked the presence of Mars methane to the possibility that microbial life may generating the gas as a byproduct of subsisting off underground caches of water.


"The fact that you find methane does not mean you have to have life," Tobias Owen, a University of Hawaii astronomer who was part of a team that detected Mars methane with ground-based telescopes, told reporters at a recent science symposium. "You have to be very careful."


Owen said that methane can be generated through the interaction of rock and water, where living creatures are not a factor.


While Squyres said he had not seen the recent news reports about the implications for Martian life, nor knows of any direct proof that life ever existed on the planet, he did say in general, caves are not a prerequisite for subsurface organisms.


Life gets by on much less, housing-wise.


On Earth, Squyres said, there are many instances of life thriving in pore space and fractures underground.


Looking deeper


The search for liquid water - which some researchers have considered a prerequisite for life as we know it - on Mars continues in May of this year when Mars Express is expected to deploy its MARSIS instrument, a radar tool designed to probe below the planet's surface.

From the surface, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers have not found any signs of caves during the exploration of their respective Mars landing sites, Squyres said.

"If there's a water table down there, you might - might - be able to detect it with ground-penetrating radar," said Squyres, who is also a co-investigator with the Mars Express mission in addition to his work with the MER rovers.

MARSIS, short for Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding, is a 130-foot (40-meter) boom designed to send out low frequency radio waves to probe for underground water. ESA researchers have said they hope the instrument can reach down to three miles (5 kilometers) below the Martian surface.

"Nobody's ever looked at Mars in this way before," Squyres said of the MARSIS plan. "Every time we look at Mars with some new technique something interesting tends to pop up, so I'm very excited to see what it's going to show."

Safeguarding Mars

One of the dangers facing any mission aimed at seeking out signs of past or present life on Mars is the potential of contaminating the red planet environment simply by being there.

"If you're going to go to another world looking for life, you don't want to take anything with you," John Rummel, NASA's planetary protection officer, told SPACE.com.

Earlier this year during a science conference, Rummel discussed the challenges the science community may face in communicating the discovery of extraterrestrial life to the public should researchers ever make such a historic find.

"We tend to be very careful and conservative," Rummel said. "Because you need to be sure of what you do know, what you don't know and what you can only guess at."

In 1996, NASA and Stanford University researchers published findings in the journal Science that a meteorite from Mars -- found in Antarctica -- contained possible evidence of past life on Mars. The space agency was very careful to include a scientist at the press conference who aired concerns on how the meteorite data was interpreted, Rummel recalls.

"It's an art of managing uncertainty," Rummel said, adding that such processes are meant to keep NASA honest and accurate. "The public deserves an honest agency."

8 mar. 2005

Enmiendas a la Constitución de los USA

Bill of Rights
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.


Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.


Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.


Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.


Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Amendment XI

The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.

7 mar. 2005

Virtual Bus guide

AkihabaraNews.com

Tourist bus rides are quite cool in Japan (not that I’m the kind to actually be on that kind of busses). It’s actually not the monuments or the bus that are very cool, but the stewardesses in their cute uniforms… Yummy!!! Back from cloud 9, you have to realize that even though they can be very “kawaiiii”, they cost a lot! It’s probably for this reason that the management of a bus company at Hiroshima has decided to replace these employees by a virtual tour guide hooked up to a GPS system to avoid errors

6 mar. 2005

Optimus Prime Dies of Prostate Cancer

Pop culture fans are mourning the death of Optimus Prime today as the famous Transformer passed away last night from prostate cancer on the new Cartoon Network Show, “Robot Chicken.”

“When it comes to prostate cancer, there’s more than meets the eye,” National Prostate Cancer Coalition CEO Richard N. Atkins, M.D. said. “Often times when one has symptoms for prostate cancer it’s already in its late stages, that’s why early detection is so important.”

The scene from Robot Chicken, a new show created by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, showed Optimus Prime with incontinence (or urination) problems followed by a trip to the doctor and then death.

“Being a Tractor Truck, Optimus should have known the importance of check-ups – oil, anti-freeze, spark plugs – the works,” said Atkins. “It comes as such a surprise – my kids loved that guy.”

Optimus Prime, developed and marketed by Hasbro, is the “powerful and courageous leader of the Autobots (the good guys of the Transformer World).” Transformers, a children’s cartoon and toy line, are sentient beings that morph into unsuspecting items like cars and airplanes.

“Planned or not, the skit was a great way to get people talking about prostate cancer at a younger age,” said Atkins. “When it comes to the real thing, prostate cancer is no joke – it’s the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in America.”

One in six men will get prostate cancer in his life but if caught early, the chance of survival is 99.3 percent.

“A prostate specific antigen blood test and a two second look at your tailpipe can save your life,” said Atkins.

Taking care of the biggest thing in men’s health, the National Prostate Cancer Coalition sets the standard for rapidly reducing the burden of prostate cancer on American men and their families through awareness, outreach and advocacy.

Chorradas...


5 mar. 2005

Construction Worker Shoots Himself in Eye

A construction worker accidentally shot himself in the eye with a nail gun and then pulled the 2 1/2-inch nail out of his face, according to a police report and a co-worker.

Joseluis Franco, 19, was using an air-powered, Hitachi nail gun to help build a home Wednesday when a nail bounced back and lodged in his eye, crew leader Rogelio Ocampo said. Franco was nailing a two-by-four to concrete when the nail ricocheted.

Franco was conscious when police arrived at the scene and was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, where he was treated and released. Police said Friday they don't know the condition of Franco's eye.

Originally from a town near Acapulco, Mexico, Franco has been in the construction business for about three weeks, Ocampo said.

"I don't know what's going to happen to him," Ocampo said. "I don't know if the insurance is going to cover his bills or anything."

4 mar. 2005

Cuatro chimpancés se escapan de su jaula en una reserva de California y hieren gravemente a dos empleados

Cuatro chimpancés han logrado romper la jaula de la reserva en la que se encontraban en California (EEUU) y han atacado a varios trabajadores, dos de los cuales han sido heridos de gravedad. Los empleados del zoo han disparado y matado a dos de los animales.

Un empleado del Rancho Paraíso Animal tuvo que ser evacuado vía aérea al centro médico de Kern en estado crítico, según el sherif del condado, Jeff Hunt. Además, otro de los trabajadores se encuentra también en estado grave, aunque Hunt no pudo precisar el tipo de heridas que sufrieron ambos.

Dos de los chimpancés permanecen escapados todavía del rancho, unos 33 kilómetros al suroeste de Bakersfield. Las autoridades señalaron que desconocen cómo pudieron escapar los animales de sus jaulas.

El portavoz del Departamento de Pesca y Juego del Estado, Steve Martarano, aseguró que se han enviado guardias con equipos tranquilizantes al zoo para capturar a los chimpancés. Martarano añadió que no está claro si los animales continúan en las instalaciones de la reserva.

Paraíso Animal, unos 137 kilómetros al norte de Los Ángeles, cuida de animales que han sido confiscados o encontrados perdidos. Esta reserva cuenta con un mono araña y seis chimpancés. Los permisos, concedidos desde 1985, están a nombre de Ralph y Virginia Brauer.

Los chimpancés pueden mostrarse hostiles si no son tratados adecuadamente, declaró Martine Colette, director del Wildlife Waystation, otro zoo cercano a Los Ángeles.

3 mar. 2005

The Navy's new 'pain-gun': no pain, no gain!

While most, if not all of the civilized world has been moving as fast and far away from lethal artillery as possible to nonlethal weaponry, the US and A’s armed forces are spearheading the development of nonlethal weapons that feel like the very worst in lethal arms—and they’ve granted a research contract to a University, no less. The U of Florida in Gainesville won the Navy defense contract titled “Sensory consequences of electromagnetic pulses emitted by laser induced plasmas”, which is basically a fancy way of saying they want to use otherwise noble pain research to enable long distance laser beams and exploding plasma bursts to engage pain neurons without physical harm. (We’re still not sure how this is different from the other pain-gun.) Uh, wasn’t the point of nonlethal weaponry for one party to merely to stop another party from doing something undesireable? Maybe so, but in America we don’t just try and stop people from doing anything—no, we make sure to teach ‘em a lesson in pain while we’re at it.

Unusual Life Forms Found in the Atlantic

Yahoo.com

A strange world of see-through shrimp, crabs and other life forms teems around a newly explored field of thermal vents near the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, scientists report.

Report: Space burst could be new object

A strange and powerful burst of radio waves from near the center of our galaxy may have come from a previously unknown type of space object, U.S. astronomers reported on Wednesday.

Other experts nicknamed the mysterious source a "burper" and said there would be a race to scan for similar radio bursts.

"We hit the jackpot," said Scott Hyman, a professor of physics at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, who led the study.

"An image of the Galactic center, made by collecting radio waves of about 1 meter (3 feet) in wavelength, revealed multiple bursts from the source during a seven-hour period from September 30 to October 1, 2002 -- five bursts in fact, and repeating at remarkably constant intervals."

The burst came from the direction of the middle of the Milky Way galaxy, of which Earth is a part, and could have originated from as far away as 24,000 light-years or from as close as 300 light-years. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion km).

It cannot have come from a celestial object known as a pulsar, the researchers write in this week's issue of the journal Nature, but the source could be a brown dwarf of a magnetar -- an exotic star with an extremely powerful magnetic field.

They have named the presumed object GCRT J1745-3009.

"GCRT J1745-3009 will cause a stampede of further observations," Shri Kulkarni and Sterl Phinney of the California Institute of Technology wrote in a commentary.

"But perhaps even more important is the possibility that the radio heavens contain other fast radio transients (which, in anticipation of a trove of discoveries, we nickname 'burpers')."

Hyman and colleagues made the discovery by studying observations made by the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico.

Brain reconstruction hints at 'hobbit' intelligence

Analysis of the diminutive cranium of Homo floresiensis - a tiny hobbit-like human that lived in Indonesia just 13,000 years ago - confirms it as a unique species and reveals remarkably advanced features for such a small brain.

The skull and other bones of one female and fragments from up to six other specimens were discovered in caves on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 and revealed to the world in October 2004. The remarkably petite human stood just a metre tall and had a brain about one-third the size of modern humans.

But Dean Falk, an expert on brain evolution at Florida State University, US, who has analysed the skull of H. floresiensis says it has some remarkably advanced morphological features, including ones associated with complex brain processes in living humans. "It has an extraordinary morphology unlike anything I've seen in 30 years," she told New Scientist.

This adds weight to the theory that H. floresiensis may have possessed an intelligence and tool-building ability traditionally associated with much larger-brained humans. The charred bones of animals were also found in the caves on Flores. "It may well be that the population was hunting, making tools and using fire," says Falk. "I'm conservative by nature but in light of these features we find nothing to contradict this speculation."

Surface features
Falk used data collected during CT scans performed shortly after the skull was discovered to build a 3D computer model of the cranial cavity. This mirrors the overall shape of the brain and can even reveal certain surface features. She compared the model to ones made from the skulls of other extinct pre-humans along with those of modern humans and living apes.

Falk found several advanced morphological features, including enlarged frontal and temporal lobes and an extended area at the back called the lunate sulcus. In modern humans the frontal lobes are associated with forward planning and problem solving and temporal lobes are thought to play a key role in memory. The extension of the lunate sulcus is typically associated with a more highly developed ability to analyse sensory information, says Falk.

Disregarding size, the brain of H. floresiensis most closely resembled that of Homo erectus, a human ancestor that disappeared around 70,000 years ago that was thought to have made relatively complex tools.

But Chris Stringer at the Natural History Museum in London, UK, says it may be rash to draw too many conclusions about the intelligence of H. floresiensis from the brain morphology alone. He notes that some features also seem to predate H. erectus. "I reserve judgement on what kind of intelligence and technology the animal might have had," he says.

Striking diversity
Stringer adds that the picture is far from simple as the brain has some features unlike anything seen before.

The discovery of H. floresiensis was hailed as the most important anthropological find for 50 years. It alters the picture of human evolution, showing that it have continued until very recently and was more diverse than previously thought.

But the find has stirred up heated debate among anthropologists, a small number of whom refuse to accept it is a unique new species at all. Bernard Wood, an anthropologist at George Washington University, US, says the model should at least dispel dissenting claims that the remains are not a unique species but simply a modern human with microcephaly, a rare condition that results in a reduced cranium size.

"Unequivocally, it is not what you would expect a miniaturised modern human brain to look like," Wood insists. "Nor is it like the brain of a human with a pathological microcephaly."

The Human-powered Submarine

gizmag.com

Swedish designer Milko Ozlu has always been intrigued by the concept of the powered exoskeleton and body amplifiers. When the US Military experimented with the springwalker concept in the late 1980s, Ozlu was fascinated, though it was long before he studied for his BA in industrial design at Konstfack in Stockholm. His ideas followed through and when he was studying for his masters degree at the vehicle design department of the world-renowned Royal College of Art in London, it resulted in one of the most interesting degree projects we’ve seen – the U-Scull, a new type of human powered sports-submarine that operates in shallow depths.

Face Recognition Comes to Cameraphones

If you have a camera phone, you may soon have to take a picture of yourself before making a call or accessing data stored on the device. A Japanese company has developed face recognition software for camera phones that it says can authenticate users within one second of clicking the shutter. Omron (Japanese) will demonstrate its Okao Vision Face Recognition Sensor at tomorrow's Security Show Japan in Tokyo.

Fire and brimstone: the flaming bible

engadget.com

Since when is it okay for evangelists to burn their own bibles? Since it was in a controlled environment—a little lighter fluid and a battery operated ignition system in a hollowed out book labeled “Holy Bible” is sure to set those pesky nonbelievers back on the straight and narrow. Nothing like using cheap parlor tricks to light up interest in your religion, eh? Spark the kids’ imaginations? Alright, alright, we’ll stop.

Something Doesn't Smell Right About This Marriage

Yahoo.com

An Iranian woman has requested a divorce from her husband on the grounds that he has not washed for more than a year.

"My husband says he does not like water and does not want to take a shower ... He doesn't even wash his face when he wakes up in the morning," Mina, 36, was quoted as saying in court by the state-run Iran (news - web sites) newspaper.

Leaking Gravity May Explain Cosmic Puzzle

Yahoo.com

Scientists may not have to go over to the dark side to explain the fate of the universe.

The theory that the accelerated expansion of the universe is caused by mysterious "dark energy" is being challenged by New York University physicist Georgi Dvali. He thinks there's just a gravity leak.

Scientists have known since the 1920s that the universe is expanding. In the late 1990s, they realized that it is expanding at an ever-increasing pace. At a loss to explain the stunning discovery, cosmologists blamed it on dark energy, a newly coined term to describe the mysterious antigravity force apparently pushing galaxies outward.

Powerful radio pulses puzzle astronomers

NewScientist.com

A mystery object near the centre of our galaxy is sending out powerful pulses of radio waves. It is unlike any known source.

A team of astronomers led by Scott Hyman of Sweet Briar College, Virginia, US, detected the mysterious source using the Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico.

The pulses are coming from a spot just to one side of the galactic centre. Each pulse lasts about 10 minutes, and they repeat regularly every 77 minutes. If, as the researchers think, the source is near the centre of the Milky Way, it would be one of the most powerful emitters in the galaxy. The shape and timing of the pulses rules out most known sources, such as radio pulsars.

The object could be a magnetar - a neutron star with an ultra-strong magnetic field. "Magnetars store plenty of energy to power the observed outbursts," says Hyman. Or it may be something entirely new. To find out more, the team is studying it using the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia, and hopes to use NASA's Chandra space telescope to see if it is also spitting out X-rays.

Japan Mulls Plan to Establish Lunar Base

Yahoo.com

Joining a swelling group of countries shooting for the moon, Japan is considering a plan to establish a manned lunar base by 2025, officials said Tuesday.

Officials at Japan's space agency, JAXA, confirmed the mission was under consideration, but said the plan is still being fleshed out and has yet to be formally accepted. A report outlining the plan is expected to be submitted to the government later this month or in early April.

European Scientists Believe in Life on Mars

Yahoo.com

European Space Agency scientists think that there was and could even still be life on Mars and want a new European mission to the red planet to take samples, a conference heard on Friday.

"Mars is the most Earth-like planet in our solar system," said Agustin Chicarro, ESA Mars Express Project Scientist at the end of a one-week conference during which scientists from around the world discussed ESA's Mars mission findings so far.

Mystery Squid Helps Prove Ocean Research

Yahoo.com

It took only a minute for scientists to discover a new deep-sea species with an experimental infrared camera built in Southern California and light-emitting artificial lure.

Now, the National Science Foundation (news - web sites) has agreed to spend $500,000 to refine the concept developed by the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce.

A large, 6-foot squid of a type never before photographed attacked the bait, a bioluminescent electronic "jellyfish," about 60 seconds after it was turned on in August off the Louisiana coast during Operation Deep Scope.

2 mar. 2005

La capa que esconde

BBC.co.uk

Científicos estadounidenses anunciaron que descubrieron un mecanismo que podría, en teoría, hacer un objeto invisible.

Según un artículo publicado por en la página de la Internet de la revista "Nature", los autores de la idea son Andrea Alu y Nader Engheta, ingenieros eléctricos de la Universidad de Pennsylvania.

El artículo indica que los dos hombres han propuesto una especie de capa de invisibilidad de alta tecnología que hará transparente todo lo que esté en su interior.

El desarrollo del nuevo concepto está todavía en sus fases iniciales.

Los científicos aseguran que una capa "plasmónica" podría hacer los objetos "casi invisibles para el observador". Su idea aún es una propuesta, pero no parece violar ninguna ley física.

Estudian crear una batería que se recargue con el movimiento

Noticias.com

En un mundo en el que estamos en constante búsqueda de fuentes de energía limpias y no contaminantes es grato ver invenciones como la que ahora tratamos.

El centro para la energía y las tecnologías ecológicas de Australia ha creado el prototipo de una interesante fuente de energía: una batería que se recarga usando energía cinética.